Thursday, January 2, 2020

Summer 2019: Fun and a Flag

We so enjoyed our Memphis weeks. Both of my sisters-in-law are more like sisters to me. It feels like being in my own home when I am there with them.

The kids had fun with cousins. On this night, we went to see the fireworks for July 4.

We also enjoyed a couples' night out, while the kids had pizza at home. It's pretty amazing when your family grows into friendship, isn't it?

Sweet Cheeks, oh, I can't even believe it, turned 14, while there.

We were scheduled to speak at our local church, and there we had planned to share that we sense God is leading us 'home' after so many years. That morning, an old friend came and handed me a gift. She had made it much earlier, but was unable to give it to me. She quilted me this beautiful American flag quilt. I burst into tears, put my arms around her, and said, "You have no idea that I am about to announce we are moving back. This is a reminder from the Lord that He is here, and it's going to be ok." I will never forget the "American flag" step in this process.

Summer 2019: Getting Started

Will I catch up this blog? I think I can....I think I can...

After Twinkle's graduation and our short trip to the Black Sea, it was time to pack up and head to America. We needed to see family and friends and launch our second-born daughter! I snapped this picture at the airport oh-so-early-in-the-morn. How many times have I seen my kids wheeling luggage together through the hallways of the airport? This is such a Campbell picture. And it's about to not be something I see quite so often. I realized at this moment that, though I had calculated that Fall would bring all the "lasts" to begin, it was actually summer. The next time we do this together, we will be moving home.

We jumped right in with cousin and grandparent time.

This home is, and always has been, so welcoming to me. It's a place of rest and love, where my cup gets filled and hopefully a bit spills out to them too.

We soon headed down to Memphis for a few weeks there. This is a dinner with our new staff.

We got to travel to Jackson to see one of our graduates get married. It also meant getting to see these dear friends. The friend next to me, T, I have not seen since she moved away from Turkey two years ago.

These gals were the best of friends in Turkey; it was wonderful to see them together as young teens!

And oh goodness, these guys were nearly born together. Playdates and park dates and please-play-in-the-den-while-we-pray-and-talk dates! These are some special people to us.

It was a wonderful Turkey reunion.

These BFFs caught up as quickly as they could during the reception!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

A Young Couple Long Ago and a Future Plan

And so we come to the post where I need to tell you something. Over the course of the last year, the Lord has been steadily (and gradually, more clearly/loudly) telling us that our job here in Turkey is done. It's time to go home. I will admit there were some days and times over the years that I wanted to go home. But during those times, I had no indication whatsoever that it was God telling me it was time. I was just scared. Or homesick. Or down. Or whatever. But, now...after 17 years of living in Turkey and 6 years of living in Singapore before that...God is most certainly telling us that it is time to hand this baton of leadership to the next person. There are no bad things driving us away, just His still, small, but unmistakeable voice. His sheep know His voice.

Throughout this whole process, the Lord has really only said one thing to me personally. He said, "When it's time to go, I will tell Ross." And so for over a year, I have just prayed and waited. I was not certain if "time to go" meant soon or years down the road. But allowing the Lord to lead our family through my husband has been the dearest blessing to me. I have seen the destruction of marriages and families because wives do not allow their husbands to lead. They stay in the driver's seat, impatient and frustrated, all the while saying, "My husband is the head of our home." and yet their actions and words do not line up with this mantra. I so want the Lord's full blessing, and so I decided adopt the attitude "Be still and know that I am God."

I really can't begin to describe the fullness that is in my heart right now. To wait on God's timing and His words to us have meant that we've experienced blessing upon blessing. Slowly, the process began to unfold when God spoke to my husband last summer, then again last fall. In the winter, he ventured to tell me what was happening. In the early spring, he released it over to the Lord's control. In the summer, God was confirming over and over. It's overwhelming to think that the God of the universe is speaking to our little situation.

And so, this school year 2019-20 will be our last here. Because this is the Lord's doing, we are waiting on His direction. Thank you for reading about my adventures in Turkey and for the many words of encouragement you've given me over the years. I count myself very blessed.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Twinkle's Graduation

It's such a strange feeling, isn't it, for those who have done this? Your heart is so full of joy and pride in this little girl (or boy) all grown up and accomplished. This is what God gave you to do...raise them up. But also equally full of that relentless ache that it all went so fast. This is how I would describe Twinkle's graduation night. I felt the same way with Firstborn. But for her, it was "the first," and we felt so ready to launch her. This just felt a little like sand finding its way into the cracks and lines of my fingers, slipping away. This truly marked for me the years of launching my kids and how everything was about to change.

