Tag Archives: Canada

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.

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Spring has sprung

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Green bursts forth from the weeping willows at a park near our house

For the past several weeks, spring has come. To be honest, I heave a sign of relief and think to myself, hallelujah we MADE it!.

After six years living in Cambodia’s tropical climate, I knew that our first winter back in Canada would be a shock to the system. To be fair, we are in the Okanagan, where winter winter only lasts a couple of months. To our family and friends in the Prairies, this must sound like pathetic drivel.

But still. We got used to 40 degrees every day remember. Also, I maintain bragging rights for surviving two hot seasons in my third trimester of pregnancy. It was at least 35-40 degrees every day and I assure you, I was a huffing, puffing, sweating mess.

So this first winter back felt daunting. And while I mentally prepared for the cold, it was actually the dark that shocked my system the most. Day turned to night by 4:30pm. Crazy!

But we made it through the slushy snow and the bad roads and the worst storm the Okanagan experienced in something like three decades. We made it through the gloomy days and exceptionally dark evenings.

And I’ve made it through 33 weeks of pregnancy, which in itself feels like a remarkable feat.

So dear spring, thank you for finally arriving with all of your hope and light and expectation.

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.

Texture

#thegratitudeproject Day 21

What do I make of all this texture? What does it mean about the kind of world in which I have been set down? The texture of the world, its filigree and scrollwork, means that there is the possibility for beauty here, a beauty inexhaustible in its complexity, which opens to my knock, which answers in me a call I do not remember calling and which trains me to the wild and extravagant nature of the spirit I seek. (Annie Dillard. Pilgrim At Tinger Creek. Pg. 140-141)

The hills around Kelowna are dramatic and beautiful. It’s a dry climate, without too much vegetation. I think that makes it all the more intense because you can see every dip and nob, ever cleft of rock and gully on on every mountain.Then there are bursts of farmland, vineyards and orchards. They are bright, green surges on an otherwise brown canvas.

It all makes for rather extravagant, stunning, texture.

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