a place of abundance

"we went through fire and through water, yet You brought us out into a place of abundance" Psalm 66:12b

Guest Post About Cancer Lessons October 13, 2011

Filed under: cancer,post cancer,spiritual life — vivmabuni @ 11:48 am

The transition over to the new website www.vivianmabuni.com has gone smoothly. Thank you for all of your encouragement and love. For those of you who receive these posts via email and haven’t re-subscribed yet, feel free to click on over and enter your email in the top right hand box. For those of you who already re-subscribed to receive email posts, my apologies for the overlap.

My friend, Natasha, invited me to write a guest blog on her website: www.asistasjourney.com about some lessons I learned through my cancer journey. Please feel free to click on over and check it out.

Also, for those of you on Facebook. I have a writer page now. It’s Vivian Mabuni (how creative!) but if you look closely there is a place that says “writer” under my name (as I bite my knuckles and squeeze my eyes closed). Anyway, please feel free to “like” the page. I will update with prayer requests, book writing updates, post blogs and share blogs and other writing related stuff there.

Thanks for your encouragement. I go back and reread many of your comments when I get discouraged. Grateful for your support and care.


Migration October 7, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — vivmabuni @ 11:01 am


I know people do this kind of thing hundreds of times a day.

But for me, for some reason, it’s a BIG deal. Kind of the crossing of a threshold in embracing that I am a writer. (Why is that so insanely difficult to write?) I am continuing to take seriously what I believe are the next steps that God is allowing. So one step at a time, with knees knocking, I am learning, growing, stretching and pursuing this writing/publishing path. Thank you to so many of you who have encouraged me along these lines.

Margot Starbuck, a fellow Redbud, gave helpful advice. The incredible, creative genius, Aaron Schweizer, worked overnight magic. And today I announce , with great excitement, that I am moving on to a new domain!! Whoo-hooo! (I don’t even know what that means, really, or if I’m even using the word correctly! :))

If you could leave a comment that would help me know that things are transferring over smoothly.

So for those of you current subscribers, please click on over and resubscribe first thing (top right hand corner).

Then share away and encourage others (like bajillions of people) to subscribe if you’ve liked what I’ve written along the way. All this is part of building a platform. Something that literary agents and publishers look at to evaluate whether a potential author would have real live humans besides family and close friends who would buy their book.

I’ll be writing a guest post for one of my friends next week and have a whole line up of partially started, in the hamper, posts that are just looking to get out when those precious windows of time open up. I’m also still working on my proposal and query letter(s) with a self-imposed deadline for the end of the month to send it all out.

Oh yeah, and here’s the new link:


Thank you for being a part of this wild ride. 🙂


Two Years!! October 4, 2011

Filed under: cancer,post cancer — vivmabuni @ 2:38 pm

October. It’s no longer about black and orange and Trick-or-Treating. If you look around the “in” color of the month is PINK. I  have a new Hermes (oo la la) pink scarf that someone gave my mom that she passed on to me. I’ve been sporting it in honor of Breast Cancer awareness month. (see photo) This month two years ago marks the milestone when I finished active treatment (surgeries, chemo and radiation treatments). I found out this morning at my every-four-months-for-three-years follow-up appointment with my oncologist that the two-year mark is even more signficant than the five-year mark for cancer survivors. The highest reports of recurrence happens within the first two years, so that I am still NED (no evidence of disease) is cause for celebration!!! I am continuing to grow in confidence in this survivorship stage, but with a sober approach to the preciousness of life.

When news that our beloved Max died this summer, I couldn’t help but think when I saw my kids grieving what it would be like if it had been me instead of our dog. Two words that describe how I am: sober and grateful. This new season has me saying “yes” to invitations to speak at a fall retreat, on a radio program, staff conference, and at a church in the next two months. The theme that keeps tossing around my mind is: Life and Death. Would appreciate your continued prayers for health and that the words I speak (and write) would continue to point people to God.



Lamb Tongues September 20, 2011

Filed under: Asian-American,perspective — vivmabuni @ 10:40 pm

I push the grocery cart fast. Breezing through the aisles. Places to go, errands to run, lots of this and that on my mind. And out of the corner of my eye I see the yellow tray. It doesn’t register until after I push past the glass case.

I’m brought to a complete stop. And then I back up my cart and peer in.

A yellow tray holding rows of purplish, pinkish somethings. I read the sign, part Arabic, part English.

Lamb tongues.

Whoa. I’ve never seen that before. Then again, probably 40% of the stuff in the store would fit in that category.

