in which we are all under the same sky

We leave Entebbe just as the sun sets, a dome of light wrapping itself over us, turning all things to gold. I’m trying to find the gifts in our 24 hour delay getting home. This is a small one, this burst of light as we prepare to leave Uganda, reminding me of the hope we have seen, urging me not to forget.leaving entebbeI don’t remember much about that plane ride from Entebbe to Amsterdam – only our first drink with ice in a week, the back of the plane with my sister, a movie I fell asleep watching. We land in Amsterdam while it’s still dark, find a Starbucks first thing, and spend a few hours waiting for our next flight to the States. As we wait, the morning sun erupts behind us in the sky over The Netherlands, ever faithful to come back no matter how far we travel.

sun rising in Amsterdam

The traveling pushes hard into us, dumb things are funny, funny things are lost. We wait and prepare for the longest leg of our trip, trade Imodium and Tums and sticks of gum. Laughter comes easily. So does sleep.

I watch four movies on the way home, eat everything they bring me. I think I fell asleep with my mouth open a few times, witnessed by the young moustached man beside me who is smirking as he wakes me up. I hate everything for half a second and then I remember I don’t really care.

We arrive in Atlanta in the afternoon and I have only enough time to make it through customs and run to my gate to board the final leg of the trip – one more hour til home. We land as the morning Amsterdam sun sets in the evening over Greensboro, and I marvel at this one sky I’ve traveled within and live beneath.
sun setting in GreensboroOne sky for all of us.

As I ride home in the car with my family so near, I remember the words of Richmond, a graduate of Compassion’s Leadership Development Program. These LDP students are ones who have distinguished themselves in the Child Sponsorship Program through service, academic excellence, and leadership. The program is highly competitive and only a handful are selected per country. When selected, these students have the opportunity to refine their skills through a university education. Richmond is a graduate of the Leadership Development Program and is now receiving his Ph.D.

As we listened to Richmond’s story during our last day in Uganda, one thing he said I will never forget: I don’t understand how great wealth and deep poverty all happen under the same sky.


I come home a full 32 hours since we first arrived to the airport in Entebbe and it’s Super Bowl Sunday. The game had just started so I take a quick shower and come downstairs, planning to watch with John and the kids.

My daughter sits next to me eating an ice cream sandwich. I watch her lick around the edges before she takes a bite, close my eyes for just a moment. When I open them again the room is dark and empty and I am alone.

It is 3 am and I have been asleep for eight and a half hours.

The next morning, John tells he tried to wake me up around nine last night, even shook my shoulders a bit to see if I wanted to come up to bed. I didn’t move at all. So after he checked to be sure I was breathing, he went up without me.

Home had done her good work: released the tension, softened the senses, opened arms wide for rest and comfort

This morning on my second full day back from Uganda, I sit in my living room alone, gray sky overhead. I shower, dress, put on my shoes.

I call my sister to ask her what I should do today. I needed a little recalibration, a reminder how to be a person in my own life.

We talk for only about 10 minutes and she reminds me of things I need to remember. We speak of Rose who fights for everything she has. If she had more, she would give more. I think of all I have and I don’t feel guilty about it. At least not right now.

I have much and I feel thankful because the much I have can be turned into enough for others.

Richmond is right, we are all under the same sky. But we are not the same. We are all human with the need for love, worth, acceptance, and security. But we are different because while some of us are full, others are hungry. While some of us are safe, others are unsafe. While some of us have choices, others have no choice.

What can we do for those who are hungry, unsafe, and without choice?

Today, under the sky in Greensboro, I take my work seriously – both the small movements within my home and among my family and the public words I write for you. I can open my eyes to the right-here poverty while at the same time, sponsor children in the over-there poverty.

I have seen how child sponsorship through Compassion provides food, safety, and choice. It is one way to make a big difference, to bring a little equilibrium under the sky.

