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Survival Tactics to Living Abroad

Living abroad takes what we know as “living” and turns it upside down or right side up. It all depends on the perspective that you view it. 

Like a Child: humble yourself to view your new surroundings like a child. See it with open eyes. The world is what you make of it. If you choose to see it as full of possibility, then possibilities will appear.

img_3410Try a Little Something New: don’t be afraid of the unknown, embrace the unknown. When we try something new, we are signaling our brain to get ready for the challenge and push beyond our existing capacity.

Don’t Be Afraid to Start Again: It can seem so daunting. You’ve worked hard to build a community for yourself and then to leave it all behind. Many would rationalize what’s the point? The point is, we’re alive for more than ourselves. Everything has a season. It’s not all about us and once we realize this starting again doesn’t seem quite so bad. We must embrace the idea of starting again. Whether it’s learning how to live in a new community, understanding a local culture or just adapting to a new way of life.

Focus: you will become like whatever you’re focusing on. Think about what is good about where you are. If you’re unemployed you might have more time than ever to learn something new, train for a marathon or study a new language. FOCUS on what is good about your situation.

Hold Tight in the Process: yes it’s difficult, especially when you’re in a new place and attempting to create a routine for yourself. But stay focused in the process. Don’t give up because with each step you make you’re getting along the road. Before you know it, you’ll be at your destination.

You’re Doing Better than You Think You’re Doing: you will not always be a beginner or brand new. Although the beginning stages feel so challenging, take hope. With each new day, you’re learning and growing. You’re doing better today than you were yesterday just because you have another day under your belt so you are one day wiser. Focus on the progress you’re making and not the lack of progress you have yet to make.

Lots of Lo Mein in a Lo Mein-less City

Confession… there are those moments in life when all you want to do is order some Chinese takeout, cuddle up on the couch and enjoy a night in. But, when Chinese take out is literally non-existent where you live (true, for me) then you are left with no other option but to take out in and whip up a batch at home! But don’t worry, it’s not as hard as you think. Trust me, this one is a keeper!

The Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup Soy sauce (regular or low sodium)
  • 2 Tbsp Dark Soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp Sirracha
  • 1 Tbsp sugar

The Main Dish:

  • 3 medium carrots (juliened)
  • 1 medium onion (sliced thin)
  • 1 250 gram package of mushrooms (sliced)
  • 250 grams chow mein noodles (or spaghetti if you can’t find)
  • 2 Tbsp of vegetable (or canola) oil (not olive oil — the flavor is a bit too strong for this dish)

Here’s How to Prepare It:

For the sauce (combine all the ingredients in a bowl ahead of time and then pour over the noodles. But if you forget or if you’re in a hurry, you can definitely add them one by one. Just be sure to stir well so all the flavors really come together.

Boil the noodles in a pot of salted water for approximately 8-10 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.

While they noodles are cooking…

Pour the vegetable oil into a large wok or fry pan. Add the onions and carrots and sauté until they are translucent and soft.

Add the mushrooms to the pan and sauté until they are tender.

Pour half of the sauce over the vegetables and stir. Then add the noodles and pour the remaining sauce on top and stir gently, being sure to coat all of the noodles and vegetables with sauce.

Taste & fall in love with your food! (haha! j/k but no seriously, it’s good!

 

 

Are You Ready to Go to the Heights?

 

The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. -Habakkuk 3:19

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Photo by Micah. H on Unsplash

Any experienced hiker or climber knows that in order to go to the heights, you must go through the valleys and tread the “not so frequently travelled” ground in order to reach the peak. It’s not a journey for the faint hearted nor for the ill-prepared. It requires discipline, preparation, commitment, dedication and perseverance to begin the journey, stay on course and finish the race.

Where our minds can get derailed in the journey is thinking that our strength is in ourselves and leaning on our own understanding to try and make it through this life. However, as we see in the book of Habakkuk, our strength comes from the Lord. It’s beyond a carnal strength but rather, it is His indwelling Spirit that takes us and transforms and carries us beyond the life we could ever have imagined.

