Sunday, December 27, 2009
My brother Phil likes to tease me that I'm always taking a trip somewhere and I have to admit that he's pretty much right:). I do like to travel, so in the morning I'm heading out to the Lone Star State for 6 days. My sweetie flew down to Texas last Monday to spend Christmas with his family, and now I get to join him!
We decided to spend this last Christmas with our individual families, and I must say I greatly enjoyed Christmas with my parents, uncle, brothers, and their families. I definitely missed Nat, and am looking forward to seeing him again as well as getting to spend some quality time with his family:).
So with that said, if things are a little quiet from my corner of the net, just know I'm in the land of cowboy boots and armadillos.... with a "howdy ya'll" thrown in for good measure!
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
I definitely didn't wake up Tuesday October 20th with thoughts of engagement in my mind. In fact, my plans for the morning included saying good-bye to Rachel and her family and helping out a friend with a church project. I was also planning on walking with another friend in the afternoon, so since I finished the church project a little early I called my friend up and asked if we could move our walking time up from 2 to noon. I was so surprised when my friend very adamantly said "NO!" since she doesn't have an adamant bone in her body:). I thought that was weird, but I didn't press the issue and figured we would just go walking at 2. I found some "busy work" to keep me occupied for another hour, but I was really starting to get bored so I said good-bye to the friend at church and kind of wandered aimlessly for a while, waiting for the all-important hour of 2 o'clock!
I did notice when I left church that Nat's car was missing, and I thought that was a bit strange since he always works until 5. I didn't really think anything more about it though and just headed over to my friend's house - early! When I got to her house, my friend said her teen daughter was going to go walking with us, but she was napping at the moment, so we chatted while waiting for her to wake up.
Since it was such a gorgeous afternoon, my friend suggested playing volleyball that night and of course I jumped at the opportunity:). We decided to ask another friend and her husband to join us, so I quick e-mailed our other friend so she could respond while we were out walking. Once I e-mailed our friend, I happened to notice Ben was on chat so I asked him quickly if Nat was there with him. Ben took forever to respond to me (now I know why!) and when he finally did respond, he said he sure hoped Nat wasn't there with him since he was at home:).
I found out later that after I chatted with Ben, he texted Nat and warned Nat I was looking for him. I guess Nat and Ben thought I knew something was up, but I really was blissfully ignorant and it just appeared like I knew something:).
My friend, her kids, and I headed in the direction of the Lehigh Parkway, one of my favorite parks at which to go walking. Since my friend's daughter was with us, that added a new dimension to our usual walking pattern. I am a fast walker, but apparently I was a little too fast for my friend's daughter because she kept slowing down or texting on her phone while telling us to "wait up." I just laughed and kept right on walking:).
As we rounded a particular bend on the trail, I glanced up a hill and saw a stunning display of fall beauty in the form of four trees. I exclaimed to my friend, "Wow. Look at those trees!" and as I said that, I saw Nat walking down the hill:). I was all, "Oh hey! How are you?" and I was thinking it was so coincidental that Nat happened to be out for a stroll while we were walking. He had told me once that he had never been to the Parkway before, so I thought this was the day he chose to explore the Parkway.
I definitely wasn't thinking Nat was there for me or had planned this whole thing out and I even said to my friend's daughter, "Wouldn't it be fun to roll down the hill?!?" We were both ready to charge up the hill when my friend firmly grabbed my arm and held me back. I couldn't figure out why and even said to her, "party pooper!" My friend didn't say anything but just continued walking with her kids. I didn't mind since I liked being with Nat:).
As the others walked away, Nat pulled a dozen roses out and said they were for me. It kind of dawned on me then that this wasn't "coincidental" and I even asked Nat, "Did Paula know about this?" He said yes and I was thinking that it was very sweet of him to surprise me at the park with a dozen roses. Still no clue that engagement was in my immediate future:).
We continued walking along all the while talking about small things. Nat asked if we could slow down and I thought that was funny because something seemed different but I just couldn't put my finger on it. I figured Nat would tell me in his own good time:). He suddenly said, "Let's turn around and go back to that tree we passed" and it was at that moment that I wondered if he had something hidden at that specific tree. We turned around and went back to the tree when Nat started talking about our relationship. Once he dropped to his knee, my thought was, "Oh my goodness... he's going to propose!" He then pulled the ring out and asked me if I would marry him... of course I said yes:).
My practical side kicked in right away and I commented that I didn't even know my ring size - neither did he for the record, but that was ok:). We decided to walk back to my friend and her kids and as we did, I was still in a bit of shock that he had actually proposed! My friend couldn't wait to rub it in my face that she knew before I did and got to have a part in the whole plan:).
We decided to go back to "our" tree to have some pictures taken, which was very nice:). Nat was able to send out an e-mail to our Pastor and some close friends telling them of our engagement. We came back to my parents' house and told my mom about our engagement and then headed out to Olive Garden for dinner:).
It was such a precious and sweet afternoon. Down to the last detail, Nat did a fantastic job in surprising me! I'm so very thankful to the Lord for the wonderful and godly man HE has brought into my life. I am completely undeserving of having the Lord bless me in this way, but I'm so grateful for His moving and working in our lives.
We do have a wedding date set ~ July 10, 2010! Make sure you save the date:). It's just under 8 months away, but I'm sure that time is going to go by so extremely fast:). If I have any doubt as to that fact, I just have to look back and remember how quickly the time went while I was in Thailand!
I do want to share one more thing. Several years ago, the Lord gave me a special verse from Ruth 3:18 ~ "Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day." I'm glad I can look back now and see that the sitting still part on my end has been worth it all! If you're interested, here's a link to a blog I started 2.5 years to journal some thoughts I had on singleness: For Such A Time As This.
All I can say is God has been so good to me!
