Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Switzerland FAQ - First Edition

( This is just the "first edition" because after all, I've only lived in Switzerland since the end of July, though I lived right across the border in Germany for two years and visited here many times. )

What's your favorite thing about Switzerland?

Well their flag is a big plus... ... ... ... ha ha ha...

Really, it's hard to say. Too broad of a question. One thing I enjoy is falling asleep to the sound of cowbells. Church bells on the other hand, at first I thought were very romantic, but now sort of clang inside my head even when the actual bells aren't even ringing.

What's something Swiss which reminds you of America?

The Swiss might hate me for saying this because it's a total Swiss product, but Rivella. It's a carbonated beverage, and the original flavor I swear tastes just like the little smarties candies.

What's your favorite Swiss phrase?

I don't know many yet. I'd say its "Kei Ahnig" pronounced "Ky Ah-neeg", which means "No idea". In high German it's "Keine Ahnung". It just sounds funny how the Swiss shorten it, and of course I find it over all a very useful phrase. I even find myself using it in the middle of an english conversation.

What's your favorite place in Switzerland?

Other than our little apartment on Lake Bodensee, or atop the highest mountain, I would have to say, sitting at a Swiss family's table eating raclette. (Potatoes and melted cheese topped with bacon). My favorite cities are Montreux and Bern. There are real bears in Bern, and although I could only see them on my fourth visit there, it was totally worth the wait.

Do you have a favorite memory in Switzerland?

Two. One was the first time I came to visit Ber. He picked me up at the train station, took me to a coffee shop,  put a map with all the train routes in front of me, and asked "Where do you want to go?" 

Second, was showing my parents around. In one day we took them in trains, boats, caves, and atop mountains and through valleys. Priceless.

What would you tell someone planning a vacation in Switzerland?

No matter how much you have saved up, just go ahead and plan on doubling that before you come over. I promise you will enjoy your time here more that way. For reals. There is no proverb in Swiss German which says money can't buy you happiness. Happiness is very expensive here. (Coffee, chocolate, to get to the top of a mountain, etc...) I asked Ber this question without telling him my answer and he said exactly the same thing. However, we will be happy to offer you a totally free cup of happiness if you come to visit us!

Monday, October 17, 2016

There's No Place I'd Rather Be

Du hast so viel für mich getan
Mein Erlöser, kostbarer Jesus

Mein Herz ist froh,
denn Du nennst mich ganz Dein
Es gibt keinen Ort wo ich lieber wär'
Als in deinem liebenden Arm

(english / german version)


I first learned that the German word "Ort" meant "town" in English. One Sunday during worship this past summer, there came a line in a familiar song which my mind translated, "There's no town I'd rather be in".

It sounded like a message from God to me. Even when I realized the word "Ort" was meant to be translated "place", it didn't change the meaning for me.

Whether you picked up on it or not in my social media interactions, I haven't exactly coped well through the many transitions of these last few years, with all the moving, waiting on the permission to work and study and then struggling in both those things once I'd attained the right papers.

Not even the beauty of this place or the tender love of my now husband are able to keep me from having those times where I shrink back in fear wondering what in the world I am doing here. 

In those moments, there's no other place I would rather be than home, wherever that even is anymore. I long for familiarity, to be understood, to just not have to try so hard at daily life and communication.

I got to thinking about it and realized, we sing and say that "Jesus led me all the way" really no matter how life turns out. We never mean that to say, "I made all the right decisions". But we realize, past tense, that He was there with us through all of it

But when I pray for God's will to happen today or in the future, I'm often fearful of making mistakes or misstepping. And sometimes I just can't admit the struggles I am going through at any given moment even to myself, because it feels like I'm saying "I wish I hadn't made the decisions that led me here." I don't know why, or if I am the only one who thinks that way. 

But at the end of the day, I know Jesus did lead me. He does lead me. And He will lead me.   


The rest of the line in that song says "There's no town/place I'd rather be, than in Your loving arms."

And though my concentration is often on finding my place in this town and in this place or questioning if I am even in the right place, there should be absolutely no other actual "place" I'd rather be, than in His loving, comforting, guiding arms. It is an actual location, not just hypothetical imagery, and one which can be entered, no matter where I am in the world.

