Casual countdown to Christmas Friday

Dec 9, 2016 | Casual Friday, Suffering

I’ve put together something a little different this week, in light of the season. Many missionaries are experiencing their first Christmas on foreign soil. Others are veterans at making the holiday special wherever they are. Here are some thoughtful posts related to Advent, along with a smattering of useful information you can use yourself and/or pass on to those you know would appreciate it. And don’t miss the special compilation at the end…

Comfort from Handel’s Messiah

Kay Bruner turns our attention to the manifold benefits we have received because of the first advent of Christ.

The best we have to offer

Christine invites us to ponder “that the best we have to offer God this Advent is not our resources, our training, our sense of vocation…but is simply us.” Most missionaries need to remember this.

When the joy of Advent collides with a broken world

Marilyn Gardner reminds us that Advent is “the longing for the world to be as it was created to be.” Missionaries must often cope with the lack of fruit for their labors, coupled with intense desire for God’s glory. This post helps us deal with the paradoxes.

An Advent devotional for your soul

Served up by Bonnie Gray, the “faith barista.” Heart-warming words anyone would appreciate.

Come as you are

During a season when people are often stressed out and overly busy, Abby Alleman encourages us to come to the giver of rest.

One thing that never changes

Moving to another country, learning new languages and cultures—the natural reaction is to focus on all the differences. That can by rough during the holiday season. Renee Aupperlee reminds us of what will always be the same, wherever we are.

One-stop care

International Care offers risk management, travel arrangements, debriefing, and several other practical resources. You should check them out.

Just for fun

Craig Thompson over at Clearing Customs offers this humorous lexicon of “pre-tripisms.”


It’s a real thing. I don’t know any missionaries who haven’t encountered this. Emily Jackson offers a helpful explanation and a batch of really useful resources for dealing with it.

Advice to your younger self

Scott Shaum shares seven things he would have told his younger self if he had the chance. His advice will be useful for the younger missionaries in your life.

No grief = no joy

This counterintuitive piece by Joy Smalley brings suffering into perspective. Something all missionaries need.

Looking for gift ideas?

How about blessing your missionary friend with a little spiritual retreat? The folks at Leadership Transformations have three options from which you can choose.

What does it mean to thrive?

Our goal as missionary advocates is to ensure that they thrive on the field, not simply survive. But what exactly does that mean? Jillian Kittrell does a great job of answering that question.

What about returnees?

Ruthie talks about the adjustments that continue to be necessary ten years after returning to the U.S. I’ll bet you know someone who would appreciate her thoughts.

Ultimate paradox?

Many missionaries will resonate with Lisa McKay’s article on impending relocation.

Time to go home?

Related to Lisa’s article, this piece by Denise James deals honestly with the question that every missionary asks sooner or later: Is it time to leave?

The gift of the familiar

Our family has done this. It’s amazing what missionaries will do to get a “taste of home.” Christie Chu confesses all in this revealing post.

Crowd-sourced advice on jet lag

Having recently completed 26 hours in transit through 9 time zones, I reached out to the I Am Triangle Facebook group for advice on how to beat jet lag. Here is what came of that (you may know some missionaries who can use this):

Melatonin!!! (Dani Roberge)

Sleep! (Tara Suzanne Bartlett)

Sunlight will help reset your internal clock. Get up and outside into the sunshine! (Lindsey Nave)
We always sleep/zone out on the plane as much as possible. We skip the meals and movies to max out chill time. Then of course just force yourself to get on the local schedule immediately – don’t nap! Just sleep in your new night. (Kim Hempstead)

Sunshine and water! (Tiffany Schureman)

Melatonin can help re-set your body clock. Also, do your best to forget your former time zone (don’t let your mind constantly keep track of what time it is there) and avoid napping if possible. The quicker you can adopt the new time, the better! Good luck! (BenandAmy Straub)

Get outside and active. Limit naps and set an alarm so you truly take a short nap. Even better, try to just go to bed an hour or two early instead. Limit electronics near bedtime. (Carrie Reed)

Be out in the sun around noon. If flying east, take Simply Sleep or some other ‘PM’ med for two nights. Otherwise I am up to 6 weeks adjusting. Flying west – stay up to a reasonable night hour then hit the rack and set the alarm to be up at normal new time zone hour. Flying west is so much easier. (Kimberly Barthlow Patterson)

Night time flights when long haul, I change in to my pajamas so I feel ready to sleep, skip the meals and movies, and just sleep, sleep and sleep!! (Latonya Ball)

Get out in the sun!! Open all the windows and don’t nap. (Heather Emmitte)

Everyone is different. Sleep when you feel tired, if you can. Your body will adjust eventually. Diphenhydramine was my best friend for 17 years. Two of them and one glass of wine would give me a full night of sleep. When people say don’t and never, take it with a big grain of salt. A lot of people think they have found the Holy Grail to “get over” jetlag, and then they think it will work for everyone. I get the worst jet lag on the planet, and other people’s suggestions never worked. When you are awake, catch up on everything you can: email, housework, exercise. Go like crazy. It might help you sleep better. (Jane Fitzer O’Shea)

Stay hydrated! )MaryBarbara Hanna)

Exercise and go to sleep I new time zone only. (Sarah Bamber)

I think it can just take time, but, getting out in the light, to try and trick your body into realising your new time zone, is pretty worthwhile! Good luck 🙂 (Caroline Munro)

And when I arrive I next destination I respect the local time immediately. So even if I arrive at 10:00am, but my body is telling me it’s 10:00pm and night time, I resist!! I fight falling to sleep. The quicker I get on to local time the better for me. (Latonya Ball)

When traveling westward I always manage to do the respect destination thing and haven’t suffered jet lag. But on the return from west to east…its a killer. takes me about 3-4 days to adjust. (Gizelle Grace Pereira Pinto)

Push through until night time at your destination and don’t go to bed until a regular bedtime hour 9:00-10:00 pm. (Jill Snedden)

That should be enough for this busy week. May your Advent be filled with wonder, deep pondering, and inexpressible joy!

What I’m reading this week:

  • The Glory of Christmas, by Swindoll, Lucado and Colson
  • 25 Days of Advent
  • You Are What You Love, by James Smith
  • Moments With the Master, by Ken Gire
  • Called to be Saints, by Gordon Smith
  • Creek Mary’s Blood, by Dee Brown

Just finished:

  • Kneeling in Bethlehem, by Ann Weems
  • Seeks of Stars, by Susan Fish
  • The Innkeeper, by John Piper
  • The Gift of Christmas Present, by Melody Carlson
  • The Christmas Bus, by Melody Carlson
  • It’s My Pleasure, by Dee Ann Turner

Up next:

  • Seven Days That Divide the World, by John Lennox
  • Delighting in the Trinity, by Michael Reeves