Tag Archives: love

cultural. adaptation.

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  1. The handling of bugs and other woodland creatures: 

While it is not appropriate to claim that I remain ‘cool’ or ‘calm’ in the presence of the creepy crawlies… I have come a loooong way.

For example: It’s rainy season.  This mean it’s the season of my all time favorite insect–the flying termite.  I hate these stupid and arguably harmless bug with every inch of my being and usually have to wrap my head in some sort of protective garb in order to keep them from burrowing into my hair and never coming back out.  Yes.  BUT… the other night, we had two friends over for dinner and when the assigned time came for these bugs to begin swarming around my head and… I DID NOT retreat into the house, nor did I wrap my hair in anything.  Perhaps this was a one time scenario, but it seemed momentous at the time.

Another example of my adaptation is in relation to those dang huntsman spiders (go here if you need to be reminded of what I used to be like…).  Just the other day I was sitting on the floor in my bedroom and I saw one peeping out from under my bed.  Instead of springing up in panic, I sat there and calmly told him that we could co-exist as long as he kept his distance.  I trust he has kept up his side of the promise… and what I don’t know, I want to keep that way.

There are other examples of this, but if I want you to read this entire post, I suppose I should get moving on.

2. My perception of ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ weather:

We are coming off one of the hottest hot seasons Thailand has known in many years… like at 60 years.  (I want to say 100 years, but then someone might fact check me and I may be exaggerating…) It’s been hot.  We had week after week into months of weather hitting 110, 112, 114 fahrenheit with overnight lows of 85, 88, 90. Overnight. Lows.

I do not sleep in air conditioning.  This particular year I had three short stays in peoples’ homes where I was blessed with a climate controlled bedroom.. but those nights only made nights back in my bedroom nearly impossible.  At home, I would wake up in the middle of the night literally dripping in sweat.  It was hot.

Now that the rains have begun our highs are only 97…95 and this Tuesday it gets down to a HIGH of only 91.  With overnights lows as low as 75.  And guess what.  I get cold at night.  Instead of waking up in sweat… I wake up to add a blanket and/or turn off my fan.

This is adaptation.

3. Personal hygiene:

Over the course of my short life I have somehow gained the reputation of being… how should I say?.. dirty?  In Thailand they have a phrase ‘สกมก’ (sokmok) which roughly translates as ‘dirty homeless person’.  This is a word that has been used to describe me.  John Huffman likes to tell hyperbolized stories of my lack of feminitiy and seemingly displaced desire to shower.  It was not uncommon for me to go 2, 3…4 days without showering.  Looking back, this is slightly embarrassing… but, what can I say?

In Thailand, this is not acceptable.  Thai people shower at least twice a day, every day. Regardless of activity and sweat levels.  Twice a day.  I was a walking offense.  However, those days are behind me and I can proudly say that I shower–at least–once a day, but often two–even three times a day.

I have turned a page in my life.  So long สกมก. Hello being clean.

4. The use of the Thai language:

Thai has become such a normal part of my life that I often speak Thai without taking into account who I am talking to.  For example, I had a meeting with one of my professors at University and as she is Thai, I naturally just started talking to her in Thai.  However, this was not appropriate, as I am in an international program studying about teaching English. My professor does not talk to her Thai students in Thai… let alone her American student.

Another example happened today in my classroom.  If one of my students needs further explanation of something I have gone over repeatedly in English, I will revert to Thai to ensure that comprehension is there. I have two students from English speaking homes in my classroom and today one of them was asking for further explanation.  I knelt down beside him and started explaining the activity to him in Thai.  He does not speak Thai.

This also comes out when I am with other English speakers and drop Thai words into the conversation because I cannot think of a word to express the appropriate message in English. How did I ever thoroughly communicate before?

5. I find Asian men attractive: 

Before moving to Thailand I had no interest, whatsoever, in Asian men.  So often I would get asked, ‘do you think you will marry a Thai person‘ and I would almost get offended by the question.  No.  I had this misconception that all Thais (and therefore, all Asians) are super short, super skinny and have weird voices. I also thought that all Asian people look the same.

