Tag Archives: Thai

mountain of contentment

From where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the author and perfecter of my faith.

I love sitting outside on a bench that faces the mountain that’s near to my house and having my quiet time. I sip my coffee, munch on a bagel or cereal, watch Finn pounce on all the plants in my yard and spend time with the Father.

Mountains have always held a special place in my heart, for a little background, click here

My view of the mountain from my house isn’t a clear-cut view. There are electrical lines that frame my view. I could focus on these and complain about them and ignore the perfectly wonderful view I have.

The Lord showed me today that it’s the same with life. I can let small things steal my attention from the bigger and more beautiful thing – the Lord.

These small things take away from appreciating and enjoying all of things God has blessed us with.

My neighbor’s garden is visible from my morning breakfast perch. I haven’t ever felt this way, but I could choose focus on what he has and not what I have been blessed with. He has beautiful purple flowers on a vine that is landscaped just right. This could, if I had inherited more of my grandmother and mother’s green thumb, distract me. It also could enhance my view, and it does. I’m grateful for it.

Don’t allow jealousy to give you tunnel vision.

There is a longan tree (longans are a Thai fruit that you peel) just outside my fence. Instead of looking at the whole picture, I could just admire the fruit trees and my neighbor’s yard and forget how they act as a beautiful frame for the mountain.

Spiritually, I could praise God’s creation yet neglect to praise Him.

Sometimes the clouds hide the view of the mountain. Does that mean the mountain is gone? Not at all. Just because we cant see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Sometimes we can’t see God as clearly as we do on the sunny days. He is still there, as firm and solid as before.

Mountains are a symbol of contentment. God gives contentment. As Oswald Chambers so eloquently put it, we must look up into His face and that is where contentment and joy comes from. (I’ve learned a great deal from Oswald – I wrote another post about a devotional he wrote that the Lord used in my life.)

Looking up to the mountain reminds me to look to God for contentment.

I pray you’ll look to God for contentment too.

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ballet flats and truck beds

Today I borrowed a truck with a “Carryboy,” a hood on the back, to pick up a piece of furniture from a village known for its furniture and handicrafts. I’d discovered yesterday that the Toyota Soluna I have been using is not large enough to accommodate my purchase – a coat/purse/umbrella rack.

After making the long trek to the south side of town, I found that the back hood wouldn’t open. The shop owner and I pulled and pulled to no avail.

I debated whether I could fit through the small window from the cab into the truck bed.

“I think I can fit,” a young Thai girl says, appearing from another shop. She probably weighs 90 pounds soaking wet and is around 5’2.”

“Oh? Really? Do you mind?”

“No, not at all!”

Thai people are SO helpful and friendly.

Sure enough, she was able to maneuver through the window. With more pulling and prodding, she was able to pop the lock with the aid of another shopkeeper who came to help pull from the outside.

We had to leave the back door open because I wouldn’t be able to open it once I arrived at home.

“Drive slowly,” they told me.

After thanking them all profusely, I headed to a friend’s house to pick up to items I’d purchased from them.

When I opened the door to the back seat, I see a pair of size 5, cream-colored ballet flats that perfectly matched my rescuer’s dress (yes, she offered to crawl through in a cream-colored dress)

My new friend is now walking around barefoot.

Thankfully, I had the business card of the shop owner. I called and explained I had the shoes of the girl who helped. She said I could bring them by whenever – now or later. I decided to return, even though it was a bit of a trek back out, because my house is on the complete opposite side of town.

I slowly chug along, in a truck that is as old as I am, with an office chair and wooden coat/purse rack in the back. I stop on the side of the highway to make sure my rack and chair are OK and get mud on my khaki pants.

I arrive back at the shop to find everyone gone. I call again and explain that I’ll leave the shoes at the shop two doors down on a carved tree stump sitting next to a wooden elephant and stone Buddha.

I had a mental picture of the girl driving her motorbike home, barefoot. Poor thing!

I raced the rain back home, praying it wouldn’t since the back hood was open. I managed to pull in to my carport before the rain.

Welcome to a day in the life of Tessa. There is never a dull moment.

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closing chapters

How do you close a chapter in life?

I think it’s similar to finishing a really superb book – the kind of book where you eat up every line until the last line, consuming and enjoying every word and minute. It’s the kind of book you get lost in, where the characters seem as real as the man sitting next to you in the songtaew (Thai taxi). Great books make you feel you’re a part of the drama.

When the last chapter ends and the last line is digested, there’s a sense of sadness that it’s over, that the journey you were just on has ended. You close the book, thinking, wow, that was good. You close it half wishing you hadn’t read it so quickly.

This happened for me recently with “A Tale of Two Cities,” by Charles Dickens. I’m not sure why I’d never read it before. Well, actually, I do know why. I think God had me read it this year.

I finished Dickens’ masterpiece on the Thai Airways flight home from my last media coverage as a journeyman. I sat between two coworkers and friends and ooh-ed and ah-ed over the last scenes and sentences (they can attest to how verbal I was).

