Children · Family · Moving · Patience

REPOST: Helping Children Put Down New Roots

                                                                                                  written by Michelle – a former graduate wife

In the summer heat, my boys are restless and roaming the house looking for their next adventure.  Hoping to provide some direction for their boundless energy, my sister asks if we would help her transplant some potted plants.

“Yeah! Digging and dirt!” shouts one.

“I want to hold the hose!” chimes in the other as he sprints out to the back patio.

She brings a basket of plants outside that have grown too big for their original pots.  Browning and overcrowded, they clearly need more dirt, fresh nutrients . . . something to bring new life back into withering leaves.

My boys hover over pots and sacks of Miracle-Gro.   Soon, clay pots are filled with new soil and small shovels loosen plants from old containers, their roots twisted and tangled together.  The perfectly pot-sized clumps of roots are placed in spacious pots and new dirt secures them in place.  My younger boy comes by with a miniature watering can to finish the job.

This small bit of gardening took all of ten minutes, but now as I sit in the evening quiet, my thoughts come back to this transplanting idea.  I am thinking about how many times my family has been transplanted during the course of my husband’s studies.   I am remembering what it was like to tell our kids we were moving again and how we attempted to guide them through the transitions.

Even my rowdy 3 and 7 year old boys can transfer a strong, established plant to a new pot with a little bit of focus, but it can be difficult to move a seedling successfully.  Moving children is a lot like attempting to transplant seedlings.  Their roots are tiny, fragile white threads and they never seem to balance properly in the new pot.  We moved five different times during our graduate journey and each time friends and family were keen to reassure us:  “Oh, don’t worry – kids are so resilient!  Especially at such young ages!”  or “Kids pick up new languages almost instantly.  They soak it up like a sponge. ” And yet, each time we moved, my children did struggle.  And learning a new language and going to school in that language was hard work for my older son.  After a few moves, I began to be of the opposite mind as my well-intentioned advice givers.  I came to realize that my children actually do hear and understand and feel a lot more than I sometimes realize.  Especially because they are fragile and not fully formed (much like seedlings), my boys need to be given opportunities to process what is happening if they are going to transition without problems.    So, in this piece I would like to explore ways we can help our children during a move or major transition.  Some ideas come from what we have tried in our own family and I have also added some ideas from the moving chapter of the book Third Culture Kids.

1)     Introducing the Idea of Moving

a)     Before our most recent move, my husband set up a series of bedtime chats with our sons (then 5 and 1) in which he told them about “God’s special plan” for our family.   We told the boys that we felt that God was directing us to move in order to follow His special plan.  We also had a night in which we talked about the fact that God has a special plan for each of their lives and God may be using some of our travels to prepare them for their futures.  These chats were given in bite-sized pieces they could understand, usually with a map nearby and time for their questions.

b)     We marked on a map where we lived (Germany) and where we were moving (England).  In order to create some excitement, we tried to make lists of things the children might like about our new city.  If possible, it is great to find pictures of the school the children will attend or pictures of the house/apartment that you will live in and its surrounding neighborhood.

c)     Read books about moving and talk about how the different characters might feel.  Try to find one with clear pictures of what happens during the packing up of an old house, the unpacking at new house, saying goodbye to old friends, making new friends, etc.

d)     For very small children, it can be helpful to play “moving games” in order to just introduce them to what a move is.  We did this some with our youngest in our last move a couple of weeks before we left.  I gave him a couple of empty boxes and we would pack up toys and move them to the next room and unpack them, explaining that this is what we were going to do later with all of our stuff.  Also, during all the events that precede a move and happen during a move, it is good for the parents to “frame” what is happening:  “Look, Daddy and his friend are putting the boxes in the van.  They will bring all of your toys safely to your new room.  Just like our game!”  or “We are waving goodbye to our old house.  We will have a picture of it in our photo album, but now we are going to live in our new house.”   When things get busy, it is easy to forget to include our young children in what is happening by framing it in words they can understand.

 2)     Giving a Sense of Closure

a)     As it got closer to our moving date, we wanted the kids to have a chance to think about all the people in our current home who have been important to them (church leaders, teachers, friends, neighbors, family members, etc.) and also the places we have been that have been meaningful.

i)      People: Children can write notes of appreciation, draw pictures for special people,  or think about leaving a special momento with a close friend or family member

ii)     Places that hold important memories:  Visiting these places one last time, reminiscing, and getting a special photo or hiding a treasure or note to hopefully find again there someday. 

