Saturday, December 30, 2017

Happy New year!

As I sit here, the house cleaned up from the Christmas festivities, and 8 people staying in our small 2 bedroom apartment, I can't help but enjoy the quiet, the coffee, and the time to think. Time to reflect on our first Christmas away from home, and how blessed we are by the friends and family that love us so much all over the world. Thank you.

Christmas here came fast! As we tried to prepare, and celebrate, not wanting the season to pass us by. It was so fun to focus in on Jesus this Christmas season, and have Amirah so excited for Jesus birthday on Christmas. Christmas was full of presents, friends, and fun at church.

This week we rested. We had wonderful visitors last week, and played a lot, this week we enjoyed new toys, new games, and being together. I pray that this week, after the hustle and bustle of the holidays you found time to just enjoy the people around you, family and friends. Enjoy your spot, the place God has placed you in, and the people He has placed you with.

As I look back on 2017 I cannot believe all that has happened, at this time last year I was in a panic inside as we prepared to move our family in just a few short days. We were sick, man were the kids and I sick! Then on the 6th or 7th of January we landed here, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (time gets a little fuzzy with those long flights...) We settled into our home over that weekend and began language school.

This year has been full of language learning, which will continue on, preparing to open the office, culture shock, culture exhaustion, culture learning, and building new friendships. We have found new routines, and new rhythms, and we have grown so much as a family unit. We have had many blessings, and are excited for 2018.

Looking ahead Chris will be beginning more projects, and I will continue to do teacher training at an NGO here, and help lead English classes at our church! (This is really fun for me!) Amirah will turn 5 in March, and Layla will be 3 in April! Chris and I will turn 3 decades old! Crazy.

Whatever you are doing tomorrow to ring in the New Year I hope you are with those you love, enjoying the people God has put around you. I pray that you have a great 2018, and draw closer to Jesus.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Love Language of Food

What do you do when you want to get to know someone better? Where do you meet? Where do you tend to gather? I would dare to say that most people, in almost all if not all cultures the answer to these questions would have something to do with food. When you want to know someone better you share a meal with them. You invite them to your home, you cook for them, you open up your heart, your home, and you family life. To share in deepening a relationship with someone. Often you may cook something special for those people too, you cook a meal that you love, or that represents something about who you are and who your family is. Turns out this was true in the US, and is true here too. :)

A few years ago Chris and I committed to continually inviting people into our home to intentionally develop relationships with people in our lives. We have hosted small groups, we have invited individual families over and we have offered ourselves and our home to whomever will come in our door. It is so fun and wonderful! We love having our home full of people enjoying each other, and having fun together.

I would say here in Cambodia there is a whole new element that is so much fun! It is the element of new foods. New foods for our family, and new foods for our friends here in Cambodia. It is so fun when we invite someone over and they cook something to bring that is special to their family, or we go to their home and get to try something they love to cook and often cook for their family. It is so fun to bond with friends while cooking together, whether it is them teaching me to cook Cambodian food, or me showing them how to make some American food.

Food is a connecting point. Here we seem to have many meals where people are teaching us not only what a new food is, but how to eat it. Or we are doing the same for them. Even when I am cooking just for my family and someone is here we discuss what it is, if there is something they make that is similar and what we like about it. When I shop in the market here my conversations with the sellers is often about how to cook with a certain vegetable, or what is normally made with that vegetable, or how to eat a certain new fruit.

It is so fun to share our home culture with friends here in Cambodia through food, as well as learn more about this new culture we live in through food. I often feel like just like learning to speak Khmer helps us understand and connect with our friends here, so does sharing food, and trying all the yummy things that they love to eat. (there are things we don't like that we have tried but overall it's usually pretty yummy.)

It is also such a comfort to us! We have friends here who cook amazing Mexican food and when we met them it was so fun have something that tasted like home. It also connected us with these amazing friends that we love so dearly now!

I love how God has woven this connectedness through out cultures, how He created food not just to nourish our bodies but to nourish our hearts, our souls, and do the same for others. I love that God made us to gather around the table/floor and speak about the things He is doing in our hearts, to gather around food and open up to others. I love how food can make someone else's home feel more like home, because you brought something to the table too. One of my favorite things is when people bring food to our home to share and they instantly have to make themselves at home to prepare the food they brought to share. It is so beautiful, and fun!

Get out there, invited people into your home, go to their home when you are invited, share food, and open up your hearts to each other! You need each other! If you have small children, invite families with small children over and let the sound so playing fill your home as you, talk more loudly to enjoy adult conversations. Share your heart. Share who you are.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

New Normal

I was trying to figure out why it has been hard to think of things to share with you, recently, and a friend of mine here in Cambodia posted about life being ordinary. You can read it here, so good for the reality of life, I think overseas and in your home country. Just about the truth of living "normal" life. It also sparked some of why I have struggled to think of things to share, and pinpoint the many things God is teaching me. (some of it could also be that I just got out of the habit of blogging so then it's harder for me to think of what to share)

Though the first few months here everything was new and exciting, it is now our normal. So when I think about daily achievements or stories they are very similar to what they would have been living in the US. I mean I grocery shop, cook, do dishes, (though these look different) teach preschool to Amirah, deal with 2 year old tantrums, deciphering whether or not nap time days are really over...and trying to help keep my family's inside and outside time, screen time, and book time, and family time and friend time balanced. So much is just about normal life, and living it in a way that glorifies Christ in the day to day normal, isn't this the same anywhere we live?

The biggest thing that is new is trying to build new friendships. I forgot in the 10 years we lived in Durango, how much time, effort and energy is put into building new friendships and doing life with new people. The hardest part about living here in Phnom Penh is missing the people who we did life with for so long. Though it takes time, and can be exhausting it is so much fun, and refreshing. God has blessed us with wonderful relationships here. If I think about it too much, the great people we have met here and love here it brings tears to my eyes. (much like when I think about our dear friends and family in the US) Many of them are already so dear to my heart, and I cannot wait to go deeper with these friends.