~I love you, Nat!~
Monday, November 9, 2009
When I asked Nat to call me back later (remember the screaming baby?), he said he would in one hour. That one hour was one of the longest of my life! My friend found out who had been on the phone and asked me what Nat wanted. I responded, "I don't exactly know... he's going to call back in an hour." She wanted me to give my mom a call to find out how the phone call with my dad went, but I said no since I wanted to hear from Nat himself. I'll spare you all the endless thoughts and musings of that hour because quite frankly I'm sure my girl readers will be able to fill in the blank very well!
My cell phone rang as I was driving home and it was none other than Nat on the other end. Without much chit-chatting and small pleasantries, he plunged in right away and said he talked with my dad on the phone and then came over to drop a little booklet off at my parents' house. He then said he had been praying about this for a while and felt it was time for us to get to know each other better. Now it's one thing to pray about this myself and think this is going to work out, but it's quite another thing to actually hear Nat express it himself!
I remember telling Nat that it wasn't exactly a surprise to me that he called my dad, etc. but I was surprised that this all took place so quickly after returning home from Thailand and Florida. In my mind I guess I was thinking Nat might approach the subject within 3-4 months, but I am definitely ok with the fact he did it in less than a week of me being home:).
When I got home, my mom was busy doing something in the kitchen, so I sat down and asked her how everything went. She then filled in a few of the details, all the while continuing about doing whatever it was she was doing. My mom has been so completely calm and down-to-earth about everything that has taken place since September 17th, which I am so grateful for!
The booklet Nat had dropped off was filled with a bunch of "getting to know you questions" that our Pastor had given to Nat, so the next day Nat called and using the questions as a springboard, we began to get to know each other better. This pattern continued on for the next few weeks - Nat would call every 2-3 days and we would chat on the phone for quite a while, which was a lot of fun:).
The hardest part about this whole thing was not telling people, with the exception of a few close friends. I didn't really see Nat much during this time because he would be helping at another church in New Jersey on Sundays and our paths didn't cross much during the week. My parents had suggested having a dinner so Nat could meet some of my siblings, so that was scheduled for October 4th. In the end, only my brothers could come (as well as two families from church) but both of my brothers liked Nat right away.... whew!
We continued going through the questions in the book, but by this time we were both quite certain that it was indeed God's plan for us to form a commitment indicating that we were going to get married. If I could, I want to pause the story here long enough to say I tremendously enjoyed getting to know Nat without having to worry about ulterior motives or having to impress him - it was so freeing to just simply be myself! Realistically speaking, honesty in communication is what our relationship needed to be based upon from the beginning. It was still so nice not to have to put up a front in order to "catch" this guy... which is a ridiculous concept anyway!
Nat had asked me to give his mom a call, so one Monday we switched places, so to speak:). I called and talked with his mom, and he came over and talked with my parents. I didn't know it at the time, but the reason he came to talk with my parents was to ask my dad for permission to marry me! I continued on in my state of oblivion and greatly enjoyed chatting with his mom. Nat's immediate family lives in Texas and I've only met them once when they came through a few years back, so chatting on the phone was a good opportunity to get to know his mom a little better.
We both had agreed our next step was commitment, but this is the part where I got to skate easy, since it wasn't my responsibility:). That all fell entirely upon Nat's shoulders, and I was quite content to continue our phone conversations and see the Lord work it all out in His time. Probably the most awkward part of this all was trying to explain to some family members what it was we were doing. That was always an interesting conversation to be had:).
A long time ago I used to think I wanted to be engaged for a month before anyone knew about it just so we could enjoy our engagement, but I will now state very emphatically that idea was absolutely crazy! The Lord had a sense of humor enough to show me the error of that thinking because Nat first approached my dad on September 17th and we didn't get engaged until October 20th. One very, very looooong month! So if there is any girl thinking along the lines of what I thought, my suggestion is to go throw that idea into the trash because by the time your special guy is in your life, you're going to want to tell everybody you see:).
I do have a funny story from when Nat met my sister and her husband (three days before our engagement). Because of previous plans, my sister and her husband were unable to come to the dinner my parents had on October 4th. We worked out a time when Nat would come down to their house so they could meet and we also invited my brothers to come down too. One person I didn't count on was my aunt. She lives in North Carolina but was in Pennsylvania for a couple of weeks. This particular Saturday she had plans that got cancelled at the last moment, so she called my sister up and asked if she could come to their house and watch a Florida Gators football game. My sister kept putting her off and was asking me what to do:). I wasn't intending to tell my extended family about Nat until after we were engaged, but since Murphy's Law is alive and well in my life, I just laughed and told her to give the go-ahead to my aunt. We just didn't tell her about Nat, that's all:D.
My aunt showed up at my sister's house and was excited to watch the Gators game as well as enjoy dinner with us. My sister and I were working on dinner, so we sent my 4-year-old nephew into the living with my aunt. My sister and I heard my aunt and nephew talking about the game and dinner when my nephew said, "And Nat's coming." Our heads both shot up and we froze. Thankfully my aunt didn't understand my nephew and she continued watching the game. My sister and I however kept hearing my nephew say, "Nat" this and "Nat" that (let me insert here that my nephew hadn't even met Nat at this point!). My aunt was completely shocked when Nat showed up at the door and my nephew said, "Nat's here!" (as if he and Nat were best buddies their entire lives:D). My aunt just stared at me while she slowly asked, "And who is Nat?" I wasn't sure what to say so I just said, "Um, Nat's, um, a special, uh... friend." So smooth, right? :) *Sigh*
Nat normally goes down to a church in New Jersey on Sundays to help with their youth ministry, but decided to come to services at LVBC the next day since my Pastor and his family were going to be in Botswana, Africa for three months. I have to admit that when he said he was going to be there that day that I thought, "Oh no! Please Lord, don't let him stand up in front of the entire church and ask me to marry him in front of everybody!!!!" I knew he had a "surprise" for me since my mom had told me that, but I was really praying that "surprise" wouldn't include 300 other people! I was so relieved and thankful that the afternoon ended without any fanfare:).
