A-41: Essays on life and ministry abroad

Purchase the Kindle version of A-41 here.

Purchase the print edition here.

Here’s what Elizabeth has to say about the print edition:

“What I like about the paper copy is that it’s in 8 1/2 X 11 inch format, so it has lots of white space and (ahem) margin to make your own notes, to sort of journal through it, as it were. A lot of our posts really are like journal entries of what God is taking us through, so having a hard copy allows you to journal through those issues on your own, too. Hopefully that’s a blessing to someone!”

If you want to save a couple bucks and you don’t mind clicking a ton of links, most of the content can be read by clicking the various links below. Merry Christmas!

Thanks for stopping by!

all for ONE,
Jonathan T.


Missionary Mommy Wars
The Church: On Not Being the Casserole Lady
I’m a Proverbs 31 Failure

Failing at Fatherhood (how moving abroad ruined my parenting)

Parenthood & Third Culture Kids
On Your High School Graduation: A Letter to My Third Culture Kid
What I Want to Give My TCKs
A Prayer for My Third Culture Kids
3 Ways to Care for the Heart of Your Third Culture Kid
3 Ways to Care for the Heart of Your Missionary Kid
The Little Word That Frees Us
Particle Physics Finally Explains Third Culture Kids!

The Purpose of Marriage is NOT to Make You Holy
Our Journey to Finding Joy in Marriage (and the things we lost along the way)
Open letter to trailing spouses (and the people they’re married to)
Trailing Spouse: He Heard, “Go!” and I Said, “No!”
3 Ways to Care for the Heart of Your Wife

A Letter to Singles

On Grief, Loss, and Being Really Sad
Outlawed Grief, a Curse Disguised
Grief on a Spindle (a poem)
Don’t be afraid of me, please (and other lessons from the valley)
A Lonely Birthday
For the times when you hold back the tears
When Grief Bleeds
When Friends Do the Next Right Thing
A Sorrow Sandwich
Heaven and Human Trafficking

Deeper Musings on Missions and “The Call”
Why Are We Here?
The Idolatry of Missions
Before You Cry “Demon!”
Demon and Divine
What If I Fall Apart on the Mission Field?
How Do You Write Your Name in the Land?

Lists (because they’re fun)
– 10 Reasons You Should Be a Missionary
10 Things Flying Taught Me About Missions
6 Reasons Furloughs are Awesome (sort of)
10 Ways to Survive Your First Year Overseas

On making decisions with your head and your heart and Him
Navigating the Night (3 things to do when you have no idea what to do)
When the Straight & Narrow Isn’t
To the ones who think they’ve failed
Distractions and the Voice of Jesus

Conflict and Anger
– Run Away! Run Away! (And Other Conflict Styles)
Anger Abroad
Angry, Mean, and Redeemed

Things you should probably be aware of if you’re even slightly interested in missions, serving somewhere in the Church, or just living in general
Four Tools of Spiritual Manipulators
How to Communicate so People Will Care
Facebook lies and other truths
margin: the wasted space we desperately need
Please Stop Running
I’m Not Supposed to Have Needs
How to Transition to the Foreign Field and not Croak: Six Essential Steps
Women are Scary (and other lessons modesty culture teaches men)
What To Do About Women’s Roles
Jesus Loves Me This I Sometimes Know
The Journey To Feel Starts Small


The Purpose of Marriage is Not to Make You Holy {A Life Overseas}

by Jonathan

Before we moved abroad, we did some marriage counseling. What I mean is, we sat in an old guy’s office for fifteen hours and cried. It was amazing.

He told us our marriage could be a safe-haven on the field. Or not.

He said we could strengthen and encourage each other on the field. Or not.

He said that our marriage could bring peace and stamina and even joy to the mission field. Or not.

He was right.

Continue reading at A Life Overseas…


A Marriage Blessing

by Jonathan

This post was originally written for my little sister and her new husband. With all my heart, I wish these things for them and for all married couples.


May your marriage be beautiful. May it remind you often that God gives good gifts. Very good gifts.

May you remember that God didn’t put Adam and Eve together to give them holiness, but a companion, a comrade, confidant, and friend.

May people look at your love and see that there is a God and he is awesome.

