Book Notes: Stamped From the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi

*This year instead of posting a list of the books I’ve read this year. I am going to post articles about the books that impacted me the most in 2019. The posts will include some highlights of the author’s main ideas and my personal reflections. Think of it as my Cliff Notes, or Lindsey Notes as the case may be.

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

To read the history of racist ideas in America is, as one might imagine, an unwanted task. Reading this book is to immerse yourself in reality. Kendi did not spare anyone and did not look with rose colored glasses at any event, ideology, or person. If he saw racism in any form, he called it out and used the persons own words and an avalanche of historical documents to paint the picture. It doesn’t matter if it was Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt or Martin Luther King Jr. (yes, you read that right).

Kendi starts out by telling the history of the different theories of race and how race came to be. Theories such as Climate Theory. Stating that black skin was due to living in hotter climate and that with time, if brought to superior cold climates, their skin would lighten and they would become like white people and cured of their inferior black skin.

Or Curse Theory. The evil interpretation of the Bible stating Black people came from the cursed line of Ham in Genesis. Thus equating blackness with being cursed, inferior and outside the favor of God.

He goes on to lay out other theories and how they impacted churches, governments, families and entire nations.

Of course, it is easy to say that today we have left such backward thinking behind. But not so fast. Theories on race produced a “race problem”.

To read the history of how America dealt with “the problem of race” was just devastating. I know this but let me state, if you think racism is someone who says the words, “I hate black people” then you have a lot of work to do. The insidious nature of racism is it’s superpower. It is so insidious and works itself into every nook and cranny of our society and our own hearts, mine included.

This is where this book shines. The reader see’s with horror how racism did not just “go away”. It morphed and worked it’s way into the fabric of our society in ways that we are so blind to. From the beginning to present day, the story of racist ideas is laid out in painstaking detail.

Kendi then names and explains helpful categories to understand how America has approached the “problem of race”. In seeing a race as a problem, solutions abounded. Those solutions were just as racist as were the theories of where black skin came from.

American “Solutions” to the “Problem of Race” (ie. different ways Americans are racist).


The belief that black people should be sent back to Africa. Black people, of course, were not consulted on this idea because white people knew what was best for them. It was declared that as black people were brought to America they were civilized, evangelized, and taught the higher (white) way to live. They could now be sent back Africa to bring the good news of this superior (white) way to live to the backward and lower sub-species of Africans who had not been enlightened yet.

Uplift Suasion:

This is the theory that racism will end and black people will get the respect they deserve when black people prove they are worthy of respect by being exceptional. After hundreds of years of brutal and dehumanizing slavery; emancipation happened (sort of). The immediate response was, “how are we supposed to respect you as black people if you live like this, talk like this and have no education?” No mention of slavery was made. Just imagine the cognitive dissonance it took to never give a school to a black child and then mock them for being so illiterate and backwards (this reasoning continues today). The literal chains were removed and the metaphorical chains remained… prove to us you deserve your humanity and our respect.

Through the generations, black people were placed on a hamster wheel. Prove to white people you are worthy of equal respect.

I’ve heard a person say this year, “If black Americans want to be respected, they’ve got to learn to speak proper english, pull their pants up over their butts and focus on education.” Or “kids think they want to run this world but talk like a rapper.” This is racism. This is not the belief that people are made in the image of God and have inherent value, end of story. It is comparing “black culture” to “white culture” and finding it lacking. It is anti-Christ to say, “you need to talk like a white person and get an education… prove to me that you are valuable and then I will treat you as such.”

Uplift Suasion says, “my racism and disrespect is your problem to solve.” You need to hustle and be perfect to be equal. Your existence doesn’t make you valuable… it must be earned by my standards. Thereby, black people are responsible for changing the hearts of white people by being exceptional in every way. It should be no surprise that thus far in American history, Uplift Suasion has never worked.

Kendi points out that even the statement “black excellence” is racist as it posits that the “normal” black person is dumb, lazy, law breaking and shifty. But this black person has excelled as a black person. The term “black excellence” (and phrases like it) says “they aren’t like normal black people who talk poorly and lack education.” Ouch.

