Life As An American In Europe

Taylor has been a friend of mine for over eight years. He is such a sweet person and I am so excited to have him on Go Giver! He is currently going to school overseas reversing his role from a welcomer of international students to becoming one himself.

Introducing our first  of “Perspectives Men”,  Taylor Anderson! 


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Living in Germany has definitely been a huge change in my life. I had to learn the national language when I came here and there are some things that classes can’t teach me. I have to venture out of the classroom to experience the culture first-hand and how to use the language in everyday life. By learning the language, I have grown to love the people here. I find them to be wonderful caring people, and I value the friendships I have made here. I love being able to go see my friends close by, being able to go out into town, and meeting up with people to talk.

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All this to say… It isn’t an easy life.

I have had days when it is frustrating that I can’t talk with another person and they can’t understand me.

I have had days when I wish I had enough money to run home really quickly just to be with my family during a problem.

 I am trying to live a life with no regrets.

I only have one shot to do things and I have a big list of goals that I want to accomplish and I don’t want anything or anybody to get in the way of my goals.

Yes, it may seem a bit strange that I decided to study abroad for a full year of my life. It might be strange that I have decided to do something different than most people in the US would not choose to do. In the end I don’t regret making the decision to go study abroad in Germany.  I have been able to learn so much about myself.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Getting out of my comfort zone has really brought a new perspective about life and the love I feel towards international relations and the cultures around the world. Studying abroad is not for everybody, but I do value and respect people who take it upon themselves to travel. To see the world and to care for other people who might not be Americans. You never know when someday you might need a person that you can’t understand or is not like you. People need to care for people that are different and or who might think in a different way. 


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Taylor Anderson is third year junior from the University of Southern Indiana. He is studying International Studies, German, and Anthropology currently in Marburg, Germany at Philipps Universität Marburg as an international student. He is a proud United States citizen living in Germany and is truly enjoying learning a new language and culture.  By being an international student he has learned that one country does not have to define a person, but instead people can be defined by multiple cultures.

The Truth About Refugees

Liz a dear friend of mine. I have known her for about 4 years and while she is younger than me, I have always seen her as a mentor and leader. She is full of such compassion for others, especially those in from other cultures who are in need. Her gracefulness is an attribute I strive for everyday. Liz is such a wonderful woman and I hope you enjoy her post as much as I do!

When Chelsea first asked me several weeks ago to write a piece about refugees, I had no idea that by the time this was done, refugees would be a major, controversial news topic.

When I wrote the first draft, almost no American news outlets were talking about refugees. There had been no attack on Paris. There was no nationwide debate over admitting Syrian refugees. No one was breaking down the refugee process, and no governors were sending letters to the White House about refugee policy.

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Photo by: Mitra Dhital

But now that all of that has changed—now that we all know more than we ever knew before about refugees and have arrived at our new opinions of what should be done—what I have to say hasn’t changed a bit.

You see, my husband and I spent the last two years working for a refugee ministry in a major US city, living in an apartment complex that housed several hundred resettled refugees. Our complex held mostly Bhutanese-Nepalis, but we were also blessed to have neighbors from the Congo, Burma, Cambodia, and Iraq. For two years, it was our job to help them with anything they needed, most often dealing with the medical and immigration systems, though we also led citizenship classes, taught Bible stories to the kids, and helped a house church get started.

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Nepal is right between India and China. Bhutan is North of Bangladesh and Southwest of China.

Through months and years spent eating together, living together, and worshiping together, we became friends and more than friends with these precious people. We walked together through sicknesses, births, holidays, and everyday life. We learned that they and their children have experienced more trauma than most of us can imagine. Every refugee story is unique, yet each has a tragic common thread—violent displacement from homes and land, coupled with fear for their safety if they try to return. Most of our friends had spent upwards of twenty years stuck in UN-controlled camps, not allowed to work or relocate, waiting and praying for something to change.

Unfortunately, the trauma doesn’t necessarily end for most refugees when they arrive on US soil. After years of waiting, they are suddenly thrust from shacks or tents into a modern apartment in a large American city. Many don’t know what a refrigerator or oven does, and they often use these appliances as storage space. We even heard of a family in another city drinking toilet water because they didn’t know how to use the sink! Most families feel overwhelmed, isolated, and helpless after arrival, unable to speak English, drowning in culture shock, and with little or no natural support network. The volunteer agencies that are legally responsible for refugees after arrival do all that they can, but usually the agencies’ resources are stretched impossibly thin. Often, all they do is rent an apartment, drop the refugees off at it, and give them a bus pass to get to English classes.

