Saturday, June 29, 2013

Questions for Chrysti

Here's a little bit about Chrysti. What questions would you like to ask for her interview?

Hello! I’m Chrysti, and I’m a missionary wife and mummy living in northwest England (quite long distance from London). This part of England is absolutely gorgeous!
It’s been awhile since I’ve visited this space because my family has been on home assignment for the past several weeks. So I thought it would be a good idea to introduce myself (again)!
If you were to come to our home for a visit, I would offer you a cup of tea because that’s part of British hospitality. And then we’d probably talk about the weather (which is probably rainy) before we get into more get-to-know-you type questions.
I’ve lived in England for almost 3 years with my husband who has been in England for 8 years. You could say the story of how we met redefined “missionary dating.”
I stay at home with our 1 year-old son, and I’m thoroughly enjoying this season of my life! Before our son was born, I worked with a team of ladies to write Sunday school curriculum for our organisation. Prior to getting married and moving to England, I was a teacher and a manager of a copy centre.
In my heart, I knew I’d end up as a missionary somewhere. I just never imagined it would be in England as a wife and mummy!
Please leave your questions in the comments here. Chrysti will answer them next week.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Do You Spend Too Much Time Online?

Do I spend too much time online?  This is a question I've been asking myself lately.  For missionaries (especially us women) this is our escape to all our friends and family back in America.  It allows us to not miss our nephew's first birthday, or a friend's wedding, or what so-and-so had for lunch (because, really we all gots-ta-know!)  Loneliness, homesickness, fear, these are all things that can drive us to escape in the internet world.  But how much is too much?
I am currently reading an e-book call The UnWired Mom by Sarah Mae.  It is very thought provoking and convicting.  I've really been watching myself the past few days to see how much time I really spend online, and let's just say, I'd be embarrassed to tell you!
With all media outlets: blogs, twitter, pinterest, facebook, instagram, google+, etc., there is so much time that can be wasted online.  Just minutes can easily turn into hours.  I often wonder what my children will remember about their childhood, and about me.  Will they remember our game times, mommy reading books to them?  Or will they just remember mommy always on her computer?
One of my New Year's Goals this year was to say 'yes' to my children more often and be more intentional in my children's lives.  My kids are growing up so fast, it's almost frightening.  God has given me this huge responsibility to raise my children for Him.  How can I possibly do that while I check my facebook notifications every half hour?
Please understand I'm not saying the internet is evil (although I do believe a large portion of it is), I am saying though that all things be done in moderation.  Balance.
I just love that word.  It can be applied to so many areas of our life.  Right now I am applying it to the internet world. 
Sarah Mae asks in her book, "Is how you are living your days how you would live them if they were your last?"  Ouch!  I wrote out that quote and put it on my bulletin board just above my desk...which holds my laptop.  It has helped motivate me to get some things done that I've been putting off.
Here are some of my suggestions on limiting your time online...
  • Pray.  Ask God to help you balance your time. 
  • Keep your computer turned off.  Our mornings are consumed with homeschooling, if I turn on my computer, then my kids only get half my attention.  My goal is to keep my computer turned off until after lunch.  My kids are past the napping stage, but we still have room time.  After lunch we all go our rooms for an hour (or longer if they don't notice...shhhh!).  This is the time I allow to check my email and facebook messages.
  • Use apps.  The book lists several apps and programs (for Google chrome) that limits your time on social networking sites.  I have not tried any of these yet, I'm too scared!
  • Take a media fast.  This is something I plan to do, but I really want to plan it out, and not go cold turkey.  I'm thinking I may just take one day a week where I don't go all.
What are some ways you moderate your time online? 
Is this a struggle for you?
If you're interested in the book, The UnWired Mom by Sarah Mae, I'd encourage you to check out her website and purchase her ebook.   (This is my personal recommendation, I am not being reimbursed in any way.)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Kids on the Field : Cloth Diapers

Ok.  So first off I need to say this.  I feel a little (ok ok, a LOT) under qualified to write about kids on the mission field.  For crying out loud, we only left the US two years ago and my kids are super little.  As in 6, 4, and 1!  Aren't they cute?


