Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tuesday Topic: Renting

I imagine that many of us live in rental situations. The lack of permanence is something that I've had to learn to deal with over the years, and that's hitting me again now. Do you have any special tips about living in temporary settings? Apartment life, if that's an issue where you are? Dealing with landlords? Moving often? Anything along those lines...?

(If you have a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to me at fylliska@gmail.com. Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, or specify if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Calm My Anxious Heart, chapter 8

We're more than halfway through Calm My Anxious Heart! Here are the earlier chapters: chapter 1chapter 2chapter 3chapter 4chapter 5chapter 6, and chapter 7.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
1 Peter 5:6-7
"Worry is like a rocking chair." Yes. That's the name of this chapter. And this week, I have really been fighting to get out of that rocking chair. On Tuesday we were informed that the apartment we live in was sold, and that we had one week to move. Ack! I really worried the first night. I didn't sleep much. But then, I was able to calm down, get busy and trust. God, in His great mercy, also made it a little easier for me: He allowed my husband to find us a new apartment the very next day. (A miracle here!) Sometimes He has wanted me to stop worrying first, before He does something obvious. Sometimes He has mercy on my weakness and gives me extra help.

But enough about me! This chapter starts off talking about what worry and anxiety are. Lots of good quotes there, but I think we know the definitions. Linda Dillow then says that worry really is sin and moves on to how we can fight it:
The apostle Peter showed us how this is possible, and in 1 Peter 5:6-7 gave us an alternative to carrying the anxiety ourselves.... The French version says literally, "Unload on Him all your cares." The Greek word for cast means "to hurl." The Phillips translation of verse 7 is my personal favorite: "You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon him, for you are his personal concern." It is glorious truth! (page 124)
Humility is a key here. Out of 1 Peter 5:6-7, we usually hear more about the second verse, but in order to cast those cares, we need to humble ourselves to trust God completely.

One more thing that I had not noticed before: Peter, who wrote these verses, had been a worrier! In the story of him walking on the water to Jesus, he worried so much that he took his eyes off of Jesus and started to sink. But years later he was able to write these verses. "It was a process for Peter; it is a process for us" (page 128).

Linda shares some "visual aids" for dealing with worry (a worry box, a word picture of jumping into Jesus' arms, etc). Do you have something like this that helps you? Also, what are you worried about right now? We'll pray about it together!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

How’s your discerning doing?

Ever feel overwhelmed… even a little fearful… with this task that God has entrusted to you… partnering with your husband, raising and overseeing the education of your children... and all this while serving on the mission field? 

Why? Especially KNOWING "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."

I think it's because practically, we act as though it all depends on us. We want to get it right. We want our kids to learn and do well. We want our husbands to succeed in ministry and value our contributions. We hope to see hearts and lives changed for eternity. And we try and carry that burden, one never meant for us, by ourselves.

Such lofty goals... Yet we forget about a caring Father accompanying, guiding, strengthening and even carrying us on this path. 

Why worry? Why fear? Why feel guilty or like failures when we do - worry, fear and fail?

Overwhelmed, exhausted, discouraged, distracted, forgetful, fearing what the next moment will bring...

We don't have to be.

For God hath not given us a spirit of fear, 
but a spirit of power, love and sound mind.
2 Timothy 1:7

This has long been one of my favorite verses. When I started studying Scripture in my French Bible, at church and preparing for Bible studies, I discovered another reason to cling to this verse.

Translated back to English, from the French ~

For this is not a spirit of timidity that God gave to us; 
on the contrary, 
His Spirit fills us with {His} power, {His} love and {His} wisdom.

I LOVE that slightly different nuance!

It isn’t just any spirit. We have been given the Holy Spirit to guide, to teach, to lead, to disciple, to encourage, to confront, to comfort… to fill us.

What are some of the things that His Spirit does?
  • But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. (John 16:13)
  • I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. (Ephesians 1:17)
  • I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33) 
  • And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)
  • Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:15)
  • For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" (Romans 8:15)
  • We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. (1 Corinthians 2:12)

Thus, we need to trust God and not fear as we approach the things He has called us to do and those things that seem so scary and hard. We need to trust God and not fear as we become who He has created us to be. We must seek His wisdom and guidance, make decisions by choosing a course of action based on what we believe He is telling us, and then trust the results - as well as further guidance and direction - to Him.

No, God has not given us a spirit of fear – that spirit comes from this world. It tells us we are not enough, points out our inadequacies, and twists truth into clever deceptions that are not quiet blatant lies… but lies nonetheless. No, the Spirit He has given us is His very own. His Spirit is available to fill us with power, love and wisdom, leaving no room for timidity.

I have heard another paraphrase of this verse...

