Sunday, March 11, 2018

"I'm Thankful for the Scars"

"The entirety of your life is made up of two percentages.  Ten percent is what happens to you.  Ninety percent is how you react to what happens."

Literally read that quote ten times because it's so true and what I need right now.

I don't know what you perceive my life to be...Social media has changed a lot of things for all of us and one of those being the way we view other people...but let me speak straight with you for a second...

In case you think my life has been a beautiful bouquet of roses and other beautiful flowers, is it OK if I remind you that there are thorns on those roses too?  The bouquet isn't just colorful flowers.

These days are hard.  Experienced people say it will be this way for several years...
"Give yourself grace." 

My internal calendar has been telling me to board a plane and go home because it's been three months in America.  I absolutely LOVE snow.  Always have.  I expect to always love it in the future.  (You all know that.)  But the past few days have me dreaming of sunny days with blue skies in Asian cities.  Eating spicy food from vendors, asking for directions with signs and wonders, smelling all sorts of interesting scents, and taking in all the beautiful scenery...

It's not that I want summer to come...I just want my life back.  I want it to be the way it normally was.  If I can't go home, I at least want to sit on a plane again...because that feels right.  It's normal and has been for as long as I can remember...

But now we are here.  In America.  As much as I hate to admit it, we have a house here and it's supposed to be home.  But it's not.  The people here are different.  They eat differently, talk differently, drive differently, and see life differently.  The culture is different.  I haven't figured it all out yet...Some people think I should fit in because of the way I look, but I don't.  In fact, there are times when I wish I understood what's going on so I wouldn't look so stupid.  At home, if I looked stupid, it was OK...because everyone knew I was different.

I guess different is the most common thing these days...maybe that's what normal looks like..?  I'm not sure, though...

But as I picked up my book tonight and read this quote...
"The entirety of your life is made up of two percentages.  Ten percent is what happens to you.  Ninety percent is how you react to what happens."
...I knew that ninety percent needs to be adjusted.  My attitude can be trashy towards the culture I'm supposed to fit into at times.  Sure, life is now completely different from what it used to be, but the way I respond to culture, incidents, problems, and struggles shouldn't be different...Or maybe it's not.  Maybe it is the same as it was before...Maybe I just need to work on my response to what happens...

There are things that hurt in life.  Big Time!  We can't change it.  Just the way it is...but there's always something to learn in the struggle.  The scars from those deep wounds will remind us of Who He is. 

I've seen God in new ways in the past few months.  He's literally become my Best Friend and Life Savor.  For that I could never say thank You enough...This past year has brought new experiences, fun travels, and death to normal life.  But all of those things have helped me see Him in new ways.  Sure the wounds have been deep in some areas of life, but as I came across this song today I was reminded how beautiful the scars really are...


Below are a few pictures from my 2017.  I've had to look at them time and time again to remind me of all the blessings I've had because truth is, life is full of so many blessings.  Some we see clearly and others we take for granted.  I am very grateful for the countless blessings I've been given in my life and I hope to never take them for granted even though I know my human ways fail over and over...


 












May this week be full of days that take you to Him...through the good and hard. 
"I'm thankful for the scars cause without them I wouldn't know Your heart..." 

♡♥♡♥

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Dear Journal...

The lack of sun + gray sky seemed to fit the mood for today.  It's as though someone set the stage for the act + I even had the ability to step into the role very clearly...almost too well for my liking; but then again, that's what good actors do.

To be honest, I have no adequate words for such a time as this.
Only sharp pains + sickening feelings.
Tears + a lack of understandable words...
There's nothing that really describes the pain of leaving your home...your life...
what you've known since you were eleven.
Attempting to share with someone who really has no idea what it's like is, at times, overwhelming...because so many people think I should be excited to "go home."
Truth + Reality both state that I'm not going home.  I'm moving to a new place.  Sure, I've been there before...but only temporarily.  It doesn't have ties to my childhood + a culture I really understand. 
(I'm sorry if that's odd to you, but it's just the way it is...)

