Tuesday, December 31, 2013


It happens every year; I get in a slump and feel really homesick. It usually starts right around the the time the leaves start changing color in Minnesota, when it is bonfire and apple picking season, when it is cool enough to wear jeans and a sweater but not quite cold enough for a jacket on top, when it smells like fall and fresh cut wood and when the leaves crunch beneath my feet. A season where caramel apples and apple cider are in their peak, where Thanksgiving is just around the corner, but the anticipation of Christmas isn't too far off, when Caribou Coffee has their pumpkin spice lattes and a fire in their fireplace. The homesickness peaks around Christmas when I would love to be with family and slowly wanes as I remember just how cold and dreary the winter months can be in Minnesota.

But nonetheless, I grieve. I grieve not being with family, not having them see our children grow up and know who they are except via skype and pictures when we aren't visiting during the summer . I grieve being away for celebrations, holidays and family dinners. I yearn for convenient grocery shopping, pull in (instead of backing in) parking, orderly lines, for people to not assume I am Thai, malls that don't require you to take a seemingly pointless parking card that ends up causing traffic jams during busy times, for driving or traffic that doesn't seem quite as chaotic, where I don't feel as guarded when making new friends since it is a revolving door with contracts around here, and for many other little, yet perhaps ridiculously convenient things that I have often taken for granted.

It's hard. I don't always like to admit that; I think in large part because I understand and know that this is where God has called us. But that doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt at times, or that I won't longingly look online for jobs and houses back in the states, that I won't get sad when I see pictures on Facebook of things my friends are doing, that I won't cry when I wish I could have been at a funeral, or give a hug to a friend on a rough day, or meet a new baby.

Being in Thailand often seems like a choice to many people. And in one way or another, it is. After all, I can choose to obey or disobey the call that God places on my heart and life. But I choose to obey...sometimes it is while digging my heels in or while having to make a conscious effort to do so, or even while throwing a tantrum. Now don't get me wrong, we love the school and the mission/ministry of it, we love the expat community we have and the wonderful group of friends we have made, and we love our small group...those are the things that make life here so great (and keeps us sane in difficult times)! But there are definitely times when being halfway around the world does indeed feel like a sacrifice and I wish it didn't take 24 hours to get to Minnesota just for a hug from my parents.

Read this great article: Outlawed Grief, a Curse Disguised

Giving grandparents kisses via skype.

Picture family album...how our kids are learning family members and names.
Auntie Sarah & Uncle Pete, Grandpa Gary & Grandma K.

Grandpa Dave, Cousin Bennett & Grandma C, Godparents Uncle P. and Auntie T.

Uncle Ben, Auntie Em, Cousin Bennett & Uncle Joey
Grandpa Gary & Uncle Greg


  1. Love this post Karly! Thank you so much for sharing something so personal and deep! Love the kisses pictures of the twins on Skype!

    - Kara

  2. The parents/grandparents wish they could hug all of you, too. It's equally hard on this side of the globe. Miss you.


  3. How wonderfully insightful. I know that grief of being away from family, though I'm not as far away as you guys are. I know that sadness of missing family gatherings and celebrations. And I know those conflicting feelings of knowing your where you are suppose to be, but still have your heart and arms ache for a hug from your mom or dad. I have no words of advice or wisdom, but may you feel especially blessed and loved today.
    Also, thank you for the attached article. It was wonderful and I think I will be directing Noelle to it since she is being called to do just exactly what you and Mike are doing.
    Amy Johnson

  4. I understand how you feel Karly... it's so hard to be away during Christmastime...

  5. Yup. This article was really timely for me as well this year since I kind of forgot to plan "family" time this year, decorating Christmas cookies with whatever kiddos and families are around. It's when those tears come that I realize how ingrained shared cultural celebrations are. It's not enough to just play my own Christmas music. I want to be in malls where the lady in the next aisle is humming along. I want actual wrapping paper to open, not just family holding up presents on the other side of the camera...the presents I'll see again in months. Sigh. I can only imagine how kids makes it all the harder, longing for a connection for them as well. But the work that the Lord did in my heart this year is invaluable. He held me during the tears and asked me if I'd look for opportunities to make the day more about Him. To celebrate Him. It was good to be reminded that grief is appropriate, and to be invited not to stop there but to turn my gaze upward to His loving eyes. :) We love you and your sweet family, Karly!