Well, guess what.  Asians (and Thais) come in all shapes and sizes with all sorts of personalities and all have very diverse facial features. Asian women have long been praised for their beauty, but I am here to say that Asian men can be quite attractive as well.

Of course I am not attracted to every Thai man that walks past me… but that wasn’t the case in America either.

For me, the surest sign that I have adapted to Thailand is that I have crushes on at least four Thai guys.

 


So there you have it.  After a little over three and a half years, I can say with some amount of confidence, I have adapted to Thailand.

 

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I don’t like going to church.

 

Yesterday at a staff meeting I took part in one of those ‘getting to know you’ ice breaker games… I’m sure you’ve played it.

Everyone sits in a circle, with just enough chairs for those sitting and one person stands in the middle (there’s no chair for the person in the middle.)  The person in the middle makes a statement like “I like cheese” or “I’m wearing a pink shirt” and everyone who shares the like of cheese or is also wearing a pink shirt has to stand up and then on the count of three, everyone, including the person in the middle runs and tries to find a new chair.  The person left standing is the new ‘man in the middle’.

You’ve played this game.

Anyway, yesterday after a bunch of rounds of this game and lots of crazy running around and getting to know one another, someone in the middle made the statement, “I like going to church”.

Working at a christian school with an entirely christian staff, one can easily assume… everyone stood up.

Everyone, that is, except for me.

Sure, I felt the urge to stand up… Thoughts like, ‘what will people think?’, ‘I’m a missionary…’, ‘I have to like going to church…’, ‘how bad will I look if I don’t stand up?’ flooded my mind, but I was compelled to remain seating.

What’s worse, I thought, lying to please the crowd and save face or being honest and raising a few eyebrows?

After the game was finished another missionary came up to me, she had noticed my being the only person sitting during the ‘I like going to church’ round and she wanted to comment.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but instead of assumed reprimand or the usual questioning of my devotion to God, she said, “Yea… sometimes going to church here is really hard.”

And that’s the truth.

Sometimes, going to church here, is really hard.


Before reading on I need to say, I come from a great church family in Omaha, NE.  The people in that church have become my family and have helped me grow into the person I am.  I love my church in Omaha and while, it’s not perfect and still developing, I would not be where I am or who I am without the love and support of that body of people.


Since living in Thailand I have regularly attended three Thai churches.

The first of the three churches was the most international and the most western.  The sermon was in both English and Thai, the worship was done in full Hillsong style and the Sunday meetings were held in a very air-conditioned, comfortable hotel ballroom. This was like the ‘adjustment’ church, while I was learning Thai.  This church was comfortable, the sermons were predictable and no one talked to you, so you didn’t have to get out of your comfort zone.

But in the end, I think that was the biggest problem with this church.  It definitely served its purpose in its time, but it was extremely comfortable.  There was no ‘community’ aspect to the church, no need to adjust to a new culture, no need to adapt to something unfamiliar… and so, after about 6 months, we (the Lorensens and I) transitioned out.  [No one noticed.]

The second of the three churches was a local Thai church near our home that many of the students from School of Promise attended.  As Caleb and I were both teaching at the school, this church seemed that the natural place for us to land.

The sermon was completely in Thai, there was no air conditioning and everyone ate lunch together that was prepared by members of the church.  At first this seemed ideal.  The church congregation was a community.  Everyone worked together, lived life together and shared church responsibilities together.

Unfortunately, the shiny ideal wrapping of this church quickly wore off and it became apparent that a lot of the ‘community togetherness’ was actually ‘community obligation’ enforced through guilt.  Missing a week of church was followed up by the third degree.  Performance, saving face and adherence to rules were more important than love and compassion.  I left this church after a year of begrudged attendance

The final church I was part of was a church made up of people that I still love and respect very much.  Coming off the bad experience from the last church, this church seemed like a breathe of fresh air.  Again, it was all Thai and very community orientated.  Everyone worked together and for the most part, lived together.  This church was a family and welcomed me in quickly.

