Yesterday, it was 80° out. The weather was beautiful, so I found myself wanting to get out and enjoy the heat. I'm tired of being cold! I decided to make my way to downtown Colorado Springs with no agenda except to enjoy the gorgeous weather. I even threw a pair of shorts on. Once I arrived, I immediately found myself distracted by people - lots of different people. I forgot how diverse the culture was! I made my way into the used bookstore and picked up The Shack, grabbed some Starbucks and found a bench. The heat felt marvelous! I even started to sweat some, which I haven't done since I've been back to Colorado. I think it's funny that I actually miss sweating. Maybe not to the degree of my jeans sticking to my legs and sweat burning my eyes, but I miss the moisture in the air. Instead of dousing my body in powder to absorb some of the moisture, I'm finding it necessary to cover myself in a half bottle of lotion each morning. Thank you, 20% humidity. Hello, bloody nose. I love you, Aveeno. Sitting on that green bench, I'd read a paragraph, then get distracted, go back to reading and only a few minutes later find myself wondering why kids half my age are lighting up right in front of me. Things haven't really changed. It was a relief to see a youth group doing a local outreach, though. Kids were stopping by random folks and giving them goody bags and offering to pray for them.
Saturday was a fine day. It was relaxing, restful, reflective and provided an opportunity for me to continue processing last year in Cambodia. The simple pleasure of walking on the sidewalk without much effort, enjoying near perfect weather, walking into my favorite coffee shop - these are some of the things I realize I'm missing. Then I thought to myself, why am I so willing to give these things up? Why do I sacrifice time with family and friends? Why do I continue to feel antsy and feel like going back to Cambodia is what I'm longing to do? I still don't have the perfect answer, but I know it has to do with my heart. I'm really trying not to over analyze where I'm at, but I've really struggled with sorting my feelings out since coming back. It's been so strange. The best way to describe how I feel is though I'm visiting a place that is supposed to be home, but doesn't quite feel like it. However, there are people here that I love, miss and really enjoy seeing. Throw on top of all that what it feels like to be removed from your own culture for an entire year. It's just a lot to process. I sound like such a girl! Oh well, Noelle has taught me a few things and one thing is that it's important that I'm honest with myself. So I'm being honest. It's still difficult to be in the States. I love my family. I love my friends, but it's just plain unsettling to be here. I can't figure it out.
I know I'm making progress, though, so I thought giving you a glimpse into my heart will hopefully bring some light to this craziness. Ever since we moved forward with our commitment to Cambodia, God began some heart-work in me. I pray that God only continues his work in me, because it's a wonderful place to be. When you allow God to shape areas of your heart that need adjusting, there aren't words to accurately describe the actual change taking place. Several years ago, Noelle and I were going through pre-marital counseling with our friend Aaron Stern. One day we were discussing tithing to the church. Whoops! I hadn't been consistently giving to the Church for various reasons, all of which made sense to me. Aaron challenged me to begin giving consistently. I was quite resistant, even to the point of a heated discussion about it. I agreed to pray about it. We left that day and I felt a little discouraged, but I began praying about what it meant to tithe. I remember specifically praying and asking the Lord to change my heart, because if I started to give, I wanted it to be a heart-change, not because Aaron Stern was breathing down my neck. About two-weeks later, Noelle and I were walking away from church and suddenly, out of nowhere my heart shifted. I wanted to give! I didn't care where my money went once I gave to the church - I just wanted to give freely. It was incredible! When I told Aaron, I'll never forget the big smile I got, but more importantly, I'll never forget how God worked that day.
The same way God shifted my heart then is the best way I can describe how God is shifting my heart now. The people of Cambodia are on my heart and mind constantly. I think about our tuk tuk drivers and wondering what they are up to, our house helper, Mara, our family at In His Steps, the kids of Father's House and the people we often interact with. There is so much on my mind that I have a difficult time engaging here in the U.S. But I love that! I'm so grateful we are happy in Cambodia. It makes it much easier to engage the people when our hearts are focused on seeing the Cambodian people set free, in love with Jesus, empowered, and looking towards with the future with hope. That right there makes me heart leap with such joy. I love Cambodia. I love the people. I love that we are called there.
