Wednesday, February 22, 2017


I've had a couple of songs stuck in my head on repeat lately.

The first is "Good Good Father", and the second verse and chorus of this song are what seem to have caught my attention:

Oh and I've seen many searching for answers far and wide
But I know we're all searching for answers only you provide
'Cause you know just what we need
Before we say a word
You're a good, good father
It's who you are, it's who you are, it's who you are
And I'm loved by you
It's who I am, it's who I am, it's who I am

Interestingly enough, it's the second verse of the following song that has also caught my attention. What is it about the second verse of songs these days? This one is called "Thy Will":

I know you're good
But this don't feel good right now
And I know you think
Of things I could never think about
It's hard to count it all joy
Distracted by the noise
Just trying to make sense
Of all your promises
Sometimes I gotta stop
Remember that you're God
And I am not
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done

Both of these songs speak to my heart. I've found myself a little anxious and dissatisfied with life over the last few months. I've struggled a lot with the question of the future: where are we going? What should we do? What is the best for our family? One benefit of living here is that we get to re-evaluate each year and decide whether to stay or go...but that benefit can equally be a burden, and I have felt it as much more of a burden this year than previous years.

For the record, we have decided to stay in Thailand for another year. After doing a bit of searching online to see what might be available to us in other areas, I realized that my best option for moving forward would be to finally get a teaching license, since teaching is what I feel called to do. I have since begun working through an alternate certification program online, and hope to earn my license through the state of Florida by the end of September. Remaining in Thailand one more year gives me the opportunity to finish that license and be able to use my knowledge right away (and it's also helpful to retain a job in order to pay for said online classes and license, you know?)

I remember other times in my life where I felt restless and angry at God because it seemed like he didn't want what I wanted for my life. I got frustrated because things didn't go the way I wanted them to. The last time that happened, I had just graduated from college and was looking for a job in the Grand Rapids area. Little did I know that those few weeks of discomfort and frustration would lead me to a time and place where I could pack up and move across the world at (basically) a moment's notice. What a blessing that has been for my life - I would not take away those weeks of waiting for anything, now, because they enabled me to spend the subsequent seven years of my life learning so much more about myself and the world around me in a country that I'd never imagined myself living in.

So, as I take steps into the future and wait to see what it holds, I sing these songs in my head. I serve a God who loves me and who has called me to himself. He knows what I need before I can even begin to conceive what that even is. Sometimes it's hard to make sense of His promises. Sometimes it's hard to retain faith when so many of the people I interact with question it and just don't seem to get it. But He is God, and I am not - and I don't think there is anything else I could be more thankful for.

If you find yourself in a place of waiting, a place of being burdened (whether for yourself or someone else), take some time to reflect on the qualities of God. His goodness. His faithfulness. His omnipotence. His love. There is nothing more comforting. Maybe you'll get some songs stuck in your head, too, as if the Holy Spirit is just constantly trying to remind you that God is a good good father, who knows what you need, so all you have to do is give your cares to him and say thy will be done.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

In Memory of Grandpa

I found out a little bit ago that my grandpa passed away. We are leaving in 2 hours for vacation, and in order to process things a little bit before I go, I thought I'd write a blog post in honor of Grandpa. These kinds of times are the ones where I most acutely feel the distance between myself and my family: the opposite side of the world feels much further than normal right now. I know that Grandpa's passing is a blessing. He was 94 years old and has spent the majority of the last few months waiting for death. However, I wish that I could be there to say goodbye in person.

Instead, though, I bid Grandpa goodbye in a blog post. As I did with Grandma a couple of years ago, I am going to write some of my favorite memories of Grandpa, all of which I hope will honor his memory.

- Grandpa and Grandma used to come over to our house to celebrate our birthdays. I remember after opening presents on numerous of these occasions my mom would tell me to give Grandpa a hug and kiss and say thank you. Grandpa always exclaimed in delight when I gave him these hugs: he really, really loved his grandchildren.

