Thankful for...

a sojourner's gratitude list

This week is the American Thanksgiving holiday. We will eat rotisserie chicken and make pumpkin things from pumpkin, not cans (except the one can that came in my luggage months ago), and play baseball. We will not (thank goodness) drink pumpkin spice lattes.

What are you thankful for specifically about your sojourner life?

You do know it is okay to enjoy living abroad right? That it isn’t all loneliness and crying for the kids to come home and cross cultural blunders? That you can love it?

What do you love about it?

For example: I am thankful for French chocolate mousse tarts and Diwali celebrations and the smell of jasmine and the thwack-thwack-thwack of the neighbor preparing her breakfast batter every evening and a church community with people from Congo, Senegal, Korea, France, Britain, Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, the USA, Burundi, Egypt, India, Djibouti, Madagascar, no dominant culture.


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Good News Fridays, November 19, 2021

by Alyson Rockhold

Today’s Good News Friday post is by Alyson Rockhold, you can read about her in her bio at the end. This is a fantastic peek into her interests and perspective. I love the practical meditation practice and the delight she takes in highlighting global stories and life. Enjoy! And share with us some of your good things from this week.


Tell us something about your life in international development, faith, missions, cross-culturally…anything. Tell us something you have seen, heard about, done that is:

  • Interesting

  • Good

  • Kind

  • Beautiful

  • Generous

  • Lovely

  • Intriguing

  • Honorable

You get the idea. Tell us something good.


At first, this sweet comic reminded me of my marriage, which blossomed from the seeds of a high school friendship. However, the more I reflect on this simple drawing, the more it speaks to me of crossing cultures, sharing faith, and living a missional life. In each of those instances, the best, truest, strongest work is done gently, patiently, and over time.

Best Love Letter

Love Letter to Kabul

I know what it’s like to fall in love with an unusual place: A place guidebooks advise against visiting, a place easily scorned or ignored. And I’m guessing many of you do, too. So, I hope this beautiful photo essay about Kabul will resonate with you as it did for me. There is so much terrible news out of Afghanistan, but this piece reminds us that “Kabul’s long and vibrant history gives it breath beyond the headlines.”

Best Medical News

Alabama boy certified as world's most premature baby

An infant in Alabama survived being born at 21-weeks-old! As a medical professional, this fills me with awe and gratitude for the medical advancements that made this possible. As an overseas worker, this fills me with sorrow over how many infants lack access to this level of care. My reaction to this article is a microcosm of my life as a medical missionary: celebrating advancements while also mourning inequalities. Maybe it’s a feeling you can relate to?

Best Hospitality

Family Opens Home to Family of Five from Afghanistan

My friend, Megan (another member of this community), shared this feel-good article with me. I like the line at the end, “Life has no meaning unless you’re helping other people and trying to make life easier for those that you meet.” The hospitality of this American family reminds me of the hospitality of Afghans in the book, The Places In Between by Rory Stewart. That book follows the true story of a Scottish man who walked across Afghanistan in 2002. It’s been years since I’ve read it, but I will never forget his endless amazement for the kindness, hospitality, and generosity of the Afghans he encountered.

Best Gratitude Practice

Gratitude at the End of the Day

I hope you enjoy this 4-minute gratitude meditation as much as I do! It teaches you to look over the past day and soak in all the good moments. With regular practice, it has made me more aware of my daily blessings. I’ll often find myself thinking, “Oh that was nice, I’ll have to remember it in my reflection tonight.” This meditation has made me a detective of grace, on the search for signs of God’s goodness in my daily life.


What are your good things this week?


Alyson Rockhold was a medical missionary in Zambia, Tanzania, and Haiti. She unexpectedly returned to the U.S. in 2020 and started a writing ministry during that time of transition. Click here to download her free 7-day devotional about Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.” She also invites you to sign up for her encouraging monthly newsletter at www.alysonrockhold.com.

7 Transportation Options for Airplane-Weary Sojourners

for those who travel during the holidays

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Here’s a fun post for today.

Are you traveling for the holidays? Here are some ideas to shake it up a bit.

I remember when people dressed up to take airplane flights. Now, we just want sweatpants and ponytails (but be careful not to get bumped off for being inappropriately under dressed). I remember when flying felt exotic and fancy but lately it feels more like headaches and cramped quarters and clogged toilets. I keep asking my engineering husband to build me a Star Trek teleportation device but he says he has other priorities.

So I turn to the Bible.

The Bible presents several travel options, for those of us who want to opt out of airplane travel, especially relevant as we enter the summer season of high travel for many. Take your pick.

Run Fast (1 Kings 18: 45-46)

Tuck your skirt or man-skirt up into your belt and run like mad. You might outrun chariots and you might outrun a thunderstorm. Your swag might be a death threat from a queen. No worries, run on!

Fish Cargo (Jonah)

Get swallowed by a fish, nearly digested, and spit up on the land of your choosing. Er, no. The land you absolutely did not choose. But, there you are, undigested, make the most of it.

Be Somewhere Else (Acts 9:40)

Be there. Now you’re here, now you’re there. Not sure how you did it, but there you go. Just go. This could be in response to attempting the Run Fast option, alongside a chariot this time rather than in front of it (Acts 9:29-30). Maybe that made you tired and so this time, you just go.

Flaming Chariots (2 Kings 2:11-12)

Go for a walk with your friend and enjoy a deep conversation. Wait for it, wait for it. Bam! Get swooped up by a chariot of fire, pulled by horses. Your friend might tear their clothes in response but, oh well. These are especially useful for moving between the earthly and heavenly realm, but who are we to limit God? If he wants to move you from Bolivia to Tanzania via flaming chariot, enjoy the ride.

Walk on Water (Matthew 14:22-33)

Who needs to fly over the ocean when you could walk across it? You might get wet, you might take your entire term to arrive, but you will not suffer the indignity of needing to strip nearly naked and be body scanned and shuffling across filthy airport floors in your bare feet. You might see some fishy wildlife. You might even get swallowed by some of that wildlife and arrive faster, and only slightly digested (see Fish Cargo).

The Ol’ Basket Carry (Zechariah 5:5-8)

Have someone shove you into a basket and cover it quickly with a lead cover. This mode of transportation has gender restrictions (women only) and might cause you to be judged severely as the epitome of wickedness. Darn those wicked baskets.

Walk

But be wary the attacking lion, talking donkeys, large bodies of water that may need parting, the possibilities of either she-bears or mocking youths in the vicinity (especially if you are a man and you are bald), avenging angels who might require the removal of foreskin, burning bushes, sudden and blinding light from heaven, and people following you around shouting, “These are servants of the Most High God!”

Happy Travels.

Any others you’d recommend?

Good News Friday November 12, 2021

by Phyllis Hunsucker

Today’s Friday links are brought to us from Do Good Better reader Phyllis Hunsucker. I have enjoyed getting to know Phyllis through Do Good Better and this post is a wonderful, welcoming look into her life and perspective. Lots of goodness here. As a person who grew up with autumn and doesn’t get to see it very often, I love these photos of leaves.

You can read about Phyllis in the bio at the end and I totally agree that you should check out my publisher’s quarterly magazine, it is lovely. And so is Phyllis, enjoy her good finds this week!


Looking:

I grew up in a place without the four traditional seasons, so now that I live where there are seasons, I greet the changes like a child every time. And now it's AUTUMN here. I think we're down to the last few bright days, before rain and frost take over. I've savoured as much as I can. I'm loving the colours. Fall has seemed later and longer this year. Also, for the first time this year we've noticed cranes migrating. I almost thought the honking and squeaking I heard one night recently was a child playing with a squeaky toy on the balcony of an apartment high above me, but the next night my son actually saw crane, and we found this video with the same sounds.

Listening:

I was thinking that I don't listen to much; I'm not much of a podcast person. But I actually just finished listening to a podcast series, a little behind its schedule. One of my favourite books earlier this year was Piranesi, by Susannah Clarke. When I heard that there was a podcast discussing it, I slowly listened my way through it. I highly recommend both the book and Joy Clarkson's accompanying commentary.

Reading:

  • I've been reading and thinking about Paul David Tripp's Lost in the Middle. I have felt like I needed some books to guide me into and through midlife, and this one would be my main textbook in that. What others would you add to a list of what to read in midlife?

  • Another book that I just finished reading is Invitations from God by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun. I also really enjoyed this older blog post, an interview with the author. I would love to read comments with your answers to the question, what invitation is God extending to you now?

  • To add some sparkle here, so that it's not all serious: I just started reading The Globe, by Terry Pratchett (et al). I didn't think it would be as good as real Discworld since it's a side series, with other contributors, but I'm already laughing out loud and loving the connections to actual science and philosophy that I'm reading with my highschoolers here in our “Roundworld.”

  • I am a reader, and I could keep going with the books, but I'll stop and share this little essay about “being a real reader” to close this little list.

Geeking out:

  • Rachel's publisher has a quarterly magazine. I've never gotten it, but I might have to soon. I just read in their email newsletter that they're going to have an article from Evgeniy Vodolazkin?!?


What are you good things that YOU are enjoying lately?


Who is Phyllis?

I live in southern Ukraine and love it. My husband and I are “stubborn. Or maybe foolish,” like Rachel said earlier, and we have been in this part of the world for 20 years. Cancer and then the pandemic have given me an unofficial and somewhat unwanted sabbatical of sorts, so it's hard to say much about myself right now. But I'm here, living and loving, and that is definitely enough. (The photo above is our street.)

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