Why Valentine’s Day doesn’t make me sad…

Valentine’s day always sort of amuses me.  You have so many people looking at it from different extremes, some in between, and some who just pretend it’s not there in order to maintain the cool and confident persona. You have the lovey-dovey, mushy types, who post gushy notes to their significant other on FB and proclaim to the world that theirs is the best ever—sorry everyone!! You have those who quietly celebrate with their significant other, and don’t post anything about it on FB, because it’s special and meaningful to them in a way that doesn’t have to be shared with the world. You have the singles who proclaim, “Jesus is my boyfriend/girlfriend/lover” and I can celebrate V-day because of it!” and you have the singles who celebrate “Singleness awareness day” and all go out together in one big clump to celebrate being free and single for one more year. And you have those who proclaim loudly to the world in sad, depressed voices that Valentine’s Day sucks, andyouwouldagreetooifyouweresittingbyyourselfathomeonvalentinesdaywithnoonetoeatchocolatewith ANDMYLIFEISHORIBBLEWHYDOIHAVETOBESINGLE??!!!

Amusing, no?

Yesterday I saw a Thai friend write something to the affect that “everyone else has someone to do something special with today, but for me, it’s just a normal day.”

And it made me want to cry. Why? Because in the eyes of the world, that’s what’s portrayed as truth. So often, having someone special means significance, and brings meaning to life—or attempts to bring meaning to life. And you’re left feeling that if you’re married and not happy, if you’re single with no one special, if you’re not head over heels in love with someone, you’re lacking something in life, and poor, sorry you.

I look at the list of people I described above, and honestly? I don’t have a problem with any of them. Okay, so sometimes certain characteristics annoy me, but I would never condemn them or look down on them. Why? Because we’re all in different situations and places in life, and we just need to get over getting irritated at those who are in other situations in life. And we need to stop reacting to the situations and circumstances that we’re in and just embrace it guys.

Do you have a family? A mom and a dad that love you? Do you have siblings? If your family is still together, you’re in a group of people representing an ever decreasing percentage in our present day world. Even if you feel that it’s not as healthy as it should be, be thankful. Love your family. Love your spouse if you’re married. Love your friends. And make the most of the relationships that God has given to you.

Yesterday when I saw what my friend wrote, it made my heart cry, because of what I see in so many of my friends here. I am rich because of my family and the rich heritage that God has given me.  But it’s not that that makes me happy. Those are mere circumstances. What made me sad was the fact that although we are both women, and we feel some of those same things,  “Oh, yay, yet another Valentines Day to spend alone without a guy to spend it with,” the difference is in what we can do with it. If I didn’t have a God to turn to, Who fills me up to overflowing with joy in my present circumstances, I guess I’d probably be pretty depressed too.

So I guess my point is this: wherever you are, be happy, and be content, because it’s God’s gift to you today. And it’s good…oh, so good. Don’t sit and wait around to be loved—love those whom God has given you to love. They’re everywhere, and they need to know that someone cares about them. I think we’ll all find that giving, and serving are what make a Valentine’s day a true Valentine’s day.

February 20141wow, Mel. Fries much?

Last night, I was in the group that clumped together and went out and celebrated being free and single. 🙂 It was great, and I loved it. Yesterday was a normal work day, and we shared chocolate and flowers with the girls. Who, btw, were soooo excited when flowers and chocolate were given to them. Who knows how much they’ve ever been celebrated before on a special day like Valentine’s?

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Valentine’s Flowers from Deaniel and Katrina. Aren’t they lovely?

A side note. Some of us were into watching the new family movie Mercy Rule that just came out yesterday. So I bought the download and we settled in to watch it late last night. Wow. I was disappointed, to be perfectly honest. I don’t want to ruin it for those of you out there who haven’t seen it, but I guess I was expecting something more along the lines of Courageous or Fireproof. I’m thinking, Kirk Cameron and Tim Hawkins? What’s not to love?  I wish I wouldn’t have bought it. The story line was kinda hard to follow and didn’t flow really that well. And we concluded that if they would have put all the slow-mo back to normal speed, it would have reduced the almost-two-hour movie down to 1 hour or less. Tim Hawkins was great, as always, playing the crazy brother and doing his trademark facial expressions and weird noises. He was about the best part of the movie. But please don’t take my word for it. Just watch it for yourself and make your own conclusions. 🙂

So, enough rambling.

