travel plans

Bangkok Friends,

I can’t tell you how crazy the past few weeks have been, not just for me, but I know for each and every one of you.  The flood has been less than ideal, but mostly, it’s heart breaking hearing that Thailand is going through this difficult crisis.  Prayers are going up for you all.

Anyway, in light of the flooding, I’ve decided to postpone my trip to see you all, January 11-30.  I know right now I would be fine to make it to GES, Nichada, and those areas, but when I come, I have plans to do more traveling, shopping and other sightseeing that right now I know I wouldn’t be able to do with the flooding.

I love and miss you all, and can’t wait to smile, laugh, play music, catch up, and enjoy life with each of you.  My heart is with you all!

With Love,
Miss Meri

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wow.

I know, I know.  I haven’t really posted anything lately, but it’s not because there isn’t anything going on…. far from that!!  Life is busy, life is confusing, life is… life.  Some days I feel like I’m just trying to survive and come up for a breath, then other days I’m just drinking in the air by bucketfuls.

I’ve been bit by the travel bug again.  I’ve been back for over a year from Thailand, and since then I haven’t done much traveling, but thankfully I was able to get away for a vacation to visit my dear friend Tiffany in Maui, and have a reunion of the groupies with Bridget too!!  It was good to get away, but now I just want to travel MORE!

Life is weird.  I don’t have a plan.  I’m here, and I’ll stay here until God tells me to move.  It’s weird because I feel like people are waiting to see what I do next, and I always think to myself, “dude, I don’t have a plan, I’ll do the work God gives me now, then when He wants me somewhere else, I’ll move on”.  I’ve been asked that a lot lately, just people wondering what my future plans are, and how long I plan to stay in Medford.  So yeah, if you were wondering that, I have no idea.  Life here is fine, but at times I feel myself falling into complacency, even apathy at times.  God has meant our lives to be an adventure of serving and knowing Him, how could that be mediocre?  I’m trying not to be there.  Just so you know.

This summer hopefully holds lake days, sun, lots of running, and who knows.  I love summer.  Can it be summer now?

I have no idea where this blog is going.

Thank you faithful readers, if there are any of you who’ve even made it to this point in the blog.

So, I’m reading The Forgotten God by Francis Chan (author of Crazy Love), and really enjoying it.  It’s nothing I didn’t already know, but it’s been really interesting to explore scripture with an emphasis on the Holy Spirit.  It’s an easy read too- I started the book on the flight back to Portland and read about half of it.  I’m trying to be better about finishing books.  I literally have about 20 books I’ve started, but just haven’t finished.  Sometimes some books need to be read slowly, to soak in all the information, that’s my philosophy.  But it’s not really helping me to move on to other books, I just start new books without finishing the others.  Weird.

I really don’t have anything else notable to report.  I am not taking classes at this time for my Master’s, things have just been too busy, so I figure I’d rather take classes when I actually have the time to do the work, instead of just doing the work to do the work.

Okay.  That’s all for now.  Maybe more later… more blogs than just once every two months.  I promise.

Blessings.

words fail

When words fail, I just don’t speak.  Words fail me a lot lately.  

I’ve felt like I’ve been in a daze over the past few weeks, and the thing is that I knew I would feel this way.  I hate feeling like I have no purpose and that I’m wandering.

Each morning, I’ve woken up in a various couch, bed, and location in beautiful Southern California.  With no agenda almost each day, I  have felt like I’ve been wallowing in self-pity, which is not the right approach to things.  People getting married, life happening all around, people in love, people enjoying jobs, people living.  

I feel like I’ve been waiting for something big to happen and to point me in the right direction.  I’m not sure that “big” thing was what I was expecting, but I’m feeling a pull to a place I never wanted to go back to.  I won’t go into details, because everything is really up in the air, and nothing is for sure, but I need to follow my heart on this… even if I don’t understand it.

Thank you those for your thoughts and prayers, I can’t express enough what they mean.  I’m grateful, and blessed beyond measure.

More to come.

 

PS: On Monday I’m starting two (2) courses for my Seminary degree!  I know I haven’t really explained that to many people, but my heart is joyful about it, and I’m really looking forward to this new venture!

photo blog

Here are some recent pictures, I know it’s been a while!  I have updated my Picasa website also, so there are pictures up there, and here is my latest facebook album: 

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2002877&id=175800028&l=a0d48

And here is my web album (needs updating!!):

http://picasaweb.google.com/meridith.johnson

ElephantWe saw an elephant show at the Rose Gardens when my friends came!  (But then again, I see elephants walking down the street all the time!  But the show was cool!)

