FREE Extended Preview of Warrior In Pink

Excited to share:

For your weekend reading pleasure: (click here! click here!) FREE ebook download for Warrior In Pink!! You can download to Kindle, Nook, iBooks, as a PDF! Please share with your friends. There are share buttons for Facebook and Twitter on the page or you can share this post. You’ll get FOR FREE the intro and the first three chapters and the appendices:

  • sherpa: thoughts for caretakers
  • a thousand stitches: thoughts for parents with kids still at home
  • letter to a newly diagnosed cancer patient

Warrior In Pink on Noisetrade


No need to dump $20 into the tip jar. Those monies will not be coming to me directly. If you want to give directly to our ministry, feel free to check out the contact and link tab instead. :)

Thanks for sharing the book with your friends and family. I’ve heard so many encouraging stories. I joined the Susan G. Komen Orange County Speaker’s Bureau this week and will be sharing my story next week at a SGK Team Leader’s Appreciation event.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Christmas Traditions Eleven Months Early!

Okay. Really quick post.

Yesterday I posted on my Facebook writer page a photo of our Christmas card tradition.

One of our family traditions: hanging Christmas cards we receive on thick ribbon along the staircase. Each cards is prayed for over dinner by the family before we hang them up.

One of our family traditions: hanging Christmas cards we receive on thick ribbon along the staircase. All cards are prayed for over dinner by the family before we hang them up.

Thought I’d share it here with all of you on the blog and create a nifty pin for Pinterest. Of course, like every good idea I share, this is not an original idea. Darrin and I began praying over each card after we first heard the idea from our friends, Otto and Ruth Buhler. Hanging the cards from ribbon off the staircase we first saw at the Homestead house several years back.

What I’ve most enjoyed about this tradition is introducing our kids to friends from around the country and the world and helping them put names and faces together. Usually we divide the cards out evenly between the family (and guests if they happen to be joining us), open the cards and read them to ourselves, and then one of us begins to pray based on names or news from the Christmas letters. Over dinner we pass around all the cards for each person to read. After dinner I staple the cards to the ribbons off the staircase.

Our family is blessed with friends and ministry partners who pray and give so faithfully in order for us to work with college students so it is especially meaningful to pray for each of them. We also serve God with incredible staff and friends in Cru and other ministries spread across the country and around the world. Our vision for the world is renewed as we pray. During a brief window between Thanksgiving and New Years we are reminded of the priceless gift and treasure of our family and friends.


Asian Chicken Pasta Salad Recipe

Summer is here. School is almost out.

Definition of ALMOST (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

: very nearly but not exactly or entirely


We end on the 19th. I feel both excited and concerned about what life will look like beginning the 20th. Today I ate leftovers for lunch. Asian Chicken Pasta Salad. I took a photo on Instagram and received a couple requests for the recipe.

Asian Chicken Pasta Salad

Asian Chicken Pasta Salad

It’s a great recipe I’ve had for 22 years. Originally from my friend Nancy Young.

You know it’s good when the recipe card looks like this:


I changed the name of the dish from “Oriental” to “Asian” to be politically correct. Oriental, for those of you who may not know, is an outdated word and offensive to many Asians.

“Oriental” is considered to be an antiquated, pejorative, and disparaging term in the United States. John Kuo Wei Tchen, director of the Asian/Pacific/American Studies Program and Institute at New York University, said the basic critique of the term developed in the 1970s. Tchen has said, “With the anti-war movement in the ’60s and early ’70s, many Asian Americans identified the term ‘Oriental’ with a Western process of racializing Asians as forever opposite ‘others’”.[7] In a press release related to legislation aimed at removing the term “oriental” from official documents of the State of New York, Governor David Paterson said, “The word ‘oriental’ does not describe ethnic origin, background or even race; in fact, it has deep and demeaning historical roots”.[8] (Wikipedia)

Okay, back to the recipe:

12 oz. Angel Hair pasta (cook and drain)

3 C sliced mushrooms

2 sm tomatoes, diced

3/4 C sliced green onion

6 oz snow peas cut crosswise (see photo of recipe card and the drawing of the snow pea)

4-5 C cooked chicken

2 T toasted sesame seeds


1/2 C soy sauce

1/2 C lemon juice

1/3 C vegetable oil

2 minced garlic cloves

1 t. sugar

1 t. chili/garlic paste (I didn’t have any so I just skipped this ingredient)

Mix everything together in a big bowl, mix dressing, toss and coat, chill at least 2-3 hours. Toss in sesame seeds just before serving.

