Modern Missionary Mamas

Because Christ is our all in all, all over the world.



Halloween costumes, anyone?

Stumbled on this and it looks cool: it’s a site for vintage clothing patterns, all for free! And since history (and pop culture) is cyclical, you can find Star Wars patterns and Wonder Woman costumes! 🙂

And if your sewing skills are anything like mine, you’ll want to get on this ASAP.

I hope your sewing skills are better than mine.



Quick and Dirty Transition Tips

Hello, mamas! I’ve missed you. I’ve been in a time of transition as I travel towards furlough/home assignment for a season, so I thought I’d share a little bit of how I’m treating myself well in the blur:

I give myself a full two days to recover. HQ meetings start Monday? I come in on Friday night. I arrived in PDX on Tuesday night for a conference on Friday night. That gives us all time for the jet lag to wear off (really, kids? 3:30 AM seems like morning to you?) and to get over any illnesses we picked up on the plane. (Though I still stand by my habit on wiping down arm rests, tray tables, windows and screens with a sanitizing wipe. It may get weird looks, but we had no illness this time!)

I navigate triggers with extra time and space. And by that I mean reverse culture shock triggers. And by that I mean the grocery store. Knowing they’d remodeled again since I was last there, I happily left my kids with my mom-in-law while I navigated the assault on my senses that is the grocery store. Mamas, I had to do anxiety breathing. I don’t know exactly why it’s a trigger for me, but it is. So do I try to “just pop in for a few things” on the way to something else? No. No, I do not.

Just say no. I know. Your time is short. You want to see everyone, and they want to see you. But I know I can’t. I wanted desperately to drive to Salem last night to see a dear friend who goes back to Indo next week…but my kids needed time with me to process the next phase of our transition and recover from the exhaustion of doing American church for the first time (again). And it may sound silly, but I needed that, too. Give yourself time to putter, to knit, to write. You can dive into work soon enough.

I let the tears come. My oldest did NOT want to go to Sunday School. Usually, my guy is the tough one who’s good at Sunday school drop off, but it was just me yesterday. And when I walked away from him, I held back tears. I held them back so well, down the hall, down the stairs. I held them back from the usher who greeted me. I held them back from my dad-in-law when I found him in our row. But when the music started, even though it was a song I didn’t know (maybe because it was a song I didn’t know), I let myself come undone. The whispered voice said, No façades now. Not with me.

But people will stare! I know. They did. But that’s where my heart was at. It was grieving my Haiti home. It was overwhelmed by the increased noise and lights. It was sad for my scared boy who just wants to be with me. So I cried in the presence of God. You can, too. You don’t have to pretend this isn’t hard. It is.

I exercise outside. I’m in a temperate part of the world, so you may not be able to do this, but it so helps me with jet lag and burning off the residual stress of travel.

I should’ve stayed off Facebook and Twitter. Ah, the endless scroll. It’s too easy to lose myself in it, too easy to ignore my kids and those present with me. I was happier when I had some distance from my phone.

You’ve got this, mamas.

Make it Monday: Fake Snow!

Make it Monday

Okay, so the weatherman’s right: there’s 0% chance of snow outside. But inside, mamas? That’s another story. Whip this up and stick it in the fridge. Your kids won’t know the difference. (Unless they try to eat it. Don’t let them try to eat it.)

Jingle jingle, mamas! You’ve got this.



Surviving Christmas Overseas

Some good thoughts here!


Make It Monday: Sweetened Condensed Milk and Cream of Anything Soup

Make it Monday.png

Here’s a how-to for sweetened condensed milk, since I know many of you can’t just open up a can for this…and mama needs her coconut balls this Christmas.

And here’s the how-to for cream of…anything! Essential for that green bean casserole. And she’s right, a roux is really easy. You can do it, mamas. Don’t let the French fool you.

You’ve got this, mamas!



Removing the ‘mas’ in Christmas

Removing the.png

My first Christmas overseas was pretty depressing. I didn’t have kids. I didn’t have a tree (I taped ornaments to the wall in a triangle). It wasn’t snowing. I couldn’t even run my lights because the power situation was pretty bad. But I felt God tugging at my heart to really consider the holiday.