Non-Violent Persuasion:

This is the belief that, sure, blacks are equal but not everyone believes that so we need to give white people time to warm up to the idea. This was seen after the Civil War that freedom and full civil rights needed to come slowly so that whites could warm up to the idea of an equal black man or woman. Just as evil, it was believed the black people needed to warm up to the idea of being equal and we shouldn’t just give them too much power… they won’t know what to do with it.

Kendi goes on to give more historical theories on the solution to “the race problem”. I don’t have space here for them all but each is devastating and evil in it’s own right.

Painful History Ahead

Lastly, Kendi gives a devastating but frank history of racism in the halls of power up to today. You need to read the book to see his masterful tracing of racist ideas and how they affected society. But let me give two short stories.

In 1901 Theodore Rooselvelt invited Booker T. Washington to the White House after his inauguration. Booker T. Washington was called “the most distinguished member of his race in the world” at that time. Notice the “Uplift Suasion” present in that statement… Booker T. Washington is exceptional… not like the “normal dumb black person”. To his credit Roosevelt was clearly unaware of the reaction of racists across the country by inviting a black man to the White House, even if an “exceptional black man”. “The social earthquake was immediate and loud… Roosevelt had crossed the line.” One Newspaper captured the national anger, “When Mr. Roosevelt sits down to dinner with a negro he declares that the negro is the social equal of the man.” This was not acceptable. Senator Tillman made it very clear, “The action of President Roosevelt… will necessitate our killing a thousand niggers in the South before they will learn their place again.”

Lest we applaud Roosevelt, he sadly learned his lesson. In eight years as President, he never invited a black person to the White House again.

Story after story like this is laid out for the reader.

Nixon (no shining light of morality) confided to Special Counsel Charles Colson in 1973 that some abortions were necessary such as in the case of a “black and white” baby. Colson suggested that rape was also a moral reason for an abortion and Nixon conceded to that. Primary in his mind, though, was bi-racial children who did not deserve to live.

Final Thoughts

I often get push back when I suggest books like this. Interestingly, the primary one is that these books make people hate America and decreases patriotism. There are many problems with this view but late me state the most powerful one in my mind.

As Christians, we serve a God who is exceedingly and painfully in the business of truth telling. In his own book, the Bible, God does not sugar coat a single thing. Abraham’s story makes you cringe. David’s sins are laid bare. The nations of Israel was repeatedly and consistently sent Prophets who named and charged Israel guilty of committing sins of injustice and unrighteousness. The Apostle Paul, fully grasping that he serves a God who writes history with unflinching honesty, writes out his own story in embarrassing detail. Every flaw and sin is laid bare.

As Christians, we should be people who are not shy to read or write the stories of pain and failure. Our stories and our nations stories. God is not interested in a sugar coated patriotism or loyalty to a nation above all (which is the purpose that sugar coated history serves… Nationalism).

God wants loyalty to Kingdom above all. We live as citizens of the Kingdom first. We look straight in the eye every failure and evil our nation as walked in. Then we can be Kingdom workers who work towards God’s ultimate vision: nations that are redeemed from their sins and works of oppression. God want’s citizens who know that at His return, nations do not cease to exist but fully and finally exist in their intended glory. Bringing their gifts, cultures and languages to the throne of God bringing glory to Him. Redemption and healing requires honesty and repentance. Our goal is not patriotism, our goal is the glory of God. Books like this help us get us there.

4 Reasons Why Sin is Good News

David Letterman recently did an interview with Kanye West. The conversation was a thoughtful and insightful. I have never really listened to Kanye, so I didn’t quite know what to expect. I enjoyed hearing his perspective on life, mental health and culture.

At one point, Mr. West perfectly captured much of Western culture today. In talking about the goal of life he said, “I believe the best thing is to be yourself to the max. Be who you are completely”

Not many people argue with this sentiment today. It has become the aim of life in Western culture. 

“You be you.”
“Speak your truth”
“The world is waiting for your full self”
“Be your best self”
“Everything I need is within me”
“Never apologize for who you are.”

All these sentiments capture a foundational view within modern secular culture; that mankind is basically good and that the more we look inward, the more good we will find. The goal of life is to free ourselves from the oppression of other’s opinions or our own insecurity and self-doubt. We are to never apologize for who we are. To do so is akin to self-abuse and self-destruction. Expression of self is always a good to be pursued because we all, are good.