What refugee families need most as they walk through the long transition period is a friend who can help them gain confidence and competence in their new host culture. This can be through something as small as taking them to the supermarket or having a meal together—things that anyone with a little time can do! These sweet people have come to our nation from war-torn lands, often with no access to the Gospel and little hope for their earthly lives, and they are here in our cities, waiting for someone to notice them, care for them, love them. You don’t need any special qualifications to help them—just find out if there are refugees in your city and who is helping them already, and existing ministries would be happy to have you volunteer!

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Photo credit: CNN.com

It is my prayer that this short piece helps you see refugees a little less as a political discussion and a little more as people. Rather than arguing over whether or not to accept more, why don’t we spend a few hours of our time showing the love of Christ to those who are already here? Why don’t we welcome the stranger with love? Why don’t we walk through life with other people just as broken as we are, other mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters, and see what we can learn from each other? I don’t know whether or not Christ would approve of the politics on either side, but I know He is honored when His people choose to show love. May we reflect Him in our lives as we serve the orphan, the widow, and the stranger.

Grace and peace.

Liz

Liz is a proud graduate of Louisiana Tech University, though she currently does absolutely nothing related to her degree. She and her husband have spent the past two years working with a refugee ministry on the West Coast and are briefly back in Louisiana before moving overseas to work with Muslims. She enjoys reading, hunting, fishing, learning about other cultures, and thinking about exercise but not actually doing it.

The Truth About Being A Military Wife

Christina is a sweet woman and wonderful friend of my mother. She is such a light to anyone who meets her, and has so much joy it is contagious! Anyone who meets her truly knows something is different about her life because of her compassion and love for others.

“Are you my home?”

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Colossians 3:2

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the children’s book Are You My Mother?  It follows a tiny bird as it searches for some semblance of a parent after tumbling carelessly out of his nest.  He meanders around, questioning anything from a dog to a crane if it’s his mother.  The pint-sized bird feels misplaced, away from familiar surroundings and he longs to be a welcomed by the warmth of the familiar.

This is a perfectly illustrated picture of my pilgrimage of being a military wife! (I use the word pilgrimage because I envision myself carrying loads of luggage, of which my husband can support as truth!)  I sometimes feel like that misplaced tiny bird; instead I go from house to house asking, “Are you my home?”

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I have been a military wife now for over twenty years and military child seventeen years prior to that.  I have moved every four to six years of my entire life. (Please don’t do the math to find my age!) Currently, God has called us to reside in Louisiana, this month we will have been living in the Bayou State for over five years!  

Midway through my military-wife-pilgrimage there was a small verse in Hebrews that completely transformed my life:

For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.

Hebrews 13:14

Can’t you just hear the words jump off the page when the tiny bird shouts, sounding almost frustrated from his journey, “You are NOT my mother!” to the large crane he calls a SNORT.  Like that tiny bird I often look at these many dwelling places and shout, “You are NOT my home!”

This life is all I have ever known, but not all I have ever seen.  

I have seen aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews all squeezed on to a tiny group of bleachers, just to watch a t-ball game.  All the while I tried to remember how I got to the baseball field so can find my way back to my new home in the dark.  

I have sat through numerous church services, feeling insignificant because no one knew my name, and I in turn did not know theirs.   

I have been culturally confused more times than I care to know;  I speak too fast for the south and too slow for the north!

I have gotten lost too many times to count and I have had a driver’s license in five states and one foreign country.   

The pilgrimage has been long and trying, but truth be told, I wouldn’t change a thing!  I know just how blessed I am to be able to see new places and experience diverse cultures.  However, in the midst of my military life journey I realize just how much I struggle with connection.  

I find it easy to keep my mind on things above, it’s the connections on earth I struggle with.  It’s simple; staying disengaged from deep relationships keeps me safe from the distress of leaving a friend behind.  However, I know that is not what God desires for my life!

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!  

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10  

Two things I have concluded from my struggle:  God created relationship and it’s really not about me.  It’s not about me finding a friend it’s about me being a friend and an encourager, even if it’s only for a season.

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Moving tags; attached to every piece of furniture in my home.

