Where do I go from here?

Where to begin…?

I came here to help me sort out all that is in me. I arrived in L.A. about 72 hours ago, and have slept for the majority of that time. And when I’m not sleeping, I’m doting over Conrad. Oh my. I’m deeply in love with my nephew. Everything about him is so perfectly perfect. He started crawling since I arrived!!!

And I sure do miss the beautiful baby girl I got to spend a lot of time with over the last three months. Within 24 hours, I was in Japan squeezing her telling her how much I’d miss her and squeezing my nephew in Los Angeles telling him how delighted I was to be home with him.

babylove

But where is home, anyway?

Great question!

That and what I’m going to do next is yet to be determined…

And the mere fact that I am completely at peace with this is a miracle in and of itself, but He promised me that:

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; Isaiah 55:12

So may the search begin!

It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out. Proverbs 25:2

I’ll be searching things out in a treasure/Easter egg hunt fashion. Indeed a treasure is what I will uncover, and while eggs are hidden in clever places, the intent is not to make it impossible to find.

And I’m certain my Father’s heart is just like that. He hides His treasures in places that aren’t so obvious, but offers enough adventure that I’m having fun searching rather than losing sleep.

So that’s my latest and greatest in its simplest form, but at some point, I want to share all about the epic adventure I had with two of my favorite people during my final month in Japan. For now, I’ll just say that His promise to go out in joy was fulfilled in a big way (Isaiah 55:12). Here are some pictures to give you a little teaser:

walking

joy

churami

I also want to summarize what the last year in Japan has meant to me in a future post. And here’s a little teaser for that:

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Ephesians 3:20

In both of these cases, words could never ever capture all that I want to say, but I’m going to rise to the challenge and do my best to put into words what I can…

Stay tuned…

And in the meantime, be loved… take it from me, there’s no better way to be.

1 John 4:19

xoxo

Living My Story

This week marked six months of living in Osaka, Japan.

osaka

WOW. Seems like all I can say…

Thank you, Father, for your grace. There is no other way… is what comes next…

Most times, I’ve been flying high. But I’ve had my share of moments where I’m curled up in fetal position, bawling my eyes out.

But that couldn’t be further from me. I feel everything. Deeply. So if there is joy, I’m the happiest of them all, but when there is sadness, I’m the one with the biggest pile of snot rags.

snot rag pile

And I don’t want to live my life any other way. I am most alive when I’m feeling deeply. And I’m so grateful that I’m becoming more and more free in this.

This morning, I woke with the news alert on my phone of the death of Nelson Mandela. And this part of the article really spoke to me:

“One of the most difficult things is not to change society — but to change yourself,” Mandela said in 1999 at a tribute to billionaire businessman Douw Steyn who had made his Johannesburg residence available to Mandela as a retreat after his prison release in 1990. (http://edition.cnn.com/2013/12/05/opinion/battersby-nelson-mandela/)

The writer went on to say:

To this day, Mandela’s weaknesses, his turbulent youth and his sometimes tempestuous relationships with women can still detract from the iconic status that Mandela achieved in his own lifetime.

But, the responsible airing of his weaknesses — including his own acknowledgment — in fact humanized Mandela and focused on his extraordinary strength of character and commitment in overcoming both his weaknesses and adversity in his own lifetime. It augmented Mandela’s greatness.

Shortly after God continued to speak to me through this:

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. – Psalm 51:17

Earlier this week, my CNN app alerted me of the tragic news of Paul Walker’s death, which happened on his way to an event for Typhoon Haiyan hosted by the non-profit organization he founded. I read more articles in the days that followed and was touched by how he lived his life fully.

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. – John 10:10

Indeed, there is no other way to live than with a heart wide open to receive the fullness of life He offers. And in receiving this, to embrace the shifts and changes that come in the process.

The last six months have stretched and grown me in ways beyond measure. Yet, much of the time, it’s like I’ve regressed. Because if I had to sum up how I’ve felt, what comes to mind is: helpless. dependent. inefficient. inept. frustrated. exhausted.

But with surrender comes so much joy and peace, plus an infinite supply of love and grace.  And that’s what makes it all worth it. This life is all mine and all for me.

While I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be a blockbuster movie star or the president of a nation, I’m living my life completely and authentically. I’m sure of the way I’m walking and I trust the One who is by my side with each step.

And I say this, not because my current status involves living in a foreign land. This experience just happens to be a part of my story as does everything that came before… and it’s all much different than the story I was writing!