But again, after a couple months of attendance, it became clear that the congregation was there out of religious and communal obligation, rather than out of pure satisfaction and joy.  Duty and tradition, adherence to rules was more important than the inner health of the individual members. I said a sad goodbye to this church family after a year.


So there is my church attending history.  I haven’t formally gone to church in the seven months.

What I have done, however, is:

-prayed together with my housemates

-shared meals with my neighbors

-helped get a woman out of an abusive relationship

-worshipped with released criminals

-prayed for my struggling classmates

-loved on kids who don’t get enough attention

-listened to my friends’ burdened hearts

-hung out with the teenagers that I live with

-travelled to Malaysia to be a companion of a lonely friend


I was recently pretty rocked by this blog.

In this blog, the author, talks about how Jesus never actually told us to worship Him–but instead, 29 times, He tells us to follow Him.  He gives a list of things that happen as people lay down their lives (and their religion) to follow Jesus.  This list includes things like: the hungry were fed, the sick were healed, people were loved and discipled and the religious leaders were challenged.

The author also highlights Mark 7:6-9:

And He [Jesus] said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:

‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’

Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”

He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.”


How often do we allow the ‘tradition of men’ to keep us blind to the commandments of God?

How often does ‘saving face’ mean that we withhold truth or compassion?

How often do we allow religious duty to smother stopping for the one?

I know I’m guilty.

I know that I often bow to the god of approval from man rather than hone into the God of grace. I know that I often begrudgingly say yes out of fear, rather than be honest with my desires.


So, with all of this going on in my head and my heart, I can confidently say, right now, I don’t like going to church.

But I LOVE being THE church. Following Jesus.  Saying ‘yes’ and ‘here I am God, I’m willing’ and ‘what do you want to do today God?’.  I love smiling at people whom I don’t know and praying for people I just met.  I love getting to be the vessel in which the Holy Spirit flows out of and being surprised in my times of quiet worship alone.  I love being the body of Christ in my neighborhood, with my family…

Following Jesus is uncomfortable. It’s unconventional. It’s unpredictable.  It’s uncontrollable.

Following the law is easier, clear cut, measurable… but it’s not through following the law [and going to church] that we will encounter God. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through Me.”

So while I will surely be part of a formal congregation again in the future, for now, I just don’t like going to church.


verses to ponder:

John 14:6; Colossians 2:16-23; Isaiah 29:13

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On Death and Dying and a few thoughts on being a Christian Missionary. 

Death.  The human condition.  or would that be dying?  regardless…

I hadn’t really been exposed to death much before moving to Thailand.  Aside from my great grandma dying when she was quite old and quite ready to die and my cat being put to sleep (which is still perhaps the biggest tragedy of my life)… death hadn’t really affected me.

I suppose there were the few random relatives that I had no connection to but attended funerals out of social responsibility (or just because I was a child and had no choice in the matter).

But that’s it.  I’m not an expert on grief or grieving patterns of the West or even of the grieving patterns of myself.. but it seems that Americans tend to keep grief, death, dying and the process there of to themselves.

We dress in black and go to the funeral and find comfort in the close few around us and cry in private and then continue on as normal.

Moving to Thailand I’ve been exposed to death and dying on a new level.

The neighborhood we live in is filled with old people.  and those old people die.  all the time.  Some of the time I didn’t even know a household housed an old person until the said old person died.

The process of grieving death is quite different here.  Families of the deceased literally close off the street around their house, and invite any and everyone to there house to pay respects to the deceased through drinking, eating and loud Buddhist chanting for three days… until they all, as a community, escort the body (in true parade form) to be cremated at the neighborhood cremation place.  [I’m not being funny.]

Funerals are loud, long and very public.  The process of grieving is in your face.

Living in a neighborhood where your Buddhist neighbors are dying all around you, all the time can get troubling.

