Thursday, November 29, 2012

How to Enjoy Christmas for a Whole Month

After our Thanksgiving dinner, I’d no sooner packed our leftovers into containers for the fridge, when my daughter said, “Let’s put up the Christmas tree tomorrow!”

“What?” I said. “I need a day or two to recover. I don’t know if I’m ready for Christmas yet.”

Now a few days have passed, and I’m beginning to smile again as I think of decorations and candles.

At the same time, I have to admit that Christmas is a mixed bag for cross-cultural workers.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thanksgiving Tree and Pumpkin Pie in Olive Country

Our living room is the only one in the building decorated with a pumpkin, pine cones, dried berries, and a Thanksgiving tree.  My tree makes me smile and reminds me to count my blessings as I count down the days to my favorite holiday.  We’re far from home. Except for a few scattered American friends, no one else around is celebrating, but I enjoy creating my own traditions. So this week we’ll have our traditional FRIDAY NIGHT Thanksgiving with friends we’ve chosen to call family: Turks, Mexicans, Brazilians, and ONE American!

My favorite tradition is our Thanksgiving tree with its paper leaves.  As guests arrive, we ask them to write down on a leaf what they’re thankful for. After dinner, everyone shares what they wrote, and together we give thanks to God, the Giver of every good and perfect gift.

Here is my recipe for pumpkin pie, one that you can still make even if you’re far away from the land of Libby’s canned pumpkin and Eagle Brand evaporated milk.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Ministry of Small Things for Busy Moms

Even small flowers brighten the environment!
Do you ever feel that caring for your home and family is so all-consuming that you don’t have enough time or energy to reach out to people in your community?  You know that ministry to your family is your high calling, but sometimes you struggle with wishing you could do MORE. If you’re a cross-cultural worker/mom maybe you feel like you might as well be back in your home country since you spend all your time at home with the kids anyway.

If you feel that way today, take heart and consider the ministry of small things.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Pressed for Time

Okay, I have a confession to make that’s going to sound obsessive compulsive: I use a kitchen timer to help me with time management. This might sound like something you’d expect a from a software engineer in Silicon Valley, but not from a cross-cultural servant/housewife who lives in the Middle East, where time management is NOT a high priority.

I started using a timer for home school to keep my kids and me on task. We work for 25 minutes, take a 3 minute break, work for 25 minutes, and then break for ten.  Twenty five minute work sessions are supposed to help you to focus on your work and avoid interruptions. (This is the Pommodoro technique, named after the red tomato kitchen timer.)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

God's Power Through Our Ordinary Lives

Do you ever feel like you’re out of resources? Like you don’t have enough time, enough money, enough inspiration or creativity?

Last Sunday evening after a weekend conference, I looked at the calendar and panicked.