Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

MA TESOL (part 2)

I started the MA TESOL program at Payap University in the fall of 2015.  My first semester is competed and I am gearing up to begin the second semester of classes.

Going from teaching and hanging out with Thai people all day to being a full time student in an international program where I speak English all day was a hard transition for me.  The amount of homework was more than I expected and my normal, social personality was traded in for a focused, much more introverted version of myself.  But, I handled the transition and finished the first semester with a 4.0.  (Yes, I’m bragging.)

The semester wasn’t without its bumps and chaos and the school work sucked out most of my time and energy (thus the lack of blogs…) but now, after a full month off, I am refreshed and excited to start the second semester.

God, being the Good Daddy that he is–knew that in order for me survive the intensity of the semester, I would need to be surrounded by a memorable cast of characters to go through it with.  I mean, it wouldn’t be my life if it didn’t somehow resemble a sitcom…

There are 13 people in my program, representing eight countries, and in honor of the new semester, I want to introduce you to a few of my favorite characters (using the nicknames I gave them the first week of class before I knew their real names…).


 1. Holy Spirit Woman

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Holy Spirit Woman is the classmate that I respect the most.  She is from Burma, married an American, has two young children, is the head of a ministry that works with Burmese refugees, this is her second Masters Degree AND she somehow is able to balance all the demands of her life as well as get (most) of her assignments turned in on time.

She’s amazing and inspiring.

2. GQ Man

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As his nickname suggests, this young man is quite the looker.  As a young, single woman, the first week of class, I took an inventory of my male classmates.  GQ Man cannot go unnoticed.  Unfortunately (or fortunately?), my personality is not attracted to the overly beautiful and so GQ Man’s perfectly quaffed hair did not distract me long.  Though I can not deny that he is very “easy on the eyes”. 🙂

3. Magic Man

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Ha!  Where do I even begin.

Magic Man is from Iran and has some of the biggest arm muscles I have ever seen in my life.  These massive muscles of his are well complimented with his incredibly insecure man personality… mix these two features together and you get quite the combination.

Magic Man is on the prowl.  He’s looking for love. He’s very interested in Thai women, however, can not speak Thai.  Over the course of the semester I was commissioned to interview potential dates, set up rendezvous times and was even asked to accompany him on a date as a translator (which I had to turn down–much to my disappointment).

Oh!  AND Magic Man is a magician whose card tricks blew me away class after class.

4. Laser Eyes

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Unfortunately, this classmate got his nickname due to the fact that every time he opened his mouth, the entire class glared at him with laser eyes of death.  So… you can pray for me with this one.

5. Ellen Degeneres

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Ellen is effortlessly cool.  She and her husband moved to Thailand and have built for themselves a personal retreat center at which she throws extravagant parties and invites any and everyone she knows.

At one such party, I noticed she had a wall full of ceramic Dutch row houses–as neither her, nor her husband originate form Holland, I was confused and asked for the story behind them.  She responded with, “They are the free gift we receive whenever we fly KLM Business Class.”  There were over 50 houses…

6. The Brit and 7. The Romanian

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 2.55.31 PMThis dating duo are the only other Westerns in the program.  The Brit never (ever) shows up to class and the Romanian never sleeps before coming to class.  These two are the “cool cats” of the program with their outspoken personalities and aloof attitudes.


There are a couple other people in the program, but these are the ones that I come home with stories about most often.

As the second semester is quickly approaching, my goal is to better balance my school work with other aspects of my life–which includes this blog.  Sooooooo, hopefully I will do a better job bringing you all into the sitcom that I call my Masters Program.

 

 

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Lessons of the Loofah

for Norma

***

In 2011, after returning from the World Race, I needed some…um, special attention?

That 11 month trip around the world altered things inside of me that I did not expect to have altered; parts of my personality were chiseled into a new version of myself and ways that I responded to situations was no longer the same.  A lot of good things came out of that whirlwind experience.  I learned the importance of using my voice, I learned some of the qualities of a good leader and I met some of my most dear friends.

I also came home from this experience incredibly depressed.

Depression, while not at all a friend, became a constant companion in my life. Beginning the last couple months of the World Race my new companion taught me how to withdrawal from relationships and shut off my emotions.

Being welcomed home by all my friends and family wasn’t an easy task.  I knew that they had missed me and I had missed them too, but with my new companion I wasn’t exactly very engaging.  No one was expecting me to bring this companion home and I wanted to avoid their questions, so for the first couple months of living in America I pretended that I came home alone.

Oddly, while I was going through the motions of christian life in America, I was also walking through the process of becoming a church planter to Thailand. Through the early stages of this process, the church leadership thought it important for me to get some help sorting through what was going on inside of me.

That’s when I met Norma.  I can remember our first meeting so vividly.  I was scared, cold and walled off; she was bright, open, full of love, light and warmth.  I felt safe.  I didn’t know Norma–had only seen her at church and heard her name, but something about her set me at ease.  I knew that with her I did not need to pretend.

So I didn’t.

I was honest about my companion and remember distinctly telling her that I don’t believe in the ‘light at the end of the tunnel.’

Somehow, the things I said to her didn’t scare her away.  She wasn’t scared of my companion, of my pain, of my mess.  Instead she loved me, listened to me and taught me.

I left America, still holding onto the fingertips of my trusty companion, but have since been able to let go completely and through a lot of grace and relearning how to trust my Papa, have been freed completely from it’s influence.

***

***

During one of our first meetings at the Tea Smith, Norma asked me what was one of the hardest things for me during the World Race.

Simple enough question…I can still write a pretty substantial list without thinking too hard, but that day, for whatever reason, I told Norma that the hardest thing for me was the incredible difficulty in finding loofahs.

In case you don’t know:

loo·fah:
ˈlo͞ofə
noun
 
  1. a coarse, fibrous cylindrical object used like a bath sponge for washing. It consists of the dried fibrous matter of the fluid-transport system of a marrowlike fruit.
  2. the tropical Old World climbing plant of the gourd family that produces these fruits, which are also edible.
 
 
Norma tucked that answer of mine–sarcastic as it may have been–and kept it in her heart, never making mention of it again.
 
 On the day of my departure from America to Amsterdam and then to Thailand Norma gave me a tearful hug and a gift bag that said not to open until my birthday, which was about four days away.  I hugged her and thanked her and boarded my plane.
 
I celebrated my birthday in Amsterdam with two good friends and there opened my gift from Norma.
 
It was a loofah.
 
My friends thought this a strange gift, but I didn’t, Norma was making sure that I would have what it was that I had lacked before.  Upon my explanation one of my friends gave me four more loofahs to take to Thailand, just in case.
 
A couple days later, when I settling into my new bedroom, I noticed the welcome note Tracy left for me on my vanity, along with a loofah.
 
 
That did it.  I had received six loofahs over a week.  I thought it incredibly hilarious, but also felt like there had to be something behind it.  So I asked Papa if He was trying to tell me something.
 
As I sat and tuned myself to His voice, I felt like He said to me:
 
 
Daughter, the things that you have lacked in the past, I am giving you now in abundance. 
 
 
I let that resonate and chose to believe it.
 
As life moved on and settling into Thailand happened, I would often catch myself believing that I live in lack, when that kind of thinking settled in, I would call myself to remember the lesson of the loofah.
 ***
 ***
I’ve lived in Thailand for a year and a half now and have received seven more loofahs from Norma.  Each time one come in the mail or is delivered by a visitor I have a good laugh to myself and thank God for His abundance.
 
Over the past couple months my storehouse of loofahs has dwindled.  We’ve had various people come live in our house for differing amounts of time and I have opened my supply to them and then forgot one at the condo we were staying at when we went to the beach.
 
I noticed last week that I only had one loofah left.
 
In the smallness of my thinking I got kind of sad.  I knew this was only a symbol of God’s provision, but if He had really spoken to me about His abundance, shouldn’t I never lack the thing He was using to speak to me?  I knew that I could go to the store and buy a new loofah when the last one was spent, but at the same time I felt like that would ruin the whole story.  (So instead I just stopped using the loofah all together in order to preserve it’s lifespan… which in reality is my feeble attempts to control the story.)
 
I know this is funny, but I was really sad about the lack of loofahs in my life
***
***
I had been awaiting a package from my gramma for a couple weeks now.  I had ordered a t-shirt and was therefore very excited to get this package.  Gramma told me that she threw in a few other goodies, but I didn’t know what to expect.
 
When I opened my package I was greeted with three ‘natural sponges’ and a new loofah.
 
What a laugh, what a gift.  What a specific gift from Papa.  Gramma had no idea about any of this, no idea about the lessons of the loofah or about my current belief of lack.  To her, she was just sending me a loofah.
 
 It’s all so silly.
But so real and special to me all the same.
 
I have no lack.
No lack of patience.  No lack of peace. No lack of creativity.  No lack of ideas.  No lack of resources.  I have no lack of relationships.  No lack of opportunities.
 
Instead, I am a daughter.  Completely loved, completely provided for.  Completely seen.  Completely known.  Completely complex and completely understood.
Completely and abundantly.
 
 
All this heart revelation and from a loofah.loofah
 
 
 
 

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