Some giants never fall…..

My heart is sore.  I’ve stopped a million times this week to shed tears and reflect on the life of an absolute spiritual giant, the Martin Luther of our times. This week we lost Ed.  I lost a spiritual mentor, a dear friend and absolute example of a man whose love for God was evidenced by his love for people.


I remember his ready smile, his quirky  Americanised-Kiwi sense of humour, his readiness to take everything to God in prayer and his heart for praying for people. He was the king of delegating. He had a knack for being utterly direct in the most empathetic of ways – his truth didn’t hurt. One of his great abilities was to dream a dream and slowly, methodically, add flesh to the bones; and somehow…somehow as his dream fleshed out it got deeper and fuller and made perfect sense.  He loved the term ‘patient-urgency’* –  a true oxymoron,  completely understood by every Christian that heeds God’s call to labour in the harvest.

Betty & Ed

He was giddy about Betty, the love of his life.  When he was around her he had a sense of wonder about him, almost as if he couldn’t  get over the fact that someone as breathtakingly awesome as her would love a man like him.  Somehow he seemed younger, more carefree, happier and his eyes sparkled with the joy of their shared love! Theirs was a love that belied the reality of their second chance love story and conjured for the onlooker wistful images of childhood sweethearts,  high school proms and first love. They fit, like two halves of a whole, so perfectly intertwined and yet so independent within their distinctive, individual selves. She was his eternal flame.

Here’s what I will remember most about Ed.

Ed had just one default setting.  Prayer. One of his favourite quotes was by John Bunyan.

You can do more than pray after you have prayed.  But you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed – John Bunyan

Close to 10 years ago my journey was that of a single mum, rediscovering God’s presence, His saving grace and His purpose for me.  When most “married couple people” treat single mums with love, appreciation, empathy and a safe distance, I was blessed to have had three “married couple people” who let me in to their hearts, lives and homes.  Ed and Betty were one of my people.  (Side note: My heart aches with the realization that I’ve now lost one half of each of these three “married couple people” to cancer.)

I remember vividly, sitting in their lounge, their walls lined with bookshelves full of books, sharing my journey, hearing theirs and feeling this tangible sense of reassurance that God would never not have a plan for my life.  They prayed with me that day and I with them. Ed and I were work colleagues. He would check in with me often to see how I was going and he would always say “I know you wont mind but I am letting you know I will share this with Betty and we will keep this in prayer for you”. And pray they did. Their joy when I finally found my second chance warmed my heart.

We missed Ed at our wedding, but were so grateful to have Betty there.

Ed never passed up the opportunity to point people to the greatness of God.

Ed was a pray’er.  Everytime he prayed he would never fail to say “God, you are large and in-charge!” Early in my journey of rediscovering my relationship with God, I was very intent and determined to live the Christian life.  Infact, I was anxious and pedantic about it.  After a particularly tough week of feeling like a total and utter failure at being a good God-loving Christian, I remember asking Ed, “Ed how can I stay on track and do and be everything God wants me to do and be?  I feel like no matter how hard I try, I fail all the time”. Ed with a knowing smile in his eyes answered me back “By keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus and not your failings.  And even when you do great, it still is only possible because you’ve kept your eyes fixed on Jesus”.

Ed’s walk with God was anchored in Bible-based faith not feelings.

Ed had a way of dropping nuggets of golden wisdom when you least expected it.  While sitting around the table at a team meeting a few years ago, we were having a particularly animated discussion about how we felt about a certain topic.  Our opinions and thoughts were a mixture strong personal feelings and a somewhat loosely, Bible-based theology. Ed listened to our conversation with a smile, nodding every now and again and then he dropped this nugget; “It’s not what you feel, but what you know and believe”. Each time I find myself reacting to something or someone I find myself asking the question – what do I know and believe about this?

