A Team of Two

When I was first accepted to serve in China, I imagined being on a team of several strong believers and families who would simulate family for me, providing both my social and emotional stability in a foreign country. 
 
I never imagined that I would be in a remote city–with ONE teammate.
 
It is now ten years later and I just hugged Carolyn goodbye with yet another “See you sometime” farewell.  She is on home leave for six months and was able to stay with my family and I for a couple days.  It felt like China was last year instead of five years ago as we talked about our Chinese friends, laughed about ridiculous memories and discussed how the city has changed over the years. 

Leslie & Carolyn, August 31, 2005

This is one way that I am grateful for aging–for the distance to finally pause and look back, just as a runner runs out and is then surprised to look at how far they have come–and the beauty of the view from here.

 
Carolyn and I are about as different as you can get.  She grew up in a boarding school in Pakistan and really only lived in the U.S. during college. She is an introvert, loves cats and pours herself into a few relationships.  I, on the other hand, grew up in the U.S., am an extrovert, and have been accused of being a “friend collector.” But, though it was an unlikely friendship, we complimented one another in a way that made the “team” work. 
 
Even now, I often think of Carolyn during the holiday season.  We strove to create some semblance of normalcy when we were far from our home cultures in a place that had no concept of Thanksgiving or Christmas apart from cheesy Santa heads pasted up in storefront windows and gaudy fake Christmas trees in every color but green.  
 
We would plan Christmas parties with our fellow teachers and have a large meal with as much Western food as we could make using our tiny convection ovens.  On Christmas, we would read through the Christmas story, sing carols and drink hot chocolate.  My first Christmas in China, I worried about loneliness, but now that I am back in the states, I have actually missed how meaningful Christmas felt when I was far from the holiday clutter. 
 
One or two Easters, we climbed the local mountain (hill) for an Easter sunrise service–just the two of us.  I still remember huddling down as it began to snow and we sang hymns over the hillside.  Behind us, we heard wails of mourning as a funeral procession ascended.  It was such a contrast to the joy of resurrection to hear the hopeless cries of those who had no hope in death.   
 
The city we lived in did not have a legal church, so our only option for a Sunday church service was for us to worship together.  We’d take turns choosing a Scripture passage, download a sermon to listen to and sing hymns together along with Cyberhymnal on the Internet.  We were often off key, but we stayed fully engaged in the service because we WERE the service.
 
Life was so simple.
 
Leslie & Carolyn, November 7, 2015

Though I panicked when I heard that I would only have one teammate, God knew what He was doing.  Carolyn was steady, selfless and showed me how to build lasting relationships with those we rubbed shoulders with on a daily basis.  She encouraged me to take advantage of opportunities to visit my students at their homes in the countryside and take trains and buses to explore China. 

She was respectful of China, yet she had a great sense of humor and we would spend hours laughing about making fools of ourselves or about the quirks of Chinese culture. And her introverted personality gave me the understanding I would need to prepare me for my future husband, who is also an introvert.

 
Like so many friends since I got married five years ago, we haven’t kept in touch as I would have liked, but she is of the “pick up where you left off” variety of friends that I am increasingly grateful for the more narrow and insular my life becomes.
 
And for a friend collector, this one is definitely a keeper.

When Jesus Asks Too Much of Us

4:20 am.

That’s the time my daughter has been waking up this week, thanks to daylight savings time. (Though it’s not like 5:20 am was much better). My daughter has been up at 4:20 am, my son at 5:20 am and my husband and I start our parental duties before the coffee flows.  And did I mention that they each had a stomach bug the last two weeks?

We are tired.

I adore articles and posts about rest, taking time to “be,” listening to God, and seeking out green pastures, but sometimes you just can’t hit pause–not when diapers need to be changed, trash taken out, kids put down for naps, the family fed and fed again, discipline dealt over the same issue for the bajillionth time and the housework completed (uh, started).

The other morning my husband took the kids for a few minutes so I could read out on the back porch. A spider was weaving her glistening web that she has most likely woven again day after day after day and I couldn’t help but think I am just like that spider. I sympathized with her fortitude and hoped I could have an ounce of her dedication to her task (because of course she was a “she”), but I also assumed she starts her days with a sigh, thinking Didn’t I already do this before?

The disciples understood bone-tired weariness. They went off in pairs doing ministry–staying at stranger’s houses by night, healing the sick and teaching about Christ by day. When they reported back to Jesus, He promised them a quiet retreat with Him. Instead, they ended up in a crowd of thousands of hungry people. And Jesus took them past their limits:

“YOU give them something to eat,” He said.

They must have looked at Jesus like He had two heads. The disciples were so spent–physically, emotionally and spiritually. Had Jesus dared to ask even MORE of them? Hadn’t they just spent every second over the last weeks serving Him? They didn’t even have any of their own food to offer, but had to scramble to find a few loaves and fish from a young boy.

When I had my second child last year, I felt I had reached my limits. I was up throughout the night to feed her and then had to serve my other child and husband the next day. As a mom, everyone wants a piece of you. I thought I couldn’t do more, but then a diaper would need to be changed again, a doctor appointment made or a baby fed and I’d somehow plod along.

In that time, I searched for promises of rest in the Bible and instead found this: “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” (Is. 40:29). Strength?

All this time I had been searching for rest, God had promised me strength instead.

Sometimes, God wants us to exceed our limits so that we come to the end of ourselves and the beginning of Him. Now, I’m not talking about being a workaholic or not having healthy boundaries, I’m talking about good old fashioned responsibility–all that you have to do in a day that you just can’t get out of because someone will either die or be mortified for life if you don’t do it. The disciples didn’t need to go looking for new challenges to add to their lives, because simply walking closely with Jesus brought them past their limits on a regular basis. It is the same with us.

Last Saturday I met a couple begging on the streets–with a baby. All my heartstrings dragged me practically to my face and I had to hold back tears. My friends and I handed them a wad of cash within minutes of talking with them. That was the easy part. But I felt compelled to get their numbers and I have thought of them several times throughout the week. But, like the disciples, I’ve found myself thinking Jesus, what can I do? I already have my own family to feed and care for (and did I mention I’m exhausted?) Are you daring to ask even MORE of me?

