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31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 17

When I began an interest in writing, many folks asked, “What will you write about?  Who is your audience?”  I let this paralyze me.  The most helpful advice was from another author, “Write for yourself.”  These simple three words are what started me to share my writing this year.  My hope is that as I process through my own journey that some of my lessons would be useful to you.

Before intimately sharing all my life in marriage, I thought most addictions fell under the “substance” category.  Of course, there are so many more addictions–spending, eating, gossip, lying, work, laziness, apathy, anxiety, anger….

Either way, we don’t like to talk about addictions, let alone admit our own.  Webster summarizes the definition best, “(1) a strong and harmful need to regularly have something (such as a drug) or do something (such as gamble); (2) an unusually great interest in something or a need to do or have something.”

I find the latter definition most interesting.  I can’t say I’ve spent much time reflecting on my need to do or have something.  Yet as I’ve been writing daily, I’ve been more aware of my responses and reactions.  Recently, I’ve observed that when things don’t go “my way”, I get upset at someone or the situation.  It may just been an internal response but nonetheless, it’s anger or frustration.

As my parents always wisely taught, “anger is a response to a deeper emotion.”  Again, I don’t stop and think about what is below the surface.  But I see anger hiding a deeper sense of fear or insecurity.

So if my response to not getting my way is anger–is my addiction selfishness, fear, insecurity or anger?

What is your addiction?

31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 16

Marriage.  New country.  New language.  Unemployed.  Move away from family and friends.  I’d say those are a lot of changes to do all in one year, let alone one day.  Not only has it created stress in my life but it makes it more difficult to isolate which one of these factors is affecting the greatest amount of stress at any given moment.

Most of our dating life was long distance.  Needless to say, we had a big learning curve once we began to share our lives together.

As Dietrich Bonhoeffer states, “There is a battle in the world that is without comparison, a war of the highest powers in which everyone is involved: the war of death against love, of love against death, two opponents that in their majesty are worthy of each other.  but love is as strong as death (Song 8:6b), for love is from God…Death is strong in the world, but love is strong in eternity.”

As I look at marriage, I see how easily we can be short-sighted.  We live for today.  We want happiness…NOW.  If we don’t find it, if it doesn’t come as quickly as our fast food delivery, we’re out.  Done.  It’s much easier to think that our spouse should be serving us than the other way around.  Why do we not think of the long-term?  Or about how today’s choices influence tomorrow’s lifestyle?  My mom just told me of her friend, who was counseled by friends in her early days to leave her husband.  He wasn’t “cutting it” by the Disney fairy tale standards.  Yet, she choose to stick with him and keep her commitment to their marriage.  Years later, when she developed dementia, she counted on her husband to daily visit and care for her.  He was faithful when it mattered most until the day she died.

Jesus reminds us, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life,and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

How can you choose your spouse today?  Choose life to the full?  Choose what Jesus promised?

31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 15

In the various places I’ve lived, I’ve always learned that finding community is the most important priority.  One way I tried to do that here was to start a small group/Bible study at our church.

Looking back now, this was a lofty goal, considering I was hardly fluent in the language.  Each Wednesday night, I wandered my way through the unlit streets to find the hostess’ home.  I really didn’t realize how much I relied on Google maps in the U.S. until I tried to find my way around without any technological assistance.

One particular study, I sat awkwardly waiting for the group to start, as the women filed in and rattled off their day’s anecdotes at lightening speed.  I felt like a child lost in a store.  I gazed around the room, hoping to catch a word or two I understood.  It was more like trying to jump in to double-dutch–when do I enter?  So I sat in silence.

This was why I needed to type up each lesson that I prepared ahead of time.  Chris was gracious enough to help me with edits but I could not veer from my script.  A little difficult to experience community when you can’t improvise.

Most of the women in our group were single or divorced.  I was the newlywed.  I was out of my element in more than one way here.  But this is what finding community is about, you put yourself out there in hopes of finding a shared connection.  I began to read my way through the study about reading the Bible to find daily encouragement.  As I closed the lesson, I went off script.

I wanted to challenge the women with a tangible way to put the lesson into practice.  I urged them to write out their favorite verse on their “esposo”.  I meant to say my newest learned vocabulary, “espejo.”  That’s right, I urged these single women to write their Scripture on their husbands, not their mirrors.

I guess laughter is a shared connection!

(**In November that year, I moved to Guatemala for a month to improve my Spanish.)

Enter today’s raffle:

*Raffle made available through

31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 14


I never thought that autumn day when I left Ohio would lead me to start over more than once—with my geography, my career, my friendships and interests.  Though I can’t plan for the next logical step, I have certainly enjoyed the ride–from visits to Ambassadors’ residences or dining with former Honduran presidents.  Yet, one of the added bonuses is that I’ve now traveled to more countries in six years than I had in my entire life before that.

