Everyone needs a little bit of Krabi

krabi1When Jeff and Leslie emailed and told us they were going to be back in Asia, we started trying to figure out how we could make our schedules cross paths.  At first, it seemed impossible, but things eventually came together and we were able to meet up with them on a beautiful beach in Thailand.

*as a sidenote, I just love that Ellie still brings her baby doll with her wherever we go.  I caught her showing Abby the city as we passed through it.krabi2I didn’t know what to expect of Krabi, so I googled it, and the images I saw couldn’t be real, so I closed them down and settled on being surprised.  Imagine my supreme surprise when those dreamy pictures became reality!  It took us 3 flights, a van ride, a scooter ride, and a boat ride to get to our vacation spot, and it was worth every. single. minute. of travel time!krabi3Thailand is one hour ahead of China, so my mornings began really early (I am an early riser to begin with!) as my body adjusted to the time change.  I caught the sun rising over the ocean and palm trees our first morning as I sat on the balcony with my coffee and Bible, and it took my breath away.  Then, after a breakfast spread fit for a king, complete with lattes made to order, we spent tim in the beautiful pool and sunshine.  I think my time on Krabi could have ended here, and I would have left feeling like I had the best vacation ever!krabi4But then, the sun completely rose and we saw the sparkling blue green water and fine sandy beaches and I knew the best was yet to come.  Milkshakes with real ice cream and frappuccinos served in a coconut were frosting on the cake.krabi5We stayed in swimsuits all day and didn’t bother with things like make-up, shoes, or combing our hair.krabi6The clouds.  The trees.  The water and sand.  I felt like we were living in a postcard.krabi8Add to the fabulous scenery good friends, and we had a combo that couldn’t be beat!krabi9Well, I thought it couldn’t be beat.  But then we rented a boat for the day, and not just any boat, but a wooden boat on which we could pretend to be on the Titanic.  Only smaller and still alive.  This boat and driver took us wherever our hearts desired, and they desired crystal water and tropical fish.  So we went snorkeling around different little islands and used our lifejackets for chairs as the curious yellow fish came up around us.  We had a picnic on the boat with cheese from America (because Leslie knows we love cheese!), crackers from Indonesia (another gift from Jeff and Leslie and their travels), Nutter Butter cookies imported from America and Oreos from Thailand.  It was a multi-cultural experience.  Ha!

Being in Krabi felt like living a dream.  We get to travel a lot for various meetings and work related events, so we are fortunate to be able to add side trips inexpensively.  Times like this are a gift from our loving Father who delights in our joy as we delight in Him and His masterpieces!

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Why Chiangmai is worth your vacation days

CM1We love Chiangmai, Thailand!  Every chance we get to go visit, we are filled with excitement and anticipation for all the wonderful things we have found to love in this city.CM2Last May, we spent a few weeks in Chiangmai and visited the zoo.  Somehow, we missed half of it, so this year we went back with some friends who actually know how to see all the animals.  You’d think it was a no-brainer, but we somehow managed to miss most of them last time.  She let me hold her baby any time I wanted to, so I practically stole him for the week.  I think he was my favorite part of Chiangmai this time!CM3There are a ton of really odd things in Thailand, but we have learned that a lot of them are worth checking out.  This trip we went to the PooPoo Paper factory.  They turn elephant poop into paper and you get to participate.  Ellie stirred the poop soup, and we watched how the poop is cleaned, dyed, and turned into paper.  CM4It was a super fascinating process, and worth the $3 entrance fee to learn about.  Of course, they rob your wallet at craft time and in the adorable souvenir shop.  CM5Being a part of the paper making process in such a green way is something I hope my girls remember forever.  Most things can be recycled into something new if you use a little creativity.CM6Next up on the tour of Chiangmai was an Umbrella factory that makes paper umbrellas.  This was a different place than the one we went to last year.  This place was visited by Princess Diana, and we got to see the umbrella made to honor her.  We learned about Princess Diana in school this year, so the girls were able to make some connections, which made my teacher heart jump in excitement.  We also went to another Celadon factory (different than the one last year as well).  Celadon is a beautiful pottery handmade on site.  They are mostly pale green or bright blue unless they have been hand-painted.  I love it!CM7Sticky Falls is a place that was on our list of places we wanted to visit at some point, but hadn’t had the opportunity to go yet.  This year, we went with another mom and her kids (the same friend we went to the zoo with, so I had lots of baby holding time!).  The rock is limestone, so it is naturally gripping.  Unlike most waterfalls, you can climb right up the white rock without slipping.  It was gorgeous day of being in the outdoors that reminded us of how creative Father is!  I left feeling filled with thanksgiving at His perfect gifts.CM8Visiting Chiangmai without repeating the 3d museum wasn’t going to happen, so we took an afternoon and went back to immerse ourselves in the eye-catching illusions.CM9Faith’s personality shines through every image we captured.  She is turning into quite the comedian, always doing something that makes us giggle.  She isn’t afraid to be goofy, and it blesses my heart every time she does!CM10I played around this year so that I could text Cam pictures of all he was missing out on by being the studious student that he is.  As a sidenote, I am so proud of Cameron.  He will be graduating with a Master’s degree from Southwestern in December.  He will get to walk the stage while we are home, and it is a true testament to his ability to multitask and work hard.  So proud.CM11I love how one picture can capture every single girl perfectly.  Gracie is happy to sit all day reading or drawing.  Ellie can’t sit still for long at all, and Faith wants to be an actress.   One picture, three personalities, posed without any thought at all.  I love it.CM12I can’t get over how real the red platform in the sky looks.  It makes my belly tickle just looking at it!  And the pandas.  Pandas are so Chinese that we can’t pass by anything panda related without stopping and saying “awwwww”.  I love my long legged dangling girls in this one.CM13I am not a cat lover.  I appreciate their cuteness and the softness of their fur, but their attitudes are so unpredictable!  If they didn’t shed or turn on you without notice, I would love them.  The 3d cat was so much better than last year’s Catmosphere.   CM14Our friend from China joined us in Thailand for a few days of vacation, and my girls were on cloud 9!  They love being with friends, especially hip, single friends who make them feel like they could rule the world.  I was thinking of going on a magic carpet ride back to the beach, but I think I’d hate the beach without my Prince Charming, so I just went to the next really awesome piece of art instead.Cm15More cats.  I told you.  UN-PRE-DICT-ABLE.  You just never know about these sneaky creatures.