When I think of spiritual giants I associate them with heroes of our faith.  Some of them being Martin Luther, James White and Ellen White. Some of my modern day faith-giants are George Knight, Ty Gibson, Christie Oberg, Jon Paulien, Lowell C. Cooper, Terry Swensen, Eddie Tupa’i and our Ed.  These are people who I’ve found (through reading their books and knowing some of them personally), to have a God-given, unique ability to speak God’s truth with kindness, honesty and love.

People often say that the taller the giants are, the harder they fall.  This is true of many giants as they sometimes fall in life and yet others in death.  In my mind’s eye as I reflect on the loss of a faith-giant like Ed – I imagine him, being gently laid to rest, a million candle flames of faith and hope being lit around him, in the hearts of those his life touched, glimmering and glowing in the darkness;  his love for his God and all God’s people continuing to live on like a dense scattering of pure white daisies in a vast, never-ending field, sown there by the Holy Spirit.  Some giants never fall….. they rest gently, soundly while their life’s work continues to live on in impacting ways.  They live on in the hearts of the ones they’ve discipled and loved.

Rest in Jesus Ed. Thank you for touching my life in a deeply impacting way. I want to be able to love God and all God’s people like you did.  I want to be more and more like Jesus everyday, like you were. I can’t wait to worship God with you and see the joy on your face as you behold Him when we get to heaven. Weeping endures for but a night….joy comes in the morning.

*The term “patient-urgency” was coined by Pr Eddie Tupa’i, lead pastor of North New Zealand Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and has become an integral part of how we live and do ministry in the context of being Healthy Adventist Communities (HAC).  Ed was the first Senior Pastor for HAC and was instrumental in resourcing, developing and implementing this vision. In his autobiography Inside Passage, Ed shares that his journey with the North New Zealand Conference were the best years of his ministry.



In Another’s Shoes…

I spent most of this week training admin secretaries from a sister entity.  A presentation I did to their bosses earlier this year about my role as an Executive Assistant, created this desire in their hearts to have their secretaries support them the same way I support my bosses.  And so 7 months later I found myself zipping across the Pacific waters to the beautiful island of Fiji to spend three days, training 13 women on how to support their bosses better by understanding and learning what it takes to be a good secretary.

Amidst a lot of mixed feelings (inadequacy, reminders of all the times I have fallen short in my role, self-doubt and feeling that I had nothing to offer to make anything or anyone better), being the good Christian that I was, I was careful to keep stock of my feelings so there was no room for pride and self-importance.  I believe I succeeded.  Ironically, I’ve patted myself on the back  a few times for succeeding!

So I walked into this space as a trainer, with some  trepidation (as I had never done anything like this before), a lot of prayer, reliance on my 11 years of experience as an EA and with a massive amount of reaffirmation from Joan Burge’s bible for secretaries and assistants.

I learned an important truth.

Humility is never deep enough.  It always runs deeper.

Empathy (2)While I was careful to stay humble, I realized during the course of my presentations on managing appointments, that one of the ladies found it very challenging to schedule appointments for her boss.  This was because most of their constituents lived in areas where there was no telephonic communication and quite often no transport.  They would walk for miles and turn up expecting to meet her boss and sometimes wait for hours while he fulfilled his other appointments.

The eye opening moment for me was when I realized that even though I was peripherally aware of this dynamic, I hadn’t factored it into my thought process while putting my material together.  My guard to stay humble stopped me.  My sense of humility stopped with me.  It didn’t extend far enough to encompass her reality.

“You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”10 – Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird. J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1960

Understanding this deepened my humility and gave me a deeper sense of respect for what she had to contend with. It also gave me a fresh perspective on how the awareness of another’s reality enriches the sharing of our truths and learning.

He meets me with a chocolate brownie and an apple turnover

Our theology of God shapes our parenting.


Our parenting – like most of our lives – tracks its way back to what we truly believe about the nature and the character of God. – Sarah Bessey

Somewhere over the past year, my gentle, funny, cuddle loving little boy has grown into a 6″2 basketball loving, serious, young man.  I forget sometimes that he is just 14 years old.  Today was one of those days.

