Thursday, December 29, 2011

Easier to Give or to Receive?

As a cross-cultural servant, I feel comfortable being a giver.  I came to the Middle East to share, to give, and to serve, but often God turns things around and puts me in the position of receiving.  I don’t quite know how to handle receiving from those we came to serve. It doesn’t feel as natural to me, but I’m learning.

Last weekend I received a gift that brought tears to my eyes.  Our small fellowship had a party to share the Christmas message with friends.  We planned games, food, and a program.  Before the party started, I was tired from all the preparation and feeling a bit anxious inside. Would any of our mslm friends come?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

When You Feel Far from Home

Here is a taste from my home that touched my heart.

Do you feel far from home this holiday season?  For many cross-cultural servants, Christmas can be a bittersweet time. You may feel twinges of loneliness as you long for friends and family from home, wherever that is.  Many of us are not even sure anymore where home is!  You might feel special joy over celebrating together with the “family” God has given you where you are.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Holding up under Holiday Crunch?

I have a confession to make. I can’t wait for December to be over!  Whew! I said it. Is that a terrible thing to say or what?

I’m carrying around a mile long Christmas to-do list in my mind. I haven’t organized myself enough to sit and write it down, but it looks like getting ready for Christmas could be a full time job.

Together with two other families, we will host a Christmas celebration on December 25th in our home for Chrstn and Mslm friends. We plan to have food, games, and a short Christmas program of carols, a dramatic reading of the Christmas story, and a brief message. This week my husband and I will deliver invitations to friends, a team mate and I will meet to finish planning the celebration, my son and I will rehearse music, and our family will prepare an enactment of the Christmas story! Of course I can’t forget shopping and food preparation.  Sound familiar to any of you out there?

I’m excited and joyful over this opportunity to serve, but I’m also hoping I won’t be stressed out over having 30-40 people in my living room. And I don't want to be so busy taking advantage of Christmas as an opportunity to share Christ that I neglect to celebrate it with my own family and make it special for them.  

Friday, December 9, 2011

What's That Tree in Your Living Room?

“I like your New Year’s tree,” says my neighbor as we sit drinking coffee in my living room.  “You have it up so early, too.”

“Um, thanks,” I say, “We actually put up the tree to celebrate Christmas.”

“Christmas!” she responds, “We celebrate it too on December 31st.”

I go on to tell my neighbor that we celebrate the birth of our Savior on December 25th, and that it’s a different celebration than New Year’s Eve. I try to explain in a few words what it means to me. I also feel pretty foolish because there’s not a tangible connection between Christ’s birth and the green tree with the lights and decorations I have in my living room.  It really does look more like a New Year’s Tree. My neighbor is right!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Celebrating Life Every Day!

My advent wreath, Swedish candelabra, and a quilt made by my mom, grandma and aunt.

Traditions from Home

My Texas mama, who spent all her life in the West Texas desert city of El Paso, is far away from Izmir-on- the-Aegean.  Mom calls her house Casa Rosa. It’s a beautiful place filled with Southwest art treasures and has a glorious view of the stark, cactus-dotted Franklin Mountain.  Casa Rosa is a far cry from Özgür 2 Sitesi, our 9 story apartment dwelling across the street from a strip of kebap restaurants, but nevertheless, I carry Mom’s presence with me here.

I hold many things I learned from her inside me, and one is celebration.  Mom decorated the house for every holiday. I remember valentines and gifts at the breakfast table on February 14th, and clover on St. Patrick’s Day.