a state of education

our life group tends to have mostly naked conversations. recently, they've centered on government, diet, education, politics, family, and a new way of living. it has been mentioned, more than just once, of starting our own "tribe" because america is headed down the drain with not a lot of hope in sight.

as i was perusing the NY Times this morning, drinking my first, then second, cup of joe (with dark chocolate creme creamer....yum!), i came across a certain article about education in south africa. their state of education is pathetic, and matriculation scores (kind of like our SATs) have declined EVERY YEAR of the past 6 years. children just aren't being educated well, and the teachers don't seem to care very much.

sound familiar?

i've long said that i would home school my kids. our education system in interested in only one thing: test scores. education centers around it, and thanks to our good old government, who of course knows what is best, schools are being stripped of much needed funding if their scores aren't high enough. that means that inner city schools, who already struggle with needs of their own, are being forced to standardize, and even close programs!

this new, practically underground program in SA is having amazing success. the kids are doing amazingly well, even though it takes super long days to do it. can you imagine an american kid staying until 5:15 to do science and math, and 8 to study for tests? IT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN. 

if i ever get to live in my own tribe, i'm adopting this educational system. like a community home schooling. any takers?


guest blogging

today i was offered the opportunity to guest blog at a friend's blog. please visit to read how i am processing the trip to africa! and thank you bekah for giving me the opportunity to utilize my creativity:)

p.s.- pumpkin cheesecake is awesome.


snippets and free-streaming thoughts: an ode to matt (mostly)

REASONS TO BE THANKFUL FOR MY HUSBAND (i promise i won't be mushy)

1. he is supporting me as I'm losing my mind in an attempt to run a half marathon. i've mentioned before: i am not a runner. at all. not once has he made fun of me. if you know matt, he drips with sarcasm at almost all times of the day, but he hasn't made fun of this one time. he cooks for me when i have to run at night. that is possibly the single best thing about this experience. i came home one night, and he had taken some napa cabbage and green cabbage and turned it into something wonderful. props to lancaster farm fresh  for our awesome and different vegetable shares, and to Emeril for his BAM! seasoning! yum! i would have never eaten napa cabbage on purpose, and now it is one of my favorite vegetables:)
chop 1/2 head napa and 1/2 head green cabbage; set aside
saute garlic and onion in EVOO
add 2 cups chicken stock, maybe a little white wine
reduce by half
add cabbages, S&P, and BAM!
braise until tender

2. while i was in africa, i was invited (sort of) by bekah to go to a blogging conference for women in hershey. i was interested immediately. who doesn't want to spend three days with great women who love to write, drink coffee, and eat dessert? i haven't written seriously since my "english major" days at college, but i miss it tremendously. i made decisions in my life since then that weren't healthy, and one of the consequences was that i lost my creativity. but it wasn't lost, it was just locked away where it couldn't get hurt like the rest of me did. when i went to haiti, i started this blog. through it, pieces of my former self started to shine through. i feel like a part of myself is FINALLY returning. point being: i got home and decided that i wanted to go. however, it's expensive. and we did just get back from africa. i signed up for a ridiculous amount of call over the next several weeks to pay for it. i decided that if i got called in this past weekend, i'd take it as a sign and today i'd sign up. i didn't get called in. :( matt gave me a confused look and asked why i'd leave something that could impact my future to fate or destiny. he didn't understand, and encouraged me to go anyway. so last night, while watching the sad, sad giants-colts game, i signed up! SO EXCITED!!!!

3. ok, this has nothing to do with matt. it's just something that is on my mind right now. it's 10:45am on monday, and all of my windows are wide open because it's still chilly outside. my pumpkin and mums candle is lit, and the house is quiet (except for aniu, who is barking incessantly at the UPS man who decided to park in front of our house, HER house). i'm on my second cup of coffee with dark chocolate cream creamer, and there is a feeling of peace in the air. 