I love this little store. Persian music playing overhead, stacks of Iranian phone books outside, a hefty bunch of red leaf lettuce sells for .59, Arabic pita bread for .75, the produce is fresh and the prices unmatched. But what I love most is hearing the different languages, and seeing people from different cultures. A woman from a South American country picked up a bag of dried brown oval-shaped things and looked at me, “What do you think this is used for?” I read the bag, part Arabic, part English: Dried Lemons. “I really don’t know. But it looks interesting.”

Here in the aisles of this little grocery store I find packages of things unfamiliar. But for most of the patrons, these same packages and smells bring memories of home and comfort food.

And I think about the smell of the pantry in my parents house and it’s the same as the aisles of the Asian markets I visit. These markets have huge tanks of live fish in the back of the store, and duck tongues and chicken feet in styrofoam trays and plastic wrap, placed right next to the drum sticks and chicken thighs.

I grew up eating roasted watermelon seed, the cheek meat of fish, sea cucumber, and not only the sweet meat of the blue crab but also the green pasty eggs of the female crabs. These were delicacies we enjoyed on special occasions.

And I wonder if lamb tongues would hold the same place of honor in a meal shared by a Middle Eastern family.

Like snails and frog legs in France, or sheep brain in Central Asia. Raw fish in Japan.

I marvel at the variety of food, and languages and cultures and it comes to me all over again: God is not an American.

Sometimes I forget this fact and think that God only hears prayers in English or that it’s the original Hebrew and Greek and then the English translation of the Bible. I read my Bible with American lenses, but the details that stand out to me as I read are often from a woman’s perspective. And I wonder how the same passages would be understood by the people in cultures different from me or from a different time period. Or how their lenses would help me understand more richly and deeply the Word of God.

Darrin and I teach from the Bible in different contexts–Bible studies, retreats, conferences, Sunday school classes, etc. and I can tend to come across kind of dogmatic and black and white. But I have come to appreciate and respect Darrin’s humble posture. He says, “The Bible has been around for thousands of years, translated, studied and taught by godly people through the ages. Who am I to say so emphatically what a particular passage says or means?” I don’t think this means that we have a wishy-washy approach to Scripture, but I am challenged to continue to grow and evaluate how I read the Bible in light of culture and context.

I love how God displays His beauty and creativeness through different languages and peoples. And as His image bearers, we reflect who God is through who we are and how we live. I think that it is through bringing together all nations, ethnic groups and tongues that we are able to see Him reflected fully.

What an amazing God and what an amazing, diverse, wonderful and tasty world we live in.


Naming T-shirts September 12, 2011

Filed under: perspective — vivmabuni @ 3:24 pm

I have a quirky thing I do. I give people t-shirts. Not actual t-shirts, but t-shirts in my mind of descriptive words that capture a phrase or personality trait that is true of a person or situation. For example:

Leila (of the Awesome Threesome) says “Lord have mercy!” when she gets overwhelmed or can’t find words to express a big jumbled mess. Her t-shirt would say that phrase on the front.

Margaret (National Director of Leadership Developement for Epic, and truly incredible woman) often prefaces what she says when dealing with complex ministry related challenges, “From an LD perspective” so that would be my t-shirt for her.

My friend, Kierstin, has contagious enthusiasm and passion. Her t-shirt would read: “AWESOME!”

I would give my strong, extremely broad-shouldered husband, Darrin, the same description as Starbucks French Roast coffee: “Smoky and Intense”

You get the idea…

Well, the t-shirt I would give myself that captures these past few weeks and months would read:

“Are you kidding me!?!”

and maybe down a bit in smaller letters: “seriously?”

and maybe on the back: “What in the world!?!”

Lately I’ve been muttering, sometimes sighing, sometimes exclaiming out loud these phrases. Repeatedly.

We have been in a season of bewilderment. This summer between Michael’s broken wrist, surgery and multiple casts, losing our dog Max and nearly $5000 in vet bills, and unexpected but extremely draining ministry challenges, we received a ray of sunshine in the gift of our puppy Koa. Read his story here.

Last week, after multiple visits and calls to the vet, we learned that Koa has a congenital disease called: megaesophagus. You can read about it here. The website x-rays look just like Koa’s after his barium tests.

Are you kidding me!?!

Of all the puppies in the world…

Our sweet Koa can’t swallow food normally because his esophagus muscles don’t work and the food just pools and balloons in his esophagus. This explains why he repeatedly threw up the first week we had him. It wasn’t the worms, the deworming medications, me overfeeding him, food allergies, puppy vaccines or trying a new dog food. Nope. Koa has this condition that he likely will not outgrow (a very, very small percentage of puppies outgrow it and that’s what we are praying for).

What this means is that we have to feed him six small meals a day and give him medications and we have to feed him upright so gravity can move the food down to his stomach. We need to hold him upright for about ten minutes after he eats or drinks and watch carefully so he won’t aspirate. This could lead to pneumonia which can lead to death.

