Friday, 4 January 2019

Post Christmas Blues...

Just closing off a wonderful Christmas season with our kids home for the break, meaningful discussions, fun activities, lots of family get together and many things that make my heart "glad"; so today, getting my mind and body back into what is more normal routine I am feeling a little bit "blue".  Adding to my "heartache" is the  awareness that for many these are times full of loneliness, fear and uncertainty.  I think of my colleagues in the DRC, Congo whom on the 30th of December were finally able to cast their vote for a new president after 18 years, but now have had their internet now cut off these past 4 days because of the government fears the voices and opinions of their people. Or the sad news we received yesterday of one of our TeachBeyond colleagues passing away and the pain her family must be feeling today, or of a video I watched yesterday of a young man who risked his life crossing the french channel in a MATTRESS! 

 Taking all this in consideration a heavy heart hardly seems worthy of mention. ...What it reminds me of though is that our human hearts, no matter where we are or in what circumstance longs for "peace on earth", security, for joy, for healthy relationships and goodness. 

Last night Phil and I were invited to a good friends Open House and there we took time to reflect on this years "Jahreslosung" (Verse for the Year, put out by a book of daily readings from the Lutheran church). 

This year's verse is: 
 "Seek peace and pursue it" Ps 34:14

Not sure what this means to most of you, but what this means to me is that peace is something I need to actively seek and pursue. It is something to look for, to take steps towards...there is even a sense of urgency that is embedded in this command...because it is a command.

I'm taking it on as one of my goals for this year, and a path I want to pursue.  Whether it be in the context of my marriage, my family, my church, my work in the DRC Congo, helping start new schools here in Europe or with Phil and my involvement with the children of Open Schools.  I want to strive for, walk towards, choose, get involved in, mediate and be a bridge towards peace! Could this be a 2019 challenge for you too?

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."

 John 14:27 ESV

Sunday, 9 July 2017

2 Weeks Later…

My heart is still caught in the afterglow of the wedding day.  As a mother-of-the-bride there is a kind of fragile and vulnerable bundle that you carry with you when it comes to your daughter’s wedding.  That bundle is packed with wishes, lots and lots of prayers, hopes, blessings, memories, probably some expectations, lessons learned, growing pains and so much more.

I remember, 25 years ago, rocking our precious little girl Amanda, still in awe at the miracle of having been a part of creating this new being, and at the same time already feeling the inevitable pain that comes with knowing that someday we would be “letting her go”.


Already then I was hoping and praying that the Lord would bless her with a life partner who would love, cherish, and walk along side of her while she continued to be the person that God created her to be.  I prayed and blessed the family which this person would grow up in.  So here I am, 25 years later, in awe at the goodness of God in having led David and Amanda together.  

As a “missionary” now living in a different country than 2 of my kids, there are some things that come with that lifestyle which are not part of what every mother wishes for.  There is a lot of letting go, usually sooner than you feel ready to.  For me there has been the “dying” to having a “homestead” with a heritage and permanent roots, and truly knowing where that place is. There is also a selfish and jealous side of me that pops up when I think that others might take “my” mother role and walk along side “my” children.  How silly am I to think that we can keep for ourselves what is not ours, and not to see that there is far greater reward in giving, trusting, and letting go of what is not ours to keep in the first place.

So, 2 weeks later, I say thank you Lord for loving and blessing us as we let go and watched the joining of these two precious lives ...lives that have been prayed for by many, even by some of you over the years.
 David and Amanda we bless you!


Monday, 10 April 2017

A bottle of French wine and a French church …

A week ago I spent a few days in Aix-en-Provence, a lovely little city in the heart of the French Provence. I can sense the jealousy right now. Go ahead. I loved it. That part of France is a feast for the senses. The mini amateur photographer that I am wanted to capture every image of beauty that my eye saw …which was just about everything, ….even the old doorknobs were beautiful.

