I'm on a journey with a set destination. Heaven! I want to journey well and bless those traveling alongside me. I don't want to sit - I want to make progress - everyday. But I know, I must feel the brush of His Robes, or I'll never make the climb. This blog will chronicle my journey, but more importantly, it will share my moments of reaching for the Robes of Christ.
We're headed down one of Kenya's many
treacherous roads when the black fumes boiling out the tailpipe of
the slow moving truck in front of us presses us to either pass or
suffocate. Then out of no where an eighteen wheeler moving far too
fast for the weight it's carrying passes the car headed in our
direction. And within seconds, we find ourselves barreling head-on
towards the mass of metal surely 10 times our size. My favorite
fella' then calmly says, “Honey, I know this looks dangerous... (as
I hold my breath and grab the handgrip in front of me)... but... it's
Cool and calm ---- he smiles and
maneuvers our Lori-car masterfully, tucking us securely in the safety
of our lane with seconds to spare.
The intensity of the moment followed by
the desired result ( safe passage) caused us both to erupt into
boisterous laughter. That nervous kind of JOY laughter that comes
when air flows back into previously emptied lungs.
And I repeated his words back to him
over and over again as the madness of the drive on these unruly,
hole-filled, donkey/sheep/goat/cow framed roads continued.
We've learned to laugh.
We've also learned to drive in new
ways. (Very careful, defensive ways.)
You have to.
And, we pray more than ever before.
Truthfully, it is dangerous to drive on
these raucous, unruly Kenyan roads.
But when he said, “I know this looks
dangerous... but... it's really not,” it sent my mind on a journey
of its own.
We waited at the bottom of the
escalator, behind the two ladies and three little girls. Unsure of
why they were hesitating, we inched closer. The ladies were talking
in swift swahili trying to encourage the little ones to step onto the
moving stairs, but the girls were terrified. And I thought to myself
---- “Honeys, I know this looks dangerous... but... it's not.”
We smiled with a look of reassurance as
we slowly stepped around them and showed them what it looked like
after taking that first daunting step. With big eyes, they watched us
ascend, and then slowly brought their round eyes back down to the
unnaturalness of moving stairs.
Making our safe passage up to the next
level, we looked over the high railing to encourage them on. And they
did it, they took that first step. We cheered, they cheered, fear had
been beaten and the ride was underway.
After Bible study time with the ladies
in the slum, the rains were threatening and the thunder rolled. We
knew the ladies would get soaked through and through as they walked
back to their huts so far from the place where we gather each Friday,
so we offered to carry them home instead. It's comical really, how
many Kenyan ladies you can pack into one vehicle, especially when
trying to beat the rains. As they filed into the car, it left no room
for our son, Peter. But he soon found a solid solution, he would ride
on the back of a friend's motorcycle who planned to follow us home to
borrow a book. We looked at the looming clouds, listened to the angry
rumbles, and prayed. There was no other option really. We couldn't
strand the ladies as they carried babies on their backs and little
ones in their arms. And our mostly grown son was all up for the quick
ride through rushing traffic under threatening skies. Letting go and
trusting the One who loves most, it's a must, not an option. And it
came to me later, “donna, I know that looked dangerous... but...
really it wasn't”. Not because of the logical conclusion or
measured risks involved, but only because of the nearness of God and
His great care. 1 Peter 5:7 in the Message translation sings to me in
those moments, “Live carefree before GOD, HE is most careful with
(note: the Word does not say we should
live carelessly ---- but rather “carefree” AND
Can you find the mzungu?
These words are being typed while
sitting in the Amsterdam airport. Just days prior we'd received another warning
was sent out to Americans living in Kenya, a warning from the US
Embassy, cautioning Americans to be alert and aware, terrorist
threats had increased.
Eleven hours ago I let go of my Steve's
hand, hugged Peter tight and stepped through the security gates of
the Nairobi airport. And I whispered to myself those same words, “i
know this looks dangerous... but... it's not.” Even though the
Embassy had warned of the potential danger, I reminded myself of the
Truth (live “carefree” before God --- He is most careful with
Things around us can look treacherous
and ominous. Our Lord even tells us straight up --- “in this world
you will have trouble...” We shouldn't be surprised when it comes.