Let’s revisit that pint sized bird again and his quest to find his mother.  The crane, which he chastised for not being his mother, is the very object that elevated him to his perch.  Could it be that my perpetual temporary state is the very thing God will use as an open door for a ministry of encouragement?  

God desires for me to be involved in other’s lives, to be a blessing.  I am inspired by Barnabas, in Acts who was known as the son of encouragement, and everywhere he journeyed he was an encouragement to others.  God has opened the door for friendships in every location I have lived in and I have grown in my spiritual walk with every move.  Sometimes I was the encourager, and other times I was the recipient of encouragement; meeting many strong godly women along the way.  

My faith in Jesus has carried me to the place where I am secure in the knowledge that I have a home waiting for me that is permanent and unshakeable.

My reliance in Christ has allowed me to reach out to others wholeheartedly and cultivate friendships for the glory of His kingdom, even if for just a brief time!

My pilgrimage as a military wife, while at times unpredictable, I can see has lined up perfectly with the necessary growth in my faith journey, and for that I am truly blessed!

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Christina is an Air Force wife and a stay-at-home mom to two school age children, with a college age son now living away from home. She loves to study biblical history, and is never far from a vanilla latte. She is currently serving as the Women’s Ministry Leader at First Baptist Church in Haughton, Louisiana, where she has the privilege of exploring creative ways for women to grow in their spiritual walk! In her free time she loves to write, in hopes of one day fulfilling my dream of becoming a published author of Christian fiction!

“Patiently” Waiting

Jordan is a sweet soul I met in college and have the pleasure of calling friend. Her spunky spirit and compassion for others are infectious and such a joy to be around. I am so excited to have Jordan be a part of Go Giver’s “Perspective Women”!

Note for the readers: This is for all the planners out there. Those of you who have a need to know where you’re going so that you can start working to get there. I hope this post encourages you to find real peace and inspires you to grab hold of today before it’s gone.  ­- Jordan

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business, and make money. ” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13­-15

If you ask me, there’s nothing more refreshing than “getting your life together.” Now, for me, getting my life together might look something like this: Finally finding a major to stick to, getting acquainted with the taste of black coffee, graduating, finding a haircut that flatters the shape of my face after all these years, and even getting engaged and married ­ my number one life goal. For a little while, I had it all going, but moving can really mess things up. Don’t get me wrong. I welcome adventure! I love people, new cultures, new scenery and chances to begin again. Considering these, moving sounded like the perfect opportunity for me. And then God said “Arkansas.”

In my perfect ‘Jordan knows best’ world, we would’ve packed up and headed to Alaska, my favorite place on earth. I would’ve even settled for Washington, Oregon.. Anywhere with deep green forests and more rainy days than you can count. (Yes, I’m a pluviophile. Google it.) But He who knows better than I chose Little Rock to be the new home of the #newlywednortons. That was that. So, Josh and I found a cozy apartment by the river in Little Rock. It took us about 3 days to have it all settled leaving me with endless time to navigate the city,find my favorite coffee shop and job search.

After 2 months of dissecting Indeed.com, I finally was offered a full­time job, on the spot. I was going to be a Customer Service Representative for a great insurance company. It came with the title, an office, a salary and a pencil skirt. (Okay, I bought the skirt.) I was going to be a professional! Then I remembered .. I hate sitting in offices. And answering phones. And skirts. I lasted 3 days. I was a little discouraged and ashamed of being a quitter, but I was confident in God’s promise. He knew the plans He had set out for me. I just had to wait a little longer to find out what those were.

A New Perspective

In the meantime, I worked as a coffee barista at a swanky European Cafe. As a coffee lover, it had always been a dream of mine to learn the art of coffee­making. I loved making lattes and cappuccinos, but as it turns out, it doesn’t take long to master.

Not long into my caffeine career,a door was opened for me to be a College Intern for Josh’s and my new church home. Being offered a ministry job was truly a dream come true! So, I was newly married, employed with an amazing job and was beginning to make friends. It should’ve been another one of those “getting my life together” times. But something was off. I couldn’t sleep. When I had days off, I’d rest but still feel restless. I had bursts of uninvited tears and a heavy feeling of hopelessness. For weeks, I’d ask myself why I felt like I was falling apart even while my many blessings were evident. It took a little roadtrip to wake me up.

Last week, I drove back down to Ruston to see my college friends and the missionary family from Alaska who had come back to visit and recruit. I brought my stubborn heart with me not knowing that God was about to shatter it to pieces.