I do not have to choose to help here or there. I can choose both here and there – because I have enough and can share with others.

Do you have enough to share?

Compassion Bloggers Uganda 2014 - Day Four

Sponsor a child under the Ugandan sky, one who wakes with the same sun as you do. And care for your neighbor within your same time zone, because you can and she needs the help you have to offer.

And when you find yourself in need, either lost in grief, overwhelmed with sadness, or sitting in aftermath of your own personal tragedy, be wise enough to receive the help from others as if it comes from the heart of Christ, because it does. He wants to comfort you in your time of distress, to be present with you as you walk through the darkness, and to be your enough in the midst of your not enough.

We have been given much and we can give much. This is a gift, a joy, and a privilege. Sponsor a child today?

“We are inclined to think that when we are sad we cannot be glad, but in the life of a God-centered person, sorrow and joy can exist together. That isn’t easy to understand, but when we think about some of our deepest life experiences, such as being present at the birth of a child or the death of  a friend, great sorrow and great joy are often seen to be parts of the same experience.

Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it everyday. It is a choice based on the knowledge that we belong to God and have found in God our refuge and our safety and that nothing, not even death, can take God away from us.”

Henri J.M. Nouwen, Here and Now


  1. Tara says

    This was beautifully written. Thank you for being so real and honest and for the reminder of making the most of our lives here. Thankful…

  2. says

    This captures so much and takes me back to the days after I returned from Ukraine last summer. I didn’t have words for weeks – yours are beautiful!

  3. says

    One family at a time can make the difference for one child at a time which has the potential for changing their families, their communities, and their nations. I pray that if anyone is still on the fence about sponsoring a child, they will take the risk, obey God, and sponsor a child today! And I pray you get the rest you need as you transition to being back home.

  4. says

    I think of all I have too…..
    I think its not guilt the awareness is intended to bring, but gratitude, and generosity.
    Hmm… and true too when i am made aware of all that I lack….be grateful and generous anyway.

    I love how you captured the both/and vs. either/or

    Beautiful words here, Emily, beautiful words.

  5. Gina says

    I don’t usually comment but this was just beautiful. Then I click to comments only to see that others have had the same thought.

    Thank you for going. For seeing. For feeling. For sharing.

  6. says

    Oh, sweetie! So beautiful. Your words throughout the trip have changed me. All of you together complemented each other, giving us a fuller experience of life in Uganda. Thank you so much. And welcome home.

  7. says

    Emily, your insights this trip have touched me so deep. This one maybe even the most – because coming home to our real lives – how we do that as well as live in an openness to change – it’s powerful. Just thank you.

  8. says

    Thanks, Emily, for your light bringing, heart changing words. Bless you as you transition back to “normal” if there is such a thing after a trip like that.

  9. says

    Wow, Emily. I needed this today. Thank you for giving of yourself. And for serving. And for showing up. I am so grateful for you and your talent and your bright light.

  10. says

    This post mesmerized me. Really, my whole body stilled and I breathed deeply. I’ve been feeling so anxious today for some reason and for just a few minutes while I read, I felt peace. This post is my favorite from the trip.

    And especially this: “I think of all I have and I don’t feel guilty about it. At least not right now.

    I have much and I feel thankful because the much I have can be turned into enough for others.”

  11. says

    Thank you, Emily, for the ways you are using your gift of words to help us all dwell more fully in the Kingdom of Heaven. It is largely due to your posts (and those of your fellow travelers) during your trip to Uganda that I have overcome my fear of insufficiency to sponsor Stephen, a six-year old in Uganda who shares my birthday. I hope “coming home” will give you good nourishment and refreshment. There is much to be done under our one sky.