Last week some of us went to one of our new malls. I say one of them, because, yes, we have had at least three new ones in the past year. Somewhere I read that this particular one is the largest mall in Souht East Asia. Somehow I am kinda doubtful that this is actually true. But it’s a pretty cool mall.

Especially with friends. 🙂

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This is why I’m not a fan of selfies. It’s like, here’s Mel and her friends!!

2014-02-05 21.17.57Ah…much better. Most of us even have our eyes open. 😉

In other news, I have a new nerd look.

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This is what happens when the majority of your life is spent doing computer-work/detail-work/design/study. I was feeling pretty confident about the new nerd look until I wore them around a friend the other night (who shall remain nameless) and she couldn’t stop laughing every time she looked at me.  I wasn’t sure whether to be blessed by her honesty or offended. The Thai girls told me I look like a teacher, “but it’s still pretty!”  I think I will keep to wearing them in solitary places of study, work, and contemplation so as to avoid distracting people to amusement.

Everyone have a great weekend, and remember that He’s the reason for every good thing, every heart beat…this life, everything we love…it’s a beautiful life we live!

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It’s February. Already.

It’s February, guys. Somehow I feel like this year is just going to fly by. I keep look ahead and seeing something pretty significant in just about every month up until October. Yeah…I think it’s gonna fly by, and I’m so not sure I’m ready for that to happen.

I feel like I’m really settling into life here in Thailand. I say that tongue in cheek—so life never really settles into normal around here, this is true.  As far as being comfortable in another culture, sometimes that is long in coming. I still have faaaar to go to understand and really feel like I know this culture. But I feel at home here now. The first year is hard, and it can be stressful sometimes, trying to find your place and missing home and family, learning a new language, freaking out over dumb stuff just because you don’t know if it’s culturally acceptable or not, figuring out what to eat because you ‘re only one person and you don’t go grocery shopping that much (and it’s cheaper to buy it ready-made, anyway)—all are a part of the learning curve.

These days often find me marveling at this gift God has given me. Sometimes I’ll be sitting in the card room at Ransom, and I’ll turn back to my card designing after having a conversation with one or several of the girls, and I smile. Thanks God. Sometimes I’ll be cruising down the road on my bike (it’s still one of my greatest joys in life) and just grin like a crazy person. Thanks God. There’s something pretty amazing and incredible about being right where you know God wants you to be, doing what you love doing. And I’ll make no bones about it—I love what I’m doing right now. Sure, there are still moments of struggle, loneliness, worry, “araigaudai” (whatever)—but, there’s always so much to be thankful for.

I’m re-thinking some things for this blog this year. Last year I did the pictures by month, to keep family and friends back home up to date with my life here. This year I still want to do pictures, but I think I’ll try to break it up more. I miss writing on here. Writing is how I process. And I found that last year I did less writing, and more picture posts.  This year I want to do both. And I want to write more about life here and what God’s teaching me about it. If you really want to see more pics of daily life, find me on Instagram. 🙂

I didn’t have a lot of pics from this month, but there’s a few.101_3651Lunch with Pi Ang!
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What grounds me, and keeps me from falling apart sometimes, or worrying myself to death–these Truths about Who He is.2014-01-14 18.19.20

And the beauty that surrounds me. This also keeps my heart alive. 2014-01-15 14.18.59

One of my favorite places in the whole world. 🙂2014-01-16 18.58.07

Ice cream with da ladies. 2014-01-20 18.21.11

I’ve been working on putting together a medical kit for Ransom. Wish I had a picture of my new friend the pharmacy lady. She’s awesome. 🙂2014-01-21 16.45.45

Yeah, so my Thai teacher is making me memorize these entire prayers and stuff, in Thai. Such suffering, I tell ya. 😉2014-01-23 15.57.31

Okay, so who can pass up Toms like these, for like $13?

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My cha kiew yen (iced green tea)

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It’s supper. 2014-01-24 07.03.45

This was one of the colder mornings of the month–this is the temp in my room. 2014-01-25 19.05.10

Loving those lights in at Night Bazaarphoto

Special times with these. Love them. 2014-01-23 16.42Re-evaluating outreach. Pray for me–for us. One of my responsibilities is heading up outreach, and lately God’s been taking me on a journey of re-evaluating, and re-vamping. Totally freaks me out sometimes, but help me pray for this^–that we would show Jesus—and leave a taste of Him and His goodness wherever we go.