Even in making new friends, it is kind of normal for our family. We have made most of these friendships just doing what we always do. Being involved in and attending church. We are a part of  a small group, our kids go to kids programs, and we participate in church activities outside of the "normal service time". Then any friends we haven't made at church have been from playing outside, playgroup, or relying on our beloved tuk tuk drivers. (these guys really are a huge blessing to us) It it is so fun how just living life as a family with little kids provides so many connections. (Language School has also provided many friendships, and we love getting to know the people we are learning Khmer with and from, our teachers rock!)

Overall, everything now seems normal. (I am sure I will see the differences when we have visitors soon, and I share our normal with them...) but for now I am enjoying the feeling of things finally feeling normal, even if it makes it hard to know what exactly to share here. I am so happy to be here in Cambodia, with our new people. (Sometimes in a tuk tuk or at church my eyes fill with tears because I am so happy God chose us to be here right now.)

Our God is good, He is faithful, trustworthy, and kind, He sees you, and if you are going through a transition in life, longing for the normal again, I will say that God sees you, hears you, and is with you. Your new normal will come. You will miss things from the old normal, but look for how God answers specific prayers you had for this new normal. Don't miss the little things in the hurt, the transition or the grief, that God placed there to remind you He is there, He is faithful, and He will see you through this as well.

He has never failed, and He won't start now. What a great living and active God we serve!


The last few months have been crazy! We have been so busy, and honestly what I've struggled with what to write about on here. I get amazing ideas on a tuk tuk, or between class hours at language school, or even waiting for Amirah at dance class, then I would finally get my computer out and I couldn't remember even one idea... I have one post I hope to have up next week, and another I started months ago right after we moved here, I hope to finish soon too. So there is more coming!!!

However this post I just wanted to give a quick update on our family... We are moving right a long! On Monday Amirah started Pre-K and we really enjoying our first week of home school this school year. I just wrapped up level 3 and 4 full time at our language school, and I am working hard on learning to read and write Khmer. Chris is back at full time language school now, and I am back doing part time. We are loving understanding and using Khmer more and more.

Just this week I had so much fun at the market because I hadn't gone in a while because Chris had been going while he was being the primary parent and I was focusing on school. When I was shopping in the market the sellers I have come to know, were excited to talk and catch up on life and I finally knew enough Khmer to do just that! :)

Our EMI office is moving forward and the need here is more and more obvious every month that passes, with ministries and places stating that they wish we were already up and running so they could give us work. In the last month or so I have began working with a friend of mine here to help with teacher training at her school! I am so excited about that! I love teaching, and I am getting to help implement some of my favorite things from teaching in a "typical" classroom. Like social emotional learning, center work, group work, and student centered type learning! SO fun! I have a feeling volunteering here will also be a wonderful place for using and seeing the value of my learning to speak Khmer as I gain enough for it be useful there also.

All of these fun things, and cool things and yet so much of our life is just "normal" too. Like caring for the girls, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc. I was laughing to myself about how normal everything seems now and how as we get some of our first visitors they will probably find our new normal unlike what they think of as normal. But because things seem normal it is hard to think of things worth sharing. More on that in another post! I am planning to post here 2-4 times a month so you can subscribe so you don't miss any if you would like!

 Searching for leaves during Pre-K today. Then leaf art work. I love teaching the girls and talking about how awesome our Creator is. :)

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Radical Living...

Living radically for Jesus is being willing to lay down your life for what He is calling you to do. This looks so different depending on your life, and what God has in store for you, I am sure of this, whatever that looks like for you or for me, He is worth, and the adventure is worth it.

At 12 years old in my youth group I was convinced that the only way to truly live radically someday was to live in a place where my life would be endangered for my faith, and then boldly share Christ anyway. I was convinced that at every turn I needed to lay down all my comforts and sacrifice everything for the sake of the gospel. I was sure that if I didn't always do these things I would become a lukewarm follower of Christ, one who didn't really know what it meant to follow Jesus and one that didn't really love Jesus enough. This drove my heart to want to pursue overseas missions as an adult, it drove me to do a lot of things that were wonderful for Jesus. It also drove me to feel like I HAD TO do certain things or my faith wasn't authentic enough. God used this for so many good things, but I am now learning so much as an adult and a more mature Christian about how he grows us in our faith, and how little it is about me, and how greatly it is about Him! 

When I graduated college I was sure that I had gotten to a point I didn't care as much about Jesus or sharing the gospel, and discipling others... God took me through a season of learning about His delight in us. The way He loves to see us enjoy our life, and enjoy things He created us to be able to do. I still longed to serve Him in a radical way, hopefully someday overseas, but to do something big for Him some day. While we lived in Durango after college God taught me so much about living in community, loving others, sharing life with others, serving others because I genuinely wanted to, and trusting Him with what He wanted to do in the lives of people around me. It was so comfortable, and often I wondered if anything I was doing was radical at all. The great thing was... that it was. Loving people the way God was asking me to, was the radical thing He was calling me to do then, and there. Serving where He lead was the radical thing I was doing to advance God's kingdom. 

Now I am living overseas, serving as a missionary, and mom. Beginning to live cross-culturally, and at first it felt like it was a giant radical step of faith that I didn't know if I had enough faith to take. However now, 6 months later, I look at my life and wonder what is so radical about living in Cambodia? So many things are similar to life in the US, and so many things are completely different. I am realizing how our radical living for Jesus is so much about our daily day to day lives, the ins and outs of how we live that I think anywhere you live it probably doesn't always feel radical. It feels normal. The way  I parent, the way I take care of my family, the way I talk with and enjoy my husband. Some of the most radical things I am doing right now to show Jesus to others is the way I love and care for my family, the way I discipline my kids, the way, time and energy I put into learning Khmer. (Lately some of the most radical thing I do right now is study my Khmer alphabet and have the faith my head won't actually explode.) These are my radical things I am doing as I live for Jesus in a new country and culture. So much of it is "normal" yet so much of it is counter cultural to my home culture, my host culture, and even church culture, because God's culture isn't perfectly represented here on Earth, and the culture of heaven is what we are called to represent. So it turns out we continue to be the weird ones, but I think and pray it is in a good way that points people to Jesus.

 It's okay to be the weird different family. Reflect Jesus in all you do, and share Him with those around you. In fact I am more and more convinced that is how we live the a radical life serving Jesus. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

An update from this week


Thank you everyone for praying for me this week!

