Sunday, July 5, 2015


It has been a while. I only write a blog post when, (and I know this sounds bizarre to most), I feel the Holy Spirit imploring me to do so. And so may HIS will be done…

I am a white, American, living in one of the most intensely culturally diverse regions on earth; we coexist, but barely. Let me be clear here, I, by no means categorize myself as a white South African. I am an expatriate, and I will always be an American living abroad. With this said, in my very short amount of time living here in SA, I have been both the victim and the perpetrator of racism. I am ashamed to admit the latter. No, I've not committed overt violent acts against my Zulu or Xhosa neighbours, but I have much to my own shame…rolled up my car windows and locked the doors when three black men walked across an abandoned parking lot toward the vehicle where my four sons and myself were waiting.

I have watched in judgement of white South Africans at the manner in which they approach or talk to black countrymen and women. I have also been disgusted and frustrated with the Zulu and Xhosa people and my perceived lack of their concern for human life, as well as, what I construed to be their apathy toward the betterment of their communities.

I have seen both sides. I will not insult South Africans, both black and white, by pretending to think I have an answer to the issues that they, as citizens of this great nation, face on a daily basis. I AM NOT AN AUTHORITY! I HAVE NO ANSWERS!
I can only give voice to my own experiences.

Here, I am often mistaken for an Afrikaner. Decedents of the Dutch, the Afrikaans people group is for the most part, fair skinned, fair haired, and very tall; all of which I am. I am the recipient of both undeserved acceptance, and unwanted resentment before I open my mouth, allowing my very American accent to correct these wrongs.

Today, on my way home with my four boys I was able to right just one of the multitudes of racially charged wrongs in this region of the world. The common denominator of motherhood was the indelible thread, which wove this moment, in this COMPLICATED, mosaic tapestry of life together.

 I pulled up to the stop sign in my neighbourhood, just as I have done thousands of times before, and for some reason I was enthralled by an attractive young, black, mom with two sons in toe, and one infant on her shoulders. Her hands were full with the single suitcase on wheels, which she pulled behind her. She looked tired, and worried.

I think she had expected me to speed through the stop sign, as she paused for me to go forward in front of herself and her sons. I had the right of way, I usually would have moved on without a moment’s pause, most drivers would. But today, I stopped, perhaps I was just starring, maybe I was just a voyeur, but I sought out her eyes. Meanwhile, my own gaggle of four boys chatted, argued, and hopped around my car. When I found the other mother’s eyes, we connected. We were in that moment, just two mothers of active, promising little men. We shared knowing looks, exhausted/pained nods of the head, and broad smiles that exposed her gold plated teeth and my vulnerability. Life had not been easy on this beautiful young mother. Life is not easy.

I paused long enough for her to cross the intersection with her sons, and when she turned her face toward me, she mouthed the words, “Thank You,” her deep, dark, telling, eyes bored holes in my own.  I instinctively knew she was not referring to my allowing her the right of way, but rather, she was recognizing the fact I SAW HER and HER SONS. In that moment, on this day, this small, fleeting fabric of shared humanity was enough to propel this tired mother forward-or at least across the next intersection in her life.

She passed and I made my turn toward home. Little did that mother know how much our brief encounter would impact me, and I wonder if we wouldn’t have more in common than that singular moment?

I have to believe we would, otherwise, why am I even at this African intersection in the first place? 

Monday, May 25, 2015

That day.... Rugby Introduced my to my young man

Alex flying high on a line out. 

This past week I had the opportunity to watch my boy grow up right before my eyes. It was beautiful, really, but I am still struggling with the reality as I sit across the room from my a young man, who last week was still my little boy. 

Alex picked up a rugby ball a little over a year ago here in SA, and it turns out he actually knew what to do with it. I was not really aware of this fact until, much to my surprize, he received the much coveted honour of, '"Rugby Player of the Year," last year for his school. Let me just state here: rugby has a cult-like following in SA. Rugby is to SA what,....well there is really no comparison in the States. So, we were a bit out of our league when our little American boy joined the ranks of millions of would be Springboks. RUGBY IS LIFE IN SA; little did I know the spotlight it would turn on my own life. 

The 2015 rugby season saw Alex continue to do well on his school's most senior rugby team. Eventually, he ended up as the only reprentative from his school to be selected for the U12 SKZN trials. The competition was stiff, remember every little boy in SA is a rugby player. Alex, again to our surprize, made this team.

