Dear friends,

Thank you for journeying with us.

I have finally moved to a new personal blog site at www.tamwaijia.com.

We welcome you to continue joining us in our new space there,

as well as our journey at Kitesong Global on www.kitesong.com.

Blessings and love,

Wai Jia

“Become a fool, that you may become wise —

a thoughtful, hopeful, happy fool for Christ.”

– John Piper

 

My face flushed.

It was as if I had had mud slung on my face.

In a single moment, I felt embarrassment, humiliation and shame.

Yet, this feeling was not unfamiliar. In a short span of a few weeks, I had felt its familiar sting. This time, unlike before, I began to understand the reality of words I had read before which had never come to life in such a realistic and tangible way.

While many people showed great encouragement, sent us notes of love to cheer us on, and poured out their own struggles to us since the commentary was posted, few knew of the anguish involved leading up to the publishing of the article.

For the entire week, I worked with an editor who was kind, empathetic and sensitive to the hardships we had been through. He was respectful, kind, collaborative, careful to consult me when he felt the need to tighten the piece and suggest edits. I was grateful. My earliest piece was a technical piece of writing suggesting changes needed on a societal level- it was he who suggested a completely different approach- a deeply personal one.

“Readers would be interested in your role as a female sole breadwinner.”

I embarked on the journey into the past, going deep into the crevices of memories I preferred to bury. Yet, finally putting them on paper, giving them life, for a narrative that would hopefully bring hope and catalyze change, to challenge societal norms on parenting, however small, was healing in its own way- however painful it was for me.

For the entire week, I worked hard at the piece, going back and forth with the editor, late into the night.

The Friday it was published, I was notified via a text message.

I clicked on the link.

My stomach tightened.

Instead of a title which honored my husband, the title published was “My hubby’s been on an emotional roller-coaster as stay-at-home-dad. So have I as sole breadwinner.”

I did a double take when I saw the title. How did our journey of collaborative trust through the week, end on this note?

I texted back. A bruising sense of betrayal was brewing inside of me- an unfurling of sorts.

I texted three mentors to ensure I was of sound mind. All echoed similar sentiments- that it was dishonoring to us, and completely out of character with the piece I had written, which meant to uplift hands-on parents.

Thankfully, the editor was willing to chat over the phone.

“It is completely factual. Did you not read your own piece about how difficult your lives have been?”

The voice was different from previous calls- devoid of compassion.

A courage arose within me to say, “This piece was meant to honor, not dishonor my husband. I would like to counter-propose the title: ‘I may be the sole breadwinner but my husband is the hero.’ ”

“Where in the piece did you talk about honoring your husband? Since when is this ever about honoring your husband?”

I held the phone so tightly I thought it might break.

In the kitchen where I had closed myself in while the kids bawled outside for mama, I replied, “The last line encapsulates the entire piece- of honoring my husband. Are you yourself married? If your wife wrote this piece, would you have this title for the article?”

I know that someday, when our two little ones grow up, my husband would have left behind not a legacy of wealth, or status or success defined by the world, but a legacy of culture-shaking, hands-on fathering that not only upended entrenched social norms, but left behind the most important legacy of all, of lives forever changed.

I thought I heard a laugh over the phone.

“That’s only the last line- Look, our team of editors have decided that it needs an objective title. And this as objective as it gets.”

I failed to see how “emotional roller-coaster” was an objective title.

Yet, given the power dynamics, I knew I was at the losing end. I pleaded on two accounts- one, that if the title stayed the same, Cliff and I would not share it. And the people who loved us, in healthcare, homeschooling, parenting, faith-based circles- would all not share it because it would hurt us. Two, if the title stayed the same, it would go against the very nature of the piece to uplift hands-on parenting, and stay-at-home-fathering.

By this point, I had become emotional, yet emboldened by a rising anger and sense of betrayal.

“We never change titles after they’ve been published.”

“Well, then you should consider this occasion to be the first.”

Silence.

“You should have heard the other titles the other editors came up with! Far worse! You think this is bad? I can tell you-“

“Please stop.” At once, I summoned every fibre in me to say the words I needed to say. “You are hurting my family.”

His words stung. Far worse? Had I, like on a previous occasion by the media years ago, been used for their own purposes?

The call ended. I got down on my knees to pray. Around the dinner table, as we held hands to pray for a miracle, tears filling my eyes, my firstborn asked, “Why are you sad, Mama?”

“There are times where people are unkind, Sarah-Faith. And it is Mama’s duty to protect our family if people hurt us. Let’s pray God’s will be done.”

Less than an hour had passed before I got the message, “We’ve changed the title- It’s now: My husband is a stay-at-home-dad. This is my journey as a sole breadwinner.”

We all cheered, with the kids cheering jubilantly, even if they did not know what had happened.

The piece was shared over a thousand times, many times more than what a commentary piece in that column garnered typically. Days passed, and several emails, messages from strangers poured in, sharing their own experiences of anguish and pain, reaching out to us for support, friendship and encouragement. Special friends were made. Strategic partnerships happened.

It was then that Cliff turned to me and said, “You always think your boldness is a weakness. See how it can be a strength? You fought for what was right.”

I recoiled at the mere thought of the previous title, and the jokes made at us round the editors’ table, with titles tossed around to mock the struggles we faced.

For days, what I wished I had said swirled in my head. I wished I had shared my feedback that those comments were unprofessional, disrespectful not only to us but his own colleagues, but I did not.

Instead, I began to reflect on the truth about meekness and strength.

In the English dictionary, meekness is being described as “submissive, easily imposed on.” This is far from strength, and a state I would hardly feel proud to be described as.

Yet, a significant leader in the Bible, Moses, was described as the “meekest man in all the earth (Numbers 12:3). He was not weak. Instead, he was one who had lived a life of complete submission to God Himself, someone who could put himself aside to follow God’s direction instead of his own to lead.

If THAT is true meekness, then I want to be meek, too.

I began to see how true strength is not in how assertive or brash one can be, but having the wisdom to wield its power when needed, and to show restraint when not.

In that occasion, I believe I had asserted the strength that was necessary, that was called for, at the right time for the right reason. It was also right, to show restraint.

Less than a month had passed when I was alerted by a friend that a well-known professor being interviewed on a public platform had quoted “Cliff and Wai Jia” in an anecdote he shared in an interview, and sent the link of the video clip to us.

I thought I would be flattered, since it was someone I had known and admired for years.

Instead, I felt the same scathing feeling I did before, as a hot flush rose up my cheeks.