 For those of you who do not know or receive our monthly updates, on Monday I accidentally dumped approximately a liter of boiling water down the front of my body. I received 1st and 2nd degree burns on my left arm, left side of my chest, stomach, and right leg. Thankfully the girls were not around and I was the only one in the splash zone, I was also so grateful that Chris was still home and had not left for class yet. We raced me into the shower to try to cool the burns down, but even our shower without hot water was not very cool. So Chris got ice and made ice water I dipped towels in to try to cool my body down. As we were working on this, Chris got the girls dressed and we raced in tuk tuk to a nearby clinic with a doctor we rare coming to love and trust. They were able to help get my burns cooled down, and assess my burns. Which was about 30% of my body and all only 1st and 2nd degree burns. We returned home not too long after feeling a bit better, and I rested with ice packs the rest of the day.

On Tuesday we attempted a fairly normal day just at a slower pace. (The girls got the week off from preschool, on account of their teacher being injured) I went to class and that evening was the highlight of the week hosting connect group from our church here. SO FUN!!!! (maybe more about this later)

Wednesday I was feeling a bit worse in the afternoon, as some of my blisters were bursting and oozing, and the skin is just raw underneath.

Thursday was one of the rougher days. I went to class, and we did a fairly normal day, but I just felt done. Layla was grumpy all day, and I know we are all entitled to grumpy days, but grumpy 2 year old days while being injured are the worst! By Thursday evening I was in tears. I was so tired of hurting, tired of disciplining, tired of not being able to do my normal mom/wife duties, and tired of not just having a Walmart around the corner where we could just go grab everything place, from medical supplies to take care of my wounds to food.

See the thing is being hurt is frustrating on it's own, but I think it brought to the surface all the mildly frustrating things about learning a new place too, and how deeply you miss your community who knows. It was so comforting having that community praying and sending encouraging words. Thank you.

Friday we did a fairly normal day, but I was hurting more so after Chris got home he did a lot of the heavy lifting when it came to parenting. We ended last night with exactly what our weary family needed after a long week, legos, pizza, and a movie. Family time, laughing together and loving each other.

Today has continued that same relaxing family time we all four need. I was grateful this week to have my amazing husband to take care of me and the kids, and to simply say "it's ok, you don't have to do that, I can do that." I was also so grateful to the new friends we have made here who were so kind and supportive. Asking how I was, hugging me and letting me cry a little at playgroup yesterday. Bringing soup, and supplies. We are slowly finding great community here, and are loving it.

Just last week Chris and I were talking about how we are getting out of our exhaustion and how fun things are getting. Learning a new language, place, and making new friends is lots of work and fun. We are loving the people we are getting to know here, and are excited to know them more and more. It is hard feeling like it is kind of 2 steps forward 1 step back process. (But isn't life in general kind of like that?)

I was so comforted by the fact that our God isn't surprised. He knew. He has a plan, and He is our comforter, counselor, and great healer. Don't be afraid to invited Him into right where you are. He will come, He will move, because He loves you.

If you would like to receive our monthly updates via email, please send an email to with your email, and we will add you.

Here's to already being in our new home almost 5 months!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Market Day (again) and the Holy Spirit

So a lot has changed since my first post about "market day". That post was full of excitement, and anxiety. I remember feeling the sense of accomplishment as we sat down for lunch at Jars of Clay. Today I felt similarly as we hauled our groceries up to our apartment. But this time for different reasons.

I didn't just go to the market today, and I didn't just survive it and come home. I actually enjoyed it, and spoke so much Khmer! I made small talk while I bought fruit in Khmer, while watching the girls. I then proceeded to buy vegetables all in Khmer, and able to ask about a vegetable I have wondered about since we got here. I was able to ask and understand all in Khmer how to cook it, and we try it soon! I was able to navigate with our tuk tuk driver to the market, a bakery and the super market all in Khmer. I did all of this in a little over an hour with a 2 and 4 year old, and a backpack.

It was hot, so hot. Today when we got home the temperature on my phone was 96 degrees F but said it felt like 115 degrees F. But I had so much fun feeling like I explored a new market, navigated it, and got what I needed all in Khmer with my kids!

We love going to the market closest to our house, however this other market has more choices for fruit and veggies and is a little bit cheaper. We are still trying to figure out our routine for shopping, but I loved shopping where I could use so much Khmer! I am loving learning, and understanding Khmer. I am still in awe when I walk away from a conversation and I think about what I was just able to do.

The Holy Spirit is living and active. I cannot deny that He is moving in our family. That He is guiding us and I know that ability to learn Khmer, and have the guts to use it comes from His help.

Last night we attended our first small group meeting here in Cambodia. (in Khmer) It was so fun! Before we went my oldest daughter was not wanting to go. (culture and language has been rough lately for her with other kids) I asked her if I could pray for her. She said yes. I prayed for her, and ask God to comfort her, and help her, and to work on her heart to see and love the other kids like He does. When I finished praying her whole face lit up like a light bulb. I asked her if she felt a little bit better, and she responded, "NO, I feel a lot better! I feel so much better Mommy!". Then I shared with her how that was because of the Holy Spirit. How He is with us, and how God gives us the Holy Spirit to help us, and comfort us. He moves in our hearts to help us with what God wants us to do. He is our helper. She went to small group with a huge smile on her face, and we had a wonderful night!

It is so cool to see our God moving in our girls' hearts. It is so fun to watch them learning to trust Him more. The joy from Jesus, and the comfort from the Holy Spirit. I often think, this is why we are here. God knows what we each needed. He knows what we each need.

Culture Stress Effects the Family

This last week was hard. Our hard week came after a really great week. See we've made all these connections and are beginning to build real relationships with people. However we have also been here almost 4 months, and we hit our first round of "culture stress" this last week. We didn't even know what was wrong, until someone else pointed it out. I hear it can hit you every 3ish months your first year.

We felt lonely. We missed our people. We were tired. (language and culture learning is draining, the stress of this learning goes up as we make friends and aren't sure the appropriate ways to interact) Facebook wasn't helping, watching friends do things we love, like visit Durango, and the Durango Daddy Daughter Dance. We wanted our safe people so badly.

