Between Here and There

The sky slowly begins to dim and turn shades of blue until blue is black and black is as black can be.  We live on the edge of a small village in rural Northern Thailand and when evening comes the sky is brilliantly full of the shine from heaven – unless it’s rainy season, of course, and then the clouds block the brilliance from physical sight but not from imagination.

Cicadas hum for a long phrase and then stop.  Hum and stop.  Our dog returns home from his daytime adventures in the rice fields and plops himself on our front step.  He’s ready for his self-appointed nighttime duty of keeping watch.  A tukae lizard calls out.  Our neighbours are quiet and have either gone to bed – it IS seven thirty already – or are busy watching the new Thai soap opera series or Thailand’s The Voice.

Day is done.  Nighttime is coming.  I’m here in this middle space of neither here nor there.  

We are transitioning from our home in Thailand to my homeland of Canada.  My daughters claim they’re “not Thai but English” – this is where the language and culture and nationality lines blur.  I remind them gently that they are both Thai AND Canadian, despite their protests.  

It’s a hard concept to grasp and I feel confused about those blurring lines in my own identity.  I can never be fully Thai but I’m not the same Canadian who left thirteen years ago for the mission field.  Does it really matter though?  My true citizenship is in heaven, I know.  But between here and there, what does it look like to live? 

We dream of what life will be like in Canada.  We plan, we brainstorm, we pray, we hope and we eventually give it all over to God.  We submit and surrender what our future will look like.  

Like the brilliance beyond the obscuring clouds, the future holds something so beautiful that we can’t even begin to fathom it.  We trust and believe in His goodness to both clear the clouds and carry us through.  We surrender our wills for His which is better than we can ask or imagine.


“How long will you be gone?” my husband’s grandmother, Uay, asks days later in Northern Thai.  She pauses and wipes tears away from her eyes.  She wasn’t looking at me when she asked but we were sitting next to each other on the bamboo platform, watching my youngest twirl with delight in her “princess” dress.  Uay laughs as her great-granddaughter dances around, playing games with her shadow.  “About three years,” I reply.  She wipes her eyes again and she holds my hand as we sit in silence.  

Transitioning means leaving where you were in order to arrive somewhere else.  The bridge linking those two places, whether physical or cognitive, is complicated.  How can one cross while their partner lags behind?  How can one cross while the pull to remain is strong?  How can one cross while the crossing pains a loved one?  

My husband assures Uay that we will be able to video call her and that her son or one of her grandsons will certainly help.  “Oh, I’m not good at that kind of thing,” she says, brushing off the attempt to console the upcoming loss.  

The only way across is through one step at a time.  We don’t have to jump across, only to land in the water, but simply put one foot in front of the other and walk.  

“Let’s go inside,” Uay finally says, putting her cane in position to help her stand.  Slowly, we begin to walk together.

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The Perspective of Returning Home

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I recently looked back at some of my early blog posts, dating back a little over thirteen years ago. I was in the middle of preparing to go to the mission field and, as I read, I was reminded of the many ways that the Lord prepared the way for me. I was single, young, determined, adventurous, and possessed a heart full of faith to follow the Lord where He was calling me. Now, all these years later, I am married with two small children, not as young as I used to be, just as determined, more cautious than adventurous, but still with a heart ready to follow Jesus as He prompts me through His Spirit.

We are heading back “home” to Canada this coming August and I am unsure whether to call it home or not. My mom passed away last year and my dad twenty years before that. My sister and her family live two hours away from where we’ll plant ourselves, and many of my close friends now live scattered across Canada.

Someone asked me recently about what was waiting for us in Canada, assuming we had jobs lined up and a place to live. “Oh,” they replied when my response was negative towards both of those things, “so you’re just waiting on God to see where He’ll lead you?”

The unknowns in my present are just as intimidating as they were when I was anticipating moving to SE Asia. But the difference now is that I have almost thirteen years of experience of walking through unknowns, following the lamp that the Lord’s provided to show the path in front of me, and the regular discipline of reminding myself of what is true.

I know He is El-HaNe’-eman – “faithful God” (Deut. 7:9 ESV). He never changes and, despite circumstances around us being uncertain, He is unwavering in His character.

I know He is Eliezer – “my God is help” (Exodus 18:4 ESV) – and Ebenezer – “stone of help” (1 Samuel 7:12 ESV). I’ve experienced His provisions countless times and often in the most surprising ways. Like Samuel in 1 Samuel 7:12, I have set up various stones – some real, some in my journal, and some through a picture or other creative means – in my life as a way to honour the Lord and remember how He has moved to help me and others around me.

I know He is Immanuel – “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14, 8:8, and Matthew 1:23 ESV). This has been the biggest reason why I’ve been able to persevere in serving the Lord. I have never had to tackle any task, assignment, follow-up visit, language and culture lesson, visa trip, immigration question, sickness, home assignment, dangerous road, sermon or annual reunion conference by myself. He has always been with me and will always be with me. Despite Satan’s attempts to convince me otherwise, I was never alone in that village in the wooden house, never forgotten in that mountainous assignment, never left behind when my husband went off to work and I was home alone with our children. His presence has satisfied my soul, calmed my anxieties and empowered my heart.

So, I anticipate returning home with great expectations of the Lord to remain the same. I know He will lead us through new challenges and adventures, He will provide exactly what we need (and sometimes what we may think we want) and when we need it, and He will remind me that He is with us and will continue to be with us through it all.

Home has changed. And I’ve changed too. I don’t know what home even really means anymore except for it to be the place where God invites me to be, too.

If you’re returning home for the summer or for longer, which testimonies of God’s goodness is the Holy Spirit reminding you of so your soul may be strengthened?

Five Minute Friday: Secret #FMF

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My almost-five-year-old is still figuring out her groove with the swing.  When do you bend your legs and when do you straighten them?  How do you go higher?  If I make a face like this, will it help?  What is the secret?!

When we’re learning something new, it will take some time to figure out how to do it, how to do it well and how to do it in our own way.  I know I felt like this when I came to the missions field.  I felt pressure to be as extroverted as my teammates but after a few years I discovered something: I had to learn how to serve the Lord in the way that He had created me and gifted me.

Growing as a writer is the same.  How does the Lord want me to communicate what He’s putting on my heart?  How does He want me to use the unique gifts and life circumstances He’s given me to write?  How can I remain true to myself and God as I pursue this new journey?


If you are a writer but you struggle to share your work in a way that feels like you, then you don’t want to miss this:

Emily P. Freeman, co*founder of hope*writers, is hosting a live training for writers called “How to be a Working Writer Without Losing Your Mind.” It will be on Tuesday, May 22nd at 8 pm ET.  

Emily is a Wall Street Journal bestselling author who loves talking to writers about writing.

Click here to save your spot for Tuesday night’s free masterclass!

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These are affiliate links but I promise I won’t ever recommend something unless I’ve tried it before and have determined it to be helpful, inspiring or both. 

Beginning today and throughout the week until Friday, May 25th, Hope*Writers is opening up access to join their writing and learning community.  Sign up for the free webinar to gain insight from Emily about the process of publishing a book, and get a glimpse of what it may be like to be supported by hope*writers in your writing and publishing journey.

See you there!

Sweet Sleep

I slept last night.  I went to bed early (for me) and was asleep by 11pm.  Then next time I woke up was at four in the morning when my two-year-old was crying and I went in to settle her.  When I slipped back into bed, I counted the hours in my head and realised I had already gotten more sleep that night than I have on other nights of late when I combined my hours of sleep.

Sleep.  It’s no joke people.

As a Mom of an almost five-year-old and a just over two-years-old, both of whom are not considered great sleepers, I struggle with sleep deprivation.  I wish my kids slept better but they don’t – although it has improved over the years.

So what’s the secret?  The remedy?  The key to which I can unlock a full night’s sleep?  I don’t know.  But I recognise that if I want to be a better version of myself, I need to start with going to bed earlier… which is so hard when my kids finally fall asleep and I feel like I’ve been injected with a shot of adrenaline and an “I can do anything because my children are asleep” kind of empowerment.   But let’s at least start here.

Five Minute Friday: Motivate

I don’t remember my Mom wearing a lot of embellishments or even jewellery when I was growing up. I can recall certain large chunky necklaces from family pictures when I was little, or some from later in life for a party, but it wasn’t really her thing.  But around the time she became a Grandma, she began to buy and wear clothing with sequins and sparkles on them.  She confessed that she did this so that her grandchildren would be motivated to sit on her lap and spend time with her.  Well, I have to say that this was a well thought out plan and also a successful one.  My firstborn, my Mom’s first Granddaughter, was delighted to play with the sparkly neckline on my Mom’s shirts.

Now, about four months after my Mom passed away, we still refer to any highly decorated shirt as a “Grandma shirt.”  And my daughter chooses those types first from her drawers.

Day 9: Plan #write31days

A part of the bigger picture at play is the relationship between my sister and me (see!  here I am wondering if it’s me or I, like I mentioned yesterday).

Since the end of June, my sister and I, and our children (my four year old and 21 month old, and her 21 month old), and my brother-in-law and other various relatives (aunts, cousins, close friends), and my husband on two visits, have been living together in our childhood home.  This sort of living situation is not for the faint of heart, let me tell you!  It’s been stressful and beautiful, fun and crazy, annoying and lovely.

But through it all, my sister and I have been forced to deal with our conflict, and, as a byproduct, we have grown much closer than ever before.  And that is something my Mom would’ve loved.  She didn’t plan to get sick and die, but I know her heart for our lives and our relationship was that we would grow to become close friends, and not just sisters.

Five Minute Friday (FMF): Help

Help late in the evening while on the road for work.  Help with a baby fussy in your arms.  Help with a toddler challenging you at every turn.

The Lord is near.  He is mighty to save.  He is my Helper, my Strength, my Wisdom, my Friend.

On the edge of a village, I feel like I could be on the edge of the world sometimes.  Who can hear my cries for a friend?  Who can hear my cries for help?

I called to the Lord and He heard my cries.  He sets my feet upon a rock.  He gave me firm place to stand.

I lift my eyes up to the mountains, where does my help come from?  My help comes from Him, Maker of Heaven, Creator of the earth.

Five Minute Friday (FMF): Surprise

It shouldn’t have been a surprise for me this morning when we all accidentally slept in and grumbleness followed.  My firstborn takes after me – when I’m hungry, I’m grumpy.  It’s the sad tale of the sleep-deprived Mom who would like very much to sleep in but is too hungry to do so.  Not really so sad.

But when my 2 and three quarter year old whined her way through breakfast, I thought to myself, “I really do need to get up earlier each day, even if I am tired.”  Getting food in our bellies sooner and food in our (my) soul in quiet before the house wakes up.

Our family are night owls by nature, but I want to be a morning person.  I feel like it’s a necessity these days.  Wake up with the sun (6:30am) and sit with my coffee and Bible and Saviour.  I need it.  My soul needs it.  It won’t be a surprise to me how much more awake and alive I’ll feel after persevering to make this change in my life.

This sleep-deprived Mom needs it.

[Note: About Five Minute Friday]