30 Days of Thanks, Day 14: Change

Haha! 😀

I literally did laugh out loud when I thought about what I get to write about. Then I wondered why I even made it a topic…isn’t “Change” the story of my life


In all seriousness, I’ve been thinking about change

and how it so often becomes blessings through tears.

Yesterday Tobin and I had the privilege of sharing our life in Indonesia with some people at our church.

Of course, to prepare for that, we had to hash out a few things and watch a couple different videos…which brought back so many memories.

And just this morning, I was looking through some photos…more of the same…

And I felt that familiar ache in my heart.

I’m not sure why it’s so hard to move from one phase of life to another, but it is.

Memories don’t just disappear, friendships don’t just go away…

Love doesn’t just die.

Leaving our life in Indonesia was as big a change as we could have possibly experienced, adding the fact that we were about to become parents and move to a new city, too.

Can I be honest? I still hurt over the loss those changes brought.

But I still smile, too…because I like to see the blessings that came through that change, even if there were

a lot of tears.

And there were.

I love my life now, and Tobin and I have said repeatedly that we would love to stay here and let this be home.

What scares me? Is that I know we need to be sensitive to God’s will, and the very real possibility exists that He may ask us to do something else…something involving more change.

We’d do it…but that doesn’t mean it would be easy.

Change is tough, and giving thanks for it is even harder.

But today, I’m thankful for it…and the places

it has taken us.

Especially to this place.


Lessons From Indo (Part 1)

Ok…so I know I promised to tell you all about Tobin’s fabulous birthday gift. And I will…tomorrow. :)

Today? We get to go deep.

It’s about time.

Th is

is something that’s been burning in my heart for awhile now, and a conversation with a friend last

night kind of sparked it again.

I don’t pretend to have this all figured out…it’s just w here

I am for now. And I would love your thoughts if you feel like leaving me a comment or sending me a private e-mail.

We have often said that the things we took away from Indonesia are almost impossible to put into words.

Tobin and I know how much we changed in so many ways, and we probably aren’t even aware of some of the changes still. Yes, it has been a year, but a year to “re-enter” after five years of being gone is not so much time.

But here are a few things…

We’re aware of the “stuff” mentality. That doesn’t mean we don’t struggle, but we do know that we need to be aware. After three years of marriage, we sold our house, cars, and most of what we had. Other than storing maybe 1/4 of what we owned, we got rid of everything else.

And the amount we got rid of? Ridiculous. In Indo, we accumulated, but not nearly as much. We ended up bringing home about the same amount that we took plus a couple extra suitcases…not bad for five years. But last August, when we went through all the things we had in the States, we were overwhelmed by the amount of stuff we still had. That’s kind of our new goal… to watch how much we accumulate.

And to not let things pile up. I still don’t have it figured out perfectly…just ask me and my purse closet. 😉 But after being around people who had so little, we are continually reminded that we don’t need a lot to be happy.

We value relationships more.

Or at least try to. Again, not pretending here. I’m still workin’ on this one. We spent years around people who had so few material possessions…and yet they were some of the happiest people I knew. They were part of a “community” of families and friends who would do anything for each other.

There’s a richness in that selflessness that I don’t see as often here, though it does exist…and I know people who completely value their family and friends and will do anything for them.

I have struggled through this lesson because of the dynamic of the family in which I was raised, but I am learning to value the relationships that I have with friends…and to be as selfless

as possible when it comes to them. Them first, me last. Like I said, workin’ on it. Not there yet.


Home is temporary. You’ve heard me talk about this before on the blog…about how much I’ve struggled to feel like I have any sort of home at all. Living in transition will do that to a person. As a believer in Jesus Christ, I know that my true home is Heaven and that anything else is just temporary. But while on earth, our human nature is to want that place that is ours. And it’s ok to feel that way…as long as we don’t get so attached to a place that we’re unwilling to leave if God says, “Go.”

Along with that, I’m learning to keep my hands open with the future.

We are in the middle of I-Love-It-Here-Let’s-Stay-Forever mode.

Truly, Illinois was a gift to us, one that we did not understand the magnitude of at the time it was given. Here we have found healing, growth, a chance to start over, amazing friendships, a great church…the list could continue. But this is life for the here and now.

God could send us again…and we need to be willing to go if that happens. To be completely human and transparent, that thought breaks my heart in half right now. But we also know, from seeing it over an over again, that if God sends us, He will give the strength to do what we need

to do.

