Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Goodness Of God

So most of you probably read about our break-in we had back in January. It was violating and awful. Well, in the process my computer was stolen. I was so very sad about it. Well, a team from our church came last week. We were in the office going through the VBS supplies they brought and the awesome goodies they blessed us with (thanks, Christine, for getting all that together!) In walked the team leader, handing me a case. "What is it?" I asked. Opening it, I was speechless. Literally. Everyone watching me and I didn't know what to say. In it, was a silver, Macbook Pro. The exact computer I had but a newer version with more memory and in better condition! Isn't that just the goodness of God!? I mean, not just getting a new computer but the exact one I had! I was so blessed by it that I had to share it with all of you. And thanks so much to the ones who gave it to me. You blessed me beyond words!


Check the giveaway post to see if you were the recipient of a little goodness!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Blogging Fun

Pilar, over in Spain, tagged me and gave me an award! How fun! I met Pilar through the blogging world. Her family are missionaries in Spain. It's been so encouraging for me to meet other missionary women/mom's serving the Lord in various places all over the world!

Ok, on to the tag. I'm supposed to post 7 things that people don't necessarily know about me. Man, this is tough! Hmmm...

1. Well, when I was in high school my friend, Kristi, and I got out my Barbie dolls and played Barbie. I guess we wanted to tap back into our childhood. Sorry, Kristi!

2. I went white water rafting about 10 years ago. We had a young guide who took us over some tides that were a bit, shall we say, strong? All of us sitting in the back fell out. The water was so strong that I wasn't coming up to the surface. I really thought I was going to die. Then, all of a sudden someone pulled me up. The people that saw it happen said all they saw was people flying out everywhere!

3. I love to ride my bike. Although, I don't do it very often. A childhood friend of mine and myself would often ride our bikes through town. (Oops, sorry mom, if you didn't know that!)

4. I've eaten lots of interesting foods. In Thailand, I ate bamboo soup. Don't try it. Bamboo is good for a lot of things but not eating. In Mongolia, I ate yak tongue and yak cheese sandwiches. Again, not on my list of favorite foods.

5. The first 18 years of my life, I only lived in 3 different houses. Since I've been married, I've lived in 7! (Oh, just added one more to the list!)

6. When I was in high school, I got my HAM radio license. My license number was KC5NKU. How do I remember such random things!?

7. Some of my extracurricular activities as a school girl growing up included tap, tumbling, basketball, and playing the flute. I also served on the Yearbook staff for 3 years of high school and loved it!

Any readers who want to participate in this tag, feel free! And send me the link to your post!

Pilar gave me an awesome award! It's my desire that God's light would shine through me so what a blessing that she gave me an award of shining His light through this blog. I pray that this blog is a light to others and offers hope, encouragement, laughter, love, and lots of lots of smiles.

I have read so many blogs lately who shine His light! I don't even know where to begin! Pilar, this award definitely goes right back at you!


Don't forget to leave your comment for the giveaway. Winners will be drawn tomorrow at 9 PM South African time! Best of luck!

Sunday, March 29, 2009


So I am a sucker for home made soups. I just think they are so much better than the can. I know most of you are leaving the winter season but we are heading into it soon. A good bowl of soup or stew is just the perfect ingredient to warm you up! One of my favorite soups to make is minestrone. Maybe it's because I have a love affair with chick peas!


3/4 cup dry chick peas
3/4 cup dry white beans
2 medium carrots, chopped
6 slices bacon
1 large onion
2 stalks celery
1 clove garlic, minced
2 16 oz. cans tomatoes
1 medium zucchini
1 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. sage

Soak beans overnight. Combine with 9 cups water. Bring to boiling. Simmer about 2 hrs. Add carrots and simmer another hour. Cook bacon until crisp. Cook, onion, celery, and garlic in reserved bacon drippings till tender. Put into pot with beans along with undrained tomatoes, zucchini, basil, sage, 2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. I also like to throw in a little chicken bouillon. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer about 30 min. Garnish with bacon and parmesan cheese.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Reading...Stone Cold

This was my first book to read by David Baldacci. I had high expectations because I've heard so much and he is on the NY Times #1 Best Seller list. I think, though, my first mistake was starting a 500 page book in the busiest season of my life. It took me over a month to finish it. And the ending for me was a bit anti-climatic. I have another Baldacci book (that I just packed away!) Have any of you read any good ones by him? Did I just pick a bad one? Or maybe it was my timing!


