i am only one, but i am one

aids ribbon"I am only one, but I am one.I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do." -Edward Everett Hale

Everyone can do something in the fight against AIDS. Don't let the enormity of the task keep you from doing the something you can do.

Learn as much as you can, discover what you're passionate about, and throw your full weight into that passion.

  • Discover which aspect of the AIDS crisis resonates with your heart. It will be different for different people, and that's okay! You may not know yet what you're passionate about in regards to fighting the AIDS pandemic. So begin by reading about the multi-faceted issues involved. Your heart will be gripped by something as you research. It might be orphan care, or medical intervention, or prevention/abstinence programs. Whatever it is, find your passion.
  • Find an organization that shares your passion. Again, this may take some digging. But there are plenty of solid ministries out there targeting the various aspects of AIDS.
  • Connect as much as possible with the cause/organization you believe in. The more you know and understand about their vision and strategies, the more you can be a megaphone for them.
  • Interact with the organization and its team. Visit their website, comment on their blog posts, ask for specific prayer requests. Passion grows when you truly become part of something. Family members have the same blood in their veins. Join the family. Get the vision coursing through you till you bleed it.
  • Use your voice and influence to promote the cause you believe in. You can do that through blog posts, sidebar widgets, twitter updates, and personal conversations. You could commit to a monthly megaphone day on your blog where you highlight different aspects of what’s being done, what the needs are, and opportunities for others to get involved.
  • Be passionate about it. Anyone can plug something, but passion is unmistakable. People will know how much you really believe in what you’re saying.
  • Pray. Prayer really does change things.
  • Contribute financially to support the work that's being done.
  • Get off your "but" and go. Drop the excuses and go see for yourself. Travel overseas to not only see the work in action but to participate in it. The best advocates are those who’ve been involved. And I guarantee it will change your life forever.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

What are you currently doing to help in the fight against AIDS? What are you going to start doing? What other suggestions do you have for ways people can get involved?

you CAN do something

AIDS is a reality you don’t have the luxury to ignore.

Bono wrote in his book On the Move---

6,500 Africans are still dying every day of a preventable, treatable disease, for lack of drugs we can buy at any drugstore. This is not about charity; this is about justice and equality.

Because there’s no way we can look at what’s happening in Africa and, if we’re honest, conclude that deep down, we really accept that Africans are equal to us. Anywhere else in the world, we wouldn’t accept it. Look at what happened in Southeast Asia with the tsunami. 150,000 lives lost to that misnomer of all misnomers, “mother nature.” In Africa 150,000 lives are lost every month. A tsunami every month. And it’s a completely avoidable catastrophe.

There is a continent—Africa—being consumed by flames.I truly believe that when the history books are written, our age will be remembered for three things: the war on terror, the digital revolution, and what we did---or did not do---to put the fire out in Africa.

History, like God, is watching what we do.

Don’t close your eyes or turn your head away. People are dying for you to do something.


What will you do to learn more about the AIDS crisis? What will you do with what you know?

meet gym

I've been hanging out with Gym a lot lately. Like five or six times a week. And let me tell you, he's been kicking my butt. Kick.Ing.It. With a name like Urban Active, how could I resist joining? I knew I needed to do something not only to get in shape but also to improve my mental/emotional health. So I hooked up with Gym.

To say I was intimidated on our first date would be a ridiculous understatement. My chest tightened with anxiety just looking at all the equipment that I had no clue how to use, and seeing all the people who very clearly knew what they were doing.

But I dove right in, expending more energy in one 20-minute session than I had in weeks. Months.

And I hobbled for days afterward. No lie. Hover-peeing was completely out of the question, and walking down a set of stairs nearly ended in catastrophe on more than one occasion.

But I kept seeing Gym.

And the I-can't-believe-it-hurts-this-much soreness gradually subsided---for the most part.

Now Gym and I spend an hour together just about every day. I work hard; I sweat a disgusting amount; I huff and puff all the way to the bitter end. Today I pushed myself really hard. And I've had jell-o legs ever since. [Note to self: Hold the handrail on the way downstairs.]

While I don't expect I'll ever say, I love working out!, I do walk away feeling exhausted proud of myself.

So for that reason, I can say I love Gym.

Even though he kicks my butt.



I've written less emails in the past month than I used to write in a single day.

You gotta understand something about me: I'm a doer. I manage to get stacks of things done in a day. I figure out ways to tackle the to-do lists and push through the projects, even under tight deadlines. I know how to work my tail off when I need to. And even when I don't.

At least I used to anyway.