3)     Easing the Actual Transition

a)     Use of “sacred objects”:  For some of us who are making international moves, it is just not possible to take much with us.  How do you deal with this?  We met one family who had a policy we really liked.  Though they moved often, they made sure they always kept a few of their children’s most valued possessions:  some quilts their grandmother had made them and some special dishes made for them by a friend.  The quilts were unpacked first thing and spread over the beds and then their dishes were set out, helping to create a feeling of “home” for them.  Though the quilts were bulky and the family was sometimes very limited on space, these “sacred objects” were always a priority.  Having a set of “sacred objects” as they are called in Third Culture Kids helps to give the kids some stability.

b)     Keep as many family rituals in place as possible – Keep the days and weeks as normal as you can.

c)     Plan for a period of misbehavior and general adjustment.  You, as the parent, are going to need to give a lot emotionally and the kids are going to need you more than normal.  Their behavior is almost guaranteed to be crazy for a while. Give them grace – moving can be even harder for little ones who had no control in the decision that has resulted in their entire world changing.  Keep close tabs on how kids are doing emotionally – you will be very busy and overtired but keep your eye on signs that something might be off with them.  Help them to name feelings and provide acceptable outlets to express feelings.

d)     Make contact with some other families in the area or at the same school as soon as possible (in advance if you’re lucky enough to have the opportunity!)  Don’t expect your new community to initiate having a relationship with you – be prepared to go out and actively seek out community for your family.

e)     One way we have eased the transition for our family is by sending my husband ahead first.  When we moved to Germany, he drove our possessions to our new apartment with a friend a few days before we arrived.  It made a big difference for our five year old, because when he first saw his new room it was completely unpacked with all of his familiar toys out and favorite posters on the walls.  Instead of a weird feeling of not belonging in a small white-walled, empty room, he seemed to feel at peace and slept alone in that room on the first night.  It also helped lessen the stress for me because before our arrival my husband could purchase some preliminary groceries and a map and scout out the neighborhood.

f)      For those of you who are moving internationally, I strongly urge you to learn all you can about the language and culture ahead of time.  Of course, no matter how much you prepare, you will still be learning a lot as you go through life in your new country.  Your children can learn a lot by watching how you handle the experience.  Describe how you are feeling about learning all these new things.  Present it as an exciting new adventure, but acknowledge that it can be overwhelming at times and that’s normal and okay to feel that way.  Try to laugh at your mistakes and move forward so the children know that when they make mistakes, they can learn from them and move on without feeling ashamed.

Taking some time to put some of these ideas in place (and maybe add to them with some of your own!) can really make a difference in how your children react to a move.  We all hope that our kids, if they must be transplanted to a new place, will adjust to the soil and be able to drink deeply of the water and nutrients that a new experience can offer them.  With a little bit of planning and effort, you can help give them the best possible start.

In your graduate wife journey, how have you prepared your children to move to another country, city, or state? Did you do anything specifically?

Expectations · Moving

REPOST: You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello

It happens every year around this time.

By now, I should be prepared for it, as it’s happened on a regular basis for the last 7 years; but, somehow, like the annual birthday card I forgot to send, it’s popped up again and caught me completely off-guard.

Another friend is saying goodbye to us. This chapter of her journey in our daily lives has come to a close, and she and her family are off next week to begin their next chapter.

I am so happy for them.

I am so sad for us.

One of the hardest things (for me) in this season of life has been the transition of friendships. I have no issues making friends; I love being around people, love hearing their stories, and love seeing the way they live their lives. I am energized just being around them. But, while that time is precious, I often find it leaves me with a longing for something more, something intimate. Unfortunately, I’ve learned the hard way that deep, long lasting friendships are not made overnight.

When we moved from Atlanta 7 years ago to begin our graduate journey, we left behind a bevy of friends that we considered family. We knew each other’s stories, had been in each other’s weddings, and lived life together for several years. The loss I felt from our move was so immense, I didn’t want to make new friends in the new city we had relocated to. So I didn’t, at least at first. Why on earth would I want to do that when I had such fabulous friends who already knew and loved me in a city 8 hours from where I sat? I regrettably adopted the “why bother?” attitude since I was sure we would only live there for 3, MAYBE 4 years. With another impending transition looming in the future, I decided that I would do this journey on my own; I didn’t need a community of new friends to walk this road with me. Needless to say, it only took a year and a half before I found myself on the couch of a therapist, woefully explaining to her why I thought my life totally sucked. I was lonely and lost, trying desperately to live outside my belief that humanity was created to be in community.

