Christmas, Rewrapped: How Moving Overseas May Mess with Your Holiday, Part II

Missed the first part? Grab it here.

Scrolling through Facebook that day brought a bit of sadness, glimpsing all those photos of a white Christmas in Little Rock, of all places. I’d prayed for that so many times for my kids. Well, and myself.

But a few minutes later, I was playing Christmas music while I spread mayo for sandwiches. Some old lyrics belted out:Haul out the holly/ Put up the tree before my spirit falls again… And I realized, that was why I wanted to be there, enjoying the snow (not to mention the family!). I longed for the emotion of that holiday sparkle; the cozy magic that, with all the right elements, seems to frost everything with light and togetherness and fun, muting the rough edges. read more

Christmas, Rewrapped: How Moving Overseas May Mess with Your Christmas, Part I

ChristmasYour first year overseas has a way of rearranging your life, your brain, your family, your body. So it makes sense your holidays would follow.

You may be wondering what Christmas looks like away from the lines to meet Santa, the obnoxious Black Friday ads–but also far from the welcoming hugs from mom, the family clustered around the tree or piano belting out carols.

My experience? Like most of overseas life, there were notable griefs and clarifying, memorable triumphs. Here, thoughts from my first Christmas season in Africa (edited from the original post on MomLifeToday.com). read more

Help Your Marriage Thrive Overseas! Part III

Missed Part I and II? Grab ’em here.

Moving to Africa was like seeing a new version of my husband.

Sure; in some ways it aged us and strained us in ways we could have never experienced. But it was also extremely cool to see my husband as the guy tooling around an African metropolis, learning to navigate the streets to care for his family. I would have never anticipated the overwhelming generosity he possessed; the crazy-cool gifts of cultural understanding and helping Africans through heartbreaking conflicts and difficulties. What if I’d never seen the African version of him? And as I at last realized my dream of moving overseas, we laughed out loud about the “Afro-disiac” it was for our marriage!

Different Strokes? Marital Differences as You Look Overseas, Part II

Missed Part I? Grab it here.

“Should My Spouse Go Through Language Training if Not Headed into Formal Ministry?”

Someone asked my husband and I recently if they should both be enrolled in language school. Our answer? Unquestionably. Both spouses will be interacting with the culture–and both need to be mobile within that culture. Conversely, whoever doesn’t have language or cultural training will be handicapped at whatever level caps their interaction–not just for everyday life, but for ministry capacity. Imagine a person coming to your passport country without speaking your language. They’re reduced to functioning even less than the hearing impaired (who have sign language); they’re on the outside looking in, utterly isolated from anyone by their inability to communicate.

Different Strokes? Marital Differences as You Look Overseas, Part I

One of the biggest stresses on my engagement wasn’t really the normal stuff–the wedding planning or whatnot. It was a phrase I’d rerun over in my head a hundred times: I don’t feel called overseas. Evangelism is not my gift. My husband-to-be surpassed the one I’d been looking for so many times over. And it really did seem God was leading us to marriage.

But was he?

Was I…selling out? I’d been headed in an overseas direction for years. What was I missing?

#BestoftheBestFriday: Phases of Life Overseas; Wishing I Wasn’t a Racist; Time-release Culture Shock

Forbidden Roots

Amy Medina writes compellingly of the seasons of overseas life. At the beginning,

the remnants of your old life stay with you for a long time. At first, keeping in touch with your friends back at home is a big priority. You get lots of packages in the mail. You grieve the loss of all that you left behind. But you are excited to be in this new place you dreamed about for so long, and that excitement keeps you going for a while. After the honeymoon wears off–which could happen in a week or a year–then it just takes grit. A lot of grit. As in, I’m going to grit my teeth and stay here even though I hate it.

Want to hear the happy ending? Guess you’ll have to click here.

The Art of Saying Goodbye

art of saying goodbyesI grew up overseas. In fact, I attended 15 different schools by the time I graduated high school. So you could say I’ve experienced my share of goodbyes. (Usually I was the one leaving.)

Now that I have a family of my own and have lived in the same city and the same house, for an amazing thirteen-year stretch, I’m now experiencing more goodbyes where I am the one staying behind. Recently I visited a friend during her final week as they loaded up their tilting piles of cardboard boxes and their kids to take a new job four states away. Before I arrived, I sat in the parking lot of a shopping plaza, scrawling her going away card. It felt like my pen also flowed with my own memories of bittersweet goodbyes. And I thought, What makes for the best goodbyes?

#WFMW: Telling People You Love You’re Going Overseas

Ever had a friend whose passion occasionally outpaced his good judgment? Maybe you’re like, Dude. I love your heart. But you’re killing me.

You can see where I might be going with this. I’ve heard someone casually remark that one of the larger obstacles to your generation going overseas might actually be your parents. As possibly one of the most protected, safety-conscious generations in history, the struggle is real.

My Story: Memos from a Wreck–and Our Longing for True Safety

I’d taken my mom out for her birthday: falafel and jasmine rice at this great new Mediterranean place with only a handful of tables. We headed out, Barnes & Noble-bound to spend a birthday gift card for her, chatting and laughing. At a stoplight I glanced at the clock on the bank across the street, marveling at how fast time passed when she and I were together. Green light: my trusty minivan gathered its strength for the uphill left turn.

8 Ways to Help your Family Flourish Overseas!

We’re excited to welcome back global veteran David Armstrong. He’s set foot in 15 countries, and confesses that Crepes and Waffles in Bogota, Colombia is one of his favorite restaurants.

My kids spotted me as I rounded the corner two blocks from home–and started laughing and pointing. I was sporting the shortest haircut I had had since basic training. I tried to look confident.. I meant for it to be this short. I’m cool. Truth: I didn’t know how to tell the barber “too short”.

But it made me the winner of the “Most Mortifying Moment” prize that month–and paved the way for my kids to succeed. My too-much-off-the-sides demonstration: You can roll with this.