On Where I’ve Been and Where I’m Going

It’s been a while, a looong while since I’ve been in this space. I’d like to apologize, but the truth is I’m not really sorry. Sort of. I’m sorry for being inconsistent and flaky, but I’m not sorry for being gone.

Gone is a fitting word. I’ve been gone. A bit of everywhere and nowhere.

Our family packed up and left our life in Indonesia in late May. It was planned, as our Heavenly Father asked us to continue our story in a new and different country. However, I had no idea just how difficult it would be to leave our home {still is}. 

The grief of leaving loved ones and a life, that, although difficult was made beautiful by HIM, was painful. Really painful. Still painful. 

Indonesia will be forever etched on my heart, and the people carried with me everywhere I go in this world.

And, as we came back to the States for a furlough before we head out again, people welcomed us back by saying, “Welcome Home.” But the thing is, America is no longer home for this nomadic family. 

Yes, we love the good ol’ US of A, our family, friends, and Taco Bell, and all the cheese sandwiches we can eat, but we feel so, well foreign. And I didn’t expect it. And so, this born and bred American had to grieve twice. Once for leaving our Indonesian home and once for coming “home” that doesn’t feel like home. It was difficult to arrive in Indonesia eight years ago, feeling like we didn’t fit, and it is equally difficult coming back “home” and realizing you don’t fit here either.

And to be honest? This missionary mama is tired and burned out. Weary. These bones are weary. Really weary.  And I’ve learned to accept brokenness as a gift.

A good gift from Him. HE is showing me to place my trust in Him alone, not on my physical address. He gives me hope. “And hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5 

As I look at what Christ did for me on the Cross, my inheritance here and now, and in the future, my heart sings. Eternity feels close. My REAL home, the home my nesting heart is longing for, is with Him in heaven. So each day, I have to remind this heart so prone to wander, to, as Jonathan Edwards said, “Stamp eternity on my eyeballs.” When I lose perspective, I find myself feeling overwhelmed and anxious, but when I turn my eyes on my dear Heavenly Father, His Son, and His Word, my soul is strengthened.

As I meditate on His Words, my soul is refreshed…

Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26,27

And as He strengthens me, He has begun to fill my heart with love for our next earthly home….

A little country in the east of Africa, and Lord-willing our sojourning family will land there in February. To go again.To begin again. To fall in love again. To feel uncomfortable again. To be driven to our knees in sweet surrender all over again.

The country called Uganda will be our new address. But our HOME is with HIM. Amen.

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  • Charlie

    Oh, I know how hard it is to find yourself so out of place at “home.” I pray that he will comfort you and strengthen you and your family. Uganda is beautiful, and the people are precious. Blessings to you…

    • Joy

      Thank you! We are really so blessed to be heading to UG. :)

  • Amanda Marchlewski

    Beautifully written. Grace to you and your family.

    • Joy

      Thank you!

  • http://joyfulmothering.net Christin

    So true. I didn’t live in Ghana, but I went for a week and coming back to America just felt all wrong in my bones. Who knows what He has in store.

    • Joy

      Yes, you understand. :) I am eager to see how God will lead your future….

  • Becky Weiss

    Sweet sister in Christ, I feel where you are coming from. And the feelings about where you are going. I had veteran missionaries tell me about those feelings of “not belonging anywhere”… but to experience it firsthand… wow. Thanks be to God that HE is our home!!!! Blessings to you as you continue the journey.

    • Joy

      Thank you for your sweet comment today, Becky! Grace to you!

  • Julie T.

    I love reading your blogs and feel like I am there with you! I will be praying for you and your family as you start this new chapter in your lives! Blessings to you and your sweet family!

    • Joy

      Thank you ever so much!

  • Julie T.

    I sure do love reading your blogs and feel like I am there with you! I will be praying for you and your family as you start this new chapter in your lives! Blessings to you and your sweet family!

    • Joy

      Thank you, Julie. We do so covet your prayers!

  • Julie T.

    Oops – I gave you two comments because I tried to delete the other one that had my full name. I guess that even though it gave me the option it did not allow me to delete it off of there and said it was a guest. Sorry about that. I really do not know all the ins and outs of leaving comments! ;) (So, now I have given you three!) Blessings!