Possibly the biggest thing we took away from Indonesia was that GOD IS BIG. He is not some being who fits into a tiny box…He’s at work all over the place, and having the chance to actually see what He’s doing in remote places changed our lives forever. It gave us a different picture, a different understanding of the world and of our Father…the same One we learned about as little children. Society, in general, today seems so focused on whatever-works-for-you-is-good.


That’s not how it’s supposed to be.

There is only ONE God.

And He’s BIG enough for everyone.

And I could keep going, but I think this is a good start. I’d love your thoughts if you’ve got something to say or something to share.

Thanks for reading. :)


Thursday Diet Cherry Pepsi…and a Chat, Too

Yeah, that’s the new beverage of choice. It’s good! Although I did have one LARGE coffee this morning, so had our conversation taken place then, it would have been a regular old coffee date. :)

It’s been a busy, good week.

It’s VBS week, which I think I’ve mentioned once or twice. 😉 I’ve gotten to spend my mornings leading games for 2nd-4th graders, which is pretty fun most of the time.

(Today there were some listening issues, so it’s not fair for me to share my opinion based JUST on today.) Overall, the kids are really good kids, and I love the fact that they are willing to participate in just about anything and have a good time. And in the past, I’ve never loved the VBS songs, but the ones from this program are good. (And stuck in my head…so praise God they’re good songs!) Maelie has spent her mornings in the nursery with some of her friends, and I love that she already has some buddies and also that she has some pretty awesome people taking care of her. It’s been such a good week, and a tiny part of me is sad that it’s over tomorrow.

In addition to Maelie having happy VBS mornings, she’s just had a happy week. We’ve had some fun walks and lots of play time in her new sandbox (without the sand right now :)) She’s been breaking in some of her new toys, which she got at her birthday party Sunday night.

We had lots of friends and neighbors over and just had the best time.

What a blessing they all are to us!

And this chat would not be complete without me sharing the holy fit that Maelie threw today outside…because I wouldn’t let her eat rocks. Really, child, do I starve you THAT much?! She was so loud that I took her inside…but after that, she got over it. (And found some new blocks to chew on instead.) So, really, it was all good.

Yesterday I did something I hadn’ t done since I go

t back

to the States.

I went into a gas station to get a fountain drink…and about went into culture shock mode all over again.

Dude…I’ve never seen so many drink choices at my disposal. And 44 oz. for $.89?! I sorta went crazy and added a couple random flavors to my Diet Pepsi. It was a little strong, but thankfully it still tasted good. It would have been sad if I’d wrecked that drink, my first gas station fountain drink since returning to America.

Thornton’s, I shall be visiting you much more often! Thank you for your existence.

Speaking of things I haven’t done for awhile…playing volleyball?! Yeah, that’s one of them. Tomorrow night/Saturday morning, Tobin and I are playing in a volleyball tournament with some friends. I really, really hope I don’ t comple

tely embarrass myself. (Or hurt myself, which, really, is far more likely.) Joel & Sarah, Jonny & Kris, Tobin…I’m apologizing in advance. Just sayin’.

Tonight I took a shower, and the hot water was being stupid. (That’s been goin’ on a few weeks here now.) Well, I got impatient and decided to just take my shower cold.

Um….BRRRRRR? I had flashbacks to cold mornings in Indonesia when we couldn’t get the hot water heater to light and were forced to take cold showers.

I need to continually remind myself to be thankful for the little things…like hot water.

My big brother turned 40 today!

4-0. Crazy. (By the way, that does not make me old; it means there’s a big age gap.)

And…deep breath. I think that’s all. I’m sorta ready to get a good night’s sleep. One more day of VBS…followed by some weekend craziness.

I love my life.

And I love you all.

Thanks for reading. :)


Taking a Break…and Being Honest

I’m going to give myself a break from The Journey tonight and go a different route.

I’ve been wanting to chat about something that’s come up recently, but I sometimes feel like a broken record.

I mean, how long can a person grieve over something?

It’s been a little over a year since I left Indonesia.

When I first left…I was sad.

I missed it, and I

missed my husband more. Those first weeks home were spent anticipating his return and the birth of our daughter…I’m not sure there was a lot of grief over Indonesia mixed in there.

Then Tobin came home…and life was focused on our little girl and getting ready to move to Illinois.

Yes, there was grief…over leaving Minnesota and friends…but not so much about the loss of Indonesia.

