Making Home... Again

When I initially chose this blog name, we were living in our 5th place in a year's time, and though we had only lived abroad for 5 months, we were already setting up our 2nd overseas home. Little did I know that God had a plan for us to move another 4 times in the next 4 years, one of them being just a couple weeks ago. "Making Home" has been quite an apt theme for this season of my life.

I just want to share a few of the things God has taught us during this season of unplanned, unexpected, very frequent moves.

The other day, I happened upon a conversation where someone was having to move for the second time in their children's lives. They were concerned about the psychological impact of moving on their children. And it is something to consider... this is not a "pro-move-as-much-as-you-can" sort of blog post. Having to move, leave friends, set up a new normal, even learn new languages or cultures... it's not easy or ideal or something we would have sought at all.

But one thing I have learned is that God is so faithful. He really doesn't give us more than we can bear (1 Cor 10:13). He is gentle with those that are with young (Isa 40:11). He is faithful to the thousandth generation. Our kids are not an afterthought for Him. He planned their existence, our lives, and their existence as part of our lives, before the foundations of the world. We can trust Him to use all things (even unexpected-- even undesired-- moves) for good.

In every place we have lived... whether the 6th floor walk-up apartment in China with the faucet that either trickled scalding water or sprayed freezing water... or the Thai bungalow with feuding, hissing lizards on the ceiling... or our last apartment with the squawking birds that resided in the eaves of the roof just outside our bedroom door and chose the worst times (11pm or 5am-- really!) to squawk... He has given us good and delightful things that did not exist in the other places. Our funny-showered Chinese apartment sat in a valley of sorts and was surrounded on 3 sides with layered ridges of mountains. The Thai bungalow sat above a lush garden filled with amazing trees and flowers, and is where we spent the first four weeks with our precious daughter and allowed us the opportunity to celebrate our older two sons' birthdays with elephant rides. And yes, those squawking birds took residence in the eaves... but those eaves were located above an unusually large enclosed balcony where our children could play soccer and throw balls and get out their energy, even in cold or rainy weather, when we lived in a neighborhood with no park nearby.

He has blessed us, in different ways, in each home He has given. The Father has been so faithful to provide and show Himself mighty on our behalf.

From that home I described earlier-- with the funny shower options--, the place where I first chose this blog name, "Making Home", until today, this verse has been posted on a little card on the back of our front door. It reminds me that there is nowhere I can go where I am out of His keeping and His care. He truly does keep us and lead us, and we can rest in Him. So no matter where He has you, or where He takes you, I just wanted to take this opportunity to encourage you with the ways that I've found Him faithful through our many-homed life. He is good, and (even if it includes some odd details or unplanned locales,) I believe He will faithfully provide for you and your family .

12 comments: said...

thank you for this post! it is timely as we are moving for the 3rd time in 20 months and I am bone tired from packing and unpacking and setting up and tearing down.... and worried about the impact is has on the kids (especially when they cry over it!)

thanks for the encouraging words! :)

it is good to remember God is in control of things even when they are out of our comfort zone and even when they go against the grain of "normal".

Sadie said...

Thank you so much for this post Jess. Since our move overseas we also have experienced God's grace in where we live (and as you say, um, interesting features have also been surrounded by glorious evidences of God's providence for us no matter where we live. I am continually aware of God's loving kindness towards us even in the little details. As we look forward to more moving in the near future, I love the idea of posting that verse on the door. Think I might just have to copy you! Thanks so much for the encouragement.

Anna said...

This is so true. With a move overseas in an area close to conflict, I've realized this on a different level.
I've always trusted God with my kids' safety, but I realized I was trying to micromanage things in their lives-- such as how will they adjust, will they have friends, will they be traumatized by what they see and hear.
I have to trust that God is in control of the events, as well as the impact it will have on each of my children.
As a mother, I would shield them from everything difficult if I could, but I know that this is not what will make them into mature people one day.

Luci said...

Thank you for this marvelously encouraging post. Y'all are such an amazing and inspiring family! I had never noticed that verse from Psalm 121 -- but it speaks to God's overwhelming love for all of us. I think I'll post it on our front door, too. :)


Lana said...

Thailand is my favorite place I ever lived.

God bless you for your positive attitude!

Catherine R. said...

Well, girlfriend, I must say I continue to admire your bravery and attitude about being overseas and all it entails, doing it unto the Lord. It's not something I have ever felt called to do, but I can still relate to making due with less than ideal living arrangements and of course your encouragements to see God's provision in it all are great.

