"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, oh Lord..." Psalm 19:14

Friday, April 22, 2011

just let it all out

This past week, my dear friend from Washington, Jody, asked me why I haven't been writing much lately. I replied by saying that, strangely enough, I just haven't had the words to express all that God's been doing in my heart. But as I thought about it more, I realized that's only partially true. The whole truth is, God has been doing some radical, life-altering things inside of me...and I'm a little shy to talk about it. So lately, I've been kind of selective in what I share and who I share it with...but that's not me! God has given me a calling to share my heart and life freely, and so here goes nothin'. I'm letting it all out.

Most of my life, I've felt a little bit radical, and I've never really known what to do with all this passion inside. At times, I've felt really constricted by the boundaries of mainstream, conservative Christianity, but I had huge doubts and fears about exploring outside of its safety.

Last spring, God really challenged me in all of this and asked me why I limit Him and how He wants to reveal Himself to me. So one night, in the privacy of my classroom, during a personal worship session, I surrendered my pride and fears and said, "God, do what You want. Reveal yourself however You want to." And that night, he gave me the gift of tongues.

At first, I was excited, because for the first time ever, God gave me a gift that could only be explained by Him. And in that moment, all of my assumptions and expectations of what is possible were suddenly ripped to shreds. But then, as reality set in, I started to feel really sad. I realized that I've experienced God in a way many people -- even within the church -- won't understand and many won't accept. I had left my safe place of neutrality and would be forever labeled by this supernatural gift.

So for a few months, I decided that, really, nothing had changed. And it's true in a way, because praying in the Spirit is a lot like praying normally; you just don't know what you're saying. But as I kept walking forward and letting God move me, it became clear that many things had changed. Everything had changed.

It's not simply because of the gift, but it's because a people-pleasing, hungry-to-conform part of me had died when I received it, and for the first time, I was open to everything God had for me. In the past year, God has revealed Himself through prophetic word, through speaking specific scriptures to my heart, through crazy, divinely appointed friendships. Even the way I ended up at Life Center (my current church) is totally of Him. I had just fully surrendered my plans to God and told Him I'd even stay in Bangkok or go to a completely new place if that's what He wanted. And that same night, I heard in my heart, "Go to the Brolin's church." I knew of it, because the Brolin family attends our school. So the next day, I went there and I haven't stopped since. Life Center fits my heart in ways only God could have planned, and it was really the main factor in my choice to stay in Bangkok for longer.

I don't share all this to boast of my new experiences. In fact, I say it all with hesitation, because I know some people may think I've now gone off the deep end. And I hate that. I don't want to be misunderstood or judged. But goodness, I don't want to live in fear either. I am grateful that God continues to answer my prayer for more of Him and that He completely blows me away with what that looks like.

More to come. Thanks, Jody, the seal is now broken and my thoughts are again free to flow!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

catching my breath

Spring Break 2011: Bali and Jakarta

This year for our April "Songkran" Break, I had the joy of traveling to Indonesia! First stop: the island of Bali. We started out in an over-touristy beach town called Kuta. Didn't love it. Pushy people, swindling money changers, crowded beaches... Maybe a good place for aspiring surfers, and maybe it all would have been more exciting if we didn't come from Thailand --the home of many beautiful beaches.

Such colorful seafood.

Some of the most beautiful sites around Bali are the temples. I think it's partly that the colors and styles are so trendy right now. It'd all fit in nicely on someone's patio or something.

I traveled with two teacher friends, Heidi and Sheila. Traveling is always a great way to get quality time with people you don't see often enough!

After a couple days, we headed inland a bit to a place called Ubud. Praise God for Ubud. Quiet, beautiful landscapes, and instead of pushy, the people were friendly and helpful. Our first night, we took an Indonesian cooking class. First dish, the ever-delicious gado gado salad, featuring (yum, yum) this tasty peanut sauce stuff. Kind of like sauce for satay, but not so sweet.

We also learned how to make a curry chicken and another popular Indonesian dish, mie goreng (stir-fried noodles), both fantastic. AND then we topped it all off with fried bananas!! Ahhh, as you can imagine, we kind of rolled ourselves up to our bungalows that night.

These are the bungalows we stayed in while at Ubud. My favorite parts were the intricately decorated doors (sorry, forgot to get a close-up) AND how they brought us up hot tea every morning on our terrace. How lovely!

So, super fun, we went on a downhill bike ride beginning near a well-known volcano in the area. LOVED it, even though we experienced a DOWNPOUR about 20 minutes into the ride. And once it started raining, it never stopped. Great fun, you know, when you get so drenched you don't even care anymore?

On the ride, we ran into a ceremony going on involving this strange pole-like thing that the people were swinging around near their temple. We asked them what it symbolized, and (uh oh, I never remember this kind of stuff) I think they said something about a river...not sure. But I guess it only happens a couple times a year or so. The funny thing, while they were swinging this around, it fell over -- nearly on top of us all! We then backed away and for the next 20 minutes or so, watched the men work together to get the thing back up.

We also had the opportunity to take a batik-making class! It was fantastic!! (Batik is this kind of fabric painted in layers to create a really cool and unique design.) We got to take part in every step...drawing on the canvas, using the hot wax, and painting it over and over again. That's mine, drying in the sun. It got a few more layers of paint after that. Maybe I'll post a completed photo of it later. I realized then that I just love sitting around and creating. It was so relaxing and engaging too.

My last few days in Indonesia I spent near Jakarta with some old college buddies, Jessica and Evan Brammer. It was so nice to see them after four years. Loved seeing them be such wonderful parents to their three little kiddos. And we all enjoyed swapping overseas stories and sharing all that God has done in our lives these past years. What an encouraging time!

Admiring the clouds on my flight back home to good ol' BKK!