Wednesday, December 31, 2014

How Are You Meeting The New Year?

Each year I get to the end of December, and along with everyone else, I start thinking about New Year’s resolutions. Some years I have been full of resolve to make some big changes having felt the Lord’s clear prompting to seek growth in certain specific areas of my life. The New Year is a perfect inspiration for new beginnings. At those times I’ve taken joy in setting goals through prayer, and asking God to lead me toward growth in the New Year. 

Then there have been times that I’ve gotten to the end of a year and realized that I had been striving much after my own personal ideas of growth and self-betterment and not enough toward what God may have wanted from me. At those times my reflection has revealed to me how I had set sky-high standards based on pressures from the world around and had certainly been harsher on myself Lord would have been had I accepted His goals for my year. I've finished the year feeling tired and defeated by my own overly ambitious and legalistic standards. Such realizations then caused me to come to the New Year with a desire to live free from self-imposed burdens and rather to simply resolve to abide in Christ and follow His lead day-by-day. Those were seasons for focusing yet again on what it means to carry His easy yoke and light burden rather than creating my own grueling and heavy ones.
There are also the years where January 1st has come in the midst of such flurry that the only resolution I can muster is to cling to the Lord and try to survive whatever season I’m in! One of those years involved an incredibly colicky baby that gave me no more than 45 minutes of sleep at a time during his first 5 months of life. My resolve then was basically just to cling to God however I could and keep my family alive until the massively stressful season of no sleep and constant crying would finally come to a resolution of its own. I think that was the year that I firmly resolved never to have any more children… But that was also after the second of my now four children...

I would imagine that there will be a number of other ways that I’ll meet the New Year as I continue on in life. How about you? How are you meeting 2015? Do you feel the Lord prompting you toward some specific resolutions? Is this year a year to resolve to let go of your own plans? Or, is this an intense season where you are feeling like the biggest resolve needed is that of clinging to the Lord for survival?  Any other sorts of New Year’s feelings that you’re experiencing? 

May God richly bless each of you as you meet the New Year wherever you are at!

P.S. Tomorrow we look forward to sharing some updates with you about our community here! We’ve got some resolutions of our own!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Tempted to Tell ALL

“Mama, when we were at the library the other day, I was tempted to tell someone about Jesus and how He was born to save us. Is that wrong?”

I couldn’t help but smile.

Funny question for a missionary kid to be asking…

After all, isn’t that what missionaries do? Isn’t that what we teach kids that missionaries do?

Missionaries go, into ALL the world for this reason: telling ALL who have never heard or who have never believed or who just need to be reminded - ALL about Jesus.

The message is first one of confrontation - the horribly bad news that ALL, are sinners and that as sinners, we are unable - in and of ourselves - to DO ANYTHING to remedy our sin problem. Which brings us to the second part of the bad news: the required punishment for our sin is death.

Grasping that part of the message is necessary; thankfully it doesn’t stop there or we would ALL be without hope.

The second half of the missionary message tells of reconciliation and restoration. It’s the hopeful part… the better part.

ALL men need someone to save them...

It has been a busy week... a busy month... and it just so happened that I was scheduled to write at two different collective blogs on the same weekend.

Instead of reinventing the wheel (and I hope you don't mind), can I redirect you?
To read the rest, please click on this link and join me over at a life overseas: the missions conversation!