God has not given us a spirit of fear, 
but of power, of love and 
of the discipline to use His wisdom in discerning 
the difference between those two.

So I ask you again, “How’s your discerning doing?”

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tuesday Topic: Visitors

A reader asks: We have our first visitors coming and I am very nervous. These particular guests are family and I am anxious about how they will react to our life, home, ministry situation, what we eat here, how we have to live life. I don't know if we should brief them on some of these things before they come, or just wait until they get here. How much should we shelter them from some of the harsher realities of our life, ministry and living conditions? How do you help parents who have never left the states through culture stress?

(If you have a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to me at fylliska@gmail.com. Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, or specify if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Real Life Hospitality

This week I had yet another cooking-for-company fiasco.  I put two whole chickens into a hot oven at 5:00 p.m., and then for some reason turned the oven OFF without noticing. At 6:00, just a half hour before my guests arrived, I opened the oven door to take a look and found two stone-cold, raw chickens!  Panic! My husband saved the day by wrestling and cutting them up for quicker cooking. Waiting for the meal to cook made for plenty of time to chat with our guests.

Even though I’m a cross-cultural worker in the Middle East, I spend most of my time going grocery shopping, cooking, taking kids to appointments, cooking, cleaning house, home schooling, and cooking. Sometimes I ask myself, where does ministry come in here? I don’t have much time for preparing Bible studies or planning outreach events...

What I can do is open  my home and invite people into the life we’re already living. Dinner is a daily event at our house, and  hospitality is probably my most significant ministry here.

Hospitality is About Being Flexible

Over the years I’ve learned to be flexible if people come late, if they come early, or if they bring extra friends along. On chicken fiasco night, I was happy when Bahar called at the last minute to ask if she and her husband could bring her brother Cem.  Bahar and I have been praying for years that Cem would come to the Lord. We had a lovely evening laughing and telling stories. At the end we pulled out the Bible, as we do most nights, to read and pray together.  I smiled when my kids prayed for Cem.

Hospitality is About Making Time

Lale is a young Christian who expressed to me several times that she wanted to get together, but I never made definite plans with her.  However, the third time she asked about visiting us, I decided that rather than waiting for a convenient time, I would MAKE time for Lale. So I rushed home one afternoon after a prayer meeting to start preparing a simple dinner. When she arrived, I invited her to the kitchen and we  talked while she helped me cook. Our family had a delightful time getting to know her, and after the kids went to bed, I worked up the courage to ask how her relationship with God was going. We spent a few minutes talking and praying about our daily time with God, and I sent her out the door with a hug.

I suspect that in the Middle East, simple hospitality speaks louder than a Bible study, but at the same time it can be overwhelming to invite people over. I like to remember the following real life hospitality tips.:


If you burn the food, laugh it off.  You don’t need to  impress anyone.

Let Your Guests Help

Don’t kill yourself trying to have everything ready on time. Invite guests to the kitchen and let them help you.

Keep It Simple

Have 2 to 4 easy recipes, default dishes you can cook for company anytime.
Serve a bar of chocolate broken into pieces with fruit and tea or coffee for a quick dessert.

What does hospitality look like in your home? What is your favorite tip for making entertaining easier?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Act Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly

I have always loved reading the Minor Prophets in the Old Testament. All of those little books with crazy names that give us glimpses into God’s heart. Recently I was reading through the book of Micah and I came to a familiar verse found in Micah 6:8. It says, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” 
In the last few years I’ve seen this verse on a lot of T-shirts and taglines. This verse is all the rage as our generation wakes up to injustices around the world. Social justice initiatives like clean water, and anti-human trafficking efforts are being implemented all over the globe. Christians are getting involved in eradicating hunger and alleviating poverty, and lives are being changed. I’m sure that many of you reading this, like me, work in this field and find yourselves staring into the cold face of injustice every single day. Poverty, prostitution, kids on the streets, unfair wages, sexual and domestic abuse being widely tolerated…injustice pushes in on every side until it threatens to crush me. It makes me angry, leaves me overwhelmed, and has me desperate for a solution.
God's Word has brought us to an understanding of how deeply God cares about the poor, oppressed, widowed, and orphaned in our world. Our hearts join His in beating for the vulnerable in the country of El Salvador. The Gospel is redemptive and it can change lives holistically…body and soul, and we want to be used to bring physical relief and to share the truth of salvation through Jesus Christ.
But we can’t lose sight of God in the fight for His justice. The Gospel cannot be merely reduced to a trend, or what I think I can do for His Kingdom. God had a heart for justice and mercy long before it became popular, and long before He called me to do it. The “walk humbly” part of this verse brings conviction as I look deep inside myself and find that I am lacking. I find myself caught up in a movement, or wrapped up in a ministry instead of simply walking hand in hand with the only One who can bring justice to all the pain and sadness of this world.
How easy it is to think that my work has more value than another’s! Missionaries are tempted to lean this way. We have given everything in answer to God’s call…but so have many others, who have different callings. Our walk must be humble.
There is urgency to the commands in this verse…act justly, love mercy. There is urgency when people need saving, churches need planting, and Bibles need translating. But how often have I let the cries of our ministry drown out the voice of God?
This work of justice is one I never expected, but it is the work that God has given me. Through it He is teaching me that He is first, above any ministry no matter how desperately it is needed. He is teaching me that if I am not walking humbly with Him, then my efforts to do justice are like Israel’s sacrifices in the book of Micah…all for nothing because their true heart was not chasing after God.  I want to be used by God, and to be a part of what He is doing to redeem this world. But I never want to be so caught up in doing something for God that I lose sight of simply walking with God.
How has God been speaking to you? Do you find yourself elevating a ministry above God who makes that ministry possible? How do you keep perspective in your own life and ministry?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tuesday Topic: Sermons online