But, I got to thinking, since this is a hang out for Missionary Moms (duh, right?), what if we started a discussion about all things kid related?   So as we go along with this series, because I am so under qualified, I am begging you all to jump in and help in the comments!  Seriously, think of this more as a discussion starter and less of a "Liz knows so much about raising kids on the field".

Alright, now that we've gotten that out of the way...

Lets kick this series off with a conversation about something I am qualified to talk about.  Cloth Diapers.

Wait...What?!?  What does that have to do with Kids on the Field?

Ok, let me explain.

I am not going to pretend that we researched this all out and thought long and hard about the benefits of cloth diapering before we had Forrest.  Truth is, one day when Forrest was about 4 months old, my sister in law emailed me and said "hey, do you want our Fuzzi Bunz?"  And I said, sure, why not.

But the more we used them, the more we realized they fit very well into this missions in the Global South life.  And they really weren't that hard.  And if I am being honest here, washing diapers is one of my favorite chores.

So here you go, Everything I Know About Cloth Diapers. 
Let's start with what type.  We have used Fuzzi Bunz and Bum Genius.  Why?  Because that's what we were given and what we found used for a great price.  When it came time to enlarge of stash (yes, that is the technical cloth diapering terminology for your cloth diapers) we went with what we knew.  We had the old style Fuzzi Bunz, and they are mediums and larges.  If you are only going to buy one size, get the mediums.  My boys wear them from the time they were four months old through potty training.  The Bum Genius ones we have are a one size fits all.

Both of these brands are what's known as a pocket diaper, meaning you don't need rubber pants on top, it's sort of an all in one sorta deal.  We use terry cloth liners.  Really, this aren't your grandmother's cloth diapers.  During nap times, I sometimes double the liner up.  

Someone asked me if I thought about making diapers, which I am sure work great, but that was just further down the road than I was willing to go.   So sorry, not much help on that front. 

As far as night time use, well, we have never had good luck with that.  I wrote about that here once.

As for care...well, we just have a trash can with a lid.  We through the dirty ones in there (after dumping off whatever can be dumped) and wash ever couple of days.  In the states, I would rise in cold water, run a hot cycle with a bit of All free and clear and occasionally some oxiclean, and then another cold rinse cycle.  I have always hung then up to dry, either inside in the winter, or outside on the porch in the summer.  The sun does wonders for the stains.

Here, we don't have hot water attached to our washing machine, so we just do cold.  I am trying to run them through two full cycles now because of that.  And yes, they get hung up on the line.  During rainy season I have thrown them in the dryer (espeically the liners because stuff can take 4 days to dry here.)

As for other bits and pieces, we have two wet bags to contain dirty or wet diapers in the diaper bag.  We tried a diaper sprayer once and well, while it worked well for about three weeks, it then exploded all over the bathroom.  But I have hear bidets help very nicely in this department.

I can't imagine the amount of money we have saved over the years.  Since Elliot is only 19 months younger than Forrest, we have had kids in diapers for 4 years and counting, and for a good chunk of that we had two kids in diapers.  And now with Quinn and being here where disposables are even more's just been a big help for us.

There is a  foreign missionary cloth diaper grant from  Cotton Babies.  I have a friends in Columbia, Costa Rica and Honduras who have all been recipients of the grant!So, if you fall into that category, check it out.  Also, they have ways for people to help make those grants a reality, so if you want to help, you can check it out over at Cotton Babies.

Ok, so how about you?  Do you use cloth diapers?  Got any tips for us on how to make it work for your family on the field?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tuesday Topic: Staying in contact on furlough

Wendy writes: While on furlough, how or how much do you keep in contact with those you have met on the mission field? This was a surprise for us when we returned to Canada. While in Mexico, it was easy for us to keep contact with our family and friends and we expected the communication to be the same with Mexico when it was time to leave. However, sadly it has not been so simple for various reasons.

