Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Thoughts from an expat-returned-home

One of the reasons I love writing this blog, is to be able to share my story and relate to other people. So many situations in life arise that leave us feeling and thinking that we are the only ones in that position (which is never true). And one of the most comforting things is finding people who can truly relate. That's why I love sharing things I learn and experience from being a Christian, a wife, and an expat (or a returned-home expat?).

But since arriving back in the US about two and half months ago, it's been hard for me to try and write a synopsis of our move so far (what life has been like, what we're doing, how we're doing...). Half because I'm still trying to absorb everything and adjust, and half because we're still in a constant state of how can I ever absorb and assess it all?

Moving back to the US has been SO great for us. Really. The main reason we chose to move was because, for a variety of reasons, we felt that it would be the best for us spiritually and we both agree that so far it has been. And that has been a source of constant encouragement and reassurance during these past two and half months. Just because it's been the best spiritually, doesn't mean it's been easy. Actually, there have been moments where I thought that this move, and everything that has come with it, have possibly been the hardest thing in my life up to now.

It's been extremely challenging transitioning cultures - from South Africa to here - and there's even a whole other set of weirdness that comes from Miami/the US being my home, but feeling foreign in a way. It's challenging not having our own home. I don't think I've explicitly said this on the blog, but hubby (and Rolo) and I are living with my parents currently. Actually, we truly feel that living with them is a big blessing in so many ways. But it still isn't our house. We got use to our own way of doing things, our own routines and now, they're gone. (They're not totally gone but they've been seriously rocked.)

It's really challenging not having a job. I'm pretty good at finding things to do and creating a routine for myself even without a job, but it gets tough to hold to it. Even more, it gets emotionally challenging to stay positive, to focus on the good, and to not think that I haven't yet found a job because I'm totally inept and have nothing to offer. And when I don't stick to my little schedule for the day, I feel less productive, which makes me feel more inept and useless. It's a vicious cycle.

As I sit here and write all that, I know it sounds totally depressing and miserable. And sometimes, I kind of feel that (depressed, not miserable). But honesty is the best. I totally prefer to risk sounding extreme and crazy (because I am only slightly so ;) than making my life sound like a perfect dream. But with that being said, I have to share all the positives too.

As I mentioned earlier, moving here has been THE best for both hubby and I (individually and as a couple). I'm not sure I've ever felt more encouraged, more hopeful, more full of growth in my marriage and as a result of that, more in love and more best friends with my husband than ever before. I feel like I've grown as a person, as a wife, and as a disciple of Jesus in ways that actually amaze me. Like, "I really did that?!" or "I actually held my tongue and didn't say x, y, or z?!" It's pretty cool.

And I HAVE TO brag about my husband! I get emotional even as I write this, but he has been incredible. I know how hard this move is for him, because I've done it before...but in a way, I didn't and don't know. When I moved to South Africa, it was supposed to be for a year. That one year turned into three and half, but (as you see) I came back. Hubby has moved continents, knowing that it's probably for good. Maybe I couldn't completely handle that thought about living away from my family forever and that's part of how we ended up here. Either way, I am forever grateful to him for being willing to do this. It's unbelievably (like really - you can't understand until you've done it) hard to move cultures, families, home, life, etc. and he has done it beautifully. (I'm sure he won't appreciate me describing him as "beautiful" but whatevs.) He is making friends, he's being honest when he really misses South Africa, he learned to drive on the other side of the road, he's staying busy while lots of government processes are patiently being waited upon. He loves my family. He loves learning from my dad. He helps out with the yard, cleaning the pool, and the house. He still takes me on wonderful dates and doesn't negate the things that are hard for me in this move, because his are probably harder. He has been a sponge spiritually, learning and absorbing all that he can from many incredible people around us. He prays for his family back home and talks to them often. He even sleeps in a full size bed with me, when it's already to short for me and he's a few good inches taller than me. I could totally keep writing about the sacrifices he's made and how amazing he is, but you get the idea.

Although I can feel lost in terms of starting a career and finding what I really want to do, I'm so grateful to have the luxury of time to figure it out. I'm aware that very few people get that opportunity.

I live a 15 minute bike ride away from the ocean and get to see green trees all year long. I get to call best friends any second of any day that I want, that I previously had to set up Skype times weeks in advance with. And I have gotten to eat queso, nachos, Publix cookies, and cafe con leche (ok, not full of that yet) till my heart's content. And watch Sherlock and What Not to Wear on Netflicks. Even the little, sweet things are what make us happy in this time of drastic transition.

I actually wrote everything you just read a few weeks ago. I wrote it all down one day and thought I would look over it the next day and then post. But things got in the way. As I read all that now, it's all true but even more encouraging is that in those few weeks, we have both continued to grow in being more faithful, more encouraged, and more secure about the future. We were recently reminded in a church service that as long as we build God's house, ours will be taken care of. So that's what we try to focus on above all. Despite challenges, hubby and I truly feel so blessed and thankful to be where we are.

I was hoping all of this would be more of a "what to expect" for expats but I think it's more of a dumping session for myself. Either way, thanks for reading and sharing the journey with me. :)


  1. Such an encouraging post! I look up to you so much in your diligence to work hard and push through, and in your relationship! I know God has a plan to bless you in his perfect timing when it will be all the sweeter and all the hardship will make sense! I know it will come to pass I believe it will and I am excited for that day!

  2. I am so glad to have tumbled into your blogland here. We are newly expats in France and I really appreciate perspectives from those who have already journeyed a bit down this road. And transitions (any kind!) can be so challenging, but as you mentioned, God is so gracious in the midst of it all ...

    1. Hi Anna! So glad my blog could help you a bit. :) Good luck with your transition! (Feel free to email me if you have expat questions.)


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