Little did I know what awaited me on Tuesday:).
[Insert Murphy's Law right here]
You won't believe it, but I just got a phone call, so I'm going to have to put off part 3 for a couple of more hours... I'll be back!
I knew that was going to happen... I knew it!!!!
Hey, and howdy to all you faithful blog followers. I decided it was time to sit down and write down a few thoughts from "My" perspective, especially after Anne left you with that last cliff-hanger of a post.;-) Well, here goes nothing...
As I see it, the story starts back in 2006, when I moved from TX to PA to attend the Bible Institute at Lehigh Valley Baptist Church. Everything was new, exiting, and somewhat intimidating. I had just come from a small mission work in TX, with 3 families and a monthly visitor. Suddenly, I was whisked into the midst of a 300 member church with enough people and programs to boggle my mind. As I poured myself into my Bible Institute studies, I was determined not to let anything shake me from my goal of preparation for the mission field.
Anne was one of the first people I met at church, but I was careful not to add any significance to that fact. I remember her as a quiet and pretty girl at the front desk. She had a joyful and sincere personality that I was naturally attracted to, so I made sure that I didn’t spend any more time in the office than was necessary. =) Hey, I wasn’t there to get married, I was there to study! I have to say though, that I logged quite a few mental notes from that time period. One of those memories was reading her personal testimony tract and learning that we shared the same birthday. That was an interesting fact, but no big deal; especially since she was 5 years younger than I was. I determined to stab any fanciful thoughts about Anne and get back to work. I know now that if I had spent some time getting to know Anne at the beginning, that I would have found many common interests and pursuits. But alas, that was not to be, for the Lord had some stretching and pruning to accomplish in my life.
The next few years included some of the greatest highs and deepest lows of my life. God used a Chinese Bible study and some close friendships to challenge me to become more active in discipleship. Out of this time grew a relationship with a young lady that I had grown to admire. Her brother and I were good friends and I greatly respected her ability to connect with the Chinese students and point them to Jesus Christ. It was right around that time that I felt that God would have me pray specifically for a wife, and it seemed that God had brought our paths together at just the right time. To make a long story short, things didn’t work out as I had planned. Shortly after engagement, our relationship fell apart. The more I struggled to put the pieces back together the more confusing and complex things seemed to become. Eventually the wedding was called off and it became obvious that we were both heading in different directions. I was devastated and poured out my broken heart to the Lord. It seemed that all my plans had gone up in smoke, and I was left with a pile of ashes and more questions than I could count.
It was in Mexico, that God began to heal my heart. My good friend, Milton Martin, invited me to get away and travel with him to Chiapas, Mexico. I gladly accepted and was grateful for the opportunity to get alone with the Lord, in a distant land. I was attending a Bible conference at Chilon and had some extra hours in the afternoon to read and wait before the Lord in prayer. I had brought along a copy of,"The Making of a Man of God," by Alan Redpath, and the Holy Spirit used David's desire to build the temple as a reminder that his purposes are so much bigger than my limited plans. I remember pouring out all my desires and plans to the Lord, determining that if I never was able to have a family or make it to the mission field, I could invest myself in the lives of others. I determined to be an instrument of blessing to other missionaries over that next year, and God gave me such a peace in joy in serving him with my whole heart.
And here I have to clarify that God had placed a specific desire and focus for Thailand on my heart back in 2004. Since that time, I couldn't shake the fact that God wanted me be involved in discipleship and church planting in that strategic region of SE Asia. I had been able to visit several times, to help other missionaries, but yet the Lord had revealed that he wanted me to train and go back as an independent family, and not simply as a helper. I hadn't a clue how that was ever going to work out, after the mess I had created, but I decided to just "go back to sleep" and place that problem back in the Lord's hands.
It was around that time that Anne came back from her first trip to Thailand and I realized for the first time how much I respected her friendship. I remember logging a few more mental notes at this time, but I was seriously not interested in starting any new relationship. In fact, I remember stating that fact clearly to a few well-meaning friends that mentioned the obvious fact that since I was heading to Thailand and Anne had been to Thailand, that we would make a perfect couple. =) Nope, nice try. I was not about to be swayed by circumstances. In my mind, God had not opened that door, and I was not about to test the handle until He revealed that himself. Besides, I was actually enjoying the busyness of the year, and the opportunities for evangelism were exploding all around me. As I saw it, this was not a time for marriage. It was a time to work.
So, what opened my eyes? That is the question of the hour. It wasn't long before Anne was back in Thailand and I was busy about my duties. Would we ever connect? Would Nat ever realize that something had "clicked" on the High school field trip in 2008? Would Anne's patience wear out before the answer came? Tune in next time to hear the answer to these questions and more. Until then, I must recharge and get ready for another full day. =)
Thursday, November 5, 2009
By the way, I did find one picture that was taken at my sister's house last month:
From left to right: Sarah (sis-in-law), Tom (brother), Andrew (nephew), Ken (bro-in-law), Nat, me, and Aunt Jean (my dad's sister). So there you go... a new picture!
Anyway. Where did I leave off? Oh, right, I remember ~ trying to summarize the last three months into one post:). A few weeks before Nat came to Thailand, Ben (another guy from my church) came over to be a help to the missionaries I was working with. To make a long story longer:), Ben somehow figured out that there was some, ummm, interest on my side in regards to Nat so he suggested I just be myself when Nat came. I wasn't sure if he meant be myself as in break down a bathroom door or throw food down the stairs, so I erred on the side of caution and instead chose to stick my foot in 3 inches of mud because I'm just so graceful that way;). Interestingly enough, my name happens to mean "graceful"... right. Moving along!