This past week Alex traveled two hours away from home to compete against 350 other rugby players for 22 coveted spots. I had fully intended to just put my boy on the bus and send him on his way, but something nagged in my gut..."You need to be there for him."
 That's Alex there face planting...but he's got the ball
Richard could not get away, so I drove up to support Alex all by myself, checked myself into an odd little B & B, and headed to the rugby stadium to find my baby boy. I never found him there. Instead I found a confident, poised, leader, who really did not need me there at all. OH, he smiled when he saw me, but it was in the way that he smiled at me that told me to stay away. It was not that he was embarrassed of me... we shared a knowing look; it was more of a, "I've got this one ma, look." And so I stayed back. I took my seat in the staduim and proceeded to watch, love, and support my young man from afar....very quietly!!! Each night that I went back to my B & B alone I battled with emotions. The solitude let me bask in the gravity of the realization that my little boy is now a young man, and my role in his life will never be the same. It was a tough pill to swallow for this hands-on mom.

Since the day he was born I probably held him too much, rocked him way past the point he had fallen asleep, let him sleep in my bed way too often, this only made the distance I was feeling all the more vast. I had to let go a bit; not all the way for sure, but it was time to let go, and it WAS HARD. 

So I watched, alone, in silence as my boy battled like, in his coaches words, "a monster," on the rugby field. He just looked really beautiful to me. He played with grace. He prayed with his team before and after each match, (his was the only team in the tournament to do this). He was late to plays because he was checking on injured mates. He soared through the air on line outs, and left all had on the fields.  I longed to run up and hug and kiss him, but after his matches I only got a sly, handsome smile, and a thumbs up. Just as intinctively as I knew how to swaddle and nurse him when he was a baby, I instinctively knew to stay back; to give him space.  Finally on the last day I came to a place of acceptance. It was only at this time that he ran up to me after his match, handed me his shoes and track suit, and said, "Hey, ma can you watch these for me?" He dropped the clothes in my lap and a faint, brief kiss on the top of my head. 

I folded his precious clothes and placed them neatly in the empty seat beside me. I had to will the tears from my eyes.  Alas, my world was right again. He still needed a very different manner than I had wanted to be needed, but in the only way he truly needed me. The clothes represented the physical need, and that precious, albeit fleeting, kiss, represented the emptional need.  I am so glad I waited for him to be ready to make his needs known! I am proud of how far we have grown. HOWEVER, I don't think a mother has ever longed so much to fold her sons clothes, as this mom did, in that moment, on that day.
 Alex checking on Andre...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

One, Humbled Leader ...

Today, I had the privilege of speaking at Genesis' Leadership Academy Seminar. It was a four-day-long event, which challenged students from area schools to become leaders in their communities and lives. I served a dual role in the Leadership Academy event, as I was also recording it, and taking pictures for the media component of our ministries here, at Genesis. So, I was a familiar face among the 70-some, promising, young, South African students, when I stood behind the podium today, and possibly a safe authority from which to acquire understanding.

The topic of my presentation was, "Humility in Leadership, (how to lead others without abusing your authority, empowering others, and leaving a lasting legacy). While preparing for this 45 minute presentation, I was convicted many times. It was a Spiritual journey of my own for sure.

I had seen the sadness in these kids. I had observed their plights, and I felt a tremendous amount of responsibility standing before them today. I dove into my points about the characteristics of a HUMBLE LEADER, then followed these points with global, historical, examples of individuals, who defined humility to their very ends. Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, Ghandi, etc.

I countered these stories with the tragic demises of men, who lived arrogantly... lacking in all aspects of humility. My examples were Adolf Hilter, Mussolini, and Napoleaon Bonapart. As I discussed the tragic stories of these men's erroneous quests for power, a hand went into the air. I stopped mid-thought and welcomed the question, completely unprepared for the inquiry I was about to face...

I called on the young man. He posed his question, "If pride is such a bad thing in leadership, why is Adolf Hitler considered one of the greatest leaders of all time?" WOW!!!!!!!!! 



Am I the only one who was raised on the reality of what this monster did to God's chosen people??? 


Thankfully, someone else stepped in and appropriately dealt with this child's inquiry... I was stunned.. speechless.. and all I could come up with was this..."Adolf Hitler was certainly not a man, who I would ever consider a great leader, and never a person whom one should aspire to emulate."

