reflections on taking chances

I was 23.
April 2008.
Nearly a year of wonderings and wanderings after graduating from college.
I was ready.
Ready to spread my wings and fly,
ready to take a chance.

Screen Shot 2018-04-21 at 12.24.20 PM.png

In 2007 I graduated with a degree in music.  In my young, naivete I thought I would immediately be hired in full-time music ministry and that church job offers would simply flood in as soon as I walked across the stage with my diploma.

(I was wrong, by the way).

That summer I travelled to India for a two-month long mission trip.  In many ways, that trip changed my life.  My first time overseas, my first time fully immersed in an eastern culture, and the first time I really caught a glimpse of life abroad serving a God who isn’t American.  A God of all nations.

I returned home more sick than I’ve ever been in my life, and still had no job and no direction for my life.

The difficult months that followed shook me to my core: extreme culture shock, depression, meandering and wanderings…  but then in April of 2008, everything changed.  You see, when I returned from India, my team spent several days in Bangkok, Thailand debriefing.  I had a distant feeling in my heart, a feeling that I would return to Thailand one day.

Ten years ago, in April 2008, I interviewed for a Music Teacher position in Bangkok, Thailand.  A few weeks later, I boarded a small airplane with 2 large suitcases (and a very heavy carry on) and moved to the other side of the world.

I didn’t know a single soul.

But that decision – that chance.  It changed my life forever.

The friendships forged during that year forever changed me, the students I taught showed me what compassion looked like with hands and feet, and living in another culture taught me how to be empathetic.

That chapter of my life opened up doors for me to later serve in full-time Worship ministry, and the relationships there inspired me to pursue seminary.  Many of the co-teachers I taught with are still my friends today.

The thing about taking chances is this: when the Holy Spirit of God prompts us to take steps of faith, or “chances” in our human thinking, the greater chance to take is to ignore that prompting and taking the wider, easier path.

I’m so glad I took that chance.

S6300051India, June 2007

S6300243.jpgKolkata, India, July 2007

IMG_1493_7Thailand, October 2008

IMG_5313Our street, Nonthaburi, Bangkok, Thailand

lessons learned

I’ve been in a jet-lag haze for the past week.  Yesterday morning was the first morning I woke feeling semi-normal.  But even that was waking up at 5:30 am.  I’m ready for normal, calm, peace.  Yeah right, that won’t be happening until… maybe July.

I hit the ground running Monday.  Ate lunch, unpacked, did laundry, worked out, then slept, sorta.  Meetings all week, extra rehearsals, more meetings, more planning.  It’s exhausting, but at the same time it’s good.  I’m glad to be here.

Many things were pressed into my heart while I was away, and when I returned, I returned with a desire and flame to be here, where I know God wants me.  There’s a lot I could say, but I don’t want to bore you all.  Let’s just say the ways I thought God was leading when I left, were just not really what I thought.  I like to plan, I like to dream, I love thinking about the future, but in the midst of all the planning, I forgot to remain in the present.  Even while I was on my trip, I really have a habit of not remaining in the here and now, and, well for now on, it’s a discipline for me.

Psalm 90 speaks a lot about who God is, and who we are in light of him.  But I love verse 12- teach us to realize the brevity of life that we may gain a heart of wisdom (sorry that may not be exact.. too tired to move right now and check).

Life is precious, never forget that.  Be you.  And be right where you are, right now.

Thai greetings

We will see how long I can stand typing on my iPod touch… I’m already tired.

Thailand always waits to welcome with open arms. It’s just as beautiful and amazing as I remember. I have missed it, but I do not miss the struggles of living here, which I so quickly remembered almost days into my trip here.

There is extreme beauty here but there is also extreme ugliness as well. Thais elevate the idea of always appearing nice, without desiring to “beautify” the inside. You see this knowing the trafficking issues here, and you can see it on the face of every Thai who is Buddhist but still has no concept of a personal relationship with a god. It is as foreign as this land still is to me.

I can’t believe I’m still writing.

I am glad I came, but I’m also glad to be going back. Being back to visit reminds me of my purpose back home, where God wants me to be now.

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

What lies ahead

As the dance between summer and fall becomes slower, summer gives way to fall, and a million memories rush.  Memories of what seems like a past life.  Football, high school, happy times, sad times, thankfulness, and everything else I love and hate at the same time.  The rain is a familiar friend, but not always a welcomed friend here in Oregon, but, right now it doesn’t matter much.  It’s just nice to see a little change in the weather for now.

This fall will be different.  I struggle to find the words to say sometimes, but on November 15 I will leave to enter into what often feels like dream land for me, Thailand.  Sometimes I have to pinch myself to remember, oh yeah, that was real, I used to live in Thailand!  I will be grateful to give up a little fall, to return back to summer, and to a time that feels so long ago, yet at the same time seems like just yesterday.  The sights, smells, feeling, I can close my eyes and see it all now.

