For the Sake of Friendship


The theme of the retreat was “Surrender” and it was based on my book, “I Am Hagar: Forgotten No More”.  The retreat was held offsite at a Christian retreat center – great for camping during the summer or renting an upscale cottage anytime of the year.

On this particular retreat we were set up in one of their beautiful cottages that made us feel right at home and provided most of us with the rest and relaxation we needed.  Each cottage had its own special name.  Happiness, Faith, Joy, Jubilee, just to name a few.  However, there was one name that was disturbing and somewhat alarming to some of us.  The name?  “Amistad” – with the word “Friendship” below it.



First of all, for those who may not know, “Amistad” was the name of a ship that transported slaves and was featured in the well known movie by the same name. On it the slaves endured horrible atrocities which have lingered in the memories and hearts of many African Americans as a painful reminder of what was done to their ancestors.

Below the nameplate at the “Amistad” cottage was the word “Friendship”.  It was also the only sign that had an explanation word after it.  Actually, it felt like an oxymoron.




Secondly, all the other cottage names were positive and self-explanatory while this one didn’t seem to fit. Although it did need explaining, the word “friendship” didn’t help.  Needless to say, none of us were impressed with what appeared to be a very insensitive and demeaning message on that cottage.

In defense of the decision-makers at the camp, we didn’t know them or understand the reason behind the decision.  Perhaps it was in effort to be inclusive.  Perhaps there was something of significance to the name that we didn’t know. We wondered if they included the word, “friendship” after it so as “not to offend”.  However, it did offend.  A powerful name like “Amistad” is too full of historical pain and anguish for a lot of people.  Some of us wondered how the nameplate was accepted in the first place.  We chalked it up for effort through ignorance, which is probably one of the most common ways people offend.

All-in-all, it left many of us feeling unsettled, disappointed, embarrassed and yes, even angry for what our African American sisters were feeling.  During the retreat, a few of the women who were staying in that cottage revealed their feelings of  frustration and anger about the sign.  It brought deep sadness and hurt that someone would do such a thing, especially at a Christian camp.

That was enough for the leaders of the retreat. They decided to call the contact person of the camp and lodge a complaint.  It was received and within an hour the sign was removed.

Following the retreat, a formal letter was sent to the leadership of the camp and the issue will be addressed at their next board meeting.  The church group is suggesting that the new name be “Surrender”.  I personally think that’s a great idea!!




This whole scenario played out in the hours between my second and third talk that I gave on that day.  Why is that significant?  First because there were various cultures and races represented at the retreat and secondly, my third talk was entitled, “He Sees Us”.  During that session, I challenged the women to consider what their “us” looked like on a personal level and for them to think about how they include other cultures and races in their personal relationships. I also challenged them to look at their “us” from a women’s ministry angle and then as a church community.

How might God  use them/us to stand together with the people He has put among them/us?


That day and through the experience with the sign, we were not only given the opportunity to stand with our sisters of colour in what they were experiencing but we also witnessed first hand how the Holy Spirit was very present and showed us in a clear way that He saw us!!

We should hurt when our brothers and sisters hurt.  In this case, it happened to be around the issue of race and slavery. That is true unity in Christ.

Friends, it is our Unity in Christ that binds us to each other.  Unfortunately, we often allow the messages of the world, the flesh and the devil fracture that unity.

Let us not take our oneness for granted or to excuse away our ignorance.

Let us keep learning and growing forward with our brothers and sisters of all races and cultures.

Let us not only keep the lines of communication open between each other but especially between us and God.  If we do so, we will be able to hear what the Holy Spirit wants us to do to be part of the solution instead of the problem as far as the sin of racism is concerned.

Let us give and receive forgiveness (for misunderstandings) freely as Christ forgave us WHILE we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).  His forgiveness is available for all of us.  He went to the Cross on our behalf and sent his Spirit in order that we would be drawn to Him with confession on our tongues and a receptive heart for His forgiveness.

Have you been forgiven much?  Then I remind myself and encourage you to share that forgiveness freely.


