Our Story, Uncategorized

A Pandemic, a Travel Ban, an Overseas Birth Story

It’s 6 am and I’m already awake, laying on my side—the only position that feels half-way comfortable—when my water breaks. At least I think it’s my water. Truthfully, it feels like I peed my pants. There’s no poetic way to describe it. But something tells me this is not that, and I shift my weight slowly, like a turtle on its back, to look at my sleeping husband.

I lay like that for a while, letting the reality settle around me. The summer sun starts to filter in. A dog is barking somewhere in the neighborhood. But it’s eight days early, I think to myself. Everyone tells you you’ll go late with your first so I assumed I had more time. My mom is supposed to be here, is my second thought. She has all the swaddles, is my third. But she’s six thousand miles away and there are no flights because we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, and now we have no swaddles.

I silently rise from the bed and squeeze past the empty crib, making my way to the bathroom. No one tells you the water keeps coming, after you leave the bathroom, in the car to the hospital, waiting for the doctor to examine you. I wrap a towel around me while I walk through the house.

~~~

Throwing my hand on top of my husband’s shoulder, I laid most of my weight on him, trying to get myself to the empty chair on my mother-in-law’s balcony. My other hand held the bottom of my round stomach. We had just gone on a walk along the river, the June weather warm and breezy. People gathered on the grass, leaning against tree trunks, sipping hot tea. Covid restrictions be darned—nothing can stop Middle Easterners from picnicking in the summer.

Pregnancy had been easy, my body doing what the books said it was supposed to do, week by week, just a little bigger and a little more out of breath. Aside from that, things felt much the same—a saving grace when our life felt incredibly uncertain.

I heaved myself into the plastic chair and we all unwrapped our chicken dürüma common street food in Turkey. I propped up by feet, so swollen that it took work to slide off my sandals. Somewhere a woman shook out a heavy rug from her window. Thin swirls of smoke from the contraband picnics floated to the sky.

We joked that if the spicy chicken didn’t send me into labor that night, the full moon would.

~~~

I text my doula and my mom. They both confirm that, yes, it’s probably my water. I text a photo of the rising hot air balloons to my mom because they haven’t been in the sky since March. She texts back that I need to wake up my husband and tell him what’s going on.

Instead, I pour a cup of hot coffee and savor it on the couch in the silence of the living room.

I once read in a book somewhere a character described as someone with “complete assurance and more than a little recklessness.” I thought of my husband and that line has lived in my notes on my phone ever since. He is Persian through and through and I know exactly how he’d react to the news.

So I finish my cup of coffee first.

When I do tell him, with tears in my eyes, surprising myself with the sudden emotion, he cycles through every sort of reaction imaginable, like a thespian showing off their range in an audition. But for him, a man who wears his heart on his sleeve, it’s completely authentic. He’s upset for not telling him sooner. Then absolutely elated, shimming his hips and shoulders, snapping his fingers, and singing a made-up song. Then he’s on his knees, hands on my stomach, tears down his cheeks, praying for a safe delivery. We go through this cycle a couple more times before we get in the car.

~~~

We had been sitting across the table from each other once in the early days of dating, two cups of Turkish tea in tulip-shaped glasses in front of us, a street cat roaming under the table around our feet. It was during my second year teaching abroad and I hadn’t foreseen starting a relationship here—much less getting married and delivering my firstborn child.

“I have no grid in my brain to even begin to understand,” I had said to him, leaving my tea to cool and putting my hands in my lap, trying desperately to figure out this person in front of me, whose life had been so very different from my own. I didn’t know how to respond to his story of fleeing the only place he had ever called home due to the real threat of arrest, imprisonment–or death.

He had fiddled with the tiny sugar cube on the saucer for a moment before responding, “It’s because you’re an American; you’ve never had to think about what it’s like to be a refugee.”