 I was in Aix for a conference which my brother Tim was holding on the subject of education. Tim and I grew up in France. We each had our own “French” experiences, some more positive than others, but many of which still impact us today. One of the impacts of his years in France is that Tim enjoys a great red wine.  He and his wife Mona actually bought an authentic wine “cave” in downtown Aix, which they turned into a lovely  “get away” cellar studio.  I am not a wine “connaisseur” and being basically clueless on the subject, I would listen very intently when Tim would pull out one of his chosen cellar wines and give me a summary of where the wine was from, what made this one different from others, and what components one might be able to recognize as you swish it around in your mouth. So with my head full of  “wine connaissance”, and my taste buds on heightened alert to be able to hopefully recognize some hint of an element that he had depicted, I would take a sip.

Well… I am sorry to say that no emotional explosion or enlightenment happened to me at that  moment, but I do have to admit that in that mouthful of red liquid  swishing around in my mouth I knew that what I was tasting years of captured history, hard work, organic ingredients found in the earth and probably many other things.

 I felt similar emotions walking into one of Aix’  cathedrals.  It was imposing, majestic and beautiful, but what I sensed captured within those walls were years of secrets, personal tragedies, hopeful aspirations, bitter disappointments as well as times of thanksgiving and celebration. And there I was, standing within those old walls, adding my “present package” to the past.

This past month I have been teaching on the book of Esther - a book in which the name of God is not mentioned once, but in which one can sense and see His mighty hand at work throughout this captivating story. Esther, an orphan girl raised by her cousin, ends up being chosen as the new queen of Syria, and plays a huge role in saving the people of Israel.  Mordecai, the son of an exiled Jew who chose not to return to Israel, inherits a daughter, raises her, and challenges her to put her life at risk to hopefully prevent a genocide.

 We cannot disconnect our pasts and the parts we play in the big story from what God is doing in the present.  Did you know that in some place the word "future" used in the Bible, incorporates the word "your past" as well. As if you couldn't separate the two.

 The part you and I play in our world today is an important one. We may not understand it all, and maybe not even recognize how our past and the pasts of others plays into what we are to do today, somewhat like  all that has gone into a good French wine, but it is there, and I believe that God uses it ALL …. “for such a time as this”,  for these very moments, and it can be lived out by no one other than you.


  "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Do Not Grow Weary....

Christy and I at the FATEB Kinshasa Academy in Congo

Let us not grow weary….

I cried this morning as I watched a recent video link of soldiers randomly shooting at civilians in the province of Kasai in the DRCongo. This just happened days ago, in February 2017.  Tears came to me out of disgust, a feeling of hopelessness, anger and frustration. (See link below)

Disgust - at the cruelty of man and his ugly thirst for power, domination and taking advantage of the vulnerable.
Congo has lost 5.4 million citizens due to the effects of wars and conflicts since 1998. Enough!
Feeling of hopelessness - because when you have lived with and love the beautiful, courageous people of Congo who are trying to change, and not just look for the “quick fixes”, but because poverty, war and corruption place them in a vicious cycle from which it is very hard to escape, one feels hopeless at times…. (but I never remain hopeless) .

Anger - because it is the vulnerable who suffer the most.  Congo has a population of 80 million. Its median age is 17 yrs.  71% of its population lives under the poverty level. 60% of the population lives on $1.25/day. There are 13 million primary age children, but only 50% of those are able to start school at age 6.  War and mindless killings have caused so many barriers to education. Poverty, conflict & displacement, sexual violence and the high cost of education have produced an enormous need for schools, teachers and pedagogical input and training. The children are being held back… these children are the future and hope of Congo.

Frustration - for me today because organizations like TeachBeyond and many others are trying to make a difference in the educational realm in Congo, but are faced with one hurdle after another. Frustrating logistical issues such as getting the right documents in place, high costs, and procuring a visa to get into the country are keeping us from going.

A friend of mine and former missionary to the Congo encouraged me with these words last week:

  The verse that God gave me this morning was "Have I not commanded you? [in your case, to start this work in Kinshasa]  Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."  Joshua 1:9.  What you are experiencing are the "normal" challenges of work in Congo.  They are enough to make anyone doubt whether it is possible to move forward.  It takes great courage to keep moving forward.  God will provide all that you need to accomplish His purposes through that school and through you.”