Thank you to all of you who have left comments for the giveaway! If you haven't yet, be sure to leave your comment here to be entered!

Friday, March 27, 2009

13 Years Ago This Week...

...I was 18 years old and setting off for an experience that forever changed my life. I moved to Tyler, TX to go through Youth With A Mission's Discipleship Training School. The 6 years I lived in Tyler were such rich times where I began lasting friendships, met my husband, and saw God change me into someone who is confident in who I am in Christ. Those years took me on adventures to Azerbaijan, Haiti, India, Thailand, Mongolia, Norway, South Africa, N. Africa, and all over the USA where I did everything from teaching English to working in refugee camps, from kid's clown ministry to cleaning toilets, as a single, married, and pregnant (sadly, that's why I still can't do Thai food) missionary!

I am so thankful for that decision that God led me in. It has definitely forever changed my life and started this amazing journey that led us here to S. Africa. Isn't it awesome to stop for a moment, look back on your life, and see the amazing things God has done?

Below are some of my memories that have made it to scrapbooks. I look so young!

N. Africa

Washington, D.C.



Thursday, March 26, 2009

I Believe In Love's First Ever Giveaway

Welcome to I Believe In Love's first ever giveaway! A little something from Africa just for you! Some original art and more! I have 2 sets of note cards made from some of my photos. One set is 5 cards of hands and feet from children here in Africa. The other set is 5 cards of animals from Kruger National Park. And the little something from Africa is a wooden pen cover topped with an elephant. Leave a comment and you will be entered in the giveaway! Doesn't matter where you live! Comments will be closed moving day, March 31st at 9 PM (South African time). I will announce the winners on this post shortly after.


And the winner is...

Who wouldn't want some of your beautiful photos?! I'm going to want one of your pictures to put in our school room when it is finished.

Congratulations, Sarah! Email me your mailing address and I will get those in the mail! Thanks for all who participated!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009



Compassion. What is it? What does it look like? Webster defines it as sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings and misfortunes of others. I don't know that I really like that definition to be honest.

Is compassion letting those little hands braid your hair even though your eyes water from the pain of it?

photo by monique

Is it speaking your limited Siswati and just smiling when you don't understand a lick of what they're saying in return?

Is it tickling, smiling, and laughing with them and letting them just be a kid?

photo by monique

Is it handing them a plate of pap and beans with a smile on your face?

Is it learning the games they enjoy and trying your best to play even though they beat the socks off you?


Is it telling them that there's a Father in Heaven who loves them dearly and hurts with them?

Is it letting that precious one gently lay his head on your chest, even if only for a 5 minute snooze just so he can feel the warmth and compassion as that from a parent?


The Bible tells us to have compassion on others. But I found many different definitions. The Old Testament meanings include:
  • to feel passion with someone, to enter sympathetically into their sorrow and pain.
  • to possess grace and charm and to be gracious.
  • an emotional expression of crying and feeling with someone who is hurting.
  • to be sorry for, regret, comfort, console.
  • a feeling of pity and devotion to a helpless child.
The New Testament builds on the OT meanings with the following:
  • the emotion aroused by another person's undeserved suffering or pain.
  • the inward parts; the center of personal feelings and emotions for another.
  • lamentation and grief for the dead and came to mean sympathetic participation in grief.
  • to suffer what someone else suffers. It came to mean to suffer with, alongside, to sympathize.
  • the ability to be moderate in emotions or passions.

So yes, I believe compassion is all those things I listed above. It encompasses so much and goes way beyond just feeling sorry for another. The orphan and AIDS statistics here in southern Africa are staggering. It is so easy to get lost in the numbers and wonder how you can really make a difference. The answer is one child at a time. I am starting a new series called Tender Treasures. Every Wednesday I will be posting a story of a child here. A name with a face. People's hearts can be moved to compassion through the numbers, but how much more when they hear their stories! I encourage you to pray for each child as you read their story and ask God how He might move you to compassion for the orphan.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Beginning Of A Crazy Week

Well, we jump started the weekend by packing. Yes, that's right. Actually maybe jump starting is too strong a word. We took down our photos from the wall and packed them. I HATE packing. This will be our 3rd move in the 2 years we've been here and we're moving to temporary housing while we fix up a house to live in at University Village. So not much motivation there. Did I mention that I HATE packing? So that combined with the lack of motivation means I have been putting it off. Now I have to get in gear to be ready to say goodbye to 3 Outiniqua on the 31st.

