Tag Archives: memories

for auld lang syne

So long 2010.

Every year flies in and out faster the older I get. My elementary years seemed like an eternity packed into 10 years. Middle school seemed to slink slowly by. Each year in high school went by progressively faster. College went by in light speed, or what is it called on Star Trek, warp?  I somehow ended up a college graduate with a job.

Now, I’m sitting in my apartment in Chiang Mai, wondering where 2010 went.

I’ve been reminiscing about what’s taken place the last year. Here are just a few thoughts.

In the past year I:

-Celebrated Christmas and New Years in Taiwan

-Moved back to Thailand

-Begun my first full-time job, which has been my dream job since middle school

-Studied Thai again

-Traveled on my first work trip

-Learned to see poverty through God’s eyes

-Visited four new countries

-Was in my best friend’s wedding

-Had six months where my brother and I were both in Chiang Mai

-Watched my brother graduate high school

-Traveled through Turkey and Greece with my family

-Got to be a part of media relating to the World Cup and the Lausanne World Evangelization conference

-Traveled back to China

-Learned more about Thai festivals

-Made many dear Thai friends

-Hung out with awesome journeymen

-Swam with whale sharks

-Learned how to surf

-Zip lined through the jungles of Thailand

I am praying that this next year God becomes more and I become less. Last year was a good year. But, there are a lot of things from last year that I wish I could change or do differently.

“God is the God of our yesterdays, and he allows the memory of them to turn the past into a ministry of spiritual growth for our future. God reminds us of the past to protect us from a very shallow security in the present,” Oswald Chambers.

I’m looking forward to a year of closer intimacy with God.

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Beijing blast from the past

If home is where the heart is, then my home is in Asia.

I am at home in the pungent Thai marketplace and Hong Kong’s Stanley Market. I am at home sailing down the picturesque Li River with a backdrop of mountains holding centuries-old secrets. I am at home on the train in Taiwan and the MTR subway in Hong Kong.

Whether it be perched on a waterfall ledge in northern Thailand, or wedged in a cable car ascending to the Great Wall— I am at home.

But, I am discovering the part of me that is American too.
I studied abroad in Asia this past semester. I enjoyed it immensely.
Oddly, I am finding myself ready to go back. I am missing my friends, and I am looking forward to my senior year.

Written in 2008 in Beijing

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Beijing 2008 reminiscent

I got to go to some Good Luck games! Good Luck games are pre-Olympic games intended for athletes to test the facilities and for the Olympic volunteers to practice medal ceremonies.

I was able to see synchronized swimming, fencing and basketball. The synchronized swimming took place in the “Water Cube” in the Olympic Green. The Water Cube is an architectural masterpiece. The bubbles on the exterior regulate the temperature inside. From inside you can look up and see the hollow bubbles.

Fencing was also in the Olympic Green. The basketball match I saw was the USA women’s team versus Australia.

I got to go to the Bird’s Nest! I got to see track and field, another Good Luck Games event.

The stadium is huge. Just being in it makes you feel like you are part of something amazing.

All the events were going on at one time, so it was difficult to know where to look. My best friend from Baylor came to visit during this time so she also got to come. My mom also got came to visit and came to the track and field meet.

I took my friend to all the usual sights: Great Wall, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, Forbidden City, Tiananmen and the Pearl Market. It was fun seeing things through a newbie’s eyes.

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treasures in teak houses

*I wrote this while in college. I’ve edited it some and added a few elements.

Childhood is now a silhouette, masked by adulthood. It comes back, my childhood, that is, quite often. It sometimes feels as if I’m living in a world of un-lockable memories. Well, they aren’t really un-lockable. I’ll be driving down Chiang Mai’s “super highway” and a memory will play before my eyes, like it was in real time. Just as quickly as the memory came, it leaves.

Allow me to relive a memory of my first home in Thailand.

It was a beautiful, Thai teak house.

Our first house is now a distant memory even though I now pass by the road leading to the green gate that encloses our former sanctuary.

