The Other Side of the Storm

At a conference a few weekends ago, a misconception in my head was corrected. In all my time examining and re-examining the armor of God listed in Ephesians 6, I’d always seen the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, as the offensive weapon. As in, the only offensive weapon we have in this battleground called life on Earth.

But as the speaker, a gracious and grace-filled woman named Sarah Knott, took us through the letter to the Ephesians, she mentioned the two weapons we have in our armor: the Word of God, and prayer.

How I didn’t see that before I’m not sure. Though it’s clearly mentioned, it was always kind of a sideline for me … “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit…” That prayer part was kind of a given — a something that I thought should be going on in the background while the battle was happening.

I didn’t understand prayer as part of the battle. Integral to the battle. Half the weaponry in the offensive arsenal of our faith.

Painted Sky

With these thoughts swirling in my head, I sat down to pray one morning recently. Closing my eyes to focus on the Lord, and occasionally opening them to keep myself awake, singing His praise and thanking Him, I apologized that prayer had become a back-burner-yeah-I-ought-to instead of an active, purposeful discipline, and a blessed, beautiful fellowship.

What beautiful times I have shared with the Lord in prayer! Such sweet and heavenly moments! How do I forget and forsake again and again?

In prayer that morning I thanked Him for taking me THROUGH THE STORM and to the other side.

I remembered the story, recorded in at least three of the gospels, usually titled “Wind and Wave Obey Jesus.” In Luke 8, Jesus says to the disciples, “Let us cross over the other other side of the lake.” And they launch the boat for the journey.

But a storm comes down on the lake while they are sailing, and Jesus is asleep. The disciples were really scared (I talked a bit about this story last month, as well) and woke Jesus up, panicking about their circumstances and asking whether He cared about them at all.

And shew-wee, though at first I want to point out how silly they were for that Lord don’t you care if we drown not trusting the Lord who was right there with them all along, yet after a little deeper consideration, I recognize that their actions mirror my own.

If questioning God in the middle of a storm is a path on the road of my life, it is a well-worn one. When things aren’t going the way I think they ought to be going, my first reaction is to question Him. His love… His care and concern for me… Lord, if you love me, then why did this happen? {Sure, I’ll think about what He wants me to learn, how this too will be redeemed, but questioning, for me, usually comes first.}

And it seems a well-worn path right round the world, too — haven’t we all heard, perhaps said, those familiar words: If God is good, then why do bad things happen? If God is good then why…

A good friend of mine once pointed out that those first words of Jesus, the ones which start this story out, are integral to understanding it. Jesus said “Let’s cross over to the other side.” If Jesus says you’re going to cross over, you are going to cross over. He only always ever speaks the truth. His words never return void — and He doesn’t just speak the truth, He is the Truth.

Come what may — storm or trial, peril or sword — His words are a firmer foundation than that rocking boat the disciples were clinging to. They were going to cross over. Because He said so.

He spoke to the wind and the waves, and told them to be still. And they were still. Because He said so.

Then He asked them that simple question — so profound — Where is your faith?

It seems like my soul, too, was on a lake and in a storm — feeling isolated and tossed about as I’ve navigated the waters of re-settling in to life in an old, and new place. Struggling through some disappointment and discouragement, sewing fig leaves and hiding. And out on the lake my words were familiar — Lord, don’t you care if I drown?

And perhaps with the beautiful accent I hear in my mind, when my Mother-in-Love says to me, “My guhl” (My girl) so perhaps being still I could hear those gentle words whispered from the God-who-sees-me, “My guhl, where is your faith?” {Maybe the Lord has a South African accent, who knows.}

When I think on it, I hear those words spoken so gently, encouraging, challenging, good. He wants us to trust Him to bring us through the storm. Where are you putting your faith? He says we are going to the other side.

{And hasn’t He gone before us to prepare a place for us?}

The disciples wouldn’t have heard those words — the ones about crossing over, and the ones brimming with encouragement to trust Him, even in the storm — if they hadn’t gone to Him with their concern.

And surely we must take note — prayer is the means by which we’ll hear that familiar voice encouraging us to trust Him. And we can trust Him, even right in the middle of the storm.

If nothing can separate us from His amazing love, then we can trust Him to carry us through, to the other side of every storm.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written:

For your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord {Rom. 8:39-39}

Friend, I mean what I say. You can trust Him to see you through the storm.


Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

It may have occurred to you by now that at some point, it has to happen. I’m still writing With Love, but I’m not writing With Love from Africa anymore. The process of re-entering life here in North Carolina after six years abroad, and two of them in Africa, has been many things, including a grieving process.

I’m grieving the beauty I left behind.

Grieving the poverty I left behind.

I look at where I am now, look at where I’ve been and wonder — did it make a difference? Couldn’t I have been more… done more?

What did it mean?

I read stories like this one — about Katie Davis, a girl who took off for Uganda instead of university in 2007 at age 19, and has since adopted 13 daughters, started a child sponsorship program and a feeding program, and is hoping to open a school this year.


My heart gets turned inside out.

Am I back in the West, and have I forgotten where I was?

I have too many clothes.

I want my very worst addiction to come to an end: my addiction to me.

The part of my re-entry that is currently shocking? How dang easy it’s been to get comfortable. Quick.


I think it would be a fair assessment to say that Steve Jobs changed the world during his time in it. He created a market where one previously didn’t exist. He took personal computers in a beautiful new direction. I’m not just saying that because we’re a Mac family — Apple recently surpassed Microsoft and is basically the largest company in the world now.

One of my favorite things Jobs said during his time on this earth was in a commencement speech in 2005, to the graduating class at Stanford University.

I pondered the simple words for a while, and I think I have come to better understand their meaning. Jobs said:

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

When I was younger in the Lord, I was hungry for more of Him. Hungry to see Him move. Hungry to see change in the world around me — hungry to be a part of the change that our Father had in mind for His children and the world He created. Hungry to be the hands and feet of Jesus — going to the broken, touching a world in need.

I was foolish enough to believe I could make a difference.

Perhaps Jobs was hungry for a different kind of change. He was hungry to innovate, hungry to create and develop. He was passionate about beauty.

This hunger of mine, though, it’s a hunger and a thirst for righteousness, a hunger to do the will of God, knowing that if we came together and did His will this world would be a radically different place.

I don’t want to get comfortable and lazy — I want to stay hungry for a life that exhibits … exudes God.

And that foolishness — maybe that’s not getting too wise in one’s own eyes, being hungry to learn, to listen.

Was Jobs foolish enough to believe he could change the world, I wonder? Because he did.

Maybe like Bono, I’m foolish enough to believe that Where You Live Should Not Decide whether you live or whether you die. Foolish enough to think ours literally could be the generation that ends extreme poverty.

All the world is hurting, truly — for a while, Africa was where my hands labored to do some healing.

It might be nice to have some new colors here, some new pictures, a change of pace, a change of name.

{I write these things to let you know it’s coming, so that you won’t arrive and think you’ve lost your way.}

But I want, at the core, for all of me, including this, to be about one thing — staying hungry to hear the voice of God and to write what I believe He says, to write like I mean it. And with that, staying foolish enough to believe that changing the world is possible. With my pen, my hands or even a pair of shoes.

The best news? The adventure is really just beginning.

But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.” {I Cor. 1:27 – 31}

As always, with love,

How I Bake My Own Bread

When we got back to the States and I saw the cost of a nice loaf of bread, I was more than a little bummed. My awesome health insurance plan in South Africa gave us discounts on healthy food purchases {brilliant idea, American insurers, take this one up!} so we got really nice, healthy bread at a very fair price.

The Hubs bought some cheap bread at the Piggly Wiggly not long after we settled in, not knowing what he was signing up for. When he tried to spread some peanut butter over a slice and the bread tore, we knew we had a problem.

Cheap bread is full of yucky stuff, and cheap in the bad sense. Healthy bread is pricey. Where’s the third option, pray tell?

Shortly after this perpuzzlement, I heard a rave review (by the Nester) about a book called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and I asked my Mom for the book for Christmas. I also got a pizza stone from my Dad for Christmas, and a wood cutting board that has been helpful in the process. But neither of those are an absolutely necessity starting out.

I was hesitant to think it could possibly work out well, and pleasantly surprised when it did.

And when my awesome piano playing, great-cooking, tidy housing, homeschooling awesome awesome photo-taking (yes, I needed to say it twice) friend Hope asked about it, I suddenly realized I needed to share.

And then I got really excited and created a picture with text and if you pin it on pinterest I might wet my pants.



Anywho, about the book.