    • Joy

      Well thank you for all of them! I appreciate you taking the time to encourage!! :)

  • WomanhoodWithPurpose

    I can totally relate with you. After living in Botswana (Southern Africa) and now living in England…being a Mexican..things get a bit awkward. I really understand that feeling of making a home where God sends you to then have to give up and start all over again. The good news is that His plans are always good and perfect and at the end he surprises us and exceeds our wildest dreams and desires! praying for you all, blessings

    • Joy

      Wow, that is quite a journey you’ve been on! Yes, yes, and yes. HIS plans are just. so. good. And they always, always exceed what I think I need or even want. He is THAT good. Thank you for your sweet comment today. Very encouraging!

  • Patty

    Dear Joy, Learning that your “home” is no longer your real home is a difficult thing. And knowing you are going to go through all the “cultural dying” again is not easy. You are in my thoughts and prayers as you live the life of a nomad. And yes, It is sweet relief to find your home in Him.

    • Joy

      Thank you sweet Pattie. Even though it is difficult, I have found so much peace and rest in Him that I really wouldn’t trade it. But I still have to remind my flesh to look up! :)

  • Callie

    Oh my, how wonderful, amazing, sad and hopeful your post this time. So blessed by your words and so proud that I can be a part of your family’s great work via your blog. Rest up and many wonderful blessings on your newest journey.

    • Joy

      Thank you so much for your kind words. It is so nice having you here commenting on my blog! Thanks!

  • Kassie

    Oh Joy, I needed this…military Mom here living in Europe for the past 6 years. 16 years of travel, half of it alone without my husband, and our three children in-tow has taught me lessons of heartache that “home” is where God leads our family–together. It is never easy though. Prayers to you! Iʻve missed your writing but your priorities are straight: your family is ALWAYS FIRST! Your reward is waiting in heaven–oh and its a mighty reward of LOVE and no more hurting or missing or tears. God is good all the time–all the time, God is good!!!

    • Joy

      Amen and Amen Kassie! And thank you so much for your sweet, kind words of encouragement today! Thanks for your service. Wow16 years. That is a long time. My sister’s husband is deployed right now, so I have a glimpse of what life must look like for you for those times when your hubby is away. Thank you.

  • Monica @ The Homespun Heart

    Great to hear from you, Joy. Love your heart, my friend.

    • Joy

      Oh Monica. You always encourage my heart. :) The sign you made for me is one of the few treasures that is making it’s way in a little crate from Indonesia to Uganda. :) I always have a little piece of you with me in my home. Thank you.

  • Christina@toshowthemjesus.com

    I was glad to see you here again:) Love the Edwards quote. It’s one I need on my eyeballs. I too often forget that this is not my home. Thank you for sharing what God is doing and how he has been your all sufficiency. Blessings!

    • Joy

      Yes, Christina. I love that Edwards quote so much. Thanks to you and Gloria Furman, I have been challenged to look to the Gospel and my forever home instead of my circumstances. Thank you for that. You are an instruement of God’s grace to me. :)

  • Christine

    My children who have been involved with YWAM over the last 2 years understand not fitting in when they come back and it has been a much shorter term for each of them. My heart goes out to you and your family. Thank you for serving where you feel God calling you to be. I have two young daughters – ages 6 & 8 left at home yet. We are making a Missionary Map and will be adding your family to it. You will be in our prayers and we would love to send a letter to your children if you are ok with that. On a side note: Our almost 18 yr son is leaving for a DTS with YWAM in the next two weeks. He plans to go to college next fall and would like to become a missionary pilot someday. I have already familiarized him with your husband’s blog. :) BLESSINGS!

    • Joy

      Yay for missionary pilots!! :) Wow, I can only imagine what your mama heart must be going through as your commit your children into the Lord’s hands over these last two years. We would love to get a letter! If you want to email my gmail account {found at the top right of the webpage} I will share our address with you! Thank you!

  • Telena

    Thank you for sharing this. Praying for you & your family as you embark on this next journey. God Bless!

    • Joy

      You are welcome, and thank you for your prayers. What a blessing.

  • Carrie Stephens

    Just, YES. Amen. Home is where we serve Him.

    • Joy

      Thank you!! I love to have sisters AMENing with me!!

  • Kendra Burrows

    So wonderful to hear from you again, Joy! And especially to hear that all is well. My heart and prayers continue to be with you as you and your family journey through this life.

    • Joy

      Thank you so much Kendra!!