And then we moved…and there was a whole new kind of grief… grieving what was no more.

It’s been a year of figuring that out…but also a year of being so incredibly blessed by life as a family of THREE, by new friends, by a new community and church.

Our minds were so busy with those things that we didn’t really think much about Indonesia.

It wasn’t intentional… it just happened.

And somewhere in the last month…grief started to creep in.

There were days when I would try to push it out and ignore the pain, but it wouldn’ t go away.

I’d get on Facebook, see pictures of former students, and my heart would just ache. I’d hear about staff members and what was going on with them…and I longed to be a part it. I saw pictures of the senior banquet…students we love…and we’re not there.

I think I most accurately verbalized my feelings last week when I told Tobin, “When our students are in Indonesia, I feel like we always have the option of going back to see them again…so it’s ok if we don’t miss them too much. But now another class of incredible students is graduating…and scattering. I’m not sure we’ll ever see them again.”

That’s sad…and the reality of a transitory community.

I’ve let the tears drip this week…surprisingly, there have been a lot of them.

They come at random times but never stick around too long.

The ache is there, though…the dull, physical heartache that makes me long for the day when there will be no more goodbyes.

Just where I am today…sad.

But still thankful.

Because grief means it meant something…that it was worth loving and worth hurting over.

I don’ t long

to go back

to life in Indonesia. It was a season, a piece of our lives.

Life is here and now, and for awhile, I will take the time to grieve if those moments hit.

But I’m going to spend far more of my life looking forward and enjoying the blessings God has given me today.

I’m so, so thankful.


A Little Less Indonesian

This morning while driving, I stopped at a stop sign. (Novel idea, righ

t? ;))

Then I looked Left. Right. Left.

Another novel idea.

And then my heart skipped a beat.

It finally happened.

My Indonesian driving habits and instincts are finally disappearing.

M any, especi

ally those who have experienced driving in Indonesia, understand this to be a good thing. And probably a much safer thing.

I see it as yet another piece of my identity gone.

When I moved back to America, I wanted nothing more than to fit in.

But I also embraced those tiny little things that made me not quite American. My insane love for rice (thankfully, I still have that one), my use of the words aduh and apa, my sometimes-confusion at which side of the car I should go to, how I intentionally tried to not take certain things for granted…like working stoplights and a lack of cockroaches.


I’m not sure who I am anymore.

Everything in me wants to be American with a bit of Indonesian thrown in there. I want to hang on to those things that I believe define me…the girl who lived in Indonesia, the girl who will try just about anything once, the girl who is special because her life has been so crazy.

I’m struggling with those beliefs and the reality of the things I’ve let define me.

My identity is not truly found in any of those.

It is, instead, found in my Father. Or, at least, it should be.

I look back on Indonesia with fondness.

At times I miss it. Other times, I ache for it.

Always, always, I am thankful to be here.

But once in awhile, I wish I was there. To maybe soak up a little more of that Indonesian-ness that is so truly unique…so that I don’t forget it. To be the bule that stands out in a crowd and makes random strangers want to take her picture…and maybe take one for myself so I can remember. And selfishly, to go purse shopping.

(Oh, I did love the purses

there! :))

But I am here and thankful. And when those little things start to go away, I am reminded that no matter what,

I am His.

He sees me not as A

merican or American with a little Indonesian or Indonesian wannabe.

He sees me as His child.

And no matter who I am or who I become, I will always be that.


My Own Song

It’s a rhythm I’ve heard all my life.

Steady, strong, telling me just how things are supposed to be in this familiar world.

A rhythm I should be able to play without even thinking by now.

I tap my foot, trying to get the tempo just right.

But I can’t.

The beat goes on around me…louder, stronger, more overwhelming w ith

each passing minute.

I listen carefully and try to imitate it, but I stumble yet again.

All the rules of this music…I know. I’ve spent my life

Singing it.

Loving it.

Living it.

But somewhere in the middle, I began to dance to another rhythm. For five years, I lived, moved, and breathed this new cadence of life.

I embraced it as my new song, one the Father had given me

To sing.

To love.

To live.

And then,

the song changed again.

The drums became louder.

The tempo picked up speed.

And I no longer feel as if h

ave a place among this chorus in which I used to play a part.

I wait, listen, and sometimes…I try. I’ll tap my foot again to see if maybe I’ve found this old rhythm again.

I don’t have it today…I may never have it again.

Maybe God is giving me my own song…one that goes against what those around me are playing.

