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Good Things, the Twelfth. June 2018.

1 walking through coffee fields at sunset

2 breathing room

3 gentle strangers

4 Mau Mau caves, paradise lost waterfalls, funny little yellow boats

5 fog, school in the clouds, lamplight like Narnia

6 24-hours of no rain

7 1,000 pieces, finished

8 driving stick shift on the other side of the road, successfully

10 this house, a home away from home, a surprise

11 baboons on the porch swing

12 sunrise over mount longanot, view from my room

13 hearing a description of being deep under water and turning up to see the sunlight

14 fried chicken

15 fire in the fireplace, masai blanket around my shoulders, and a fresh book

16 long, lazy afternoons with my girls

17 baboons on the roof

18 remission. almost.

19 19 years

20 hiking mount longanot

21 final project, finally done

22 high school musical performance of high school musical

23 double, full rainbow

24 bought a ticket home

25 walking in fog and drizzle

26 peanut butter cookies

27 mangoes

28 going home

29 Djibouti, desert golf

30 good friend, long walk, ocean breeze

Good Things, the Eleventh. May 2018.

1 original blessing, a book

2 kids, phone calls

3 an American friend, Danish friend, Korean friend, and Indian food

4 delicious French dinner with friends and cow tongue

5 my dad’s birthday

6 sitting on the beach for a rare conversation with a good friend

7 banana splits

8 one final volleyball game, ball over the wall four times

9 tears mingled across phone lines, no one is alone

10 unexpected generosity from far away

11 professionals

12 Kenyan pedicures

13 people brave enough and empathetic enough to pause, look in the eyes, and say, “I’m so sorry”

14 umbrellas, on loan, while away from home and in a rainy country

15 learning that doubling up on socks is almost as good as wearing slippers

16 varsity girls volleyball, a Minnesota friend, Burger King in Kenya, and stimulating conversation on a rainy drive home

17 my young nephew being so sweet and tender he made me cry from across the world

18 dreaming about banana bread and then banana bread at staff snack time

19 all day, no rain

20 sloppy hamburgers with bacon

21 running in the rain, scrambling up mud hills, sliding back down

22 Finding Home book release day

23 actually finding a home

24 learning more about Mary and Martha

25 phone call to Malaysia, solving all the thing

26 one night, one puzzle

27 the whole family at the same table

28 a place to run

29 learning to live one day at a time

30 new depth to the words: here. now. this.

31 talking faith and fresh interpretations

What are your good things?

Good Things, the Tenth. April 2018

This month almost got away from me without keeping track. I missed a few days and had to remember what had happened then.

Here’s my good things from April. Paying attention and taking note of one good thing, every day.

*****

1 Extreme egg hunting among thorns, trash, skull graffiti, and donkeys

2 Teenagers babysitting. Pillow fights. Tackle time. General awesome chaos

3 Settlers

4 family road trip north

5 long-term friend, sharing my heart

6 40

7 a surprise 40-celebration with cupcakes

8 teenage humor and a scary mannequin baby

9 brother! nephew!

10 kayaking at sunset down snaking rivers through mangroves

11 camel train at lac assal

12 here’s the International School of Djibouti!

13 SCUBA diving, snorkeling off hidden beaches, rain on the boat

14 sunrise service at Turtle Island, one life deeply impacted

15 a beach emergency, my nephew keeping calm, my son taking charge like a pro, my daughters helping and keeping spirits up, excellent urgent care at the French hospital from German surgeons. #scaredbutthankful

16 school board meeting with coworkers and friends who share the vision and are eager to be involved

17 cooking.so.much.good.food. #openhousetomorrow

18 people from all aspects of our lives, from all over the globe, celebrating our graduating twins

19 waffle bar Thursday and Settlers

20 local running team sprinting past me, the slow 40-year old, including two girls in head scarves, spandex shorts, and tank tops. Rock on, girls!

21 three kids walking into the sunset together, last night in this country for two of them

22 tears at the airport

23 empathy from a fellow mom of boarding school kids

24 bacon bits

25 a quiet, empty house

26 phone calls with giggling 12-year olds

27 Turkish kebabs, bread, and expressing thanks for good husbands

28 coffee with a global friend

29 a hike in Arta Town at sunset

30 the power came back on. Eventually.

The Bookshelf, April 2018

I’ve been reading a lot of books lately and want to share highlights, perhaps one of these books will resonate with you.