After seeing all my people, I went to stay with a close friend. We stayed up late sharing our hearts with each other. Somewhere in between my tired sentences, I realized that my exhaustion wasn’t only physical. It was mental, emotional and spiritual. My wrestling with God about where I was and where I wanted to be had slowly broken me down. I had given the the enemy permission to use a good thing to steal my joy and to replace my peace with anxiety.

My discontent was my own fault.

When I lived in East Texas, I wanted to leave and never go back. Once I did leave, I realized it wasn’t so bad. In North Louisiana, I was itching to get out. I loved my friends and the ministry teams I served on, but I was over the humidity and flat terrain. I wanted Alaska or just some place better than where I had been. My eyes and my heart were always on what might come next. But in a conversation with a friend, through my own words, I saw a piece of God’s heart. There was nothing else for me to do but surrender. I decided that it was time for me to stop wrestling with God about my future and be faithful in my present.

You don’t have to cash in your dreams to be faithful. You just have to be a little less selfish. Be willing to die to yourself so that you can really start living for Jesus. I may never be a Razorback fan, but I am choosing to open my heart to Little Rock ­ a beautiful city with great opportunities and even greater people that I can’t wait to meet.

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Jordan is a Louisiana Tech graduate with a degree in Speech Communication. She loves Jesus, coffee, and music. Jordan lives in Little Rock, Arkansas with her new husband Josh and works as a college intern with Immanuel Baptist Church.

A New Perspective : Kathy

Kathy is a friend and mentor of mine, and has been for years. She always has just the right words to say and encouragement just when I, or others, need it most. She did Mr. Yell’s and my premarital counseling this past year and was our college minister for several years. I am so excited to have her on the blog this week!

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Worship- verb, proskuneo – pros=”towards” and kuneo=”to kiss”.

I will never forget learning this meaning years ago.  A room full of college students were at my house for discipleship and we began talking about what “worship” actually means and what God desires of us in our worship of Him.  We looked it up in our Vines Expository Dictionary and found this definition.  “To lean towards, as if to kiss”.   I was overtaken with the visual of that intimate act and could hardly speak for a moment.  Worship in my personal, private time was not a new concept, but that intimate act used to define it made it become a sharp and clear picture.  It made me understand why personal, private worship of the Lord Jesus Christ was crucial in feeling the power of the Holy Spirit when the whole church worships together.

Scripture teaches us the power of God’s people gathering in authentic worship together in 1st Corinthians 14:24-25.  The word of God was being taught and they were praising God together in such a way that listeners who did not know God came to understand how much they needed him and fell down on their knees and worshipped God, declaring that God really was there among them!

Only God is worthy of being worshipped this way.  In Matthew 4:10 Jesus rebukes Satan and tells him that we should “worship the Lord our God, and him only should we serve.”  The priority of faithfulness in worship is clear.  He wants all of our worship.

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Truly, my sweetest experiences in worship have been when I am alone at home or riding in my car.   Songs with strong biblically sound lyrics have made me want to stand up right there in my car and worship Jesus – which may be tricky since I am the one driving.  Reading God’s word and coming to a new understanding of God’s character or a new principle to apply to my life has often brought me to my knees in worship or caused me to weep at His overwhelming acts of grace and kindness toward me.

My encouragement to you is that you find a place where you can spend time “leaning in to God, as if to kiss Him”.    Even if you are one who doesn’t really know God or much about Him, seek Him – lean into Him and He will show you who He is.

Imagine what our weekly worship gatherings with others would be like if we all came to the room having already spent private time in worship of our Savior.  Let’s pray together that each of us who claim to follow Christ will be faithful to worship Him and only Him.  He is so worthy of our worship and praise.  After all, the bible teaches us that if we don’t, the ROCKS will cry out in worship.  And like the song says – “ain’t no rock gonna cry out in MY place!”

May your worship this week bring you a new understanding of how rich and fulfilling private worship can be.  For me, it changed my day, renewed my spirit and transformed my life.

Kathy

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Kathy is founder of “Speak It Ministries” and author of “5 Things” – a book about how a man should love a woman by looking at the life of Boaz.  She loves to share God’s word with anyone who will listen.  You can find out more about her ministry, as well as buy her book, at her  website www.speakitministries.com or follow her on Twitter: @cckathy and on Instagram: kathybnelson

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