It is a bittersweet time too.  Remembering what was, not only Thailand, but other memories.  This is a new chapter, so part of this trip will be addressing and understanding that I may not be called back to SE Asia at all, or not anytime soon, or sooner than I expect.  I don’t worry about this, I know what will be, will be.

Either way, it will be an amazing time.

But for now, I will enjoy the cool, crisp mornings, and be super thankful for non-polluted air, and beautiful falls in Oregon.

no rest for the weary

With all my heart and soul, I always long for summer.  I look forward to the long, sunny days and often am nostalgic about the heat, and staying up late with friends talking about hopes and dreams.  Unfortunately I think the last time I stayed up late with friends basking in the warm evening air was probably college.  Yea, I’m pretty sure.  Anyway, but I do always look forward to the warmer days and nights… except I always forget: I CAN’T SLEEP WHEN IT’S HOT!

I think my room is about 15 degrees hotter than the rest of the house, because it faces west, where the sun sets.  LAME.  Yes, I’ve tried fans, I sleep with only a sheet… everything.  Nothing helps.  I really, honestly sleep best in the cold, it’s weird.

Anyway, along with the summer come temperatures much too hot and uncomfortable for running, so, I try to get in the habit of waking up early and running.  So, combine not being able to fall asleep in heat, and being anxious about waking up at 6 a.m. and that means hardly no sleep.

But there’s nothing like waking up early and going running, even with little sleep.  Sloppy form, heavy breathing… but a still, quiet morning before a busy day is so worth it.  Our house sits in a newer neighborhood, but is just next door to the “country”, so I can run the country roads, say a friendly “hello” to the horses and cows as I run by.  Today as I went on a quick 3-mile jaunt I was reminded of Nagaland, India.  Daniel and I would wake up and go for runs early in the morning, and all the locals seemed to stare at us, like we were so strange for going running.  Or it could have been that it was obvious we were foreigners because of what we looked like, but also because we looked like fools, running up and down the long, main road that seemed to stretch for eternity.  The air was thick and warm, much too warm for 6 a.m., but we went running anyway.  The women with their water jars balanced on their heads, and the men pulling their old wooden, heavy carts down the road, with an occasional car zipping past us.  Those were good days.  Those were simple days as I processed through 4 long years of college, and looked forward to dreaming new dreams ahead of me.

Today reminded me of being overseas.  Hearing roosters crow as I ran my usual loop reminded me of everywhere but here.  India, Thailand, Nicaragua, Mexico… everywhere.  But.  Here. Anywhere but here.

It’s funny how we often perceive life to be.  Seemingly insignificant moments can quickly catch us off guard and become significant moments.

Though I feel restless, I’m thankful and grateful.  Thankful for the past memories, and grateful for grace as I look toward the future.

Along these roads, we used to run, with the rice fields all around, and the beauty of India:

Miss our chats and runs Daniel!!

wrapping up week #8 of training!

Dearest readers,

Maybe these marathon training updates bore you, but this is my reality, so here you go.

Long runs.  Those of you who run races much know the concept.  Basically, one day a week (usually Saturday or Sunday, depending on schedules) you push your distance gradually, including some taper weeks, so you can work up to the distance you will run on your race.  Many people have the misconception that people training for marathons run long distances every day: not true.  Rest days are just as important as any other day of the week.  Anyway, long runs are a chance to build mental focus, and just help log more milage for the week for you too.

My confession: the past 4 weeks or so, my entire life has been up in the air, with VBS, moving, among other things, I haven’t been able to get a good long run in during any of the weekends. Last Saturday I was supposed to do 12, but only ended up doing 8 or 9.  Anyway, the significance of that is: I have never run more than 10 miles, EVER… so I had this looming fear that once I did, I would get injured, or just not be able to actually do it.  Upon looking at my training schedule earlier this week, I realized: I had to run 13 miles this Saturday.  And for those who don’t know, that’s a half-marathon!!

So, yes, if you’re wondering, I DID in fact survive.  I ran from Central Point to Jacksonville and back.. it was STUNNING this morning.  Running along the fields and watching the sun slowly come up.  It’s amazing out there when you aren’t driving and in a hurry… A few interesting happenings took place though, but I won’t share the details.  You probably don’t want to know.  If you do, ask me.

As I was running today, my thoughts drifted back to 8th grade (some of the “mental focus” just means finding things to think about that really don’t matter much at all..), when I first did any kind of running at all outside of PE class.  I joined Track my 8th grade year, and I still to this day have no idea why!

Anyway, when I joined, I knew I was going to have to find some event to do… tried all of them, couldn’t really do any of the sprints, did hurdles but during one of the races tripped and fell (short legs)… somehow, I ended up choosing to run the 400.