Our team of teacher at FKA

My colleague Christy and I are still hoping that on Tuesday we will be able to fly to Congo and continue the work of teacher-training and encouragement at the FATEB Kinshasa Academy. Christy is still waiting for her visa. It is stuck at the Congolese embassy in Washington DC. ( Please pray we get it by Saturday!)

The impact this little school is already having on the lives of the children, parents and other schools in its local proximity has already made our “woes and battles” worth it.  We know who wins the battle in the end, but in the meantime pray that:

Teacher training taking place at a neighboring school

let us not become weary of doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people.... (Gal 6: 8,9)”

( Link to the video I watched (this video is disturbing):

Thursday, 19 January 2017


I started writing this last week…

I’m sitting here in my “princess chair” this morning.  The house is empty for the first time in weeks. Amanda and David are flying back to Washington DC, Michael to Chicago, and Alex is back in school. It is snowing outside. There is something lovely, yet unsettling about the quietness of the house. I look over at my dry and droopy Christmas tree, which I don’t like to take down until the kids have left and chuckle to myself, thinking: “It is definitely time to relieve you of those ornaments, dear friend.”

This time of transition comes around every year in our house. The relishing of meaningful events of Christmas, with its fun, crazy, chaotic family togetherness, but then knowing you need to pack up that Christmas “stuff” to make room. Room for the new, that which lies ahead and yes.....some routine again.

The growing Peters Family

A "shower" for Amanda
This year the change and transition feels especially present. The other day was Amanda’s last night in our home as an “unmarried women”. Our two oldest kids sorted through boxes of their “old stuff” because this was their last time in this house before we have to move some time this spring. This was the last Christmas in our lovely home here in Holzen. What lies ahead is full of life, potential and possibilities. A new place to live, welcoming a new son-in-law, new paths and opportunities for Michael as he graduates from college in the spring, new work-related opportunities for both Phil and I…and yet at the same time lots of “unknowns”.  So I sit hear this morning, in this “in-between” time and space, this transition, pausing a little, reflecting with a lot of emotion, catching my breath and not wanting to rush "what was" away.

I used to run track. One of my events was the 400-meter relay. Some of of you know I love to run - I don’t have to think much, I just put the running shoes on and go. But the success in a relay runs really depends on the transitions, the “passing of the baton” as they call it. It needs to be thought through, prepared, practiced and timed right. I never liked that part of the relay and to be honest I find that I don’t much like the present and upcoming transitions either.  It is probably because of the age I am at.  There is a lot of letting go, and the future “unknowns” don’t quite seem as exciting.  Can anyone relate?  I do realize though that they are very important. They can redefine you. They present opportunities in which we have choices. A choice of attitude, perspective, of new questions, of direction, and a choice to reaffirm the why I choose it all in the first place!

Life is not just the transition. The bigger picture tells the whole story - my story, your story … but how we go about those transitions is key! 

As I finish writing this blog, the Christmas decorations are all packed up, snow is still on the ground, and my head and heart, surrounded and held by ‘my Maker’ who created me with a purpose, are again buzzing with renewed ideas, ways to serve, a desire to communicate my passion, and a motivation to press on. There is so much still to do!


Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Wedding dress shopping!

You should have felt the energy in “David’s Bridal shop” the day Amanda and I went wedding dress shopping.  We stood there with other brides-to-be, bridesmaids, mothers, and grandmothers all buzzing around, picking out dresses, trying them on, giving input, ideas, choosing matching accessories … but really the main focus  was to please  and honor the “lady of the day”. … the future bride.

Amidst the laughter, smiles, encouraging comments, dreamy eyes, and lots and lots of female excitement in the air, the most amazing time was the moment a future bride … and in this case it was my daughter… walked shyly onto the platform full of mirrors with …. “the dress.”  She had already tried on several before, which were also beautiful, but somehow they weren’t right. All of a sudden, with this one, things were different.  People stopped what they were doing, heads turned, I caught my breath, others gave nods of approval….as the bride-to-be stood there with all eyes on her and broke into the most beautiful smile. She found THE DRESS.  Ok, this is sounding a little like a Walt Disney princess movie, but I promise you, it’s true.