But boy oh boy, is it a beautiful one… here’s a recap of the last chapter:

friendshhip_1friendship_2friendship_3

THANK YOU, FATHER. Thank you for life entrusted to you that is beyond my wildest dreams. Thank you for writing the best stories.

~Your favorite daughter~

xoxo

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; -Hebrews 12:2

Going off the deep end…

Earlier this week I had an unexpected conversation with my Mom that included questions and statements I assumed she might be thinking but chose to hope for the best.  In this case, the good ol’ saying didn’t apply and my lack of not assuming made an ass out of me.

The following day, I opened a Facebook message from a friend I made some years ago who popped back into my life about a month ago, only to quickly pop back out. Before de-friending me on Facebook, he sent me this:

“How far we travel, only to find we have not moved at all. Good bye michele, I hope you find what your looking for.”

One is a friend I had during a season of my life and one is who gave me life. Two completely different relationships, but the judgement I felt was the same…

I know my life doesn’t make sense, and I know that most people don’t get me. So I’m grateful for the ones in my life who do and I’m also grateful for the ones who don’t but keep their questions and opinions to themselves.

While some may think I’m looking for something and others may think I’m acting foolishly and irresponsibly, it is neither.

And I can say this because I know what it’s like to be searching and behaving irresponsibly.

Eleven years ago, I broke up with my college boyfriend in order to experience life on my own. Freedom came in the form of going out on the weekends and drinking until I lost all inhibition, which often led to really poor choices…

This time ten years ago, I was signing the papers on my first home. I had achieved the American dream and the financial success I hoped for as I was making nearly $100,000 and enjoying perks like a company car.

But when that wasn’t enough, I pursued my dream of being a doctor and gave it all of me: financially, emotionally, and physically. And it got all of me… but I was left empty-handed.

Emptiness is what characterized all of this. I was so empty inside. Indeed, I was searching…

And indeed, He was there.

He was ALWAYS there.

And I always knew about Him. I believed in Him. I never stopped going to church on Sunday and if I remembered I would pray before going to bed.

Boy was I missing out…

Along the way, a shift began to take place. A shift from knowing and believing in Him to experiencing life with Him.

And things have never ever been the same…

You could say I found what I was looking for… but it was more simple, I just had to open my eyes to what was in my midst the whole time… better yet, Who was in my midst.

Because He was there. He was ALWAYS there.

Those nights when I lost all inhibition and made really foolish decisions… His back wasn’t turned, He was there.

When I was quickly advancing in my career in pharmaceutical sales, yet feeling unfulfilled and looking for the next best thing, He was there.

And when my eyes began to open, I was thrilled to serve Him by being a doctor… becoming a doctor would be pleasing to God, my parents and others! This was a no-brainer…

Yet in the end, I lost my house, I lost my 401k, I lost a lot of time… and I didn’t get into medical school.

But what I gained in return was everything.

He is everything to me.

And He’s showing me that I don’t have to do anything for Him. I don’t have to please or serve Him, or anyone for that matter.

I don’t have to do anything but be loved by Him.

And the by-product of that is what you see. It’s me. It’s my life.

I may seem lost, foolish, and/or searching. And given my history, my life as it stands is par for the course.

So judge me if you must, and know it will hurt my feelings if you do it to my face… and like a little baby I’ll go crying to my Father for comfort, because He’s always waiting and ready to receive me.

He was there then. He is here now. He promises to never leave me. And His Son has already done everything for me.

And when you’re as sensitive and needy as me, any fear of heights or depths is trumped by love and the desire to be with Him… wherever that may be…

‘I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.’ –Four-Chambered Heart, Anais Nin

I’m #1

A friend told me that it sounds like I’m experiencing classic culture shock… “Typically with culture shock there is a honeymoon, then a low period where all you can see is the bad, then a period of embracing both the good and the bad.

I think I’m in the period of embracing both. Last week was three months for me! Woo hoo!!

Three months in but I’m still pretty helpless. For starters, I’m so grateful for my incredible apartment and the grace of my landlord. Money has been pretty tight so when I asked if I could split up September’s rent payment, he obliged.

I was supposed to pay the remainder last Friday, but as my day progressed, I didn’t find myself near a proper ATM. So, he gave me more grace… and I tried again to make the deposit on Saturday, but I arrived to the bank as they were closing. So when I realized there was no one to help, I spent about 10 minutes at the ATM pushing random buttons hoping I would miraculously make the deposit.

atm

But, I didn’t… so then I went to a restaurant near my apartment where I met more language barriers but this time, a very kind stranger having lunch in the restaurant met me outside and offered his help. He was from a country I had never heard of… Kyrgyzstan have you?

