Grieving as one with hope

"Please help our son pull himself together so we can be back to Kenya!"
It was a heart-wrenching prayer that started back on December 5, 2015. Counselors had just informed us that he needed more than we could get in Nairobi. It triggered a road of bewilderment and step-by-step following through some of the most twisted and confusing paths that we've ever walked. Chad cried out, one day, "We just played hard all season, and now we're being benched for the big game! It makes no sense!"

"Please, give us the tools to help our son thrive in Kenya!"
The crooked path took us to Raleigh, NC, a place where we had zero connections. A place where God provided a community, great schools, great counselors, and healing in areas we didn't even realize we were sick. It helped us cry out an equally heart-wrenching prayer that showed our growing understanding of our son's needs; understanding that he wasn't acting out of spite or purpose or sabotage. That he was processing the world differently. That he was scared and overwhelmed and in despair.

"Please, show us where we as a family can serve You most effectively for Your glory!"
The wrenching was no less, but we knew God had brought us through to the right prayer. Not viewing our son as the problem, or viewing him as the one in need. But viewing our family as a whole, only able to do our best if every part is empowered to do so.

I had moments of wishing someone else would make the decision for us--that Medical or Education support would tell us what to do and let us abdicate the responsibility of making an impossible choice. But I also knew I would always resent being told what we could or couldn't do. I would always wonder if "they" had really heard from God what was best for us. But I also felt like I didn't know enough about ASD and what to expect from it to even know what our son's needs would realistically be.

And then in the span of 48 hours, we received 4 emails. Member Care, Education, the school principal, and the counselor all wrote to say the best possible thing they could have said.
1. They would absolutely do anything they could to support us returning to Kenya,
2. They were sure it would require multiple changes for us all; a new role with less travel for Chad,      resignation from medical coordinating for me, a new house closer to the school...
3. It was their professional opinion that the US would be able to offer better support

There was only one person whose input was lacking. Since Ethan had just been studying poetic language terms in English, I asked him what connotations he had with Rosslyn Academy. He looked up with a quivering chin and eyes full of immediate tears, and said, "I just can't do it, mom. I can't give them what they expect from me!"

What else could we do other than see that God was asking us to be brave as He brought us back to the US? For us all, not just for our son. For us all to be most effective in living outward-focused lives without neglecting family.

For many people, the thought of taking a family overseas, of depending on a fixed income from the church, of being far from support and community, is terrifying. I promise you: it's just as terrifying to come back! All 6 of us are terribly sad. We know the things it will require giving up--our friends, our meaningful work, the exotic nature of overseas life, the frequent travel to new places. Game parks and the Indian Ocean, and a sense of distance from American politics. The ability to focus on real and deep issues without distractions from Hollywood or Wal-Mart.

But we grieve these losses as ones who know we have hope. Hope for new jobs in ministry that will give us meaning and allow us to make an impact on a community hurting. Hope for new friends who will sharpen us and keep us accountable and lift us up just as we have overseas. Hope for fun vacations and great memories and opportunities for our kids. Hope for joy and peace and the blessings of knowing we are where God wants us.

We had a tremendous gift, that God let us represent Him to the nations on their turf. We are honored that we were chosen to go to the ends of the earth for a time. And we know that God is now asking us to represent Him on our home turf, in our 'Jerusalem'.

We haven't been benched...our field has just changed. We don't know all the details of what that will look like, but that's ok. Coach does.


  1. "... living outward focused lives without neglecting family" is my favorite part. Well done, good & faithful servants. Well done.

  2. I hardly have words. So simply these...thank you for sharing your heart, journey, and soul. You are beautiful people and will bless any you work amongst.

  3. Thank u for sharing this very honest update. We were praying for u today b4 we saw your latest blog. Thank u for yr faithful service in Africa for a season. We trust our faithful God to continue to lead and guide u. Grace and peace love Diane

    1. Thank you! I enjoyed seeing Michael the other day over midterm, and getting the scoop on you all. He's so tall and so mature and as sweet as ever!

  4. Thank you for your faithfulness to do the hard things...blindly trust, sacrifice your personal desires for the health of Ethan, loving Him no matter what. We love you and cannot wait to see how God uses you as you continue to walk in faith. We love you guys!

  5. Miriam, your post made me cry - mostly that you listened to Ethan and let him know he was really heard, and were willing to re-think your choices for his sake and all of yours! Such a hard choice! Love you!

    1. Thanks! This parenting thing is the hardest thing I've ever tried. I know you know the feeling! Love you, and wish we could spend more time in the NW...I miss you all!

  6. Hi Miriam, Thank you for posting this update. I will continue praying for your family's new season. While reading this I'm beating myself up and wondering so many things. Our twins sound like your son. It looks like we've made it through the worst of things, but very difficult times are still ahead. We moved to Kenya when the twins had just turned 15. They were foster children that we adopted and were already quite a hand full, two hand-fulls in fact:) Moving to Kenya was insanity, but we knew that we heard God and we kept plowing forward. Oh my, I can't tell you the troubles we've had, melt downs, blow ups, sent home from RVA, meetings after meetings, and on and on. The girls were always in tears; school was just too demanding! Finally we brought one of the girls home and she just completed her GED, on Monday and will attend a gap year program beginning in Sept. And the other will graduate from RVA in July and has been accepted to a college in Fl. So that is the bright side, however, we still have melt downs and blow ups. I think now it's the anxiety of the unknown in the states. It's definitely been a four year roller coaster. In July we will take the girls back to the states. We will stay with the girls for 2 months then come back 'home' to Kenya. We will set the girls up the best we can in America and they can come back anytime they want. I have to know that we are doing the best we can and not look back at all the things we could've, should've maybe done. It's been hard and continues to be hard, but we purpose to seek God and move forward. I promise to continue praying for your family. I know it's a hard decision that you've made. God is going to use you where you are to bring Glory to the Kingdom! I believe that. I know you all must be so sad, but you have to do what is best for your family. I hope we did, the future will tell.


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