As a Christian (missionary) and carrier of the Light of the world—what is my responsibility to my neighbors?

As my neighbors die around me I can’t help but ask, ‘Lord, what will become of him/her?’  Did they know the truth? Had they ever heard the Good News? Did they ever say the prayer? Had they ever been evangelized to or received a Gospel tract?  I don’t know???  But I know that I didn’t give it to them…. (well, I may have, but the number of neighbors I’ve evangelized to verses the number of neighbors that die are not in my favor…)

Is my neighbors’ eternal salvation dependent on my evangelizing to them? I mean…how can they call on Jesus if they haven’t heard of Him and how can they hear of Him if no one tells them… and I’ve been sent to tell them.

But telling them doesn’t seem to work.  Preaching the Bible to people who have no context for Christianity is like speaking Thai to my brother… it doesn’t translate. And in most cases, as soon as anyone finds out I’m a missionary their walls go straight up and I am labelled as a cultural imperialist with impure motives and a desire to control the thoughts and actions of any person who does not share my christian heritage.

There’s a lot working against me.

If my neighbors’ only hope of avoiding eternal damnation is by hearing and decidedly accepting the gospel message from me, I’m really sucking at my job.

I mean, instead of devoting days to door-to-door evangelism, I’ve stuck to fostering deep relationships and building trust.  Instead of microphones and loud speakers, my teammates and I have chosen the quiet and not obviously fruitful route of hospitality.  Instead of defensiveness and imposing viewpoints, we have chosen to be quiet and listen.

Our door is open to convicted criminals and abused wives, gay socialites and hilarious college students. Young and old, rich and poor come into our house, eat our food, share their stories and listen to ours.  Relationships are born and trust is established.

Sure, we’ve had some friends give their lives to the Lord.  But our best, longest and most intimate friends have yet to do so regardless to how many times we’ve prayed for them or shared the Gospel.

And my neighbors are still dying.

If Jamie hadn’t already stolen the title, I think I would label myself ‘the very worst missionary’.

But I’ve come to a place in my missionary life, where I have released the responsibility of my neighbors’ souls to the Lord.  Of course I will listen and obey–continuing to share and pray, but no longer will their eternal fate rest in my hands and my missionary performance. No longer will I decide the fate of people based on my perceptions of their relationship (or lack there of) with the Lord.

God can have that job.

So what is my responsibility?

This is a question I have asked and asked and asked.  And you know what the answer I get is?

It’s to love God, love myself and who God created me to be and to love my neighbors.  To be their friends.  To meet needs when I can.  To pray when I can.  To die to my innate selfishness.  And to die to my reputation.  To be fully present where I am and to invest in the people in front of me.

So that’s what I’m doing (or trying to do…).  Reputation be dammed.  I’m going to love my neighbors to death…

 

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“Don’t mind me; I’m a universalist heretic.”

I’ve been on a bit of a Graham Cooke kick lately–specifically his message titled, “Inheritance” (which, if you have never listened to–or just haven’t listened to it in a while, you should click here and have a listen before reading on).

This message has had a profound impact on me over the years, but recently, the truths God speaks through Cooke have been running through my head on repeat.

With the help of my Thai teacher, I translated Cooke’s message into Thai and have shared it at church, in the art studio and in one on one prayer sessions with my Thai friends.


The School of Promise (SoP) recently held their annual English camp which I volunteered to help at.  During a planning meeting we were discussing the objective of the camp and trying to come up with a camp theme.  As this message has become a staple in my spiritual life, I suggested, “God loves you 100%”.  I talked a little about Cooke’s message, said that I had it translated in Thai and suggested that we read it to the kids and base our ‘spiritual time’ on this message.

My colleagues liked the idea and we designed camp around this theme.

Camp went well.  The kids listened to Cooke’s message, a couple of teachers shared testimonies on how the revelation of God’s great love has changed their lives and we had an activity where the kids wrote out the things they don’t love about themselves, nailed those to the cross and them proclaimed God’s 100% perfect love over all our short comings and imperfections.