(If you have a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to me at Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, or specify if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Planning time

Dear Readers,
We're planning posts for the next three months now. Do you have anything specific you'd like to hear about? Any special ideas? More or less of anything that we already have going? Be honest; I don't think that you can hurt our feelings.

Is there anyone out there who wants to write a guest post? I did try to include former guest writers in the planning email that I already sent out, but if I missed you, or if you're new, please take the initiative to write to me! (

As always, any time you think of a Tuesday Topic, please go ahead and send that in, too. We have some ready to go, but I can always add more to the queue.

I'm thinking the pace of posting might slow down a little for the summer; many are traveling or extra busy. We'll see, though. And please do be praying for all of us, when you think of it. Personally, I want to have our month of camp--that's July--covered in prayer, and then after that we'll be working on a move to a new location and ministry. Please share your specific summer prayer requests in the comments here, along with your suggestions and answers to any of the questions I've asked above. Thank you!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Why, Yes, You ARE a Mentor!

I joined an online study group working through a neat book called Impact My Life: Biblical Mentoring Simplified and its study guide (I recommend them both, by the way.)  Something I was reminded of in the beginning is that mentoring is happening all around us.

I have, at times, longed for some Godly, wise, older woman to have a lightning-flash moment and come to me to say she'd like to formally mentor me.  We'd meet for tea and fresh-baked cookies (that she'd baked, of course) while I bore my heart, spilled my guts, and received her counsel.  She'd turn me into SuperMom, I'd be the best wife in town, and a little picture of me would be floating beside the 31st chapter of Proverbs in all the coolest translations.  

That never happened.

What did happen is that I watched the ladies of my church behind the doors of their homes when I'd join a girlfriend for Sunday dinner.  My mother took an active role in my life, even when I was sure I was smart enough not to need her butting into my teenage world.  I gained a mother-in-law on my wedding day that always knew the right scripture or when I needed her to just pray.  Women dropped tidbits of wisdom my way at precise moments, and I filed them in my memory to revisit when needed.  I even read books and listened to podcasts by gals who were brave enough to put their thoughts out there in public.
None of these ladies ever came to me with an engraved invitation--even though I probably did get my share of homemade cookies--but they collectively met my need to be guided along in this journey.  They still do.

In that way, I hope some girl could include me in the women who've shared wisdom with her.  I hope my own daughters can say that I've helped shape something positive in them.  I hope my daughters' friends can say that what they saw behind closed doors was compatible with what they saw on the pew, and that something in me caused them to look deeper into God's eyes.  

These past couple years of recovering from my femur break, passing through the surgeries, moving to be closer to the hospital, and generally pausing from what I considered ministry, I longed for the days when I sat in a circle with young ladies discussing purity and womanhood and grace and real beauty.  I missed those one-on-one chats with different girls about the specific goals we'd talked about last week or how she'd handled the relationship issue we'd prayed about.  I was frustrated by the feeling that my role as a mentor was on pause.

Reading this book reminded me that while I wasn't formally leading a small group or having intentional coaching sessions, there were people in my path that were watching and learning from what they saw.  Oh, God, I hope they learned something good!  I hope they saw someone gracefully accepting what had come her way while trusting God to heal and provide for her needs.  I hope they saw someone rolling with the punches as every part of life had to be rethought, still able to smile and thank God for something positive.  I'd love to think that they saw one of those women whose missionary biography I've read--some miraculous angelic woman of infinite wisdom and faith.  

I'm afraid that what they actually saw was someone who struggled, someone who questioned, someone who wrestled, someone who wasn't always finding the silver lining.  That's discouraging until I think of some of those role models I told you about earlier, and the imperfections I could nitpick in their lives.  But when they come to mind, it's for the good things I've gained from knowing them. I pray some girl will be able to say that about me someday.