Thursday, December 18, 2014


Several thousand years ago, Jesus arrived on a chaotic scene. He was born into a land with political strife, and He was born into an oppressed people. They lived in a state of longing, waiting, and hoping for more.  God’s people couldn’t understand why God wasn’t speaking, or where He was. He had been silent and here they were beaten down, struggling, and confused.
Into the chaos, Jesus silently arrived. Humbly, quietly, where He was least expected and where He was least hoped for. Into the space of a dark night in a dirty corner came the great Deliverer.
I can find myself in that chaotic place…right now I am in one of those seasons. Dear missionary friends are hurting, a women in our ministry is in crisis, and bad news seems to be in our local paper every day. Add some homesickness and the stress of the holidays and it is easy to feel broken down. Sometimes I feel like I'm doing it all on my own and I wonder why God doesn’t say what I want to hear.
But there is also an unseen longing and hoping that cannot be shaken. It can’t be shaken because Jesus steps in where He is least hoped for, and sometimes least wanted. The Deliverer arrives in our pain, our confusion, and our exhaustion. He arrives in such a way that we often don’t see Him coming. But He is there.
Jesus comes into that place with a promise, and with a reason to hope. Advent means coming and this season of light and yearning brings a glimpse of something more. The heavens opened and poured out on that silent night so long ago, so that every silent night to come would not be the end. The chaos will not win, and the darkness cannot hold us.
There is always hope. Sometimes it is silent, but it remains. There is always a chance that we will see more happen in our lives. There is joy in the sorrow and peace in the unknown because He has come, and He is coming again.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tuesday Together: What are you reading?

This week's discussion is simple: What are you reading, or what have you read recently? What books can you recommend? Something really, really good to read online would also be nice.

(And does anyone have a Tuesday Topic to suggest? Any questions you want to talk about? Send them to

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Wedding Rings and the Concept of Home

 My wedding ring is a frequent reminder to me of the transient life that I live; a life where the concept of home is not a stable and fixed thing, like we have discussed here recently and in the past.

When I was first married and living in the US, my wedding ring was at home on my left hand. Even when we first moved to Russia two years later, still for a time my ring did not leave the comforts of its left-hand home. As I became comfortable with my new and drastically different life in Russia, my ring too found a comfortable new home in the culture of the right hand. 

Probably on our flight back to the US for our first furlough began the tradition of moving my ring from the right to the left, somewhere mid-way over the Atlantic Ocean. The tradition reverses itself when flying back from Seattle to Russia. I didn’t realize it when the tradition first began, but in so many ways it and my ring in general have been symbolic of my relationship with the idea of home.
For the first two years, I actually wore two rings; my actual wedding ring on whatever hand was most culturally appropriate, and a band on the other hand that would otherwise feel somewhat naked without it. If the wedding ring was "home" on one hand, the home of the other hand would feel abandoned. I compensated by having two rings, perhaps as to not deny the significance of the home temporarily put aside. In hindsight, I see how the two rings reflected my feelings about home as a new missionary. Home was in both places and my heart needed to claim both simultaneously in many ways, especially during our first years overseas.

Down the road came a time when I took off my extra band, leaving only my wedding ring on the right side. We were in Russia when I stopped wearing the other band, and I had finally begun to truly feel at home in this new place. Now when we head back to the US, the single ring moves to the left, where after a season of feeling out of place, it gradually settles into it's other home. The right hand also feels naked at first when the ring first makes its move, but it too gets used to letting the band live elsewhere. And then the tradition reverses when we go back.

My heart and my ring have a home in both places and though there are times when the switch from one to the other is followed by a time of feeling out of place and awkward, soon the awkwardness fades. Over the years I have become more comfortable with this two hand, two home life that God has given me, and I praise Him for it. Praise the Lord for the blessing of not only getting to have one but TWO earthly homes.

Ultimately though, I praise Him that though this concept of “home” is so fluid and at times confusing in this missionary life, we have a perfect and permanent home waiting for us with the Lord!

What has your experience been with adjusting to having two (or more) earthly homes?  Is there one place or multiple places on this earth that you consider your true home? How have your feelings about home changed since moving overseas? 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tuesdays Together: Home

(I'm having rather severe technical difficulties here, but I think I can get this published.)

Again, it's time to get together and enjoy some quiet conversation. So, settle in and take your time. I've had the topic on "home" on my mind lately. Actually, it's often (always?) there. To be very honest, even though I wanted to live this life from the time I was little, and even though I love it, I never really knew how challenging some aspects of "home" would be for me.

