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?

Return to Thailand

We (the girls and I) arrived back in Thailand last night.  Those were some long flights with lots of crying (none from me this time, thank goodness!).  I am so glad to have that travel done with for now.  The Lord provided lots of help at just the right time.

The week and a half prior to flying back, my youngest was sick.  We had two visits to pediatric emergency and we’ve had lots of doses of medicine each day (including while we were flying, which proved tricky with considering multiple timezone changes).  
But I have fallen behind in my #write31days challenge.  So, here’s to jet lag and catching up on many things, including sleep (even though they say you can’t actually catch up on sleep).  Let’s hope this next season in life is filled with as much grace as ever and keeping our eyes on Him.  Let’s run with endurance this race marked out for us!

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 17: Grow #write31days

I wonder if I’m growing  

I wonder if I’m growing

My mom says ‘yes, I’m growing’ 

But it’s hard for me to see 

My mom says ‘eat your sandwich 

It will make you grow up tall’ 

But when I eat my sandwich 

I’m hardly bigger at all 

I wonder if I’m growing 

I wonder if I’m growing 

My mom says ‘yes, I’m growing’ 

But it’s hard for me to see 

My mom says ‘Wash your hands now 

Then you can go and play’ 

Hey, I can reach the tap now 

For the very first time today 

And I think I must be growing 

Oh I know I’m really growing 

My mom says ‘yes, I’m growing’ 

And now I know it’s true 


Raffi – I Wonder If I’m Growing

There’s a children’s song I remember from when I was young: “I Wonder if I’m Growing.”  I’ve listened to it more recently when I’ve played Raffi albums for my daughters in the truck, on our way into the city or back home again.  Growth is a hard thing to measure.  It’s sometimes hard to find tangible ways to know that you’re growing, and, for a child, there can sometimes be an expectation that each day there will be noticeable results (at least this is the case for my four year old who asks to be measured each and every day!).

During these past several months, from first diagnosis and prognosis, through each phase and challenge, we all experienced such severe growing pains.  We learned very quickly about catheters and 24hr IV machines and PSWs and CCAC and the nurses who come to your home.  We learned about DNRs and signs to watch for to know when to call an ambulance.  We learned about palliative health care and free medicine for palliative patients.

We also learned about meal trains, and ways that our friends, family and neighbours loved us.

And we learned how to get along better as a family – how to love, forgive and work together in as much unity as we could.

Do I feel stronger?  Do I seem braver?  Not really.

But have I grown?  Probably.


Day 15: Remain #write31days

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

In the last few months of Mom’s life, she wanted and needed to be reminded about who she was in Christ and where she was in relation to Christ.  I would read the above verses to  her often and I’d sing hymns with reminders as well.  

She had to be reassured repeatedly that she remained in Christ, despite her circumstances, despite how she felt, despite the false voices telling her otherwise.  She was a child of God and could have confidence in that relationship and position.

I have needed to remind myself of where I stand and to whom I belong.  This past season has been particularly hard in our family’s lives and it feels sometimes as if the battle around us will cause permanent damage.  And, in a way, I guess it has.  But it cannot and will not change who we are in our Creator and our Saviour.

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.

Day 7: Hold #write31days

“Down, down, down,” my twenty-one month old commands as she reaches up to me from where she’s standing at my feet.  Confused about up and down but knowing it produces one of the two, she clutches her beloved Hippo lovey and soaks up my embrace when I finally lift her up.

She just wanted to be held.

Reading the lyrics to some hymns I had just sung at church that morning, I start to cry and my Mom reaches out for me to be embraced by her.  She had regained some strength those past few days and was able to wrap her arms around me and hug me as I cried.

I was grateful to be held.

She told me she held debates with God at night when she couldn’t sleep.  They ended favourably each time, with amicable feelings continuing to grow.  She was ready for Him to pick her up.  To take her home.  To lead her into her heavenly home.

She was ready to be held.

For eternity.

Day 3: Create #write31days

My Mom created a community.  It became a combination of puppeteers, musicians, potters, neighbours, friends and family.  She was a calm force in the midst of it and was 100% unaware and unbelieving of how vital and life-giving her presence was in our lives.  She was smart, funny, thoughtful and was such a night owl that I knew I could not only Skype her from Thailand while I ate breakfast, but also while we ate lunch (if we really wanted to).

Sometimes the things we create are done with purpose and sometimes the lives we live creates something special without us actively trying.  Mom’s life did both.  She wanted unity in our family (and especially between my sister and me), but she also opened up pathways for deeper connections between her friends and her daughters that was like a by-product of how she lived her life.

Five Minute Friday: Depend

I am not the sort of person who naturally wants to live an extremely spontaneous life.  I like schedules and plans.  I like to know what to expect.  I like to prepare.

And yet God called me to be a missionary and to live in Thailand and to have a Thai husband and to be a Mom.

He called me to live outside of my comfort zone to the nth degree.

And while I like having schedules I can depend on, the only thing I can really depend on is that life will not be predictable.  And the only One I can depend on is totally trustworthy and yet I struggle to trust Him as life throws me unexpected balls (or bomb) that I have to try to catch or avoid.

Five Minute Friday: Accept

There’s a book that a friend photocopied and gave to us that attempts to explain eternity to a child.  It’s about a baby who begins in her mother’s womb, and also an old man who is sick.  They are both in the hospital and they are both expecting a major life change.

There is one page that my four year old kept wanting to return to last night as I read her the story again.  It was the one with two pictures: a doctor with waiting hands on the left, and a figure, like Jesus, on the right, standing there with open arms.  She kept saying it out loud, “It’s Jesus, Mommy!” Just like Grandma had experienced.

She was so happy to know that this was the welcoming committee for her Grandma’s home-coming.