Saturday, September 29, 2012

Calm My Anxious Heart, chapter 7

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

Live life, then, with a due sense of responsibility, not as men who do not know the meaning and purpose of life but as those who do. Make the best use of your time, despite all the difficulties of these days. Don’t be vague but firmly grasp what you know to be the will of God.
Ephesians 5:15-17 (Phillips)
Here's another difficult topic for me: a life purpose statement. Naturally, I am the type who plans and thinks about everything, but life's twists and turns (and my wonderful husband) have changed me into a much more go-with-the-flow kind of person. (And that flexibility is good.) But I don't want to give up being intentional, just because I need to be flexible.

Linda Dillow identifies lack of purpose as one of the main barriers to peace and contentment. Sadly, I can't find my notes from either time when I went through this book and study before, so I feel like I need to start over. Did I even write out a purpose statement then? I can't remember. She gives examples of life purpose statements from historical figures and four of her own friends. I love the creativity and diversity those show!
Phyllis [different Phyllis, obviously not me :-)] chose to live her life purposefully, faithfully, creatively, and paradoxically. Jean visualized her life as a tree that she asked God to continually prune. Ney chose two verses and a prayer that started her life purpose. Mimi identified who she wanted to be when she was an eighty-year-old woman, and then she identified specific steps to reach her goal (page 110).
I don't really have anything that I can share about my own purpose in life. I want to, but I'm not ready right now. There is a prayer by Betty Stam, quoted here, that I came across in my formative years; if I were to use someone else's words for my own purpose, these would be good ones:
Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept Thy will for my life. I give myself, my life, my all utterly to Thee to be Thine forever. Fill me and seal me with Thy Holy Spirit. Use me as Thou wilt, send me where thou wilt, work out Thy whole will in my life at any cost, now and forever (pages 103-104).
I'll close with one more quote:
My friend, will you pray, then take pen and paper and ask God to show you your life purpose statement? ...Start with one statement or a Bible verse that describes what you believe about God and His plan for you.... If you can't think of a verse or sentence, borrow an idea.... Remember what you write will be a beginning (pages 110-111).

I really hope to get feedback on this post! Do you have a life purpose statement? Would you be willing to share it with us? How did you come to choose it?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Planning blog posts

We're working on the blog posting schedule for the next two months. If you have a guest post to contribute, or if you would like to join the blog team, please write to me at Thanks!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Learning from One of His Valiant Ones

It’s been almost 12 years serving alongside my husband, raising our family, living in a place dry and dusty, difficult and destitute… It is hard to imagine anyone choosing to be here, at least not without the call of God pushing them. But I do. In fact, there’s no place in the world I’d rather be. It is here that God fleshed out for me what it means to be His woman of valor.

I could write about several women who’ve impacted my life: Mamata, struggling to learn to read at nearly 70 years of age, desperately desiring God’s Word and so she continues to plug away, despite ridicule and ostracism from her Muslim family. I could share about Aissa and Alarba, co-wives to a man who came to know Jesus not too many years ago. They, in an impossible-for-me-to-understand-situation, live and love and work together as friends, encouraging each other in their walk with the Lord, working side by side hour after long hour frying fish and donuts to sell in the market, and caring for their uniquely blended family. I could have… but didn’t choose any of those women.

I don’t even know the given name of the woman I chose. She’s always been “Salamatou’s Grandma.” I remember so clearly the Sunday morning I realized she was a rare “valiant woman, far and from the uttermost coasts is the price of her.”  (Douay-Rheims Bible)

It was a Sunday morning I spent sitting outside the church since Elsie Mae (my then two-year old) couldn’t sit still any longer. I felt sorry for myself - sitting on an uncomfortable slab, dripping thanks to the 110’ plus heat, and since they’d trimmed the only tree… the only shade required pressing against the outside wall of nauseatingly odiferous pit toilets. I was tired and cranky. It’s hard work entertaining a bored toddler and African church services can be interminably long. 

Salamatou and her grandmother shared that rickety wooden “bench” with us. I was surprised that Salamatou was still alive. Almost two years earlier, Salamatou’s mama had died giving birth to her and grandma became mama. Six weeks older than Elsie Mae, malnutrition and a general lack of food had taken their toll. She was half the size of my girl. Her grandmother did her best, every day begging food and accepting whatever work she was able to find, seeking sunrise to sunset just enough for one more meal. I can’t imagine living like that… but I can imagine that my heart attitude under those circumstances would be far less than stellar.

But Salamatou’s grandma? She was old, her body tired, alone for she’d lost those she loved, abandoned by the rest of her family, and despised by most of her culture, yet her toothless smile was contagious. At one point I lost patience with Elsie Mae’s insistent demands to be entertained; she gently clicked her tongue at me and began to play with the two little girls. 

Dreary became delightful. Two precious little ones played games concocted by Salamatou’s grandma. They chased old cookie wrappers blown into the courtyard by the wind. They twirled in circles until so dizzy they'd collapse. They followed the leader, squealing with delight. They balanced spent phone cards on their heads, practicing the mind-boggling skill inherent to African women: carrying heavy burdens effortlessly and gracefully on their heads. Part of an old soccer ball sat in the corner of the courtyard. My friend prompted… the girls and I began a rousing soccer match. My favorite mind-photo? Little girls running up to Salamatou's grandmother, arms open wide for hugs, kisses and the sometimes tickle. 

I didn't get to listen to the preacher, unless you count Salamatou’s grandma a preacher. Her life relentlessly demonstrated what it meant to be a woman of valor, following hard after her Lord. Content with the impossibly hard life the Lord has given, she radiated gratefulness for every gift. She could have looked around and seen only impossibilities, frustrations and overwhelming odds. Instead, she saw opportunities and abundance. She didn’t mourn all that wasn’t; she prayed hard, worked as hard, and then received and relished without reserve that which God gave.

After some years out in the bush, they came back to Niamey for a short visit. She was still the same woman… only more so! That strong but tender, graciously long-suffering grandmother still sacrifices daily in ways I can't imagine just to have milk and millet for her precious child to eat – yet she exudes a noble, intrepid spirit. She’s allowed God to take the dusty, dry, desolate dinginess that could be her life – and write it into something beautiful… something inspired… something “precious beyond incomparable precious stones.” (Proverbs 31:10b, Aramaic Bible in Plain English)

I’m sure most of you can think of someone like my friend… 

someone to whom you came, hoping to teach and to minister…

but instead found yourself on the receiving end 
of live-impacting ministry and learning.

Please share one of your stories in the comments? 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tuesday Topic: Discipleship and literacy

From a reader: I would like to hear some discussion on discipleship. What are some unique ways you have found for discipling? What suggestions are there for discipling illiterate people? If you have taught someone to read, how did you go about it??

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

Monday, September 24, 2012

When You Serve in a Support Role—Part 2

"Going into missions" had always been at the back of my mind throughout my university days and beyond. It started when a lady I'd met in chapel (who works for a missions organisation in the US) heard I was studying to be a teacher and suggested I teach on the field. Hmm, now there was an idea.

So I did what every missions-minded uni student did and went to Urbana. But I never went anywhere because God's timing is different from mine.

When I graduated from uni, God landed me at a missions-minded church near my home town. I still imagined that one day God would send me off to teach missionary kids somewhere.

Fast forward 4 years to when I met my husband who is—yup, a missionary in England (missionary dating anyone??). :)

To make a long story short, I'm now serving with my husband in England. But I'm not teaching missionary kids like I thought I would be. We serve in a different role from some missionaries. We serve in a support role. In a previous post, I wrote about serving in a support role as a wife and mother. My husband's and my role in our organisation is more or less behind the scenes, with my husband working in IT and myself writing Sunday School materials... but how is that being a missionary?

In the beginning days, I had a difficult time believing that what we do for our organisation is worthy of being supported by our friends and families. After all, we sit at a desk doing IT work or writing Sunday School materials... how is that "missions?"
Leon teaches an IT course so that others can do the IT stuff for their own fields
Think about it: Paul and Barnabas probably had support from their sending church. Without that support, Paul and Barnabas wouldn't be able to do their work as effectively. We work at the international headquarters, where a lot of services are provided for fields around the world. These services enable the rest of the missionaries to advance the Gospel! With the way people use modern technology, if people like my husband weren't working to better the IT systems and keep them running, ministry would probably not be as effective. Doing children's work would also be a lot more challenging without the people who write the materials.
We like have to have fun every once in a while (even if it's playing geeky vintage video games). :)
We're all a part of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-14). We can all have different roles within the Body. Some of us are going to be better at teaching, preaching, etc, while others of us are going to be better at serving behind the scenes (Ephesians 4:11). This realisation has given me great freedom because I'm better at serving in the background rather than up front where everyone can see me.
"Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts."
1 Corinthians 12:27-31 (ESV)

Don't you just love how diverse the body of Christ is? Your role is important no matter how you serve! Now let's discuss. How do you serve in your ministry?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Moving Across the World:The Big Day(s)

 Do a little dance folks because You Made It!! You have purged, gotten rid of, donated, sold most of what you own.  You've figured out a storage situation that works for your family.  You've weeded through toys and clothes and favorite things.  You have done your marathon packing.  You now know way more about storage containers and suitcases and what cloth napkins weigh than is deemed normal.  But you've made it.  You are now at that crazy moment of getting ready to get on a plane with all your stuff and kids in tow and moved to ANOTHER COUNTRY!!  Stop for just a minute and look around you.  Yep, this is your life, this is a dream and a vision that God gave your family and He has brought you to this day(s).  Crazy, huh?  So just take a moment and enjoy it!

And then some kid is going to puke on you or jar you back to the reality that you have to get your crazy brood and your (insert number of bags here) bags from your hometown to your new town somewhere else in the world.  Take a deep breath.  You got this. You already did all that I just listed, you can totally make it through the traveling part.

Before we get too far into all of this, start praying now for your move days.  Seriously, pray for the check in people, the security people, the porters, the flight attendants and pilots.  We've seen God have scales zeroed out at -1 lb and people not charge us for bags and make special provision for us getting on and off the planes.  One time we even got free domestic tickets!

 And yes, this moving thing is a lot.  So much so, we asked my sister and her husband to help us move.  They are late twenties, no kids yet, but stable, able bodied adults who can help.  It also means that the adults will outnumber the children, which is always a good thing!  Tip #1  If you have someone in your life that could help with the move, ASK them!!  Seriously!

The logistics for this part of the journey can be a bit intense.  How are you getting to the airport?  How are you getting all your stuff to the airport?  What are you doing with those car seats?  Bringing a stroller?  A sling or a wrap for baby? Who is carrying the passports?  How in the world are the two of you going to corral those kids and all those bags?

I am going to say it again, this is just what we do.  If you figure something better out, please tell me!!  But at least you have a place to start.

About 5 years ago we moved across the state and some friends of our had us stay at their house the night before we left.  At first I didn't think too much of it, but wow, what a difference that made!  It meant I didn't have to wash towels and sheets and what not the day of.  All that was finished the day before we left.  And we did it again before we moved for language school and we are doing it again this weekend.  We are blessed enough to have my parents just 20 minutes from the airport. So there is Tip #2 Stay somewhere else the day or two before you leave the country.

So airport.  We have asked both sets of parents to help with this.  One minivan will take the luggage and the other most of the people.  And there will be plenty of bodies to haul those 50 pound bags all over the place.  This also means it will be a good time to say that last goodbye. 

Once in the airport, especially if you don't have extra help, Pay for a porter!! (that's Tip #3, by the way).  The going tip (not to be confused with the other Tips in this post) rate is $1 a bag, maybe $2 if they are really heavy or if he or she helps out in other ways.  Budget this into your travel expenses, it is totally worth it!

And kids. So I am sure you have all thought of new small activities and toys for the flights.  We have a backpack for each of our kids, and they get to carry it on and off the plane.  They also get to pick some of what goes in their backpack, but I add stuff too as a surprise.  Keeping them corralled in the airport can be interesting, but we have found a stroller is a big help (remember, our kids are little still).  It gives them a safe place to sit, they still want to fall asleep sometimes, so it's a help then too.  The stroller also helps you section off a part of the terminal for your family...sit on the floor, it will give you more space.  Also, if you can, carry a small, light blanket, to spread out on the floor picnic style, that's great too.

My philosophy with life has always been be prepared so you can be flexiable.  That's a good thought for flying internationally as well.  Be as prepared as you can, but know that at some point along the way you will probably need to rework the plan.

So, what is your best travel advice?    

Want more?  Check out these other posts!

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:  Helpful This and Thats

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tuesday Topic: Sharing negatives?

From an anonymous reader: What are your thoughts about sharing stories on blogs and from other public platforms about some of the shocking and less attractive sides of your home country? My husband and I recently had a discussion about this after finding out that often times our public pre-schools do not have toilet paper for the children. (When it’s out, it’s out until the next allotment comes in.) He thought this would be an interesting cultural fact to share with our friends back home, but I felt it would be talking ill of our host country even though it is true. It opened up a long discussion about what is more important in our communication about life here; is portraying an accurate picture of where we live (including these less than attractive things) most valuable, or is helping people to form a better opinion of this country and in my thought perhaps a greater capacity to love the people here more important (we live in a country often not thought of very highly by Americans). What is your personal view of how to publicly speak of your host country? Is your aim to give an accurate representation that encompasses the good and bad, do you steer more towards the good to perhaps try to help people correct wrong stereotypes, or maybe do you focus more on what is broken to help inspire compassion? How do you decide?

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

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Calm My Anxious Heart, chapter 6

I'm blogging through Calm My Anxious Heart: chapter 1chapter 2chapter 3chapter 4, and chapter 5.

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Hebrews 13:5

I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches.
Psalm 119:14
This chapter is called "Never Enough," but if following the theme of earlier chapters ("Content with Circumstances," "Content to be Me," etc), I would call it "Content with Stuff." Linda Dillow addresses three barriers to being content with what we have: greed, lack of purpose, and anxiety. This chapter is about the first of those three.

She gives us these Biblical principles about material possessions:
1. Everything belongs to God.... 
2. Heart attitude is the issue.... You can quickly identify where your heart is if you will survey the things you own and then answer this question: Suppose this treasure were lost, destroyed, or stolen tomorrow. Would I miss it to the point that it would harm my trust in God, my contentment, or my relationships? If the answer is yes, then your treasure is on earth.
3. God comes first and possessions come second.... 
4. Possessions are to be used, not loved... (pages 87-89).

I find the timing of this chapter to be very interesting in my own life, but I don't think I can share about that right now. So, instead I will go back a little. Apartment living used to be a huge struggle for me! I used to dread visiting friends who had houses, because I knew I would be jealous. I would cry about it often and beg God for a house... or contentment. This sounds simple and trite, looking back and skipping over so much, but He did eventually give me that contentment. Now I usually love living in an apartment. And now, after many years in cramped, cluttered apartments (not our clutter), we have really  been enjoying a bigger, empty one, with wide open spaces. But we're coming to the end of our time here, and I've really been struggling. It's not likely that we'll find another place like this. (Although, God could surprise us; He's good at that!) My goal is to look around at this lovely home every day and relish it, without a twinge of "I'll be so sad to leave." That would poison the time that I do have here. This quote was really inspirational to me today:
God has recently give Jody and me a wonderful gift of a house in the beautiful Colorado mountains. After eighteen years of living overseas in rented houses and apartments, I am very grateful for this gift, yet I am also afraid. It would be so easy to let the leech [greed] get a hold of me. Once something becomes mine, my human tendency is to grasp it tightly. God wants me daily to hold out my house to Him with open hands and say, "It is Yours, Lord" (page 89).

I'm also challenged to take another step. Looking at the two Bible verses I quoted above, being content and not coveting aren't so hard right now. But am I really rejoicing that much in the Lord? Daily? Oh, how I want to!

What advice do you have for someone struggling to be content with what they have? What lessons have you learned yourself in this area?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Third Culture Kids

They speak multiple languages,connect easily with someone from a new culture, and take global issues very seriously. They may have more in common with a Chinese student in their European school then they do with peers from their passport country. They also learn at a young age about loss and saying good-bye. They've moved many times and "home" is hard to explain.

They are Third Culture Kids or TCKs as they are commonly called. American sociologist David C. Pollock describes Third Culture Kids with this definition: "A Third Culture Kid (TCK) is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside of the parents' culture. The TCK frequently builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture may be assimilated into the TCK's life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background. "

I've noticed this TCK phenomenon in my own kids. They think in terms of having two different national anthems, and speaking in two languages. They relate better to kids from other countries living in El Salvador than they do to their own cousins. 

I had to smile while we were in the States this summer for the Fourth of July for the first time in years. When the fireworks started my five year old son turned to me and said , "Mommy, this is just like Christmas!" Because he is growing up in Central America my son's cultural association with fireworks is Christmas, not the Fourth of July. It is definitely different from my childhood!

In some ways it seems strange to be raising children who have experiences so different from the ones I experienced. It is strange, but I don't feel sorry for them. In fact I celebrate the richness of their lives. Their lives include picnics at the sites of ancient Mayan ruins, four stamps on their passports by the age of five, and the gift of being effortlessly bilingual. But more important than that, they are living out God's call right there with us. They are learning to walk in faith and experiencing what it means to be a part of God's global Kingdom.

How do you feel about raising TCKs? How has it changed your family? In what ways are your children experiencing life in a different way than you did?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tuesday Topic: 9/11

Where were you when you heard the news about 9/11? Did it affect your life in your location at all? I ask because I kind of felt like we missed the effect it had on America for a while, and... I'll share my thoughts in the comments. I want to hear about your feelings from that day!

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

Monday, September 10, 2012

When You Serve in a Support Role—Part 1

Every time I start a new job, it takes me awhile to grow into my role. It's kind of like getting a new pair of shoes. At first they're a bit uncomfortable, but over time your feet get broken into them and the shoes get more and more comfortable.

That's how I felt when I first stepped into my role as a missionary's wife two years ago. In the beginning, I didn't feel comfortable with telling all of our supporters and those who may be supporting us that yes, I'm a missionary... but I'm going to be a stay at home wife and mum. I had a hard time getting my mind around the thought that my job is just as important and support-worthy as my husband's job (also in a support role).

Image Credit: David Mayerhofer
Serving as a wife and mother has helped me learn that what I do is an important and valuable position. In some ways, it's a thankless job, but it doesn't go unnoticed by God! What has helped me in coming to this realisation is Proverbs 31. To me, the woman described in these verses is serving in a support role in her home. Now that's someone to strive to be! :)
She looks well to the ways of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness. Proverbs 31:27 (ESV)
Serving in my role as a wife and mother blesses my husband (Proverbs 31:28). Here are some of the ways I can do that:
  • Keeping our house. This might be obvious, but for us this really blesses my husband. He likes it when I can take responsibility for the running of our home. Personally, I'm still growing into this job. :)
  • Taking care of our son (and any future children we may have). This is another obvious one, but hey... it's important! Being able to raise our son and not have to send him away for someone else to care for is such a blessing! It's such a privilege to raise this little one God has given us in a biblical way.
  • Doing partner ministry. Since getting married, I have taken on a fair amount of responsibility to contact and connect with our supporters and prayer partners. Usually I write most emails, postcards, connect through social media, etc. It takes the burden off of my husband so he can focus on his ministry more. He still helps me with those things, but I can serve him by doing most of it.
Those are some ways that you can serve in your support role as a wife and mother. In my next post, I'll share about how my family serves in a support role within our organisation, and how God can use us in that.

How do you serve in your ministry as a wife and mother? Do you have a role within your ministry or is your primary role being a wife and mother?


Chrysti is a missionary wife and mum serving in the north of England. You can find her blogging at Hedding Somewhere.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Greener Grass

Is the grass really greener on the other side?

Some days I long to be living back in America. I think of how wonderful it is to have water every day, stable electricity, a well-stocked grocery store, smooth roads, convenience, privacy... At times I can feel very alone, with a feeling that no one understands my life, or is holding me up in prayer.

We just got back from a short trip to the States. I was so excited to "eat up" as much 'green grass' as I could during those six weeks. And I thoroughly enjoyed the hot baths, regular electricity (although it did go out for several hours one night), shopping, and eating out. America was just as "green" as I remembered it - or was it?

My first Sunday back at our sending church a lady shares how her husband lost his job, and they are trusting God to meet their needs. I hear of another church member who is losing her house. Both are faithful givers. (My 'dusty' side of the world finds my bank account with support from those who faithfully give through their local church.) While out of town I get a phone call from my son. "Mr. So-And-So just committed suicide." The next Sunday I hug the wife, and watch as the son breaks down while singing in the choir. 

You know what I found over there in the 'green grass?'


The Lord speaks to my heart and asks me some hard questions:

  • Are you really thankful for what I provide for you?
  • Do you think you deserve what I provide?
  • Do you care about the suffering of others as much as you want them to care about you?
  • Do you pray for others in the way you hope they pray for you?

My mind wanders to Psalm twenty-three...

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."

It hits me. 'Green grass' isn't a place, it's a Person. Jesus wants to lead me to green pastures. And when I follow Him, He restores my soul - not family, or friends, or Walmart. He also wants me to point others to follow Him. Whether that be first through a saving knowledge of Him, or to be reminded that in Him are the answers and comfort they need.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Moving Across the World: Packing

We have now arrived at the packing phase in this crazy journey of moving across the world.  Ya'll ready for this?  (Seriously, click on the link, you just might need that crazy music to pump you up this is phase.  Maybe Eye of the Tiger, or something silly like the Numa Numa kid?  Now I am just stalling.)  Remember back at the beginning when I said that you could watch our family move?  Well, the timing of this is just about perfect.  We are two weeks away from flying out to Costa Rica to settle in for real.  We spent a year in language school there, but now we are moving there for good.  So after I finish writing this post, I will be heading to the basement to do some more packing.  Seriously.  And I think I will be listening to Eye of the Tiger as I run down the stairs fist pumping the air. 

Now let's see...maybe a good place to start would be what to pack in.  And real quick here, I am going to tell you what we use, but there are other options, and no, I am not getting any free kickbacks from the companies that make these things, but if they want to help out, I am not going to complain.  We've known others to use a hogpodge of suitcase and handme down bags.  That's wonderful.  For us, we thought it made sense to buy what would work best for us, all new, because this is a way of life for us now.  We'll be using these bags from now until forever.  The OCD part of me likes that it all matches too.  Makes the luggage carousels so much easier.  I know I'm are looking for 12 green duffels and two trunks.

Alright, so we use Contico footlockers and Kelty basecamp large duffle bags.  Both of these are the maximum dimensions you can check for the airlines (62 inches).  The footlockers are a heavy duty plastic and weigh about 10 pounds (more on why that matters later).  The duffels are heavy duty and weight almost nothing.  You can get the footlockers online at Walmart, and we just discovered that Lowe's sells them in the stores.  The duffels we ordered online for about $25 with free shipping.

We have found that you really do need both.  Because of the insanely low weight limit of 50 pounds per bag now (oh for the days when they allowed you to pack them to 70 pounds!) giving up 10 pounds just for the container can seem a bit silly, but there are some things, like your sewing machine, that really need to be packed in something sturdier.  A sewing machine in a duffel wouldn't be a great idea.  Have you seen how they throw your luggage under the plane?  But there are many other things that the duffel bag will work just fine for, especially if you are packing clothes, sheets or towels around them.

Now, one addition to our collection that we just made was an Action Packer.  For some reason, these were recommended to me by all my African Missionary Friends, but none of my Latin American Missionary Friends.  Not sure why.  But the advantage the Action Packer has is that it is a couple inches taller than the trunks.  The reason we added it to our collection was I have this lovely stand mixer that is too tall for the trunk.  In fact, it was too tall for the Action Packer as well, but my plastics engineer friend who is a TCK took a butcher knife to the inside of the lid and with a little nipping here and there, created a custom lid for my mixer!!  I can't tell you how excited I was last night when he solved the problem that has been plaguing us for a year!

Ok, so you have your luggage, now comes time to pack. (Again cue the pump up pregame music, ok seriously, click on this one!  It will crack you up and you're kids will love it!)  The best way I have found to get all that stuff you have weeded through and made ruthless decisions about packed is to get it all in one central location.  The house we have been staying in this summer has an amazing basement and I all summer I just kept bringing stuff down there as we would buy it or acquire it.  And the beauty of this system is you can just leave it and it doesn't disrupt normal life.  Also, because it's in our basement, our kids don't usually go down there, which means they aren't pulling out this favorite toy, or that book and running off with it totally messing up your organization!

Next, grab a bag or trunk and start packing.  Here's the part that bothers me, you can't pack your like items together.  All your books in one bag makes for great organization, but you are going to be waaaaaaaaaaaay over your weight limit on that bag if you do it that way.  Over time, you'll get to know how much things weight and you'll figure out how to spread out the big things in and amongst the little things.  Oh, and this is a good time to talk about another amazing product, the digital luggage scale.  It's the best money we have spent! I start packing and after a few big things I'll weigh it to see where we're at. Weigh your bags as many times as you need to.  I also always pack to around 48 or 49 pounds, because giving yourself a little leeway is a good idea.  Who knows if the airline scales are going to be a bit off and you don't want to get charged for $50 or $100 for one extra pound.

We numbered all our trunks and bags.  I just took a Sharpie and wrote 1, 2, 3 etc somewhere on the bag.  Then in the moving note book, I have what is in each bag according to the number.  This is good for a couple of reasons.  1.  You know where your stuff is.  That way you don't have unpack everything to find your pots and pans, you just know they are in bag 4.  2.  For customs, you have a list, just in case.  and 3.  You have a list for the airline just in case that bag gets lost somewhere along the way.  I also have started putting the weight of each bag next to the list so I know if I can add a bit more to it or not later.

Here's a secret tip on packing duffels.  Once you get it stuffed full and you realize you still have 6 pounds you can use, zip that sucker up, grab the end and shake.  And then shake a little bit more.  Guess what?  You know have a couple of inches to shove stuff!  Hurray!

There is always the great fold or roll debate when it comes to clothes.  My advice?  Do both.  Start with laying things flat in the bag and then as you have nooks and crannies that need to be filled, roll.  With practice you will get really, really good at this.  I promise. 

Now, things are probably going to look a lot worse before they look better, and that's ok.  This is a process folks.  Here's how our basement looked just a few days ago.

Yikes!  But little by little, things start to get put into bags and trunks and you can see the progress!

 Look!  Two packed bags!!  Hurray!  Pat yourself on the back, and head upstairs and do something else for a little while.  And then come back and start again.

Now, something that I have struggled with this time has been how much we are taking.  As of today, we are taking 15 checked bags, 4 carryons and 4 backpacks.  That seems like a whole lot.  And yet, it seems to be what we need.  My dear, sweet, husband keeps reminding me that it is just fine.  We aren't being frivolous, we aren't extravagant, we have prayed over all the decisions in regards to what to give away, what to buy and what to take.  God has provided the money to transport all of these, and this is just the reality of moving a family across the world.  Someone else mentioned to me that most people move with a full truck, so 15 bags isn't bad.  Again, you aren't more spiritual or godly if you only bring 1 bag verses 15.  It's not about that.  It is about what does your family need to minister effectivly in the country you are headed.  So pray about it, be wise and then don't second guess yourself.  You got this! Because, you my friend, are a champion!

So, what is your best packing tip?

Want more?  Check out these other posts!
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:  The Big Day(s) 
Moving Across the World:  Helpful This and Thats

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Poor Missionary Kid?

I've heard people say before that missionaries are making sacrifices. Missionary kids, even more so. Oh, those poor missionary kids. I recently read this quote by David Livingston, "If a commission by an earthly king is considered an honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice." Yes, my kids live 13,000 miles away from their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends. But we are exactly where God wants us. I remember when I first told my dad that I was dating a man that had been called to Australia's Outback. I asked him what he thought. He said, "I would rather you live in the middle of Australia's Outback in God's will, then live next door out of God's will."

Some days it is difficult to not have family living close by, to not go to Cracker Barrel with my dad and brothers Sunday after church, or run to Wal-Mart and get everything you need in one trip. But, oh how the blessings outweigh those little conveniences! My kids have seen more of this world in the last few years than most adults have seen in their entire lifetime. They have opportunities everyday to serve the Lord and serve others. I do not want my children to feel special because they are missionary kids, I want them to feel honored that God chose us. I've met some grown missionary children that have a sense of entitlement, like we owe them something. This may be because people were constantly telling them how much they had to give up, and how sorry they were for them to have to grow up on foreign soil. Not all missionary kids are like this, but I have met some that are.

I want my children to grow up with a desire to serve the Lord, whether we were living in America or here in Australia. We were given a special call to come here to Australia, we are blessed. There are children here in Australia that have lived here their entire lives. No one thinks they're making a great sacrifice. What sacrifices did we make to come here? To live the American dream? Well, we're living the Australian dream! The Lord has blessed us with a nice home, my kids each have their own rooms (something they didn't have in the states, they shared a room), we have a nice Jeep (something my husband loves), and we have a dog (another thing we didn't have in the states). So, if anything we were sacrificing while living in the states! I am blessed. My kids are blessed. God has been so very good to us.

So, I said all this to say this...don't feel so sorry for my jealous! Ha! Just kidding, well, a little. :) Seriously, my kids do miss their friends and family. They get homesick. I get homesick. But like Paul said in I Timothy 1:12, "And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry." The times I do get homesick, I think of Heaven. What a short time we get here on earth to spend serving the Lord and "sacrificing" for Him, but I will get all eternity to worship God and spend with my family in Heaven. It's only a brief moment in time we have here on earth, and I pray my life will be used to further the Kingdom of Heaven for His name's sake.
Do you feel you are sacrificing, dear missionary friend, or do you feel blessed? 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tuesday Topic: Schooling

Please send me your questions! I didn't have anything this week, so I took a suggestion from the other blog: What is your favorite homeschool curriculum for overseas moms? And then I'm adding more to it, so as not to leave anyone out: If your children go to a local school, do you "afterschool" them to get in some English? If so, how? Or, if your children go to a school that teaches in English, what is your favorite thing about their school? Just tell us what you love about your children's education now! And you can ask us to pray for the challenges, too, of course.

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

Monday, September 3, 2012

Time Management Tips for Missionary Moms

Do you feel that you are a good manager of your time? Are you able to do your regular and necessary activities with enough reserves to cope temporarily with an emergency or with a challenging situation?  Or do you find yourself just struggling to do keep your normal schedule

Tips for time management:
Stay grounded in God’s word –read, memorize, review and remember helpful verses that can guide your day.

Pray.  Remember that this day is to be used for the Lord.  Even interruptions and change of plans can be used for the Lord!

Use the talents and gifts that God has given you – appreciate and use those special abilities that God has for your ministry.

Make Lists – The most important is my to-do list. When I make my meal plans for the week, I also make my shopping list for groceries.  I also have lists for packing for travel, future plans, etc.

Prioritize today’s to-do list – what must be done today, what needs to be done today or in the next few days, what can be done in the future

Be productive while waiting – use the usual idle time to complete a task.  File your nails while talking on the phone.  Do the dishes or load the dishwasher while listening to a program. 

Spend 20 minutes daily on a chore.  Doing a little bit every day keeps the chores from becoming overwhelming on a Saturday or a day off.

Menu planning.  Plan what you are going to have for meals each week and plan your grocery shopping at the same time.  After one day’s dinner is served, eaten and cleaned up, get ready for your next day’s meal.  Take out meat or frozen food to thaw and make sure you have all the ingredients for the main course and the sides.

Take care of yourself.  Exercise.  Eat right.  Take your vitamins.  Get enough sleep.  There is nothing like feeling unenergetic, run down and tired to feel that you can’t manage your time!

What is your biggest struggle in managing your time?   What have you found that helps you to be a good manager of your time?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Calm My Anxious Heart, chapter 5

I'm continuing through Calm My Anxious Heart. Here is what I have written so far: chapter 1chapter 2chapter 3, and chapter 4.

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.
Colossians 3:12-14
This chapter is causing me to do some real soul searching. It's called "Content in Relationships." At first, I read the title and thought this would be easy; I don't feel like I have many relationships these days. God has been using these years to teach me to be content without real, close friends around me, and that's been good. He can use loneliness to turn me to Himself.

However, in this chapter He's going deeper with me. Linda Dillow writes about forgiving when others have hurt us. Of course. But then she talks about going beyond forgiveness, and that's what I need to think about applying. There has been a situation in my life that can be described like what I found right in this chapter: "You're in a standoff, and no healing has soothed the hurt" (page 69). I have forgiven and I hope that I have been forgiven, but there's still pain and awkwardness. Linda Dillow chose to actively try to bless the woman she had been in conflict with. I don't know that I can do that now, in this situation--because of physical distance and more--but I have been praying about how I can go beyond forgiveness, and I have decided that I will be this person's faithful prayer warrior. What could be a better start at "putting on love" than praying for her every day?

We can't control others: husband, children, friends, roommate, coworker, relatives. We can't make choices for others, only for ourselves. We can trust God, and we can control ourselves! We can do our part to pursue peace in relationships--and that brings contentment (page 77).

What have you learned about contentment in relationships? How do you go beyond forgiveness for someone who has hurt you?