Friday, June 19, 2015

This Blog is Moving!

Friends! For any of you who follow this blog, I've officially moved the content over to The new site now hosts all of the current blog posts on this site, and will also host all future posts moving forward. As I transition to my new position as the Director of the Social Work Program/Assistant Professor at Trevecca University and leave the Mozambique Initiative, I'm upgrading my website! You can subscribe to my new blog by clicking here.

Learn more about this transition on my latest blog post called Harrowing.

Thanks so much for following!

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Margins

On Saturday I woke at 6am, wedged myself into a packed 4-wheel drive vehicle, and proceeded to travel to a village called Cuamba located in the Niassa District of Mozambique. Cuamba is accessible via passages that I can only vaguely compare to "roads". A distance that might have taken us 4 hours in the USA took literally 10 hours on these muddy, safari paths. The rain continued to pour as we forged rivers and slid through mud for the entire day with the goal of reaching this village by nightfall. There was only one time that we had to be pulled from the mud with a chain and a good-Samaritan-like passing tractor, and I consider us extremely lucky. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Casting Visions, Lighting Fires

I'm bad at details. I hate the excel sheets, the line items, the itty bitty teeny weeny to dos, the nuts, the bolts...the details. I can do this stuff if I have to, and I often do, but I loathe this type of work and I quickly get bored. Now, I have tremendous respect for folks who are gifted in this area and I could not function without these people in my life, but I'm just not that person.

Despite these flaws, as it turns out, I do have a few strengths. And one such strength lies in being a big picture person. I am a dreamer of dreams and I can almost literally see them coming to life in my mind's eye. I see visions, and I know how to talk about them in such a way as to get people excited and interested, passionate and engaged. I'm a hopeless optimist and an endless believer in the human capacity for love, change, and growth. How I actually take the tiny steps to live out these awesome visions that I cast is often inconsequential to me in the moment, but I believe in them so much that it almost doesn't matter. Silly, I know, but true.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

5 American Habits I've Changed Since Working in Mozambique

I've been in my position as the Associate Director of the Mozambique Initiative for just over three years now, and I can't even begin to describe all of the ways that my experiences in Mozambique have changed my life. As I contemplate the new year ahead and attempt to incorporate the lessons I've learned during this time, here are 5 key habits that are significantly changing in my life since taking this job:
  1. Obsessing About Time: Am I going to be on time? How long will this last? When can I move on to the next thing? Is there time to do this if I do that first? Are we running over time? Being so time conscious is a luxury; it's a luxury to have reliable vehicles, and gas stations on every corner...not to mention watches. My desire to control time is fostered by these luxuries that allow it. And with all of these luxuries, I gradually started convincing myself that it was through my fingers that the sands of time fell. Not that we should be flippant about getting to work or school or important meetings, but how we orient ourselves around a clock is purely an expression of American excess and our desire for control. The sting comes when I realize the implications of this habit - that I move on to the next thing in my head and in my heart before even taking in where it is that I am standing, or who it is that I am standing with. Mentally, spiritually, emotionally, we are gone before we even arrive. What are the long term ramifications of this on our psyches? On our spiritual lives? Life is short. All we have is this moment. Mozambicans realize this in a  way that is humbling, sobering even. I'm reminded again and again to just. be. here. now. The next thing will inevitably come. No need to rush.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Longest Night

Today is the winter solstice, the darkest 24-hour period of the year, where night settles in, hunkers down, and exerts it's stubborn refusal to be shooed away. It is dark. And our immediate reaction is to turn on all of the lights and hide from all that scares us out there in the long and terrifying night.

This has been a year of extreme darkness in many respects for me personally. Great loss compounded upon great loss resulted in heart-heavy weeping in the middle of long and fearful nights. I have longed for the light of day this year, but the nights only became longer as the year stretched on. I ached for that sunny, solar religion where everything would be just fine if I only prayed enough, if I just said the right penance and attended enough feel-good, Sunday worship services. "There's always a silver lining," or "keep you chin up" were the cliched phrases of well-intentioned parishioners. But grief is not like that. Things aren't always just fine in the end. It was only dark, and the grotesquely bright sunshine of the Sunday, solar experience made my grief feel like a circus and sucked the legitimacy out of my pain.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Showers are Overrated

Friday! It's almost Friday, ya'all!! Eeek! This Friday I'll pick up my hiker's backpack, into which I've packed my little life, tent and all, and head back to Mozambique for some serious camping adventures. Yeah, that's right...CAMPING. IN MOZAMBIQUE. OMG. What's the purpose of this craziness, you ask? Manchester UMC, in it's total awesomeness, funded a primary school in the middle of the bush at their partner church, Mabumbuza UMC. The building was recently completed and we are going to both dedicate the building and engage in conversations with the Bishop of Mozambique, the leaders of the Mabumbuza community, and government officials about the next steps in increasing access to primary education in the country. Because of the great travel required to Mabumbuza, camping is sort of our only option in achieving our goal of spending significant time with the community...showers are overrated anyway, right?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Life Abundant

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive”.  
-Rev. Howard Thurman

I talk a lot about how hard I work and how this job is a lot to keep on top of and how I'm exhausted a lot of the time with all the travel...and all of this is true. But when it gets down to brass tacks, mostly, I do this job because it's SO MUCH FUN!! Like, I really super-duper love it. And it makes me so very happy. It's where I shine.

I've been doing a little personality exploring and took this awesome, super quick Meyers-Briggs-ish test. I landed with the following results: ENFP. Nailed it. This description completely nails it. They sort of sum this personality type up with this oh-so-true statement, "ENFPs are fiercely independent, and much more than stability and security, they crave creativity and freedom," which could not be a more accurate description of me. I also found this little gem describing the 25 Struggles Only ENFPs Will Understand. Brilliant!