I remember shortly after moving here reading a blog with the seven stages of moving, the last stage was adjustment...and then a friend made a comment that she felt their should be another stage, that God would give us a time of having abundant joy in our life here. At that time (being two months into our time in Saudi) I probably thought she was insane and that I would never get to that stage but now, two years later that is where we are....between adjusting and finding abundant joy here.
Life in Saudi is normal to us. We are used to prayer schedules, shopping, the restrictions and our trips shopping go much more smoothly now! I have become a home body. I no longer crave the need to go out and run errands and be busy, I like being home and doing the simple things in life with the most important people in my life...my husband and my kids. We have a good routine and have certainly adjusted to life here in Saudi. I am busy with my photography and the kids are busy in their routines. We are adjusted. Don't get my wrong, I still have frustrating days where I am very grumpy about being here but I get past it a whole lot quicker and I am able to see the huge blessings that being here allows us and that is where I have seen us move from adjustment to finding joy in where we are.
I no longer look at my time in Saudi as a sentence :) but am really enjoying it and finding the joy and thankfulness in this time of our lives.
I am thankful that this year we have developed some wonderful friendships with many people here and especially with three other core families. They have become my kids family here and they are there when I need someone to watch Graham or offer to make us food when we are sick and so much more. Developing that core community of true friends that I can turn to for guidance, encouragement, girl time, support and so much more has made a world of difference in our lives here. I have known for a long time that we are meant for community with one another and it has become so apparent these past two years how much God has designed us to do life with the support of each other.
I am so thankful and find great joy that my husband is home everyday at 3:45 PM. That he no longer has to fight to balance work and family and that he has an abundant amount of time with his family. Our family is doing great. We are growing, spending tons of quality time together and our kids are thriving because they have a dad who is home so much! John and I have so much more time to talk about our marriage, our kids, our goals and our family and continue to grow stronger and closer. We miss going on "real" dates but we have found ways to grow intimacy in our marriage in the simple day to day activities and conversations of life. I do look forward to the time when we will be able to go on dates though more regularly :)
It has been a struggle this year between wanting to be back in the States and living a more "normal" life versus what our life is here. Maybe it is because I was an expat kid growing up and I want to have a home somewhere that doesn't change and grow roots somewhere. And it is even harder now that we have fallen in love with Bellingham and feel like that is where we are meant to raise our kids. But being here allows us the opportunity to own our home in Bellingham, renovate it and have the freedom to choose at a later time to live there. I have seen God's hand in that decision to buy the house time and time again and continue to trust in His plan for the house and what I hope is our future there. Part of the struggle is also my love of travel and the adventures of seeing the world and knowing that being here allows us to do that so much more easily. Living overseas, my heart does feel torn between two places, two lives....and it is still hard to adjust from going back and forth. I have realized I don't do as well as I thought with change. But at the same time living here has shown me more than I think I would have learned staying in one place, that God is constant and that my heart ultimely should be with Him at all times and when I am in that place, no matter what "life" or place I am in on earth, I am at peace and can find joy in that place.
So, two years later, I am still so thankful for this part of our lives and how much we have grown individually and as a family. I am excited about seeing what this next year brings to our family and I am excited about fully entering the next phase of moving to a new overseas place....being joyful and growing abundantly where we are planted right now!