  • MomsBandB

    Enjoy your furlough and may God bless your new ministry in Uganda. My son is half way through his aviation mechanic training. Then on to getting a job to pay for flight training. It is a long road ahead, and we hope to have him do an internship with I-Tec/Steve Saint before beginning to work full-time. But God is good and He is paving the way just as He is paving the way for your beautiful family in Uganda. May you be used mightily for His kingdom.

  • Angie Tolpin

    I love you Joy! And I have been thankful for the time we have all had with you and your tribe. I know it took you a lot of courage to share what you did here, in this space and for that, I say way to go honey. You know I am praying for you, routing for you and love you dearly. Wherever you are…

    It’s weird to message you here, when you are so close… but I just thought I would engage here as well to support you. Ok, what I really want to say, I will email you now. hehe

  • Kelly Hallahan

    I’m so sorry it’s been so painful. Been praying for you and will keep it up! Looking forward to being friends in real life. Sounds like a cup of chai and prayer time is in order! October, maybe? Just facebooked you

  • http://fruitinseason.blogspot.com Christine- Fruit in Season

    Love to you and your family, my friend. I can’t even imagine how hard this is for you, but I CAN imagine the love and grace our Savior has waiting for you. Immense and eternal. <3

  • http://www.womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com womenlivingwell

    So good to hear from you in this space again Joy. I pray for you when you come to mind and will be cheering for you all the way to Africa. Love you so much!

  • Esther

    Definitely praying for this season of transition Joy! So good to hear from you again!

  • vintage mommy

    Life can be so bittersweet! I know this grieving well–the moving away and feeling misplaced. Take comfort in knowing that, just as with Ruth who certainly knew what it was like to be and to feel like a foreigner, your Redeemer, too, is dropping handfuls of purpose for you to glean (Ruth 2:16).

  • Amanda

    Goodness, yes, what a transition. For your heart and your family. I pray you find peace in the transition and joy in the in-between (thank you, Jeff Goins).

  • RaShell S

    Thank you for a wonderful look into your heart. We were overseas for only 6 years. I remember that feeling of being “home” in the US and being totally lost. I remember having a complete meltdown in the middle of the grocery store in front of the rows and rows and rows of salad dressings because there were too many to choose from, and I couldn’t make a decision. The lights, the noise, the busy-ness, the movement… too much input. Major overload!!! Now I think about my children living in this overload society and part of me longs for the simple life over seas. Not simple in an easy way; simple in a hard way, but still simple. Thank you for the time to reflect. I always appreciate your posts. You are a blessing. I just prayed for you and your family!

  • Ulrika

    You definitely shouldn’t be sorry for not blogging for some time. I have missed your blog as I even emailed you and told you – but like I said then too, what I love is that I feel you are authentic and this shows that even more. Beautiful post. <3

  • http://www.confessionsofaneverydaymama.blogspot.com/ Sheila

    Uganda is near and dear to my heart. We spent 2 months last year there adopting our 7 year old and we are headed back at the end of the year to adopt her 10 year old brother.

  • Christina Y.


    It is awesome to hear from you. I have missed your blog so much! May God grant you strength as you prepare your family for your next mission. You are in my thoughts and prayers!

  • http://www.larawilliams.org Lara Gibson Williams

    You always always bring a smile to my soul. Praying and believing God’s grace and blessing all over your family as you continue to walk by faith and not by sight. Much love, sister.

  • Elisa Pulliam

    And I wonder why sometimes I can’t say one more goodbye, but than I think of the life of hellos and goodbyes you have and … well I’m praying for God’s favor and rest to be upon you.

  • http://altarofheaven.wordpress.com/ arcelia

    Joy, just yesterday my children and I prayed specifically for ‘MK’s {Missionary Kids} and families. I read to them from ‘Windows of the World’ about Missionary Kids and I realized I understood that feeling of not belonging to a certain place because of transitions and new adventures due to a military life. That was before I was smitten with Jesus Christ. Today, I can understand your post here because even though I live in the U.S. I really don’t feel it’s my ‘home’ either–but that’s how it should be right…we are aliens in this world, and our citizenship is in heaven. Reading this post this is what I heard God say:

    “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive or an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreigh land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for a city whihc has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” Hebrews 11:8-10

    Joy, may God strengthen you according to His glorious might, may you continue to wait on Him and His promise to give you new strength. Your family is obedient to His calling, though it is not easy I pray the joy of the LORD will continue to be your strength. I will continue to pray for you and your lovely family. I love you my sisterI ‘know’ you because I know Him.