It's not a matter of “if” it's soundly a matter of “when”.
But we people, we try to control the
percentages very closely. I've lived most all my life trying to
manage the possibilities carefully --- to try and keep the
opportunities for trouble slim and manageable (if at all possible).
And i've learned that I can stay inside
controlled parameters and minimize risk, but then i'm rarely in the
places where God wants to touch and speak and share and love and help
and be – through me.
Stepping into places of intense, known
danger on our own, without God's cover and guard ---- well, that's
NOT what i'm talking about here at all.
There are places we are simply not
suppose to be, things we are not suppose to do.
For each of us, those lines are defined
differently ---- and they should be, according to why we are here,
what God has purposed in us.
But we should never, ever forget ----
“we are fearfully and wonderfully made” – and there's a reason
for that gift.
There's a wide swing here between
scared and hiding --------------to looking for danger and running
full speed into it.
And somewhere in the middle of that
God-held swing is a sweet spot where we breathe air designed for our
lungs to inhale.
It's not the stale, stagnant air found
in boxes that hold us in. Likewise it's not the treacherous,
oxygen-void air found in the heat of the fire or heights of the
atmosphere we were not designed to endure.
But instead, it's the aroma filled air
in the wide open spaces of obeying and being exactly where the One
who made us has called us to be.
In the eyes of the world, it could
often be said, “That looks too dangerous...”
But if God is with us ----- doesn't His
Word say ----- “who can be against us”.
Do we believe that? Or is it just one
of those verses we use when it fits with what we might be trying to
convey at the time? Is it a verse of convenience? Or His Word for our
These words don't flow out of me with
some sideways agenda to try and get people to step into dangerous,
adventurous places. No. These words come out of me as I daily reach
for His Robe and say, “Oh Lord, I feel too weak. It might be
easy-peasy for other people to fly all over the world alone and drive
on crazy roads so far from home. But you know me, i'm Your little
girl, and you know it feels a little odd (and dare I say a bit crazy)
for me to be found in these sort of places. So, I have to be honest
Lord, with you, and say, i'm holding on to you with everything i've
got. Cause you know Lord, to my eyes, this looks like it might be
dangerous... but i'm hearing your still, small voice whispering in my
soul ----- 'Yes donna, I know this looks dangerous... but... with
me... it's not.'”
And so, like the little girl at the
bottom of the escalator, i've watched others step into the
unnaturalness of places that seemed wildly dangerous to me. And i've
seen them move to new places, higher places, with smiles on their
faces and peace in their eyes. And i've heard you calling from above,
looking over High rails in the Heavenlies and encouraging me on. So
day after day, i'll keep stepping where you tell me to -------
thankful beyond words that ------ I always find you there in those
illogical, unnatural places (where stairs should be still, but they
are moving instead) ---- doing the things that can only be done by
It felt profound. It had the ring of
remarkable. It was the way he said it mixed with the look on his
face. He was acquainted with living, we could sense it by the way he
did it in front of us.
Our boat had glided across the waters
of Lake Baringo pausing to catch glimpses of Kingfishers, Fish
Eagles, Hornbills, and rainbow Malachites. We met Susan, the Nile
crocodile that would come to his whistle but not linger as a pet
would. We left the 6 foot croc as he said, “We'll go buy fish and
return to feed her. She'll love it.” We road a distance further on
the beautifully wild lake as he explained to us the names and
characteristics of the mountain ranges on either side of us. We were
riding through the deeper parts of the Great Rift Valley in this part
of Kenya. And he said, “Millions of years from now, this great
valley will open itself up and separate these mountains from those
and the sea will flow through it.” Pointing to the peaks on either
side of us. He lived in one of the most spectacular places in the
world... and he knew it. We were quiet as he spoke of what he knew so
well. Teaching us what we did not know, his eyes glimmered, as he
shared pieces of his world with us.
