Birthday girl, take 2; or Will my kids grow up to hate me?

04 October 2008

Today my girl Ella Cate (The Artist Formerly Known As "Eleanor") turns 2. She got her first princess dress today, her first purse, and her 2nd-3rd-and 4th baby dolls. I will also tell you that she was angry for most of the day, we didn't get a single picture of her opening presents, we forgot to sing happy birthday to her, and she didn't blow out any candles. But that was all OK... having a full house of new friends made up for it.


Last night husband and I were reminiscing (regretting?) how many changes/transitions our kids have had to endure over these last 5 years. In Ella's two short years, we have moved 6 times. In Jackson's five years, we have never lived in the same place for more than 2 years - the shortest of which only being 6 weeks. It seems like we have packed them up, dragged them around, shown them off, and wiped away their tears of confusion more times than I would like to count. All because we wanted to follow God wherever we thought He wanted us to go.

No doubts about it, we know He wanted us to go to Ireland and He consistently confirms this fact to us, but I wonder if He didn't make the path a little bit straighter than how we chose to follow it. I wonder how much crap we piled on top of that path, until we could no longer see it clearly and didn't know where to step.

Perhaps the winding road we followed instead was exactly the one God meant for us to be on. But I can't help but wonder: will our children, who never chose to follow this path and instead are along for the ride, end up resenting us one day because of it...?


  1. I grew up moving like that. Kids and adult used to ask me, "What is it like to move all the time?" I never knew how to answer. It was like... normal. I used to want to ask, "How is it like to stay in the same place all the time?" That seemed odd to me!

    I didn't mind moving that much. What I wished is that there had been one stable place in our "home" which stayed - like a home church, a grandparent, something. Unfortunately in my case, that didn't happen. With my kids, I work to make sure there is some stability at "home" that they can count on seeing again and again when we are "home".

    But God who called you into missions, was not surprised when you had kids. I think He built that into their lives, too, and He will be their stability through all the flexibility. Is it always easy? No. But your children may not have chosen this, but think of it this way - what children do chose where they live and their lifestyle? And God chose this for Jackson and Ella, and He has written their days for them, that what He called you to do, and you do obeying Him, will be a blessing to your children.

    It is rare that great lives come from easy lives anyway. And God is so capable, so able to care for MKs. I have to trust that. Yes, I have to be responsible with my kids, to shield, nurture, protect, and care for them; but I rest knowing God blesses them even through all the changes.

    And as my grandma told me once, "Little one, you have a forever home coming one day." This is not forever, but a forever without moving IS coming. There is a home to look forward to. One without goodbyes.

    And Happy Birthday Ella!

  2. We, too, moved all the time. I had attended 12 different schools by the time I graduated from high school, and that included three years in the same high school. We never lived in the same house longer than 2 years. We lived in all the Central American countries (except Belize) over the years and for three years lived in a motor home traveling the isthmus. Yet I never felt "unstable." Our family was our stability.

    Mom and Dad worked hard at making everything an adventure. While they were hiding their tears about us leaving for boarding school, they also convinced us it was going to be the best thing since sliced bread. They also were careful to check up with our caretakers to make sure we were ok and to visit often and to write at least once a week. Mom's letters were a rambling dialogue of everything they did all week. They would often sound like this . . . "I'm sitting in church right now. Dad's preaching about . . . We've had lots of company this week. . . Your little sister did the funniest thing . . ." When we got home, we never felt like we had left, because she had done such a great job of keeping us as part of our family. When we were together they put us to work in the ministry. We weren't in the way. We were part of God's work. They also worked hard to take a day off from time to time for just family, stopping somewhere along the way for a rest or going somewhere that would be special to us, and there Dad and Mom would read to us, teach us to fish or to swim, play our favorite games with us, etc.

    Like Ellie, I couldn't figure out how to answer the question, "What does it feel like to move all the time." It was normal. I felt sorry for those poor boring people who HAD to stay in the same place all the time. After all, we got to visit the craters of volcanoes, swim in lagoons no other "white" man had ever seen, get to experience cultures that "boring Americans" never got to experience.

    Yes, there were hard times and loneliness, but God always provided someone to love and comfort us, and sometimes to chide us out of our doldrums.

    Your kids may not have chosen this life but God chose them for it. And your attitude toward them whether it be "O you poor baby!" or "This is so fun, enjoy it!" will be a huge determining factor in how they view their life.

    I only pray I can do as good a job with my boys as my parents did with us.

    May God grant you wisdom and enthusiasm for this life He has called you to. (And yes, the meltdowns are a normal part of life too.)


  3. Growing up as an MK, we moved quite often as well, even if it was just back and forth between home and boarding school...I came to look forward to a change in scenery once in a while! I relate to the other posts about it becoming normal to move around...I, too, think it would be kind of boring to live in the same place all my life! In fact, I have had to work on being more content with where I found myself at on a daily basis instead of always looking forward to the 'next thing'...

    Now that I am on the mission field with children, however, it's a different story! I also have concerns about their the past 2 1/2 years or so, I think we've moved about 14 times? I think the longest we lived in any one place during that time was 4 really threw me off and I know that affected the kids negatively because we began to see some anxiety issues with them...Praise God that as I've been able to deal with life better, the kids are doing much better as well. Living where we are now for one whole year seems like a luxury!

    And the funny thing is that in most of those places, after a few weeks, the kids would start asking when we were going to move again! They actually looked forward to it, while I was the one dreading the upheaval and instability! LOL

    At any rate, it's a struggle to provide stability in this life we've chosen...I think one thing I've learned is that if my husband and I are handling things well, then that seems to provide the basis for the security they need.

  4. That is exactly it. Security became not the same scenery, but a secureness in our family relationships. When that got challenged through a divorce in our extended family - that was the hardest thing we lived through.

    In some ways, I think we are stronger because early on we learn that we are not dependent on the outside world in order to be secure, but on our relationships with our "family" which could be our immediate or our larger missionary family. Knowing that they have such a world-wide family of missionaries is something special, too, that other kids miss out on. Where do kids who live in one place learn that they are actually part of a big family of God?

  5. Yes! Yes! I have missionary Aunts and Uncles that I am closer to than my "real" Aunts and Uncles.

    My husband and I lived in Honduras for two years and at Christmas (being three months pregnant with my first child, very hormonal, and moody) I dreaded just being us for Christmas. My family was in the States and too far to visit. My first thought? Let's go to Guatemala and visit "Uncle" Phil and "Aunt" Arleen. It was a wonderful Christmas. They hauled us along everywhere with them, put us to work (they are musicians and had concerts out their ears), and just loved on us like I really needed.

    Family isn't necessarily flesh and blood, it's who loves you and cares for you and who you love and care for.