confession time (last one!)

Well. You people are just about the most encouraging things in the entire universe. You make it easy to say hard things.


Catch up on Part 1 and Part 2 if you’d like. Part 3 will be decidedly less angsty (please, Lord Jesus).

Actually, let me get the angsty out of the way, and then we will all move forward into the light.

Two things:

1.) Language school felt so hard today. The content wasn’t necessarily difficult (although we started learning the “cursive” font for Khmer which mostly looks NOTHING like the common script–and all the signs around the city are written in it–help me, Jesus!). I’m just painfully slow at reading Khmer and the thought of practicing right now makes me want to die. Blogging is eternally easier.

2.) Without sharing all the dirty-laundry details (because, believe it or not, I don’t share EVERYTHING online), our family would love prayer as we navigate this fairly-new daddy/teenage daughter relationship territory. I know that’s a tough one in most families, and I feel like it’s been exacerbated by a.) Gabe’s struggle with anxiety the past few years. b.) moving across the world and all that entails. c.) daughters going from kids to women while moving across the world. And d.) being together 24/7 for much of the past 3.5 years.

I’m asking God for some supernatural empathy, grace, forgiveness, & harmony among all parties.

I would love to share some bits & pieces of all the encouragement you darlings have given me yesterday and today (I actually copied & pasted everyone’s fb comments & messages into an Evernote document entitled AWESOME PEOPLE.), but I’ll just share one friend’s message related to my struggle with trying to prove my worth by doing (or whatever you want to call it).

Because this friend is one of my dearest & closest, she can get away with using my own words “against” me:

I just wanted to say that I love you lots and am sad that things are so not fun right now. As I read your blog tonight – for some reasons – your own words to me that meant so much came to me. You recently told me this – ‘It’s one thing to take a job because you want to overcome a fear of challenge or change. It’s another thing to take a job BECAUSE you fear what people think. That may be the fear God wants you to conquer here. xoxoxo’. As I read about your angst about tossing and turning – I thought with all you have swirling about what to do/just be/what will people think, etc. your wisdom to me seemed possibly relevant for you. Love you friend and praying for you all!

(Be careful what sort of advice/encouragement you dole out to people.)

No, seriously. I think I’ll be ruminating on/praying about this one for a long long time. There’s this pressure to perform that dates back at least to sixth grade when I would come home from school crying because my classmates made fun of me for being smart (if only that intelligence would translate into learning Khmer as an almost-40-year-old). (And, by the way, my parents did not ever NOT EVEN ONCE pressure me into doing “smart kid” things or getting good grades or being in spelling bees or what have you. THANK YOU, MOM AND DAD.)

Maybe there is this secret fear that people are only going to like me if I write well or say funny things or move to Cambodia or learn a new language lickety-split (or ALL OF THOSE THINGS AT ONCE).

I reserved a digital copy of Donald Miller’s new book, Scary Close, from our library a few weeks back, and it just became available two days ago. Ohmygosh, perfect timing. The whole thing is about exactly that. Thinking you need to do certain things or have a certain identity to be accepted and loved. I’m 3/4 of the way through already (stayed up until after midnight reading) and devouring it. (You should read it.)

I don’t follow him much online (and I know people have wildly different opinions about him), but his book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, is one of my all-time faves. But that one is about living a better story, and I’ve kind of got that down. What I need help with is being okay when the story I’m living doesn’t live up to the story I want to live/think I should be living.

He also has a chapter about parenthood (even though he doesn’t have kids yet), and the last paragraph of the chapter stood out to me. “Maybe what children really need is simple. Maybe they just need somebody to show them it’s okay to be human.”

Those are soothing words because, if I’ve gotten anything right as a mom lately, it’s that.

So, today at school, our two 15-minute breaks were delightful for 3 reasons: 1.) not learning. 2.) snacks from America and 3.) emails from Ava. She gave me permission to share a snippet of one of them here. I told her I would treasure these words forever and ever and ever.

