Thursday, February 25, 2016


In a word, how does it feel to be boarding a plane tonight to move our family to Thailand? Empty.

I remember in Fall 2008 walking around Bed, Bath, and Beyond with my Michael by my side and a wedding registry gun in hand. The moment we saw the white dishes with little red berries, we both loved them and "beep" they were on our registry. We've loved that dish set ever since. It's now all packed up and stored away. We'll be getting new dishes in Thailand.

I remember graduating from college and getting a new, used Corolla. We named her "Shwewbwy" (don't ask). Six years after graduation, Michael very nervously drove Grace home from the hospital in that car while I sat in back with her. Then, 18 months later, he much less nervously drove Cora home from the hospital while I sat in front with him. We sold that car to a friend.

Dishes, car... we're also giving up our home, our furniture, our church, most of our books, our neighborhood, our favorite parks and playgrounds, etc.

And then there are the people. In December, I said goodbye to my siblings and my three year old niece who will be five next time I see her. On Monday, I said goodbye to my mom. Yesterday, I said goodbye to my dad.

Tonight, when we board the plane, we say goodbye to the English language and U.S. culture.

Empty. I've given up almost everything.

Emptiness has such a negative connotation, which it deserves because it involves a lot of stress and strain and grief and sadness.

But, for the follower of Jesus, emptiness is a place of expectation and assurance. It's only when a seed falls to the ground and dies that it can grow. When we lose life, we find Life. When we give up home and family for the sake of the gospel, we get those things back x100 in this life.

Someday, I'll look back and see how this emptying of almost everything I've got cleared the space and paved the way for new Kingdom of God things to fill their place. I have no idea how or when this is going to happen, but I can't wait to look back and be amazed!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Grace - Three Years Old

Next week, Grace turns three, or as she says it, "fuh-dee." Her birthday falls on the day we arrive in Thailand, so she will spend her special day on two planes, in two countries (Taiwan and Thailand), and totally zonked from 24 hrs of travel and a +15 hour time change.

So, what's Grace like these days?

She loves music. That's an understatement. Music moves Grace like nothing else. (Except sugar. In a weaker moment, she'd probably trade me for a chocolate donut with sprinkles.)

Grace spends most of her day singing. When she hears a new song, it takes just a few listens for her to memorize it, so she's developed quite a repertoire. These days, she particularly enjoys cycling through every song from every Daniel Tiger episode she's ever watched.

She also loves toying with her voice and words. She'll often take a normal song and sing it in a strange, robot voice. Or she'll take a normal word like "seaweed" and change it up to "seatweet."

She's incredibly affectionate. Grace loves being tickled, being held, and crawling into my lap to read a book. Every night before she goes to sleep, she asks for a "back-catch" (backscratch). This is not an example of her toying with words. "Back-catch" is just how she says it!

Grace has developed a strange and wild imagination. Sometimes, her hands are an airplane, her princess figurines are popcorn, or our family room carpet is a river. She has three imaginary friends, Kippy Kopp, Hoggy, and Bombom. They've gone on many adventures. She's recently started teaching Cora about them.

Last May, Grace developed the most intense, deep set fear of smoke detectors. This came completely out of the blue and robbed us all of several nights of sleep until we covered every little light on every smoke detector in our house with stickers. So much for checking to make sure they work.

Once, she saw an uncovered smoke detector out in the wild. When the little light flashed, she dove to the floor like a WWI soldier in a foxhole. The other day, she told me, "I used to be afraid of smoke detectors, but not anymore!" and asked me to peel off their stickers. I'm cautiously hopeful that this fear is now behind us.

Grace's favorite things these days include

  • Storytime at the library.
  • Small, enclosed spaces. I've found her climbing into the dryer and hiding in kitchen cupboards. She often begs me to build her forts and make her "doggy beds."
  • Being my little girl. When we talk about her turning three, she always wants me to reassure her that she'll still be my little girl.
  • Cora. Grace has perfected the big sister role. She is bossy, protective, sweet, and playful with her little sister.
  • The TV show, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. After a failed attempt at potty training Grace, Daniel Tiger potty trained 2.5 year old Grace in one 30 minute episode. God bless Daniel Tiger and all his over auto-tuned singing.
  • Going to the playground (especially climbing ladders).
  • When Michael holds her in his arms, twirling her and singing "Let's dance around the house!" She recently told us, "My favorite thing is dancing with Daddy" which promptly turned our hearts into puddles.
  • Cheesin for pictures. Look at that smile!

Grace, I could have never thought you up. You are an amazing little kid. Mommy is so proud of you and loves you so much.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Three More Weeks

I sit at my desk watching a cold, steady drizzle. The tree right outside my window is bare and dark and wet. The branches bend and sway in the wind. This is your typical, dreary Southern California winter day. In twenty six days, we move from Los Angeles to Bangkok. There will certainly be rain, but of the warm, tropical downpour type. Trees will be scarcer and chilly days will be nonexistent. So I bask in the California cold.

As our move approaches, my awareness of everyday things heightens. I've begun to absorb all that I can trying to memorize the feel, the sights, and the sounds of this California life I've been living for the past dozen years.

I've gone on many runs outside through the neighborhood in a tshirt and shorts. Running in shorts through my Bangkok neighborhood… not going to happen. Today is our weekly day off from work and productivity. Michael and I are baking challah. I will memorize the smell of yeasty dough rising on the counter, the feel of the warmth from our oven as it bakes, and that taste of fresh bread with butter. Our theoretical apartment in Bangkok (we don't have one yet) won't have an oven and even if it did, due to the heat, we'd be crazy to turn it on.

A lot is about to change. I feel like I'm at the edge of a cliff checking my parachute before I jump, only the jump is just the beginning. Once I land on the ground below, I will be in a whole new world where I do not understand what people are saying, I do not understand why people do what they do, and cars drive on the wrong left side of the street. "It's not wrong, it's just different" will be my mantra.

Yet, every morning, we wake up and we simply take another step toward the edge. Vaccinations, thank you notes, skype calls, and shipping details. Soon we will reach our last day in the U.S. and we'll board plane #1. Then, the next day will be split between plane #1 and plane #2. Then the next day we'll arrive in Thailand.

Then, every morning after that for a long time, we will wake up and simply take the next step, whatever that may be, as we begin to unlock and uncover our new life in Thailand.

But, for now, I sit here bundled up in double socks, sweatpants and sweatshirt watching the rain fall and another day tick by.

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