But first, for your viewing pleasure, here are pictures of three homes around the world.
Ashley's in Russia:
The first view is actually out their kitchen window,
but their building looks like the one on the right.
Sarah's in Costa Rica:

They'll have to move soon; let's pray that their next house
will be just as much of a beloved home as this one has been.
Here is where I live:

Half a house in Ukraine (It's like a taste of heaven!)
Then, here's some more to read and look at:

These verses have been a great encouragement to me when I have struggled with various homes:
"Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations."
Psalm 90
“Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it!”
“Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going.”
(from 2 Corinthians 5 in The Message)

And now your part:
What do you consider your (earthly) home? What makes a house/apartment feel like home to you? How many times have you moved in your ministry life? Do you have photos or a blog post that you can link to, showing us where you live? What else can you add to this theme of "home"?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Word became flesh...

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning." - John 1:1
As part of my personal Advent celebration, I've been daily reading a chapter from "Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus," a compilation of Advent readings, edited by Nancy Guthrie.

This quote from the second chapter immediately grabbed my attention, "When a person makes his home among people, he moves in with them.  He identifies with them.  The incarnation is the moving in of the eternal Word so that he utterly identifies with us in every way.  He took the whole nature of a human being, fully and totally identifying with all it means for us to be human..."  What first struck me was how amazing and how counter-intuitive the incarnation is!  Jesus is God, and He left His throne in heaven to become a human, humbling himself not only to man's body, but to a helpless baby's body, so that He could identify completely with us.  He chose to live a complete human life, from birth to childhood to adolescence to adulthood.  Jesus experienced everything we experience!  And, He came for us, to save us!
"He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him.  He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him.  Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God." - John 1: 10-13
He lived a human life, in order to reveal Himself and His truth to us.  He lived a perfect life, so that His righteousness could be imputed to us.  He died for us so that our sin's penalty would be paid and we could be saved.  He conquered death, revealing His glory and giving us hope of eternity with Him.  God became man to give us the right to become His children, to His glory.
"The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.  We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." - John 1:14

This is the Christmas message.  It's so much bigger than a sweet baby boy born in a stable (and so, so much bigger than I can write in this post)!  The truth of the incarnation is incredible, and provides such an important springboard for talking about the gospel.  And, that's why we are where are, doing what we are doing, right?  To quote the book I am reading again, "When a person makes his home among people, he moves in with them.  He identifies with them."  The author was talking about God becoming flesh, but it struck me that that sentence describes missionaries, too!  We move to a foreign place and work to make a home among a new people.  We work to identify with them.  We live among them in order to reveal the truth of the gospel to them, to God's glory.  While this change and adjustment is so tiny compared to Jesus', it was very special to me to identify with Christ in this small way. 

I pray that this Christmas, we can stay focused on the true awesomeness of the incarnation.  I pray that as we decorate for Christmas, plan our Christmas programs and events, and celebrate with our families and communities, that we will keep in the forefront of our thoughts our purpose for being where we are - to live among the precious people God has called us to, so that they may know Him and worship Him.  I'm praying for opportunities to share this message with those who have not heard it, who do not believe it. 
"From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another.  For the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made Him known." - John 1:16-18

How have been encouraged spiritually so far this Christmas season?  How can we pray for your heart this month?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tuesday Together: A Day in the Life...

No one volunteered to write up a day in their life, so you'll have to hear from me. Maybe this will break the ice so that someone else will want to do the same soon.

As a foreword, I grew up in a homeschooling family. There was a very popular homeschool magazine that featured a different family on the cover each month. Then, inside that issue, it would follow them through a day in their lives in great detail. I always thought that was the fun part of the magazine; now I know that at least some moms found it intimidating, though. (They did always seem to be perfect families!) That's obviously not what I want here. I just think it would just be fun to see how very similar and very different all of our different lives and locations are and get to know each other a little bit more. Yes?


I'm just going to tell you about yesterday here. Real life:
Our day started off very early when our son burst in to our room in the wee hours of the morning to announce that his sister's new pet rat ("he" was named Martin the Warrior; any other Redwall fans out there?) had given birth to five ratlets? ratlings? whatever... five baby rats! So, Martin is really Marta. Fortunately, we were able to get back to sleep after that bit of excitement.

We actually got up and moving a bit later. My husband made breakfast for us and went out to pay for another month of internet, since it was the first day of the month. The rest of us ate and then took care of our ducks. That means breaking the ice on their water, filling it up with hot water, feeding them, and collecting eggs.