In the midst of this, I’ve talked to a lot of people recently about the Biblical concept of sin. For many people, declaring sin within us seems contrary to the modern religion of “you be you”. And it kind of is.

I know the doctrine of sin and repentance can be seen as a belief that contributes to mankind’s oppression. I once had someone tell me, “Christians ranting on about sin is a form of spiritual abuse”

I believe the opposite. I dare to say, the denial of sin is one of the most oppressive beliefs today.

Here is four reasons we desperately need a revival of the doctrine of sin.

People are valuable but broken.

The story of scripture screams a clear message, people are valuable, people are broken.

First, people are made in God’s image and therefore of incomparable worth and value. Nothing can decrease the value. Nothing can increase it. But, secondly, people are broken. We have hearts that sin. We are sinned against. This world is full of valuable and precious people but we hurt one another in small ways and ways so big we strain under the magnitude of it.

For many these concepts are muddled. We need a revival of a doctrine of sin because the value and worth of human beings does not capture the human reality. Just telling ourselves we are wonderful and precious, although true isn’t the whole story.

The modern religion of self-love falls short. There is no space to reckon with our own brokenness. That which we have done to others and that which has been done to us. A belief in sin is a requirement to truly believe in the worth of people. People have value… therefore we cannot be treated in just any way. We must be treated in accordance with our value. And when we are not, it is sin. We must call it what it is. Whether we do it or it is done to us. (And God must be treated in accordance with His value).

We can never be whole if we refuse to believe we are broken.

According to pop culture, our problem is not truly believing in our self-worth, truly loving ourselves. If I tell someone “I am a sinner” I might get a reaction of, “Don’t belittle yourself, you are amazing and don’t let anyone tell you different. You’ve got to love yourself!”

So, our core problem becomes bad self-esteem and not a sinful heart. 

Thus we are all on, what I call, the hamster wheel of self-love. We aren’t broken, we just don’t love ourselves enough. And the hamster wheel goes on and on, never arriving at any destination. I’ve met hundreds of people striving to arrive at this elusive place of self-love, yet they never truly arrive. It looks exhausting.

Don’t get me wrong, loving what God has made is important. But it is not the whole picture. Accepting our own sinful hearts and actions is actually freeing. We don’t need to just love ourselves more. We also need the grace and forgiveness of God and others. We can’t fix ourselves, we need help from God and others. 

What. A. Relief. 

Denying sin is the luxury of the privileged.

As I have travelled the world, I’ve noticed a very clear pattern. The only cultures that deny a belief in sin are prosperous and privileged ones. Read that sentence again. People who live in poor or unjust societies know with intimacy that mankind is broken and sinful.

It is only people who are prosperous or in power that have the luxury of saying, “people are basically good and basically do the right thing. You be you!”

Tell that to women who live in nations where it is legal for their husbands to beat them. Tell that to children who work in sweatshops. Tell that to refugees who have been driven from their nation in fear of their very lives. Tell that to the millions die for their faith each year. 

People are basically good! You be you! Speak your truth! This belief system is like throwing an anchor to drowning people.

Oppressed and poor people know intimately that mankind has something deeply broken within them that needs healing. They suffer at the hands of this every single day.

To deny sin is to tell these people there is no hope. Imagine saying to a human trafficking victim or abused wife, “People are basically good, the solution to man’s problems is to just for them to speak their truth” I can’t imagine something more hopeless.

The doctrine of sin gives hope to millions of oppressed people. It declares the truth to desperate people.

Accepting our sinfulness gives hope and health to our relationships.

In contrast to condemnation, accepting our sinfulness brings freedom. It scares me to be in a relationship with someone who believes people are basically good and all our problems lie in just loving ourselves more (Again, loving ourself is not bad at all!). 

The healthiest relationships are two sinners repenting to one another daily. Accepting responsibility for ourselves instead of blame or denial. Saying sorry for harsh words, lies, greed or selfishness. Offering forgiveness. 

I’m pretty sure that 90% of the health of my marriage is my husbands acceptance of his own sinfulness. He doesn’t deny it. He quickly apologizes for any sinful action towards me. I’m embarrassed to say he is quicker to apologize than me. I have incredible safety in knowing that if he hurts me, whether intentional or not, he will apologize. I will never hear, “Hey, I’m just being me! You’ve got to accept me as I am!” He knows he’s broken and valuable. So he can confidently own his sin without decreasing his self-worth. When he owns his sin, he declares my worth. To say, “I’m sorry I said those hurtful words” is built on a foundation of, “You are more valuable than that.”