In an interview about vaccines and its side effects, he had shared the anecdote of Cliff and I going to Uganda against medical advice, as Cliff was unable to take the mandatory yellow fever vaccine due to his immunocompromised state.

I watched that part of the video clip over and over, frozen in shock. From the way we were described, it was as if we were brazen risktakers, overzealous religious people who did not know how to measure risk.

The truth was- that the circumstances of the situation were not taken lightly. We had grappled with the risks. I had suffered panic attacks in the night wrestling with God about the decision. I had gone to an Infectious Disease specialist hoping to get a firm “no” as an answer, only to have her unexpectedly give Cliff a waiver letter, with the assurance that she herself was a world-renown expert on the World Health Organization yellow fever vaccine guidelines. We had prayed about it, asked God to show us, and He made His way known, even when our human understanding failed to comprehend. The decision was made under unusual circumstances, with much difficulty, and without fully explaining the context of how and why it happened, I felt it did not convey the actuality of the situation.

I wrote to the professor to explain my discomfort around his sharing, as it could easily be taken out of context, misconstrued. I shared that I did not appreciate it, given my current role as a public health professional who works hard to ensure vaccination messages are well received.

With great grace, he apologized, much to my relief and deep gratitude.

It was then that 2 Corinthians 12:10 came to life for me:

“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

It suddenly became real to me, that to do what is right, to make a stand for what we believe in, to follow God’s call, is to attract reproach. And this reproach, is exactly what the Apostle Paul was telling us to exult in.

I read the trolls I had received online for writing my commentary. I shuddered at the public health professionals who might have listened into the professor’s anecdote about us and who had shaken their heads at our folly.

But I conclude that if this is what it means to act from our personal convictions, that this is the cost we must be willing to bear.

When Jesus did right, he was mocked. When He spoke truth, He was vilified.

This is the cross, and this is how it looks like.

If there is one thing I hope my children will learn, it is that it takes great inner vigor to do what is right, to stand for one’s convictions boldly, and yet, be able turn the other cheek when needed.

That is true meekness, and true strength.

 

WhatsApp Image 2021-07-19 at 5.00.38 PM

This has been one of the hardest pieces of writing I have ever embarked on.
I didn’t agree with the title, and wished it said more about Cliff’s courage to honor the amazing man he is, but I am grateful. I hope this will give hope to hands-on parents and parents-to-be, that the road might be hard, but it is always, always worth it. ❤
If you know someone who might be encouraged, please share it with them. ❤
commentary commentary
What is it taking from me now?
 
The heavy news of climbing cases and new restrictions hit hard.
 
The noon sun pours onto my feet. My feet scrape impatience on the dirt, I walk deeper into the woods behind our home, wanting to comb out tangled thoughts.
 
I leave a home of mess behind- puzzle pieces littered across the floor, fruit flies dizzied round browned potatoes. I think of the morning carcass of events- emails piled as high as dishes in the sink, rimmed with unfinished business. Children somersault into the wide open- tomorrow, no longer so.
 
The announcement of tightened COVID-19 restrictions lay heavy on my shoulders. The sapphire of a kingfisher catches my eye, it flies into the open, a wide open that is closing in fast inside my head. In two days (today), rules kick in. Far beyond in another world, the virus is taking away lives, real people and their stories intertwined with the living- and here I am angry-fisted, struggling raw with my own petty grief of freedom taken away.
 
Even on a normal day, we are lusting deep for time. More time to do, to work, to cook, to clean, to teach, to minister, to wash. In so much doing, where schedules are balanced on tightrope precariousness for the everyday show to go on without missing a beat – who can handle yet one more thing?
 
Sapphire flits away.
 
In the twilight of the evening, playground mums gather socially-distanced. Their children mingle, oblivious to the changes in two days time. My heart burns. How will tomorrow unfold? Social gatherings limited to two pax. We can manage that- but what about parents like us, who need to bring two littles out? I overhear conversations I should not listen to- and my heart surges electric green with envy. Their kids are in school and after-school enrichment classes, grandparents visit- they are safe in their bubble.
 
But families like ours, without domestic help and which rely on one parent to watch two littles while the other works, recuperates, totter on the edge of exhaustion. A part of me chides this melodrama- we have much to be grateful for.
 
A greater, darker fear looms behind- will last year play out again, will I return to frontline work, armoured in PPE?
 
My fingers search social media frantically, wishing, hoping someone might echo my worries but find none. I catch myself, sin-struck- why is my heart anxious?
 
I don’t trust God. The fear of losing time, my time, more time, to more child minding, child rearing because of an outside world closing in on us drives me into quiet panic. The fear of me plunging headlong back into the frontline battle, last year’s burnout still salty on my lips, grips me cold. I am a deer, caught in the headlights of confession, nowhere to run.
 
Hard truth hits- I want my routine untainted. I am an amateur working-and-homeschooling mum, racing against time from the moment first light creeps in. The clock whips me hard, unforgiving.
 
I claim to enjoy time with my littles, homeschooling them. But the moments, those sacred moments bursting with head-throwing peals of laughter like bells, have become profane- I desecrate them by my watch-tapping, by checking my phone, as if there is always an emergency only I can fix. Time ticks fast, and I push it back hard as emails and phone calls press in. Everyone is taking something away from me- my fists clench tight. What do you want from me now?
 
I bark hurriedness. Eyes shimmer sadness and tiny feet teeter, tumble out. Mama has to work.
 
I discover, to my horror, that it is not the virus that has taken away my freedom, my time. It is myself. I am fleeing my children to get to the Important bits of my day.
 
The announcement unravels me, what does it mean for my work and schedule if my husband cannot take them out, even for a walk? What does it mean for his respite, if I cannot do the same?
 
I dare not tell anyone I lose sleep. Guidelines change even before we have figured how to cope with the latest accouncements. Another mum tells me to relax, as if I am uptight, scrounged up into a ball by my own worry. I bristle because it is true.
 
My frantic fingers find rest before dawn the next day- glory! I see hope. The announcement has been amended. There is flexibility for families for young children for essential activities. My mind latches onto hope- things will be okay.
 
But there is more bad news. It is announced seven schools will close. Then hours later, all schools will close.
 
The trauma of last year rears a haunting head- lockdown with two toddlers while doctoring in the frontlines. The scars feel fresh, they gash deep and feel raw to touch, still. I touch them tenderly and fresh blood bleeds.
 
I breathe easy again. But the truth has been exposed. I am a convict, waiting for bail, still.
 
