On Ebola (A Letter to My Sponsor Daughter in Ghana)


Friend, I am sharing this with you so that you will

1) Consider sponsoring a child with Compassion

and if you already sponsor a child (through any organization) in West Africa, that you will write to them and tell them about the Ebola virus.  This is the letter I just sent to my sponsor daughter, Becky. Please feel free to replace her name (and my name) and info with yours and send this along today.

Bless you. Please pray. Please share.


Here is my letter:

Hello sweet Becky!

I love you, sweet girl and am praying for your deepening relationship with Jesus, for your families safety and provision and kindness to move among you today and always.

We have lots of catching up to do, but today I need to share with you important news. I’m sure your project workers have shared, but I want to reinforce information about a virus in your area…West Africa.

It’s called Ebola. It is real and so this letter is to share the symptoms and cautions so that you and your community may remain healthy.
Here are the symptoms as defined from the US Center for Disease Control:
Symptoms of Ebola include

Fever (greater than 38.6°C or 101.5°F)
Severe headache
Muscle pain
Abdominal (stomach) pain
Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)

Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is 8 to 10 days.

Recovery from Ebola depends on good supportive clinical care and the patient’s immune response. People who recover from Ebola infection develop antibodies that last for at least 10 year

Sweet Becky, here is what they recommend to prevent its spread:

Practice careful hygiene. For example, wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and avoid contact with blood and body fluids.
Do not handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids (such as clothes, bedding, needles, and medical equipment).
Avoid funeral or burial rituals that require handling the body of someone who has died from Ebola.
Avoid contact with bats and nonhuman primates or blood, fluids, and raw meat prepared from these animals.

And this is what treatment looks like: Symptoms of Ebola are treated as they appear. The following basic interventions, when used early, can significantly improve the chances of survival:

Providing intravenous fluids (IV)and balancing electrolytes (body salts)
Maintaining oxygen status and blood pressure
Treating other infections if they occur

Becky, I love you dearly and am lifting you in prayer. Please spread this word to your family and teachers. May the God of all hope will you over full as you trust in Him.
Much LOVE from your grateful sponsor,



Lies I’ve Believed {Burning the Boxes in the Basement}


This weekend I was blessed.

Truth is, I’m blessed every weekend, but this weekend I was blessed by a gift that was clearly custom made for me by my Father in Heaven.

I was blessed with a weekend retreat and Christian yoga teacher training in the lush farm fields of my home state of Michigan.

The teachers? Well, they are kind of roll models for me, Courtney Chalfant and DeAnna Smothers. They are mother and daughter and co-founders of Yahweh Yoga. I’ve been doing their DVDs and clicking “like” on their pictures for almost a decade and they came to train teachers in Michigan.

I wanted to go. I felt called to go. Yet, I could not afford it.

Then, I received a gift. One of the teachers from the hosting studio Living Waters Yoga, had been praying and said she wanted to invite me as their guest. I was flabbergasted. In fact, I protested.

But, Courtney responded with one word.



And I did.

I humbled myself and with the blessing of my family and ministry, I went to start my training.

The women of Living Waters…incredible. Sold out, born again, Spirit filled women of God, all from a studio in one of the most affluent suburbs of Metro Detroit, Grosse Pointe.

Wow, God, I thought. What are you doing? Me, Courtney, DeAnna and a bunch of sisters from GP? I put my ear to the ground to listen for what God was doing and He (as He almost always does when I bother to ask) showed me something beautiful. Something beautiful that (as often is the case) is born of something ugly.

A lie.


I grew up broke. I never had one day of financial security. I never asked for money for the ice cream truck when it came by. Even as a child, I knew. We didn’t have any extra money. Not a dime.

When I was 20, I was preparing to be married. As all girls do, I was looking at dresses in bridal magazines and dreaming, but in my tiny town, we didn’t have any of those dresses. My town was so small, we didn’t even have a dress shop. Almost all of us wore the kinds of cloths that were practical for doing things like chopping wood to heat our homes, not impractical gowns that cost as much as a car.

But I wanted to at least play Cinderella and try them on. So a friend from college, suggested I come down and try on dresses over our Christmas break and I went with expectation to see the dresses from the pages on ME!