How about you? How could an acceptance of sin bring more health and freedom to your life? If that seems like a contradiction, maybe you are seeing it wrong.

Reflections from an Unknown Woman Preacher

Twenty years ago I preached for the first time to 350 Indian school children in the foothills of the Himalayas. From what I can remember, the message was dripping with American self-help slogans and “you can do anything you set your mind to” mantras. It was warmly received. Mostly because I included a very captivating illustration that the kids loved. That was the first time I had an inkling that preaching and teaching was something I might enjoy (mostly due to the aforementioned warm reception).

I have spent hundreds of hours preaching and teaching the Bible. I’m known or remembered by a very small amount of people. I have no platform or brand. My Twitter following is abysmal. I think this uniquely qualifies me to give some reflections on twenty years of persevering in this calling. These are my reflections on my personal journey and where I hope women preachers and teachers will go.

“Big changes happen in small rooms” -Jenn Wilkin

I’ve heard a lot of very well known women, preaching some version of, “I started teaching in Sunday School, a nobody! But if you are faithful in the small then God will entrust you with much” (the much being large crowds). Or perhaps you’ve heard this sentiment, “Be faithful in the small, your promotion is just around the corner”

All this makes me want to barf. Implicit in a lot of American Christianity is this: the goal is large crowds, big stages, and thousands of Facebook likes. Such self-promotion should embarrass us and make us break out into hot sweats.

Being well known or having influence to more people is not inherently bad! Some woman become known by many. This is God’s calling for them (and burden for them to bear). But it should never be our goal. It is not Christ like. It is not what Paul modeled.

Jenn Wilkin says, “Big changes happen in small rooms.” I long for more woman preachers and teachers who love to see big changes in small rooms.

Someone once said to me, “Don’t worry, you may be teaching small groups of people but you never know who is in the room. You may change be teaching the next president of a country!” Again, shaping a future president is wonderful. But, implicit in their words was a belief that small crowds are a failure… unless a future famous person might be in the room!

This is not the way of the Kingdom. 

While large rooms full of a lot of people are not inherently wrong in any way, to set our hearts on this as the goal should be something we zealously guard against, not put on our dream board or idealize as success. May God save us from ever seeing small rooms as mere stepping stones to big stages.

Jesus taught the crowds and the one woman who would sit at his feet in rapt attention. I can only imagine someone coming along to reassure Jesus, “Don’t worry, you are preaching to nobodies today but your promotion is just around the corner!”

I recently flew across the country to spend a week teaching to a group of… wait for it… 8 people! Someone actually asked me, “You flew across the country to teach eight people?” Yep! Big changes happen in small rooms. And time spent with God’s precious people is always amazing. Teaching to anybody is always an honor. We must prepare for the 2 like we would for the 2,000.

Success is not large crowds, big stages or developing my own brand. This is not the way of Jesus and His kingdom.

If you live by praise you will die by criticism.

I’ve learned this the painful way. Praise and compliments are great. But the more I love the praise, the more I get flattened when the criticism comes. 

Human opinion is a two-sided coin. Both praise and criticism can be extremely helpful as a public speaker. But there is this place in our hearts that can crave the praise… and it makes us so vulnerable to devastation when the inevitable criticism comes. 

I’ve had my fair share of devastating moments. Public speaking is unique. When you fail or do a sub-par job, it is in front of a whole room of people. There is no hiding. People often felt freedom to come and tell me exactly how I could have done it better. Ouch.

Sometimes my speaking disasters took me months and months to recover from. I still have a few moments that can make me cringe… years later!

I know for sure, if I live by the praise, I will die by the criticism. 

Be faithful to the end.

What is it like to be a “woman” preacher? A real joy and a challenge at times. I’ve never written about this. But, why not now?

This is the reality.

I’ve spoken to large crowds of thousands and small rooms with just three people who faithfully showed up (thank you to those three!)

I’ve heard compliments that made me blush. I’ve also had men stand up and walk out on me in protest of a woman preaching (multiple times). 