I didn't want to do anything. Not even the dishes. It was hard to study or go to class. I was tired, and was feeling sick.

Our oldest wasn't wanting to go out. She cried at church, not wanting to stay in kid church. She was being more mean and frustrated more easily. She was feeling and experiencing her own culture stress also.

We were tired.

God reminded me how He brought us here. He is helping us learning Khmer. He is cultivating and developing the relationships around us, and He would see us through. He is in control and He isn't surprised at our feelings.
We ended our rough week with birthday celebrations! We took cupcakes to playgroup, class and church, as well as cookies. We celebrated Layla being 2 and me being 29. Then Saturday we went swimming like we had planned but didn't know if we had the energy or the desire to do. But we stuck to our plan. We went to a pool with some water slides. It was quiet (except for the wedding happening nearby), and it was fun! We were the only ones there all morning, and I could feel all four of our souls being refreshed as we simply enjoyed one another and played. We were all physical exhausted afterwards from all our trips up and down the slides, but so full and refreshed. That evening we had some teammates over and I cooked enchiladas, Spanish rice, and we ate ice cream cake. We watched youtube videos, we played games and we laughed late into the night. (10 pm)

I love how God knows exactly what we need when we need it. I love how He allowed for our low to come when He knew we'd have a time to recover and rejuvenate. He is such a good Father.

We entered this week refreshed, and feeling much better. We enjoy a date afternoon Monday (a gift from our office directors for our birthdays), and entered this week so much better than we have recently.

I think here we call this low culture stress, but I think we hit these points in our home cultures too. They just feel different. Don't forget to see where you are. To rejuvenate, and to remember the beautiful promises God has given us as we follow and trust Him in all that we do.

Before the ice cream cake 
After the ice cream cake
Because sisters share a smoothie.

Friday, March 31, 2017

It's been awhile! Abiding and asking

Sorry it has been so long! I have had so much rolling through my head to blog about, and then it was exam time, and birthday time, newsletter time, and thought we needed to talk about what was going there, and then I could be more detailed here... so here is a more detailed update to how March has gone, and thing God is teaching us! If you would like more info please subscribe to our newsletter, that goes out once a month. (you can send me your email and we will add you to the list.) We try to keep information different on here and in our newsletters.

To sum up our month is to say God has truly blessed us in these beginning months here in Cambodia. We have felt every prayer, every member of our team who is backing us, and every joy that comes from knowing we have a network of people supporting us. We have landed so smoothly, and in many ways navigated "country shock" well. "Country shock" is a term I heard form something I read awhile back. Basically it is the adjusting to the climate, food, way of life, living arrangements etc. None of which has been too difficult for God to navigate us through. We are loving life here, and loving building relationships with so many different people.

This month we have found community, community in play groups, community in church, community in our building, and community with people at our school. We have also found normalcy. We have found how to shop, the balance of when to shop (usually) and kind of a normal weekly routine. All of which makes us realize this is home. We have loved getting to know and being embraced by the wonderful expat community here, they have made everything so much easier! We even held a fun birthday party for Amirah, and had so much fun with friends from church, and playgroup and our team.

I say all of this because God is good, faithful and trustworthy. I was thinking this afternoon about how God has spent so many years preparing our family for just this. For being here in Cambodia, for trusting Him to come through, even in our silliest needs/desires. For language learning, and being willing to go slow and do things well. He has prepared our hearts for trusting Him in bigger ways, and new ways, and I just cannot believe everything He has been teaching us in these three short months.

One thing that is very different for me here in Cambodia verses Colorado is that every time I think about being here, I have an ever present, constant reminder that we are only here for one reason. We are here because of Jesus. We are here to share the wonderful news God has made us messengers of. That is it. When you have that kind of direction you can't help but lean into what He is doing more, you cannot help but to rely on Him more. He put us here to share Jesus, He can take care of us.

 This last week I was reading Psalm 107. What really stood out to me was that the people (I think Israelites..) would be in trouble, God didn't jump right in and intervene, He waited. He waited until they cried out to Him. Then He came to their rescue every single time. He satisfied them, and actually probably responded above and beyond their greatest expectations. He never forgot them, and He always heard them. Then He answered and met them where they were at.

This got me thinking, as I learn to rely on Him more, am I crying out to God more for help? Maybe the constant reminder that He is why we are here, that I wouldn't be here in Cambodia if it weren't for Jesus makes me stop, and simply abide better, and ask for His help.

My challenge to you is, what is the thing you have been struggling with? Have you cried out to God to meet you where you are? Have you asked? Sometimes I find myself wondering why God hasn't done anything, and then I am reminded... did I ask Him to? Maybe I just needed to ask.

Playing at an indoor playground for Amirah's birthday! 
Amirah's cupcake birthday cake! 
Swimming party! 
Add caption
Party Time! 
Layla sneaking a sip of delicious coffee.
Being silly at our new favorite restaurant! Alma satisfies our deep need for yummy Mexican food.
Layla getting her nails done while sister gets a new hairstyle. 
The adorable 4 year old's new hair cut! 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Perspectives change over time....

My mind has been reeling lately about what I should post about next... everyday I have a new idea, and then  lack the time or energy to do it that day... Then when I have the time (like now) I can't seem to remember what I was planning to write about... The girls and I have spent a large portion of our week here at home, organizing toys, and playing with said toys, cleaning up potty accidents, and doing all the extra laundry. My patience has been thoroughly tested between my almost 4 year old and my almost 2 year old, and  when we leave have left the house all the boundaries that both my darling little girls know, and can stay with in are tested, and tried until we return to said home. The only exception has been playing with the wonderful kids on our street, and church last night. To be fair we skipped playgroup yesterday because of attitude issues before we needed to leave, and did lots more walking this week than we have in a while, but still... We are forming friends which is so fun, and weird... because lets be honest, making friends is kind of awkward and weird...but it feels good to be settling into our  new found friendships and church families, and life feels normal....

