Thursday, August 30, 2012

Out of Control (Part 2) And Loving It!

A post about how letting God take control was THE BEST decision EVER!
Well, you may have read my last post entitled, Out of Control where I was sharing about my struggles with trusting the steering wheel of my life wholeheartedly to God and more specifically with the search for a new house.
And I asked you to pray, "for God's wisdom with our decision making over the coming weeks and months... to be trusting in Him and not being lead by our own thoughts".
To get three houses to the stage of actually making appointments to see them (and liking them) was an effort in itself, and when all three of those promising situations ended with three massive big STOP signs, I must admit, it was hard not to let disappointment and wanting to change the outcome myself creep in.
But I didn't.
I took my own advice and just kept trusting that God had something better for our family and that it would be all become clear in His timing and not mine- anyone else ever been there?
And so, I stopped waiting for the phone to ring with agents who had said they'd call and never did, or landlords saying that we could have the house rather than that other people who’d offered more money than us (even though we’d got in first) or that the people who'd quickly rented the house before we could make our decision had just changed their minds... but it just didn't happen that way.
So then last Tuesday I found out about a house (in the area we'd hoped for) that had just come on the rental market.  We went to look at it that night and besides the small yard being a complete mess, it had no kitchen, no curtains and was about half the size of the house we currently live in, I LOVED IT!  
I was even heard saying out loud that I was happy to pay the advertised amount per month (to Dave's distress).  Dave on the other hand was hoping for a cheaper price but the agent assured us that the owner would definitely not negotiate on price because once the house was all fixed up with a kitchen installed, curtains etc that they were going to put the rental price up higher!  
Well, thankfully, Dave agreed that we should still proceed with the necessary steps to renting the house.  And that was when the fun began...
About thirty minutes after saying to the agent that we wanted to move ahead, she called us back and told us that the owner would lower the rental amount and it was the exact amount that Dave and I had privately discussed that we’d “ideally” like to pay!!
The next time we went to look at the house, the owner wanted to meet us there.  Long story cut short, here’s what transpired:
  • We found out that the house owners are a lovely couple who live in the street and have two kids, Eli and Tobi’s ages.
  • The owners are putting in a gas stove top (no oven though), a new refrigerator and some cupboards.
  • The owners also said they’d put hot water in the kitchen (something I have not had for over two and a half years…) This was when I started to feel REALLY SPOILT.
  • The owners are also getting the small yard area cleaned up and putting lawn down.  They had some large tree stumps removed and now it’s big enough to put our kid’s swing set there (we’d told our children that we couldn’t take their swings to our new house and they’d been brainstorming who they could give them to).
  • The owner was about to order curtains and gave me the fabric samples and told me that I COULD CHOOSE to make sure that I liked them- what?
  • The ZOE missionaries offered to come and help us move (this Saturday…) Did I mention that just 11 days after calling up about this house we are moving in?? How quick was that? But then we decided to just get a quote from a removal company incase- just to see how much it would be (we’d been told by many people it was really expensive) and the quote came back really reasonable!
  • Then… now get this… someone put the money into our bank account to pay for the moving company!!   How good is God, right?
Now just to finish off this post about our whirlwind of a week.  You might think that I’d be feeling slightly stressed out about packing our house up in 11 days total, however, I am just feeling so remarkably blessed right now.  Seriously, it’s all good.

And the funny thing is that all week Dave and I have been reflecting on just how God’s plans for us are so much better than the plans we make for ourselves.  How He knew all along what we needed and how He wanted to orchestrate these events to show us His amazing love.
And then tonight, Dave’s phone starts ringing and it’s the owner of the first house we'd look at (a house shop we really wanted to rent) … that we thought we had agreed to, until someone else came in and offered more money than us and he decided to rent it to them…
And he tells Dave that the deal with the other person has fallen through and that the house is available again now and asked did we want it.
And we got to see… the comparison between what we would’ve chosen and settled for and God’s wonderful, amazing alternative!
And we both looked at each other just knowing how good it felt being out of control and knowing that the One who knows us better than we know ourselves always has a GREAT plan for us.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Out of Control

I'm sorry, I know I haven't written much since being back.  But in all honesty some times, some days, some weeks... there really doesn't appear to be a lot that seems "news worthy" amongst the ordinary.
Oh, but our kids did begin their new school year this week.
That was exciting.
Tobi began Grade 2, Eliana Grade 1 and Spencer continued back at his preschool program.
Both Tobi and Eli's teachers are at the beginning of their careers, taking my memories back all of about 11 years ago when I first entered the teaching profession.  It's so wonderful to see their fresh ideas and enthusiasm.  I'm really excited for the year ahead.