My only decision for today is, throw myself into His loving arms and thrive, or find who I was and who I was meant to be, to be lost forever. Almighty God may I, and we, find our home in You as You carry us from here to there, for Your purposes which are so often beyond our comprehension we can not even see them.   
all photos shot with Galaxy s6 Edge
around our little town and home

Thursday, October 13, 2016

But God Used Saul, Why not Trump?

Part Four of Four in A Christian Expat's Take on the Elections

I think sometimes when we remember Bible stories as justifications for our solution for today’s problems, we often forget, overlook, or are confused by God’s grace. Many times the outcome of a situation is good, although the creation of the situation was a result of a wrong decision.

In a position like we are in, where it is very difficult to choose who will make a better leader, we are comforted by the words of a man like Joseph, when he said to his brothers “What you meant for evil, God meant for good.” But by actively being a part of the process to elect either of these evils, it is as if to say we would willingly conspire to kill our brother, at the last moment begin to feel guilty and sell him into slavery, but console ourselves knowing that God can make something good of it. That's how the story goes. Which are we? Joseph who trusted the Lord in a difficult situation, or someone who aided in the creation of the difficult situation? When you think about it, it would be insane to say, I will purposely commit an evil knowing God can make something good of it.

In Samuel’s farewell address to the Children of Israel (1 Samuel 12), he reminds them that their choice for a king was out of fear, and that in spite of it having such a happy ending, they had rejected God’s counsel.

“And when you saw that Nahash the king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ when the LORD your God was your king. 
And now behold the king whom you have chosen, for whom you have asked; behold, the LORD has set a king over you. 
If you will fear the LORD and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the LORD your God, it will be well. 
But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you and your king. 
Now therefore stand still and see this great thing that the LORD will do before your eyes. 
And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king.”  

And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart.  

And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. 
For the LORD will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you a people for himself.  

Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.  

Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.  

But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.”

Far from being a license or reason to vote for Trump, these words instead give me hope and a direction for post elections when the people as a whole have spoken. Whether Trump or Hillary become president, there is a way forward by the grace of God. 

Unfortunately, that doesn’t negate the fact that God’s grace is needed, and it’s because of our own sin. We will never know what would have happened if the people had heeded God’s and Samuel’s warnings. Maybe the results would have been drastically different, maybe not, but God seems to be more concerned with how far their hearts were from His. (Read 1 Samuel 8)

When I think of men whose hearts were near to God, I think of Noah. Without the luxury of a god-fearing community, Noah stood for righteousness with his family alone. We also are without the luxury at this point, of a god-fearing majority, and the results of the election will likely reflect that. But unlike our voting system, God only needs one faithful, trusting, fearless man.

That is NOT to say that our voice doesn’t matter in social and political matters, or that we give up on society, or that we lose all rational reasoning when it comes to finding a solution for the problems our country faces. What I mean to say is that although Noah’s faithful little life with his wife and his children couldn’t revolutionize their society or save their society from their own choices, his faithful life was the hope of a new start for civilisation as a whole. 

I think one way we Christians can use our voice in a great way this November, is to vote  in a way that reflects that we are not all about “talk, talk, talk, and no do”. We muffle our own voices by carrying on with the double standard. Without trying to calculate and weigh the candidates past mistakes against each other, let's just ask ourselves what we can do to uphold the Gospel. I can't tell you how to vote, which sounds silly after writing so much these last few days as to why I don't think Trump is a worthy candidate. But obviously I can't make that decision for you. But as a sister in Christ, I'm pleading with you, if not with your vote, then somehow, use your voice to decry the immorality and hypocrisy in our own churches and our own land, because somehow we've found ourselves here, and neither candidate can save us from our own mess.

Let's hold the republican candidate accountable. Let's hold ourselves accountable to the highest standard. While our eyes are turned middle-eastward and we fear for the growing threat of terrorism, we are failing, failing miserably, to recognize the threat springing up, right inside our own homes and homeland.