The boat driver slowed our speed as we
approached the fishermen sitting on reed grass-beds floating in the
deep aqua water. As we drew nearer we could see they sat on partially
submerged boat-like floats made from balsa trees. Poles of spongy,
lightweight wood lashed together. Their paddles were made from tire
treads cut into small, oval shaped pieces they would hold in their
hands and use like flippers. All day these fishermen would sit on the
floating wood boat with legs dangling in the water. A simple pole
made from a long thin stick held the line that held one hook tied to
its end. A large African termite met its end on the hook being dipped
into the water where the grass-bed was separated a bit. Like
Huckleberry Fin on the mighty Mississippi, these fishermen sat
patiently dipping their hooks into the water. There was a peace
around them. Three men and a young boy, they fished in silence, each
movement slow. And it was here, he said, “They are fishing for
For us, we felt the gift of being
allowed into their “world”. These fishermen knew the water, the
fish, and the flow of life around this lake in the Rift Valley. But
they knew nothing of the world we came from... and most likely, they
would not have been intrigued by it at all. When you spend your days
peacefully asking the lake to surrender “life” to you so you can
feed your family and provide for needs, what other world would woo
Daily, they fish for LIFE.
It's been their way for decades.
It's been the way on the shores of this
lake for centuries.
They would have had much to talk about
with Peter and Andrew and James and John. The older man was a 21st
century Zebedee, fishing with his son. As we bought 3 fish from them
to give to Susan, they returned to their work... fishing for life.
They were busy and content. Much could be learned in the solid
simpleness around them.
Our guide was their friend. They spoke
in a tongue known well to them, but still foreign to us. We couldn't
grasp all they were saying to one another, but we could read their
gestures and understand their eyes. They knew one another well, and
they liked what they knew in each other. The boy caught a tilipia and
held it up proudly to show his father, and our guide, and we were
blessed by the joy in his face over his success. His father had
taught him the work of fishing for life, and he was getting it.
And I wondered to myself... are you one
of my Father's treasures... living an obscure life, doing the next
right thing, and blessing the world around you in ways that won't
show loudly but will run deeply.
Years ago when I first came to this
continent, I had been jaded by the cruelness happening to countless
women and children. And that warping in my mind had caused me to
wrongfully assume most men here were users and abusers. Now after
living here, and hearing the many more stories, my eyes see more, and
my heart is no longer dark towards them. So many good men work to
care for their families in the same place where some men do not. But
the good ones always rise to the top. That's one way God works. He
conquers evil by growing men who persevere in the ways of Light ----
and some of those men, fish for life.
As we left the fishermen, my husband
and I let our minds settle into those words. We spoke quietly to one
another realizing the three simple words had gone deep in us both ---
“Fishing for life”.
Riding back to feed Susan, the corner
of my eye caught the movements of our guide as he quickly, but
silently killed each of the 3 fish. He noticed my awareness of his
actions and slowly said, “So sorry mom, but it's what I must do for
their life to pass to the croc, if I do not they
will swim away too quickly and keep it for themselves.”
And while it was a bit disturbing to realize the fish were dying
beside me, it was another chance for wisdom to teach me a fuller
meaning in his words.
“It's what I must do for life to
pass... if I do not they will keep it for themselves...”
And in the oddest way, I felt the
common ground between the fish and I.
Dying to self is not pleasant. In fact
it's an ugly, painful process. To lay down our own life, our plans,
our goals, our everything... so that it can become LIFE in other
places and for others.
For the fish beside me, their life
would pass on to the crocodile.
For me, for you, where is our life
passing on to?
Christ did it first.
He gave up His life and passed Life on
to those who will receive it.
And in the holy process, He then calls
us to lay our lives down (even while we are still breathing), so that
Life can flow through us to others.
It's the way of the One who spoke of
being born twice.
Two births, two deaths, the Holy rhythm
of truly having LIVED.