Now I realize how symbolic my reading and finishing the book was. I’m closing a chapter of life – just as I closed out on my final voyage with Dickens’ book about two cities and the adventures held within them.

During my almost three years here, I’ve spent time in more than just two cities. I’ve been a part of stories that are in some ways just as dramatic if not more so than “A Tale of Two Cities.”  Sans the guillotines, of course, but these stories had dangers just as real as the French machine of death. It’s been an awesome “book” and I feel so blessed to have lived it. Thank you Lord, for the lessons learned, the adventures had and the challenges I’ve learned from.

Finishing “A Tale of Two Cities” felt a little like grieving. It’s that good. I was sad to say goodbye to the characters, action and drama. Finishing my time here as a journeyman feels like grieving.

The feeling of the loss of something great happens with some TV series too. My brother and I were immersed in a British TV-series called “Foyle’s War.” When we finished the last episode, our shared memories seemed to end. We finished something great – something we’d spent hours together watching over Christmas. This happened to me when “Lost” ended too. All those years spent, waiting for resolution and it never came. We won’t get into that.

While some people may feel like instantly reading great books and watching TV series again, I’ve found that I don’t. When I say this, I mean, I don’t feel like closing the book then re-open and start reading it again or watching the TV series again. I do re-read and re-watch and I want to do this, but I’ve found I need space in between the reading and watching – time to absorb and remember. For me, re-reading and re-watching are never quite the same as reading or watching the first time either. The suspense and mystery are known.

It’s the same with my time here as a journeyman. I can’t and won’t go back to “re-live” it right now that it’s over – as good as the past three years have been. The adventure won’t ever be as fresh as the first time living and experiencing it. And it shouldn’t be.  You can’t live in the past. You can remember the past and you can re-visit it.

I’ve found that after reading a great book, I’m inspired to find and read another that’s equally as epic. Great books have a tendency to do that. Excellent books put you on a manhunt to find and discover a book that have the same immersing effect on you.

I think it’s the same with life. I’ve just closed out the last chapter of a “book” of my life – my time here in Chiang Mai as a journeyman. I’m inspired to find the next book that will so move me as the past three years did.

Yes, I will be returning here next year, but the “book” will be different. I lived here in Chiang Mai as a elementary, middle and high school student and that book was VERY different from my “journeyman book.” Little did I know when I graduated from high school that I’d be returning to Chiang Mai for a very different adventure.

In the next saga of “Tessa’s life in Chiang Mai,” there will be new drama, new characters and new challenges.  I don’t know what these are yet, but just like you don’t know the ending to a great book, you wouldn’t want to because it’d spoil the journey of reading it.

Now, I know of some people who read the ending of books first. I have plenty to say about that but I’ll save it for another inspired-blog-writing-moment.

In a few short days, I’ll be closing the final chapter of an epic book. There will be grieving at its end – at the end of this fine adventure. But, I’m inspired to see what God’s written in the next book of my life.

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Caught in translation

I’m dog sitting for a friend for two weeks and I’m staying in her apartment. This morning, I took Maybelle out for a walk and a young guy came up and sheepishly introduced himself.

“I’m sorry, I don’t believe we’ve met,” he says, extending his hand for a handshake.

Handshakes aren’t too common in Thailand – most of the time greetings are a “wai,” you put your hands flat together  like you’re praying and say “Sawat-dii-kah” if you’re a girl and “Sawat-dii-khrap” if you’re a guy.

“We’ve cleared this land if you want to park here,” the guy said, smiling.

“Your English is very good!” I tell him.

The guy’s parents came out and I shook hands with them too. They don’t speak English.

“She’s beautiful, son,” the father says to him in Thai.

He blushes but doesn’t think that I can speak Thai so he continues talking to me in English, explaining he’s a second-year education major and wants to be a teacher like his parents.

They ask about how long I’ve been here.

I tell them in Thai that I don’t live here at this house, but am  just taking care of a friend’s dog.

The guy blushes crimson. “Oh, you speak Thai.” He flashes a quick look at his dad and laughs nervously.

Caught in translation.

It’s fun being able to pick up on conversations in Thai, Chinese and English (duh).

Eavesdropping becomes a sport. Epfang is the word in Thai.

It’s funny listening in when people are talking about you and they don’t think you can understand – like today’s conversation. It’s fun getting glimpses into other people’s lives when they’re being honest and direct. It’s a great way to learn about culture.

I definitely don’t understand everything that’s said – only bits and pieces. Well, of course I understand English. There are so many times I miss what a Thai or Chinese friend is saying because my language isn’t up to par. I shudder to think of what was lost in translation – like the time I was nodding and smiling when a friend was telling me about going through a rough patch.  I missed some words ….

I tend to be lazy about studying. Is it too late for New Years’ Resolutions?

It’s not always fun be able to understand conversations in another language. Many times I hear comments on my weight, “Look at her, she’s so fat.”

It’s also not fun eavesdropping in on some English conversations here. There are a lot of nasty men who make their way here from all sorts of countries looking for prostitutes. I’ve wanted to slap some of the men who’ve made lewd remarks to the women and the massage parlor where I teach English.

