Praying into Purpose

grade 3

Life in Thailand was filled with such obvious purpose. Each day my students and I started with our Bible verse of the week and God’s love for them poured through me. My heart aches thinking about the distance between these precious souls and myself. I am thankful for my time in Thailand, but the Lord made it obvious it was time for us to return to America.

The Lord put a desire in my heart to move to New York when I was in middle school. Over the 10+ years, this desire remains. After much prayer, the Lord opened clear doors for us to move here. And who would have guessed my southern husband would have such a heart for the city?

NYC15-63

I signed a contract with my company while on a trip visiting my parents, Caleb was able to continue working for my mom while he prayed for the Lord to open the correct doors for him, and we found our apartment in one day {which in New York, is very rare}. After a few weeks of attending the men’s Bible study at our church, a leader connected my husband with Deloitte.

Now that we have found a bit more of a routine, my heart and schedule is ready to be apart more. We are ready to find our purpose in the city. We are praying for the Lord to reveal our purpose- our good work.

We each have special gifts, unique to our personalities- not one gift is better than another. It has been such a joy to pray through this desire while going through Lara Casey’s new book and her powersheets. We cannot wait to see what the Lord has in store and to see what the future will hold.

What are some of your dreams or goals?

signature-smaller-300x1931

All about that Grace

give grace

So much can change in three months. I have changed so much in the past three months.

I truly believe the Lord uses each season of life to teach us a necessary lesson. This season, it’s all about grace.

We each have our own story and our own past. Some people have a testimony of confidently walking with the Lord; others have a story of stumbling frequently along their walk. I fall into the later of the two.

It was not until my sophomore year in college that I turned from my old self and was truly reborn. As I turned from my old life and began my new walk, I never really struggled with accepting God’s grace. I completely understood Yahweh was bigger than any mistake I ever made

The lesson God is teaching me about grace is not about accepting grace, but rather, it is about giving grace. Accepting grace can be easy, giving grace is hard.

I was recently gifted Lara Casey’s Powersheets- thank you to whomever sent them to me! In these sheets, Lara points out that “it is easy to look back on a year {or relationship} and just see the yucky parts, like when something happens to you at the end of the day and you automatically call it a ‘bad day,’ regardless of what happened the other 23 hours.”

The Lord is teaching me to forgive, to let go, to let His grace cover the yucky parts. How can I expect others to forgive my ugly, when I am unable to forgive theirs? It’s a struggle I deal with daily, but slowly Abba is transforming my heart.

I’m learning I need to celebrate the good in others, rather than allow my hurt to focus on the pain they have caused.

This lesson is a journey that does not have an end destination. It is something I will continue learning daily.  It is a beautiful, challenging lesson that needs to be learned.

Is giving or receiving grace something you struggle with?

What has the Lord been teaching you recently?

signature-smaller-300x1931

I’m back!!

I’m back!!

To say the past few months have been crazy would be an understatement.  Leaving Thailand and my 20 perfect students was harder than I could have ever imagined.  It was a tearful goodbye and we are already planning a trip to return. Thankfully, most of my students have smart phones and we have been able to continue texting and talking daily. (Praise the Lord for technology!!!)

Since returning to America, the Lord has been so faithful. We spent the first couple of months traveling from coast to coast to visit family.  What a blessing it was to be home to celebrate my grandparents’ 65th wedding anniversary in person rather than through Facetime!

If you follow me on instagram, then you probably know that my husband and I have officially settled down in New York City. After spending a year half way around the world, we are beyond blessed to live so close to my parents again. It has been a joy experiencing life with them again.

So much has happened in the past three months- joy, heart break, adventure, and so so much more. I am so excited to be back in this little corner of the internet where we {you and me} get to share stories and lessons together.

Hope you have all been doing well and are enjoying the last few weeks of summer! Anyone have an ‘end of summer’ bucket list? Would love to hear some of your end of summer goals or adventures from this summer!

signature-smaller-300x1931

20 New Normals when Living in Thailand

10801493_10152446127651821_3154465216124413687_n

Thailand is one of the best countries in the world. Of the 20+ countries I have visited in my life, Thailand is easily in my top 5 favorites. Yes, I may be a bit biased… but I love it just the same. As a tourist it is easy to fall in love with Thailand’s incredible weather, gorgeous topography (hello gorgeous mountains and picture perfect beaches), and delicious food. But as a local in a non-touristy city, we have learned so much more about this country. Some good, some funny, some not-so-desirable, and some just odd.

10363707_10152113751146821_6993928153601507540_n

Here are just a few things I did not expect to become my new normal.