Thai houses are covered in windows to combat the tropical weather. Central air and heat do not exist in Thailand. Heat is never artificially needed because heat composes every season. Window-covered houses are wonderful because of the amount of light they allow. I will never get used to the lack of windows in American houses.

Wood is an essential part of houses in Thailand. Wood floors, furniture and beds are staples.

Our kitchen in that house remains one of the largest I have ever seen.

There are no such things as garages in Thailand. Each home had a “carport.” Come to think of it, that sounds awfully like a Star Trek invention. Carport? Taking off somewhere? Not quite sure…

Our yard seemed as if it came from a child’s dream. Taylor and I romped daily  in the vast green expanse bordered by  mango and jackfruit. The yard truly  was mini-botanical garden — complete with tropical flowers. I wore frangipanis in my hair as my accessory of choice.

We held Christmas pageant in that yard. Mary was pregnant with a basketball. And the crew, a motley one at that, are now all adults.

I can’t tell you how many different worlds I traveled to in that yard. Imagination limitless, I sometimes lived in an alternate reality. Having just seen the movie, Inception, I would have imagined myself superior to the architect, Ariadne, in my ability to sculpt alternate realities.

My imagination never failing, I would get “in character” and try to trick Taylor into thinking I was a villain, or Zorro. It didn’t really work, but it upset him to no end.

We shared the yard with our cats. It started out with four–then they had babies. I believe we had 12 at one time.

One time, several of the kittens decided to climb in the gas canister. Someone turned on the gas stove and we found then blackened and with whiskers singed. These same kittens I dressed in doll clothes and kept my closet as a ward for. This closet cause the death of one of the kittens.

My room was huge. I had two double beds and a chest with a mirror that I would sing Testify to Love and Backstreet Boys’ songs in front of.

I played with my American Girl dolls, paper dolls, Polly Pockets, Pound Purries and Petshop animals on these wood floors.

On the wood floors in the den I watched Cartoon Nework. On those floors I received my first CDs.

My parents gave me a classical CD one Christmas and an extended family member gave me a WOW CD. That was the beginning of the WOW obsession and my love of music. I didn’t appreciate the classical CD then, but now I wish I had it.

There is something about listening to classical music that aids you in writing. I don’t know what, because I am just discovering this.

Does music make memories surface? Is it music that enlivens the writer?Do we have a way with words, or do words have a way with us?

We lived in four houses in Chiang Mai and I still think of that house with a sense of nostalgia.

This memory surfaced as I sat in my apartment in Waco, Texas, and listened to Beethoven, Chopin and Rachmaninoff.

I’m now sitting in my own apartment in Chiang Mai. It’s concrete, not teak, and I’m an adult now. Before, I’d banish the thought of ever becoming or calling myself an adult. But it has come. It’s the weekend before my 23rd birthday. I’m not sure how I got this old.

I do know that memories are funny things — they surface without a whole lot of notice. Memories surface for a reason and a season.

I also now know what treasures teak houses hold.

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Popping in and out of chalk drawings

It’s so great to be back in Thailand.

Coming back really has been like stepping back into a movie of my past. I have been regaling my roommate with old recollections I have as we explore the town (It’s more of a re-exploring experience for me). I am sure she is tired of it.

Everywhere I go, my old high school, the night market, the mall–I watch a newsreel, black and white yet oh so colorful, of memories from my past. I stand in a place and the clip plays and I watch the younger version of myself. It sometimes feels like I am Mary Poppins, popping in and out of chalk paintings into a different place and time.

Don’t worry. I am not going crazy or hallucinating nor do I have a mosquito-born illness. Bear with me.

I went up to a look out spot on Doi Suthep (a mountain here) and stumbled upon a little rustic dorm-like retreat place. I can’t place the memory I had there. I vaguely remember going to a youth group camp there back in my early middle school years. But, I am not entirely sure. I very well could have made that memory up.

It’s neat to remember how God grew me here. I feel like such a different person now. Walking through the memories reminds me of His faithfulness, how He has answered prayers and promises that were fulfilled.

I am thrilled with the prospect of making new memories here that I will remember when I am older. (Older as in at least 35).