It makes a big batch (hence the leftovers), so this is a good dish to serve at summer potlucks or to take to the beach in a cooler.


No Words for Newtown

I know you have also prayed for and about the events surrounding the tragedy in Newtown, CT. My heart is heavy. This sculpture captures more powerfully than words the grief and loss. Let us continue to pray. And mourn. And honor those who were taken too soon, and those who remain.

Patti Ramos PhotographySculpture: Memorial Of Unborn Children by Martin Hudack of Slovokia

Patti Ramos Photography
Sculpture: Memorial Of Unborn Children by Martin Hudack of Slovokia


*Still working on talks. Still recycling little nuggets from CaringBridge. Still hope and pray you find encouragement reading. Still appreciate your prayers for me during the next several days. 

So we are hosting 125 interns/stinters and staff at our home Saturday. We love opening our home and it’s a great reason to kick into high gear and attack all those unfinished home projects. I am, of course, currently procrastinating and thinking about my bag cleaning system and hoping that the kitchen curtains I’m sewing will magically self correct because last night when Darrin hung them up they were visibly longer on the left side. Darrin asked me, “Did you measure?” “Uh, well, I sort of eyeballed it.” I am not into precision. Not even remotely.

We’ve had a lot of rain this spring which has resulted in one of the worst allergy seasons to date. The resulting weeds are so high small children could get lost in the back yard planters for days on end. Seriously, the weeds are waist-high in most places. So, today while was attacking the weeds with Darrin, I started thinking about life and weeds…

First, weeds take no effort to grow. They just do. The waist-high ones by the mail box grew without any dirt or fertilizer. Left untended, my soul is bent toward self and selfishness and sin.

Weeds are easier to pull when the ground is damp. I think sometimes the kindness of others, sometimes pain and tears help the weeding process go more smoothly. Humility, grace, forgiveness. Those things experienced and kneaded in my life help soften the ground.

The big hairy weeds often have really shallow roots. It continues to surprise me how easy it is to pull those intimidating ones out. The trickier weeds are the “prettier ones” that have really complicated root systems. I’ve been convicted lately of how often my motive for doing nice things is driven by trying to head off anger and disappointment. So those nice things are actually at the root a way to manipulate and control rather than to truly love.

“Something is better than nothing.” Leila and I adopted that mantra when we started the P90X workout thing back in January (which, by the way, we actually completed :)). We couldn’t do all the pull ups and push ups but we kept showing up and saying, “Something is better than nothing.” and we are both stronger today than when we started. With the weeds, well,  I know they will come back but whatever little I’ve done is still better than not doing anything.

Pulling weeds is better done with others. Life and relationships. I am the type of person that needs a reason to clean up the yard. People are coming over! I need people in my life and to regularly open my soul to others. It keeps the weeds in check.

Do you have additional insights about weeds?

Sling Shots and Stones

**I’m in the middle of prepping for some speaking engagements so I decided to recycle a post I wrote in my CaringBridge journal. Hope it encourages you today.

I’m camped out in 1 Samuel and Hosea these days and today I was reading in 1 Samuel 17 about the familiar story of David and the giant, Goliath.  Even though I’ve read the story many, many times, God keeps it fresh through His Spirit and meets me in my current circumstances.  I love how God’s Word applies to the here and now and how new lessons or principles pop up even in the seemingly familiar.

Quick summary of the chapter:  The Philistines had this really huge guy over nine feet tall in their army who challenged the Israelites day and night for 40 days.  His armor weighed 125 pounds, the tip of his spear weighed 15 pounds.  He was intimidating, big, a killer, and the people were afraid of him.  David was a teenager in charge of his dad’s sheep.  He was sent by his dad to check on his three older brothers who were in the Israelite army.  He reaches the camp just as Goliath comes out to taunt the Israelites and decides to go up against the giant.  He brings with him his sling and stones and ends up knocking Goliath out with one of the stones landing it right between his eyes.  He then goes over and lops off the Goliath’s head with a sword.  The Philistines start running away after their hero dies.  The Israelite army pursue the Philistines and enjoy victory and plundering.  David goes from shepherd boy to army hero.

