confession time, part 2

This is why I don’t blog very often. Because, once I start, the flood is unleashed, and I have to divide it up into multiple posts. (Read Part 1 here.)

So, I was talking about Nina…

It hit me that Nina is NINE and, so often, we all just treat her like a grown-up. I mean, she went from half-day kindergarten to adult Khmer school, for crying out loud (with 3 years of unschooling in between).

She is freakishly good at learning Khmer. She remembers every single new vocabulary word after hearing it once and she taught herself how to read and write Khmer script before we ever learned it in school. (People do not believe me when I tell them this, but I lie not.)

However. She is nine. And she is a kid. And she wants to do kid things and learn kid things. And she is starting to hate Khmer. She clams up when people speak to her, and she hates it when we ask her to demonstrate any sort of knowledge or comprehension of it.

This is not good.

After four days of level 5, she made the decision to quit school too.

Two weeks ago, I knew we were taking our last tuk-tuk ride to school as a family of five (sniff sniff). Tuesday, there were four of us. Wednesday, three. Tomorrow, just two. Our poor tuk-tuk driver is probably like, “What’s with these people? Dropping like flies!”

It feels so sad to let go of this dream. Like makes-me-cry sad. But it wasn’t working anymore. And, as a mom and wife who loves her family like crazy, I have to do the things that are BEST for them, not the things I think will make me happiest.

Livi is super bummed. She was bummed that Gabe wasn’t going back, bummed about Ava, and now really bummed about Nina. Livi LOVES school. She LOVES Khmer. She is THRIVING. And she wants to die of boredom when we’re not in school. And the thought of what will happen if we take a break from school (or don’t go back at all) is excruciating to her.

It’s hard to be a good wife and good mom to all the people. Can’t imagine if I’d have had more kiddos like I wanted (Gabe must have been able to see the future).

The tentative plan is for the two of us (me & Liv) to finish Level 5, then TAKE A BREAK, and re-evaluate. Continue full-time? Part-time? Get a tutor? Teach ourselves for a bit? Now that we know how to read the Khmer script (some of us MUCH faster than others), there is soooo much we can learn on our own. And so many different ways to learn.

And we are fortunate to get Khmer practice every single day. With our tuk-tuk driver. At restaurants. At the market. With our neighbors. And our landlord’s family. (His son & his wife just had a baby girl on Thursday and came home yesterday. And we got to meet her! 5 pounds of deliciousness living right underneath us! Ava is drooling.)

Nina is on a quest to re-read all the Harry Potter books (her third time) and re-watch the movies as she goes (she’s on book 4/movie 4 in like a week).

I just spent 30 minutes trying to help Ava’s head feel better. She had/has the worst headache of her life (she says). Lavender oil, tiger balm, ibuprofen, water, head rubs, ice, lying down. Jesus, please heal her.

Gabe had some pretty bad anxiety today. He still has a hard time falling asleep some nights and will have some level of anxiety during the day 2-3 times a month or so. Jesus, please heal him.

Me, I’ve been having problems with my eyes. Not sure if it’s the dust here or what, but when I wear my contacts, my eyes get all red and hurt super bad. So I wear my glasses for a few days, try again with new contacts, same thing. My glasses hurt my head/face when I wear them for long periods of time, so this isn’t really ideal. Jesus, please heal my eyes. (And my back, if you could, while you’re at it. Thank you!)

So, yeah, we probably need some time to rest and heal.

This weekend was good. We cooked a LOT (which was kind of exhausting), but we did a lot of relaxing too. I finished Book 3 in this series. (Book 1 is only 99 cents right now. YOU SHOULD BUY IT. Livi, Ava, and I loved all 3.) We also watched a slew of animal documentaries (Planet Earth, etc.). And the movie Inside Out comes to Cambodia on Thursday. We’re going to go see it together.


One of my dearest friends just messaged me. Okay, friend. Here’s my question after reading your blog…and you KNOW that I’ve never been a missionary. And I have no clue what life is truly like for you…but this is what popped in my heart as I read…I “hear” when reading that you feel like you’re failing. Or not living up to something. Your expectations before moving? Others expectations of you? What your church or friends or someone think “being a missionary” should look like? I know you’re driven to learn Khmer because you want to communicate with the people. I get that. But is there something else deep down in there? I don’t know the answer or any answer. I just feel like there’s a “something”…love you so so much! And praying a circle.

Um, yeah, she knows me. I wrote back: Oh, definitely. I can’t exactly articulate it, but I’m sure it’s a lot of mixed-up, swirled-up, “I have to prove myself since people are giving us money.” Reeeeeeally wish some days we could just earn our own money and just LIVE here. But that would involve Gabe doing lots of web design (which he mostly HATES) and not doing the things I know God has gifted/inspired/allowed him to do. Sigh.

And there you have it. Were I to wrap this all up with a bow or a happy thought or a moral lesson we can all take away from this, it would kind of defeat the purpose of giving you a peek into our angsty life with all its loose, messy, can’t-wrap-’em-up ends.

But even in all of that? I wouldn’t trade this following-Jesus gig for anything.

Wait. That was kind of a bow-sentence, huh?

How about this? Nina woke up just now with second thoughts about quitting school. I just held her on my lap and prayed with her and told her she doesn’t have to make her decision right now. She can go today and still quit tomorrow. Or she can stay home today and still go back tomorrow. Oh, I love her.

In other angst, I spent MUCH of last night tossing and turning over my need to do & achieve things in order to have worth.


I’ll share some more of those thoughts. And some ideas we have about how God might provide an Abbey Lane for us here in Cambodia.

See you back here again tomorrow?

4 thoughts on “confession time, part 2

  1. Sarah

    I heard much at She Speaks about platform platform platform. It was enough to make me never ever ever want to write again. I have no desire to play the platform game. Then. A session just about Jesus. Not about a how to or must do. Just Jesus. And in that he told me…Sarah, you do your part and I’ll do mine. You follow what I’ve told you. And I’ll build the platform or publish the books…or I won’t. Regardless, my work will not be of you. So. Marla. You do what you feel called to, answering only to Jesus. You’ve trusted him so far in ways that I can’t fathom. Keep going, friend. I love you.

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