If you take out the “mas” (meaning ‘more’, in this case; I know where it comes from, don’t write me angry letters), you’re left with Christ. Removed from the commercialism, removed from the cold, what was left?


Advent still felt like home. So pull out your pipe cleaners, mamas. Here’s a plethora of advent activities, some for you, some for your kids…but all will help you remember that if that baby was swaddled, he was sweating, just like you.

Because of Bethlehem

Around the World Advent Calendar

Inscribe the Word December writing plan

Jesus Storybook Bible Advent Activities

The Spirit of Christmas Family Advent Devotionals


You’ve got this, mamas.

::jingle jingle::



Even if…

When Easter (1)

Even if your kids don’t have new clothes or hats…

Even if you can’t hide real eggs because they’d start to turn immediately in the heat…

Even if the Cadberry mini-eggs arrived pulverized and melted…

(please, a moment of the silence for the chocolate…) 

You can celebrate the resurrected Son. You are celebrating him daily in how you care for your family; your life bears witness. But on this day, take a note from Jewish tradition and just do something–anything–different.

I was reading about Passover, and it was interesting to hear that the youngest child is supposed to ask what’s so different about this night. Because we don’t normally munch on bitter herbs, right? And the order of the meal is different, because the celebration is different. I know holidays outside our home culture can be hard, but there are so many ways to make this night different from all others. Just putting a tablecloth on the table can be enough (assuming you’re lazy like me and don’t usually use one). You don’t have to spend extra money if you don’t have it: cook breakfast for dinner or have a random smorgasbord of everyone’s favorite food. I love Barbara Reiney’s idea of simply putting a stuffed lamb on the table to symbolize Christ’s sacrifice. Pick flowers from your yard. Eat outside. But do something to mark the day he rose for you. Make sure they know it’s different; it’s not like every other day. This day, we stop and remember.

Oh, you’re so deeply loved, mama. He sighs over you. He delights to bless you. You are righteous by the blood of his beloved son and perfect in His sight…even if your meal doesn’t contain ham. Don’t stress the small stuff.

Oh, and just because it’s Friday (and a Good one at that), here’s some free Easter printables to brighten up your abode. I love the one with many languages proclaiming that he is risen indeed!

You’ve got this, mama.


Ask Me Monday: Keeping Traditions Alive Overseas


Yes, it’s time–it’s Ask Me Monday! I know, I know, this is the one thing you look forward to all week, but you have to wait until Monday. Because Ask Me Wednesday just sounds silly.

This week’s Ask Me Monday comes from my beloved sister:

What fond childhood activities or treats (I.e. Bike riding, ICECREAM/popcicles, Saturday morning pancakes) have been able to maintain or had to alter or had to abandon for the sake of being overseas? (I know I’m not a missionary momma but I’m good at being curious!!)

Traditions are really important to me. I really struggled when we first moved here with feeling removed from my traditions. Many of my traditions were food-related, since food and culture go together like peanut butter and…well, you get it. Here’s how my life has changed in this regard in the last seven years:

*Saturday morning pancakes. I got a copy of the More with Less cookbook when David and I married, so that’s always been my go-to. The ingredients are easy to get, and it’s simple enough to make a big batch of the mix and have it ready to go…or at least, it was, until we went gluten-free and refined-sugar free. Can I just say that baking gluten-free overseas has to be one of the greatest challenges I’ve ever faced?! Even what’s available is often outside my budget. But I love the tradition so much, and I wanted my kids to remember eating pancakes with me…so after a LOT of trial and error, I do have a pancake recipe now using coconut flour. And even David will eat them. That’s saying something, folks.


*Friday pizza night. My mom gave me an amazing recipe, which I loved…until I tried Chicago-style pizza when I was at Wheaton. Some tweaking, some adjusting, and it was pretty close…and then, the gluten-free lifestyle hit. But again, we survived! I actually think this recipe is genius: it has good flavor and the ingredients are simple. However, it does require more cheese, so I know it may be out-of-reach for some. It doesn’t always have pepperoni (the deli guy was out! Don’t worry, my kids’ faces made him feel terrible about it), but thanks to my Whole30, I know how to make sausage, and that usually suffices. As some may recall, my cast iron pizza pan is one of the things I can’t live without overseas. Below, you can see the gluten version I make for my guy, who eats gluten-free dinners six days a week without complaint. He’s so great.