All in all, I would say it was a successful camp.


On the final day of camp, one of the SoP teachers stopped to thank me for sharing what I had shared with the kids.  She told me that she really loves this particular Graham Cooke message and will often share bits and pieces of it with Thai unbelievers.  She told me that she loves telling people, “God loves you 100%,” but that after sharing this she often feels remorse because she worries that if we stress God’s great love to sinners–while they are still walking in their sin–how will they ever feel conviction and change their ways?

My favorite part of “Inheritance” is when Cooke says:

“He (God) loves you 100%, He won’t love you any better when you become better.

He loves you 100% right now; and even if you have no plans to become better, He will still love you 100%, because He loves you, because that is what He is like.

And even if you don’t want to change, He will love you 100%.

Even if you have no plans to walk with Him, He will love you 100%.

Because that’s His nature. He loves all the way, all the time.”

These truths directly contradict the idea that we need to stop sinning in order to receive God’s love and salvation.

Through out my conversation with the SoP teacher I began to realize that while she really wanted to believe this message–it had yet to become a truth to her.

Our conversation went back and forth for a little while.  She quoted scriptures to me about God’s hatred of sin and how He turns His back on sinners and I did my best to explain my thoughts on God’s infinite love and our justification through Christ.  We were both stubborn in our views so in order to diffuse the conversation I just said,” You know–I can’t pretend to understand the vastness of God and His love and my opinions may not be very popular…so you can just write me off as a universalist heretic, it’s ok.”

Conversation over.


 Throwing the words “universalist” and “heretic” around do tend to make people uncomfortable.

But more and more, I feel like these may be words that the majority of mainstream christians would use to describe me.

After living in Buddhist country for three years and being forced to learn how to connect with God without all the christian lingo/ideology/iconography that has surrounded the first seven years of my walk with God–my idea of who God is and how great His love is has expanded.  It has been forced to.

Having Buddhist grandma die after living a devout life of Buddhism, not ever knowing Christ’s specific love for her…

or having a young man die in a motorbike accident after living a life of neglect and abuse, never once being told he has value or purpose…

or a girl taking her own life after being sold and used since she was a child, not ever being called a beloved daughter…

These sorts of situations begin to challenge ones views on eternal damnation for not accepting Christ in your life.


God loves you 100% right now.

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

while
noun
  1. at the same time; meanwhile.
    “he starts to draw, talking the while”
conjunction
  1. during the time that; at the same time as.
    “nothing much changed while he was away”

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Before circumcision was law, Abraham was justified by God. Before the disciples believed who Jesus was, they were chosen to do great works.

While we were still sinners…

Even if you have no plans to walk with Him, He loves you 100%…


It seems that, more and more, performance and religious rituals have taken the place of justifier in the church.

That the free gift of salvation is only free as long as it’s followed up with a devout, religious, holy, sinless life.

I can not believe this.

If righteousness comes through performance, Christs’ death is worthless. Christ paid the price.  100%. End of story.

The price has been paid.

Christ’s death covered my past sins.  Christ’s death covers my current, repeated sins.  Christ’s death covers my future sins, my unbelief and my incomplete theology.

Is his death not enough for my buddhist brothers?


So. Maybe I’m a universalist heretic?

Maybe you’re going to be worried about my theology and praying for my mind to renewed…and for my salvation.

Maybe this is just a phase that I will grow out of (like obsessing over cats or drawing pictures of robots).

Maybe?

But in the meantime, I chose to stand on and believe in God’s perfect love.

I chose to believe that nothing will draw people into God’s family in a more complete and authentic way than their experiencing the infinite love of the Creator.

And I choose to honor the Lover God by loving those He loves–even when they don’t (won’t) love Him back.

He loves you because He loves you because He loves you because He loves you because He loves you because He loves you because He loves you because He loves you because He loves you because He loves you because that is what He is like.


