A Few of My Favorite Things {September 2015}

Here are some of my Favorites from this last month. ~Elizabeth


Pen-and-Paper journaling and analog Bible reading. As much as I loved reading the Kindle versions of Grace for the Good Girl and From Good to Grace for my devotional times over the summer, my soul felt so happy to return to good old pen-and-paper journaling and analog Bible reading this month. Apparently I need the turning of pages and the moving of my hands on paper. My soul is different on the inside, more still and at peace.

Prayer time with the prayer team.  Being in ministry and continuously pouring myself out for others, I often forget to let others pour into me. I (usually) remember to let God fill me up, and I most certainly draw strength from my marriage, but I generally forget to let other people pour into me. Which is why meeting with the prayer team at our international church felt so good. I didn’t owe anyone anything; my only job was to receive prayer. I didn’t even have to come up with words and verses for them to pray over me; that was their job. I cannot tell you how good that felt and how many burdens were lifted from my heart after that prayer session.

A farewell night with my team. I’m so thankful for the families on our Team Expansion team. They are dear, safe confidants, and their children are like my children’s cousins on the field. In an ex-pat world of moving people, there is something so comforting about having people who get you (because you live the same lifestyle), and who are also committed to you on a longer-term basis (because of the organizational link). The difference in relational security is staggering. And also, my people are funny. They make me laugh. I can be so focused and serious sometimes (most times?) that I need real, live people to pull me out of my Seriousness and have fun with me.

Worship music from Hillsong, International House of Prayer (IHOP), Bethel, Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, etc. While I dozed over the Pacific, I listened to my (10-year old) iPod shuffle, which has all my favorite worship music on it. I love IHOP music. Can’t get enough of it. In the time of flux we like to call “furlough,” this music served to re-center me and focus my affections on God. Bonus: it lulled me to sleep during a bad hour of turbulence. I get airsick pretty easily, and Jonathan told me later that he kept looking over at me during this hour, fearing I would be sick. Instead I was fast asleep. Thankful for that!

My parents’ house. As expected, I did feel right at home walking into their house. My parents have lived here 15 years, the longest they’ve ever lived anywhere (with the next longest time being 4 ½ years), and it truly feels like home to me. For years Jonathan and I lived only 20 minutes away, and I brought my kids here at least once a week. I have all these memories of my mom babysitting so I could go to pre-natal appointments and then staying for the rest of the day, of using her laundry when we didn’t have a washing machine of our own, and of just plain sitting nursing my babies while I sat and talked with her.

And my kids remember this place too, both before we moved to Cambodia and on our last stateside service, when we stayed here a couple months. This house is for them, I hope, what my grandparents’ house was for me: a rock, and a stable place to return to. Plus, Mom makes yummy food, and her house has soft sheets, a dryer, and comfortable carpet. What other creature comforts could I ask for?? It truly is a safe place in a time of transition and culture shock.

Free parks in cool September weather. It’s not cold yet! The weather is pleasant and beautiful. Friends lent us bicycles, and my kids are enjoying those, along with all the free, non-rusting, non-blisteringly-hot playgrounds. Windows are wide open all the time, and I’m enjoying the very fresh, non-garbage-y air. I can walk the neighborhoods — whose sidewalks are both clean and flat — without a bunch of mangy dogs barking and nipping at me. Also I’m loving the back porch as a place to read and write.

A total lunar eclipse. I hadn’t seen one since I was a girl, and it was neat to both see it and revisit some of the science behind eclipses. I was still jet-lagged but nothing can erase the splendor of a blood-red moon.

Free books from the library. Need I say more? My mom lets me max out her library card while I’m here. If I come across any treasures, I’ll be sure to review them here next month.

And now for some Link Love . . .



When God Became King by N.T. Wright. This is my first N.T. Wright (I know, I’m late to the game), and like all Wright, it’s dense and will take me a while to get through. So far I’m intrigued. I love the Creeds (Apostles’ and Nicene) and the way they encapsulate the gospel story. But Wright says they’re incomplete. They’re missing Jesus’ LIFE. So I’m on a journey to find out more. . .



An Open Letter from My 42 Year Old self to My 28 Year Old Self Who is About to Begin Homeschooling by Laura Hamm Coppinger. New homeschool moms take note of this advice! I had the privilege of being counseled by Laura at Bible camp for several years in a row back in the 1990’s, and I relate to her on so many levels, not least of which is being guilty of taking homeschooling waaaaay too seriously in the early days. As she says, “Hello, he’s five.” Also she cracks me up with: “Someone always has to poop.” Yep. Ask any mom of boys and they’ll tell you the same. For another hilarious parenting one from her, check out The Story of My Sleeves.

