Tag Archives: sunshine samara

Confessions of a Cult Member

Six years ago, as I was preparing to leave the United States for my trip around the world (#worldrace, #11n11) my grandpa gave me a piece of solid advice:

Grandpa: “If they offer you KoolAid… don’t drink it.”

Samara: *eye roll* “Graaaampaaa… it’s not like that…”

And, I can happily report, that it wasn’t (entirely) like that.

However, after living with the Lorensen family for almost four years now, I realize that I may have ignored my grandpa’s advice and have accidentally (willingly) drunk the KoolAid  of the ‘Caleb Lorensen cult’.


I have recently become obsessed with Myers-Briggs personality types.  and I mean obsessed.  Like…I listen to podcasts about personality types on my motorcycle and in the shower.

Because I couldn’t keep my obsession quiet, little bits and pieces of Myers-Briggs wisdom would seep out of me and into our family dinners and conversations.  Eventually the Lorensen’s took the personality test themselves to subdue my curiosity.

The results are as follows:

Samara: ENFP: highly imaginative and free spirited individual that needs help remembering to do normal human things, like showering and putting on clean clothes.

Tracy: ESFJ: the ultimate hostess who is all about caring for and providing for the needs of those around her and can not understand how the ENFP has forgot, once again, where her car keys (cellphone, glasses, motorbike) are.

Caleb: ENFJ: the charming and persuasive cult leader.

Tracy wrote a blog about her life as the wife of a cult leader which includes topics such as: drinking the KoolAid (ie: green juice and smoothies); group think and community living.

So if Tracy is married to a cult leader… I suppose that means I am a full fledged cult member… or a cult leader follower.  This news, my being a member in a cult, was disturbing to me at first.. I mean.. valuing my independence and creativity so highly, but, upon reflection… it may not be all be so bad.

Tracy’s blog covers the most noticeable ways the ‘Caleb Lorensen cult’ has influenced my life.   From dietary habits and work-out regimes to educational pursuits and passions… I am a changed woman.  Her blog is hilarious and you should read it.  Here’s a link: link.

In this blog I will write about a few more subtleties I have noticed in my life since joining the cult.

-Taking on of life mantras:

The Lorensen’s live by a unique set of life values.  There are many and I will not cover them all here…but, the first that comes to mind is ‘if it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down’.  I hate this.  But over the years, it has been adopted into my lifestyle.  In fact, the Lorensens exude general lack of shyness about bodily functions—be they farts, burps, poops or periods… bodily functions are not to be ashamed of. Honestly, conforming to this belief system, was not a very difficult one for me and is actually very freeing.  I suggest you pick it up as well.

Another of the Lorensen mantras is that ‘children are assets and not liabilities’. The communal way in which we live our lives over here in Thailand, means I have been given the rare opportunity to actually witness the ins-and-outs of parenting, without actually being a parent, and have therefore, picked up some of their parenting techniques as my own.  The Lorensen’s are not held back by their children, nor do they hold their children back.  Their children are encouraged to explore, be curious, make messes and think for themselves.  This can lead to interesting situations…yes, but it also creates highly creative, confident individuals.  Community living and valuing children… again, ideas that perhaps you pick up with as well.

-Changes in Diet and Exercise:

Again, Tracy already wrote about this in her blog (link)… so I will be brief.  But I want to say, I have never exercised so consistently in my life than I have since living with the Lorensens.  I say this after having NOT exercised consistently since starting my MA program a year ago and the statement is STILL true. As for my diet.. I have been following a no sugar, no carb diet with Tracy for about 9 months now.

The impossible has been made possible via the Caleb Lorensen cult.

-General Boldness:

I used to pride myself with being a sweet, sunshiny girl.  And… I still am.  The difference, however, is since being part of the Caleb Lorensen cult, I have begun to actually take myself more seriously.  I think living under the influence of someone like Caleb… and having him take me seriously, has affected the way I view myself.  I have grown leaps in bounds in my self-confidence.  I have learned how to set effective boundaries and how to say no.  I have also learned how to use my super-power of ‘sweetness’ and ‘like-ability’ to speak hard truths and say hard things to people.  I have become a very bold speaker, standing up not only for the people in my life, but also standing up for myself.

This also comes out in my willingness to state my mind and share unpopular opinions and ideas.  I have found myself playing devil’s advocate in situations where I would have previously just sat quietly.  I have picked up the attitude of the Caleb Lorensen cult and it suits me well.


I could go on an on… from living by sayings like “stop that stinkin’ thinkin,’” “no pressure just opportunity” and “drink good coffee” to pursuing an actual career as an educator, I am a full fledged member or the Caleb Lorensen cult.

