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.

The Time We Didn’t Buy a Flat

The year was 2007. The Hubs and I were not yet ‘the Hubs and I.’ We lived in Edinburgh, Scotland and were preparing for our June wedding in North Carolina. He still came-a-calling to hang out with me in a cute little place off Leith Walk I shared with some lovely girlfriends, the last place that would be “mine” and not “ours.”

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favour and honour;
No good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless. {Ps. 84:11}

In the months between our January engagement and our June wedding, we decided to look for a flat to buy. {Translation: apartment. Just in case.} We’d both been renting in different parts of the city, but liked the idea of settling down, “finding a place of our own.” Hopefully somewhere central so we could have lots of friends over. The housing market was on the up and up — it seemed like a great investment.

Here’s some context.

Quite different from how the property markets work in the US and South Africa, Scotland works on an “offers over” system. This means people might list their two bedroom Edinburgh flat for “offers over £99,000,” and then people will make their best guess at what they’re willing to pay over that amount. You don’t know what anyone else is bidding, so you’re kind of making a blind guess as to what you think other interested buyers might bid. But you’re hoping not to out-bid the others by £10,000 because that would just be a waste, now wouldn’t it?

When property was moving hot and fast in the spring of ’07, £99,000 flats were going for £127,000 and then some.

Which seemed ridonkulous.


We didn’t enter the process lightly — with much prayer and much thought we were cautiously taking steps in this direction, trusting the Lord would light up the path for us. I was full of hope we could buy a place to stop paying someone else’s mortgage and start paying our own.

As HH-to-be and I viewed flat after flat after flat, we became very aware of a couple of things:

1. People were making ridiculous offers. We could not believe how much one bedroom flats were going for in parts of town that I would say could “go either way.” “Hello Hooligans, on the way to the football (US readers: soccer) stadium at the bottom of Easter Road!”

2. We could not make ridiculous offers. We just weren’t going to. We weren’t willing to risk going upside down on a flat that we couldn’t afford. We were going to make a reasonable choice, and stay well inside our budget. And we weren’t going to let even that one awesome flat we viewed in this crazy building that I think was first built as a printing press and the converted change our minds.

Although I personally could’ve been swayed.

3. The old saying that what goes up must come down is still true.

Okay that was three things.

Anyway, we were in the middle of a viewing — I think a second viewing — of a place we were particularly fond of when the penny dropped. Maybe it was a half-penny. Or two pence.

HH-to-be was chatting with the current owner, I was marveling at the classic choice of red and white baroque-patterned wallpaper and how the afternoon sun on an Edinburgh spring day cast a delicate luster over the hardwood floors through a nearby skylight.

It was the first time we were really starting to think … this could be it, praying the Lord would make it clear and hoping hoping hoping … and the owner’s phone rang. With an offer. Easily a couple thousand pounds over what we were willing to pay.

And that was that.

As we walked to the car, HH-to-be spoke some words of wisdom: I think the Lord has made it clear for us. And from that day forward, we looked for places to rent. Well actually we looked for places to let, because that’s what you say when you’re looking for a place in the UK.

And “To Let” signs sit outside buildings all over the city and riding past on the bus I always wished I could get out and spray paint an ‘i’ in the middle. Just for fun.

Once or twice.

We found the first place we called “our place” not long before I was off to the US to prepare for our wedding. We returned as hubs and wife and moved into “our place” where we fed lots of friends from a tiny kitchen (you could literally stand in one spot and reach everything) and watched episodes of Lost from iTunes on my Macbook, propped on an ottoman in front of our tiny couch.

We were there three months before we headed to the States to raise support for HH to be a full time staff member at our church.

We were there three months (in the States) when we discovered the Bear was on his way into the world. Surprise and Merry Christmas, the Lord seemed to say.

We returned from our time in the States, me six months pregnant, and we rented a flat that was everything we hoped for and then some.

And the Bear was perhaps just three months old when we started to realize living life spread across three continents wasn’t going to work. For our family.

