Tuesday, December 13, 2016

My Letter to the Christian Parents of Overseas Workers

Dear Christian Parents of Overseas Workers-

First off, this isn't a passive-aggressive right hook to my own parents. They have truly become a loyal and faithful support system to our family. But there's a thing happening. It happens every year starting the second week of November and not letting up until January. Christian parents are saying things like, "We wish you were here eating turkey with the family." Or, "I can't believe we will be celebrating Christmas this year without the grandkids." Or, "I can't wait until you're home next year so we can all celebrate as a family."

These seem like benign phrases that merely express a longing to be together as a family. The problem is that your child who is overseas feels the loss even deeper than you'd think. They see messages like these and wrap their holidays in guilt, homesickness, longing, loneliness, isolation, and want. For many of us, we don't have a community to even eat a bowl of rice with, no way a Thanksgiving spread is gonna happen. We teach English classes on Christmas and worship to a youtube video. And the thing is that these can be godly, holy moments if we allow them to be. But when we have family and friends talking about us returning "home," all the time (especially during the holidays), it becomes infinitely more difficult to be present here.

Christmas is the time we need you to remind us of why we are here. This season is busy, exhausting, and requires every bit of Holy Spirit to choke back another decorated sugar cookie. But when we are present, we get to open our lives up to the community and share the most radical birthing story in the history of the world. When our head is in the game, this glorious season becomes a launching pad to engaging our community in a more meaningful way. As a Christian parent, please remind you kids that their time and energy is worth it. Sure, tell them you miss them. But end that sentence with a, "But God needs you there to be Jesus to your people. That is the most wonderful gift I could get this Christmas." Don't wish them home. Trust me, there are many days their heart is already on that plane. Your kids know it's not easy on you either.

They need believing parents in their corner of the ring praying, wiping up their bloodied noses, and telling them to get back out there.

                                                   Yours Truly,


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Creating our own Glass Ceiling

I’m frustrated this week. Frustrated at low cut jeans, because well, I’m a 40-year old mother of 5. I’m frustrated that a new computer charger costs $100 here. I’m frustrated that I can’t eat bagels because my stomach has turned into a tantrum throwing 2-year old. But maybe something of a little more consequence has tagged me this week. I’ve been frustrated with my gender.


I’ve found myself more and more unsettled as this election has rounded out. This is not a political post, but a call for women to stop. This is my proverbial shofar call to stop talking about voting for Hillary because she was a woman. If you agreed with her platform and voted for her in response, then great. If you went to the voting polls and cast your vote for her BECAUSE she was female, that’s less than great. If we as women want to continue to make progress in salary equality and gender imbalances, we’ve got to stop doing things like this. While I haven’t asked Hillary Clinton personally, I have a hard time believing that she wants your vote simply because she was born with two X chromosomes. She would rather you make a smart, thoughtful decision about a person and a platform, not a gender. The former is simply patronizing. Like when the P.E. teacher picks the uncoordinated, awkward kid as captain of the dodge ball team. It’s a pitied choice.

Voting for her simply because of her gender isn’t actually breaking a glass ceiling, it’s reinforcing one. It’s walking up to that ceiling and smashing your face on it, looking childish and uninformed. I saw a similar phenomenon when Sarah Palin was first toying in public politics. People blindly followed her lead without having any clue as to what she thought on issues. If we as a gender want true progress, we’ve got to prove ourselves through education, information, question asking, intelligent dialogue, and working insanely hard.

We aren’t going to earn more respect in places by whining, remaining ignorant, complaining, and knocking one another down based on superficial criteria.

We are better than this. We can scream loudly for change when we actually have something worth hearing, otherwise it becomes screechy white noise.

While I disagree with some of her politics, I truly admire her culmination of 30 years of public service. My mom has worked in a male dominated industry for over 30 years also. It takes wisdom, intellect, perseverance, and gutsiness. These are the characteristics we teach our daughters. We don’t want them to expect doors to fly open simply because they are female. We want them to walk through doors because they’ve earned it. And when you walk through a door knowing you deserved it, you’re head is held high knowing you didn’t get there based on an invitation of pity.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

The Hardest, Shortest Word we Have to Start Saying.

I was published on Thrive a few weeks ago. But because I turned 40 yesterday, I get to claim things like old age and sore shoulders from rolling over on the couch too quickly. Those are actual things, friends.

