Monday, July 17, 2017

to experience life.

We're sitting in a hotel in Bangkok after sitting in a taxi and crossing a border and sitting in a van and driving and waiting and driving and waiting and it's all just so exciting! The boys were rifling through their back packs to see what surprises were awaiting them even before we had left our little town. The excitement was high today for more than just having their own fidget spinners (finally.) And they're a little bit broken already - the spinners, not the boys, but the excitement has not wavered.

We're sitting at the gate ready to get on our flight after hours of travel already. We walked to a street market for dinner tonight and each chose something we liked. The boys had mango and guava with spicy chili sauce before they say goodbye to their favorite fruits for a couple of months. As we ate and walked and throughout the day we've asked Ru what he thinks of his first time in another country.

The wonder on his face as he sees a real highway and watches the ridiculous traffic and all the rest of the new that he has experienced so far is everything I have anticipated it to be and it is joyous. It goes back to years ago when the dream to take these two boys and become a family first began and I had no idea whether or not it would actually happen and if it did whether or not we would ever be able to go anywhere, but we're on our way now.

And Rain is excited that he's staying up so late tonight because he doesn't remember staying up past nine o'clock before, so it's fun to be like an adult. And Ru is excited to see the plane take off and watch the city grow smaller below us tonight, but he doesn't want us to tell him everything that's going to happen - he just wants to experience it. and really, I am so grateful that he gets this chance and that he is eager to make the most of it.

Saturday, July 15, 2017


This week I watched Rain say goodbye to another of his best friends. It's one of the things that gets me about living here. Sometimes people leave. And it's good that people move on to other things sometimes. We cannot all stay here forever, but it's hard to see friends go and even harder to watch your kids see friends go. It's happened for Rain a few times so far, but he's talking about it more this time.

I watched him Thursday night stand up in front of a room full of people and tell his friend what he liked about him and why he was going to miss him so much. It was watching him face fears and realize that he could. 

I saw the matching paper crosses he designed so he could have one and give his friend one - so they could always remember each other "like the birds in Home Alone."

I've also heard him thinking things through and ask good questions about whether or not God will help him not miss his friend. And was it God helping him last year to not cry when his friend left or was that self control? And what will it be like now? Who can he be best friends with now? 

And while I am sad he has had to say goodbye to his little friends, I am mostly more grateful that he has had such good friends. It is painful to miss people, but that is better than not having known what it's like in the first place.

it turned into forever

7 years ago this week Ruen came to visit and stayed forever. It wasn't what any of us had planned that day and it changed so many things in all of our lives, but I'm so glad it did.

Very often I hear people say that children grow up so fast even if the days feel very long and I am finding it to be true. Ru came as a little kindergartener and is now a teenager. I feel sad sometimes that we missed so many of his little years together. I feel sad sometimes that there are only two pictures of him from before you came to live with us and he are already 3 or 4 when they were taken. 

One of my first memories of Ruen living with us happened a few days after he arrived. We were leaving from the base after eating lunch on our way to enroll him in English school. He was sitting on the back of my bike with his legs criss crossed so he would not get them stuck in the back wheel. We stopped at a friend's road side stand and she gave him some crickets. Then just as I was getting ready to go again, he fell off and landed on the street. I didn't even know what to do. He was perfectly fine and got up and climbed back on, but it still makes me laugh. 

Now, this week, I got to watch him earn his yellow belt in Tae Kwon Do. I got to help him finish fifth grade which has not been easy for him. And tomorrow we leave for America after years of him wanting to go, waiting to go, not believing he ever could go. 

It is true that we missed so much in those first six years that he was not with us, but the past seven years have been full of all of the times that make us a family. When we asked him what he's most thankful for in these past seven years it's being that family. 

I am grateful his visit that one day turned into forever. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

ending and new beginnings

Yesterday at Jeevit's House we moved boxes and furniture and all the different odds and ends one accumulates living in a space and took them to the campus. There's been a whole process leading up to this decision that is good and wise and has been prayerfully sought, but it doesn't make the actual day any less difficult.

It's the ending of a season is what I tell myself, but it's a bit of a disheveled ending and the next one is not quite figured out yet. It's a making of a bit of a nomadic season and in so many ways I'm not even involved in the daily business of it and I have not been for a long time, but yesterday was more difficult than I anticipated it being.

As we were packing and sorting last week we came across all sorts of things I had forgotten about. Some brought smiles and some were reminders of sad things that have happened in the 7 years since Jeevit's House has begun.

The morning we got there to actually load up the boxes and move them to the campus one of the families came to get their rice. I talked to the mom briefly, but I didn't take the time to actually stop and have a conversation with her. I should have. I used to talk to her all the time and one of her daughters is one of the first kids I met when I moved here. Seeing her again led me to thinking about so many of the families we have worked with over the years. Some I never got to know well, but some of them are good friends of mine. Some of them I laugh with and share stories with and we pray for each other. Some have moved away to something better than what their lives were here and I'm so grateful. Some have seemingly disappeared... a neighbor heard they were moving here or there... or the neighbors don't even know - they're just gone.

