Who will you be?

Gina Butz faith, transition 1 Comment

will you put your hope in the Lord?

Prior to moving back to America, I read the story of Moses sending the spies ahead into Canaan.

All but two of them came back with a report that, although the land was flowing with milk and honey, the people there were strong and the cities fortified and large. These latter things were unappealing to them.

But then Caleb stepped up and said, basically, “We can do this.”

Joshua seconded that with, “If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us . . . the Lord is with us.”

I read this story around the time when our son seemed to be struggling the most with our future life in America. He’s a realist, like me (it sounds so much better than pessimist), and he was seeing the difficulties of transitioning to new friends, new places.

So I shared that story with him because when I read it, I felt clearly that God was saying, “Who will you be like Gina?

“Will you look ahead and only see the obstacles, or will you look ahead with faith and hope because you believe that I am leading you to this place?”

It’s hard to go into an unknown place after one you’ve loved so well. But this morning as I sat on the deck, warm sun on my face, I was encouraged by recalling this story. I’m not saying Orlando is the promised land 🙂 but it is the place to which He is leading us, and we will trust in His goodness as we anticipate life there.


If They Only Knew

Gina Butz transition 3 Comments

This morning I was just another runner in a race on a typical Minnesota fall day.

I was just another mom watching her kid play soccer.

In both, I felt a little like the secret weirdo.

I mean I was the only person who didn’t blink an eye when I saw that the three stalls in the women’s bathroom didn’t have doors. I was probably the only one who was breathing a lot easier during that 5K, or noticed that people were cheering in English.

During the game, I have to say I was pretty proud of Megan, who despite her only experience in soccer being bi-lingual coaching from a Swiss German with dredlocks alongside a gang of Chinese boys, seems to be one of the most skilled on her team. If not, then at least the fiercest and most determined. I didn’t feel like explaining all that to any of the other moms.

Let them all think this is as normal for me as it is for them. They don’t need to know how many times I’ve used bathrooms in the full presence of strangers, how I’m used to people staring at me like I’m insane when I run. They don’t know that we’ve never seen this many American kids playing soccer in the same place before, or that Megan’s not used to her teammates calling her name.

If they only knew.

Tap water and other novelties

Gina Butz Uncategorized 0 Comments

America is novel to me right now.

This morning I watched a line of 5 cars creeping along behind a truck on a quiet road. The road was wide enough for three cars, and I thought, “In China, all of those cars would have gone around him, even if there had been oncoming traffic.”

Last night I threw a melatonin pill in my mouth and immediately realized it was not the kind you suck. Ack! Ack! What to do? And then I realized – I can drink this tap water. I have to say it wasn’t the best tasting water seeing as it was in the bathroom, but people, it was tap water. I walked around feeling weird about that for a little while.

Did you know that they make peanut butter Cheerios? And vanilla nut? Or something like that. I feel a little badly for regular Cheerios, like they aren’t good enough.

They have Crystal Light single packets that come in mixed drink flavors now like margarita, because nothing says, “Soccer mom who’d rather be at happy hour” like fake alcohol in your water bottle.

The grapes are big but there are no seeds, and the skins don’t feel like something you need to cut through with a knife!

America really knows how to do paper products. I feel like I’m wiping my nose with a blanket.

The internet is crazy fast here!

Yeah, I’m enjoying it all.

Ready, set, go

Gina Butz transition 0 Comments

I really didn’t want to run this morning.

Usually, the night before, I am looking forward to a run. I envision myself running farther and faster, people staring in awe as I fly by (actually that last part would never happen, but that’s ok). Come morning, I am a little less enthusiastic.

This time, I wasn’t even excited last night, so I didn’t have a great deal of hope for the morning. It was only the fact that I am running a 5K on Saturday and don’t want to fail miserably that I forced myself out the door.

To my surprise, it was a good run. It helps to have a gorgeous route and cool temps. At the turnaround point I was tempted to go further, but decided not to push it. Good thing too because I always forget how long and steep is the final quarter mile back to the house.

Why am I telling you all this? Well because it perfectly illustrates how I am feeling today about homeschool. In all the craziness of packing to leave 13 years of life behind, this “having to teach to the kids” thing kind of snuck up on me.

I really don’t want to homeschool this morning.

Yesterday I was a madhouse of planning, preparing, and buying last minute materials. I am hoping to ease into it this week but with the amount that we are going to be disturbed in our schedule this year I know we can’t afford to not dive in head first next week. I don’t want to say goodbye to all my free time and hello to being a teacher again, but we can’t have feral, uneducated young’uns running around.

But who knows? It could be good. It has been before. Yes, it’s tough, and there are steep hills to climb, but I think we’ll get into a groove soon enough.

So here we are. Ready, set, go.

Project 365 August

Gina Butz Uncategorized 0 Comments

Here is our last month in China, in pictures. I missed a few because of all the moving craziness, but I caught a lot of our last moments. 

Cool gate along a country road

Guyaju cave dwellings

Longqing Gorge

Fruit vendor

relief on a hot day

Taking a bath

Scout Court of Honor

Hutong door

Old hutong

Ancient woman in the hutong


This is MY toy

To do list


Garage sale

Our door

mowing the grass with a weed wacker

Someone’s collecting branches

A game of cards

Reading the news



Waiting to be taken

A last bag of my favorite snack

Where the white boards were

This is how boys say goodbye

Scout looking forlorn as she heads across the ocean

Nope, I didn’t take this but it was worthy of inclusion

Last photos with friends

When Does It Feel Real?

Gina Butz transition 2 Comments


I live in America. I live in America. I live in America.

No matter how many times I think it, it doesn’t feel true. Granted, I’ve been on American soil just over 24 hours, but it doesn’t feel even remotely true. When will it?

I have moments when I realize that it is true, but mostly I have to remind myself. Like when I feel this need to buy everything we need in a mad rush like we usually do when we’re back for a visit. When I sign up for cell phone service, and not just the one month kind. When I see a clip on the Today Show about China and have to tell myself, “You don’t live there anymore.”

I suppose it will become more real when I pick out paint colors for our house. Certainly it will be more real when we move our furniture in there right? When we change our permanent address, when we buy plants for our yard, when we get a year long membership at the Y, when we hunt for a church, when we get Florida driver’s licenses.

Then will it be real?

What We Won’t Miss

Gina Butz Uncategorized 0 Comments

There were things we loved about being in China and things we didn’t love. I guess I had this feeling that as we left we would be clinging to all those things we loved (and we did – our friends being the primary thing) and forgetting all the difficult things. But then, right as we left, China decided to throw in a few doozies just to make us a little more willing to go. I’m not sure who to thank.

The first thing happened as we were leaving our house. We had just started off but had to run back because Erik had forgotten something. We double parked right at the mouth of where two roads converged, with the car running. After a few minutes we heard the unmistakeable crunch of metal against metal, and realized that a woman had tried to pass us on the left and scraped our front bumper.

She fared worse than us

She tried to insist that it was our fault that we were parked there, but I pointed out what seemed to be the obvious fact that I was IN the running car and she could have just asked me to move. Not ready to give up face, she insisted that we call the police and have them decide. Eventually we were able to convince her that the police didn’t need to get involved and that we could deal with it all ourselves. Ethan crying and my anxious, “We really need to leave” face might have helped matters speed along.

So we sped along directly into a traffic jam. Not just any traffic jam, mind you, but my favorite, favorite kind, caused by someone doing something illegal without considering the ramifications for other drivers. In this case, it was the classic, “I don’t want to wait in this long line. I’ll just go into opposing traffic and drive to the front” move, only he managed to front end a bus which was rear ended by a van which was rear ended by another bus. And then to make it even harder to navigate the police car who came chose to park in one of the two lanes on our side of the road. This meant that people turning left onto our road had to try to drive down the one lane that we could use. Brilliant.

The van that caused it all. Notice that he is on the other side of the double yellow lines and the silver car is on OUR side of the road

Finally, the police car realized his position and moved, and we were able to grab onto a little bit more time with those friends we love and will miss dearly. The other things, yeah not so much.

Vulnerability on Display

Gina Butz courage 0 Comments

How vulnerable are you?

One of the greatest lessons God began teaching me years ago and I’m sure will continue until I die is the power of vulnerability.

Not just transparency – I think many of us are good at that – but vulnerability. A friend once explained the difference as this, “Transparency is putting all your junk in a window display for others to see. Vulnerability is letting others go into the storeroom and pull things out to be on display.”

It’s a whole lot more frightening when you don’t have control over what is shown.

Brené Brown puts it this way (see full article here):

“Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional. Our only choice is a question of engagement. Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection.

“The only choice we really have is how we’re going to respond to feeling vulnerable. And contrary to popular belief, our shields don’t protect us. They simply keep us from being seen, heard, and known.

“If there’s anything I’ve learned over the past decade and experienced firsthand over the last year, it’s this: Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose. 

“Even if letting ourselves be seen and opening ourselves up to judgment or disappointment feels terrifying, the alternatives are worse: Choosing to feel nothing — numbing. Choosing to perfect, perform, and please our way out of vulnerability. Choosing rage, cruelty, or criticism. Choosing shame and blame. Like most of you reading this, I have some experience with all of these alternatives, and they all lead to same thing: disengagement and disconnection.

“One of my favorite quotes is from theologian Howard Thurman. He writes, “Don’t ask what the world needs; ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.” Vulnerability is not easy, but it’s the surest sign that we’ve come alive” -BrenĂ© Brown

How vulnerable are you willing to be?


never miss a post