~~~

My water broke but it wasn’t yet time for her to come. She still felt tucked up, hidden away inside me. The hour’s drive to the hospital, I felt much the same as I had the day before, although now wet and sitting on a towel. It was too early in the morning for the police checkpoints set up at the province border, usually there to take our temperature and verify we had the right papers.

The doctor confirms my body isn’t doing anything so Pitocin is started. Avoiding an induction was on the top of my birth plan, but with any birth and also the added layer of living in another country, things don’t always go as wished—a lesson I have spent years learning. My husband and I walk up and down the birthing unit’s hallway, dragging the IV drip behind like a dog on a leash. He makes light-hearted banter with the nurses. A hospital worker puts a wooden laser cut design of our baby’s name on the front of our door.

The contractions begin slowly and build up in strength, coming over me like waves, one on top of the other. I assume my body is doing what it’s supposed to do, but the nurses check and it’s not. The contractions come too hard and too fast so I ask for an epidural. 

Afterwards, I carefully bounce on a birthing ball and resume slowly walking up and down the hallway, grasping at the wall’s hand rail, my legs heavy and numb. We eat lunch and dinner in our room and I remember breezily asking my doula if eating now will make me throw up later. We flip through the television channels to pass the time and land on the Turkish version of Animal Planet.

But hours later the epidural wears off and the sharp waves come back. I ask for another dose but my body still hasn’t progressed much. The doctor comes back. It’s late at night and I find myself wondering where she has been. Has she come from her house and family? She’s worried because my water had been broken for over twelve hours. The baby is stressed. She brings up the real possibility of a c-section.

~~~

Early 2017, we’d been engaged for just a few months and began to dream of what a wedding in the US might look like. But then there was an administration change and a man who campaigned on strict immigration restrictions was sworn in. Seven days later, he signed an executive order to ban travelers from seven countries, Iran included. 

Our dreams of a US wedding quickly crumbled and we recalibrated our plans—something we would be doing often over the next four years. The door to the future we had dreamed about was slammed shut. Turkey grudgingly became our home and now the place we would start our family.

~~~

Someone catches my vomit in a plastic bag. Sorry, again, there’s no poetic way to describe that. A c-section is imminent. The doctor keeps saying the baby is stressed, and my doula sifts through the awkward curtain of translating from one language to another to try to understand what the doctor means.

The operating room is cold and white and no outside people are allowed in, one of the hospital’s extra precautions against Covid. But my husband charms the nurses and they bend the rules for him. He’s seated near my head. We lock eyes and I’m grateful to have him there in a sea of nurses and doctors who are speaking in a language I barely understand.

She’s cut out of me and she screams. Her cheek is brought next to mine and I crane to kiss her before she’s taken away to be cleaned.