In my life, for the vast most part, I have never lived in a place where everything seemed to be just right. Here in the US a very high level of material comfort and convenience in one's home seems to be a sort of entitlement and high priority. I'll admit, I struggle with unpleasant thoughts when it seems every couple I meet that is 10 years younger than us is in a vastly superior standard of living. And it's not like I wouldn't thank God for properly working stove burners and other life-easing details, but I wouldn't be who I am if I had not had to walk in these particular shoes.

As always, it's possible to go the bitterness route but it's good to get a dose of encouragement over here. <3

courtney said...

Thanks for the inspiring post, Jess! I was thinking about you guys the other day- AJ just celebrated her 2nd gotcha day with us. We began that adoption journey with a chance meeting with you guys- and you were about to start another great adventure yourself! Glad we can keep up through the blogs!

Anonymous said...

isn't it wonderful that God can be our home no matter what?

i really appreciate your blog and have been following for a while but never commented. i have a random question for you though regarding home-schooling (i just read your "why we home-school" post from before. my question is, how do you make sure your kids are learning the local language?

i am living in china now with my husband and 2 kids (and one more to come ANYTIME now) and i'm trying to figure out the best thing in terms of schooling for my oldest (who is almost 5).

it SEEMS, based on my observations of other expat families here, that to homeschool means that my kids won't learn mandarin, or at least not well...and i would really like to give them the gift of learning another language...but at what cost? you may have some idea of how chinese school can be like (you lived here right?). anyway, any comments, advice, input you may have would be really appreciated.


Jess said...

Interesting question, Olga. And one we've actually wrestled with. Our solution with Mandarin (and I'm not sure if it would have worked, we only were able to test it for about a month before we had to move from there for health reasons) was that we enrolled our 4 & 1/2 year old in a preschool program, solely with the goal of language acquisition. It was near to our apmt, and because it was so cheap ($7 for the entire semester, as I recall), we could "afford" to decide only to send him for partial mornings (9:30-12), 3 times a week. He played with the kids (49 in his class, run by 2 poor teachers!!!), sang songs, ran outside, and had a blast. I went with him the first couple times, he started to pick up a few things, and then we had to move.

Where we live now, that simply isn't an option. Even if you *can* get permission to only do half-days, it's upwards of $400 per [i]month[/i]. A far cry from the $7 per semester we paid for our Mandarin experiment. So far, that, combined with some personal reservations we have, has kept us from seeing that as a real option.

Currently, in our new apartment complex, we have a gated-in park/play yard, and already (in less than 3 weeks of play-outside-able-weather!!!) we're seeing our sons start making some steps in Turkish that (frankly) are greater than any they've made since being here (nearly 3 years now). So for us, that regular, daily interaction with neighborhood kids, combined with the possibility of doing some summer programs (maybe a soccer camp/swimming lessons sort of deal) may be the method we employ. But we're certainly not experts or examples in this area-- it's been trial and error, and so far, we've tended to opt for family togetherness rather than far-reaching, time-consuming ventures... for schooling in our own language rather than in the local language (although I would have considered doing this differently, were we in China, as Mandarin is spoken by a great percentage of the world's population, as opposed to the language we now live in)... and this is where we've ended up. I don't have any real clear answers on this. Just what we've tried and done. Maybe something I've shared will be helpful for you-- even just the shrug & smile of "yeah, it's a concern of ours, too". I'm not convinced that there are easy answers, no matter where one falls on the schooling/language continuum.

Blessings & I hope you find that place of peace and what's "right" for your family in your setting as you wrestle with these things.

Phyllis said...

Jess, it's been so long since I've come by here that my computer didn't even remember the address. (But I did! :-) Thank you for this post! We're moving in a week or so. After months of searching, God found us a WONDERFUL apartment. We were pretty sure that we've have to be going down to a tiny one, if we could find anything at all. This one is huge! I might need to come back to your encouraging words as we make it into a livable home, though. :-)

(For Olga, this great blog has recently discussed both school options and language learning for children:
Maybe you'll find something helpful there.)

Deborah said...

Jess-thanks for stopping by my blog and for the kind comments. I didn't realize that you're expecting too. I'm so happy for you and your family!

Emilia said...

I just stumbled upon, or was maybe lead, to your blog. I, too, live abroad and just having had a baby, am curious to see your perspective on having a baby overseas! I just started a blog about raising a family in Italy and the things that differ from America. I see that there is much to read on your blog so I can't wait to find time when the kiddos are asleep! Thanks for being a spiritual leader for those of us far from our families and churches. Emilia