Tag Archives: adventure

Love 10 Years Later

9th anniversary
Cheering nine years together in Dubrovnik, Croatia

A year ago, our anniversary was spent on the road. We were part way through our epic trip and had just landed in Croatia to meet up with a good friend. She graciously allowed us to sneak away from the kids for a couple of hours to devour a platter of Croatian delicacies and sip wine al fresco at a stunning street-side cafe in one of Dubrovnik’s gorgeously charming alleyways.

Somehow I shoved myself into the little black dress and heels I’d picked up along our travels. Steve kinda sorta tamed his wild mane of hair for the occasion. Together we ate and walked around the old city and listened to live piano music.

We are not a particularly sentimental couple. We forget to give gifts and we forget to hold hands.

And yet.

I do marvel at this life together. How the practice of our covenant has unfolded over the past decade; in several communities around the world, with friends and family, through adventures and celebrations and grief and joy.

This year, trying to be as pragmatic and as stress-free as possible, we have decided to postpone any formal 10th anniversary celebrations until things quiet down a bit. May is a ridiculous month for us – both girls’ birthdays AND the new baby’s due date compete with our anniversary.

Still, I can’t help but recollect the past decade. How our marriage has survived (and become stronger), through the ups and downs of living life together in four different countries on three different continents. How we’ve had the privilege of traveling and adventuring together through 31 countries. How our daughters have helped us explore in new ways and experience elation and frustration and growth like never before.

And I am in awe at how love changes over a decade.

familyFor us it has become more practical and down to earth. These days love is shared in the form of changing dirty diapers and sweeping the kitchen floor and wiping snotty noses and managing tantrums and giving each other breaks to do the things we love and plotting weekend outings that a 2 year-old will enjoy. 

After 10 years together, I’m more grateful than ever for my husband/friend/companion who demonstrates love in washing dishes and cooking meals, being a phenomenal dad to free spirited girls, who encourages me wholeheartedly to pursue my passions and talents in career and personal life, and is an equal participant in this parenting gig.

I find that during this season of transition back to Canada and with small kids, love in this form is a far more meaningful 10th anniversary gift than roses or chocolates or any schmancy present could ever be.

Sure, I’d go back to Croatia’s Dalmatian coast in a heartbeat.

But I am also beyond grateful for this. All of this. For our 10 year old wild and crazy life together.

When There’s Nowhere to Go But Home

This blog post was published on the A Life Overseas Blog on Wednesday, April 29, 2015. 

IMG_7162When my husband and I decided to leave Cambodia, we had a hard time articulating why. Life was fine – very good actually. We had a decent groove with work, amazing childcare for our two children, and the most incredible faith community.

And yet. We knew.

It would have been easier in some ways if there was some sort of “reason,” like a family or health-related issue, or something to do with the kids’ schooling. But for us it wasn’t any of those. There was no crystal clear moment, no flashing light, no obvious sign, and no audible voice from God. There was just a visceral knowledge that it was time.

When we moved to Cambodia in the first place, we were young and typically idealistic. We wanted to “make a difference” with the gifts and talents God gave us and invest meaningfully in work and relationships. We loved Cambodia deeply (and still do), but after nearly six years of committing ourselves to the country, its people and to our work, we felt like we received an inaudible release. The call to Cambodia had come and gone. And that was okay. It wasn’t failure or lack of commitment, or even cutting things short. We had permission to go.

Even more, there was an instinctual, gut-knowledge that if we stayed, we were actually taking the easy route. To leave? Well…that was terrifying. It meant trusting that God would provide a new way, a new vision for the future and a new path to see it through.

That’s where we sit right now. Nine months ago we left Cambodia. We took the long way home to Canada, stopping in 14 countries to visit friends and family along the way. Each step in our journey, including the five months we’ve been back, have been important in piecing together the next phase of our lives.

It is a phase that is decidedly Canadian. It’s relearning how to live and work and operate in our country of origin. It’s about finding deep and abundant rest – in the form of closeness to family, play parks for our kids, a safe car to drive, lots of walking and biking in Canada’s beautiful outdoors, and public services like health care and libraries at our disposal. It’s celebrating our first cold, white Christmas in six years. And, it’s wrestling with all sorts of new challenges, like living simply when surrounded by overabundance and learning to make new friends and find our place in a new church community. Sometimes I feel like I’m the new girl back in high school.

It hasn’t been easy, and there are days when I desperately miss Cambodia and question our sanity in leaving.

But I still know deep in my gut that leaving was the right decision.

I am reminded of the countless times throughout Scripture where God calls people outside themselves and outside of the familiar. Whether it’s Abram and Sarai heading towards Canaan, the Israelites leaving Egypt, or Paul’s missionary journeys, God calls us out of our comfort zone and out of the familiar.

Strangely enough, for us right now, that’s Canada.

In his work, ‘The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church’, Alan Hirsch says:

“When we survey scripture with liminality and communitas [[1]] in mind, we must conclude that the theologically most fertile sections were in those times of extremity, when people were well out of their comfort zones.”[2]

And so we find that the driving motivation to go to Cambodia in the first place – one of adventure and challenge and wanting to be changed – has now driven us back to Canada.