Are you kidding me!?!

So this is the way Koa eats and drinks in our kitchen six times a day.

And when he grows too big to hold upright after his meals he will need to sit in one of these contraptions called a Bailey chair to eat:

Are you kidding me!?!

I’m laughing. Then crying. Then laughing and crying at the same time.


Even as I type and look at that picture I am laughing.

What in the world!?!

So now we have a specials needs dog. We have been talking as a family about what this means for us. We are praying for supernatural intervention and healing for Koa. He is not experiencing any pain and is putting on weight. Since he was born with this condition, this is all he’s ever known. Darrin wisely said, “I don’t want the kids to grow up associating that good means blessing. Life has both good and hard. Just because things are hard doesn’t mean that God has stopped blessing us or stopped being good.” We don’t know how long Koa will live because of having this condition. I’ve read about puppies who only make it a year because of complications with pneumonia. I’ve also read of dog owners spending tens of thousands of dollars getting feeding tubes and various medical treatments and we certainly don’t have that kind of luxury. There is no cure for megaesophagus. His condition taps into my ongoing struggle of wanting to fit in all of my life (it will be my second book after the cancer book). Now I’m one of THOSE dog owners. I’ll have a doggie high chair in my kitchen.

What in the world!?!

So laugh with us, cry with us. We sure would appreciate you praying for us and for Koa, too.




Grief and Puppies August 31, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — vivmabuni @ 12:43 pm

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.


Redbud Writers Guild August 18, 2011

Filed under: change the world — vivmabuni @ 12:16 pm

For as far back as I can remember, after surrendering my life wholly to God, He has surrounded me with amazing leaders. As a new freshman arriving at the University of Colorado campus in Boulder, truly incredible student leaders welcomed me into our Crusade ministry. I look back and most of them now serve in leadership positions all across the country and most continents on this planet. We were a part of the “glory days of CU.” Our staff team, lead by JL and Shelley, were outstanding. All of our staff went on to give leadership in various campus and regional roles. As a student leader, I worked closely with Dan as he finished his PhD. He was and still is one of the finest mentor/disciplers I know. He continues to impact men at the Air Force base in Colorado Springs and the world is a better place because of his influence.

I joined the staff of Cru (new name of Campus Crusade for Christ) and sat under Greg and Charmaine’s leadership. It’s rare to meet people who have such solid reputations. I have yet to hear of anyone speak poorly of them in any circle. And I could go on for pages and pages about other amazing leaders. Darrin wisely observed that in my years as a student and new staff some of the best of the best have shaped me. It’s true. I am forever grateful for the influence they have all had in my life.

Fast forward 20 years. And once again God has surrounded me with amazing leaders. This time it’s through  the Redbud Writers Guild. I first heard of this group at the Synergy conference. This happened right after the Taiko drum Epcot Adventure. I met some amazing women leaders who were mostly from the Chicago area. They had joined together to support and encourage each other in their writing endeavours. The tag line for the Redbuds is: Fearlessly expanding the feminine voice in our churches, communities and culture. My heart was instantly drawn to their vision and purpose.

I sat in on a few of the writing/publishing seminars that were offered during the conference in hopes of learning what would be required to get my cancer book published. Each time I would return to my hotel room despairing. New world, new terms, agents and query letters and an overwhelming process. After the conference I stayed in contact with two Redbuds and they encouraged me multiple times to apply to join their group. I shared with them, “Thanks for the Redbud info. It just feels so out of my league. The line up looks like all these NFL players and I play flag football for a junior high school.”

As I have inquired of the Lord over this book thing, I have found myself feeling very, very inadequate. With the inadequacy comes paralyzing fear. But, I have come to the place where I am willing to take the next step. “Lord, if you open the door, I am willing to walk through.” So with a great deal of “What am I even thinking? Why would they want me?” I filled out the application.

When the acceptance welcome letter came I couldn’t hold back my tears. They were happy, humbled, honored tears. Darrin said, “Wow. I didn’t know it meant that much for you to be a part of this group.” For me, it was confirmation to continue walking these next steps from the Lord. And now, instead of being alone and trying to figure everything out, I have a small army of published women writers who share the same spirit of wanting part in changing the world. The collaborative, non competitive, willing to share ideas, give input, help atmosphere has been exactly what I needed.

So please check out the website. www.redbudwritersguild.com

I will be trying to regularly update you on the progress of the book. I am working on a query letter and proposal and looking for a literary agent (can you believe, I actually know what that means??? :)). You can help in two ways:

  • Please join me in praying that the Lord would go before me, that the open doors would be clear and that I would have courage to walk through them.
  • Subscribe to this blog and share it with others

Thanks for checking in and being a part of this whole crazy adventure…


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