“Les Voyageurs” Beautifully Imperfect

The picture of the sculpture is so remarkable I think that it cannot be real. It must be a photograph, digitally altered by a master.

But it is real. The sculpture is just one of several in a display called “Les Voyageurs” by a man named Bruno Catalano. They are sculptures that show men and women travelers. Each has some sort of bag or suitcase with them and it is clear they are on a journey. But the thing that makes them stand out, that makes such an impression on me is that each of them have a significant piece missing from the center of their bodies. As though they are leaving a part of themselves behind or as though they are leaving to search for the part of their bodies that is incomplete.

They are works of art, sculptures that resonate with the modern-day soul. Sculptures that tell the story of the nomad, the pilgrim, the traveler, the refugee, the immigrant. They are incomplete and imperfect, yet that is what makes them so beautiful, so unique. They are beautifully imperfect. 

As I searched to find out a bit more about the artist I discovered Catalano is a third culture kid, a global nomad. He was born in Casablanca but moved to France at 12 years old, settling in Marseille. He went on to become a sailor, and it was both of these things that inspired his sculptures.

In a June 2013, article the artist is quoted as saying:

“I have traveled a lot and I left Morocco when I was 12 years old. I felt that a part of me was gone and will never come back.”

“From years of being a sailor, I was always leaving different countries and places each time and it’s a process that we all go through. I feel like this occurs several times during life and of course everyone has missing pieces in his or her life that he won’t find again. So the meaning can be different for everyone, but to me the sculptures represent a world citizen.”*

There are many in our world who perceive themselves like these sculptures, as though they have missing pieces. There are those of us who feel we are not whole, that we are missing vital organs. The vital organs may be a place, a person, a community brought about by a death, a move, a crisis. And we see this as a problem, a flaw, something that needs to be remedied. But these sculptures tell a different story, taking something that we see as a deficit and turning it into an extraordinary and beautiful work of art. These travelers are beautifully imperfect.

At a deep spiritual level I believe this is what God wants to make of us — He wants to take these human bodies with their missing parts and connect them so that though they have missing pieces, they are still strong, still intact. He wants to take the broken, lost pieces of our soul, and put them together, welded stronger than steel. He wants to make of us not sculptures, but living, breathing beings that are broken but whole. 

As you look at the pictures of these sculptures, what do you think? Do they resonate with you as a traveler, a pilgrim? 

*[Source – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2340857/%5D


Today’s muffins use pomegranate and pistachios – two ingredients that are readily available for some of you, including Stacy our chef extraordinaire, and perhaps more difficult to obtain for others! they are topped with a pomegranate glaze and look incredible. Click on Pomegranate Pistachio Muffins for the recipe.

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How a ‘Civilized’ Society Honors St. Patrick

In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day residents of South Boston called police because they were tired of those ‘celebrating’ the day peeing in their yards.

Yes. This is the St. Patrick’s Day of the 21st century; a day known for green and partying. Start as early as you are allowed, go as late as you can. Pee where you want, disrupt neighborhoods.

At the risk of spoiling the party, may I suggest that St. Patrick is rolling over in his grave, shaking his head in disbelief? Or perhaps he is more generous than I am. 

Early in the 17th century St. Patrick’s Day was declared an official Church feast day. St. Patrick is the man who brought the gospel message to Ireland. Many stories have been told about this saint, some of them true and others apocryphal, but history is quite confident about a couple of things.

1. He was not born in Ireland, but was captured at age 15 by Irish raiders and taken  to Ireland where he worked as a slave tending sheep. This most probably prepared him for working with people. (this is opinion, not fact)

2. St. Patrick prayed much while he tended sheep and was told by an angel to return to Scotland.

3. While back in Scotland he was told by an angel to return to Ireland and take the gospel message with him. He went on to become a priest and proclaim this message throughout Northern Ireland.

4. The connection between shamrocks and St. Patrick’s day evolved from his use of the three leaves of the shamrock to illustrate the Holy Trinity.

5. Thirteen million pints of Guinness beer are drunk world-wide on St. Patrick’s Day.

I’m all for a good party – in fact we’ve always been known as party people. But we’ve distorted the life of a saint and his message, equating this day with drinking as much beer as you can and peeing in people’s yards.

Yet still we are called a civilized society. Ponder that one today. 


On a less cynical note…. Stacy says this: “Today’s muffins are made with matcha (Japanese green tea) powder  in the hopes of getting green muffins for today’s celebration. No such luck but fortunately, I added some green sugar to the tops so they are still pretty. They were delicious and, my friend, who owns a tea shop, tells me they are healthy.” Head over to Stacy’s blog to check out Matcha Muffins!

