I never wanted to be a writer. Ever.
My first article for A Life Overseas was only the second article I’d ever written. Seriously.
But God retains his sense of humor, and I retain my sense of gratitude. I’m grateful for the leaders of the site who gave me the bandwidth, and I’m grateful for you, the readers, who continue to give me the brainwidth. Thank you.
There are about 9,000 more readers now than there were three years ago. So I thought I’d go retrospective with this post, collating former articles and re-presenting them to you. I’ve divided them into some rough categories:
- Rest & Laughter
- Grief & Loss
Feel free to browse around and see if there’s anything you missed that you want to unmiss. And if you feel like these articles could serve as a resource for someone else, we provide handy sharing links at the bottom. Merry Christmas.
REGARDING REST & LAUGHTER
Please Stop Running
God doesn’t give extra credit to workaholics. Jesus doesn’t call us to work in his fishers-of-men-factory until we drop dead from exhaustion. He is not like that.
Margin: the wasted space we desperately need
Staying alive is not about how fast or how slow you go; it’s about how much margin you have.
Laughter as an Act of Rebellion
To remember the sun’s existence on a rainy day is to remember Reality. Dancing in the downpour is a prophetic thing: It will not always storm.
No, Seriously, Laugh
“If we don’t laugh, we’ll cry.”
3 Ways to Care for the Heart of Your Third Culture Kid
Jesus loves Third Culture Kids. He feels their searching and longing for home, and he cares.
3 Ways to Care for the Heart of Your Missionary Kid
Kids aren’t soldiers, and they’re not missionaries. They’re children, and we should give them the space to develop as such.
Missionary Mommy Wars
They are battle-weary and bleary-eyed, burdened by expectations that would crush the strongest.
The Purpose of Marriage is NOT to Make You Holy
Marriage is for intimacy. The sharing of souls and dreams and flesh. The first taste of summer.
Failing at Fatherhood (how moving abroad ruined my parenting)
For me, the shift from wide open spaces to urban jungle was rough. I had to adjust, but first I got depressed.
3 Ways to Care for the Heart of Your Wife
Most people never feel listened to. Our wives shouldn’t be most people.
10 Reasons You Should be a Missionary
Your bargaining skills will improve…with the police.
The Idolatry of Missions
For too long, we have idolized overseas missions. We need to stop now.
10 Things Flying Taught Me About Missions
The toilets are different.
Why Are We Here?
Through our actions, our preachings, our service, we announce the news that God is not absent. We show and tell the redemption of all things.
The Gaping Hole in the Modern Missions Movement
We need the Psalms; not because the Psalms will teach us how to be super Christians, but because the Psalms will teach us how to be human Christians.
Misogyny in Missions
Don’t punish women in public for your sin in private.
Go to the small places
When we overdose on our own importance or the magnitude of evil in the world, the small places are the antidote. Narcan for the soul. Or at least, they can be.
It’s Not all About War: Balancing our Kingdom Rhetoric
One is all about sacrifice. The other is all about Shalom. One says, “Go and die for the King!” The other says, “Come and find rest for your soul.”
Living Well Abroad: 4 Areas to Consider
“Culture shock is rarely terminal.”
REGARDING GRIEF & LOSS
Outlawed Grief, a Curse Disguised
How could we question the plan of God by crying?
When Grief Bleeds
Grief is a powerful thing, echoing on and on through the chambers of a heart.
The feeling rises and crests like an impending wave barreling towards the surface of my heart. And with each wave of worthlessness comes an intense weariness of soul, a near drowning.
To the ones who think they’ve failed
So, you failed to save the world. You failed to complete the task of global evangelism. You failed to see massive geopolitical change in your region. You failed. Or at least you feel like it.
When you just want to go home
He’s longing for home too. So, in my drownings and darkness, perhaps I am brushing up against the heart of God. Perhaps I am tasting his tears too.
A Christmas letter to parents, from a kid who doesn’t have any
Remember, the one with the most toys does not win.
The Gift of Grief and the Thing I Heard in Portland
Grief is a gift that the Church needs to learn to deal with.
When the Straight & Narrow Isn’t
God doesn’t always lead in straight lines.
Navigating the Night (3 things to do when you have no idea what to do)
If you find yourself in the dark today, not sure of what to do or where to go, I’d like to give you three pinpoints of light. Three true stars by which to navigate the night.
My House Shall be Called
If you’ve experienced pain from within the Church, I.Am.So.Sorry.
A Christmas Prayer
The star challenged prejudice, inviting outsiders in. So may the Church.
Before You Cry “Demon!”
Blaming the devil shouldn’t be our default.
When God Won’t Give Me What I Want
Maybe Jesus says it’s bread, maybe he says it’s nourishing and important, but maybe it looks an awful lot like a rock. Do we throw it back in his face, screaming?
I see a lot of missionaries wrestling with anger, but I don’t hear a lot of missionaries talking about it. I’d like to change that.
How to Communicate so People Will Care
Speak from the heart. Or be funny. Or both. But never neither.
6 Reasons Furloughs are Awesome (sort of)
A furlough is one of the best “weight-gain” plans out there. It’s sort of like pregnancy, but with furlough, the cravings occur every-mester.
Facebook lies and other truths
Our supporters and friends probably won’t lose money by showing a picture of a vacation. We might. On the other hand, our friends won’t make money by showing a picture of a destitute child or a baptism. We might.
In 2017, Get to Know Some Dead People
Wisdom was building her house long before people started tweeting in the eaves.
Dealing with Conflict on the Field. Or not.
Conflict does not necessarily lead to intimacy, but you cannot have intimacy without honesty. And you cannot have honesty for very long without conflict.
REGARDING THE ENDING
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien
And so it happened that I stepped out the door, aware that God might start sweeping me to places unknown. And he certainly did. But it was there that I met all of you, and you’ve turned out, after all, to be not so dangerous. Thank you for journeying with me. Let’s keep going…
all for ONE,
Jonathan M. Trotter