It was right then. It was in that moment that I knew I no longer had ownership on my heart. It was all yours.
We stopped by the babies home one afternoon like we so often did when you were visiting last May. I greeted Stella but she was not her usual smiley self. Her turtle face was in full effect and I had never seen her more sad. I went to go kiss her forehead…our usual routine. Once my lips touched her soft skin, I pulled away quickly. She had a very high fever and suddenly her mood, her frown…it all made sense. I asked the nannies if she had been with the nurse yet and they said she already started her Malaria medicine. That filthy stupid bug. Malaria is a parasitic disease that if you spend a long enough period of time in Africa…you will most likely get. The symptoms are high fevers, shaking chills and flu-like symptoms. If caught early enough, oral medication is the assigned treatment…and that is what Stella was on at this time. I came down with Malaria in March while I was visiting and it went untreated long enough that I was admitted into a hospital and put on a drip with a high dosage of medicine for 24 hours. It was not pretty…not one single part of it. I wanted so badly to take all of the pain and discomfort away from Stella and put it on myself.
It was dinner time and JP and I helped Stella eat. We had our own dinner plans with friends and I asked him to go ahead without me and I would eventually meet him and everyone at the restaurant near by. He walked off and I held Stella. We had a wet clothe on her head to help bring her temperature down and she was keeping her food down pretty well. I looked up after a few minutes and saw JP walking back in through the door. He had gone to tell a couple of people we were with to go ahead to the restaurant and that we would meet them there. He stayed behind and helped me take care of Stella. I know one reason was because he too had fallen in love with this sweet angel and wanted to make sure she was taken care of but I know another reason was because he wanted to know I was taken care of. He knew I wouldn’t be okay until I knew Stella had taken her medicine and been put down to go to sleep for the night. My heart literally melted on the floor when I saw him coming back to stay with me. He stayed behind…he stayed by Stellas side and by my side.
That is when I knew my heart no longer belonged to me. God had sent the person who was meant to hold it here on earth and help Him take care of it and He sent that person all the way to Uganda, Africa.
Whenever a passion arises in my heart, I not only feel the initial excitement of dreaming how it could all play out…but I also feel a bit overwhelmed. You see…I dream big. Instantly I am thinking of all the ways these ideas can come to life and trust me, I don’t start with the small. The reason I get a bit overwhelmed is that I know if I pursue these passions with Godly intention, surround myself with supportive people and walk in faith…He will make these dreams come to fruition! There is no promise that they will be successful or easy but the ball get’s rolling. I’m sure you are asking yourself, “why would she get overwhelmed by that?”. Well the thing is, when a dream comes to life…everything changes course. Just when you have a firm grasp on your current lifestyle, there it is mixed up again. I guess that has been the case for me since I was 18, when I was set free into the “real world”. I started dreaming big and going after my very own dreams. Whether it was moving to Orlando for college, taking a risk on a new job, changing my studies from child psychology to photography or moving from Florida to New England in a days notice. I have taken advantage of life and it hasn’t been the easiest adventure but it sure has been fulfilling.
I wanted to share with you some dreams and projects that God has put in my life… BIG things are happening this year. It seems like a lot but when I lay it all out like this, I just get so excited and see His direction in each one. Luckily, I have amazing people by my side helping me with each one so I don’t have time to over think that initial overwhelmed feeling.
I would love for you to follow along on this journey of 2014. I can’t promise that it will stay limited to only these dreams as ideas are always popping up in my heart but for now it would be great to have you join along!
In 2010, I launched Floataway Studios…a wedding photography and videography company. It has grown into something I could never have dreamt up on my own and now we have a brand new look to share!
Being back in Uganda, it is my mission to develop We Spread the Love not only in a way that you can become involved first hand through volunteer opportunities but also through giving and supporting projects from where you are. A new website is coming soon!
I try my best to live everyday to it’s fullest and share my heart as I do so. If you would like to follow along with my Instagram, that is where you will see most of my current updates and everything that is going on in my life.
One of my biggest dreams in the past few years has been to live in a RV of some sort. When JP and I started dreaming up future living arrangements, we began perusing trailers of the Airstream family. We randomly stumbled upon this 1970′s Streamline one day and had to make it ours. While I am in Uganda, JP is at home in San Diego fixing it up for us and in just a few sessions, so many things have been done already! Follow our trailers Instagram, McStreamy, to see it flourish into our home.