To conclude, I want everyone to know how important family is to me. I really love them. It's sad we can't see everyone while we are home, but I suppose that's part of the sacrifice. I thought I'd post some photos from our time here in Colorado.
Noelle and Brynlee. And Brynlee loves dogs.
Jozzie, my Dad's lab. Can't forget the animals.
My Dad and his girlfriend, Yami. Then my beautiful sis, Anna.
Yami and my Grandma, and then my Grandma and I. I just love that lady!!
At Brett's (my brother) birthday party. Jenni, my sis-in-law is a creative genius. As you can see, she worked really hard in putting his party together. My Grandma is looking at pictures from the past 30yrs.
A collage of different photos from the party. Jenni had this great idea of a though board. The Goodlin family knows how to encourage :)
A great photo of my Grandma and Noelle.
My sister and Grandma.
That title probably sounds strange, doesn't it? How can you call a place home and feel uncomfortable at the same time? I've been asking myself that question the last two days since we arrived back in the good 'old U.S.A. It was so great walking off the airplane and being welcomed by friends and family -- there is nothing more inviting then people you know and love. At the same time, I felt angst. Angst? I'm still processing this one. Why in the world would I feel angst coming back to a place that was familiar, where my family lives, where I've always known comfort before? I guess I don't have all the answers yet, obviously, I'm asking a lot of questions. I can speculate and come to sort of conclusion based off what I've been told and maybe what I feel inside. Not to state the obvious, but I have been gone for a year, away from my own culture, friends and family, but I still can't put words to the strange feeling I have inside. Culture shock? Maybe.
I also find myself struggling to drum up patience for odd circumstances and find little things getting under my skin that never really did before. Ah! If I let these things drive me crazy, I don't think it would take long. I don't want to focus on things that seem negative, but I'm unsure of what to think. God surely knows where I am, though. At the end of the day, I can be assured of one thing. God is my source. He is my source for everything and I know that my peace and comfort come from him. Inside, I feel steady when I lay my angst at his feet. When I shift my focus to Jesus and away from trying to figure my feelings out, I win. Satan loses. I know that the devil would love nothing more than to ruin a time of rest and refreshment. He would love to sour Noelle and I's calling to Cambodia. He lurks for easy prey. I'm not going to be manhandled by my enemy - he's been conquered already.
Update on 3/21
I was going to post this blog a few days ago, but I hadn't found a picture yet. As I was reading back through it this morning, a few days later, I think I see a little more clearly. My emotions are a little more subdued since our arrival, thanks to jetlag wearing off and time with family and friends. We've even been to theMILL and church which were quite refreshing too.
With all that to say, I'm still feeling this undergirding desire to go back to Cambodia. Cambodia is where my heart is, and I think that's good. But explaining it to people is more difficult. I think a few understand - but most everyone else look at me with a perplexed look, I wonder why he wants to go back already...
All I can say is that I'm thankful that I'm not coming home with much relief! Our home is in Cambodia with the people we love and serve everyday. Sure, there are challenges that don't make living in Cambodia easy, but we rest in the knowing that God has called us. Having a home abroad creates this tension between our family and friends here in the States and our family in Cambodia. Granted, our family in Cambodia aren't blood related, but they are people that have invested in our lives with great depth and we have invested in theirs. That makes them family to me.
I do love my family. My family in the U.S. have been supportive and behind us moving to Cambodia. They sacrifice too in ways often unseen. They are giving up the ability to simply jump in their car to visit their son and daughter or having quick access to grandkids, etc. Instead, they get behind us and say, "go."
Even in the past week, I feel as though I've been able to process this past year and what it feels like to be in America once again. In my mind, however, there is much to work through, so we look forward to process with friends and family while we are here.
Last week at theMILL, Noelle and I had the opportunity to share about our process leading up to our transition to Cambodia. It's been an amazing process, but challenging and learning how to navigate great change can be difficult.
Aaron, theMILL Pastor interviewed us on this process. We shared how theMILL has positively impacted our decision and much more. Listen in.
My suggestion is that you listen to the entire podcast, but in case you are in a hurry or don't have the time, our interview begins at: 24:07
To listen to the interview, simply click on the "Go" image below and it will download in a separate browser window.