Long Distance Relationships

“Distance makes the heart grow fonder.” Over the past couple of years I have discovered just how true this quote is. Growing up I didn’t have much experience with long distance relationships; my family was always right next to me and my closest friends all lived in the same state, if not in the same city. Going to college twelve hours away from home gave me my first taste of long-distance relationships as I tried to keep in touch with my family and friends back in Mississippi, but the summer after my freshman year of college I began to discover what a long distance relationship really meant.

Sam and I started dating at the beginning of the spring semester during my freshman year and his senior year at Florida College. That summer I went home to Mississippi and he went to complete a preaching internship at a congregation in Ohio, which put us twelve hours apart. It was difficult at first, but we began talking on the phone every night, sending letters weekly, emailing periodically, and texting daily. The few times we got to see each other that summer were so special and we really tried to take full advantage of the time we had together.

Nine days after we were engaged Sam got on a plane and flew across and ocean, over five thousand miles away to Romania. We did not think we would see each other again for nine months, until right before our wedding. It made it a little easier to know that we would not have to be apart again once we saw each other again, but such a lengthy long distance relationship was still extremely hard.

I think the most important aspect of a long distance relationship is intentional communication. During our nine-month separation (minus two weeks we surprisingly got to spend together over my winter break) we created schedules for talking and studying various subjects together. We sent long emails each week and texts throughout the day. Some days we didn’t really want to talk to each other (rarely!), but we never regretted it when we did. I think it was thanks to the volume and variety of our communication throughout our engagement that made it so easy to see each other for the first time, and then get married four days later.

Reunited four days before our wedding!

Now some mornings I’ll wake up and tell Sam I’m so glad I can just roll over and tell him “good morning” instead of texting him. I’m so glad we don’t have to schedule our conversations over a seven-hour time difference, and now we can pretty much talk any time we want to.

When my long distance relationship with Sam finally ended, many more began. I moved across the ocean and over five thousand miles away with him to Romania, which now separates me from my family and many dear friends. I have relearned that intentional communication is again what makes the difference in these relationships. I have schedules to talk to different family members and friends throughout the week, as well as emails, texts, and letters.

Long distance relationships are hard. Sometimes they can get easier if you put forth the effort, but they are never easy. However, I think they can be very beneficial. Constant and intentional communication eases the hardship, and when you are finally reunited it is so worth it. I read a quote somewhere that spoke of the benefits of a long distance relationship, that being long distance makes you love a person even more. When you don’t get to be together you come to love their voice, the meaning behind their texts, or pictures of them doing every day life.

We are still so happy!

Whether or not you are in a physical long distance relationship, I think we are all in a long distance relationship our whole lives with God. Constant and intentional communication will help us get closer to Him, and when we are reunited it will be so joyful and so worth it!

Are you in a long distance relationship? What makes it easier?

Our Trip to Israel

Shalom!

Last week Sam and I took a four day trip to Israel with his parents and it was an amazing experience! The days were packed and we slept very well every night because we were worn out, but it was all wonderful and worth it.

We set our alarms for 3:00 am Monday morning so we could get to the airport for our early flight. Our plan was for Sam to drive our car to pick up his parents at their apartment, then head to the airport together. We flew out of the Craiova airport, which is about 12 minutes away from our apartment and it was such a luxury!

Right from the beginning this trip was an adventure. One of the back tires of the Tico locked up and Sam ended up having to remove the tire and do something to fix it. I know absolutely nothing about cars, so I am very thankful for a car-expert husband! Sam put the tire back on the car and we still made it to the airport in time. We were just in time to learn that our flight had a four hour delay. Thankfully, since we live so close to the airport we were able to go back and get a little more sleep before trying again. The second time we were successful and we landed in Tel Aviv at 12:30 pm.

Mom planned a lot (at least a lot more than Sam and I did) for this trip beforehand and we were so thankful for all her ideas and insight! She signed us up for a fascinating tour of the Western Wall for our first night. We got to see layers of history walking under the wall, including a massive stone from Herod’s Temple! Our tour guide was exceptional and I think we all learned a lot and really enjoyed this tour.

Day Two

We went to the Temple Mount first thing Tuesday morning so we could walk around before it closed. When we first walked in a man gave me and Mom skirts and shirts to put over our clothes so our arms, ankles, and heads would be completely covered and we would not offend the Muslims on their site. The men were okay, but we did see a few men around us wearing skirts because they were wearing shorts.