  • lisa

    i have missed your posts to be sure…you offer me some of the most encouraging words packed with Scripture and an eternal perspective. i feel as if i know you as a friend. i worked in a large church’s missions office for several years and know second-hand at least all the plethora of complexities you must face as a missionary family. one of the families that has had an impact they don’t even know of on my life is the Hurley family in Uganda. Shannon Hurley founded SOS Ministry and his wife is one-of-a-kind in her stamina, faithfulness, and focus on Christ and the Word. I hope you are perhaps close enough to them to benefit from a friendship of likemindedness. Here is their website: http://www.sosministries.com/missionaries Thank you again for your sweet “friendship”.

  • Christy Fitzwater

    So wonderful to hear from you, and I pray God will bring rest into the cracks of your weary soul. I’ve been to Uganda, and the people are beautiful. May God strengthen you for the whiplash of change that is ahead, and may your family bear much fruit for the kingdom.

  • Melinda Elam

    Joy, I have definitely missed your posts, but completely understand you not posting. Thank you for your honesty and candidness(this is a word,right?)! Your story has always intrigued me and stretched me, because it is not the normal and comfortable American life. My husband is a commercial pilot, but just using his private license right now, as he owns his own business and can’t just walk away from it.

    God has been showing me how to trust Him more and more too. Actually showing me how little I was trusting Him. Thankfully He is patient!

    I will be praying for your new adventure in Uganda. Thank you for sharing your story for the glory of The Lord!

  • http://GrittyGrace.com Martha Brady

    dear joy, after only 7 years in jamaica, we felt that same wrench when we left back in the 70′s…and the feeling of not quite fitting in back in the US as well. it’s true that the culture wasn’t nearly as different as the one where you were, but the adjustment when we returned was still amazingly large…and unexpected.

    the truth that heaven is our home gets ground into my soul with every move even though they have been within the US. what a comfort.

    we have known of uganda since the late 70′s when we were involved in a church in philadelphia during one of our furloughs when my husband was doing some of his DMin work. Some ugandans were there at the same seminary and have since returned to their country.

    glad you will be able to work in a new place but know it will be a time of many adjustments…including a new language i’m guessing. you have my prayers.

    ps, love the jonathan edwards quote:)

  • Sharon O

    wow that is quite a change. totally different cultures and life styles. God be with you.

  • Theresa

    Joy, your wonderful words came at the right time for me. I am in the American working world and feel out of place in it. I have been reminding myself that no matter where we are or were we are going, if our ultimate sight is on going to Heaven, nothing else matters because we will have the ULTIMATE goal in mind with all of our actions and in all of life’s situations. Your post was a great reminder. Psalm 73 is a beautiful reflection. Praying for you and your family! Go with God :)

  • Wendy

    I so understand and can relate….the grieving of it all….Thank you for your refreshingly honest article and the hope of new life.

  • Ashley

    Thank you for sharing your struggles and being so transparent! I have been in the same place of grieving the loss of a home that you never thought would be one and coming back to what was once home to find that it is not so anymore. I used to live in Uganda and I hope and pray that your family loves it as much as I did. I lived in the north at a an orphanage called Restoration Gateway where I taught. I left almost two years ago and just recently went back for a two week visit. Though it was good to see everyone and be back in the place that was home for so long I knew that God had moved me on to a new season but that Uganda would also be part of me would always be a place to call home. That is my prayer for your family and your home in Indonesia.

  • http://ErikaDawson.com/ Erika Dawson

    Hearing your heart is always a blessing and encouragement. Grieving and hoping and praying right along with you, Joy. Sending virtual hugs and pretend diet coke. :) xoxo

  • Tanya

    Thank you for sharing your journey and your path. It is true that when we are feeling misplaced and at odds we can always ask …lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. Your words touched me and I believe you will love Uganda. My brother-in-law is from Uganda and there is much to love.

  • Diane

    Joy, I will keep you in prayer. God is so good to hold us close during times like these in our lives. Praise Him for his kindness to us as we live in this world, serving Him, waiting to be with him forever. Blessings to you!!

