The Gift of Hope

calendar 7In my readings this past month I came across a comment from decades ago, stating that the poor and the outcast “have no right to hope.”

It was a shocking statement to read. Really? Who believes this?

It was a bird’s eye view into another time and way of thinking. But even as I read it I could see that this same thinking just might be a large part of the undercurrent that keeps modern poverty and slavery alive.

Do we have this same thinking as an undercurrent of our thinking. Does it have impact on our justice and aid work. Do we believe that those less fortunate ‘deserve’ what they get.

A few years back I wrote a blog post about grace experienced and passed out. I relayed a situation that was less than ideal and how the grace of God broke in and pressed down.

And some of the responses were so angry. One woman responded with, “If only I had experienced that grace.” Another could hardly stomach the grace, for she had slogged through her own failures, thank-you very much.

It seems that grace makes us angry. If we have not known it we certainly don’t want to give it. And once we’ve spent years trying to fix our lives, make everything right, slogged through our ‘lot in life’ we certainly don’t want to see someone get off scot-free.

Grace, the hope of God, does this.

It covers over. It breaks through. Regardless of class or past or present or circumstance God delights to pour in and make things new.

Thus the anger. Thus the rage. The sense of justice thwarted. How dare ‘they’ hope.

For some time now the impact of Capturing Courage has eluded me a bit. I’ve been working to understand the core gift that we are giving out to those in rural third-world countries. I think it is hope.

And I’ve come to conviction and conclusion. Everyone deserves to hope. Everyone is entitled to grace. Because God said so.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

Investing Mommyness

real emotions and strong livesI began my own mothering journey some twenty-five years ago. At the time I had no idea the years to come and the full hearts and years of being a Mom.

Today I look back and I am simply so glad that I invested years into the lives of my children. I’m also deeply thankful for the profound strengths that they built into me.

The journey of motherhood is fraught with emotion and momentum, with service beyond what we think we can do, and with the unaccountable at every turn. Mothering is hard work.

Yet the privilege of carrying lives in our hearts is just that, a profound privilege.

And it is not unlike our opportunity in service to others around our world. All ministry is the heart of a mother’s heart. It is the courage to carry another in the heart, to resonate with dreams and priorities different than our own.

Being a Mom simply makes our hearts bigger – and into this expanded place of love we have much to pour out into other lives. Once made strong we have strength to give to others.

This is the privilege of being a Mom.

It is meant to take us beyond ourselves, and into the world.

Our bodies, as women, are prohibited from bearing children for our entire lives. It appears that the Lord set it up so our years as Mom would in fact be limited, for there is just so much more of the world that needs the strength of Moms.

The lessons learned as Mom are to be taken out there. While we are nurtured in our homes and with our families, the goal of all nurturing is to make strong people, to instill confidence and skill sets that can serve a wider audience.

This applies to Moms as well. The most resilient and strong people on the planet are Moms.

So, harness up your life, and invest it in something bigger than yourself. You’ve already been doing this for years no doubt, where might you like it to go now?

Maturing – Part One

P1320286 compressedMaturity requires stages and a progression that cannot be skipped.

We start with being completely wrapped up in ourselves. This is the mind of a toddler that thinks the whole world is an extension of him or herself. There is no distinction between what goes on out there and what is inherent within.

Growing a little older a child begins to understand that he is different than others and that others are not him, but the circumstances of the child’s world still directly reflect the child himself. What happens in the child’s world and to the people in the child’s world is still completely about the child.

At about the age of 12 our mind grows to understand that others are distinct people separate from us. We are able to step out of our own experience and put ourselves in the shoes of another. This is called the age of reason.

From here we immediately move into the independent stage. The teen years are critical for separating ourselves from our parents. Anything that parents put upon teens by way of expectations of maintaining the parents sense of self, supporting the parents egos, or playing out the parents un-lived hopes and dreams, will be automatically and often quite ruthlessly rejected by the teen.

For the teen must differentiate at all costs in order to mature.

Those who manage this differentiation go on to find their own successes. They express their passions, know their dreams and are freed in creative expression to find solutions that take them forward. They find out what they are good at and what they uniquely have to offer and bring to the table. Here we experience independence.

Only after this are we able to truly become interdependent. After all interdependence depends on two or more independent individuals. There can be no collaborations without complete people, for only a strong sense of self leads to powerful synergy with others.

Interdependence has us drawing from others and giving to others in a way that does not diminish either party. Those who are not yet independent cannot give or receive without feeling diminished and/or aggrandized, for their sense of self is not yet fully formed.

All of this to say that it is important to recognize where you are on the maturity scale and work accordingly in that place and towards the next stage.