My bailers are here. The two stamp in, fling off pink sandals, declare their arrival. “Mama! We’re home!” My firstborn bounces in, waiting to burst a barrel full of stories, my younger teeters in behind, bawling hot tears, tired. Like every day before this day, my pulse hammers into my head- there is too much left undone and too little time.
 
But today I repent, I shut the screen and rise up, arms open like a wide field, waiting to swallow them up.
 
Time stops, untightens its noose for us. I thank God for two little bodies, bouncing with health. I thank God for my husband, his broad chest always ready for the snuggle of tear-stained faces. I thank God the restrictions are here to prevent a catastrophe, that the catastrophe is not already here, though sometimes I smell it close by, caving in, beckoning me to leave my current routine and safety to where I might be needed again.
 
The restrictions spell more time for the kids to be home. I accept the inevitable- less time for myself. My feet scrape brown leaves on the musty ground. A monitor lizard ambles past. Mother-tired I am. But when I slow down, crouch low, hug deep, time multiplies, magnifies, expands into Eden. My rest, once caught in minutes between a meeting and the kids barging in, is now a long period, stretched out into the hours of the day as I begin to hold the moments in my arms, savouring their sacredness.
 
I discover, that the virus, the new measures, or the kids have in fact not taken my time away. They have returned it.
 
Is this what we have been missing?
 
I scamper home. The trio are coming back for lunch soon. A home full of emails and pots on the stove and dishes and toys await. I hurry to grab fistfuls of time.
 
But this morning is different. I awaken, hands holding the arc of a bum so small its like a fruit. Another tiny hand holds mine. The clock slows down. This confession, this waiting for bail, opens my eyes to what I don’t need to miss- the gift of being present.
 
I look out the window. A world punctured with scarcity lies below, and up here in our sanctuary, we have everything. In Ann Voskamp’s words, “Thanksgiving makes time.”
 
It is Sunday. The day the rules kick in, the day the world is supposed to close in on us. But my world, like my arms, now open up, wider than its ever been.
 
We sit to read the Bible, write words, do a craft. But time is no longer ticking fast. The redemptive work of thanksgiving is working a miracle- it is giving back time to me, multiplying it, expanding it. It is returning to me everything I thought the restrictions would take away from me- time with family, giggles, freedom.
 
I am overwhelmed with revelation. The restrictions open up my world to unrestrained, unbounded mercy. I am a little girl with my little girls, exulting in the freedom of this space of thanksgiving.
 
I see time with fresh eyes. This homeschooling, childminding is not subtracting from me- it is giving back, nourishing me. This invitation to be back at war is not a curse. These are the gifts of love that keeps giving. This virus and its restrictions is not demanding of me, withholding from me- it is lavishing, blessing, restoring me.
 
We read about an idea to make prayer cards for one another and toss them in a basket. But my eyes light up when I see yours do- how about we make a basket and the cards too?
 
In and out, up and down the lattices go- our lives interweaving with one another to make one thing that holds, and provides and gives to others. A basket is complete. You choose colors of cards for each of us and I ask what prayers you want for us, for me.
 
“Good health for Papa.
Good sleep for Meimei (little sister).
A pink bike for me.
And Mama, what do you want?”
 
What do I want?
 
I am stunned. I don’t know what I want.
 
I stutter a pious answer. A heart of joy, I guess?
 
But your answers takes my breath away.
 
“Mama, I pray for you to be a good planter. Here, draw a plant. And soil.”
 
Later, when I am left alone, I listen to a sermon and Communion. The pastor speaks of a vision of daffodils, of the importance of us doing the work of planting, mentoring, sowing on earth that has heavenly ramifications for eternity.
 
My eyes water. How did my firstborn know I needed this?
 
I stagger under the weight of her gift to me. I receive fully, the full weight of God’s glory in the words of a little child- the prophecy of being a planter, a sower, a creator, growing up lives for heavenly purposes.
 
In our lives of torrential hurry, have we forgotten the gift of family? Are we smug that our lives carry on untouched by the new restrictions, that our rhythm still whips clockwork, or are we brought to our knees, staggering under the revelation of priorities gone awry? Today, how will you respond to the new measures- will you, like me, fight them with panic and anxiety, or yield to His trusting hand of grace and kind mercie?
 
“You be a good planter, Mama. I pray that for you.”
 
I sit humbled, my arms spread wide as fields.
 
My world opens, an endless expanse of freedom.
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I awaken, stricken with fear.

It has been years since I felt this way. I lay in bed, willing myself to return to sleep, but my thoughts encircle like vultures, preying, waiting.

My lawyer, a lovely grandfather figure who volunteered to help Kitesong Global be set up in Singapore, had called me earlier that day.

He talks and talks. I listen, eyes glazed. I thank him gratefully. Without God’s word as an anchor, the world starts to warp.

I hold the rims of the world back in place with bare hands. Lights flicker.

At night I sleep. The enemy awakens me with worry. For the first time, I thought of the money we will no longer have, needed to support team members who need to be paid, who, like the rest of the world, need to eat, live, and grow. While dozens of volunteers help with various initiatives, not everything can run on free currency.

As the needs of vulnerable communities grow, Kitesong Global’s international work expands its reach to be established in Singapore as an entity. As we reach out to more students, patients and migrant workers, we need interns, and one to two staff to run programmes. I thought of the funding we had, when it would run out, the lives that depend on this- and feel my head swim.

I need to breathe.

I fall into an uncertain slumber, caught in the liminal space of sleep and wakefulness.

The next morning, as I play with my two little ones, my four-year firstborn whispers with glee into my ear, “I have a surprise for you for Mummy’s Day but I can’t tell you.”

She emphasises “Mummy” like the word is a gift in itself.

I try wearing my God lenses to see the world. And start to see that the gems I learn through motherhood are preparing me for this journey of faith.

In that like any step of faith we take with God and like raising children, there is risk. There is risk because we don’t know the future. There is fear because the uncertainty becomes unbearable. And when we yield to its vise, we desecrate holy moments of everyday life with thoughts of anxiety.

Cliff’s hands slide down my arm, bold, thick love. I start to tremble.

Years ago when we spoke of having children, my answer was no. If we pursued missions, it would be too risky.  Likewise, years ago, when I felt the tug to set up Kitesong Global as a non-profit to grow the philanthropy/humanitarian work I was involved in, people said no.

“You’ll be responsible for legal fees, auditing, accounting, employing- there’s a lot at stake.”

A lot at stake. Is it too much?

Like in Homeschooling, too?

God’s words bring clarity, beckons us forward. We would have nothing, and help would come. Money, provision, legal advice, a word of prayer.