Right now, I simply don't have it in me.

My days are fairly empty, so I find myself with more time on my hands than ever before. But what I've gained in time, I lack in motivation, energy, and concentration. And one result is an overflowing inbox.

It's difficult for me to reach out right now. I feel unable to be the kind of friend I used to be and want to be---the kind of friend you deserve.

If you're one of the many who've emailed me but haven't heard back yet: I'm sorry for making you feel unimportant to me. I'm sorry I haven't explained until now.

Your emails aren't burdensome. My inbox is filled with reminders that I'm loved! So please don't hear this as a request to stop writing.

I guess it's just a request for patience. And understanding.

Because while I'm struggling to show it well right now, I still love and care deeply.

Even when I don't answer your email.

time to talk about it

Depression is a sign of weak faith. I don't know that I was ever told those exact words, but growing up, it was certainly conveyed to me that a depressed Christian is a bad Christian. A depressed Christian obviously lacks a strong relationship with God. A depressed Christian just needs to pray more, speak words of faith, and spend more time in the Bible. A depressed Christian gives Jesus---and the Church---a bad name.

That kind of thinking kept me bound in a prison. Forced me to suffer quietly. Because... Well...

I'm depressed. And I have been for a while.

My life is rich in many, many ways. I love God; I've followed Him my whole life; I've served Him passionately on the mission field for over a decade. I have people in my life who love me deeply and whom I love deeply in return.

But I'm also facing the hardest thing I've ever had to endure. And it's left me struggling with depression for almost two years.

Do I have weak faith? Sometimes. (So thankfully all I need is a mustard seed sized dollop of it.) But I know now that my depression isn't a reflection of my faith.

And I'm so sorry for ever thinking anyone else's was a reflection of theirs.

repost: reflection

We are called to reflect God's glory. Have you ever seen a body of water that's so still and smooth, it looks like glass? I have; it's pristine, beautiful, peaceful. And it perfectly reflects the sky above it and landscape around it, like a mirror.

That's the image I've always had when I think about my life reflecting the glory of God. But the problem is that I rarely feel like a smooth, glassy lake. My life---my heart---is much more tumultuous than that.

And then I realized something: God can miraculously use even the stormy sea of my life to reflect His glory.

He's not waiting for all the conditions to be perfect, for me to be smooth and ripple-free, or for the rhythmic waves of my life to cease. Nope. In fact, He gets even more glory when I reflect Him amid the strong currents and Perfect-Storm waves.

That means being able to pray things like ---

"In the midst of this sorrow and grief, position me to reflect as much of Your glory as possible."

"If You can get glory from my sickness, then go ahead and do it."

"Be glorified in me right in the midst of this situation and not just in my deliverance from it."

I'm working hard to get my heart to a place where I can do that. Where I can pray it, believe it, mean it. This much I know is true: God can leverage anything for His glory if I will surrender it to Him.

[originally posted 6/29/08]

four-minute friday: whatchawaitingfor?

Go. In the past six months...

  • I haven't had a single sore throat. (I used to have one almost every day.)
  • I haven't had a cold. (Despite sitting in a germ-infested airplane for 17 hours, traveling from hot summer to freezing winter.)
  • I've been able to swallow pills much easier. (Although I still do my throw-my-head-back-and-swoosh maneuver, just to be safe.)

And that, my friends, is nothing short of a miracle as far as I'm concerned. So the question remains: Why did I wait so long to get my tonsils removed? Ugh.

What's something you know you should do something about? Why are you waiting?


my souvenir(s) from ohio

I've never been pulled over before. Until tonight. I've gotten tickets, but only because of those stupid ridiculous precious cameras posted along the highways in South Africa. And they've all been delivered by the unreliable postal service. I've never gotten a ticket in America. And never directly from a cop. Thankfully I can still say that. Even after tonight. Phew.

Thirty minutes before, I debated about whether or not I should hit the bathroom one more time. I'd been chugging water all night and had made frequent trips to the restroom. I kinda had to pee but figured I could easily handle the 20-minute drive home.

But as soon as I got into my freezing car, my bladder shrunk. Oh well, what's a girl to do? I just blared some tunes and hit the road. (Sidebar: In response to my recent post, a friend mailed me her iPod car adapter to borrow! Am I blessed or what?!)

Not five minutes away from my house, a cop car pulled out behind me. And when the red-and-blues started flashing in my rearview mirror, I groaned out loud. I was on this troublesome road that deceives you me with its four lanes. The speed limit is only 25; I was going closer to 35 40.