The question is not, is it possible? The question is, do we really want to go to the heights? Do we really want to go? Certainly from a distance and through an eloquent narrative, the heights sound and look marvelous; and they truly are. But what we often don’t see, is the road it takes to get to the heights. We don’t see the process and so when we get started and encounter difficulty, we can confuse it for a problem when in actuality, difficulty and challenges are a part of the journey. They are the tools that carve us along the road, equip us for the next steps and enable us to persevere further.

Are you ready to go to the heights? 

Fear’s Final Fallout

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Bang! You’re Out! Dripping with sweat I wipe my brow and stand there looking over it. My chest rises and falls quickly and with my fists clenched I feel victorious yet ready to punch again if it even flinches.
There it lay on the ground. After holding hostage seasons of my life, I had finally roused up the courage to fight back. The reporters gathered in around me as the referee wrapped a purple robe around my shoulders and a golden belt across my waist. They bombarded by a series of questions:
“How did you do it?”
“What’s your secret?”
“Did you have doubts about being able to take him out?”
“What were you thinking about during the match?”
But all I could do was stare over at fear. Although I was utterly exhausted both physically and mentally I felt a large weight lift off my shoulders. Fear was dead. Its final fallout had arrived.
How do we deal with fear? The type of fear that arises when you’re about to embark on new territory in the land of your dreams? What is the truth about fear?
1.) Fear sometimes sounds like the voice of logic. We sometimes confuse the voice of fear for the voice of logic. Logic says, if you put ice cubes in the freezer, they will freeze. Fear says, if you put ice cubes in the freezer, they freeze and then maybe your whole home will freeze too by default. Fear has a tendency to blow things way out of proportion and especially in our mind. If we let it, fear will bind us before we can even utter a word. Fear has a clever way of mixing just enough logic with a big fat lie and if we’re not careful, then our minds will begin to rationalize and eventually give in to voice of fear.
Are you willing to try and fail and then try again and again until you succeed? How long are you willing to wait and what are you willing to invest in order to achieve your dreams and goals? What are they worth to you?
2.) Fear sometimes will seem to make sense.Golden nugget of the day: not every good thing or good opportunity is going to make sense. It simply won’t. The sooner we accept this fact, the sooner we’ll stop trying to make perfect sense out of the many mysteries of life. Are you willing to try and fail and then try again and again until you succeed? How long are you willing to wait and what are you willing to invest in order to achieve your dreams and goals? What are they worth to you? We can’t explain why it took Thomas Edison over 10,000 attempts before he finally succeeded. He was even quoted as saying, “ I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” What will you be quoted as saying?
What will you be quoted as saying?
3.) Fear will work with reason and procrastination to try and convince you not to do something you know you’re called to do. Have you ever found yourself in a situation in which you ended up talking yourself out of doing something that you actually wanted to do and committed to do in the first place? Fear manipulates reason to facilitate excuses in our minds that make us feel not so bad for not doing the things that we know we should (and even wanted) do in the first place.
4.) Fear will try and justify itself when you confront it. Fear is the king of excuses. So once you confront it when it shows up in your life, then the excuses will pile up faster than you can imagine. Fear can even lead you to believe that it is the excuse in and of itself to keep you from achieving your goals and dreams.  So before fear even knocks at your door you must already have a strategy of how you will respond. Once you get face to face with fear, the only way to fight it and win the fight is with the truth. And the only way to fight with truth, is to actually know the truth. Do you know the truth?
Do you know the truth?
5.) Fear will try and steal your voice, diminish your potential and rob you of the life you could live. It’s so subtly deceptive but if we listen to the voice of fear long enough we will become fluent in the language of fear. We’ll start talking like fear talks until we have no real voice left of our own. Once fear has taken your voice then it will try and keep you from ever going to the heights that you were destined for. Whether it was actually running that marathon, starting a new career or making new friends, fear is a thief waiting for those that will fall prey to its snare.
       So, when you hear the voice of fear, you don’t have to entertain it nor allow it to rob you of a single moment of your life. Decide ahead of time, before you’re even confronted with fear, how you will live your life. Will you look back on the things you wish you would have done? Or will you live by your convictions and not by fear.
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With Just a Grain of Sand

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Are you experiencing difficulty? Do you have something that is an unwelcome irritant invading your world with seemingly no resolve? Does it feel like the difficulty is trying to overtake or consume your life?
Consider the beauty of the pearl. One of the most precious and beautiful jewels of the sea is formed out of difficulty. When an irritant enters the oyster’s shell, it responds by coating the irritant with sheets of aragoniteconchiolin and secretions of narce between each layer. These are the very same things in which the oyster’s shell is made out of. Over time, as it continues to add layer upon layer, a beautiful pearl is formed. What once was only an irritant, seeking to impair and possibly destroy the oyster has now become the platform it has used to create something beautiful. 
 
