Questions That Make Me Sigh

“What are your hobbies? What do you enjoy doing? What are some of your favorite things?”

I always sigh at those questions. 

I sigh because my list is full of things I love to do. I have many, many things I enjoy. I have an unending list of favorite things.

I sigh because although my lists are long… the things on my list are often far away.

Living cross-culturally takes me far away from many of the things I love and forces me to live far away from the things I enjoy.

Birthday and holiday dinners with family
Shopping days with my mom and sisters
Sending the kids to Iowa and Grandma for a week each summer
Memory boxes stored over 4000 miles away
Beach days at Lake Michigan
Coffee with friends at Panera
An extra large vanilla coke from Sonic
Afternoons spent reading while the snow falls out the window
Church activities and picnics and lifegroups
Book browsing at Barnes and Noble
Camping in the woods with our girls
Bonfires with real Hershey’s chocolate, American marshmallows and actual Graham Crackers
The freedom of my mini van and a trip to Target
The wonderful sight of Red, White and Blue

I could go on and on…

My life is lived far, far away from so much of what I love and enjoy.

Yet… I must purpose in my heart to make new lists, to find new things that I love and enjoy.

Living cross-culturally opens doors and awakens possibilities to enjoy things I never dreamed I would do… let alone love.

My list now is broader, bigger.

I can enjoy things on this side of the ocean and create new hobbies, new loves all from our new home.

I am building a new list.


Meeting friends from all over the world
Creating new traditions
Setting up house in new places
Browsing through world museums and sights
Trying new patisseries
Sunshine every day
Ocean views
Incredible history all around me
Laughing while learning a new language
Beautiful flowers as I walk from place to place
Plenty of exercise
No processed snacks in sight
Foods from all over the world
Learning new cultures
Sharing life with friends back home through pictures
Seeing my girls grow in God through great life experiences
Helping people
Sharing Jesus
Training people in the Word where training has never been available before
Walking where no Christian has been for many years… or possibly ever

This list is huge… and growing.

I am learning that although I left behind many, many loves, God is not leaving me joyless and stranded.

He is daily opening my eyes to new mercies. He is giving me joy in the desert places. He is sufficiently providing and continually teaching me to trust His hand at work.

He is guiding me to branch out, live bigger, try new things and fall in love with different experiences and unexplored places.

God is showing me that I can enjoy Him, for who He is, and share in His blessings no matter where I live.

He is present. He is working. He is allowing me to enjoy His big world and He is giving me the gift of this moment.

Joy in the now.
Joy in where I am.
Joy in this situation.
Joy in each new experience.
Joy in the desert.
Joy in my new home.
Joy in my daily life.

Right here. Right now.

So, what are you enjoying today as you live far away from your old list and letting God help you create a new list of loves in this cross-cultural experience?


  1. Linda Toedt July 29, 2015

    Hi, Jennilee…my husband and I met you and your family when you came to Real Life Assembly of God in Batavia, OH. Our pastors are Joe and Christy Winter. Just want you to know that I have been praying for you since that time and will continue to do so. My husband Terry and I had done some short-term M work in the Philippines from 1985-2014. I praise God for your wonderful obedience to the Lord. He is not only WITH you, but He goes BEFORE you, covers you from BEHIND, walks BESIDE you and lives IN you. Be blessed, little ones. So nice to hear of you again.

    1. Jenilee July 29, 2015

      Hi Linda!! Thank you so much for praying for us! And, yes, we LOVE the Winter’s! Please tell them hello for us. And thank you for your encouraging comment. Yes, He is with us and thankfully, He goes before us in all we do. God Bless!

  2. Julie July 31, 2015

    Jenilee, thanks for being real, and choosing joy! I think this is important no matter where you live, but especially when you live somewhere where everything is different than what you’re accustomed to! Julie

    1. Jenilee July 31, 2015

      I agree… this thought can be applied to all seasons and stages and places of life. We all are learning to get joy and enjoy… Yet, living somewhere new adds a few extra challenges for sure!

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