John Piper says, “ The tragic hypocrisy is that the enchantment of security lets us take risks every day for ourselves but paralyzes us from taking risks for others on the Calvary road of love. We are deluded and think that it may jeopardize a security that in fact does not even exist.”

So we hide and cower- we prefer to choose safer options of status quo to avoid rocking the boat. But what if choosing not to take risks for God is the greatest risk of all, what if that option, while predictable and viable and safe and comfortable, sits just precariously on the tightrope of just as many unknowns?

We think we know the future, that we’ve calculated it all correctly to make sound choices that fit our lives, but who knows what the future brings- all our attempts to keep our children safe and secure and happy and smart may end so differently, all our attempts to hoard and save and earn may end sour.

Safety is a myth. Success is a myth.

Security is a mirage.

And we would do better to realize that taking costly risks on the road of Calvary is probably the safest road of them all. It is as perilous as Queen Esther’s exclamation “If I perish, I perish,” yet as secure as God’s declaration, “I will rise again.”

I awake this morning with an unshakable burden to pray. My heart is the moon, drawing my knees to gravity. I pray for the lives that depend on our funding and programmes, the lives that need to be changed through our provision of employment for them.  I pray for God to be real, to hear, to be as present for me as He is to our children when they pray.

For the past month, our firstborn has been asking us for a guitar. A guitar?! We aren’t even musical. Where from? What for? A whimsical request.

Like all of mine.

This morning, a miracle comes together. Light shifts my God lens and I see my child through His heart.

A discarded tissue box, an old shampoo box, bits of string.

Humble ingredients for a miracle- like five loaves and two fish, like the widow’s oil and her neighbor’s earthen jars, like water before it turned into wine.

I am reminded, how God uses the ordinary, the broken, the disenchanted to turn ashes for beauty.

The moon-weight in my heart sags and lifts.  It is not mine. The burden lifts.

I feel a sense of relief. The kind of gasping relief that caresses your face as you emerge from underwater desperate for air. He has taken my burden.

Even in my unbelief, He is turning water into wine. It is happening, even when I cannot see it.

I am still on my knees. My phone rings, I jump. Who is calling. Can it be God Himself.

I pick the phone up, my knees shaky. It is a distant mentor. “Just felt to call you this morning, what’s going on with Kitesong.”

How did he know. My lips have been sealed.

We end in prayer.

I don’t have the funds. I don’t have answers. I don’t have courage.

But I have prayer. And prayer is the work.

Prayer is the greater work, says Oswald Chambers.

There were twelve basketfuls left over. All the jars were filled with oil, all the widow’s debt paid. There were six stone water jars, each holding twenty to thirty gallons, all filled to the brim with the best wine.

He provides for all our needs, and more. Will He not?

My firstborn is ecstatic with her guitar. It matters not that it is made of empty boxes and string. She cares not- it is glorious, astoundingly glorious. She strums it all morning, dances with it. It is what she wants and all she needs and more. She snuggles into my arm, “I love you Mummy, for making the guitar for me.”

My eyes water. This is the test.

THIS IS THE TEST.

We all think it is how much we achieve , how much we earn, how many people can afford to employ on our team, how much money we can make, how much funds we can raise that tests our faith.

It is not.

The real test is in the private battlefield of the mind and heart at three in the morning.  It is the commitment to trust, the commitment to believe, the commitment to sleep because God’s burden is His, not mine.

This Mother’s Day, if you’re struggling with trusting God with your future, your children’s future, your team’s future- know this, He is there already. He was, has always been, and always will be.

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For the longest time I have kept a low profile on homeschooling.
 
Of all the reasons I have, perhaps the fear of judgment or being labeled is the strongest.
 
I didn’t feel like I fit in with the “real” full-time homeschooling mums who didn’t work, and who juggled multiple children’s curricula across different age groups. I wasn’t super like them. I didn’t know of homeschooling co-ops, or special groups that met for forest walks or international conferences. I didn’t have vast oceans of knowledge about the Montessori, playbased or Classical method of schooling.
 
I also didn’t feel like I fit in with the full-time working mums who worked hard, and struggled with finding pre-schools, enrichment activities, tutors, grandparent schedules, and managing a domestic helper at home. I didn’t know of the schools in our proximity (we kept moving), or the best neighborhoods to live in or the age-appropriate music, dance, drama, swimming, gym classes to drop our kids off to.
 
I was, am simply a mum who co-homeschools with my husband. I happen to work in public health. I run a non-profit. I have two young children under 5, one of whom is like 3 kids in 1 since hitting her terrific twos. Thankfully, I enjoy cooking, though occasionally it has meant chopping vegetables while muting the audio function, and then unmuting the audio to speak over a meeting while stirring wet rice and scalding a finger. It has meant logging onto virtual talks while clearing emails while walking around the reservoir to clock enough steps for the day because the kids always want Mama nearby, to be carried, to be so close to them. It has meant looking for quick hacks to do nearly everything in life.
 
I don’t have househelp or grandparenting drop-off support, but I do have an amazing husband who is a full-time husband, father and follower of Christ.
 
When young people visit our home, we invite them into the chaos not because we are proud of it. But because we know that this is real. This spray of toys over the floor, shower of crumbs, crayons strewn senseless across the hallway, legos hailed down. It is what early parenthood looks like. Brutal, broken nights of sleep after weeks of good rest, sudden meltdowns out of nothing, this self-doubt. A constant self-doubt asking, “Am I doing OK? Are my kids doing OK?”
 
More than a year has passed since we returned to Singapore. Cliff reminds me I don’t need to hide.
 
It’s okay if my kids are not in homeschooling co-op, or if we don’t have a helper (“Do you know if you get a helper, you’ll have SO much more quality time with your kids?!”). It’s okay that people raise their eyebrows when they ask “so what does your husband do?” and think I’m a bulldozing, unrestrained feminist. It’s okay that the kids are not enrolled in multiple enrichment lessons or that I really only have about a dozen recipes I rotate all year round.
 
It’s okay if I really am petrified by colleagues who find out and think I’m not serious about my work to spend my time dabbling in literal child’s play, play that they think can be easily outsourced.
 
I am learning that the truth is, every child and family are different. Our trajectory has been, will be different. And that is okay.
 
That is very okay. I try to breathe while saying that.
 
We are just a normal, struggling young family, like many young families are. We are a cross-cultural family who desires to move into missions intentionally, which means we have moved many times and will continue to, across continents. It means we have intentionally decided to sow into the early years of our children’s lives, to prepare them for some possibly challenging years in the field that only God knows about.
 