All of this doesn’t mean that a life overseas is over for us. Not at all. It means that before we can go and minister again, we need to refresh and re-energize after coming dangerously close to burning out. And, perhaps we need enough time in Canada to remember why we left in the first place.

For now, we plod through day to day life praying for peace, the capacity to live well in our new context, and for a renewed vision for the future.

[1] In ‘The Forgotten Ways’, Hirsch defines liminality as “the transition process accompanying a fundamental change of state or social position.” Communitas is “what happens when “individuals are driven to find each other through a common experience of ordeal, humbling, transition, and marginalization.” Page 221

[2] Hirsch, Alan. The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church. Brazos Press. Grand Rapids, MI. 2006. Page 221.

Burn, burn, burn

What the heck does “living fully” actually mean?

I was thinking about this today and mulling over a few different definitions. I liked dictionary.com’s enough for “living”, “abundant” and “full”.

Full: completely filled; containing all that can be held; filled to utmost-capacity

Abundant: present in great quantity; more than adequate; oversufficient; well supplied; abounding

Living: having life; active or thriving; vigorous; strong; burning or glowing as a coal

But Jack Kerouac nailed it for what people might look like if they were to live life to its fullest potential.

fireworks and jack kerouac

I would love to look back on my life and know that I had plumbed the depths and heights of what life offers. Not in a way that was out to make a name for myself or trying too hard to be that bright roman candle (that lacks authenticity!), but because of the way I invested in relationships, and navigated sorrow, and was present with my family and community, and the way I gave love away, that I knew I burned as brightly as I could. With every ounce of energy in me.

Living fully in the midst of transition, or trying to anyways

photo (5)How to do this? Living fully in the midst of transition?

It seems to me it’s a whole lot easier to seize the moment when there are beautiful Greek sunsets out your window or fabulous crusader castles to explore. While we felt a whole new degree of exhaustion on our Epic Trip through the Middle East and Balkans, that part of the transition to Canada felt a whole lot easier than actually settling in.

We decided to move to Kelowna, BC, because of its beauty, outdoor adventure possibilities and wineries. (Yes, seriously, that’s why we moved here.) Thankfully, my husband got a job in town which legitimated those hedonistic desires!

We’ve been here for about six weeks and much of that time has been a whirlwind of unpacking boxes and scouring garage sales for cheap furniture.

Only now are we beginning to feel more settled. And now, real life is setting in.

To be honest, some days I feel like we have all the time in the world. Like life is lazily sipping away at a freshly brewed latte with a gorgeous sunrise in the background.

But there are other days where I feel frantic. Frantic that we don’t really have any friends yet. Frantic that I’ll never find a way to balance working part time and shuffling kids to daycare and preschool.

And then there’s the reality that we are stationary. We are bound by work and school schedules, fewer national holidays, and the fact that Canada is ridiculously expensive.

Much of the time, I don’t actually feel settled at all and transition is still a daily experience.

So. This Nester’s #write31days challenge is a personal journey for me. It’s an attempt to live more graciously, more abundantly and more joyfully in my crazy-mundane-exciting-lonely-full new life.

Want to join me for the ride? Goodness knows the more wisdom, the more joy, the more stories, the merrier the journey will be.

a week of lasts

Our last hiking adventure with Cody and Nicole - but hopefully not our last adventures with them.

finishing strong – or at least trying to.  it’s been a week of ‘the lasts’. 

-frisbee games – au revoir Grass Stainz and Run Fergus Run.  It’s been a slice.  Thank goodness I ended Run Fergus with a great layout.   

-work – last day is tomorrow.  it’s bitter sweet letting go of all of my projects and prepping them for the new guy who starts next week.

-the last time to hang out with friends and family.  going away parties, dessert, coffees, a few beers.  there are many people i will miss deeply.

-the last time sleeping in our little room in Mayland Heights.  the bed’s been gone for a week already, but there’s something so familiar about this place.  i’ve loved every second – the view of downtown; fantastic neighbours – great people for potlucks – family foods 100 steps away. 

-the last bike ride to work.  i’ve come to appreciate the 20-minute ride.  it clears my head, gives me exercize, and i feel stronger after a summer of riding. 

-last times with Snappy.  she goes to STeve’s dad’s house and is going to stay there until we figure out what’s going on.  we’re going to miss her winter adventures with mice.  (pout).  i’d love to bring her to cambodia…but don’t want to screw her up either with such a huge transition. 

winding down.  gearing up for the future. 

i sure hope i’m ready!

Kauai

resize-of-copy-of-a-hawaii-073.jpg

The ocean pounds the surf onto the sand.  Secret Beach.  Rolling waves – completely folding over onto themselves.  No surfers out today.   At the edge – hardened lava flows into the ocean.  Pools form and shells, pieces of coral stuck.  Stranded. 

Tunnels beach.  A whole new world.  The creativity of the Master shows in every swish of a neon fin – on every polka dot and stripe on the gorgeous underworld creatures.  The reef plummets to the depths of the ocean floor.  But up here, near the surface, goggles on and flippers in tow, I am safe.  Observing the incredible majesty of a reef teeming with life. 

Gorgeous Kaua’i.