Starting Over

Square one, once again. Entering a country for the first time means starting all over. What’s the currency? What’s the exchange rate? Where do I shop? What areas are safe? What is unique about this culture? What do I wear? How do I cook? How do I get around town? Where in the heck is anything?

I am in Peru with my husband and children. A sabbatical year. A dream come true. But it’s not going to be easy; growth and fulfillment follow challenge. The 3 weeks of Spanish lessons I had in Guatemala only nine short months ago is totally forgotten. I sat in my second day of language school today, with “deer in headlight” expressions as my tutor asked me the most basic conversation starters. I was embarrassed and frustrated. I felt the same in the grocery store as I shopped for food that I have any clue how to cook.

My eyes and emotions are already filled as we walk around this amazing 16th century city which was the capitol and spiritual center of the Inca Empire. I can’t wait to learn the history and significance of the land and the people. And I’m already afraid that our 3 months in Peru and 6 months in Ecuador will pass in the blink of an eye.

Square one is not such a bad position to be in. There is no such thing as boring. Every day holds a new adventure. Being ignorant is humbling (we could all use a good dose of humility.) And most of all, being a global student with my kids – experiencing and learning together – is a precious way to spend this year. It is ever clear to me, at this point in my life,  that the most significant contribution I can make as a global citizen, is to teach, love and support my wonderful sons as they explore the facets of meaningful living.

Follow our family sabbatical at

Posted in Adventure, Crossing Cultures, Global Citizenship, Global Education, Sabbatical Year | 1 Comment

What about Kony?…What about Job?

Several folks are asking my opinion about the Kony film. I am not one to critique Jason Russell’s approach to being a change agent. His passion for social justice and his care for the invisible children of Uganda resonate deeply with me, as my entire life has been re-defined by the experiences I too had in Uganda. I commend his persistence and commitment to such a worthy cause. And I applaud his ability to get the attention of 100 million viewers. That is incredible! I also understand the criticism from individuals and nonprofits who disagree with the mass marketing approach. The oversimplification of a very complex issue does belittle the daily suffering of ordinary people – all over the world -who will continue to struggle meeting basic needs, even after Kony is gone. But at least the publicity got people out of their seats and on to topics other than the US election and March Madness sports.  I have no critique, other than that of folks who deprecate Russell out of their own ignorance and paralysis to latch on to a cause and do “more than care.” We can care all day long, but unless we take an action step towards something that makes the world a better place for someone other than ourselves, we are guilty of only contributing to the world’s problems.

What about Job? Yeah, who’s Job??? (It’s a long “o,” like the Biblical character). Honestly, my intent in writing Village Wisdom and creating the Portraits of Uganda exhibit was also to inspire change; a change from simply caring to engaging personally in a world of needs. Living in Job’s village in Uganda for 3 years changed my life so profoundly that 15 years later I had to write a book about it. I wanted to bring awareness about Job and people like Job (all over the world) who are financially poor, yet culturally and communally rich. I wanted to share hard-learned lessons that have re-defined my role as an individual, a  wife, a mother, and a global citizen. I wanted to remind people of unsung heros and to inspire folks to get out in the world and experience life in a totally different way.

My story has not gone viral. I have sold only 800 books (1500 still sitting in my storeroom) and a huge personal financial loss to boot. Some days this fact makes me feel sick and other times it makes me cry. Just in time,  one of my children or my husband will remind me of messages I have received from readers or people in the audiences I have spoken to; people who were moved to “more than care.”  I will continue telling my story, telling Job’s story and helping others to tell their story.  I am grateful that 800 people now know about an incredible man named Job.  And that they care about the beautiful land in western Uganda where Job and his community members work hard to sustain a future for their children. And that some folks have gone beyond caring and have taken an action step to make the world a better place for someone else. I am thankful to have the opportunity to share Village Wisdom.

Posted in Global Citizenship, Portraits of Uganda Exhibit, Uganda, Village Wisdom Excerpts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

So Long, Farewell, See Ya Next Year

The past week has been a series of goodbyes. As we have dotted i’s and crossed t’s on bank accounts, travel insurance, and bus/flight schedules, we have also enjoyed time with friends. Laughter, tears, and hugs have been in abundance. We leave Asheville, not wanting to let go of all we have,  but with assurance of what we have to come back to next year. Inhale, … slowly exhale … we can do this.

Here’s a link to MelibeeU’s next workshop on volunteering abroad.

Posted in Sabbatical Year | 1 Comment

Live your Dreams

I ran into one of our kid’s teachers last week. She said, “I’m amazed at what y’all are doing. (pause) You’re doing what we all dream of doing.” This sabbatical year has certainly been a dream of ours – not at a conscious level but buried deep in our gut- ever since we were entrusted to raise children. Her comment prompted my curiosity. Is this really something that others dream about doing or does it just sound like a good escape from the trappings of life? Whether your dream is like ours or radically different, the key to making it happen is believing it can happen.

Living your dreams does not happen without sacrifice. You can’t have it all. It requires prioritizing values and being willing to give up a multitude of possessions and activities. Ultimately, it means relinquishing control. My husband and I have always been dream -chasers. We vowed this to each other at the altar 22 years ago. Including our children in this lifestyle is a natural and necessary step  for our family life.

I encourage you to follow your dreams – whatever they may be. And allow others to help you fulfill them. I always tell my kids, “Want a friend? Be a friend.” I continue to be awed by friends who show up at just the right time, with just the right offering. Our connections are of divine nature – too coincidental to be coincidental. Open your heart, trust others, give, receive, learn, teach, have gratitude – all critical components to living your dream.

If you you’re interested in learning more about a sabbatical year, join this webinar on February 29th.

Stay tuned for our family travel blog. It’s under construction and will be ready to roll in a few weeks.

Until then,



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Our home in Asheville

De-cluttering and de-homing are two different things. We are now De-Homing. It’s a bit painful.

I have spent the past 3 months purging every drawer, every closet, every box of pictures, every article of clothing, all tools, dishes, ceramics, framed photographs, business and personal files, jewelry boxes, books, toys, sports equipment…the list of stuff goes on and on. Decluttering is tedious and laborious! The cleansing part of this process is sure to follow, but I won’t feel it until we are actually out of our house. We move out of our home on February 15 – just one short week away.

The de-homing part of the moving process is perhaps the most emotional for me. Beautiful black and white photographs that have graced our walls, artwork created by our children, pottery from memorable places around the world – treasures that make a house a home – are now going into boxes. This place we’ve called home for the past 9 years is being transformed back into a generic house. The house will be leased out to renters during our sabbatical.

The memories of this home will remain with us forever. I am so thankful for the time we have had here and I look forward to our return next year, when we will unpack the treasures and re-home this house.

Posted in Sabbatical Year | 3 Comments