It is also with this that I have decided to, from time to time, share how we spend time at home (and outside) with the kids. This is neither a curriculum for homeschoolers, nor a guide for working mums. It is neither our way of showing how superior nor how creative we are. It is not to showcase one way (homeschooling) being better than another (traditional schooling).
 
It is simply sharing some of the ways we try to incorporate fun with learning at home, and we hope it can be a small blessing to families struggling to find ways to occupy little human beings with big emotions and big needs.
 
I couldn’t be more thankful for suggestions from other mum-friends, which have been at times life-saving!
 
This is just one of many ways.
 
We follow a Christian-based curriculum called My Father’s World. It follows the bible through the year. We start with that every morning, followed by Chinese penmanship, Chinese storytelling and songs, Letter of the week (which each lasts for 2 weeks), a craft based on the letter, talk about feelings beginning with the letter (think G for grumpy), and then Papa brings them out while Mama works. This could be to the supermarket with a letter-based shopping list or to the zoo with a list of letter-based animals, or simply just to have fun! We lunch together, more craft time with Mama, and then Papa brings them out again for outdoor play while I work. I take them to the playground while Papa winds down. We spend the rest of the evening together.
 
We don’t welcome unsolicited advice, or personal questions about our family. But we definitely do welcome new friendships and fun ideas. 🙂
 
If you, like me sometimes, feel incompetent about parenting little ones, and find the idea of teaching them unthinkable, I hope this might give you a glimpse of how it could look like, by a normal parent like me. It’s not always pretty, but it has certainly been rewarding. I’m not a professional educator, my email inbox is constantly buzzing, and I’m far from being a perfect mum.
 
But I have learned from Cliff, that the most important thing to remember as a mother, is that God chose YOU to be the Mama of your little ones. And there is thus no one else who could do a better job than you, no one who could love them more.
 
So if you have little ones and are terrified by the idea that you could ever teach them, know this- that God is the ultimate Teacher, and we are merely vessels.
 
There have been so many mornings I’ve awoken not knowing what I can gift to them, but as we pray as a family before the day begins, we ask God to be our Teacher to show us what He wants us to learn.
 
And then, a beautiful feather would show up for our week on F, or we’d be blessed by the sight of a beautiful caterpillar on our week for C.
 
So before the rest of year runs away, here’s posting a little of what we have done in the fortnight on the letter F.

Family MobileFamily Mobile with all of us, bits of twine, and a hanger!

Footprint Rocket

Footprint rocket- a birthday present for Papa Cliff this month!

Fruit smoothie

Fruit smoothie popsicles (Banana, berries and milk- thankful for a blender gifted to us recently, since my firstborn had several food related triggers for her eczema)

Flamingo Family

Flamingo Family

feathery plant

Feathery plants during our outdoor play watching kites at Marina Barrage

“ You must be a compliant parent.”
With a sheer bit of self will, my face torqued a smile and I walked away.
Compliant. Meaning Acquiescient. Which means- ready to accept something without protest, or to do what someone else wants.
Was it true? Was I a compliant parent?
I reflected on the past month. If there was one word that could sum it up, it would be LOUD. Very loud. Sleepless. And forceful. Inconsolable howling. Head banging. Climbing on tables and countertops and out of cribs. Flinging oneself on the fridge door demanding a drink, only to intentionally pour every bit of it onto the kitchen floor. I spent most of the month on my knees with my eyes down- either to wipe the floors or to pray. What had happened to this easygoing, mild baby who slept through the nights and was always so ready to ride in her sister’s caboose?
Two years ago, I had seen this before. It was the terrible, I mean, terrific twos.
They say that if you don’t label it “terrible”, it would never happen. It’s all in the mind. Or was it?
Our little one fell ill, recovered, but as if the illness had stolen her easy charm and placid personality, she remained unbearably stubborn, painfully willful, and tediously refractory. The nights became dreadful, filled with inconsolable howling for hours at a time, mostly between two to four in the morning. She’d crawl out at six, and we’d all feel like we’d been in boot camp all month.
After a month and a half of this temper-trying, will-testing behavior, my body, holding up consecutive nights of broken rest, began to protest. A familiar depression started to creep in. I knew I had to take action.
One morning, after a savage night, my firstborn hugged me before squealing with glee, “Mama! Look! A rainbow!”
True enough, in the distance, a beautiful arc of promise shone in the sun. I smiled weakly. A reminder of divine promises.
Yet, I felt tried.
In my fatigue, I lost self will in reigning in self blame. Perhaps this is my fault. I’m a “compliant parent.” The words echoed in my head endlessly. I “caused” our children’s tantrums.
Something must be wrong with how I am raising them.
That afternoon, our pediatrician, a mentor of mine since my medical school days called. I jumped, knowing how extremely busy she is, and knowing how prized her advice would be.
As she shared from her wealth of experience as an expert and a mother of four children, one of whom was tough as nails as a child, I felt unspeakably grateful.
Yet, the terrific outbursts continued.
Two days later, I received a text message from a distant friend from church- a sweet mother whom I had not talked to for more than a year.
“Hey Wai Jia! How’re you? I keep getting reminded of this dream I had about 2 weeks ago. So I thought I’d better heed the nudging to text you!
In my dream, my husband and I were visiting your family. We were on a balcony, and as we looked up, there was this huge rainbow in the sky, a complete rainbow. And then, somehow, your whole house started rotating. It was like revolving round and round. In my dream, you were standing at the dining table with one of your daughters, and you weren’t affected by the movement at all. You just looked up and smiled and said “Oh we’re used to it”.
This is my interpretation of the dream: the rainbow would be a sign of God’s promise and faithfulness. And the revolving home.. that God will see to it that you and your family will keep steady even if the world around you seems like it’s spinning!”
In my bleary eyed, emotionally and physically depleted state, I read the text with tears, yesterday’s sleep still weighing on the corners of my eyes.
The words, “I’m used to it” sent goosebumps down my spine- only God would know the words I used!
For weeks I had been discouraged by well meaning comments like “your children are this way because you breastfed for waaay too long” and “if you don’t believe in the terrible twos it will not happen to you.” But I did not share this with anyone who could have told this mother what I was going through.
The anguish of the peak of the terrible, yes terrible, terrible twos were only on the walls of my heart and living room walls.
It was God who knew and sent her message and dream as a reminder that He is mindful of ALL our challenges as a parent, and no matter what, He remains our ultimate Father, giving us hope and promise.
The same mother recommended me “The New Strong Willed Child” by James Dobson and it turned out to be a lifesaver. For the first time, I felt understood and validated, instead of guilty and ashamed. For once, I didn’t feel alone! Finally, someone understood that children come in different packages, and their strong-willed personalities do not reflect our incompetence.
Yet, I learnt important skills and tools that had immediate effect, and gave me the confidence to train our strong-willed firstborn and even stronger-willed second-born, to shape their wills while nurturing their spirits.
The book says:
“There is a tendency, I think, for parents of strong-willed children to feel cheated and oppressed because other moms and dads seem to have smooth sailing with their children, while they are at war every day of the week. But if they can perceive their task as a God-given assignment and believe that He’s going to help them to fulfill it, then the frustrations become more manageable… Kids do grow up, and you’ll find out later that the values and principles that you tried so hard to instill were actually going inside and sticking.”
Darlene Cunningham, wife of Founder of YWAM, said that it is often strong-willed children who end up changing the world.
I look at my four year old firstborn now, a picture of obedience and reminisce on the war-torn days of me pinning her down to the ground at a public stairwell in Canada when she was two years ago old and while I was in my third trimester because she wanted to throw herself into a blizzard without a coat on. I know what the book says is true.
But even more so, I know the Lord’s promises are, and if we keep on keeping on, we will reap the harvest due, in His good time.
And on that day, I will look up, and smile at the rainbow indeed.
Special thanks to Cliff, for being the bestest husband and parent a wife could ever ask for. I couldn’t ask for a better co-laborer than you. Happy birthday!
strong willed child