We went to the first shop and I was completely ignored by the sales woman. I was in the store for about 10 minutes looking and waiting for her to ask me if she could help. I said, “HI!” she turned her back to me. I left.

The next boutique was the same. I walked in. The sales women looked at one another, rolled their eyes and vanished only to re-emerge when another young lady and her mother came in with matching Prada handbags.

“Let’s go to my house real quick.” my friend said. Shuttling me into her closet, she traded my ankle boots for her leather riding boots. She traded my blouse for her boiled wool jacket. She pinned back my hair and gave me some pearls and we went back to the same store where I was greeted with a toothy “Hello, dear! When is your wedding?”

On that day, a sickness burrowed secretly into my being. A sense of “less than” overtook me. I made a secret pact with my self worth…you’re not enough.

AND, I made another pact, “People with money are mean, shallow, judgement and don’t like you.”


Lies I believed until God moved in this weekend, exposed the lies and set me free.


We were on our yoga mats: Me, and the beautiful, warm sisters in Christ from Grosse Pointe and I was feeling like an odd man out and wondering if they whispered about me when the lights went out. But in class, Courtney, she was saying “God loves you. He loves you because he loves you, because He loves you. Because He loves you.” and I started to cry.

“God, show me what you are doing here.” I prayed and that night, He gave me a dream.

In it, my family was moving to a new location. Something really good was happening…it was a shift. We were packing our things and saying good-bye’s to our friends when I remembered we had a box in the basement that needed to be moved, too and so to the basement I went.

But the basement was not just a room, it was connected by tunnels and all OVER the tunnels were more boxes that I’d forgotten about. It went on an on, until at the end of the tunnels was the box I’d gone down for. It was cover with urine and filth and sitting next to the couch we had when I was a child. Under the couch was a rodent that was threatening to attack me.

I woke up.

“I’ve healing you from your empty broken spot. I’ve restored your hope in your Healing Season. Now it’s time to clear the basement, Shannyn. I want to clean the hidden things, the things you’ve forgotten about. They are still down there and it’s time to let them go. It’s time to move.” I felt the Lord say.

Over coffee I confessed this to the sisters. I apologized. I repented and we prayed.

“You are a princess, Shannyn. You are a daughter of the King.” one said as she lovingly touched my dampened cheek.

“I am His.” I said.

“Yes.” said another. “and you are dearly loved.”

“I know. I know He loves me. I’ve just been believing a lie about myself and about you and I’m so sorry.” I said “Thank you for welcoming me here. Thank you for inviting me.”

“I’m sorry that you were treated that way,” said another. “You are always welcome in our town.”

And so today, I rebuke the lie. I’m not a princess because of money or family name. I have favor because our Father is the same. He is the King. He gets the glory. He blesses us ALL and loves us all.

In Him, as it says in Galatians 3:28 “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens...and to me.

Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens…and to me.

Can you imagine? I spent more than 20 years believing a lie about myself because of the actions of three random store clerks who COULD have just been having a bad day.

It’s time move some boxes.

In fact, I think it’s time to burn them.

Bonfire, anyone?

Heavens to Betsy (Gluten Free) Carrot Cake!


My wonderful hubby asked for carrot cake for his Birthday. As I love him dearly, I wanted to make him the BEST carrot cake EVER, which means it can’t just taste good to him, it also has to BE good FOR him!

Mission accomplished! I found a great recipe on Pinterst and tweaked it a bit, taking the refined sugar out and replacing it with kinder, gentler sugars. It’s a total win and I hope your love it, too!




• 12 oz carrots, peeled and tops removed
• ½ cup of finely chopped walnuts
• 5 large eggs
• 1 heaped tsp baking powder
• ½ tsp baking of soda
• 9 oz) of almond meal
• 1 cup of maple syrup
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
• 1 tsp of ground ginger

• 8oz of cream Neufchâtel, at room temperature
• 1/3 c of coconut oil, at room temperature
• ½ c agave
• zest and juice of half a lemon, or to taste
1. Grease two 8 inch round cake pans and preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit.
2. Grate the carrots using a food processor and remove the grated carrots from the bowl and set aside. Remove the grater attachment from the food processor and switch to the chopping attachment and add the walnuts and pulse until roughly chopped. Set aside with the carrots.
3. Add the remaining cake ingredients (except the carrots and walnuts) and process to combine. Finally add the carrot and walnuts and pulse to combine with the cake batter.
4. Divide the batter between the prepared springform pans and bake for 15 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool completely in the tin before removing.
5. To make the frosting combine the coconut oil and Neufchatel in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat until smooth and creamy. Add the agave and lemon juice and zest and beat for another 5 minutes, or until pale and fluffy. Cool in fridge while the cake is cooling.
6. Spread the frosting between the cake layers and over the top of the cooled cake.

This was the BOMB! When I make it again, I’m going to add one scoop of vanilla protein powder to rock the protein in  this healthy treat!


A Syrian Family ReUnion


My daddy was Syrian, with thick dark hair and eyes and skin.

He could sing like a cantor, and he did.

In his family, they spoke Arabic and drank Turkish coffee. The teens dates were chaperoned by aunties and uncles.

They all worked together on Safie Street (my great-grandma’s family name) and worked at the Safie pickle farm.

They were old world immigrants and they were beautiful and proud and hard-working. They loved God. They loved each other. The loved me, and I loved them, too.

But after Daddy died, I lost touch with them all, as sadly most families do. I didn’t have a single Safie (or Gannage, my great-grandpa’s name) in my phone book or on facebook. My brother and I were cut off from the fruitful family tree.


It was two years ago that the people of Syria began to be hunted and slaughtered by their own government with bombs and chemical weapons.

It was two years ago that I started a #prayforsyria campaign on all my social media.

It was 6 months ago that, in an effort to get more saints to lift up the people of my daddy’s familial homeland, that I posted this picture of my grandma Mary and my grandpa, James with the hashtag #prayforsyria…when a modern miracle happened…


At the moment I clicked “post” an angel must have been hovering over my keyboard, because a garden of grand-kids and cousins and aunties and uncles began to germinate and sprout before my very eyes and in less than 20 minutes, my brother and I had a Syrian family again and I just want to praise the Lord for that.

Why does blood and history and DNA tie us so tightly? Because that’s how God planned it, I think.

I can look into even the profile pics of these dear ones and see my Grandma eyes smiling back and I has propped me up in a whole new way. My heart crying “I am NOT alone.”

I can only imagine the road that is stretched out before the refugees of the crisis in Syria…as if there is still a Syria left. Syria, with your music, a your architecture or universities and gold and lapis art…you are not alone. Syria, with your olive skin and green eyes…you are not alone.

This weekend…my family will have it’s first reunion that what not at a wedding or a funeral. This weekend (tomorrow in fact) we, the Ganagge’s and Safie’s…the Syrian-Americans will break Syrian bread in a park. We’ll share hummus and tabouli and kibbee and every other good thing. Mostly, we’ll share pictures and stories and hugs and my brother will hear “You look JUST like your FATHER!” a million times or more.

Our kids will play, and we will pray and somehow the “great cloud of witnesses”, our ancestors will look down and say, “That’s my family. They love each other.” or at least I hope that’s what they will say. They will surely say “They love Syria. Syria, you are not forgotten.”

syrian relief



Heavens to Betsy Chia Jam


God’s blessed us with black raspberry bushes and each day this week, I’ve harvested enough to made a medium sized jar of heaven-homemade chia jam. Chai is such a boss seed that packs 5g of protein and 10g of fiber in each 1 oz serving. Plus it is full of omega 3’s and gels so it perfect for jam and puddings!


Here’s how the chia jam is made:

*2 cups of berries (whatever kind…right now I’m using black raspberries, but I’ve done it with *strawberries and blueberries, too)

*1/2 c agave


*Pour into sauce pan over medium low heat stir in 3/4 c of chia seeds

*Stir until thickened (about 15 minutes)

*Add 1/2 dropper vanilla stevia or vanilla extract (optional)

*Pour into a sterile jar and can or pour into tupperware and keep in the fridge.

Yum. A spoon full of crazy delicious, protein packed free radical fighting ninja’s for your toast.


This is the kind of jammy goodness that makes my babies lick the pan and I don’t know about you, but I love it when someone wants to lick the pan.


Let me know if you make it!

I’d love to know how it turned out at your house!