I drink the juice and I repeat the mantras  … and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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The Gospel

Yesterday, in one of my classes, we were asked to shortly describe ourselves.  My classmates’ self descriptions stated their country of origin and their current profession.  So that would make me: Samara, American, studying TESOL in Thailand.

How very weak that introduction is. How void of the most important parts of my identity.

Samara. Daughter of God. Created to create. Loved to love. Accepted to accept.

I would say that that more accurately describes who I am.

Jesus and I will be celebrating our ten year anniversary pretty soon.  Ten years.  A whole decade.  I cannot believe I’m old enough to be celebrating a decade of anything… but that is a whole other issue.

With this memorial date approaching I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting.

Reflecting on my life. Reflecting on who I was and who I’ve become…and who I was while I was becoming who I became : ) [got that?]

A statement that I’ve been making a lot lately is that “christianity didn’t change my life, my relationship with Jesus changed my life.”

Every time I hear myself say this something jumps inside of me.  That statement is the most true statement I can make.  Nothing has had a more profound impact on me, my life, and who I am, than my relationship with Jesus.

I grew up with christianity.  I grew up with the stories, the rules, the systems, the commands, the expectations… but I didn’t grow up with the reality of the Gospel.  It wasn’t until that Reality became my reality that I was able to experience the freedom that has forever marked my life.

***

I recently finished reading “The Jesus Storybook Bible” with my Thai teacher.

photo.PNG

If you haven’t invested in this children’s Bible yet, you’re missing out.  I have yet to find the Gospel more beautifully illustrated (figuratively and literally).  The authors of this Bible have so beautifully pointed out how God has been working from the beginning of time to get His children back into right relationship with Him.

Every story whispers Jesus’ name.

For God SO loved the world that He sent His Only Son.

It was always God’s plan to send Jesus. Because it was always God’s plan to get His children back.

And who does Jesus pinpoint?  Who does Jesus call out for greatness?  Who does Jesus choose to befriend?

The Extra-Super-Holy-People?

No.

He chose people like me.

People who were lost, depressed, lonely, dirty, poor, addicted, deserted, alone, condemned, guilty, hurting, oppressed, possessed, angry, blind, deaf, dumb, doubting, drunk… the list goes on.

He chose whomever would chose Him. He chose the hungry. He chose the needy.  He chose the difficult.  The unrighteous.  The annoying.

***

I’ve been a missionary for about three and a half years now.

Demonstrating the Gospel is my job. Literally. It’s what I get paid to do.

So often the job demands of newsletter writing and supporter relations tempt me to act like an Extra-Super-Holy-Person.  I mean… that’s what missionaries are supposed to be, right?

My life needs to be clean. structured. organized. predictable. newsletter appropriate. and those knees better be covered… do we even need discuss the shoulders?

Right?

My paycheck depends on it… right?

Wrong.

Jesus’ Gospel wasn’t clean.  Jesus’ life wasn’t structured… organized… predictable and His supporters probably wouldn’t have liked His newsletters.  (He hung out with women and was at parties where people got drunk… I mean… you can’t really write about that kind of stuff…)

For God SO loved the world that He sent His One and Only Son, that WHOMEVER may believe in Him will be saved and have life eternal.

So that’s my Gospel.  Believing in Jesus and receiving that life eternal.  Life eternal starting ten years ago.  Life eternal now.  On earth.  Life eternal full of messes and mistakes and unexpected turns and hiccups and high highs and low lows.

Life eternal, right now.

Life with Jesus.

And that’s what I am in Thailand to share.

Not a good English education. Not an introduction to critical thinking. Not an education full of the creative arts.

I’m here to introduce my friends to Life Eternal. Right now.

Life with Whom you may converse. Life with Whom you may walk. Life with Whom you may be messy and unpredictable.

Life—Who will never change, never leave, never reject.

Life.  Real.  Messy.  Unpredictable.

Life with Jesus. Free. Safe. Abundant.

 

***

I was recently reminded of this video:

Not much I can say after that.

So to end this blog post I want to challenge myself to another ten years. Another ten years of Life.  Another ten years of greater intimacy and greater depth of relationship.  Another ten years of walking with Jesus wherever He may bring me.  Another ten years of saying yes to impossible situations and messy people.  Another ten years of taking risks and looking foolish.  Another ten years of failing and hurting.  Another ten years of Jesus picking me back up. Another ten years of Abundance walking with me.  Protecting me.  Guiding me.  Providing for me.  Another ten years of adventure.

And I challenge you too.

What is the Gospel?

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