Monday, July 22, 2013




Remember the days of big skies
And red dust walks
Where we lingered in the wild unknown
Of God and men
So unfamiliar?

Those days when
(before they were cut from
The shore like ice
To float away from us)
We loved hard and
It bounced back to us?

You joined them
And I was left behind-
Like a useless appendage
Encouraged To knit….
or something
Else creative
In their normal scheme of things.

Those days when I broke out
And left the place of safety for the thirsty
Hungry friends
Who wanted to hear what He put inside of us.

Remember the moist tension
At night
Before the days of cool air
Were pumped in?
And the summer heat
Stood knocking;
Unable to cross the moat of
Our walls of plenty?

Distant tribal calls are whispers now
Now we wait
Like breathless children –
Dripping with sweat from our play.
Wait for God
To show us
The wild unknown
Of here.

Friday, July 19, 2013


A bundle of pink flesh
Inside the green rind
Water-filled sweetness, 
Glowing without-
One interruption
To disturb my knife.

A preference realized to remove the seeds;
To usher them into extinction
All for convenient slicing....

I look, and remember-
The dirty fields behind Grandma’s house,
Where the old stuff
Went walking with us.
We wound up our tongue
And spit them-
The furthest.  

Later the seedlings
Would appear:
Doomed to die of thirst
Without a gardener.

Now  doomed to die from within...
For me.
So my knife won’t be interrupted

Welcome home.  

Friday, July 12, 2013


Today our stucco contractors mixed sand and cement and slapped it on the side of our house making me very happy.  It’s called a scratch coat, and it is the first step in a long process to finish the exterior of our new home. 
Hester when we bought her.

We've named our house Hester – after Hester Prynne, the longsuffering heroine of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.  She, like our house, was the misunderstood heroine who sinned in a community where sin was not allowed.  Our Hester is the "ugliest house on the block" - we are in the process of bringing back her natural beauty.  Our neighbors are very grateful.  

Our house is the victim of long-term neglect. She was owned by someone who did nothing to keep her up for the last 25 years or so.  By the time we bought her, she was falling apart.

Restoration is not easy.  It takes time and each step is little by little;  I hate little by little!  This process has been a good lesson for me to remember that God transforms us from a run down, misunderstood victim of abuse and neglect into a restored version that is even better than before.  

This process is expensive, and it sometimes doesn't feel worth it. 

Today, though…it feels worth it. 

The mud of the scratch coat is the culmination of many steps - making the house habitable for us.  

Making it a suitable home.  

The outside used to be vinyl siding - underneath it was old stucco and underneath that was untreated wood that had rotted.  The bottom half had to be rebuilt with treated wood.

The siding did not survive... gladly.

The inside was pretty dated - complete with mis-matched tiles and the most hideous cabinets I had ever seen.  

Before                    After

We have been back since March 15 -nearly four full months.  In that time I have reconnected with family and began the process of rebuilding relationships.  

This is not done all at once.  It’s little by little as well.  I’ve also learned about humility, forgiveness, and grace on new levels. 

I have spoken aloud my gratitude many times…how grateful I am to be in the process of being restored. 

I have gotten honest with myself – dropped a lot of weight (mostly in my head) and learned all over again the importance of God’s Word.  I also have rediscovered GRACE – did I say that?  Of course I did…I did rediscover grace again. 

Websters defines grace as: unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification;  a virtue coming from God. 

Me and Hester – getting restored.  

Monday, July 8, 2013


We are cordial as we speak to one another this morning, but there are icicles sticking to our words.  After 25 years of marriage, our fights have become polite.  

I know I’m crazy in love with my husband and I know he is my rock as much as a human man can be a human woman’s rock.  Even so, I am mad at him.  He made me mad yesterday and when he did I felt bad about myself.  The mood in our house drastically changed.  I didn't  just shut my mouth – I made him angry, too.  We were both tired and hungry and spent….  Last night when our busy day was all over, we shared our double sized bed together without touching one another.  

This morning I made my own coffee. 

Today we will reconcile.  I’m mad at him now but I can guarantee you that I will not be able to stay away from him.  He rejoices with me in my small victories, like being able to rent a garbage bin for the lowest price.  He will help me see things from a balanced perspective and convince me that organic salmon is worth the price.  He will kiss me some time during today and chills will radiate from the back of my neck to the base of my spine. 

