Monday, February 27, 2012

My Most Wonderful Problem

When I saw face Gizem’s Facebook message, anxiety welled up inside me: “Can we come over to see you before your trip?” I surveyed the littered suitcases, and summer clothes piled up on the floor in my bedroom and thought about our weekend schedule:

Friday night:   Visit with friends

Saturday:         Breakfast out with friends
                        Shopping, housecleaning
Sister for dinner

Sunday:           House Church meeting.

The only free time I had was Sunday afternoon.

Should I invite Gizem to come with her husband? When was I going to start packing for our trip? We were leaving early Wednesday morning, and I hadn’t even started packing home school supplies, gifts for people back home, and winter and summer clothes for four people.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Countdown to Furlough: Vacation or Marathon?

A photo with my dad and brothers from my last furlough 

I have five days to get ready for my two and a half month marathon vacation.  I need to see several friends, get our spring clothes out of storage—it’s still winter here!—pack suitcases, organize, and pack school materials, and clean my house for the people who will stay here while we’re gone.  I wrote a breath prayer for myself this week: “Holy Spirit of Peace, order my steps.”

I have mixed feelings about our time at home.  I’m looking forward to it, but I’m also a bit scared of our schedule. Everyone says, “Oh I hope you get to rest,” but I’m not sure if this is a vacation or a marathon.  

Monday, February 20, 2012

Kid Friendly Fast Food, Turkish Style

Do you ever find yourself staring into the depths of your refrigerator at 5:00 p.m. , wondering what on earth to cook for dinner?  This happens to me more times than I care to admit.  Menu planning sounds like a great idea in theory, but I’ve never been able to do it for longer than one week a year.

My favorite Turkish fast food restaurant in Istanbul, a meatball place!
photo credit:

For those busy days when I’m short on time and inspiration, a good default menu for our family is köfte and pilav (meatballs and rice).  Köfte is classic Turkish fast food.  Of course fast food is a relative term since we live in a slow food culture, but I can make this meal in 35-40 minutes.  I start with the rice and make the meatballs while it cooks. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What Keeps Me Going When Life is Overwhelming

Do you ever feel like everything happens at once? Last weekend I had two different sets of houseguests: friends from another city in Turkey who came to speak at our team retreat and friends from out of country who stayed in our home while we were away. In between packing and leaving for our retreat, the weekend included making a birthday cake and hosting a quick celebration, preparing a few meals for different guests, and stripping the beds twice to change sheets.

I was honestly happy to see dear friends and open my home to them, but rather than being motivated by genuine love and hospitality, I felt harried and stressed. I was in a “Let’s Get Through This” mode.

At the retreat, God’s voice broke through to me loud and clear:

Monday, February 13, 2012

Birthday Suit in a Turkish Bath

Photo credit:

I’d always heard about Turkish baths, but I never dreamed of going. Who would want to sit in a room full of naked women? I never imagined that regular city dwellers ever went to a hamam.  Surely that was for village people who didn’t have a bathroom at home.

But when my friend Ezgi told me she went every month and that it was fun and relaxing, I was curious, so my Turkish sister and I set out one Saturday morning to meet Ezgi at the hamam.  On the bus, I started getting cold feet.  What on earth was I getting myself into? 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Best Friend in 2012

Now that it’s February, have you forgotten your New Year's Resolutions? Did you set any goals in January?  I don’t like New Year’s resolutions, but I’m intrigued by an idea I got from several fellow bloggers: choosing a WORD for the year, a word that encapsulates your hopes for 2012. Different friends chose words like Rest, Communion, Peace, and Surrender. 

I chose the word FELLOWSHIP for 2012.  This year I want more than ever to cultivate close fellowship with Jesus.

One reality of life as a cross-cultural servant can be loneliness. 
You’ve left your loved ones back home.  You sometimes struggle with feeling out of place in your new country.  It takes time to build friendships, both with nationals and with other cross-cultural workers, who often seem to come and go anyway. Do you ever feel this way?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

What I Learned about Friendships with Nationals from Backgammon


Little did I know what I was getting into when I offered to play backgammon with Yeşim. Her eyes gleamed as she leaned forward and rolled the dice.  By sheer instinct she expertly moved the pieces along without even having to count or think. She won 6 games and let me win one.

Backgammon is the national board game of Turkey. You see people sitting on the street playing, and you hear the click of the dice as you walk past cafes. I learned backgammon as a child and am familiar with the rules, but believe me, that doesn’t cut it when it comes to Turkish backgammon!

Yeşim came over at 3:30 for a bit of advice and prayer.  We spent the afternoon drinking tea, eating cake and talking.  After we prayed together, I asked if she wanted to stay and help me make pizza and eat dinner with us.

In the afternoon, I was the abla (older sister) offering advice and prayer. When I got out the backgammon board after dinner, the tables turned and Yeşim became the expert.