The things that spoke to me from this chapter were:

  • David was just doing his thing, trying to be faithful in his responsibilities.  He wasn’t looking to go into battle and fight giants, he was just following his dad’s instructions.  I think what resonated with me was the idea that I was just moving along in life, trying to be faithful in my responsibilities when the cancer thing came out of the blue–it was not a battle I was looking for.


  • But God had prepared David for the battle with Goliath through his brushes with the lion and the bear.  In the same way, I trust that the other “lion/bear giants” I’ve encountered over the years have prepared me for this current battle I’m in.


  • David used what he knew and was comfortable with–his sling and stones to go up against the giant.  He didn’t have fancy armor or even a sword.  Lots of times I think I need to be farther along in my journey or more equipped in order to battle well, but I was reminded today to rely on God and use what I already know and am comfortable with.


  • David had great perspective:  he knew that the battle was the Lord’s–God would fight for him (v. 47) and his purpose for fighting Goliath was for the whole earth to know that there is a God in Israel (v. 46).  For me I was relieved to read that this health battle I’m in is ultimately the Lord’s, the outcome is in His hands.  I think cancer can be like Goliath–intimidating, big, a killer, and people are afraid of it and can start doubting God’s character when confronted by it.  I was renewed in my perspective of wanting the whole earth (or at least the people I come in contact with) to know of God and who He really is.

We all have battles we have been in, are in, or will be in that we didn’t plan on.  For those of us not currently battling, may you be found faithful in whatever it is that God has called you to.  For those of us currently in a battle, may you and I be reminded of the “lion/bear giants” that have prepared us for this current challenge.  Let us take up our sling and stones and go up against the giants who seek to rob us and those around us of seeing and knowing God and who He really is.  Thank you for battling with our family all these months.  It is profoundly comforting to know that we are not alone.

What battles are you fighting? What are your lions and bears? What are your slings and stones?


Puppy Update: Mercy and Grace

Happy Weekend! Our sweet Koa is 19 weeks old and weighs in at over 30 pounds now! He had the “procedure” this week. Poor thing. We try not to laugh, but he keeps knocking into everything wearing that “cone of shame.” Our vet is encouraged with his growth and progress. “You may have dodged a bullet. I didn’t think he would make it. I’d love to do another barium x-ray to see what’s going on inside.”

From the looks of things, God may have answered our prayers and healed our little puppy. We still feed him on the step stool five times a day, but no longer need to keep him upright. We have been cutting down his medication and he seems to still be fine. Two words play on repeat in my mind: mercy and grace.

Mercy and grace. Mercy is not getting what you deserve. Grace is getting something good despite deserving something bad. Mercy is one of our kids not having a consequence for a chore undone. Grace is not only not having a consequence, but having a parent actually do the chore for the kid.

Koa’s supernatural healing–at least that is what signs point to right now, is a gift of grace and mercy to our family. We are in the throes of a full schedule and God knows that we don’t have much margin for investing an extra six hours a day towards feeding our dog upright. Thank you for those of you who have prayed for our dog.

Thank you, God, for mercy and grace in abundance.



So, hey, welcome for those of you who just clicked over from the vivmabuni.wordpress site! Thanks for migrating and thank you ahead of time for resubscribing (top right hand box). If you’ve included my blog in your blogroll, I’m not sure how to change that, but if you could on your end that would be wonderful. Appreciate your feedback and comments.
Have a wonderful weekend!

Grief and Puppies

It’s been one of those weeks.

Actually, one of those months.

Well, thinking back now, it’s been one of those summers.

Disappointment, grief, disbelief, sadness, anger, confusion, fear. Multiple areas and in different degrees

Sometimes there are downsides to social networking. From the looks of what covers my Facebook news feed, everyone has really enjoyed a fun-filled, refreshing, wonderful summer. We aren’t in that category this time. But I’m genuinely happy for those that are.