  12. Melissa McIntyre says

    Oh Emily! You have SUCH a gift with words. This is soo raw, and real, and beautiful. Thank you soo very much for going to Uganda and sharing those beautiful people and their children with us. Under the same sky….. I won’t shake that for days… if not forever! God is no respecter of persons, we are ALL His children living under the same sky. The same but different, yes! I’m soo glad you called your sister, I LOVE her perspective…. soo wise! Rest well friend and continue to let Christ comfort YOUR soul as you always comfort mine and remind me of HIS! 😉

  13. says

    Girl on fire! I think this is the first Compassion blogger series of posts where I have read every single part of every single post a blogger wrote simply because it was THAT well done. Bless you for writing for Compassion (big personal fan, feeling challenged to blog about my own Compassion connections) and giving this level of attention to this organization and sharing your gifts this way.

  14. says

    i’m so glad for your words this morning, emily. i woke with the last strands of a prayer, that i wouldn’t fritter away this day, that He’d help my eyes SEE, and your post was solid ground beneath me. ninashukuru. i am thankful.

  15. says

    Emily, this is simply beautiful. I love that the same sky covers us all – and the joy and sorrow both residing together? -Truth. Thanks for sharing your heart.

  16. Jen says

    You have such a talent with your words, I rarely read a blog post from you and don’t cry. I’m glad you have returned home safely, now you’ll get into the rhythm of your real life while never forgetting the people and stories you’ve met and heard. I’m so excited that I sponsored a little girl from Uganda yesterday. I can’t wait until her pictures come in and her address so I can write her. I’d love if you could maybe write a post about how you write letters, what you send, what is valuable to these children, how we can support them beyond the money. Thanks! Have a great day!

  17. Patricia Kay Groom says

    thank you for the way in which your words touch my heart and cleanse my soul with tears of truth.
    when I traveled to Tokyo, I purchased a poster that hangs in my office…..
    “I am not the same
    having seen the moon shine on the other side
    of the world.”


  18. says

    Thank you so much for this Emily.
    I love how well you communicate your heart as you write. This makes your emotions, thoughts feelings accessible as I read. I found this with Grace For the Good Girl (which has forever beautified my understanding of God’s grace and favour towards me) and I also find it here with your blog.
    In your writing I feel I have found a friend.
    I cried as I read, remembering my few months in YWAM and the familiarity of the feelings you describe: leaving, flying, coming home, remembering, realising you have been changed, the sweet moments of deep life reflection. I am so thankful for how well you articulate these things.
    As I was reading I felt God moving on my heart, remembering these moments with me.
    Thank you! I feel that I love you!


  19. says

    Emily, welcome back! Thank you for sharing this powerful story. I love the question, “Do I have enough to share?” Your post gave me a sense of expansion and freedom, and the ability to let go of the things I tend to hold too tightly.

    A few days ago, for example, I was working with a friend (a new mama!) and she mentioned that she was hungry, that she hadn’t had enough to eat that morning. I happened to have a Larabar in my purse, one I’d planned to enjoy as a treat later on. But I offered it to her, and she accepted.

    Larabars are a little ‘luxury’ for me — something I don’t have every day, and look forward to — so there WAS a bit of resistance in my mind to giving up ‘my’ treat. But fortunately, I was able to snap to my senses and hand it over. It was such a small thing, but it lit up my whole day — to know that I have enough to share, and that when I do share, I can help others fill up.

  20. says

    Guh, this… “We have been given much and we can give much” is so true! I have been going back and forth and back and forth in my mind for what seems like forever. I want to help people here and I want to help people in other countries. I sponsor a little girl in Peru, but I want to help more. I think to myself… am I being selfish with my money. Can I sponsor more, give more, do more? The answer is yes but I am afraid and still hold back. I question if I am supposed to live in anther country but those words spoken means so much. I recently watched Compassions 58 ( and it was so eye opening. All God kept instilling in my mind was that I was give much here in the U.S. so I can give much back. To those in the U.S. and to those in other countries. It’s better than being selfish and keeping what was freely given to me. It really sets me free and I feel a peace that I can help with the much I have earned to those who do not have much at all.

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