of valleys and mountaintops

I tend to blog from two extreme proverbial locations: cloud #9 and the depths of despair (a la Anne with an E of Green Gables).

I’m kind of an all-or-nothing girl. Either EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!!!!! Or my whole world is falling to pieces and I might as well just quit.

Tonight’s post brought to you from the Pit of Overwhelmed-ness and Wanting to Throw in the Ever-Loving Towel Once and For All.

I write this kind of stuff here on the blog for a couple reasons, but first, the NOT-reasons.

1.) I’m not writing to complain or whine.

2.) I’m not writing for pity.

I AM writing:

1.) for therapy (writing is my very best way to process/express my feelings).

2.) to remind you that you’re not alone in your mess.

3.) to keep all the happys & highs I share in perspective.

I think maybe possibly some folks have the idea that people who go across the world to share Jesus are a little less messy than all other people.


I also think sometimes people assume that, when you’ve “found your purpose,” life becomes an instant cup o’ rainbow and nothing goes wrong ever again.


Here are some things our family is going through at the moment. Feel free to commiserate, feel better about your own life, or just say a prayer for us.

–Two weeks into working full-time at the Hard Places Community, and all five of us are at pretty high levels of exhaustion (physical, emotional, mental).

–One of our daughters has struggled with anxiety & depression off and on for quite a few years. It has gotten much worse lately (and then kind of better–and then worse again).

–Our family knows a fair amount of Khmer. At least we think we do. Until we work full-time with people who speak it full-time, and we can understand barely anything they’re saying.

–Multiple times a day, this causes much awkwardness, discomfort, and fighting back tears.

–The exception being Daughter #1. She is brilliant at Khmer. Compared to her, we absolutely suck. This makes us feel bad. Sometimes we resent her. This is so unfair to her. We are working through this. It is hard for her some days to be in this family.

–We are so not used to this working full-time thing and trying to figure out how/when to wash our clothes, clean up our messes, obtain food, run errands, write/edit (me–not the other people), do things we love, etc.

–Last weekend, I bought a dress for each of my daughters (for a friend’s engagement ceremony). I still have to get one for me. Livi and Ava haven’t worn a dress in about a decade. It’s been even longer for their mother. Dress shopping in America for my daughters? No fun. Dress shopping in Cambodia for those same daughters? NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET.

–Gabe has been dealing with some depression. He could use your prayers.

–I would love to talk more about my new e-book (soooo encouraged by the response so far), but I don’t have time.

–We spend a lot of time in the tuk-tuk these days. It’s kind of a far ride to work and back (and yesterday it took TWO HOURS instead of 20-30 minutes because of an Independence Day celebration). It’s also kind of pricey, but we’re glad to bless Hath (our driver). We still don’t know how to tell him we’re moving to Siem Reap. (gulp)

–Packing lunches isn’t quite as fun/possible here as it is in America, so we eat out every day for lunch. And dinner? Has been so not fun to figure out. Tonight I made Gabe scrambled eggs. Livi ate some cold leftover daal & naan. And Ava and I ate pretzels and Pringles. Awesome.

–The girls have been ON EDGE with each other because of 1.) tiredness. 2.) they’re so different. 3.) hormones. 4.) just because.

–Trying to meet everyone’s needs (just the 5 in my family–not the whole world) makes me feel like yanking my hair out. Most days I feel like I just can’t win. If two of five people are happy at once, it’s a flipping miracle.

–There’s just this cloud hovering above us–a general feeling of being sooooo in over our heads with this whole start-a-center-in-Siem-Reap thing.

–Have I mentioned the struggle with the language? Four of the five of us spend huge portions of our days feeling really stupid. And wanting to cry.

–Even Nina. Her reading/writing skills are off the charts, but she freezes up in the talking/listening area.

–Speaking of Nina, this morning she said, “I don’t want to go to the Boys Center!” Ava looked at her with disdain and said, “What, you want to just sit here all day and rot?” Nina: “Kind of.”

–And just now, she came and pretty much sat on top of me while I’m trying to type. “I’m sooooooo bored.” (Oh my gosh. We just spent an ENTIRE DAY doing things.) “I hate being bored,” she said, “but I also hate doing things.” (Awesome.)

–I feel like I’m so far behind on communication with people we love back in the States. I do not like that.

–We’re experiencing waves of sadness about leaving our friends and support system and everything we know and love here in Phnom Penh.

–Two of my three daughters want to cuddle with me right now. But neither one wants the other one to join us. Hold me, Jesus.

That’s probably enough for now, eh?

While I’m over here trying not to feel sorry for myself (because no need), I would love to pray for YOU. If you have a request, please share it in the comments (or send me a fb msg/email.)

And, if you missed the post about blessing a kiddo in Cambodia for Christmas for just $7, check it out.

Be back soon with a Post Full O’ Happy! (maybe)

17 thoughts on “of valleys and mountaintops

  1. M

    I can totally relate to the whole spending large amounts of the day feeling stupid because of language struggles. It is hard. Then, it is easy to feel like all the struggle to get even this far has just been wasted on a dummy like you. The mental effort and failure to understand is physically exhausting.

    I want to encourage you, but I don’t have an answer that is better than this, and it didn’t usually work for me:

    Though I am not worthy, God is not limited by my inadequacy. My struggle to understand and communicate is frustrating, but also humbling. God, grant me grace to serve you as Paul did; with all “humility and tears.”

  2. Kelly Calhoun

    Oh man. I’m sorry for all the valleys. 😨 And thanks so much for sharing. I’m praying that the Lord would HELP. In every area, in the most unique and fun ways imaginable. He loves to be the solution to our problems and He’s our Helper. So I’m praying this for the Fab Five. ❤️

  3. Elizabeth J

    Really appreciating your realness right now. And feeling your struggles. How tough.
    My husband has been half a world away for almost 4 weeks now, applying for a visa. He’s had it approved but due to misunderstanding on our part and the inflexibility of the system he is not allowed to return to us until the 10th…almost another 4 weeks. Struggling a lot with this right now.

  4. cyndee

    As I read this,I was overcome with such a feeling of, “Wow! The devil is so pissed about this! They’re going to do amazing things there – and God is going to be so glorified!” I know you don’t see that in your yuck, but it’s true! Praying for you!

    1. Sharon

      Have to agree with Cyndee. The enemy does not like what you all are up to and is trying to attack however he can. Praying for you all. Would appreciate prayers for my daughter who had an injury at school. She’s been very brave about it, but prayers that it will heal quickly and the bruising the Doctor said to expect would not take place. So far it’s nowhere near as bad as we were told it would be. So thankful for that.

  5. Julie Sibert

    Thank. You. For keeping it real. For being so authentic, even though (especially when?) it feels excruciatingly painful and frustrating. I am praying for you… for encouragement, rest, reassurance. And to know that one breath at time is sometimes all that is possible. I know you know this.

  6. Martha

    Praying and thankful for your real posts.
    Asking specific prayer for our son (little Breanna’s Daddy) who is 38 and dealing with young onset parkinson’s. This has been so difficult. And one of the hardest things to see beyond his physical disabilities is the paranoid psychosis junk that comes upon him in the night. I don’t think I need to say more except: coveting your prayers from Cambodia
    Love you ALL

  7. Amanda Buss

    Thank you so much for your honesty! People don’t always realize how hard what your amazing family is doing! Being real takes courage and I totally appreciate you putting it all out there!

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