red and yellow sunrises

In college, on a particularly good day, perhaps consisting of late night Blue Bell ice cream parties or striking red and yellow early sunrises (*easily pleased*), my roommates and I would say to each other “you just can’t make this stuff up.” Our thoughts: either God is real or life is a hilariously random sequence of serendipitous magic.

I notice the serendipity quite a lot living in Kenya. Not because being a missionary boosts me 200% holier than thou or because every day is one big safari. Quite the contrary. Most days are really normal. I wake up, blink the sleep out of my eyes while trying to read the Bible, struggle to have patience and diligence in my work, longingly wish I could stop by Central Market for a crunchy salad with a million topping options laid out in orderly squares (with clean lettuce, giardia free!!).

And nevertheless, a lot of days feel like days you just can’t make up. Because God’s good mercies are new and surprising and mysterious and serendipitous every day. He’s been most recently extending his mercy to me in The In-Between.

I’ve been craving familiarity. Homesick. 6 months sans driving my Toyota, drinking a glass of wine or shopping at Target, you’re thinking – duh! Contrary to what most 21 year olds might say, it IS possible to do without these commodities ; ). What I’ve been craving is real familiarity – the kind described as family, dear friends, wherever your heart finds home.

This to say, I’m genuinely thrilled about returning to the land of Chick-fil-A and clean water in a few days.

But I’ve wondered: will touching American soil settle my deep longing and craving for familiar? For home? For comfort and peace?

I feel a tug of tension in my head, in my heart.

The In-Between. I bounce back and forth like a flighty teenager.

Kenya is AMAZING! I could stay for years!

I miss Austin and the upbeat life I led.

Love / Hate relationship with my long skirts.

Today was the best day ever – so thankful I moved here!!!!!

It’s annoyingly impossible to find berries or spinach.

I won’t be there for that wedding, this new baby, those every day celebrations.

I adore the Kenyan people; beautiful, kind, generous, slow-paced. 

My heart breaks because I’m absent for the Thompson girls’ toddler years.

I can’t WAIT to be home for Christmas. I’m missing the little moments of my family’s lives.

But I want to experience the magic of holidays with the Tenwek community!

God is stretching, growing and refining me in new ways living in rural Kenya.

Should I be living the young twenty-something life in a fun city?

Serendipity. Sorrow. And tucked away in all of it, familiarity still tugging at my heart.

Even the Kenyan Highlands weather sings to the daily chorus of push and pull – I wake up to sunshine and chirpy birds and the afternoon inevitably brings rain showers.

We live in The In-Between. As followers of an Everlasting God, this is where we are supposed to be, right? The dichotomy of already, but not yet. The sorrow is inevitable; it has been since Eve took a bite of the apple. And I think the serendipity is God’s good mercy giving us nuggets of what His eternal Kingdom will be like. In the in-between, we have glimpses of the haunting and mystery and wonder of the familiarity we long for and will one day know fully in the presence of Christ.

Complete Redemption. Fullness of Life. Everyday will be a day you LITERALLY can’t make up. (!!!)

In the season of Advent, I’m learning to appreciate the tension. The waiting. We wrestle with the nagging sense of longing, we struggle with the pain and disappointment of the world


with GREAT hope and GREAT excitement, we look forward, we look ahead in anticipation to when Christ will return. 

Come Lord Jesus Come! He brings good tidings of great joy.

And in the meantime? You just seriously can’t make this stuff up…

my mother, in the center, wearing a rosy pink skirt, 17 years ago in Kenya
me, front and center, wearing the same rosy pink skirt in Kenya, 17 years later!!
jacob and jill came to tenwek when jacob was a medical student in 2002. my family met theirs when we lived here at the same time. 17 years later, I recognized him when he served at Tenwek a few weeks ago.
me, caroline, and the Bii twins, playing together at Tenwek, 17 years ago.
me and the Bii twins in September.
Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace. (Luke 1:78-79)

8 thoughts on “red and yellow sunrises

  1. Love this and you!! Hope I get to see you while you are home😜


  2. So beautifully expressed, Janie! Thank you for sharing your journey. Looking forward to seeing you over the holidays! I love you, Mash


  3. I cannot wait to see you. This post is just about as beautiful as you are. Love you Janie!


  4. Beautiful! You certainly tugged at my heartstrings! I hope to see you when you’re home. Love you lots!


  5. Beautiful description of our “in between lives” while we wait His return! God bless your wonderful service!


  6. What will you order at Chick-fil-A?


    1. Smart money is on ice cream


  7. Excellent newsletter as always. You have a great gift for writing and it keeps the reader interested to continue reading to the end. Add more of these stories in small bits to the FOT Facebook page with a photo, people will really like that. Do you add visitors to your blog? I think they would like that too. See you at 10am for town trip and if we get done in time we could do Fairhills but I have to be back by 12:30 for lunch crowd



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