May 20, 2014

19 Days

*Note to this blog post at any time when you feel busy and overwhelmed because it will feel like a CAKE WALK compared to life right now!*

Before any of you start sending me emails or Facebook messages about looking for the joy in my circumstances let me just start off by saying that I am not complaining or unhappy but the list of things that have to be done is absolutely and totally ridiculous.  You know it's bad when you tell friends you prefer to NOT have a going away lunch but would rather they drive you around doing errands so it only takes 2 hours instead of 395 hours via bus, train, or taxi.

Closing out your life in a country you don't plan on returning to any time soon is a tad bit daunting.  Besides all the mundane things like dealing with movers and getting medical records and school transcripts, you have to make sure every item on the bucket list is checked off.  Nothing like squeezing in a traditional Chinese tea ceremony and telling the sweet lady that you need the express version....just pour the tea and let me take pictures and I'm outta here!

Or visiting the store that sells inexpensive Fine Bone China plates and buying 16 place settings for all the people you don't ever want to entertain just so you can say you bought Bone China in Asia.

Or gaining 5 pounds in two weeks by visiting your favorite restaurants over and over because you just never might be the last time you EVER get to eat a dumpling.

Or taking your file folder of random currencies to the money exchange guy only to have him tell you that some of that money isn't used anymore (at least I think that's what he said).  Or have him laugh when a big pile of money equals a whopping $1.29.  You don't even care.  You'll take it because that $1.29 will at least buy you....well, nothing in Singapore.

I am often asked how the boys are doing. is the big scary monster hiding in the closet.  There are books written on the subject and counselling offered for kids so they aren't completely traumatized when returning home where they can't just hop in a taxi to meet friends and have to be more aware of their surroundings.  In typical Jenkins fashion, my boys aren't responding at all like they are supposed to be.  They are both very excited about our new adventure in Chicago and I'm just relieved that the therapy fund I started in fear of the dreaded "repatriation" can now go towards a new blender.

Speaking of blenders, Scot and I were making a budget for all the items we have to buy when we get back.  This list includes every single thing you plug in.  Nathan informed us that it's just like when we got married.  Yep.....except no one is buying us our blender and toaster and it isn't arriving at my house wrapped in nice silver wrapping paper!!  I also don't have to write any thank you notes - so there's that.

If anyone is looking for a cure to being a helicopter parent, moving will do it.  I honestly have no idea how either of the boys are doing in school right now.  They are alive and breathing each morning which makes me a very successful mother.  That and I haven't received any phone calls from the school.  I am pretty much rocking this parenting gig right about now.

In less than two weeks my home will be swarming with people packing up my belongings and I won't see any of it for 6-8 weeks while it travels by sea to get to St. Charles, Il.  I have heard horror stories of people's containers nose diving into an ocean so I pray that my 16 place settings of Bone China I'll never use make it to me in one piece!  We will also get our stuff that has been in storage for 4 years.  It will be like Christmas opening up that container to be reunited with my piano and whatever random items I thought I couldn't live without four years ago.  And yes, the fact that I can't even remember what is in there says a lot for how important it is.

In the meantime, I have air shipment, sea shipment, give away, throw away, put in suitcase, and the "can't leave the island until it's finished" piles all around the apartment.  Let's just say that when I got a call from a guy threatening to turn off our electricity today, I dug out the electric bill from one of the piles and made my way to the electric company after begging a ride from a friend.  We are living life on the edge!

Scot has been in the states for almost three weeks and is settling into his new job.  We are supposed to be closing on our home this Friday.  I say that with a healthy amount of will understand if you remember the drama of our last house transaction.  Oy vey.  If all goes well, we'll have a new address in a few days!

The boys and I are meeting Scot in Chicago for a week.  We'll be sending Garrett off on a trekking adventure while Nathan and I head to Houston for a month waiting on our stuff to show up in Chicago.  Hopefully we'll be settled into our house by the beginning of August just in time to explore some of the bike trails near our house and introduce ourselves to the management staff at Target.  My new best friends.

Life is good.  We are good.  Change is good.

God is so good.

I think I'll have that printed on a t-shirt and wear it as a reminder every single day.

19 days and this chapter will come to a close.  We are forever changed by this experience and I am so thankful for every moment!

April 10, 2014

Coffee Anyone?