An Addendum:

    I was really worried about writing this post, knowing that it may be slightly controversial in a couple of places.  I do want to make it clear that I still very much believe that Jesus is the One way to life eternal and I believe in hell.  The Bible seems clear about these facts.  I, however, believe that we, in our christian minds, send people to hell much more readily and freely than God does and that it is God’s greatest desire to see all of His children honored with Christ in heaven and that He will pull out all the stops to get everyone of us with Him.
    I do not, necessarily, believe that sin sends us to hell. Every single one of us will die in our sin–even conscious, repeated sin (gossip, unforgiveness, half-truths…etc, etc, etc…). But rather, I believe that some, having experience God’s ridiculous love will still chose to reject Him and chose hell for themselves.
    I am also aware of my youth and ignorance and incomplete revelation of God and am willing to be refined in my understanding as I continue to walk with the Lord.

 

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2015: Year of the Sheep

I like sheep.

2014-12-14 14.32.39   2014-12-14 14.33.29

There is the photographic evidence.

This little sheep friend came up to Bai Fern and I at this coffee shop and just let us hold him the whole time we were sipping on our coffees.  As we held this sheep, he rested in our arms.

In those moments, I was reminded of all the times Jesus refers to His followers as sheep–I was being reminded to be like a sheep; to know my Father’s voice, to follow Him where He leads me and to rest in His mighty arms.

(Unfortunately this particular sheep past away a couple weeks later…which is really sad and traumatic and I don’t like talking about, but there it is.)

***

Meet Sonya.

2014-12-06 14.25.29

Sonya is Chinese, hilarious and has recently become one of Jesus’ sheep.

She is a university student and as part of her program has come to Thailand, teaching at Debsirin High School with Caleb for the last five months.  Pretty early on in her time here, after listening to Caleb and one of their colleagues discussing spiritual matters, Sonya started asking Caleb questions.  Having come from atheist China, she had no prior knowledge of Christianity or the spiritual matters they were discussing.  Caleb invited her to church one Sunday and she has continued to come from that point on.

After church on her third visit Sonya decided to become a follower of, as she calls Him, The God.

Since becoming a sheep, Sonya has not held back in sharing how The God has provided for her and answered her prayers and has even told the head teacher at Debsirin High School that she wants to stop teaching Chinese and begin teaching the Bible as she is just so passionate.  🙂

Here are some stories

***

One evening I invited Sonya and two other girls to go to a ‘blind dinner’.  This dinner is served completely in the dark in order to give you the experience of being blind and help you understand how trying simple tasks are without our ability to see.  Three of the four of us were having a great time…haphazardly eating our pasta and salad with our hands, as we had given up all hope trying to eat in a more ‘civilized’ way, Sonya, however was not enjoying herself.  The three of us would hear mumbles of her saying things like, “I would never do this in China,” or “I am so glad my friends can not see me, they would be so ashamed.”  We just laughed all the more and continued eating in the dark.

That is, until the owner of the restaurant’s daughter opened the door to ask her mom a question.  Opening the door ruined the effect of the dark as light was able to enter the room and we were, for the first time, able to make out our surroundings.  The owner was slightly mortified, but quickly got her daughter out and the door was shut and we were back to dining in the darkness.

As we were re-situating ourselves in the pitch blackness of this room Sonya speaks out,

“Sisters, do you know why that little girl came into the room?”

“Why?”

“Because, just then, I was praying to The God and I asked Him to let me have some light because I hate this.  So The God sent that little girl into the room.”

It was hard to know what to say to her in that moment, so I laughed.  I laughed not because I didn’t believe her, quite the contrary, I completely believe her and completely believe that God probably did send the little girl into the room as an answer to Sonya’s prayers.  No, I laughed, rather, at her childlike faith and God’s complete awesomeness.

***

Sonya has also had a problem with rats in her dorm room.  She hates the rats. Who wouldn’t hate the rats?

Sonya started praying and asking God to keep the rats out of her room, and He did… and then something strange and funny happened… but I’ll let Sonya tell you herself.