Big Mennonite communities scare me,
America is a place we visit for Christmas some years.
Motorcycles are driven on a daily basis out of necessity.
Foreign words + switching languages is a part of every day life.
And love is a random act of kindness for someone because I've been given a love I'll never fully grasp.  That's life!

Continual images of pulling away from our house for the last time + taking those heavy bags through security with a blurred vision due to countless tears streaming down my face flood my mind almost daily.  A flood that makes it hard to breathe.

It just doesn't sink in.  There's no way I'm leaving Thailand for good.  There has to be a ticket back somewhere...

Currently it seems impossible to wrap my mind around any of this...
Even with walls looking bare and a countdown haunting my "To Do" list.

But one thing I do know...
He leads us through beautiful, green fields + through raging, rough waters.
And through all the ups and downs, struggles + tears...He calls me His.  No matter how much I struggle or how much I don't understand.  He says I'm valuable.  There's a plan greater than me.  My worth is in Him.  I am His Daughter...Priceless.


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Hurricane Ivan


It was September 6, 2004, and our family was at the beach for a swim.  Everything seemed pretty normal that afternoon except that the waves were quite a bit bigger than they usually were.  As a nine year old girl, nothing was stopping me from having fun that day until we pulled in at the grocery store to grab a few things on the way home and the windows were boarded shut.

“A hurricane is coming” was the reason given for all the wood covering the doors and windows of the different public buildings.  We chuckled a little to ourselves because warnings had been given before, but all we ever received was a tropical storm.  We were below the hurricane belt, so these people were probably just being overly cautious.

Tuesday, September 7th came and so did the cancellation of school.  My best friend was at our house and we decided to play house in the living room since it was rainy outside.  After the wind became a little more intense, we moved to the kitchen; but after a huge nutmeg tree snapped over right behind our house, we headed for the basement apartment and to a room that didn’t have any windows.  The two single girls that lived in the basement of our mountain side house, my family and my best friend hid out in a little room for hours while the storm smashed the island.  As the constant sound of a jet engine hovered over the house and the continual shattering of glass filled my little ears, I sat on a bed up against the wall and cried.  I was sure my death was right before my young eyes and I didn’t know what to do with all the emotions.  While the adults held the doors shut and water ran through the room, I cried out to God due to the fear that was raging in me.  My heart spoke to Him about the fear I was facing and I also told Him that I had heard of many miracles in the Bible, but wanted to see one in my own life.  As a young, nine-year-old girl, I asked God for a miracle that day…I wanted us all to make it out alive.


After hours of sitting in a little room with eight other people, the storm moved on, but the darkness outside hindered us from seeing the damage the island had taken from the storm.  All we could do is go to bed and allow the morning light to bring the reality of Hurricane Ivan to our faces.  I can’t tell you what all went through my mind that night as my parents, three brothers and I all went to sleep on a double bed in a room that didn’t belong to us.

The next morning came and with it a huge dose of reality.  The roof had been taken off our house and there was water standing on the floor.  The walls were plastered in leaves and belongings were drenched in water.  CDs were all over the floor and random objects in odd places.  The storm had done its job quite well.  But our family was all alive and I had experienced a miracle first hand.

The coming days, weeks, and months put our family in a place we had never been or experienced before but we were not alone.  The rest of the island was struggling to make it through just like we were.  Living without running water and electricity for a while changed us.  It made an impact on our lives that doesn’t just happen in a short period of time.  Every morning when I got up for the following days after Hurricane Ivan, I would go to the living room or veranda where we’d, my brothers, friend and I, eat orange flavored cookies or wafers to help hold us over till we had food for breakfast while my dad soaked his arm in some strong smelling liquid to keep it from infection.  His motorcycle accident didn't really come at the best timing, but then again...this wasn't an experience we signed up for or planned...  My mom would wash clothes by hand and our water came from mud puddles or a little spring back in the bush somewhere.   Days brought lots of work and extra patience.  Living in the basement apartment with several other people/families kept it interesting...  As kids we found our imaginations to be rather helpful when it came to playing in the cocoa.  Since the trees that were usually standing upright were now on their sides, we turned them into animals and anything else we could come up with.  Life was different now, and so were we.