And it’s up to me what I do with it.



FYI: Contains sarcasm…you have been warned.


In Indonesia, I used the sa me

handphone for five years. Yes, you read that right.

on:absolute;top:-200px;left:-200px;’>speed up penis growth

And yes, there we called it a hand phone or hp. (pronounced ha pay) It was this basic Nokia that cost me $50 up front and about $5 a month to use. I could send an sms (text), make a phone call…and that was about it.

By the end of my five years, the phone had definitely seen better days, and we sold it for $5.

I definitely got my money’s worth.

When I returned to the States last April, my head was spinning with all the phones I could choose from. I went with a Samsung that was free with my contract.

I can make a phone call, send a TEXT :), take pictures…and that’s really all I need it for. It felt like such an indulgence to buy a phone that nice after what I had been using for five years.

And then…I saw what had happened in the world of phones since our departure to Indonesia five years before.

Is there anything you can’t do with a cell phone


And reading this post today only reiterated the thoughts I have had about phones and the need to be constantly connected.

I just don’t understand people who are always on their phones…browsing the internet, sending texts, making phone calls…24/7…well, maybe not quite that often. I mean, they do need to sleep so they have some energy for all that texting and web surfing. :) (And perhaps now would be a good time for me to go off on people who update their Facebook and Twitter while driving. But I’ll save that for another day.


I? Have a whopping 500 minutes a month (which I share with my hubby) and 250 texts. I have no data plan…and even if I had one, I’m not sure I’d know how to use it.

You won’t see me update my Facebook status or Twitter from my ph one, c

onstantly texting or even talking on it often. And you definitely won’t see me attempting to multitask playing with my daughter and browsing the web.

(I’m not that coordinated anyway.


But before you start thinking that I’m perfect and have a halo floating above my head all the time (no, just sometimes :D), I’ll be honest and tell you that after reading that post, I felt a little guilty about the time I spend staring at a computer screen every day. I really try to keep boundaries, and I don’t blog unless Mae is sleeping. But I am guilty of browsing the internet sometimes while she entertains herself in her pack and play or jumper.

And that needs to change.

I don’t want the people in my life to ever feel that they are overshadowed by my need to be connected.

So I guess I will never own a smart phone. (Or at least be able to effectively use one.)

And my laptop might just need to spend a little more time alone.

And that’s just fine with me.


I Know I Lived in Indo Because…

Just a little glimpse into life…and what reverse culture shock looks like.



Oh, I Laugh!

Today’s post is a bit generic.

But because I really love to laugh…

and because right now, I really need to laugh…

here are some reasons for you to laugh!

We had a lot of fun with random signs during our time overseas. It seemed like there was always something to take a picture of for a good laugh later.

And, a few disclaimers: I really loved Indonesia, so this is in no way poking fun at it.

In fact, a couple of these pictures were not even taken there.

One of them…well, if you are one of the few people privileged enough to know how much I hate a certain word, you may NOT use this as your platform to publicly humiliate me. I shall delete your comment faster than you can say that word! 😀 Oh, and there’s one that’s a tad bit inappropriate, nevertheless, SO worth the laugh. :)

Enjoy…and laugh! It’ s good for the


First up…You have to look closely, but this is a “manicure set”. Oh, yes…please, someone do my nails with THIS!


I certainly hope that’s not really where the baby is!


I suspect that the reason we found this so funny was because I was pregnant and very sick…and it was some form of entertainment while waiting for my blood test results.

We laughed unnecessarily for way too long.

This wouldn’t have been as good if we weren’t from Minneapolis. :) It was odd to find it in a mall in Jakarta.

Just my hubby being himself…but it was pretty funny at the time!

As seen at Starbucks: “The Ugly Chicken Crispy Puff. P.S. Ugly But Tastes Yummy!” I never tried it, but boy, did I laugh at this sign.


Thank you for the instructions…just in case I forget. :)

And…the best for last.

Truthfully, I don’t know why this was so funny.

Well, I do, but you don’t get to know why.

:) Spotted in Thailand in 2006. NEVER FORGOTTEN by my husband, who will often bring this picture out just to embarrass me.



10 Indonesian Adventures

Time for another top 10 post.


So, I bring you…10 Indonesian adventures

I will never forget. (Pardon me in advance if some of these are TMI. I had some solicited help from a certain someone in my house. :)) Oh, and I didn’t even attempt to number these in any particular order. Tobin said it best…they were all adventures for their own reasons.

