Life Inside Out

We have all seen a person who struggles with an inside out umbrella. The wind catches it just right and BAM! Inside out. Life is like that sometimes. Things seem to be going smoothly then all of a sudden, our lives are inside out and upside down. Why am I talking in raining metaphors? Well, one reason is it has been raining like crazy here. Second reason is most of us associate a rainy day with sadness, which leads me to talk about my topic.

Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon via Compfight cc

One of the hardest things for a missionary to face is being away from family. If you are single, it is especially hard as you have no immediate family around you (like spouse and kids). The next hardest thing is being away from family during a major life event. This could be the death of a loved one or the birth of new family member. Skype only gets you so far before you want to talk to your family face to face and give them a hug.

It seems like the past couple of years, I have been faced with both of these cases. I feel torn. I want to be with my family, but I know this is where I am supposed to be. I want to be in several places at one time, but I am only one person. I can only be in one place at a time. The one of the hardest tests for me was when my sister’s husband was deployed and she was at home with a new baby and a toddler. There were times I wanted to jump through the computer screen and give her a day off from worry and loneliness.

How can we deal with the times where life turns our umbrellas inside out? One way is to get mad at God, give up and go home. This is the easy route, the tempting route, the route that says, Curse God and die. This route leads to personal and spiritual failure.

The other way is to say, God has a plan and I will only be fulfilled if I am doing that plan. Yes, it is painful. Yes, it is at times lonely. Yes, there are times you want to scream, Why me? Why my family? Why? Sometimes we never hear the answer to the Why me? But I can tell you that God is right there beside you and right beside your family. He walks with us and will carry the load much better than we can. We just need to give it to Him.

There are so many times in life when we feel crushed by the weight of the load on our backs. We don’t have to feel this way. God is ready and able to carry these burdens and cares. Remember in 1 Peter 5:7 He says,

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

 Then again in Matthew 11:28-30;

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

When life seems inside out, look to God. He can help you look past the rain to find the rainbow of His care and promise.

I have been preaching to myself again with this blog post, but if it was a blessing to you, will you leave a comment? In the meantime, I am off to give my burdens to the Ultimate Burden Bearer.

Serving up Mexican

This week’s post is on the lighter side. I want to share with you a new recipe I discovered. It came about by accident.

Because I don’t live in a larger town, I am not connected to the gas main. I buy my gas from an older gentleman who very kindly delivers a bottle when I need one. This is usually every two months or so. A few weeks ago, I ran out of cooking gas in the house. I ran out on Saturday night too late to call. It happened after I finished cooking dinner thankfully. I did not want to make the gas man come out to my house on Sunday so I had decided to wait until Monday to call. That left me with a bit of a problem, Sunday dinner. I had planned to make enchiladas for dinner but they need to be baked and I had no gas for the oven. What to do? I decided to use the Slow Cooker.

If you as a single person do not own a Slow Cooker or small Crock Pot, go buy one! It has been a great investment since the moment I bought it. This appliance allows you to cook a delicious meal without having to stand over a stove or even be in the house. It is especially useful if you work all day and then have to fix dinner when you come home. It also comes in handy when you have no gas for cooking.

Photo Credit: I Believe I Can Fry via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: I Believe I Can Fry via Compfight cc

Here is my simple recipe for stacked enchiladas in the Slow Cooker. (Side note: I had already boiled the chicken to use in the enchiladas. So if you find yourself with no gas, you may want to go with other fillings besides chicken.)

Slow Cooker Enchiladas – 2l size

One package of 10 flour tortillas – 6” rounds or size to fit in crock of Slow Cooker

One 200g/8 oz package of cheese – cheddar is best but if you live in a country that does not sell cheddar, experiment a little. I used a three cheese mix that included cheddar.

One chicken breast cooked and shredded

400 ml/2 c of tomato paste

½ t cumin

2 t Chile Powder

2 t Garlic Powder

(I also added a bit of a Mexican spice blend that I can only find here, but the other spices will make a delicious sauce as well)

First take the tomato paste and add the spices to it with ¼ c of water. If your tomato paste is very thin then only add a little of the water. If it is thicker add more water. You want to end up with a paste that is the consistency of tomato soup.

In the Slow Cooker place a small amount of enchilada sauce. Just enough to coat the bottom of the Slow Cooker crock. Then place one flour tortilla, some cheese and chicken (or other fillings) layer one more flour tortilla, more cheese and chicken, and finally one more tortilla. It is like layering lasagna. Pour some enchilada sauce onto the stack and repeat the layering process. Continue in this fashion until you have run out of tortillas or have no more room in the crock. On top of your stack pour the rest of your enchilada sauce and top with a handful of cheese. Put the lid on top and cook on high for about 3-4 hours. What comes out are delicious layered enchiladas.

I put these on Sunday morning before I went to church and when I came back they were ready to eat. I made these enchiladas with chicken and cheese but you can use whatever fillings you can imagine. If you come up with something you like, let me know. I am always looking for variations on my favorite recipes.


This is a rather old word that means:

  1. Steadfastness of mind under duress:  fortitude b:  fidelity, loyalty
  2. A state of being constant or unchanging

This can sound stodgy and stubborn like a person afraid of change, but to me it sounds more of reliability. Something that is constant is reliable and dependable. It most closely reminds me of the verse:

For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. Malachi 3:6

It is a comfort to me that God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Why am I writing about constancy? This is a follow up post to my end of year post about goals. Goals are something to which we should be constant. I imagine that constancy to a goal is difficult for most people. I know it is for me. In my dreams of married life constancy is not a problem. I have someone on whom I can depend to help me be constant. (

Not to mention the fact that I have promised constancy to this person.) However, having observed a few marriages in my life, I can say with some confidence that if you struggle with constancy to goals or commitments before marriage, then you will struggle with it during your marriage.

For the purposes of this blog, I will be talking about sticking to goals with constancy. Someone with more qualifications than I (i.e. someone who is married) can talk about constancy within a marriage.

Constancy comes down to discipline. UGG! I know it is a dirty word to some, but it is also a necessary word. Without discipline, the world would be chaos. Back to the dictionary! Discipline is defined as:

  1. :  training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character
  2. a :  control gained by enforcing obedience or order b :  orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior c :  self-control
  3. :  a rule or system of rules governing conduct or activity


There are other definitions but these are the ones we discussing today. Discipline can come from two directions, an outside force or an inside force. That is someone can impose discipline on you or you can impose discipline on yourself. The first can lead to the second.

The first type of discipline is what a parent does with a child and what the military does with its soldiers. In both cases, the outside force is trying to instill self-discipline. The parent knows that at some point and time, their child will leave the house and will have to function within societies norms. The child will have to keep himself from ‘transgressing’ the ‘rules’ of society. (Can’t you tell I am studying for my master’s in education!) The

military on the other hand is trying to keep its personnel safe by imitating the conditions found on a battlefield. They know those conditions are physically, mentally and emotionally demanding, so they try to instill self-disciple in their soldiers so they are ready to meet those demands.

Photo Credit: The U.S. Army via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: The U.S. Army via Compfight cc

The second type of discipline is self-discipline. This is the discipline that will keep an athlete practicing until he has perfected his sport. It is also the discipline that will help a soldier finish the mission even though there is no drill sergeant telling him, ‘GET IT DONE!’ This is the type of discipline that we as Christians need.

With Jesus as our Great Example, we should strive to be constant in all things. He, being God, never changes, always keeps His promises and is faithful till the end.

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

Jesus set the goal then disciplined Himself to reach that goal. How can we do the same? Here are some things that have worked for me and I hope will help you.

Set a Schedule

Setting a schedule can help you be constant. This schedule should be realistic and flexible (life throws curveballs so you have to learn to duck!) The schedule you set could be daily or weekly or even monthly. It depends on how structured you want your days. My schedule consists of times for house chores, work periods and even times for rest. Sometimes I am able to stick strictly to the schedule. Other times, life interferes and I need to set aside my schedule for the interference. Sticking with a routine has helped me to become more disciplined in getting things done. One thing I have discovered is if you stick your routine you end up with a lot more free time than you thought you had.

 Be Accountable

Being accountable to someone can help you instill self-discipline. A couple of years ago, my sister and I agreed that we would give up sugar for 3 months and then have one week were we could eat sweet things as a reward. The first two weeks were the hardest. I craved sugar all the time. After that is was much easier. Having to be accountable to my sister helped me through those tough first weeks. It is ok to ask someone for help. Strength is not refusing to ask for help, strength is knowing you need to ask for help. It can also be the most difficult thing to do. We as humans hate to expose our soft spots. Too many times we have been hurt for doing so. However, asking help of someone you trust can be the best support to achieving your goals.

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Tomorrow is a New Day

 You know the old phrase, ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.’ This is something that can help with constancy. What?!? Failure can help with success? Thomas Edison was asked once about the failures he had before he succeeded at making an incandescent light bulb. He said, ‘I did not fail, I found 2,000 ways how not to make a light bulb.’ Persistence is also a part of discipline and constancy. So, you didn’t meet your goal for today, get up, dust yourself off and try again tomorrow. As humans, we can learn through failure and go on or we can wallow in our failure and become stuck in the mud of yesterday. If any of the great men of our past had given up at the first obstacle, we would not live in the world we live in today.

These are some of the things that help me be more constant. What works for you?

Dictionary definitions from the online Merriam-Webster dictionary

Serving Single: Amrei

Today’s post is written by a friend who shares the same mission field of Portugal. Her name is Amrei. She is from Germany and is involved in may aspects of ministry but principally with Member Care. I asked her to answer one simple question. As you can see, she gave a simple and a not-so-simple answer. I pray that this post will bless you as much as it did me. 

Photo Credit: Julicious via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Julicious via Compfight cc

Why do you serve God as a single person?

 What a question! My simplest answer would be: “I serve God as a single person because I am single!”, but that does not really help, right? Well, I guess I need to divide the question into three:

Why do you serve God?

To answer this question, I need to go back to my childhood. My mother says that, as a teenager I used to say I wanted to be a missionary. That is true, because when I was 11 or 12 years old, I discovered that Jesus was interested in me personally. I knew I was a sinner and there was nothing I could do to pay for my sins. Then I understood that He had given his life to save me.  So I gladly invited him to come into my life, to forgive me and be the Savior and Lord of my life. Even though I do not remember the day I made that decision, I realized back then the importance of the gospel message and I wanted others to discover this truth as well. So, around that time I found the purpose for my life, which I later stated as the following:

 “I want to go to heaven and take as many with me as I can!”

This is why I serve God. I count it a privilege to be able to do that as a full time worker. For many years I have seen myself as God’s servant, so there was kind of an obligation to go out, evangelize and disciple others. I became burnt out and completely unable to do any of these things. That was when I discovered God’s unconditional love for me. Today I say that I serve God because He loves me so much that He saved me. Serving God today might not look much different than before, but my motivation has changed completely. Now it is my response to Christ’s love for me.

 John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

The second reason I serve Him is that I love people. I hate to see others run away from Jesus, who loves them so much that He gave everything to save them. I want them to experience His love, God’s justice and forgiveness, as I have experienced it and continue to experience it day after day. I know God loves people much more than I do, but my love for God urges me to love others.

Why are you single?

I am very thankful that I can honestly say that I am a happy single. Not that I never struggle with singleness, but altogether I am happy as a single and I consider this another privilege. I meet many singles who constantly struggle with this issue. Recently a married Christian counselor told me: “You are happy because you chose to be single.” I do not agree with her because I never made that choice. Actually, I always imagined myself getting married and serving God as a mother in an intercultural context. But I love God more than anything else and I know that He loves me enough to give me what is the best.

Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.”

My way was going to Bible school, meeting my husband there, going to candidate school together and then leaving for the mission field on our honeymoon. What a dream!!!

Today I smile as I think about that, but it is true, I really thought that way. It almost became true when I was nearly engaged not long after finishing Bible school. When the relationship ended, this dream was shattered. However, I was not ready to wait to serve God until He sent somebody else along.

I have always been convinced of the fact that I am single today because singleness is the best for me. I would not be happier if I was married now. God could still change this, but it is not the purpose of my life to get married. My purpose is to love and serve God. This leads me to ask back:

Why not, serve God as a single person?

I see many “benefits” in serving God as a single. In Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians we read:

 Ephesians 3:17-19 “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”

In my life,I have seen this prayer answered because I serve God as a single person. There is no husband, child or other relative around to which I can turn to fulfill my need for love. This makes me turn to Christ, poor out my heart before Him and experience His fullness. The more I turn to Him, the more I get to know Him and His love. As a single, I can focus on my relationship with God. As I said above: this love is my motivation for serving Him. Some of my emotional needs are not met in my life, but they remind me thatI am not made for this life, but for eternity.

In serving God I have also found a new family, my brothers and sisters in Christ. I don´t need to constantly make a choice between spending time with them or with my family.

 Cultural adaptation and language learning was also much easier for me as a single. I could live with nationals and did not go home from language school to a place where I could speak my language and live according to my habits.

I can spontaneously adjust my life to whatever opportunities I have to be with and serve nationals, without having to consider the implications for the rest of my family.

I can dedicate my spare time to my friends, hobbies and to communicating with family in my homeland.

There are lots of ministry opportunities I can attend to because I am free to be away from home for longer periods of time.

So, can you tell me any reason, why I should not serve God as a single person?