The premise is that you can mix together a nice heap of dough (the kind made from flour, not the cash) with the book’s very good instructions, and that probably takes ten or fifteen minutes, tops. And you can keep said dough in your refrigerator for up to two weeks. When you’re ready to bake a loaf, you grab a chunk of the dough, shape it based on what you’re making, let it rest according to the recipe’s instructions (usually about 20-40 minutes while the oven and your pizza stone are preheating) and then you bake 30ish minutes, depending on the recipe. {That whole process probably takes five minutes of active effort. For me, maybe seven.}

And boo-yow. Yum.

So far I’ve just tried a few variations of the most basic recipe (I wanted to use white wheat flour once and I accidentally bought the wrong type of flour the first time because there was this gentleman at Walmart who used to be a chef and loves to bake and we had a really long conversation about the book, different types of flour, and the fact that I couldn’t find an oven thermometer. He came and found me again later and had an oven thermometer to drop in my cart.

{Thank you, dear Sir.}

I have really, really enjoyed this learning experience, and the fruit of it, so far.

My honest review?


  • The bread is really good. As in, it tastes really good. And I’m still just rocking the basic basic recipe. Pass the oil and balsamic, please.
  • It has just four basic ingredients: flour, yeast, kosher salt (usually) and warm water. (Which seems healthier, methinks, than all those funky ones I can’t pronounce.)
  • It is really an un-time-consuming process that could work for a Mom who gets home at 5 or a Mom who’s home all day. Or a Dad. Or grandma.
  • My Dad and I worked out some rough figures on the math and using a nice unbleached white flour I was probably averaging 40 cents per loaf. Mixing in some unbleached white wheat, I probably knock another 15 cents off. And up the health factor. Ka-chow!
  • One single batch of dough will make four loaves, which will stick around for about a week around here because I don’t make it every day. (You can easily double the recipe if you want more, and I think that’ll maybe add a minute or two to your mixing time.)
  • The book has a ton of recipes in it and I’ve just scratched the surface, trying to get the hang of things before I start getting fancy. {Watch out instagram!}
  • It works as bread for sandwiches — the bátard {appreciate that I looked up that special character just for you} is nice, though a bit holey sometimes. I haven’t tried doing it in a loaf pan yet, but apparently you can do that to. I’m just scared because I’m not sure if the loaf pan I inherited is a proper nonstick.
  • All the boys love this bread. The Hubs, the Bear, Tiger Tank — six thumbs up.


  • The loaves are smaller than I expected. They are, however, a good-sized accompaniment to a meal. A loaf will probably get finished if four adults are at the table. {You might want to just make two loaves and throw them in the oven together if you have a big family.}
  • Because the loaves are small, they go quickly. Baking a loaf of bread has become a part of my morning routine so that we have it for lunch. That may or may not work for you. {It doesn’t last for lunch the next day because we almost ALWAYS eat the rest of the loaf with dinner.} I’m still planning to get a bread maker to do sandwich loaves, but I will also keep doing this type of bread — sometimes for lunches, often as the perfect accompaniment to spaghetti and salad or curry and rice or… I haven’t found a meal it doesn’t play nicely with yet. Pass the oil and balsamic please.
  • It’s a learning process. Your first few loaves might be wonky. One of mine had a booty like J Lo.
  • It’s an investment, though not a ginormous one. The book, $13 used, a pizza stone if you really want to give it a proper go, though you can try it with a baking sheet for the first wee while if you want. They recommend a food grade storage container for keeping the dough in the fridge, but I’ve been using a really big pot with a lid, since it’s not supposed to be airtight anyway. I hope that’s allowed.
  • I feel like I should have more cons but I’m struggling to think of anything else.


So far, really good.

Here’s an early loaf awaiting its destiny:

Image 2

This may have been the one that had a booty. It tasted good anyway.

Image 1

My prettiest loaf so far accidentally flipped over when I was sliding it onto the pizza stone. I tried to flip it back, but it was stuck, so I just wet and slashed the other side. I prayed a little. It came out gorgeous.

Here’s a more recent one:

Image 3

Do you sense the improvement? Are you impressed?

And here’s today’s loaf, a bátard, which started all these shenanigans. {I posted it on instagram, which Facebooked it.}

Image 4

It would feel cheeky and morally wrong {not to mention probably disrespect the laws of copyright} to give you the recipe that these writers/bakers worked countless hours perfecting — and I also think you need all of the surrounding instructions from the book to give it a proper go. And they are thorough, though not too lengthy. I hope that doesn’t bum you out.