Someone asked me if I was disappointed I didn’t move somewhere new. The answer is most certainly no. Chiang Mai has been the one place that has consistently felt like home in my years of moving. I can’t describe what a blessing it is to come back.

Now, if you had asked me as a middle or high schooler whether I could have ever imagined myself back here as a 22-year-old, I probably would have told you I couldn’t fathom what it would be like to be that old.

My brother Taylor thinks I am old. You see, when you are in high school, graduating college seems like eons. College goes by faster than high school though. I think he wonders why I am not married yet. Twenty-two is not that old, I tell him.

“Suurrrrreeeeee.”

30 is the new 20. Right?

Don’t every underestimate the God’s ability to use past haunts to remind you of His love, lessons and faithfulness. Maybe take time to revisit places from your past. You may find healing, find a misplaced newsreel memoir and maybe you’ll learn something about yourself.

“We all feel the riddle of the earth without anyone to point it out. The mystery of life is the plainest part of it … Every stone or flower is a hieroglyphic of which we have lost the key ; with every step of our lives we enter into the middle of some story which we are certain to misunderstand,” G.K. Chesterton.

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It’s the Climb

View from my balcony

You know the song, “The Climb,” by Miley Cyrus? I’m not too keen on Miley as an artist or individual, but I can’t help but think about her song now that I am back in my new-old environment.

My last two years of high school we lived near the international school I went to and later graduated from. We had a great house. I had a room with a king size bed and a balcony that faced Doi Kham (a mountain). I loved sitting on the balcony and reading my Bible, praying and contemplating life and its intricacies. I had some great times with the Lord. It was a great time of solace. Those were the times that I felt most keenly the “Sacred Romance” John Eldredge writes about.

Now, I am back in Chiang Mai–my hometown. I’m here not as a high school student in pleated skirts and polos but as a recent college grad with a career. I’ve landed my dream job at 22. I’m not here for play like I was before. I have responsibilities. I am here by myself. I am going to be doing ministry as a single– not a family. I have an awesome, light-filled apartment in a bustling part of town that has several coffee shops and a plethora of eateries. It is very convenient. Where we lived before was kind of out in the boonies.

Guess what? I have a balcony. Actually, in the apartment there are a total of four. Yes. Three of the balconies face a mountain. I almost cried with joy when I first walked into the apartment. It’s more than a balcony–it’s communion with God. I’m reminded of His glory every time I look out. I am reminded of what He has done for me, the lessons I’ve learned and the victories He’s granted. I look out and see the city I love so much.

But this time, the mountain is Doi Suthep, which is a much taller mountain. How fitting that it it’s a bigger mountain. It fits my new role here. There’s more challenge now. With challenge though, there is adventure and we all know how much I love adventures. And adventure, as I’m learning, is the pursuit of a Sacred Romance with God.

So to get back to our teen phenom, several lines in her song, “The Climb” popped out at me.

“There’s always gonna be another mountain.” This has proven true. “I’m always going to want to make it move.” I don’t want to make my mountains move. Instead of looking at mountains as a challenge, look at them as an adventure–a mystery.

Valleys, in the Christian metaphor world, are usually synonymous with low times in life. They are associated with the times you are far from God. “Mountain top experiences” usually denote a time of closeness with God. Mountains can be fearful and make you sit in awe. God is a powerful God. It’s good to have a reverent fear of God. I think that is the beauty of mountains. They make me think of Him and how powerful and awesome He is.

So I don’t want to make my mountains move. I know that mountains can also be an obstacle–in that you have to get around or over them to see the life/future on the other side. It doesn’t really bother me what’s on the other side of Doi Kham and Doi Suthep. As Miley said, “It’s the climb.” It’s not what’s on the other side. It’s the lessons we learn on our climb up the mountain. It’s the intimacy with God that comes from the challenge presented.

It’s the adventure we all crave.

Don’t look at mountains in your life and be dismayed and discouraged. Look at them as a chance to find intimacy, solace and learn lessons in your walk with Christ. It’s about running the race in a manner worthy of winning the prize. The mountains in our lives are there for a reason and a season. Allow God to use them to grow you and remind you how great His love is for you.

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