(In case it was hard for you to understand, Sonya was having trouble with the rats, so she prayed to The God to have the rats disappear, which they did for five days, but one day they did come in, but instead of being scared of the rats, The God helped Sonya to feel as if the rats are her friends.  She lives alone in her dorm, no one accompanies her, but the rats can come and accompany her!)

Laughter is an appropriate response to watching this video.  Yes.

But at the same time, I think we can learn something for Sonya’s sheep-like faith.  While Sonya hasn’t studied the Bible and isn’t learned in spiritual doctrine, she trusts The God to do what He says He will do.  She trusts The God to love her, to protect her and to give her what she needs… even if it comes in unexpected ways, like helping her befriend the rats.

As 2015, the Chinese year of the Sheep, begins, my prayer for all of us is that we may become even more sheeplike in our relation to our Father.

“My sheep listen to My voice; I know them and they follow me.”  John 10:27

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.”  Luke 12:32

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Little Blessings Amid Big Chaos

God is funny.

Not really in the haha sense, but rather the “I am God and have everything under control and you may worry and freak out, but I’m going to be steady and provide for you in ridiculous ways” sort of way.

***

My mom’s sick.

She’s been sick for awhile and it’s been a long process of praying about whether or not I need to come be with her in America.  I would land on not coming and have peace in that decision, then she would get a little better and then she would get worse, and I would re-start the process.

Sunday I got the “you need to come home now” email.

I was on a flight that evening. It felt like a whirlwind.  Getting the tickets, getting packed, making phone calls and writing emails.  I don’t like whirlwinds.

***

I’m currently sitting in the LAX airport.

This place is so busy.  Sooo many people.  So many faces, colors, body types… and everyone, everyone, speaks English.  I feel like I’m in the twilight zone.  I’m not so eagerly anticipating the sub freezing weather that is going to welcome me home in just a few more hours.

***

Amid my whirlwind and my weird emotional state, God has been funny.

For one, He (through my precious friend Julie) has collected a supply of winter clothes for me to wear while I’m in town.  About six different ladies, two of whom I’ve never met, have given my friend Julie their clothes for me to borrow–from boots to coats to gloves to sweatpants… everything I need, and more.

God will keep me warm.

Saturday, before I knew I would be hopping on a plane, a missionary couple gave me 7000baht for babysitting their granddaughter for a week.  (That’s roughly $325…)

God will take care of my finances.

After I had already purchased my tickets, my mom went into her emergency surgery.  The surgery was successful and she came out strong.  I knew this before I got on the plane.

God will take care of my mom. God will take care of my emotional state.

And finally, on my flight from Korea to LA, the man I was sitting next to spent hours asking me questions about my life.  I shared my testimony with him and about how Jesus changed my life, I shared the journey God took me on to get me to Thailand, I talked about my mom and about my birth dad…he asked me so many questions and was thoroughly engaged.

At the end of our conversation he told me that when he was my age he wanted to be a missionary as well.  He said he was close to God at that point in his life, but that the world distracted him and he was never brave enough to actually give up his life in the world and go overseas.

He is now a successful business man, but is not walking with the Lord. His name is Joshua.

Before I left my friend sent me a couple verses from Joshua chapter 1 about how God will never leave or forsake us.  I pulled those verses out and wrote them down for him, encouraging him that it’s not too late.  He let me lay hands on him and pray for him and he experienced Father’s love.

God will use every situation that I give him permission to touch. God will prepare me with the right words.

Finally, as our conversation was drawing to an end Joshua handed me $300.  He said that he didn’t obey God and become a missionary, but he is a successful business man and so He can begin to serve God by giving.

He insisted, so I received.

God will provide for all my needs and not only that, but, God wants to bless me.

***

So here I am, waiting in busy, busy LA for my final flights to freezing, freezing Omaha to be with my mom as she recovers in the ICU, but I am able to sit here in peace. God is funny. And He really does have everything under control. He is my solid ground, even amid whirlwind craziness. He really does just love me.