But, seriously.... how in 2014... do we still have young men believing, and calling Adolf Hitler, a great leader?? 6 MILLION of God's chosen people slaughtered ... and yet the agenda still lives on. I was so discouraged.


I spoke with the last speaker of the Leadership Academy Seminar. I shared my discouragement with him, and he asked me what the boy looked like, who posed the earth shattering question to me. The speaker giggled and then stated, "Well, when you must have made an impact because when I asked them what they had learned.. that kid was the first to raise his hand and say, 'I learned a true leader is humble."




The events of this day leave me exhausted. Profoundly pensive, yet entirely assured that My GOD IS MOVING. May we always be as shocked, and as humbled, as I was today before this room filled with inquiring young minds. Malleable minds. But, who will step up to mold them?

I, personally, am incredibly humbled to have been able to have had a small voice in the lives of these future leaders. If not me??...If not you??? ....then WHO?

Friday, July 11, 2014


Tonight I had the dubious honor of sitting on a panel of judges for our church's Friday night youth talent show. There were about 200 kids and local teens, who showed up at Youth Alive tonight to see the 15 talents take the stage. When you are in Africa, and you host a talent show, you are gonna see some amazing pure, raw, talent. There is gonna be a ton of whistles, shouting, and dancing on stage and in the audience. Here.. there is really little distinction. You WILL get involved too, or you WILL be embarrassed! It was a night filled with laughter, screaming, dancing, very loud music, singing, and huge hugs.

Alex and Aden came along with me and thoroughly enjoyed themselves, shouting for performances, and getting into the vibe that is Africa's youngsters gathered together. WE LOVE IT! From the stunning Michael Jackson performance, to the amazing poetry recitals, to the free styling Christian rap...we had an amazing night.

As we were walking to our car I could not help but notice that ours was the only one in the parking lot. I was struck again by how polar opposite my life is to those of the kids I had just spent the evening hanging out with. None of them have cars. They walked there. Youth Alive does a stellar job of making sure everybody has safe rides home at the end of the night, but as I walked across the lonely parking lot, I could not help but be burdened to pray for the beautiful kids, who were finding their ways home tonight. Our family has witnessed a disproportionate amount of fatal accidents on the roadways since moving to Africa. So, I obeyed the nagging in my soul and prayed safety over my talent show comrades.

Alex, Aden, and I were signing along loudly to the Glee casts', "Don't Stop Believing," in the car on the way home, when we saw the lights. Both boys instinctively dropped their heads to their laps, and covered their eyes, (we've seen some horrific fatalities on the roads).  I instinctively closed my eyes. Then, I remembered I was driving. I would have to drive past. I willed my eyes open, trying to see how I could pass the traumatizing human carnage on the road. I was sick. My eyes shut tightly again, a reflex! This was the worst thing I have ever witnessed in my life. This was a nightmare. I could not say anything, but Jesus' name... and I did over and over again, until he gave me the strength to open my eyes. Maternal instincts to protect my young boys from the scene, as well as, realizing the danger of staying stopped in the dead of night in the middle of the road, in South Africa, pushed my foot down on the accelerator. I tried to look past as best I could, into the darkness ahead, searching for the lines, trying desperately to block anything else out, but, alas... my eyes could not find escape and fell prey to the scene. It assaulted all my senses.

WHY GOD? Why does this keep happening? And why do you keep allowing me to see it? What are you trying to tell me? What must I do? What are you asking of me?

As I write, I don't have the answers to these questions, but I am left with the stark contrast between my journey home tonight in my car, vs. the journey of the 200 teens I so loved spending the evening with. The scene I came across on the road, from the heated confines of my comfortable car, jarred me into the reality that... my own reality is so vastly different from the majority of the people we are honored to live amongst, and serve.

People walking home in the dark get hit by cars way too often in this region. Mothers with babies, who had to go out to get food, or medicine. Men walking home from a long day of work. Drunks, who are in no condition to be anywhere near a road. Teenagers just out having a good time. Prostitutes. All God's beloved creations.

I have no answers, but tonight... as I pulled into my driveway... I could not help but think Africa and her stunning people just may have been better off without all the highways, all the cars, all the westernization. I often think Africa was not meant for cars and the pace of life they bring with them. A great deal about this culture, and these people, make for a very poor coexistence with the modern roadway system.

What I witnessed on that stage tonight. What I felt in that room. What God gave these people ... what these people are to the very core is .... PURE... RAW... UNTOUCHED.

