I Just Wanna Say Spanx

Sometimes I’m not sure exactly where I’m headed on the adventure that takes place right here in this little corner of the world wide internets. What I feel sure of so far is that I’m supposed to write, encourage, challenge, and share words of life.

When I read God’s Word, sometimes things jump off the page — it’s almost as if I sense Him over my shoulder pointing to a verse and saying, “Well did you think about that?” or “How ’bout this one?” And I picture Him the way I see myself, standing over the Bear’s high chair helping him learn to trace and write his letters. Slowly and gently, there’s progress over time.

{Only God, in relationship to me, is significantly bigger, stronger, smarter, more amazingly wonderful — and the list continues — than me, in relationship to the Bear. But I’m sure you already knew that.}


The results that have come about from spending time here, writing and encouraging and endeavouring to just bring a smile to someone else’s face five or six times a week, have been wonderful, and exciting, and different than what I expected.

A lot of you have taken a moment to write me and say thank you. You’ve told me something I said meant something to you. And that really meant something to me. So I’ve done my best to point back to the One to Whom and through Whom and for Whom all things are — because if you find anything good here, you can be sure His hand is in it.

Now don’t get worried that I’m about to announce that I’m finished writing in this space, because that is NOT the case. I just want to take a moment to say thanks.

People often feel called to do something and get very little support, and that makes it hard for them to step out and do what they should. But as I’ve stepped out, you’ve held me by the hand and encouraged me. I can no longer count the number of times I was swerving to wonder whether I was wasting time here, and within days or even hours, I’d receive an email. From next door or from Brazil, someone touched base, saying “This meant something to me. Thank you for saying it.” Those life-giving words have stirred the gift in me and encouraged me to keep at it.

I look at numbers, so I know how many visitors come by this way, and I’m thankful for each of you. I love your comments, I love your emails and encouragement, but even if you’ve just been dropping by, that’s meant something to me, and I want to say thanks.

I think about 90% of you are female, so I feel confident you’ll appreciate this analogy. You know when your body feels a little loosey-goosey? Perhaps you’ve just had a baby and aren’t back into form, or you just aren’t in shape quite like you used to be or might like to be? There are these magical underpants a lot of you will already know of, called Spanx, that hold you in place and make you look like you’ve lost ten pounds, just by putting them on. Underneath the wedding dress, the bridesmaid’s dress, the Little Black Dress, enter the Spanx.

In a beautiful way, you have been Spanx for my soul. You’ve been holding me in place to do what I feel called to do — to use the gifts God has given me to write, here and elsewhere — at times when I’ve felt a little loosey-goosey, a little uncertain, a little afraid that if there is a difference to be made, this ain’t making it.

I want to say a special Spanx to you likers and commenters and sharers and tweeters. Writing here is giving me more and more opportunities to write in other places (more on that soon), but this place feels like home. And we all know there’s no place like home. A lot of you have shared a link on Facebook, or tweeted something, or linked from your website to mine, and sent other folks this way, and that has really, really blessed me. You’ve clicked “like” on my fan page, or on a post, and helped share this space with others. When you see enough value in a post to share it, it means a lot to me.

I want to give special Spanx to the sites that have sent the most traffic my way for the past wee while. I do hope this place will grow, and I’ll be an encouragement to more folks who haven’t been here yet. {But even if this has all been just to encourage those of you who’ve been here already, it is TOTALLY worth it.}

So here’s a special Spanx to my Top Referrers since the start of this year:

1. Se7en @ Se7en.org.za {Lekker love and thanks!}

2. Amanda @ Seriously. {You’re one of a kind. Love ya.}

3. Hero Hubs @ Quiver Tree Photo {Wowzers, my dear! Already! Thanks!}

4. Grace @ Grace {Sweet & Amazing Grace! No pun intended!}

5. Allison @ DameronGirlz {Thanks sweet friend!}

6. Erin @ Happy Noise {I’m honoured and you’re hilarious!}

7. Pam @ PamLewsey.com {Go Pammy! So glad you’re writing!}

8. Brunette Koala @ Learning from Sophie {My first blogging/IRL friend, thanks for sticking with me!}

9. Paul & Michelle @ BroonandMish {Miss you guys & love you!}

10. Michelle @ Michelle Has Thoughts {Congrats on Baby Brielle!}

And because you’re number 11 and I love ya ta pieces, Natasha @ The Chronicles of Nat. {Whoo-hoo, you are great!}

And a little further down the list were Neal and Julia and Aubrey … I just don’t like it when people get left out. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Friends, thank you again and again for your encouragement and support. In dark moments, you’ve been here for me in tangible ways. Thank you for rejoicing with me at wonderful times. (And thank You Lord that I haven’t been doing much weeping for you guys to share in!) What a privilege it is to walk the road of life together.

Please keep sharing, please keep commenting, and please keep letting me know when something means something to you. It means so much to me.


