Grace. All is Grace.

A couple of weeks ago I read Brennan Manning’s memoir, All Is Grace. It’s had me thinking a lot about the grace of God, and I’ve come to realize that his grace is somewhat inappropriate – it has no requirements nor restrictions. God is perfect, his people are far from perfect, and yet he still LOVES us and ACCEPTS us just as we are, with ALL our FLAWS and FAILURES. God’s grace covers everything no matter how ugly it is. The fact that he loves me and is using me for his work blows my mind.

I understand that I’m not what most people would call a dirty sinner, but I am in so many ways. I may have followed God’s calling to live in Chad for a year, but I have grumbled and complained so much since I’ve been here. I’ve told God that I’m not the right person to do this job, that someone else could teach better and not complain about missing home so much. I can be a selfish American who doesn’t want to live without her western conveniences, and I remind God of how bad I have it here every day. But his grace covers me.

I make harsh judgements about other missionaries and their work, I make harsh judgements about Chadians and their culture, I make harsh judgements about non-missionaries and their lives. I can be judgmental and self-righteous and think poorly of others to think better of myself. But his grace covers me.

I have days when I fall into the pit of my mental illness. Days when I can see the pit in front of me and I can also see a path around it. I really want to follow the path around it, but there seems to be a magnet in the pit that pulls me into it. I fall in, and I struggle to get out. Sometimes I don’t want to get out. But his grace covers me. (And I’m thankful his grace includes Prozac! Everybody say “Amen!”)

I often ask, “can he really love me and accept me no matter my failure…even the one I repeat on a daily basis?” The answer is yes. He can and he does.

I strive to be better and to do better. I try, but I fail – again and again. Then I see his grace. God’s inappropriate, unrestricted grace. It’s always here. No matter what. Forgiving me. Restoring me. Reminding me that I am sitting in the middle of his calling doing his work even though I am a just dirty sinner.

His grace reminds me that my life, my story, is not really mine at all. My life is a part of his story. His plan. To show his love. To be his hands and feet. Even with all my fears and all my failures, he chooses me to be a part of his story. Wow!

I feel humbled. I feel overjoyed. I feel equipped. I feel inadequate. I feel encouraged. I feel afraid. Lots of emotions to process.

So I keep moving forward thankful for his grace that allows this sinner to be a part of his big, beautiful story that tells the world how much he loves us…no matter what.

Ephesians 2:1-10 in The Message says:

It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.

Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.


Be Strong and Courageous

Last Wednesday, Robert came home telling me there were two deaths in the village where the school we work with is located, and he would like to join a group of men driving up there for the funeral this weekend. He would be gone for 3-4 days up in the desert where he may not have any cell service. I agreed he should go of course, but the thought made me a bit nervous.

I’m no stranger to him traveling for days or weeks at a time while I stay home with the kids. But this is the first time I’ve had to experience it while in a country where I don’t drive or speak the language. To say I was a bit nervous is an understatement. I was anxious to the point of needing a Xanax. Not only anxious for him driving up into the desert, but also for myself and the kids staying here alone. I would have to call a taxi if we needed to go anywhere, but I don’t speak French. I would have to go buy bread at the corner store, but I don’t speak French. My anxieties were getting the best of me.

Then Thursday night, the night before he was to leave, I sat down on my yoga mat, pulled out my Holy Listening book, and opened it where I last left off. The title for the day was “BOLD.”

Coincidence? I think not. I believe God was sending me a message.

The yoga pose was Warrior and the scripture reference was Deuteronomy 31:6. This verse makes me smile. I memorized this verse when I was in 7th grade. I made up a little song to help me remember it. I have sung this song to myself many, many times over the years when I’ve needed strength.

Again, a coincidence? No! This was God speaking to me in a powerful way.