After admitting that I couldn’t do it on my own, I began to reach out to other women (some graduate wives, some not) through various outlets, and I can honestly say that when we moved from there 3 years later, we left some dear friends who remain part of our lives today. Since then, I’ve been given the chance to move to another city (in another country!) to start over again, all with a fresh perspective: it’s always better to walk the road with a friend, then walk the road alone. I don’t know if we’ll live in one place for 3 years or 30 years. But, I do know this: I have to live my life in the present. If I live in the past or in the future, constantly playing the ‘What If’ game and wishing I was somewhere else with someone else, I’ll not only miss out on what I believe is a pivotal part of my life’s growth process, but also some very special friendships in a difficult season of life. I know there is always a reason you cross paths with someone; the journeys are always connected.

“But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life; and thanks to a benevolent arrangement of things, the greater part of life is sunshine.” ~Thomas Jefferson

In your graduate wife journey, what are you doing to foster friendship and community?

Mandy

Community · Moving

REPOST: My Patchwork Heart

I hear the warm whispers of the North Carolina summers calling me.  I feel wooed by the fast-paced life I once lived in Washington, D.C.  and I hear echoes of the intimate and truly precious conversations that I shared with friends on our small street in Arlington.  I smell hushpuppies and my Dad’s BBQ and all the warm flavors of the deep south tempting me home.  I hear the ancient bells here in Oxford and I savor the fun times shared with dear fellow graduate wives.  I remember the glorious sunsets on the Chesapeake Bay and the unforgettable and sometimes painful community that was forged while living there on the Eastern Shore.  I feel the Big Apple charming me with the adventures & life lessons that unfolded there, and countless meals at my favorite café near Harlem.

Although my graduate wife journey has only really lead me to two different locations, I feel at times like tiny pieces of my heart are scattered about a hundred different places.  Do you ever feel this way? Have you moved around a lot on this journey?  Have you watched friendships grow and then had to watch as one of you packed up and said goodbye, or fallen in love with a city and a community, only to have to let go?

At times I feel so grateful for all the pieces of my heart scattered about around the country, and even the globe.  At other times I feel the weight of heartache for never getting to have all those precious friends and memories and experiences combined into one perfect place.  It’s a blessing and a curse at times…but alas it makes up who I am. A giant patchwork quilt.

I feel that recently I am learning how to relish and treasure all the vastly unique experiences that make me who I am.  Each place I have lived and each community of which I have been a part hasn’t been perfect…but each has been incredible and beautiful in its own way.  In these places I’ve been loved and hurt and supported and broken down.  I haven’t necessarily chosen these communities…they have more or less chosen me.

I feel that as a graduate wife, as a supporter, a mover and a dreamer, I have sometimes tried to resist these changes.  I have tried to resist the sharing of my life and ultimately of my heart with new friends and new settings.  For some reason it never works though.  As a fellow graduate wife once shared, “I tried so hard not to make friends in our new graduate community.  I was in denial of the move and thought that by wishing it away and not connecting, it would go by more quickly.  And sadly after a season of depression, I realized I was very wrong.”

I know that at times it’s easy to just try and ignore our current situations.  To dream of bigger houses and steady incomes for our families and to try and deny the reality of where we are now for this season of life.  And so I just wanted to encourage each of you fellow graduate wives today.  You might be avoiding your current grad school location and counting down the days until graduation or you might be feeling heavy with heartache over a previous home and community that you once knew.  You might be anxiously dreading an upcoming move and new graduate program, or you might be so in love with your current graduate wife life that you never want to see it end.  Wherever you find yourself, I hope you are able to step back and soak up all the flavors that make up who you are.  Smell and hear and taste the unique tapestry of friends, places, jobs, and experiences that this journey has brought to you.  I hope you can open up to a new community around you if you haven’t already.  Share bits of your story with others and be open to letting them make an imprint on it as well.  I know it’s not always easy … but when you take a step back, aren’t patchwork quilts breathtaking?

On your graduate wife journey how have you dealt with moving and uprooting community, friends, jobs, etc.?

-M.C.

Expectations · Inspiration · Moving

REPOST: What I wish I had known… {part III}

-Written by Mandy & Julia

Today we are featuring the third post on the series: “What I wish I had known” going into my graduate wife journey.  Please see the first post here, and the second post here.