Some of you may know from our visit to Australia, that we were coming back to begin the process of house hunting... {and that's another whole blog post right there}

People move houses for different reasons: for work, to be closer to family, to live near a particular school, for a view of the sea, to obtain a more peaceful life style or because they outgrew their house.

But one of the reasons that we are looking to move house is because we are comfortable.
We love the house we current rent.  It was a blessing to find it and it is just such a wonderful place to live.  We live opposite Tobi's school.  It has been a safe and enjoyable experience.  No complaints {seriously}.

And strangely, through all of that, there is a part of us that yearns for more of the uncomfortable too.  To rely on God more.  To have to speak more Thai to be understood.  To be able to reach out to neighbors outside of our comfort zone and to take the next step of immersing ourselves more into life here in Thailand.

There's a small part of all this that really excites me because firstly, I kinda like change and secondly, I know from past experiences where we've had to rely heavily upon God being in control (and not our own clever planning or systems) that He totally came through.
But honestly, for the most part, it scares me.  I know my Thai is not that good {yet}.  I know that I haven't probably been very hospitable to my English-speaking neighbors, and I know that relying on God {wholeheartedly} and being totally out of control is not really an easy task.

I read this passage recently about giving God control (like handing over the steering wheel):

I don't have a problem having God in the driver's seat when the road is straight and there are no other cars around, but throw in few curves, a couple sets of traffic lights, and some traffic, and suddenly I am  no longer a silent passenger:
"How come we're stopping here?"
"We should have turned right back there!"
"The freeway is faster."
And sadly, many times I ask God to get out of the drivers seat completely. And since He is the God of free will, He hands me a road map and sends me off to navigate the road He created.

So I drive. I make wrong turns, I get lost, I break the law and sometimes I even cause accidents. Yet I won't let the One that knows the road from start to finish navigate and I won't let the One with the perfect driving record drive.

I don't know about you, but I'm getting tired of making wrong turns. I'm tired of driving through life so stressed out about the road ahead that I can't enjoy the section of road in front of me. Basically, I'm tired of driving, but the solution requires a decision that's not easy. It means I have to turn the wheel over.

To turn over the wheel to someone else all comes down to an issue of trust. God has proven over and over again in both the Bible and my own life, that He can be trusted and that He's far more capable than I of navigating through the roads of this life.

So if you're someone who prays, please ask for God's wisdom with our decision making over the coming weeks and months.  We want to be trusting in Him and not being lead by our own thoughts.
We have no time frame yet either, it could happen tomorrow or months from now, so any prayers for a settledness (especially for the kids) amongst the process of seeking and searching would also be greatly appreciated.

And my hope for you also is that whatever that 'thing' is that you hold so tight, that you be able to hand it Him this week.  To experience being out of control, but seeing how the "One who knows the road from start to finish" comes through for you.

Friday, August 10, 2012

An Answered Prayer

I remember listening to the school counselor explain how every time he’s moved to a different international school, students always ask one question early in the opening conversation and that is, “How long are you here for?”

I can see now after living here for over two years how insecure thoughts like, I’m not going to trust you/ spend time with you/ invest in you or let you in to my life can easily arise when defenses go up and worries creep in that someone might only 'share life' with us temporarily.

It’s hard to love and open your heart to someone who you know won’t be around for very long.

And there lies one of the challenges of living in a transient community.

I prayed a pray a while ago {okay many prayers} for some more friends.