There I was, warrior-ing on my yoga mat, in a mess of tears, singing Deuteronomy 31:6 to myself in the quiet of my bedroom. A bold faith washed over me. God’s peace and assurance engulfed me. I knew in that moment that I was not alone and that I would conquer this weekend while Robert was away. (Spoiler: the kids and I are having a great weekend!)

I’ve stayed on this prayer and pose for a few days now, not ready to move on to the next. Boldness is something I struggle to find. This may be shocking for a lot of my friends and family to hear, but it’s the truth.

I’ve had to be bold and warrior through a lot of hard situations in my life, and I’ve struggled to stay strong. I like to think of myself as being strong, but I am truly a weak woman. Any strength I find to warrior through my life is found in Jesus. It’s his Spirit and his word that pulls me through. The grace and love and forgiveness he gives me when all I do is struggle, is what keeps my faith in him.

I’ve had people ask me before how I know God is real. My answer is always “it’s in the ways he responds to my faith.” When I reach out to him, he shows up. It’s not always right when I want it or in the way I expect it, but he never fails.

Just like this weekend – I was scared and anxious, but God showed up with peace and strength, and I’ve been completely calm all weekend. The kids and I have had a great time, I’ve handled a couple of meltdowns without having one myself, the house is clean, and I’ve actually been serving up healthy meals. All miracles!

I must throw some shout outs to Shiloh’s teacher who reminded our taxi guy that she needed to be picked up Saturday for her youth group meeting and to my neighbors who helped me get bread. Thank you, God, for putting a great missionary community here to help me out…just another way of him showing up in my life!

Ramblings of Life in Chad and Faith in God

We’ve been in Chad for 4 months now. Some days it seems like our time is going by extremely fast, but other days it feels like time is crawling.

We’re all settled in our job/school routines and feeling content. There is a part of me that wants to look ahead to when we return to the U.S., but I’m trying to stay focused on my present and not think about the future until it’s necessary.

We do have a few things settled for when we get back to the States. Shiloh is enrolled in Wheaton Academy for her freshman year of high school. (Let’s all take a moment and have a Praise break that God worked that out!) Huck and Weslee will return to Four Winds Waldorf School. And it looks like we will be renting a house in our old neighborhood – woohoo!

Things we don’t have settled (and aren’t actively pursuing just yet) are jobs for Robert and me, vehicles, and furniture. Ha! Those are some pretty big things, but I know God will work these out just as he has everything else.

I can truly say that this last year has increased my faith and trust in God. How could it not – it took all of 6 months for us to hear about this opportunity, decide it’s what we should do, sell our belongings, raise our funds, and get here. I’m still in awe of how God made it all happen. If he can do that, I know for sure he will take care of everything for our return.

Even since we’ve been here, God has been proving himself over and over. Our first few weeks were very hard: getting over jet lag, adjusting to not having our American conveniences, Robert’s kidney stone issues, and trying to fit into a new culture. But we had some special moments where God revealed his presence in a tangible way.

The first night we were here one of my kids was crying and could not fall asleep. We were tired and emotional and the tears just wouldn’t stop. I began to quietly pray Ephesians 6 (the armor of God) over my family. It was as if someone flipped a switch when I began praying. The tears immediately stopped and my precious child fell right to sleep. The peace I felt in our little apartment was amazing.

God was with us as we traveled to Kenya for Robert’s surgery and recovery. He helped keep us calm when everything seemed like it was unraveling. A couple of answered prayers: 1. We were approved for an emergency medical evacuation which means that insurance covered our hospital fees. 2. We were approved to seek medical assistance in Kenya where Robert’s parents could meet and help us. God took what started out as a very stressful and scary situation and turned it into a time for us to relax and spend time with friends and family.

God has been faithful to answer prayers for my fast-paced family to adjust to the slow goings of Chad life. We’ve developed a love of reading that makes my heart proud, tried our hands at new types of art, grown closer to one another, and made new friends even with some cultural differences.

These 4 months have been exciting and challenging. I’m so grateful for God’s provisions, grace, and mercy.