Then we got a slow but good start on school. Every day with start with "Morning School," a time when I read aloud and work on memory verses and such with all four children together. Then the youngest was dismissed to play, while the older ones worked on math and music and history readings. We kind of dawdled and dragged through school, after a very busy weekend, but at least we got something done.

Honestly, there wasn't much excitement yesterday (except for the rat!), and sometimes that's really good. After school we had:
--husband left for the office
--quiet time when the youngest sleeps, next older listens to audio books, and the rest of us read.
On Mondays, while it's still quiet time, I send our oldest off to his piano lesson, then a little later our second child leaves for her music literature and theory classes. On other days there are art classes or other music lessons. They all go to them on their own, though. I just have to get them out the door at the right times and headed in the right directions.

When quiet time ended, I took the three children who were home out for a little walk and some sledding. Littlest got whiney fast. He hasn't resigned himself to mittens yet this year. So he and I went back for hot chocolate and starting on dinner prep. The others stayed out to continue sledding with a group of neighborhood kids.

A little later the sledders returned, and we did some reading aloud and painting. Then my husband came back from the office, with our daughter, who he had met up with when her time at music school was done. We ate dinner, did some cleanup around our house, and then settled in for an Advent reading.

Then it was already time to brush teeth and head to bed. All four children share a room, so one of us sits and supervises to be sure they actually get to sleep, instead of partying. My husband did that, while I sat at the computer, worked on this post, and enjoyed a quiet cup of tea.

And that's that. A very ordinary day in the life of Phyllis.

How are your days similar to mine? What is very different? Who wants to share a day in your life next, probably next month? What else do you want to say?  

And now your assignment for next Tuesday: we're going to share our homes and some thoughts on "home." To start with, if you want to, please send me a photo of your current house or apartment, preferably from the outside for this time ( I'll compile those and post them, and then we'll discuss. Thanks!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Longevity in Ministry ~ "Hope is the only thing stronger than fear" ~

A few months back I began a series that has certainly been challenging and thought- provoking for me. I hope God is also using it in your life. The information discussed comes from a sermon by the senior pastor at my sending church. My notes start with these words: "Like longevity in life, some basic things are needed - right genes, right diet, right exercise, and right environment." Can you see the spiritual parallels? Examining how these principles apply to longevity in ministry on the mission field is forcing me to evaluate whether or not I've been building into my daily life the right sorts of habits and practices to facilitate such longevity. Key is an understanding that God is sovereign and that He is also sufficient.

But what does the practical outworking of those beliefs look like?

I've identified seven essential priorities that help protect from burnout and the temptation to sin... ones that direct and give hope for the future... ones that remind that all is grace and a gift from God.

Those priorities are:
  1. Growing an increasingly intimate relationship with the Lord by consistently, daily and throughout the day, seeking Him
  2. Praying without ceasing (steadfastly, continuously, patiently, powerfully); 
  3. Striving to maintain a good balance between personal growth and service or ministry
  4. Welcoming accountability
  5. Committing to marriage and family; 
  6. Choosing to be teachable even in difficult circumstances; and 
  7. Determining to be a genuine team player.
Last time I wrote, I made the statement that, perhaps, accountability is the most difficult one of all. Those who have conversed with me regarding that statement definitely agree that it is a challenge. 

I've been considering two questions:
  1. Is accountability to our faith brothers and sisters a biblical idea - or is it a tradition of men (the type of behavior for which the Pharisees were so consistently rebuked by Jesus) and the only one to whom we need to answer is Jesus? I believe the Bible speaks for itself on this matter, and I identified several places in the Bible where I believe the principle of mutual accountability is clearly taught and/or encouraged. One of the most powerful passages, in my opinion, is in Genesis, where, right after murdering his brother, God asks Cain, "Where is your brother?"  and Cain essentially replies, "I don't know. Am I my brother's keeper?" I believe a clear implication in that passage is that yes, we are to watch out for... watch over... each other.
  2.  What is it about such accountability that creates an environment where longevity and finishing well can flourish? 
I'd considered discussing accountability strategies, but I think that is less important than establishing a case for the importance of accountability (i.e. the most recent post in this series) and the rationale for why... maybe how... accountability helps.