Here I am today, 13 years later, and I still think back to that day in September whenever I hear of Hurricanes or find myself on September 7th.  Within the past year I have noticed that I no longer have to battle the feelings of sickness every time I hear thunder or experience a big rain storm like I've had to ever since Hurricane Ivan.  It changed me.  It changed my perspective on life and who I am now.

Today, there are many children in this world experiencing tragedies of multiple degrees in life and I can't help but pray that God will give them peace in the midst of a storm, courage to be strong when it's scary, comfort when everything is upside-down, and rest when their bodies just need to sleep.  Life is a journey and we all face trials of many kinds...the least we can do is reach out to those in need and give where it's needed the most.  We all have received, so therefore it's only right that we give out of that grace and love of Jesus.  
    

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Change


Love/hate relationships have shown up in my life more than I'd like to admit and when it comes to change, it's about as strong as any other love/hate relationship.

I love travel.  Seeing new places, cultures, people, food, and ways of living intrigue me.  Learning a new language fascinates me.  The change of location for a short amount of time makes me happy.  It draws me to the Creator in a new aspect.  I find myself seeing more of His heart through different groups of people and in that learning process, I also find myself falling in love with people I can't even communicate with.  Even though the speaking is limited, the smiles, laughter, hugs, and even the holding of hands moves me to tears because we all have something in common.  We all have a longing that is deep within us.  It longs to be filled by a Father who knows us better than we even know ourselves.  We have emotions and they all translate into other languages pretty simply.

I don't think I'll ever get over my love for travel.  The joy that it brings to my heart is like therapy.  It changes me more than I'll ever be able to explain to someone.

I also love change when it comes in the form of rearranging furniture or redecorating the house.  There was a time in my teenage years that I would rearrange my room almost every week just because I loved the newness that it brought to life.  For the following week I could enjoy something different...something familiar with a brand new twist to it.  It gave me a weird sense of comfortableness.  Somehow the change spoke something to my soul that change alone could speak...words just didn't cut it.

When it comes to moving or people coming and going all the time, I hate change.  Nothing within me brings that heart stabbing pain and tears to my eyes like the change of something a little more permanent...it just hurts more than words can begin to express.

It all started at the young age of six when my family moved to the Caribbean where I first encountered a small taste of the rest of my life.  I can remember the first morning at the breakfast table like it was yesterday.  My parents, two brothers and I attempted to have family devotions before we partook of the food before us, but it only ended up being a family crying session.  Tears were the only way to express the mixed emotions from the change we were attempting to swing through.  It was hard.

The years following that first move continued to bring constant change in different forms into my life.  High school groups would come to the island for a missions trip.  They would stay in our house and become our friends, but then they would leave....go back to their American world and maybe say hi to me five years later when I embarrassingly couldn't even remember their name.  It was fun to meet new people, but the constant come and go slowly began to create the foundation to an ugly wall in my life.

After four years of life in the Caribbean, my family hit up the US for a year before we made our home in Asia.  In the words of my counselor, the plane never really touched down for very long in Minnesota before it took off again.  Trying to find my place in an unfamiliar, yet familiar, place took time...but we didn't have much time.  I did my best to connect and I think I did a pretty good job.  Maybe it was too good of a job because when it came time to move to Thailand, I was absolutely sure that my dad didn't know what he was doing.  Sure, God tells people what to do, but sometimes people don't hear right, and I was pretty sure that he wasn't getting it all correct.  Much to my dismay, and even for my own good, my terrible attitude didn't change the plan.  I am ever so grateful that I didn't see the struggles coming in moving because I might have given up hope, but slowly I experienced the grace of God as leaving a somewhat familiar culture and diving into a new one took place.