Weekends in Chad

It is Friday!

I’ve always loved my weekends. They are a much needed break in between school and work. They give me time to relax, get personal things done, spend time with loved ones, etc. But I really, really, really love my weekends in Chad.

Saturday mornings start off very similar to how they did in the States. We sleep in, lounge around, and make pancakes for brunch. After everyone is fed – and I’m caffeinated, we each go our separate ways and decide whether we want to read, play, watch a movie, or just stare off into space.

After doing one or all of the above, we gather back together to eat a late lunch/early dinner. Sometimes we decide to play a board game or watch a movie together and other times we decide to each go our separate ways and read, play, watch a movie, or just stare off into space again.

Sundays are just as nice. We attend an English-speaking church service two Sunday mornings each month. The other two Sunday mornings are spent relaxing just like Saturdays. Sunday afternoons differ for me though. I spend my time in the kitchen by myself. I make cookies and muffins for the coming week’s breakfasts and snacks. It’s just me, my music, and my recipes. I love it!

Come Sunday evening, a few missionary families will meet up to play volleyball and hang out. Robert and the kids often join in the fun. But me? You’ll find me hiding in our quiet, dark apartment reading by the light of my Kindle.

Every now and then, the kids might have a birthday party to attend or we’ll spend a few hours with friends, but for the most part, our weekends are very slow. Some may say they are boring. But to me they are lovely.

Weekends in Chad are this introvert’s dream!


Saturday morning bedhead –  no one needs to see this pic enlarged. Ha!


A slow morning with a taste and smell of autumn

Processed with VSCO with kk1 preset

Weslee enjoying some alone time in the sun. I think she’s a bit introverted like her momma. 

The love of rhythm and routine

What a week this has been! School was out, so the kids and I were home all week. I still don’t know the area well enough to make a bunch of plans, and I’m not sure yet if it’s appropriate for the kids and I to head to a corner shop or an import store and browse. We don’t speak French so I do know that would be a problem.

The compound we live on has a small library, playground, trampoline, and a kids’ soccer game every Wednesday afternoon, so there is plenty to do right here. But we are on this compound all the time, which is great for me since I would be happy being a hermit, but it’s not so great for my outgoing family. We’re used to doing special things when we are on break, so there was some disappointment.

Robert came down sick with a kidney stone, so it was best that we didn’t have any plans. He has passed a kidney stone once before, so when the pain started he knew the drill. He drank a bunch of water, took some pain meds, and kept a vomit bucket close by. But two days later, he became dehydrated and felt miserable. Thankfully, a missionary doctor is staying in the apartment above us. She gave him 2 liters of IV fluids and monitored his progress. By the 4th bag of IV, he began feeling like himself again. He’s had little pain since then, and is doing much better. Praise God!

Side note – it was shocking and amazing that the doctor had everything she needed on hand. She used my yarn to tie the IV bag to our bed and I “assisted” her in getting it all ready. When the time came, we sat outside on the dusty walkway in front of our apartment while she removed the IV. Hashtag missionary life. Ha! I’m so thankful we didn’t have to make a trip the hospital. If you know a missionary doctor, you should send them an extra donation for Christmas this year. If you don’t any, I know two here in Chad that are amazing…I can give you their names. 😉

The sickness stint on top of not having anything to do sent us all into a funk. We had moments of feeling blue, snapping at each other in anger, and just feeling bored and useless. It took a lot of patience and grace to get us through last week. I’m thankful for the all games and DVDs we brought with us; they were very helpful!

Tomorrow is a new day and school and work resume. Woohoo! We will get back into our normal rhythm and fill our days with books, work, and friends. Thank God for routine!

It’s crazy, but I can remember a time not that long ago when I hated routine. I felt tied down, boxed in. My free-spirit wanted spontaneity, no deadlines, freedom to choose whatever I wanted. While I’m still very much a free spirit and like a little spontaneity, I’ve learned to appreciate certain boxes and deadlines, which makes me feel like I’ve finally grown up. I’m about to turn 38, so I guess it’s about time. Ha!

