After a long eventful week, it is relaxing to just sit on the floor with my legs stretched and listening to music. This moment of quietness and reflection is so special to me because I can pause from our chaotic life situations and simply be. To dwell in this moment. To let words and tunes I love take me into a place of quiet water and green grass. To venture into the heart of God and listen closely to His words.
Today marks the beginning of our third week in Chiang-Mai. We have done a lot together – exploring the city, going to the cinema, riding elephants, visiting temples, shopping for groceries, trying out different cuisines, catching up with friends, lounging in coffee shops, traveling to a nearby province called Chiang-Rai, experiencing a village life, etc. We have discovered new-found love for local food and drinks. Joel is the Thai ice tea; and mine is mango smoothie.
All in all, we have found our pace here. We know rough directions of places we want to go (and if not, we ask our GPS); we have settled into the house we are staying in (although we will probably move out in a week or two when our friend gets back from her trip); and we do not fight like madmen like when we first got here anymore (we still argue and all that, but the fight is more fair). Life has been a little better for us.
One lesson we learned this past week is about thankfulness. Since last year, having been thrown into difficult circumstances and changed plans, we have become somewhat pessimistic towards life in general; more so me, in fact. We tend to recall the bad memories or the mishaps in our lives and dwell on it. We count them on our fingers how many times this week we have fought or got lost on the road. We talk about how things never go right for us – broken phone, upset stomach, no wifi internet at home, postponed job, etc.
Then the Spirit reminded me this past weekend while driving back home that, instead of complaining, we must start counting our blessings. We need to stop holding grudges and begin saying, “Lord, I thank you for the gifts that come to us in various forms, both good and bad.” Yes, we still live off of our suitcases, but we have a shelter over our heads and comfortable beds to sleep on every night. Yes, our money may be tight and income irregular, but God continues to provide sufficiently for us every day through work and people who put their faith in Him. And yes, ending up in Thailand means that Joel is not able to work and starts his role as an evangelist, but we have had different opportunities to make connections and speak into different people’s lives just by being here. Yes, life is hard but it is also GOOD.
This picture below was taken while we were creeping slowly behind the big truck up the mountain on the way to Chiang-Rai. The road was narrow and windy. We could not look past the bend. All Joel could do at the moment was to follow the truck along ever so slowly. Before I could get frustrated, I was reminded that this was a perfect opportunity to look out the window and enjoy the scenery, to ask Joel if he wanted any water and to strike conversations. It was the time to create memories, to cherish and to care.
In a sense, this is our lives now. We are obliged to follow this big truck called God and we cannot see past the month ahead – what we are going to do and where we are going to live. But instead of pouring foul words into my prayer and complaining about how life is not what I expect it to be, I am learning to enjoy every moment of goodness and hardship. I am keeping my ears open just in case someone needs a person to listen to. I am looking for ways to serve my husband in the ways he needs, and not what I think he needs. And I am doing my best to enjoy the ride with grateful heart even though sometimes I will slip into the monster mode (Joel can testify that I do have that side) and call people’s names.
Life is so much richer with gratitude. A repentant heart knows how sweeter God’s grace can be after being bogged in the mire of anger and bitterness. May thanksgiving ever be on our lips and pour out of our hearts daily.