And even though some of them weren’t fun at the time, I smile now. :)

10. Using a Squatty Potty. Some would argue that this

is an actual adventure.

I beg to differ…seeing as the first time made me cry. I will spare you the details, only to tell

you that I eventually figured it out and came to the point where I preferred them over regular toilets.

9. Surfing at Kuta Beach. Surfing was always on my Bucket List but kind of one of those things I was afraid to try. But in April 2007, I took a trip to Bali with some friends…and somehow I found the guts to go out, find a surf instructor, and rent a board. Not only did I stand up on the board and actually ride it to shore, I was hooked immediately. I still love to surf…I just need an ocean now. :)

8. Bukit Lawang. In 2007 I took a trip with some friends to Bukit Lawang in the jungles of Sumatra.

We went on an eight hour hike to see the orangutans in the preserve there and went white water “rafting”…in a raft made of a bunch of rubber inner tubes. It was fun…not necessarily something I’d do again but something everyone should do once if they get a chance. And the orangutans were pretty cool. :)

7. Being Jane. And while I was on the above trip

? I. just. had. to. be. Jane. Just once. I had always w anted to swing on

a vine, and our guide, though he thought I was crazy, very nicely went out and found me the perfect swinging apparatus.

6. Eating Octopus. While we were in Indonesia, Tobin and I loved eating sushi. (Because there, we could afford it!) We went with some friends to celebrate Tobin’s 30th birthday, and one of them pulled a plate of baby octopuses (octopi?) from the conveyer belt that went by the tables. I have to admit that I was really grossed out but eventually ate it. But really, only for bragging rights. :) Not something I’d eat again. (I can’t believe how long my hair is in this pic, either!)

5. Taking the Ferry to Singapore. This was an adventure in the worst way possible. Now, I can look back on this particular day and smile. Then? I thought I might die. Anyway, in an effort to save some money, we decided to take the ferry from Batam to Singapore before flying on to Thailand for our Christmas break.

No one warned me about what happens to people on a ferry who get extremely motion sick. Imagine…the most excruciating 60 minutes of your life spent heaving into a garbage can. While the boat goes up and down. And up and down. And up…and down. While all 200+ people in the room watched the extremely sick white girl, wondering if they should take pictures. (Some probably did.) Yeah. I was so sick that once I got off the boat? I laid down on the floor until the line for immigration was shorter. Worst morning EVER. (Oh, and quite obviously, this picture was taken BEFORE the ferry left.)

4. Climbing the Steps of Borobudur.

This was another item on my Bucket List. I couldn’t wait to see Borobudur, and it didn’t disappoint. I loved it…loved it…loved it. I want to go back again.

Anyone for a trip to Indonesi


3. Driving to the Beach. I did not take pictures of this. It is not worth remembering although I am extremely unlikely to forget it. I still have images of the many bus cepat…fast buses…speeding toward us. Each time I was sure we would be crushed…thankfully, each time I was wrong.

In general, drives to the beach were long and slow. One beach was 200 km from where we lived.

(I just made up that number, but I think it’s about right.) That equals about 124 miles…which took us anywhere from 6-8 hours.

Yeah, it was that slow. And full of dodging buses, trucks, motorbikes, carts, and pedestrians. Bonus points to my hubby for keeping us all alive on such trips.

2. Motorbike + Tidal Wave. You can read the full account here. It’s a good one. Let’s just say that for the three years we drove in Indonesia, we had a knack for getting caught in the rain more times than we can possibly count. And one time during our first year, we met a bus. Bus + two bules on motorbike + monstrous puddle = two very wet people + bus full of laughing passengers. Oh, memories.

1. Hiking Tangkuban Parahu in Flip Flops. One time when a friend was visiting, we decided to take her to the volcano about 45 minutes from our house. It was kind of a rainy, cold day there and we figured we’d just go, look around, take some pictures, and then head to the hot springs, which was the real reason we went up there in the first place. :) However, once we got there, we decided that we should hire a guide to show us around. We thought? That he would take us around the rim, point out a few things, and we’d be done.

Oh, no. Not at all. He took us on a “hike” down to the bottom of the volcano. We were all wearing flip flops. It was wet and muddy. And cold…well, cold for Indonesia. And the best part? We had to hike back up to the top…which re ally is

a story for another day. Now I can say I’ve hiked a volcano in flip flops. More bragging rights. :)

I heart adventures.

So thankful for the memories.