For those of us who were traumatized in any way during childhood there is a possibility of being stuck at the age when trauma occurred. Trauma interrupts the natural development of any of us. Our emotions get stuck at that age, our reasoning gets stuck at that age, our perspectives get stuck at that age.

If for instance you or someone you know is always reflecting what people say and do as being about themselves, it is a pretty good sign that they are emotionally and cognitively operating from a child’s place.

I myself was stuck emotionally for quite some time at 9 years of age. For it was at the age of 9 that I was raped coming home from school one day. It took some hard inner work, the help of prayer ministers and psychologists and the simple healing of Jesus Christ to get me past that point.

But the amazing thing with healing is that once the stuck place (you know how we used to call a record that would skip and skip on the same spot a broken record), is healed, once the scars are erased in the power of Jesus Christ we go on to grow and mature at amazingly fast rates of speed.

As I have prayed and minister healing to many individuals over the years I am convinced that these ‘stuck’ places that began at childhood are often the root of many of our inabilities to get on with life and success.

There is a lot more to speak of regarding this, but I wanted to give a glimpse into some of the inner realities of our lives. Noting loud and clear that all of it can be healed and we can be freed to mature and find great satisfactions in life.

I’m a living testimony.


real emotions and strong livesI am the Mom of five kids. They are mostly grown, and over the years I’ve been a relatively unorthodox Mom in many ways.

Pretty laid back, seeing the big picture, relaxed and generally trusting, they too have come to realize that I’m a bit abnormal as Moms go.

Over the years they themselves have affirmed, “Wow Mom, I didn’t realize how cool and chill you are!”

Of course there were the oddities. I didn’t let them watch Walt Disney movies when they were kids (just way too much deception and lies cloaked in niceness, BLUCK!)

(they still give me a hard time about this)

But they did watch ‘real’ movies much sooner than any of their friends did. Movies that portrayed real emotions, real situations, real truths and real lies; all upfront and easy to see.

We scrapped the manipulative ‘here is how to be a good girl or boy’ children’s stories. I figured if I felt like throwing up glancing through them, why would I subject such stuff on my kids!

Instead we relished in honest tales, like The Bronze Bow, Who Owns the Sun, and Bruchko, just to name a few.

I’ll never forget the week we were reading the story of Jim Elliot. A missionary in the Ecuadorian Jungle who was speared to death by the Waodani Tribesmen living there. And how we ended our week at Missions Fest to witness Steve Saint (whose Father was also killed the same), and one of the men who done the killing, there, live and in person, sharing their grand story of redemption.

Real life learning. Tangible lessons.

Honest emotions.

Thing is, the goal is not to be good. The goal is definitely NOT to be nice.

(Going after nice or good become their own idolatry!)

And though we are not on a quest to be bad or mean, when we hold up outer accoutrements rather than inner honesty, we walk in falseness.

And when we don’t know ourselves, we cannot know others or God in any real emotional intimacy.

Our body language will tell one story and our words will tell another. Emotions will frighten us, and strong passion will make us uncomfortable. We will not be able to manage groups well, for which of our many personalities do we present when with many?

Congruency and honesty within our inner core takes a lot of work. Initially it means that we shed good and nice, and that we get on with real.

The lessons I hope my kids have learned:

– Be yourself

– Stand tall

– Live honest

– Hold your space

– Walk in passion

And finally – God is big enough

No one is fooled by veneers. We may think others can’t read us. But its just not the truth. Everything about you screams… everything about you.

Go for the honest. Go for the real. Go for healthy.


P1260995 compressedI was staying at Edith’s home for some three weeks. With a lovely home on the outskirts of Jinja, Uganda, there were many of us there. I had stayed there before, but this time Edith’s daughter was there with her little boy.

Victor was not quite two years old. A sweet little guy, but like a few of the littlest children, afraid of me and my strange white appearance.

Yet I was determined to make friends with him (longed to make friends with him), and he seemed to have the same notion. Every day, numerous times a day, he would skitter past my room, peering in through the open door-way, catch my glance and skitter away.

And every day he would come a couple of inches closer than the day before.

For the first week he would simply stand afar off in the hallway, looking and taking me in. And when I looked up to smile at him, off he would go. The second week he would come a touch closer, and stay a touch longer.

Now I wasn’t there all day every day, but at the start and ends of my days, and on my days off, Victor and I slowly developed a tentative rapport.

Generally speaking he was a bit of a fussy boy. And so there were tears and cries as he was put down for a nap, or when he wanted his Mama’s comfort or feeding, or when he was simply frustrated and feeling left out.

A lot of the time he wore only a small beaded belt around his waist, and in his beautiful baby body he toddled around the home, comfortable and free in his own skin, and as the weeks passed he finally got as close as the doorway to my room.

And then came my last Saturday in Edith’s home. Both Edith and her daughter were at the garden. I was home that day as were a few of the teen girls and a number of the children, Victor being one of them.

About mid-morning he became very sad with many tears. The other kids weren’t letting him play with them, the girls were preparing and cooking food, and his Mama was not there. What was a little boy to do?

I saw that maybe my time had come. Slowly I approached and scooped down to take him in my arms. I cannot express the delight as he let me pick him up and take him on my lap.

We simply sat. He calmed down. I was thrilled.

We hadn’t gotten closer than four feet prior to this, and to think that he was letting me hold him was a grand breakthrough. From that point on we were true friends, with an easy snuggling on my lap each day till I left.

I wonder how much this story represents us and God. We are afraid and unsure, startled by who God is, and certainly not sure how close we want to be.

But when life gets hard, when our common comforts are not at hand, and when we are at our wits end, we say okay, I’ll come closer to you now. “Yes I’ll let you in.”

Thing is, this takes some time. It took Victor three full weeks to allow me to touch him, but we were in the same house all along. I was simply there, and he was curious but fearful.

Isn’t it the same with God and us? God is simply here, in the house, present and eager, simply waiting to extend love and care. We hold back. It is us who are afraid.

We are the unsure ones.

Notice the picture of Victor (above) taken near the end of my trip and after we had become friends.

Can you see the affection coming out of his clear eyes, his frank companionship and gladness of being as I took his picture?

He wasn’t afraid any longer.

And this is how we can be with God. Come near to God and God will come near to us.

Fear of the unknown, insecurity about the present, and all that holds us back, will fall away. For in God’s presence we are validated, and encouraged, and strengthened.

We are comforted, supported, empowered.

How much time will we allow to pass swallowed in our own uncertainty?

“God, I have no idea how to come near to you, but I ask that you show me how. You scare me, I am afraid of you, but I want to know you, I want companionship and rapport with you.”

We don’t need to bring anything other than ourselves to God.

Like Victor’s naked little body, we simply come, and stand, risking to be seen and to be held, and to be changed forever.

A Gift

P1270641 compressedBaby Dorian has graced us with his presence. Such an incredibly sweet thing to welcome a little one into the world.

It has been a full couple of days.

Last week on the first of two long plane rides home from Uganda, I spent a bit of time decompressing, grieving over a few things, shedding a few worthwhile tears, and of course one of those things to grieve still more was the loss of my granddaughter Anna not quite a year ago.

I had just been praying miracles of heart and soul and body over many individuals in Uganda, and was so so sad that I had not been able to pray Anna back to life last May of 2011.

Looking ahead to increasing signs and wonders by God’s power yet through my own hands, I was simply hear-sick that these gifts were not there for her.

It has been a poison creeping into my heart.

We have all known that Dorian was arriving. Making preparations in many ways, my home has happily burgeoned to fit a bassinet and baby clothes and a bouncy-roo-thing. With teething ring and facecloths and baby dishes all in the cupboard…

All signs of life arriving. While still grappling with a life lost.

I am so glad for God and life alongside the Spirit.

(and that is an understatement)

Just last Saturday I was spending some time before the Lord, and taking this poison of regret in my heart to Jesus I was healed.

It is the same healing we are bringing to many in Uganda. The same healing that in Restoration Prayer many find relief.

With God’s hand on my heart the poison was drawn. Drained away by the power of our living God. Nothing can mimic this, there is no substitute.

All in perfect time

This past week I’ve been free and clear of regret and excess sorrow. With things set straight by my God, my heart received the last freedoms it needed to fully welcome Dorian.

All in perfect time

Making it into the delivery room just moments after he’d arrived, nestled on his Mamma’s belly and with the umbilical cord still attached he has been free to arrive simply as Dorian.

And with a few tears shared with my daughter (it is impossible to welcome one baby without remembering the last baby lost), we are heading forward into the future.

Dorian is a Greek name and it means ‘Gift’

Exactly what we all needed.

All in perfect time.

Without Guile

P1270401 compressedThere have been many precious moments as I’ve been in Uganda.

With only two days until I leave for home they are beginning to replay through my mind. And a few are standing out as the very best moments.

Being my second trip to some of the same areas I’ve been re-meeting many. And while the women whom I didn’t meet on the first trip warmly greet me, those women I met before literally throw themselves into my arms.

Forget the handshake, forget any social protocol of greeting, enthusiastic arms-around-my-waist, head on my chest, hugs have been the standard of many.

And I’ll never forget the woman whom I danced with one day, and the next saw me at a distance and ran full on and into my arms in welcome.

I cannot quite describe the feelings produced in me at such unrestrained shows of affection, other than profound humility and a wondering at the impact I am bringing.

I really only get it in part.

The men too are not shy to hug and to welcome, and as they jostle for pictures and conversation we simply enjoy each others company.

And I’ll never forget the frail elderly man whose eyes begged a dance, and so hand in hand he and I dance a jig, a slow jig to be sure, but a jig nonetheless. And with beauty and joy pouring out of his eyes, loving adoration pouring over me I simply blessed him back with the honor of a dance.

It is the least I could do, and the most I could do.

Complete satisfaction.

At one school I visited, with the choir singing for me, a few of the boys one by one made their way to the front to express their delight with the movements of traditional Ugandan dance.

I so wish I had caught it on film. The strength and risk of men shining through these small ones as they took courage to strut-their-stuff as a gift of welcome for the visitor.

Quite simply brought me to tears, if I could have stopped right there and wept I would have.

The songs composed and made just for “our dear Cyndy” caught my heart just as strongly. And I wonder at how profoundly easy it is to bless others…

Simply get on a plane and visit some people.

But I know it is more of that. I trust the real impact is that I am bringing a touch of God with me. And more than me I trust it is God in me to which others are responding.

A few of the smallest children responded in unreserved and uncharacteristic abandon.

Most of the kids shyly yet confidently (they’ve been taught well how to greet a visitor) came forward extending their hands for a shake, greeting me with a ‘Welcome’. Others hung back, eyes wide and wondering, not quite sure about this visitor and certainly not interested in risking to touch.

And then there were a few set apart, whose actions caught my breath in my chest.

One little boy seeing I was near as I sat on a neighboring bench, all of a sudden came as a bee-line to my side and pressed in against my leg.

He couldn’t get close enough.

I wrapped my free arm around him (the other had a baby) and there he stayed for a good while, some twenty minutes easily. Leaning in, drawing something to himself, blessing me with his unreserved and abandoned company. My heart caught with the wonder of it.

And just the other day the same.

While visiting a community, listening to the song of a gentleman as he played for us, out of the corner of my eye I saw a Mom with her little girl in her arms. This little one was struggling to get down and I wondered what it was about.

I soon found out, for once she succeeded in being placed on the ground, she immediately came to me and in one fluid motion as if we had known each other since her birth and visited every day, she was on my lap.

And there she settled in. Leaning back her head on my chest, snuggling in without a care in the world.

I held her for some time, as we enjoyed the music together.

While I am blown away by the love and hugs and dances with the men and the women, these validations of the children are what catch me off guard.

Without masks and without guile they are the truest gauge in all the world. Children see what we as adults can no longer see. Their perceptions are the truest, their candor the most free.

“For such is the kingdom of heaven”

Something we can all hope to be one day.


P1140235 compressed“Grab hold of the moments”

We’ve all heard this. I’ve no idea where it was first coined, but nonetheless it gives wisdom to our days.

But… what are the moments anyway?

A few of my own week’s favourite moments:

  • lunch and scrabble with my oldest daughter and son-in-law
  • braiding my youngest daughters hair at Starbucks
  • laughing with my middle daughter at the exact same spots of Big Bang Theory

What are your week’s favourite moments?

The thing about moments is, they come but once. They present themselves and then pass, never to reappear in the same way twice. It is why we must grab hold of them.

It’s why we must make room for them, and why we must always have our eyes and hearts open to take advantage of them and to run with them.

…and why our hearts must be at ease. When I am angry for instance, I have no room for ‘moments’. I couldn’t care less.

When I am tired and lonely, or sad and flat, I barely have the energy for moments.

And yet, the most important thing about moments, is that we simply show up. When we don’t have the energy, when we don’t have the passion, when we are simply flat, even just showing up does its own work.

Showing up honours moments and the people in them, even if we are not all there.

And this applies to all moments, the big, small and in-between moments.

I was privileged yesterday to hear Dan Wooley speak. The man who was trapped in the Haiti earthquake of 2010, who treated his wounds from an app on his I-Phone, shared how he took the moments to write messages to his wife, and this one, that he left for his sons,

“Don’t just live – Change the world”

The thing about changing the world…  it’s simply about the moments.

World changers simply grab hold of moments that are presented.

I’ve realized, that my trips to Africa in the months to come, all add up to a moment.

A micro-dot on the time-line of world history, it is simply a moment to run with.

We are a global community after all, and taking hold of these global stage moments needs to become our new normal. We must zoom our camera lens out, take on bigger perspectives and see moments for what they are. We’ve got to shake off the ooh’s and ahh’s and simply get on with it, whatever ‘it’ might be.

The thing is, whatever our own ‘changing the world’ might be, it is easier than ever before, it’s just a matter of grabbing hold of the moments.

What moments are presenting themselves to you?

Because quite frankly, it is the same for all of us, in every area of our lives, and it’s critical to remember that for specific blessings and times in history, be it the story of family, community, nation or world, moments…

…are all we have.