The Legend of the Great Toenail

A few months ago, I decided to attempt to run a half-marathon. It was a moment of insanity; some crazy impulse to do something great.  As I get closer to race day, I’m realizing that 13.1 miles is WAAAAAAAY too long to walk, skip, hop, or jump on one leg, much less try to run! It isn’t exactly fun for me, but I’m learning a lot about myself.

Last Sunday, my sister-in-law and I ran/jogged/walked 8 miles. Around mile 4, my feet started to hurt. A lot. I could feel blisters forming on my toes, and my heart sank as I realized that I had to run/jog/walk 4 more miles! *sigh*

When I got home, I noticed that my great right toe hurt worst of all. Monday I decided to wash off my toenail polish and face what was underneath: a creeping blackish blueish nastiness. My worst fear was realized. My toenail is going to fall off.


As I walked back from getting my hair cut today, I couldn’t stop staring at the ugly toenail that invaded my flip-flops. All because I wanted to do something good for myself. Now I’m left with a dead toenail and constant throbbing in my shoes every time I run. And for what?!?!

My journey to SA was kind of like this race. I never exactly wanted to go to Africa. However, when the opportunity presented itself, I knew I had to go. All of the time leading up to the actual trip excited me, terrified me, and prepared me.

I traveled to Africa very American. My heart desired to help others. God has definitely been preparing me for something great. But my mind wasn’t there yet. There was so much that I wanted to do. For myself. I realized that I am a very selfish person. Every decision I make is for the good of myself or my family. Then I experienced Africa.

A bruise started spreading across my American ego. It slowly crept along the edges while I was in Africa, but since I’ve been home it has begun to invade my center. My selfish lust is starting to peel off, little by little. Like my toenail. It is going to take a long time to fall off. In fact, it may never totally fall off. But the process has begun, and there is nothing that I can do to stop it. However, underneath lies something fresh. Something new and uncharted and great. I wish that I could just bypass the bruise and jump to the “new me.” Start a new chapter of my life.

But I can’t just yet. So I run on….


the resurrection plant and me.

we did a bit of smuggling in SA. nothing major (well, not in MY mind anyway!). we brought back some giraffe biltong so that our friends and family could say they tasted this adorable creature. it's gross, by the way. lol!

we also smuggled back a plant, which i'm assuming could get us (meaning me) in some pretty big trouble. it was just a small piece of a plant, but it's the most amazing thing ever. it's called a resurrection plant. it was just a piece of dried up, brown, shriveled nothing. when we got home, we put it in a cup of water by the window. this is what it looked like:

this is what it looked like 2 hours later!:

it's amazing what a little love and attention can do. this plant did so much from so little. went from being dead to alive again. like lazarus. like jesus.

we've had an interesting week back. the day after we got home, we opened up our home to a family friend. he's going through some tough stuff, and he needed a place to stay. inside, he's dying. there's not alot there. but with God's grace, he can live again, can get through this rough, dry season of his life and flourish. hopefully we can be the sun and water, so that God can help him grow.

my two weeks in africa was my sun and water. i was feeling a little lost before i went. like i was starting to shrivel up inside. fear of the future was starting wear me down. ahhh...such an american mentality. where will my life be in 5 years? i should be wondering, what am i doing with my time RIGHT NOW?

now i feel like i'm regrowing. resurrecting in a sense. i still have no idea what i'll be doing even 6 months from now. that's ok though, because i have an idea of how i want my time to be spent NOW. i'm meant to be loving and nourishing someone else for the time being, and there is nothing else i want to do. God is in control of what that leads to, and i have to make a conscientious decision every day to be ok with that, and to trust Him.


this is your life, is it who you want to be?

today is my second full day back from africa. yesterday was rough. jet lag is killer. today will be better i think. matt and i both woke up at 5am on the dot. so right now i'm sitting on the couch, drinking the best coffee i've had in two weeks, and processing. i have to go back to work today. something about that gets under my skin a little.

