Sex and the Married Missionary {A Life Overseas}

by Jonathan

We don’t talk about sex very much. Sure, we might joke about it (the first working title for this article was The Missionary Position), but we don’t actually talk about it very much. Truth is, most folks are scared to death to have an honest, non-joking, realistic talk about sex. Maybe with a good friend, but with their spouse? Gasp. But the truth is, it matters. It’s not the biggest deal, but it’s a real deal.

And it comes up all the time in my role as a pastoral counselor to missionaries…

Read the full post over at A Life Overseas.

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When Strongholds Fall | A Mother’s Journey, part 16

April 13, 1992

Fourteen months have passed. I’m within six pounds of my target weight. I went to Nutri-system. For the most part I’ve not felt deprived — in fact I’ve felt so much better — low sodium, low fat.

A stronghold is something Satan says is impossible that God never said was impossible. I had let this become a stronghold in my life. I feel so sad because I feel like it kept me from wanting to be pregnant and have more children. I think that was Satan’s aim. Finally, I asked God what He wanted me to weigh. What was his plan for my body? Was it possible to have another baby? So far, no baby. But God has shown me that weight loss is a possibility — something I had denied.

Denial, what a huge word that keeps us from the truth about ourselves. I’m still shocked when I see pictures of myself — somehow I don’t ever picture myself that fat! I carry around an image a thinner me, even when the facts aren’t so! I pray that this month, April, I’ll see my goal. As I’ve gotten closer to my goal I’ve gotten lax about my eating, almost as though I’m scared to reach my goal. What will I concentrate on then? Where will all my guilt go? The feelings I’ve felt since I was 13, where will they go? The “I’m fat — I need to be on a diet” thoughts.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I have unsuccessfully tried to lose weight all these years with discipline (unsuccessfully!). But by obedience, it has been possible. What a revelation! I’ve always felt a need to live a disciplined life, but a frustration about how to do it. But obedience? That’s different; I can do that.

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November 10, 1992

I got pregnant two weeks after the last entry. I wonder if God was using that time to teach me something. We had tried for 11 months and I really thought it wouldn’t happen again. I’m gaining weight as usual, but I don’t feel any despair about it. I know it will come off quickly after the baby is born. I’m confident that I can diet — aha! No more strongholds. Hallelujah!

A Mother’s Journey — table of contents

“Powerless over food” | a Mother’s Journey, part 15

February 19, 1990

[Note: These entries are out of chronological order in her journal, with a note from mom that these were “transferred notes.”]

To admit that I am powerless over food is difficult. The facts would say that I am — the fact that I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to lose 20 pounds would indicate a lack of self control. I keep saying to myself, 1) my metabolism has slowed down, 2) I’ve been pregnant 4 times, 3) I didn’t lose the weight after Laura, 4) I don’t get enough exercise (it’s not my fault, I don’t have time!). I’ve been saying these things for the past 10 years. I do not want to diet and count calories. I’ve felt depressed in the past when I’ve done this, and yet that is the solution I’m coming to: self-discipline. I’m scared of it. Self-denial. I don’t want to deny myself of food; it’s comforting.

Please God, help me to put these things together to lose 30 pounds. Show me and teach me self-discipline and self-denial in the area of food. Please change my desires. Help my desire to be thin to be greater than my desire for cookies, ice cream, and candy.

Let me see this as an exercise to learn from you about what you desire for me. Teach me how you want me to eat, teach me your attitude about food for my body.

A Mother’s Journey — table of contents

Podcast interview with the folks from Shepherd’s Staff (parts 1 and 2)

Listen to part one here.

Listen to part two here.

Get the podcast on iTunes here.

See below for a description from Shepherd’s Staff about each episode

Interview with Jonathan and Elizabeth Trotter Part One

This is part one of an interview with Elizabeth and Jonathan Trotter. The Trotters are missionaries in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Their ministry is interesting, diverse and far-reaching. In part one of our podcast, we hear from the Trotter’s about their call to the mission field and the beginning and evolution of their ministry. We are introduced to their writing ministry and blogging ministry that focuses on cross-cultural Christian service.

Here are some of the resources mentioned in this podcast:

» Their book – Serving Well: Help for the Wannabe, Newbie, or Weary Cross-Cultural Christian Worker
» Ministry blog – A Life Overseas
» Personal blog – The Trotter Family
» Nate Saint
» Team Expansion
» 11 Missionary Blogs We Love
» Writing by Jonathan on Relevantmagazine.com
» Elizabeth’s Book: Hats: Reflections on Life as a Wife, Mother, Homeschool Teacher, Missionary, and More

Interview with Jonathan and Elizabeth Trotter Part Two

This is part two of our interview with missionary counselor/blogger/authors Elizabeth and Jonathan Trotter. At the very beginning of part two of our interview, we talk about this article written by Jonathan Trotter. In the rest of the interview, as the Trotters give us the story behind the creation of their book, we learn that writing as a husband and wife team is fraught with peril. But the result is both healing and well received by their publisher and readers.