The family we didn’t even know was coming when it was spring in Edinburgh and we were looking for flats.

Before his first birthday, two months after our first anniversary, we were on our way to South Africa, with a stop in the States thrown in for good measure.

It was only two brief years after we would’ve bought a lovely flat in Edinburgh.

A new season and a new country were ahead of us.

And I’m not sure how that would’ve been possible — I am very certain it would’ve been messy — if we were servicing a mortgage on a flat in Edinburgh. In a market in a slump. And trying to raise support for life and ministry in South Africa, thousands of miles away.

Sometimes we don’t know what’s good for us. Sometimes unanswered prayer is the greatest gift we can receive.

I look back, thankful, we listened to that still small voice and didn’t push in a direction we weren’t supposed to go.

The Sermon in a Nutshell: Remember God’s goodness today. Remember that He sees the end from the beginning. Even when we’re in the middle, and all we see is red and white wallpaper and hardwood floors.


Moving Again

It was way back at the end of June when we packed those Eighteen Boxes and Mr. Potato Head and took off for wintry Bloemfontein and two months of unforgettable memories. As we drove back from Thanksgiving in Atlanta Sunday evening, sun setting, sky deep blue, and yellow near the horizon, the branches of a wiry tree silhouetted there reminded me of that morning we got up, the stars still in the sky and made our way to the Kruger National Park to watch the bush wake up with the dawn.

As my heart started down the familiar path of longing, missing a season that’s gone, a land that’s now far away, the wise words HH spoke to me a few weeks ago welled up with a reminder: Just be thankful. We needn’t be sad for what’s gone, even though we do miss it, and perhaps there is a grieving, but how much better to frame this too, with thankfulness.

{Morning in Atlanta}

Here now another change comes, a door opens — we’ll move from my Mom’s house (where much has been well and comfortable for these two and a bit months since our arrival) into the house which has come about by the amazing provision of God — a mountain which became a molehill for us when we were preparing to return to the States.

We might actually live in the same place for a while. Like more than two months. Wow!

I am still occasionally missing the forest of God’s incredible provision for the trees — the little things I’m concerned about, which I think we “need”. I opened the Word to read today’s excerpts in my Bible reading plan and after a few chapters of Genesis, these words from the Gospel of Matthew greeted me:

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life — whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? [ … Look at the birds… Look at the lillies…] Seek the Kingdom of God, above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” {Mt. 6: 25, 33 – 34, NLT}

So this weekend we’re moving again, and things might be a little quiet around here this week. But thankfulness is the song I’m continually learning to sing, and trust is the rhythm I’m aiming to dance to.

I’d love for you to join me.



Hey! Extra Special Woo Woo News: I have a couple of guest posts coming your way, right here this week! After this post about {in}convenience sparked some great conversation, I thought we could all use a little practical inspiration. We’ll specifically be sharing tips and recipes that steer away from processed and packaged and are geared toward getting more wholesome, unadulterated stuff on your table. {If you have a recipe or tip you’d like to bring to the table, get in touch!}

One Recipe For Three Countries: Spicy Sausage Stir Fry

I am loving being back into the kitchen — now that I’m beginning to get the hang of navigating the local grocery store. {How weird is it to feel like a foreigner in the grocery store you’ve been going to since you were a kid?} I’ve almost completely stopped converting prices back into Rand in my head, but I still do it every once in a while.

{I’m looking at you, strawberries. Why are you so expensive?}

A few nights ago I made a tasty little dinner that I was happy to discover works just as well in North Carolina as it did in South Africa and in Scotland. And if it’s that foolproof I thought you might dig it too!

I also took pictures of it ages ago and forgot to share.

It’s a Sausage Stir Fry that I started making in Scotland because I had it down to a science and it fed the Hubs and myself for around Three Quid — £3 = $4.75 = ZAR 38.50. {But it is slightly more expensive in the US and in South Africa because food is DERN cheap in Britain. I miss it!}

Here’s what you need so that you, too, can enjoy this hometastic goodness. What? Yes, of course I’ll make notes beside every ingredient. I haven’t hit my word quotient for the day.