  1. Squatter toilets… there is just no getting around it. they are everywhere.
  2. BYOTP. that is, bring your own toilet paper. yes, I carry a roll of tp in my purse & in my bike everywhere I go.
  3.  Wild chickens. everywhere. but this also means fresh eggs are cheap & delicious.
  4. Laughing at everything. i don’t know if it is possible to attempt having a conversation with a local without laughing. laughing at our awkward attempt to speak thai, laughing at our daily routine, or laughing with our students. somehow, everything is funny. oh, and in the thai culture, thai people laugh when they get nervous.
  5. Traffic stops for cows. yes, we have found ourselves in bumper to bumper traffic because a heard of cows decided to walk down the highway… not just across it, but straight down the lane {and sometimes going the wrong way I might add}. yes, this has happened more than once.
  6. 2 lane streets are actually 4 lane streets. meaning 3 cars and one bike or some other crazy variation… yes i often ride with my eyes closed.
  7. Men walking their pet cows down the highway. who needs to walk a dog when you can just walk your cow?
  8. Men RUNNING with their bulls on the side of the highway. again, why run a dog when you can run a bull??
  9. Gorgeous homes with A/C next to one room wood or metal shacks. zoning is not a thing here.
  10. Everything is CHEAP.  granted, we get paid on the thai baht so we make practically nothing. but still, who can pass up $1 meals and $0.33 fresh coconut water.
  11. You can pay your bills and buy plane tickets at 7-11. and they are EVERYWHERE!!!!
  12. Non-refrigerated meat. you can buy your meat on the side of the road, at the night market, or in the non-refrigerated section at a western-style market. yes, I have pretty much become a vegetarian.
  13. Fitting a class of 20 + 2 teachers into an 8 person van and calling it a field trip. Or fitting 40 students into a 20 seater bus that doesn’t have closing doors. don’t worry- one of the teachers always sits on the steps by the door.
  14.  Google always reverts back to thai… even when you  change your settings.
  15. Cold showers. even in the heat, i wish our home had hot water…
  16. Wai. a wai is the act of putting your hands in prayer position and bowing towards another individual. it is a sign of respect. we wai everyone and they wai us. truly, i love it. the younger generation truly respects their elders.
  17. Morning & night markets. in america farmers markets are definitely a trendy thing to do. in thailand, they are our normal. if we want food- we go to the night market. and they are such a fun experience!
  18. Running breaks due to the cows/goats/hogs standing or walking across your path. sometimes there is just no getting around them.
  19. Bikes. i never understood the allure of riding a motorcycle knowing how dangerous they  can be. now, i get it. we drive our little motorbike everywhere. to the market, to school, to the beach. and it.is.awesome!!
  20. The joy. thailand is named the land of smiles for a reason. it is impossible to meet a stranger here. we have learned it is almost impossible to go somewhere without meeting someone new. whether someone is wanting to take a picture with us or someone is helping me as i struggle through a conversation at the bank. everyone wants to help and everyone is joyful. the people here are lovely.

10268613_10152102581391821_1763648711009026118_n

Have you ever found yourself in a transition period with new normals? What did this look like for you?

10309375_10152113748436821_8578676556165984724_n 10513522_10152217032601821_6713408618773349041_n 10314766_10152113749596821_590416670371921637_n 10414633_10152147239731821_5882691509762127495_n 10449474_10152147234561821_5341502157436306306_n 10455290_10152147262196821_9201128655146303336_n

signature-smaller-300x1931

Preparing for Goodbye

class

I cannot believe this year is coming to a close. Never in a million years would I have guessed that I would live in Thailand. I have yearned to live abroad since I was in sixth grade- but I always imagined my time abroad would be spent gallivanting around some posh city in Europe. I couldn’t have guessed it would be in Thailand, in the land of smiles and squatter toilets. Little did I know, this country would captivate my heart.

photo 2

While I would still love to live in Europe one day, I am beyond thankful God brought us to Thailand. We came to Thailand with one desire- our students. Growing up I had never dreamed of visiting Asia. It just wasn’t on my radar. Our sole purpose for moving to Thailand was not to travel, but to love on some students.

We literally began praying for our specific group of students in 2013. And now, almost a full two years later, my heart is breaking as we are beginning our goodbyes. To say I am heartbroken at the thought of leaving my 20 third graders is an understatement. I spent my weekend in tears, praying over each of these beautiful little souls by name. Praying into their personalities, dreams, and potential.

photo 4

I pray that the Lord used me to plant seeds. I pray we keep in touch. I pray they continue to grow- spiritually, mentally, and scholastically. I pray they know I love them and will continue praying for them. But above all, I pray they know their Heavenly Father loves them. I pray one day,  in the far off future, I will see them again in Heaven & we will celebrate at Abba’s table.