Among some of my favorite travels have been to South Africa (2010) and Brazil (2014).  As if going to one World Cup was not already a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I had the opportunity to go to two!  There is nothing like attending something like this in person.  I felt that rush just yesterday, as the Cubs won!!  These trips not only highlighted the beautiful game of soccer but also included visits to local wineries, safaris, mountain trails and more.  In Brazil, we squeezed into a local bar to watch the Brazil-Germany game, donning our German gear.  Before the game started, Brazilian fans glared at us, the outcasts.  They were not subtle with their finger-pointing and judgmental comments.  Within 25 minutes, Germany had scored 4 goals. Silence and shock fell upon the bar. Our thrilled shouts diminished to quiet fist pumps.  By the fifth goal at minute 29, the bartenders starting giving us free caipirinhas.  By goal six and seven, the now drunk, to drown their disappointed sorrows, fans were asking for our photos.  They must have assumed we were German.  What started as a rivalry morphed into a shared celebration.  It’s amazing to watch how something as simple as a game can unite people all over the world.

I eagerly await my next adventure!

31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 13


Webster defines it as “one of the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual.”  I was always told character is who I am when no one is looking.

When I see what people endure here, I can’t help but further examine my own character.  If I describe it as the latter definition, I don’t have much.  Since moving to Honduras, I’ve tried various volunteering opportunities.  I’ve worked as a tutor and teacher at local private schools.  I’ve also worked with our sales team.  See?  It’s much easier to define ourselves by what we do which is why this season has been so difficult for me.  My work over the past 5 years has changed and nothing seems to click or stick.  Not to mention, I have felt like it’s been a journey of wearing someone else’s skin since I moved here.

So, this is why this season has been good for me.  Prior to moving out of the country, I prided myself in my successes and thrived on my achievements.  I drew energy from the compliments and accolades of others.  But here, I am no one……at least not for what I do.

It’s been over five years that I’ve wrestled with God on this.  I’ve begged Him for clarity and a chance to use my gifts and do what I love.  I’ve fought, I’ve stomped, I’ve cried, I’ve given up.  And now, years later, I’m finally ready to listen.  What I hear God saying (that He has been since I moved here) is that I am enough as I am.  I am His.  He cares more about who I am and my character within than what I do or what others see and the praise I receive.

Until now, I’ve pretty much viewed this as some kind of “timeout” that God has put me in, a punishment.  But He has shown me in the stillness and the quieter life here that He has given me a precious gift.  He has removed the glitter and fame of what I was so easily distracted by and put me in the quiet of His presence.  If only I treasured this sooner!

So who am I when no one’s looking?

I am the one whom God loves…no more, no less…based on what I do.

31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 12

As I look back to those early, hardest moments for me, my eyes were quickly opened to what life is like for those around me.  Having spent my latter LA days working for an anti-human trafficking organization, I immediately saw what trafficking looked like much closer to “home”.

In late 2010, we were looking to expand our workforce and hire more factory employees for the holiday season.  With several employees referring family members, due to the high unemployment rate, we interviewed several hundred workers.

After the first round, our team started the second interviews.  One particular woman, a cousin of two of our employees, was asked to come in for another interview.  When it came time to make an offer, she did not return any of our calls.

As weeks went by, and we had completed the seasonal hiring, we received a tearful call from the cousins who worked with us. They were told their cousin was killed in Mexico, with 70 others, while trying to cross into the U.S.  I watched them on the news as they sobbed their heartache.

Two months later, they received a call from their “deceased” cousin, stating that she was healthy and arrived safely in the U.S. “Please send money,” she begged.  As if the initial news of her death was not painful enough, they then discovered this gruesome prank was simply a scheme to rob them.

In that moment, I realized why we were here.  In creating jobs, our hope is to offer more opportunity, here, within their home country, so they don’t feel the only option is to leave, putting themselves and their family at risk.

Five years later, these brave women still work with us and have taught me so much about courage and what true faith in God looks like in this dark world.

31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 11

“What’s the hardest part?”  I’ve often been asked this question throughout the past five years.

I have had other friends who have gone before me.  Some have lived or currently live in Dubai, New Zealand, Ireland or Turkey. It was always difficult to say goodbye.  Of course, I’m grateful for Skype, FaceTime, texting and email!  None compare to sitting down over coffee.  Though I didn’t fully understand the lives of these brave friends until I made the permanent international move myself.

Of course, each person’s experience is unique but I have found the most difficult thing to be loneliness.  The challenge has been to know what was the main source of it.

When I initially moved here in 2010, I had been married for one week.  It was a rude awakening after spending most of our dating/engaged relationship long-distance.  Not to mention, I married an entrepreneur who jumped into working long hours from day one.  Some days, especially during the busy holiday season, he would leave early in AM and return the following morning from the factory.

I left a wonderful community of friends and church to a city where I knew no one.  And I couldn’t communicate with them if I did meet someone new.

Previous to the move, I had left a job working for a close friend and before that, two part-time jobs: (1) on staff at a church I loved and (2) another on mission with an anti-human trafficking organization.  I was plugged in and was alive!  To then move to no job prospects, at home, with no internet.

I was in an unknown land.  The ways of life, language and culture were foreign.  I was on my own.