Thank you to everyone who is praying for us! We feel encouraged and strengthened by your prayers.


After getting the IV

Dr. Ruth checking on things

The kids enjoy playing in the rain when it comes.

Two weeks in Chad

We left the USA two weeks ago. Since then, we’ve unpacked our apartment, enrolled the kids in school, and started working. Those are just the big things. The little everyday things we’ve had to adjust to have been the hardest. Jet lag was tough, but by the end of week 1, it was over. Remembering to brush our teeth, drink, and cook with filtered water hasn’t been too hard, but it does help that one of our kitchen faucets provides filtered water. I think the hardest adjustments for me have been living without air conditioning, the frequent power outages, and the bugs.

Indulge me while I complain a little:

The heat and humidity is suffocating some days. I sweat all the time. By afternoon, I’m sweating as much as I do when I work out. My hair and dress get drenched. I tell myself that the sweat makes my skin look like it’s glowing…trying to find a silver lining. Ha! I’m so thankful that we have plenty of fans. Even when they’re just circulating hot air, it’s better than no circulation at all.

N’Djamena has frequent power outages. That means that we not only lose our lights, we also lose our fans. Not good! Thankfully, our compound has a generator that comes on little bit after the power dies. That bit of time when the fans stop is miserable, especially when it happens in the middle of the night. We have had a couple of times when the generator didn’t work. One night we slept with ice packs and wet washcloths until the power came back on. We’re finding creative ways to stay cool.

The bugs. Oh, the bugs. There are these little gnats that can fit through the netting of our mosquito nets, and they bite. I made some bug repellent spray for our sheets and net last night. I think it helped. Praise God! Once dry season arrives in November, we’ve heard that the bugs and the humidity begin to go away. I can’t wait!

Ok. Complaining is over. Let’s move on to the good stuff:

I love my job! Teaching this little Kindergarten class is so much fun. The kids are wonderful – I think they all are being on their best behavior because I’m new. Ha! We have fun reading and playing and working together.

I love our house helper. It’s a common practice here in Africa for expats to create jobs for locals. We hired a young woman to hand wash our clothes, shop at the city market, and cook our lunch during the week. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day here, and with all of us working or attending school from 7:30am-12:30pm, it’s nice to come home to lunch already prepared. I don’t speak French, so communicating is difficult. Having our house helper shop and do the bargaining at the market is so helpful. We get to practice our French with her and she practices her English. I’m looking forward to getting to know her better.

Last week, we attended a prayer meeting with all the missionaries who are working with the Daza and Teda people. I feel so honored to be a part of this amazing group. Chad is a poor and hard place to live, but there is a large group of missionary families who have committed their lives to helping make Chad better through literacy and education, clean water, medical care, and of course, the love of Jesus. I love that we get to be here and assist them. They are truly making a difference in so many lives!

I’ve come to realize that for every hard thing we must endure here in Chad, there is a good thing happening to keep us going.

Processed with VSCO with 4 preset

Waiting for the school taxi.


First day of school

Processed with VSCO with 4 preset

Dress shopping at the market.




An Ode to This Old House

This old house has seen me through more than half of my adult life.

We moved in when Shiloh was 4 years old and Huck was 4 months old (2008).

We have so many heartwarming memories in this house.

The kids and I sent Robert off on many travels and adventures from this house and joyfully welcomed him home when they were over.

I taught Shiloh to read in this living room. I think I also taught her to dislike math here too. Whoops!

The kids learned to ride bikes on these sidewalks, learned what being neighborly looks like from our kind neighbors, and developed life long friendships with some of the greatest people right here on this street.

They experienced the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus here. Built forts, obstacle courses, fairy houses and leprechaun traps in this yard. Had late night conversations and tenderhearted prayer times in their bedrooms.