Sizzling Sausage Stir Fry — Serves 2 (and a half)

  • Sausage. As long as it’s not ground (minced) it seems to work fine. But I try go for something a little bit spicy. 1 lb/500 grams — decide how much you need for your crew.
  • Three small bell peppers (Or more. A bag of frozen peppers is faster and works, but fresh is a little betta.)
  • 1 small onion, sliced (If onions give the baby you’re still nursing gas, skip this step.)
  • 1 medium carrot, thinly sliced (I use a peeler and just zoop that baby into nice and thin strips.)
  • 1 TSBP + 1 tsp olive oil, separated (A vegetable oil or sunflower oil will do. I suppose.)
  • 2 – 3 cloves of fresh garlic, minced (If you want to use the stuff from the jar, go ahead wid dat, but last month’s Consumer Report said fresh is better. Should I say minced or diced?)
  • 2 tsp fresh grated ginger (Did you know you can peel ginger, drop it in a sandwich bag and keep it in the freezer for ages? Take some out and grate it and slap the rest back in the icebox! Your mouth will thank you. Make sure you say icebox.)
  • 4 TSBP Soy Sauce (Because I said so.)
  • 1 TBSP honey (Or more.)
  • 2 TBSP orange juice (A different citrusy juice will probably be okay. I think I even tried apple juice once. But not lemon or lime juice. That’s pushing it.)
  • 1 TBSP Cornstarch (Add a little more if your sauce don’t wanna thicken in the pot.)
  • Egg Noodles (You can read the package and decide how much you need based on how many you’re serving. I trust you with this important task.)

Optional Extras for K.I.U.A.N (Kicking It Up A Notch):

  • A generous shaking of crushed red chill flakes (1 tsp)
  • A not-so-generous shaking of chili powder (1/4 tsp)
  • A moderately generous shaking of Paprika (Unless Paprika is the name of someone you know.) (1/2 tsp)

Now here we go.

Start by slicing your sausage with a bias cut because prettier food tastes better. My Mother-in-Love and I often talk about how true that is.


Your garlic doesn’t have to be so pretty. Mince it up and remind me to show you a technique for that later.


That’s my old cutting board, back in South Africa somewhere…sigh…twas a weddin’ gift…

Grate your ginger while you’re at it.


That little zester with its handy backside for catching stuff is in a box in SA waiting to come this way. I hope.

Slice your bell peppers and zoop your carrot till they look good enough to eat.


Slice an onion if the comment next to the onion ingredient doesn’t apply to you.

Getcha a good pan or a wok and warm up a teensy bit of olive oil over a medium-high heat. Give the garlic a little head start. Then brown your sausage with an occasional stir. When it suits ya. But don’t make your sausage feel neglected.


While it’s browning, mix together the soy sauce, ginger, OJ, honey, and cornstarch. Stir in the optional extras for K.I.U.A.N. if you want your stir fry to be ssspicy.

Get in there with the strength the Good Lord gave you and work out those cornstarch clumps with a fork.


How’s your sausage? If it has browned nicely, then move on to the next step. If not, wait a while, stir a while, wait a while, then move on to the next step.

Dump your sausage on a plate for a minute and set it aside. Tell the sausage it hasn’t been set aside, it’s been set apart.

Add that last TSBP of olive oil to the pan. Give the onions a minute head start if they’re joining your party. If not, let the bell peppers and carrots crash right in.


If you like your veg to stay crunchier, sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. If you like your veg softer, 5 to 6 minutes. If you don’t care whether it has any nutritional value at all, just let it go as long as you fancy.

During this interlude, while occasionally stirring, it’s a good time to cook your egg noodles. Feel free to listen to music at the same time. U2’s How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb remains one of my all-time favorite albums if you’d like a recommendation.

When the peppers feel close to achieving your crunch factor, move them to the side. Give your sauce one last stir/cornstarch clump hunt, and dump it into the centre of the pan.