Please follow the resource links below to their book and other articles discussed in this interview:

» Part One of the Trotter Interview
» Jonathan’s article: One thing we get terribly wrong in our response to abuse. And one way to get it right.
» Jonathan’s article: The simple tool I use with 90% of my pastoral counseling clients: The Shapes Diagram This piece has great diagrams and video. You’ll find this is a great resource.
» We mention the ministry of Gayle Erwin. Check it out here.
» Their book on Amazon – Serving Well: Help for the Wannabe, Newbie, or Weary Cross-Cultural Christian Worker
» Their book on their publisher’s website

A Few of My Favorite Things {July-December 2019}

By Elizabeth

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Life has been busy these days. I can’t seem to publish these lists every month or even every other month, but I wanted to finish out the year with a post because next year might be even busier! That’s because, in addition to joining the planning committee for our local homeschool coop, I’ve taken on the responsibility of writing and directing a play for our students. I’ll have lots of help for the project, but in the next several months most of my creative energy will be focused on the play. So I wanted to get these links to you now, before all the crazy begins.

But first, a few real-life items and events.

Girlfriends who share their beauty secrets. Did you know you can use coconut oil for shaving your legs and underarms? I didn’t, but I’m glad my girlfriends enlightened me. (I don’t know anyone who uses shaving cream here.)

Mineral deodorant. Another life hack from my girlfriends. When I was frustrated with the lack of efficacy of conventional deodorant, they informed me about Crystal deodorant. Works much better!

Watching Jonathan at work. It had been a while since I’d watched him counsel anyone, but I recently had the chance. (This happens infrequently and only when we are asked to do premarital counseling as a couple.) He knows what to do and what to say, where to lead. Watching him at work is simply MAGICAL. Although the work is hard, I know it is a privilege for him to witness the transformation of people’s lives. Every once in a while I get to see it.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, a play by a Christian international school. Their productions are always a community event. We arrive at the school campus early to be able to play on the grounds and catch up with friends we don’t often see. The play itself was a lot of fun, and the set especially was impressive!

Our homeschool coop’s Showcase. We ended our semester with a performance of sorts. The teens took a public speaking course and presented their speeches. The younger students had been working on some choir songs. It was a beautiful, cool evening, and everyone did such a wonderful job. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Cooler weather. Speaking of the weather, we enjoyed a nice cold snap the first week of December. Cool weather doesn’t last long around here, so we enjoyed it while we could.

Decorating for Christmas. Our tree and lights are up, and we’ve been singing Christmas carols during our morning devotionals. I love our tree, and I love Christmas music! We even invited some friends over for carols and had a lovely evening of singing and fellowship.

 

WORSHIP SONGS

You Are by Hillsong.

Living Hope by Phil Wickham. I love songs that tell the entire Gospel story.

Through It All by Hillsong. “I’ll sing to you, Lord, a hymn of love for your faithfulness to me. I’m carried in everlasting arms, You’ll never let me go, through it all.”

Goodness of God by Jenn Johnson and Bethel Music. “All my life You have been faithful. All my life You have been so, so good. With every breath that I am able, I will sing of the goodness of God.” In many ways this song, much like the goodness of God, has been running after me. For months.

King of Kings by Hillsong. My most favorite song from the last 4 months. Every single word is my favorite.

 

RECIPES

I’m still on a journey to eat and cook in a more healthful way and am always on a search for new recipes. Here are a few that either I love or that my family also loves.

Vegan Pesto. I love this stuff — my family, not so much. Oh well, more for me!

Carrot Tacos. I know, a weird sounding name, but my family raves about this meal. I add pre-cooked lentils and frozen corn to the mix, and it helps bulk up the meal. Without those additions, I don’t think it would be enough. Kind of spicy as written – consider reducing the chili powder and paprika if spice bothers you. We also cut the spice with plain yogurt.

Vegan Sloppy Joes. Also a hit with my family (they like it more than I do).

Lentil Quinoa Loaf. Absolutely delicious and actually tastes like meatloaf. My family loves this. I double the recipe to make enough for everyone, and they would still like more.

Chickpea-Broccoli Wrap. I eat this plain, without the wrap. I’m not a huge fan of broccoli on its own, but it’s good mixed with other things (I’m trying to eat more cruciferous veggies). This recipe also inspired me to combine parmesan and nutritional yeast for several dishes; they complement each other.