God does work in mysterious ways, and if Trump becomes president, (Or if Hillary does) God will not cease His work nor His ways. May His mercy be on our nation and may everything I’ve written of a immoral, narcissist presidency be proven wrong. 

But let God's grace in the whole matter, not be lost on us. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Can a Good Leader Have a Bad Temperament?

An Expat Christian's Take on the Elections- Part Three

Read also:
From One American Christian to Another- Part One
Do the Policies Make the Man?-Part Two

* Danger * Danger * Danger*

That's what anyone who has had exposure to, or been under the influence of a narcissist sees and hears when they hear Donald Trump's "locker room talk", or when they hear his repetitive language, belittling comments, or hate-filled slander.

I have a theory this is partially why the church is so divided concerning this man. Because some of us know what it's like. We know that men with power often do use it for abuse, and to us, it's isn't "locker room talk" at all. Other Christians, thank God, have never experienced their loyalty being taken advantage of to a humiliating extent, or their willingness to serve, or even their desire to be a good Christian. If you've never experienced or perhaps just never realized it, that someone was using those things against you in a manipulative way, I can better imagine why Trump's words and actions don't scream danger to you.

The use of the word ‘temperament’ when it comes to the Trump campaign, both saddens and fascinates me. It’s like, whether it is something he says, or does, or how he reacts, or just how he is, it all falls under what we are calling his “temperament”. It could be a true statement to say that a good leader can have a bad temperament, and a bad leader can have a good temperament. But what really applies here is that a good leader can not be foolish and cruel. Only bad leaders are foolish and cruel.

When it comes to Trump, Putin, and Orbán, the three men I wrote about yesterday, they all share some similar traits, not just their policies. Personally, I'm more aware of how Trump fits the following description, but from as far as I've followed the news from the other men's countries, I would say it's safe to say they have these tendencies as well. Since we've never actually seen Trump in a role with such power, I think it would be to our advantage to then pay closer attention as the days go by, to how these tendencies affect how Orbán and Putin deal with the power attributed their position. It could especially help those who've never personally witnessed the influence of a narcissist, and help us all determine how Trump might handle things.

The following are just a few of the traits of spiritual and political leaders with the same personality disorder, which I have personally observed, noted, and compiled, before Trump ever began running for president. Call it temperament, a character flaw, or whatever you want, but most if not all professionals would call it narcissism.

+ They (narcissists) crave and need attention. Yes, like a child. They pick up certain traits which can seem rather strange, but start to define them, and people think it's cute, or witty, or original before realizing they were manipulated into giving someone attention who did nothing worthy of it. Some never do realize it. 

”One thing I’ve learned about the press is that they’re always hungry for a good story, and the more sensational the better. If you are a little different, or a little outrageous, or if you do things that are bold or controversial, the press is going to write about you." Trump, in The Art of the Deal 1987 (For those of you who think the media is playing Trump, you're wrong. Trump is playing the media.) ]

+  They crave power, but their manipulation and power over people usually begins really subtly until total control is ensured. I think of it like an addiction and something which they need more and more of, so perhaps the subtle kind of control is actually quite satisfying at first. 

+   While often times physically unattractive or not really that great of speakers, their     charm and promises for the future among other traits, seem to "magically" draw a following.

+  They like to use tricky and repetitive, sometimes offensive, sometimes non-intelligible words, language, or references and then ask, "now is that what I really said?" 

+  Nothing makes them shrivel up and feel like their dying inside, like the word "no". This is how you become the enemy of a narcissist. This is how you will finally get to see them in their truest form. This is when the flattery stops, and the insults begin. This is when they start putting you down to try to lift themselves back up to the place your simple "no" knocked them from. They will do nothing short of demonizing you in the eyes of others.

+  They prey on the fearful, sometimes those who are already wounded. They have a keen sense for the vulnerable and are literally wickedly good at re-victimizing the victim. 

+  They use your own fear to manipulate you, offering themselves as a "safe harbor", when the truth is, they care nothing about the things which have made you afraid, and they definitely care nothing about you. They care only that you find in them something which you can not find else where. The praise, and commitment you make to them feeds the monster in their soul.

