We are blessed to have spent the last 3 months in the States with such wonderful family and friends. We traveled through Chicago, Atlanta, Charlotte, Cheraw, D.C., Los Angeles, Waco, New Orleans, Savannah, and more.

We had fun trying yummy foods, driving for the first time in 2 years, the beach, Disneyland for the 1st time, ice skating, camping, falling in mud, hanging out with mammoth fossils, belching with goats, reindeer on the beach, re-visiting our 1st home, seeing a space shuttle, and of course sharing with multiple churches and hanging out with some amazing supporters and friends!

You know you are in America when…

Just some funny things we are noticing our first days back in the States.


  • When you are on the American Airline flight to Chicago and the stewardess asks if you would like ice cream in the middle of winter.  (Of course I do!)
  • When you miss the airport bathrooms in Europe.
  • When you understand everyones’ conversations around. (and you don’t necessarily want to.)
  • When you have free refills at a restaurant.
  • When those in customer service are very attentive.
  • When you automatically get ice in your drink.
  • When you understand everyones’ conversations around.
  • When there are neon signs everywhere fighting for your attention.
  • When you look for the light switch on the outside of the bathroom but it is on the inside.
  • When you can drink water right from the tap.
  • When it is ok to walk through the house with your shoes on.
  • When you understand everyones’ conversations around. ( This is so strange.)

After living outside of the States for 2 years, we know that during our visit here there will be some things we miss from Romania, and some that we don’t. It will be an interesting 3 months. We walked through Wally World the other day and half of us are surprised by all the options and availability and then the other half says this is familiar, maybe from another life.

Here’s to living dual lives!

When an Introvert becomes a missionary

The musings of an introvert …


As an introvert, life in ministry has been interesting and difficult at times. I have been told by different people throughout my life, especially as we prepared for moving to Romania, that I really need to be an extrovert to be a missionary. I was told that as an introvert I would not be successful.

I know that these people are right, in the sense that it can take more work for me to meet new people (and it helps to have an extroverted husband), but I also know that they are very wrong in their assumptions that God can not use me and my talents in the way that He has made me in ministry.

If you are an introvert, and someone has ever told you this, please trust God made you who you are.

Each person has their own challenges and strengths, extroverts and introverts.


I love having one-on-one conversations, and sometimes it takes a couple of times to really get to know me, but I love getting to the heart of things. The holiday season is hard for this introvert. Married to an extrovert who is energized by people, the holidays can be a great time to host people, but it is hard to find the balance between supporting my husband’s needs for “people time” and my needs for time alone.


Let’s not forget that there is also a language barrier that I must cross, which makes deep conversations all the more difficult. Moving to another culture has stretched me. I would even say I have become a little more introverted, but that is the from stress of culture and language and finding my voice here.


After 2 years, it is getting easier and I do not get tired so quickly.

In university, I took some counseling classes and I was able to audit a Self Care/Member Care class from Fuller, which have become secret passions of mine. I am constantly seeking how to feed myself (mentally, physically, spiritually) so that I can feed into others. We often hear “self care is being selfish,” or “taking time for yourself is weak,” or “if I am don’t do it, then who will.” These are lies that have penetrated the lives of missionaries, pastors, lay leaders, etc for far too long, and it is time that we encourage those in ministry around us to know what fills them up and give them space for it.

We have yet to find the perfect balance in our marriage and ministry, but I do know that I am not unsuccessful for taking time to take care of myself. I know that God gave me talents and placed me in my new home with a purpose. I know that my goal in life is to glorify God, in my own way.

Remembering Two Years Ago


I am having a coke to help with jet lag, trying to stay awake on day 1.
I am having a coke to help with jet lag, trying to stay awake on day 1.

As we came upon celebrating 2 years here in Romania (Nov. 20), I was looking through my old journal entries around that time. I specifically remember my mom telling me to write it down so I would remember what I was feeling during that time of transition.  So I found my entry from our first day here pretty funny and I thought I would share it with you.

Day 1 in Timisoara                                                                                      11/21/13

Emotions: Overwhelmed, voiceless because I can’t understand or speak the language yet, excited, anxious, nervous, exhausted, very surreal. Physically, I feel a train has run over my body which Jeff says is jet lag. I am a little worried about money and having enough and being able to get enough out with out a lot of penalties (When we arrived, we discovered the bank we planned on using had closed). I am glad Jeff is with me and I feel less eager to be on my own like I did in December (2010) when I came to meet Jeff. Love, engagement, etc., creates a lot of energy that I didn’t account for. My goal for today: walk the city and get a handle on what needs to be done here. and don’t cry.