As you can imagine, all of these simultaneous transitions caused me to face loneliness in different stages.  Being the youngest of six kids, I’ve never been good with alone time or silence.

Though loneliness has been the hardest thing for me here, it’s also been helpful.  Loneliness forced me to be still and self-reflect more honestly.  Loneliness has called me to reach out to friends when I’m in need.  Loneliness has required me to lean on God as my true comfort–rather than things, people or tasks.  Loneliness has taught be not to be afraid of stillness or silence.  Loneliness has given me an understanding and compassion for others.

Loneliness calls me to authenticity.

31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 10

My encounter with that truck driver was a reminder, early on, that I was truly starting over…as a child.

Having previously relied on my communication skills in the U.S., I was now stripped of what I knew.  It quickly dawned on me that the idea of being “in control” and living a predictable life here was laughable.  Perhaps that is why God has me here, in a new land, to teach me to let go.

This season was different than the previous adventures because I was now one-week married, without a job, family and friends, church or community, a language or knowledge of my new surroundings.  I was lost and overwhelmed.  Where do I begin?

Rather than Abraham’s faith and obedience to move, for me, it was much easier to look back.  I wanted to hold on to the friendships and life that I had known in LA.  I struggled to embrace this new, unknown world.  It was easier to shy away.

As I look at those early days now, I see that I was my own obstacle.  The mind can be a tricky thing.  I was convinced I was leaving a good thing and didn’t see that I was joining a better one, even if I couldn’t see it.

How often do we miss out on what is right in front of us because we are holding on to the past or what might have been?

What good are you missing in front of you today?

31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day 9

Sweaty palms gripped the wheel as I sat in traffic.  “Ugh!  This is worse than LA!  How is that possible?”  The semi-truck creeped closer in my rearview mirror.  I soon found myself sandwiched between this truck and a SUV.  I could hear the calculations in my mind, “Where do I go?”  “Be aggressive!”  I could hear my husband’s voice in my head.

Without thinking, I gunned the gas as the semi-truck came barreling down the center of the lane.  Scraping metal screeched as he “squeezed” past me.  I forgot here there are no lane lines.  How are there no road rules?  Immediately, I was begging my husband over the phone, “What do I do?”

“Go after him!”

He can’t be serious.  Surely, I can call 911 or something.  But I accelerated up the two-lane mountain road, more panicked than before.  I laid on the horn and tailed the oblivious truck driver.  This was apparently routine driving behavior and not enough to get his attention.  Instead I tried driving into head on traffic, flailing my arms, gesturing for him to pull over.

He looked at me bewilderingly and drove on.  Now I was on a mission.  I tried again.  I’m sure he eventually pulled over simply out of curiosity, what the crazy gringo lady might want.  “Qué pasó?”

With my heart pounding out of my chest and no Spanish, I gestured and repeated “Tu culpa!  Tu culpa!”  Graciously, he responded, “Policía?”  So we headed to the nearest police post.  The crowd of spectators quickly swarmed and I knew I was outnumbered.  I could sense their accusations rising.

“Tu culpa!  Tu culpa!” was all I could blurt out.  Blank eyes stared back.  The police circled like vultures.  Sheepishly, I pulled out my phone to call Chris for help.  “You need to come here, I need a translator.”  I kept muttering my refrain, “Tu culpa…”  I must have sounded like a toddler.

When Chris’ car arrived, the crowd turned in unison, ready to attack.  Within minutes, he turned and asked, “Are you sure this wasn’t your fault?”

No comment.

31 Days of My Life as Shebraham: Day8

Genesis 12:4 continues, “So Abram went, as the Lord had told him.”  I wish I had the same obedience as Abraham did.

Instead, I question.  I push back.  I make excuses.  It’s easy to default to blaming the world and people around me.  But let’s call it what it is–disobedience.

Chris and I have four dogs.  Each one is unique in their own personality.  Woolly is the newest addition to our house.  I can learn a lot from observing our furry family.

Woolly is misbehaved.  Disobedient.  He could easily blame it on his story.  When he was 8 weeks old, we sold him to a neighbor.  Almost daily, when we’d drive by, he would be bounding through the street.  We would walk him home and beg, “Please keep a close watch on him.  He will run away.”  Sure enough, one day, we came home from a trip and never saw Woolly again.

I prayed for 9 months that I would miraculously find him.  I even wandered into a stranger’s property, past their gate and all, late at night, convinced I was following Woolly.  Instead, I just looked like the awkward foreigner once again.

Almost a year after he’d gone missing, I was taking Sophie, his mom, to the vet to be spayed.  Her 9 puppy litter was enough for me.  We were outnumbered with our 3 dogs as it was.  As I walked out of the vet, Woolly was sitting by my car, as if it was just yesterday that he left.

Even now, two years later, I’m still breaking him of bad habits.  He still disobeys, looking at me as if he has a right.  I don’t know his experience on the street.

I act the same way.  I look at my past or share my woes, looking for sympathy.

When will I learn to “GO” (to move forward) as Abraham did, without making excuses or needing to know where I’m going?

Oh, that I would know the faith of Abraham!