When we decided to move overseas, I was committing to being okay with a whole new way of life. I was open to the unknown, open to the uncomfortableness of not knowing what to expect. I knew that life would be very different on the other side of the world, and I was fine with that. I was more than fine with that, it was exactly what we wanted and needed at that time in our lives. And we have been able to shed most of the layers of the stress and the busyness that we were drowning in at home. I am pleased to report that although life is different here, I am indeed happy here. That’s because happiness is a choice, and that’s what I choose.
Even though we now live and serve in a developing country where we don’t speak the language very well, all 4 of us have found ways to bring things into our lives which help us to be happy. We are thankful that God knows our hearts’ desires and can provide us with these opportunities to choose to be happy and full of joy for life.
We (humans) are relational beings, and one of the things we (my family) find time for is people. But there is always room for improvement. Living overseas has its challenges with a 15 hour time difference when thinking of placing phone calls to keep in touch with loved ones from back home. There are free messaging apps, email, 3 cent/minute Skype calls, Facebook and FB messenger – we try to keep in touch, as we are so happy to have so many wonderful family and friends in our life, and appreciate those who make an effort to keep in touch.
Our teenage son runs cross country and track, and plays soccer (football as it is called here and in the rest of the world outside the U.S.), and these are things that make him happy. They offer balance to him with homework, studying, & school projects on the other side of the scale. He had discovered he enjoyed running in the year before we moved here, so it is good to see that he still enjoys it (even in this hot and humid climate) and has the chance to participate in it here.
Our daughter has found her happy-place with Tournament of Minds, a problem solving program for teams of students in social sciences, math & engineering, and literature. This program is perfect for her, as it is set up much like the school program she had been in for the two years prior to moving overseas. (too bad that TOM is only for a few months). She loves her team, made up of seven 4th and 5th graders, and just thrives on the work they do, which they will present in a competition here in Bangkok in February.
My dear hubby has always had physical projects – working on his 1977 Bronco (at the time I called it a “money pit”, but I now know it was his happy-place), remodelling our 1944 home, messing with his dirt bike, etc. Recently, Jeff has found a cool project here that he hopes to refine and then teach to others: building bamboo bicycles. He is a hands-on guy; God gifted him with a mechanical mind and building the bamboo bike has been a great creative outlet for him.
As for me, I have done some hiking and biking here, and although it isn’t nearly the amount I did in my California life, I am grateful for the times it has been possible here, better than not happening at all! I have bought a few supplies with which to knit, as that is something I did at home that I didn’t think I’d want to do here so I didn’t bring any needles or yarn with me. Soccer is a sport I played in high school and beyond, even until just before moving to Bangkok, so I was happy to continue playing at the school. Two weeks ago I broke my foot playing in a staff versus parents game – even in this discouraging set-back, I am happy it didn’t happen in either the rainy season (trying to keep the cast dry in the flooded streets here would be difficult) or the middle of the hot season (coming up in March and April).
As I think about choosing happy, I am reminded of Ecclesiastes 3:12 Find it below in context.
A Time for Everything
3 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
9 What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.
So, what do YOU find time for so that you are happy to be alive? Or have you been too busy with life’s seemingly urgent activities that you haven’t been finding the time? I encourage you to find time to choose happy!
P.S. The photo of the adorable goat was from our amazing Christmas camping trip. How can you look at it and not smile? 🙂