Enjoying some tea while working on my Romanian homework. Day 706 in Romania
Enjoying some tea while working on my Romanian homework. Day 706 in Romania

And now,  we have been here for 2 years and it continues to feel more and more like home. If I am completely honest with you, I think I am still trying to figure out if I am ok with that feeling. I never imagined I would live here, but I know this country and its’ people are being sown into my heart. I am so glad and thankful that the Lord has continued to provide for us. We have a wonderful community around us, I can understand more of the language, I can get around the city, and God continues to provide support for us here.


Another Cultural Learner

When the unexpected happens…

Often, when things do not go as planned, I have a tendency to freak out. You know me… we have talked about this type A personality and love of lists and order. Lately, we have had some detours as to how we expected events to happen and it has been amazing to see how God has used these times.

Story time….gather ’round…because God is so good…

Story 1: In February, we went to Bucharest to visit friends and we had a great weekend. Before it was time to go to the train station, we wanted to take a moment and pray together. We are so glad that we took that time, but then we could not find a taxi, and the tram was not coming in time to take us to the train station.IMG_1778 We called a friend of theirs with a car, but we still missed our train. That evening we went to a gathering of missionaries with them and planned to catch the night train instead. At the gathering, we met several people working in Bucharest, and Jeff was able to connect with someone who teaches at the Bible Institute. A week later, Jeff was asked to sub for him in 2 classes. We recently got back from Jeff teaching and he taught both classes in Romanian. It was so exciting to see the next generation of church leaders thinking about what it means to serve the city.

Story 2: We were traveling back and we were hoping to sit by a friend who would be on the train with us, but going to a different city. However, the train was packed, people were in our seats, and it never worked out to sit by each other. However, God sat a young man about to graduate high school beside us, who started talking with us in English about how his mother was a christian but he was an atheist. We were able to talk with him about his future as he is searching for a purpose for his life.

Story 3: We went to Craiova for a day trip with a friend and we got lost … a lot. We ended up looking for a shop that no longer exists, went to the wrong shopping center to see a movie, and ended up needing to take a taxi to the other end of the city. While getting lost was a great adventure, we also go into a taxi with a driver who talked with us about his disappointment in the Orthodox church. He was telling us about how priests require payment for everything (blessings, services, visits, etc.) and how he believes that is not what religion is about. It was interesting to hear his point of view and frustrations. We got his number and we are hoping to connect him with a new church plant happening in Craiova soon.

Story 4: When Jeff lived here in 2010, he went on a mission trip to the Severin area and helped build a church. Well, 5 years later, we went with our friend to her church in that city. As we drove up to the church, Jeff remembered the building. Come to find out, the church plant that was there, recently sold the property to our friend’s church, and Jeff had been there 5 years before to lay concrete for the flooring. It was amazing to see the location now filled with believers worshiping and praising God.

Story 5: A few weeks ago, we saw an apartment online that looked too good to be true. We decided to call and see if we could go and look at it. Amazingly, there was an open house the next day with several people coming to look at it. We really liked it but there were more people coming by, and they said they would call at 2. At 2:30 we got the call that they wanted us to rent it and we met the landlords that evening to discuss everything. IMG_0141It seems God is provided a bigger place in a part of town we love. We are excited to see how God will use this new place. We are still a little nervous of moving to a new block but, we know however this works out, God is perfect in the unexpected.

None of these events were our doing but just us trying to remember to be open, listen, and aware of opportunities presented to us. So we continue to trust and keep our minds open and flexible, because who knows what’s next…

Is God doing something unexpected in your life right now?

Are you embracing it or fighting it?

How will he use your obedience and flexibility for his glory?

Why I Love Spring in Timisoara

During the winter everyone retreats. It is cold. The sun is brief and the buildings seem to match the sky, a nice shade of boring grey. The trees retreat. The birds retreat. The people retreat. I retreat.

This is an exhale.

I wait in anticipation for




Some people think of spring as a time to clean. Some think of spring break. If you are in Georgia, it is the time of year when you can’t find your car because all of them are the nasty shade of pollen yellow.


In Timisoara, in the spring, the city seems to take a deep  i n h a l e.

The sun comes out and the colors start to appear. The tree outside my window puts out green buds. The parks and center get a face lift with fresh plants. The men come back to the park for games of chess. The women to the front stoop to gossip. The birds sing a song of awakening. The tulips and daffodils fill the street vendors buckets. The pink trees line the street as a sign of life. The terraces and outside tables fill the square signaling time for gatherings with friends (and gelato).


I   N  H  A   L   E              L  I  F  E


I love Timisoara in the spring. God made everything with a rhythm. God made the Earth with seasons.  God made us with a rhythm of breath. inhaling. exhaling. He made us with a rhythm of life and death.


Easter is approaching us this weekend in Timi. (we celebrate with the orthodox church calendar so it is different from countries who use the catholic calendar.) As spring continues to return with each daily breath the city takes, I am reminded of Easter. That Christ’s exhale was not his last. Jesus’ death on the cross was my inhale for eternal life. Through Christ, my rhythm can continue past my breath and I can praise God in eternity.