Bangkok at DuskHere is Bangkok at the end of the day… we had dinner at the Byoke Tower, so it was cool to see Bangkok from above!  I still can’t believe I live here!

img_6582Bangkok at nightYea.. still can’t believe I live here!

Simpson friends!Here is Becky, Kristina, and I after dinner.

We are from Simpson!Darin, Kristina, Becky and I!  Simpson Music Majors united!

n1428889491_30240972_57351The team from Roseburg C&MA.

img_6645Sunrise at Springfield Resort, where the forum was held in Cha Am.  No photoshop needed!

img_6533Some friends at a pub, “The Saxaphone” downtown with Aaron, another Simposn friend who was passing through!

Victory MonumentThis is Victory Monument, downtown!

img_9822Amanda, Bridget and myself on Krabi Island (New Year’s trip)

img_0133Happy New Year!  All of us on Phi-Phi island ringing in the brand new year… 2009!!

 

Blessings, and I miss you all!!

so much

There’s so much I could say.

I survived my first week of EDUC 500: Educational Psychology, and I’m just going to keep on going.  It’s honestly really difficult to take classes while working full time, but I can’t imagine it working with any other job.  Everything I’ve been learning directly fits in with what I’m doing during the day, so it’s very helpful.

So the countdown:
Educational Psychology last day (with a 15 page paper and reading over 400 pages of studies on Educational Psychology with annotated bibliography): Friday, March 6 (PLUS I have an extra 12 hours on everyone in my class).

Last day of school at GES: March 27; last teacher work day: March 31 

Arrival at home: around April 6th (yet to be confirmed)

Pear Blossom Run: April 11, 8:30 AM (call me crazy, I KNOW I am already!)

Second class: EDUC 518 Educational Research: Begins March 16, and last day: May 8 (extending into my time back in the States).

Anyway, life is crazy right now.  I can’t even tell you.  Luckily we had Friday off for “Teacher’s Day”, and got to lay on the beach for a few days so we don’t lose our tans ;).  This weekend will be insane.  I have lots of familiar faces I will see, which will really be nice!  I’m also leaving on Sunday to help lead worship with a team from Roseburg Alliance who are serving at a “retreat” I guess you could call it, but it’s Christian leaders from China who will be conferencing here in Thailand.  I’ll be taking 3 days off next week, so I have SO MUCH to do to prepare for subs, get caught up on lesson planning, and on top of that finish with my weekly stuff for my class.  It’ll be crazy, but I think that’s part of what makes me feel alive these days.

There’s a song I just haven’t been able to get out of my head.  Brooke Fraser is an amazing songwriter, singer and worship leader with Hillsong, and her song “Shadowfeet” really describes my thoughts as I think about the future, going home, and finishing up my time here in Thailand.  Here are lyrics, and I’ll put the music video up for you to check out!  I just love how it says, “I am changing: less and less asleep”, because how many times do we live life like we’re asleep?  Like it’s not really real?  Or we’re waiting until… we’re waiting for something to happen to us that will cause us to feel like we’ve really begun life, but the truth is: THIS IS LIFE.

And the other truth is: HE MAKES ALL THINGS NEW.  I feel like I’ll be leaving Thailand a different person, but made new.  I’m changing, I’m less and less asleep.  I’m walking, stumbling.

HE makes all things new, and when the world seems to fall apart, I’ll be found in him, and that’s a truth that cannot be taken from me.

“SHADOWFEET” by Brooke Fraser

Walking,stumbling on these shadowfeet
toward home, a land that I’ve never seen
I am changing: less and less asleep
made of different stuff than when I began
and I have sensed it all along
fast approaching is the day

[CHORUS]
When the world has fallen out from under me
I’ll be found in you, still standing
When the sky rolls up and mountains fall on their knees
When time and space are through
I’ll be found in you

Theres distraction buzzing in my head
saying: in the shadows it’s easier to stay
But I’ve heard rumours of true reality
whispers of a well-lit way

[CHORUS]

You make all things new

[CHORUS]

[CHORUS 2]
When the world has fallen out from under me
I’ll be found in you, still standing
Every fear and accusation under my feet
when time and space are through
I’ll be found in you

reflections

After two weeks of a break, I’ve spent a great deal of time reflecting on the last year, and my time since graduation as well.  It’s almost been two years since I graduated from college!  Hard to believe, really!  Anyway, I was just thinking how at the beginning of 2008, I clearly remember sitting up one sleepless night writing out some hopes that I had for the next year, but never dreaming I’d end up in Thailand, that’s for sure!  Though, I had this feeling that never left me last year, and that feeling was one of knowing there was something HUGE that would be coming.  