Are you intentionally mentoring anyone, or being mentored?  How many girls can you think of who are being mentored by you without a formal weekly meeting?  Am I crazy, or is that thought just a BIT intimidating?!  ;)  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Walking Season

 It is now the time of the year that I call "walking season" here in Russia. Each year after the long winter melts away into spring, all of the mothers and their children resume their tradition to "gulyat," or "go walking," at least once, but usually twice a day. Usually this means moms hanging out on the community playgrounds for hours each day as their children play.

This time of year is always meaningful to me as it is the short season when I really have the opportunity to easily meet new people. I join the Russian moms and my kids and I "gulyat" along with everyone else. I pray each year that God would make ways for the gospel and for my kids and I to be a light in our community. He is so faithful to answer this prayer!

I've been studying Colossians lately and was so encouraged to get to chapter 4, verses 5 and 6, right at the beginning of walking season.

"Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. " Col. 4:5-6 (ESV)

I pray that God would give me wisdom in how to "walk" this season, that I'd use these precious few months well for His glory and the sake of the souls of my new friends. I pray that I would interact with my kids and neighbors in a way that reflects Him, and that He would give me just the right words that would draw their hearts toward Christ.

What are some of the seasons or times when you have special opportunities to connect with others and reach out to those in your community? How do you make the best use of such times?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tuesday Topic: Inspirational books

Wendy writes: Which books of other missionaries have most inspired you?

(If you have a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to me at Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, or specify if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)

Monday, June 17, 2013

All Mixed Up

Tomorrow we leave for our first furlough, home assignment, or whatever you want to call it. After 3 1/2 years, we are taking an 8 week furlough to connect with friends and family, to visit supporting churches, and to touch base with donors. I'm excited, I'm nervous, and I'm feeling some trepidation about the list of things that need to happen while we are there. Somehow we are supposed to rest in the middle of this, right? We are supposed to be getting a break from the crush of ministry and cross-cultural living, aren't we?

My biggest fear is that I will end up more exhausted than I started. I have concerns about how my kids will handle the whole thing, I am nervous about leaving ministry in the hands of others, and I dread the good-byes when we come back in August. I realize I'm not alone in the whole hatred of good-byes judging from recent posts.

All of that to say, I am feeling conflicted. I will miss El Salvador, but I'm thrilled to see family. We get to go to new places, and meet new people, but will we be too overwhelmed to enjoy it? I'm feeling mixed up about the whole thing, and it seems like every last aspect of this life makes me feel that way. We live in these paradoxes all of the time, don't we?

So...I'm in need of some advice here from all of you veteran missionary moms who have walked through this several times already. How do you make the most of your home assignment? How do you keep the kids somewhat stable through the whole thing? What are you going to do differently next time?

This is a season of travel in many parts of the world, so if you are furloughing, vacationing, hosting a million short-term missionaries, or just enjoying a break from the school schedule I hope that this is a great season for you and your family and I'd love to hear your advice!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Meet Jen

Hello, I'm Jen and this is my family.
We are serving the Lord in the Northern Territory of Australia.
Here is my introduction in case you missed it...
Hello, I'm Jen.  I'm a missionary wife and homeschooling mum living in the Northern Territory of Australia. I'm told we have 16 of the top 20 deadliest snakes in the world.  Our beaches are also filled with crocodiles and jellyfish.  Fun place to live!
We moved here in November of 2011, so we've been on the field for 18 months.  Some days it seems like we just got here, and other days I feel like I've been here forever!  We waited for over three years for our visas, so sometimes I still pinch myself to see if it's real!
I have a wonderful husband, who can do just about everything.  If a car is broken, he can fix it.  If you need a trailer, he will weld you one up in a couple day's time.  Need some electrical work done?  He's your man. He also plays the guitar and draws.  Seriously, I don't think there is anything he cannot do.
We have two kids - Autumn (10) and Cody (5).  We homeschool, and I really enjoy that.  I think we finally found our niche'. 
As for me, well, I play the piano (not well, mind you).  I love to take photos and scrapbook.  I am a homebody, so I prefer to stay home.  I enjoy cooking, and if you come visit, I'd be more than happy to cook you a kangaroo burger.
Now for you questions:
Sarah asked, "I would love to hear how you were drawn to Australia and more of what it is like where you live (some cultural differences, the spiritual climate, etc). Also, what encouraged you and what lessons did you learn from your long wait for visas? And, do you really eat kangaroo!?"

My husband felt the Lord calling him to Australia when he was six years old.  Yes, 6!  He was sitting in a chapel service at his Christian school listening to a missionary lady from Australia, and felt the Lord calling him.  When I met him in Bible college I knew that he wouldn't date anyone not interested in Australia.  We both prayed for God's will, and believed that it included each other.  During our survey trip to Australia, I knew this is where God wanted us, but I prayed and ask that He would give the calling to me as well, and not just my husband.  I clearly remember the night where God spoke to my heart while we were in Australia, and said "This is where I want you."  It was such a special moment between God and myself, one I will always treasure.
We learned so much during our 3 year visa wait.  I wrote a lot about it on my blog - Be Thou Exalted.  I claimed Isaiah 55:8-9, and just focused on the fact that in God's perfect timing He would open the doors.  God taught me the meaning of the verse in Psalm that says, "Be still and know that I am God."  Also, during those years we worked on Native American Reservations out west.  This was clearly of God, because our heart's desire to work with the Indigenous People of Australia (Aboriginals).  So what better preparation than to work with America's Indigenous People?! 
Australia is quite similar to America, but without the Christian heritage.  Most people don't have time for church, their weekends are for relaxing and spending time with their family.  Australia is just as diverse as America is.  You can't say churches in South Carolina are similar to churches in New England.  There are several large churches in Australia, but here in the Northern Territory, there are only 3 good churches in a 300km radius.  (There may be more, but this is all that I know of.)
And, yes we do eat kangaroo!  We probably eat chicken and beef more often though.  Kangaroo is sold in our grocery stores.  It's a very lean meat, and I often don't cook it well.  I'm still learning! 
Phyllis asked, "English-speaking country, similar people on the surface: what do you see as the biggest cultural difference between Australia and where you grew up? What do you love most about Australia?"
Our church on a Sunday morning.
We meet at the Charles Darwin University.  :)

Yes, they do speak English, but, wow, there are so many different words!  I often get teased for saying words that they have never heard of!  Just a quick example - gas = petrol, hood = bonnet, trunk = boot, fries = chips, mozzie = mosquito, sunnies = sunglasses, shrimp = prawns and so on.
For me, the biggest cultural differences between Australia and where I grew up would be how people dress for church.  I know this isn't a big deal, I am thankful they wear clothing, but I grew up where we dressed up for church, we looked our best.  Here it is just another day, another place.  People dress very casual here. 
As for what I love most, I would have to say the people and the slow paced life.  Although we can get very busy, people are very laid back here, and things move a little slower here.  This is one way the Indian Reservations helped prepare us.  We live in the Northern Territory (NT).  They say it stands for not today, not tomorrow, not Tuesday, not Thursday.  They had a similar saying on the Reservations.  Native time (NT).
Ashley asked, "I'd love to hear how you live with the daily threat of dangerous animals around you all of the time. What does that look like practically and spiritually?

Also, the only Australia I really know about is the city life like in Sydney and Melbourne (haven't been there, but just have read and seen pictures). What is life like where you are? I know it must be quite different. What are the people and the culture like?"
I promise there is glass between them!
Although we live about 20 minutes from the ocean, we don't often go.  Why?  Jellyfish and crocodiles.  We were told when we first got here that if we went to the beach to take vinegar and a dog.  The vinegar was if we got stung by a jellyfish and the dog, well, it was for the crocodile.  During the dry season (May-September), it's a little safer to go to the beach, but if we do go, we just play in the sand.  Normally if there is a crocodile sighting, it will hit the news, and they will post signs.  As for the poisonous snakes, we do need to be careful, but I have not seen one.  My husband has found a few, but he avidly looks for them.  He is a snake lover!
Honestly, I don't worry too much about the deadly snakes or animals (well, except maybe our neighbour's dog!).  It could be because I don't see them often, but I would like to think it's because I have complete trust that the Lord will protect us.  If something does happen, it is because He has allowed it.
We live in Darwin.  It is the capital for the Northern Territory.  Sydney and Melbourne are much bigger cities.  Just as a comparison, Sydney has nearly 5 million people, and Darwin has nearly 130,000. 
Image showing Australia and the British Isles sizes compared
On a side note, Australia's population is estimated to be 23 million, and the US population is estimated to be 316 million.  The two countries are nearly the same size (minus Alaska).
As I mentioned before, Territory life is very laid back.  The people are very kind and easy going.  We have adjusted well, especially my husband.  He is very outdoorsy, he enjoys hiking, fishing, camping, etc.  This is the place for all that.  My kids have done well with the transition.  They do miss their family and friends back home, but have also made new friends here, and many are like family to us.  I do love my life here.  I cannot remember being more content.  Don't get me wrong, I miss my family like crazy and all the conveniences that America has to offer.  But there is something special about being exactly where God wants you to be.  I wouldn't change it for anything the world has to offer.

Friday, June 14, 2013

A Typical Weekend at My House...

This photo was taken a few months ago,
sadly since then 3 families have moved away.
Saturdays and Sundays are extremely busy days for us.  Most pastors take off on Mondays to relax, but because my husband is often traveling and I lead a Ladies Bible Study on Monday nights, we normally take Tuesdays to relax, or at least I do.  I'm not sure my husband knows how to relax!
Here's a little peak into our Saturdays...
Normally Saturday mornings my husband is running errands, so I start a load of laundry and clean our room.  I  like to clean our room on Saturdays because my husband will spend the rest of the day in our room finishing preparing for Sunday.
After my room is clean, I hang the load of laundry and start the next load.  While the kids are having lunch I bake morning tea for Sunday.  Sometimes I just make muffins, which are quick, other times I make cinnamon rolls or donuts, which take most of the afternoon.
The afternoons consist of hanging more laundry up on the line, folding and putting away what is dry.  Then I finish preparing for my Sunday School and Children's Church classes.  I am working my way through the Bible using Betty Luken's flannelgraph.  We were given the deluxe set  from a wonderful church in Wilmington, Delaware.  It isn't all cut out yet, but I cut what I need each week.  Eventually it will all be cut out! 
In the evening I try to cook a simple meal, and keep on working.  We have an overhead projector where we have church so we put up the songs and Scripture reading for the service.  I normally type all that up for my husband.  We also have bulletins we hand out at church, so those need to be typed, printed, and folded.
After all that's done, it's time for the kid to get their showers and get ready for bed.  I then get everyone's clothing ready for Sunday, ironing if necessary (I hate ironing, so it's only done when necessary!).  I also pack up our jeep for Sunday.  We rent two rooms at the local university.  They let us keep some things in a storage room, but things like my Sunday School bag, the morning tea bag, and signs get brought back and forth each week.

If you're still reading :) I'll share our Sundays!

Mornings are a bit crazy, but with all the preparations on Sunday it's a lot easier.  I like to put a meal in the crockpot.  It's so nice to come home to a meal cooked and ready!  Once we are all ready we leave around 9:20am.  We pick up anyone that needs picked up (sometimes we have to make 2 or 3 trips!), then get to church and set up.  We have to set up our signs outside, move tables around inside, set up our welcome table, morning tea,  set up the keyboard, set up the computer, and lay out hymnals.  I'm so thankful for our kids, they are a big help.  It's such a blessing to get to church and see them going about their duties serving the Lord in this way.

Because our church is small, I teach both Sunday School and Children's Church.  I miss being in church and hearing the sermon, but I know that this is just a season.  I also play the piano for the morning service, I'm not great, but it's all we have!

After church, we have to put everything back the way we found it.  Thankfully everyone pitches in and helps and it only takes a few minutes.  Church gets over around 12:15, but we rarely leave before 1pm. 

Once home, we have lunch (which thankfully is ready and waiting in the crockpot).  After lunch, Patrick packs up and drives 3 hours south to Katherine to preach for a small, but quickly growing church.  Sometimes we go with him if I know he will make it home before my ladies Bible study on Monday nights.

So there you have a quick peak into our weekends.  The weekends are crazy busy, but I love them!  Hope I didn't bore you too much!

What does a typical weekend at your house look like?


Thursday, June 13, 2013


Yesterday we had to say goodbye.  Again.  This time, friends of ours are leaving the country for good.  Sigh.  It's hard.  And what makes it harder is my kids are taking it hard. This guy was one of our boys' first friends here.

 This part of the missionary life is just hard.  There is no other way to say it.  Someone told me once that we weren't made for goodbyes.  Yep, I would say that's true.

This goodbye has been especially difficult on our oldest.  He's been crying about it for a week now.

We've talked about how it's good to cry, to feel the pain, but also to celebrate the times that we've had with them.  A couple of weeks ago we had a Despidida (going away party) at our house for them.  It was such a fun day, but hard too.  Last night we drove the 45 minutes down the mountain to see them for the last time here in Costa Rica.  These things are important.  They give us time to say goodbye, to remember, to celebrate and to grieve.

And I pray that my boys will not become hardened with all of these goodbyes.  I want them to stay soft, to embrace people, not hold them at a distance because they are afraid they will leave.

How about you?  How do you help your kids through all of the goodbyes this life brings us?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tuesday Topic: Goodbyes

My own question: Do you have any tips for good goodbyes? How have you said farewell when you have moved from one location to another? Or how would you do that ideally?

(If you have a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to me at Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, or specify if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Questions for Jen

The "Meet the Missionary Moms" series is back! I'd like to introduce you to someone, so that we can get more closely acquainted. She says:

Hello, I'm Jen.  I'm a missionary wife and homeschooling mum living in the Northern Territory of Australia. I'm told we have 16 of the top 20 deadliest snakes in the world.  Our beaches are also filled with crocodiles and jellyfish.  Fun place to live!
We moved here in November of 2011, so we've been on the field for 18 months.  Some days it seems like we just got here, and other days I feel like I've been here forever!  We waited for over three years for our visas, so sometimes I still pinch myself to see if it's real!
I have a wonderful husband, who can do just about everything.  If a car is broken, he can fix it.  If you need a trailer, he will weld you one up in a couple day's time.  Need some electrical work done?  He's your man. He also plays the guitar and draws.  Seriously, I don't think there is anything he cannot do.
We have two kids - Autumn (10) and Cody (5).  We homeschool, and I really enjoy that.  I think we finally found our niche'. 
As for me, well, I play the piano (not well, mind you).  I love to take photos and scrapbook.  I am a homebody, so I prefer to stay home.  I enjoy cooking, and if you come visit, I'd be more than happy to cook you a kangaroo burger.
So, what questions do you have for me?

Please leave your questions for Jen in the comments here. She'll answer them next Saturday.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Defeat or surrender?

The past few months have been hard ones for us.  A lot has been going on.  Big problems have come up, health issues have arisen, a relationship with a dear friend has been threatened, and hard decisions have had to be made.  It has been one of those times when it seems like there is no end to the sequence of difficult events.  A couple of weeks ago, in the midst of all of these things, an additional health problem that arose put me over the edge and I found myself in a place of feeling completely defeated.  Previously, I had felt a desire to fight against spiritual attack and discouragement, but at that moment when my physical heart was in pain and not functioning as it should, my emotional heart reached a point of weariness and defeat.  How could I fight when I physically felt so weak and hurt?  What could I fight with when it seemed that every door we tried to pass through was being slammed in our faces? 

But, God's gentle voice came, "Sarah, I don't want you to feel defeated.  I want you to change that feeling of defeat to one of surrender." 

I prayed to God, surrendering to Him.  As the feeling of defeat shrank, I felt free.  Through this, God reminded me that "in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us" (Romans 8:37).  By surrendering to Him, His power is made perfect in my weakness, making me strong in Him (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).  My feelings of defeat came from depending on myself and my own strength.  Transferring that feeling to one of surrender reminded me that He will be victorious, and that since I am His, I will be part of that victory.  Praise God!

Are you in a place of feeling defeated?  What helps you surrender to Him?  Are there specific ways that we can be praying for you? 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tuesday Topic: Thanking supporters

Wendy writes: How do you show thanks to those who have financially supported you? This was something I wasn't sure how to do well. Our church was able to give us the names of those people who donated money to us and we sent them handmade cards of thanks, but we wondered what other people did.

(If you have a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to me at Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, or specify if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)

Monday, June 3, 2013

8 kids, at least 10 carryons (probably more), 20 suitcases, 1 stroller and a pile of paperwork

...and if our oldest daughter gets her way, at least one czar-ish black cat.

I don't think that's gonna happen.

Hopefully I won't misplace the husband or the grandparents in all of the craziness.

...or the passports or the residence permits or the plane tickets.

Speaking of plane tickets, did you know we qualify for group rates when we travel (although it isn't always the best deal), we often dress in uniform... or at least something somewhat matching so I can quickly scan - count to ten and identify my group, and it can easily take us several vehicles to get to the airport and over an hour just to get through security, regardless of the locale.

We are really only just shy of being our very own traveling circus. I dislike (a gross understatement) that part.

How can you be excitedly anticipating climbing the steps and finding that letter-numbered, uncomfortably small seat while at the same time dreading it so very much? 

These last few weeks are turning out to be doozies.

Even with all my carefully laid plans and preparations, surprises have happened, are happening... and at this rate, a few more will probably happen. More gets added to my list more quickly than I can check it off. People have expectations of me that will be impossible for me to meet... or they accuse me of being self-absorbed and not genuine. Electric and internet cuts make it next to impossible to keep up with the regularly scheduled stuff. Then there's the tense political climate and current events restricting travel and limiting opportunities... city wide lock down today interfered and rendered impossible a last Sunday of worship with our local brothers and sisters and some goodbyes that just will not be able to be said. (If you are curious about all that sort of stuff, type my country/city of service into a search engine... we've been making international news repeatedly this week.) Those things are just the tip of the iceberg. So, in that sense, I can't wait to get outta here and leave some of those stresses behind.

That doesn't change the fact that goodbyes are hard.

But what do you do when circumstances force you to abort those goodbyes?

I guess that's where it all comes down to trust while riding the roller coaster of emotions that are part and parcel of this transition:

  • that God will make beautiful things out of the dust as it settles;
  • that God's grace will suffice even where my efforts don't;
  • that His mercies will renew morning after morning after morning, just as He promises;
  • that what man thinks isn't nearly so important as God's assessment of my heart and actions;
  • that God knows His plans even when I'm not sure of my own next step... that He is about the business of doing great and mighty things beyond my imagination;
  • that I'm neither as important as I think nor as unimportant as I feel;
and perhaps most importantly,
  • with Him, all things are possible.
We'll be traveling... soon... 

... some moments, it isn't soon enough and others it is way too soon!

But I can't wait to see what God has for me and my family as we enter into this next phase of our adventure with Him.

What conflicting emotions do you have about your current situation or place?
What words help reassure and comfort you in those difficult moments?

I'm taking a break from posting for a few months. Many of you who comment or who are a regular part of this community will be in my prayers over these next few months. I look forward, Lord willing, to join up with you again towards the end of summer! Thanks for journeying with me these past few months.

Other posts in this series of preparing to leave the field: