Thursday, November 21, 2019

The (Un) Amazing Race

We don't watch 't.v.' here (although we do have Netflix) but in the past, my all-time favourite show was The Amazing Race. I loved watching it to see which countries the teams would go to - especially when it was somewhere I'd been. 

Recently while away at women's retreat, one of my friends told me that the Event Co-ordinator had told her that The Amazing Race was coming to the resort the following day (Sunday). We had actually watched an Amazing Race episode before where the teams came to Chiang Mai, and people we knew saw them at the airport. 

So, when I heard this, I was SO excited! Our retreat finished after lunch on Sunday and I had some flexibility before I had to be at church at 4pm so I was hoping to spot something before I left. I envisioned seeing a clue box, detour, the pit stop mat, teams, camera crew... anything really!

So after lunch, I went to the lobby to check out. I repeated AGAIN about how cool it would be to see The Amazing Race. Just then, my friend spotted something behind us... a team!!!!

Eeeiick! I couldn't believe it. I noticed that they were wearing Amazing Race t-shirts so I grabbed my phone and took this photo.

"Let's go follow them!" I said to my friend, but since she's never even watched the show, she did not look the least bit interested. 
We parted ways and she started walking off to her car and I watched the team get away... {sigh}
Determined not to miss the opportunity for an exciting adventure, I start walking back to my car to dump my belongings so that I could go investigate.
Just then, I spotted a different friend packing her car. I started to explain that the Amazing Race were around somewhere and asked if she wanted to come stalk them with me? 
She said YES!! And then we saw them again!! I started hyperventilating and asked the a team for their photo. Then, I noticed that their t-shirts had some Chinese writing on them. "Oh it must be the Chinese version of the Amazing Race" I told myself.
Who looks more excited? LOL!

And then, off they went again... looking for clues or something!!

Knowing that the resort is big, I suggested to my friend that we ride bikes to get around faster. We set off, giddy with excitement (okay maybe that was just me).

As we rode around scanning the manicured gardens and paths for signs of the competition, we saw some guys up ahead of us, who looked like 'the crew'.
"Are you guys with the Amazing Race" we asked as we pulled up on our bikes. 
"YES!" they replied, "Well... it's a modified version of the race". 
"Can we take your photo?" I asked.

O.K. Yes. I was acting like a bit of a star struck teenager! I know.

So we kept riding around, still surprised that we hadn't seen other teams or the camera crew yet. As we turned around a corner, I spotted a 'challenge'. It looked like teams must have had to scoop animal poop until they reached a certain weight. COOL!

Getting back on our bikes, we kept laughing and searching. Finding one more team (who did not look rushed...hmmm) and evidence of another completed challenge. We were surprised that there was still no 'real' activity or a camera crew.

Eventually, satisfied that there was nothing more to see, we concluded that this "modified" version of the Amazing Race must have been for a Chinese television show or something.

Upon returning home and telling my family about my little adventure, I showed the envelope that I'd found on the ground to my daughter who used Google translate on her phone and then sent the writing to her Chinese friend to translate. We found out that this  whole "amazing" race was actually just organized by a Chinese school and was actually not that amazing after all!! 

Why am I sharing this story? To embarrass myself? Haha. No!
As I was thinking back over this funny experience (I guess you had to be there) it made me reflect on how so much of my time and energy is often taken up "chasing" after things that are not all they seem to be, that do not satisfy or that aren't even the 'real deal'. 

What, at first, sounded to me like the Amazing Race, ended up being so...un-amazing! It seems I had actually been following after something that failed to be what I thought it was.

And it made me question, in real life, what things do I need to stop chasing after this week in order to stay on my course? How can I forget what is behind... refocus, ignore distractions, and strain toward what is ahead? 

If this week you got distracted and ended up going down a wrong path, chasing after the wrong thing or mistakenly thought the modified version was the real thing... Pick yourself back up! Get back on track. It's never too late for the real AMAZING RACE to begin again. 

Phil 3:12 (TPT) I admit that I haven’t yet acquired the absolute fullness that I’m pursuing, but I run with passion into his abundance so that I may reach the purpose that Jesus Christ has called me to fulfill and wants me to discover.  I don’t depend on my own strength to accomplish this; however I do have one compelling focus: I forget all of the past as I fasten my heart to the future instead. I run straight for the divine invitation of reaching the heavenly goal and gaining the victory-prize through the anointing of Jesus.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Full & Good

I can tell already that this post is going to be messy... I have so much to share and yet it seems like too much time has passed now to cover it all. Sorry if I jump around!

Life is full. God is good.

Recently I wrote a post over on the ZOE blog called The Gift of a 'Work in Progress'. 
As an Enneagram Type 7 person I like to experience life to the fullest, but I avoid pain. So the idea of entering into chaos and mess is often not natural for me. But God is helping me to enter in more fully and “be” with others in the same way that He is with me. 
As a Type 7, I also get bored easily which is why I like excitement and trying out new things. Sometimes it might mean that I leave things unfinished though as I move onto something new... which is why I started this post a while ago and it was never completed. 
Yes! I'm sure this explains a lot about me :) 

Life is full.
Way back in September I had a quick trip back to Australia for the Geography Teachers' Association of Victoria (GTAV) conference in Melbourne. Sharon and I were representing ZOE handing out and sharing with teachers all about our updated Year 10 curriculum. We passed out 100 USB sticks to different Geography teachers from schools all over the state, and heard many positive comments from teachers who were already using it in their schools.

At ZOE, I work as part of the International Communication Team, which means I collect and share stories about what God is doing. As ZOE grows, our team aims to be able to support our coworkers in Australia, Thailand, USA, Japan and Mexico.  I love this role because it is quite diverse. From developing guidelines, collaborating on projects, to collecting stories, writing creatively etc.  The role entails meeting with local and foreign staff in order to gather information and news to make posts for the international website. I am also working on tasks like the Thailand Quarterly Report, International Annual Report, Australian social media pages etc. amongst other things.

During the times when I'm not at ZOE, I am still attending Thai language classes two mornings a week (slowly.... slowly).  I have also enjoyed serving at our local church a bit more. For the past few months, I was able to help on a committee for the annual women’s retreat here in Chiang Mai. It was a wonderful experience. I have also helped out by writing a couple of devotionals for our church's Christmas Advent devotional, as well as ushering/ serving communion once a month.

God is good.
The women's retreat was a wonderful opportunity to spend more time with seven other women from ZOE who also attended. It was a peaceful weekend with periods of restful meditation, times of learning, many hearty laughs and sweet conversations with friends. It truly was such a joy-filled time and a real blessing.

Our family is growing (upwards). Our eldest son was shorter than me in June and then taller than me in July! And it happened that quickly. Our daughter will be 'officially' a teenager next month and our youngest is becoming more and more independent with each passing day -despite the fact that I keep trying to hang on to 'my baby'. 

11 year old boys making pizza!
These past months for our kids have been full of sports-tryouts, birthday parties, auditions, youth group, games, rehearsals, tournaments, projects, lots of homework, friends over and rich discussions about as much as possible. These times are precious and tiring but oh how proud I am of the people they are becoming. I go to bed late and exhausted but with a full heart of thankfulness for all God is doing in each of their lives. I am blessed.

Really - I have no idea how to parent teenagers. Seriously!! It is the most wonderful and challenging of experiences. But these are very precious times not to be wasted. What a joy and honor to have this job.  I often have this feeling like I'm fumbling around blindfolded and I have to carefully find my way around in the dark.  It's causing me to have to rely on my other senses more. Even when I can't "see" what God is doing, I am learning to tune in and hear His guiding voice more. And I know that His goodness and love surround me. Even when I'm not sure where the path ahead is, I can step out in faith knowing He will lead me as I trust Him.

See! I told you this post would be messy! But hey, life is messy... and marvelous all at once! May we fully enter in. 

"I’m so thankful that God gives us discernment and sensitivity to the needs around us so that at those times when we just want to walk around, go a different way, or avoid the chaos, He helps us to enter in and “be” with others in the same way that He is with us."