Life Overseas: Turning Unwanted Change into an ADVENTURE!

Life Overseas, Expat, Unwanted Change

New beginnings and fresh starts…

  • Can be exciting and fun!
  • Can also be pain-filled and very challenging because an ending has to occur before a fresh start happens.
  • Can be terrifying because they require you to leave what you’ve known and to change.

One of my life’s messages is encouraging others to make choices to leave their comfort zones, reminding them about all of the things they miss out on each time they choose not to take a risk and pointing out all of the growth that happens when they embrace change.

In the fall of 2012, just after sharing this message, my husband was asked to take a new position, across the world, in the only place we said we never wanted to live.

When I got past the shock, got a lot of basic questions answered, and spent quite a bit of time in prayer, I thought of a friend of mine…  

Kelly is a very professional woman with an extraordinary spirit. 

A few months ago she sent me a picture of the new camper her husband just purchased. It is a flatbed trailer with a camper attached to the frame; behind the camper is just enough trailer bed to load and haul their off-road vehicle.

When she told me about it, she said she would have preferred a “toybox” camper that neatly encloses the vehicle it is hauling and now instead she is the proud owner of a “redneck camper!”

Here’s what I love about this story. Once the “redneck camper” was purchased, she had a choice. She could have fussed or hid in embarrassment. Not Kelly!

She quickly turned this unwanted vehicle-hauler into an adventure by purchasing inflatable palm trees and lights.

When she shared a story of their first weekend out with their new recreational vehicle, she laughingly described how all of her husband’s friends got into helping with the decorations when they set up camp!

Each time I imagine their weekend I think of the laughs they had as they decorated and as they enjoyed their “Beverly Hills-Style Patio!”

…Immediately inspired, I wondered if I should buy some inflatable palm trees and lights to decorate our new home!

Mentally we are a month into this journey. Physically it has not yet begun. As I imagine what is around the corner the thoughts run together: We are Christians. We are Americans. We are relocating to a place where we will be the minority. As a woman, I will be automatically restricted from doing things that even my grandmothers took for granted!

At the same time:

  • We’ve wanted to experience what it is like to live in another country.
  • I’ve hoped for the opportunity to live in a place that is as culturally diverse as Sesame Street and living on a compound with people from all over the world must be a lot like that!
  • And whenever racism becomes a topic of conversation, I’ve wondered what it is really like to be a minority, and wondered what I don’t understand, even when I think I’m listening.  In my time outside of the compound I wonder if I will come away with a deeper understanding of that reality.

We have moved several times within the United States and each time there is a predictable pattern our emotions follow:

  • Some feelings of adventure and excitement as we climb into the seat of a “covered wagon” and “go west” together.
  • Some feelings of grief and loss as we say goodbye to family, friends, homes, and buried pets.

We take comfort in the fact that we are not the first people to do this.  At the same time we choose to give ourselves grace because it is our first time to do this!

This time as I take my seat next to the man I love to head east instead of west: We will cling more tightly to our faith, to each other, and to our four-legged, furry baby, carefully packing our precious memories of loved ones to embrace the adventure together.

For the first time, our journey will be reflected in this blog. I expect to laugh, to cry, to examine urban legends, to face fear, to experience things we’ve never imagined and to grow like crazy.

So I’m packing the palm trees and the lights and YOU are invited to join us virtually on a journey of faith that will include the joys, the struggles, and the lessons that come with extreme change.

Click here to view all of the posts in our expat journey.  You can have new posts automatically sent to you by subscribing here.

*Special thanks to Kelly Beyer for sharing her Redneck Camper story and photo and to Kelli McCloud-Schingen for inspiring the Sesame Street analogy!

President, Giana Consulting

Chery Gegelman is an adventurer that loves to learn. ...Deep conversations, books, travel, and daily living are all food for growth.

As a speaker, facilitator and workshop leader she creates energizing environments that reflect God's grace, tear down walls, help people to consider new perspectives, and inspire change.

Chery is the Founder of Giana Consulting and Conversation Safari's, listed as a Great Leadership Speaker by Inc., writes a recognized leadership blog and has co-authored two leadership books.

