This fall, I worked as short-term staff for Youth With a Mission (YWAM) Bridges of Life, a small mission base in Southern France. I arrived at their chateau with a willing spirit but little idea what God wanted me to do during my stay. There were plenty of base ministries I was interested in, but when the chef asked for extra hands, I tied on an apron and set to chopping vegetables. I rarely left the kitchen for the rest of my stay. It was the heart of the base, knitting the staff and ministries together with daily meals that felt more like community check-ups than quick bites. I loved watching friends pass baguettes around the table, quipping with one another just as often as they counseled and encouraged. When culture-shocked mission teams came to stay at the base, I loved comforting them with bowls of mushroom soup. When Discipleship…Continue Reading
When I write or speak about working overseas, young Christians often ask how I knew God was calling me there. They come up to me all bright-eyed and hopeful about the future, yet unsure how to decipher God’s will for their life. I tell them a few simple things: Get Quiet As anxiety about the future mounts, we often become busy, distracted, and overly talkative. This is counterproductive. When praying about a new opportunity, make sure your heart is full of faith that God will guide you, and then wait in quietness and trustfulness until he speaks. Look for Supernatural Coincidences All of my major life callings have been preceded by strange, near-impossible coincidences. For example, I got connected with my current organization when I stumbled upon some missionaries in the Himalayan wilderness. While this may seem extreme, I see this same pattern everywhere I go: God goes out of…Continue Reading
When I was in missions training, everyone wanted to go to the “hardest and darkest” nations—myself included. With a cocktail of zeal and naiveté coursing through our veins, we believed we could turn these countries around and bring them to freedom in Jesus. It only took a few months in Kosovo, a nation still in the aftershock of genocide and war, for me to realize how “hard and dark” it could get. Though I had plenty of modern comforts, I was often miserable. I believed Jesus was stronger, but the darkness I was combating still wriggled deep under my skin. Because I believed Jesus was stronger, I ignored depression and burnout far longer than I should have. Two years of hard lessons and adjustments later, I have a few suggestions for how to cope—and even thrive—in the darkness: 1. Fight Isolation Satan’s number one tactic is to get you alone…Continue Reading
Twice in my life, family and friends have gathered to shower me with domestic gifts. When I got married, everyone wanted to help me set up a home. When I got pregnant, they wanted to deck out a nursery. As someone who’s dreamed about cookware and cribs, this generosity was all I could hope for and more. The problem was, in both seasons, God was calling me far away from home. My husband and I moved to Kosovo just weeks after we got married. After our child is born, we’ll head to France. Unlike most of our peers, our possessions are limited to what we can carry in a few suitcases. We find ourselves constantly resisting the urge to nest. This resistance isn’t easy. I hate declining gifts and having no space for something impractical. I envy the security of my home-owning friends. Yet, in my nestlessness, God has taught…Continue Reading
Original (photo modified) "We are all United" by Nina Matthews Photography
Summer was just beginning in Kosovo when two pink lines appeared on the flimsy pregnancy test. Our neighborhood pharmacist assured my husband and me that this tiny piece of paper was, in fact, accurate. We were going to be parents. We were already planning to leave Kosovo a few weeks after I took the infamous test; we just hadn’t decided where to live next. For the last five months, I’ve carried this baby across America, Macedonia, Turkey, Spain, and France, looking for a place to call home. Traveling as an expectant parent, I’ve been on high alert, closely observing each culture and wondering how my child would fare within it. In Kosovo, I watched strangers pinch the cheeks of every baby in sight. In southern France, I was awed by mothers’ nonchalance with scorpions. In each place, I listened to what people were teaching their children about God and all…Continue Reading
Gibsons Go Global - Awaken mag
In September, Jeremiah and Katie Gibson set out from Texas, believing that God was calling them to a round-the-world faith journey. As with most faith journeys, they didn’t know where they’d end up or how they’d afford it. They simply said “yes” to God’s call and trusted that he would work out the details. Five months and six locations later, they stumbled into my apartment in Prishtina, Kosovo, exhausted from an all-night travel schedule made worse by delays. After some rest and a strong cup of tea, the Gibsons told me how their global adventure began. When they got engaged last winter, both Jeremiah and Katie had a heart for missions. As they prepared for marriage, they sought God’s plan for their first year together, hopeful that he might release them to minister in the nations. Ten months passed with little direction. Then the Gibsons began receiving “go” words. Friends…Continue Reading
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I learned to bake in college, whipping up new treats in my tiny dorm kitchen and then distributing them to my eager taste testers upstairs. It was the perfect marriage of friends and food, all in one cozy space. These brownie cookies have all the chewy richness of a brownie without being sticky, making them the perfect grab-and-go dessert. Now, I live in an Eastern European city with no car and no metro. Getting to a friend’s house usually means walking through coal-dusted air or squeezing into a shared taxi with strangers. As you may imagine, neither of these modes is particularly convenient for transporting cupcakes. Within these limitations, I’ve had to get creative with the most transportation-friendly dessert: the cookie. Once low on my list, I’ve come to love the versatility of cookies, how they can be all different flavors and textures. These brownie cookies have all the chewy…Continue Reading
traveling well in the islamic world
Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to and live in several Muslim-majority nations. While I’ve loved it immensely, I’ve also watched fellow Americans struggle with the shift. Some of them were hung up on fear, others on assumptions, but all of them probably could have had a better time if they’d had better information. Here are some of the tricks I’ve picked up for enjoying all that the incredibly diverse Islamic world has to offer. 1. Fear Not. As a young woman, I don’t think I’ve traveled anywhere without someone expressing concern about my safety, but this worry seems to go off the charts when I spend time in Muslim-majority countries. People ask if I will have to wear a hijab or even a burqa, neither of which have ever touched my head. They ask about persecution, terrorism, and jihad. They ask me if I really…Continue Reading
When my husband and I first felt called to move to Kosovo, we had no plans to become missionaries. We loved serving people, representing Jesus, and all the other hallmarks of missions except for one important detail: we didn’t want to live on support. Though we’d both raised funds for missions in the past, we couldn’t stomach the idea of doing it long term. We didn’t want to be a charity case for our friends, and the whole thing seemed unsustainable. Surely God would prefer us being able to support ourselves where he sent us, right? I want to set the record straight: my supporters do a great work in me, every day. They are heart-changers, pride-demolishers. They point me to Jesus, over and over.  Wrong. God soon gave us a clear vision of what he was calling us to do, which would definitively require us to live on support. We…Continue Reading
Albanian Peppers and Cream - speca me mos
Albanians know a thing or two about community living. My husband and I live in a small apartment above our landlord, who currently has about seven family members living in a two-person space. Though it’s hard for me to adopt the Albanian way of living, I have no trouble adapting to their way of eating.  When we told him that my husband’s parents would be coming to Kosovo for several months, he was shocked that they wanted to get a separate apartment. We shrugged and told him it’s an American thing; we like personal space. Our landlord shook his head. Though it’s hard for me to adopt the Albanian way of living, I have no trouble adapting to their way of eating. Meals are often served family style, with a big skillet of peppers and cream for the table to share. What I love about this dish is that it…Continue Reading