If I were to set the scene for this conversation, we would be sitting in Starbucks and I would have a mug in front of me with a non-fat Chai Tea Latte....2 pumps.  You might possibly be rolling your eyes because your coffee drinking status has been elevated to new standards and you only buy coffee at trendy cafes where they pick their own beans, roast them, and create a flavor palate customized just for you while a poet hones his craft in the corner.  

Or you have some frothy drink piled up with whip cream and I kinda hate you because you can drink that stuff and not have to immediately take a nap.

Whatever your beverage of choice, I would take a sip of my tea and then sigh deeply before smiling at you and launching into the telling of the latest instalment of the Jenkins Family Adventures.

2014 clearly decided to engage in a fist fight with Scot and me.  It has been ugly......lots of bruises, scrapes and some scars but we are still standing.  Barely.  I promised in my last post to not be depressing....and I could SOOOO wallow right now.....but this is going to be upbeat.

Another sip of my tea.  Oh, how I love thee Chai Tea Latte.

We knew before Christmas that we would be leaving Singapore this summer.  The kicker?  We had no idea where we were going.  Luckily, enough other stuff was being thrown our way that being crazy worried about our next destination wasn't high on my list of stuff to worry about.  I figured God had this and when we needed to know, we would know.

For a while it looked like we might move to Denver.  Then it was Houston.  Neither one felt exactly right for us.  When Scot was offered a job that would move us to Chicago we sat back and contemplated the idea of moving to the Midwest.

Deep dish pizza, all 4 seasons, new adventures.....and it's close to Wisconsin!!  That last one didn't actually factor into anything except we know people in Wisconsin so it's kind of exciting since we don't know a single solitary soul in Chicago.  Well, except our realtor and loan officer but I am pretty sure they didn't intend to sell us a house and be our new besties.

I went with Scot to check out the area and we felt strongly that it was where we were supposed to go.  Soooooo......this family of 4 that has lived in Texas, Florida, and Singapore is now moving to Chicago where it snows.  We will be the only fools on the block running around with our tongues sticking out during the first snowfall and within 3 weeks we'll be sitting under sun lamps rocking back and forth muttering to ourselves about that big round orange thing that used to be in the sky.

I think we're going to be super popular there.

Another sip; although I'm sad that all the frothy milk is gone.

Our boys are thrilled about the move.  We have clearly instilled a healthy sense of adventure into them so something new is right up their alley.  I have one boy that is beside himself that we will have over an acre of land with trees which means he will be outside every possible moment in sun or snow.  The other one will spend as much time as he can in the big city.  They are excited to be going to Chicago but swear they will never be Cubs fans.

Scot would leave tomorrow if he could.  He is anxious to begin a new chapter and I am very proud of him for getting a great job that is going to be challenging and very interesting.  He will be travelling internationally so our frequent flier status is in zero danger of changing anytime soon.

As for me?

Another sip of tea while I figure out how to put my feelings into words.

I am looking forward to moving somewhere new.  I am confident it is the right thing for our family.  But there is going to be a mourning period as I rip up roots here and move somewhere to start all over again.  There are people here in Singapore that I love dearly that won't be a quick plane ride away.  I don't think I could even put into words the ways this place has seeped into the nooks and crannies of my heart and mind.  Asia has changed me in the last four years and for that I will be eternally grateful.

I know that God doesn't move you away from one thing without moving you towards another.  I look forward to finding out what is in store for me on the other side of the sad days.

We are already starting to see some "lasts" and have a good two months to wrap up the bucket list before the boys and I take our one way tickets and step onto the plane bound for Chicago.  It will be good to live in our home country again.  It will be REALLY good to have my own car!  Oh, and Target just happens to be right outside our new neighbourhood.  That is God's special little treat just for me.

I tip back my mug and drain the rest of my tea.

I am's what I do when there are excess words floating around in my brain with no purpose.  It's time to get up and let someone else have our table until the next time we meet again.

I raise my empty mug to new adventures and deep dish pizza.  I raise my empty mug to our new hometown of Chicago!

January 27, 2014

Four Letter Words

I initially started this blog post using a well placed four letter word to describe this last month.  I didn't even flinch when I used it because the word so perfectly described the last several weeks of our lives.  However, I happen to have two teenage boys who get a kick out of reading this blog and I have a strict no cussing rule in my house so I need to be a good example....blah, blah, blah.

It is with very mixed emotions that I share that June is going to be the end of our time living in Singapore.  We have known since November and while I understand the career related reasons for this, my heart is struggling a bit with the reality that we will be saying good-bye to this small island that we have called home for almost four years.  I can hardly write that without being reduced to a puddle of tears. We will be saying goodbye to people that we dearly love knowing the odds are against us being back anytime soon. 