My Daughter was Born on the Anniversary of 9/11 by Rachel Pieh Jones. If there’s one thing Rachel knows how to do, it’s write tear-jerkers! It’s been a few weeks since we commemorated the anniversary of 9/11, but this post is worth going back to. May you be encouraged by both the hope and the shalom present in this story.

Stupid Phrases for People in Crisis by Marilyn Gardner. Need I say more? The title tells all. Marilyn is always wise — and in this case, she’s funny too.

How to Respond (without violence) When Someone Says “Everything-Happens-For-A-Reason” by Christine Suhan. More on the subject of responding to people in crisis. This post reminded me of the scene in Call the Midwife when Jenny is in despair after her boyfriend unexpectedly dies. Sister Julienne tells her, “God isn’t in the event, Jenny. He’s in the response to the event.” I’ve always had trouble accepting theology that says God is sovereign; therefore He intended for [rape/violence/trafficking/cancer] to happen. Sentiments like Sister Julienne’s comfort me in my faith in a loving God, and I often find myself remembering her statement in the midst of tragedy.

Grace and Anger by Chris Lautsbaugh. Sometimes I’ve found, as Chris explains in this post, that what’s underneath my anger is a deep sadness and grief that I’d rather not address. Perhaps you’ve experienced this too.

Christ, Our Righteous Garment by Missy Filler. Another post on grace and works. I think so many of us have felt this way before and struggled to untangle our thinking.

An Unexpected Friend by Melanie Singleton. So many reasons to love this post about insecurity, gratitude, and finding deep, healing friendships with other women.

Faith in the Valley: Hagar in the Desert by Katrina Ryder. I’ve gotten to know Katrina through fellow A Life Overseas writers Andy and Kay Bruner. When I shared with her my recent post about Hagar, she in turn shared her thoughts on Hagar. I was blown away. Blown away. I love the stories in Genesis. I think and read about them a lot (I take after my mummy in that regard). But here Katrina offers thoughts that you’ve never thunk before. Read it and engage with her in her own comment section, and then let me know so I can read your thoughts, too.



Kari Jobe teaching on worship.  You all know I love to worship. And I love this teaching on worship from Kari Jobe.

Addicted to Anxiety 2 seminar. Over the years I’ve dealt with some pretty significant anxiety, both in social situations and over health and safety fears. I don’t generally live with overpowering anxiety anymore, but in times of stress, I can really start to feel anxious again. What I love about this seminar is finding out that teachers and writers whom I love and respect have dealt with heavy anxiety too; I’m not alone. Maybe you also need to know you’re not alone in your anxiety. In particular I loved hearing from Angie Smith (whom I know from IF:Gathering) at 19:00, Beth Moore at 34:40, and Holley Gerth (founder of incourage.me) at 2:01:55.

Emily P. Freeman on the Feathers podcast. I’ve talked about Emily, author of Grace for the Good Girl, before. I loved this interview with her.

Flourishing in Grace by Katrina Ryder. As I mentioned before, I met Katrina through some mutual friends. She’s the editor at the website To Save a Life, where some of Jonathan’s and my work has been reprinted. I love her video sessions! This one is based out of her personal interaction with the ideas in Emily P. Freeman’s Grace for the Good Girl. Scroll to the bottom to watch the video.

Finding the Rest of My Faith by Katrina Ryder. Another one from Katrina, on spiritual rest, and I like it even better than her first one. She made me laugh a bunch in this one.

Erasing the Stigma of Mental Illness in the Church — an interview with Kay Warren. Wow. You will cry during this interview. Kay and her husband Rick lost their son to suicide several years ago. Kay is wise and compassionate and offers advice for churches wanting to help those suffering with mental illness, including some beginning book recommendations. What I love about Kay is that she thinks the Church has something to offer those suffering from mental illness that no one else can offer. It’s a really hopeful view of both the Church and mental illness.

To Scale: The Solar System. You might have seen this already. I love it. When I was a child, I dreamed I walked the solar system. I passed by the gas planets, walked all the way to Pluto (which was still considered a planet), and ended in a beautiful valley. It was paradise, the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I often think of that dream and the way God placed a love for the heavens in me from a very early age. Of course the science and scale of my dream was waaaaay off, for me to be walking past the gas planets. But the awe and wonder present in that dream are still present in my waking hours today.

Biblical Imagination and the Gospels — interview with Michael Card. Jonathan and I have a long-standing love for Michael Card’s theologically-rich lyrics, including songs like El Shaddai, Things We Leave Behind, Why, and God’s Own Fool (which I’ve actually blogged about before). I loved listening to Michael’s explanation of the Biblical imagination and how to connect the head and the heart, and his four new Gospel commentaries are now on my To Read (Eventually) list. Here’s a quicker explanation for the Biblical imagination from Michael. He’s also done some teaching on lamenting as worship, which I really appreciated.

