Thursday, July 9, 2015

Your First Year in a New Land

Don't forget to embrace the adventure
because life is an adventure, and adventures are often hard 
though the stories, well, they all skip the boring parts, the tedious parts 
but you know they're there
all adventures have their share
of dusty roads and uncomfortable shelters
but the stories skip over the awkwardness of how are we going to eat (unless they can make it exciting or highlight some unusual skill), and getting used to new foods and learning how to cook in new ways
and how they cleaned up after
or what the "facilities" were like
or how did they wash their clothes? - DID they wash their clothes?
Oh, and headaches and upset stomachs
they also skip all that...

but new lands have new foods and you have to eat every day
and it affects your stomach and your tongue and maybe
even your disposition
find something, some foods - at least ONE - that you LIKE to eat in this new place
(and to find something you like, you're going to have to try some new things) 
- and then look for it and rejoice when you find it, like a treasure hunt 
and if it's a local dish, learn how to make it so you can eat it whenever you want
and so you can teach your day...
...and when nostalgia for an old taste is haunting you - see if you can make those old home meals with what you can find in your new place - experiment - substitute local ingredients - because every discovery is part of the adventure...

and speaking of discovery

new lands have new places 
explore your new streets and paths - 
go up and down and find
places that speak to your heart
trees or streams, buildings, or fields, fountains, flowers or clouds
that evoke emotion
that stir a reaction
that leave you moved and 

let where you live be your home
not just a place
settle in to your living space
you live here now 
so LIVE here, BE here, while you are here, 
do those things that make a home of your tent, flat, cottage, wherever you are
be at home

It helps to feel at home if you can talk.
In the adventure stories everyone knows the new language perfectly already
or learns it quickly
or doesn't need it at all
or at least skips the drudgery of having to learn it, coming in half a year to a year after the studies 
but the real adventure - well, we all know what really went down, that grammar and pronunciation and vocabulary had to be there, and that awkwardness (so much is awkward on an adventure) of getting your mouth and brain around new words and all
but, oh, there is a beauty in it, you know, even if the stories skip that part - even if it IS difficult 
because communication is the whole reason for it and the WORD is beautiful (but so sharp it can cut you)
so work hard on the language in your first year, whether you become fluent or not 
because language is love


...make friends who only speak your new language - make friends with them determinedly, 
because people are what makes the place
and when you start to know people, you start to know the land
and you start to see it 
and love it
and you start to understand
and when you start loving them
you want to learn to talk to them
you NEED to learn to talk to them
and your efforts to learn this new language begin to make sense
and it becomes a beautiful thing
that circles around

but don't give up your interests - they are part of what makes you interesting - to yourself and those around you
and they give you some things to communicate about with those new folks you've met
and a reason to love those new words you're learning
and a way to not completely lose yourself in this new land and new experience
and they're part of what made you the person you are here and now
if you like painting, paint - and if you like quilting, quilt - 
don't stop being who you are...

Adventure stories skip along from exciting moment to exciting moment but can anyone actually live that way?  I tried it my first year in a new land and
I wore myself out
until someone wiser told me I needed to pace myself, because
a marathon and a sprint are two different things and you learn to pace yourself for the distance you've decided to run...
give yourself space.  Room for the adjustments, room for all the new changes in your life because
if you are too crowded, you can't move
and you need to make sure you have a small boat ready like Jesus did (Mark 3:9)
and a day off
and buffers here and there
to grieve the loss of old friends and places, 
space to adjust, 
space to rest, to learn
space to be who you are -
still you, just you in a new land.

...don't be afraid to be you.  Don't be afraid to admit you're sad or struggling or that you're longing for home.  Your new friends will understand - they'd imagine how they would be longing for home, too.  Don't be afraid to ask for help.  


Don't try to look too far ahead.  You don't have to know if you can make it 3 years, 5 years, 20 years - "don't worry about tomorrow" (Matt.6:34). No one knows what tomorrow will bring.  You can't carry all those tomorrows on your shoulders today - or live them all in this moment - all you have to do - all you CAN do - is live TODAY.  And you can do that.   Live each day one day at a time...and one day, one of these days, you may look back and be surprised at what the single days have grown into, surprised that this place that was once so strange to you, is firmly entrenched in your heart, a place you now grieve to leave.  

Always remember God is here.  This land that is so new to you isn't new to Him at all...and He loves it, and He loves them, and He loves you.

and last of all
don't forget to embrace the adventure - because it IS an adventure, even in the boring, tedious parts, even in the hard parts...

It's just a real one.

Linking up with Velvet Ashes at The Grove where the theme this week is "Tips For Your First Year"

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  1. So many great insights Michele! This is RICH. Thanks for linking with Velvet Ashes, I love reading your comments and thoughts! My first plan was to live in your neck of the woods, so I smile secret smiles when I think of you. We could have been neighbors.

    1. Oh, I would have loved that! Being neighbors!

      But I kind of feel like we ARE neighbors, in a way.

      And we'll meet up one of these days. :-) In the meantime, I'll be stashing those secret smiles (both yours and mine) in a special place.