I once had a man sit in silent protest during an entire week of my teaching, refusing to take one note, lest he learn from a woman. I’ve had several men decide they would listen to my teaching but make it a miserable experience by challenging me at every turn. I once had to remove a student from a class because he was harassing me so badly. I literally stopped the class and told him in front of everyone, “I will not continue teaching until you leave this room.” He did not go quietly.

I’ve also had many, many men thank me for my exposition of scriptures and how I’ve impacted them. So many have stayed late after class to ask questions and wrestle through the scriptures with me.

I’ve had many male and female leaders open multiple doors for my gifting to be present in new places. I’ve also listened to many, many men tell me they would invite a woman to preach if they just knew of any women preachers! “They just don’t exist! Woman need to really start stepping up!” I just smile kindly and listen.

I’ve sat in the front row cheering on my husband as he spoke in a church that didn’t allow woman preachers. I am a member of a church that ordains and celebrates women.

There have been challenges and also so much to celebrate.

Where have all these stories left me?

Be faithful to God’s calling. That is the win.

“Well done my good and faithful servant” is only music to my ears if a life lived in faithfulness to Jesus is my win.

If a win is convincing everyone of my perspective or gaining greater influence, hearing these words of Jesus might be a disappointment.

I love to see women preaching and teaching… in small rooms or wherever God might lead them. I pray and hope for an army of woman who simply seek to be faithful to the calling of Jesus, speak truth boldly and leave the rest up to Him.

Jesus is the goal. Faithfulness is the win.

Digital Minimalism

The day was coming to an end and I wanted to check if it was my turn on a game of Scrabble with my mother (who lives in Seattle). I looked in the usual spots for my phone but couldn’t find it. I searched high and low. I recruited my family, “do you have any idea where my phone is!?”. It suddenly occurred to me where it might be. I looked into my purse and there it was! 

This is significant. 

I realised, I had not taken my phone out of my purse since arriving home four hours ago. In four hours it did not occur to me once to check something on my phone or escape a moment of boredom through mindless scrolling.


Reducing the distraction and noise is often called “digital minimalism”. I like this term, coined by Cal Newport in his excellent book, Digital Minimalism. How can we reduce the amount of engagement with our phones, the interwebs, streaming services, podcasts, and social media to the absolute minimum.

All these things create, what I call, “digital noise”. A constant stream of interruptions and distractions that play as a soundtrack to our lives.

What would it look like to reduce the digital noise down to a minimum?

Honestly, there are no tips are tricks that will magically transform this area of your life (although I’m about to give some to you.)

There is internal work that needs to be done. We need to be brutally honest about this area of our lives. The internet is designed to build compulsive behavior in us. We will not stumble in to digital minimalism. Ruthlessness is required.

Social media apps, after all, are designed after slot machines. They are specifically designed to build compulsive behavior in us. Refreshing our feed one more time or checking the comments compulsively is not an accident. 

The first step to digital minimalism is ruthless honesty about your personal state of affairs and the cold hard truth as to how difficult this might be. 

Once you’ve done an assessment. Pick one or two and slowly start on the path towards untethering. The goal is for their to be one Master in your relationship with the digital world… and it is you. When someone asks you how this area of your life is doing, the goal is to say, “Really well, I engage with it only as much as I’ve set.”

Here are some ideas of how to get started. 