We set up a display board for Twinkle. It turned out so beautiful with her #9 jersey, worn for all her years 7th-12th, photos, her art.

Her graduating class was an unusual one, in that many of these kids stayed together at our school from elementary years on. They were truly unique in that way.

Big Ben paused to write a note to this sister he loves so much.

CC made his way to the stage, ready to begin the ceremony.

We begin with the junior class entering with lit candles to introduce the seniors who will follow. Miss Middler got to introduce her sister's class.

And then she came in. The smile says it all. I made it! I did it! She worked hard for those honor cords, which, at our school involves community service, GPA, and passing AP exams.

Her own papa handed her the diploma she worked so hard for.

And of course, when it's your dad, you get an extra hug.

Her speech was precious, full of gratitude and pointing others to the Lord.

It was a special night indeed. Many of these kids I have known since they had braces and pigtails. I was so proud to say I got to teach them in 11th grade, drive them home from late night tournament arrivals, bake them goodies, and check their essays, even after I was no longer their teacher.

We are so proud of you, Twinkle! You won't understand how much until you have a little blonde girl of your own, walking across that stage. We love you!

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Finishing Up the Year

I already knew at this point that I would be teaching one less subject next year. Because of some other demands to come (which I will blog about soon!), I needed to drop to 4 classes from 5. A new middle school administrator would be coming and could take the Bible class. I felt good about developing curriculum and getting the class ready for the next person, but also sad. I love teaching the Bible freely. And I love these kids. Even the ones not smiling. Even the ones acting crazy. They are the apples of my eye. I pray that something at some point will stay with them, and they will desire Jesus more and more. Here's a picture I took with them during my last class period.

My son will likely not know I posted this right now. One day he will be a man with a beard and a beautiful wife by his side. And she will be glad I took a picture of this secret admirer note and posted it here. Do you like me? yes ___ no ___ because you are so nice with your braces. p.s. you complete me

And this one. I have liked you for 4 years now. And I still do. (She just struggles to spell his name still.) These were both wadded up in his locker destined for the trash. But I smoothed them out and took a picture, like any good mom would do.

Right now he only has eyes for Gus the Great, to be honest.

I found myself snapping more and more pictures of my sweet babies. Two birds about to fly....let me freeze life, please.

Graduation Party for Twinkle Toes

We hosted an after church luncheon for Twinkle's graduation. We decided to serve one of her all time favorites...Turkish breakfast. I got the great idea to ask our Turkish friend if he "knew a guy," which of course, he "knows guys" for everything. We hired a man to just come and make as-you-want-it omelettes for our guests. He brought his own country eggs and chopped up ingredients. It turned out to be the perfect idea, as I only needed to prep the fresh and cold menu items. It was a big help to this working mama. I'm 100% certain I will hire him again.

I had sent some emails to far away friends and family, who mailed some sweet graduation cards to Twinkle. I clipped them all on this 1950's bike we somehow inherited. (I was told it was provided to Turkish laborers who needed transportation to the flour factories outside of town.) It seemed the perfect theme for our little girl who would soon ride away.

Gus the Great found a nice perch that morning on Twinkle's letter jacket.

And my good friend came early to help me get set up. She's not afraid to roll up her sleeves!

We took many lovely pictures that day of the people who love Twinkle and came to wish her congratulations. Just before the end of the party, I thought to ask someone to take a family picture of us.

Her last day of school!

Senior trip to the spot where the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas meet!

She has spent all her years from Pre-Kindergarten to her senior year at this wonderful school called Oasis. We are so proud of all she has accomplished....from youth group leadership, worship leader, captain of soccer/basketball/volleyball, The Queen of Hearts in the school play, (and a munchkin when she was little!), teacher's assistant, honor roll, and a graduate with high honors (which at Oasis, involves community service, passing AP exams, and good grades). But all of that matters less to me than her heart. She genuinely loves Jesus and loves others. I could not be more proud of this second daughter of mine who came to Turkey at 2 and 3/4 years old, never having had a haircut even. Go with God, sweet girl! We are behind you all the way!

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