Secure in the Fog of Re-entry

secure in the fog

Transition is no joke. I don’t care if you’re single, married without kids, married with littles, or married with older kids. IT’S HARD.

One year ago we were freshly off the field from a fairly intense two-year term. It was just supposed to be a 6 month furlough, which turned into a 9 month furlough (after discovering – surprise! – we were expecting a baby). That turned into a request for an almost-year-long furlough when going back with a 4-year-old, a 2-year-old and a newborn felt like too much.

Too much. That’s how I would describe our messy, emotional, draining, clumsy, ongoing efforts at resettling. When we finally landed back in our home state of Nebraska, I expected the relief to be immediate and refreshing. And it was – it felt absolutely sublime to be home. Sublime in a weird way, but still – fabulous!

What I didn’t expect was how everything felt so blurry, like walking through a thick fog, or how difficult it would be to shop at Wal-mart and pick out shampoo. I didn’t expect our oldest, Caleb, to keep asking, “Can we go back to Cambodia? Yeah, let’s go back today!” I didn’t expect all my favorite familiar places and spaces to feel awkward and not quite like home. (What is home anyway?) I didn’t expect the tiniest thing, whether hard or exciting, to feel monumental and overwhelm me with a confusing mixture of panicky and too tired and numb and smothered. I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I’d ever be admitting out loud to my husband, “I don’t think I want to go back.”

What began as a furlough, a time to recoup for another term and connect with supporters, turned into many conversations and many prayers as a family and as a team. What does God want for us? Those conversations and prayers turned into a decision to stay. And so began the arduous re-settling process.

I remember being blown away at how strong and resilient and amazing our children were through all that. Sometimes I felt like we were willingly choosing to torture them and I hated that. I hated putting them through the tumult of moving, plopping them in one place only to uproot them again as soon as they started feeling somewhat settled. It made my mommy heart hurt and long for an established life for them. I feared we might ruin our children.

And yet, in the midst of my fears and worries, God showed me how He cared for them. Caleb and Grace didn’t act tortured or in agony – they were, if anything, much more happy and at ease and relaxed than when we’d lived overseas. They seemed entirely secure, like they had no worries. While Caleb played he sang – everything a song. Oh, how that soothed much of my fretting and sadness! How kind and merciful our God is to tend to our hearts and the tender hearts of our young.

The New Living Translation describes Psalm 121 as being a “song for pilgrims,” and I feel a lot like a weary, wandering pilgrim during these resettling days.

“I look up to the mountains—

   does my help come from there?

My help comes from the Lord,

   who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble;

   the one who watches over you will not slumber.

Indeed, he who watches over Israel

   never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord himself watches over you!

   The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.

The sun will not harm you by day,

   nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm

   and watches over your life.

The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,

   both now and forever.”

Believing these incredible promises, I cannot doubt that God will take care of us. He is entirely faithful. Not for one moment are we abandoned by Him or alone. We belong to this most mighty God of Heaven’s Armies! He never ceases to remain sufficient and we never cease to be secure in His arms.

What has transition as a family been like for you? What encouragement would you offer to other moms who are preparing for re-entry?


Are you preparing to return to your passport country after serving on the field? Are you in the midst of settling in to a new normal? Our Re-entry Kit is designed just for you! The kit includes a video class taught by Danielle Wheeler and Sarah Hilkemann, as well as access to a private Facebook community to help you process your re-entry journey, and a timed email series that shows up right in your inbox with tips and encouragement. Check out the re-entry toolkit by clicking on the button to learn more!

Photo by Larm Rmah on Unsplash


  1. Gina June 28, 2019

    All the articles on re entry has encouraged me. My husband and I left the states with a 5 year vision and returned home after a short 10 months. It’s has been hard to re adjust but it’s getting easier. Going on 3 full months at home I’m beginning to feel much better and have diacovered a new normal. My main issue was thinking we had not been gone that long so why am I having such a struggle, but as I’ve been reading through various people’s thoughts and feelings on returning home I’m realizing a lot of what I have been going through is described exactly by other women who have gone through a similar situation. I was just having trouble verbalizing what it was… and justifying that is was okay even if my time was on the shorter side. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts here along with the others I have been reading. I am happy to be home and its definitely okay for me to feel that way.

    1. Gina L Nelson June 28, 2019

      Excuse my grammar mistakes above. ?

  2. Melissa September 18, 2020

    Thank you so much for this. I found it especially meaningful as Psalm 121:1-2 were the first verses my son ever memorized. My husband taught it to him while they were looking up at the mountain view from our apartment, which we are going to miss so much when we move back to the flat prairies of our home country in two and a half months. Thankful for your testimony of God’s faithfulness to your family through transition and trusting He will do the same for us!

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