So, this month, one of His gifts to me, through a friend, was this:

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Yeah. Fun for me. 🙂 Oh, the places you’ll go and the things you can do with a smart-phone. So this was one of those gifts that kinda blew me away with how extravagant and generous God is. Okay, so missionaries aren’t supposed to spend money on such techie extravagances, right? (Missionary expectations come to the surface here.)  I had been thinking about how nice and handy it would be, but couldn’t justify spending the money on it. I think I prayed about it maybe once or twice, just in passing, but it’s not like I was just begging God for one. So my friend wanted to get rid of it as a hand-me-down from her sister. She says to me one day, “Hey, you wouldn’t happen to know of anyone who could use/might want a Samsung Galaxy, do you?” I’m like, “Um. Me?”

So I paid a *little* bit of money and now have a nice phone like this.

And now this week I’ve been doing some re-evaluating. Man, having technology so handy can be downright addicting. And nice. And fun. And super time-wasting.  Oh, and you can really miss out on relationships staring you right in the face by constantly checking your phone.

So, without completely going off the deep end, and deleting my facebook in a fit of righteous indignation, what can I do to become a little {a lot} more disciplined?

No, I seriously would love to hear opinions on this. I’m already setting some more boundaries for myself, but I love hearing what others think about the whole media thing.  How do you enjoy the benefits that social media has to offer without becoming addicted? In short, how do you control, rather than letting it control you?  Let me hear your thoughts. And then later {maybe} I’ll share some of mine and some of the boundaries I’m setting—for some accountability. 🙂

Have a great week, ya’ll.

In Acceptance Lieth Peace

Love this poem by Amy Carmichael:

He said, “I will forget the dying faces;

The empty places,

They shall be filled again.

O voices moaning deep within me, cease.”

But vain the word; vain, vain:

Not in forgetting lieth peace.

He said, “I will crown action upon action,

The stride of faction

Shall stir me and sustain;

O tears that drown the fire of manhood, cease.”

But vain the word; vain, vain.

Not in endeavor lieth peace.

 

He said, “I will withdraw me and be quiet,

Why meddle in life’s riot?

Shut my door to pain.

Desire, thou doest befool me, thou shalt cease.”

But vain the word; vain, vain.

Not in aloofness lieth peace.

 

He said, “I will submit; I am defeated.

God hath depleted

My life of its rich gain.

O futile murmurings, why will yet not cease?”

But vain the word; vain, vain.

Not in submission lieth peace.

 

He said, “I will accept the breaking sorrow

Which God tomorrow

Will to His son explain.”

Then did the turmoil deep within him cease.

Not vain the word, not vain;

For in acceptance lieth peace.

~Amy Carmichael

(2 Tim. 1:8-10)

Things I would tell my first year missionary self…

Last month marked the one year mark since I officially joined the Ransom team, and that called for some reflection. 😉 Hard to believe it’s been one year already. And what a ride it’s been. I know I’m only just beginning in the whole “missionary life training” school, but I still love to be able to look back and see some of the big lessons God had for me in that first year. 

I don’t often share my journal entries in public, (and don’t plan to make it a habit) but this is one that might benefit others who are just starting out. And it’s always good reminders for me. Maybe putting it in a public place will serve as a good “memorial”. 🙂

THINGS I WOULD TELL MY FIRST YEAR MISSIONARY SELF

-First of all, Mel, don’t take yourself so seriously. 🙂 And don’t come down on yourself hard every time you make a mistake. Remember it’s okay to be in a learning curve and that God’s okay with you messing up sometimes. He sees your heart and He loves to redeem your “messes”. Don’t set yourself above Him by trying to redeem them yourself. Learn from mistakes and move on.

-Don’t think that you’re only serving God and being effective in  ministry when your’re doing “big stuff.” Take what’s in front of you as what He is giving you for the day—a smile, a chat with your neighbor, and quiet prayer in hidden places. It’s important if it’s what He’s asking you to do. Oh, and this especially includes all those hours every week studying Thai. 🙂 You won’t be sorry for putting yourself into long hours of studying. He’s honored by you putting much effort into it.