My first words were to my husband: There was an actual baby in there! And second: I’m never doing that again. Although even in the moment, I know I don’t mean it.

~~~

She’s a copy of her dad, dark hair, long lashes, eyes the color of copper. No one says she looks like me. No matter though. For nine months I housed her, grew her, kept her safe.

My parents are eventually able to fly across the ocean to meet their new granddaughter. My mom makes casseroles and muffins, does loads of laundry, and walks a fussy newborn. I’ll be forever thankful to have my mom by my side while I took my first wobbly steps into motherhood. Also, she brought the swaddles.

Our baby gets her US citizenship at two weeks old. My husband accidentally rips the corner of her birth certificate trying to get out her passport from the manila envelope. It means a lot to him, this small blue book. Already her future is better than what his own passport could provide. A refugee, a man who crossed borders, fled his home, had everything taken away from him so he could make a better future, whose daughter is a US citizen.

The nurses call her yeni kuş and fındık, the Turkish words for baby bird and hazelnut. My Iranian family calls her zendegeearoosak, and jigaram, the Farsi words for life, mini-bride, and my liver (yes, liver). The neighborhood aunties dote and gurgle and shower her with mashallahs, always tut-tutting at me for not keep her warm enough.

She coos and I call her my little dove. She smiles a hundred times a day and I call her my sunshine girl.

We name her Esther after Esther of the Old Testament, a Jewish woman living in exile, becoming a queen, saving her people. Esther, bold and courageous, standing up for truth and fighting for the good of others.

Our Esther was born to a refugee and a US citizen, in neither’s home country, amid a travel ban and an impossible immigration process, during a pandemic. Already she is strong and brave.

She is our star, a bright spot in the dark, joy in the middle of a whole lot of hardship, made for such a time as this. We are so happy she’s here.

Our Story

Shake with Joy, Shake with Grief

We shake with joy, we shake with grief. 
What a time they have, these two
housed as they are in the same body.

Mary Oliver, Evidence

I lay next to her on the couch, exhausted and out of patience from making endless laps around the living room coffee table in a half glide and half bounce walk, hoping to crack the code to putting an infant down to sleep. It didn’t work, and now, surrendering to her nap strike, we lay next to each other, both awake. I think most definitely I’ve reached 10,000 steps just in this room or, at the very least, have worked my glutes from all that half gliding. The curtains blow lazily, catching onto the arm of the couch, letting through dappled afternoon light across the upholstery. My open palm is an inch from her face as she uses all of her ten fingers to stretch my picky in one direction and my thumb in the other. Her eyes are crossed and lips pursed in an intense focus on this new skill. Head resting on my free arm, I tiredly hum the melody to “I’ll be Home for Christmas” despite it being early November. For some odd reason, sad Christmas songs and three specific tracks on the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack are the only things that stop her fussing. The irony of the lyrics to this holiday tune, though, don’t escape me as I lazily hum something that’s between a fingers-crossed wish and a sort-of-prayer.

We’ve said a lot of sort-of-prayers lately, tiny little requests that seep between our fingers covering our mouths, stopping before the whole dream gets out. They are bashful whispers said to each other out on the balcony after our daughter sleeps for the night. Do you think it will happen? Will we finally get to leave? Afraid to say these secret things too loudly and ruin everything.

If you have been following this little corner of the internet for any amount of time, you will know that this weekend my family and I rejoiced. Four years ago, we were thrust into the choppy waters of uncertainty while the president chose to sign an executive order just days after his inauguration that would bar my husband, mother-in-law, and brother-in-law from living in the United States. The doors closed and the walls closed in too, as my husband’s precarious refugee status threatened to separate him from our baby and me at any point. We watched in horror as my home country became a place that no longer welcomed the world’s most vulnerable but instead proudly waved the flag of “me first” policies, shockingly backed by Evangelical Christians.

Tuesday on, my husband and I glued ourselves to the television and the smartphones in our hands despite the empty promises to ourselves to curb our media ingestion. In true 2020 fashion, I was sure Wednesday would bring more sad, hard news. But today, we exhale, realizing we’ve been holding our breaths for the last four years.

A quick phone call came from my teary mom in the U.S. on Saturday evening telling me “They’ve called it.” I repeated “They’ve called it” to my husband in the office, who repeats “They’ve called it” to his brother in Norway on video chat. We both end our calls, rush to the television, and break out the celebratory ice cream.

So many of us are breathing that collective sigh of relief right now. It’s been beautiful to see videos of people spontaneously dancing and singing in the streets. It’s special to read messages from refugees in Turkey who are feeling a surge of hope for the first time in four years. God has finally heard our cries, they write. There is hope my home country can be a place of safety for my family and opportunities for my daughter and all girls. We shout also for our friends and neighbors because so much of what happens in the U.S. inevitably flows to the rest of the world. 

The president-elect is not a savior—although, perhaps, it’s easy to slide into that mentality. As believers, we don’t put all our hope in the leaders of our county. The kingdom of heaven has not yet reached its full expression. But we can celebrate and then hold the new administration, who promises to uphold immigrants, Black and brown folks, and marginalized communities, accountable for putting justice and humanity first.

Like the flicker of a cat’s tail, the leaves outside the window shake with the advent of winter. We shake too, for joy and grief. Nothing has changed with my husband’s immigration status, of course. We are still waiting, still living in limbo. He is still a refugee with no claim to a country. But that dread in the pit of our stomachs has eased a little.

I sing the words to “I’ll be Home for Christmas” to a nap-striking baby, whose now fully awake, babbling away on the couch. The song is a secret half-prayer that may or may not come true this year, but we can begin to dream a little more confidently about the next. So we look ahead. There are babies to be put down for naps, and dishes to wash, and congresspeople to write, and stories from the marginalized to hear and share.

So shake with joy today. But shake with grief, too, for there is much work to be done.


What we can do now to hold accountable the Biden administration: Amnesty International, a global movement that helps fight human rights abuses worldwide, has put together a list of priorities for the new administration. Familiarize yourself with their eleven different policy recommendations, especially asylum access, persecuted populations, and U.S. killings of Black people, as these are great talking points when contacting congresspeople. There’s a free pdf as well with additional resources.

Our Story

Not Like We Imagined

Our first evening away from our then two-month-old, my husband and I sat on the rooftop of a local restaurant eating lamb kabob and drinking ayran, a traditional yogurt drink, and texting back and forth with my mom who was visiting us in Turkey for the summer and babysitting that night.

Call us easily pleased or starving for entertainment outside of nursery rhymes, but we couldn’t take our eyes off the sky. It was dusk and, almost as if on cue, hundreds of birds began to stream through the air from the west and take cover among the trees along the river bank. Black dots punctuated the sky, moving together with one mind, one shape-shifting cloud after another. Like airplanes smoothly landing on the runway, each giant flock congregated in the roost, seeking shelter for the night. A cacophony of chirps and squawks and beating wings could be heard above the restaurant’s music.

“Look what God created,” my husband murmured, always mesmerized by nature, especially birds. It’s their statelessness I think, their freedom not hindered by borders, their ability to pick up and move at the first sign of the changing season—something that, for him, is just out of reach.

First, it was the travel ban, which barred millions of individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries from ever entering the United States (still in effect to this day), sweeping my husband and his family along with it. One year of teaching overseas turned into six for me, waiting for the green light to leave. Six years of missed holidays and birthdays and life continuing at home. Six years of being at the mercy of ever-changing immigration policies and borders shutting down.

Then it was a pandemic and a country that didn’t handle it well. A different type of travel ban was put into place. U.S. embassies around the world began to shut down, effectively stopping almost all immigration, like a large locomotive coming to a screeching halt.

We’ve been hard-pressed every direction we turn and buried up to our chins with uncertainty. With our family spread out over three different continents, the future is looking foggier than ever.

Poet Samiya Bashir describes 2020 this way: “This year threads its needle between robbery and gift; horror and beauty. Global trauma and lovely surprises.” Can you relate? Does everything look a little foggy for you too? The last several months have been a delicate balance of holding many different things at one time. We didn’t ask for this. We didn’t imagine it to be like this.

I write a lot on here about finding joy and hope in hard places. The former is easier to define, but the latter, if I’m being honest, is a little more difficult. The definition of hope seems to always roll around on my tongue like hard candy and if I spit it out to look at it, I still don’t know what it is.

But I saw this question posed on Instagram the other day: What does hope smell like? All sorts of answers poured in from hundreds of people. Freshly brewed coffee, a rainstorm, chocolate, newborn babies, cookies baking. Trying to define hope by relating it to one of our senses puts a different spin on it. Suddenly, the unidentifiable candy doesn’t seem so mysterious anymore.

Just a few days after our daughter was born, we got a call from her pediatrician late at night urging us to bring her in as early as possible the following morning. We spent the next 24 hours in a cramped hospital room as she laid blindfolded under UV lights, black-out curtains drawn tight and, in true Middle Eastern fashion, heat pumping out of the vents despite the mild June weather. My still swollen feet and aching abdomen incision were made worse by sitting on the uncomfortable couch in the darkened room for an entire day and night.

When we were discharged the following day (our daughter was fine, by the way. The lights did their magic and her bilirubin levels were back to normal.), we walked out of the hospital doors and had to squint the sun was shining so brightly. My husband and I gulped down the cool air as we walked to the car, healthy baby in tow. The afternoon sun radiated onto our faces and outstretched arms. We rolled down the windows and stuck our hands out the entire hour’s drive back home, so grateful to be out of the dark hospital room and basking in the fresh air.

That’s the smell of hope: when you’ve been indoors for so long and are finally able to go outside. It’s that first breath of fresh air, cool and cleansing. It’s the smell of earth, dampness, soil, life. It’s knowing the sun is shining brightly just beyond the darkened room.

Back to the birds. They continued to streak across the sky that night while we were on the rooftop, something innate telling them the season will be changing soon. Despite the hottest part of the day still being in the triple digits (Lord, help us), there was still the tiniest, quietest whisper of something new happening, the ending of one thing and the beginning of another. It was that hint of light after coming out of the darkness, the promise of a fresh breath of air.

We turned back to the meal in front of us and fawned over pictures of our sleeping baby sent by my mom. We talked about those last six years and all that had happened and all that hadn’t happened—the good, the bad, and the unimagined.

You’re supposed to write about what you know. I don’t know a lot about what’s happening now or what will happen in the future. I wish there was a different ending—a victory ending—but that hasn’t happened. We are still here, waiting, standing on the threshold of two things. I wouldn’t have imagined life would be like this. But one thing I know is that there is peace in letting go. There is power in having an open hand. We may still be in the darkened room draped in blackout curtains but just on the other side of the wall, there is sunshine. Hope is in the unexpected and unimagined—whatever that smells like.

Our Story

If It Is Darkness We Are Having, Let It Be Extravagant

Sometime after the call to prayer but before any hints of daybreak, I feel her hiccup for the first time. The sliver of moon still glows and so does the green neon sign from the bakery across the street. If the windows were open, the smell of fresh-baked Turkish bread would be floating through.

What a wild thing to feel life moving inside your body.

In the quiet darkness of the not-yet morning and in the warmth of my bed, I rest my hand on the roundness of my abdomen, feeling the pulsing thumps. I reach over to tap my husband awake but his deep, slow breaths remind me it’s scarcely 6:30am and I decide to wait.

He had spent all last evening with his head next to my stomach waiting to feel the baby move against his cheek as he murmured a poetic string of Farsi to her into my shirt. “Is it normal?” he looks up, concerned he hadn’t yet felt anything. “It’s because your voice is calming her to sleep,” I reassure him.

It is a certain type of joy to grow any kind of life. It’s like spotting a wildflower bursting through the cracks of dried up dirt along the road. When life finds a way to breakthrough, it’s a beacon of hope, beauty shimmering in the hard places.

 ***

There’s a saying from some of the experts in the writing world that says to “write from your scars, not your wounds.” The idea behind this being that there is an importance in giving distance to our emotions and experiences before we share. It is vital to respect the process we must go through before broadcasting it to a wider audience.

But what if we don’t have the privilege to write from our scars?