Never Once by Matt Redman. I listened to this song on the plane. It was the theme song during our last trip to the U.S. and truly represented how we felt about our first term in Cambodia. Now that I’ve finished a second term, I can again say with gratitude that never once did I ever walk alone. He has been with me, beside me, and in me this entire time, and I see how His love has burned ever deeper into my heart the past two years.

The Saga of Sorya

By Elizabeth

The Trotters want a TV and DVD player. We plan to drive to Sorya Mall, near the Central Market, after church. Mistake #1: Driving somewhere you’ve never driven before in a foreign country. Mistake #2: Doing it on a Sunday afternoon. There are lots of one way streets near the Central Market, and although we have a map, I misread it, and we drive in approximate circles for awhile. Then we find the hidden entrance to the parking garage. It’s 5 stories high.

Parking, next challenge. Success! Jonathan is becoming quite adept at driving and parking here. I on the other hand am not even attempting yet. My husband’s heart would probably stop if I tried. But back to the mall. And all the people at the mall. We hold our babies close and try to find the floor that has the electronics store. Remember there are 5 floors. All full of people staring at us. Like caged circus animals. Yet again. We find the store, and the kids and I plop down at a table to wait while Papa picks out the cheapest TV and DVD player he can find. Remember this is also where the ultra-elite Cambodian wealthy shop, and it’s expensive. He’s not sure if the DVD player will play our American DVD’s since the regions are different, but the employee assures him it will, and we pay and leave.

But. We’ve promised the kids ice cream at Lucky Burger. So we find Lucky (First we try a few different floors. Remember there are 5). More people staring. Actually, there were no Asians in that burger joint who WEREN’T staring at us. There were 2 white people. They weren’t staring. I am highly irritated. I’ve always been invisible in life, the unremarkable nerd who doesn’t attract attention. And I’m exhausted. It’s past 2 and we haven’t eaten lunch, and the journey to the mall was tiring to begin with. Hannah runs into a table and cries, and Jonathan starts to order. Half naked women are on TV, and Isaac has a hard time not looking at screens. We do all enjoy our ice cream. It actually tastes just like McDonald’s soft serve. Yummm. Now people start taking pictures of the white alien creatures. Time to go.

Time to drive home. A drive during which Jonathan gets stuck in an intersection when the cross traffic starts coming. Yikes. We make it through. Phew! Yikes. There are those police officers again. Phew, they want less money this time. Time to get home. Where we can set up the DVD player and see if it works. Phew. It does. The Incredibles is playing as I type.

Now I’m home, and I like to say my home is like the Embassy. It’s American soil. A Christian nation. And no matter what each day brings to me, at the end of it, I count myself blessed because I have a husband who welcomes me with open arms.

A Trip to Lucky

By Elizabeth

I braved Lucky on a Saturday evening. I have a love-hate relationship with Lucky. For one, I am very thankful there’s even a grocery store here and I am fully funded and can shop at it. That I love. But the experience of Lucky is something I could do without.

I fill my CVS-size shopping cart to the brim while people stare and point. They touch Faith and laugh when she cringes. The carts don’t maneuver well when empty, and certainly not when full. Many items are not in English, or only partly in English, so finding what you want is tough, and deciding how many to get is tougher. About halfway through my list, my brain stops working. I am already pretty embarrassed that I’m white. Additionally I have a full cart (Cambodians tend to go to the market daily and buy less). It’s only enough food for a family of 6 big eaters for one week, though. I branch out this week to the produce section. Every other time I am too exhausted after picking out the staples. . . Next week I might foray into beef and chicken.

At the very end, with Faith whining at the bananas I squeezed into her seat, and with people staring at me, I pick up my last item — the kind of mop and bucket my house helper needs. I push the overflowing cart with one hand, and pull the rolling bucket and mop with the other, through impossibly narrow aisles to the checkout counter, where I hope and pray Jonathan Trotter is done with his shopping elsewhere in the mall. He has the cash, you see. He arrives, I avoid crying for the time being. A total of 4 ladies help me at this point. When the cashier can’t find the price on the cheese, another emplyee runs to the refridgerator section, and when she returns with the price, speaking in Khmer, they all laugh hysterically. Jonathan pays, and we leave.

When we arrive home, after unloading and getting the kids a snack b/c it is now past bedtime (meaning Jonathan had to drive in the dark which is always stressful), we discover the source of the ant problem I’ve had this week. Ants in my precious brown rice (have I mentioned whole grains are hard to find here??). Plus some other creepy looking critter. So I cry, “mommy, mommy, mommy,” and I’m not sure if I’m talking about myself or my own mother. We clean out the pantry and dump the rice container, which is obviously not airtight. I take care of the mess while Jonathan reads Narnia to the kids.

What a day.