Friday, June 19, 2009

Go to the Ant...

The other day I went up to my kitchen to start my daily routine. Instinctively I scanned the counters for ants. Non--except  for a procession into my “pantry” drawer. That's the drawer I keep a lot of my baking staples in. Next step was to find what they were after. That took a bit but I figured out that they'd found a small hole in the brown sugar bag—it hadn't been sealed properly. Out comes everything in the drawer. Might as well do this job right. All of my tall bottles of oils, soy sauce, lemon juice, syrup, etc., got a washing. Thankfully the brown sugar bag hadn't quite been entered yet, apparently the sugar that had fallen out of the bag was enough for the ants up to that point, so the brown sugar was put away in Tupperware. Drawer got cleaned out and everything went back into it. I didn't mention the ant spray even. Can you tell that ants in my kitchen has been an ongoing battle? They weren't bothering me for a while, but now they've all come back in hoards. It felt like the more I cleaned, the more ants there were. The more I sprayed, the more holes they found to come out of. On and on it went—wait, it goes. Tomorrow I'll probably find a new procession of ants marching resolutely from their hole to some small bit of something that I've left out or simply didn't realize existed. It's a battle between me and the ants.

As I cleaned out that drawer the other day I thought, “There has to be some sort of spiritual lesson to be learned from this.” I thought of how frantic and desperate these ants seem to be as I work bit by bit at ridding myself of them. It's as though they make much out of the little crumbs they find because they no longer can find things like sinks full of dirty, sticky, dishes. (Jenny, I do have to do my dishes more often now.) The whole colony turns out to help with the harvesting of these small precious crumbs. And I thought, “This is how I need to be about the small nuggets of Truth I find as I read my Bible. I should go crazy over them.” Then I thought, “This is just a little cheesy, trying to find a spiritual application for these annoying ants.”

But I couldn't forget it. You see, quiet time and prayer time have been a struggle for me. Taking that time with the Lord is so important, yet so easily pushed off. My little excuse will often be, “I'll wait until Dru leaves.” Truly, my best quiet time is when he's not around, but do I make sure it happens then? Not always. I've come to realize that when the Holy Spirit says, “Now is a good time to have your time with God,” He's right. There have been times when I thought I could wait till later but then something comes up and that time I thought I had is occupied with something else.

Here are some of the discouragements that tend to keep me from being diligent in my time with God:

#1. It's hard to “get into it” after several missed days. I just don't have the passion.

#2. I can't get anything out of it.

#3. Everyday should be a day with the Lord, why is this certain time important?

#4. It's hard to focus in prayer.

But all of those things are only excuses I allow to be stumbling blocks. I need to think about these things instead:

#1. Like the ants in my kitchen, I need to make the most of the little bits of truth I do find.

#2. I need to be diligent, like the ants who search my kitchen tirelessly for food.

#3. I shouldn't be so selfish—this isn't about me, it is a way for me to bring glory to Him. Why do I insist that I have to get something out of it?

#4. No matter how I feel, people still need prayer and my Father in Heave still deserves my thanksgiving and praise.

So that is what comes of ants in a kitchen. I'm still not on good terms with them. I still squish, spray, and wash them away. But somehow, they'll probably still remind me now and then that my time with God is important.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Story of My Saturday

This is the Story of My Saturday. It's not overly long, but here it is anyway. It starts with part of a journal entry. Enjoy.

I've managed to be sick with a cold this week. That made me tired. I didn't sleep when I should have yesterday; then, I couldn't when I wanted to. The plan for today was that I'd be gone all day at a workshop taught by Kris about teaching English. Dru was going to be gone all evening at a father's picnic with the men from CMCC. I was brave about this planned lack of contact with each other until this morning when I woke truly an emotional wreck. I didn't want to spend all day away from Dru. I began to cry when I was putting on my veil. Dru hugged me and said, “Why don't you just come home at noon.”

That idea sustained me until I got into the kitchen to grab something to eat about ten minutes before I needed to be out the door. It was then that I realized that if I got as far as Kris's classroom, I'd immediately dissolve into tears like a kindergartener at school for the first time. So instead of waiting until then, I went ahead and cried right away again and told Dru that I simply couldn't do it. He hugged me again and called Kris, five minutes before I was supposed to be there. I couldn't call, I was still sniffling.

So Dru and I did what we usually do on Saturday mornings together. (Notice that word together.) We headed off off to Payap for Dru's Bible Study with Jo-Jo, stopping first at the coffee shop because that's where his wife stays while he's gone. He ordered a sntich of food and a fruit shake for his wife (she never did get anything when she went up to the kitchen, she just started blubbering and came back down again) and a coffee for himself. Then, while we sat together on the sofa, he studied for his Bible study and I just sat beside him, sipping my fruit shake and enjoying him.

Eventually he left, but soon after he disappeared, a piece of blueberry cheesecake appeared before me on the coffee table and the dishes were cleared away. I gave the waiter a puzzled look and he motioned out the door. Then I understood that my dear man was spoiling me again, just because. I considered crying again, a happy cry, but decided that it might make things awkward for everyone else at the coffee shop. How do you console a weeping, pregnant, farang woman?

