In 3 months...

We took our last scooter ride down the streets of Chiang Mai, Thailand.

We moved to Florida and reunited with our boys.

I was blessed to help out with REdefined 2011, a teen girl event that taught them what it meant to be princesses of God. We had worship, skits, and powerful messages.

We met some amazing new friends.

(In fact, so many new friends that I still haven't gotten to take pictures with all of them.)

We moved into a new house.

And I get to hang out with these beautiful children.


The last three months have had extreme ups and downs.

But these photos don't lie.

I heart this life. I can't wait to see what pictures I'll have of the next three months.


The other side of international mission work

"Submit to God and be at peace with Him; in this way prosperity will come to you."- Job 22:21

International mission work is often held to a high status in the evangelical community.

So many people, while just trying to be encouraging, would tell Wesley and I how amazing we were to pick up and move to a foreign country, all for God. I would always want to roll my eyes at statements like that. I understood that people were just trying to be encouraging, but I couldn't help but think how NOT amazing this made us. Every day we had failures in some way, shape, or form. Our timidness for cultural merging would prevent us from having a conversation with a Buddhist. Culture shock would leave us wanting to cuss out every Asian that walked too slow (though of course, we never did). We selfishly spent too much money on a Western meal because we were missing home. Time and time again, we failed, and God reminded us that we were no better people for making this move. We were simply being obedient.

I was the same as so many people. I thought of international missions as this Utopia of wonderfulness and glamor. The excitement, traveling, new sights would leave me thinking how "great" I would be for the calling. I thought of missionaries, especially the rough and tough, as these flawless creatures who were a million times more Godly than I was. Instead, when you're put into those shoes, it's almost as if God shows you that much more what a complete wretch you are. I had constant guilt just being from America, a place that hoards so many things that the other side of the world needs.

And again, I find myself in the rude awakening of reality. I'm not sure why, but as a missionary that "sacrificed" so much, I thought well, why wouldn't God immediately bless us financially when we returned to the United States? In my mind, we had given up so much--a home, our dogs, our vehicles, significant amounts of money, stable jobs with great benefits, and familiarity. Plus, I had met older missionaries who returned to the United States and were well off. It seemed to make sense in my head. If you give it all up, doesn't God promise to bless you with more than you had before? Just look at Job.

Instead, this season has been the single most difficult season in our marriage. We rely on public health care and government assistance. We currently only have one car. We don't have insurance on that car. I hardly ever see Wesley and yes, although he is working, he gets paid in commission, and the past two weeks haven't been good. It's been three weeks of him working without a paycheck. I took a pay cut of more than half. We are up to our ears in school debt, but have no way to pay it at this point. I don't know what we would've done if my mom hadn't opened up her home to us, and I'm eternally grateful...but it's depressing to think that I'm almost 25, childless, financially unstable, and back living with my mother, especially now that I'm married. Wesley and I haven't had a home to ourselves for seven months. Seven. With possibly many more months to come.

Coupled with financial difficulties, you have the heartbreak tremors that come at random times in the day. Something will remind you of Thailand, and the girls you met on the street, and your heart will ache to know how they're doing and wondering if they're still selling their bodies for money. Wondering if they're still having to deal with the slimy, elderly American men that come to Asia for that degrading purpose. You are missing someone ALL the time, because being a missionary plants and then stretches you all over the world. This life is an endless cycle of hellos, goodbyes, and see you laters.

And again, my expectations have failed me. Whether in Asia or in Florida, things aren't how I expected them to be. I keep searching for God's purpose in allowing us to struggle so much these first few months back in the states. As Wesley is looking to change his job for a third time in three months, I'm wondering what God is trying to teach us. And I'm wondering if it's also a little bit of the enemy, too. Or a lot a bit. After all, if we struggle this much coming back, why would we ever go back? Why would we ever uproot again, only to go through these difficulties all over again? But I guess I hoped God would advocate for us, and protect us from his schemes. Because we were HIS missionaries. But sometimes, God's protection doesn't come in the ways we expect it to. But that doesn't mean it isn't there, an ever present help in time of need.

One thing the enemy doesn't understand though is this: despite all that we've endured so far, I would do it all over again. Every last bit of it. All the money and comfort in the world couldn't stop me from making that choice to uproot again. Because God is in it. And I feel Him in this, too, although my flesh cries out in disagreement. As I'm left wondering how we're going to make a trip to Tennessee next month on what we have, I have to remember that the same God that protected us overseas is here with us now.

The same God that provided for us there, will provide for us now.

And this story isn't over. Not even close.

The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing! -Psalm 34:10