-It takes time to integrate into a new culture—I don’t care how much you love the people, the Country, or the climate. 🙂 Keep this in mind, and expect that there  will be many, many times that you feel like a fish out of water. This is normal, but keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and know that someday you’ll feel more at home, be able to understand what people are talking about around you, and make small talk with the person in line behind you at the coffee shop. Eventually your heart will find rest here, and you’ll KNOW that yeah, this is where you’re supposed to be. And best thing ever—you will get to the place when you can offer more than just a smile and a few simple words when it comes to communicating. Be patient. 🙂

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-Always, always remember the faithfulness of God and His ability to provide what you need. Don’t waste time worrying about how it ill all pan out in the future or how you’ll deal with unseen problems. It’s not worth your energy. Instead, spend it all focused on the knowledge of His goodness to you in the past and what that means for your future. Remember that He doesn’t owe you anything—every good thing is a gift from His hand. Dwell on His overwhelming goodness and gifts to you, and accept them with gratefulness.

-Balance is a key word for all of life, just like Mrs. Brown told you. 😉 Apply it to any situation.

-Don’t try to be some “amazing missionary”—it’s God’s work, remember? Let His Spirit work, and follow Him. Believe it or not, He’ll show you what to do if you ask Him.

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-Sometimes you just need to have fun. And don’t forget to laugh. A lot. 🙂

Yeah, I’d say those are some of the main things God has taught me this year. Good to process, and be able to look back on all that He has done.
Thank you Jesus! Here’s to the next year…may it be as grand and as much of an opportunity to see God’s hand moving. 🙂 

December Pictures

Happy New Year, everyone! I just love a new year, with new beginnings and fresh new start.  Resolutions, no, but I am a goal-setter. I love being able to work towards do-able reach-able goals for a new year. Does anyone else choose a word for the new year? I’ve started doing that in the past few years, and I’ve loved it. Something about having one word of focus brings things into perspective. Last year the word was “beauty” and the focus was seeing God’s beauty in everything. This year the word is “dwell” from Psalm 91:1, and the focus is to dwell in His presence more. I realized that I had gotten to the place of just getting my Bible reading and prayer done for the day without really communing with Him. So this is really challenging me to talk with Him and not just to Him–and to spend time sitting at His feet.

So December…pictures! There are lots. Skip over this post if you don’t like pictures. 🙂 December was crazy busy, and I loved it, but I’m glad for a new fresh month. 🙂 Here’s some of my month:

1I think they’re both so cute…but especially the hat. 🙂

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This dear lady is my mentor and “mom” in Thailand. How did I get so blessed?3

Our team Christmas suppper. Katrina outdid herself, as you can see. 🙂4 5 6 7 8 10

We had ourselves a little unplanned “family Christmas” one night. 🙂 Love these dear ladies who are my teammates. 12

We ran out of room under the tree. 😉13

Decorating for Christmas at IGo…14

We celebrated birthdays this month…several, in fact! This is happy birthday to Carolyn and Kimberly.16

Christmas party at Ransom!17 18 19 20

Christmas caroling for outreach—so much fun!!

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These are the crazy girls I hang out with every day. 😉21

The Christmas story at Thai church–I love seeing how each culture portrays it just a little differently! 🙂22

Christmas eve party…23 24

Christmas day…listening to the Christmas story.

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It was authentically Christmas, because there were games…

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food….(lots)
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fun hats…:)

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And good people to share it with!31 32.5

This is the last supper. Because then Katelyn boarded a plane and left, with no immediate plans of return. My heart is very tired of goodbyes. 😦

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We came home and found carolers across the street–not a common occurrence in Thailand!