In the midst of grappling with all that moving means for us, we had to say good-bye to Scot's dad who died suddenly from a heart attack.  I watched as my husband looked like a nine ton weight was dropped onto his shoulders as he raced home to be with his father.  We were separated half a world away as death rocked his small family to the core and I felt completely helpless.  

If I had to describe life right now, I would say that I feel a lot like Peter that day he found himself in a boat being tossed around by a storm.  I recognize my Savior and the miraculous power he has to walk on water.  I look for Him among the storm  and my desire to be near Him gets me out of the boat.  I can sense Him beckoning to me and cheering me on as I take those uncertain steps onto chaotic water.  I look into eyes that are full of love and the noise in my head quiets as it bows to His authority.  

I then start to notice the absolute insanity of emotion that is all around me and I lose focus.  What is Scot's mom going to do?  Where are we going to live?  How do I say good-bye?  How do I start all over again?  I start to sink as I grab at things to keep me afloat but they all slip through my fingers.  

Then the strong and mighty hands of my Savior lift me up again and He reminds me that I can do this.  All the trials that have come before have been training for this day.  He has proven His character to be true and trustworthy and my job is to keep my eyes on Him.  My job is to journey through all of this with grace.

I write this knowing that in months....or maybe years from now......I will be able to look back on this and see God's plan clearly at work in our lives.  

I write this because for some strange reason it makes me feel better and less inclined to use the four letter words that would get my boys in trouble.  

I write this hoping that someday VERY soon I can write something that is actually light hearted and funny.  

January 10, 2014

One Word

I gave up on New Year resolutions a long time ago.  I tend to beat myself up pretty badly over failure and I ALWAYS failed at the whole resolution thing.  I never even made it out of the month of January before failing miserably so I decided resolutions were not for me.  Unless my resolution was to be consistently inconsistent in which case I was overwhelmingly successful.

A few years back when the trend began to pick One Word to take into the New Year, I halfheartedly participated.  I think I picked Love as my first word knowing that chances were pretty good I was going to Love someone at some point for most of the year.  Therefore, I was officially a girl who totally rocked the One Word New Year challenge.  Put it on a necklace and call it success.  

I have enjoyed reading everyone's One Word in the last week or so.  It seems that people are now feeling challenged to pick the One Word that no one else is using.  Love, Hope, Faith, Patience....all great words - all have been used before.  How about Indefatigability?  Or Pertinacity?  Or Staunch?  That's a good one.  Staunch.  

"What is your word for 2014?"

"Staunch.  It so beautifully describes who I want to be this year.  Not to be confused with Paunch which is a whole other issue to be dealt with this year."

Needless to say, I don't have a word for 2014.  At least not one that is inspiring in any way.  Right now my word would be Uncertain or Apathetic or Irritated.

There is some big stuff going on in my little family right now.  Details will have to wait until a more appropriate time but suffice it to say, my world is being shaken up a bit and I am pouting.

I know that God is in control.  I know that His will is perfect.  He has proven over and over again that He knows best how to take care of us.  

I know all of that but at the same time I have been struggling these last couple of months with feeling very spiritually dried up.  Almost like I'm in a stand off with God.  One of us is going to have to cave, admit some hard stuff and submit.  Chances are pretty good that it's going to be me.  

The kicker is that I don't have the luxury of pulling up a chair to a pity party for one.  I have a husband that needs my love and support and I have children who watch how we handle every little thing.  I have a leadership role at church that requires me to be very plugged in to God's will and loads of people that I need to do a good job of loving.  All of those things hinge on me being spiritually healthy.

How do I sum all of that up into a nice One Word for 2014?  I don't.  Frankly, it's going to take every single word in the book this year.  

Authenticity is a word that I love and value greatly and maybe that is the word I am embracing today.  

Surrender is another word.....maybe for tomorrow.  

Strength is a good one that I need to strive for every day.

Sugar.....ok, maybe not that one.  

Excitement pops its head up here and there.  

Determination is lurking in there somewhere.  I think it's hiding under Surrender.  

Integrity, love, forgiveness, peace, perseverance.....I will take them all, thank you very much.

Jesus....a word, a name, power...all wrapped up in one.  I need that one every single second.

At this point, I'll even take Staunch. I can't afford to leave any of the good words out of my New Year.
Well, except for Paunch.  I am going to actively try to rid myself of that one once and for all.


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