It was hard.  I just wanted my life in Grenada back.  I wanted the life that I new so well right in front of me.  I wanted people to understand me and to give me a break because I wasn't really enjoying what was taking place...it took time, but I came around...God worked in my selfish heart and I slowly began to enjoy my home in CNX.

Even though meeting new people is just a part of every day life for me and it's easy and enjoyable, I find myself standing right beside the wall of self protection on a weekly basis.  I want to be where it's safe...or at least where I know I can take shelter if it gets too messy.  The constant change of people coming and going all the time has brought more tears to my eyes than I'd like to admit.  The fear that this 'new friend' is going to go back to his own country and not really care about my life anymore is rather real.  It's not that I doubt the loyalty in that individual, but that I have experienced it all first hand.  They didn't do it on purpose...no one has.  At least as far as I know... but when someone leaves their home for four or eight months, they have their whole squad and support team back there waiting for them...their life at home is ready for them to come back and their friends will be their companions once they return.  They won't need me anymore...the need was only there for a short amount of time and then it went away...

Sometimes God calls people to join your staff for two or three years and then He calls them on to some other place...in that time they become family.  They invest in you and pour tons of energy into your life...more than you deserve.  But when it comes time to move on, you cry, hate the airport, and try to find a way to move on in life...

The same cycle takes place again, but this time it take you longer to let them into your life because you don't want to face the pain all over again.  Eventually you are reminded how much you receive from these people and how blessed you really are...in spite of the pain.  You open your heart and go through it all again...it hurts.  Your trust is tested and your heart feels like it's left in a little pile on the floor...but God gives you everything you need to pick it back up and keep going.  You see the blessings when you spend time with these different people in other countries and you thank God that He brought them into your life...yes, there were rough times, but there are blessings...

Change is a major part of life...and so is pain.  We all experience it at different levels and in different ways...I'm not here to say that my life is harder than anyone else's because I don't think that's true.  I am here to say that if you know a Third Culture Kid, please do all that you can to invest in them.  Maybe it's taking them out for coffee to hear what all is going on in their life...and then keeping up with them for the long haul....you do what you think will work, but please don't let it be short term.  The last thing a TCK needs is another person to attempt to care, only to realize a few months later that they were just being used as a crutch in life...

I have been blessed with people who have given and spoken into my life more than I feel like I deserve.  I have some good friends today because those individuals chose to go out of their way to let me know that they care...it wasn't a short term thing, but something that lasted for years...that's valuable!  And I wish that other TCKs could feel that love too.

I'm not here to say TCKs are the only ones who struggle with this stuff.  I know there are some of you out there who don't have that name, but resonate with some of these struggles too.  I just feel like it's only my duty to speak up for the hundreds of TCKs who are trying to make it through life with some big obstacles starring them in the face.

If you are a TCK, hang on tight.  The roads don't necessarily get easier, but the character that is built from the struggles is valuable.  This family that we are a part of understands...and one day we'll make it to eternity and see the lives that were affected by our family's lives overseas.  The eternal celebration will exceed any pain we experienced here and the struggles will fade...Hang on and stay strong.  God always gives us what we need at the exact time that we need it.


"Sometimes our lives have to be completely shaken up, changed, and rearranged to relocate us to the place we are meant to be."
    


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Expectations

I wish someone would tell me what I'm doing wrong so the continual pain of people's expectations wouldn't keep stabbing me in the heart.  It hasn't been once or twice...not even ten times...more like too many times to count where I've tried to smile while someone told me that I have my life all together or that it's perfect.  Inwardly I laugh because I can't figure out how on earth someone would ever think that in their right mind...

But when people almost fall over with the realization that I struggle with some of the same stuff they do, everything within me wants to scream....Maybe to you this seems strong and doesn't make sense...let me take an attempt to explain.


I hate expectations.