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Hanging out at our house. 🙂33

Over break we went to Lampang one day to some of the pottery shops. 34

Figuring out that map. 😉35

We thought we had good seats on the train…but they were right beside the bathroom, and sadly the bathroom door wouldn’t stay shut.36

We devised several different methods to save ourselves from the stench. 🙂

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The fun group that took the train to Lampang.38.5

Another fun girls night out while the guys were camping…

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Supper at Mae Wan’s! Love this lady. 🙂39

Christmas eve…cranking ice cream.40

Hanging out…41

Letting off lanterns just as the New Year came in. 1

This was before Katelyn left….our girls bike trip to Pai, thailand. Here we are…looking like real bikers and stuff..or not. haha..2

So much fun biking through some of the most beautiful scenery, even if we were freezing. 🙂3 4

Made it to our guesthouse…where the rooms were actually warm! 🙂
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Our breakfast was very Thai…rice soup, sticky rice and meat, and stuff to make toast.7

Noel and I by the sweet red car. 🙂8

All of us. ❤9

Pit stop on the way back–enjoying some of the amazing view and awesome friends. 10 11

Lunch stop..12

A new friend…

13Some of the beauty where we first stopped.

So that’s a peak into my December.

~

Contentment

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“If we wished to gain contentment, we might try such rules as these:
1. Allow thyself to complain of nothing, not even of the weather.
2. Never picture thyself to thyself under any circumstances in which thou art not.
3. Never compare thine own lot with that of another.
4. Never allow thyself to dwell on the wish that this or that had been, or were, otherwise than it was, or is. God Almighty loves thee better and more wisely than thou dost thyself.
5. Never dwell on the morrow. Remember that it is God’s, not thine. The heaviest part of sorrow often is to look forward to it. “The Lord will provide.”
― Edward Bouverie Pusey

November in Pictures…

Yay for a good month! Honestly, there’s something about getting the first year on the field under your belt. Not that the road smooths out or gets easier necessarily, but one thing is true, it does begin to feel more and more like “home”. And for that I am thankful. November was a good month, but it went by soooo fast. Which is such a cliche thing to say. But honestly, I think it was one of the fastest months this year. 🙂 So here are some of my highlights…

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Sometimes (or a lot of times) baking can be therapeutic in the midst of a crazy schedule. 😉
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Fun new things!2

New cards being cranked out…I think these are pretty cool. Compliments of Rosa. 🙂3

I just liked this car.  4

My extremely expensive sweet potato–and sadly the only documentation of my Thanksgiving. But I had it! 🙂5

6One morning that I actually got up in time to sit outside and drink my coffee while watching the sunrise.

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Here we are studying about budgeting and using our money wisely (says the staff person who was challenged about as much as the students).8

Beauty.9

So Loi Kratong happened. And I pretended like I was a tourist for a night. It was fun. 🙂10

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We got flooded for part of a morning. 🙂 Which basically means that the drainage system couldn’t keep up with the rain, so it all drained to the low areas (which is where we are).17

I bought a pumpkin, finally. 18

Promptly baked it…

coffee

…and made a pumpkin spice latte. 🙂 Happiness. 20

More beauty.
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Had our last ministry night with these ladies. So blessed to have had the chance to walk alongside such amazing examples of Godly femininity.
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We had a birthday! We celebrated. 🙂IMG_3169

Pizza party!IMG_3171

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So we took this bike trip to the wild yonder up Doi Suthep (one of “our” mountains). We were high enough  we were basically sitting in the clouds and they were dripping on us. 🙂 And we were freezing. And it was fun. IMG_3180 IMG_3181 IMG_3182

That’s my November! Hope you enjoyed!

When life is always changing…

I used to have an idea that I can do change pretty well. Truth is, God did make me a pretty adaptable person, and I guess that’s a good thing considering the lifestyle God has led me into. But this past year has been revamping and challenging my ability to adapt quickly. Mission life can do that to you, I guess, but not just mission life. Life in general is just always subject to change, and can so often leave you reeling, not quite sure how that threw you for a loop.

So I’ve been on a mission over the past weeks, asking God to teach me what it means to do change well. My life has been one of continual change in the past year. From moving away from family and across the seas, living with Thai people, then not living with them anymore, joining a team in a ministry, saying goodbye to several very close friends who left here, one teammate leaving and another one coming, my family leaving the church I’ve always been a part of and grew up in, our team starting discipleship skills training within the ministry, and lots of little things in between. I don’t claim to have experienced as much continual change as some people, but the truth is, we all face it to a certain degree, especially if we choose to live with a surrendered heart towards God. He has a tendency to lead His people onto paths of unpredictability, where we are forced to choose to trust Him.

I’ve been feeling like maybe after all, I just don’t do change well, and it’s far too easy for me to hold tightly to same-ness and cling even harder to those close to me in order for some semblance of comfort and familiarity. I suppose that in and of itself is not all bad, but it can so quickly turn to control and the inability to enjoy life because you’re always fearing what’s going to happen up ahead.

God has been so faithful through this past year since I joined Ransom—and I’d say this is one of the bigger lessons He’s emphasizing to me now. Some of the things He’s been reminding me of lately…

Don’t hold on to the past

It’s so easy to do, and it’s so easy to try to recreate the past with what we enjoyed the most about a certain period. Every once in awhile I get a certain ache when I remember memories or precious things/experiences from the past, but I have to realize that each one of them was a gift to me from God, for that time, just as today also is a gift from His hand. If I spend too much time thinking about those things back there, I miss the joy of what He’s giving me today just by not being aware of the gift that it is.

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Surrender the future

One of the most cliché things to say, but it’s true. It’s also easy to say, but not easy to do. Here is yet another area where we can totally miss the joy of today by worrying about tomorrow. My tendency when I am seeing change in the future is to allow fear to sneak in. What will it be like? What if I don’t have what I need? What if, what if, what if??? “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Take no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matt 6)

“…don’t ever allow yourself to begin trying to picture what it will be like. Believe me, when you get to the places which you dread you will find that they are as different as possible from what you have imagined…” (Hinds Feet on High Places)

So far, to my knowledge, it’s never really gotten anyone anywhere to worry, or try to imagine what’s in the future. From my own experience, it totally detracts from the moment and causes more stress than anything.

Lately the exercise that helps me the most when I tempted to look into the future and worry is to remember that He is my Shepherd, and that He will always provide just what I need and when I need it.

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”

It most likely won’t always be what I think it should be, but it will be enough, and it will be good. Because whenever I look into the past, even where I see pain, I see His faithfulness standing out and above it all.  Looking back always reminds me of times when I thought I wouldn’t make it, but I always did, and He did give me what I needed for that time. And I smile because I know…I KNOW that the future is safe in His hands.

Live fully today

One of the biggest things I’m processing right now is the fact that on the field, people are coming and going all the time. Saying goodbyes becomes a part of life that is just reality, as much as we might hate it. But if I spend time dwelling on the inevitable goodbyes for close, dear friends, I can totally miss the opportunities that I have with them today, while they’re still here.

What are ways that I can live fully in the gift of today? One thing that helps me is to fill my thoughts with thoughts of gratefulness. View everything as a gift from His hand and thank Him for it, good or bad. It totally changes your outlook from feeling as though you are owed, to realizing all that you are receiving unworthily.

“When I realize that it is not God Who is in my debt, but I who am in His great debt, then doesn’t all become a gift?” Anne Voskamp

Go from dreading having something taken from you to enjoying what it is for you to enjoy today. It was specially crafted for you, from the Father’s hand. Don’t waste it!
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Don’t try to control

And as bad as it sounds, be willing to embrace pain. The truth is, pain and joy flow together on parallel tracks. To receive one in its fullness, you receive the other. To stifle pain is to stifle joy in its fullness. It’s so tempting to try to protect yourself from the pain that comes from so much change. To try to control any semblance of sameness and not be willing to embrace change shows a lack of trust in God’s plan. Do I really think my plan is better than His, or am I willing to lay down what I think is best and entrust my life and future into His hands?

It’s scary, it’s risky, and it’s hard. Sometimes it feels like we’re stepping out on a limb with no promise of tomorrow. Maybe we are. But as we relinquish control to God, we are stepping into a vulnerable place that may actually turn out to be something incredibly wonderful and beautiful.

Believe God

My lack of trust and my tendency to control pretty much always stems from the fact that I am not believing God. I’m not believing what He clearly says in His Word.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matt. 11:28,29)

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.(Phil. 4:19)

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:37-39)

And on and on it goes. It’s true, life is unpredictable, and bad or terrible things may happen. But in spite of that, He does promise to provide whatever we need for those moments. And we can always know that no matter what we face in the future, we have the promise of a perfect home and eternal reward that will make it all worthwhile. (2 Cor. 4:17)

And my favorite part? He never changes. We know that, but sometimes we don’t really know it. God really, truly is unchanging. Sometimes when the winds of change threaten to overwhelm me, I remember to be still and know that He is God. One of my favorite songs right now is Be Still and Know by Steven Curtis Chapman:

Be still and know that He is faithful
Consider all that he has done
Stand in awe and be amazed
And know that He will never change

What a reminder that our longing for sameness and stability can be found in God and God alone. As long as we search for it here on earth, in others, in circumstances or in feelings, we will be disappointed over and over again. But not with Him. He never changes.