So... now that our weird exhausting week is over, the thing I was continually reminded of this last week was how different things look the more you look at them. The more you see the same street the more you notice. The more you look out the same window the more you see, the more details, the more that is there. I believe this is doubly true living in a new place, especially a new country. Everywhere I look I see things I hadn't noticed until this week. I think about how things looked the first time I saw them, and how many things seemed scary or weird that are totally normal now. I found myself looking at our street wondering what seemed so ominous about it in the dark when we first moved in? What felt scary? All I can conclude is that it was new, it was different, and it was city. Everything was new and different. Now knowing more language, I understand more, which helps fear to dissipate, we explore more, we know the faces on our street, and know who does or doesn't belong. I no longer feel like I walk out and am unsure which way to go, or which tuk tuk to get into. I know that I can trust our tuk tuk guys, and where to find a tuk tuk if they are busy. I know how to get to where I may need to walk, and I am always noticing things I never saw before on the walks I do most often. Even our favorite market, the first time I walked in there it felt like I had tunnel vision and couldn't ever see myself shopping in there, or navigating the vendors outside on the street with two little girls, guess what!? Now I do, and I am even sometimes able to do it all in Khmer. (Not always, sometimes watching the girls, paying, and shopping is too much for my brain to add another language too, but we are working on it.)

All of this has made me think about how I see God, how I see Jesus, and how I see the Holy Spirit. As a little girl God was someone way up there, in heaven, that sent Jesus because He loved me. The Holy Spirit was a feeling I later associated with God's presence, and eventually hearing God's voice. As a teenager, God was my best friend, and Jesus was the answer to all my sins, and still if I could pull it all together He loved me. As a college student God was someone I needed to share with others, and honor at all costs, and was becoming an intimate lifeline, and friend. Then as a 20-something adult  my view of God has morphed into this hybrid of all of the previous views I have had of Him. I am no longer just a little girl looking up to a giant God I don't understand, nor am I a teenager looking for acceptance from God. I am also not a college student seeking to debate, or win arguments for Jesus, I am somewhere in the middle of all these facets of views of God, and something very new... Well new for me.

Now I understand more about Him. Just like I am understanding more and more about where I live. I am growing in my understanding of His heart for people. I am growing in my view of how much my God loves people, and attempting to allow Him to pour that love out through me. I am understanding that this whole thing has so little to do with me and so much to do with Jesus. The Holy Spirit isn't a weird feeling, or something mystical, but a close intimate friend that I rely on daily to guide my intuition, choices, and my parenting. He is the reason we are here, we are here in Cambodia because God brought us here. I struggle sometimes singing about Him being the only way or laying down my life, because  I am living that more than I ever have before everyday, and sometimes it's easy and wonderful, and sometimes it is hard, and hurts. I know He is worth it. I know He is good, and trustworthy, and I know I want everyone I come in contact with to know Jesus, and how much He loves them. I want to see their fears erased as they fall in love with Jesus and find freedom, I want to see the striving to please Buddha or the spirits drop away because Jesus is all they need.

Yes we are here for engineering, yes, we are learning language, yes, we are here to train design professionals, but it is all nothing without sharing Jesus, without the hope and the freedom that comes with Jesus. Some days it brings tears to my eyes to vocally say Jesus is all I could ever live for because even though it is true, it hurts a little bit. It hurts being away from many we love, and trying to navigate a new culture and language is hard. It is hard when all I want to find is Lysol for cleaning around our apartment, and I just want something I can read, and I can't find it... (I know this is a funny example but I was really frustrated about this the other day.) It brings tears to my eyes because Jesus is worth it, and the value of what Jesus did on that cross is so much bigger, to me now, and I understand more of it now than when I first believed as a little girl.
Family selfie on the couch. 
Snugly Amirah.
Layla's newest thing is sticking stuff in her shirt to carry it with her... Paci in her shirt here! 

Friday, March 3, 2017

God knows what we need. He even knows what our kids need.

I had several people tell me before we ever left for Cambodia, that God knew exactly what He was doing sending us here to Cambodia. Not just sending Chris and I, but our whole family, all four of us. He had a plan and a purpose for each of us in Cambodia. It can be so easy to get caught up in what we are doing here, why Chris and I are here, and what God is teaching us. It is easy to not think much about how it is affecting our kids except in the normal ways, like food, missing loved ones, and finding new places and ways to play.

The last week or so God has been revealing to me things He has be doing in the girls these last two months since we have been here, as well as in our family as a whole. It is truly amazing. That is what I would like to share with you today, ways God works in our families to make us more like Him, and more dependent on Him. I pray that you will be encouraged by these testimonies in our family and it may even help you to see what God might be doing in your kids' lives as you live out your life where God has placed you.

Starting with Amirah. Amirah has always been our more timid, worried, and even fearful child. She is up for trying many things but she is timid. Before we left for Cambodia, she would rarely ride on a 4 wheeler with her grandpa, and wouldn't touch a dirt bike or motorcycle. She hated escalators with a deep burning passion, and was fairly nervous about crossing streets, and walking around lots of cars. She was very nervous about swimming, and would never swim where she couldn't touch, even with a floatie of some kind. (none of these are bad things to be scared of, great survival things, but sometimes tiring when you know she is going to be ok) It could even be very hard to get her to try something she perceived as possibly dangerous and we were really worried about how we'd ever get her in a tuk tuk once we got here. Now we have been here 2 months. She has been amazing at jumping into new classes at church, playgroups around the city, and playing with friends on our street. She is a tuk tuk riding expert and has gone from riding with a death grip on me, in my lap or Chris's to riding laying down on a seat by herself sometimes. She regularly rides escalators (they are everywhere here), and swims around our pool with floaties, and with us all the time. She even let Chris throw her the other day when we were swimming! She walks with me to the market with awareness of cars, but not in fear that every car or moto is going to get her, and she tries out the Khmer she is learning on whomever will talk with her. It is amazing to stop and think about how much fear she has overcome in her little life just because we were obedient and moved here to Cambodia. She walks with more confidence and trusts Chris and I much more when we tell her she can do something. God knew that Amirah had this fear in her, He knew she didn't need to have it. He knew that He could clothe her in confidence in who He made her to bed, and He is doing just that! She also is fascinated with the stories of Moses right now, and how Moses trusts God, and obeys God. I don't think that is by chance that those are the stories she wants to read over and over right now, while God is showing her how little she has to fear.