Especially when people tell me that they just realized my dad is pretty normal, my brothers actually fight at times, and I actually have some struggles in life...
Is there any possible way to explain to me why people hold certain groups of people at a standard not attainable by human strength?

If there is one thing you could do to hurt an MK, PK, or even a TCK, it would be telling them that you feel like you've been let down by them...because you've gotten to know them a little more and they actually get angry at times, struggle with depression, lash out at people, and have some imperfections.

That is completely unnecessary and unfair.  It hurts + creates even more struggles for them to deal with...Yes, I know it happens, but I wish people would just understand...

I wish everyone knew that even though you might only see the stage side of my family, we are real just like you.  No one on planet earth is perfect.  No one ever will be.  So don't hold these parents, kids, and families to a standard not possible to reach.  The best thing you could do is take the standard you have them at and hold it to yourself first.  Once you've reached that perfection, hold the people around you to it too.

I don't feel like it's fair for everyone to put families on a platform even though you might only see them on one.  Just because they have a lot of 'friends' and have seen/experienced a different lifestyle than you have doesn't give them wings or a halo.  Never has.  Never will.

People tell me I'm a pretty open and honest person...that I'm not afraid to say what I'm going through or what really hurts...but they also tell me that I have my life together...that I have it figured out...Somewhere I'm missing something and I wish I knew what it was... If you know what it is, tell me.  I beg you.  I would give almost anything to know what it is that I'm doing wrong to make you think my life is perfect....

While you think of some much-needed, wise words for me, I'm going to tell you a little about myself.  I don't like screaming my life story out there for people to hear because it's nothing exciting, mind blowing, or even radical...In fact, God keeps stretching me in this area of life because it's good for me...and I have learned that sharing real life struggles changes lives...mine...and sometimes other people's lives as well....

Some of you already know this, but for years I have struggled with fear...it comes in all different shapes and sizes and one of my least favorite ways to see it approach me is in the form of panic attacks.  We've prayed, got advice, and even counseling, but it didn't really change too much for me.  In the fall of 2015 I experienced the most incredible freedom I have ever experienced in my life.  In a time of searching and crying out to God on behalf of some personal struggles, God healed me from my panic attacks.  I was a new person and I suddenly felt like I had gained the freedom and joy I had as a little girl...For months I lived life with an incredible amount of energy and lack of fear.  It was absolutely beautiful...

Approximately a year later, they came back and I haven't found the answer to my continual question...
"God, why would you give me something and take it away within a year?  I don't get it God, I just don't get it..."

I have seen God answer prayers over and over because of them...but I've also seen myself struggling in ways I didn't want to experience again.  The truth that they might be a part of the rest of my life scares me at times... and I wish I could change that.  I can stand and watch other people my age leave home or go on trips and they don't think twice about having a sudden attack of fear and sickness pulling them to the ground...It isn't fair.  And I wish it was all just a bad dream...   But at the very same time...I know without a doubt that God knows exactly what He is doing and there is no way my idea of life could possibly make sense...but it still hurts.  It hurts pretty bad and answers would be comforting...

This morning, the words to a song hit me a little differently...


"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders"

The only way I am ever going to move closer to Him is by stepping out of the boat...it might be stormy at times and hard to keep my eyes on Him...but there's only one way.  For my strength to be made stronger, it's going to be tested...I'm going to go through rough water...but a relationship with the personal Creator of the Universe is something worth fighting for.  There has never been anything like it and there will never be anything that compares.

People will let us down, sickness will destroy normal life, accidents take place, and human imperfections will rub us the wrong way....but life is a journey.  We have to take it one step at a time.  Your story might look similar to mine or it might be completely different...but we can fight together and in eternity we will look into the eyes of the One who gave us something worth fighting for.






Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Fishbowl

(a few scribbles from my journal...)


I have a love/hate relationship with my fishbowl life...Mostly because the people all around the glass are watching for one wrong turn to make themselves look good and to make the fish look ridiculous.