+  If they discover a common belief or common ground with you, they emphasize it over and over and over until they've convinced you they are your best ally in all things. (Nothing makes me sicker than when Jesus Christ is actually used as the common ground for manipulation. A positive thing I can say for Trump is that at least he stops short of invoking the name of Jesus on his behalf although he has blasphemously attempted to use scripture to manipulate)
+  They perpetually play the victim. Nothing ever is entirely their fault, and everything which they’ve brought upon themselves, was actually someone else. No matter how close of a relationship you had with them, it is possible for you to become the supposed perpetrator, if it helps people see them as the victim.

+ They thrive off of loyalty. This is huge, because if it wasn't for the belief of many humans that loyalty is a quality beyond compare, narcissists would perhaps never gain as much power and control. They can especially thrive in Christian culture using our own ideology against us. Commonly heard defenses they use (or people use for them), are "Do not touch God's anointed" or "Jesus said to forgive seventy times seven."

The list goes on and on. There may be some traits in there you might just call “good business”, but I call it, taking advantage of people, selfish, egotistical, and last but not least, dangerous. Again, if you've never had exposure to someone like this, I'm afraid my words can do very little to express what havoc these tendencies wreak on one's life. The more power they have, the greater the abuse. With every inch we give them, the danger becomes more real. When we create stories and movies of good and evil, this is the stuff it's made of. These are the master manipulators filled with the fundamentally evil spirit craving to be like God. Call me over-dramatic, but I don't think its possible to over-emphasize this.

When evaluating someones character and "temperament"  I believe it's key to take note of their response to conflict. Do they always make themselves out to be the victim? Or do they make room for disagreement as perhaps an approach to being bettered and more balanced? In a healthy exchange, disagreement isn't an automatic deal breaker. Any degree of disagreement  to the insecure narcissist however, repetitively whispers in their head “They hate you! They don’t respect you.” No matter what the issue is, you are highly likely to find yourself at the mercies of the very "temperament" which you chose to overlook for the sake of your values.


The most important thing I wish to remind my brothers and sisters of, is that the whole world is watching. Even if you don't personally feel threatened by Trump, the American church, and their impact with the Gospel in missions at home and around the world, IS.

First, the whole world saw us rally for the impeachment of Clinton for sexual immorality.Then, they watch as one by one more American Christian celebrities and leaders are found to be hiding sexual secrets of their own. And now, they watch as Christians defend the behavior of Trump which most of them deem highly inappropriate and offensive by even unchristian standards.

And it all makes perfect sense.

While many many Christians continue defending and cheering for Trump in spite of his extremely low moral standards, the whole world is watching this double standard thinking, "See, I knew it was true. They care more about themselves, their party, their agenda, than what is actually right and wrong, good or evil". 

I know many of you see your support of him purely as your protest against Hillary, who is not "our gal", who never was, and never will be. But the whole world already knows she's not our gal. The world is instead seeing that the last thing the church seems concerned about are the people who are different than them, the ones who Trump mocks and ridicules and uses his fame and power to abuse. They see that when it comes down to it, the moral standard must be held for others, but never for us. If that's not reminiscent of the primary pre-existing problem, and reason why my generation is leaving the church, I don't know what is.

Imagine if Trump turned on the church, but kept claiming to be pro-life. What if he was mocking and ridiculing us? Would abortion still be your single issue? Because, as much as I wish it wasn't true and even hope to be proven wrong, Trump doesn't care about us. Not as individuals, and certainly not as the church. And in the true nature of a narcissist, (which hopefully you see by now, is so much more than just a word to call a mean person), he doesn't actually care about the things we care about, almost as much as he doesn't care about us. He says the things we Christians are programmed to need to hear, what we know to be "qualifying" answers, while making a mockery of the Gospel we are already failing to role model. Christ came to die for our souls, not the right answers! Is it really going to far to say we are selling our souls for the sake of our values, and in so doing selling our right to preach the true transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ?

May our "temperaments" be the first to change, and may the true Gospel of Jesus reform our thinking, transform our lives, our church, and then overflow to the other arenas whereever we live and work around the world!

Tomorrow: "But God Used Saul. Why not Trump?"
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