Spoiler alert: You can read this whole post or you can just click here and take the short cut to passionately falling in love with 250 kids who would tell you that there is nothing ordinary about being a mom. Especially when you don’t have one. Here’s the chance to give your heart away and BE someone’s unexpected, ridiculously generous valentine.

UPDATED: My friend Money Saving Mom has stunned me by offering to give away her book as well as pre-order my book for anyone who gives more than $40!! Details over here.

I remember exactly where I was when I fell in love with Peter. When I knew he was the man I would marry.

I was walking under the cherry blossoms on D street across from the US Capitol.



I thought I would throw up with the weight of it.

This responsibility of knowing you’re going to commit your life, your zip code, your culture, your body and your dreams to someone else. For better or worse.

We’ve lived our share of worse.

I ate romance novels like so much chocolate when I was sixteen. I believed in happy endings that looked like desperate dashes through airports to declare undying love.

But in real life it has been my experience that love goes out for milk in between bouts of a snow storm. After it has shoveled the driveway.

Or picks up a pair of socks off the floor every single morning even after fifteen years of gesticulating wildly at laundry baskets.

But love.

It does run. It will run.

Oh how it runs.

This daring verb that is so much more than a date on the calendar.



Love runs into danger. Love runs for the forgotten. Love runs from itself. Love runs beyond what it thought it could endure. Love runs away from measuring sticks and toward partnership.

Love runs. It never races. Love runs at your pace. Love runs for the winsome joy of bearing witness, of celebrating, of delighting in the dance of dishes and laundry and a hundred, hundred glasses of water after lights out.

Love singles out the lonely and is not embarrassed to be friends with the forgotten. Love doesn’t keep score of cool. Love finds hope in trash heaps and new beginnings at the bottom of dumpsters.

Love runs round after round of milk at midnight baby after baby, year after year. Even when people whisper and wonder why you’ve decided to add yet another kid to your family.

Love runs toward children with arms wide open.


Love runs and rides back roads after prodigals. Love runs even when all it can do is limp.

I remember exactly where I was when I fell in love with the Maubane community.

I was sitting on the cement stoop outside Ma Margaret’s house, shirt stuck to my sweaty back and tiny Rodney on my lap. We threw a Christmas party in 100 degree weather and Rodney’s packet of chocolates had melted along with my heart.



And I remember where I was when God started working on my heart to see my blog like a door and myself the door holder who gets to invite people into this remarkable story.

And I remember where I was when I found out how much it would cost for 1 blog community to build 1 South African community a safe place for sustainable food, child care, economic empowerment, job skills trainings, a gathering place for church, classrooms for HIV/Aids education, and a playground for their kids.

I was sitting in the red plastic booth at a Wimpy restaurant in Pretoria, South Africa when I did the math and thought I would throw up at the $150,000 price tag.

But love.

Love runs.

Love runs faster than fear. Love runs toward hopelessness. Love runs past doubt. Love runs the race wild and true and on shaking, determined knees.

Love runs to its friends and invites them in.

Love sees everyone as family and every day a start of something beautiful.  Love runs through doors even where there aren’t supposed to be any.

This is my family.





You are my friends.

Here is the door.

I’m holding it open, run through and fall in love.

The Maubane Community Center – a human blue print of hope

human blue print

This plan has been a year in the making and the goal is to raise $150,000 to fund the entire project between Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day – because love is more than a date on the calendar, and it never leaves anyone out. And Mother’s Day is a 365 days a year adventure, always worth celebrating.

Phase 1: Community Vegetable Garden {watered by the water point you all built last fall}

Phase 2: Community Kitchen and Welcome Center

Phase 3: Community Outreach Hall

Phase 4: 12 Classrooms

Phase 5: Playground

Click here to donate.

Because there’s a whole community of women who are raising more kids than just their own and still have all the same hopes, dreams and fears that we do.

And there’s a whole community of kids who would tell you that there is nothing ordinary about being a mom. Especially when you don’t have one.

I’m related to three of them.


Fall in Love with the World Next Door Necklace


My friend Krafty Kashoan has created three custom necklaces and will donate half the price of each to this project. Choose from the words Brave, Family, or Pray and wear a reminder of this love story with you on Valentine’s and beyond.


Five Minute Friday

– your prompt this week is GARDEN – because it’s the first phase of this love story. So, go ahead, hold the door open and invite as many as you can into the story.