Green Pea Pesto. I love this stuff, but my kids can’t stand it. I use it as a dip with carrots (peas and carrots!) I make these modifications to bring out the natural sweetness of the green peas: omit the olive oil, lemon, parmesan cheese, and pepper; substitute cashews for pine nuts and increase amount to ¼ cup; use 2 tsp dried mint (mint is essential here). That’s how I like it anyway.

Pizza Hummus. This is a kid-crowd favorite around here. I omit the crushed red pepper.

Cauliflower Mash. This is a basic recipe. I add some butter but not sour cream or yogurt, and not too much garlic, or it overwhelms. We all love cauliflower mash. Bummer that you have to chop so much to get such a small amount of mash.

Cauliflower-Chickpea Taco “Meat.” I can’t find my original recipe link, but this one comes closest to what I do. The only difference is, I replace all those spices with 2 tsp taco seasoning to make it easier, and I cook it on a skillet since I don’t have an oven. It’s not substantial enough to be a meal on its own, but it’s a nice side dish for us.

Gluten Free Vegan Snickers Bars. So delish. Aren’t dates amazing? I don’t use refined sugar anymore. They’re time-intensive, but my entire family loves these.

Vegan Pecan Pie Tartlets. More dates. More yum. Everyone likes these.

Vegan Girl Scout Cookies (Caramel Delites). Dates again. I don’t even use chocolate on these. About half of us like these, including me.

 

BOOKS

Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo. Who doesn’t love Kate DiCamillo? I love everything I’ve ever read of hers, and this was a delight to read aloud and experience together.

Attached by Amir Levine, M.D., and Rachel Heller, M.A. Written about romantic relationships and mostly for people still in the dating world, this book helps you understand why you react the way you do in both romantic relationships and platonic friendships. Helped me understand why certain friendships haven’t worked out over the years (it’s a combination of certain attachment styles).

At home in Mitford by Jan Karon. I’d heard such good things about this series and have wanted to read this book for awhile, but it has a slow start up, and I never got into it until this fall. I bought the first two cheap at a garage sale.  I’ve cried, I’ve laughed. I’ve underlined. (I never do that in a fiction book.) I love the town of Mitford, and I love Father Timothy. I am now in the second book, A Light in the Window. I may need to purchase the third when I’m done with this one.

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy. A classic I picked up super cheap in a bookstore. An easy and fun read, although because of its publication date, there are a few politically incorrect attitudes.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. We LOVE this story. We started reading it at Christmas time a few years ago when a different Christian international school was performing it. It’s easy and hilarious to read aloud, doesn’t take much time to read, and always makes me cry happy tears at the end. Makes for such good family discussions too. Read it every year!

Embracing the Body by Tara Owens. Still working my way through this. It’s good, but these are dense concepts, and I read it for a while and then stop, then pick it up again later.

The thing that opened my mind up to this type of theology is the phrase “Matter matters” and my introduction to the term sacrament from my Anglican friends. Over the years, that one conversation sank deeper and deeper in my heart and changed my attitudes toward my body and the physical world. Because sometimes an entire book is too much to digest at once. I can’t imagine reading Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, for example. But a single idea that one can ruminate on, that’s within reach.

I’ve recently come across another phrase that’s been helping me. It wraps up a whole lot of philosophy in one sentence. But to fully unpack it,  I need more time, so you’ll have to wait on that one.

 

BLOG POSTS

I’ve separated the following blog posts into several categories:

 

Sexuality

A few awkward thoughts on the love language of physical touch by Rebecca Reynolds.

Calling Our Bodies Our Own (Coming Out of Hiding) by Nicole T. Walters.

What I Wish You Knew About Childhood Sexual Abuse (a husband’s perspective). A very hard read, but important.

 

Education and Public Health

Measles makes body ‘forget’ how to fight infection by James Gallagher. Concerning news in this day and age.

Therapists use cooking to stir up better mental health by Lauren Lee. I stumbled upon this mental health tactic independently, but let me tell you, it works.

The Shocking Phenomenon That Shows Just How Movement-Starved Modern Kids Really Are by Brandon Hall.

Elementary Education Has Gone Terribly Wrong by Natalie Wexler for The Atlantic. As with most social issues, this one affects the poor disproportionately.

 

Race Relations

I Was Wrong About Race by JR Forasteros. Foundational. I attended high school with the author.

Botham Jean’s Brother’s Offer of Forgiveness Went Viral. His Mother’s Calls for Justice Should Too. By Dorena Williamson for Christianity Today. There is so much to say, but for now all I will say is that I’m relieved that someone expressed this aspect of the issue.

