Grandma Personified in Cambodia

Earlier this week I spent a rainy afternoon reading a fantastic blog by a fellow globe-trotting traveler,

The post took me down memory lane, and after popping through a few more country links I saw his bucket list of the most amazing  places he hoped to visit in the future.   gem

Whoa, I actually visited a few countries mentioned, and Jem…they are truly, truly, truly outrageous!  He asked for reader suggestions, and I hoped to offer some place special where he could make memories of a lifetime.  My travels have taken me many, many places, across five different continents.  I finally settled on…Cambodia.

The Silver Pagoda, Phnom Penh

What!  Wait, why?  Here’s the background:

My grandmother, God rest her soul, was known to be generous to a fault.  Not the here’s a buck until you get on your feet generous.  She was the real deal growing up people!  The stay at my house, let me feed you dear, accompany you to the doctor and pray with you until things get better type of generous woman.  Growing up there were people constantly staying with us “for a while,” and it didn’t seem odd at all that they came and went until I married and started my own family.

As a young wife and mom I changed, and became laser focused on my immediate household.  If it didn’t concern the individuals within the four walls of my home I didn’t look twice, but during one family visit I noticed my Grandma was sick and it terrified me.   She was dying, and I selfishly was not ready.  When what I later describe as a complacency fog slowly began to lift off my life, I started praying for her and noticed she was also praying for me!  My memories of Grandma were always of her serving others, praying for them and praying for me.  She would sing soft, sweet songs of praise and worship while cooking and cleaning, and talk to me about being humble and thankful for God’s blessings.  As I grieved her passing, I became closer to God by asking for forgiveness for living such a closed and selfish life.  One day during housework, I began to sing songs of praise, smiled and thought, Grandma’s here!

Shortly afterwards my travel for work increased, and I hoped for opportunities to make a difference in someone’s life.  During my travel throughout SE Asia, God answered every one of my prayers, and I returned home fundamentally changed.

Palace grounds in Phnom Penh

Before arriving in Cambodia I knew its basic history, involvement in the Vietnam War and the genocide that claimed up to a quarter of its population.  Nothing prepared me for the realization of actually visiting and working with men and women one generation removed from those events and elbow deep into rebuilding an entire government to modern day standards.  From the humbleness of the medical students I worked with, to the gentleness and shyness of the children playing in what we would sadly describe as garbage dumps, I felt calm even in the midst of the many apologies everyone gave ME for arriving during the wet, rainy season.  As if I controlled the weather!

Worksite in Sihanoukville

Experiencing life through another’s eyes, and seeing how other cultures, faiths and norms exist just saturated the already deep and abiding love I have for my Grandma.  I come from a long line of amazing women, and through faith and God’s grace can pass on the legacy of generosity to my children.  My Grandma taught me with her life to pray, love and give. Cambodia opened my eyes to the reality of what man is capable of: heartache and resilience,  beauty and redemption.  Hopefully that makes it worthy of the Bucket List.

Visitor at the worksite

My prayer is that each of you has the opportunity to visit that special place, your Cambodia, where life shocks your socks and you’re forever changed.  You are valuable, so special, and created for a purpose.  You were created to live The Exceptional Life.



11 thoughts on “Grandma Personified in Cambodia

  1. Pingback: Grandma Personified in Cambodia | Moving On & Up

  2. I love your post Crystal, first because of the relationship you had with your grandma and the life that she lived (which is the kind of the person i’m aspiring to be). Her eternal kindness is moving, especially in our world of today where we are only concerned with our selfish wants and ideologies.
    Secondly, you have shown me that we can all be extraordinary and help one another, through the way we live our lives
    Thirdly I admire the fact that you have traveled far and wide, i have never had the opportunity to travel but this is something i have always hoped I would do, your post has inspired me to create a bucket list of places i want to visit.

    You are inspiring, thank you


    1. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment! I’m so glad you enjoyed my trip down memory lane. If the opportunity ever presents itself to take a trip somewhere, grab it! Don’t forget to capture your memories once you get there with photos and/or journaling.


  3. Bianca

    You sound so passionate in this post, and I love passion (double positive? Hm… YES).
    I have many friends that travel every chance they get, and many have been on abroad mission trips to places like Cambodia. They say that the experience is amazing – to completely immerse yourself in another culture for nothing more and nothing less than to serve them. It’s a beautiful concept, and I hope I get to experience it one day!
    Love your pictures! I wish they were embedded within the post, not just at the end!
    I’ll leave a comment on The Commons in case you don’t know how to do that 😉


    1. Thank you Bianca for your wonderful and helpful comments. Yes, I’m finding that changing to a mindset of intentional living, one with enthusiasm and generosity has morphed me into a freer, happier, more passionate version of me! Who knew?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Bianca

        Yes! I find that on days when I think positively and act accordingly, I have much brighter days!
        You’re so welcome, and I wish you the best of luck in your blogging journey! Looking forward to more reads 🙂


  4. Vibrant

    What a lovely post this is!

    Your grandma was an amazingly inspiring woman and reading about her brought tears to my eyes 🙂

    Lovely pictures and a great tale of transforation. I am so happy for you.
    Thanks for sharing this with us. I wish you very best in your blogging and life journey!

    Have a great weekend 🙂

    Love and light ❤

    Anand 🙂


    1. Thank you Anand for your great comments and well wishes. So happy to share memories of my lovely Gran, and wonderful memories of my travel. Perhaps when we travel the change to our routines make us more open to reflection and experiences. What do you think?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Vibrant

        I agree. Many things change which can make for a transformative experience for some people. Have you heard about Che Guera’s transformation? Motorcycle Diaries is a film based on his diaries and an account of his early transforamation 🙂


  5. Pingback: The Dailey Dose – Adoption | The Exceptional Life

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