In the midst of all our activities, we ate.  A lot.  If you know us well, you know we love to eat.  We had bagels, hot dogs, pancakes, Auntie Annes, donuts, banoffee drinks (think banana Laffy Taffy married to iced coffee.  SO good!), root beer and Manao, burgers, Mexican food…I could keep listing, but I am starting to feel like a glutton.  And the need to go run.

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When prayer doesn’t seem to work

All prayer is to change the human will into submission to the divine will “as thou wilt.”. . . Practically then, I say, Pray as He did, until prayer makes you cease praying. Pray until prayer makes you forget your own wish, and leave it or merge it in God’s will. The divine wisdom has given us prayer, not as a means whereby we escape evil, but as a means whereby we become strong to meet it. “There appeared an angel unto Him from heaven, strengthening Him” [Luke 22:43]. That was the true reply to His prayer.’

Frederick W. Robertson

There are times in my life when I wonder if praying really matters.  If it can change anything.  If it really makes a difference.  Last week I read this quote and my prayer world was rocked.  I had always prayed with the mindset of asking Father to change things.  To make the bumps in my life fit a little easier and feel a little smoother.

I have held onto to the doubt for fifteen years that when I really needed Him, when I prayed the prayer that if given the right answer would make my world right again, He failed me.  He didn’t want to give me what I really wanted, what would have made my life better and whole.  I have struggled so many times with my prayer life because of these doubts, never pausing to truly realize that while I was praying for a miracle, He was working one in my heart.  It was a different miracle, but it was one that passed all understanding.  I remember someone asking me one time how I was doing it.  How are you still smiling when your baby is in a casket in the next room?  I remember telling her that He gives us what we need when we need it, and He was giving me abundant peace.  That was His answer to my heart’s plea.  While I was asking Him to breathe life back into Chloe, He was breathing life into me.  He was filling me with His Holy Spirit power and making my heart beat in tune with His.  He was giving me strength and making my wish become the same as His.

I didn’t clearly recognize any of this until last week, but now I can see His hand, His love, His faithfulness, and his oh so powerful strength carrying me through every moment.  I am quick to fall prey to the enemy stealing my peace even now, fifteen years later, and have to constantly capture every thought and doubt and make it obedient to Christ, but this has changed me.  As I have prayed this week for myself, my family, my friends, I have prayed from a different angle.  It has made such a difference in my heart to know and feel that when I pray, I am inviting His strength to make whatever comes okay.  He has my world under control, and all I have to do is sit back and be obedient to whatever He tells me to do.  He is going to work all the details out perfectly and if I will just allow Him, He will turn all my wishes into the same wishes He has already designed for me.

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Flashbacks

Mother’s Day, May 2001

Nearing the end of my third trimester, swollen, emotional, excited, nervous, hopeful.  I’m standing in church this Mother’s Day morning wearing a light, minty green maternity dress wishing I was already holding my daughter. I don’t know if I am allowed to stand up when they honor moms.  I don’t know if I am considered a mom yet, but I know I feel like a mom.  I am so full of fierce love for this baby I have yet to meet. I want to love her and protect her and cherish every little thing about her. I just know being a mama to this little girl we have named Chloe is going to be the best part of my life.

Mother’s Day, May 2002

An undefined Mother’s Day.  Here I am, pregnant again, without a baby to hold.  The baby that made me a mama is cold in the ground but still warm in my heart.  Am I allowed to stand up this year?  No one can see my baby.  Can I say that I am the mother of two?  As I stand in church, holding my nephew tightly to my chest, I start to weep.  I put him down and race from the sanctuary.  It isn’t supposed to hurt like this.  I should be rejoicing and celebrating motherhood!  I am longing for what should have been.  I miss my daughter, am jealous that other moms are holding their children with smiles on their faces, when my heart is broken into a million pieces and I am expected to be happy.  I am beginning to hate this day.