You are the BEST mom ever! You just are. I don’t know where to begin on my list of things you do for me and Livi and Nina. I just wanted to say Thank you and I love you so Much! And I’m sorry you have to go to school if you feel the same way me and Nina about school then I feel really bad! And when you say it breaks your heart that me and Nina no longer go to school with you guys just breaks my heart! I never ever want to break your heart! And going to school with Livi is proving how GREAT a mom you are! Usually Moms don’t have to go to school with there kiddos. Let alone go to school with there kiddos to learn another language! And when I have a REALLY BAD headache you do everything you can to help me including holding me and playing with my hair for how ever long! You are Awesome I love you so so so so so so so so so so MUCH! I just wanted to say I love a ton ton ton! Thank you for being the best mom ever!

If that doesn’t brighten the world, I don’t know what does.

See you soon, friends. I promise not to wait a whole month before I write again.

p.s. Shoot. I ended the last post with a “promise” to share some ideas God has given us for Abbey Lane-meets-Cambodia. Soon, okay?

6 thoughts on “confession time (last one!)

  1. Elizabeth J

    Wow – lots of learning and growing happening in your family! It’s the tough stuff that helps us grow, methinks. Our middle child (7) is one who feels everything very deeply…got woken early today because of something he said to his sisters that is so not good. I think it’s the tip of the iceberg actually and just reminded me how much we still have to learn and grow to be able to be the parents we need to be for him, to them all. Anyway, reading your last three posts just now…just had to recommend the book I’ve recently come across and started reading – Running on Empty by Jonice Webb. It is fabulous…so timely for our family. At least check it out! I’ll check out your recommendation too! Blessings to you all.

  2. Shay

    Praying for peace and rest and refreshment and encouragement. Praying that you feel no pressure or guilt just joy and comfort as the Holy Spirit provides you with all of these things. Thank you again for being so transparent, it is an honor to get to pray for you and your family

  3. Amanda Espinoza

    I want to my voice to the chorus of people cheering you on and giving y’all virtual hugs. 🙂 Learning a language is so so so hard and draining! I can’t even imagine Khmer. Some missionaries I know spend the first year only learning the language and learning to adapt to a new country. Y’all are normal! haha.

    And AMEN to this — “What I need help with is being okay when the story I’m living doesn’t live up to the story I want to live/think I should be living.” This is where I am at right now. SIGH. Staying home to build a sustainable business and get better financially isn’t exciting to the internet.

    God knows what’s in all y’alls hearts and will supply the peace, patience, wisdom, and strength you need. He sees it all. Big hugs!

    P.S. Quick update on us: We have met a couple who work for a missions agency that fits with exactly how we’d love to serve international churches. (It’s a God story on how we met.) They want our family to work with them. All we need is the money to go. God knows the timing and will provide if it’s meant to be. We’ll see!

  4. Sue Oda

    Hey, Marla, just read your blog post and jut wanted to encourage you. You are 39 and learning a new language and I know it is hard. I am soon to be 77 and I ,too, am learning a new language!!! Every job I’ve ever had has entailed learning a different language. First it was church lingo, then I got a job as secretary For Butler County Chamber of Commerce where it was chamber language, then I went to work for Butler County’s Director of Economic Development and, believe me that was an entirely “new” language, and I struggled with that one. Then we moved to Bellefontaine and I was secretary to the VP of Quality/Risk Management at Mary Rutan Hostital—talk about a new language—medical terminology plus risk management terminology. My next job was that of a Realtor and a completely new language to learn. Now, at 77, I’m learning the financial business and their language—IRA’s, Money Market Stocks, Dividends, etc,etc,.

    So you see, Marla, all new language fits the circumstance you are in. I went to each new job with the fear of learning the language, but, you know what? The more I worked with it, the more I studied it, the more I talked it, the easier it became,

    I have great faith in God that he did not send you to Cambodia just to “get away”. He had the plan all down before you even thought about it and that included the language. So, you can trust him to help you each little character at a time. The old adage is true—cinch by the inch, hard by the yard. Don’t stress about the big picture, leave that to God. Just take it inch by inch. Praying for you and your family in all things, love, Sue

  5. Shalla

    Oh my goodness! Sweet sweet words from Ava. Adore that. I adore that. That is some good good stuff. Maybe because I just dropped off ALL four kids off to school but I am all in tears. Momma’s dream of notes like that that they can forever hold on to. Love you all and know that you are ALL right where God wants you! Miss you already!

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