taken in Bubanza, Burundi by Tina Francis











I used to say never a lot. A wise friend counseled me, in all seriousness and with a great deal of concern, to stop adding things to my list of never. She was on to something as all prophets are… things are not what they seem.

I will never go to Africa. Now I have tore through two passports, extra pages in each, with stamps from Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and South Africa. I have lived in Burundi and now ‘summer’ on the shores of Lake Tanganyika.

I will never live outside of California, never far from the Pacific Ocean. Now I own a home in Arizona – in the desert.

I will never live in Africa or Arizona. (See above.)

I will never have children. I’m now the mother of two eight-year olds who can be loud and leave sticky fingerprints across all the surfaces of my kitchen and ask incessant questions. I’m the mother to kids who need extra help reading and multiplying but hear Jesus in a song about freedom and see His likeness in a neighbor who plants a tree.

I will never be into missions. And now I laugh out loud because my entire life seems to be about God’s mission in the world whether across the street or across the ocean in a foreign land. Now I am enmeshed in African theological conversations, community development strategy sessions, story-telling for indigenous friends and hosting groups in my African home.

I will never get anything pierced. And now I have a glimmering stud in my nose.

You see, the prophet was right. Never should be off limits in our vocabulary because it can restrict us from the very places God would send us, the very ways He would shape us. Every negated never in my life has thrust me onto the threshold of some new vista, every never under-foot meant deeper transformation for me. Had I been corralled by all those nevers my life would have been some small practice ring fit for only a pony show instead of letting some stallions loose into the wild. I refuse the bridle of never, I buck against such taming because I’d rather be free enough to dare and dance.

So as another never‘s dethroned, life deepens – widens – opens with holy potential. Maybe when I said I will never… it bespoke my lack of trust that God would meet me there. Now I know better, I can trust Him anywhere and toss my list of nevers!


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3 thoughts on “never”

  1. Diana Trautwein
     ·  Reply

    LOVE this. Never say never IS a truism. And you (and most of us) are living proof of that. Thanks.

  2. Pam Hogeweide
     ·  Reply

    Love this and yes, I have a wise friend like that in my life, too.

    My current nevers are

    I’ll never be a size 14 again (vain, I know, but it is one of my Nevers!!)

    I’ll never get a college education (I’m 48)

    I’ll never be a full time writer/blogger

    I’ll never travel outside the US again

    I’ll never go to church again.

    … i guess i need to call that friend and have her de-neverize me again!!!

    Fun post to read, and btw, I LOVE the photo of you. I’ve never met you,but I just love the expression on your face and the entire photo. Bet there’s a great story going on there!

    • kelleynikondeha
       ·  Reply

      Interesting list, Pam. I hope you DO get to be a full time writer because we need your full time voice out there. As for the pic, it was taken in Burundi this summer when Idelette & Tina & I were in Bubanza handing out identity cards to the women. SheLoves tribe raised funds to get all the women (hundreds of them) for the first time ever. So you caught a glimpse of me amid our celebration dance – because human rights and freedom make you throw off your shackles!

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