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Souls Under Construction (& Monday Muffins)

English: Charles/MGH station, and the Longfell...

A green net covering a high chain link barrier obstructs my view of the Charles River. The Longfellow Bridge is under construction. It will be under construction for three years, causing inconvenience in traffic patterns, heavy congestion in an already crowded area, and ugly, obstructed views.

But it’s necessary. It’s a part of keeping the bridge safe and strong, able to withstand the constant stream of cars, bikes, subway, and people that it’s designed to handle.

Sometimes the only way to make things better is to fix them, to reconstruct them.

And so it is with our souls. There are times when our souls need to be under construction, when that is the only way for them to withstand the constant force of life in all its uncertainty.

I heard once at a conference that our “churches are full of hurting people who haven’t taken a season to heal”. This is part of the under construction process — realizing that your soul needs to heal and the wisest thing to do is to allow time for the construction and healing process to take place.

Several years ago my husband and I went through an extended period of healing, an extended construction period. It lasted over six years. During that time we did nothing beyond attending church and getting together with safe friends. We didn’t take part in any Bible Studies, we were not involved in any ‘ministry’, we did no service. We went through a season of healing and it was invaluable.

Besides achieving the desired result of healing and reconstructing, we learned several things.

1. We learned that we were far more use to God as people willing to be healed than we would have been had we tried to maintain a façade. The Psalmist David in a prayer of repentance says: “A broken and contrite heart you will not despise.” He speaks to the mercy of God, his loving kindness, the bones that God has broken. God has never, and will never, despise a broken and contrite heart. It’s the heart of the proud and the deceitful that concerns him far more.

2. We learned that our worth was not, and never will be, in what we do. Church service, ‘ministry’, getting involved – none of that is wrong. In fact, when done out of love for God it is a gift to be used for his glory. But it does not constitute our worth. Our worth this: we are made in the image of God, his creation, his love. Getting that wrong, thinking this is about what we do is far more dangerous to the soul than taking time out for healing.

3. We came to realize that when you go through a season of healing, God brings people into your life who are broken and need to hear that there is redemption, there is healing. Even in the midst of the hardest parts of healing, we would meet people who needed to know there was hope, needed to know we were also walking the long, arduous path called ‘healing’. Perhaps broken seeks out broken? I like to think broken knows that it can learn best from those also willing to go through the construction process.

4. We learned that the words ‘ministry’ will never be synonymous with ‘God’, and when we make them, we are in a state of serious delusion. If we are not careful, ‘ministry’ becomes God. The word itself is held up as the ideal, instead of God himself being the ideal and ministry the result of our love for him. Defined as ‘the one that serves’ we can see ministry for what it is – not an end in itself, simply a way to reflect a love of God.

5. Mostly we learned that God is close to the broken-hearted. He cared not about our lack of service, he cared about our souls. Deeply, urgently, consistently he worked in our souls to reconstruct them to His Glory. The cuts that we sustained by his hand in the healing process were cuts of a gifted surgeon, done only to rid us of what would harm. And oh how they hurt, how they smarted. But when all was done, when surgery ended, the dead tissue was gone, only the healthy remained.

While a major construction and healing period is over, we are still ever aware of our fragility and propensity to go out on our own, thinking our souls are fully fixed. But the reality is somewhat different. Just as the Longfellow Bridge will go through this extended construction period and emerge stronger, it will always have its points of weakness,need for inspections, and regular upkeep.

It’s something I remember every day as I pass by this bridge under construction, our souls are always and ever under construction.

₪ ₪ ₪ ₪ ₪ ₪ ₪ ₪ ₪ 

Brown Sugar Browned Butter Maple MuffinsStacy continues to provide amazing recipes for me to post. Today’s is Brown Sugar Browned Butter Maple Muffins – a mouthful of title and goodness. Stacy says this: “they taste and smell of warm winter breakfasts to me.”

Keep on Rowing

You can see the concentration on their faces — this is not a spectator sport. They care not whether there is an audience, whether people are cheering on the side.

They just keep on rowing. 

The wind comes up on the Charles River and you can see the ripples of current in the water. The way their hair blows back tells you that the wind is going against them, making it harder to row fast, harder to move forward.

But they just keep on rowing. 

The coxswain, small from the stern of the boat, yells out instruction and pacing. She is there to guide the boat, to keep rhythm, to encourage. It’s important for the team to keep to the course and the coxswain is essential for this. She steers the rudder if they begin to go off course, she watches for technique and safety.

And the others? They just keep on rowing. 