How do you take difficulty in your life that seems like an un-welcomed irritant and make something beautiful out of it?
Refocus and Leverage the Difficulty for Good. Do not let the difficulty consume your life and your attention. We have a choice. We can choose to allow the difficulty to overcome us and let it be the place where our story ends or we can choose to leverage the difficulty and respond accordingly. Don’t allow yourself to be the victim to the difficulty. Instead deliberately choose to respond, forgive and press on. Train yourself to leverage the difficulty for good and watch them turn into beautiful things in your life that empower you instead of victimize you.
 crutch that victimizes you and keeps you from overcoming and robs your joy. Instead, leverage the irritant for good and the way that you see the the irritant will turn into something beautiful much like how the pearl is formed in the oyster.
What Starts Off Difficult Doesn’t Have to Stay Difficult if You Respond the Right Way. What if the oyster just let the irritant just exist in it’s shell? What if it simply just got used to its irritation? What if the oyster complained to all its oyster friends (who also have irritants too) about how bad it was and how unfair it was and how it wished it would just go away? We might say to that oyster, “get it together! That irritant is trying to kill you but you have the power to overtake it!”  But since the oyster chooses to respond and and keep responding by covering it with aragoniteconchiolin and secretions of narce between each layer, it is able to create something beautiful out of the very thing that sought to destroy it. What beautiful thing are you creating from your difficulty?
When it Feels Like There’s Too Many “Irritants” or Issues Flaring Up in Your Life at One Time, Hang On. Just like some oysters have multiple pearls, they are formed through multiple irritants. The ones with extremely large pearls are developed through the process of responding continuously over an extended period of time to the irritant. Some of the most successful people in life do not live difficulty free, but instead they’ve chosen to continuously respond the right way.
 with the irritant that enables them to make an even bigger and more beautiful pearl.
Stay Engaged Even in the Midst of a Difficulty. A pearl is not produced by the oyster just watching the irritant and worrying or complaining about it. No, the oyster deliberately chooses to stay engaged, not just upon the initial invasion of the irritant but continuously. We too must also stay engaged. It’s not enough to stay engaged one day and to disengage the next few days and expect constant long term progress. Everyday, we must not only respond but stay engaged.
Use What You’ve Been Given. The oyster does not respond to the irritant with anything outside, it simply uses what it has been given. It has been designed not only to experience these irritants but also, it has been designed with a response mechanism within its body that is comprised of the very substances in its own shell. What have you been given that has equipped you to respond to difficulty? Do you know that the same power that conquered the grave lives in you? That means that since we have Jesus, we have been equipped to handle every difficulty through His strength and grace. But, this is only if we choose to allow Him to.
Respond the Right Way to the Difficulty. The oyster responds to the irritant with the most powerful weapon is possesses, the aragoniteconchiolin and secretions of narce. The oyster responds to the irritant with the strongest thing it possesses. Like the oyster, we must respond to difficulties and challenges with the strongest thing we possess which is the Word of God. It in the irrefutable truth through which we can continuously build our life upon. Ephesians 6:10-11 tells us to “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit,which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. – Ephesians 6:10-18

Just Call Me “Steward”

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Stewardship. It extends so much farther beyond a financial perspective. Stewardship also applies to time, gifts, talents and our very lives. What are we doing with what we have? Are we stewarding it properly to leverage the greatest return?

The good news is that we’ve all been given something. In some cases, we have been given multiple different things. But the truth about stewardship is that it comes down to what we will do with what we’ve been given.

1.) Acknowledge what you have: Sometimes we tend to forget just how blessed we are. Start by making a list of all that you’ve been given stewardship over. Don’t focus on your lack and what you don’t have or wish you had. Simply focus on what you do have.

