Tuesday, October 6, 2015


Last night was hard.

Daddy is away, baby is teething, dog is nervous, big kid doesn't respond well to change and is freaking a bit, 18 hour power cut, mommy is on her own.

My world feels a bit insane at the moment. And this was day one-- out of SIXTEEN.

How timely that our lesson for Revive (a recovery ministry at our church) would be about SANITY.

I tend to have totally unrealistic expectations of myself and others.  I have struggled with this my whole life.  Right now I am battling with the unrealistic expectation that with my husband away I can still do everything I usually do.  That's INSANITY.  I will have to scale back... I am missing a person who accomplishes a whole lot in our home, I am having to fill his role for the next two weeks and therefore I have to say NO to some pretty things.

These are not bad things.  Most of them are good: like hanging out with life giving friends, serving others or duties at work.  Some of them are wonderful things like volunteering at church with ministries that are important to me. 

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result.  I have so many times overextended myself and wound up stressed out and grouchy.  I do this mainly because I feel like I have to prove my value, it's ridiculous.  Sanity is making decisions based on truth.  Today, my truth is that in a perfect world, I would be able to do it all... but in this reality, I just cannot.  And this doesn't diminish my value. I am learning (in these past 36 hours) that my husband is more important to our family than I even realized, and that his presence in our home allows me to say a lot more yeses to the things I love.

Thank you Nyasha for being such a fabulous husband and daddy and for letting me be a mommy who pursues her dreams without leaving a void in her kiddo's lives.  Thanks for picking up the slack.  We miss you more than you know.

Monday, October 5, 2015

15 sleeps without Nyasha

Nyasha keeps our family calm.  When I freak out, he is stable. When I burn dinner, he makes a plan.  The best decision I ever made with my life was to marry this man.  I am not kidding, he's just so special.

Every morning when we wake up, Nyasha takes Vivi to the lounge to play- FOR AN HOUR!  An entire hour that I can do whatever I want.  Fellow mommies are you hearing me??? I get an hour- first thing in the morning!

Now, I would be lying if I didn't say that more often than not I use that hour for beautiful, uninterrupted sleep! It is just my magical time.  If by some miracle, I am feeling well rested I use that time to read and pray and just be alone!

I love this time by myself and Nyasha and Vivienne love this time together.  (Ruth is generally still snoozing away.)  We are all better for it.

I am realizing that I am spoiled. 

Very early this morning, Nyasha left for South Africa.  He is being trained for a new job that will require him to be away for FIFTEEN NIGHTS.  (Although I am feeling grateful because originally we were told it would be 24!!

Fifteen nights means sixteen mornings without my hour.  Pray for me people, please.

Her face when she woke up and realized he was gone...

Trevor Noah saved my marriage!

Ok you guys,

I am posting this clip because it makes me laugh-- and after my heavy heart yesterday, I need to laugh.

Trevor Noah is one of my favorite comedians.  His humor has been really important in my relationship with my husband, Nyasha because it is something we can BOTH relate to.  That is so hard for us to find.  We are total opposites in every way, especially in our sense of humor!  He likes Mr. Bean, I like Will Ferrell. Add all of our opposites to our massive cultural differences and it's hard to find something that makes us both laugh.  Trevor Noah is our solution!

(Can I take a minute for a side bar here?? For a long time I felt like this totally discredited the life I am living, trying to love Jesus.  Once, in 2008 I think, I went to visit my friend Lori in Australia after a long hard year in Zimbabwe.  My first day there I met her after work and I was sitting in the sun reading celebrity gossip mags and drinking from a starbucks cup.  She just wouldn't let me live it down-- I had ignored all the beauty of Sydney for these two silly indulgences-- but let me tell you, these things are my little luxuries:  I like to know what's going on in pop culture and I find people like Will Ferrell to be absolute heroes in my life.  People who can take the saddest of days and make me cry with laughter.  Thank you Vince Vaughn, Kevin Hart, Melissa McCarthy and Zack Galifianakis you bring me such joy!!  Recently I read these words by Jen Hatmaker, in her book For the Love and I have felt SO MUCH FREEDOM!
Do you know what else? I thought humor was one of my throwaway qualities forever. Surely that had no place in Jesus Work. Frankly, I considered it a liability – as if I should overcome it and get serious, for the love. (What kind of a Bible teacher loves Will Ferrell?) I figured I should manage the important stuff and ratchet down the humor, because I am a grown woman who works for Jesus. But guess what? God created an entire package. It all counts. There are no throwaway qualities. In fact, those qualities might point you in just the right direction. Nothing is wasted: not a characteristic, preference, experience, tragedy, quirk, nothing. It is all you and it is all purposed and it can all be used for great and glorious good.
Thank you Jen Hatmaker for proving my husband wrong and for giving me permission to love what makes me laugh! WOW, that was a LONG side bar!

So, Nyasha doesn't like watching comedies with me because: 1. He thinks my fave movies are crude and offensive usually and 2. Because I laugh so loud that he can't even hear what is being said.

I will forgive him because both are probably true.  And he's a hottie so I can't stay made for long.
See what I mean? Total Hottie.

But Trevor Noah.  South African comedian extraordinaire-- we can agree on him! He makes us both laugh.  We have seen every stand up video, we have watched every clip.  It makes me so sad that we don't get Comedy Central to watch The Daily Show but we can find clips on youtube-- like this one.

I am not political, I don't really have a stance on American politics-- and I don't have any thoughts about Zimbabwean politics because I don't feel like I know enough to form an opinion... however I have a bold opinion about humor-- and this, my friends is funny no matter who you are going to vote for.

Well done to The Daily Show for giving Trevor Noah a chance and thank you Trevor Noah for giving my husband and I common ground to laugh together. 

I hope this clip makes you all laugh as well!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

$5 an hour $10 a night

Today I was scheduled to share at a women's meeting in a peri-urban, high density neighborhood outside of Harare.  The church that was hosting is still being built, as is most of the neighborhood.  But once a month all the ladies from the (instrumental) Churches of Christ get together for a time of fellowship.  They had decided that they needed to make these meetings a bit more practical and that the topic they wanted covered this month was addictions.  This is how I ended up here. 

When the organizer told me that the ladies would be gathering from the instrumental Churches of Christ, I had a basic understanding of what this meant and why it was important.  A few years ago I would not have! However I had the opportunity before I got married and pregnant, to participate in a masters degree in missional leadership program at Rochester College.  Most of my cohort were pastors from Church of Christ churches and I learned a lot about how big the instrumental vs non-instrumental divide was.  If you love Jesus and serve on the staff at a church, I would highly recommend this program, although I wasn't able to continue because of crazy life situations, it was life changing!

Ok so back to Saturday:
I was drove out to this church, which only took about 40 minutes. However when I turned down the dusty road into Southlea Park, it felt like I was world's away from my neighborhood.  The homes were mostly unfinished, and there was construction taking place everywhere.  The wind was blowing dust all around and there were very few trees.  The hot sun seemed to make everyone who was walking up and down the streets extra tired looking.

As I tried to follow directions to the church a sign on the side of the road caught my eyes:

$5 an hour
$10 a night

Prostitution is illegal in Zimbabwe, although it is rampant.  When I drive down the main road to our home at night, there are ladies standing in groups every few feet waiting to be picked up and often we see car accidents from people who decided to stop with no warning to the cars behind them.  However it shocked me that in a neighborhood in which the houses are not even completed that a lodge would already be built and operating and so blatantly advertising an hourly rate.

When I got to the church the women were so filled with hope and anticipation.  We spoke of addiction and recovery and the questions were all about how they could best help their children and husband's find their way into a life of recovery.  How there is hope for those of us suffering in our addiction and that hope has a name: Jesus.

The despair that I felt as I drove through the neighborhood was so different than the hope I felt as I stood in the church.   

It reminded me of a quote from Desmond Tutu:
Such creativity brings me hope!!
Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.

It is my hope that some of the men and women who are booking this lodge hourly will find their way into the homes or churches of the ladies I met with today.  

Friday, October 2, 2015


Fridays are for FUN

Friday morning we wake up with no strict, crazy, get ready for work schedule.  At 9:30 we join an amazing and diverse group of women and babies for play group (I won't lie, I worked hard and waited [sometimes] patiently to find this group.)

After play group I have a bit of free time-- today we went to the flea market to collect samples of beaded key rings we are hoping to use for fundraising for The Michael Project. And since we were at the flea market, Vivienne and I met up with my Zimbabwean BFF for lunch-- sadza and t-bone.  It was delicious, made more so by the conversation.  Di and I are intentional about our friendship.  We share the stuff that makes us laugh, cry and even cringe.  She is the sister of my heart.  I have a few of these friendships and people, can I say that these relationships are the diamonds of my life?  I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

After that I dropped Vivi at home with Gogo and went on to work for a bit.  I generally only have one session on a Friday, which I am grateful for! 

My schedule clears and I take a deep breath.  What I have been waiting for all week has finally come.  I drive down the potholed streets of Marlborough (a suburb of Harare) and stop at the black gate that I have seen thousands of times.  When the gate opens and my girl runs out to me it is as if all is right with the world.  Our girl Ru doesn’t get to live with us full time yet.  We are working on that, but for right now we live life looking forward to the school holidays and the weekends as if they are Christmas!

Today we spent the car ride home sharing stories of school and work.  When we went through our highs and lows, we decided to count jacaranda trees on the way home because they are certainly a high for all of us this time of the year.

72 Jacarandas on the street that leads us home.

260 Weekends so far.

Fridays are the greatest and for our family, they have been for a very long time.  Fridays are for fun.  Fridays are for family.  And someday, for our family, Fridays will be forever.
Ruthie September 2011

Ruthie September 2015

Thursday, October 1, 2015

31 Days of My Real Zimbabwean Life

So I haven't been blogging.

No shocker there, I have so often left huge gaps in between posts.  I generally do not write when things are hard, when they are just not going the way I would want them to.  Sometimes I write in my journal during these times, but I would RARELY consider putting those thoughts out there.

Our little Vivienne is 8 months old.  She is a treasure: a tiny girl who brings such joy to our lives.  However, Vivienne exhausts me.  On the days that I work, she tends to want to wake up and play at THREE A.M.  I am not exaggerating, it is as if she is making up for lost play time from earlier in the day!  She exhausts me.   So does cooking, tidying the house, going to work, parenting Ruth (our 11 year old) taking care of Lucy (our hyper, needy 3 year old Jack Russel) and trying to be a wife to Nyasha and attempting to be present in our community.

These are all good, necessary things.  They just leave me feeling as if I hardly have a moment to get a breath in and when I have a precious moment to myself there is one thing I value above anything else: S.L.E.E.P.  Uninterrupted sleep is like my long lost love.

Before Vivienne was born, my best friend and I used to joke that in order for me to be friendly I needed to have a solid 10 hours of sleep.  We were kind of joking.  Ok, we were stating the cold, hard facts.  It has now been over a year since I have had 8 hours of sleep in a row.  Watch out people, things are getting ugly!  And by things I mean me-- and my words.  I am snippy and snarky and my poor husband is getting the brunt of it.


Although I generally tend to hide my words from the world when things are not well.  I am challenging myself to write for the next 31 days in an attempt to not only better myself but to save my marriage.  Kidding, I don't think I am in danger of finding divorce papers on my dining table-- unless I keep trying to pass popcorn off as dinner.  Oh, that reminds me: I need to get to the grocery store (AKA the place that exhausts me the most.)

People, I love this man SO much.

Vivienne Mudiwa, the one responsible for my lack of sleep. Honestly who could be mad at that face?

Ruth the one who stole my heart and made me stay

Monday, January 12, 2015

Having a baby without my momma

Pregnancy comes with a lot of emotions.

Wow.  Like a lot of emotions.

That pretty much sums up the last nine months of my life. 

I haven't been nearly as weepy as I thought I would be.  The first few months I felt like I was just staying alive-barely.  Thanks hyperemises Gravadarum, there are many ways in which I would like to have my life mirror Princess Katherine, this was NOT on the list.

After I started to feel better my emotions were certainly out in full force, but nothing prepared me for this past week.

At Christmas, my husband arrived in Michigan where we will be having our little one.  Thank Goodness, because these five weeks without him were L.O.N.G.  As we made our way through the holidays and all the family time the imminent arrival of our little one became very real.

We needed to find a temporary place to live, a car to use (car seats require a car after all) and a doctor to deliver this little one.

This past week all of those things started to come together.  We were given a car to use, a gorgeous home to stay in. We had an appointment with a doctor that took a lot of time with me, who answered our questions and made us feel great about our choice to deliver here. I felt a wave of relief rush over me.  A few hours later Nyasha and I headed back to the hospital for a tour of the labor and delivery wards.

As we turned into the parking lot the realization hit me that in 1979 my mother was pregnant with me and in July she turned into the parking lot in this exact same hospital and gave birth to me.  The hospital has changed enormously over those 36 years and is almost unrecongnizable to the one she delivered in, but I won't deny that I felt some sort of connection to that-- and it has brought up a ton of emotions! 

Thoughts about a birth plan, who will be where and doing what and all the questions I have about what is about to happen in my world invariably lead to the thought that I would like to be having some conversations with my mom.

I would think that by now I am used to missing out on these things.  She died when I was 19 and I hadn't lived with her since I was 8...I have graduated several times without her, moved across country a couple of times and then around the world.  I have gotten married and now have almost made it through a pregnancy.  But when I walked around that hospital and thought about the fact that although I currently live around the world, that I will deliver in the same hospital she did, I wanted my mom. 

I want her to tell me what she felt like in those weeks and months and days before she met me for the first time.  What it was like when she held me on July 16, 1979.  I want to know what she felt, what she thought and more than anything I want her to tell me what she thinks about this little one that is to come.