I have a lot of friends in Australia- like really really good ones.  But those friendships have developed over many years.
Some of my friends I have known since primary school and it didn’t take me long to figure out that you don’t just “make” friends like that overnight.

And so, last August, just as my lovely friend Jessica was heading back to the States for two months, God sent me another friend.  
In walked Kaylee Wolf all fresh faced and bubbly from sunny California and I was so thankful when we instantly got along.
 There was just one catch… she was only staying for one year!

And it would have been easy to keep her at arms length.
To protect my heart.
Knowing that in August 2012, this friend that I’d made would be leaving.

But instead I chose to enjoy.
To be grateful.
To laugh.
To share.
To open up.

To risk the heartache of saying ‘see you later’, not ever knowing if or when “later” would ever be.

And selfishly I don’t want her to go.

But I know that she’s listening to God.  And I know she will always follow what He tells her to do.  Just like when she packed up and left home to come to Thailand.

And above all else I’m so glad that she opened up her heart and her life to me.   I feel privileged to have met her.
And, oh, so very grateful for the richness of her friendship over the past 12 months.

I’ll never forget…
When she came to keep me company while Dave was staying in a village and our conversations at 3am quickly turned to muffled screams as we tried to fend off the biggest cockroach we’d both ever seen.

How she became my 6am walking partner for many months protecting me from stray dogs by carrying pepper spray on a key chain.

Her teaching me how to make chai yen (Thai cold tea) and spoiling our family with her delectable chocolate chip cookies that she’d baked.

Her shared love of coffee and shopping and planning parties.

Our trip to Bangkok.  For the adventure it was and the emotional challenge we both faced after visiting the slum.

The bible study we took at the local café and the discussions we had around the topic.

Swimming, bowling, teaching English together, the driving lessons, having a pedicure, eating rotis, sharing Thanksgiving recipes and the funny times we had out and about in Chiangmai getting lost and mostly-

Sharing a lot of laughs!!

I’ll always remember Kaylee as a real girly-girl.  She fitted in perfectly at Eliana’s Fancy Nancy party.  She LOVES flowers, glitter, bling, dressing up, painting her nails and all things sparkly.

Thanks Kaylee.  It’s been so great having you in my life- worth it even just to have you close by for a year and you were most definitely an answer to my prayer!

You’ll be missed. x  

Monday, August 6, 2012

From Meat Pies to Mu Ping

Our final day in Australia wasn't just filled with packing suitcases, let's be honest... it was mostly about the food!  
Dave's mum (who we'd been staying with for the last three weeks) made sure that every last morsel of Australian tucker was enjoyed from the meat pies and steaks at lunchtime to the roast meat and veggies at dinner.  The last bowls of home-made custard and pudding were licked clean so that as we walked through the doors at the airport, after bidding teary farewells, there was a sweetness to our sadness that only comes from the love and care that family can provide.
To both sets of our parents, we want to publicly acknowledge and thank you for your unconditional love.  You amaze us!  We love you heaps.
Well, we made it home.  
I expressed the reverse culture shock we had on arriving in Australia and it seemed that our return to Thailand had us all experiencing more adjustments as we faced both the excitement of being back mixed with the reality that it could be a very long time before we see some of our favourite people once again.
So what's the first thing one does when returning back to Thailand you may well be wondering?... interestingly it's {once again} mainly got to do with food!
We go and get mu ping- that's what!! (pork skewers and sticky rice)

Breakfast in the park.
And I need to admit, despite having been home just three full days, we've eaten mu ping EVERY day!  Yep!  
So I am happy to report that we are all healthy and well (and well fed too).

We are settling back in nicely and we are looking forward to seeing how God will use our family over the coming months to reach out and care for those around us.
Thank you for your love and support.  For your prayers and your encouragement, we are so very grateful.
Please stay in touch.  We love hearing your news.
A mix of cultures and a new tasty favourite: Vegemite + Sticky rice, invented by Tobi!

Yummy longans for dessert tonight. Mmmmmm.

AND if you're still reading and you haven't yet "liked" the ZOE Foundation Australia Facebook page... DO IT NOW {go on!!!}