2.) Respond in Gratitude: Read the list out loud and respond in gratitude. When was the last time you said thank you to God for all of the things He has given you both great and small. Choose to practice being gracious and thankful. It won’t just happen naturally so deliberately plan to say out loud what you are thankful for.

3.) Evaluate how you are currently stewarding: what are you currently doing with your finances, time, resources, talents and gifts. Are you making the most of them and using them to affect others in a positive way? Make a list of how you’re currently practicing stewardship amongst what you’ve been given.

4.) Plan for how you can become a better steward: Look at the list that you made and identify other opportunities to become a better steward or to practice stewardship in a new way. There will always be room for growth no matter how old we get. We must simply be open and available to growing.

So would you consider yourself a good steward of what you have? If not, practice becoming better at stewardship by actively paying attention to it in your life and looking for additional ways to apply it in a practical and realistic way.

Like a Child

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One of the hardest things to do as an adult is to be “childlike.” I don’t mean childlike in the sense of childish immature behavior or playfulness but rather the ability to see the world through the eyes of a child and to learn like a child.

Children have a natural receptivity to be open to learning, trying and failing. They’re not afraid of mispronouncing a word if they learn a new language they simply try. They are teachable and eager to learn. They are expectant that they can and will learn. And yet so often as adults we live inhibited and bound because we do not allow ourselves to really be open enough and humble enough to learn and embrace life through the lens of a child.

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” – Matthew 18:2-5

In Faith: Do you ever wonder why Jesus tells us to become like little children? Think about it, what is childlike faith? It’s believing something or someone no matter what the outer circumstances may look like. It’s pure and simple. It’s the ability to believe beyond what you can see, confident that it will happen. Childlike faith takes yes as yes and is coupled with a sense of anticipation when a promise is made with the knowledge that it will be granted.

In Learning: why is that children seem to learn so quickly? Is it simply that they’re eager to learn? Or that they have much to learn? I reckon that their ability to learn comes from their level of receptivity. They’re receptive and expectant to learn and they always do. They’re not afraid of making a mistake or failing, they simply stick with it and keep trying. It may explain why it seems that they learn so easily and quickly in the eyes of an adult.

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” C.S. Lewis – Mere Christianity

In Humility: Have you ever been in the presence of an extremely humble person? This, in and of itself is humbling and reminds us to examine our hearts and confess where pride has crept in. As adults, it’s easy to focus on ourselves and look out just for ourselves with a fear of provision or lack there of. Humility causes us to fix our eyes on God and lean on Him for everything. It requires a daily decrease of self so that He can indeed increase. If we acknowledge and really live knowing that God is our Father and we are His children then we can experience the beautiful submission and dependency in Him.

In Our Perception of the World: What if we could shake off all our biases and learned stereotypes about a culture or country and see it with a transparent lens. A lens that has not been burned by hurt feelings or broken from heartbreak or crushed from a sour defeat or distorted by bitterness or shaded from hateful discourse? As adults, we have many learned behaviors about the world. While some are good, in terms of safety and common sense, others can actually keep us from really experiencing the beauty of a place, culture or people group.

In Our Sense of Wonder: Do you remember those moments in your life when you said “woooow”? Most likely, most of those moments were when you were a child. You always saw something fascinating even in “mundane” situations because you expected to. As a child, the simple act of my parents driving through a tunnel evoked a sense of wonder. It was exciting to experience it, not knowing how long the tunnel really was. What if, we choose to see the world around us with eyes of wonder? Imagine how your days, weeks, months and years would look from this viewpoint.

Let yourself embrace life through a new lens and experience life “like a child.” You just might find that it is exactly what you needed.

The Keys to Success

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The keys to success are often disguised by a college degree or being well dressed but if you actually stop and consider,

The keys to success belong in the hands of the one who’s not a quitter.
Everyday, they’re committed to the task, they stay focused and give their best without being asked.
They enter their workspace expectant of what will be done. They’re not discouraged by problems or the critiques that come.
 They’re building a stairway that only they can see. Steps to success that are not cultivated for the world’s view and esteem.
 They’re building with diligence, they are the few and the brave. They’re not led by the ego of building their name.
 A quiet success and out from it flows a river running wide through a kingdom unknown.