It’s not been all bad. Sprinkled throughout the darkness I find glimpses of grace and hope. So thank you to so many who have prayed us through some rough times. Please keep those prayers coming.

I’ve been thinking about how pain and grief shape our souls and how we view and live life. Few are exempt from experiencing disappointment, loss and throw-your-hands-in the-air-bewilderment. I find myself drawn to people who aren’t afraid to move into grief. People who understand and have experienced pain. Jesus was described as “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). There is a knowing through experience that produces safety.

Losing our dog, Max, so tragically opened my heart to grieve.  I’m just not good at sitting in grief. My go-to involves a fat heaping of denial and move-through-as-fast-as-possible and replace or numb out the uncomfortable and unfamiliar feelings that get stirred up when faced with loss. But this has been a summer of grief. So I grieved losing Max and all that he meant to our family. It also gave space for me to grieve other things that I keep pushing down.

  • Remnants of post cancer emotions.
  • Lingering challenges of health related stuff like having lymphadema.
  • The bittersweet “last time” of everything my oldest will walk through as he heads into his senior year of high school.
  • The now and the not yet of working in ethnic ministry.
  • A lot of other things that are not blog appropriate

Grief is a gift from God. A way to work through the emotions and come to a place to make space and take in the new without losing the good in what was lost. I learned from Debbie (of the Awesome Threesome), that grief doesn’t happen linearly. The stages of grief don’t happen exactly in order. Sometimes new losses open up unfinished grief in unrelated areas. There isn’t a “right way” to move through grief. Along the way things can trigger emotions that sometimes feel as strong as the initial devastation.

My dear friend from church, Lisa, asked me the first week of August if we were in a place to think about getting a new dog. Her husband, Allen, had a friend from work who knew someone with purebred German Shepard puppies almost weaned and ready for a new home. Truth is, I had been on the internet looking at shelters and rescue dogs. I just wanted to numb out, replace, or stop the awful emotions of loss and grief. Bottom line–I wasn’t ready.

Darrin and I checked in with the kids the third week after losing Max. As we talked as a family it soon became apparent that we were ready but the boys weren’t ready yet. Darrin could see that the boys needed more time since they were the ones who saw Max injured, bleeding and had to take him to the vet and then to animal urgent care. They displayed impressive maturity, but the event was traumatic.

As we moved into the fourth week, Lisa checked in again and I told the family about the puppies. The interest was growing. So we asked for more information and pictures. We opened the door to the possibility. But then a text came back with news that all the puppies were already adopted out. I was only mildly disappointed but Julia cried. I had looked at a dog rescue site and contacted some of the volunteers about their dogs. We talked again as a family about taking advantage of the time before school starting to get a new dog and having more time to help transition and get to know a dog while the schedule was relatively free.

Then a few days ago Lisa texted me. When their friend went to go pick up his puppy, there was ONE LEFT! Were we interested? More conversations and talking. Yes. We were ready. And interested.

God has been kind to us.

Allen, along with his three daughters picked the puppy up from Monrovia since they were in the area on Saturday. Their daughter texted us a picture of our puppy. I. Fell. In. Love. Tears of love and gratitude in my eyes. He was above and beyond what I expected.

Three nights ago Allen, Lisa (now god-dog parents) and their daughters carried our puppy into his new home in a cardboard box. We named him Koa. It’s a Hawaiian name for fearless, brave and strong. He’s ten weeks old.

Koa is an absolute delight.

I remember hearing Carolyn Custis James teach for the first time about the book of Ruth. Her book, “The Gospel of Ruth” is a must read. She spoke of how Naomi was like a female Job in the Bible. Both Naomi and Job lost everything and in the end God restored their families and children. But what she said struck me in an entirely new way.

“It’s obvious to anyone who has experienced a significant loss that the sorrows of this world and the wounds they inflict in our souls cannot be compensated no matter how much good fortune and prosperity come our way…To suggest that everything balanced out in the end for Naomi is to trivialize both her sufferings and also what God is trying to teach us through her story.” (Gospel of Ruth, page 198)

Carolyn put it together for me in a way I hadn’t understood before. Job and Naomi never stopped missing the children they lost. Ever. And even though the outcome of their lives may look like everything turned out “happily ever after” their pain and loss was never removed.