We are still very much in the hard stuff of life right now. It’s unclear when the new skin will start to form over the hurts and the healing will begin. But perhaps wounds and scarring and hurts and healing don’t need to occur independently from each other. Perhaps it is sacred and important when writing transpires from each place side-by-side. Maybe it is good to hold space for both.

This blog is a place where I write from my wounds, despite what the writing experts say. I do it because I don’t have the luxury to wait for a scab to grow. The things posted here are raw. It’s what we are feeling in real-time. But a tension that comes when drafting each essay is to over-spiritualize the wounds, to end each piece with: this was a hard thing but then we had faith and God changed it! Because God hasn’t changed it. Because I haven’t gotten the thing for which I have longed. Because there is no guarantee I will get the thing for which I have longed. But there is merit to sharing the waiting and the wrestling and the wounds, even while prayers go unanswered.

Paired with the tension of choosing what to share publically and what not to share, is the juggling of both the difficulties and the little joys in our life – that little flower growing against all odds amidst the dust and dirt.

It’s an inhale of devastating news where the course of our lives takes a neck-breaking turn. It’s an exhale of seeing two pink lines appear on a pregnancy test. It’s in this space where joy and sorrow share the same breath. It’s in buying little white onesies and putting together a crib coupled with long drives late at night with tears as our only prayer because the edges of our world are starting to unravel. The blooming of life and the burying of dreams dance together.

***

The world’s weariness is powerful. It takes strength to push against it and shoulder the door closed. But when it slinks through the bottom gap of the frame and unpacks its bags, hope sits expectantly in the shadows.

Part of what makes hope so elusive is that it must be fought for. It isn’t easy or natural to hold on to it in the midst of difficulties because it slips and slides out of our hands as darkness screams louder.

But with the tiny joy of life growing and forming, hope becomes a beacon pointing us ahead, a lighthouse guiding the way forward.

As my belly swells a little rounder with each passing week, and our dresser drawers fill with blankets and pacifiers and diapers, here is what hope is: it’s looking onward. It’s clinging to that rope — our one and only lifeline — when we can’t grip the edge of the cliff any longer. It’s resting in that tension and believing there are always miracles tucked away in the darkness.

At the beginning of January, there’s always an uptick in blog posts and photo captions about choosing a word for the new year. But how does one determine a word that encapsulates the spirit of the next 365 days? We don’t have the luxury to plan for the next rotation around the sun – or even the next month. We live in the midst of small seasons, standing at the threshold of the ever-changing day-to-day and are face-to-face with life’s chaos. It’s unclear what tomorrow will be or how things will end.

We wish we had been given a tidier story, one where joy and sorrow don’t hold hands, one where dreams always bloom and darkness stays away. I wish we could look down at the healed over scars and think of all the lessons and reflections and gems we gleaned. But this story is messy and we still only have wounds. Joy and sorrow move in tandem. We can’t keep the darkness from entering our lives, but we can hold fast to hope. We can search for joys glistening through the world’s weariness. And I’ll still share here, despite the lack of scars, because it’s important and beautiful and holy to testify of God’s goodness in the midst of waiting for the coming healing.

I didn’t choose a word for the new year because I have no idea what it has in store. But I do know it’s bringing hope. It’s ushering in joy. It’s bringing quiet miracles like the rhythmic hiccups in my stomach in the early hours of the morning.

A baby. A wildflower. Life. It is joy untarnished by the darkness. And, in this new year, may it all be extravagant.

 

 

Title taken from Jane Kenyon’s “Taking Down the Tree” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 2005 by the Estate of Jane Kenyon.
Our Story

The Defiant Act of Putting Down Roots

As I sit here writing this, I’m on our balcony off the kitchen. The school kids are breaking for recess and kicking around a soccer ball, their shrieks coming from the middle school across the street. I have laundry pinned to the line – linens and pillowcases. The October noontime sun is strong enough to dry them quickly. The fall weather has come to Turkey but the concrete sides of our apartment building still radiate the heat of the day.

This month marks five years of living in Turkey.

In 2014, I boarded a plane with a one-way ticket in hand, leaving behind the flat prairie lands of the upper Midwest, my family, friends, and most of what was familiar to me, and traded it for dry arid weather, a new community, and something called fairy chimneys (yeah, I didn’t know what they were either). What was supposed to be a one-year teaching gig in a foreign country turned into five.

~~~

It’s weird and insignificant but one of the things I get joy from is looking at the weekly ad circulars with my husband. My mom sends them to us tucked into her care packages. It’s a silly ritual the two of us do together because it reminds us of home. Flipping through the Target and Kohls ads that have traveled across the ocean is a glimpse into life beyond Turkey. It means looking forward. Planning. We do the same with homes on Zillow and things on Facebook Marketplace. It shows that one day we might build a life outside of Turkey.

To us, it’s a strange little symbol of hope.

But what if we cannot, at least for the foreseeable future, make a home in the US? What if, due to politics and bans and greed and misplaced fear, we cannot leave where we are? How do we put down roots when we don’t want to?

Making a home amid waiting is tricky.

Look at this way: If I invited you to sit in a chair pulled up to a desk for the next six hours, what would you do? You have six hours so you’d probably open your laptop and get some work done. Maybe answer some emails. Watch a movie, work on a hobby, read a book. You’d be productive.

What if instead, I invited you to sit in a chair pulled up to a desk for the next five minutes? What would you do? It’s just five minutes so you’d probably stare at the wall. Drum your fingers on the desk. Gaze out the window. You’d wait.

Making a home in the midst of waiting is tricky.

Then what if, after the five minutes were up, I came back and said, “Sorry, sorry. Please sit for just five more minutes.” You’d wait again. What’re another five minutes? And again. And again. Until those five minutes have turned into six wasted hours.

It’s hard to make a home when you’re in prolonged waiting. It makes the heart sick.

~~~

Marrying someone who has refugee status meant finding myself thrown amid bureaucratic limbo. It meant being at the bend and will of politicians who see others like pieces on a chessboard – to be moved, jumped over, kicked off – for their own advantage. The powers-that-be forced us to hit the pause button on life, to waste those five minutes over and over again, to live indefinitely in the temporary.

We don’t feel like we have much control over anything.

But what if there was one thing we could control? What if we could shift our mindset from a temporary-bags packed-we’ll be gone in five minutes- way of thinking to something more settled? Solid? Home?

Marrying someone who has refugee status meant finding myself thrown in the midst of bureaucratic limbo. It meant being at the bend and will of politicians who see others like pieces on a chessboard – to be moved, jumped over, kicked off – for their own advantage.

What if deciding to make a home right where we are was the ultimate act of defiance against the forces keeping us in the temporary? What if deciding to put down our suitcases and put down roots right where we are meant we have some semblance of control over our lives?

There’s a certain freedom in realizing we have a choice to make our current place home.  It won’t be forever, but for now. My arms are big enough to hold on tightly to our dream of one day moving to the US in one arm and cultivate rootedness in the other – even if it’s temporary.

Are you in a place where you are reluctant to put down roots?

Trying to make a home while living in a state of limbo is a messy thing. But we can thrive, strive, and take our unwanted situation and build on it. We can take the dirt surrounding us and press our roots down deep, just a little. And maybe something wonderful will grow.

~~~

Home for me is pretty ambiguous these days. It’s transient. But being in this state of prolonged uncertainty for so many years has widened my definition:

Home is adding one more book to an already packed bookshelf.
Home is nailing picture frames to the wall (when we’re sure the landlords are gone).
Home is watching the potted plants grow and bloom.
Home is the two little painted wooden houses dangling on a string in the kitchen.
Home is a soft place to land. Safe, secure, welcoming.
Home is temporary; it changes, and flows, and exists through everything.

How would you define “home”?

Putting down roots in a place I don’t want to is sanctifying me, preparing me, and cultivating fruit in me. God’s not wasting this time. I don’t want to either.

I thought about trying to tie this all back to something about how, for believers, the earth is not our home because our eternal home is in heaven *insert cute little bible verse here*. But honestly? That’s not where my heart is at the moment. It isn’t easy to decide to let the roots start growing. It isn’t easy to juggle both the present and the future.

I still have that itch to get out of here. Believe me, Turkey is not home. But if I don’t embrace where I am right now and trust God is carefully holding my dreams, I’ll be terribly itchy.

So how do I embrace a life that is forcing us to be stationary? Maybe it has to do with the little things, like putting up photos, organizing knickknacks, and planting gardens. I don’t really know for sure yet. But I know for the health of my soul and sanity I need to keep pressing deep into the dirt and letting the roots grow, just a little, just for a while. I’m sure we will figure it out…right after we check Zillow one more time.