Wait for your sauce to begin to thicken and bubble, then stir it through the veggies.

{Note to self, and maybe for you, too: set aside some sausage for the Bear, who won’t eat it all spicy & peppery}

Add the {remaining} sausage back into the pan, stir until it’s all heated through and the sauce is nice and thick.


Put a generous helping of egg noodles in bowls for serving. Top with a generous helping of your magical Sausage Stir Fry.

Stick a fork in, because it’s done.


The final product is much prettier in person. My South African kitchen had dim lighting.

And there it is. Simple enough to work in three countries, and we enjoyed it every time. Dinner will be on the table before Bono sings “Yahweh.” But wait for it, because that’s an amazing song.

If you give this a bash, I’d love to hear how it goes. Hope you enjoy it! Born Up A Tree!


Extremely important notification: If you click that link to the U2 Album and buy it on Amazon, I get a tiny kick back. Just though ya should know.

I Know This Place

I know the smell of the fall in this place. The air, so crisp I wish I could bottle it and drink it right up all year long. The moon high and white — sky full of stars, sometimes you think you can see them all, sometimes you wonder where they’ve gone.

I don’t remember the leaves turning such a brilliant shade of yellow. I never saw a hummingbird do a dance like the one I saw last week. Back and forth in swoops that might’ve made infinity symbols in the air if he could paint it along the way — he must’ve been trying to impress somebody. He got me.

The fields look different from how I remember them. Tufts of white, stalks of brown — they inspire photos in my heart I’d never have thought to take before.

From seven thousand miles away to the backyard of the house I grew up in, and here I am showing my little boy how to whistle with an acorn top.


{From Thanksgiving 2010}

Cold Friday night I hear the announcer, the crowds at the football field — the high school’s not far from my house. I remember this sound from a walk with my brother when I was a kid. The familiar sound of fall.

We stand outside in the cold night air with the moon high and bright, waiting at the door for two tickets to a movie, just us two. I can see my breath a little and my arms are snuggled into the coat my sister bought me last Christmas.

I see a familiar face behind me and say hello and how are you, but when I’m not sure I’m a familiar face I promptly introduce myself — I’m Dodi’s little sister.

Things have changed.

Things have stayed the same.

I watch life from the inside and the outside at the same time.

I like calling this place home.


Just a little note I want to be sure to add: I saw Courageous this past weekend. It was excellent and I really enjoyed it. I highly recommend it. I also highly recommend bringing tissues. I enjoyed it so much I forgot I’d snuck two brownies into the theatre in my purse. Never even touched em. Don’t tell on me. Do see the movie.

The Price of {in}Convenience

I didn’t learn to cook until I left the country. If I’m being honest. I could do a mean twice-stuffed potato, I could fry up some bacon (of course), and I could open a can of green beans, cook the heck out of em and hope for the best. But the majority of my skill was limited to adding rice, water, chicken breasts, and the contents of a seasoning packet to a bag and popping it in the oven for however long it said on the box. And when it came to baking, I probably wouldn’t do it if more than three or four ingredients had to be added to the contents of a package.

It worked for me, and it was convenient.

One of my favorite courses in all my years at university was Economics. I know that sounds weird, but lemme e’splain. The professor who taught my economics class was very good at explaining things in a way that I understood them.


{Does this photo relate to this post or do I just like it? You decide.}

You know that lovely feeling when something’s complicated, but you get it? I love that feeling. He used a class exercise in making paper airplanes to explain the intricacies of the supply chain in a lesson on supply and demand. He was quality.

But the discussion of opportunity cost — which I also remembered from a ninth grade Civics class video where a girl decided to buy a new blouse instead of fixing her brakes and then got into a car accident and ruined the blouse — just really made a lot of sense in my brain.

When you make a choice, there’s another choice you haven’t made. Every choice has a consequence. And the opportunity cost measures the value of the choice you made in light of the best alternative that you didn’t choose.

There is always an opportunity cost.
— My University Economics Professor, Whose Name I Can’t Remember. But he had a mustache. And not just in Movember.

