Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Before Starbucks offered it in a blended latte...

Before Oregon chai was ever conceived...

Before I'd been introduced to the subtle flavors of true Indian chai...

...chai was the gift of Kenya. A blend of whole milk fresh from the family cow, an extraordinary amount of sugar, the black tea leaves of the Great Rift Valley, and whatever ashes and smoke drifted down into the pot, Kenyan chai is more than just a drink.

It says "welcome" and "We don't have much, but we'll share what we've got." To drink a cup or twelve of chai says "thank you for welcoming me" and "I trust you."

Chai in the states is not quite the same. I don't have an enamel tea set, nor an open fire, nor a cow. But I do have dear friends to whom I love to say "welcome" and "let me share with you another piece of God's world."

I've had chai twice this week - once as receiver, once as giver. And both times were sweeter than the raw sugar that filled my cup.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Ahhh... flannel sheets.

They're so warm and cozy, just right for those nights when frost is forming on the ground and windshields outside.

Off with the cotton, on with the flannel and the wool blankets.

The problem is, my pj's are flannel, too. Which in essence turns me into a human flannelgraph, velcro-ing me in place for the night.

For some reason, this idea reminds me of Flat Stanely.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Difference Between Men and Women

I had a flat yesterday. I stared at it for a minute and muttered "bummer" to myself, emptied the truck of the van so I could get at the spare... then had second thoughts.

I walked back toward the building I had just left and found two men.

"Who would like the opportunity to change a tire?" I asked.

Both jumped up right away and hustled to my rescue. One grabbed the jack, the other the lug wrench and off they went.

I suspect if I'd asked these men's wives (or any of my other female friends) for help, they would have helped by pulling out cell phones and rounding up a guy for the job.

Not that women can't change a tire. I believe I could. I just don't want to. It would be a hardship to me. The guys, though acted like it was no trouble at all.

Thanks, Jay and Alex. You're a blessing.


I'll admit, I'm a lurker. I belong to couple of email groups that I rarely contribute to. I read people's blogs and don't leave comments.

Not too long ago, lurkers were mal-intentioned peeping Toms who hid in the bushes of suburbia. No longer. Now we can be ultra-busy soccer moms who want to gather information or have a good read without commiting to a project.

Are you a lurker? Which cyberspots do you frequent without commiting to them? What would it take to draw you out of the bushes?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Nice Surprise

I received a package in the mail today.

"Periodical Mail" read the label. I don't subscribe to any magazines that come in a box.

I opened the box to find 3 copies of a women's magazine... next month's issue.

An article I wrote and sent off months ago is right in the middle of the magazine. I didn't even know they were going to use it. It's my first article in a print publication.

It's a nice surprise.

p.s. I've also got an article out in Wineskins Magazine this month, so it's a big month for me.

California Burning

No puns, no clever observations, no turns of phrase today. Just a sincere concern for the million or so who have already been evacuated from their homes in Southern California and for those who may still lose their houses.

I have friends and family (as do many people) spread from Thousand Oaks to Malibu to San Bernadino to Torrance to Escondido to Chula Vista.

Suffering is so intangible. A similar disaster in a country without infrastructure might yield many times more injuries and deaths. In third world countries where insurance does not exist, fire destroys not only the past, but hope for the future. Even in the midst of devastation, America offers hope to its citizens.

Or does it?

I could launch in to a diatribe against the injustice that still hangs over New Orleans, the poverty linked with ethnicity, apples rotting on trees from lack of laborers.

But not today.

Today we pray for California.

Monday, October 22, 2007

What is it about Midnight?

11:29 p.m.

Hungry. Looking for something tasty.

Why is it that the things I don't eat in the day look so appetizing late at night?

Fruit Loops squeak out my name from the cupboard. An "old maid" cookie begs me to rescue it from its lonely existence.

All the good foods went to bed hours ago. Apples and carrots tucked themselves in at dinner time. But the cheese, that little rascal, keeps trying to crawl out of its chilly bed into my warm tummy.

Even the popsicles, the kind I buy because I don't like them, tease me. "So what if we don't taste good? We're made with SUGAR."

You know me. I don't like to disappoint.

Friday, October 19, 2007


Yesterday we learned about a guy named Peter Bruis. He lived in the 1100's in France. He had this crazy idea that people should have access to the Bible, that they should be able to read it for themselves instead of letting the higher clergy of the church tell them what it says.


So radical that he was burned at the stake for heresy.

This morning we're going to watch a family perform a play of sorts where all the lines are memorized scripture.

We've come a long way. Let's not forget the price of our freedom.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Middle Child

It's my job as the middle child to make sure everyone is happy. I hate conflict, fights, discontent. I'm more likely to pull myself out of a situation than to allow any negative energy to focus on me. I may not be good at my job, but it's my place in the family.

Yesterday, a friend asked me to send out one of those emails that turns into a prayer tree, a network of people across the country praying blessings on each other. My first response was to push delete. I don't like sending anything to friends that requires action on their part, especially something that may or may not have originated with friend #1.

So I went back to her and, indeed, she confirmed that the email was part of her nephew's class project. Now what to do? Should I stick to my "policy" and push delete? Or should I help a poor kid (and his poor aunt who was also roped in)?

I sent it out, as several of you know. I hope it was an encouragement to some of you. I know a couple of you just pushed delete. And couple of wrote back to me to say either "This is bogus" or "I don't do this kind of thing."