The grave was the exhale and the resurrection the i n h a l e.

As the Earth has it’s rhythm of spring , may it remind you of Christ’s exhale and sacrifice on the cross and the  i n h a l e  of eternal life that was given to us through the His resurrection.


“day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”  -Revelation 4:8

Paris, Culture, and the Church…

Hey Guys,

Jeff here..I know I don’t usually blog on here, Lauren has been amazing at it. But I wanted to take some time to share about some takeaways of our time at Paris. Now I could go on and discuss how amazing the food was and how beautiful the city was, which it was, but I really want to talk about some of the take aways from the conference.


I. Diversity

It was so amazing to be able to attend the City to City Europe 2014 conference. We had heard about the City to City network from the pastors at our church, but we wanted to be able to experience the conference ourselves, to “network” with others and to explore what it would like to have a “network” here in Romania. I was quite impressed upon walking into the doors to hear and see so many countries and languages represented. Even though the conference was in English, you could hear German, French, Spanish, Italian, Greek and many other languages being spoken. As an American missionaries, we were definitely a minority. It was so encouraging to see 500 people from all over Europe gathering to share how the gospel is moving in their own countries.

II.  A Different Type of Growth

Too often, we hear that the Church is dying here in Europe. Everyone has stories of the struggle of seeing so many people who maybe don’t have a relationship with God here, who have been hurt by legalism in the Church, or who are indifferent. But it was very interesting to hear from a university professor from the UK who studies the dynamics of religion in Europe. She is a professor of Sociology but is a member of the Church of England. She discussed how yes, there is a decline in the church in Europe, but it doesn’t look as negative as some might think.

She urged us to see a decline in inherited religion. This is the type of religion that we receive because of our family has always believed this. But there is a rise, while not enough to balance with the decline, in desiring to seek out personal religion. People in Europe are seeking now and it presents new opportunities for the Church in Europe.

III. Push and Pull

The main speaker of our conference was Tim Keller, which was very much a blessing. The amount of wisdom he has is immense. One of the main takeaways was in regards to churches and their interaction with culture. Too often churches like to live in extremes.


Finding the balance was a huge take-a-way for myself.

Also, Tim talked about this idea of pushing and pulling. Too often, we, as the church, disregard and/or throw all aspects of culture out the window  or we accept all culture as good and do not challenge anything. Tim shared the balance of accepting certain parts of culture, that is those parts that do not contradict Christian beliefs, and then using those cultural points to challenge and help others strive for closeness of Christ.

The church should be an illustration that people can come with their gifts and keep their uniqueness but also see that they are incomplete without Christ.  Coming away from the conference we were so excited to see application points to our ministry here in Romania.

Our time in Paris was a great networking time, a great time to hear new ideas, and a time that we were challenged to think more about our lives here in Timisoara. How might you be challenged this year to push and think outside the box? How might you be challenged to live differently in your community, your workplace, your neighborhood, and within your family this year?

We pray this year that the Lord would push you all just as He is pushing us into new directions!


When the Browns come to town

“A man without a timezone.” Famously quoted by my dad at a late night game of cards, as he described his jet lag proudly.  We had the privilege of mom and dad coming to visit us in Timisoara for a week at the beginning of October. We have been here for 10 months and we were excited for them to see what our life here in Romania looks like.

As we have said before, there is a 18-24 month window that is crucial to bonding with another culture. This is why we do not plan to go back to the US before 2 years, and we greatly weighed how this trip would affect that bond. We decided it would be best to have them visit, with the knowledge that it could be very hard after they left. It was hard, but Jeff was very supportive and we gave ourselves space to miss them. Everyday Jeff would ask me, “1-10, how are you feeling?” and sometimes multiple times a day. I think the best parts were just getting to spend time together. Quality time  is one of my love languages if you can’t tell. The week flew by and we wish we could have spent more time together, but it was filled with joy!

We tried hard to wear them out to help with jet lag by walking all over Timisoara. We went to Opera square to see the Orthodox Cathedral, the construction of Liberty and Unity square, the revolution museum, the areopogus (where we take classes), our favorite places to shop, a large open air market, the mall, our church, and to some friends’ homes for great conversation and games. We took them to places by tram, bus, and taxi.

We even rented a car for two days, and Jeff and dad both chauffeured mom and I around. We took the car for 36 hours to see Sarmisegetusa (a place of Roman ruins from 106-109 A.D.), Corvin Castle, Alba Iulia (another city with a large citadel), Cisnedia (a small village outside of Sibiu with a beautiful fortified church), Cisnedoara (a fortified church on top of a hill), and Sibiu (an old german town and citadel in Transylvania).

