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Saturday, October 5, 2019

Oh, how times have changed … and so have I.

Walking out after our wedding ceremony ... what were those kids thinking!?

Today is our 28th wedding anniversary, and I thought I would take a few minutes to reflect on how things have changed over the years.   I’ll try not to bore you!

Last night we went to our new soccer field at sundown, took our fold-out chairs and just sat and looked over the fields.  It’s our new Friday night “fun activity”, and we love it.  The farm workers were leaving for home, scores of birds were dancing and singing in the sky and we could hear the sounds of the children playing outside up at the Emseni Campus.

Oh, how times have changed.

When I was 24-years-old I started ONYX Marketing Group in Toronto, and for 16 years I felt defined by my role as President and Founder of that company.  My identity was completely wrapped up in my company, being one of very few women around the world to own a Marketing Agency in the 1980’s.  And then my life flipped upside down after being in New York City on September 11, 2001.  That day, and the days/weeks/months that followed forced me to examine what I was living for, and what I was doing with my life.  That self-examination lead to a major change in our lives, which eventually led us to living in Africa. And as I sit and write this blog I am overlooking a farm, carved out of African bush, and this is home.

We've got beets!
Last night as we sat listening to the sounds of the farm, thinking back on the last 28 years, we realized that the first 14 years of our married life we both worked at ONYX and the last 14 years has been spent in ministry.  I am no longer defined by my business days, but I can clearly see how our business days worked to prepare us for our calling in Eswatini.

I remember when we were first called to Heart for Africa thinking that I had NO skill sets that would be useful in a poverty and AIDS stricken country in Africa.  The Swazi people didn’t need a marketing person, they needed food, clothing, jobs and hope.  I was certainly not the person for that!  I was a self-centered, capitalist who liked nice hotels, expensive restaurants and room service 😁 . 

But the Lord has changed me. Don’t get me wrong, I still like those things, but I would much rather be feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, loving the unloved or helping people earn an income so that they can care for their families.  It’s simply amazing what can happen when we really surrender and stop focusing all of our energy on our needs, our desires, our hopes and our dreams and starting thinking about others.  It’s a paradigm shift, and it is life-changing, life-saving and life-giving.

Today Ian and I are going to spend the day together just “doing life”.  We will make the one-hour drive to town to buy some groceries, go out for lunch, come back and hang out with some toddlers on a scorching hot African day.  Then we will throw some steaks on the grill and watch the sun set, again. 

I am so thankful for the past 28 years with my best friend. We have gone through intense joy and extreme sorrow, seen both hope and hopelessness, planted seeds and fought fires, and I wouldn’t change a thing.  Life is an adventure, and I am so thankful for the most amazing partner that I get to do life with. 

I thought I would leave you with a few life lessons that I have learned in my 28 years of marriage.  Maybe they will be helpful, and maybe not. 

-       Laugh a lot.
-       Apologize a lot.
-       Forgive and ask for forgiveness a lot.
-       It’s okay to go to bed angry, just make sure you deal with it in the morning when you are rested.
-       Don’t ever say, “I don’t think I want to have children because they are too much responsibility” (!)
-       If your husband says, “Hey, I think we should buy 2,500 acres of land in Africa” – just go with it.

Live from Eswatini … loving life with Ian Maxwell.


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