The team is unified in purpose, they clearly know each other’s style and strength. The goal is to make it to the finish line, increase your time, row well, do your best. So many metaphors for life that your brain freezes and you wonder why you have to analyze everything. But you know no matter how much you’re enjoying the event, you will keep on pondering, writing things in your head. It’s who you are, how you were made.

Signs for Regatta 2013 are high on light poles, vendors under awnings either sell their wares or give out free products, the gold and red of the Autumn season is at perfection and the sun shines bright. The wealthier gather on the other side of the river under a large, white tent — undoubtedly enjoying the fruits of their wealth through food, wine, and conversations about Yale, Harvard, and Princeton.

But you’re lost in the importance of rowing, because even though you don’t row, you know how hard it can be to keep on rowing, keep on going. You know that it takes every ounce of will and strength, that you need your coxswain, your people who encourage, to help keep you on track, to guide when needed, to watch for your safety.

It’s Monday morning and the week will greet you with all kinds of unknown, but you know you need to keep on rowing. And so you do. 





Triple Booberry MuffinsMonday muffins: These muffins make me wish I had small children again. Well….for a minute anyway. Stacy says this about these ‘Triple Booberry Muffins’: “blueberry muffins with blueberry yogurt, frozen blueberries that have blueberry jam mixed through them….they turn out a wonderful purple color and I thought they might be nice as an alternative to the usual overly sweet things folks make for Halloween parties.  Or to make for breakfast the morning of, for those who enjoy the holiday.”  Click on the link above or the picture to get the recipe!

Tips for Working Cross-culturally in Health Care Settings and Beyond

Through my years of living, working, and communicating across cultural boundaries I’ve realized two things that sum it all up: one — this road is humbling and two – it’s a life-long learning process. Just when I think I have it all figured out, something, someone will come into my life and challenge my thinking and my well-worn tool box of ‘how to live and communicate across cultures’.

This is setting the stage for this post that is co-authored (though she doesn’t know it yet) by my cultural broker, colleague, and close friend Cathy. Cathy has taught me much about living and working across cultural boundaries. We have worked together to bring resources and workshops on culturally responsive, culturally competent care to health care providers in the Northeast for a number of years. Together we have come up with this list, compiled from a variety of sources. While we work primarily with health care providers, this list can be used in other situations.

So here’s our tool box for working and communicating across cultural boundaries:

  • Be aware of your cultural values and the beliefs you hold. This is a first and critical step to being able to effectively communicate across cultures. If you don’t understand the importance of culture — why you value what you do, how you make decisions, essentially how you live all of life, then it will be difficult for you to understand how culture affects others.
  • Become a student of the culture and the community. Even if you’re an expert in a certain area it’s important to rethink your role and be willing to learn as a student.
  • Recognize differences in narrative styles and practical behaviors across cultures. Be willing to research these differences and ask questions.
  • Understand that  limited language proficiency (whether your’s or another’s) does not mean limited intellectual ability. People with limited language skills are usually capable of communicating clearly and effectively in their native language.
  • Have a high tolerance of ambiguity.
  • Seek help from bilingual/bicultural co-workers and individuals – find those who can help explain cultural nuances, the complexity of culture, dual causality and more.
  • Know the role of interpreters and learn to use interpreters effectively.
  • Allow the use of story-telling and props when speaking with others – we learn so much more in a story than in a list of facts. For healthcare providers, realize the symptoms are often in the story.
  • Include the patient and family as partners in determining both treatment plan and outcomes.
  • Recognize the primary person you are working with may not be the decision maker in the family.
  • Use empathy, curiosity, and respect as you work across cultural boundaries. Empathic listening, curious questioning, respectful observing.
  • Be able to laugh at yourself and potential mistakes — if you don’t laugh you’ll find yourself crying way too much.

What would you add to this list? I would love to hear from you through the comments.  

Chive Boursin MuffinsThis week’s muffins are a delicious savoury mixture of chives and goat cheese. Stacy says this: “I used goats’ cheese with herbs and garlic to complement the chives.  Delicious!  This one will be a surprise to those who think muffins can only be sweet.”

For Chive Boursin Muffins head here.

Rich Westerners & Muffin Monday

Welcome to Monday! Today I’m sending you to Djibouti Jones to read a challenging article called “When Rich Westerners Don’t Know They are Being Rich Westerners”. This is something I’ve wrestled with, sometimes through emails with Rachel of Djibouti Jones. She has articulated well the problem and struggle and will continue the conversation next Monday. I encourage you to take a look and share your thoughts through commenting on her site. Below is a short excerpt.


I am not surprised by, but continue to be disappointed in, the western attitude toward the developing world. It is an attitude I see often, though not exclusively, among Christians. It is an attitude of superiority, a god-complex. An attitude that communicates an underlying assumption, intentionally or not, that the rich westerner is the one with power and authority and agency. As this is communicated, of course the opposite is communicated as well. The local person is weak, a victim, and helpless. The rich westerner must charge in to fix things, build things, challenge the status quo.

This happens in blogs, books, movies, songs…And it isn’t just Christians. It is Hollywood and Random House and MTV.

“These kinds of stories…give a paternalistic picture of urban communities as mere recipients. They do not show the heroic community leaders that are in every urban neighborhood, people working hard with little resources and little recognition… Cure for the White Savior Complex by Shawn Casselberry”

For a horrifying example read this article (or don’t and just be satisfied with the title) in Glamour and then the comment section: Meet Mindy Budgor, the World’s First Female Maasai Warrior. Some people call this the white savior complex and there is most definitely an aspect of race involved, the conversations overlap at many points, but it is more than a skin color issue.

One point that must be made is that I am a rich westerner from a Christian background living in the developing world…..Read the rest here.


Cinnamon Blueberry MuffinsToday’s muffins are Cinnamon Blueberry Muffins. They are beautiful! Click on the picture or here to get the recipe. For other great and creative recipes as well as stories from an expat, head to Food Lust, People Love.


Today’s post comes by way of a friend from long ago. In fact, we first met when I was like one of the missionary kids featured in this article, and she was living in the U.S. with probably little thought that she would end up spending most of her life overseas.

For those of you who haven’t heard the term – missionary kids are a subset of third culture kids and come with their own set of experiences based on the fact that it was faith and a calling that led their parents to work overseas. Because of this, faith and faith crises are often a big part of this journey. Not a bad part – but a big part.

And that’s why I love this post. My friend, who has chosen to write anonymously, takes us into some of that journey. I look forward to hearing your thoughts through comments at the end of the essay.


There once was a Sunday school class & mostly missionary kids attended it. A group of parents had agreed to rotate as facilitators of the class, hosting maybe once a month. As weeks passed & schedules changed, the names on the parent roster dwindled, until there was only “one-man-standing.” Me. Never dreamed my crazy life could or would give space for something as regular as a weekly class with a bunch of equally busy high school kids but — with my erratic schedule & their willingness to put-up-with-it — it was a perfect match.

The years together remain one of life’s sweet spots, full of unsolicited chuckles & smiles.

Vulnerability, Community, & God
Some assume missionary kids must have a strong faith — because of their heritage, because of the way their parents live out their faith, because of the opportunities they’ve had to see God at work in the world. Although this is true for many, there are also many for whom the journey to define faith is difficult & full of questions. Questions that reveal their uncertainty about the very One their parents have banked their entire life’s work. Questions their peers may or may not accept. Questions many people ask at one time in life or another — but the missionary kid’s life is spent in an environment surrounded by those who are not-so-quick to reveal their own doubts. Guess this could be similar to kids in a church setting in any town, in any country.

Call it the plight of the missionary kid — or the plight of those who are raised in a home where faith in God is assumed true. Their exposure to the Christian faith at an early age is certainly a gift, one that could result in a deep faith; however, there are no guarantees. 

It did not take long to realize this fast-growing class needed a safe place to “work out their faith.” Even more than that, they needed a place where they could construct their own faith – discovering what they believe & why. For almost all, the beginnings of their relationship with God began with a simple child-like step of faith. Yet, for some, the size of their faith was not much larger years later. The only visible difference was the growing amount of Bible knowledge supporting it. This accumulation of knowledge can increase the size of one’s faith — or it can simply be an accumulation.Their willingness to be vulnerable, my willingness to be present & equally vulnerable, God’s ability to show Himself, mixed with tons of love for one another created a unique place – a place where faith had a chance to grow. To use the familiar Christian cliché, we built one another up in the faith. Many times I thought, “This is it!” As if learning it for the first time, this is how faith grows.Are all questions answered? No. Do they still have doubts? Yes. Did I have any clue what I was doing? Mostly not. But I’d like to think we walked away with a formula — not one we ever talked about — but one that we’ll remember & one that will serve us for years to come.

Vulnerability + Community + God = A little more faith than the day before

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip MuffinsReaders – forgive me for not posting this beautiful recipe for muffins yesterday! You’re going to want to stop and make these today, Tuesday, as soon as you see the recipe. So yummy. Here are Stacy’s words on these muffins: “Nothing too complicated this week:  Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins.  They have a mostly-sweet-but-a-little-salty thing going on with the addition of extra roasted peanuts and semi-sweet chocolate chips, along with the peanut butter.” Just click on the link or the picture to go to the recipe. 

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