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Re-Flexibility: A Life on the [Constant] Move

Some of you just experienced reflux-ibility reading that title! The thought of change often results in a tensing of muscles, a rise in blood pressure, and a reactionary anxiety of the unknown. In our lives overseas, developing a reflex of flexibility is not an option, but an imperative. The process of entering the life calling we have embraced requires a series of psychological tests and personality assessments. (Naturally, you must assume that they are looking for people crazy enough to embark on such a wild adventure!) In truth, our sending agency uses these tools to evaluate overall health and ability to survive in the pressure cooker of overseas assignments. The rigors of language stu

#RelationshipGoals

In a constant desire to add value to the lives of my readers…whether you’re single or an old married couple, this will serve you well in our technology-enhanced relational world. I was on a 9,000km (5,600 mile) trip across 11 countries, meeting with missionaries, national leaders, pastors, and potential community partners. I was driving the whole thing…by myself. Having just had a tremendous lunch in Mostar, Bosnia, I was heading back toward my hotel. It is an incredibly beautiful drive, even with the treacherous mountain passes that are not for the faint-hearted. At the bottom of one of these passes, there was a bridge to pass at the base of a windy mountain road that is barely a lane an

"This Is Me"

Atlantic Records, which released “The Greatest Showman” album, a companion of music from the film, announced that the anthem song “This Is Me” has been streamed more than 160 million times globally, and that the soundtrack is approaching one billion streams worldwide. Music can evoke powerful emotions and strike a chord in the heart of humanity. “This is Me” has tapped into that core of who we were created to be. “THIS IS ME,” sung by Keala Settle and The Greatest Showman Ensemble (written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul) I am not a stranger to the dark Hide away, they say 'Cause we don't want your broken parts I've learned to be ashamed of all my scars Run away, they say No one'll love you a

Fighting the Windmills

While Don Quixote’s valor bordered on insanity, sometimes the battles we engage seem just as real in our own minds.  This famous American idiom, “fighting the windmills,” has become known to mean, “fighting imaginary evils.” Don Quixote waged war against the windmills that he perceived to be GIANTS. This blog post is flawed from the very start.  As soon as I mention the “windmill” I’m referencing, you’ll say, “that’s not imaginary…that’s REAL.”  In every regard, the battle is real, but it is often inflated to becoming a GIANT in our lives if we fail to recognize the gifts that God has placed in our lives. That “windmill” is loneliness. There were many DIRECT blessings that were evident while

Joel’s Secret to Team Spirituality

I have been tremendously successful in accelerating the prayer life of team members I’ve hosted. Would you like to know my secret? I have the joy of meeting short-term missions teams from the U.S. at airports all over Eastern Europe. Many times, I’m meeting these people for the very first time. It is appropriate to welcome the team into the country and then share with them a piece of my story. We load up all of the team’s luggage into the back of the van, and take our seats. Then I drive them to location which is usually within 3 hours of the airport. Everyone is excited and nervous being in a different country. While driving, I tell them the story of my ruptured brain aneurysm, and th

The prayer I no longer pray…

Over the past year, I’ve wrestled with a particular prayer that I’ve…um…given up for Lent…and [generally] for life. It is the prayer for clarity. Clarity is often about control. (What this blog is NOT about is seeking God’s peace in a decision or having the Spirit’s confirmation on a particular assignment upon which you are considering. There are times to pray for clear affirmation…clarity, if you will.) The posture that I’m talking about is a persistent drive to always know the plan! Whether it’s trying to understand how the earth was created, how it will end, or just the persistent need to always know what God’s up to in our lives. One of the greatest theologians of the 20th Century, Di

The Rookie Report - Part 4

4 Things I’ve Learned in my First Term Today's blog is the final post of a four part series. If you missed the first three posts, here are links to part 1, part 2, and part 3. 4. Nothing happens without a team. That team that I’m referencing is YOU! It is nearly impossible to quantify the impact of so many praying and giving financially to enable us to stay on mission. I marveled as I received regular financial reports that reflected your giving. Faithful, steady, and generous…so many gave sacrificially to help us touch lives. And prayer? Two thoughts: (1) I think God healed me when I suffered my ruptured aneurysm just because He was tired of hearing my name! There were literally thou

The Rookie Report - Part 3

4 Things I’ve Learned in my First Term Today's blog is part 3 of a four part series. If you missed the first two posts, here are links to part 1 and to part 2. 3. Flexibility is not an option. My energies were mainly focused in Eastern Europe, but it was not unusual for our team to host numerous guests and conferences in our office building. With the intensity of the refugee crisis during our last term, it wasn’t uncommon to set aside my normal responsibilities to respond to a need or mobilize for a distribution throughout the European trail from Calais, France to Thessaloniki, Greece. For those who know me well, I enjoyed the myriad of responsibilities and agility required to creatively

The Rookie Report - Part 2

4 Things I’ve Learned in my First Term Today's blog is part 2 of a four part series. If you missed part 1, you can find it here. 2. Relationships require intentionality. Gail and I were blessed by being based in Brussels where a number of missionaries are stationed. I’m thankful that we had veterans to lean on when we needed them. (Especially, after my ruptured brain aneurysm!) Like all relationships, these require intentionality. Missionaries tend to be very busy and focused on their respective ministry, so we set out to connect with as many as possible. We opened our home every Monday night through the NFL Football season for missionaries to come and fellowship and catch a game (on-

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© 2018 by Joel and Gail

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© 2020 by Joel and Gail