Having a baby without a mama is no small thing. 

I have been blessed to have so many strong women in my life: my grandma, my aunts, the women who mentor me around the world--they mother me in different ways every day.  I also have a gracious, loving and prayerful mother-in-law.  I love them. I rely on them.  However there is only one woman who knew what it felt like to give birth to me and she is gone.  I cannot ask her, she cannot tell stories about my first moments and she will not be there when I give birth.

That brings on some BIG emotions, friends. 

There have been many days in my life when I have wanted my mom... but none as much as these. 

I am grateful that I believe that God uses all things for good and that He really does redeem even the most broken of situations.  I can't help but think that the fact that I am giving birth in the same hospital that my mother did so many years ago, is not an accident, but a chance for healing and redemption.

We are getting close to the time to meet our little one. Please keep us in your prayers!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Wonderful Love

I am often struck by the generosity of the people of the world.  

 I am not blind, I see the greed and corruption and I am aware of the damage that selfishness causes in our world.  However, when I open my eyes and my heart to see what else is going on, I see people—some with a little and some with a lot giving generously, sharing what they have with others.

I experienced this in my first years of life in Zimbabwe in a way that changed me forever.  In those first years, when I lived in the ghetto of a small tourist town in the kitchen of a family that had so little compared to the way I had grown up I experienced hospitality in a way I didn’t know existed before.  As I got to know my neighbors and had the opportunity and privilege to hear their stories I saw how they shared with one another.    In those days the Zim dollar, our currency was collapsing.  We experienced inflation rates that astounded economists around the world.   Shelves in the grocery stores were empty and people we knew were starving.  Food was scarce and yet people were sharing it.

Today, my husband and I are in Michigan where I grew up.  I have not lived in this area in more than 15 years.  Yet today we have been blessed by three families that do not know us, from three different church communities in different ways.  They are sharing their belongings with us.

This is the kind of love that Jesus taught.  This is the kind of love that the early church lived out.  This is what I think it means to be a Christian.

This is the kind of love that fills my heart with wonder. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2015: A year filled with Wonder.

A New Year.
365 perfectly unblemished days to looks forward to with hope and anticipation.

For me and for my family, this year--2015 is already filled with some life changing days that are circled on the calendar.  Some of them we are able to talk about--like February 2, the day little baby Chari is due!

Other days we are still tucking away in our hearts awaiting the time to discuss them with you all... but we will ask you to pray for these days that will impact our family.

Some years I choose a word to focus on while I pray and meditate.  This word always seems to speak to me in the most special ways.  A few years ago it was beloved, another year it was lovingkindness.  This year I decided that I wanted a word.  I prayed and hoped that by the first I would hear a word that stood out to me for this year.... but nothing came.  I was disappointed but figured oh well, eventually something will pop up.  I mean we are at 36 weeks in this pregnancy and we still don't have even a short list of agreed upon baby names... so what did I expect!! It finally came--the word, not the name.


Hmmmm, I was intrigued by this word.  I often find myself wondering about things.  I am curious by nature and ask a lot of questions as I process through doubt and land in a place of belief.  But as I thought about this word: wonder, I realized that this wasn't really what was speaking to my heart.  It was more like: Wonder-- to have a feeling of awe, astonishment, surprise or admiration. 


I want to be filled with wonder in 2015.  I want to be in awe of the things taking place around me. I want to relish that feeling of astonishment when I see miracles take place and I want to be surprised by the amazing things that happen in the most ordinary moments of life that I often take for granted.  Most importantly I want to live this year in admiration of the One who loves me most and gives me this life that indeed is filled with things to be in wonder about. 

Today, January 5 I looked around at so much that fills me with wonder:

1. God has blessed me with a life that I wouldn't trade for anything in the world.  For most of my life that wasn't true- I constantly wanted something else.
2.  This giant belly is a constant reminder of the way God redeems even the most broken parts of our lives.
3.  I love my husband with a love I didn't know I was capable of.  Our romance is a story filled with a wide range of emotions and stories-- some of which we have shared often and others that haven't been told outside of a very small circle of trusted confidants.  I am certain that I am grateful for all the moments... highs and lows and most especially for the place we are at right now.
4.  Our little girl, the one that captured my heart and knitted it to Zimbabwe is loved so deeply by so many.  So much so that I --with all my control freak tendencies- was confident enough to leave her with our family while I flew 10,000 miles away during the biggest transition our family has experienced to day.
5.  I have no idea how the physical needs of our family will be met this year and rather than give me anxiety it excites me. What the heck?!?!

So there it is, the beginning of my year of living in wonder of the life I have been given and the One who graciously has given it.

Here's to a year filled with wonder!