That afternoon we went to the Israel Museum where we did an audio tour. We got to see various interesting artifacts and learn fascinating facts about different subjects, from the Qumran community to the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Isaiah A scroll, and much more.

We were also able to explore the 1/50 model of first-century Jerusalem, which was also a neat learning experience.

Day Three

Thanks to having a rental car, we were able to spend our third day in Galilee. When we arrived in the morning we visited the Church of the Annunciation, which is where it is believed that Gabriel came to Mary, telling her of the birth of Jesus. Whether or not that is true, it was a neat experience to visit the church and see the historical site.

This is another historical site we were able to visit in Capernaum. The church behind us is built over a first-century house that is thought to have belonged to Peter the apostle. Surrounding the church were the ruins of a village that we got to walk around and explore.

We also got to see the Sea of Galilee! It was beautiful.

We had to try some authentic Israeli falafel one day and it was amazing.

Behind us is an olive press that we saw on a tour of a Nazareth village. We did not really plan on seeing the village or taking the tour, but it just all worked out and we were so thankful. We loved learning about first century life and seeing so many relics and replicas that help make Bible stories come more to life.

On our way back we stopped at the Jordan River. This was an especially wide and clear spot, and we just parked the car nearby and walked down.

On the drive back we saw people giving camel rides in a parking lot. I don’t remember why, but recently I was telling Sam the things that are on my bucket list and one of them was to ride a camel! When we saw them he asked me if I wanted a ride. I did if he would with me! The camel was named Pistachio and she was so huge and gentle! It was a lot of fun.

When we got back to Jerusalem we went up to the Mount of Olives to try to get some pictures and see the view before the sun set.

Day Four

On our last day we drove south to Masada. Somehow I don’t have any pictures, but we hiked all the way up to the top and walked around all the ruins. I did not know much about Masada at all before this trip, so I enjoyed learning as we went through, and as Dad explained a lot of it.

We also got to float in the Dead Sea! I had no idea what it would be like, and it was the strangest sensation. After we dried off we were all crusted with salt. After hiking up the dusty mountain and being covered in salt it felt so good to get a shower that night!

It was a short trip, but it was packed to the brim and I know I learned a lot. We are so thankful for all the experiences and memories we have from this trip!

 

 

“You are Amazing!”

“You are amazing!”

I always cringe a little when people tell me this. My impulse is just to deny it or laugh it off, because I don’t think I am exceptional, and I don’t want it to feed my pride.

Yet C.S. Lewis aptly defines humility as “not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” Instead of brushing off compliments whenever I get the chance, thinking less of myself, I need to think of myself less and give all the compliments to God.

I am not the perfect person to be a missionary in Romania. I do not feel like I am a special person who has been called and is cut out to be a preacher’s wife or a missionary in a foreign country.

Growing up I was very much a homebody. I was the girl who left camp early, or at least cried because I wanted to be home with my family. I said I was never going to college. I said I was never getting married. I planned to live right at home in Mississippi forever.

During the first month of college at Florida College, twelve hours away from my home and family, I called Mama, sobbing and begging her to let me come home.

“You can do anything for one semester,” she told me, “just keep trying, and if you still want to come home you don’t have to go back next semester.”

If someone had told me then that in a year I would be engaged, and a year after that I would be living in Romania, I would have thought they were crazy. Getting married and moving to another country was not in my life plans.

But God’s plans are so much better.

I left home at age 18, got married at age 19, and a few days after turning 20 I moved across the world with my new husband to a drastically different life from what I had ever known. I had no idea what I was doing. I felt like I was still a child, trying to navigate my new life as a competent adult. I cried nearly every day and profusely apologized to Sam for not being a perfect missionary’s wife who had her life together.

But it was okay. Nobody is perfect, and I will never be perfect. I am learning more and more every day, and it is getting a lot easier, but I hope I never reach a point where I think I have it all figured out. These past eight months in Romania have taught me so much about fully relying on God and not putting any trust in my own accomplishments or abilities. Only He is perfect, and only He can help me navigate this life.

I do not think I am cut out for this life, but I do think I have been incredibly blessed with the opportunities God has placed in my life and the countless lessons He is constantly teaching me.

I am not amazing. God is amazing.

C.S. Lewis