During the Thanksgiving holiday, my girls and I watched The Hunger Games together. At one point in the movie, Katniss, the main protagonist, feels hopeless and is despairing. Immediately, the scene changes to the two men who are responsible for organizing and structuring the games. They are conversing and one of the men, President Snow, says to the other "Hope is the only thing stronger than fear." 

Very profound statement. Maybe it resonates with me because a verse to which I quite literally cling is 2 Timothy 1.7: "For the Spirit which God has given us is not a spirit of cowardice, but one of power and of love and of sound judgement." (Weymouth New Testament)

I would propose that accountability-done-right works because it gives hope, and it is that hope which defeats and frees from fear.

How does accountability bring... or give... hope? Free from fear?
  • Accountability makes me part of a team, continually reminding me that it isn't just "me and God"  against the world. Rather, there's a whole army fighting with me, an army that includes my brothers and sisters in Christ.
  • Accountability forces humility - and while God resists the proud, He gives grace to the humble.
  • Accountability ultimately makes me stronger as I acknowledge where I've fallen... or am tempted to fall... and therefore others step in to help and be strong where I can't or where I struggle.
  • Accountability reminds me of my need for God's grace and for God's grace flowing to me through the lives of other believers. 
  • My dependence on the grace of God and others through the practice of accountability gentles me and makes me more likely to be gracious to others.
  • Accountability through confession is cleansing; when I feel cleansed, I feel more hopeful and once again renewed.
  • Accountability frees. When I'm no longer trying to maintain an image to meet the expectations of others, because I'm open and authentic regarding my struggles, I don't have to carry the burden of what happens when I fail to meet those expectations.
  • Accountability enlists the power of prayer.
  • Accountability promotes to healing and health.
  • Accountability done well builds up and encourages.
James writes about the hope and power that comes with accountability:

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one anotherthat you may be healedThe prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. 
My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
Have you ever had someone confront you on an area of sin or a blind spot? 
If so, how did you handle it? 

James 1:19 says, "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry." Why are these traits important in an accountability partner? Which one do you need to most work on?


Series: Longevity in Ministry
5. Habituate yourself? 27/09/2014
7. Of rest and rescue, 23/10/2014
8. Dare to Disclose, 8/11/2014

Please note: 
Italicized words are from my notes or from the guided notes in the church bulletin
and are, to the best of my recall, actual content from the sermon.
The rest comes from my continued study and meditation prompted by that sermon.

To listen to the actual sermon "Start, Run and Finish Well," click here.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Days like Thanksgiving can be hard for those of us serving overseas, far away from our families and without all of the resources to make the traditional Thanksgiving meal we grew up with.  It helps me to remind myself of some of the unique blessings I have because of the life of ministry we are living here in Costa Rica.  Here are my top ten:

1. Surrounded by natural beauty

Seriously, I so often look around and think, "I can't believe I live here!"  While we live real life here (and not the resort life some may associate with Costa Rica), we are blessed with daily views of God's amazing creation.  Whether it's in the breathtaking views of mountains and volcanoes I see just driving around town, or in the intricate details of the tropical flowers and birds in my garden, the natural beauty I witness here is awe-striking.

one of our favorite views in our Costa Rican hometown

2.   Good coffee and fresh produce

I was not a coffee drinker before moving to Costa Rica.  But, we live in a coffee town here; the coffee we drink is grown, harvested, dried and roasted here in our little town.  It's really, really good... and has converted me into a coffee lover.  We are also spoiled year-round with wonderful fresh fruit and vegetables from our farmer's market.  We might not have easy access to cranberries or pecans for today's Thanksgiving dinner, but the local fruit here always tastes so much more real (does that make sense?).  One time after taking a bite of pineapple in the States, our son scrunched up his face and said, "That is NOT piña!" (piña = pineapple)

our kids watching a local farmer dry his coffee beans

3.  Small town living

While it took some adjusting, I love living in a small, Costa Rican town.  I love that whenever I'm out running errands, I almost always run into someone I know.  I love that our kids (along with pretty much every other school kid in the whole town!) are in the Independence Day parade and that our son has been part of the town's yearly musical festival.  I love being able to walk to the stores, and I love sitting in our central park and people watching.  Life in a big city appeals to me, too, but I am thankful for our little town during this stage in our lives.