To me, teaching wasn’t just a way to live in Thailand. Teaching was a way I could build relationships with 20 impressionable students who needed to hear about Jesus. I pray I never take for granted the memories and lessons my students taught me here in Thailand.  I pray my students remember Jesus was loved by me- even if they forget me as a teacher. I pray they remember the love that was cultivated in our classroom. Love for our studies, love for each other, and love of our Heavenly Father.

photo 5

Who knows where we will be next or what we will be doing. But whatever our next step is, I pray we can feel His guidance and His presence as vividly as we have here. God’s hand was in every step, every memory. We poured out our hearts and souls into our students. We have loved them with every fiber in our body. I am confident the Lord was present in our classrooms and I could not be more thankful.

Thank you for all of your prayers and encouragement. This year would not have been possible without so many of you. Abba has showed up in BIG ways. Words cannot convey our thankfulness for each of you.

How sweet is this drawing my student Luktan drew?
Can you guess one of our Bible verses of the week?

Luktan

signature-smaller-300x1931

We have had a plethora of people reaching out to us about our plans for the near future. We will be in NYC the beginning of April and SoCal the end of April. The first week of May we should have more solidified plans. But as of now, we will be in Texas in May then most likely Georgia & Florida around the June/July months. After that… only Abba knows! 

Happy Birthday Mom

imageToday is another day of celebration! Today is my wonderful mother’s birthday! She is the most encouraging, loving, supporting, adventurous, and incredible mother out there!

imageimageimageThank you mom for always encouraging me to dream big and for helping me do whatever it takes to achieve any goals. You have inspired me to do more and be more than I would have initially thought possible. Thank you for teaching me to take advantage of life’s adventures- whether they are in our home city or half way around the world. And most of all, thank you for being such a wonderful example of what it looks like to be a wife who loves the Lord. Love you! Hope your day in NYC is full of blessings and your trip to SoCal is filled with sunshine!

signature-smaller-300x1931

 

Ps- sorry for the lack of post lately- Thailand has killed my MacBook and I am waiting until I am back in America to buy a new one! For now, I will attempt posting from our iPad…

Happy Birthday Caleb

Today is a special day! Today is my incredible husbands birthday! Words cannot convey my thankfulness that he was born 27 short years ago. I am so thankful for the experiences he has had and for the man they have made him to be. And most of all, I am thankful the Lord brought us together. There are so many reasons why he is the best husband ever… but here are just a few reasons why I am so thankful for him.

  1. How well he loves others.
  2. His passion. He is passionate about everything from Jesus to sports. Caleb doesn’t do anything half way.
  3. His positivity. He is always smiling and never speaks poorly of others.
  4. He encourages me to spend time in the Word and leads us in our daily devotional.
  5. His spontaneity.
  6. He brings out the best version of myself. He makes me want to be a better person and to serve more.
  7. Watching him teach, love on, and play with his students. He will be such a wonderful father one day!
  8. He supports my crazy dreams & dreams up his own big, crazy dreams.
  9. His sense of humor. No one makes me laugh like he does.
  10. He tells me he loves me all the time.
  11. He is a man- not just a grown boy. He knows what it means to be a man and the importance of living by a higher standard. He is brave, strong, a leader, caring, and humble.
  12. Watching his love for Christ overflow as he interacts with strangers. {we have literally had strangers come up to us while we are eating or walking and ask if they could practice speaking english with us… this has happened at least a dozen times. Caleb lovingly accepts with a smile- even if he is caught with his mouth full.}
  13. His adventurous spirit.
  14. Caleb has never met a stranger.
  15. He loves to celebrate everything- big & small! {almost as much as I do}
  16. He randomly dances with me in our kitchen. Sometimes he even turns on our wedding song, takes me by surprise, and dips me.
  17. How he serves- not only me, but everyone around him. {and he does it with such joy & sincere love}
  18. He knows me and knows how to best love me. He listens to my ramblings and always know when I need advice or when I just need to be held.
  19. Seeing him still gives me butterflies.
  20. Most of all- he loves, follows, and pursues Jesus with all his heart.

So happy birthday to my best friend, my encourager, my husband. {I still cannot believe I get to call you my husband!} I cannot wait to celebrate another 80+ years of birthdays together!  I love you!

signature-smaller-300x1931

Christmas in Bali

img4324-3This past Christmas was easily the strangest Christmas I have ever experienced. Having said that, is was also one of the most memorable and possibly my favorite Christmas ever. While I missed the cold weather, the gathering with friends and family, and the general Christmas festivities… I wouldn’t trade this Christmas season with my 20 third graders for the world. Few things bring me more joy than watching people of other cultures sing songs about Jesus and hearing them retell the real Christmas story.

We spent most of the holiday season in our home city of Nakhon Si Thammarat in Thailand but we spent the week of Christmas with my family in Bali, Indonesia. Our week in Bali was filled with adventure, culture, swimming, and relaxing. It was perfect. While the entire trip was perfect, one night easily stands out as one of my favorites. On Christmas Eve we had dinner reservations at the main restaurant at our resort. Imagine sitting outside by the beach, Christmas lights dancing in the pools reflection, while eating the most incredible food. Seriously, the food was out of this world good!! But what made the night so memorable was the live music.

The resort we stayed at partners with a school that provides an education to low income families and orphans. The students are taught to read and write so they have a chance to have a better future. One of the ways they help the students learn English is through song. So we ate dinner listening to 20+ sweet little Balinese boys and girls sing songs about Jesus and the Christmas season. It was beautiful. Bali is a Hindu island- so I know the students are most likely not Christians, but praise the Lord they are at least learning something about Jesus… even if it is just through song.

Are they not the sweetest little things you have ever seen?
And how gorgeous are their true Balinese style outfits?
img4324-2img4324-5

img4324-3img4324-5img4324-6img4324-4img4324-4Bali Christmasimg4324

I’ll be posting all the details of our trip to Bali soon! If you ever plan on making it out to Bali I have a few contacts you MUST use and a few places you MUST visit!

signature-smaller-300x1931

Your Ambition, Your Story

00001834

“The ambitions we have will become the stories we live.
If you want to know what a person’s story is about,
just ask them what they want.
If we don’t want anything, we are living boring stories,
and if we want a roomba vaccum cleaner we are living stupid stories.
If it won’t work in a story, it won’t work in life.”
-Donald Miller

Anyone else love the start of a new year? It is still January which means we have 12 months to turn this year into a great story- a story worth remembering, a story worth sharing. Caleb and I are currently at a crossroad. We are praying through our story. How does the Lord plan on using our marriage and our lives to further His Kingdom? We both have so many dreams and ambitions. Dreams of starting a family, of serving, of traveling, and of learning.

At the moment we are praying through what 2015 will look like after we leave Thailand. If I am being honest, a big part of me yearns to be in NYC with my family while we start setting roots and begin praying about starting our family. While another part of me wants to continue our adventure abroad. Few experiences have taught me more about God’s omnipotence, His faithfulness, and what it looks like to truly rely on Him than living abroad. This year in Thailand Abba has broken and molded me in some of the most unexpected ways.

As we pray through this next step, there is one fact I am certain of. I don’t ever want to wake up one day and realize my life reflects that I think fancy cars and big homes are important. I would rather have someone watch my life and have no question that my story was about loving others and loving our Heavenly Father.

00001843

So this is my prayer- that my eyes would be set on Him, that He would lead our every step, that our ambitions would be set on things above, that Abba would continue writing a story of love and faithfulness. We would be honored if you would join us in prayer. We have an interview Tuesday at midnight Thai time. Our prayer is for the Lord’s Will to be done- regardless of the outcome. Beyond thankful for each of you!!

What are your ambitions? What is your story about?

signature-smaller-300x1931

Taking Action in the Waiting

img4324

I adore the month of January. A new year, new goals, new adventures to be had… January brings the promise of new opportunities. As this year begins, I cannot help but think about how our time in Thailand is coming to a close. Words cannot convey my thankfulness for this past year. I am still befuddled that our 1 year contract in Thailand is almost over.

For the past few months Caleb and I have been intentionally praying for the Lord to clearly open and close doors for our next step. I have always yearned to live in Europe and have been praying for direction with this desire. Caleb and I have actually applied to a plethora of locations in Europe- but most schools require an EU passport and won’t begin hiring until April… And the planner in me really struggles with the idea of not having solidified plans when our current contract ends. Caleb and I have also prayed about the possibility of moving to NYC. We love the idea of living in the city while my parents live there. And if I am being honest, saying goodbye to them at the end of the holiday was A LOT harder than I expected.

So now we are in a season of waiting and praying. In this season I have found myself struggling. I am certain I have struggled with this situation before, but I am not sure if I had ever recognized it. The past year and a half have stretched me, molded me. God has taught me what it looks like to wait on Him. Last time I was in this season of waiting God clearly opened and closed one door at a a time. This made waiting on Him somewhat easy. But this season is slightly different.

Proverbs 16:9 states, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” I know that the Lord will establish our steps. He will give us direction. I also know the Lord gives us free will and He requires us to be men and women of action. But what does it look like to balance listening to His direction and taking action? I don’t want to force anything. I yearn for His clear direction- even if it is not what Caleb and I are expecting.

So in this season of waiting, I am praying for balance. I want to fully listen and wait on God while  still taking steps towards our future. At the moment we have no idea where we will end up next. We have no idea what 2015 with hold for us. But we are certain that the Lord is good, His plans are good, and He holds us in His hand. We cannot wait to see what Abba has in store for this year!

If you happen to think of us,
we would be beyond blessed
if you would say a quick prayer for direction for us!
Thankful for each of you!

signature-smaller-300x1931