The good news is that a team from our awesome church in Wylie, TX arrived yesterday! Not only did they bring us goodies from home, but they have offered their help to get us moved out. So in the midst of their ministry times, they will offer their help in free pockets of time. Praise God for friends and family who love us!

In the midst of my craziness, be looking for I Believe In Love's first ever giveaway! Coming in just a few days. Thursday to be exact! It's going to be spectacular! Well, I don't know about that. But fun at least!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Second Annual Love Feast

dinner at the love feast

What is a love feast, you might ask. That's a good question. The purpose of a love feast is for us, as staff, to bless our students in the discipleship school. We prepare a nice dinner and serve them. Then we all have fun seeing everyone perform for the talent show! The weather prevented us from having it outside (our first choice) but our living room did just fine as a dining hall and stage!

The Menu

greek salad with an amazing dressing prepared by the one and only, Brittany
homemade wheat bread, fresh out of the oven
steaks grilled to perfection by my awesome husband
broccoli and cheese casserole by none other than Lynn Hodge
and to top it all off...strawberry shortcake with fresh cream baked by me

The Talent Line-Up

(for those of you who don't know all these people, you might find this next segment a bit boring, but this part is dedicated to all those friends and family out there!)

opening act :: African Woman!
monologue on the richness of Africa and African women
followed by how to tie a scarf on your head
african woman

DTS staff band :: Falling Slowly
this was my debut after 10 years of not playing my flute
Mishea, where were you!?
falling slowly debut

Hodge and friends
(who came all the way from the states to sing this hymn!)
hodge and friends

the Jazzettes
Eunice couldn't quite get the moves down
Monique aka Jillian (The Biggest Loser) kicked into action
jazzettes in action

the boot dance!
move over Shangana Village
you might have some competition!
boot dance

some African dancing
always a treat!
african dancing

how to tie a baby on your back
the real talent is walking around without the little one falling off!
how to tie a baby on your back

"sandy" doing impersonations of everyone
and the costume...well, some things are better left unsaid

love of my life playing an original song
it was amazing!
my love singing

David Song :: Diamonds In The Dust
diamonds in the dust

Joshua sang his original song, I Like How God Made Me
I was a proud mama!
i like how god made me

I don't know what's better...seeing a precious baby make cute faces or her parents faces as they desperately encourage her to perform!

Brittany recites her amazing short story in progress
short story by brittany deniston

Jocelyn with her slam poem
slam poetry

John tells a funny about a certain Robert Spears
doctoring emails!
funny story

So as you can see, we had lots of fun Saturday night! The photos don't even do justice to all the talent and laughs that were shared! I think these times are a vital part of being a healthy team and living as a community of people working together.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Chicken, Sweet Potato, And Coconut Curry

chicken, sweet potato, and coconut curry

I mentioned the other day that I've had an infatuation with curry lately. I just love it! Jeremy and I went to India back in 1998. That's where we fell in love but that's a story for another time. Back to curry. We had some not so nice curry in India. So sad really, but isn't that usually the story with mission trips? When Zach and Anneke (Jeremy's brother and our sister-in-law) were staying with us, Anneke made curry a couple of times and my palate was in love. I tried this recipe from BBC Food this week. It was easy, fast, and tasty! I also chose chapatis over rice. (Chapatis are like an oversized tortilla for those who aren't familiar with the term.)


1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 teaspoons curry powder
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
4 tablespoons lentils
300 ml chicken stock
400 ml coconut milk
175 g fresh peas


Heat oil in a pan. Add curry and stir. After heated through, add chicken, potatoes, and lentils. Stir to coat.

Pour in stock and coconut milk. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 min. Add peas. Bring back to boil and simmer 4-5 min. Serves 4.


2 1/2 cups flour plus 1/2 cup for rolling
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup lukewarm water

Stir together flour and salt. Add oil and stir around bowl. Add water all at once. Knead into a stiff ball. Divide into 6 balls. Flour surface. Roll out chapatis. Lightly fry on hot, greased pan a couple of minutes on each side.

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