The most beautiful moment of my life occurred November 12, 2013. JP asked me to be his wife on the beautiful coast of Oregon and I obviously said yes. We are getting married this August in Big Sur and that’s an adventure in it’s own. If you would like to follow along with us, you can look up the hashtag on Instagram, #onmcleodnine .
My friends over at The Archibald Project, Whitney and Nick, recently contacted me with the idea of hosting a media mission in Jinja, Uganda where creatives give back and tell stories through their art form. I was beyond ecstatic about this idea and then they asked if they could team up with We Spread the Love, and I just got even more excited! As some of you may know, We Spread the Love is a community of people with big hearts wanting to give back with their God given talents. We are opening that up with a volunteer program next year, providing opportunities for people to come and dive into the culture and communities with projects that give back. So this was absolutely the best way to start off that mission!
The Archibald Project is one that truly was created out of a selfless and giving place in The Runyons hearts. As a non-profit, they provide the service of traveling with families during their adoption process and telling the story of the orphan. I had the opportunity to meet them in Jinja last year when they were there documenting The Via family who moved to Jinja, Uganda to be with their daughter Chloe who they were having difficulty retaining a visa to bring her back to the states…so they brought home to Chloe. Whitney and Nick documented this story in such a beautiful way…truly sharing all the emotions this family experienced upon leaving the states and moving to Uganda, Africa for the next 3 years. They tell BIG, BEAUTIFUL and BOLD stories….the stories of Gods love.
As we team together, we now want you to come and join us on a media mission for a week next March. It will consist of loving on lots of children in a local babies in Jinja home called Arise and Shine. Mid week we will take a trip to the Kibuye that the organization Arise and Shine works with and sustains where we will document stories of local villagers like Faith whose lives have radically changed through organization programs like the orphanage, sewing projects, english lessons, malnutrition programs, etc. We will end the week relaxing on an island along The Nile River to invest in one another and just come together and support each other in community.
This team will be small and in the future we will bring more people and provide more opportunities like this. There is an application process that will be reviewed and prayed over as Whitney and Nick select the group for this first trip. Your life will be changed and through the work you are doing, you will ultimately change lives as well.
” Some stories are beautiful, some powerful, and some heart breaking, but all of these stories need to be told. We tell these stories. We use our cameras to advocate for orphans. We capture precious moments that stir the heart and inspire others to adopt. We show the world little faces still waiting for a family. We let the orphan know that their life and their story matter. We give a face to the faceless and a voice to the voiceless. We want the world to know that they exist and we will travel anywhere we are called in order see this purpose accomplished.”- The Archibald Project
Arise and Shine Babies Home
Faith and Family // Kibuye Village
Delivering images to Faith before I left Uganda
Once upon a time in late July, J.P. planned a surprise adventure for us…well the surprise was for me but it sure was an adventure for the both of us.
It all started in Long Beach where we boarded a boat to take us an hour away from the main coast to Catalina. I had never been to this island, but could always see it out there in the distance…well depending on the day and the fog factor in Los Angeles. I don’t really know what I expected but I was blown away. Approaching the island, it felt like we were pulling up to a coastline in Europe. Upon docking and unloading…of course that dream diminished but I was still in awe.
The plan was camping and to be honest, I had no idea what that entailed on an island. Usually when we camp we have the luxury of our car, we pull up to our campground and comfortably keep all of our goods safe and organized. For this camping trip we had to carry everything with us. I was excited for this challenge for carrying around 60lbs of gear up hill, in the heat and avoiding grazing buffalo because it was probably the closest we would ever get to stories our grandparents would share. You know the ones… ” I walked miles up hill in the snow to and from school ever day..”. We did well. There were some stops, stretching, switching off gear and looking back at our trail and wondering how the heck we had walked all of that with the load on our backs. At one point when we got closer to our camp ground, a beautiful group of buffalo came toward us. No one had warned us of what to do when you are presented in this situation so we assumed they weren’t all that dangerous. We just stood by as they grazed by, those big beautiful gentle creatures and felt so small in this big story of God.
We cooked amazing food, hiked for many miles, took naps on random picnic tables, explored the Catalina airport, took pictures in the sunset fog and finished our last day off in the town of Catalina with the rest of civilization. It was a trip I would have never dreamt up and that is what made it so special..it was one of a kind.
We chose the campground with the beautiful tree and tire swing of course.
Man. Make. Fire.
The day we hiked about 6 miles to the airport.
The simplicity of cooking next to a campfire is one I will never tire of.
Our evening walk after dinner turned into some of the most beautiful moments.
Back to town…