It is amazing what seems to happen in a girl’s heart after she says “yes”,.. but before the wedding day.  “Yes” to the man she has hoped, dreamed, prayed for and visualized spending the rest of her life with.  Her face radiates, there is a non-stop smile on her face. Her nice character becomes even nicer J.  People and things that used to annoy just don’t seem as annoying. A very generous amount of time is  dedicated to communicating with this special man that she is in love with. Unity, things you have in common, future plans, and love is what matters! What a lovely time to be alive and enjoy!

Standing in that bridal shop on that morning I couldn’t help think of how we Christians as the body of believers represent the bride of Christ. As a follower of Christ I have given my “yes” to Him. I am actually living in anticipation of being united with him and celebrating the wedding feast with Christ as our groom who loves his bride the church more than we can even imagine. We as a church of believers are actually living in an  “engagement” period.  We are betrothed to him.  Wow!  How exciting! But is that how we feel? Are we as excited as my daughter Amanda is about her fiancé David?  Or have we been “engaged” so long that the anticipation and excitement of our first love has died away?

 As we start into this Advent season, which is a time of “anticipation”, anticipating the both the birth of Christ but also his second coming, the BIG wedding day,

I sure hope we don’t lose the “twinkle in our eyes”!

PS.  Sorry, won’t be posting any pictures of the Amanda in her dress until the big day - June 24th!

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Lessons learned from a marathon..

I'm still feeling a bit stiff and sore from the "Cotes du Rhone" marathon I just ran last Sunday, but I am also basking in the memories and the thoughts related to ones life that goes on the days after such a run. I have been running marathons off and on over the last 13  years and one of the benefits I have had is to been able to draw so many life lessons and parallels out of the running and training for them. For me the lessons have always had a spiritual dimension. They have strengthened my walk with God and with others.
Here are a few that I was reminded of this time.

 1.     Prepare

Running a marathon without any preparation is just down right stupid. Even though I had trained for and ran 9 of them before, I couldn’t just run “out of experience” I still needed to prepared for this specific one.  The more you prepare the better you do on Marathon day. Mental and physical preparation is crucial to success! 

2.     Be ready for the unexpected

The unexpected is, ….well, to be expected. No matter how much you prepare there are things that will most likely happen on that day that you had not anticipated:  rain storms, stomach "issues", leg cramps, a bad attitude or even asthma attacks. The unexpected can also be something surprisingly wonderful and can give you great source of joy…. I hadn't expected the beauty of the "Valley of Rhone" in  Provence, France nor when a women, whom I didn't know yelled out; “ You are running this for me!” This unexpected request energized and motivated me as I symbolically took on "running for those who could not!"

3.     Don’t do it alone!

You don’t have to be alone, and believe me having one or two people that are running along side you whether in body or spirit is key to success!  This time I had my sister and mom along. Two of my most favorite people!  My sister Tracy trained with me. We met regularly for 8 weeks prior to the marathon. We encouraged each other during the race, especially those last 10 kilometers when we felt like quitting and pushed each other to do "just a little more". Having someone you are accountable to just helps you stick to your goal. On the marathon weekend my mom came along. She woke us up, made us coffee,  carried our bags, was there at the start and finished and lent us a supportive arm as we hobbled our way back home. Thanks mom and Tracy. We were a team!

4.     Live in the moment

Enjoy the view, breathe in the moment, you are alive….Don’t wish it away!

  5. Draw strength from your training

There comes a time in most “races” when you go beyond what you did in your training……well that is exactly why you were training.  It was for those moments.   Don’t quit. This is what you were training for!...Tracy  and I hit that moment at km 32.  Those last 10 km were just killers. Every kilometer was endless. The scenery was grayer, peoples cheers became annoying, but we knew we had it in us because we had trained!…and boy were we glad for every kilometer we had put in over the last 8 weeks.


6.     Take time to Celebrate!!

Isn’t it crazy that we often skip this part! We tend to underplay what we have spent so much time preparing for.  Celebrate by telling your story, taking time to process….or write a blog like I am doing. And yes we did celebrate with a nice glass of “Cotes du Rhone!”.  

"Allez, Allez!"