Posting at A Life Overseas – Holiday Grace

A Fourth of July fireworks display at the Wash...

Readers – today I’m over at A Life Overseas writing about Holiday Grace. Would love to have you join me there! Here is an excerpt from that piece:

Tomorrow is the 4th of July – Independence Day in the United States and a national holiday. It’s a day that causes laughter and cross national joking in expatriate communities where those from Britain and the United States work and play side by side; where nation building dissolves and friendships build strong.

I grew up knowing Holiday Grace. Grace that seemed shaken together, running over, doled out in extra measure during holidays celebrated far away from family and passport country.

Because holidays were times when my parents, native to Massachusetts where picture book houses and white picket fences abound, would feel the tug of  home and family. Home and family would grab the heart and squeeze with a vice-like grip of unbelonging and a loud ‘What am I doing here, six thousand miles from all that is familiar?”

Holidays were the times when it was too easy to use the words “God forsaken” knowing that God does not forsake. Holidays were the times when it was easy to feel ‘foreign’. 

There was the time when my mom felt desperately lonely in a small city with no other English speakers, no other expatriates. The large house we lived in was surrounded on four sides by mosques, the Call to Prayer loud in the morning hours and lonely in the evening. It was Christmas time and her heart throbbed with a longing for Christmas at home in New England. Her mind was far away with real Christmas trees, snowy evenings, and family – but her body was in a small town in Pakistan. Holiday Grace came when missionaries from a town two hours away made the long trek on a dusty, partially unpaved road to surprise our family on Christmas eve.  She had gone up to the flat roof and was looking over the city, tears of longing and pity welling in her eyes, when she heard the ever familiar sounds of “Joy to the World.” She thought it was angels heard from the rooftops. And in many ways she was correct. These friends brought Holiday Grace to a young woman’s aching heart as they sat and drank hot cocoa and laughed together until late in the evening.

There was the time when we had no sugar, no flour, and little butter at Christmas. But somehow Holiday Grace abounded and our kitchen was full of spicy goodness. There were Thanksgiving meals at an international boarding school, where those who were not from the United States celebrated hard and graciously. And there were the Eid celebrations when we were invited to join the feasts of our Muslim friends, experiencing the Holiday Grace of acceptance from our adopted country.

Each holiday seemed to be met with this extra grace, Holiday Grace.

I went on to raise a family overseas and began experiencing Holiday Grace as an adult. But it was in our fourth year living in Cairo, Egypt that Holiday Grace came in a way I could never have imagined, much less orchestrated.

It was text-book unmerited favor surrounding me. Read the rest of the piece here.

9 thoughts on “Posting at A Life Overseas – Holiday Grace

  1. I’m reading this while on a mission trip in Paraguay wondering what tomorrow will be like… At least I know there are 13 other people from my team experiencing the same thing.


    1. Would love to hear more how the trip went. And if you experienced holiday grace…..! Thanks for reading and blessings on both the trip and the aftermath as lessons learned and time together fades into the reality of the mundane.


      1. The trip was good – I felt challenged while I was there just at the pace of things… and challenged too by how “soft” my faith seems in comparison to some of the people we met. We went door to door evangelizing (and didn’t know we would be doing this ahead of time) – I have shared the gospel to strangers before but my excuse is “I’m more about relational evangelism”. The truth is, I don’t think I really evangelize – I just like being in relationship with people. The translators that went out with us were truly excited to share their faith…. and I saw people’s eyes tear up and understand the love that God has for them and start a relationship with Christ. I wondered how they would have heard if we had not been willing? I wonder how many people live in my own little world who have not heard about God’s amazing grace and his desire to have a personal relationship with each one of us? I was struck with all that I was willing to do in the 2 weeks we were gone (including zip lining and repelling off a cliff – which are not my thing). Now that I am home, there are so many distractions and I have so many excuses… I want to live my days here like I am on a mission. Easier said than done but those are my thoughts.

        The 4th of July ended up being quite fun: A few of our girls made a pancake supper – 1st pancakes ever that our missionary family had eaten (they are from Argentina). One of our translators from the day gave us a couple of fireworks that we lit off after a long day. The night sky was gorgeous and I knew I was right where I belonged.


      2. I completely get the distractions and excuses piece that you speak of. Oh to live with that sense of appropriate urgency. I heard it once described as living intentionally yet flexibly. Blogged about it when I first began this blog. I think about that alot. Recently I read that every day we meet between 8 to 10 people where we have opportunities to give up “right to self”….convicting much?! Love how your 4th went! Yay for grace that comes in the flavor of pancakes and the colors of a night sky! And thanks so much for responding. I never know when I ask a question through a comment if the person will come back or not….and you did!


  2. Our kids have great memories of those 4th of July celebrations. It was a wonderful day for our family to proudly celebrate being Americans! I am so glad the Embassy did those. My husband also won a ticket to the USA once–and then gave it away to a pastor who needed to fly to the States!! (I did forgive him eventually!)


    1. I feel the same way about the embassy doing the parties. In both Pakistan and Egypt they were just good times of fun. You are a forgiving woman:)!! Actually we tithed the breakfast we won….to Don and Sue Eeniginburg! So good to hear from you on CAB!


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