So the writer who makes about 50 bucks for an hour’s work can pay someone else 20 bucks to mow his yard. He’ll come out ahead. Unless, of course, he finds mowing his lawn therapeutic, in which case perhaps it’s cheaper to mow his grass than to go for therapy.

The reason I learned to cook when I left the States was because the opportunity cost for not learning — paying for expensive convenience food — was too high. I couldn’t keep turning packaged muffin mixes into beautiful creations without breaking the bank.

Fortunately, there was a gentle learning curve. During my four years in Scotland I gradually eased into learning to come up with new ideas, still convenient in terms of the amount of time it took to make them, but not expensive because I wasn’t paying for the convenience of a pre-boxed meal.

When I arrived in South Africa and began to long for more of the comforts of home (while finding less of them) I really worked at learning how to do things myself. Want some good southern buttery biscuits with Sunday lunch (not cookies, mind you)? Make em from scratch. Need some taco seasoning or salsa for Mexican night? Find out what’s in taco seasoning and mix it yourself, find a good recipe for salsa, and make it yourself.

Now back in North Carolina, I’m in the land where convenience seems really cheap. Plastic carrier bags had a cost at grocery stores in South Africa, so, like we did in Scotland, we brought our own bags. They’re free here, so I could fall back into the habit of just using the ones they have at the grocery store instead of bringing my own bags.

Especially when the cashiers sometimes seem annoyed that they have to help you pack your random bags.

On the surface it seems like there’s not too much opportunity cost — we’re not paying for the bags, so what’s the problem? But like my professor said, There’s always an opportunity cost. And part of the cost associated with using the grocery bags that might be recycled or might end up in the trash is a cost that we might not have to pay.

But will our kids?

If we continue to use up our resources at the rate that we’re going, and if we continue to create waste at the rate that we’re going — won’t it be a problem for the Bear and the Tank’s generation? Or maybe for their children?

Will they be paying a price for our dependency on convenience?

Many people say they have reusable bags (I saw some on sale for $1.99 at Food Lion today) but they don’t remember to bring them in from the car. It would be inconvenient to have to go out to the car and get them before checking out. I promise if you make yourself go to the car to get your bags once or twice, you’ll stop forgetting. If you make yourself drive home to fetch them before heading to the store, you might never forget again.

In the land of convenience to which I’ve returned, Fast Food is incredibly convenient, and the price is very convenient, too. It would often be cheaper for me to feed my family from the Dollar Menu at Wendy’s than to make some of the meals I make.

But — there’s always an opportunity cost.

What exactly am I feeding us if we’re eating at Wendy’s instead of eating a good home-cooked meal? How processed are the fries and hamburger buns? How has the meat been handled and what’s in it? And does a wilted portion of iceberg lettuce and a slice of tomato count as “vegetables” for the evening meal?


And further down the rabbit hole, how will regularly eating this type of food negatively or positively benefit our health? Will we save enough money to cover the medical bills if it gives us a heart attack or high cholesterol? {Last week a friend of mine talked about the expensive program she’d joined, trying to lose weight, and simultaneously mentioned eating out at least three or four times a week.} And, once again, how much trash will we create, at the expense of convenient fast food?

I won’t for a moment say I’ve got this thing figured out. Example 1, my family drinks a ton of juice, and I’m concerned about the tons of plastic involved in getting that juice from its source to our door. Even recyclable waste is still waste. And it takes resources to recycle.

What’s the lesson I’m trying to apply as I navigate life in a new place? The price of convenience — though it would seem cheap in this neck of the woods — is still very high.

I left the grocery store with a small handful of goodies this morning. I stuck to the list except for orange juice. At the checkout someone commented on it being a good idea that I’d stuck all of my random reusable shopping bags inside one bag. {The bags are from South Africa and Scotland so they make me happy.} I smiled as I stuffed my wallet back into my purse and all I could think of to say was,

“I’m worried about what this world is going to look like when my little boys grow up.”

What do you think?