That evening around the supper table with Kris and Craig's at IGo I explained my cause for absence in class that day. Of course, by then, we could all laugh and Kris totally understood—it's a woman thing. Not only that, I am a pregnant woman. Some days are just that way.

I even made it through the evening until Dru got home around midnight from his party. It turned out to be a pretty good day. Thank God for good husbands who let you cry on your shoulder, make your phone calls because you're still sniffling, and buy you cheesecake.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday Morning Ramblings

 It's time for him to leave. He's walking in frantic circles around the bedroom—stopping at his desk now and then to move papers around in hopes that the book will materialize under one of them. I just sit here smiling at him. He even has a sheepish grin on his face. Finally it occurs to me that I do actually know where his Thai book is. “It's upstairs.”

So Dru drops his other book on the bed and heads upstairs. A minute later he's back in the room, beginning those silly circles again. “It's on the bed.” So he grabs it, kisses me, and leaves—still wearing that goofy grin.

As you can see, we're still alive and getting along as we normally do. Right now the A/C is running. I'll turn that off as soon as it decides to start raining. For some reason it hasn't again for a day or two. The heat starts rising and my pregnant body doesn't keep up very well. Never mind, it's supposed to rain all weekend and I can't wait.

 The only complication that comes with so much rain is riding the motorbike in it. It's always a miserable prospect. Last week we were having our Saturday date and were just about to leave the mall when we noticed it was raining. Neither one of us wanted to ride home in the rain so we thought we'd wait it out in a coffee shop. We curled up with our library books and read for a while. And talked for a while. And did nothing for a while. Finally, we got up to leave—and it was still raining. So we drove home in it. We drove home through a downpour the other evening too—I can't remember where'd we'd been even. Must have been the Payap cell group. I just remember wetness. Would that explain the cold I managed to get the other day?  

  I spent Wednesday nursing the miserable cold. By evening, I was sick of the house and so was Dru. He'd had one of those days where he had spent a good part of the day at his desk doing lesson preparation. Neither one of us felt like cooking. We drove until we came to a Thai restaurant that didn't have a stitch of English in the menu. I discovered that I can read the word, “macaroni” in Thai characters. It looks like this: มักกะโรนี.   

 Yesterday we were out for dinner with Val and Allen and Carolyn Roth. Allen is here as a visiting teacher. We ate at the J House, a little “hole in the wall” restaurant. It was quite warm out there but we had a good time talking with them and picking Allen's brain about their lives on the mission field.  

Last night Dru went to show the last set of video clips from the Bible series we were doing with the Payap group. I spent about the whole time he was gone having quiet time, writing an email, and talking to Mae Wahn.  When I spend time in prayer like I should, I stay reminded that we're in a battle. But I also remember that Jesus has already won the victory. It's amazing to know all that.

I don't know how long I'll live in Thailand. We don't know what God has for us. Yet, even if we're only here for a short time, it will have been worth it. God has taught me so much since I've been here.

I remember staring out into the rain one day at IGo not long after we got here. It was before we were moved into our own apartment. It was dawning on me that some of the things we consider truth are relative to culture. In Thailand, it is true that feet are disgraceful. Not so in the United States. For some reason, that was the beginning of realizing that each culture is entitled to their idiosyncrasies and before I judge, I must go to the Bible to make sure that I'm not dying on a hill that wasn't meant to be there in the first place. Maybe that was a strange discovery for me to make—standing there, watching the rain pour down. But it was the beginning of learning to love a people who are so different than my “home” people. And in discovering this, I also was able to discover that we're so alike. Way deep down inside, we're all alike.  

 I've had to rethink everything that I held as truth. Who is God? Who is the Holy Spirit and what is His work? How do we work with Christians who don't believe quite like we do?

Truth, it all comes back to truth. Make that capitalized—Truth. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Only through Him and the work of His Holy Spirit of truth can people be set free. Psalm 115:4-8 talks about the idols people build for themselves. Idols that are blind, dumb, deaf, immobile, but the sad part is in verse eight. “Those who make them are like them; so is everyone who trusts in them.” We see that here today—literally! And ONLY the Truth can set them free. It's a miracle that blind eyes can see Truth.

Keep praying for our friends here. We want them to see the Truth and be set free. Pray for us. We want to be a clear picture of His love and work; vessels for the Holy Spirit to use.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Happy Things

  • Yellow flowers that grow out of sidewalk cracks--picked especially for me by Dru
  • Homemade soap that smells so nice that I don't want to use it because then it will be gone and I won't have it anymore

  • Clean dishes
  • My husband
  • Dead ants
  • Baby kicks
  • Ultrasounds
  • A baby blanket from both of my moms

  • Cards and letters from home
  • Rain in the forecast
  • Cardboard boxes (I always don't have one when I want one, and Daddy sent a nice big one, now I don't need it but it's in my storage closet.)
  • Applepie spice and cloves
  • Pancakes that my man liked so well that I wrote down my recipe
  • A Giraffe mug found at a garage sale
  • Beginning to be able to read Thai on road signs
  • Moist oatmeal cookies and brownies that I didn't flop or burn