May 12, 2011

Day By Day

There are many aspects of life as an expat that are completely foreign to me. Which makes sense I guess since our whole life is foreign right now.

We have learned that this life will chew you up and spit you out if you don't approach it with a sense of adventure. I'm certainly not implying that we have our Tevas and REI gear on every day ready to embrace the craziness thrown our way. Sometimes we are still wearing our pajamas at noon and eating all things carbalicous. But somewhere along the way - once you recover from jet lag, unpack the limited items you brought with you, and figure out how to get to the grocery store - you have to jump in with both feet determined to soak in every single thing you can about this strange life as an expat.

Because your time here is likely very short.

We have approached the end of the school year and everyone is buzzing with news of friends moving back home. I personally know about 7 people moving back home so these next few weeks are full of going away events. There are email notices and postings in the American Club as folks start selling off their stuff they can't take with them and the good Helpers are being snatched up by new families. Some families are going back to the exact home they left, some are moving somewhere new and some know they are leaving but are still unsure of where they are going.

In most cases, you will never see these friends again. That is life here. It is temporary.

It is sad to watch people go but the alternative is to isolate yourself waiting for your departure date to roll around and never invest.

I, for one, am willing to take the chance that my heart is going to hurt many, many times as I say good-bye to friends year after year that have helped me to survive my time here. We have missed births, deaths, graduations, and other life changing events happening back home and it isn't easy. But then you get a call from a friend here who understands and she reaches out to you because it's just what you do.

You create family.

They don't replace family and friends from back home but they are, each and every single one, a gift from God to make your life feel more whole. I love the variety in the friends I have made here. I have friends from South Africa and the Philippines, friends that have been expats for years and friends that arrived here when I did. I have friends from church and friends that have never stepped foot in a church. I have friends that are newly married, friends with toddlers, friends with kids my age, and friends who have children and grandchildren they've left behind in the states. Some friendships make sense and others seem like a random pairing. But we all have one thing in common.....we've been plucked out of a life that was familiar and comfortable and dropped here in a foreign land to sink or swim.

And we are swimming.

Today a group of girls I spend loads of time with celebrated the June birthdays in the group. We will be scattered all over the place this summer so we took advantage of a free day and decided to go on a wild adventure. Think zip lines, swinging from trees, crossing swinging poles to reach the other side......think blood, sweat (lots of it) and laughter. We stared our late thirties/early forties in the eye, threw back our heads, and laughed.

Then we ate cupcakes.

And spent a moment appreciating each other and this crazy opportunity to leap out of our comfort zones knowing we have each other, no matter how fleeting the time.

I have no doubt that one day when it's my turn and I'm selling our stuff we can't take back home and eating amazing dumplings and friend rice for the last time, I will mourn greatly the friends I will be leaving behind.

But I will never, ever, ever again take life for granted.

I have learned that life is what you DO with it. And that doing life alone is not nearly as much fun as doing life with people who challenge you, love you, and make you laugh.

Red On!!


  1. I think you just put my mom's philosophy as a military wife into beautiful words. We never lost the chance to make a new friend, create a new memory, or experience something new. Moving every 2 years—and moving from DC to AL to TX to HI and then to Asia in 10 years—was really challenging, but the lifestyle created a fearlessness in Christie and I that we will always appreciate.

    So grab life by the horns and continue to embrace the adventure, because you are keeping your own sanity but also investing in the characters of your boys. And that's an amazing legacy. :)

    Enjoy your celebrations and keep appreciating the past but anticipating the future and those who God is directing to cross your path. You inspire me.

    Love, Carie

  2. I think you should keep up this daily blogging. It is good stuff! Your words today can apply to so many just adjusting to any change which causes us to want to duck our heads and let life go by. Thank you for the reminder;) I tell you often and I'll tell you again, so PROUD of you my sister in Jesus and my friend:)

  3. Keri, I think you "swim" or "dive in" or whatever is it everywhere you go. It's in your nature. You were not made to sit idle and pass the time. I know you are an amazing encourager to other expats, getting them to jump in with both feet and live life! It is easy to think about what you are missing "back home" until you realize that "home" is where God has put you and your family (and anywhere a friend is going to give you ziplining and a cupcake!!).

  4. This is just amazing. You amaze me. I'm so proud of you, and I think you're fabulous and amazing. CANNOT WAIT to meet you!!!



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