Mother’s Day, every year

I hopefully wait for this day, loving that I have three beautiful vivacious daughters to spend the day with.  I have a husband whom I adore that loves me with the kind of love I dreamed of having when I was a young girl dreaming of marriage.  These children we have are an overflow of our relationship and a blessing straight from Heaven.  So, every year when the emotions hit me in the face, I feel guilty.  I want to only feel gratefulness.  I want to rejoice and smile all day while doing a little happy dance that shows my excitement at being a mama.  I hope every year that I won’t feel the despair, but every year, there is a moment when I mourn for the baby who died.  I sit and remember her.  I remember her smell and her sounds and the way she felt when I held her.  I remember how my heart felt when I looked at her…and I remember how my heart felt when I saw her for the last time.  I’m not sure why Mother’s Day is the day all the memories bubble out, but maybe it is because her birthday is coming and she is already on the front of my mind.   Maybe it is because Chloe is the child that turned me into a mom.

I haven’t forgotten her, and there isn’t a time that I can remember that I haven’t wished and wondered.  I wish for her when we are experiencing great and exciting things.  I wonder if she would have fit in with her sisters and shared the same tight bond with them that they share with each other.  When I hear giggling in my house, there is a pang in my heart for her.  When someone comments about how my girls look so different, I want to tell them that their sister didn’t look like them either.  That she had a reddish tint to her wavy hair.  I just want the world to know she existed.  That she came into this world and changed our lives in ways that nothing else has ever come close to doing.  Her life, her short, beautiful life, was worth the heartbreak.  I wouldn’t go back and change having her for my daughter, so this year, as I remember and feel, I do feel grateful.  I try to shake off the guilt and give myself permission to cry.  Sometimes life hurts, but He is always a good, good Father who is faithful to gently wrap me up in His embrace and replace my tears with joy.

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Checking out.

krabi

When I search for Krabi, Thailand, this picture above is what pops up.  We are headed there in about 20 minutes!

We have 4 days of blissful beach days with friends planned in Krabi before a week of sem classes for Cameron in Chiangmai, Thailand.  I wanted to let you know I am not falling off the face of the planet for the next couple weeks…just gonna be soaking up some sun.

I’ll let you all know if the picture meets reality 😉

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Movin’ on Up to the NORTHside

moving

Life decisions rarely come easy or quick, am I right?!  A few months ago we were given a choice to move the the north side of the island we currently live on in order to be near our teammates.  It would be a lot easier to be encouraging team leaders if we actually lived nearby.

However.

Our girls have friends in this city.  Not just any old friends, but friends that are perfectly matched to their ages, whom they adore.  These friends are answers to so many prayers that we lifted to the King, and He wouldn’t be asking us to move away from them, from HIS blessings to us, to a city where the foreign kiddo population is far younger than our girls.  Right?

We lifted it up, talked it over and over, from every direction, and decided that, no, He was not asking us to move.  The best thing for our family is to stay planted and grow some roots.

Maybe that was the problem.  The whole roots thing.  Our roots should be in HIM, not in a location.  He continued to whisper to our hearts, never letting the final decision we made feel final.  Then, little by little, the work we are doing here seemed to be wrapping up.  Not in a “we don’t need to do that work anymore” kind of way, but in a way that meant our involvement will start to be less and less as they become more able to move to a healthy place on their own.  Some other opportunities presented themselves and the more we talked through what a move would look like for our family, the more we began to really hear what He was telling us to do.

  1.  We would be able to host teams more easily, and having American brothers and sisters come to partner and work alongside us is priceless!
  2. Our girls were given built-in best friends when they became a group of three sisters so us feeling they are entitled to different friends is exactly that.  Entitlement.  He will bless them and care for them far more than we are able to.
  3. Our girls aren’t involved much in what we do over here (neither am I for that matter!) and that could really change with new opportunities.
  4. Being able to encourage and bless our teammates in tangible ways will help us to truly embrace the role He has placed us in.
  5. We can be much more strategic about where we choose to live, enabling us to be surrounded by more locals.
  6. Being able to run to the beach and run the trails (it didn’t rank high on the list, but come on!  It made the list for sure.)  The prospect of paddle boarding in the deep, blue sea doesn’t hurt either!

These are just a few of the things on our pros list, and we aren’t naive enough to not recognize that almost every one of these things can be done where we are, but we are wise enough (through and by Him alone) to recognize that He has prepared our hearts for this.  As we shared with our girls in family devo time last week that moving was a possibility and talked that through with them, we have been more than surprised as they have come to us at different times expressing that they would be sad to leave their friends, but are excited about the possibility of life in Haikou.

Y’all.

Our Father doesn’t just love us.  He adores us and wants the very best for us.

Shout it.

Go on and scream it from the mountains

Go on and tell it to the masses

that HE IS GOD!

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