Question for expats: I get 90% of my books through my US county kindle library. I first search my library for a book I hear about. If I don’t find it, I look it up on Amazon and usually toss it into my wishlist. I find that if I click back through to the same book five or more times, it is something I should consider purchasing. We just don’t have the budget to buy all the books I would like to. How do you obtain books? Library? Kindle? Purchased? Gifted?

I was Told to Come Alone by Souad Mekhennet, “If I’ve learned anything, it’s this: a mother’s screams over the body of her murdered child sound the same, no matter if she is black, brown, or white; Muslim, Jewish, or Christian; Shia or Sunni. We will all be buried in the same ground.”

The Homing Instinct by Bernd Heinrich, “For other animals, and for us, home is a ‘nest’ where we live, where our young are reared. It is also the surrounding territory that supports us. “Homing” is migrating to and identifying a suitable area for living and reproducing and making it fit our needs, and the orienting and ability to return to our own good place if we are displaced from it. Homing is highly specific for each species, yet similarly relevant to most animals.”

On Edge, a journey through anxiety by Andrea Peterson “Research shows, however, that anxiety is linked to some aspects of perfectionism but not others. Specifically, while anxious people are concerned about mistakes and doubt their actions, they don’t necessarily have superhigh personal standards. Worriers actually tend to lower their standards when stressed out. It isn’t that they want to be the best. They just don’t want to mess up.”

Thirst (again, because really, what else can you read while camping on the beach?) by Mary Oliver.

All afternoon the sea was a muddle of birds

black and spiky,

long-necked, slippery…

God, how did it ever come to you to invent Time?

The Sacred Enneagram by Christopher L. Heuertz. “The contemporary Enneagram of Personality illustrates the nine ways we get lost, but also the nine ways we can come home to our True Self. Put another way, it expresses the nine ways we lie to ourselves about who we think we are, nine ways we can come clean about those illusions, and non ways we can find our way back to God.”

Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Believed, by Kate Bowler. She writes about dealing with a cancer diagnosis in the context of the prosperity gospel. “What would it mean for Christians to give up that little piece of the American Dream that says, “You are limitless?” Everything is not possible. The mighty Kingdom of God is not yet here. What if rich did not have to mean wealthy, and whole did not have to mean healed? What if being people ‘of the gospel’ meant that we are simply people with good news? God is here. We are loved. It is enough.”

Bird By Bird (again) by Anne Lamott. I won’t share a direct quote, other than three words most writers already know Anne Lamott for: “Shitty first draft.” Or, SFD, if you don’t like the language. Yup. And sometimes second and third drafts, too. But hopefully not.

Misunderstood, by Tanya Crossman (a great, researched read about Third Culture Kids). So many things I could quote here, but I’ll go back to the basics. “The ‘Third Culture’ is a concept, not a count. The three cultures of a Third Culture Kid are not three locations or people groups, but three categories of influence.” And those categories are: the host culture, the passport culture, and the in between space in which TCKs find themselves.

What are you reading?

Good Things, the Ninth. March 2018

Taking note of one good thing, every day. Learning to pay attention.

1 boys, now men. girls, now women.

2 thick, Kenyan, mountain fog

3 Herman the Python (was going to post a photo of two boys who have asked for a couple of years now to be on Djibouti Jones. I can’t find the picture. Sorry guys.)

4 a longform essay, terrible first draft, tolerable second draft

5 a desert hare

6 friends who are joyful servants

7 welcoming a new boss

8 American Easter chocolates, melty in Djibouti

9 hilly 15-mile cool-weather running

*image by Jessica Gardner

10 feeling shepherded

11 finding out a friend is a fellow podcast junkie

12 fruit cups with kiwi

13 #3

14 sunrise over an abandoned ship in the ocean

15 beach-tired

16 lost down the time-tunnel of photographs for a graduation slideshow

17 that time he posted a photo on instagram

18 hearing a friend’s voice over the miles

19 work at home day during which I work

20 lunch out with friends who stay

21 the ability to travel, at a moment’s notice, when needed

22 generous wisdom, vulnerability

23 a long quiet

24 they’re home

25 baby giggles

26 watching the tide sweep in at Turtle Island

27 lunch meat surprise: rabbit

28 school movie night

29 more mystery meat lunch: lemon pepper chicken for a crowd

30 long run, long conversation, new friend

31 Watching the sunset while grilling kebabs at the beach