There have been many times in my life I have felt ashamed or embarrassed, but none quite like this.

It had been a long day and I was hungry to the point of grumpiness. After carrying two toddlers, perfectly capable of walking but who doggedly refused to, my toothpick arms felt juiced and my ankles, like bricks. I headed to the nearest cafe, dying for a meal.

“I’ll take that table,” I said with military decisiveness. All I wanted was to drop the kids and sit my tired body down to have a meal. Nothing could stand in my way.

“Do you want a baby chair?”

“No.”

“Oh but your kids are so small- surely the second one needs a high chair.”

“No, we don’t need one.”

“But the benches are quite high and if she falls it could be dangerous.”

“No, we are fine. Neither of them will allow us to put them in it.”

“I really think-“

Suddenly, the cumulative burden of years of unsolicited advice and the weights of “shoulds” and “musts” tipped the scales over and the words “I really think” became the straw that broke the mama camel’s back.

I lost it.

I was hangry. Tired. I wanted all four members of my family to be seated on a table with food and water in front of us- was that so hard? Did I need to explain that our children have a visceral dislike of high chairs or that our home dining table had the exact same set up as the cafe’s? Did I have to explain why I thought it would be way more dangerous to strap a stubborn and unwilling child into a tottering plastic chair?

Ungraciously and pointedly, I said, “I do not need you to tell me what kind of chairs my children need to sit on, thank you. Now if you DON’T mind, PLEASE let us take a seat!”

All at once, a backlog of emotional baggage and unspoken words of anger, hurt and spite buried deep within me, towards people who had been more than candid about their their pity on us having two girls (try again for a boy?) or our decision to have home births (are you crazy?) or homeschool our children (won’t they not have social skills?) overflowed and spilled on the floor like oily debris exuding a foul stench.

The dinner, our first time dining out with two toddlers, was astonishingly uneventful, a marvelous breakthrough. The table-and-bench set up proved perfect for our unusual brood, and we returned to the same cafe a week later. The staff had been exceedingly kind to us and the kids enjoyed the fish and chips.

As we paid our bill, I noticed a little “Jesus” signboard at the side of the cafe.

Not recognizing the lady at the cashier, I asked, “Do you run this cafe? The staff and food are amazing.”

“ Yes, it’s mine. I am so sorry if I came across wrongly last week. I was not trying to tell you how to parent. It’s just that one of our customer’s kids actually fell here before so I didn’t want the same to happen to your kids.”

Suddenly I realized she was the lady I snapped at a week ago.

“Gosh I’m so sorry too- I was not quite in the right mind. I’m Wai Jia, what’s your name?”

Then the heartstopping words.

“Yes I know you’re Wai Jia. I follow your blog and writing on Facebook. I really admire you.”

If I were in a movie, that would be the scene where the walls came crashing down in slow motion. Behind my mask, my jaw dropped. I wanted to completely disappear.

Weeks later, while taking our kids for a walk by the water, a lady came up to us, “Are you Wai Jia?”

Suddenly I looked down to see what I was wearing and whether my mask was worn properly.

A thought lingered, “What if I had known they knew me? What if I lived my life consistently on the inside and out, where it wouldn’t matter who was watching?”

Months later, when we moved next to a nature reserve, I was so excited about showing our kids wildlife right at our backyard that I brought them to a little pond behind our home to watch turtles. As my children threw little bits of bread at the fish and hungry terrapins, a passer-by said, “This isn’t fish diet. You should know better.”

Any self-righteousness I desired to preserve my dignity evaporated quickly, when I realized that even though there was no “No Feeding” signboard, there was likely a rule that disallowed feeding of wildlife.

Cliff and I looked at each other, countenances fallen. Our older toddler, bewildered by the sudden change in our demeanor, asked what was wrong.

“Oh,” I said, my voice falling, “Mummy’s wrong, sweetheart. We can’t feed them.”

The next day, still disturbed by this incident, I asked Cliff if he could bring our kids back to the nature reserve to return some guppies and shellfish that a neighbor’s child had caught for us as a gift.

“But why, Mama? They are mine. E gave them to me.”

“Because they don’t belong to us, darling. See this rule? It says here on Mummy’s phone- no feeding wildlife. No catching wildlife.”

“But why, Mama?”

“It’s illegal, sweetheart. So the right thing to do is to return them. So they can be happy and healthy in their own homes.”

My heart cringed to break the bad news to a little child brimming with curiosity and pride at her little critters. But we knew it was the right thing to do. More important than the prize of caught guppies or the joy of seeing our children “enjoy their childhood”, was the need to share with them what was right, and perhaps even more crucially, how to make amends when we do wrong.

“So… sometimes Papa and Mama can be wrong too. So when we are wrong, we have to tell God we are sorry, then make right. This is called repentance, Sarah-Faith.”

She nodded.

Days later, as if to check if I had learnt my lesson, my newly minted four year old asked me, “Mama, do you know on the way to the lake, I told God I was sorry for keeping the fish because it is eel-leegal. Have you said you are sorry to God yet?”

“Yes I have, sweetie.”

Several weeks passed since that episode, when I chanced upon a news article using caricatured illustrations to contrast two mothers’ responses to their children’s feeding of wildlife when stopped by passers-by.