Anywho, he shared how he has been living in Japan for eight years so obviously knew the language very well. I shared that I had decided on other lunch plans but asked if he could help with my ATM deposit. To which, he kindly obliged.

Unfortunately, I was still unable to make the deposit. But he totally went out of his way and tried!! And I made a new friend and learned about a new country I was not aware of!!

So on this Monday, I went to the bank and in true Japanese customer service, I was welcomed with the most gracious kindness, but then anxiety set in when I started speaking in English… yet in her anxiety, the dear woman who greeted me helped me. It took her awhile to figure out just how, but she did and the remaining amount of rent due was deposited! Yipee!! Check that off the to-do list.

I walked home feeling so accomplished and so grateful for the kindness of the people here…

Only to learn that the worst case scenario for my job had played out… as I mentioned in a previous post, I HATE being evaluated, which is the case for my current job. I hate the pressure to perform and there is a scale of one to five stars. Five being the best. One being the worst…

I got a one.

one

And upon first discovery, I didn’t care, which was good. But after five minutes… things changed.

Oh my. The crazy talk started… I’m terrible at teaching English… and what am I doing in Japan, anyway? It’s time to pack it up and go home. I suck… and so does this job…

But then, my dearest friend came in just in time to put an end to the crazy talk… reminding me that Jesus’ evaluation NEVER changes…

And I recalled His Word(s)…

God told them, “I’ve never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love, and more love! Jeremiah 31:3

Keep me as the apple of your eye; Psalms 17:8

Bottom line: He loves me and evaluates me with a one… because I’m His #1.

And yes, I’m teaching English. And yes, my clients are paying for the best of English lessons. So I will learn what I did wrong and do my best to make the necessary adjustments.

But at the end of the day, I know I am loved and I rest in His evaluation. An evaluation that never changes.

The Cross proves that.

So I stood at the foot of the Cross, and taught more lessons this evening with the assurance of His love upholding me in the midst of this evaluation… and for an overachiever and people-pleaser like me, that, my friends, is nothing short of a miracle.

And that is what True Love does. I’m so grateful to be loved.

hugs and snorts

I’m exhausted. Totally drained.

And I’m reading into it… SHOCKER! Me? Read into something?

Couldn’t it just be from the high 90 degree temps with extreme humidity? Or perhaps the fact that I’m still experiencing culture shock…

While I’m sure all of this is part of it, I admit that I was anticipating my new work to be completely energizing and wonderful and so very perfect for me…

womp. womp.

This week, I’ve been coming to terms with the fact that it’s just a j-o-b.

This is huge for me. I don’t hate it and for the most part it’s a good fit with my strengths and personality, which is important. But I’m always looking for deep meaning and purpose and now I’m seeing the bottom line: it pays my bills. And for this, I’m incredibly grateful!! But in my let down over the other part, I turned to Ecclesiastes and found so much comfort in Solomon’s words.

And in my ponderings and tiredness, I realize I’m so darn tired of taking life so seriously. And I’m tired of the pressure I put on myself to make a real difference in the world.

True to Cyndi Lauper’s song, this girl just wants to have fuh-un.

True to Solomon’s wisdom, this girls wants to eat, drink and be merry!

And I know that this is what my Father wants for me, too!

So what does He do?

He gives me the most beautiful friends and precious relationships.

This week I had dinner with someone I met on the train during my first week here. I had been trying to get together with her for about a month and in the midst of the planning, I discovered through Facebook that she is friends with a friend I’ve recently made at Eriko’s church. It turned out they are friends from high school who hadn’t seen each other for a year and a half.

nami and atsuko

And I’m also making friends with some of my clients… and yesterday, one of these friends was laughing until she was crying…

We started laughing (over nothing really!) and it became one of those moments where it wouldn’t stop… and she laughed so hard, she cried. While I, on the other hand, couldn’t keep from snorting!!

SNORTING!! Crying would be so much more graceful… but I went with it and it created an opportunity for her to expand her English vocabulary!!

AND, as she left, I couldn’t help myself… I wrapped my arms around her and squeezed her!!