With Love from Here,


Thank-You Notes

Dear Uncle Russ,

Your package arrived!!


My new blankey is the softest one I’ve ever had. (And my new burpey is the softest one I’ve ever…burped on!)


Look how cute I look! Hey!


Thanks for thinking of me and sending me such cute stuff! With my new blue suit, I’m the stylingest baby in the nursery at the gym. Can’t wait to meet you right here in SA! Yay! See you soon!

Love, Little B

Dear G.C.,

Remember those pajamas you sent a few weeks ago? Well there’s just one problem with them. Mama won’t let me wear them all. day. long. I want to wear them to the gym and to church and when we go for a walk but she says pajamas are for bedtime. Would you mind telling her otherwise?

Wanna see how great they are?


Thanks so much, G.C. I miss you lots!

Love, the Bear

It’s Nice to be Seen and Heard

The “coincidences” just continue. And I keep thinking just one of you might be coming around here, still wondering if I’m making things up, or if I’m slightly delusional, or if I am just calling the daffodil of coincidence a rose by another name. Or something like that. My plan is to just keep telling stories, and keep hoping you’ll believe me sooner or later.

So last month, our paycheck was seriously less than what we usually receive on a monthly basis. Translation: it wasn’t enough to pay our outgoings. It was kind of a, hmm…food or rent? moment. I think I responded by weakly saying “The Lord’s gonna provide” and deciding I just didn’t have the emotional capacity to deal with worrying about it at that moment. But before I’d even had a chance to pray a prayer or lose myself in worry and concern, an email from my Mom was in my inbox.

She was just two weeks from departure for her trip to visit us here. And she just up and decided (and by that I would like to point to the work of the Holy Spirit) that she would share with her Sunday School class and ask if they would like to make a contribution to our ministry, since we’d just moved into an unfurnished place and were trusting for the rest of the funds for flights home, etc. They decided to give $100, and some folks who arrived late and didn’t hear the story were so concerned afterwards they brought by another $50. And then her Ladies’ Circle group decided to give $200. And then the Men’s Fellowship. And another Sunday school class. And by the end of this particular adventure in networking my Mom had an extra $700 for us, which she promptly deposited in our bank account.

I’d never asked her … she didn’t know about our shortfall … it just happened. And the fact that this was the particular moment when she decided to do it, was just a little too coincidental for me to point to coincidence if you get my drift. My heart was warmed with the reminder: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

All these goings on for some reason made me think of Hagar. No, no, not Sammy Hagar, the Hagar in the Bible who gave birth to Ishmael with Abraham before Sarai gave birth to Isaac. Hagar ran away because Sarai treated her harshly when she became pregnant. It was a pretty messed up situation, honestly. And, don’t worry, we ain’t having any drama like that around here.

But she runs off into the wilderness, alone and distraught, and the Angel of the Lord shows up, tells her what to do, and encourages her with a promise. Then, “she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, ‘Have I also here seen Him who sees me?’” (Gen. 16:13)

And though Hagar’s troubles were really just beginning at that point, that encounter with God was a sign — a moment she could look back on in the days ahead. Though she was Egyptian, a maidservant, set aside, and not of ‘the chosen people of Promise,’ God demonstrated that He sees. He cares. And He shows up when we need Him the most.

Have you ever felt like Hagar? Maybe like you were forgotten or set aside, while it seemed like everyone around you was experiencing the presence and promises of God? The good news is the-God-Who-Sees can see your troubles just as well as He-Sees mine. If you love Him and you walk with Him, you can trust that He-Who-Sees-You will work things out for your own good.

The Sermon in a Nutshell: He-Sees me, He-Sees you. He knew about it before you did. And, coincidentally, I find that a very encouraging thought.


There’s No News Like the Good News and No Word like The Word

It has been really exciting to share the good news about what’s happening in our lives at the moment. (If you missed all this…where ya been?) But I sometimes find at the moments when life feels the most like a whoosh…..swoosh…roller coaster, where everything is tilting around a curve while you’re looking for a new place to live in thirty days or less and waiting on a roaming potato to get out of the shop and trusting for the finances for plane tickets to head home for Christmas just a little early because you’re due in February… These are the moments where I either begin to find the One who’ll hold me together, or I begin to fall apart.

It’s been said that, “A Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.”*

A few weeks ago, this was my Bible…

Would you like a closer look at what’s happening on the left edge there?

The Duck Tape worked for a few years but then a few weeks ago…

As the Bear recently learned to say if he drops something or a bedroom shoe slips off as he climbs onto the couch … “Oh Nooh!”

The pages from Genesis 3 to Exodus 14 came completely out. It was a sad day.

I’ve had this Bible since early 2002. It’s a Woman’s Study Bible by Thomas Nelson Publishers. It’s hardback, and it started out with a lovely yellow protective cover with blue flowers, which I eventually wore to pieces and had to discard. It has lots of good study notes, articles and charts, and lots of space in the margins, which I sure do like. But after years of constant use, travelling in suitcases and backpacks, and feeding my soul almost daily on three continents, it was beginning to wear thin. The fact that I kept love notes and reading plans inside probably didn’t help. I found that matching blue duck tape a few years ago and I reinforced the wearing-away spine. You might’ve thought it was ghetto, but I found it endearing. And helpful!

But finally a few weeks ago, when it became clear that the Bible wouldn’t last me much longer, and Genesis made an Exodus, I decided to write Thomas Nelson Publishers a note. I shared with them about what this Bible had meant to me. How it had spent time with me in several countries and time zones. How it was there when I first sensed God calling me to missions in Mexico, how it travelled with me to Africa for the first time, and when I moved to Scotland. I thanked them for their hard work in making it a great resource and study tool, and shared with them the sadness that it was “on its final chapter.” I asked if they might be able to donate another Bible to a missionary on a tight budget in South Africa. And I kid you not, within a day they’d kindly responded, and within forty-eight hours or so:

HOW this got from Tennessee to South Africa so quickly, I do not know.

But a shiny new Second Edition Woman’s Study Bible was on my kitchen counter.

And I am very happy to have a new Bible to wear out!

There is no Word like this Word! No good news like the Good News of Jesus! I have found joy and peace in no other place like I have in this place. And that Bible that fell apart, on countless occasions did hold me together.

Thank you very much, Thomas Nelson Publishers, for blessing me with a gift that gives like no other, in perfect timing. I hope that if I know what’s good for me, this good Word will begin to look worn in, in no time.

Well friends, what does the Word mean to you?


*Whether this quote is properly attributed to Spurgeon, Havner or someone else — I could not confirm at time of posting. If you know and would like to help us all out, I’d appreciate it.

To Joseph, at Car Hire 3000

Samaritan’s Feet South Africa, as an organisation, was in a bit of a pickle earlier today. Mind you, at this stage that simply means Mark and Caroline Collie were in a bit of a pickle. But really it was a big pickle.

You see, the shoes we were expecting two weeks ago have been delayed and delayed and delayed. Between customs paperwork, rail strikes and slow moving vessels, the ETA for us getting into the crates has been reassigned on what has sometimes felt like a daily basis.

Thanks to these delays, our most recent plan was to drive a car load of shoes up to Bloemfontein for one of the first distributions, which is happening next week. (The very first one was supposed to take place this week, but has been postponed because of these delays.) This trip would’ve saved some money and made sure the shoes were where they needed to be when they needed to be there. But these plans, too, were thwarted. Which may have been a good thing because there are a lot of tourists on the roads right now who don’t know anything about driving on the left. In the aftermath of yet another change of plans, were were left with a booking for a car rental — more like a big ol’ van rental — at about £300 ($440/ ZAR 3,363) and we no longer had any need for said van.

It was too late to cancel the booking, and we considered amending the booking to make it shorter, just so that we at least wouldn’t be charged so much. Then I decided to call Car Hire 3000 (it’s a UK company, but we got the best deal with them, and we still have credit in the UK) and explain our situation.

So I found myself this afternoon, with Joseph on the other end of the line.

Joseph took down my details, and then I explained our dilemma. We now have to freight these shoes up to Bloemfontein, as soon as we get our hands on them, (hopefully Monday) but we can no longer drive them up because there are more distributions happening here next week, the shoes are delayed, we’re welcoming a Samaritan’s Feet team from Brazil Wednesday, and lots of other stuff. (Including my brother’s visit!) And if we still have to pay for the rental, while we have to pay to freight the shoes up to Bloem and Rustenberg, we are left holding two expensive bags, with the cashflow for only one. For a charity just trying to do some good ’round these parts it is really painful to say, “Well, £300. It was nice knowing ya.” Especially when you do the math on how many barefeet you could shoe with that cash.

After a moment, things didn’t seem hopeful, but Joseph put me on hold and went to speak to his manager. He came back on the line and said:

We’ll cancel your booking and you’ll receive a full refund in the next few days.

It was Christmas and Joseph played the part of Santa Claus. And I was teary-eyed as I asked his name, thanked him profusely, and said, “God bless you, Joseph,” before getting off the phone.

We all get these opportunities — to hear someone else’s story, perhaps to choose not to follow the “protocol” set by our office or even our society, and to show kindness, even to a stranger.

It was a privilege to be a recipient of such kindness today.

So to my Joseph, (and Joseph’s manager) and to all the other Joseph’s showing this type of kindness — thanks. You may never know how much a little kindness means to someone else. It may be a small decision at that quickly sweeps across your desk. But to someone else it can be a pair of shoes…a message of hope… or a moment of joy needed at the end of a long day.

Thanks so much, Joseph!