My heart stopped beating.

Alone in my room, I went into quiet hysteria. They’re writing about me, I thought. Who’s putting a camera at the pond and sending news to Big Brother? I was horrified.

But more than terror, was a deep profound sadness. While I had felt guilty for doing wrong, it was at that moment that a thick shame enshrouded me.

From “I am a mother who did something wrong”, my thoughts rapidly spiraled into “I am such a bad mother. I am a failure.”

I am incorrigible.

Just days before Good Friday, which was also Esther-Praise’s second birthday, she spiked a high fever. Due to her medical history, she needed urgent attention. It was only upon discharge that I recognized the doctor’s name on her tag.

“Aren’t you my junior? I’m Wai Jia,” I said, clarifying, since my face was hidden by a mask.

“Yes, I knew all along.”

“ Oh gosh, how embarrassing. I’m such a disgrace as a doctor,” I said, reflecting upon my anxiety and impatience with medical staff, and being so close to tears at every moment. I wondered if I would have reacted the way I did if I had known.

“Not at all,” came the gracious, professional reply. “ You’re a mother first. And it’s been our pleasure to help you.”

Tears dammed behind my eyes.

As I pondered upon the many moments of wrongdoing in my life, I realized that perhaps, one of the hardest things to forgive myself for, was doing them all wrong as a mother.

I have raised my voice too loudly at my children. I have lost children library books. I have abandoned park benches with spilled juice without cleaning up while chasing a distraught runaway toddler.

I should know how to do life, by now, shouldn’t I? I should know how it’s done right to teach my children the right things, shouldn’t I?

But Paul reminds us in Romans 7:19- “ for I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.”

I am learning this Easter, that my very human-ness makes me certain to to falter, to fumble, to fail. And if left unchecked, the accumulation of shortfalls will surely leave me doomed to a life of endless self-condemnation.

And yet, as my firstborn reminded me, perhaps the solution to this is simpler than we think- for the candour of authentic repentance to God through acknowledging Christ’s death on the Cross for our failings is more than enough to pry off scales of shame from our eyes, scrape off the debris of disgust from our hearts.

As time passed, the lady from the cafe and I became friends, exchanging personal contacts to send each other mutual encouragement regularly.

Our children have grown to adore wildlife, from a safe distance.

I decided to write a letter of compliment for the outstanding staff I met at the hospital.

I am learning to move quickly from wrongdoing to repentance, without over-dwelling on guilt or shame.

As my second child Esther-Praise turned two on Good Friday itself, I recollected all my foibles and failures, and gave thanks for the grace I have received, in spite of my wretchedness. As we sang her birthday song, I realized that she is alive and well not by my admirable mothering, but purely by grace, in spite of myself.

This Easter, would you, like me, learn to forgive yourself and surrender all your burdens at the cross, even as the sandbags of past hurts and burdens weigh you down? For His burden is easy and His yoke is light.

And because, He has truly, paid it all.

165737616_10164943880185635_2281806842283550254_n

My knees went soft.
 
The dream two nights before was a premonition. But now that it was confirmed, the prospect of us being ousted out of our rented home brought tears to my eyes.
 
The children were playing- I drank in my grief in a single gulp and sat on the kitchen stool, moulding the pain into a smile at our little one who came to give Mama a hug.
 
Our lease was ending soon- we were supposed to be transiting back to the mission field, but with the closing of doors from COVID-19 and the migrant worker engagement work with WHO gaining traction, we were asked to stay for another year in Singapore.
 
Cliff had asked the landlord to extend our lease, and while awaiting his response, I had dreamt of us viewing other homes. “If the dream is of the Lord, then we’d best be prepared.”
 
True enough, two days after the dream, he said no.
 
I sank into the kitchen floor, overwhelmed by the familiar feeling of not knowing where we would go next, only now, weighed down by the sandstone of responsibility of being a mother to two little girls.
 
Were we selfish? Foolhardy, even? To think we could lead the nomadic pilgrim’s life, living lightly to be ready to say “yes, here I am” at the drop of a hat?
 
And yet, were we copping out to stay put in Singapore? Had we gotten comfortable to the city life? Were we choosing the easier route than venturing into the greater unknown in a developing country?
 
Questions.
 
The unknown felt uncertain, yet we knew from experience, that it was the foundational necessity for the full fruition of faith. While the answer of rejection was painful, part of us knew it was the beginning of a new set of cogwheels turning to the rhythm of trust in a loving God.
 
Three months have passed since then. This morning, we stood amazed in our new home overlooking a beautiful forest and lake, a home gifted to us, a home far windier, quieter and more beautiful than we ever imagined possible, a home that was fully unpacked within less than two days because of the love of friends who rallied around us- testament to yet another miracle God has done in our lives.
 
“You’re moving again?” Is the common question we hear over and over. “That must be so hard- for you AND your kids.”
 
But I am learning, that suffering is the soil from which joy grows, and uncertainty is the crucible from which faith is formed.
 
When we say yes to Him, He never lets us down.
 
Having had 8 major moves over 8 years over 4 countries and dozens more minor ones, I dare say each subsequent move never gets easier. You have more children, more things, more concerns. Every move is hard.
 
So when our landlord had said no, I sobbed that night, asking “what now, Lord?” We had spent months searching for another home to no avail.
 
In desperation, I cried, “I give up, choose for us Lord. Surely Your choice is better than ours.”
 
That heavy-hearted week, sensing my burden, Cliff dropped me off at a beach to spend time alone in prayer, something I had not done in years.
 
As the waves ebbed and flowed, “Here I am” were the words mirroring sky and water, between heaven and earth, etched onto my heart. As God said to me “Here I am for you, now and forever,” I sense that He too was requiring of us to mirror His readiness to say, “Here I am Lord, Your will be done.”
 
As soon as surrender came, came His answer.
 
Suddenly, a sweetness filled my heart, and no dredge of sadness remained.
 
Filled with the assurance of peace, the comments of “moving must be so hard” became at once bizarre to me, because the joy of living light, living constantly on the edge of a grand surprise made the petty suffering of putting things into boxes insignificant.
 
As my mind pondered upon the recent dream of us needing to find a new home, the dream led me to contact a specific person related to the dream, who then heartily agreed to meet as soon as possible. He had heard about our rocky housing situation months ago even before we had known about him, and to our shock, had felt prompted to search for a home for us, months before we even knew of him.
 
“Of all the homes you’ve stayed in, tell me- which is your favorite?”
 