YOU give them something to eat.

Writing this has been convicting, so I texted them a little while ago to meet up for lunch on Sunday. I have no idea what to do after that, but I have to trust that it is no coincidence that Jesus had me writing this and meditating on this passage this very week. But this is beyond my limits.

Jesus exceeds the time, monetary and physical limits we set for ourselves to take us beyond. And what do we find there? Past our limits?

I wish I could say I immediately find a bedrock of grace, strength and love. I wish I found kind words and compassion, but often what I find is how ugly, selfish, weak and sinful I am. Even tonight, I put my son to bed after a battle over which books we would read and which songs we would sing and I closed the door frustrated and angry, then guilty and saddened over my lack of patience. Sometimes, I let the weariness weigh me down as I complain that, like that spider, I will have to reweave the web all over again tomorrow.

But a friend once told me a story about a little boy who told his daddy he wanted to fast for the whole day. When his daddy got home from work, he asked the boy how the fasting went. Hanging his head, the boy told him that he only ended up fasting about 30 minutes before he got hungry and crept into the kitchen for a snack. With a huge smile on his face, his father embraced him in a huge bear hug and twirled him around. “Let’s go out for dinner to celebrate!” he said.

Yes, God calls us beyond our limits, but He is not a slave driver. He is our Daddy and He is pleased with our small gifts of service. At certain times, He will bring us to the end of our energy, strength and motivation in order to hear us say, “But Daddy, I just CAN’T. I’m empty. How can you ask so much of me?”

He wants to fill us.
He wants to strengthen us.
He wants us to turn to Him and believe that He will enable us to do all He is calling us to do.

And then He grabs us up in the air, swings us around with delight and says, “Well done! I’m so proud of you!”

God is able to do exceedingly more than all we dare ask or think according to His power that is at work within us (Eph. 3:20-21).  Maybe He wants you to stop begging for rest and start asking for strength? I think we’ll be surprised by the miracles that come when God asks too much of us and we offer what we can in obedience.

In what ways has Jesus taken you beyond your limits? How has He enabled you to keep moving forward in spite of difficult tasks?

Linking up with Velvet Ashes and Words With Winter

Writing is Narcissistic (And Four Other Reasons Not to Write)


As a little girl, I dreamed of being a writer like Anne of Green Gables and Jo from Little Women, but I have been reluctant to write for the following reasons:

1. What if I write and no one reads it, or worse, they read it and hate it?
2. I’d rather live my life than write about my life.
3. Blogging is narcissistic (someone told me that once)–why would I want people to think I only want to talk about myself?
4. I don’t have time.
5. It’s all already been said before, probably much more eloquently than I could ever say it.

As I joined over 1,000 writers over the past month in the challenge to write for 31 days, I have done battle with the above demons that whispered to me that I was wasting my time.  Here is how I have sought to slay them: 

1. What if I write and no one reads it, or worse, they read it and hate it?

Adah in The Poisonwood Bible puts her writing compulsion in this way:  “I go home by myself and write poems at my kitchen table…all the noise in my brain.  I clamp it to the page so it will be still” (p. 532). 

I have always called my journal my personal counselor.  Writing in and of itself is therapy to me, though until now it has always been private.  But the past month of writing about my journey back home after living in China has been a healing process and has brought me closure on many levels. 

I have had to stop worrying about an audience and just write for myself and out of obedience to God.  It has been my way of working out what God is working in me (Phil. 2:12-13). 

And as for the fear that what I’m writing is terrible? The way I’ve comforted myself in that regard is to remember that I can still grow, improve and deepen as a writer. 

Just as I may have to take 1,000 digital pictures to get one good shot, I may need to write 1,000 posts to have one that could be considered outstanding. 

Writing is a process, a journey.

2. I’d rather live my life than write about my life.

I’ve always been afraid that writing would take time out of living itself, but now I know that it enhances and adds to life rather than subtracting from it.  Now, I approach my days with anticipation, searching for meaning and beauty to share with others instead of allowing those moments to sneak by without comment. 

Writing is changing my perspective on living.

3. Blogging is narcissistic (someone told me that once)–why would I want people to think I only want to talk about myself?

All art is narcissistic.  Writers believe they have something to communicate that should be shared.  One of the writers this month mentioned that she has to remember that she may be writing for “just one”–just one person that may need to read that message that day.  In this way, writing is not narcissistic, but self-giving. 

The first time I shared a post publicly on Facebook, I felt like I was standing naked in a crowded room for others to snicker at and criticize.  But what if one person was encouraged by seeing my flaws?  Maybe they, too, have a dimple or a blemish in a similar spot and finally stopped feeling so alone?  In this way, writing is selfless. 

Writing is being naked. 

If you are doing it right, the clothes come off and you are left standing completely exposed and vulnerable.  It can be terrifying. But it can also be liberating. 

Like with a lover, the first time the clothes come off is the hardest, but soon you may even begin to experience the freedom from shame that comes from being loved in spite of–or even because of–your nakedness.

So, no, writing is not narcissistic.

If the writer steps into the light of complete vulnerability and shares his or her story so that others might also be freed from shame, writing is a sacrificial and selfless act.

4. I don’t have time.

We always have enough time to do what we prioritize.  I am a runner, so this has forced me to treat my time like a puzzle at times in order to keep running.  It, like writing, may mean early mornings, late nights, a dirty house, left-overs or take-out, creativity in scheduling and less time for personal hygiene (just kidding…kind of).  And if it is truly a calling, it will become strangely addicting, so you may find yourself trying to sneak in even more writing than you had planned. 

5. It’s all already been said before, probably much more eloquently than I could ever say it.

One of my favorite books on art is Walking on Water, by Madeleine L’Engle.  In it, she says “If the work comes to the artist and says, ‘Here I am, serve me,’ then the job of the artist, great or small, is to serve.  The amount of the artist’s talent is not what it is about.  Jean Rhys said to an interviewer in the Paris Review, ‘Listen to me.  All of writing is a huge lake.  There are great rivers that feed the lake, like Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.  And there are mere trickles, like Jean Rhys.  All that matters is feeding the lake.  I don’t matter.  The lake matters.  You must keep feeding the lake'” (p. 23).

