Sunday, October 18, 2015

14 Days Left - Lessons I've Learned as an Expat

People question me all the time about the difficulty of leaving the kids behind in America to attend college.  I think taking your kids to college is hard for anyone, no matter if the school is across town or across the ocean.  We're used to these awesome, dynamic people filling our homes one day and then bam, the next day the house is quiet and empty.  We all want our kids to grow up and have successful, meaningful lives, but the transition can leave an aching heart.  In many ways, my experience is no different than your experience.

What I've learned, is when my kids, or parents or friends visit us, everything else in life stops for a period.  Well, maybe it doesn't all stop, but extra days are taken off work, some things are put on hold, and other things our company just joins in with us.  I love taking a friend to my church or Bible study so they can get a flavor of what my daily life is.  We go grocery shopping together because foreign markets are interesting.  The point is, for the short periods we are with our kids, our time together is very intentional.  We are in the unique position, that when the kids visit for Christmas, they are not distracted by cell phones and hanging out with friends.  They've left them all behind.  

The area we have not succeeded on is intentionality when we are back in the states.  Life seems so busy and we are running every direction.  I feel like I short change all my friends and my family too.  Especially my kids.  We've tried different things, it's a work in progress.

Something we used to do when our kids were small was spend the night at friends' houses.  It's easy and it's fun.  We did this with my sister this summer.  Spur of the moment with no extra clothes with us.  But my memories of that evening, hanging out and talking after the kids were in bed, are precious.  It's one of the highlights of the summer.  It was so easy, it just took being willing to go with the flow and be spontaneous.

Maybe you can find a way to be intentional with family and friends right where you are.  Find ways to create that space where cell phones don't interrupt, where a time schedule isn't constantly tugging at your mind.    Enjoy the moment and the people you are with.

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