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!

Five Minute Friday: Include #FMF

Ever since my daughters were born, as a part of our day, we would often call my mom via Skype while we were eating breakfast.  I’m sure it wasn’t the most thrilling conversation for my mom but it was such a normal interaction and it made it feel like she was close even though she was half a world away.

When my husband and I would see notifications on Facebook letting us know that Mom had “liked” or “loved” our most recent posts and pictures, we knew my mom was up late, favouring her night owl tendencies.  She would be faithful to leave a comment of encouragement on whatever we had shared.  We used to joke about how she “liked” everything but deep down we truly were appreciative of her efforts to connect.

Now that my mom is gone, having passed away last September, it feels abnormal to go through a breakfast without calling her.  It feels empty to not see her comments and likes on Facebook.  It feels sad that we no longer receive cards in the mail from her.  It feels strange that she’s no longer just half a world away but actually in heaven.

But we’ve found ways to include Mom in our everyday.  We talk about our visits to her in Canada.  We sing songs that were the old reliables that my mom would sing to my daughters on Skype.  My daughters draw pictures to put in a journal for Grandma.  I tell my daughters that this book or that toy or this stuffy or that dress was from Grandma.  I include extra details throughout our day that help us connect to the memories of my mom.  It doesn’t give the allusion that she’s still alive but the memories give us the full picture that she was both my mom and my daughters’ grandmother but, ultimately, the Lord’s child.

We include memories of my mom in the everyday so we don’t forget.

Five Minute Friday: Adapt #FMF

One of the first things you may hear when you’re preparing to go to the mission field is to be ready to adapt.  Obviously, when you move to a different country and a different culture and a different language, you will NEED to adapt.  I’m not talking about that.  Yes, that’s important and yes, that will be something to work on but I’m talking about a different adapting.  I’m talking about adapting your expectations.

You’ll be faced with a barrage of situations where what you understood going into the situation will not be how things will turn out.  You’ll need to be flexible and – wait for it – adapt.

It will require you to be humble, take the position of a learner and listener and observer (because how often is communication something done instead of something said) and release your understanding and preconceived ideas.

Adapting in this way will require you to accept a level of ambiguity but it will allow you to receive opportunities to deepen relationships and cultural understanding that will only aid your ministry.

It’s a small thing with the potential for a big impact.

Five Minute Friday: Stuck

I half awoke during an afternoon nap, where my two-year-old was asleep on a mat on the floor and my almost five-year-old was beside me, clicking a plastic container with pretend grapes inside.  All that I can remember now is that in that half asleep state, I had solved the problem that was gnawing on me when I originally drifting off.

The gnaw was a hurt that I had forgotten about; so why had it resurfaced?  I had remembered something that had happened before the hurt because of a number of familiar people I saw today.

I remembered that a season had ended with no opportunity to say goodbye to my teammates or to hear goodbye from them.  This ending was complicated but not, and my choice… but not.  And as I remembered this hurt that ate away at me, I felt simply stuck.  Like a broken record.  Like a toy train going around the same track. Like a lie that Satan had tried to convince me of.

Now that I’m writing these memories down, I also remember that my solution in my half asleep state was to reprogram the narrative.  Huh.  That’s actually a good start.

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 23: Work #write31days

I’ve been tired and while there are many factors that could be, and probably are, contributing to my fatigue, I think the main culprit is grief.  I say this without any doubt: grief is work.

There was the grief we experienced when we knew my Mom’s days were limited, and when we thought she was going to pass that weekend, or that weekend and then when she finally did pass.  There’s the grief during the celebration of life service and the details that had to be arranged.  There’s the grief in the legalities.  Grief in the kind sentiments from relatives, neighbours, friends and sometimes almost strangers.  There’s the grief in the distance between when you last hugged her and were hugged back and now.  There’s the grief in the day to day tugs and pulls of little ones and your spouse and the life that you’ve gone back to that is supposed to be normal.

It’s tiring.  It’s work.  It’s hard.

[written Dec. 11, 2017 for #write31days in October]

Day 20: Discover #write31days

It’s funny how your perspective can change.  When my sister and I first went to tour the palliative care ward at Parkwood Hospital, it felt very hospital-like, and the rooms felt dated.  The staff were protective of their patients (well, my sister and I did look suspicious as we hadn’t heard back about a tour and decided to just go and pretend we knew what we were doing) and everything seemed bleh.  There was a friendly volunteer who gave us a good tour of the floor and this elderly gentleman seemed like the only good thing about the floor.

My Mom finally decided on Parkwood because we learned she could continue under the care of her new family doctor, who happened to be a good friend of mine from 20 years ago.  Decision made.

Several months later, I discovered that the palliative ward felt safe, comfortable and the nurses were really angels in disguise.  The whole environment (save for the co-ed ward rooms, but that’s another blog post right there) was lovely and loving and inspiring.  My Mom said her private room felt homey (she only had to endure one night in the co-ed ward room).

Day 13: Invite #write31days

“May I sit up there with you?” I asked my Mom.  She moved the pillow from beside her and I took my shoes off and shifted my way up on her hospital bed until we were sitting side by side.  We locked arms and we tilted our heads until they were touching and we lay back against the propped up bed and closed our eyes and rested.  A PSW came in to change the garbage and sweetly commented about the two of us and asked if I wanted a picture of us.  Of course I said, yes.

A little while later, after another ten or fifteen minutes, Mom started rummaging in her table drawer.  She produced a large Dairy Milk chocolate bar.  She pulled over the tissue box and grabbed one for my lap and then hers.  And finally, she broke off a square of the chocolate and put it on the tissue on my lap.  “Cheers,” she said as she touched her square with mine.

Day 8: Truth #write31days

There were many truth things that my Mom said in her remaining months.  Some were serious, and some were totally out there.  Some caught me off-guard and some made me outright laugh.

Maybe a week or so before my Mom passed, I had been up visiting her and we had gone outside to enjoy the garden behind the hospital building.  After touring all the pathways, avoiding the goldenrod, and inspecting each plant that we would’ve normally passed by, we went up to the chapel on her floor and sat side by side in silence.  I gave her a hug, like a small child would their Mom, and she said, “You know… You and your sister aren’t so always great with your grammar.”  I couldn’t help to contain my laughter, and she simply said, “Well, it’s true!”

I will forever wonder if my sentence structure is correct and whether it’s supposed to be “me” or “I.”  My gentle grammatically correct Mom.