So what is my conclusion in my search for how to do change well? I don’t know if I’ll really ever be able to do it well. The truth is, it sometimes hurts, and probably always will to a certain degree. But the simple fact of the matter is that God is faithful, good, and my Provider. I don’t need to fear the future, and I don’t need to fear change. I can embrace it fully because when I look back, I see the how He’s always done it for me before, so I know He’ll keep doing it.

RED

A long, long time ago, there lived a beautiful woman in a great and wicked city. I don’t know much about her story, but I know enough to assume that it must have been tragic and filled with pain, for no woman ends up where she ended up for no reason.  When they found her, she was living in what we would, in modern times, call a red-light district. Truly, the color red was significant to her—it later saved her life. What was amazing about this woman was that she heard stories about God, and tucked them away in her heart. She must have seen enough of the emptiness of her people to realize that theirs was a religion of hollow hope and unfulfilled longings.  She began to secretly believe in this God Whom she knew to perform miracles and show Himself strong on behalf of His people.

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Eventually her people came to destruction because of their unbelief. But she was saved because of her faith. She, who formerly would have hung her head in shame because of her lifestyle, eventually made it into the hall of fame. Hebrews 11 tells us that Rahab didn’t perish with those who didn’t believe, which implies that she did believe.

The red that is so significant of the color of her profession came to mean so much more…salvation. New life. REDEMPTION.

This story grips my heart these days and reminds me afresh of the absolute, utter beauty of redemption. How can God take something so used, so broken, and so destitute and make it into a flawless picture of purity and holiness? It’s a miracle, really.

If there was ever any doubt that God uses messed up people to fulfill His divine purposes, this story derails them. If there was ever any doubt that someone who has been involved in that kind of lifestyle can ever be effective for God, then it CANNOT stand against a story like this. God does it. He just DOES, and He delights in doing it.

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We in our humanness can see such limits to what can change and how people can find healing. But we honestly have no clue, most of the time. God, He loves to bring us full circle and use us in ways we never, ever thought possible.

Tell me it isn’t awesome that a woman whom the Bible refers to as a harlot ended up being in the lineage of our Lord Jesus Christ? It seriously sends me into Hallelujah Praise dances over here, people!! !

Tonight it’s fresh for me and burning on my heart, because today I saw God use this story to bring hope. And it just reminds me once again how much God longs to show us His glory, if we will but ask to see it revealed.

“By faith the harlot Rahab perished not… (Hebrews 11)

Yeah. Because my Jesus, my Lord, my God—He redeems and sets the captive free.  Hallelujah!!!

October

It’s time for my documentation of the month of October in pictures, and I’ll just be honest–I really didn’t do so amazing with the documentation this month. Most of my pics are from my vacation in Malaysia, but they’re pretty cool pictures, so hopefully that will make up for my lack of motivation elsewhere. Let’s just say life is full and good and busy, so taking pictures has taken somewhat of a back-seat these days. 🙂

There’s something I’ve been thinking about saying on this blog, kind of as a disclaimer, kind of as an explanation. I honestly don’t know how many people even read this blog–and I’m not doing it for the numbers anyway– but I do know that there are some of you who read mostly because I’m living overseas and involved in mission work. Sometimes you may wonder why you don’t see more pictures of that kind of thing on here (i.e, mission life, ect.). There are several reasons for that. For one thing, life does settle into a normal routine (even though it has the usual ebbs and flows) and when you live somewhere for more than 6 months or so at a time, you don’t exactly want to go around looking like a tourist, with a camera slung over your shoulder. For another thing, and probably more importantly, because of the nature of the work that I’m involved in, I often don’t want to post too many pictures or too much information. It’s not unlike if you are involved in any given ministry anywhere. Where the work involves people, it involves sensitive information that is privy to those particular people and whomever they decide to share it with. It’s not to be shared with the public, or you risk breaking confidence.