I, for one, vow to never take that for granted!  

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Brothers First

We have been questioned over the years, have been the brunt of jokes, and suffered ridicule for having so many boys. We've always absorbed the jabs, knowing the punches were thrown with little or no thought. At times when the noise just does not stop, the action never ceases, and the exhaustion catches up with us, we have to admit we do wonder, "what in the world were we thinking when we had so many boys." Today, we were schooled in the beauty and wonder of brotherhood, and we walked away from this lesson with little question as to why God gave us so many boys.

Today, Alex had his first South African rugby game. His team named him captain, and his coaches gave him the position of, "lock." Both are dubious honors, which our boy felt very undeserving of, and he did not want to disappoint.  His nerves were hopping this morning, so much so, that he forgot his uniform in the house. As always, Aden was right there helping Alex get his gear together. Aden asked if he could be released from school early so he could watch his big brother's away game. We gave Aden the permission slip to leave school early, and as Alex aired his anxieties on the way to school, Aden put them to rest.

We picked all our boys up from school and took them to watch Alex's first game. Rugby is a rough game, but Alex's Uncle Tim told him to, 'go in 100%,' so that is exactly what he did. He gave all he had and he got pretty beat up in the process, but he gave it his all. Meanwhile, Aden sat on the sidelines watching his big brother's every move.  When the final whistle blew Aden was the first one to reach his brother. Motivated entirely on his own, Aden ran to Alex, embraced him, pulled him close to his face, and told him how well he had played. He laid it all on the line for his big brother, "Alex, you did a great job. I am really proud of you."

In that brief moment I caught Richard's eyes. We shared a knowing look. Moments like this erase all the hardships, all the exhaustion, and all the doubts of having so many sons. We knew in an instant that we could never give our boys more than giving them one another.

Our boys are loud. Our boys are not always neat. Are boys are sometimes late. They make messes. They are seldom still.  They talk a whole lot. They are not easily managed, and they have their fair share of fights. The bad definitely out numbers the good, but the good out weighs the bad a million to one.

Between our brothers and brothers-in-law Richard and I are blessed to call 13 men our brothers. We know what it means to have somebody's back no matter what, and so do our sons. We don't have much in monetary terms to offer our boys, however, today watching Alex and Aden, we felt like millionaires. I think if either Richard or myself were given the choice of all the riches in this world, or our brothers, both of us would chose the latter with no thought at all. Realizing these same values have been passed down to our sons leaves us so thankful to our Heavenly Father. This self less love could not exist without the ONE, who created brotherhood. We are so honored He deemed us worthy to have front row seats in watching it unfold over and over again, as we watch our sons grow into men of God.

So, Merritt, David, Todd, Tom, Tim R. , Mike, John, Bill, Bob, Tim H., Trevor, Brian, and Sam. Thanks for showing us how to raise brothers right! We love and miss you more than words.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Finding ourselves again... in South Africa

Since moving to the South Coast of Africa 6-weeks-ago, there has been a giant void in our lives, but we've not been able to put our fingers on it, until today. As a church family we learned about practical Christianity, and what it means to actually, "live-out," caring for the hurting people around us. It was a hard message to hear, as I sat next to my 16-year-old boy, who knows exactly what it means to be hungry. Truly hungry. However, as hard as it was to hear, it was so refreshing to FINALLY hear a pastor come out and shed light on the world's little known secret.

After teaching the congregation about the gravity of the starvation situation around the world and just outside our doors, here in Africa, our pastor put us into action. Members of our congregation filled 200 bags with African staples; the sustenance of life among the African people. As a family, we immediately recognized these items. Memories of seeing them as part of our beloved Basotho family's daily existence, brought what was an already close to home issue, even closer.

Our boys were energized, all five of them. They worked to collect just the right items, and together they filled two bags with food and necessities. It was beautiful to see each boy spring into action in his own way. In the end, the church was asked to buy a bag, and then to donate it to somebody in the church, or community in need. So, Abe took 100R, the equivalent of $10 USD, which will feed a small family here for a week, and slipped it into the box. Aron, meanwhile, was busy searching for the specific bag HE had filled among the sea of bags placed at the alter. HE FOUND IT, and with great delight, donated it to those in need. It was precious to behold.