I stewed about this thing all last night. It's that middle child in me that wants everyone to be happy. That's why I sent the message out. It's also why I felt guilty about it and felt like I was bothering people.

I hate bothering people. But I also hate letting people down.

Monday, October 15, 2007


An acquaintance in the writing community, Mary DeMuth, is doing a blog experiment to see how far-reaching blogs can be. She tagged 12 people and asked them to tag others to see how far this can go. If you decide to answer her question, either leave it as a comment on this blog or answer it in your blog and link back to hers. (

The question is, what were you doing 10, 20 and 30 years ago? Here's my response:

10 years ago-

I lived in Togo. The hot season was just beginning. This is the week of the year when the heat rolls in with sweaty splendor. The bright-hot sun burned overhead, but only we Englishmen and the mad dogs knew it. Everyone else sat in the shade of palm-thatched paillottes.

20 years ago-

This one dates me. 20 years ago I was a sophomore in college in Arkansas, which was of secondary importance since I was also engaged and about to get married. I wore a trench in the sidewalk between my dorm and my (now) husband's. I would pace from his ground floor window to the bike rack by the front door and back again, waiting for him to emerge and walk me to class, to the library, to dinner... anywhere he wanted to take me.

30 years ago-

Let's see. I would have been in Mrs. Norm's 4th grade class where I learned to do the bamboo dance and got to be in the Chinese New Year parade. I'm sure the termination dust was well down Thunder Mountain, a sure sign that another Alaskan winter would soon begin. Was 1977 the year we had snow on Halloween?

How about you? I tag Sandi, Cheryl, Mom, and whoever else wants to participate.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sub Culture

Apparently blogging is passé. Or something the older crowd does. Or something.

I was dragged by necessity into the land of Facebook. Not sure the difference between Facebook and Myspace except that, as yet, I haven't been stalked and haven't had any strangers approach me.

There's something junior highish about these networking sites (I might have just dated myself there - I think I was in the last jr. high class before it got changed to middle school). Passing notes, writing on walls, poking each other, posting updates every ten minutes about how I'm feeling or what I'm doing... it seemed like a lot of effort for shallow communication.

Turns out, though, I've got friends. Not as many as some, but more than I would have thought. And some of them go way back. It's easy to find friends since people tend to use their real names and network within interest groups, geographic locations and alma maters.

I've reconnected with a few people I thought were lost to me forever.

So, drop on by.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


I had a teacher in France, Madame Weille, who would have fainted at the thought of throwing out a piece of bread. Every morsel, every crumb of each baguette was used either as pain perdu (French toast) or as bird food. "Jamais," she would say, "Never throw bread away. It would disrespect our memory of the war, when our bread kept us alive."

I smiled inwardly at her passion over bread. I knew then, as I do now, that throwing away a piece of bread or a bowl of rice or a half-eaten serving of salad does not really affect the soldiers of WWII or the starving children of India, China or Africa.

Still, when I made too much Akume (Ugali, cornmeal mush) tonight, I could not throw it away. If I have to eat it for breakfast, fry it into chips and introduce it to my dog, it will all get eaten. Because really, when it comes down to it, I am tied to the hungry people of Africa. I can see their faces as I eat their food.

And to throw away their sustenance would disrespect their memory. It might not affect them, but it affects me.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Deep in the Heart of...

... Texas? Yes, in a physical sense. Together for Togo 2007 met in Dallas.

But it is deep in the heart of missionaries past, present and future that I spent my weekend. When I surround myself with those who have shared in the mission of God on a foreign field, I know what it means - in a limited way - for deep to call to deep. God planted something in these messengers that I cannot put words to. All I know is that it is my privilege and honor to be counted among them.

Thank you to all who came - Bryan, Matt, Crowsons, Neals, Jana, Kennells, Baileys, Hollands, Bunner, Koonces, Hausteins, Mark, Parkers, Amy, Tom and others I don't know yet. You revived my spirit.

You awoke what was sleeping in the depths of my heart.
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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Small Sky

I traveled today with my family to Texas for a missionary conference/reunion. Since there are five in our family, we always sit 3 on one side of the aisle and 2 on the other. Which means we always have a stranger in the row with us.

On our flight from Houston to Dallas, I shared a row with a flight attendant on her way back home after getting off work. We chatted through several subjects during our 43 minute flight - Why she became a flight attendant, To Kill a Mockingbird, modesty for young girls, Beth Moore.

As our plane started its descent into Dallas, she noted that she could tell I'd traveled with kids before. What gave me away? The snacks? The coloring books? The toys?

"We were missionaries in West Africa," I said, intending to explain that we were headed to a missions conference. But she didn't let me.

"I was a missionary in East Africa!" she exclaimed.

"Really? What part?"


"Really? What city?"

She told me. As it happened, I knew some people who used to work there.

"What group were you with?" I asked.

"Well, there are lots of denominations in Uganda, but I worked with a Church of Christ team."

You could have knocked me down by blowing on me. I started naming people I knew on that team. You guessed it. Same team. In fact, we even attended the same retreat in Kenya 6 years ago.

Small Sky!

Monday, October 01, 2007


One month down, eight to go until summer vacation. What happened to September? It trickled away in a flurry of soccer shoes, museum visits, and math tests. "We'll start that later" turns to "We should have started that by now," and time moves on.


The month of pumpkins and corn, of hay and falling leaves. The month of apple pies and candy corn and wind. I know March has a reputation, but October's wind has something to say, too.

last october