The reason I know this is because I have endured many fights with him.  They have threatened my happiness temporarily; but never have stolen from the concept of true love – the dream I am living with this man.

True love is not wimpy.  It is not selfish or self-centered.  It doesn’t wear make-up to make itself look good.  It exists between two people ready and willing and able to sacrifice for and with each other.  True love sees disappointment regularly and survives.  It is filled with passion, but equally filled with awareness that it is responsible to the world around it.  It becomes a large, stable boulder in a sea of change that people know will never move.

My love is not perfect; but it is strong.  It is rooted in grace and mercy and forgiveness.  It is a marathon runner, fueled by respect, truth and kindness.   It has fallen many times on a rocky road that never ends and it has stood up and limped back into the race, ready to go on.  My love kicks ass. 

That’s why this morning I can write this.  I am no baby – I am no spoiled princess.  I am a woman of substance and strength and I know who I am.  I will apologize for my part and I will forgive him for his. 


True love (*sigh*) is not what people say it is.  

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


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I’ve landed in the USA and have been here three months.  In doing  this, I am surrounded by different sights, sounds, traditions and fragrances that remind me that I am in my home country.   My home country celebrates the Fourth of July like a summer party that everyone is invited to.  We, as a great big family will gather in parks and front yards to bar-b-que and drink lemonade (or other stuff) to celebrate the hottest holiday in American culture.

The Fourth, itself, is called Independence Day.  It is really not the day that the Americans declared their Independence from the Mother Britain – this is a fact (as many others I love) that proves our nation is flawed in what we say is truth.  Here are my “favorite” myths about the 4th of July:

  • ·         The Fourth Of July is  Independence Day – the day the US seceded from Great Britain.

A representative from the State of Virginia named Richard Henry Lee was the first to propose legislation to make it official: the colonies would notify England that this land was no longer theirs.  Lee drafted a Resolution on the 7th of June 1776  and read it to the Second Continental Congress, which began:

Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

John Adams convinced the congress to allow Thomas Jefferson to compose an official document called “a Declaration.”  Lee was in Virginia by the time Congress voted on and adopted the Declaration of Independence – on July 2, 1776.  The Declaration of Independence was signed two days later by those founding fathers who were still there. 

John Hancock was said to have signed it first – in a grand and dark signature that to this day is the American benchmark of all signatures.

  • ·         The Founding Fathers believed that all men were created equal.

The declaration of Independence has a beautiful preamble:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The colonists were tired of being the second-class citizens that they were seen as  in the eyes of England.  They had no rights, other than the protection of the British Army and Navy.  They wanted to govern themselves and knew they could do it without a sovereign. 

What the land-owning Founding Fathers had was a voice that England would be forced to listen to.   We are no different than you are – we are gentlemen ourselves.

Like most wealthy men of their time, the Founders were gentlemen in theory.  Many of them owned slaves; many believed in the death penalty.  It is important to remember that the founders were influenced  by the culture and the time.   Washington and Jefferson privately expressed distaste for slavery (Jefferson once called it an "execrable commerce"), but they also understood that it was part of the political and economic bedrock of the country they helped to create. 

The life, liberty and pursuit of happiness they spoke of was for land-owning men.  White men.  Not women; not slaves; not foreigners. 

 It is a myth that the signers of the Declaration practiced what they were preaching to England. 

  • ·         The Fireworks on the Fourth are supposed to remind us of the bombs that lit up the sky in the Revolutionary War we eventually fought against England.

I love me some fireworks. 

They are as American as apple pie on the Fourth of July.  Still, the common myth that the fireworks are supposed to mimic bombs is probably one promoted by our national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner. 

Francis Scott Key wrote the poem “Defence of Fort McHenry" while on board a ship following the Burning of Washington and the Raid on Alexandria.  He and another man were on an errand  to secure the exchange of prisoners, one of whom was Dr. William Beanes, an elderly and popular town doctor.
 Because Key had supposedly overheard details of British plans to attack Baltimore, he was held prisoner as well.   During the rainy night, Key had witnessed the battle for Fort McHenry complete with “bombs bursting in the air” – all the while observing  the fort's smaller "storm flag" flying.  Once the  barrage had stopped, Key didn’t  know how the battle had turned out until the next day. By dawn, the storm flag had been lowered and the larger flag had been raised.

Key was inspired by the American victory and the sight of the large American flag flying triumphantly above the fort and wrote the immortal poem which has four stanzas (very few know more than the first) and later set to music and adopted as our national anthem. 