The Good News? You can get the book used on Amazon for like $12.58. And for that price, even if you only bake a dozen loaves, you’ll have paid for the book. I love you and I like sharing recipes here, but I don’t want to go to jail.

Think you might give it a whirl? Got any questions? Please fire away in the comments!


The folks who wrote this book don’t know me. But I am an Amazon affiliate. {In case you don’t know, that means that if you click that link up there and then decide to buy the book, I get a tiny percentage of the sale. I might also wet my pants.} But I’m telling the truth and not aiming for the cut. Scout’s honour.

Recent Stuff, and Other Stuff

I‘ve been meaning to tell you about a couple of things. But I get distracted and forget a lot. Only having the opportunity to finish your sentence about half the time is one of the things I’ve noticed motherhood…

Sorry, what was I talking about?

Anyway, we got some good news. Remember these?


The Eighteen Boxes more accurately described as fifteen boxes, two bikes and a guitar that were packed up from our place in Gordon’s Bay on the 28th of June in the year of our Lord two thousand and eleven?

Yeah, those.

They might actually be on their way here.

What? you ask. You don’t have your stuff yet?

No, I reply. We don’t. Thanks for asking. When you ship your things from one continent to another in a shared container, the shippers have to wait for the container to fill up before it’ll be loaded on a ship and hit the water.

But our stuff may have finally hit the water. Hopefully just in the figurative sense. We have a tracking number and can follow the vessel across the ocean and everything.

Nifty, huh?

I am struggling to remember what’s in those boxes, except I’ve especially been missing the Bible Thomas Nelson Publishers sent me when my old one’s Genesis made an Exodus.

And the boys clothes that may or may not fit by the time they get here. And I don’t have any dress pants right now. Because I shipped them all because I hadn’t lost enough weight to fit in them yet last June.

So our things could arrive in February. And golly, gee whillikers, that would be swell.

In more recent occurrences, I wrote a few new articles at Signposts. I usually try to mention that here in case you’re interested in clicking over. Do you click over? I haven’t learned how to follow links and figure that out yet so I’d love to know.

This one talks about whether disability is always a burden, and mentions some great thoughts by Amy Julia Becker who wrote this book right here which I think will be really good. If I get my hands on it.

This one talks about things that are close to the heart of God. Which by necessity means they should be close to ours, too, right?

And this one contains a story about a Theology & Disability Conference I went to in Holland (I shared the Amsterdam photos on this Travelling Tuesday) and a special young lady I met there. And other stuff from the Bible which is worth pondering, mayhaps.

I was also thinking of mentioning that part of the reason you haven’t seen a lot of these lately…


(these being


lekker photos


by the Hubs… and all of these being taken just before we left SA…)

{and maybe after mentioning it in the survey you’re feeling like this about that,}


well, it’s because HH’s lappytop (as they are called in the Collie household) is not doing so well, and it basically takes him a full hour to edit about 8 photos. Yup, sixty minutes. Eight photos. Eight. And, as he would put it, that “does his head in.”

So we’re prayerfully contemplating purchasing a new Mac.

And if’n and when’n we do, you are likely to see the lekker Hero Hubs photo quotient increase exponentially.

I apologize the Tank will be close to eleven months before you see the ten month photos. But you understand, right?

One last anecdote will make this random compilation complete, methinks.

We let the Bear have a cupcake a couple days ago, and he was talking about it being in his tummy afterwards. I’d asked if he wanted to share some with his brother and he explained that he couldn’t because it was already in his tummy.

Today, it is in my tummy, he said.

We laughed and said, and tomorrow, it will be poopy! (Poopy had previously been a part of the conversation. Promise.)

He looked puzzled for a while and then got a very sad and unpleasant look on his face and with great emotion replied,

But I don’t wan’ a poopy cupcake.

Ba-da-bop, ka-CHOW. Thank you, thank you, I’m here all week.

Hope your brain isn’t feeling as fried as mine this Thursday afternoon.


P.S. I think this might be the most links I’ve ever put in one post. I just thought you should know. And here’s one more just for fun. If you follow that link and don’t smile, you are officially a robot. Or from Mars. Or both. I’ve loved it since college. The first time around.

And in Other News, I Caught My Hair On Fire

We’re down to two suitcases. That’s right. I am two suitcases away from being completely unpacked for the first time since June. My words have been few around here because that finish line has been in sight. And it sure does look pretty.

The little tidying elf somewhere inside of me is hollering, hold that paper finish line thingy tight, y’all, I’m about to bust through!

The tidying elf is Southern. Obviously.

And in other news, in case you were wondering, here are a few of the happenings around the Collie household.

The Tank is pulling up to stand and scoot along furniture.

And he doesn’t like to be told “no.” Who does?

He is very interested in getting hold of my Christmas hippopotamus. And you gotta respect a baby who won’t take no for an answer.

I may or may not have set my hair on fire last week.


Why yes, a candle which had been moved from its lovely perch atop the TV was sitting on the window sill behind the TV, unbeknownst to yours truly. And when yours truly leaned behind the TV to see if the DVD player was plugged in correctly, yours truly’s long and flowy dark locks were blocking the view from said candle, and poof! My hair caught on fire.

I was very fortunate that it proceeded to dip into the wax, which put the fire out before I realized what had happened. But like four days dead Lazarus coming out of the tomb, one might have said, Lord, it stinketh.

I am rather thankful I didn’t have to stop, drop and roll, and singe the new carpet in the process.


Afterwards HH came to the rescue and put some ice in a washcloth to freeze the wax, and then he got it out of my hair for me.

So if you notice an extra “layer” cut into my hair on one side, pretend you don’t know anything about it.

K Thanks.

And in other news, I may or may not have used a one-legged gingerbread man to talk about accepting people who are different this week.

It’s also possible that I found a treasured baby reindeer butt onesie in a box that I am certain I already looked in three times. Have I told you reindeer butts drive me nuts?


I may also still have about 50-some Christmas cards left to write. Among other things.

Perhaps one more piece of information to add to this {un}important monologue, a couple more Whole Foods posts are coming your way — apologies I got sidetracked — and I’m planning to post a linky to one of them so that if you have some good recipes or ideas of your own to share, already published on these here internets elsewhere, you can link up!

Be on the lookout early next week. Unless I catch my hair on fire again. Then it might have to wait till Thursday.

Why does burnt hair smell SO bad? Anybody wanna google that for me?


Like a Leaf on a Wednesday

Here I sit on a Wednesday morning. Freshly fallen leaves have scattered across the yard outside. A squirrel is vigorously digging to retrieve something from the ground. There’s a gentle breeze, and though this is December, and North Carolina, the Bear left for preschool without a coat this morning and I could probably open the windows for a while.

We’re in our new place. Christmas colored candles flicker here and there. The Elf on the Shelf watches over the den with cheerful interest.

My body aches — yesterday my personal theme was “high impact” and with that in mind I vigorously attacked room after room, cleaning high and low, stacking and sorting, placing and re-placing, unpacking, scrubbing and scrubbing and scrubbing so much I told HH at dinner “Today I came to really understand the meaning of that old saying, ‘Put your back into it.'”

But here we are, and I imagine myself an Israelite entering the Promised Land. Entering a house I didn’t build, sitting on furniture I didn’t buy, enjoying the comforts of someone else’s choices, in this mountain turned molehill of a home.

If this was a vineyard, I’d be eating the fruit.

My frame won’t allow me to go “high impact” every day — working and scrubbing and rearranging, fussy baby on my hip. And so I slow and pause, remembering to sit still and be thankful.

God has provided, exceeding and abundantly above and beyond all we could ask or imagine.

Even if there is some work involved in receiving this gift.

I cannot think of a better scenario for coming off the mission field than this one: moving into a home where you only have an electric bill to pay, already so well furnished the odds and ends you’ll need to get for settling in are few, close to family (and friends) who are constantly helping with their hands, their time, with gifts, with encouragement.

If there is a better picture to be painted, I haven’t seen it.

The breeze picks up again and a lone leaf flaps like a flag, not yet ready to let go of the branch. The Christmasy smell of a nearby candle wafts in my direction. My lips curl up to a smile.

Like that last leaf on the branch, I find myself close to settling in, finding rest, slowly drifting into the comfort of a new place called home.



Disclosure: The link to The Elf on the Shelf is an affiliate link for Amazon. “Choo-Choo” (as we named him) has been a fun little addition to enjoying Christmas around here. And the Bear’s behavior improves when we mention him. Score.