The 400 was one of the more difficult races, in between a sprint, and a longer run.  One time around the track.  A fourth of a mile.  As it so happened, for some reason in our league, there weren’t many girls that ran the 400.  In fact, at almost every meet, there were usually only 3 of us that ran.  And, as it would be, almost every time, I placed 2nd.  Granted, I KNEW I wasn’t very good, so don’t worry, it didn’t go to my head.

Somehow, I made it to the overall, league qualifying meet.  Wow, I still remember it as clear as day.  There were 8 of us that day, the most I’d ever raced against.  The stands were full.  I was so nervous.  I knew I was slow!!  Anyway, I started out probably in the middle of the pack, but then half way around the track, EVERYONE sprinted to the finish line, and I was left at the end of the pack… all alone.  I was the slowest, and last one!!!

What was even more embarrassing was when I finally drew closer to the finish line, all the parents and fans in the stands rose to their feet, clapping for me.. the last one to finish.  I was red I’m sure, but I also didn’t feel too well.. almost puked.

So back to now.  Today as  I was running I remembered that story because I know I’m not really a “good” runner, but part of pushing yourself is all mental, and really nothing physical.  Last week, I ran a 5K on the whim with my sister and Lindsey.  I’m not a 110 pound 6’3″ skinny 16 year old boy that can run a 5K in 10 minutes… slow and steady at times.  (However, I did win a ribbon for finishing 2nd in my age/gender category in the race!)

I was also today thinking about a 10K I ran while I was in Thailand.. the International River Kwai Run.  I didn’t train at all, and actually at that point, hadn’t even run much while in Thailand, so I wasn’t at all used to the humidity.  While plugging along and breathing loudly, I’ll never forget, the sweetest Thai man started running along side me and said “one step at a time”, while smiling from ear to ear.  That’s my modo for this… one step at a time.  I’m not unique person, anyone could throw on a pair of shoes and finish a marathon.  But for me, this is about overcoming what my mind and body have said for so long isn’t possible.  This is for me , to conquer my fears, and to do something I want to do before I die: train and finish a marathon.

Who knows, this could be the start of something new! 🙂

i don’t believe the weather man anymore

No seriously, I don’t.  It’s like the weather here in Oregon has become just like the weather in Thailand, it has a mind of it’s own, which actually I don’t mind much at all since we’ve had some beautiful sunny days with the weather getting up to 60 degrees some days.  That’s a good winter to me, seriously.

I’m eating some frozen Thai chicken thing for lunch, and wishing I was down at Sombat’s eating REAL Thai food, I guess this will have to do for now.

I haven’t blogged much about returning home to the States after a year overseas… well I haven’t really blogged much about anything at all in the past year.  Crazy to think that on April 2, 2009 I returned back to the States, almost a year ago.  Time flies, seriously.

The images and feelings are burned deeply in my mind, even still today.  I was sitting, freezing cold in the Portland airport, watching all the unhappy, fat, and dressed in black (I really don’t know if it’s all that slimming as they say) Americans pass me by, on to their next appointment, flight, whatever.  Busy busy busy.  I just sat in shock, staring at their cold, white faces, and wondering what the rush was.  I was used to the warm, tanned and glowing faces of the Thai people, who smiled all the time, even if they were in a bad mood, or if they were having the worst day of their lives.  It was certainly a shock to be back in the States.   I was ready for Spring, and warm weather, but apparently Oregon hadn’t gotten the memo I was coming back.

That day is still crystal clear in my mind, even today.  Once I arrived in Medford, it was cloudy and cold, but I was warmly welcomed by my family, whom I hadn’t seen in 1o months.  On that day, I also remembered the day I had left, the feeling in my stomach of excitement, with no fear at all.  Yet upon my return, I remember feeling very afraid.  Afriad I would forget Thailand, or that I was making the wrong decision to return, or that in this economy I wouldn’t be able to find a job… a job that was where my heart really was… worship ministry.

Thinking back, it’s easy to see I should have trusted, I should have had faith.. more faith than at the time.  Those are all moments I will never forget, mostly because it was a time when I was most vulnerable, most fearful, yet exciting at the same time.

I miss Thailand, a lot, but I know my life here is still an adventure, even though I’m extremely jealous of my dear friends who get to enjoy Koh Samet any weekend they want.  🙂

Blessings to all who still read.. hope you are well.

God of This City

I heard this story during the worship conference I attended, and Chris Tomlin told this same story about the worship song, “God of This City”. It was in Pattaya, Thailand (he mis-pronounces it), and when I heard the story during the concert, I broke. It’s so powerful to hear… He’s the God of this City, God of Thailand, and this world….

Even though I’m no longer in Thailand, I need to be convicted to pray for those who have yet to hear, or accept Christ.  I hope I won’t forget…


You’re the God of this City
You’re the King of these people
You’re the Lord of this nation
You are

You’re the Light in this darkness
You’re the Hope to the hopeless
You’re the Peace to the restless
You are

There is no one like our God
There is no one like our God

For greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City
Greater thing have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City