In reality, Congress encouraged fireworks on the Fourth of July by authorizing a display on July 4, 1777, in Philadelphia, a year after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  “At night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks, which began and concluded with thirteen rockets on the commons,” reads a journal from that year.   

Another colorful display took place in Philadelphia on July 4, 1779: “In the evening a sett of brilliant fireworks were exhibited, particularly excellent rockets, which, after ascending to an amazing height in the air, burst, and displayed thirteen stars.”

  • ·         Fourth of July is a Day to have fun with family and friends.

Okay, that’s not a myth.  That one is true!!  Mario and I just bought this house in the Arden Arcade area, very close to Cal Expo, where the City of Sacramento sets off the largest fireworks display in Northern California.

 I have a feeling that we’ll break out our camping chairs (they still have Sudanese dust on them) and sit on our front lawn and watch the incredible display together – anyone want to join us??

It is a day that all of us flawed Americans (my international friends, you can HAVE the Fact that we are all flawed!) celebrate high treason, eat too much and encourage our children to blow things up. 

I love it.

Monday, July 1, 2013


Our "boys" - Aubrey, Bobo (our nickname), Chris, Teboho
(kneeling) Lele, Laurens, Mabuti
The scene is burned into my mind like a silver and black image that will become a photograph if developed in a dark room.  It is the image of our African sons dancing at our going away party.  We left nearly four months ago and the image will not go away. 

It makes me smile when I am alone, it makes me ache with sadness when I lay in bed at night.  It is impossible to divorce myself from the familial relationships we built in South Africa. 

The other night, while doing a drive-by on facebook I saw a post from one of them.  He was upset, hurting…and lonely.  Normally, I would have called and invited him to dinner.  Now dinner would be nine hours earlier and on a different continent.  It would involve an eighteen-hundred dollar plane ticket.  All of this solidifies the distance between us – the physical one.

I am happy to be home- there’s nothing quite like it.  I love being nearer to family and it is where I know God wants us to be.  I have no doubt we were supposed to make the move and I don’t look back with any kind of regret or doubt, but I do miss our boys.

Laurens, Chris, Lele
That’s what we called them: our boys.  It all started with Lele, Laurens and Chris – the standout kids we met at Junction.  We took a trip with them to build Hlanganani (our church’s program for aiding the needs of widows and orphans in the township).  To do this we travelled to a township in the lowveld – about three hours from Johannesburg, on the border of Krueger National Park. 

It was there, on that trip that we bonded and played and joked and visited.  We met their families, heard their dreams and prayed deeply for the future of Diepsloot, Junction and South Africa.  The boys had a better view than we did of all three.  It was interesting to be invited into their world – as invited as white foreigners could be.  Like our own kids, they were on their best behavior around us.  Like our own kids, they had secrets from us.  Years of this…

They called us “Dad and Mom” – and their numbers grew.  Next came Aubrey, the sharp dresser with a winning smile. 

Then came Mabuti, the little pastor.  He had a deep heart and shared it freely.  Then Teboho, the singer with the heart of gold. 

They all became friends with our own kids – even our niece. 

We built a church with our boys.  We had them over for soccer days, dinners and parties.  We knew their families and visited with them where they lived.  We met the girls – disapproved of their choices – and didn’t have the heart to say “I told you so” when they found out we were right.

We feasted with them; laughed until I couldn’t breathe… We loved them like sons.  They needed fathering – a lot – and Mario cherished the job more than any other he held in eldership.  We held them close to us and before we knew it, they carried our hope.  I think of them all every day.

That is why this image of them dancing will not go away.   They said goodbye to us in the coolest, most celebratory way they knew how.  Even though they were sad for us to leave, they danced for us with all their hearts.  The one they chose – the procession - is a dance typically done at a wedding: homage for the new couple done to usher in joy of a new life. 

It was sacrificial.  I watched them, shouting and screaming and proud – like a mama.  Mario cried through the whole thing.

The word bafana in Zulu translates to “boys” – or “young men” – at least that is the literal translation.  In reality, bafana means “our hope” or “the next generation” – the ones who will carry us all into the future.  Without them, we lack vision and sight to see where we are going.  They need wisdom and shepherding, yes, but they also need to be empowered to move forward. 

The Zulu understand this – most cultures do.  I pray we do not forget it.