*Ice cream and popsicles. We make our own. It’s the best. I make a chocolate coconut milk ice cream that we all love, and the best part is that you don’t even need an ice cream maker! The coconut fat freezes really hard, so even if your freezer is a bit wimpy like mine, it still comes out solid. But I do have an ice cream maker, which I also love, partly because you only have to freeze the can–you can crank it by hand when it’s time to churn–and partly because it doesn’t require any special ingredients like rock salt. So nice. I got this book of ice cream recipes for Christmas one year, and the mango sorbet is seriously amazing. We also make popsicles with mangoes and passion fruit or peach juice (or kombucha if you’re a hippy like me) using this popsicle maker. I like the size of the pops since they’re small (and therefore make less of a mess when they get forgotten on kitchen table), but several sticks broke and they don’t seem to sell replacements. We cut down some drinking straws and were good to go. No one keeps mama from her popsicles. 

*Carving pumpkins. We did that this year! The pumpkin was green! And it wouldn’t stand up on its own! But we did it!


*Riding bikes. Trisha had also asked a similar question about how we get outside and go for walks in the city. And the answer is…we kind of don’t. This has been one of the hardest things for me about living here. I’m the kind who would take off and go to Tryon Creek State Park just because during the week. I love the outdoors. There’s a large, walled property at a church near here, and they have a play structure that we go to…but since you have to drive to get there, we don’t go very often. We tried to take bikes, but the path was too rough. So we bike circles around the car in the garage. And you know what? My kids are happy with that. That’s all they really know. We go on imaginary hikes where we pretend that the dogs are bears and their pee puddles are rivers we have to cross. Just keeping it real, folks. 


And for myself, I pick a 5K to run when I go on furlough. I even register as early as they’ll let me, because I can print out the logo and hang it above my treadmill and promise the part of me that’s suffocating that it will breathe again. And yes, I hear how dramatic that sounds. I don’t care.

I think it’s a valid way to talk to yourself. There’s going to be things you give up, even if it’s just for a season. If you can hold out hope, there’s a lot that you can get back…but it takes time, effort and creativity. I wasn’t doing all this when I first got here. My first Christmas in Haiti, my tree was a piece of string I laced between nails in a concrete wall in a triangle shape. But I hung ornaments on that thing like it was a Douglas Fir fresh from the farm. And now I have a fake tree that I mostly love.

Traditions are what make us feel at home. They’re hard to lose. Here’s some that I really miss:

*Driving around looking at Christmas lights at night. Not a thing here.

*Sledding. Snowball fights. Snowmen. Watching snow fall while drinking cocoa. Snow. Snow. Snow.

*Fourth of July picnic at the high school and fireworks that fill the sky.

*Being able to go to the library. Yes, that was a tradition in my house.

But new traditions also make us who we’re becoming and help us bond as a family. Here’s some new traditions that I really love:

*We play the Wii on Friday nights. All of us. It is often an exercise in patience, especially for the big people, but even my two-year-old can skydive.

*We look at the stars on our balcony. The kids have recently decided we should do this regularly before bed. Living in one of the darkest countries in the world has its benefits.

*Around Easter, we buy a kite. We stink at flying them, but it’s local thing, and it’s fun to try.

*We tape up paper snowflakes on our walls all winter long. This year, my four-year-old even helped me cut them out. Subsequently, some of them are purple.

*We make soup joumou, a spicy beef-pumpkin soup on New Year’s.

*We write in a special book to record moments at Christmas and Thanksgiving. They both have a page for each year, and the Christmas one has questions to answer and a place for pictures.

Don’t discount the new traditions that are out there, waiting to be discovered, things that will be uniquely yours as your kids get older. It’s ok to look for replacement traditions when the old ones just aren’t happening.

You’ve got this, mama.


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