It was the big, old house we had helped a stranger housesit for a year of course, when he had reached out to us through following my blog, when we needed a home after returning from Uganda. Having been blessed in such a tangible way (he refused us paying him a cent), I had fond memories of that neighborhood, even though I had never grown up there.
 
As soon as I said it, his eyes widened like dinner plates.
 
“I’ve searched for many homes for you. And the only one I’ve shortlisted, is exactly in that neighborhood.”
 
Lord, choose for us.
 
For many years, I told Cliff I missed my first home. As a child, I had fond memories living on the highest storey of an old flat, overlooking the sea and the luminous colors of the melting sunset.
 
As we moved, I learned to enjoy living among monkeys and wild birds in Uganda, near deer in America, and within a small forest in Canada. I will never enjoy that again, not in Singapore, I thought.
 
But God has a sense of humor.
 
As we walked into the lift, the man smiled. “We are going to the top floor.”
 
He opened the windows, and there before us, lay a forest, a lake, a melting sunset.
 
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.” -Luke 18:29-30
 
“You can live this way for yourself, but what about your children?”
 
In the same verse, God included our children.
 
Our older toddler Sarah-Faith was saddened to leave her best friends from the neighborhood. But the timeliness of her birthday made saying goodbye easy- all her besties came to visit to celebrate her life and together, we gave them photo frames of our times together. I promised her we would make new friends in our new home. How frustrated I was when, on the third consecutive evening at the new neighborhood (before we had moved in officially), there was not a child to be found! As I sulked leaving the playground, I heard a voice call “Wai Jia!”
 
Shocked, I spun around to see an unfamiliar face. “I follow your writing. My sister is your friend. She says you’re moving to the same estate as me. My kids are the same age as yours- come and meet my family!”
 
God knows. When we trust and obey, will our children not, too, be witnesses of the faith borne from trials?
 
I will not deny it though. That in the years spent moving, have come griefs and hurts that we cannot put into words. Both Cliff and I had to seek help to process the traumas of multiple moves and the unprocessed pains that took years to reach our hearts from trying to explain everything away. My greatest grief was leaving our home in Canada, the home I had spent so much heart setting up, only to leave behind again. The day we received that miracle house as a gift, a man had come traipsing into our home late at night with three pots of orchids- only God knew how much I loved orchids and how I had wished for them. He wanted me to know, that He cared.
 
In the same stroke of divine Providence, the morning we moved into our new home (yesterday), our next door neighbor came to us with a housewarming gift. My jaw dropped.
 
The night before, I had told Cliff that I would like a purple orchid in our new home, just like we did in Canada. I had even set up a special spot on the entryway console for it- and there she held, a pot of purple orchids, just for our family.
 
If God is calling you to unfamiliar ground, asking you to let go of everything comfortable and familiar that you know, to leave family and friends and rationality to leave Egypt for an uncertain future, would you not trust that He knows best, and our lives are better off in His choices than ours?
 
To all our friends and loved ones journeying in faith with us, thank you for believing, that He would come through. He always, always does.
 
“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country…
For he was looking forward to the city with foundations,
whose architect and builder is God.”
– Hebrews 11:8-10
family Lakeview

As our home folds into cardboard boxes yet again, marking our eighth major move in 8 years, my eyes fill with tears- in saying goodbye, and yet with joy at new beginnings.

Where I have once been resentful, angry at God and filled with grief at this pilgrimage of seeking one shelter after another in a journey to be obedient to His will at every season, I am now filled with gratitude and awe. After all, God has, surprisingly (ha) never shortchanged us.

Each transition has been challenging, yet also filled with stories marked by divine fingerprints.

Recently, as we prepare to move yet again to a new neighborhood, I was triggered by an acquaintance’s innocent question, “Are you already putting playdate appointments into your calendar? Haha!”

My eyes soured with tears, stung by her indifference, acutely feeling the gap between this pilgrimage and the normal road we could have taken. The fact is, as a missionary family who has kept moving, who keeps moving, whether locally or cross-continentally, the constant rebuilding and fragmenting, piecing together and falling apart of a sense of community has become real. As a mother now, I dread seeing my daughters go through the same. Already, my nearly-four year old daughter asks me every day, “Mummy, I will miss my friends here. Will I have new friends at the new home? I will miss E so much.”

Yet, I am reminded of God’s faithfulness.

Just three months ago, after a painful incident with the Smiggle club, I prayed desperately to God for a friend who would love on Sarah-Faith, wholeheartedly, purely, simply. Less than two weeks later, a new boy, all of five years of age, from France had moved into the neighborhood. Their chemistry was combustible. They became best friends. They’d go to their balconies to spy on each other, and call out to each other from the ground floor to ask to play. God was faithful.

unnamed

I am reminded of the many times we had felt alone in our move, and God always sent angels to offer their help to us- to drive a car to us, to send our children clothes, shoes, beds, things with better quality that we dared imagine.

I remember when we first moved to Baltimore for me to embark on a Masters of Public Health, we had hardly any clothes for Sarah-Faith and she slept in a playpen which was sagging underneath her growing weight. As we drove in to unpack our U-haul, a large man living across the road literally walked over as we parked, offering to help us unload. Over the week, he showed up with bags of clothes fitting SF’s age gap exactly, and gave us an $800-crib from Toys R Us in mint condition.

God never fails.

Yes, we have struggled, we have gone without. But I am also learning, that the gap between hunger and satiety is the perfect petri dish for faith to grow.

Now that we have to go, my heart aches with a lifetime of hellos and goodbyes we will eventually have to make.

As we take down our current home and put up a new one, I know in yet another year or so, we will do the same all over again, to move to Canada to say goodbye to all of Cliff’s circle of friends and family, and then, God-willing, to the field, hopefully in a developing country.

It is why we have chosen to homeschool. It is why we choose to keep discarding things, to keep our lives simple, lightweight, unencumbered. And these, in their own special ways, are blessings amidst the suffering. It is the joy God gives us knowing His sufferings are worth enduring and worth every ounce of the heavenly reward yet unseen.

“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”- Romans 5:3-5

 

“But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”- 1 Peter 4:13 ESV

In many ways, I am beginning to understand the alienation Jesus might have felt on earth, even before his public ministry. He was from another world, and no one would ever understand him.

Even now, people ask us constantly when we will send our children to school, why we don’t do this and that, and I have grown weary of answering, smiling only and walking on.

We are trusting, that even as we move, God may connect us with new families, children, friends to play with in our new community. If you would like to connect, as a friend or playmate to us, please feel free to drop a line to say hello. We’d love to meet you. <3