My heart was racing as I pulled to the side of the road. My only experiences with this sort of thing come from watching COPS. And we all know those encounters never end well.

I was in a borrowed car. With an out-of-state license. And I'm a resident of another country. The story was clearly way too complicated to explain to a policeman on the side of the road on a freezing night when my bladder was about to burst.

After way too long of an exchange, the cop decided just to give me a written warning. "After all," he said, "You need a souvenir from Ohio."

I smiled and squeezed my legs even tighter together. I wanted to tell him that my currently-developing urinary tract infection was more than enough of a souvenir. But I refrained.

All that to say: It's true what your mom used to tell you. You should always pee one last time.

psalm of my heart

Does the blind man ever forget he can't see? Does the woman who lost her child ever not remember her loss? Does the broken heart ever forget its scars? Hurt hangs close, like a thick heavy fog. It's ever present. Always close. All encompassing.

I know God's hand reaches through pain. I know His light pierces darkness. I know His voice reverberates in emptiness. But there is still pain. Still darkness. Still emptiness.

Reach far, God. Shine brightly. And for heaven's my sake, speak louder. Because I need to feel You, see You, and hear You more than ever before.


spilling my guts


Now that my self-assigned writing project is over, I'm afraid of the direction my blog may go if I write what's on my mind and heart. So I'm trying to find the balance of being authentic and not letting the Grit morph into something I don't want it to be.

That being said, I know I need to start the new year off with a good dose of honesty. Brace yourself.

Like the earth after a drought, I'm finding I quickly soak up the love that's lavished on me, and then---just as quickly---it disappears. I don't doubt the sincerity of those who love me, it's just that it all rapidly sinks deep into the parched recesses of my heart, and the rest stays cracked and dry.

I guess that means my love tank ran empty. I've been running on empty for a long time.

I feel unloved and unwanted. Worse, I feel unlovable and unwantable. I'm trying to not believe those lies, but nine times out of ten, I do.

I've been advised not to worry too much about battling my fears of co-dependency right now. Because I'm in a place where I genuinely need people and need to allow myself to rely on them. The realization of all those things pretty much overwhelms me.

But deep down, I know this much is true: I was not created to be an island. It is okay healthy for me to crave connection and community. There is nothing wrong with a season of being the care taker rather than the caretaker. (That's confusing, but let that sink in a bit.)

I'm not at all saying any of this to invoke compliments or anything like that. So please don't. I just knew I needed to be honest with where I'm at, both with myself and with you.

Thanks for continuing to care about this gritty heart of mine, and being willing to read what comes out of it. That means a heck of a whole lot.

thirty: years old

I turned thirty this year. Just typing it out loud makes me feel old. I know anyone older than me will shake their head and tell me that thirty isn't old. But it is to me. Right now anyway. While I'm not a "here's a list of what I want to do before I'm 30" kind of girl, I'm still not where I'd have wanted to be by now. I would have hoped that by this point in my life, I'd...

  • exude more confidence.
  • be an admirable wife.
  • lead well.
  • know how to trust.
  • be ten pounds slimmer.
  • have mastered a skill.
  • enjoy praying more.
  • know who I am.

Looking back over that list, at the prompting of a friend, I see how I've made progress in each of those things.

I speak with more conviction and carry myself more confidently than ever before. I'm actively taking steps to be a wife other women would want to emulate. I'm learning to lead with vulnerability.

Which means I'm discovering how to trust. Again.

I've made healthier choices for what I'm eating, and have committed to train for a 5K. Blogging has made me a better writer.

I'm at a unique place in my walk with God which, while it doesn't always seem "strong", is about me offering Him my brokenness. And as I get reacquainted with the strength of God perfected in my weakness, I am reminded of the simple truth of who I am: I am His.

So here I am, at the end of another year. A woman who's not quite where she wants to be, but who's choosing to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Even if it's only because she's letting someone carry her. Or drag her.

I do still feel old, though. I think I need to go out for a drink.

Just so I can feel flattered when they card me.

twenty-three: hours to remember

I was in counseling for an hour today. I used a few of the remaining twenty-three hours to look back over some of my previous blog posts. I gain so much insight---and even sometimes get a good kick in the rear---when I take the time to revisit things God has spoken to me. Two old posts really resonated with my heart when I stumbled back upon them. Here are some snippets, since they're worth repeating. (You can read the full originals here and here if you're interested.)


Take all of me with Your gentle hands.