we live in such a rat race. we work for ourselves. last week, i worked harder than i ever have. i helped mix an insane amount of cement, by hand, in an old bathtub, with a huge hole in the bottom. we made a basketball court/hopscotch/four square court. all 12 of us worked together, each bringing our specific gifts and abilities. we finished it, by hand, and it looks amazing. i STILL have bruises on my thighs from digging up the sod. they aren't even fading yet:)

the work was hard, the days were long, the food was simple. but we did it, and it wasn't for us or about us. maybe that's the nature of a trip like that. a week of two of self sacrifice, and then you go back to your life hoping that something will change, knowing it won't. the thought of coming back and working to make money to pay for everything i have makes me a little nauseous. we even cut back on a lot. this summer, we cancelled our cable, got ride of texting, and are in the process of experimenting going down to one car. because we have more than we need. more than enough.

we spent 2 weeks living with people who had just enough, some days not even that. they were full of more joy than nearly anyone i know here in the states. they are grateful and thankful for what they have, and in that would still sacrifice whatever they have to help their neighbor.

our friend bekah lives on that farm in SA. she gets paid so little, only $250 a month, and lives frugally off of that. still, she ends up giving money to her friends on the farm when they have no food, or need medical expenses paid. she sacrifices the little that she currently has to help everyone else out. such an unamerican thing to do. now i wonder, what am i supposed to do?

Our new friends: Zulu, Rumbi, and baby Marvin

Francis and his son Matthew
Publish Post


at the end of the day, everything works out

i didn't have much internet access in SA. if i did, it was only a few minutes here or there to check my email.  never enough time to blog. therefore, i'll try to commit to writing a little everyday about the trip as i process it.

the sunsets in africa are spectacular, amazing, beautiful. lekker. there isn't a sunset in the world that even remotely compares. every night, while we ate dinner in the restaurant (which was out in the open), we experienced this beauty. it was relaxing, refreshing. after a long, hard day of manual labor, the sunsets revived us for the evening meetings we held for the black workers on the farm. the excellent south african food helped, of course. (sidenote: i know you want to know! we tried warthog, kudu, giraffe, and guinea fowl. loved warthog and guinea fowl, kudu is ok, giraffe is pretty gross)

every morning, we were picked up in a game viewer and taken to the bottom of the mountain to work. every morning but one, we were greeted by the giraffes. God blessed us, because many people stay on the farm for several weeks and never see one of these beautiful creatures. one morning, they were blocking the road and we had to stop and wait on them. another morning, we woke up to four of them right outside of our rooms on the top of the mountain! it's impossible to wake up in a bad mood, even with the lack of good coffee:) they are the most graceful animals, and hands down my favorite animal i saw the entire trip.

the highlight of the trip were the kids. they were just incredible. the farm has a school on it for the children of the black workers, as well as for the children of the couple who runs the farm. there are seven kids right now, all boys, from 2 years to 6 years. at 6 they leave the farm and go to school in town, or back to zimbabwe for school (most of the black workers are from zim). in particular, these two captured my heart. if it was even remotely ethical, i would have packed them in my suitcase and brought them home! on the right is deserve, who is trying pop rocks for the first time with matt. he's only 2, and has such a charismatic personality! on the right is matthew, whom we sponsored for the trip. each person on the team took one of the kids and brought presents, clothes, and shoes for them. matthew is also two, and became matt's favorite kid in the world. he's just like us...quiet, shy, and has the cutest little boy giggle ever. they loved to be loved on, snuggled, kissed, tickled, played with... even people who don't particularly care much for kids (like matt) fell in love with them. matthew and deserve are cousins and live in the same house (called a lapa). we delivered some things to their parents, and as we were leaving the compound, the two of them shouted "ha-le-lu-jia!" over and over and over again to us:) it was precious:) i miss them already!

Our team, plus  5 of the boys:) minus les