Arriving As a Family

Arriving As a Family

You packed your bags. And your kids.

Now you’ve arrived to start a whole new way of life. If you find yourself thinking, “Man! Doing this with kids is HARD!”, no one else has. I personally love every minute of moving with our kids. Like when I come home dead tired after getting lost in a city I don’t know yet while running errands in a language I am still learning, only to find kids that need discipline. Or when I want to retreat in the downswing of culture shock to process all the change, but my kids are needing me to process their own emotions as they, too, go through change. Yah, it’s super sweet. Ha!

No, but really. Going through change with young kids, especially cross culturally, IS hard. Arriving to a new country brings the constant demands of culture shock. Doing that while caring for them – as they too deal with culture shock and therefore might be extra needy – makes for a great deal of stress. We have done this whole gig without kids and it’s another story entirely (though admittedly, with its own set of hard).

And yet, moving with kids has been God’s grace to us. Here are a few ways I see the blessing they have been to us every time we arrive to a new location:

When you transition with family, you bring your own little home with you. Even when your new house doesn’t feel like home, and you still don’t have “safe” friends that you can be yourself with, you have your husband and children with you – the people that know and love you best.

Children help you live life in community. They introduce you to new friends through their friends at school or in the neighborhood. Having kids forces you out of isolation – their need to burn energy takes you to the park; their need for friends helps you remember you need friends too, and, their cuteness breaks down walls with neighbors.

You get to experience the new city or country twice – through your eyes and theirs.

Having kids pushes you to keep doing hard things necessary to create a life in your new community when maybe you’d take a break. For example, my girls really enjoy going to church.  Even though I love worshipping God with His people, sometimes going to church is hard work for me because of significant language barriers. There have been times I am tempted to stay home. Knowing how much they want to be there is a sweet encouragement to me. The discipline of showing up Sunday after Sunday to a worship service in a foreign language is yielding fruit in my heart. There is a knowing and being known happening that in turn deepens love for God’s people in this place. This gives Him glory.

God uses my kids to build up my faith. He uses their endurance to grow my own. Their courage in the face of hard things is life-giving to me. And seeing the Lord working with them reminds me: Christ really knows what he is doing with them.

Having little people’s needs to care for ahead of my own is God’s mercy to me. Their vulnerability and neediness drives me to the end of myself very quickly. When life gets hard, and I want to seek strength by myself, Christ draws me to Himself as the one who alone is my strength.

Finally, kids – they keep you laughing. And man, the Lord knows how much we need laughter in the middle of all the crazy.

Christ’s faith in us gives us eyes to see God really is kind in all his ways. His wisdom has planned every “arriving” season we have had with kids. It is challenging and yet also His good gift. The trustworthiness of God assures me of this: goodness and mercy follow us as a family every single day of our lives.

I’d love to hear from you. What are some ways you see God’s gift to you in your kids during challenging times? Especially as you arrive in a new country/city?

Photo by Benoît Vrins on Unsplash

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  1. Deanne June 17, 2020

    We initially went with kids. In fact we first went with one kid and three months pregnant (that’s a completely different story about having a baby in a country that you have only lived in for 7 months and have little or no language skills), then back later (after two years in the USA) with three kids. Kids are great at helping you interact with community and, if they go to national schools, with language learning. Having kids forces you to do things like go to the doctor, interact with other moms and make new family traditions.

    Now with grown children, we have transitioned to a new country as a couple. I find it much harder to force myself out into the neighborhood without kids. There is less structure to our days without school and kids activities with is both a blessing and a challenge.

    I am trying to enjoy the benefits of cross cultural adaptation without kids (no one waking you up in the night because they have jetlag), but I am thankful that we were able to experience it with kids as well.

    1. Lilly June 18, 2020

      Yes to all the above! The Lord knows what he is doing when he sends us off in different seasons of life.

  2. Joanna June 17, 2020

    So I’m going to be completely honest our arrival was horrific. Yet it was like this. I have a lot of neglect and abuse in my childhood. It was like the Lord put me smack dab in the middle of the most unpleasant circumstance and just reset an out of joint soul. He then put me in the care of some of the most amazingly gracious people I have ever met. I also got to see my children be courageous. I got to see them do things no teen would get to do. I got to see them make friends grow in thankfulness and compassion and joy. We have all grown and changed through the past three years our finances have made it hard to be full time on the field but man it changed some parts of my heart I never thought would change. I am eternally grateful for arriving on the field 8 months pregnant with my seventh child and my oldest daughter turning 13. To God be the glory!

    1. Lilly June 18, 2020

      I love how you say that the Lord reset a soul out of joint! That is how I feel even now…. that he is doing a work, a deep work, teaching me a new and deeper way of life.

    2. Melissa July 6, 2020

      Hey I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your testimony! I wonder sometimes if I’m the only one who does it with lots of kids (we have 6) and if I’m crazy. Your existence and calling the hard things a blessing is so encouraging. Thanks

  3. Michele Wurschmidt June 21, 2020

    Your words have hit the mark of my thoughts and heart perfectly! Thank you for sharing this with us and reminding us once again what a special gift from God our children are in this life. Blessings – Michele

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