I stayed home from church with a sick baby on Sunday. That's pretty common for me, and often I'll listen to a sermon online. This week I actually listened to the week before from my own home church and realized that I should do that more often. I really enjoyed it, and I feel like it would help strengthen my ties to them even more. So, I have a two-fold question for you: Does your own home church provide sermon audio for you? (If it's online, please give us a link. This is your chance to "advertise" a little for them.  ) And, how do you find time to listen to anything in your home? I've tried setting something up while I wash the dishes or do other work, but I am usually interrupted so many times that I give up.

(If you have a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to me at fylliska@gmail.com. Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, or specify if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Daily strength

It's my turn to write, and I just can't carve out time to do it today. So, I'll share a little bit from an older book that I've been enjoying. I recommended the free Kindle version of it a while back on the Facebook page: Daily Strength for Daily Needs. This was the selection for a few days ago, and it really spoke to me where we are right now. (Oh, I just discovered that it's available from Gutenberg, too. The formatting there might actually be better than in the one from Amazon.)


Be strong, and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.—JOSH. i. 9.

By Thine unerring Spirit led,
We shall not in the desert stray;
We shall not full direction need,
Nor miss our providential way;
As far from danger as from fear,
While love, almighty love, is near.

Watch your way then, as a cautious traveller; and don't be gazing at that mountain or river in the distance, and saying, "How shall I ever get over them?" but keep to the present little inch that is before you, and accomplish that in the little moment that belongs to it. The mountain and the river can only be passed in the same way; and, when you come to them, you will come to the light and strength that belong to them.

Let not future things disturb thee, for thou wilt come to them, if it shall be necessary, having with thee the same reason which thou now usest for present things.

Do you have any resources to suggest that have been particularly encouraging to you right now? Books, sermons, blogs, etc? Is anyone else out there in a time of transition, desperately waiting for God's direction and wisdom from Him? Or what else are you learning and working through right now?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Moving Across the World: Helpful This and Thats

Well, we've made it!  We got our crazy circus of a family and bags from Michigan to Costa Rica!  And what an amazing help my sister and brother in law were!  I don't want to make this trip again without them, although I am not sure they are going to want to come with us every time.

Now that we have made it, there are some things I wanted to mention that were helpful this time around for us.

The stroller-  yes, it's one more thing, but my it was helpful for our big boys, and there was one particular connection in Cleveland I don't think we would have made had it not been for the stroller.  Little legs couldn't have walked that fast.

Baby Wrap- or sling or whatever.  I used my moby this time and loved it!  Quinn was secure and snug, and slept a lot of the time.  It also freed my hands up for other things and it made it so I could push the stroller, while the other adults pulled bags and carried backpacks.

A car seat bag-  If you are bringing car seats (we brought two with us, and we had one here already) make a simple huge drawstring bag out of some heavy material.  I went to our local thrift store in Michigan, bought a big piece of ugly purple fabric, and wiped it up.  I had a left over lime green ribbon from a wedding shower I used.  Overall the thing is hideous, but it kept our car seats safe and clean.  I was also able to put a couple other stray things in it too at the last minute.  And here's another tip, airlines will check car seats for free!  So do it!

A porter- yep, that guy got all those bags on the cart there!

Ask about gate checking your carry on-  we had a lot, and there were a couple of times my husband asked if there was going to be room in the overhead bins for our rolling bags.  I think every time the flight attendent looked at us and said, "nope, let me gate check those for you."  While we still had to pick them up at the end of the flight, a couple of times they sent them through to baggage claim, and it saved us the hassle of putting them in the overhead bins.  So ask!

If you are staying overnight somewhere, the number for the hotel shuttle-  this was very handy to just have in our phone to call once we were ready in Orlando.

A social living coupon for Starbucks-  seriously, a week before we left, I got a $10 card for $5 and it went to good use the second day of our fight.  I was able to bribe our kids out of bed at an obnoxiously early hour with the promise of hot chocolate.  I think I got both their hot chocolates and my last pumpkin latte for $10.12.  Ha!

Paperclips-  One of the Grandmas gave us a bag of paperclips for the boys to play with on the planes and oh my!  They were great!  Our middle guy, Elliot, spent the better part of two days making a paperclip chain with them.  Yes, he is our engineer, I am sure of it!

Know how many pieces of luggage and what color they are-  Seriously, we did a count every time, "Do we have 12 green duffels?  3 red roller bags, 2 foot lockers, 1 action packer, 1 black roller bag, 1 obnoxious purple car seat bag?  Ok, we're good!"

Have all your paperwork in order-  In order to enter Costa Rica as a tourist (which we did, and now we are working on our visas) you have to have a exit strategy.  This means an exit ticket of some sort, plane or bus ticket.  We had copies of our bus tickets which was perfect, but we saw several other people get held up at the gate to the plane because they couldn't prove they were going to leave by bus.  They ended up having to buy a return plane ticket at the last minute.  Yikes!

So any last thoughts about moving?  What is the one thing you would tell a new missionary about the process?

Want more MAW?  Check these out
Moving Across the World:  The Beginning
Moving Across the World:  Toys 
Moving Across the World:  Buying and Acquiring 
Moving Across the World: Packing 
Moving Across the World:  The Big Day(s)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tuesday Topic: Sleeping and eating schedules

On Ashley's blog Shilo asked: My kids’ sleeping and eating patterns are the things most affected by transitions. It seems to happen not just with major transitions like home assignment and return to the field but also with smaller transitions like going to field conference or traveling to visit churches. Any advice for helping them through this?

(If you have a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to me at fylliska@gmail.com. Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, or specify if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Two Roads Overcame the Hyena

Drawing found at dragoart.com
West Africans love to speak in proverbs and fables.

And any time I actually use one of the common proverbs here... in the local language, and in the right circumstances, my Nigerien friends just love it. 

They love it too, when I goof up and misapply a saying, but that is for entirely different reasons.

I think this love of proverbs is part of their more relational, only-indirectly- confrontational-while-trying-hard-not-to-cause-a-friend-or-someone-valued-or-important-to-lose-face-and-be-shamed centered culture. I love that aspect of living here - communication that is very other centered... although frustration mounts rapidly when I just can't wrap my mind around the point of a particular proverb being shared... 

Here's one of my favorites - a short fable found in many different African languages: I heard a  naturalist at the local zoo tell this one to a group standing outside the hyena cages:
"A very hungry hyena went out on the plains to hunt for food. He came to a branch in the bush road where the two paths veered off in different directions. He saw two goats caught in the thickets at the far end of the two different paths. With his mouth watering in anticipation, he decided that his left leg would follow the left path and his right leg the right path. As the two paths continued to veer in different directions he tried to follow them both at once. Finally he split in two." (This and many other proverbs and fables can be found at afriprov.org .)

Do you know a proverb from your mother language or home culture 
that says essentially the same thing? 
I'm thinking of one...

What are some things you do to try and conform to or show acceptance and appreciation for your adopted culture?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Do You Need a Reset Button?

The other day, I had a bad day. I don't have them very often... but this particular day was bad. Nothing was going the way I wanted it, and my attitude reflected it. I was taking it out on my son and hubby. It wasn't pretty. I remembered the song, "Bad Day" that was popular a few years back.

Image Credit: Steve Snodgrass
I just wanted to wallow in the fact that I was having a bad day.

I even talked about it on Facebook when I mentioned I needed a reset button on the day so that I could do things over again and not have such a bad day.

A reset button. That's a good idea.

A friend then reminded me that God allows us to take our failures of the day, lay them at the cross and take the grace that God freely offers us to continue.
Image Credit: Phil Whitehouse
What a good reminder!! I obviously needed an attitude change.

Whenever a bad day strikes, remember that God gives us grace to get through because of Jesus' work on the cross. His grace is the only reset button we need! His grace will carry us through until the next day when we can experience his brand new mercies.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”
Lamentations 3:22-24

How have you been experiencing God's grace lately?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tuesday Topic: House help

From a reader: A discussion on inside help would be good. Many new ladies to the mission field feel overwhelmed with having someone in their house. They also feel guilt since that is not a part of our culture, but for the wealthy. How do you train a worker? What does this look like in the culture where you are, and how do you deal with the guilt mentioned above, if you feel it?

(If you have a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to me at fylliska@gmail.com. Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, or specify if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)