What to Expect on Furlough + {Biscuits} and Sausage Gravy

In the 8 years of serving overseas, we have taken one official furlough, with a few crazy, fast summer visits in between. We’ll take our second (and longest—1 year) furlough starting in 2 weeks. Two weeks! *insert panicked face*

Furloughs are tricky. For people like us, we look forward to some rest, seeing loved ones, eating foods we can’t get or recreate, and not having to rely on our dictionary to get us through a conversation. This time around, after a particularly rough (read: smoggy) winter and spring, I can’t wait to glue my eyes to the sky. I’m sure people will think I’m a weirdo taking pictures of every sunset, but I don’t care. Blue skies and puffy clouds shall not be taken for granted again!

Our supporters and perhaps friends or family, on the other hand, may have a different idea for our furlough.Um, you’re not gonna use my money to just sit around all year, are you? All those trips you have planned? That costs a lot! My family doesn’t get to just travel around for a year, why should you? You’re going to take some classes, too? Are you going to get a job to help pay for all this?

Ok, so hopefully not all of our people think this, but unfortunately, some of them do. The struggle is real. If I was on the other side of this table, I may have the same struggles. In fact, I did! Before we came to the field, early on in marriage, I remember joining my new husband in supporting a guy serving in Mexico that he knew from his days living there. He came home for a study leave, wanting to further his education. I questioned if we should continue our support for this little study break. I hadn’t met the guy yet, so that didn’t help either. My husband stood up for him, and knowing we wanted to go into the same field, convinced me to change my mind. I’m so glad he did. I sure see the full picture now!

I get it. Our jobs are weird. We have to ask the Body to support us in so many ways, but somehow the most awkward is financially. Oh, how I wish it wasn’t!

Our team has been studying Acts this semester. Reading about the first church gives me goosebumps every time. “…Selling their possessions and sharing with anyone in need…taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart.” (full text Acts 2: 44-46) Why do we have such a hard time being this? Can you imagine what we could do if we had a full support list who acted like the first church? Gladly, sincerely giving of what they had to ensure we could do our jobs well? I have a feeling God would be “adding to their [our] number day by day those who were being saved” (vs. 47).

I’m guessing most of us don’t have such a healthy group of supporters. Going into our last furlough, we were several thousand dollars in debt. We did not like that feeling since we had never been in such big debt before. But, language school took a big bite out of our profile. After praying about how we were going to tackle the debt plus raise more funds, we felt like God was saying just to spend time with people. Invest in them. I wrote a few months ago about the trickiness of us wanting to share about our crazy lives, yet not knowing much about theirs either. This was the time to do it. So we scheduled lots of dinners, coffee dates, play dates, whatever worked to hang out with those close to us. Aside from a dinner event, we didn’t ask anyone for money.

Guess what God did? He brought it all in, PLUS some, in a matter of a few short months! I remember our first dinner with an old friend that we didn’t actually know all that well. We shared about our lives, laughed, and had a great time. A week later, $1,000 showed up in our account from that friend. It kept happening in the same way, time after time. It was amazing to watch! I actually wrote a list, floored to see how He provided. And simply by listening to Him leading us to simply listen to others.

Every time we go to our other home, it looks different. We have changed, our loved ones have changed, yet the Holy Spirit knows what we each need. If you are taking a furlough soon, I encourage you to seek God and ask how He wants to use you. I know we often have our hands out, ready to give to those we serve on the field, but do we have the same approach to people in our home country? Maybe they don’t have as many physical needs (or maybe they do!), but how are their hearts?

Maybe all you want is rest from a busy term. I guarantee you He can provide that if you just trust Him…although don’t be surprised if it looks differently than you pictured. It may be in the form of a blank check to take a vacation wherever you want (that happened to a friend!), or it may look like sitting and listening to dear friends who have had an equally rough few years.

Just as our lives on the field can be unexpected, so can our times in the comfort of our “home” country. If we’re following Jesus, we just need to be ok with expecting the unexpected.

So how do you wade through furlough, a time when you just want to rest and soak in the comfort of “home” for a while? What surprising things has God done while on furlough?


A while back, I shared the recipe for the best biscuits ever. Truly. The best. Have you tried them? If not, then try them out with this sausage gravy. Your belly will be full, and if you grew up eating this for brunch or dinner, you’ll be nostalgic in no time. You’re welcome.

I was intimidated to make my own gravy for years. I don’t know why. It’s so easy!

Pork is not my favorite(maybe because it’s the meat of choice in China), but I make an exception for this dish!

The toddler loves to get in and squish it all up. I’m weird and make her don gloves. Passing along my fears of touching raw meat to my children. Oops?

I love that I can make the gravy right in with the meat. Any way I can save dirtying a dish!

Lots o’ milk = creamy, creamy gravy.

A few minutes to warm up and cook down, and you’re good to go!

Steaming biscuits and gravy. Yum, yum, yum.


Sausage Gravy

Serves: 6-8

Ready in: 30 minutes

Adapted from: Too many places to name 🙂

Maybe you live in a place that sells breakfast sausage ready to go. If so, skip this step. If not, have no fear! It’s super easy!

To Make the Sausage:

1 lb. mid-grade ground pork (Yes, you need the fat in there!)

1 tsp. ground sage

2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper

1/8 tsp. oregano

Mix together with whatever tool you are comfortable with. 🙂

To Make the Gravy:

Prepared sausage

1/4 cup flour

2 1/2 cups milk

Salt and pepper

Brown sausage until cooked through and a little crispy, stirring often. Stir in flour. Gradually stir in milk. Cook until bubbly and thick. Reduce heat and simmer a few minutes until you reach your desired consistency. If the gravy becomes too thick, add in more milk. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour over buttermilk biscuits and dig in! Then, go for a walk.



  1. Jenilee June 6, 2018

    furloughs ARE tricky! Praying for yours as we are about to end ours… <3

    1. Ashley Felder June 6, 2018

      I’m more anxious to talk to supporters than I was with our last one. I guess because last time we had a bigger excuse to be home–to birth a baby. This one is strictly to take a break and regroup for our next move. Oy, how to explain! Blessings to you as you move back. May His grace and peace abound!

  2. Danielle Wheeler June 6, 2018

    A certain family is waiting with eager and understanding arms to welcome you back!

    1. Ashley Felder June 6, 2018

      We are equally as excited!!

  3. Ashley Felder June 6, 2018

    How interesting that a day before this post went live, I got a text from a family member that sent me spiraling. While talking about how excited my kids are to go back to “America Funland,” she said, “I can see how they think it’s so fun, especially since you guys are on vacation every time you’re here.” OUCH. That one hit hard. I’ve spent the past few days processing what she meant and realizing how many others must think the same thing. (Btw, I told her it was hurtful and we smoothed it out. I’m hoping it’s a beginning of a conversation into our confusing lives.) Then, I remembered what I wrote here. Let me just say, had this text happened before I wrote this, I wouldn’t have been able to write it this way! I still believe in investing in others, but wow, now I’m ready to ask anyone and everyone just what they think furlough is and what they think it should be for us. Because we all know those in “regular” jobs just wish they could have “a year off.” Oh, the complications!

  4. Kristin June 11, 2018

    Thank you for sharing — we just arrived in the US for 2 months and I have so many of these feelings!

    1. Ashley Felder June 12, 2018

      We are not alone! <3

  5. Abby June 13, 2018

    Thanks for the sausage recipe! Pork is impossible to come by here, but I took some beef and minced it up really small… and it totally worked! Thank you so much!

    1. Ashley Felder June 13, 2018

      So interesting how some meats are available some places, and not others! I’d gladly try your beef sausage version. We have way too much pork here and because we eat it a lot when we eat out, I rarely use it at home…except for this. 🙂 Glad it worked out!

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