our daughter in our town's Independence Day parade

4.   Worshipping in a second language

One of my dreams when we moved here was that my Spanish would improve to a point where I could truly worship and commune with God in Spanish.  It's been a long process that included a lot of Sundays of standing outside the church building in the intense tropical sun, bouncing my crying baby in a sling (can you mamas relate?), or arriving home from church completely exhausted from the mental work of staying engaged in Spanish during the worship, sermon, and conversations.  But, now I feel that I can truly worship God in Spanish, and it gives such a precious glimpse of eternity worshipping Him with people from every nation and language.

worshipping with our church here
5.  Women's ministry

I love working together with some other women from our church to build up our women's ministry and to reach out to other women in our community.  I am blessed and challenged each week as I facilitate a women's Bible study and work to encourage and strengthen other women.  This ministry strongly pulls at my heart, and sharing my heart and life with these women is one of my main highlights of our life here in Costa Rica.

this year's women's conference - an outreach event to our community

6.  Life of adventure

I'm sure that this is true for you all, too; choosing to live in another country has opened us up to a life of adventure.  Whether it's going after a snake with a machete, or maintaining the constant battle with the ants, or tackling the red tape adventures of the immigration department, life is never without a new adventure here.  We also get to enjoy the adventure of exploring new places, learning a new language, and meeting new people. 

one of our favorite Costa Rican adventures - a hike to this turquoise river

7.  Kid-loving culture

One of my first impressions when we moved here with a baby was that Costa Ricans absolutely adore children!  Babies and children are usually the recipient of admiration and love wherever they go.  Especially during this stage of parenting little children, it is such a blessing to live in a culture where kids are so highly valued and loved.  Our kids are growing up far away from our families, but they have many Costa Rican "grandparents," "aunts," and "uncles."

our kids having fun with our pastor - one of their Costa Rican "uncles"

8.  Closeness as a family

Sharing in this adventure (with both its highs and lows!) together has made us grow closer as a couple and as a family.  Building a new life in a new country has strengthened us in ways that I don't think we would have experienced elsewhere.  Our kids have a very close relationship, maybe because, as third culture kids, there are few other kids their age that understand them as fully as their sibling does.
our little family in front of our home sweet Costa Rican home

9.  Changed perspective

My perspective has changed throughout our years living here.  I find myself being thankful more often for things that I used to take for granted.  Hearing the pelting rain on our metal roof six months of the year has led me to thank God for simply the roof over our heads more than I ever did before (even if there are several persistent leaks!).  The reality of frequent power outages and having water coming into our house from the street only certain hours of the day makes me so thankful when the light does turn on with the flip of a switch, or when water pours out of the faucet in more than a trickle.  Additionally, living in a more event-focused culture, rather than my native time-oriented culture, has taught me to slow down and invest more in what is truly important: relationships.

10.  New home

Something clicked after about two years living in Costa Rica, pretty soon after our daughter was born here.  This started to feel like home.  Now, four years later, this definitely feels like home... to the extent that I feel a little strange and out of place when we are visiting the States.  I don't quite "fit" there any more, but, at the same time, I don't completely "fit" here either.  I'm kind of a foreigner in either place!  This has led me to a greater understanding that my true home is in Christ, with the hope and promise of an eternal home with Him.

with the flag of our adopted earthly home
We all probably find ourselves this Thanksgiving at different places in our thankfulness about our host countries.  Some of you may still be in the honeymoon phase of feeling like everything is wonderful!  Others may be just out of that stage and in full-on culture shock, finding it hard to like anything, really.  And, still others may be in a place where you can more realistically see both the good and the challenges of where you live.  Whichever category you fit in, I'd encourage you today to list some of what you love about your host country and culture.  Count your blessings!

Would you share with us some of your favorite things about where you live and serve?  Or, even do a similar top ten list and leave a link to your blog in the comments?