Moving:

  •      Pick and choose carefully when packing those boxes.

o      Consider the climate carefully and realistically. If you’re moving to the UK like we did, you might as well leave behind those flip-flops, bathing suits, shorts and sundresses. This girl paid to move all those things, only to end up stuffing them in a suitcase headed back to the US for the holidays.

o      Pack lightly. Are you really going to need all those t-shirts? Could you purchase Tupperware more cheaply than moving it? Sure that crystal vase is nice, but really?

o      On the other hand, I wish I had brought our wedding album and that quilt that has been in the family for three generations. Those extra special items will bring comfort when homesickness hits.

  • Don’t put off the paperwork.

o      If you need residence permits or visas, know the requirements and get started early. Unless you want to be like us, running through the streets of downtown Chicago during the two hour time slot you have before your friend’s wedding in order to get a same day passport.

  • Brace yourself for the (extra) cost.

o      There are layers and layers of fees and unexpected costs, from setting up Internet to paying for a TV license (what? a license to watch TV?). Make room for this in your budget.

o      A furnished flat/apartment could come without a kitchen table. You’ll probably need some extra cash for that trip to Ikea or Walmart [insert local substitute here].

o      When you’ve first arrived and you’re exhausted, emotionally and physically, it may be worth grabbing a taxi and throwing your grand plan of walking the last mile and a half to your new apartment out the window instead.

  • Investigate your destination city.

o      Don’t settle on a mover or a bank or a grocery store until you ask for others’ experiences, even if they are strangers on the Internet (You’ve struck gold if your destination city happens to be featured on The Graduate Wife’s survival guide section.).

o      Don’t be afraid to ask questions, as your elementary school teacher once told you. Seriously, others have gone before you. Seek them out and get some help settling.

Dealing with Internal Battles:

We came here for the purpose of my husband’s education, and that education came at a cost for both of us, and for our family and friends back home. I had wholeheartedly agreed to this new adventure prior to our coming, and I plunged into the job-hunt and life-making once we landed in Scotland (okay, so I cried for the first couple days).

What felt romantic and adventurous while still living in the US, however, quickly became hard. Figuring out a new culture, going through the process of student teaching in Scotland and again in England (since my American credential didn’t transfer) and enduring a climate that happens to have really hard, dark, wet winters were some of the challenges. Add to that the fact that we moved from Scotland to England to Germany and back to England within three years, and I was tired. Really tired. And my emotional trap was to blame my husband, as if the challenges surrounding the decision to study abroad were his doing. It hasn’t been easy to work through my misplaced anger when enduring a particularly tough season.

The best advice I can give is to turn off the DVD player and start talking. Work through it, regardless of how hard the conversation is. Otherwise, the bitterness is at risk of festering and creating resentment. My companion on this journey is my husband, the one who was by my side through every move and bad day at work and hard winter – we must work hard to protect and enrich our alliance. Without his companionship, I simply could not do this another day.

Simplifying your life:

My brother once asked me if it was true that European and British residents rode bicycles to work and often wore the same outfit twice in one week. Emphatically, I said “yes, and it’s awesome” (okay, maybe a slightly smug exaggeration, but still).

Six years living here, and we may have a tinge of this beautiful outlook on material possessions: you don’t need much to live comfortably. Of course, this outlook is not confined to Europe. Anyone on a student budget can tell you that saving money wherever you can breeds simplicity. This is refreshing, and it is conveniently conducive to the student lifestyle.

So, grab a bike and wear that ten-year-old pair of jeans without a second thought, and do it every single day.

Holding on to your own dreams:

So if you are the one putting your husband or wife through school, it may be the case that a dream of your own has been put on hold. For me, I’d like to go back to school. My husband’s doctorate and six years later, this dream has not been realized.

I’ve come, however, to understand that waiting to pursue one’s dreams doesn’t have to mean that they diminish, ‘dry up’ or even ‘explode’ as Langston Hughes famously penned. Rather, the waiting has refined my goal, changed its direction and enriched its beauty. The dream deferred can turn into an aging wine rather than a raisin in the sun. And in this space of waiting, I’ve seen other aspirations blossom and flourish: having children and starting a family, establishing traditions of our own, getting to know another culture.

If you could pass along any lessons learned in your own graduate wife journey, what would they be, and why?

Expectations · Inspiration · Moving · Sacrifice

REPOST: What I wish I had known…{part I}

Written by Mandy & Julia

Today we are staring a three part series on “What I wish I had known” going into my graduate wife journey.  Mandy and Julia have almost 16 years combined experience of being graduate wives and they have moved almost 8 times to different institutions between the two of them.  Today’s post focuses on ‘intangible’ things they wish they known to expect, Thursday’s post will focus on more ‘tangible’ things they wish they had known to be aware of, and finally we will close next week with a post sharing a bit of both.  I have read through this and am incredibly encouraged and thankful for the advice.  I hope it speaks to you on the journey as well! – M.C.

