We are due for a trip back “home” this summer. Less than four months. Four spring months, which tend to pass by much faster than dreary winter months. It will have been two years since being there. That’s a lot of time for things to change.
My hometown (Branson, Missouri—you get a gold star if you’ve heard of it!) is in constant change because it’s a tourist town. For midwest USA, it draws families and the elderly for affordable vacations. I feel like I’m about to shoot a commercial. Just believe me—it changes a lot. Restaurants, music shows, and attractions move in and out, trying to keep up with the ebb and flow of the latest group of tourists willing to come to a unique town of 10,000.
I’m used to places changing. And plans. Oh, the plans. “Plans can’t keep up with changes” was on repeat during training before landing in our new home. What always gets me, though, is how much people change. Then, upon reflection, how much I have changed.
I don’t know about you, but it’s hard to keep up with people’s lives from afar. Sure, we get glimpses on social media about their best days ever, their biggest catastrophes, and their adorable pet. But I sure don’t see a lot of hearts being laid out there. What is transforming people? How is everyone really dealing with all the recent scary events? In what ways are they diving into their community, loving and serving those around them? Maybe they’re not. Or maybe those who are can’t be found on social media much. It’s hard to dive into all of these issues over a quick email, usually initiated by us, right? Face-to-face is just so much better.
When I get that in-person chance, though, it takes a while to figure out how each of us has changed. It’s not always easy to pinpoint, and if one of us has slipped the wrong way in some areas, it’s not easy to admit. I often enter conversations addressing people—close friends, especially—not where we left off last visit, because those are usually a blur, but when we lived there last. Those memories seem to be more etched in my memory. For us, though, that was 8 years ago. That’s definitely a long time for people to change!
I have had more than a few foot-in-mouth moments where I assumed a friend was still on the same page as me, say, about a hot topic (same-sex marriage, vaccines, the current president, etc.), and boy did I get a word lashing! How was I supposed to know they had swayed the other direction?! I find myself treading lightly through conversations, doing more listening than talking, but desiring to share how I’ve changed, too. I mean, I’m practically half Chinese now. Didn’t they notice I took my shoes off at the door and asked for water with no ice in the dead of summer?
Maneuvering conversations can be tricky. Assuming they’ve read our newsletters and email updates, they know a good deal of what has been going on our lives. Don’t you wish some people would send you newsletters on their lives? It’s so hard for them to summarize years’ worth of events, emotions, and changes into a short conversation. And so they usually don’t. They usually dive into recent news, lessons, or frustrations. I find myself searching for how to fill in the gaps of events that I missed, trying to hang in the conversation without looking totally lost. Anyone else with me on this?
And then there’s me. Oh, how I’ve changed! I’d like to say a lot of it is for the better. God has really used the valleys of living overseas to grow me closer to Him. He has broken down stereotypes, brought to light my pride, and forced me on my knees so I could trust in Him. I also see people differently, understand more cultures, and realize that yes, others actually can do things better than my own culture and it’s ok to change! Although I’ll be perceived as weird with this mesh of traditions I’ve embraced…but I’m ok with that.
The life we live is pretty disjointed. Our heart is in more than one place, sometimes multiple. We have people we love dearly all over the planet. It’s impossible to keep up with people as much as we want and still live in intentional community where we currently live. So I think that’s it. We have to be intentional with those who are in front of us right now. We can reach out to those far away as often as we can handle it without being pulled away from where we are now. When we go to one of our other homes, that’s the time to dig in and ask questions and share our heart with those there, right in front of us. We may not fill in all the gaps of how we’ve each changed, but that’s ok. Jesus knows. He’s a great gap-filler.
How have you changed since living overseas? How do you navigate conversations with loved ones who you haven’t kept up with, but have obviously changed?
Homemade bread can take forever. I usually steer away from the double rise types–although more authentic I’m sure–I just can’t seem to think of making it early enough in the day for it to be finished by dinner. These rolls are finished in an hour! That’s my kinda homemade bread. It still uses yeast, and you still have to knead it a few minutes because well, it’s still bread and those things are necessary. But it takes far less time and still turns out great! Try these out for your Easter meal!
Yeast is finicky. It likes very warm water. Not lukewarm. Not hot. When it’s right, it’ll bubble up and grow.
If you have a stand mixer, this step is even easier. I recently inherited one, but have yet to use it. Ha! I know what the dough feels like in my hands when it’s ready. Not too sticky, pulling away from the bowl, ready for a massage.
You can technically skip the kneading, but why? It’s so fun! Plus, if you do skip it, your bread will be more dense. I like soft, airy bread so I dig in for 5-7 minutes until it’s this soft, smooth consistency.
You can make a loaf, breadsticks, rolls, whatever you want. So versatile!
Because of the extra yeast, these babies only need 20 minutes to rise in a warm spot.
Baked to perfection!
Slather some butter, jelly, honey, whatever tickles your fancy and enjoy!
1-Hour Dinner Rolls
Makes 24 rolls
Ready in 1 hour
Slightly Adapted from Food Network
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 C).
In a large bowl, whisk the instant yeast, and warm water. Let it activate for 5 minutes until bubbly. Stir in the honey.
Add cup cooled melted butter, 2 teaspoons salt, and eggs. Slowly add the flour cup-by-cup until fully incorporated and the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Add more flour if it is too sticky.
Knead 5-7 minutes. (Skip this step if you’re in a major hurry. Knead for fluffier rolls.)
Portion the dough into 24 even servings. Roll dough into balls and place on a baking sheet or pan spaced evenly apart. Set aside and allow to rise approximately 20 minutes, or until doubled in size, in a warm spot.
Bake for 25 minutes until the tops are golden brown. Remove from the oven, brush with melted butter if desired, and sprinkle with a little salt. Enjoy!
*These can be shaped into a loaf, bread sticks, mini loaves–whatever you wish! It’s a versatile dough.