Next is little Layla Lou. That Layla girl has known what she wants, when she wants it, and how she wants it since the moment she was born, and since she started walking she has wanted to be just like Amirah. God has been revealing to me how He is developing Layla's ability to play with other kids, and be on her own. She is totally content sometimes playing on her own (which is kind of new), and loves to play with Amirah or other kids often. She is determined! She climbed into the tuk tuk this morning all on her own, and she decided a few weeks ago we were going to potty train now. Layla has perseverance, and she walks with so much confidence as well! Layla is also a kind helper like her big sister and is finding a niche in helping the family get ready to leave, helping kids with their toys, sharing her snacks, and sharing herself with those around us. (she usually loves all the attention she gets wherever we go) Though Layla's things aren't as obvious as Amirah's it is still there, and I love see what God is doing in her little heart. This morning she brought me the Jesus Storybook Bible and told me she wanted Jesus. She has been wanting to read all about Jesus, and I know that her great strength God is going to use for mighty things, with that caring little heart.

As a family we have noticed a greater security in our family unit. The girls rely on both Chris and I more. The look to us more equally, and we love all the family time we get with language learning, and city investigating. When someone goes somewhere, besides school there is a concern about where they are going, and when they will be back. The security of our family unit is huge. We are their safe space. This is already opening up for so many great discussions with Amirah. (can you believe she will be 4 this month!) She is honest about how she feels, and we discuss many things we see, hear and do with her. Cultivating this in our family is our lifelong goal as a family unit, and I pray that God will continue to knit us together as a family that goes through things together, shares, and no matter where we are in the world are secure because of Him, and also how He anchors us in the family He put us in.

Praise God for knowing not just what I need, what Chris needs, what our family needs but also what our sweet girls need individually, and for continually developing the things He has put inside of them.

Enjoy the adorable pics below... we all know that's really why you read this blog. ;)

Using the curtains the wind is blowing as a tent for camping. :)  
Examining the elephant at Wat Phnom.

Me enjoying time with the little brother! 

Saying goodbye to uncle Johnathan at the airport.

Snoozing on the Uncle Johnathan in the tuk tuk.

Playing at Molly Fantasy! A new favorite spot! 

More Molly Fantasy! 

Riding a dinosaur in Siem Reap! 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Questions and language learning

Well here we are! We have officially been here 1 month and 2 weeks. Can you believe it? In some ways it feels like we have been here a whole lot longer and in other ways it feels like we just got here. We are settling in past our initial adjustment phase and continue to build new relationships, and meet more and more people. We now are getting hit with our new phase. The wondering about cultural things we don't quite understand, and how it changes when we walk into the room. Or on to the street. What are we missing simply because we are not Cambodian. This is kind of hard and frustrating because we don't want to change what we see just because we are there, but we also can't see unless we show up. So... I guess time will tell what we are missing.

Language learning is very similar because we still don't know very much, and it is hard to go out and practice with so little to practice with. I can effectively shop, and get around in a tuk tuk without Chris, but sometimes I don't want to. I want to have a car with a trunk, not a backpack, and I want to go to Walmart or City Market, not a little corner market and the Russian Market. Days I don't feel like stumbling through language learning I want to hunker down, and go to a store in my car, and come home. However this is not reality and I double check what food we do have and see how creative I can get. But eventually I must go to the store or market, unless Chris goes.

This last week Chris has an allergic reaction to something (we think passion fruit or maybe a recent vaccine), and it was frustrating to not know. It was frustrating to not even be sure what was new because most things are still new for us. However is on the mend and it looks like things should continue to get better, and he will just be avoiding the yummy passion fruit for now.

What do you want to hear about?? What do you want to know?? What questions do you have?? Please leave a comment and let me know! I'd love to write about things you care about, as well as family updates and what Jesus is teaching me. You know the best ideas come while on a tuk tuk with two kids and we get home, and I cannot remember what I wanted to blog about while on the tuk tuk. :)

Games with new friends! 

Layla rocking those rain boot "house shoes" 

Our first date night in Cambodia! 

The girls asked me take their adorable picture on our way to meet the team for our weekly lunch meeting. 

Every family has a comfort food. Somewhere between Colorado and Phnom Penh ours became pancakes. Either banana, plain or chocolate chip. Or some combination of the three. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Insecurity/Fear and our God.

Last week was a hard week. We began missing home, the girls were testing their boundaries all week, I had a cold, and I got hit with a wave of insecurity that seemed to knock me off balance. It was hard. I didn't want to work on building relationships we had started, I didn't want to practice Khmer, I was worried about what others thought, and I was fearful for what my kids' deal was.

It is very safe to say that this week has been so much better than last. The girls got over and through their boundary testing, and are back to their normal fun selves, and through prayer and talking with others I have found insecurity once again melting away.

The other night we spent time out in the neighborhood, loving on kids, playing, and practicing and using Khmer as much as possible. It was so fun, I even got to meet and cuddle a sweet little 2 month baby girl that lives just a few houses down.

Yesterday especially was so fun! I used more Khmer than I have yet in a day, and the more I forced myself to use it the more my confidence built during the day. The girls did great all day, and we had fun doing school, going to the market, the supermarket and lunch with the team. Then I headed to language class, and walked home with a classmate who I seem to be forming a fast friendship with. She and her husband will be our first non-teammates to come to our home for dinner on Saturday night. It has been neat to see how many people in our neighborhood are excited to help, and allow us to practice our Khmer with them. They are wonderful. Yesterday was a good fun day.

All of this to say fighting our insecurities is worth it. I have struggled with insecurity most of my life. For sure a lot of my adult life. About 3 years ago I felt a call to let go, and allow God to really work in my heart in the area of fear. He did this also in college. Each time it is painful, and wonderful. Last summer God really gripped me with wanting to heal the things in my heart that feed my insecurity, and showed me a glimpse of what life here in Cambodia could look like if I was willing to let go. Open up and love people well, without fear of what they are thinking, or what they might do.

This has been surprisingly  easy up until last week. God showed me last week how fear, and insecurity can wreck havoc on living somewhere well. Especially living here well. Here we need to be open, loving, and ok with being that weird family. In a community where the majority of the people have a different worldview, and different religious beliefs we are going to be different, stand out and even at times seem very weird. I can't control what is said about us, but I can control letting them see Jesus in my life and in the life of our family. Fear has no place where there is perfect love. We choose daily to parent from a place of love instead of fear, and to build relationships out of love and not fear. Why not do that with everything God has called us to.

This week has been so much better coming out of the darkness of my own fear and insecurity, allowing my God who is big, mighty, and loving to wash over it. To cover that insecurity with His security. To move me into this new life of His so very gently. To allow me to walk with Him, amongst people He loves. As He continues to work on this in my heart I have no doubt that the joy He brings will flow, and I cannot wait to see what God does here in me, and in people around me.

Don't hide in your insecurities. Don't hide because of your fears. Our God is greater, and is able. He is powerful, and He is good. If you struggle in this area like me, be patient with yourself, and allow God to work on it, in His way, little by little. The person I was when He started this work in me in College is nowhere near who I am now. He is faithful to complete the work He begins, and I cannot wait to see what He has done in a few years in making me into who He made me to be.

As always here are some cute pictures of what our sweet girls have been up to. :)

Amirah spends a lot of our mornings reading. :) She loves her books! 

Layla got up from their bed, but when she climbed into ours decided she needed another hour or so of sleep. 

Every week we have a staff meeting lunch with the team in a food court near our school. The girls usually make a friend to play with while we talk. This was them playing this week. 

Today we went to our first playgroup! It was so fun, and at a cool new urban play area! Layla was so excited to see swings and get to swing! 

As always the tuk tuks are our main transportation if we aren't walking, and the girls love them. 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Closing in on a month in Cambodia

Well here we are! W

e have officially been here more than 4 weeks, and in a few days it will be a month! It has been a wonderful month, and a hard month.

This week especially has been hard. We are missing family, both family of choice in Durango, and family, family in Colorado Springs. I have been missing open spaces, green, and playgrounds. (Although our pool is a huge blessing in this area of my life!) I miss certain foods that we can't quite seem to make or get here... Language school is this weird mix of hard and fun, and exhausting. Trying to figure out key aspects to the new culture we live in is exhausting. I miss running errands and just putting things I pick up along the way in the trunk of my car. (yet my new backpack is a step in the right direction for that...)

All that to say, the hardest thing this week has been parenting. Hmmm... I think this would be the case anywhere in the world ;). The girls seem to have settled in, and now are testing their boundaries, on top of just being almost 4 and almost 2. They have pushed and pushed us all week long. We've questioned our parenting strategies and reflected on what seems like progress... We know they will relax and things will ease up a bit once they are sure that the normal boundaries apply to today, here, in this home.

God has been comforting me, and reminding me of how He handles us, His kids. Letting us choose to throw that fit, and then coming in gently afterward to give us the truth nugget we need in His still small voice. Letting us do it our way, and offering a suggestion when that way didn't work, and our hearts are softer to what He was originally asking us to do... He is so good and patient with us. Perfectly balancing when to come in and hold us, as our refuge and safe haven, and when to step back, and wait for the tantrum to be over. I am encouraged by this.

Our home is a safe place. A place that is safe to throw the fit you need to throw and handle the consequences after. A place to try it your own way, and if/when that doesn't work try it the way you were being advised (even though it takes longer). A safe place to learn when and how to listen, and obey. A place to learn to negotiate, politely and kindly. I love that about our home. This is exhausting however, especially while trying to learn to live cross culturally, and learn a language so different from our heart language.

I don't want to be one to complain ever. My hope is that this is more of an honest post. Maybe an encouraging one for other parents who like us have had a rough week, and are wondering if they are doing this thing right or if they need to shift gears. Mostly likely you are doing it right, God made you your kids' parent for a reason, you were the best for your children. So be encouraged, and continue to seek Him in your parenting journey.

"Picnicking" by the pool like we used to do all the time in parks in Colorado. A good way to end a hard week. :) We also had a family fun day today. Such a great day with fun girls!

Monday, January 30, 2017

The good with the challenges

Before leaving the US I often wrote about the challenges my heart was facing as we prepared to move our family to the other side of the globe. Saying goodbyes, selling our possessions, trying to pack what we needed, planning to miss people, heartache with each gut-wrenching goodbye, and trying to take comfort in people planning to visit and wonderful technology.

However since we got here it has been mostly the good. That is because it has been so very, very good. I have been amazed at feeling like we were created for this, all four of us. To live here, to do life here, and to love people here. We were made to open our hearts to those around us, and to do life with people. We were for this. I was thinking earlier today about something a missionary that visited our church in Durango told me probably close to 10 years ago, and it has shaped so much of who I am now, and how I view my life. "Wherever you are, be there with all your heart." I don't remember his name. All I do remember is that we were talking to him about wanting to be missionaries overseas someday, and he stopped us and told us that. Later we kind of laughed about it because we just wanted to get to where we were meant to be. However, later in life it came back over and over again and the Holy Spirit has used that for the last 10 years to teach me and shape me into who I am and who I am becoming. As I learn to embrace that idea I feel like I could live anywhere, and it could be mostly easy. When you are where you are, with all your heart, investing in people you meet, and spending time on things that matter, it is much easier to enjoy all the good, and not think too much about the bad or the challenges. God is so good, and we definitely can feel our ministry team praying for us, as we are settling in here. We do not want to lead any of you following our story with the illusion that everything is super easy or exactly like home, so today I wanted to share some of our biggest challenges which we tend to laugh about most of the time because what else is there to do but laugh about them?

So try to laugh with us, here are some of the biggest challenges right now: 

- It is a cash based economy, meaning no credit cards. We have operated most of our marriage and adult life with credit and/or debit cards almost exclusively...It's sad when you get to the supermarket and realize you forgot to check how much money you had in your wallet, and now can only get half your list because you didn't bring enough money.

- It is kind of nice to deal in dollars, and it's not so bad to deal in riels... however dealing in both simultaneously is HARD! Everywhere we go you are paying and receiving change in both currencies. Although we are now starting to get used to it, it is still hard to know if you got the right change etc. when you are constantly going back and forth between the two, and harder still to pay in the market with prices in either currency and you have an almost 4 year old and almost 2 year old you are trying to keep tabs on, while you do the math, find the bills you have, and pay. 