After all the boxes were moved and most of the walls stripped bare the boys and I walked through the house again. The rooms were filled with memories of all that's happened there over the years. I remember riding our bikes around the city looking for places to rent. I remember finding this one house and making a contract with the landlord. I remember walking through the house in 2010 and dreaming of all that could happen there. I remember choosing to rent the house and the countless people who volunteered time cleaning and painting and weeding and working to make the empty rooms look like a home. I remember bringing home Rain from the hospital and the day Ruen came to visit and ended up staying forever. I remember Sophea and Sokly and Rung'sey who each lived there briefly. I remember the first VBS there that first summer and how children tumbled out of the tuk tuk like it was Mary Poppin's bag and how they came from every direction filling our house with their smiles and laughter as they were taught about Jesus. I remember Rain learning to walk, to talk, to ride his bike there. I remember Ru always wanting to climb to the roof of the playground and learning to speak English there. I remember the girls learning to sew in the office and the parties where kids were clambering over the gate waiting for it to be opened. I remember being greeted with the sun and a family needing help in some sort of crisis. I remember so many things.

There are so many memories from Jeevit's House. It was hard to say goodbye, but it was only a house. And what I must believe is that while this does bring a definitive ending to one season of Jeevit's House that it also brings a new beginning to another season and it will continue to grow and it can now flourish in ways that maybe weren't even imagined in 2010 when we first saw met that house.

Monday, November 21, 2016

the balance

I've written about this before, but it's been on my heart again more recently. There are so many times that people tell me or tell my boys that they're so lucky to be with me. They're so lucky to have me as a mom. They're so lucky to have the future they wouldn't have had if ....

I understand their heart, but I don't really agree.

I think adoption is amazing, but it always comes from a loss. It always starts with some amount of brokenness - and often for children a brokenness they have little ability to understand and no control over.

My boys didn't pick to come live with me. They didn't get to choose to come. They have a good life here. They are very, very wanted here. They are very, very loved. We do the best we can to parent them. We make plenty of mistakes. We say we're sorry and we try again, but I understand there's an ache inside of them that I can't meet and I don't understand myself.

I am so thankful I get to be their mom. It really is a privilege for me, but the best case scenario for them wouldn't have been me. And so when they come broken and crying or angry because they want to live with the dad they've never met. They're not lucky to be here. It's living in the balance of being so very glad they are mine and so very sorry for everything that happened in their lives to bring them here. The richness I've gained because of them in my life has come at a very high cost for them.

As they get older they are starting to understand a little more of why they came. It doesn't change the longing in their hearts for what should have been in their lives. It doesn't answer the questions that tear them apart sometimes, but I can honestly tell them I'm so sorry for how they got here, but so very, very glad they are here.

So we're living these days working through the pain and trying to cover ourselves in the love and grace of the one who adopted us. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

a decade

Ten years ago today I arrived in Battambang.

I was full of dreams and hopes and love for this nation. I was moving here because I knew that's what God had told me to do.

I was excited. I was homesick. I was naive. I was full of myself. I was nervous. I was scared. I was so happy to finally be here though.

I didn't know how long I was going to stay. I was 23 and my idea of a lifetime has been passed by many times already. Teaching English at the youth center seems like forever ago - and it was really. Church at the military hospital hasn't happened in ages, but it used to happen every week. It's been years since our days volunteering at the government orphanage have ended, but it used to consume my schedule. I still see kids riding their bikes around town that live there. It feels like Jeevit's House has been open forever. It's hard to remember a day when I didn't have my boys to take care of.

So much has happened in the last 10 years and I am so grateful. I have made so many friends. I have learned so much more than a new language. And I feel so very at home in this place.

I am in love with this city. I am in love with this nation. My life is all the richer for all the experiences I have had.

I still do not know how long I am going to stay. I anticipate it to be many more lifetimes. There are so many more dreams I want to see happen and so much more I have to learn. 

Friday, October 14, 2016


Rain turns 7 tomorrow!
How is that even possible?
There are times I find myself looking back saying he was so little!
When did he grow up?
Where did my little baby go?

But I can't stay there because I am all the more in love with this curious little man as I was with that baby. He is charming and funny. He is full of adventure and his own special sense of humor. I have yet to understand most of his jokes, but his laughter is contagious. I am so glad he was born seven years ago and that six months later I got to meet him. I'm so glad that God has let me be mom to him and his brother. It is a great privilege to be trusted with raising these little men.

And so here's to hoping his birthday is everything he is expecting it to be from his breakfast of crepes and hot dogs through the rest of the day - and that this cake meets his exceedingly high and complicated expectations. At least he just wants green eggs and ham for dinner.