Marilyn Gardner

Failed Missionaries and “But God…”

by Marilyn on April 9, 2018

When my husband and I left what was supposed to be a three-year missions commitment in Pakistan after one year, we were angry, hurt, and deeply wounded. We didn’t leave Pakistan, but we did leave a missions community that I had been a part of since birth. This community had raised me, loved me well, […]

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Honor the Grief, Honor the Goodbye

by Marilyn on March 8, 2018

“Make sure you say goodbye” I text these words to my youngest son, followed by “It’s important to say your goodbyes.” He is only leaving for the summer, he will be back on the same campus next year. But it is critical to me to say this to him. I want my children to be able […]

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Creating Place

by Marilyn on February 7, 2018

In recent years, authors have released a plethora of Christian books about home and place. From Jen Pollock Michel’s Keeping Place to Tish Oxenreider’s At Home in the World, many have a lot to say about roots, feeling at home, and stability. I read these books with both appreciation and cynicism. I’ve lived in 28 […]

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“Our missions work has lacked the diversity necessary for it to be as effective as it could be. There is a dearth of leaders of color, voices of people who are living in communities that are being ‘served.’ The intentions for most are rooted in a strong sense of call, but we have to correct […]

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There are some stories that remain in a family and become a part of our DNA. These stories are told year after year, but they never get old. Here is one of our stories that reminds me each year of the wonder of Christmas. My mom grew up in a small town in Massachusetts called […]

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”I’m pretty sure God loves Ann Voskamp more than he loves me.”  I wrote this to a friend recently. I don’t even know Ann Voskamp, but I was still convinced that when it came to actual love, I was in the dog house and Ann was in the castle on the hill. I mean, what’s […]

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Is Calling in our DNA?

by Marilyn on September 8, 2017

“So” said the kindly woman at the Baptist church. “You must want to be a missionary too when you grow up! Do you think God will call you too?”  I recoiled. I hoped she wouldn’t see the visible distress on my face. She was so kind. She was so excited about my potential. How could […]

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Every summer I begin thinking about change and transition, about reentry and culture shock. With the first warm breezes of the season, I am transported to places and times where this was my reality. And I begin to hear stories from others who are going through these transitions. The stories are told in photographs and […]

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June is the month of transition for overseas workers and their families. It’s the month where many make the decision to stay – or to leave.  Decisions to leave are not made lightly – I know this. They are made with butterfly filled stomachs, hurting hearts, and a lot of soul-searching tears. The decision to […]

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On Home and Keeping Place

by Marilyn on May 10, 2017

“Home is a human place. Instinctively, each of us, male and female, knows the sound of its welcome – and the joy of our possible return. This community knows the challenge of creating home in odd spaces and places around the globe. We also know what it is to be homesick, to long for familiar […]

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A Third Culture Kid’s Story of Faith

by Marilyn on April 10, 2017

There is no single story when it comes to the third culture kid; the missionary kid. While we can learn and grow from research and the common themes that have emerged to form a perspective, each child has their own story. Like fingerprints, these stories are unique, formed by family of origin, personality, and life experience. […]

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Before I called you, I saw you

by Marilyn on March 10, 2017

Within mission circles, the term “call” or “called” is loaded. It is loaded with story and passion; with grit and determination. It is also loaded with hurt and condemnation; with wrecked dreams and spiritual baggage. A few years ago I wrote a piece called “Lost to a Call.” It was a short essay, written from […]

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