He text about mid afternoon to say that he had volleyball training till 6 pm.  I promised to pick him up from school when he was done. This trek across town added an hour  to my already lengthy day.  I couldn’t wait to get home and enjoy a walk down to the nearby reserve with the family to enjoy one of the first warm days after a long, cold, wet Auckland winter.  I got to the school at 6 pm and rang his phone twice. I waited 30 minutes, then 45 before I heard my phone ring.  My son had forgotten to tell me that his ‘training’ was actually an inter-college game being played at another location about 45 minutes away. They had just finished and were heading back to his school where I was waiting. I fumed! I turned on my self righteous, passive aggressive mothering mode and willed with all my might that he would feel my anger emanating across the distance between us.  I gave him a earful over the phone about needing to be more thoughtful about his long-suffering mother!.  And then I hung up on him knowing fully well that he would be anxious about the welcome he would receive when he saw me.

Our lives tell the truth of what we believe about God. – Sarah Bessey

As I sat there feeling frustrated with his poor communication skills and perceived thoughtlessness, I remembered that he was 14 years old.  I remembered that I had not had a conversation with him about the details he needed to communicate to me in situations like this.  I remembered that he was not doing this to spite me or frustrate me.  I remembered that he was just a boy learning how to juggle sport, school and life.  I remembered also that I was his mother and the way I handled this situation would shape his view of parenting and thus God.

I also remembered the times when I was a little girl. I remembered the cold treatment I got from my mum (bless her soul, I love her dearly) each time I did something wrong.  No matter how sorry I was or how many times I apologized she would maintain a distant and cold front until she was convinced that I had learned my lesson.  Sometimes, this would take days. I remembered that as an adult, each time I messed up, I ran from God.  I would crawl back sheepishly after days of hiding, full of chagrin and regret, praying, hoping and begging that He would forgive me just one more time.  My picture of God was the picture my mum painted of Him as my parent.

As I sat there in the car with these realizations dawning  on me, I remembered the picture God had redrawn for me in recent years, of Him as a loving, patient Father who only wanted the best for me and for me to never be afraid to run back into His waiting arms. I made a choice.  I drove down to the nearby BP Station and bought my son a chocolate brownie and an apple turnover.  I knew he’d be hungry (I was hungry too!). When he hopped into the car, I handed him the brown paper bag and had the much needed conversation with him about communicating important details the next time he had to stay after school.

I could feel my son’s relief that he didn’t get a further grilling. His delight at being able to put food in his tummy after two games of volleyball was gratifying! As I drove the long road home in the easing evening traffic, with the beautiful sunny day fading into the horizon, I wondered if he would someday remember this experience and realize what a wonderful mother I was!.  And then I found myself wishing, praying and hoping that even if he didn’t remember this, that each time he messed up he could approach God in complete confidence, knowing that He would be waiting for him with a chocolate brownie and an apple turnover.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8

To be or not to be…

…….and yet,

The words still at the very edge of my mind’s lips.

Once they fall, they are mine no longer. No safe place, no sacred preservation. Open to thoughts and opinions, to be picked apart, to the judgement of a careless crowd.

So these words that I cherish, my heart’s voice, frozen in midair like falling diamonds; like teardrops in a smile,

They wait…. at the edge of being born.

Why Grounds & Blends

Thoughts from a Coffee Cup

I’m thinking back to a time when I was a perfect coffee bean. The hands that picked me marveled at my perfection and dreamed about my potential. I was dried, roasted and ground up. I wonder many times about the purpose of the process? Why did I not just stay a perfect coffee bean?

So here I am, a cup emanating fragrant steam, enhanced by the presence of all the other perfect beans, dried, roasted and ground up together.  A little bit of me and them in a cup. Together we have a fragrance, taste and purpose that is richer than if we were alone.

We are all just Grounds&Blends.  Together we have purpose. Together we are whole.

Image credit: