Tag Archives: home

Home is where my heart longs to be


I have been feeling so “homesick” lately.  But not for my Minnesota home.  I have been missing old friends that I’ve had to say good-bye to.  Spring is coming, which means another round of saying good-bye to friends who are leaving at the end of this school year.  Missionary life is a constant round of good-byes, and it makes my heart ache. 

I deeply long for Heaven- where I will never again have to say good-bye.  I get so weary of this life.  I want to shout, “Enough already!  I’m ready to go home!!”  I want to jump into the air and just continue going up and up and up, never again feeling my feet thudding back to the earth.  I don’t belong here.  I want to go home.  I am longing for Heaven.  

(I don’t remember if I’ve shared the lyrics to this song before, but I love it.)


Going Home

By Sara Groves

I’ve been feeling kind of restless.

I’ve been feeling out of place.

I can hear a distant singing,

A song that I can’t write, and it echoes in what I’m always trying to say.

There’s a feeling I can’t capture.

It’s always just a prayer away.

And I want to know the ending, things hoped for but not seen

But I guess that’s the point of hoping anyway

Going home, I’ll meet you at the table

Going home, I’ll meet you in the air

And you are never too young to think about it

I cannot wait to be home

I’m confined by my senses

To really know what you are like.

You are more than I can fathom

And more than I can guess

And more than I can see with human sight

But I have felt you with my spirit

I have felt you fill this room

And this is just an invitation

Just a sample of the whole

And I cannot wait to be going home!

Going home, I’ll meet you at the table

Going home, I’ll meet you in the air

And you are never too young to think about it

Oh, I cannot wait to be going, to be going home!

Face to face, how can it be?

Face to face, how can it be?

Face to face, how can it be?

And this just an invitation

Just a sample of the whole

And I cannot wait to be going home.

Life on a Paper Plate


As I carried multiple piles of folded laundry to the various corners of the house, I passed by 3 small pictures propped up against the wall in the hallway.  We have lived in this house for 2 ½ years and I have still not hung those pictures.  As missionaries we live our lives in 4-year segments: on the field 4 years, home 1 year raising funds.  Since we only have 18 months left in this cycle, those pictures will likely stay leaning against the wall instead of being hung.

I sigh when I think about how temporary our life feels.  As a mom, nothing I do stays done permanently.  I make food; the children are hungry again 4 hours later.  All week long I clean the house; then I start over again on Monday.  I wash and fold laundry; by bedtime there is another load to wash (I’ve thought about ordering everyone to be nude for a day or two just to give me a break, but only my youngest would comply.)  Nothing stays done.

As a teacher, I can teach a whole year only to start over in the same book next year and reteach the same material.  As a missionary, we can raise funds only to have the account empty to zero each month.  We teach the basics of leadership and discipleship over and over and over again because kids keep graduating and a new batch comes along.  Nothing stays done.

One time I asked my dental hygienist what attracted her to this job (because frankly you couldn’t pay me enough to clean someone’s teeth!)  She said, “Nothing in my life stays done.  But when I clean someone’s teeth, I can look at that and say, ‘there, it’s done.’”  In my mind I was thinking, it’s only done until the guy eats his next meal, but I guess she doesn’t see that.

My point is, this feeling of life being temporary seems to be universal.  Don’t go reading Ecclesiastes when you’re in this mood.  Solomon was in a dark mood when he penned the words, “Meaningless!!  Everything under the sun is a meaningless chasing after the wind.”  And it’s true, sometimes.

Life can feel temporary and meaningless.  My dad grew up in a dysfunctional home with an alcoholic and often suicidal mother.  She served dinner on paper plates.  To this day, my dad hates eating on paper plates because it reminds him of how temporary life felt as a child.  I guess his paper plates are my unhung pictures.

And this is the very reason that I can’t imagine doing anything with my life except serving the Lord.  Only what is done for the Kingdom of God has eternal significance.  Why build another kingdom here on this temporary earth when you could be investing your energies in something that will last forever?  The Bible says, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Take a step back


For all you non-bloggers out there, let me take a step back and explain what just happened when you clicked on my blog today.  (This is not a blog, this is only a test of the Emergency Blog system.)

We have this feature on WordPress called “reblog”.  When I read a cool post from another blogger, and I want to share it with you all here at Monkeys in My Bag, I just have to click the reblog button and it shows up over here.  It’s cool, in theory.  But the thing that I don’t like is that you get this confusing look to the reblog with just a link to the original and MY comments about it on the very bottom.  In my opinion, my comments should be the first thing you see so I can tell you WHY I thought this other blog was reblog-worthy.

But since I have no control over this, I want to encourage you to take a step back to yesterday and read the reblog that I posted for your blog-reading-enjoyment.

The reason why I chose to share that reblog called “When Serving Jesus is a One Way Ticket” is because the author very simply and very accurately describes that feeling that I have as a missionary of being less and less at home in the world.  I’ve said it before, so I’ll take a step back and repeat myself, “When I’m in Costa Rica, I miss Minnesota.  When I’m in Minnesota, I miss Costa Rica.  It’s all because my real home is in Heaven.”  I’m always pining for something that isn’t mine… yet.  Home.

Heaven is my home, my Great Hope, my Anticipation.  Someday I’ll hear God say to me those words that thrill my soul, “Well done, Daughter.  Here’s your eternal home… and you never have to move again.”  Welcome home, there have never been two sweeter words.

So take a step back to the repost from yesterday evening and enjoy a blog that really spoke to me.

The view from my home in San Jose, Costa Rica.

They won’t invite you in


Part of learning to live within another culture is learning to observe and draw conclusions.  For example, when we lived in Mexico City I wondered why there were so many speed bumps and so few stop lights.  After a few months of observing the way Mexicans drive I decided that the speed bumps were a way to slow down on-coming traffic just enough to let you slip into the gap.  No one has to fully stop unless the whole line of traffic is backed up.  Another example comes from our first trip to Panama.  We noticed that there were plenty of stop lights at night, but during the day the lights were turned off and a police officer was directing traffic.  Why?  To create jobs during the day.  At night it’s easier to see a light than a person.  So sometimes a little time spent in observation yields great dividends in understanding the ways of this new culture.

But sometimes I just can’t connect an observation with any logical conclusion.  Sometimes I’m just stuck with a behavior that is disconnected from meaning.  For example, after two years of living in Costa Rica, we have actually seen the inside of a real Costa Rican’s home only a handful of times.  (That’s not counting all our “Gringo” friends who live in “Tico” style homes.)   So one day my curiosity just overwhelmed my patience for observation and I asked a direct question.

I was sitting around the table in the teachers’ break room with 3 other Costa Rican teachers.  I had worked with these ladies for a year and a half and not only did I really like them, I respected them.  They also understood Americans because their students were nearly all missionaries from America.  So I decided that they could handle a direct question and would give me a true answer.

I started gently.  “So, I’ve noticed something about Costa Ricans, tell me if you think it’s true.  Costa Ricans don’t invite people to their houses for dinner very often.  Is that a correct observation?”

The air around me crackled with peals of laughter and squeals of pretend shock.  Hands flew expressively into the air and over mouths and on top of heads, “Oh no!  NO!” they all affirmed, “You do NOT invite people into your home!   Only family is invited into the house.”

But WHY?  I pressed.  “The home is very private.  You might as well invite someone into your bedroom to go through your closets!” My friends all gasped at the horror of the thought.  “Once you invite someone into your home THEY ARE FAMILY and you can never get rid of them!  They can ask you for things.  They can show up any time they want.  They will stay as long as they like.  It’s such an imposition.  You have to be very certain that you really like this person, because once they come for dinner, you’re stuck with them.  And it might take 4 or 5 or even 10 years to decide if you like someone enough to invite them over for dinner.”  I guess we’re going to be here a while, in that case.

One of the teachers who had studied in America remembered how shocked she was when Americans invited her into their houses just to get to know her better.  She concluded accurately that Americans use their homes as a tool to get to know people, while a Costa Rican would prefer to go OUT for coffee to get to know someone better.

At first I was horrified to hear this thinking about how many times we had invited groups of students and pastors and other friends over to our house for dinner or a barbecue.  We’ve been making social blunders all over the place!  (But the students REALLY LOVE coming over to our American-style house.  We always draw a huge crowd.  I guess it’s a novelty.)

Then I got a little teary eyed when I thought of the few times that we had been invited to a Costa Rican’s house for dinner.  (We have actually been invited to STAY with some friends on more than one trip outside of the city.  If dinner is a big deal, then a week long visit is over the top!)  Suddenly I knew how they felt about us.  We were family.  We had been invited into the inner sanctum of familial love and closeness.  It made me so humbled and happy to know that THIS is how they feel about us.

We are far away from our real family, but God has given us friends that love us like we were family.  And that amazes and humbles me and fills me with joy.

My daughters sitting at the breakfast table at the home of our precious friends when we came for the weekend.

Going Home


I chose this beautiful song for this Friday because it is a song that has very much defined my life of longing and searching for “Home”.   I long and pine and ache for my Heavenly home.  We are just sojourners here, we don’t belong here.  I’m not settling in here, I’m waiting to go Home.

Going Home

By Sara Groves

I’ve been feeling kind of restless.  I’ve been feeling out of place.  I can hear a distant singing, a song that I can’t write.  And it echoes in what I’m always trying to say.

There’s a feeling I can’t capture.  It’s always just a prayer away.  And I want to know the ending, things hoped for but not seen.  But I guess that’s the point of hoping anyways.

Of going home, I’ll meet you at the table.  Going home, I’ll meet you in the air.  And you are never too young to think about it.  Oh, I cannot wait to be home.

I’m confined by my senses, to really know what you are like.  You are more than I can fathom, and more than I can guess, and more than I can see with human sight.

But I have felt you with my spirit.  I have felt you fill this room.  And this is just an invitation.  Just a sample of the whole, and I cannot wait to be going home!

Going home, I’ll meet you at the table.  Going home, I’ll meet you in the air.  And you are never too young to think about it.  Oh, I cannot wait to be going- to be going home!

Face to face how can it be?  Face to face how can it be?  Face to face how can it?  ‘Cause this is just an invitation, just a sample of the whole.  And I cannot wait to be going home.

Happy Fathers’ Day


For Fathers’ Day I made a pan of home made brownies for Josh.  I hope he shares them with the rest of us.  🙂  We have another team here now, so tomorrow I will be feeding about 50 people at my house.  We’re grilling, ’cause that’s what Dads like to do, right?  Grilling 50+ hamburgers.  Josh will be happy because he’s the grill master AND the house will be full of people… two things he loves.  Happy Fathers’ Day everyone.  Here’s a little “gift” from a fb friend who posted this yesterday.  Good stuff!  Blessings!

Holiday HoHum.


My Favorite Valentine Candies- If anyone wants to send me some, I'd love you!

When I moved overseas I carried my old culture with me.  But my holiday joy fell out when the bottom of the box broke.  Holidays just aren’t the same in another country.  You don’t realize how much emotion is packed around each holiday until you try to unpack them and realize that no one around you feels the same way about this date on the calendar.  Much of the culture built into each holiday is developed in childhood.  But if you don’t spend your childhood in this country, you don’t have all the same packaging around your memories.

Think about it.  Do you remember the first Valentine’s Day heart you decorated in Elementary school?  Probably not, but I bet you remember the joy (or stress) of passing out your cards and candy in class.  And where did you learn about Martin Luther King Day?  Probably in school.  And who doesn’t remember all the hype and build up before Easter and Halloween?- holidays synonymous with Candy in the kid world.  And what if you moved to a country where Thanksgiving and Christmas were no big deal- or worse- didn’t exist?!  Would you feel jilted if you had to go to work when your American friends and family back home were celebrating together?

Holidays aren’t the same overseas.  For us here in Costa Rica, Juan Santamaria Day just doesn’t thrill my soul.  And unless we go buy them ourselves, July 4 comes and goes without fireworks (but you can hear fireworks on random other days… like last night.).  Unless you are Catholic, Easter means a two week vacation to the beach instead of a new dress, an Easter basket, and a special church service.  No one has ever heard of the Easter Bunny here!  (And they have a Rat instead of a Tooth Fairy!  Imagine growing up with THAT legend crawling under your pillow!)

So when I unpacked my box of holiday memories, I feel the sadness of losing something that I didn’t even know I had.  We make a lot of sacrifices to be where we are and to do what we do, and this one hurts me a lot.  We do our best to replace or replicate the broken holiday joy, but it’s never the same.  We will always be outsiders on those special holidays in our adopted country, and over time, we start to forget about the American holidays that come and go without a Hallmark card reminder.  I guess holidays don’t travel well.

Homemade Creative Kids


While the kids are creating crafts, I am crafting creative kids.

If you come to our house on any given Saturday morning you will find the TV off and the living room vacant.  In the kitchen/dinning room you will hear us rocking out to super stimulating music like Coldplay, Jamie Grace, Toby Mac or sometimes Christmas Carols on an internet radio station if the season is right.  The table will be covered with newspapers.  There might be wads of paper towels tossed on the floor.  We will all still be in our jammies.  My coffee will be cooling in the mug off to the side.  There might be paint under my fingernails or glue in my hair.  It’s a beautiful scene of creative mayhem.

The craft of the day will be spread all around the room.  Sometimes we paint.  Sometimes we cut and glue.  Sometimes we draw. And sometimes we sew.  I try to keep the craft to a level that they can manage with success.  My goal is to help them create something they can be proud of with as little help from me as possible.  Ultimately I want to help them become creative individuals.  While they are making a project for the day, I am making a project for a lifetime.

I really think that children have great creative potential.  It needs to be encouraged.  It needs to be exposed to resources like paint and glue and paper and glitter.  It needs to be stimulated with new ideas.  It needs to be challenged with inspiring surroundings.  Creative potential should be unleashed and set free!… all over the kitchen table.  Then the results need to be praised and admired because that primes the pump for more creativity to flow.  The potential to create something fantastic is in each of us, I believe.  It only takes a little planning and a little tolerance of the messy process for each child to find what they love and what they are good at.  I love that process!!

So if you drop by my house on a Saturday morning, the place will be a bit of a mess.  But we are working on creating a masterpiece- we are making creative people.  And it’s a whole lot of fun!

Making homemade Valentine's cards