Thailand has been such a great experience for me, and from the beginning, I knew there would come a time when I needed to make a decision whether I would come back for a second year here at GES.  Since I arrived I’ve gone through the classic signs of culture shock, and I immediately fell in love with Thailand and everything around me.  Then there came a dip around September, then things evened out, and now I’m just coming out of a huge pit of despair and feeling depressed.  From here on out, according to the models of culture shock, I should be okay.  All this to say, I feel I’ve come to a good decision in light of all the future events to come.  

So much has changed in my own life since I’ve been here.  I’ve learned so much about myself, and grown in ways that I never would have grown if I would have stayed in the States.  Being overseas really challenges a different part of you.  You’ve spent your entire life in enviorments that make sense to you and you can control, but when you remove yourselves from those people, experiences, memories and things, you are literally up-rooted from the ground, and planted in an enviorment that is completely foreign to you.  Just like up-rooting a palm tree and planting it in Alaska.  Could work… but not for long.  Palm trees need sunlight and warm to survive.

Thailand is a place that desperately is in need of the gospel, and missionaries have been here for years sharing the gospel to one person at a time.  The amazing thing about our jobs as teachers in a school like GES is that we can plant, plant, plant and continue to plant these seeds that we KNOW won’t grow for many years.  Because of the Thai culture these kids don’t really understand anything else but Buddhism, BUT our prayer as their teachers and educators is that one day, when they are older and understand more of the world and things around them, that things will click and make sense, and they will know that Jesus Christ is their Savior and is the ONLY way to heaven.  Maybe they will even recall a song I’ve taught them that will make sense… but only later in time.  I feel my work here has been profitable, but the work is also something that you should feel called to do (for long term ministry), and have the emotional support to do, which are two things I do not have at this time.  I feel honored that God chose me this year to work with these kids, and I know I will deeply miss each of them.  (I know this because I miss them every time we’re gone on a two-week break!)

All that to say that yes, I will be returning to the States.  I have spent a lot of time praying about this decision, and I feel such a peace about it.  For those who do not know, I was offered a potential part-time worship leading position at our church here as well (for next year), which I was completely torn over for weeks and weeks.  Worship is something I have a calling and passion for, but I know that the time isn’t right.  The offer was humbling and I felt blessed to feel confirmation in my heart that this in fact is what God is calling me to in the future, but I know that Thailand is not the place for me at this time.

There are many changes not only in my own life, but also in the lives of many I know and love around me.  I know it will be a difficult adjustment when I arrive back home, as it will alter many things that have always been.  Two of my very close friends from high school will get married this coming summer, and I’m so happy I will get to share those memories with them.  But also, my sister Lindsay has also just gotten engaged, and they will be married in October, so that’s a huge change for my family.  All of these life-changes are things that have also lead me to decide to come back to the States.

You will notice I have not said “Medford” in any of my references to coming back home.  Granted Medford will be a “launching pad” of sorts as I will be all up and down the West coast upon my return to the States.  I plan to enter into a season of rest and refilling once I get back.  I look forward to visiting with friends and family, and catching up on the past 10 months.  I can’t wait.  But as for where I will settle down after the excitement of all the weddings and reunions, of that I am still uncertain.

Another big change begins in just about a week for me.  I will be a Graduate student, pursuing my Master of Arts in Teaching through Liberty University.  It’s primarily an online degree, with the exception of 3 intensive courses I will take out in Virginia on campus, Lord willingly this coming summer.  I will be taking 2 eight week courses over the next few months to kick things off, and then next fall take more units.  I’m really excited about this, but definitely nervous also.  I love kids and teaching, so I think this is the right direction for now, but God is in control so if things change down the road, I won’t be worried.  I still would like to pursue a job in vocational ministry one day, or even recording also, but for now this seems like the best option for making money and paying the bills.

Anyway, there’s definitely a lot more I could say right now about our last vacation, and just the excitement of finishing up the school year, but I think this is enough for now.  I pray blessings on you all and that the LORD will lead and guide you along the path he has for you.

In Him,
Meridith