What “sign(s)” has God put in your life to challenge your walk with Him?

What circumstance(s) has God put in your life to grow a deeper intimacy with Him?

Who has God brought into your “us”?

How is God leading you to stand / walk beside another person to become part of the solution and not part of the problem?


For more information on this retreat, the “Understanding Culture” workshop or other topics, and how you can have them at your church or community group, check out  (retreat)  (Understanding Culture)  (Speaking Topics)

Or please feel free to contact me at

Thank you for joining me on this journey.



Blurred Lines

A great resource for those who want to clean up blurred lines.

A great resource for those who want to clean up blurred lines.

As much as this blog is NOT completely about me, I have experienced many of the moments described below!!! I chose to write this piece because of how God has healed me from my brokenness and He can do the same for you. We need to learn to live WITH each other and not AGAINST each other.

These statements, although birthed as a response to the racial tension in this country, can be applied in many other situations as well.

Here goes….

You look at me and smile so now I think I am accepted.

You look at me with fear and judgement and I realize I was only tolerated.

You look at me and you wonder where I am from and wonder how did I get here.

You look at me and reach out with your heart but then don’t understand when I share.

You look at me and question my motives and the fear I see keeps me trapped in mine.

You look at me and size me up so as to question my presence.

You look at me and ask me my story and I reluctantly invite you in.

You look at me and shake your head because I don’t look like you.

You look at me and turn your nose up because you need me to think you are better than me.

You look at me and shudder at the thought that your world is different because of me.

You look at me and wonder what your friends and family might think if they saw us together.

You look at me and wonder that maybe, just maybe, it’s not my fault I look this way.

You look at me and begin to realize that the same Jesus who died for you, died for me.

You look at me and realize that forgiveness is for both of us.

You look at me and accept that there is enough Grace and Mercy to go around.

You look at me and ask if we can really be friends.

You look at me and share your heart, your fears, your shortcomings.

You look at me and ask if we can walk and maybe even dance in reconciliation.

You look at me and no longer tolerate me, but you accept me with all your heart.

And now, because of the healing power of Jesus Christ and what He did at the Cross for us….

…..You don’t just look at me anymore….You see me.


How about you?

In your life, are you feeling tolerated or truly accepted?

Do you look at people you don’t know with intrigue or suspicion?

There is a difference.

Where do your blurred lines lie?

What will you do to become a difference maker?

For those who know my story…..thank you for seeing me.


Not For Sale

Generally there are four seasons every year but for most of us across the Continental U.S and Canada, we can add two more. “Construction and Garage Sale” Season. Often here in Michigan,when the climate gets warmer and the ground has thawed, our streets are flooded with construction vehicles that are fixing roadways, sidewalks or simply just building new ones.

Garage Sale season is in full swing when we see homemade signs on the corners of intersections and at the end of neighbourhood streets. Some even linger long after a sale is finished (Yup, a pet-peeve of mine), advertising everything from childrens items to small appliances, from clothing to lawn furniture. The thought is that, “anything you want, you will probably find at a garage sale”.

oscar the grouch

During this season, I am often reminded of a children’s book we had in our home. When our children were little we would read to them and as they learned to read they would gravitate to this book as well. “Trash to Treasure: that’s the Grouch way”, a Sesame Street Golden book written by Liza Alexander. On the show and in the book, Oscar the Grouch, lived in a garbage can and pretty much grumbled, whined and complained about everything. He was a grouch and lived up to his name well. In the show Oscar had an “uncanny” (punn intended) way of taking trash and making it into something useful. If he was real, he would have been great at selling things at a garage sale. Convincing people that sometimes one person’s trash is useful and can become another person’s treasure.

Does your trash have a price?

For fifteen years I was faithful at going through our house and finding things in order to host our own sale – things we didn’t want, that didn’t fit, or were just taking up space. It became a once-a-year routine almost. Sometimes I would go in with a neighbour or another friend so as to have company and help for the day or two we were open. It was fun (for the most part) meeting people, getting money for whatever it was we were saving for at the time, hanging out and having great conversations with a friend over the scheduled time.

Over the years, I began to enjoy the whole experience less and less. It was more draining than fueling. The pricing, the setting up, the signs, making less money for the same amount of work only fueled my desire to quit. I had run my course of hosting garage sales and soon would discover that shopping at them was not appealing either.

What changed? What happened to my passion, my desire to take my trash and turn it into treasure? It was a season, one that lasted fifteen years.

I also have trash that has a price. So do you, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.  It is sin, but it really is trash. Unlike the stuff in our homes that we don’t want around but we put a price tag on, sin needs to be unloaded permanently without expecting anything in return.  It is garbage and belongs in a bin at the foot of the Cross. For some of us, we might feel that thebin needs to be a barrel or anything from a U-haul truck to a semi.

Why the Cross you ask? Because that’s where we get the top price!! Jesus Christ poured out His blood for our sin. We are called to confess, give Him our sin because He has already paid for it in full. No sale price, no discount, no return policy. He paid ONE price for ALL the sin in the world. As followers of Christ, our job now is to simply acknowledge and confess the sin that lingers and embrace the forgiveness He has already given us.

When we embrace His forgiveness we are more apt to give forgiveness freely.

Sadly, so many believers go on thinking (and living) as though “their sin is still for sale”. They struggle with completely embracing the forgiveness Jesus gave them at the Cross. They hold on to their sin as though it were a treasure and if they were to “put it out there”, they might face rejection and that would be more painful than the understanding the comfort of forgiveness. The “for sale” sign that hung on my heart came down when I was just a teenager. There have been times over the past thirty years that I have treasured sin in my heart. Sometimes it was because of fear, while other times it was because of a lack of understanding that I was TRULY and COMPLETELY forgiven!!


Unfortunately, I found myself surrounded by people who also lived the lie that forgiveness was difficult to fully receive. As I spent more time in The Golden book, the Holy Bible, I grew in my understanding of my sin and found great comfort through confession and forgiveness received through the blood of Jesus.


The enemy’s role is to keep unbelievers in the dark and the believer from finding freedom in their faith journey while trying to destroy their witness. He uses sin to keep us trapped. God transforms our sin into His glory. He takes our trash and turns us into His Treasure!!!


How about you?

Are you treasuring sin?

Have you received the FULL price for your sin?

Do you still have a “for sale” sign on your heart?


Thank you for joining me on this journey,



The Claw

Remember the movie “Liar, Liar” (1997) starring Jim Carey? He plays a dad/lawyer who often breaks promises to his son and clients in the work place. You are probably already envisioning him extending His arm and forming his hand in the shape of a claw in order to tease and entice his son. The claw is mostly to make his son laugh and not cause pain as he so often does through the many lies He tells. (even though this blog has nothing to do with the movie, thought I’d share the clip anyway. Http://

There is another claw I want to share about, the claw of “unforgiveness”.

I can’t remember who shared this analogy with me, but it has been one that has stuck with me over the years and through many challenging relationships and situations.

“Unforgiveness in our heart is like a claw with a chain. The claw pierces our heart, wraps itself around it and the chain extends all the way to another person whom we are unwilling to forgive. The piercing sometimes leads to a suffocating and debilitating feeling. As we choose to forgive the other person before the Lord, then He is the one that fills our heart with love and compassion for the other person and expands it. As our heart expands, the claw loses its grip and pops off. As a result, when true forgiveness happens, you become separated from the chain that binds you to that person”.

I often find myself in a place where my heart hurts. I can feel the points of the claw piercing my tender heart. Why should my heart be tender? Because I am a person that believes in Jesus and have received His forgiveness that He poured out for my sin (Matthew 26:28 and Luke 22:20).

Today, I’m there again, facing the ugly sin of racism. You’d think that as a woman well into my forties, this issue wouldn’t bother me as much anymore. Considering I have lived my whole life as a minority. Often being reminded as such, it shouldn’t bother me anymore. Even that opinion is racist, in and of itself.

