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Coming to Terms
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Three years ago, when we moved to Japan with the U.S. Navy, we had a fairly simple plan for our time on Okinawa. It went something like this...

During our time in Japan, we will:

1. Become fluent in Japanese. (Duh! I'll be there THREE years—it's a TOTAL given!)
2. Travel a lot. (We will limit our first year travel to neighboring islands, second year to mainland Japan destinations, and third year to other possibilities like Australia!)

So how'd that go??

My Japanese is pitiful. I can speak well enough to tell Jake's teachers he won't be at school on Wednesday—but that's about it. I took some lessons from a wonderful Japanese woman, but I never studied. And living on base, it just wasn't as necessary for me to get out there and really learn.

And travel? Nope. We never went to the mainland of Japan or any other country. We went twice to some of the outer islands and we did spend some weekends away—but those were all to go camping at the beach.

Three years later, I'm feeling a lot of regrets for all the things we haven't done while stationed here. But there are two big reasons we did not fulfill our plans.

During our time in Japan, we:

1. Had two babies.
2. Decided to get out of debt.

The babies thing means I was slowed down a bit and that I have a zoo in my house that possibly keeps me from more Japanese classes or scuba diving. But the debt thing is what has really kept our life more... simple. We first heard Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University CDs about 18 months ago, and then took the full course a year ago. We now have a solid, monthly, cash-based budget. We've paid off three credit cards and one of Brent's college loans. We have made plans to have no car payments when we go back to the States and hope to qualify to buy a house this spring.

The last three years have not been what I had planned or expected. But there were unexpected joys and experiences along the way.

I’m reminded of the way Joseph’s life turned out. At the start, it seemed like a pretty charmed life. The favorite son, a glorious future. Then he’s thrown in a pit. And the following years are a roller coaster ride of life. An unexpected life. One that glorified God at every turn. (Genesis 37-41).

And I guess that is what matters the most. Not that I didn’t get to see the ice festival in Sapporo or that I’m unable to carry on a conversation with a local Okinawan. What matters most is that through the twists and turns of our everyday life, we continue to give glory to the One who makes the rough places plain and the crooked paths straight (Isaiah 40:4).

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By Joelle Yamada. Copyright © 2010 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW LIVING TRANSLATION
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