What We’re Reading: 2018 edition

It’s been a while since we shared our favorite titles! Some of these are books we read quite a while ago and I never got around to recommending, and some are still fresh in my mind. I will try keep my words to a minimum, and in some cases I might just include a favorite quote from a book and cross my fingers in hope that you will be inspired to read it.

Over the past year, I’ve felt especially compelled to learn more about the lives of people who are marginalized, to listen to a new set of stories.… Continue Reading “What We’re Reading: 2018 edition”

Living in Weakness: My Story of Anxiety

“Live leaning in when the pain is fierce

Oh, the bow, it will break at his coming

Stand who can understand the design

The refining holy fire.

Oh, gracious light. Oh, gracious light

I have been walking, walking so long, in darkness.”

(Sandra McCracken, Oh, Gracious Light)

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There is an episode of Call the Midwife, where an elderly woman with a gynecological malady (I can’t remember what) comes in to the clinic asking for help. The midwife calls a doctor to assist, and the doctor diagnoses an ongoing disorder.… Continue Reading “Living in Weakness: My Story of Anxiety”

Eden and My Girls

Elise is wide eyed at everything, from the start of each day. Her wide eyes search me out in the morning hours, and she is keen to touch my face as she greets me. In fact, she touches every face she can reach, no matter how unfamiliar the face. To her, every person is attractive, a potential friendship.

She zealously crawls about the house, hungry to see and touch everything within reach; when she finds an item of interest, she stops to taste it and forgets all else.… Continue Reading “Eden and My Girls”

Matters of Injustice

I want to share some thoughts on the matter of injustice, by way of a personal experience. But before I tell our story, I want to preface this by saying that it is a single story, and is by no means an indicator of the hospitality we usually receive as foreigners in this country. On the contrary, it is an exception in our case, and I want to make that clear.

Not long ago, a person we’d once thought of as an honest friend took advantage of us.… Continue Reading “Matters of Injustice”

Five Years’ Time

In February five years ago, I flew to Myanmar for the first time. I had never been to a developing country before. I had considered and sworn off the idea of cross cultural work back in college, my business studies leaving me certain that westerners overseas did more harm than good.

But I came to Myanmar, planning to see Yangon and Rakhine state, and experience the place my fiancé had called his home for the past seven years. It was to be a three-week visit, and for two of those three weeks, I wanted to be anywhere but Myanmar.… Continue Reading “Five Years’ Time”

Elisabeth’s Arrival

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Elisabeth’s Birth Story

I only had time for one pre-natal appointment with my Chiang Mai OB before giving birth to Elise. At the appointment my doctor echoed the words of my Myanmar OB and mentioned that I was measuring small and that the baby seemed small. I wasn’t overly concerned, as they said the same thing about Lena, and she was 6.5 pounds at birth (She was born at 38.5 weeks). I was nearly 37 weeks at this appointment, so I expected that I had some time for the baby to pack on some more weight before birth.… Continue Reading “Elisabeth’s Arrival”

International Women’s Day: A Defense and a Lament

When my daughter was born, the medical staff asked what name to write down. Without looking at one another, my husband and I both replied, “Magdalena.” We had another name in mind too, but as soon as we saw her face, we knew we wanted her to carry the story of a woman loved by God and chosen as the first to see his resurrected face. In a society where a woman’s testimony and personal worth had little value, it seems no mistake on God’s part that he chose a woman as a first witness to his resurrection.… Continue Reading “International Women’s Day: A Defense and a Lament”

Myanmar Cultural Tidbits: A Few Folkways

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I want to share a fun list of some cultural attributes of Myanmar. These things have become comfortable and enjoyable for us, but in returning for a visit to the U.S., I see again how these cultural folkways might seem surprising or amusing to some westerners. (What’s a folkway, you ask? Good question. Folkways are the customs and conventions of daily life. Folkways indicate the cultural ideas about what is rude and what is polite. Cultural norms, by contrast, tend to indicate the culture’s perspective on morality, and what is right and wrong.)

[Disclaimer: the inescapable part of our cultural experiences in Myanmar is that they are heavily defined by the fact that we are foreigners.… Continue Reading “Myanmar Cultural Tidbits: A Few Folkways”

As We Tell Stories

 To Jim, on the week marking your 32nd birthday and the two-year anniversary of our engagement.

In your first note to me, you asked, “have you slipped the surly bonds of America?” Which really meant, “tell me a story.” (I had no grand travel story to share, but I still replied courteously, since you were obviously a lonely missionary.)

Our first conversation topic was suffering. You told me of encountering tourists in Myanmar, one who frankly admitted, “I think that I’ve never looked into religion because I’ve never really had to go thru suffering in my life.” We talked about that, how suffering changes people.… Continue Reading “As We Tell Stories”

“Is It Safe?”

Safety—or should I say, the lack thereof—is a really popular discussion topic. It fuels the evening news, insurance company stock holdings, and in my case, conversations about our future life overseas.

When someone asks me, “Is it safe?” or “How dangerous is it there?” the question tends to emerge from one of two trains of thought:

A) “Tell me all your snake stories!”

B) “I hope there is someone at the top of your organization who will order you to leave at the first sign of danger, like it or not.… Continue Reading ““Is It Safe?””