May you show the world – and the Church – that it’s not about submission or obedience or “who’s in charge.” That in your love and mutual submission, you will race each other to the bottom. And when you get to the bottom, may you find love, wholeness, joy, peace, and life. In other words, Jesus.

May you laugh often. At each other, with each other, because of each other. And if and when God fills your home with children, may you sit around the table and laugh and laugh and laugh.

May you taste heaven when you taste each other.

And when you walk through the shadowlands, and you will walk through the shadowlands, may the One who led you together continue to lead you together. He is the Creator of the soaring mountaintops and the scary valleys. May he sustain you and remind you.

May 2014 be the best year of your marriage. Until 2015. And may 2015 be the best year of your marriage. Until 2016. May you experience the intense joy of being known, deeply, and the great honor of knowing another.

May your love, promised and given on this day, echo into eternity. May people hear your stories, witness your love, and say from now until forever, “Look at what the Lord has done!”

Paul, the Mysogynist?

by Elizabeth

While this tends to be a faith-walk type of blog, and not a theology blog, I’d be a fool not to admit that some of my biggest personal crises happen at the intersection of faith and theology. As this is an enormous subject, and as I am not a Bible scholar, this post is not meant to offer an authoritative stance on my part, or even to start a debate: it is simply an important part of my faith journey that I feel the need to share. I asked God to help me write something that honors Him but that expresses my struggle to understand certain parts of the New Testament, and this is the result.


Saint Paul, by Raphael

I always loved the apostle Peter. It seemed to me that he said whatever he was thinking before he had time to think about it. He was impulsive, given to emotional outbursts, and faltered under fear — and I could relate. Yet Peter always returned to Jesus, and he lived Forgiven.

Paul, on the other hand, was never quite so important to me. I only started getting to know him several years ago, in a counselor’s office, as I worked through the concept of grace. Week after week I sat on that couch in the counselor’s office, crying, trying desperately to understand the doctrine of Grace, trying to accept the fact that God loves me completely, apart from anything I do or don’t do.

Continue reading

Yays and Yucks (Looking Back on a Year in Asia Part 1)

— by Elizabeth

NOTE ABOUT THIS SERIES:  I spent a lot of time in December and January reflecting on my first year overseas. Then I wrote it all down. In a 6-part series. Yes, I know that a 6-part series is waaaaay too long, but what am I if not long-winded?? (It could have been worse, you know. I scrapped a few ideas along the way.) My fiancé used to suffer through my jabbering till 2 am nearly every night, despite being in his first year of law school and working 3 jobs on the side. Boy, do I have a lot to say. (Oh yeah, and my fiancé still married me. More evidence of the existence of True Love.)


I love my life. It’s true. I loved it in Kansas City, and I love it in Phnom Penh.

We learned in missions training about the paradox of yays and yucks — the good things and bad things that happen in life – often at the same time. A friend recently described it as roses and thorns. People make decisions in life after listing out the pros and cons of a particular situation. And then “normal” people take the road that has fewer yucks, right?

Well, if I were to list out all the yays and yucks of living here, my yuck list would be longer. Muuuuch longer. You might question my normalcy. You might question my sanity. And you might question my claim.

So here’s my answer to those questions:

It’s because the weight I assign the yays is much heavier than the weight I assign the yucks. It’s like those weighted percentages in school. How we wish that our grade would depend more on the homework, which usually garners about 10% (sometimes none!). Quizzes are in there somewhere. Maybe a term paper. But the bulk of your grade is based on test scores.

God has granted me some heavy-duty yays this year. He has given us health (by missionary standards anyway). He has given us a sense of home and belonging. He has given me close friends in this country. My marriage is better than ever. (Research has found this is not the norm.) And I have peace in my relationship with God. (To any men who read this, I do apologize that my blessings are heavy on the relationships. But I am, after all, a woman, so what else would you expect??) These blessings are worth more to me than all the language mishaps, cultural isolation, sweat, dirt, bugs, and stinky smells combined. And believe me — there are more bugs and stinky smells than you can possibly imagine.

So in the weighted grade of my life, the yays count like tests, and the yucks count like homework. Go figure.


 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ. Philippians 3:8