- Before I could distinguish my sets of grandparents by their last names, I thought of them based on what I knew most about them. Grandpa Boer was the "gum Grandpa". He would lure me over to give him a hug by bribing me with a piece of peppermint gum. For a long time it was Doublemint, but eventually his gum of choice turned to Extra. To this day, whenever I smell or taste either of those brands of peppermint gum, I think of Grandpa.

- Grandpa had a set of false teeth. When I was quite young, he showed me how he could pop them out of his mouth. I was mildly terrified of this at first, and Grandpa, with his eyes twinkling, asked me if I could pop my teeth out, too. I tried and tried, but (for some strange reason) just couldn't do it. Grandpa laughed so hard as he watched me try. I'm certain I wasn't the only child to fall for this trick!

- Grandpa was a fantastic woodworker. He had a whole room (well, walk-in closet) in his condo with shelves from the floor to ceiling filled with his creations. I remember many times where he took out a puzzle and tried to show me how to do it, but it turned out to have some trick behind it that I couldn't figure out. I remember him bringing out new toys when we came over: designs he had just tried or others that had just been in the back of the closet for a while. I was always delighted with whatever he brought for our entertainment.

- I (as well as my siblings and cousins) have basically a lifetime of Christmas presents that were made by Grandpa. Shelves to be hung on the wall, clocks, toy cars, tops, a doll cradle, and (one of my favorites) a rocking horse:
 I don't get to use most of these, as they're stored at my parent's house, but I do have a few pieces that fit well into a suitcase in our apartment here in Thailand. I look forward to the day when I get to unpack all of these treasures and remember again what an artist and craftsman my Grandpa was.

- Grandpa loved birds. He spent a lot of time watching the birds in the trees and birdhouses outside the big windows in his living room. I received lesson after lesson through my lifetime about which birds were which, and which ones were the 'nice kinds' and which ones were just annoying. I never really wanted these lessons about birds, but I look back and smile at them now because of how passionate Grandpa was about them.

- Whenever we came to visit Grandpa and Grandma in their condo, the TV was always on. If it was during the summer, it was usually a Cubs game. How awesome that Grandpa lived to see the Cubs finally win a World Series!

- I remember the first time Michael met my grandpa when we were dating. We were sitting around the dining room table at my parents house with Grandpa, Grandma, and my parents and siblings. Grandpa told Michael that he ought to marry "a Mexican girl" because they "listen to their husbands." Ha! I could have died! This remains one of my favorite memories because of how hilariously awkward it was.

- For the whole time we lived in Thailand, Grandpa was full of questions about our lives here. He was fascinated with the culture and food. Michael and I both always enjoyed talking with him because he wanted to know so many different things (although he tended to ask the same questions from year to year).

- A few years ago when we were back in the States for a visit, Michael and I had arranged to visit Grandpa and Grandma one day, but it was raining and we didn't have a car. I called, and Grandpa said that he could drive over and pick us up. He lived across town, and was (I kid you not) at my parents' house about 3 minutes after we hung up. We were surprised, but probably shouldn't have been. We got in the car and, quite literally, raced back to Grandpa and Grandma's condo. I was afraid for my life on that ride. :)

- I am thankful (so thankful) that Grandpa lived long enough to meet Gerrit. Grandma passed away just a few weeks before Gerrit was born, and I wasn't sure if Grandpa would live long enough for us to make it back the following summer. However, he lived a full 2 years longer! We came back for two different summers after Gerrit was born, and we got to spend quite a lot of time with Grandpa on both of these visits:
Grandpa and Gerrit, May 2015

My dad, grandpa, Gerrit, and me, June, 2016
Grandpa delighted in watching Gerrit play on the floor when we came to visit, and this last summer even gave Gerrit a soft ball to play with (although at the time Gerrit's favorite toy was Grandpa's walker). This past summer, on the last visit we had with Grandpa, he told us some stories about his dad, who also was named Gerrit. It was a special and memorable conversation, especially since it was our last.

The stories could go on and on, but I am running out of time and must end it here. I would like to end with this, though: I love you so much, Grandpa, and am thankful for the life of love and joy that you lived. You have impacted your entire family in so many ways, and will forever be remembered for your kindness and generosity. I look forward to seeing you again someday!