As our family was leaving church, we could not help but notice a group of kids standing in the parking lot. They were the recipients of our bags!!! The boys and myself walked up to them, asked to take their pictures, and offered them a ride home. As our family made room for these children, I had to choke back the tears. You see, each one of my boys was finally...... NOW.... HOME! Something in the very core of each of our beings awakened, as we loaded those five little boys into our family vehicle. Our boys chattered away! A light came on in them, which had gone out. We drove the boys back into their village, just as we have driven our Basotho boys thousands of times. We realized they are not all that different from the boys we had to leave behind. The excitement and energy in our car was palatable. Our worlds were right once again.

As soon as the last child was dropped off, Nkopane said in a breathy voice, "Ntate, M'me, (dad and mom), thank you so much for picking them up. Thank you so, so much." The rest of our boys went on to talk about how each child reminded them of Spinnar, Quena, Tsepo, Thabiso, or Kabelo. Alex sighed and said what we were all thinking, "NOW, this feels like home."

 It defies all logic, but our family is most alive when we are deep in an African village talking to, giving hugs, and connecting with people. It is not intended to be self righteous. It is our testimony. It is a story of how God took a family from a comfortable life in NC, asked them to leave all they had ever known, with nothing more than the promise that His Grace would be sufficient. God grew that family in painful ways, in miraculous ways, and in just the right ways. Today, that same family, which was terrified to move to Africa, is only at peace when it is immersed in African culture.

Loving Africa is a given, but loving her people is a calling. Today, I realized not only have my husband and myself been blessed with this very specific calling, but so have our sons. Nobody could ever come close to filling the void left in our hearts when we drove away from Maseru, and our Basotho sons. But today...we were reminded of the unrelenting peace we receive when we simply.... Do what God commands, and love HIS people. Therein lies the key to finding, and maintaining, ones' self. 

Matthew 25:35
"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink."

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Window into Aron's World

You asked to sleep with me tonight, and I was happy to say, “Yes.”  As you lay next to me, I marveled in your beauty. You are magnificent! You have my white hair. You have my eyes; you have your father’s strong jaw line, and my mother’s high cheekbones. You are beautiful! But, they tell me there are things wrong with you. They tell me you have dyspraxia. They tell me you have A.D.D. They tell me you are autistic. I don’t know what these things mean. These labels confuse me. You are my boy, and you are my perfection.

You cannot be still, so I rub your back. I marvel at your muscle tone, at your overdeveloped traps, and I kneed the knots out. How hard you must have worked today to cause such stress on these muscles. Your body jerks. You fight against the release, and then you finally fall into it. I reach for my lotion and begin to work on your overdeveloped back muscles. No boy at the age of 7 should have such a strong back, and shoulders. Your body continues to jerk. I continue to work and to marvel at the beauty that is you, my son. I work my way down your arms to your wrists. They lay limp. Weak. I pick them up, and they fall. The contrast to your shoulders, neck, and back, is startling. I work your hands, and your fingers. They are the same. They do not respond to my fingers. They lay open and unaware. My heart lurches. What they say is true! They tell me that underneath this beautiful crown of white hair your brain does not communicate with these precious hands I now hold. They tell me scientific names like dyspraxia, and so on, but I cannot hear them. I only know you. I pick up your fingers and will them to encircle mine…they do not. They never did. I know this because when the doctors first placed you in my arms I noticed this about you, my stunning boy!

And so, I continue to massage your tight muscles, the ones, which have done all the work all day long, making up for their counterparts. You are quiet for the first time since you opened your eyes at 4:45 a.m. I am cherishing this moment with you. Then, I begin to weep, to sob. To worry, to question, to marvel at how far you have come, and how wonderfully God has protected and taken care of you, my dear boy! You turn suddenly, I had thought you were asleep, and you find my mouth and kiss me. You ask, “Are you crying, momma?” You go on to inquire about a litany of pets and animals from our past, which may have died and if I am upset about them. I just squeeze you. And as if on cue… KoKo, our Jack Russell Terrier, enters the room, hops up next to you and lies down. You ask if I love Koko, and if KoKo knows when I am sad, and I just say, “Yes,” my precious son.

One day you may know what you have overcome. You may never know what I have overcome. But my prayer for you, my boy, is this…. that you always know that any overcoming has only ever been done because of Jesus Christ in our lives.

They tell me you have autism. They tell me you have dyspraxia. They tell me you have A.D.D. In you, my boy, all I see is myself, the man I love, my hero, and God’s GRACE.