Tuesday, January 17, 2017


For the past several years right around my birthday, I have written a reflective post on the past year. This past year was rough, so I found myself wanting to just move on rather than stop and think about it. But, I stopped anyway. So here's my 31st year, the good, the bad, and the ugly:

What was the best thing that happened this past year?
Simply being alive, being Michael's wife, and being Grace and Cora's mommy. These are the most basic, everyday things and they are the best.

What was the most challenging thing that happened?
For the first half of the year, the most challenging thing was saying goodbye to people and places in the U.S. and adjusting to life in a new country.

The second half of the year, the challenges of adjustment were overshadowed and compounded by the news of our good friends' deaths. The loss of any one of them would have been difficult. The loss of all five at once was, at times, unthinkable.

What was an unexpected joy this past year?
I've always loved nature. When we decided to move to the concrete jungle that is Bangkok, I thought I would have to just get used to life without much green. Then, we discovered an enormous park with trails, gardens, a lake, and a huge playground located just a twenty minute drive from home. The first time I went, I almost cried, it was so beautiful and I felt so grateful!

What was an unexpected obstacle?
This was the year of obstacles, most of them unexpected. I could probably list 100. Here are the first few that come to mind: mold, rats, diarrhea (gross, but true!), navigating the world of Thai preschools, hunting for a car without understanding how car purchasing works in Thailand, and temporary deafness caused by a bad ear infection. I'm hoping that working through all these obstacles made me a more flexible and resilient person!

What image best captures this year?
I love this picture Michael got of Grace sitting on a wall. This year has been all about our family adjusting to a new life in another country. This picture captures some of that entering in.

With whom were your most valuable relationships?
This year, there were so many people who lovingly cared for us. Just a few who come to mind… 

  • Each and every kind Thai person who helped us figure out life here all the while being patient with our poor speaking skills. Especially our Thai tutor, Khruu Sasipa.
  • A few women in the U.S. who regularly prayed for me and cared for me from so far away (one of whom was Kathryne Pals).
  • My siblings and our parents too who are a constant source of support and prayer.
  • Friends/colleagues here who have become like family.

What was the best way you used your time this past year?
Digging deep into the Thai language; video chatting and emailing with people in the U.S.; taking trips to the beach; and spending time with God praying, writing, reflecting on the past, and visioning for the future.

What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?
God is completely good and sovereign (in control) of everything. Even events that look like detours, accidents, and tragedies are a part of his big plan. I have found so much peace in this truth.

What days will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I will carry the memory of our first weeks in Bangkok and the memory of the Pals family for the rest of my life.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
The enormous progress I've made in learning Thai. A year ago, I knew just a couple dozen, mostly food terms. Now, I can converse with people (up to a point). A year ago, the script looked like gibberish, now I can slowly read it.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?
My new nephew, Malachi. So far, I've gotten him to smile at me three times while video chatting. I also got really excited about visits from both our parents, my sister and brother-in-law, and good friends.

What kept you sane?
My husband's calm, hardworking, always willing to help spirit. Coffee/tea. The large park and gardens near our house. Line, Facebook, and Skype for keeping in touch with family. Monthly calls with my spiritualdirector/amazingfriend, Larissa.

What are you looking forward to the most this year?
Adjusting more to life in a new country, becoming a better Thai speaker, learning more about Thai culture, and thereby making Bangkok feel more like home.

Here are my posts from when I turned 30, 29, 28, 27, 26, and 25.

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