  • Val

    Continue to be praying for you all. It is so hard to leave those whom you love, and then watch as your family goes through the struggles as well. I can identify with living life without an address…grateful for the generosity of others along the way…and looking forward to home.

  • Kim from Canada

    This is was such a timely post! We are in the process of moving our family to the South Pacific, from Canada to work with Youth With A Mission and I feel like the grief and transition will never end. After packing up our home and selling a few earthly belongings (okay…more than a few), I feel like the tears will never stop. We are staying with family until we get our visa and head out. I don’t think I knew the full cost and the overwhelming of it all cannot be described. I have no words to say to people who say “You must be so excited.” Nope, the grief of transition at this moment does not give way to excitiement. That being said, God is speaking and reminding of his daily promises and He is sooo good. What a crazy life! And how therapeutic to put it into words! Thanks!!

    • Alisha

      I needed your words, Kim! We just moved to Republic of Georgia (Eastern Europe) after loving where we had been serving in the States. We knew God was leading, but I wasn’t prepared for the “cost”, as you put it. I appreciated people’s excitement for us, but as you stated so well, the “excitement” was not there – just grief for the people/life we were leaving. I felt so guilty for feeling those things….so good to know it is “normal”! And yes. He is good and all we need! He is sufficient, and where He puts us can be “home” until we reach that final Home!

  • Rebekah


    My husband and I also experienced this feeling when we returned back “home” to the States. Another missionary friends of ours explained our feeling this way….Everyone in the States are circles (and so were you) and everyone one in your country of service (Indonesia) are squares. As you lived there and learned and loved you changed and started to have corners and sides like a square but you look more like a triangle because you can’t become fully a square. Then when you (as a triangle) came back to your sending country (USA) you realized that you aren’t like the people here either because you are a triangle now. Most people who spend time on the mission field (and allow their hearts to be changed by it) become part of the Triangle Tribe. Ever notice when you are around someone who “gets” how you are feeling and also sees that world with a much wider view…you feel instantly more comfortable…you’ve met a fellow tribe member. The great thing is that in heaven the Triangle Tribe will be all together in one place instead of all spread out everywhere. I hope this explanation helps you as it did me.

    Also, I don’t “know” you and your family but I do know 5 other families living/working in different parts of Uganda so if you are looking to connect with other missionary families who may be living nearby where you will be landing, feel free to contact me and I will be happy to put you in touch with them. I know how valuable other ladies can be when you are first getting adjusted to a new culture….to connect with hearts who understand. I have friends living in or around Entebbe, Jinga, and Soroti. Just look me up on Facebook (Becky Kortman) or feel free to email me.

    I just prayed for you and will continue to do so as you come to mind. Have fun camping and making precious memories.

  • Robert&Gretchen Clarke

    After 4 years living in Asia I understand the heart of this post. We never truly belong where we are and we no longer belong where we came from. We love them both but have found as you said that we have no true home. It has made our longing and anticipation for heaven so sweet. We totally relate now with the idea of being a pilgrim on this earth. Heaven will be amazing! To finally have rest and a true home with our Saviour is the deep longing of my heart

  • www.charissasteyn.com

    Love this! My hubby and i are also embarking on overseas adventures this coming year…its uncomfortable, challenging, stretching, and at the same time i wouldn’t want it any other way!

  • Brooke Johnson

    oh my goodness….thank you sooo much for this… really, really appreciated this…as we look to return “home” for our 1st furlough after over 4 years in the Philippines… we have been thinking much about what it will be like to return “home”… this isn’t a foreign concept to us…since my husband & I both grew up overseas…. but our conversations lately have been about things like…what are we supposed to say to so & so who has gotten a divorce while we’ve been gone, etc… we are definitely running to the Lord and begging Him for wisdom!!!

  • Amy

    Hi, Joy, I just found your blog, and happened to read about this incredible shift in your lives. May God give you grace and hope! We are missionaries to the Tsonga people in South Africa. I can relate to how you’re feeling, though we haven’t had to change fields of service. Don’t quit!

  • Kristin

    Joy, I am new to your page, but this was so encouraging to me. After arriving back home from Australia a year ago, we still have yet to feel back at “home” in the US. It has been a really hard transition for us and we have felt so alone and lost. This brought good perspective and encouragement to me. It is so hard to let go of our home in Australia and to be content here. God is faithful and is working- thank you for your encouragement!