Their dirty little fingerprints are on every doorknob, door, door frame, window, window pane, windowsill, wall, corner, baseboard, countertop, cabinet…you get the idea.

The hours of snow shoveling done here will not be missed, but jumping in the giant piles of snow will be.

This house is where I planted my first garden. I experienced life coming from my hands. I also experienced death coming from my hands as this is where I learned that I am not a good gardener.

We named our giant maple tree in this front yard Mr. Bark. He hosted many squirrels, birds, fairies and gnomes. He had canopies, tents, faces, and fairy doors hung from his trunk.

Mr. Bark was also the home to our joy-filled tire swing. Our kids and many neighbors spent hours swinging here. The swing became an airplane, a pirate ship, a boredom-buster, and a friend gatherer.

We brought Louis and Bowdrie home to this house. We will miss watching them view the outside world from our living room bay window, but we have fond memories of cuddle and play time with them here.

It was in this house that my marriage died and, by the grace of God, was resurrected. This is the house we separated in and the house where we reunited.

This house hosted many counseling sessions, crying sessions, yelling sessions, and making up sessions.

This is where I was when I received the news of my dad’s death. This is where my friends came around me and helped carry me through that loss.

I had a late term miscarriage in this home. We said goodbye to a little life in our upstairs bathroom.

Then I gave birth to Weslee in this home. We said hello to her in that same upstairs bathroom.

This house hosted birthday parties, halloween parties, dance parties, bonfires, christmas concerts, bible studies, and neighborhood soup nights.

It’s been the holder of happy times and sad times, and it has held my family well.

I’m so thankful God saw fit for this house to be a part of who we are.

722 Palace St, you are a wonderful piece in our story.


Mornings Outside

Sun shining.

Wind blowing.

Fresh air flowing.

Leaves swaying.

Cicadas buzzing.

Birds chirping.

Water gurgling.

Webs glistening.

Bells chiming.

Kids laughing.

Lungs deep-breathing.

Shoulders relaxing.

Mind dreaming.

Hope filling.

Peace welcoming.

Here is joy.

Here is rest.

Here is God.

A prayer

I’m feeling the waves, the wind, the sea all around me – the fundraising, the packing, the moving, the emotions. I’m losing my focus on Jesus and focusing instead on the storm.

Lord Jesus, you are sovereign. You have called us to Chad. You have provided the way. But somehow in the midst of all my preparation, my mind has lost sight of that.

I feel like Peter when he walked on water and then began to sink. I was cruising along on the waves with you, and then I looked at the storm around me and became scared.

Take my hand, Lord. Lift me up. Give me strength. Reignite your calling in me.

Not today, honey!

I’m having a hard day. I don’t feel sad or sleepy or angry. I just feel down…exhausted…weary. Depressed.

This has been a hard week. We moved out of our house and signed the closing papers. This is a huge change for us and every emotion is knocking on our doors.

I feel like I’ve been carrying a heavy load all week. And now I just want to go to bed and stay there.

I’m fully aware of my mental illness today. She’s sitting a little too close to me right now. Thankfully, I recognize how close she’s getting and I have my tool box ready to prevent her from sitting on my lap and taking control over me.

I took my meds this morning. I got out of bed, put on my clothes, and took the kids to Chick-fil-A. We ate inside so I had to interact with strangers. I had to be seen and heard. Then we went to Target for some groceries – checked something off my list – and even though I did use the self-checkout, I still had to leave the comfort of my bed and car and be around people. Then when we got back to the apartment, I played on the play ground with my kids. I laid in the grass, basked in the sun, and even asked Weslee to push me on the swing. I sat on my bed, inhaled some essential oils (bergamot, lemon, and patchouli), and wrote in my journal. People, these are HUGE wins for me on a day like today!

To some these tools of mine may seem silly, but to me they are major successes. Today, I stood up to my mental illness and said, “Not today, honey!”