This, after attending a training the week before in which I had to respond to the question of how I will adjust my teaching style or personality to be sensitive to the Japanese culture. And my answer had to do with being very mindful of not touching them during lessons as I know my tendency to touch someone’s hand or arm during conversation.

HA! I failed to take into account my big tendency to hug!!

It’s unique connections when the world becomes so small, moments of freedom when laughter comes for no reason and when hugs break the rules that I’m reminded that my life is exactly as it should be…

This is the kind of stuff life is made of… relationships that fill my heart and make a real difference in my world.

xoxoxoxoxo

Jesus said, “The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.” Mark 12:29-31

Christmas Cake in July

I hate being evaluated, being watched. I detest it. I also do not like role-playing.

Role-playing isn’t natural, and being evaluated and watched makes it hard for me to be natural… to be free.

Last week, I began training for my job as a one-to-one English Teacher. And this may sound over-dramatic (probably is), but in the role-playing and evaluation portion, I felt like I was in a lion’s den. Seriously, the level of anxiety I felt was so intense and so horribly uncomfortable.

And what I’ve heard in times past was heard again, “Just relax, Michele. You’re too hard on yourself. You’re over-thinking.”

And maybe I am.

But I don’t know anything else.

At the same time, I’m embracing the ambition in me. I don’t want to reject it because it’s how He created me, to seek excellence in what I do and that’s not a bad thing.

What I’m finding is that in seeking excellence, I am seeking Him because I can’t do it on my own.

A short summary of my time in Japan: I can’t do ANYTHING on my own.

I have never been more aware of my need for Him in every aspect of my life as now.

When I’m at the grocery trying to make sense of things, when I’m in the midst of training for my new position trying to make sense of things, when my building manager stops me on my way out and goes on and on in Japanese and I’m trying to make sense of things…

Jesus, help!

I need Him… every hour I need Him.

During training, we were advised on several topics that should not be discussed during lessons. And age was one with the disclaimer of how especially sensitive this topic can be regarding women…

According to Wikipedia: In Japan, women had traditionally been expected to marry at a young age and those who were unmarried after the age of 25 were sometimes scornfully referred to as Christmas cakes (unsold after the 25th).

So shortly after realizing I was a Christmas cake, I went to the restroom and looked in the mirror to see a gray hair sticking out plain as day.

Really???

It  was actually quite funny to me… so I hope you are laughing about it, too.

And the bottom line is that I so want to be a strong and patient little Christmas cake.

But I’m not going to lie. It’s been really hard lately.

And this one I don’t even attempt to make sense of…

In this case, I rest. I rest in His goodness. I rest in what my Father spoke to me months ago in Mozambique as I tried to make sense of it:

I’m not holding out on you. I’m just not ready to share you… I am jealous for you.

Oh Jesus, thank you. I need you. Every second of every day. I need you.

“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

Matthew 6:6 MSG

This is not Christmas cake, but it is the dessert I enjoyed with this beautiful friend to end my week!
Obviously, not Christmas cake but next best thing… delicious desserts enjoyed with beautiful friends to end my week!!

Knight in Shining Armor

Nearly five years ago, he arrived on the scene. And not too early, nor too late, but just in time. He saved the day, helping me navigate the decisions that had to be made and rescuing me from the mess I was in.

I first met his wife while we were both volunteering in the nursery at church and I knew from the moment that I met her that her love was pure and limitless.

So, as a couple, that made for a whole lot of that love.

God totally brought us together in His perfect timing and this precious couple became a steady, loving presence in my life.

gparents

Man, I love how God works. How He intersects our lives just when they need to cross. And I truly don’t know what I would have done over the last five years without them.

I even call them Grandpa and Grandma. What an honor and privilege that went beyond the title. They filled this role in my life, but more importantly, my heart, where there was a definite void.

He is so faithful to fulfill our every need.

And in a land far from home, I received an email yesterday morning with the news that Grandpa is no longer with us.

He went home. He is with Jesus.

As I mourn this loss, it uncovers the depths of my gratitude for Grandpa. I learned so much about God’s grace through his heart. He poured out his love and concern over me in a way that had me constantly wondering what I did to deserve it and also trying to figure out how on earth I could pay him back time and time again…

But grace doesn’t expect anything in return, nor did he. Grace simply gives… and gives… and never stops… because that’s what grace does. Grace doesn’t know anything else.

And Grandpa knew no other way.

He was my knight in shining armor. The grace he came armed with rescued me. And from that point on, my heart was never the same. I will forever be grateful for the love he expressed to me in countless ways on this side of heaven.