Get up earlier. Read your Bible longer. Journal—better yet, do an art journal and use highlighters with different colors for different grammatical structures. Have a retreat; make sure to date your husband. Listen to sermons while doing dishes.

Read More

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Living Overseas isn't an Adventure, it's a Life

Maybe it's the fact that I turn 40 this year and I am waving at the people-pleasing thirties in the rearview mirror.

Maybe it's because I'm living overseas and I get to post things like this online, not having to watch the facial expressions of my friends as they read my ridiculousness.

Picking up the calling to live and work overseas is not an adventure. We need to stop using that word. We try to sweeten the grief of saying good-bye to our passport country by using the word, "adventure." It's been written in letters of encouragement; put on index cards and surrounded by butterflies; tagged on a Facebook post with mountains while wearing red North Face jackets and black-strapped Chacos.

Let's make it all stop.

Each time we say these things to another person moving overseas, we are setting them up to stay short term. As they pack their bags and dream of "adventure," they are slowly telling the Lord, "This had better be fun or I'm out."

I realize that some people intentionally sign up for one or two years overseas, and that's great. But here's the reality, if you love Jesus and are moving overseas in order to make Him known in a new country than this is going to take a longer commitment. With a life commitment overseas, most days will not be filled with adventure.

Your pictures might look adventurous, but there are actual moments behind those crusty pagodas and exotic jumping tribes. Are there adventurous days? Yes. But there were also adventurous days when I lived in a suburb of North Houston. When you see pictures of your friends backpacking through Cambodia in order to find an unreached people group, you also need to know that they most likely camped in a cave and wore wet socks for three days.


They most likely reached their destination and failed to find a single villager. This is not an adventure, it's a frustration. But this frustration is worth it and that is why we do it.

Honestly, I get nervous for many of these young men and women raising their hands in an emotional flurry, committing to move overseas. While it's exciting to move to a new country, we need people to actually stay and that is going to require us getting over the adventure piece. If you stay for a year, you will probably return feeling like it's an adventure. But what we need over here are people who stay for the long haul. People that learn language, buy local, pee in outhouses at their friend's home, and become ok with rolling power outages. Adventure needs to take a back seat to real life. Life is only adventurous to the degree that we allow the Lord to intersects our lives with others.

I have loved all the moments of life overseas, but I will say that I've loved them because of how they have refined me as a Christian woman and not because they've all been fun. We have to start believing that God wants us to stay overseas for more than a year or two an that's going to require us to recalibrate our expectations. For some of us, that will mean that we will remain single for a really long time. Others of us have signed up to raise our children thousands of miles from their grandparents. These realities are very much not adventurous, they are simply hard. But the hard is where the Lord meets us to fold our lives into His.

And that is always the adventure. 

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Letter to my friends

To my friends from my passport country-

I'm sorry that we sat by the campfire that night and I didn't know what to say. Our lives have been piling forward on different continents for some time now. I desperately want you to understand my life in China, but my stories of duck blood hot pot or 6 am wedding processions seem to be a compilation of snippets rather than a constructed life story. I've tried to mold my life experience into something palatable for you, but I'm afraid that I've failed over and over again. A decade has gone by since I've been able to call you at 8 and meet with you by 9.

Friends have attended your baby showers, I have commented on Instagram.

Your small group brought you dinner when you were sick, I sent you an emoji of a penguin in hopes it made you smile.

I walked with you through grief in a few 45 minute Skype conversations.

I realize it's been hard to be friends over the internet. But what I want you to know is that my lack of physical presence doesn't mean I don't need you in my world. I think it's easy for us both to forget that as our lives press forward, there is a person on the other side of the world who loves us and needs to hear from us. I've failed at this more times than is possible to count. Time zones have made me late to wish you happy birthday. By not checking Facebook, I've totally missed your son's broken arm.

Don't give up on those of us who live overseas. We are all thankful to God that technology allows us to text you from 8,000 miles away. While it might seem we are living these radical lives for Jesus, we need you to ask us hard questions.We need you to see the person and not just the job we've been called to.

One of the things we crave overseas are people with whom we have history. It is balm for the soul to have a friend who knew you when you stayed up too late while sleeping on a pier. We still love hearing about the time you cried when the grocery store ran out of Cheez-its.

I get it. This friendship is hard. But thank you for sticking it out with me.

I might present myself as stoic, but in reality I am needy.

We need your prayers.

We need your perspective.

We need your presence.

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