  1. Take social and media apps off your phone. This includes Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, YouTube… you name it. This is my #1 suggestion. I took all of these apps off and more. Best decision ever. After time, I have only added back Instagram. The majority of my social and media consumption is only on my laptop. This one move has reduced my mindless browsing by 95%. I cannot imagine having them back on my phone. The mental calmness and clarity I gained surprised me.
  2. Put a babysitter on your computer browser. You can actually install a add-on to your browser that will lock you out of Social Media or any other specific website (like YouTube) after a certain amount of time. It is lovely having a screen go blank after 15 minutes of scanning Facebook. Ask a computer nerd to help you if you don’t know how.
  3. Get an old fashioned alarm clock. Charge your phone either across your bedroom or in another room. The science is powerful… your brain does so much better when you don’t wake up and stare at your screen first thing in the morning. 
  4. Put your phone in detention at certain times of the day. When my family is all together at the end of the day, I often will put my phone upstairs on my dresser. I am not allowed to remove it from that spot. If I want to check on my messages, I can do that. I just have to walk upstairs, stand there at my dresser and awkwardly read the messages. It cuts down on my mindless scanning. My kids and husband also don’t see me staring at my phone while we are together for the first time all day.
  5. Make a personal rule that when you are in social gatherings, the phone goes away. Put your phone on silent (including no vibrating). Enjoy a dinner with eye contact, long conversations. Untether eating and digital noise on altogether.
  6. Set a day each weekend where you commit to not look at your phone for the first 2-3 hours of the day. 
  7. Set tasks in your life that have a “no noise” policy. I take my dog for 1-2 walks each day. I have a strict no phone rule on these walks. There is restorative power in a walk, listening to the birds, just looking around without a podcast in my ears. Other ideas for times to banish all digital noise: While cooking meals, when you are with family or friends at the end of each day or set a certain time period each day (such as 6-8 pm every day.) Commit to building your capacity to doing these tasks in digital silence!Choose one or two of these and begin! What other ideas do you have that help you pursue digital minimalism?

Digital Discipleship

Can you fall asleep at night without listening to a podcast or having a TV playing in the background?
Do you get anxious if you can’t find your phone?
When is the last time you forgot to check your phone for 3 or more hours?
Can you have a coffee with a friend without your phone on the table?
Can you share a meal with friends without checking your phone?
Are you able to read a book or sit quietly without feeling anxious or a having a constant distracted mind?
Can you post something on social media and not check the response until six or more hours later?
When is the last time you woke up and didn’t look at your phone until one or two hours later?

If you are like me… one or more of those questions might have caused a small cringe moment.

I believe one of the greatest needs amongst Christians today is digital discipleship. I do not mean people discipled through digital outlets. Digital discipleship is followers of Jesus who are purposeful and intentional in their relationship with the digital world. People who have gone through a serious and strenuous re-orientation when needed. People who have brutally faced how their phone and social media have shaped their inner world and dehumanized their outer world.

Basically asking question, how would Jesus use a cell phone?

The only serious discussion happening in the church is regarding porn. It is no secret that I think porn ruins our sexual, relational and spiritual lives. But let’s set that aside.

Where are intentional discussions happening around every other aspect of this digital world we swim in? Where and how are Christians being challenged to think about what how a Jesus follower interacts with their phone, Netflix or podcasts?

The reality is, we are affected deeply by the invasive presence of text messages, social media, web browsing, on-demand television, and podcasts.

We often feel a nagging discomfort about this area of our lives. But there are hard realities we rarely face.

Daily digital presence predicts, with scary accuracy, a persons’ levels of anxiety and depression. Do you constantly check social media and binge on Netflix regularly? The statistics tell us you likely also struggle with regular anxiety and/or bouts of depression.

Did you know that silence is actually needed to regenerate brain cells in your hippocampus? This is the area of the brain associated with learning, memory and emotion. The average person now has almost zero minutes of silence each day. Our brains are like toddlers who ate Twinkies all day, skipped both naps and who has stayed at a party way to long.

Of course we all see daily parents who talk to their kids while staring at a screen. Friends who sit in a restaurant, speaking out snippets of thoughts here or there, never engaging in deep meaningful conversation.

I’m not saying all this to point a finger or induce false guilt. But, truly, this is us.

Here’s where some of those questions are leading. Would you (or me!) describe your relationship with the digital world as compulsive, invasive or controlling?

I’ll be brutally honest. In Christian circles, I hear a lot of people declaring that depression and anxiety have no hold on them.

We want less anxiety but we can’t be alone with our own thoughts. Our lives set-up our brains to produce more and more stress hormones with hour after hour of digital engagement. Whether scrolling Instagram for an hour each night or watching hours of Netflix instead of being bored. The enemy is in the camp. We need to admit that.

I believe in God’s power to heal but God is not going to magically heal anxiety in a life we can’t face. Anxiety will not decrease while our escapism increases.

I also hear Christians say with conviction that loving people is their life purpose.

I don’t know who we plan on loving when we spend more time with pictures of people than actual people. “Loving people” will be a nice saying painted on our wall but not a reality in our lives.

We need to get serious about digital discipleship. Being people who are intentionally and painfully re-orientating our lives in this digital age.

He longs for us to serve a more generous and life-giving Master.

We can embrace the benefits of this digital world (there are many). We can also reject the burden it has become on our lives.

In my next post I will share some thoughts on practical ways we can slowly start to re-orientate our lives. Away from a life filled with noise, anxiety and non-human relationships. Towards living with more peace, life and God intended relational wholeness.

Until then, take some time to think, “Am I content with my relationship to the digital world? Is it bringing me peace, life and relational wholeness?”

** I am not suggesting that all anxiety and depression is solely caused by our levels of digital engagement. These issues are unique and multi-layered for each person. Increasingly, though, studies do suggest that re-calibrating our digital engagement would, at the minimum, be extremely helpful in our journey with these issues.

Greetings from America-land

About 3 weeks before I left South Africa I had a final coffee with my Pastor’s wife, a woman whom I have immense respect for. She had, herself, done what I was about to do. That is, leave an adopted homeland to move back to her country of birth. For them it was to Pastor and lead our church in Cape Town. For us, it was for Chris to become a Pastor at our church here in Lancaster, PA.

I remember her asking me, “What do you plan to do in America? Have you thought about that?” I replied, “Well, I really feel strongly to not make any immediate commitments and just take the first 6 months to settle.”  She smiled kindly. I thought that taking 6 months was very self-aware and wise of me.

She looked me in the eyes and smiled.  She then said in her classic, direct but caring way, “Oh, six months is just the beginning… it will take you 2-3 years. There is no way around that.”

I smiled back and thought, “Well, we’ll see.” Famous last words.

In this process I have been off social media a lot. Facebook has almost gone the way of the dinosaurs for me. I quickly realized that my “processing” posts on Facebook would elicit some very defensive Americans who felt I was being too negative about America (and felt to tell me this). So, I stepped back. I wasn’t in the place to receive criticism from people I barely talked to.

So, I have been quiet on social media but I do want to give an update for many who care and wonder how this move has been. For the many friends who have e-mailed or messaged and just never got a reply from me (forgive me!).

So, this is an update from American-land, (almost) 18 months in.

The Boys:

We have felt a lot of care and love from people asking about how the boys have adjusted. I would not be exaggerating to say, they have flourished. It has not been easy. They still face challenges. But they are well.

Absolutely everything was new to them. To be dropped off one day in a new school in a foreign country (remember, America was a foreign country to them)… and have Mom and Dad say, “You can do this!”. That ain’t easy.

They have figured out new schools, new friends, new church, new food, new homes, new languages (Farewell Afrikaans and Xhosa! Hola, Espanol!). In the midst of it we’ve had lots of funny moments that have made us all laugh. They have gained a full vocabulary of Mexican foods. They now know enchiladas, burritos, tostadas, quesadillas and more! They also now know that Tacos are an actual ethnic food from Mexico and not a food their mother invented in South Africa. They still drink Rooibos tea. They have never accepted the mayonnaise and bread here (“Absolutely disgusting, Mom. Why don’t they have regular mayo?”).

Church has been a highlight for them (after they got over the shock of how big and loud it was).  After the first Sunday, I asked Thabo how he found church. He replied, “Well that whole experience was super American!” We both intuitively understood what he meant by that. But after the initial cross-cultural adjustments, they found their place.  Both volunteer with the young kids on a weekly basis. They also attend the Youth Group, are in Small Groups and really feel a sense of belonging. We are thankful.

Garett continues to play Rugby and Soccer. Thabo continues to play Soccer and has joined a basketball team.

When hard days come, they have the dog who has been a therapy pet for us all. Well, maybe not Chris but he likes him most days.   

They are doing well.


I think most people knew that I would have never chosen to leave South Africa. There was not a day in 15 years where I said, “I wish I was in America”. Not a day.

Since we have left, there has not been a day where I said, “This was the wrong move”. Not a day. That has been a grace. Every step of the way I knew, in God’s wisdom not mine, this was the right move.

In the conversation with my Pastor’s wife she said another thing that struck me in between the eyes and heart. It was this, “Lindsey, you may be moving for a job for your husband. But, He doesn’t call one person and have a plan for one to flourish. God calls you all and has a plan for all to flourish.”