And of course, we had to feed them sarmale, shoarma, salata de vinete (an eggplant spread), inghețata (Romanian gelato), gogoși (fried dough) , and other yummy goodies. We even got to recreate their first date by going out for pizza, although their pizza from their first date didn’t have corn on it and was not served with ketchup. By the way, pizza should always have corn on it. Anyway, in conclusion, my parents are awesome, deeply missed, deeply loved, and tireless. Check out our pictures from the trip below.

Blunders of the Tongue

Whether you think language learning is easy or hard, there is one common standard: it is great for comedy!

In honor of our first week back at school, here are a few of our most favorite language blunders!

  • Lauren going to the bread store and asking for bread and a set of grandparents, instead of the type of bread called “grandmother’s bread.”
  • Lauren going to the bread store and asking for bread and a house, instead of the type of bread. (Needless to say, she gets tongue tied when buying bread, and they know us when we come in.)
  • Instead of telling his friend he needed to charge his phone, Jeff told his friend on the phone that he needed to go poop to the bathroom.
  • Lauren saying her phone was pickled instead of dead.
  • Lauren practicing her sunday school lesson with a teacher and saying she would teach the kids how to love on top of one another instead of how to love each other. (That could have been disastrous!)
  • Jeff bought the wrong kind of milk, and found out what the word for buttermilk is here by tasting it in our cereal.
  • Instead of reading a conjunction word properly, frequently used in the bible passage Lauren was reading in class, she found out the importance of pronunciation- one type of “a” sound makes a conjunction word, another “a” sound makes a not-so-nice word.
  • Jeff was asked by our administrator if he liked chicken or rooster eggs, but he didn’t know the word for rooster. He said both and now it is a running joke for our administrator every time we see him.
  • Instead of saying our friend missed Romania, Jeff told our landlord she was in pain.
  • Lauren was trying to tell a story and instead of saying her dad was going to meet her mom, she said her dad was going to meet our Romanian friend’s mom. It became a very confusing story.
  • Instead of telling a woman at the store Lauren didn’t speak Romanian, she told the woman that she didn’t speak Romanian.
  • Jeff did well speaking and understanding Romanian until it came down to tell the woman how we would pay and his face froze.

If that didn’t make you laugh enough, we often enjoy this clip from the show “Friends.”

On the plus side, we have both told one successful joke in Romanian! <– now that is an accomplishment!

Haha! Here is to more blunders and fun times learning this fall! Now we are just praying for bravery to continue to put our foot in our mouth and keep trying. Learning a new language can become discouraging when you find yourself not being able to do such basic things; but that is where our pride is cut to the core and we are humbled. I still cannot figure out how I know what people are saying in Romanian but I do not know how to respond, or  how to say what they just said to me.

Here is to more mind stretching, pulling, and growth!

“I can do all things through him [Christ] who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

3 years…Already?….Only?

3 years of marriage

So exciting and so much fun! I think I say this every year, but how can it already be 3 years, and all in the same, it really has only been 3 years?

Tell me how you really feel about marriage? 😉

We celebrated on Wednesday with a day to ourselves in the city. We started the day off with a morning workout. You make think this is crazy, but we just started the couch to 5K program. It is a true sign of commitment when your spouse is willing to get up early to work out with you on your anniversary. We had fun in the kitchen making Chinese steam buns for lunch and went to see the Guardians of the Galaxy in 3D afterwards. We loved the movie and all of the American pop culture references, although not as many laughs from the Romanian movie goers. After the movie, we treated ourselves with some Starbucks and walked around the park before dinner. For dinner, Jeff took me to the restaurant were we ate before he proposed to me. We ate on the terrace, on the roof of the restaurant, and watched the sun set over the square. It is fun to live in a city with so many special memories for us.

This past year has been filled with large steps of faith. We were talking about the last year at dinner and trying to think of a theme for the year and what we have learned. We agreed that with all of the huge changes in our lives this past year, our theme would have to be practicing how to support one another.

Year one was learning how to fight  communicate and the unique things you find out about someone when living together. Year two was learning how to appreciate the quirkiness of each other and how we process ideas, situations, etc differently. This year we have been able to practice supporting each other as things of familiarity were left behind.

They say moving to another culture will enhance problems, and magnify struggles. We experience changes differently and react to them differently, but we have had to be very in-tune with one another during this process. For example, my introverted-ness has amplified as I get worn-out from being around people here quicker, and Jeff has practiced how to support me in the times when I need rest and how to encourage me to step past my comfort zone. We have to be aware when things outside of our marriage wear on us, not to bring them in, but to address it together.

I am not saying we got it right all the time, but it is so very nice to have a best friend who will support, encourage, and empathize with you. And when you melt down, fall apart, or are un-supportive of the other person, they will still love you in the midst of it.

We are excited to see what year 4 will teach us and how we will grow…