And so in my own little life I am learning about grief, loss and pain. We welcome Koa with open arms and hearts ready to love him deeply, but this side of heaven the pain and loss of losing Max will never be removed. And as with all things grief related, there are often more questions than answers. Life doesn’t tie up nicely. Grief can bring us to deeper places of intimacy, but if left unprocessed can lead to resentment and other emotional cancers.

And so we hold two things simultaneously from opposite ends of the spectrum.

Grief and puppies.

Ashes and Memories

It was a week ago yesterday. Three sticky notes left on our front door from the UPS man. Three attempts to deliver Max’s ashes to us while we were gone. Julia and I drove to the UPS delivery center and the nice gentleman took our post its and returned with a box. Julia asked if she could carry it to the car. “Mom, I can finally pick Max up.” Max and Julia weighed the same just two weeks before.

We returned home and Darrin led our family in a little memorial service for Max in the backyard. Max loved our big backyard. He knew every inch of it. But his favorite place was anywhere we were.

The box included a paw print of Max and a bag of flower seeds. We haven’t decided where we will plant the flowers, but we will use that compost we’ve cultivated when it comes time.

We brought out Max’s black collar and passed it around. I remember the day we had his tag made. It was the day we decided to keep Max after our trial week.  That day he became Max Mabuni. We bought him a new collar and a matching leash. Julia and I spent a long time at the pet store trying to figure out which tag we wanted and which collar looked most Max-like. Clipping it around his neck marked the moment he belonged to us. Two weeks later we signed the official papers from the rescue center, but in our heart he was already ours.

Darrin opened up his black Bible and read from a Psalm and read from Ecclesiastes. We took turns sharing memories of Max. The funny ones, the meaningful ones. Then we opened the bag of Max’s ashes and took turns scattering them in places where we remember Max especially liking. We ended the time enjoying some ham–Max’s favorite treat. Darrin prayed and thanked God for the gift Max was to our family. He thanked God for all of our memories with Max.

And that night heaven joined us in our tears again and it rained. It rained hard. The rain came from no where and it hasn’t rained since.

Over and over I play in my head what happened. The  wonderful family that watched him had given him multiple walks, lots of love and attention. He was alone in the house for only 50 minutes. When the garage door opened, he bolted out of the door that led into the garage and ran as fast as his legs could take him. Somehow he figured out how to get home almost two miles away. He was smart. He was loyal. He wanted home. He wanted us. It was rush hour. Eight lanes of fast cars. We are not sure where he was hit. The vet told us that none of his bones broke. How does an impact that caused such severe bruising in his lungs and heart not also crush bones? When the boys saw him, aside from his bloody lip, he looked fine. So many “what if’s”, so many “if only’s.” We are left with our questions and no answers. We are left with an ache so deep. Jonathan told me that night, “I have never walked through the emotions like these that have come up from losing Max.”

I spent the next four days sick in bed with massive head cold/sinus infection. Being back in that bed staring at the ceiling still takes me back to the long days of cancer treatment. The kids were at church participating in our weeklong Kids Fun Club. Darrin was away debriefing the international summer missions teams. I slept for hours on end, but when I was awake I had plenty of time and space to miss Max and grieve.

All of this reminds me again of how God created us to live in community. Thank you for crying with us, for praying for us, for emails, texts, Facebook and Twitter messages, cards and gifts and hugs. Our loss has become your loss, too. My heart is grateful that we don’t bear our grief alone. So many of you walked with us through battling cancer and understand the significance Max was to our family in light of our journey.

Julia and I prayed today. We realize that we probably would not have picked Max if we saw him in a shelter because he was initially so jumpy, timid and frightened. We know that his previous owner had prayed for Max to find a home. We weren’t even looking and our paths crossed. Max was clearly an out-of-the-blue gift to our family from God. Perfect for our family. We asked God today that when it’s time, He would bring us another dog that needs a home like ours. Someone in a situation where they are praying for a family to adopt their dog. We asked God to bring another dog as a double answer to prayer. We want to open our hearts again to love a pet deeply. Would you join us in praying the same?