I didn’t get a chance to read this Velvet Ashes book club book, but I was struck by this quote from Born a Crime by Trevor Noah: “In any society built on institutionalized racism, race-mixing doesn’t merely challenge the system as unjust, it reveals the system as unsustainable and incoherent. Race-mixing proves that races can mix — and in a lot of cases, want to mix. Because a mixed person embodies that rebuke to the logic of the system, race-mixing becomes a crime worse than treason.”

 

Family Life

Recovering a Good Father by Helena Sorensen.

Always Serving Leftovers: Why I’m Not Traveling to Speak Next Year by Brandi Vencel.

Children Need Magic by Joshua Gibbs. “My children will know that the world is charmed by Jesus Christ himself.” Love that.

Why You Never See Your Friends Anymore by Judith Shulevitz.

I Refuse to Let My Teen Burn Out From Academic Pressure by Christine Carter. This is a concern for public, private, and homeschool students alike. There is too much pressure these days — and I say that as someone who lived under an awful lot of academic pressure herself!

 

Global Living

Newsletter Code Words by Anisha Hopkinson.

Should We Have Waited Until We Were Older? by Amy Medina.

If I Could Tell You Three Things by Anisha Hopkinson.

I am a False Prophet by Amy Medina.

If You Send an MK Some Cookies by Craig Thompson.

Are You Meant to be a Missionary? (a half serious but of course completely reliable 10 question quiz!) by Anisha Hopkinson.

I Belong to You by Laura Hope. One of the most important messages of all.

 

Gandalf’s Scream, Love, and Why We Need More Anger {A Life Overseas}

by Jonathan

Anger is a wonderful, powerful, amazing, informative, life-giving, protective resource. Or at least it can be. Anger can be a redemptive sword, when it’s wielded by love.

 “Anger is a surgical weapon, designed to destroy ugliness and restore beauty. In the hands of one who is trained in love and who can envision beauty, the knife of righteous anger is a weapon for restoration.” – Allender & Longman

We’ve too often seen anger as the enemy, while all along it was begging to be our teacher. We’ve loved to pray and sing emotional ballads like, “Break my heart for what breaks yours,” but have we dared to sing, “Enrage my heart for what enrages yours”?

That sounds crazy, right? And scary.

As Christians, as cross-cultural workers, we’re way more comfortable with holy sadness than holy anger. And that’s not without cause; sadness is safer. More tame. Anger can destroy. Anger can harm deeply. Anger is like electricity — or fire. Both have tremendous potential to destroy, and even kill. But they also reveal, energize (literally), and make magic.

Have you flown on the fire of a jet engine, propelled through the night sky like a populated comet? Have you ever activated a dozen tiny suns with the flip of a switch? These miracles are astounding, and possible due to the power of white-hot fire and lightning fast electrons flowing on demand.

To be sure, arsons exist, but so do steel magnates. They both harness fire for their own purposes; one to destroy, the other to build. I’ve seen the burns and tissue damage wreaked by a lightning strike, but I don’t scream and run away every time I see an outlet.

Again, anger is just energy. It’s an emotion, neither good nor bad, neither healthy nor dysfunctional.

“Feelings are information, not conclusions.” – Greenberg

“Feeling angry or annoyed is as human as feeling sad or afraid.” – Greenberg

We have to be careful, at the start, that we don’t moralize some emotions as good, others as bad, some as holy, others as sinful. That’s not accurate, spiritually or scientifically. [See The Gaping Hole in Modern Missions.]

It’s also important to distinguish between the feeling of anger and the actions of aggression. The two are not the same thing. Greenberg offers this helpful reminder:

“Anger should not be confused with aggression, which comprises attacking or assaultive behavior. Feeling angry does not mean behaving aggressively, and people can be aggressive without feeling any anger at all.” – Greenberg

Chances are you’ve been hurt by someone who acted aggressively. Perhaps their anger/aggression left wounds you’re still recovering from. Chances are you’ve hurt someone in similar ways. So I understand if all this talk about the goodness of anger feels like bile in the brain.

Read the full post here

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Episode 3: Anxiety and OCD

In this episode, Jonathan and Elizabeth discuss their experiences with anxiety and OCD, what helped, what didn’t, and why there’s hope.

Listen in via iTunes, Stitcher, or below.

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Listen to Episode 3 here or below:

 

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Brainlock, by Schwartz

Loving Someone With Anxiety, by Thieda

The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook

The Anxiety Cure, by Hart

Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, by Amen

What to do When Your Brain Get’s Stuck; a Kids Guide to Overcoming OCD

It’s Not All in Your Head

For a list of counseling centers that serve cross-cultural workers, visit the Resource page on A Life Overseas.

For more from Elizabeth for Velvet Ashes, on fear.