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Uncertain Future: The world of academia is a chasm of uncertainty. Open posts are few and far between; our other halves constantly compete for posts against their friends, and inevitably watch their friends win; and most of the time, 250 applications (or more) will be filled out before one interview is granted. I can attest to the fact that most of time, our lives feel like one big question mark after another.

For you graduate wives just beginning your journey, the ‘end’ is the light at the end of the tunnel; it’s the present that’s difficult as you try to make it through with a husband, fiancée, or boyfriend who spends way too many nights in the library with his new mistress, the dissertation.

For you graduate wives ending your journey, you’ve proudly watched your other half step across a platform to be granted a degree, your heart nearly bursting with pride. Now, you’re watching him slog through application after application, and you have no idea where you’re going to be living in six months.

 How in the world do you navigate that?

I wish I had an easy answer. This was only supposed to be a three-year gig when we began our journey (sometime I’ll tell you that whole story). Instead, we sit here eight years later, with no idea of what’s around the corner for us. The best reminder that I’ve received from an older graduate wife is this is just a season of life. And it is. Sometimes, when I am incredibly weary, I get tired of hearing it, and I worry that my husband will never find a post, and that none of my dreams will ever be actualized. But, you know what? Something WILL inevitably work out. It will more than likely look completely opposite than what we had in mind, but it will be right for us. And, it will be right for you.

Remember this as your graduate wife story is being penned: This is only a season of your life.

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Familial Alienation: For me, it initially felt easier to leave the stories of our European adventures in Europe when visiting family back home. My rationale went like this: “If I tell them about all the beauty we’ve taken in, I come off as bragging and just plain old obnoxious. Worse, if I tell them about the weekly ritual of scrubbing mold from our furniture, clothing and walls, won’t they just think I am simply ungrateful?”

This way of thinking may have worked for the first year or so, especially when I had one foot in Target and the other just teetering on the edge of Tesco’s (a big grocery chain in the UK) doorstep. But then my marriage, my children, my career – my life – rooted and blossomed here. What then?

I had to get over my insecurities about sharing our world with our families so that our families knew us. It’s hard enough to leave your loved ones behind physically – don’t fall into the trap of leaving them emotionally as well.

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Community: If you read this blog, you know we harp on building community. We do that because MC and I have seen the benefits of what happens when you’re willing to share your life and story with other people traveling the same journey. We’ve previously focused on how you cultivate community, but haven’t really touched on the emotional why parts of it.

The first part of our graduate journey was spent rehashing that lesson again and again and again; I refused to put down roots in our new city, and in the first year of school, I (we) went back to see our friends in Atlanta six or seven times. I had one foot firmly planted where my heart was, and the other foot planted because it’s where I had to be. It wasn’t healthy.

After many discussions (I use that term loosely ha ha) with my husband, we agreed it wasn’t emotionally healthy or balanced to try to maintain a life in Atlanta when we did not live there.  It seems like a fairly simple concept now, but at the time I truly felt like, once again, my world was being ripped from my hands. We made the decision together that we would not return to Atlanta for one year.

By investing in the city or community you live in, you are choosing to live in the present. If you spend all your time wishing you were somewhere else, then you may miss an important part or piece of your life’s growth process. That’s not an easy thing to do when you’d rather be somewhere else.  When I began the process of actually getting to know the Orlando community, I discovered it wasn’t such a bad place to live. When I started investing in relationships, I realized there were some amazing people that were worth getting to know. I look back now, and often wonder what life would be like today, if we hadn’t made the decision to cultivate community and plant our feet firmly where we lived. When we moved from there in 2007, we left some wonderful friends that I was genuinely sad to leave.

I do think it has been one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned along this path: Live in the present and invest in those around you.

Wednesday's Weekly Tip

Wednesday’s Weekly Tip: Moving Checklist

Cardboard box

It’s moving time!

Over the last six years we’ve lived in Oxford, there’s been a lot of people that’s moved in and out of this city. This graduate transitional state is very normal, but this year is the biggest exodus I’ve seen since I’ve been here. Eight families (including my own) will leave this lovely city for destinations all over the world. It’s an exciting time!