- Bugs... they are everywhere, but mostly at night. We joke they have other things to do than eat us during the day. We also opted to let a gecko stay in the apartment, instead of kicking him out in hopes that he'd eat said bugs. One of our patio doors doesn't have a screen, we are working on getting that remedied, but when electricity is $0.25 kilowatt we are trying to only run A/C at night so doors and windows are open during the day. 

- Tuk tuk drivers are awesome. We love them, they keep us from having to walk everywhere in the high humidity and blazing heat. However sometimes it can be a challenge to give directions in a language we are still learning, and aren't the best at. Thankfully we have become friends with a few who are very patient with us. 

- Hot... to be fair it isn't as hot as it will be later this year. There are days that it feels wonderful and days where the humidity must be higher and it feels hot. The other day even Layla was wiping sweat off her forehead as we walked back from the market. 

- No bath tub. No oven. Now these two we have pretty much remedied. The girls are beginning to enjoy showers, and can play with bath toys when we go swimming. At the end of last week we got a toaster oven! 

- Learning to cook in a toaster oven... it seems to be a little different... I think I can eventually figure it out (I hope). :) 

- No parks/playgrounds near by. The girls are however finding the street and the pool as good replacements. 

- Grocery shopping... I miss my City Market... It's hard to know where I can find what, and what is worth paying a little more for and what isn't. The market nearby seems the best place to get fruit and veggies, but meat is still a big old question mark for the best place to get it... and many baking type things I need to get at the supermarket... if they have it... then there is Layla's beloved milk, we found one that doesn't make her puke, and taste pretty good... but it seems to be carried only a few places. I can get spices etc. at the market... but it always seems we have a list and there are multiple places we need to go.. which means lots of walking or tuk tuk rides. 

- Shopping in the market is fun, the fruit is yummy, and the girls and I love going together. The funny thing is when you by a 1/2 kilo of this, and a kilo of that... all the way down the street your bag is suddenly very full and heavy for the 10 min walk home. I will soon be getting a backpack to help with the weight and managing the girls as I shop. 

-When your brain hurts from language school, home school, and trying to communicate and make friends with the neighbors. I hear that will eventually get easier. 

-Trying to find the "right" home church. We feel like this is a huge decision because we tend to invest deeply where we decide to plant ourselves. We are trying new and different churches than we have tried before, and trying to be very sensitive to wherever God leads us as our new Cambodia church home. 

See, nothing too bad. Truly just challenges of adjusting to a new place. We had similar things when we moved from Durango to Colorado Springs...there were less, but truly we expected more this first month here, and we do tend to laugh about most of these things together. Like the money thing... "Oh I could only get 4 things at Lucky's because I forgot to bring money to go to Lucky's, I'll try again tomorrow." hahaha... It's amazing that when you are doing your best to live intentionally, how much of our lives translates to other places. Jesus matters, people matter, our family matters, time together matters, and everything falls under these categories, they just might look a little different. Lots and lots of grace for each other helps quite a bit too. ;) 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


The best way I would sum out this last week is relationships. We are beginning to form and build new relationships more and more, and strengthen team relationships. We are quickly building relationships with the apartment complex cleaning ladies, and our favorite tuk tuk drivers. We go down and play with the neighbors in our neighborhood, and are attempting to build friendships. We recently were upstairs swimming, and made some new friends with another lady and her son (the girls' age). We are doing language school and developing friendships there with both other students and teachers. Then we have also been spending time with the team, which is so fun, to hear and share about hat we are experiencing trying to set up our homes, starting school, and just normal day to day life.

Yesterday I had two new friendships truly begin. One was with a classmate who is older than I am, and so, so sweet. We got out of class early, and spent some time walking a shopping center together and learning some of each others' stories. So fun, and I think very meaningful for both of us. I had this feeling she just needed a friend to talk to. (don't we all??) Then I came home and the girls and I went up to swim. Where we met another new friend. She start pouring her heart out about family issues, worries, fears, concerns, sadness... I mostly just listened. Told her how sad it was, and that we were here if she needed anything, at the end of the quite long conversation we introduced ourselves. Tonight I saw her again, and we chatted some more.

We have been having regular conversations with our favorite tuk tuk drivers, they are so kind to the girls and to us. One of our favorites always wants to talk about God with us on Sundays on our way to church or home from church. He seems really interested in what we really believe, and definitely seems to be exploring for himself what he believes.

I was reflecting on all these new relationships today, and I came to a few conclusions:

1.) When we decided to jump into this expat/missionary life I didn't realize the expat community we would be joining, by default. When I did learn of it, I was terrified of being trapped there, getting comfortable with other expats and never wanting to truly love and create relationships with people outside of that community. I even had a mindset of trying to do as little as possible with other expats because I didn't want to get trapped. What I am seeing after yesterday especially is that expats need other expats. Maybe not all the time, but the need is still there. I also am seeing how part of why God brought us here is to minister to, and share life with everyone here in Cambodia. Cambodian people for sure, but also expats He puts in our lives. To share Christ, and to love the way He does.

2) Our language learning is huge for building meaningful relationships with Cambodian people. We cannot do this well without truly knowing the Khmer language. As we are learning I find new motivation in hopes that someday soon we can discuss the things of God more clearly and accurately with our tuk tuk driver. Also that we can share more of Jesus with those around us, but being able to show how much we care and love because we have words in their language for those things.

God is truly opening up my heart to want to love more, to love well, and let His joy, His love, and His peace flow freely out of me. Right now the best I have with most people I come in contact with is a smile, and a hello in Khmer.

Please be praying for our new friend and her family issues, they are deep, sad, and a family who is really hurting right now. Also be praying for our tuk tuk driver to come to Jesus. Also please be praying for us as we are engaging more and more with the Khmer language. Pray for boldness to practice with whomever will practice with us, and mental capacity to retain all that we are learning.

Sunday night we had our first family game night, in Cambodia! Candy land, Dad won the first game and Mom won the second... No participant trophies in this house. ;) 
School. It feel so good to be back in the swing of Hardrick preschool. 

More school.