Those words have not just been a hope, they have been a reality.

There are many thing that are still very unknown to me in America-land. The repeated question we got from friends and co-workers in South Africa was, “But…. But, what will YOU do Lindsey?!”

They knew I was not one to sit on the sidelines and observe life go by. I always was on the move. I took on a lot of responsibilities through the years. Always tackling challenges. I did not hide in my husbands shadow (which he loves). But the thought of moving for an opportunity for Chris and not me was strange to everyone around us.

This season has been different. I have not purposely hidden but I have been still. I needed the stillness more than I could ever comprehend 18 months ago.

I could go on forever but I’ll highlight a couple of things.


I initially settled, furnished, painted and renovated my whole house (it’s small tiny addiction I have). I got the kids on their way with school and sports. I got a counselor.

I’ve always valued having a counselor in my life but this one has been different. She had a skill set that I needed. I go very regularly and haven’t slowed down for a year. I’ve cried a lot (well, for me). I knew I had a lot of pain that needed attending to. It has not been comfortable or pleasant.

The internal and emotional shift that has happened has been significant far beyond my expectations. I won’t go into detail here since it’s not really your business:) But, if we moved to America only for this… it would have been worth it for me. Healing and health feels good. I’ve still got a ways to go. The distance I’ve travelled so far has been significant.


For the last 10+ years I have struggled with chronic pain. This involved regular and increasingly frequent migraines. Constant and overwhelming muscle tension in my neck and scalp. The pain had become so frequent and constant that I was in significant pain about 90% of the time. My life had sadly come to that.

Moving countries is not helpful for chronic pain sufferers. Even with my prescription medication, which I took daily, I had to go to the ER a few times. The last few years I had grieved my new reality and accepted that this would be the rest of my life. I could write a book on how chronic pain had altered my life and relationships. I had made use of every medical doctor and intervention possible.

I’ll save you from the book for now. But, today as I sit here, I haven’t taken pain or migraine medication in 5 weeks. In the last 5 months I’ve taken it a total of about 10 times (compared to daily before). I’ve learned a lot about chronic pain through counseling, reading books and other crucial conversations.

My counselor told me one day, “If you had just described your life to me, I could have told you in detail your physical reality. None of this is a surprise.” I learned the physical impact my emotional life has had on my body. There has been a lot of sadness around the loss of healthy years.

By the pure grace of God a friend texted me one day and said, “Hey, I just read about this phone App for chronic pain sufferers. I’m going to check it out, you should to.”  I did check it out and realized it was exactly what I needed.

Yes, you read that correctly a phone app. It is called Curable (For those interested, you can read this, this and this.)

I’m not trying to be a used car salesman (although this company has my forever undying love). It’s just the truth, this app has changed my life. Words I never dreamed I would say.  It is a resource that is based on all the science behind how chronic pain actually works in our bodies. It is hard work. It has been a process. It has been a grace to me.

All this to say, between the tool of Curable and my counseling, I’m healed. I am in that stage where I wake up each day and still think, “Wait, I’m not feeling any pain. What?!”. I don’t think the shock of  being pain-free will wear off any time soon.

Not only that, going off all my medication has been phenomenal as it affected my mental and physical clarity more than I realized.

Once again, if we moved to America for this, I’d do it a million times over.


My husband is amazing. I just have to add this. He has taken on a new job with courage and skill. He has walked alongside the boys and I with compassion and grace. As always, he has supported me every step of the way. In this process, not once did he say anything but, “Take your time, Babe, there’s no rush to be anywhere but where you are.” More than once he has asked, “So, when is your next counseling appointment?” Ha!

In closing. For those asking, “Ok Lindsey, wonderful news! But what are you doing with your days and what are you going to do with your life?!” (I do get asked that exact question often).

I don’t feel the need to run my schedule by you but I do want to say, I’m happy. I’m not panicked about finding the answer. No, I don’t have a job. I haven’t found my niche yet. But, I’m content. My days are pretty full doing this, that and the other.

I am feeling more ready to answer the question, “Ok, what do I want to do?” I’m glad I haven’t rushed the process.

God didn’t call one, he called all four of us. I know this.

God’s plans for flourishing are not for one, they are for all four of us. I know this, too.

Greetings from America-land. I’m glad I’m here.