As I stated in yesterday's post, Nat and I were friends, so it was just a lot of fun to have Nat work in the office with the rest of us. I greatly enjoyed not only having people from my church there (at one point, a third man from my church stopped in for a visit during a business trip), but having people I was very comfortable around as a part of our team. As a side note, it was always so rewarding and refreshing to host people who came through on missions trips, although it was also very exhausting work too! I must admit that when Nat left in mid-August, the ladies on our team breathed a collective sigh of relief that our last visitor was gone:). That ended a 3-month marathon of cooking dinners and hosting visitors throughout the entire summer, and quite frankly we were plain tuckered out!
After Nat left, I had about two weeks left in Thailand before I returned to the States. Those last two weeks were probably the most emotional weeks I experienced while in Thailand, because I dearly loved being a part of the work there in Bangkok and yet I knew the Lord was leading me home. Two weeks quickly turned into a week, and then the day of departure was at hand. My Thursday night flight out of Bangkok was a midnight flight, so that meant I could have one more Bible Study service with the team. As Bro. Tom conducted the study, he had tears in his eyes when he said to me, "Anne, God is closing the door for you here in Thailand, but that's because He has something better in store for you."
At that particular moment, I couldn't imagine anything possibly being better than me staying in Thailand, but praise the Lord He is not directed by my feelings and wants! It was almost as if my sweet Savior was beseeching me to simply trust Him with the next step on the path... He wouldn't lead me astray! That night many tears were shed and hugs exchanged, but the Bible Study was exactly what I needed to hear and it prepared me spiritually and emotionally for the transition back to the States.
Immediately after flying to the States, I took a week-long trip to Florida and am so glad I did. This trip was most necessary in getting over some hurdles and adjusting to life in the States again. By the time we headed home on Saturday, I was ready to get back to the real world awaiting me in Pennsylvania:). Sunday was a big shock to me as I greeted people I hadn't seen in over a year, marvelled at the way the kids at church grew, and observed the many different changes that took place to the actual building during my absence. Over the next few days I felt like I was walking through a fog and trying not to compare everything to Thailand ~ a memory that was still very fresh in my mind.
The following Thursday I was sitting in my room reading when the phone rang. Since my parents were both still sleeping, I answered the phone and was surprised to hear Nat on the other end. Surprise turned to shock when he said he was calling to speak with my dad. After mumbling something half-way intelligible about calling back later, I hung up and just stared at the phone. I was fairly confident that Nat wasn't calling my dad just to chat about the weather, but at the same time I didn't really want to think about why he was calling to talk to my dad!
I had told Nat to call back at 1, so I made sure I was far away from the house when that conversation took place! My friend and I had taken up walking at a nearby park, so I quick called her up and asked if we could go walking for an hour or three:). I tried not to think about what in the world Nat and my dad were talking about, and the Lord had a sense of humor enough to provide a diversion for me:). My friend had to go deal with something and I ended up baby-sitting her son while she was gone.
I thought I was in the middle of a movie when chaos broke out at my friend's house: the dog was barking frantically, the baby boy was crying hysterically, and my cell phone was ringing ~ all at the same time, of course! Even though I didn't recognize the number, I picked up the phone anyway and Nat was on the other end. I felt slightly rude in asking him to call back later, but the screaming baby on my lap convinced me that was the best plan to implement;).
I would love to continue on, but I think this is another good stopping point:). Who knows? Maybe I'll get to part 3 tomorrow :D.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
[By the way, I've searched high and low for pictures of Nat and I and I've come to the conclusion that the only pictures we have are from our engagement day. Hmmm, we'll have to work on that!]
Because I love irony, I think it's great Nat and I have the same birthday ~ February 1st. So yes, that makes Nat exactly 5 years older than me and I like to think we're going to be very efficient in our birthday celebrations since they're on the same day and all:).
Nat came to my church about 4 years ago and came on church staff right away, so I saw him on a daily basis and became friends with him. When I first met him, I thought Nat was a nice guy and was really impressed with his consistent character and pleasant demeanor. At the time, I never really thought anything more about him, outside of being a friend. That's one really good thing about not dating ~ everyone seriously can just be friends with everyone without pairing off.
In April 2008, Nat and I were chaperones on a high school trip to Illinois. I'm not sure why, but something clicked in my mind on that trip and I suddenly realized Nat was a very godly man who loved the Lord. I began to sporadically pray about Nat and wonder to the Lord if Nat could be "the one." After that trip, I took a friend into confidence and told her what I was thinking. It just so happened that around that time my Pastor was preaching a series of messages on accountability and the importance of being accountable to someone, so I asked my friend if she would keep me accountable regarding my thought life. I didn't want to think about Nat or begin to dream, as girls are so prone to do! I praise the Lord for my friend who did a great job in asking me "how are you doing?" when I was at weak and struggling moments. My friend kept me accountable for over a year and was truly used of the Lord in my life.
In August 2008, I headed back to Thailand to help some missionaries ~ completely excited and thrilled to be following the Lord's leading! Two months later, Nat came to Thailand with a small group of men from my church and then stayed an additional two weeks after the men returned home. As I watched Nat interact with the missionaries and my co-workers, I liked what I saw.
Once he returned home, Nat began to chat me on IM about general things: the office work in Thailand, church happenings back in PA, etc. Years ago, I went out to breakfast with a friend who was telling me about how she and her husband got together and toward the end of the conversation Jenn said, "Let the guy you marry pursue you, Anne. There's nothing sweeter!" I remembered what she said and determined not to initiate a chat or an e-mail with Nat. I figured if he was the guy for me, he was going to have to pursue me:).
When Nat first started chatting me, I remember praying and asking the Lord to make him stop chatting me if his intention was to just continue being friends, since hope was stirring in my heart. Such an eloquent way of putting it to the Lord, right? "God, make him stop!!!!!" I wasn't aiming for eloquence, I was aiming for my heart to stay in one piece:). Nat kept chatting and I kept going to the Lord in prayer with, "Um, Lord? Make him stop - I don't want to get hurt!" Somewhere along the way, it finally dawned on me that God wasn't making him stop and I thought, "hmmm, that's interesting." *Sigh* I'm a little dense:).
I remember coming down to prayer meeting one Friday morning in April of this year. My housemate - Carolyn - was sharing a gem she had read in the Word of God ("ye have not because ye ask not") and then hit us with the challenge to ask God specifically for something. I thought about what Carolyn had said and the next morning I asked her about it. We ended up talking for 3 hours about how God wants us to ask Him and take Him at His Word! From that point on, I began to ask the Lord to pretty much put me on Nat's heart.
I don't think I can ever totally convey the spiritual aspect of this journey because it was so deeply personal and very refreshing to get so alone with the Lord. I had a peace that the Lord was going to orchestrate all the details out regarding Nat and I and that I could quite frankly just sit back and enjoy the ride;).
During this whole time, I was thoroughly loving every moment I got to be in Thailand and was plugging away in the office having a wonderful time:). People in the States would often ask me what I was going to "do" when I returned to the States and I would give out an answer somewhere along the line of, "Well, umm, yeah, I, uhh, umm... am not exactly sure." Real definite, right? :D Well-meaning people would come along and offer suggestions - I got everything from helping in a girls' home in Illinois to teaching ESL (English as a second language) in Hong Kong!
Even though I couldn't just explain it this way to people, in the back of my mind I knew the peace I had from the Lord and was waiting on Nat to express himself. All those months we were chatting, Nat never came out directly and said, "I'm interested in you, Anne" but his actions shouted it rather loudly in different ways. I laugh now as I think back to my year in Thailand, because outside of my mom and sisters, Nat was the one who communicated with me the most on a regular basis. In fact, I knew more of what was going on with him than I did with some of my closer girl friends:).
During one of the times we were chatting, Nat casually mentioned he was looking for tickets to come back to Thailand. What was initially going to take place in February got pushed back to June and then to August. I was really looking forward to Nat coming, but I'm so glad (now!) the Lord didn't allow him to come in February or June because he would have been a distraction for me:).
Nat did come to Thailand on July 31 - one of the longest days in my life! Lest you think it was because I was waiting with anticipation to see Nat again, it was actually because I was baby-sitting 4 young kids from the wee hours of the morning until late at night:). I wasn't even planning on going to the airport with the rest of the team to pick up Nat since I was going to keep the kids all weekend, but one of the little girls had a meltdown around 8 PM that night and really, really wanted Mommy (who had just given birth to baby #5!) and Daddy. Their Daddy decided the kids should come back to him (in the kids' defense, they did very well all day being with someone who was practically a stranger!), so Bro. Tom suggested we drop the kids off at the hospital on the way to the airport to pick Nat up. I'll admit that my first reaction was not very sweet since I had gotten the kids in their pjs and *I* was in my pjs ready for bed, but I saw the wisdom in going along to explain things to the dad.
Wow, this looks like a good stopping place for now:). Hopefully within a few days I'll be able to write out parts 2 and 3!
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
(I have started this post three times now, intending to post it since Saturday! Sorry for the delay:D)
Thank you all so much for your sweet comments! Between blog comments, e-mails, facebook comments, and phone calls, my week has been rather umm, busy, responding to people:). I have been so amazed by the way the Lord put Nat and I together, and then I was overwhelmed by everyone offering congratulations! Quite literally, people across the country have joined in with us in celebrating. Of course, many of those people added the little "I knew it!" or "I was praying for you two to get together!" phrases:).
Before I get to our story though, I want to give a little background in getting to this point. In fact, our story won't even make it into today's post! I guess this is just a teaser to have y'all tune in next time;0).
It is always a choice to follow the Lord when He leads. After being in a very unsatisfying dating relationship at age 15, I determined before the Lord that I would not date around to find the right guy for me. It just wasn't worth it and the Lord showed me from His Word that it was my choice ~in fact, my responsibility ~ to keep my heart with all diligence (Proverbs 4:23). Easy to say, hard to do!
With good intentions firmly tucked in my mind, I embarked on this journey of keeping my heart. Isn't it true that when you determine to do good, the carrot is dangled in front of you to do something that seems to be good, but in reality is second-best? I had that happen to me - quite unintentionally, I assure you! One of the girls at church got engaged at 18 and suddenly the rest of us girls between 14-17 all thought that was going to happen to us:). Girls are funny creatures and once an idea gets established in their minds, there is no shaking them out of it!
My expectation at 18 was to "flip the tassel and say I do." My graduation from high school came and went, as did my 19th and 20th years. Somewhere between my 20th and 21st year, it dawned on me that I was not fulfilling God's purpose in my life by just sitting around and waiting for Prince Charming to come sweeping in on a white horse and carry me off into the sunset. (Where do these ideas get churned up anyway?!?)
It was at that point that I took the advice a dear friend had given to me two years previously on my graduation day: use my season of singleness to serve the Lord and not waste it. I look back with much regret on my first two years out of high school, for I feel I squandered so much time that could have been wisely spent in deeper service to my King.
As a side note, if there is any advice I could pass on to girls just graduating from high school it would be the same advice my friend gave me: use your season of singleness for the Lord; you won't regret it!
I must say that advice was very liberating for me as I begun to apply it to my life. This advice was in keeping with the truth found in 1 Corinthians 7:34 ~ "The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord..." From that point on, I made it my priority to serve those around me and in doing so, I was able to experience so many new and wonderful things.
I was also able to take several short-term missions trips and this would be something I highly recommend to single gals. Do it while you can! If God gives you the burden to go, He will provide the rest. As a friend of mine likes to say, "God's not broke!" It's so much fun to step out and watch the Lord pull all the details together for whatever it is the Lord has given you the desire to do.
There is so much more I could write, but I won't:). Hopefully within the next few days (hmm, maybe I better say within the next week:D) I'll be able to post the rest of the story!
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Saturday, October 3, 2009
There was always the monk that walked by at 6 AM and whose helper had the shoddiest basket on wheels I've ever seen. This daily visual reminded me of the reason I was even in Thailand, although I must admit that I got used to the sight. The Lord always had a way of jarring me back to spiritual reality at the oddest times, for which I am thankful. I don't ever want to get used to seeing souls bowing and reverencing a false religion all the way to a Christless eternity.
Bangkok is always busy, although not as busy at say 2 AM in the morning:). With millions of people living in the Thai capital, someone was always up and at 'em! The street I lived on started hopping around 5 in the morning and didn't shut down until long after midnight. I could never understand how my neighbor, Gate, could wake up so incredibly early and still be up long after I'd gone to bed. Gate always had such a distinct laugh so I knew it was her. I just shook my head and usually tried to grab a few more winks of sleep;).
I miss the people of my street. There was the lady who put her dog in a cart on wheels every single day and every single day the dog barked to get out. There was another lady who would load the back of her pickup truck with lots of good fruit to eat and would work on that fruit all evening long, always stopping to sell fruit to customers who walked by. Of course the shopkeeper and his wife across from my house was another favorite. Once a week Carolyn or I would dutifully walk across the narrow street with our 5-gallon water bucket in one hand and 12 baht in the other. Carolyn and I knew enough Thai to communicate a smidge with the shopkeepers, but what we lacked in knowledge we made up for in smiles and laughter! Those two go a long way in breaking down barriers - plus it helps to be able to laugh at yourself when you make a funny language blunder:).
There were also the *ahem* crazy motorcycle drivers who rode up and down Soi Krisadanakon (my street) going here and there, always always in a hurry. If I was walking down the street and heard an engine rev behind me, I knew to jump as close to the buildings as possible. The times were many that I "almost" got hit... but somehow Thai drivers know how to be reckless and crazy without going the extra step of causing an accident. I'm still not sure how they did it:).
Oh Krisadanakon, how I miss you!
Friday, September 25, 2009
I've also been going through a lot of my stuff, all the while scratching my head and wondering why I have some things. Goodwill is definitely going to benefit:). Thankfully I am not the only one who has ever done this during the re-entry process. After living with just the basics in Thailand (hello hot water from the kitchen sink - I've missed you for the past year!), it seems a little weird and slightly materialistic to have so much. In fact I just stared at my bedroom when I first walked in to it, overwhelmed by the fact that it was my bedroom. I had a wonderful chat with my Pastor and wife who cautioned me not to go to the extreme of getting rid of everything, so I've taken that advice and sorted through the Goodwill pile again.
Overall my transition has been wonderful and I praise the Lord for that! I've been working through a Bible Study that was written by veteran missionaries who successfully made the transition to the States time and time again and this has been extremely helpful. I've also been writing down some of my thoughts from my time in Thailand and would like to eventually blog about some of it too. No worries ... I completely understand if you want to skip over those posts:).
Now the next step is to undertake some serious job hunting. Thankfully my bills are very minimal right now and I have money to cover them, so I don't have to rush out and get the first job that waves at me:). I know the Lord is going to provide - He is always faithful!!!!
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Welcome back to the good ole' US of A!
After a whirlwind of hellos to my mom, brother, sister, and brother-in-law, I jumped in another car with two friends (and their completely adorable baby!) and drove 21 hours to Florida.
Crazy? Yes. Free ride? Absolutely!!!
I've been greatly enjoying my visit with my other sister who lives in central Florida and her children have been keeping me on my toes with all of their energy and enthusiasm. Since my brother-in-law and sister work during the day, I get to watch my niece which has been a lot of fun. Gotta love family time!
I'm also really, really thankful that jet lag hasn't been bad at all! I suppose I threw my body for a loop by pulling an (almost) all-nighter Friday night by traveling and we've had late nights every night since then, so I'm excited to be waking up every day around 6:45/7:00. When I went to Thailand last year, I thought I would wake up at 4:30/5:00 for the rest of my life! God is so good:).
Well, I'm off to get some things done while my niece is sleeping:). Gotta make those quiet moments count!
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Now this is what we call liquid gold! Haven't see this stuff in a very long time!
Left to right: Pastor Jeseda, Arisa, baby Hannah, Carolyn, Lakeid, Lakanna, and me. These sweet people came up on Tuesday to have lunch with us and to tell me good-bye!
(Look at all that hair on their granddaughter's head!)
Friday, August 28, 2009
But in the midst of all the good-byes and the flurry of last things, I am anticipating several hellos, including meeting my two-month-old niece! I can't wait to see and hug my family and friends. Being back in a church service is going to be a precious time. I'm looking forward to driving my own car again and eating a cheese steak. I set such high ambitions, don't I:).
As I finish out my last week in Thailand, I stand back in awe and remember all that the LORD has done this past year. From meeting new people to seeing closed doors open, God has blessed in an immeasurable way and He allowed me to get in on all of it! I can't thank the Lord enough for this opportunity to serve Him in Thailand. My desire would be to return to Thailand some day, but I am stepping on that plane next week knowing that I've been in His perfect will each step of the way. And it just doesn't get any sweeter than that!
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Today was also a good day because of being in the house of God. It's Mother's Day in Thailand and I was so blessed by the way the Thai people honored their moms. As I listened to their testimonies (translated into English!), I began to cry as I thought about my mom and what she means to me.
- She loves God. I couldn't ask for anything else! My mom has been so faithful to the Lord since she became a Christian and has the testimony of being a faithful prayer warrior. Several times throughout the day, I would glance into our sitting room and see my mom kneeling at a chair as she brings before the Lord her husband, children, grandchildren, other relatives, expectant ladies, church family, missionary requests, special outreaches, and a host of other things. I've prayed for someone/something and then stopped after a couple of days, while my mom has prayed over the same request for months on end.
- She loves me. My mom once told me, "Anne, I've given you to the Lord." Love is the reason behind that statement. I know my mom loves me, and every good-bye we say is completed with a "Be careful, I love you." I also know she loves me because she hasn't tried to hold me back from following after the Lord and the path I believe He's leading me on. That is one of my greatest treasures.
- She makes me laugh. My brothers can attest to this one. We always say, "Mom is so cute because...." and then we'll relate something she did or said. Or one of my favorite "mom" quotes is: "You may be taller than me, but I'm still Mother!" Which is completely true:).
- She has endured suffering. If you know my mom at all, then you'll know life hasn't (and isn't) always been easy. I look to my mom and admire her endurance, strength, and stamina. My mom's endurance has also taught me not to complain. I do, but then I think about my mom and realize I have it easy.
- She communicates faithfully. If I haven't heard from my mom in a while, then I know there's something wrong. Whether it's a chatty e-mail filled with inconsequential details or talking with her on the phone, I know my mom will cover the bases in keeping me connected with everyone/everything I might know.
- She is considerate. I would never think to do half of what my mom does for other people: bringing a treat to her Sunday school table because it's someone's birthday, taking the time to sit down and write a letter to a missionary she's never met, getting together a little goodie bag of mints and other treats for some kids, talking to a complete stranger while out and about with my dad and finding out interesting facts about that person, driving 50 miles (one way) to pick up an older relative so she can come to a family function, taking a 1,400 mile trip over a 3-day period just to see some faraway grandkids, being sensitive to the needs of a lactose-intolerant grandson by making him his own special apple cake, preparing a special gift for my pastor's granddaughter every year because they share the same birthday and on and on I could go.
Mom, I know you will read this and I want to publicly honor you for all that you've done and all that you do for us as a family. I am so blessed that YOU are my mom and I love you very much. I haven't seen you in a year, but am so grateful for all that you've done for me, even while I've been in Thailand. I love you, Mom.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
There is nothing quite as thrilling as seeing God's Word printed in a different language! Of course unloading the container was just half the job. We don't want to keep "the seed in the barn" and so we started distributing some of the books this morning, which was a real blessing to do.
While passing out these booklets, five of us were walking down a muddy, rain-soaked road, attempting to reach some more people. I was trying to stay out of the mud puddles (as much as possible) and as I took a step on what I thought was solid ground, my left foot sunk into a pile of mud... sandal and all! Good thing I got that pedicure last night;). There was nothing else to do besides pull my mud-covered foot out and keep walking down the road. It was pretty funny to see! We just continued down the road (*squish, squish*) until some kids had compassion on me and threw a bucket of water (already used once for soaking fish!) all over my legs and feet. Those little kids got down and did a pretty good job cleaning up my sandals and feet! I don't think anyone got a picture, although I did see a video camera come out... of course!
Lest you think that was the only embarrassing thing I did today, I have another rather amusing story to dispel any thoughts on that matter:). As we drove home today, we stopped at a rest stop that included several little shops, a gas station, and a 7-Eleven store. I had just woken up right before we stopped, so apparently I was still sleeping when this incident took place:). I walked over to the 7-Eleven store and waited for the doors to slide open. That's what happens at the 7-Eleven right down the street from my house, so I guess subconsciously I was expecting the same thing here. I knew the doors opened because I saw people inside, so I just kept walking up to the door waiting for them to open. My mortification was deep when a smiling store employee came over and pushed open the door for me! I'm sure I turned five different shades of red while the Thai people (customers and employees!) all tried not to laugh at the farong who couldn't open the door.
Just another day in the life of Anne:).
Monday, August 3, 2009
One thing it does not offer are refunds. As in may I have my money back?
Case in point - One of my co-workers was going to the mall to take care of some business for Bro. Tom, so two of us decided to send along with her two things that needed to be mailed back to the States. I gave my co-worker 200 baht (approximately $6.00) to cover a birthday package for my nephew. I figured if it was more than that, I could always send it home with Ben who is heading home next Tuesday and he could mail it.
After my co-worker mailed my package, she called me up and said it was actually 400 baht (approximately $12.00 and 200 baht more than I wanted to pay). I asked her to see if she could get the package back and waited for her to call back. She did so and said this to me: "The lady at the post office said you could have your package back, but not your money."
Umm, I'm sorry? Why in the world would I want my package back without the money? It would be like making an unnecessary donation to the postal system of Thailand. Uh, no thanks!
Another time I was shopping at Food Land (clever title for a grocery store, don't you think?) and I looked at a price wrong. I didn't realize it until after the transaction was made and so while I was still in the store, I went to the customer service desk and explained my mistake. The lady just looked at me and proceeded to explain that they couldn't give me back my money. After making a big enough fuss (I was dealing with almost $10.00), they finally told me in hush, hush terms that they were going to make one huge exception for me since they knew I came grocery shopping every week.
We've all made this mistake at one point or another and have pretty much come to terms with the fact that Thailand is good for many things, but not refunds! Apparently it's a foreign concept:).
Saturday, August 1, 2009
2. How do you like your steak? Ok, confession: I never had an entire steak by myself until I came to Thailand. Isn't that weird? Anyway, I prefer my well done:).
3. What is your favorite TV show? When we had a tv, it was Little House on the Prairie.
4. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Hmm, not quite sure yet!
5. What did you have for breakfast? Toast with peanut butter.
6. What’s your favorite cuisine? Based on the amounts of Mexican food I've consumed recently, I suppose that must be it!
7. What foods do you dislike? Curry of any kind. Tried it and it tastes like dish soap to me.
8. Where is your favorite place to eat? In Thailand it would have to be Que Pasa - we happened to go there tonight so my mind is on that;).
9. What is your favorite salad dressing? It's a toss-up between Ranch and Thousand Island.
10. What kind of vehicle do you drive? Nothing at the moment! In the States it's a Toyota Corolla.
11. What are your favorite clothes? Jean skirt and a comfy shirt.
12. Where would you visit if you had the chance? Scotland.
13. Is the cup half empty or half full? Half full.
14. Where would you want to retire? Retire?
15. What is your favorite time of the day? Early evening.
16. Where were you born? Allentown, PA.
17. What is your favorite sport to watch? Football for sure!
18. Are you a bird watcher? Only if the bird happens to be right in front of me.
19. Are you a morning person or a night person? Definitely night. I tried the whole morning thing and it just didn't work for me.
20. What did you want to be where you were little? A teacher.
21. What’s your best childhood memory? Playing with my siblings. Seriously! I loved running down to the park just a couple of blocks away with them:).
22. Do you always wear your seat belt? Ok, another confession: I always do in the States, but the only time I wear a seat belt in Thailand is when I'm in the front seat.
23. Do you have any pet peeves? People who cluster around an entryway, thereby blocking it for other people.
24. Favorite type of pizza? Cheese and pepperoni. I cannot wait to have some real, honest-to-goodness gooey pepperoni pizza when I return to the States! Pizza Hut here in Thailand just doesn't cut it:).
25. Favorite flower? I don't know the name of it, but there is a pretty, pink-tinted flower that grows all over Thailand.
26. Favorite ice cream? Midnight Brownie from Swenson's. Mmmm, mmmm!
27. Have you done anything spontaneous lately? I walked to 7-Eleven tonight. Does that count?
28. Do you like your job? Yes, for sure!
29. Do you like broccoli? Oh yes, especially cooked.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
Now that it is 11:30 at night and I can't sleep, how 'bout I finish what I started? :)
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Ben (middle of the picture) is from my home church and joined us that evening.
Several of us went to a huge weekend market on Saturday, and then on to the Jim Thompson House, which also had a museum. Now this might sound weird, but it's the first time I've been in a museum in almost a year, so I was super-excited! I love going to museums and actually want to go to Washington DC soon after I get home.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Sunday, July 12, 2009
This simple truth the Lord has taught me is just that: simple. I won't say I've conquered this area in my life, but I am more aware of it, which is a good place to start! There are so many verses I could share, and even now as I look for one verse that sums up the lesson the Lord has taught me, I'm torn with which one to share. The very last verse of the book of Psalms does a good job expressing this important truth:
In essence, the command from my precious heavenly Father is to praise Him. With all my being. To all people. At all times.
Now I don't know how it is for you, but usually when the Lord shows me something that I need to implement in my life, He'll also give me an opportunity to implement it in my life. Strange, I know!
For instance, last week I thought I was done with a very important project and was relieved it was finished. My surprise was great when I found out that not only was I not done, there were seven pages of corrections that needed to be made to the project. Not good. I was working under a major time constraint, and started to vent my frustration:
"I can't believe he did this to me. He told me everything was correct last week! Now I'm going to have to re-do the whole thing...[complain, complain, complain]."
My attitude was less-than-pleasing to the Lord (and the people around me), and I'm sorry I had that little venting session. The good news is that the Lord did get through my thick head with that still, small voice: "Are you praising me or are you complaining?'
Another opportunity came up to praise the Lord in all things when I found out there's a problem with my cell phone in the States. My first thought was, "oh no! All that money I still have to pay." But my sweet Saviour gently prodded and reminded me about praising Him. The situation still hasn't been resolved (that I know of), but you know what? I know that the Lord still wants to be praised regardless of how things turn out.
I hope this is an encouragement to you today as you meditate and rejoice in the Lord. Praising the Lord is the best thing to do in the midst of any circumstances!
Monday, July 6, 2009
"A lumbering grey shadow can often catch your eye as you drive along one of Bangkok's most polluted and congested streets, Sukhumvit.
And so it is that spotting a huge elephant, dodging the tuk-tuk motorcycle rickshaws, the ubiquitous taxis and blizzard of traffic is nothing out of the ordinary."
Sunday, July 5, 2009
As we sang Near The Cross, I thought about the second verse, specifically the second line:
Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and mercy found me;
There the bright and morning star
Sheds its beams around me.
It's true that love and mercy found me. Not because I was "worth finding" or a great catch. I often think on how I must be one of His most stubborn children that needs to be constantly straightened out by the Word. Yet He still found me and made me His own! Because of that, I want to glory in Him for ever. His goodness, kindness, and love overwhelmed me anew today. Praise His Name!
Jesus, keep me near the cross,
There a precious fountain
Free to all, a healing stream
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.
Refrain: In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever;
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.
Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and mercy found me;
There the bright and morning star
Sheds its beams around me.
Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day,
With its shadows o’er me.
Near the cross I’ll watch and wait
Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand,
Just beyond the river.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
I saw this on three different blogs (Mary, Abbey, and Melissa), and thought I would give it a try. Now don't laugh, but one of my favorite things to do when I was younger was to type on my mom's typewriter - yes, before computers became popular! One rule my mom always insisted on was proper typing and not just the jabbing a finger here and there kind. Typing class was always my favorite and it really became useful years later when I was a secretary:).
So, give it a try and let me know what you get!
Friday, June 26, 2009
I prefer to stay on the good side of the law and Thursday was the day Carolyn and I went to the border to renew said visa. There's a bus service in the middle of Bangkok that will take care of all the visa details if I shell out a little baht, so that's exactly what happened. Of course we don't actually live in downtown Bangkok, so that meant waking up super-early to get there in time:).
... or in my case, hot chocolate. For the record, this was some of the best hot chocolate I have ever tasted!
I've got to work on my timing, but in my defense this was taken from a bus going about 50 mph:). In the distance is a wat.
Little Asian kids are so cute, are they not???
Our chariot awaits! Seriously though, I'm so glad the colors are mild and toned down compared to some other buses that just scream loud colors! Thai people have a fascination with stuff like that:).