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24 thoughts on “Life Overseas: Turning Unwanted Change into an ADVENTURE!

  1. Chery – wow! Major life change headed your way! I have no doubt you’ll handle the changes with grace and character…look forward to reading more your adventures.

    • Thanks Jane! I am so thankful that there are others out there that have already done this, and tons of people around me that have figured out how to successfully navigate seasons of change. Wisdom and encouragement will be most welcome!

  2. I think I would prefer the redneck camper myself! I know you will have lots of stories to tell, looking forward to more of them!

  3. It is ALWAYS wonderful when we know that there are others out there who have been there, done that. Don’t hesitate to reach out… I know you will. My daughter is going through much the same, although I’m assuming in a different country – she is in Australia – and is finding her adjustment to be difficult and exciting at the same time. She reaches out across the oceans with FaceTime – and has gathered a strong circle of friends around her from all over the world. I know you will embrace this adventure, and will grow immensely. It’s amazing how the good Lord gives us what we most need, isn’t it?

    I can’t wait to see your posts, and you know my email. I would love to stay in touch.


    • Thank you Georgia! I thought about your daughter as we started down this path! I am craving the stories of those that have done this already – no matter where they are living! Last night I saw the video that is going viral on Facebook with the little puppy trying to learn to go down the steps and the older dog that keeps going up and down the steps and circling the puppy to encourage him and show him how to do it. (It’s a video I know you would love and it is a powerful visual of situational leadership!)

  4. Chery,
    Your positive attitude and willingness to find the good hidden in the story will set you down a path to find abundance in the circumstance. You’ve clearly already begun finding it.

    I know through Mike Henry Sr how much you’ve contributed to Lead Change Tulsa. You’ve helped position them for success. What a blessing!

    We look forward to hearing your stories in your new place.

    By the way, I suspect it’s intentional not to mention to where you are going. If that’s not the case, can you share where the journey is taking you?

    • Thank you Shawn! I can’t take any credit for the positive attitude! God has done a great job of repeatedly confirming that he is in this and surrounding us with people and stories that are inspiring us to take each step!

  5. Chery!

    If anyone was the courage to emerge – it’s YOU! The good news for us? We get to live your amazing new journey through you and have an incredible opportunity to support you, laugh with you, and wonder right along with you at how different the world is.

    I have no doubt you will make fast friends and when your time there will come to an end, there will be sadness and joy at having been a part of it.

    I will follow you!

    Yours in growth… always…


  6. Hi Chery. I am so touched at how you’ve described your journey so far and your upcoming adventure/ challenge. So introspective and thoughtful. You inspire me with your courage. I look so forward to hearing more from you on this.

    My Best,

  7. This sounds so exciting…. and really scary at the same time. I am very curious as to where you are going, and what is taking you there. I am also now a little nervous of the blog karma thing. Perhaps by writing about things we are inviting them in 😉

    • Hi Karin!

      Yes it is both exciting and scary!! Your comment about blog karma made me think about something a friend shared years ago, “You teach what you need to learn.” Perhaps God puts things on our hearts to write about, so that when we are faced with tough challenges the truth in our own words will help us walk into the things that we fear?!?!

      This quote from the book The Dream Giver also danced through my head as I read your comment this morning, “The single best way to develop leaders is to take people out of their safe environments, and away from the people they know, and throw them into a new arena they know little about. Way over their head, preferably. In fact the more demanding their challenges, the more pressure and risk they face, the more likely a dynamic leader will emerge.”

      Have a great weekend Karin!

  8. Cheri, even though it has been many years since I have seen you and Jim it feels like it was last week. There have been so many times when you have been thought about. Your life is about to change quite dramatically. Mine certainly has as well, at least in my little corner of the world. May you continue to be inspired and blessed. Peace to you and Jim. Mike

    • Great to hear from you Mike! Thank you for the positive wishes. We are excited about our adventure. …And at the same time very aware that every change in life requires mental and emotional shifts. …Praying for wisdom and grace. …And wishing you the same!