The glass between me and them is thick.  So thick, in fact, that I don't really have anyone who gets it.  By the time I find a compassionate, genuine, loyal looking face and we find a way to communicate through the glass, the bowl is picked up and moved to another room where a brand new set of faces and pairs of foreign eyes await.

At first, I hate it...then I start to observe the customs of the people and the ways they live.  It's hard, but I remember how "WORTH IT" it is to step up and out even when it seems absolutely IMPOSSIBLE.

Years go by and I finally think I may have found a trustworthy face...
I attempt to reach through the glass to their compassionate heart, but something happens and they are pushed away.  I don't fully understand WHY, but I do know that it's probably RIGHT for both of us.

The cycle repeats itself for years and every time the fishbowl is plopped down in a new room, everyone exclaims over the beauty of the fish, all the adventures it's been on, and all the friends it has...That's as far as it goes.
They turn back to their world and hardly ever glance back at the lonely fish attempting to refrain from drowning in the tears of struggle and lack of confidence.

The fish they see seems to know how to communicate through the glass to a wide variety of people, has a pretty cool life, and has gifts and talents of different kinds...or so they say.

But...in reality, this fish doesn't know where she belongs or understands what talents these people are talking about.  They say she's cool, but why then do they live like she doesn't even exist any more?  How can they say she has value when they don't seem to want to stick around...?

People come and go...ALL THE TIME...and the little girl behind the pen struggles to find value in her life.  It's not that she doubts Jesus and the value He has given her, and yet, she does...because so many struggles and so much pain has been a result of her choices...not to mention those people who experienced pain because she walked into their lives...
...then there are those people that are her friends for a couple months before they leave her alone...

"If they don't want to be my friend, it's because of WHO I am  or WHAT I've done," she tells herself.
"The reason you don't have any friends, outside of your family, who have been there all your life is because you aren't enough."

"Yes, you've moved over and over, but obviously you don't have enough good for people to really 'want you' in their lives all the time."

"The reason you are currently wiping tears from your eyes is because this struggle is real and you believe it's all your fault."

It's not that I doubt reality.  Nor do I think God isn't present...because I have undoubtedly felt His love in very real ways...but because I've struggled to find confidence in myself my whole life, I've allowed the lie "It's Your Fault" to take root and grow.  Honestly, it's embarrassing.  I hate it.  It's not something I'm one bit proud of.  But it is too late to eliminate this from my life story.  It isn't too late, however, to grab the roots and pull the entire weed out.  It's time to fill that deep whole with the TRUTH that JESUS IS ENOUGH + HE IS MY FATHER.

It's time to allow Him to be  M Y   P R O V I D E R.

Even when the fishbowl is sparkly clean and all those pairs of eyes are starring, I have to allow my Provider to really provide all that I need...it's hard...but the rewards are so much greater than the pain...

||  I highly recommend you listen to this song.  ||

Monday, March 27, 2017

YOU MIGHT BE A T.C.K. IF...

YOU MIGHT BE A TCK IF...

1. You're English vocabulary isn't extensive, but you can carry a conversation in at least one other language fairly easily.

2.  You understand that Asia is made up of multiple countries and cultures and is not one big 'country.'

3.  You have tried to pay at a toll booth with your right hand.

4.  You find it entertaining to eavesdrop on other conversations in a public place because you can finally understand everything without having to even think.

5.  You don't know which country to cheer for in the Olympics or World Cup.

6.  You have four different clocks on your desktop.

7.  You get early and late Birthday wishes from your friends all over the world.

8.  You always miss someone.

9.  Filling in the "permanent address" box on a form makes you anxious.

10.  You fear that someone will ask you where you're from.

11.  You're accent changes depending on who you're talking to.

12.  You have spent a crazy and possibly unhealthy amount of time on airplanes.

13.  Your circle of best friends is about as diverse as the United Nations.

14.  The end of the school year was always rough because so many people moved away.

15.  You know pretty well that home isn't a place, but the people in it.