But, we people, we work so desperately
to keep our lives for ourselves don't we? Just as the fish lying in
the boat bottom on Baringo. It flopped frantically trying to find a
way to get back to its business of swimming. It would have kept its
life for itself and swam away at the first chance offered. But the
one who held it knew, the only way life could pass on was for the
fish to lay its own life down.
The fish did not willingly do this.
It had no choice.
We are given the choice by the One who
We can keep it all for ourselves, or...
we can choose to lay down our life,
even as we live, so that the One who knows best can freely flow true
Life through us to a dying world.
Beside the dying fish, the Word was
“seek, and you will find...”
Later, we returned to the shores and
plans were made for our guide to take us on a hike at the base of the
escarpment not far from our campsite. The time was set for 4 in the
afternoon, when the heat of the day would begin to pass. Two hours of
walking was the plan. He overflowed with passionate words talking of
scorpions, snakes, bugs, and small animals living in the crevices of
the desert terrain. “I began watching birds when I was nine years
old and have now become an ornithologist. I am most at home with what
lives in the wild and especially with what lives on the wing.”
While scorpions and snakes had not been on our list for the day, the
enthusiasm in our guide drew us, and we were eager for what he wanted
to share. After completing the plans for our evening hike, my
husband shook hands with our guide, with a tip of gratitude passing
from his hand to the one who had blessed us. He could have pocketed
that 500 shillings with no one knowing the exchange had taken place.
But instead, he immediately turned and handed the tip he had received
to the young man who had driven the boat. He received... he passed it
on. And there was a brotherly love in their eyes towards one another.
It's what happens when we freely give what we have freely received.
We looked forward to walking in the
wild with this good man.
But sadly, that walk never took place.
Our guide had taken another couple out
for a tour shortly after our return. They had wanted to explore
another section of the lake where great cliffs hung over the shore.
Was it planned or impulse that caused him to offer to climb and dive
from the cliff to the waters? We'll never know. But, while diving
from a cliff, something he had likely done hundreds of times since
his childhood, the one who had spoken just hours earlier of “fishing
for life”, dove in, never to surface again.
His name, was Cliff.
And it was from a cliff he breathed his
We don't know details of his life, we
were only privy to the way he lived beside us for 60 minutes.
He left a family behind when he left
this world. We were told his fishermen friends stopped fishing and
his fellow guides shut down their businesses for the day. It hit the
lake community hard when they learned of the loss of their friend.
That night as we slept in our tent on the shores of the lake, with
hippos passing nearby eating the grass to fill their massive
stomachs, drums beat through the darkness. It was a mourning coming
from the village where he had been born and had lived. The beating of
the drum went long into the night. And then it stopped... just has
the beating of the heart had that day.
To know we had been with him when he
bought his last fish from his life-long friends and shared his last
portion of life with Susan, it's not something to view lightly.
There's a respect that is right when the lasts are witnessed. There
will be no more “fishing for life” for our guide on the lake. It
was harsh and sobering to realize a man so full of life had breathed
some of his last air with us just hours before.
But, it was a defining moment for us,
to realize, this man was speaking words of a life-giving legacy when
he shared his life-giving words at the beginning of the day that
would be his last.
“they are fishing for life...”
Life will end.
One day we will all wake up, and not
know, that day will be our last.
And will we be found living and
speaking and acting in a way, that when we take in that last
lung-full of air, those who came near us will breathe in better ways
because of the way we lived beside them.
Are we purposeful in the ways we “fish
Do we each realize we are fishing for
Without a pole in our hands, each and
every day, we will catch something and we will pass something on to
Will it be LIFE?
Or will it be “death” that's been
seasoned with negativity and sarcasm or selfishness or greed?
Or are we likened to a fish that's
found it's way back out of the boat, flopping under protest until we
finally found the waters again. And swimming away as quickly as we
could, have we refused to “die to ourselves so that others might
There's no hook in these words. Just a
sharing of the right questions that rolled through my mind as wisdom
whispered on the shores that day.
The men on lake Baringo are literally
fishing for fish. But even in that common task, they view it
differently. They are not simply looking for a fish at the end of
their lines. They are more accurately looking for life.