When it comes to missions, often we struggle with finding a balance in this sort of thing, because people support missionaries, and people support missions. They want to know what’s going on, and how they can pray. In most cases it’s with the sincerest of motives that people ask lots of questions and generally want to know lots of details about the people you work with and the progress that’s being made.  And it’s hard when we have to be vague for the sake of guarding the confidence of those whom we work with. And sometimes we can risk offending people who sincerely want to help or know details.  This year I made a commitment to do one of these photo posts every month, to keep people updated back home in what my life looks like here. But to be honest, I’ve struggled with it because it can be a rather dishonest representation of what life here really looks like.  Maybe there’s a bit of me that is seeking to vindicate myself when I say this, but contrary to what it may sometimes look like, my life is not all about drinking coffee, and hanging out with friends. What the majority of my day-to-day life looks like is something that cannot be documented or even relayed verbally in a lot of cases.  If you do want to know more about what it looks like, get on my email newsletter list. But even then, there are things that can’t be shared.

So there’s a bit of honesty for you. 🙂  yeah, sometimes I can quite easily get on a soapbox—just ask my siblings. 😉

So. Onto October.  One of the highlights was my getaway with my dear friend Katelyn. Our birthdays are about a week apart, born the same year, so we got the brilliant idea to celebrate by taking a trip to somewhere special. We picked a spot, Penang Malaysia, and started scouring Agoda for the rest. 🙂 Twas grand, and lovely, and all things amazing.

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Excited to be traveling again. 🙂2

Once we got there, we decided the best plan of action would be to rent a motorbike and show ourselves around. So we did. 🙂 She navigated, and I drove, and we made a pretty awesome team that way, if I do say so myself. 3

Beautiful views…4

Lovely old-looking coffee shop…5

And such cultural diversity. It was extremely intriguing, and also sad in some ways with all of the different religious representations you would see. 6 7 8 9 10 11

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I have now discovered Old Town White Coffee. I would go back to Malaysia just for this–it was really that good. 🙂 I just had to take this pic to document for all of you folks back in the states what Asian desserts often look like (on the left side of the menu).  Here we have red beans, corn, and some type of jello type stuff served on top of ice cream, for just a few examples. 🙂 Still haven’t developed much of a taste for that kind of thing. 😉16.5 16 17

We were wanting Indian, but stumbled upon this little place that sold Chinese food. So we thought it might be cool to get a dish at each place. Broadens the experiences. 🙂

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You seriously cannot go wrong when it comes to Indian food. I love it every time. 19 20.5

This was our trusty bike that got us around. In spite of the fact that it was an automatic, (not my preference) it served us quite well and we had fun. 😉

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Scenic driving…21 22

Rest stop by a little water fall–and selfies. haha…we both have an aversion the them, but when it’s only two of you, what do you do? 🙂

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We had to buy some of that goodness before leaving the country. 🙂25

God gave me an incredible gift when He gave me the friendship of this girl. Can’t even say how much I’m going to miss her when she leaves. The opportunity to do this trip together was yet another big gift from God.
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I never get tired of the beach. Although we did have some rain to contend with, we also had some nice sunshine too, so it was all good.

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I told Katelyn I wanted to see a jellyfish, and then soon after found a dead one in the sand. So behold, the jellyfish. 🙂

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Just because I think they’re really cool looking. 31

Our last night at a cute little Malaysian place.

So that was our awesome little getaway to Malaysia. So awesome and refreshing.
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Around here, we are still making cards and enjoying watching God at work. (which He loves to do in amazing ways. :))DSCN2949

One night we tried this Babylonian restaurant. Yet another place I will take guests when they come to visit me…(hint, hint) IMG_2916

Life changing Bible study–Believing God, by Beth Moore. So thankful for how God has been revamping some of my beliefs about Him and Who He is. Believe it or not, He really is Who He says He is. 😉

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“Your Word is a Lamp to my feet…”IMG_2923IMG_2933

Mums. Even if the weather doesn’t feel like Fall, I’m attempting to remember that it is that time of year. 🙂IMG_3051Mail! Always makes me feel special and loved to get handwritten cards or letters. 🙂

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So that’s my October. I’ve got another post marinating…:) So I’ll be back soon.

Hope everyone is having a lovely Autumn.