***

“…so I will be with you.  I will not leave you, nor forsake you.”  Joshua 1:5

Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and be of good courage.  Do not be afraid or nor be dismayed.  For the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9

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Bored of Education :: Propaganda

In honor of Caleb Lorensen and the beginning of the new school year..

 

::lyrics::

[Verse 1]
Dear Bored of Education
So are we, huh, so are we
At no point in the lives that we actually live do we sit in rows and listen to pontifications
At no point did momma pass written exams out on how to wash the dishes, no
She pulled the stool up next to her, at the sink, handed us a dishrag, like
“Watch how mommy does it, now you try.”
Learning by doing, such a crazy idea, it might work
Them stools felt like a magical ladders into an alter universe
Into the grown-up world
Informational portholes, wormholes, into other places
Where kids were equals, being made privy to information only those with
Driver’s licenses and facial hair had
Who knew we were learning, no clue Pops was teaching us time management
And budgeting, miniature project coordinators
He said, “Imma show you how to do these chores. And if they’re done when I get home
Then that allowance is yours. Maybe some ice cream’s involved too.”
Remember when we were in kindergarten, and you had to learn about worms, yeah, you went outside
And you played with worms, what a [novel] idea!
Dear Bored of Education!, huh, so are we

[Verse 2]
Dear Bored of Education, all I’ve learned from your system is that it’s just the system
That you set up. And if I just repeat what you just said, in James Schafer method
Then I passed, right? You’re just testing my ability to regurgitate
And if your best instructors are miserable, I’m pretty sure it’s not the kids’ fault
This pain I know first hand, the grand learning moments, the innovative lesson plans
That causes eyes to sparkle as if them students have just caught rides on shooting stars
These lessons have wings, only to get clipped, to fit, into the Low-Res JPEG. you call
“The State Standards.” Why do you insist this is still the industrial age?
My child is not a widget. And a school should not be an assembly line. Making my daughter’s
Diploma equivalent to an inspected by 2235 stamp
Dear Bored of Education, so are we

[Verse 3]
Dear Bored of Education, there’s not a Scantron on the planet that can measure inspiration
This is what our teachers pass on that matters
But you’d rather them do a jig to the tune of an AYP score
As to avoid losing WASC right?
NCLB got us shockin’ and jivin’, but you can’t measure a kid inviting their
Teacher to a Quincenera or a soccer game, or waiting rooms at free clinics
I can name ten kids off hand who would still be in handcuffs if it wasn’t for Mr. Singer
Nick Luvanno runs his own design firm. And he failed the exit exams twice. FAILED
Dear Board of Education, I mean, can we not Google when the Magna Carta was signed?
If your brightest stars are always dim, something must be wrong with your glasses
If every place on your body that you touch hurts, then your fingers must be broken
You are PhD.’s, you have five suffixes at the end of your names, you’re the people that know
A lot, how come you’re not smart enough to know that you don’t know what you don’t know?
Did anyone ever suggest, that maybe, we should test the test?
Dear Bored of Education, my dear Bored of Education, so are we
So are we

3 Comments

04/05/2014 · 17:45

RIP BMX

I write this post with a sad heart.

One of my best friends in Thailand has moved on… BMX.

Image

Yes, BMX is a cow.  But he was so much more…

He was the friendliest cow that I have ever been aquatinted with.  He would greet me daily as I walked past his field–he would come right up to me to say hello.  He enjoyed licking my arm as I would try to pet his head and taught me which trees have the most delicious leaves.

BMX would brighten up the most dreary day.

Image

I haven’t seen him for three weeks now.

My suspicions of his death got the best of me and today I took Iris in her stroller and stalked his owner to see if perhaps BMX has been too cold to go out to pasture.

Alas, he could not be found.

Image

BMX, I truly miss you and I hope you made a delicious hamburger or two.  😦

Your Friend,

Samara

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G.O.S.P.E.L. propaganda

1 Comment

17/05/2013 · 18:14