Take a walk in my shoes for a minute won’t you……

I was born in India, grew up in Canada and now live in the U.S.A with my Dutch-American husband and four bi-racial children.

In my growing up years, I have had eggs thrown at me while the three young boys yelled racial slurs. My ears have been pierced with mocking laughter that has gone deep into my soul. I have been sized up walking into a retail store and asked for two pieces of identification as “store policy”. I have been ignored in restaurants when out on a date with my husband. I mean, come on, if you want to know “what I would like for dinner” than ask me, not my husband. Don’t even ask me to talk about lack of eye contact or the questions about why my last name doesn’t match my first name or skin colour. Best one yet, “is that your real skin colour?” UGH!!!

Before you think I am using this blog to rant, I am not. Racism is real and unfortunately very alive because it is being fueled by the enemy to tear down people groups. It is a sin. If you are a follower of Christ than you also have a role to help dismantle it. Either you will be part of the problem, or become part of the solution.

As an adult, my experiences with racism continued. However, I would need to face them with the maturity that comes with age.

Years ago, while I was babysitting a friend’s five year old, the little girl asked me the question, “why do you have dirty skin?”. Realizing her innocence and imagination as a five year old, I gave her a free pass and told her my skin wasn’t dirty, just darker than hers because God made me this way. “So you are never going to be white?”. “No, I’m not”, I replied. She replies with, “oh, that’s too bad”. I was speechless. I wasn’t going to get into it with a five year old. It left me wondering where and how she landed on that conclusion.

Then there’s the marriage issue. I am in an interracial marriage. For those who have made comments like, “that must be hard”, I say, “yup, two sinful beings and one with a better tan” (what can I say, my husband is competitive). In our early married years, my husband and I served in ministry to teenagers together. He was the Youth Pastor and I was active as a small group leader. As we often did, we would take time to discuss heavy topics so as to help stretch

the minds of these young people. Well, one day I decided to bring up the subject of interracial dating. I wasn’t ready for what came next. One student said, “not cool”, while another one said, “our parents would disown us, for sure, if we brought someone home who wasn’t Dutch or white”. After I found my pulse again and calmed my gut from wanting to throw up, I asked them if they knew Ken and I were in fact in an interracial marriage, just in case that wasn’t clear. To that they said, “we don’t see you as a different colour. We see you as white like us”.

There began my journey of discovering how the sin of racism was taking its toll on me. Internally, I was screaming, yelling, and throwing fits about the presence of racism in the church. I vented in my journal, to my husband, to my close friends (some of whom I lost because they couldn’t handle the painful reality of what I was experiencing). Finally, at the Cross. I brought it all to Jesus. I confessed my anger, my growing resentment, my pain. I cried out in my pain, my hurt, and for the rejection of something that will never change….my skin colour.

So, back to the original title and it’s inspiration. The Claw of unforgiveness.

After confessing all I was feeling – so I wouldn’t be tempted to sin in my anger (Ephesians 4:26), the Holy Spirit drew my attention to the growing unforgiveness in my heart. The claw had pierced my heart. It was painful!!! With His help, I was able to forgive all the above mentioned situations and people involved. I didn’t want the claw to destroy my life or my witness for Jesus.

With God’s help, the unforgiveness was turned into surrender. You see, at the Cross is where it began. The Cross is where “IT is finished” (John 19:30)

Racism won’t go away until Jesus returns. It isn’t finished with it’s destruction . In fact, so far this year alone, two very public situations related to my race have caused the racists in this country to trash talk their way to the masses. One of those situations occured just today. I saw the claw on the horizon, wiggling it’s way towards my heart so as to trap me with the growing anger in my heart. Today, I chose forgiveness, will you?

How about you?

How close is the claw of unforgiveness in your life right now?

As far as racism is concerned, are you part of the problem or part of the solution?

Racism affects everybody.  I would love to hear from you about how this blog has impacted your life……..

Joining you in the journey,