But, language is a beautiful thing. It communicates truth, hope and joy. It paints pictures a picture of our dreams and expresses experiences.

Caught or lost in translation – that’s where I live.

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assuming asaph, living like levi

I attended a meeting last week and the Lord used a devotional a brother in Christ led to really speak to me. He shared from Psalm 73, a prayer of Asaph.

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t know a whole lot about Asaph before this week. It sort of sounds like you are sneezing when you say it, especially if you say his name quickly.

This brother in Christ I mentioned above and Google helped me sketch out who this guy is. Asaph wrote several psalms, 50 and then 73 through 83. He was one of King David’s musicians and was a Levite. The Levites were the only of the 12 tribes to not have land. They were the tribe of priests–their home was with the Lord.

Home, for me, is a word that has no boundaries, no nestled yard or cement walls that stay constant for too long. Home, for me, changed often with each move. I didn’t grow up living in the same house or even the same country. Sometimes I struggled answering where home is. When in Thailand, I’d say Texas. When in Texas I’d say Thailand. Saying I was from Texas brought on the “what-high-school-did-you-go-to” question, and since I’m not Thai, saying I’m from Thailand in Thailand doesn’t usually work. Where is home? Home is where my heart is–with my family, immediate and extended.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the Rock and firm Strength of my heart and my Portion forever,” Asaph writes in the Amplified version of Psalm 73.

He is my portion. He is my portion forever.

Go back and read that last line again. Savor it. Do you believe it? Do I believe it?

The Levites found their home in the Lord. They had no land to call their own. Their portion was in the Father.

I am a 21st century Levite. Is that OK to say? And really, as believers, we should all be Levites. Land doesn’t matter. Houses don’t matter. As Christ followers we should find our portion in our Creator.

“But as for me, how good it is to be near God!” Asaph continues in verse 28. [NLT]

Being near to God also takes in another step toward our glorious destiny. I wish I could say I came up with that poetic statement on my own, but ole Asaph already did.

“You will keep guiding me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny,” Psalm 73:24 [NLT]

Part of being able to be led toward that destiny is letting our portion be in God. When we hold our portion in our hands, our destiny is only as big as our palms will flex. Now, unless you have super duper mammoth hands, you probably won’t be able to handle much portion.

It is so easy to want to tie our portion down and to find it in the familiar. We want the familiar. It’s easy to want land assigned to us. But our portion is in a Rock that will never crumble, fade or decay.

He is my portion. He’s enough. I’d like to assume Asaph’s attitude and live like a 21st-century Levite

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Boiled eggs and blind turtles

They kneel, bow and rock back on their knees. They chant earnestly with eyes tightly closed and brows knit. Left palm glued to right palm.They are praying to an emerald Buddha perched atop a throne.

Countless Thais visit Wat Phra Kaew each year to pay homage to the Emerald Buddha. For every bad deed a Buddhist commits, for each of the five laws they break, they must do good deeds to make up for the bad deed.

It’s never ending.

Long ago, Buddha’s disciples asked them when their sins and bad karma would be gone. Buddha told them they’d be free of karma if they placed an egg into a river and after three years they put a blind turtle in the same river and when the blind turtle finds the egg, that’s when they’d be free of their sin.

That’s impossible, they remarked.

Well, of course it is.

It was even impossible for Buddha to break free from karma. Buddha told his disciples that he’d kept the five laws most people try to adhere to, furthermore, he’d kept the 227 laws and the 100,000 laws of Buddhism. He’d logged so many good deeds in his life. But, Buddha said that if he lived his life 10 times over, he wouldn’t make it within sprinting distance of the gates of heaven.

What are we to do? His disciples asked.

Wait for the One who’s coming. He’s like a golden ship, Buddha said, one who’d carry people to heaven. This One Buddha prophesied about would have no bad karma. He’d be recognized by the holes in his hands and the scar on his side.

This One, will be able to break karma’s curse.

This is the message we are sharing with Thais. The One Buddha foretold of has already come. Karma doesn’t have to rule.

–These stories are part of a training we’ve taken and stories are taken from the book,  “From Buddha to Jesus, An Insider’s View of Buddhism and Christianity.”

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Khrang naa

Next time, I’ll be better.

I’m aware that I’m not the best blogger.  I’m sure that seems ironic since I’m a writer. It’s not that I don’t want to blog, I truly do.

I find though, it’s hard sometimes to come home and blog when writing is your job. I’ve been writing all day, bein’ all creative, artsy and word-smithy and such.

But, next time, I’ll be better. Khrang naa means next time in Thai. So, next time I’ll be better at blogging.

Realization of the day: I’m an Asia girl. I realized I can’t see myself living in Europe. Europe is a whooo place to me–it’s seems so exotic. Asia feels like home. Africa feels like the ‘hard core continent’ and South America feels too traditional for me.

That’s not to say I wouldn’t live anywhere the Lord called me–because I would. In or out of my comfort zone, I’ll follow.

That’s one realization I made. Another is that I really like coffee. But you and I already knew that.

So, stay tuned for next post! Khrang naa!

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