And I’m grateful that Grace always rescue me.

gpa

So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. -2 Corinthians 5:6-8

Down to my last yen

I do my best to maintain a positive outlook on life and it helps that I’m wired to lean towards optimism. So whenever I write, it can be pretty upbeat and ‘flowery’ (pun intended after my last post!).

But today, my intent is to share that this journey isn’t always a bed of roses. Nor am I always incredibly positive about my life. Because at 35-years old, this is definitely not what I imagined.

Last night, I had to take money from a ‘stranger’ because my debit card did a disappearing act.

So allow me to explain…

Yesterday, I awaited the special delivery of my visa paperwork. My application was approved this week!! YAY! So I will start working soon, but still have a few more steps in the process to complete.

This is great news, right??

Well, for some crazy reason… I started to freak out. I started to doubt the nature of  my new job, which in short is independent contractor work. So I will be teaching English and paid per lesson taught. The more lessons, the more money. But, also, there isn’t any guarantee on my scheduled lessons as it is primarily dependent on the client’s choice of instructor.

So, the freak out begins… Will I be able to pay my bills? Will I have to eat ramen (by the way, instant noodles were invented in Osaka so I guess the good news is there isn’t a better place for me to be in this case!!)?

And then it got really good… How much longer will I have to suffer like this? Will I ever make the kind of money I used to?

Pathetic, I know.

And while I’ve come so far, there are still times when I am burdened with feeling that I’ve let my parents down. Not to mention, the concern I have over what others may be thinking such as, 1) Poor Michele. I hope she eventually finds her way 2) Weirdo Michele. She’s gone off the deep end with her faith 3) Oh Michele. If she could only understand that there is no perfect job or circumstances.

And oh my… as I write out the crazy talk in my head, I feel so much better. Because 1) I know that not all who wander are lost because it was when I wasn’t wandering that I was completely lost 2)Yes, I have gone off the deep end and there’s no turning back 3) This is not breaking news to me.

Whew. Now that that has been handled, I can get back to my story.

I literally had cents to my name yesterday…. see?

last cents

This is equivalent to about $2.50. And I tried to use the ATM to withdraw money (this was the first time I’ve had to do this). Well, the ATM wouldn’t work. So I did further research only to find out that not all ATMs here take international cards.

Thankfully, I had enough on my train pass to get me to the next station over where an appropriate ATM was. I easily located it and approached it with much anticipation only to open my bag and discover that my debit card was nowhere to be found…

Really, Michele? You left it sitting at home??

So I went back home to get it… only to find it was NOWHERE. I’m telling you NOWHERE. And a great benefit to my teeny tiny place is that I could quickly conclude it was nowhere.

All the while, I had dinner plans for the evening with someone I had just met at the church I visited last Sunday, and I felt like a complete moron with the first impression I was making by texting her all my drama!! But she was patient and I’m so glad didn’t let me cancel on her…

Because it was an amazing evening and ended with my beautiful new friend sending me on my way with some cash.

The End.

Can you say humbling???

So be careful what you pray for. I’ve asked God to make me completely dependent on Him… and like a good Father, He is answering.

Another moral of the story: Don’t wait until you are down to your last cents to get money out of the ATM in a foreign country, or any country, for that matter.

PS. Please don’t judge me. I can’t believe I let it get to that myself!!!! So grateful He always has my back!!!

Don’t mean to get all flowery…

I’m so overwhelmed with my new home. In such a good way.

Who knew I would love public transportation so much? It’s one of my new favorites in life.

And whenever I get on the train, I look out the window and reflect and get so stinking emotional over my life. I cannot believe I’m living in Japan. Three weeks in and still having to pinch myself.

But on that note, the transition hasn’t been easy so those emotions are definitely a mixed bag. I just barely made a turn. Culture shock definitely had me. There is little to no English anywhere. I have had to play the guessing game right down to the basics… it looks like salt… it smells like salt…Image

But is it salt??? Sidenote: And I can’t even believe I felt sorry for myself. Why should there be English anywhere? They don’t speak English here!!

And I’ve never lived in the city and I’ve moved to the third largest one here with 2.5 million people residing in it so this has been a big adjustment.

Image

Needless to say, I have been incredibly humbled. I have never felt like such a little girl in such a big world as I do now.

And yes, the world is big. BUT, I have an even bigger God.

And in my smallness, it’s all the more humbling that to my Father God, I’m His world and that’s what’s keeping me from getting completely swallowed up. He’s so amazing and beyond what I can wrap my brain around, but I know that I mean the world to Him.

And I marvel at His hand in my life…

The last 24 hours were spent with my super smart and sweet and amazing friend, Isabella. She’s German. We met about three years ago in Phoenix. At that time, she was living in Freiburg, Germany and I was in Scottsdale, Arizona. But now, she lives far from home in San Diego, California and I just moved to Osaka, Japan.

And she just happened to be presenting some of her research (like I said, she’s super smart) at the 11th World Congress of Biological Psychiatry that just happened to be held at the Kyoto International Conference Center, which just happens to be about a 45 minute train/subway ride away from me… and did I mention I’m loving public transportation?

So a train ride and a transfer to the subway with another transfer later…

Image

And for me, Kyoto was a sushi restaurant in Old Town Scottsdale where I’m not even sure I fully remember my last time there because I drank a little too much sake!!

But now?

Kyoto is a beautiful city and one of the most visited by tourists in the new country I’m living, where I met up with my brilliant friend while she was meeting with brilliant people from around the world.

And I have a confession: I ate some sandwiches at the conference provided by the sponsoring pharmaceutical companies. And since I wasn’t an official conference attendee I probably shouldn’t have helped myself to the sandwiches even though it was Isabella’s prompting.

And not to split hairs, but, ten years ago, I was working for a pharmaceutical company handing out free food… so I’ll choose to view today as reaping what I had sown… free food benefits!!

Oh my… I’m chuckling at my new life.

That couldn’t be more appropriate actually. I am reaping what I’ve sown.

My life is blossoming like never before and I couldn’t be more grateful.

In fact, Isabella was staying at the Hana Hotel in Kyoto.Image

Hana = flower, and the room came with a tiny, beautiful origami flower.Image

And the Kyoto Botanical Gardens just happened to be next to the conference center so we decided to spend our day there.Image

So flowers was our theme. Totally unplanned by us. But totally the day our Father had planned all along. He’s so kind.

And I’ll take this because why not?

My life is rich beyond words. It is colorful and precious and intricate and fragrant…Image

And so beyond anything I could have imagined…

Image

What counts is your life. Is it green and blossoming? John 3:10

So far, so good.

I’m waking up to my third day in beautiful Japan.

Say, what??

Yep, I’m here in Japan. And I’m “saying-what” to my own self.

IMG_4145[1]

Seriously. I never would have dreamed in a million bazillion years that I would be moving anywhere outside of the United States.

And it’s not that I was opposed to crossing the U.S. border, I have always been open to travel and even lived overseas when I was younger.

But at 35-years old, to give it all away and pack it all up and move to a non-speaking English country far, far away…

Whoah. That’s all I can say.

But I’m here and as I pulled my luggage along at the train station upon first arriving, I felt like one of those proverbial characters in a story who leaves their small town roots and moves to the big city to follow their dreams.

IMG_4149[1]

That’s pretty much me.

I have left my small-minded roots and I’ve moved on to dreaming big and following the Dream Maker.

And it’s already proving to be such an incredible ride.

I sat next to a precious couple on the plane who spoke very little English but enough to invite me to the beach town where they reside! I’m currently being hosted in the home of Eriko’s parents who are incredibly kind and gracious. I’ve finally met the wonderful man Eriko is going to marry and have been spending time getting to know one of Eriko’s sweetest friends.

And in the midst of meeting all these amazing people, my surroundings feel completely surreal. The jet lag is likely adding to my haziness, but the reality is I am in a completely different world, one that I’ve never been in before and I can’t rely on my ways or knowledge since I have absolutely none with regard to this place…

And the one person I know here is in the final hours leading up to her big special wedding day, and then off to her honeymoon…

So where does that leave me in this new place?

With Him.

And there is no better place to be. I’m learning to depend on Him all the more. Trusting in Him to navigate my way since I can’t read the signs. Literally. Trusting that He is in the teeniest tiniest, most seemingly insignificant stuff…

Because there is no other way for me and truth be told, this previously small-minded girl would never have made a move like this all by herself because she knows her tendency to get overwhelmed with such things…

But when you make promises, you keep them. And I promised to follow Him wherever He went. And He promises to be with me wherever I go.

And so far, so good…

And it’s so God, that I have come so far!!!!!!!!!!!

Sending my love from Japan and missing you all!!!!!!!!!!!!

xoxo

This is my command–be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9