If you’re popping over here from A Life Overseas, a warm welcome to you! This here is The Grove at Velvet Ashes. It’s our weekly time to gather, share and link up about our theme for the week. This week’s theme is “Top 10 Anything!” We’re all giving ten tips, resources, recommendations, bits of wisdom on anything at all. Can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with for this.
After hemming and hawing, I finally landed on my own “Top 10.” Since I figure we’re all eager to do this life well, to grow beyond surviving to thriving, I’m offering up…
10 Ways to Thrive Overseas
1. Have people in your home – Invite the locals over. Yes, this seems like a no-brainer. It’s practically written in our job descriptions. But how often to you find yourself ticking off excuses for why it’s “just not a good time to have people over”? Remember, there’s an undeniable connection and intimacy when you invite someone into where you live. And THAT will feed your joy for this life.
Stay tuned for our theme of “Hospitality” coming soon.
2. Go to people’s homes – I think the greatest understanding and connection to your host culture comes when you are in their homes. Honor all the invitations you can to be with locals in their world. When you allow them to serve you, to show you their ways, you live the truth that you have much to learn and receive from them.
3. Remember the wonder of where you are. – When the newness of your new home wears off, so can the wonder. The joke around Beijing is that you go to the Great Wall so many times, it’s no longer great. But really?? It’s the Great Wall of China! Let’s not forget the privilege it is to be where we are.
Part of this is taking pictures. I know we all want to avoid being the tacky tourist. We’re not like them. We live here. But keeping our cameras holstered in our pockets or collecting dust on a shelf is part of losing the wonder. Of course you have to be honoring in the way you do it, but snapping pictures can be a way to capture, claim, and share the wonder of where you live and what you do.
4. Write it down. Do you realize the story that you’re living? Pen it down. Type it out. Make it private or public, but write it! Sometimes you don’t see how the hand of God has moved, how your story has progressed until you look back at your own words. Beyond that, there is something that makes good things matter, that makes your mind take notice of all the daily gifts when you mark them down. “What is joy if not recorded?”
5. Get a break – Sometimes you need to step away from the daily stresses of your foreign home. Often you don’t fully realize all that’s pressing in on you until you leave. I remember the first time I left China it felt like a literal weight was lifted from my shoulders.
So acknowledge when you need to get away. Recharge, refresh and then get back to it. It’s a good feeling when you come back to that foreign place and discover it feels like home.
6. Stay when you don’t want to. There is a time to get away, and there is a time to stay. Sometimes you need to stay, even when it’s hard. Through most of our years overseas, we’ve gone back to the States for a yearly trip. Except for one year. One summer, I didn’t go back. Instead of jet-lag, Mexican food, and longed for family time, I stayed. I ended up bonding with local friends and with the culture in a deeper way that I ever had before. Sometimes you need to stay. Sometimes it’s the most refreshing thing you can do.
7. Keep eating and exploring local food. Have you ever said, “I CANNOT eat another bite of local food”? Likely many of us muttered this at some point in our cultural adjustment. If this is you right now, don’t give up! Keep trying things. You will be amazed at how your tastes and cravings change over time. What’s your favorite I-never-thought-I-would-LOVE-this food? Mine – mouth numbing green beans. Cannot get enough!
8. Learn the language. I know, I know. This is the ultimate no-brainer, and spoken from someone who is not as far along in her language skills as she should be. But I do know to press on. Because the more I learn, the more I enjoy my life here. If you’re longing to move beyond survival mode and into the land of thriving, language learning will be your gateway. Yes, it feels like a gauntlet, but keep your eyes on the life that lies on the other side.
9. Get help when you need it. This is for those who feel they’ve lost their joy, or maybe never found it. You don’t know how you are going to soldier on in this life any longer. For you, it’s time to admit that you need help. Seek out your leaders and let them know the state of your soul. Find counseling. Dig deep into the Word. Don’t stay in isolation. There is no shame is admitting that you are not okay, that you need help. Don’t stay stuck. Believe in the Hope that redeems and restores.
10. Love when it hurts. Anyone who’s been at this life for a while knows that there are more goodbyes in this line of work than you ever imagined. And June seems to be the month for them, eh?
I went through a season when I withdrew from a group of people because I knew they would be temporarily in my life. I did not want to love them, to open myself up to them because I could not bear one more painful goodbye. To this day, I regret what I missed out on because of my withdrawal.
You will be tempted to withdraw. Whether you are the one leaving or the one being left, you may find your heart distancing itself. Or maybe the pain of past goodbyes has stung so fiercely that you now hold others at arms length in an act of self preservation. Your heart just can’t go through that again.
But if you live like this, you’ll wonder why you’re not thriving. The joy of love is the more you pour out, the more you experience. So love with abandon. Love when it’s hard and when it hurts. Love when the hurt stings fiercely, because that sting is a sign of healthy heart. The only way to thrive is to keep on loving…
So, which one of these stands out to you? What helps YOU thrive overseas?
Then give us your “Top 10 Anything”! I am excited to see where you all go with this. Selfishly, I’d really like to see “Top 10 Book Recommendations” “Top 10 Recent Movies” “Top 10 Go-To Dinner Recipes.” And how about “Top 10 Kids Apps that Won’t Rot Their Brain if They Play Them for 12 Hours Straight on a Plane.” Anyone??
Whatever your Top 10 is, do share! Here’s how:
- You can share with us in the comments, if you don’t have a blog of your own. We have the amazing ability to post images in our comments! So post images of your art and/or share your words there.
- If you write a comment, please avoid copying and pasting from Word as this will publish a lot of junk computer code. It’s best to type it directly into the comment box.
- If you have a blog, write or make art based on the prompt and join the link-up!
- Be sure to add the Velvet Ashes link (https://velvetashes.com/the-grove-top-ten/) to your blog post. You can add the prompt image too!
- Please select the permalink from your post (so not your blog’s url,www.daniellenotyetthere.blogspot.com but your post url:http://www.daniellenotyetthere.blogspot.com/2013/11/todays-day.html)
- Click on the blue “Add your link” button below to add your blog post to this page.
- It will walk you through selecting which image you want to show up in the linky.
- Then your picture and link will show up below!
- Then be sure to go visit each other’s sites and share some comment love! It’s the rule. We applaud brave hearts!
If you’re reading in email, be sure to click “Read in Browser” to go to the site to view the link ups and conversation in the comments.