Many conversations I’ve had over the past three months have been about shipping companies, movers, excitement over various things in storage back home, multiple donation trips to charity shops, and the ‘what can I get rid of here’ scenarios. I’ve lost count of the amount of sale links I’ve received via google docs, weebly, email, and the Oxford Newcomer’s group.

Since this is the time of year where most graduates and their families begin to organize and plan their moves, I thought this moving checklist from Real Simple could be useful. A lot of things on it are geared towards people living in the USA, but nevertheless, I found the timeline helpful. I would also add the below points to the list, especially if you are moving things to storage.

1. Create a dropbox folder, and divide tasks between you and your graduate. In the last 10 years, my husband and I have made three major moves. For this upcoming move, we created a shared dropbox folder with an excel spreadsheet where we can add tasks, provide updates, etc. This allows us both to know who is responsible for what. It keeps us from duplicating effort, saves time, and in my humble opinion, cuts down on potential bickering (moving is stressful, y’all)!

2. LABEL EVERYTHING if it’s going in storage. Before we moved to the UK, we moved from Florida to Virginia. My parents graciously allowed us to store everything in their basement. (Thanks, Viv and Chieftain!) While we were packing up our FL apartment, I meticulously labeled each box. Every box was numbered, had a printed inventory excel document taped to the top of the box that corresponded to an inventory excel spreadsheet saved on my computer. My husband thought I was crazy and so did the rest of my family…..until we moved to the UK, and I called my Mom and said, “Can you go to box six, pull out x, and mail it to me?” Suddenly, that time consuming project I had completed came in handy. By detailing each box, you may save yourself a lot of time and money, especially if it’s headed to storage, and you need someone to find something for you!

I hope these tips come in handy! Do you have any great tips for moving? Would you mind sharing in the comments below?

-Mandy

Expectations · Inspiration

Picture?


Today’s beautiful post comes from a woman I’ve had the privilege of getting to know here in Oxford.  She has not just sacrificed career choices or zip codes to help support her husband’s plans in graduate school, she has moved countries, cultures and even languages (English is not her native tongue) on her journey thus far, and this is only the beginning of where their graduate school path will take them. Having never traveled outside of her own country before she met her husband, she has since traveled and moved a great deal.  I hope you enjoy a small part of her story as much as I have and I hope it gives you perspective and encouragement while taking a moment to step back to marvel at the unique and beautiful ways our lives have take different paths than we might have anticipated.  –M.C.

                                                

“ What a nice weather!  How lovely they are.   I am watching the old couple who is sitting in my next bench. The husband is holding his wife’s hand tightly.  They are looking at each other with love and smelling sea breeze together.  It seems by years. I am watching that lovely picture and smiling.  And thinking what is my future husband going to look like.  How tall he is? What color his hair is? Where does he live now? What is he doing right now, right now!?”

This was one of my notes I wrote a long time ago before I ever met my husband.

When I wrote these notes, I had a completely different life than now.  I was sure I had already completed my full self-development…all I learned was enough and I was pretty sure I knew how my life would turn out. But there were other surprises for me!

When I met my husband, it was an ordinary day like others.  All I wanted to do was find the cheapest carpet and I found more than a cheap carpet at that souvenir shop!  I found my most special thing!

Not long later we decided to marry.  I’d never left my country before, I’d never had any opportunity to travel around the world.  Life wasn’t very easy for me, and for my generation.  I felt I always had to study and achieve something, I had to deserve my family’s effort for me and I always had to hold in high honour.

That wasn’t their wish for me to marry a foreigner sometime. To let me to leave my country, leave my culture, leave my family? It should have been a nightmare. It was a long and painful period to deal with them and with my friends. That wasn’t just my family who was against the idea, my friends, my relatives and my professors. I decided to not finish my masters degree. That should call “Cultural Shock!”

But thankfully with patience and love, everything changed.  Yes, I had to given up lots of things.  Now I am in a different culture, different language, different side walk, with different friends, different traditions and that wasn’t a picture I thought when I was watching that old couple. But the picture and frame which I have, I love it! There are somethings that still needs to repair in picture but with faith and love nothing is impossible.

“You are my gift from God!” that is what I wrote in my husband’s wedding ring with my hand writing, and that is what he wrote in mine in my language.

God is always ready to give gifts and ready to help us to find the best frames for our pictures of life. It doesn’t matter on which wall it hangs. The wall doesn’t affect the way picture looks, but the picture in a nice frame effects the wall and the whole atmosphere of the room tremendously.   On your graduate wife journey, does your picture look like you had planned it?