Even when I feel I can only open the door an inch, this is me giving You permission to bust it wide open. Even when I feel I’m unable to offer You more of me, this is me asking You to go ahead and take it anyway. Even when I feel I have no words, this is me asking You to respond to my one-word prayers for “Help” with all You know I need.

Be aggressive with me. For I’m not aggressive enough on my own behalf.


God’s heart breaks for my broken heart. He loves me that much. His compassion is that far-reaching. His grace is that incomprehensible. God’s heart hurts for my hurting heart.

The King of the Universe aches for me. The God who spread out the expanse of the sky, flung the stars into place, set the sun in its perfect position, and carefully placed the moon to simply reflect a light not its own… This God also reaches out to me, pulls me onto His lap, wraps His arms around me, holds me tighter than I realize I need, and refuses to let me go.

He weeps with me.

He doesn’t say much; He doesn’t need to. He certainly doesn’t feed me ridiculous clichés: “Smile, I love you.” “I work in mysterious ways.” “When I close a door, I open a window.” “Let go and let Me.”

His tears say enough. They tell me He understands. He cares. He sees my hurting heart and He holds it in the palm of His hand. And He holds it ever-so-gently.


I am so glad God promises to be close to the brokenhearted...

four:th of a nation

aids-ribbon They say that one in four South Africans has AIDS.

And I know it's true. I see it all around me: In the funeral tents that dot the horizon, in the sunken cheeks of a woman my age, in the lifelessness of the eighteen-month-old boy in my lap...

He says that there is hope.

And I know it's true. I see it all around me: In the faces that light up when they hear---for the first time---that there's a God who loves them, in the signed commitments to save sex for marriage, in the smile that spreads across the face of the lifeless toddler in my lap...

Sometimes it's easier to see the reality of what they say. But if I look closely, I can't miss the reality of what He says.

Lord, give me eyes to see...

this missionary can burp loud

I rarely drink soda. But I had a really strong craving for Coke a few days ago. Now, when I say Coke, I don't mean soda like some people I know. (A-hem.) When I say Coke, I mean Coke. Anyway, a few of the interns were drinking soda and, since I was desperate for Coke, I asked around to see if anyone had some I could take a sip of. Nope. They were all drinking diet. Blech. But that's another rant for another day.

I finally went and poured myself a glass of Coke. Two sips in, I was flooded with a memory and I realized why I'd been craving it so much.

Last year we brought the interns to the same place for debriefing. One night while we were here, we started talking about my propensity to burp loudly and how the interns hadn't yet heard this talent of mine. Laura, one of the interns, was notorious for her loud burps, so we challenged each other to a burp-off. We chugged some Coke in the hopes that it would spur on some amazing gas, and we sat around being unruly and goofy. But burps never came. So we drank more Coke. And more Coke. And more Coke. But we couldn't burp. I think there was just too much pressure for us to burp on-demand.

Even without burps, that crazy night was so fun. And drinking Coke in the same rented house in the same beautiful town along the southern coast of Africa brought it all back.

I love how sights, smells, and even tastes connect me to so many wonderful memories. Tell us about something that's connected to a sight, sound, or taste for you...

burden of leadership

I've been pondering the burden of leadership. Let me explain...a heavy heart A lot of people have come through the revolving door of our ministry in the past decade: interns, mission team members, staff. Many others are tied into us through their support. All in all, we have a huge spiderwebbed network of people that are connected to Thrive Africa. And that makes them connected to Niel and I.

While I don't personally stay in touch with every single person in the Thrive spiderweb, I correspond with as many as I can (and as many as want to write back!) and we pray often for our entire extended family.

The past few weeks have unraveled some heartbreaking things that are going on in our family members' lives. It culminated this morning with the news---before 8 AM, mind you---that two people had just lost loved ones.

And it's left my heart feeling heavy.

So I'm wrestling with this whole burden of leadership thing. I know I'm not responsible for people, only to them. I know I can't carry the burdens that others carry in their lives. I know that allowing myself to get "emotionally involved" with even a fraction of the thousands of people that are connected with Thrive is more than I could ever handle. I know that I can't be everyone's fixer, that I can't always have the answer, that I can't always be there for people. I know all of that.

But that still doesn't make it any easier to hear that people I know and love are facing

  • the deaths of two family members within 9 months
  • sexual abuse at the hands of someone they should've been able to trust
  • unceasing physical pain
  • emotional scars and hurts that have festered for years
  • inexplicable health problems
  • a long road ahead due to horribly wrong life decisions

What are your thoughts on the burden of leadership? Where's the line between compassion and an unhealthy taking-it-on-yourself-ness? How much caring is too much, and how much is not enough?