Feed the lake. 

Never before has the cliché “You have to start somewhere” meant more to me than it has in the past month.  My contribution to The Lake might only be a small thimble of water.  That is not my concern.  I am called to be faithful to pour out what God has poured into me as an offering to Him and Him alone (Col. 3:23).  I am to “serve the work.”

At the beginning of the challenge, the organizer, Crystal Stine, reminded us that it wasn’t important to pick a topic that had never been written about before, because most likely it had been.  Instead, I was to pick a topic that I cared about because though someone may have written about it, I have never written about it.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the first step in calling is willingness. 

Am I willing to take a risk and write?

Runners run, bikers bike, climbers climb, writers write.  I have never called myself a writer before, but I think I may have just convinced myself that I am, in fact, a writer.

I am a writer.

I am a WRITER.

I AM a writer.

…and the last garment falls to the floor.


How have you “fed the lake” in the last month? If you are a writer, would you add any other reasons to this list?

Linking up with: Literacy Musing Mondays
and Crystal Stine

Photo: www.pixabay.com and www.canva.com

Day 31: A Blessing {31 Days of Re-Entry}

For the one who feels grateful and hopeful,
may you rejoice and give thanks for this chapter in your life (Phil. 3:1).
For the one who feels alone,
may you have courage to keep moving forward and to know that God will never leave you or forsake you (Deut. 31:6). 
For the one who feels like a failure,
may you trust that God is the One who accomplishes His purposes and that sometimes we are to wait in faith for Him to bring the harvest (Is. 55:11).
For the one who feels lost,
may you dwell in the shelter of the Most High and abide in the shadow of the Almighty (Ps. 91:1).
For the one who feels uprooted,
may you soon be able to put roots downward and bear fruit upward
(Is. 37:31; Jer. 17:7-8).
For the one who feels powerless and out of control,
may you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus as you walk on the waves (Mat. 14:22-33).
For the one who is leaving under bitter or tragic circumstances,
may God comfort you as a parent comforts their child (Is. 66:13).
For the one who is unsure of the next step,
may God’s Word light your path one step at a time (Ps. 119:105).
For the one who is not sure who they are anymore,
may you accept that you are hidden with Christ in God and that you are a child of the King (Col. 3:3; Jn. 1:12-13).
For the one who is burnt out and weary,
may you transfer your burden to Christ and find rest for your soul (Mat. 11:28-30).
For the one who left behind conflict with teammates or nationals,
may you do what you can to have peace, but then leave the conflict at the altar and move on (2 Cor. 2:1-14).
For the one who needs rest, but must keep serving, giving and working,
may you be given strength (Is. 40:28-31).
For the one who has made great sacrifices,
may you receive the joy of knowing that Christ, our broken bread and poured out wine, loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7).
For the one who feels disillusioned, jaded or cynical,
may you find faith even the size of a mustard seed to ask God to help your unbelief (Mat. 17:20; Mk. 9:24).
And for the one who saw miracles, answers to prayer and souls saved,
may you boast in and praise the Lord for all that He has done (Ps. 34:1-3).
May you feel the pleasure and presence of Christ as you walk forward into this next chapter of your life
and experience even more of His fullness and grace. 
Though your place may change, the Person you are planted on never will,
for He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8).
Amen.

~~~~~~

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This post is day 31 of the series “Re-entry: Reflections on Reverse Culture Shock,” a challenge I have taken to write for 31 days. Check out my other posts in the series:

Day 1: Introduction
Day 2: Grieving
Day 3: No One Is Special
Day 4: Wasted Gifts
Day 5: I Never Expected…
Day 6: Identity: Through the Looking Glass
Day 7: Did I mishear God?
Day 8: When You Feel Like Shutting Down
Day 9: Caring for your Dorothy
Day 10: You’re Not the Only One Who’s Changed
Day 11: 12 Race Day Lessons for Serving Overseas
Day 12: Confessions of an Experience Junkie
Day 13: Longing for Home
Day 14: Readjusting: Same Tools, Different Work Space
Day 15: Book Review: The Art of Coming Home
Day 16: The Story of My “Call”
Day 17: Is Missions a “Higher Calling”?
Day 18: And Then I Fell in Love
Day 19: Is God Calling You Overseas?
Day 20: Life Is Not Seasonal
Day 21: What I Took and What I Left Behind
Day 22: Groundless, Weightless, Homeless
Day 23: When the Nations Come to You
Day 24: The Call to Displacement
Day 25: Scripture Anchors for Re-Entry
Day 26: In the Place of Your Exile
Day 27: Resources for Re-entry
Day 28: A Time for Everything: A Prayer of Leaving
Day 29: Journal: 8 Months After Re-Entry
Day 30: 12 Survival Tips for Re-Entry
Day 31: A Blessing
(Day 32: Writing is Narcissistic (And Four Other Reasons Not to Write)–a reflection on this Write 31 Days experience)

Day 30: 12 Survival Tips for Re-Entry {31 Days of Re-Entry}


As we’ve established, any number of metaphors can aptly illustrate your re-entry experience: trapped underwater, on a boat in raging waters, emerging from another world like Dorothy in Oz or Alice through the Looking Glass or the story behind the word re-entry itself– the feeling that you are re-entering Earth from outer space.  No matter the metaphor, whether you feel a tremor or have your whole world collapse (just to add another metaphor to the mix), I hope that these tips will be useful in getting you stabilized. 

1. Leave Well
Leaving begins months before you actually leave.  Be sure to leave ample time to sort through and give away anything you won’t be bringing back with you (which, if you have truly strived to make your foreign house your home, you may have a ton).  Sort, give away and sell your possessions well before you need to do your final packing and goodbyes.

Make a bucket list of places you want to visit in the last six months of your stay.  Another really insightful blog series called Falling Forward: Thoughts and Tips on Transition, mentions this as well as intentionally meeting with friends to tell them how much they have meant to you.  If you’re like me and have a hard time doing this, I find writing letters or notes to friends meets the same need.  But however much you would like to skip this step, grieving will actually be more difficult if you don’t try and reach some form of closure before you leave.  

2. Prepare
Come back to this blog series!  But seriously, read articles, books and talk to friends BEFORE you leave so that you have a better idea of what to expect.  If you are reading this now before your departure, then you are already on track.  If you can, attend a conference as soon as you return, but be sure to book it well in advance since many of the good ones fill up early.  It’s kind of the idea of reading marriage books before you are engaged because once you are engaged you’ll discuss the wedding more than that actual marriage to follow. 

You may be in too much of a fog when you return to actually crack open the books or seek out the help you need.  Find and read them beforehand (check out my resource page here).  You may also want to prepare your loved ones by telling them that you may need a little extra TLC in the coming weeks and months.

3. Express
Cry, journal, talk, pray, email or text friends–do whatever it takes to work out your emotions.  I had no problem with the crying, praying or journaling thing, but I had a hard time finding people to talk to who could actually relate to what I was going through.  Find someone who understands and if you can’t, the website Velvet Ashes has some connection groups for women to  join online for encouragement and accountability.  

I can’t speak for men, but being married to one, I would imagine that this tip of surviving re-entry would be the most difficult to tackle.  Perhaps find a female friend to listen to you?  We’re usually pretty good listeners:-)

4. Be a Tourist in Your Hometown
Though Chicago had interesting sites galore, because I didn’t have the attitude of a tourist, I didn’t look for opportunities to explore and be an adventurer in my hometown. I think having that mentality would have helped with my transition.  Even if you live in Dixon, IL, population 16,000 (my husband’s hometown), you could find at least one or two new places to explore.  Take on the attitude of an observer and learner just as you did in a foreign country.

5. Do the Next Thing
You may have heard of this poem by an anonymous poet, but quoted by Elisabeth Elliot, titled “Do the Next Thing.”  For a while, this is how you are going to need to live.  You may need to find a new job, housing, buy a car, acquire new stuff and get reacquainted with friends and family.  Just worry about what you need to do today.  Then do the next thing.  And then the next thing after that.  God will show you, lead you and guide you, but, as Amy Carmichael mentioned in  Candles in the Dark in her devotion titled “The Next Step,” the lamp unto our feet may only light our footsteps one step at a time (Ps. 119:105).

6. Give People a Chance
Your loved ones, while they may have read all your newsletters and correspondence, will most likely not have a framework for what you have experienced.  Imagine talking to someone who has literally gone to the moon.  You would be fascinated…until they start boring you with the technicalities of cargo, equipment and heat shields.  Give them grace and give them information over a period of time and not all at once. 

Along with this, it is easy to assume that people you meet have NO idea what you have experienced, and they may surprise you with their own stories.  Just be prepared with a 20 second, five minute and 15 minute answer to the question, “How was your time in X?”  Read their body language carefully to see if they are the slightest bit interested before you launch into the long answer (shifting eyes and a quick excuse to get another drink is a sure sign of “get me out of here”).  You have lovely stories, just save them for those who love you the most.  And be prepared for people to ask you if and when you are going back.

7. Adjust Your Attitude
This is a difficult one because it will actually be difficult to control your attitude at first.  You are going to love being back, but then, much like culture shock, you are going to hate. it.  And depending on where you lived, you will especially hate the materialism, the fact that you have to choose from 247 bottles of salad dressings and have to decode the newest food and diet fads.  I practically had a break down in one of the biggest Whole Foods in America because I just couldn’t choose what to eat in their café section.

But you need to tell yourself the same thing you told yourself when you moved to an entirely new culture: 
“This country is not better or worse, just DIFFERENT.  It’s just different.”  Say it out loud.  “Not better or worse, just DIFFERENT.”

8. Have Patience
I mentioned in an earlier post that you will want to know how long this foggy, drowning, lost feeling will last and I hate to tell you that it will last much longer than you think it should.  Just as grief begins to spread out into slow, lapping waves, like a boat that has gone by and left its wake, your grief over leaving your old life will return months and even years after you have come back.  A big fear I had was that I would forget all that I had experienced, so one positive aspect of this recurring grief is that it forces you to remember.     

9. Take Root and Bear Fruit
If you are a Jesus follower, my advice to you is to cling to Him.  And as you do, He will enable you to begin to put down some roots in the city where you are living, which will lead to bearing fruit (Is. 37:31).  It may take a little while, but eventually you will need to accept that God has led you home and that He has new ways He wants to bless, grow, mature and use you.  Though your world may feel like it’s spinning hypnotically around, God is in control and He is the same at home that He was abroad.  He is your constant and His Word is a great stabilizer.

10. Find an Outlet
Depending on where you live, you may be able to find other cultures right in your town–even if it’s just an ethnic restaurant, a 7-Eleven or a nail salon.  Since coming back, I found a place to tutor Chinese women trying to get their citizenship, volunteered at an ESL class (with my baby, I might add), hosted an international student party, had a Saudi Arabian girl live with us for a year, and taught at a private Christian school in Chinatown (it all sounds a lot more impressive than it is-some of these were only for a short time–just giving you ideas!).  If you live anywhere near a university or even a community college, most of these places have international students who would love to befriend a native speaker. 

11. Go Back
I had the opportunity to go back to Uganda seven years after I first left, and China, a year after I left. It was so helpful to return to those places to remind me of the realities of living in another country when I had begun to romanticize my previous experience.  Going back to China, it was strange to feel so at home at a place, and yet have so much clarity about being back in the states.  If you have the chance, returning to the place where you lived is a helpful way to further bring closure to your experience.

12. Reflect on Your Experience
You have changed.  You have faced challenges, learned new languages, seen God answer prayers in miraculous ways, been used in spite of your weaknesses and been given what you needed exactly when you needed it.  

Or maybe your leaving wasn’t under the best of circumstances and you feel bitter and wounded.  You feel angry at God and doubt whether He even led you there to begin with.  

Don’t just jump back into the rushing current of your hometown busyness, but take the time to reflect and consider where you have come from and where you are going.  Sit quietly.  Listen.  Get away. Have a silent retreat.  If you have kids, then try and spend some time alone as a family for a week or two in a place where you can decompress. 

If you can, don’t start a new job immediately, but take the time to sit and interact with your experience.  Check out the prayer on this post and insert your own story into the lines.

This is not the end of your story.  This is the end of a chapter in the story of your life, but you are ultimately not defined by this isolated experience.  You are deeply loved by a God who gave you the gift of living in a place where you didn’t fit in order to change your perspective forever. 

And this is not the end of the gifts He wants to give you, beloved child of the King.  This is just the beginning.

What tips would you add to this list?  Which ones do you think will be most challenging for you?

~~~~~~

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This post is day 30 of the series “Re-entry: Reflections on Reverse Culture Shock,” a challenge I have taken to write for 31 days. Check out my other posts in the series:

Day 1: Introduction
Day 2: Grieving
Day 3: No One Is Special
Day 4: Wasted Gifts
Day 5: I Never Expected…
Day 6: Identity: Through the Looking Glass
Day 7: Did I mishear God?
Day 8: When You Feel Like Shutting Down
Day 9: Caring for your Dorothy
Day 10: You’re Not the Only One Who’s Changed
Day 11: 12 Race Day Lessons for Serving Overseas
Day 12: Confessions of an Experience Junkie
Day 13: Longing for Home
Day 14: Readjusting: Same Tools, Different Work Space
Day 15: Book Review: The Art of Coming Home
Day 16: The Story of My “Call”
Day 17: Is Missions a “Higher Calling”?
Day 18: And Then I Fell in Love
Day 19: Is God Calling You Overseas?
Day 20: Life Is Not Seasonal
Day 21: What I Took and What I Left Behind
Day 22: Groundless, Weightless, Homeless
Day 23: When the Nations Come to You
Day 24: The Call to Displacement
Day 25: Scripture Anchors for Re-Entry
Day 26: In the Place of Your Exile
Day 27: Resources for Re-entry
Day 28: A Time for Everything: A Prayer of Leaving
Day 29: Journal: 8 Months After Re-Entry
Day 30: 12 Survival Tips for Re-Entry
Day 31: A Blessing
(Day 32: Writing is Narcissistic (And Four Other Reasons Not to Write)–a reflection on this Write 31 Days experience)

Day 29: Journal: 8 Months After Re-Entry {31 Days of Re-Entry}

From my journal:

March 26, 2011
“The L [elevated subway in Chicago] is going by.  The windows catch the sunlight and toss it back into our apartment. The other night the sun was setting on the other side of the train and presented a light show with the beams dancing in through our kitchen as the train slowed to a stop.

Lord, I pray for freedom to live my life fully here.  I still feel major guilt in leaving China and especially in being so bad about keeping up with my good friends there.  My defense mechanism has been to just cut everyone off so I won’t be reminded of China.  But I know that’s not healthy.  Help me Jesus. 

Help me to know how to allow China to stay with me and be a part of my identity and yet still live fully here in America. 

Break my heart for the people all around me and give me chances to speak Truth to them.  Show me how to be a missionary in my own country. 

Help me to listen to your Holy Spirit and give me a greater sensitivity to Him whispering to me on the lake path, in our car on my way to work, through the aisles of the produce store, on our couch in our tiny condo and in the halls of school. 

You have not changed.  You are the same yesterday, today and forever.  And You will be with me until the end of the age.

Lately, I feel like I’m just full of tangled up string or rubber bands–like the inside of a baseball.  My emotions are so tangled that it seems impossible to bring order to them all.

Forgive me for trying to do life on my own.”

If you are in the midst of your re-entry, how would you describe your feelings?  Do any word pictures come to mind?

~~~~~~

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This post is day 29 of the series “Re-entry: Reflections on Reverse Culture Shock,” a challenge I have taken to write for 31 days. Check out my other posts in the series:

Day 1: Introduction
Day 2: Grieving
Day 3: No One Is Special
Day 4: Wasted Gifts
Day 5: I Never Expected…
Day 6: Identity: Through the Looking Glass
Day 7: Did I mishear God?
Day 8: When You Feel Like Shutting Down
Day 9: Caring for your Dorothy
Day 10: You’re Not the Only One Who’s Changed
Day 11: 12 Race Day Lessons for Serving Overseas
Day 12: Confessions of an Experience Junkie
Day 13: Longing for Home
Day 14: Readjusting: Same Tools, Different Work Space
Day 15: Book Review: The Art of Coming Home
Day 16: The Story of My “Call”
Day 17: Is Missions a “Higher Calling”?
Day 18: And Then I Fell in Love
Day 19: Is God Calling You Overseas?
Day 20: Life Is Not Seasonal
Day 21: What I Took and What I Left Behind
Day 22: Groundless, Weightless, Homeless
Day 23: When the Nations Come to You
Day 24: The Call to Displacement
Day 25: Scripture Anchors for Re-Entry
Day 26: In the Place of Your Exile
Day 27: Resources for Re-entry
Day 28: A Time for Everything: A Prayer of Leaving
Day 29: Journal: 8 Months After Re-Entry
Day 30: 12 Survival Tips for Re-Entry
Day 31: A Blessing
(Day 32: Writing is Narcissistic (And Four Other Reasons Not to Write)–a reflection on this Write 31 Days experience)

Photo: By Lewis Ronald (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Day 28: A Time for Everything: A Prayer of Leaving {31 Days of Re-Entry}

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

Jesus, as I leave China, I thank you for this chapter of my life.

a time to be born and a time to die,
Gifts and talents I never realized I had were born, but I have also been forced to die to myself, my “rights,” and my desire for the comforts of home.

a time to plant and a time to uproot,
By your grace, many seeds of Truth have been planted and many of my assumptions and presuppositions have been uprooted.

a time to kill and a time to heal,
You have had to kill the sin of cynicism, prejudice, pride, grumbling, and gossip in me and you have brought healing to many of my broken places.

a time to tear down and a time to build,
At times I have felt like a failure.  I have started work and had to tear it down again.  I feel like I have wasted time and money in the process.  But other times, I have had the chance to see projects succeed and flourish. 

a time to weep and a time to laugh,
I have cried for reasons I could not always explain and laughed at myself and the bizarre aspects of the culture I have lived in.  This laughter has been a healing balm on days when I have just wanted to weep.

a time to mourn and a time to dance,
I have mourned what I have missed back home:  new babies born, being in friend’s weddings, funerals, family holidays, and watching my nieces and nephews grow up.  But I have rejoiced over reaching personal goals in language, understanding the culture and seeing Christ change lives.  I have danced with joy in these moments.

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
I have had to let go of dreams by moving abroad.  When I first came, it was the hope of a spouse and children and the longer I stayed, I knew I would also be letting go of the possibility of a successful career back home.  But certain dreams were not meant to remain scattered and God has shown me which ones He wants me to pick back up again.

a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
Relationships have surprised me since I moved across the world as I have kept in touch with some and not with others.  God has begun to take away my guilt for not keeping in touch with every friend I ever had and reminded me that sometimes friends are for a season–and that is okay.

a time to search and a time to give up,
I was searching for a spouse, and it is when I finally gave up that I found him.  I was also searching for significance and have been constantly reminded my life is in Christ.

a time to keep and a time to throw away,
I have kept many gifts and treasures I have collected over these years abroad, but as I try to move into and actually thrive in my new home, this has meant throwing away anything that is keeping me tied to my past in unhealthy ways.

a time to tear and a time to mend,
I have had to tear away my fears, doubts and insecurities in order to minister here.  I have needed you to mend my shattered heart, sewing it back together and making it stronger than it was before.

a time to be silent and a time to speak,
My time abroad is constantly on my mind, but I need your help in discerning when people really want to know and when it may be better to keep silent.  You have also taught me that hearing comes from listening and listening comes in silence.

a time to love and a time to hate,
I have loved hard.  It has been a tough love in this place that was so much like an arranged marriage to an incompatible partner at times, but in the end I loved much of what I hated at first.  Now, I mainly hate that I have to leave.

a time for war and a time for peace.
I have done battle in this place–with my sin, through conflict with others, in my mind as I’ve tried so hard to adjust and assimilate, and emotionally as I’ve wrestled with issues of injustice, materialism, poverty and suffering that I never had to consider before.  But you have given me moments of sweet peace that remind me that this world is not my home. 

What do workers gain from their toil?
I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race.
He has made everything beautiful in its time.
He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end…

I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.

God does it so that people will fear him.

Lord, thank you for the opportunity to serve you abroad.  Now help me to serve you back home with the same love, intensity and awareness of You.


Ecclesiastes 3: 1- 11, 14  (in bold)
New International Version (NIV)

If you are leaving soon, try out this exercise and write a prayer for each of the segments of this Scripture passage, praising God for what He has done in your life during your time abroad.

~~~~~~

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This post is day 28 of the series “Re-entry: Reflections on Reverse Culture Shock,” a challenge I have taken to write for 31 days. Check out my other posts in the series:

Day 1: Introduction
Day 2: Grieving
Day 3: No One Is Special
Day 4: Wasted Gifts
Day 5: I Never Expected…
Day 6: Identity: Through the Looking Glass
Day 7: Did I mishear God?
Day 8: When You Feel Like Shutting Down
Day 9: Caring for your Dorothy
Day 10: You’re Not the Only One Who’s Changed
Day 11: 12 Race Day Lessons for Serving Overseas
Day 12: Confessions of an Experience Junkie
Day 13: Longing for Home
Day 14: Readjusting: Same Tools, Different Work Space
Day 15: Book Review: The Art of Coming Home
Day 16: The Story of My “Call”
Day 17: Is Missions a “Higher Calling”?
Day 18: And Then I Fell in Love
Day 19: Is God Calling You Overseas?
Day 20: Life Is Not Seasonal
Day 21: What I Took and What I Left Behind
Day 22: Groundless, Weightless, Homeless
Day 23: When the Nations Come to You
Day 24: The Call to Displacement
Day 25: Scripture Anchors for Re-Entry
Day 26: In the Place of Your Exile
Day 27: Resources for Re-entry
Day 28: A Time for Everything: A Prayer of Leaving
Day 29: Journal: 8 Months After Re-Entry
Day 30: 12 Survival Tips for Re-Entry
Day 31: A Blessing
(Day 32: Writing is Narcissistic (And Four Other Reasons Not to Write)–a reflection on this Write 31 Days experience)


Photo: Juan R. Lascorz [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Day 27: Resources for Re-Entry {31 Days of Re-Entry}


Helpful Articles on the Web (from both a Christian and secular perspective)

“A Great Fear {As Pertaining to the Story of My Life},” by Amy Young at The Messy Middle.

“Can You Survive Reverse Culture Shock,” by Amanda Kendle, Dec. 26, 2007, at Vagabondish.

“Dealing With Reverse Culture Shock,” by Tas Anjarwalla, August 24, 2010, CNN.

Getting Past Reverse Culture Shock: My Australian Story,” by Amanda Kendle, Aug. 22, 2011, from her blog, Not a Ballerina.

“I Had No Training On How to Return Home,” by Danielle Crouch, May 5, 2015, at Velvet Ashes.

“Rediscovering Your Hometown: How to Enjoy Your Own Backyard Like a Traveler,” by Shannon Bradford, Aug 26, 2015, from Vagabondish.

“Re-Stinkin’ Entry,” by Kim Todd, May 7, 2015, at Velvet Ashes (scroll down to view 8 bloggers that linked up with their personal stories of re-entry).

“Returning Well–Looking Back, Moving Forward,” by Melissa Chaplin, May 6, 2015, at Velvet Ashes.

“7 Signs of Reverse Culture Shock and How to Deal,” by Kristi Fuoco, May 9, 2014, at The Vancouver Sun. (Has a list of books and articles at the bottom).

“You Don’t Need to Suck It Up and Get It Together,” by Michele Perry, May 3, 2015, at Velvet Ashes.


Websites:
www.rockyreentry.com
*Has a whole resources section that I won’t repeat on this page, but is very extensive

www.fixreversecultureshock.com
A site with a few stories of people experiencing reverse culture shock.  It looks like the site hasn’t been updated since 2014, though.

Another 31 Days Series:  Falling Forward: Thoughts and Tips on Transition.

Conferences:
Mission Training International
Some friends of mine attended this one and recommended it.


Books:

The Art of Coming Home, by Craig Storti
Check out my book review for this book here.

Burn-up or Splash Down:  Surviving the Culture Shock of Re-Entry, by Marion Knell

Looming Transitions, by Amy Young

Re-Entry:  Making the Transition from Missions to Life at Home, by Peter Jordan

Could you please leave some recommendations in the comments section with other resources that have been helpful for you in your re-entry?  Thank you!

~~~~~~

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This post is day 27 of the series “Re-entry: Reflections on Reverse Culture Shock,” a challenge I have taken to write for 31 days. Check out my other posts in the series:

Day 1: Introduction
Day 2: Grieving
Day 3: No One Is Special
Day 4: Wasted Gifts
Day 5: I Never Expected…
Day 6: Identity: Through the Looking Glass
Day 7: Did I mishear God?
Day 8: When You Feel Like Shutting Down
Day 9: Caring for your Dorothy
Day 10: You’re Not the Only One Who’s Changed
Day 11: 12 Race Day Lessons for Serving Overseas
Day 12: Confessions of an Experience Junkie
Day 13: Longing for Home
Day 14: Readjusting: Same Tools, Different Work Space
Day 15: Book Review: The Art of Coming Home
Day 16: The Story of My “Call”
Day 17: Is Missions a “Higher Calling”?
Day 18: And Then I Fell in Love
Day 19: Is God Calling You Overseas?
Day 20: Life Is Not Seasonal
Day 21: What I Took and What I Left Behind
Day 22: Groundless, Weightless, Homeless
Day 23: When the Nations Come to You
Day 24: The Call to Displacement
Day 25: Scripture Anchors for Re-Entry
Day 26: In the Place of Your Exile
Day 27: Resources for Re-entry
Day 28: A Time for Everything: A Prayer of Leaving
Day 29: Journal: 8 Months After Re-Entry
Day 30: 12 Survival Tips for Re-Entry
Day 31: A Blessing
(Day 32: Writing is Narcissistic (And Four Other Reasons Not to Write)–a reflection on this Write 31 Days experience)

Day 26: In the Place of Your Exile {31 Days of Re-Entry}

For the purposes of this post, “exile” is wherever you find yourself that does not feel like home.  This could be college in a new state, a move from the city to the suburbs (or the reverse), living in a foreign country or like me, living back in America (which “should” feel like home, but doesn’t) after living abroad.

Christians love Jeremiah 29:11 about God knowing His plans for us–to prosper us and not to harm us, to give us a hope and a future.  Sounds amazing.  But have you ever noticed that this verse is nestled in an entire letter written to Judah, who was in exile?  

Judah was sent away into exile, leaving their homes and their land to spend 70 years in Babylon.

Who sent them away?  God did. 

And I would venture to say that God has sent you as well.  It may not feel like home and you may not even WANT it to feel like home.  At least that’s how I felt when I found myself living back in the states after five very fulfilling years of living in China.  Chicago felt like exile to me.

But God had a message for his precious exiles on how to live in a place they didn’t want to be.  Here’s what God told them:

Build houses and live in them (v. 5).  Don’t just rent, but take the time to build, and then actually LIVE there.  When I first moved to Chicago after college, I had no idea I would live in the same apartment for four years, otherwise I would have painted those walls!  When have you said, “If I had known I’d have been this place this long, I would have done X?”  Build a house and actually live there. Paint the walls, buy house plants, decorate, make it your home, because you really never know if you are going to be somewhere one year or seven. 

Plant gardens and eat their produce (v. 5).  We are currently renting our house and I have found myself resisting putting down roots–literally and figuratively–until I know where we are “settled.”  But God wants me to live wherever I am living as if I were going to live there forever.  I should plant that garden.  Become a joiner in your community.  Sign up for a weekly class or book club, join a volunteer organization, get involved at church.  Commit to something that will force you to be a part of your community on a regular basis–no matter how long you plan to be there. 

Take wives and become fathers of sons and daughters…multiply there and do not decrease (v. 6).  Ask out the girl, my intrepid friend.  Just do it.  Ladies, be open to someone different than what you expect.  Couples, don’t wait until you are “ready to have kids”–that day will never come.  Families, befriend your neighbors.  And to myself–be open to friendships even if they seem temporary because perennials and annuals alike can be breathtaking.  I think God is telling Judah (and us) that they do not need to be isolated, but to live in an ever-expanding community.

Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile (v. 7).  I’m sure Judah could have cared less about beautifying Babylon or contributing to the economy, but God commanded them to care. Daniel was exiled to Babylon at this time and wasn’t plotting and scheming how he could get away, but was determined to prosper in that place and be a blessing to King Nebuchadnezzar.  It is so easy to build walls around ourselves and live for ourselves or our family without a second thought about our city.  What can you do right now to “seek the welfare” of your city?  Join a committee? Attend a neighborhood meeting?  Volunteer to do community service?  Donate to a cause?  Sometimes we need to first make a physical investment before we become emotionally invested in a place.

Pray to the Lord on its behalf (v. 7).  We are to pray for our city.  I confess that I seldom pray for mine. It can just seem like too large of an order to give to God.  But I forget that prayer has so many side benefits and that in praying for a person or a place, I am the one who often changes.  I grow in compassion and powers of observation.  I start to care.  I feel more rooted because I am invested in where I am on more than just a surface level.

It is after all of these commands, that we finally find our favorite verse, Jeremiah 29:11:

For I know the plans I have for you [for you to learn from this new experience]
Plans to prosper you and not to harm you [this is for your good]
Plans to give you a hope and a future. [this is not the end of your story]

God sent you where you are and wants to see you prosper in THAT place.  You do not always control the where, but you can control your attitude toward that place.

Finally, this is not in Jeremiah, but has been a mantra of mine since moving back to the states that applies to these principles.  Isaiah 37: 31 says that we are to “take root downward and bear fruit upward.”  How long we are allowed to grow those roots downward should have no bearing on our trying to put them down.  That is God’s concern.  Our job is to be faithful to glorify Him wherever He has sent us and bear the fruit of the Spirit in that place for as long as God has us there.

May today there be peace within
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God…
Let this presence settle into your bones and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.

~St. Theresa

What is your “place of exile”?  How can you put down roots in that place? Will you commit to praying for your city?

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

This post is day 26 of the series “Re-entry: Reflections on Reverse Culture Shock,” a challenge I have taken to write for 31 days. Check out my other posts in the series:

Day 1: Introduction
Day 2: Grieving
Day 3: No One Is Special
Day 4: Wasted Gifts
Day 5: I Never Expected…
Day 6: Identity: Through the Looking Glass
Day 7: Did I mishear God?
Day 8: When You Feel Like Shutting Down
Day 9: Caring for your Dorothy
Day 10: You’re Not the Only One Who’s Changed
Day 11: 12 Race Day Lessons for Serving Overseas
Day 12: Confessions of an Experience Junkie
Day 13: Longing for Home
Day 14: Readjusting: Same Tools, Different Work Space
Day 15: Book Review: The Art of Coming Home
Day 16: The Story of My “Call”
Day 17: Is Missions a “Higher Calling”?
Day 18: And Then I Fell in Love
Day 19: Is God Calling You Overseas?
Day 20: Life Is Not Seasonal
Day 21: What I Took and What I Left Behind
Day 22: Groundless, Weightless, Homeless
Day 23: When the Nations Come to You
Day 24: The Call to Displacement
Day 25: Scripture Anchors for Re-Entry
Day 26: In the Place of Your Exile
Day 27: Resources for Re-entry
Day 28: A Time for Everything: A Prayer of Leaving
Day 29: Journal: 8 Months After Re-Entry
Day 30: 12 Survival Tips for Re-Entry
Day 31: A Blessing
(Day 32: Writing is Narcissistic (And Four Other Reasons Not to Write)–a reflection on this Write 31 Days experience)
Photo: I, Danel solabarrieta [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Linking up with The Grove at Velvet Ashes and Count My Blessings.
a href=”http://velvetashes.com” title=”Velvet Ashes: encouragement for women serving overseas”>Velvet Ashes: encouragement for women serving overseas

countingmyblessings

Day 25: Scripture Anchors for Re-Entry {31 Days of Re-Entry}

If you do a little research, you’ll find that there are many kinds of anchors.  Life is rarely placid waters, and re-entry can feel like you are being tossed about in an uncontrollable sea where you are left fighting to not only stay afloat, but to even discern where the surface of the water is.  An anchor will not stop your boat, but if you use something called a sea anchor, which is mainly used in storms, it can slow you down enough to gain your bearings in the storm.  According to Wikipedia: “When attached to the stern of a vessel, a sea anchor can prevent the vessel from turning broadside to the waves and being overwhelmed by them.”

The Scriptures below are some of the sea anchors I have found to stabilize me in the winds of re-entry.  I hope they will be of help to you.

God Is Your Home
Psalm 90: 1
Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.

Acts 17:28
“‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said,

“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’


 
Psalm 91: 1-4; 9-16 
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
    the Most High, who is my refuge—
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
    no plague come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
    the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
    I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble;
    I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

Jer. 17: 7-8
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
    whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
    that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
    for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
    for it does not cease to bear fruit.”


2 Cor. 5:1-10
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on[a] we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.


God is Your Rock

1 Samuel 2:2
“There is none holy like the Lord:
    for there is none besides you;
    there is no rock like our God.


2 Samuel 22:3     
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation,
    my stronghold and my refuge,
    my savior; you save me from violence.


Psalm 18:2
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
    my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.


Psalm 71:3
Be to me a rock of refuge,
    to which I may continually come;
you have given the command to save me,
    for you are my rock and my fortress.

God is the Same Wherever You Are

Heb. 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
 
Malachi 3:6
“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.
 
Deut. 33:27a
The eternal God is your dwelling place,
    and underneath are the everlasting arms.
 

 
God is With You Wherever You Go
Deut. 31:6  
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
 
Deut. 31:8
It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
 
Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
 
Mat. 28: 20
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
 
Hebrews 13: 5-6  
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,

“The Lord is my helper;
    I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”

 
When You Feel Confused About Your Calling/Return
 
Proverbs 16:1
The plans of the heart belong to man,
    but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.


Isaiah 55:8-11
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
    and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Jeremiah 29:11-13  
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

Mat. 16:24
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

All of Acts–read about the life of Paul, especially and all the twists and turns the Lord led Him on.

Acts 20:24
24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.


Heb. 12: 1-2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Your Identity Is In Christ
Psalm 139 (all)
 
2 Cor. 4: 7-12
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.
 
2 Cor. 5: 17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[a] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Philippians 2: 1-11
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

What verses or categories would you add to this list?  (It is very easy for me to add them, so please share!)

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This post is day 25 of the series “Re-entry: Reflections on Reverse Culture Shock,” a challenge I have taken to write for 31 days. Check out my other posts in the series:

Day 1: Introduction
Day 2: Grieving
Day 3: No One Is Special
Day 4: Wasted Gifts
Day 5: I Never Expected…
Day 6: Identity: Through the Looking Glass
Day 7: Did I mishear God?
Day 8: When You Feel Like Shutting Down
Day 9: Caring for your Dorothy
Day 10: You’re Not the Only One Who’s Changed
Day 11: 12 Race Day Lessons for Serving Overseas
Day 12: Confessions of an Experience Junkie
Day 13: Longing for Home
Day 14: Readjusting: Same Tools, Different Work Space
Day 15: Book Review: The Art of Coming Home
Day 16: The Story of My “Call”
Day 17: Is Missions a “Higher Calling”?
Day 18: And Then I Fell in Love
Day 19: Is God Calling You Overseas?
Day 20: Life Is Not Seasonal
Day 21: What I Took and What I Left Behind
Day 22: Groundless, Weightless, Homeless
Day 23: When the Nations Come to You
Day 24: The Call to Displacement
Day 25: Scripture Anchors for Re-Entry
Day 26: In the Place of Your Exile
Day 27: Resources for Re-entry
Day 28: A Time for Everything: A Prayer of Leaving
Day 29: Journal: 8 Months After Re-Entry
Day 30: 12 Survival Tips for Re-Entry
Day 31: A Blessing
(Day 32: Writing is Narcissistic (And Four Other Reasons Not to Write)–a reflection on this Write 31 Days experience)

All Scriptures are ESV from Bible Gateway
Photo: By Latyip (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons