Have You Seen? {December 8th, 2019}

We had an amazing start to the first week of our Giving Campaign! Want to learn more or join in? Click on the button!

Last Week’s Theme: Letters From Home

Courage? Wisdom? Acceptance? Me? by Becky Comer—”Did Reinhold Niebuhr have loved ones living across an ocean? It seems to me he must have when he wrote the Serenity Prayer: ‘God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.’ I was not very good at “accepting” my son and daughter-in-law’s announcement of going to the field and taking my sweet little grands with them to a Caribbean island called St. Kitts. WHERE? I’d never heard of it and couldn’t even fathom where it was except too far and not America and away from safety and good healthcare and… the list went on and on. What if something really, really bad happened to them and we were too far away to help? What if, what if, what if.”

Old Fashioned Thanksgiving {Book Club} by Rachel Kahindi—”You will read this after American Thanksgiving, but I am writing it before. So let me tell you about last year’s Thanksgiving. Since we’ve been in Kenya, we have returned to the US in November and December once, and we had my parents here one year. The other 5 years we invited Kenyan guests to eat Thanksgiving dinner with us. It is always an adventure. Most people haven’t eaten turkey, even though an increasing number of farmers are raising them. Though their staple food is maize, and the maize flour they grind is close enough to cornmeal for me to make cornbread dressing, no one has ever eaten cornbread or dressing. People here usually don’t try new foods. The first year, one of our guests brought beans and chapati, just in case anyone couldn’t handle the American food. Our experience that first year was that, once people try it, they really enjoy American Thanksgiving dinner (except for green beans – Kenyans don’t eat green beans). Last year, we invited some of my husband’s cousins and an aunt. Though he is Kenyan, all of our previous Thanksgiving guests had been non-relatives.”

When You Can’t Be Together by Alison Swihart—”It was Christmas Eve. I sat on the floor next to my 10-year-old grandson in his family’s near empty apartment to say goodbye. They were leaving early Christmas morning. Suddenly, his body started shaking with silent sobs. That did me in. It was one goodbye too many. Later that evening my younger daughter and I attended the Christmas Eve service at our church. On what should have been one of the happiest nights of the year, I sat in the congregation trying to sing, but all I could think about was my children, my grandchildren, and my great loss. My younger daughter and a friend of mine sat with their arms around me as I cried. Somehow, I survived that season. Soon I received emailed pictures of where they lived. Once they were connected via FaceTime, we began our real-time communication. I saw their faces. They showed me their house and their rooms. With each international contact, my heart began to heal. I still struggle with special days. Not just Christmas, but also school plays, awards nights and other programs. I want to be with them on Christmas, but I also want to be with them when they graduate.”

Choose to Lose – Will You Join Us? by Denise Beck—”Things like walking into a room where no one notices you because you belong there, sitting in a worship center where your heart understands and your mind worships, or looking at recipes without wondering, “Can I get that here?” Things like cousins at birthday parties and grandparent sleepovers, smells of home and sounds of holidays, or dressing up and looking pretty. (We were going to a land of flip flops and tank tops and as crazy as it sounds, I was going to miss heels every once in a while.) These things are not at the top of the list when we think of global workers “counting the cost.” If we wrap those up and set them aside, we can get to the heavier items to count in the cost, as well. The choice to leave these things behind has made quite a few chins quiver and throats tighten. Things like aging parents, weddings, and nieces and nephews being born. Things like reliable healthcare and quality schooling for our children, being a tangible shoulder to cry on for those you love but leave behind, or financial security and retirement.”

(Not) Home For the Holidays {The Grove: Letters from Home} by Emily Hilkemann—”As the fourth out of five kids, I watched as my older siblings tried out all the scary things first, like getting their driver’s license or going away to college. I greatly benefited from all their advice before my first time at the dentist, taking the ACT and what to wear for my first job interview. I’ve been told by other people that my siblings and I are actually pretty close, which you wouldn’t have known by all the fighting that we did when we were younger. This closeness made it all the more difficult when my oldest sister first said that she would be going overseas full-time. As each of us siblings started moving away from home and as technology got better, we developed better ways of staying connected. We made a shared Google Doc where we gave long updates about our lives on a regular basis. This eventually gave way to a group chat on Facebook with the added benefit of pictures, videos and GIFs. The best thing we did was set up a scheduled time each week to do a video chat with the whole family. As amazing as technology has gotten, however, this can get a little confusing when you have six or seven different videos at once.”

From Around the Web

How to Actively Wait

Comparing Treasures

Expat Wrestling Season

I Belong to You

Sacred Meals and Invitations

Check out Ruth Haley Barton’s Advent podcast Series!

Finally, Storing Up Grace

And Now For Next Week

The theme is…


Anyone else hear that word sung by the father in Fiddler on the Roof?

This week we are starting a fun two-week series on traditions but with a unique twist. Our first stop on the tradition train will be talking about regional or local traditions in the places where we are serving. Navigating holidays can be both special and challenging as we learn about local celebrations and the layers of meanings and rituals that accompany them. The holidays familiar to our hearts might be celebrated or they might not, and if they are, the decorations or customs might look very different.

We would love to hear about holidays where you are living! Do you have a favorite and how have you participated in these celebrations? Do holidays like Christmas look like they did in your passport country and how do you navigate the differences?

Jump into the conversation this week with us! Come share in the discussion through the blog posts this week, and you can also add your own pictures and thoughts on Instagram with the hashtag #VelvetAshesTraditions.

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