Saturday, November 1, 2014

That time of year again



Today is November first.  I have often, in the past, written a blog a day with my list of thanks.  This has been a good practice for me.  It helps me keep my mind and heart focused on what is truly important and worth spending my time on.

Actually, for the past several years, I have been keeping a gratitude journal.  Each evening I write three things for which I am thankful.  Many entries are repeated throughout the year, yet, it helps me to end the day on a note of praise and gratitude.

Taking time to give thanks does that for us.  It helps us center our thoughts.  It draws our attention off of the negative.  And, hopefully, it draws our attention to the One who provides more than we can ask or imagine.

Today I am going to begin my month of thanks blogposts with God's Word.  I am thankful God has provided a way for us to know Him.  His love and mercy, His plan and promise are all revealed and shared in His word.  According to His word, God wants to know us and wants us to know Him.  He provided a way for us to spend eternity with Him and restored the broken relationship between us humans and Himself by sending Jesus to this earth.  All of this and so much more is in His Word.  It is a deep book, yet understandable by all who desire to know Him.  It is a long book, yet such a page turner that it keeps drawing us back for more.  It is a story book, yet so much more.  This book is a love letter from our awesome Creator.

Your word, Oh Lord, is eternal;
it stands firm in the heavens.
Psalm 119:89

Friday, October 31, 2014

Beauty of Nature

I know I go on about nature and post pictures of nature often.  I do because it is one of the main ways I connect with God.  When I am in nature, surrounded by nature, I feel closer to God, like He is walking with me.  I enjoy chatting with God as we walk, run, or sit together in His beautiful creation.

Here are a few pictures I took while wandering around Horizon Village in Chiang Mai.  (I highly recommend Horizon if you are going to Chiang Mai!)

Sunset over the canal

Sunset over the pond

Arch over a different pond

Looking up into a palm tree

Trees in front of our seminar building-
obviously not completely natural!  They grow naturally,
just formed by humans.

Some pretty red flowers

Ballerina

Fish gathering for food

Sunset another night

Lotus flower in the pond by our breakfast location

Growing in the trees

Camels having a fest

Sunrise from our balcony

New Experiences

Sometimes I get excited about new experiences.  Sometimes I do not.  yet, almost always, I look back on the experiences with fondness, glad that I tried.

Melissa and I took an overnight flight to a country neither of us had ever visited or, actually, even had the desire to visit.  Yet, here we are in Thailand.

We are here to study, fellowship, worship, make new friends, and even have some fun.  (It is still summer here, so today after we arrived, we enjoyed one of the pools!  Fun!)

Everything is new, sounds, tastes, sights, people, language, customs.  It has been a fun and challenging day.  Ia m glad to get to have this new experience with my friend!

We are praying the week will draw us closer to God and each other as well as to our new friends.  We are also praying the study will give us new vision and direction for ministry.

God is already at work.  Thankful.

(I wrote this post on October 21st when Melissa and I arrived in Thailand.  I didn't realize that it hadn't posted, so I am posting it now, 10 days later!)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Hundred Times

"And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life."  Matthew 19:29

When Jesus said this He was talking about the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on His glorious throne.  However, I would say that I have also experienced this in the here and now.

Yesterday was one of those times.

The gospel choir I joined six years ago, Anointed Gospel Choir (AGC), is preparing for a concert next week.  Yesterday during our rehearsal we didn't have time to go through all of the songs, so our director was taking requests.

There is a song in Japanese that I have not quite memorized so I requested it.  About halfway through the song, as the lyrics really started to sink in, my eyes started to overflow.  I did my best to mouth the words of it and the final two songs.

I thought I had pulled myself together.

At the end of rehearsal, I am usually asked to pray.  I thought I would be fine.  But, again, the tears started and I had a hard time speaking.

After choir there were lots of encouraging words and hugs, yes, hugs from my Japanese friends.  These ladies who have become dear friends, not to replace the friends I had in the US before coming, but to be added, shared my worry and hope.

Friday my dad started chemotherapy.  The song we were singing is: 希望の光 (The light of hope)
Being far away at a time like this is a challenge to the heart!  But, I was filled with hope as I sang the song and was reminded of the light of hope God has placed in my heart, and in my dad's heart.

My AGC friends stepped up and filled in the gaps.  Thank you, my dear friends.

希望の光
心も体も疲れて生きる力さえも失った
でも今私の心には確かな希望の光

神様、あなたは耐えられないほどの
試練に合わせることはしない
耐えられるように試練とともに
新たな道も備えてくださるから

神様、私には負いきれないほどの
疲れと重荷があるとしても
あなたは「私を休ませてあげる」と
救いの道を備えてくださるから

Taken from 1 Corinthians 11:13 and Matthew 11:28

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

New Trust

This picture is actually from September!
Here it is, October 1!  From the comments of several friends on Facebook, I am not the only one surprised by how fast September passed.

Many new things are happening this month.  Some are good things, some are things I'd rather not have to experience, but through it all I know God will go with me and guide me and others involved.

I am grateful to have the peace of God, which passes understanding.  I know that through it all God will work and look forward to how He will be glorified and praised.

"Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song;
He has become my salvation."
Isaiah 12:2

Because He has been faithful in the past, I know He will be faithful again.  I can trust Him because He knows the outcome.  He already has a plan.

I know this is pretty vague, but thank you for your prayers for all of the newness I will be experiencing this month.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Sad Day

Enjoying the terrace one last time

August 31 was a sad day for me.  The place I have studied, relaxed, met friends, and made new friends for the past eight years closed.

"My" Starbucks closed.  


It was sort of out of necessity.  The building in which it was housed closed, so they obviously had to do something.

Pretty much every day I was in Izumi in August I went to Starbucks.  I was a little surprised at how sad I was.  I mean, it is just a place.  But, it holds so many memories.  It was comfortable and familiar.  The people were comfortable and familiar, even the people I hadn't met yet.

Chocolate Chunk Scone, one of my favorites

Thankfully, I did not have to say good bye to the staff.  They are all going to be moving to the new shop opening at the new mall.  It doesn't open until October 30, so until then they are all spread around the area.  But, they all get to work together in the new shop.


Until then, I just wait.

Several times over the past three weeks I have almost packed my bag to go to "my" Starbucks.  I am looking forward to seeing my friends again in the new place.

The only challenge will be that there will be thousands upon thousands of people there the first few months the mall is open.  It will be difficult to relax and actually get to chat with the staff.  Even though it will be crazy to try to get into the parking lot and the mall, I probably will go pretty soon after they open.  I need to see my people!

It is a bit farther from where I live, but it is right next to Costco!

I am looking forward to my new place!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Here and There, Part ?4?

I have lost count of the here and there times over the summer!

Just after returning from California, I jumped in my car and headed to Tsu for the JBC college and career camp.  It was a great 30 hours of time with some quality young people who love God and fellowship.

We had a good time eating, playing, laughing, studying and praying together.  We learned about the privilege of work and how God has provided work for us.  I learned a new German work, although I am not sure how to spell it, beluf ベルーフ.  This word includes the meaning of work + calling, not just work for work's sake, but thinking of work as a calling, a purpose in work that is not making money.  Our prayer is that work will be part of serving God for these young people as the learn, grow, and join the work force.