As pertains to the state of my soul

So I went to America.

Where I felt homeless. Especially at Walmart, where there are entirely too many choices. And especially at Starbucks, where you can order coffee on your smart phone; you don’t even have to stand in line.

And I felt at home. Especially at my mom’s house and with my very closest friends.

Then I came back to Cambodia.

Where I also felt at home. Especially during descent, when I looked out the airplane window to glimpse first the rice fields, and then those striking colored roofs. And I exhaled, declaring it the most beautiful sight in the world.

Then I marveled, how is this possible? How can two such different places feel like home? How can I feel at home in a place so different from my upbringing? And how can the place I grew up sometimes not feel like home?

This is the strange inner life of the international worker, of the third culture kid, of the missionary kid, of the missionary. It’s a life in which home and belonging can be so hard to find — and at times hard even to define. It’s a life in which one can, on occasion, feel utterly countryless.

I know that sounds ridiculous to say in the midst of a worldwide refugee crisis, but you A Life Overseas readers know it’s true, because you know what it feels like, too.

We’re all made to be homesick for a better country anyway, so when we can’t quite find home here, we’re only feeling what we were meant to feel.

We at the A Life Overseas community know another feeling too: how draining it can be to spend time in our passport countries. Speaking and traveling, sharing and talking about “the work.” Meeting with and encouraging people, listening to their stories and hearing their hearts.

Don’t get me wrong. These are all good things. All necessary and important things. Enjoyable things even. But if you’re anything like me, you don’t get nearly enough time alone with God on furlough, either.

Which is why three months later, I find myself with a well that’s been drained nearly dry. I’m spiritually empty. I’m emotionally empty. I’m creatively empty.

I’ve poured myself out. I need time alone with God to replenish my stores. And that’s precisely what I’ve been doing these past two weeks in Cambodia: drawing deeply from the Word of God.

(Well that, and cleaning and reorganizing my house, reconnecting with friends and teammates, and re-starting homeschool lessons.)

I’ve purposely held back from writing during this time. I felt the need to cocoon myself away and soak in God and His Word before I attempted to minister to others through my words.

So you will find this post today rather meager. You will find no inspiring words here, nor encouragement for your daily life.

For I am still recovering from all that outflow. And my soul needs more sifting. I need more time in the throne room, in the presence of a purifying Christ and in the arms of a healing Savior.

I need more of God and less of me, more Living Water and fewer broken cisterns, more of the True Vine and less of my own dry roots. For the sake of my soul I need this, and I’ll keep taking the time to find it.


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Elizabeth Trotter

Elizabeth lived in Southeast Asia for 8 years and fell in love. Then covid happened and brought her back to the States, where she is currently figuring out how to do life in America again. Before moving to Asia, Elizabeth worked in youth ministry for ten years. She and her husband co-wrote "Serving Well: Help for the Wannabe, Newbie, or Weary Cross-cultural Christian Worker." Find her on the web at

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