Sunday, October 16, 2016

Why Me?

Why Me?

I've asked myself this question on a number of occasions while traveling to over 7 countries in the past 5 months. 

Why Me Lord? 

Why did I get the opportunity to travel to so many places and see so many things? Why was I born into an American passport? Where I can practically go anywhere on a tourist visa. 

While I'm not rich by American standards, I wonder why I escaped the traps of being born into "third world" (I hate this phrase btw) poverty where I wouldn't even know what the next city over looks like because I was too poor to afford a bus ticket. So all I could do is sit, wait and hope to survive the next day. 

I think about this privilege of travel so much that I just get so overwhelmed with emotion that brings me to tears that so many people never get to see the world. Only through the lens of technology such as a tv, movies or the internet can people get a glimpse. But so often those images are skewed and genuine/authentic experiences are a far off notion. 

True some people have no desire to travel or go anywhere, but so many people do and never even get a chance in their lifetime to actually step foot in those dreamt about places. So it is with this attitude of gratitude that makes me want to thank God all the more for ALL the many travel doors that God has opened. For ALL the interactions from people from all over the world- I know my life has truly been enriched and I am being transformed more and more into the image of God the more I interact with all of the created. 

Gods grace is truly being shone through like a multi-colored prism that reflects the glory and beauty of who God is. We are all different but all the same in so many ways. I am seeing first hand just how much and I am being filled in the process.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Sunday, September 11, 2016

God and Pizza

What in the world does God have to do with pizza?? 

You may be thinking - 'yeah I thanked God for that delicious meat lovers trio I demolished the other week' or 'boy I sure do wish the Lord would make pepperonis rain from the sky everyday!'

Well this pizza connection is a little different...

See the other week I was in a local pizza eatery in Thailand with a friend (yes there IS pizza in Thailand lol) and we were trying to order food. We wanted to see if we could switch or substitute a menu item for another. Neither of us knew the word switch or substitute in Thai so I tried to show the waitress the word on google translate (which by the way is an often incorrect translation), but to no avail. In the midst of our struggling attempts to communicate with our waitress, in walks a woman who approaches our table and asks (in English) if we need help ordering something. We answer: "Yes!" We then proceed to explain to her what we are trying to do and she then speaks to the waitress in Thai. 

We ended up not being able to switch the items but instead got a better deal out of the situation. 

I proceeded to conversate with the graciously helpful woman who turned out to be Christian. She and her husband were living in the same town. So we exchanged information and connected that same week again at a picnic with a few other believers. I got to meet and conversate at a more intimate level with some Thai Christians around my age and was invited to attend what I found to be an amazingly passionate church. 

It turns out the woman was a missionary from Indonesia here with her husband serving in Thailand since 2009. Over the next few weeks I got to experience and participate with their ministry and capture the beautiful fellowship and ministry of this group of people. 

So although my initial plans to participate in ministry turned sour (with the previous organization), I got a second chance to experience what I came to experience in Thailand. God did not bring me this far only to leave me :) God's plans are not ours, God's ways are not ours...but I am learning to remain steadfast and they will be revealed. 

The Uglier the Vegetable the Better

The other day I was speaking with some missionaries from Indonesia in Thailand (more on this meeting in the "God and Pizza post) about the fruit and vegetable status here in Thailand. We were talking about the complexities of finding unadulterated food items in the markets as I mentioned to them that I had purchased bananas a couple of times from local vendors that looked ripe and good to eat only to find they were chalky and bitter once I bit into them. I told them I later found out that just because it comes from a local market doesn't mean each vendor uses organic methods of producing/harvesting their food. Actually a lot of farmers here still use pesticides and ripening agents to speed up the process of their produce to sell. The missionaries also told me that they found out that a lot of farmers won't eat the products they sell, instead they set aside their own batch of food that has not been produced with these agents. Once I heard this I thought wow! How crazy is that?! On the flipside, I could certainly understand the need to use ripening agents to have product to sell; because no product equals no money. 

As our conversation continued, they also shared more about the culture and the need for everything to "look beautiful;" especially on the outside. Even though its' insides may not reflect the outer appearance. I told them I could relate to this, because this is how it is back in the states. 

They shared with me that back in Indonesia, specifically where they are from, the vegetables don't "look pretty" but people gravitate towards them and eat them because they are good to eat. Additionally, they educated me on a bit of agriculture and said that actually the uglier the vegetable or fruit the closer it is to its' pure state of harvesting (I.e. It was most likely harvested organically without pesticides or chemical agents). As soon as they shared this with me a spiritual revelation hit me like a ton of bricks. "WHOA!! I you see the spiritual connection there?" I said out loud. They paused for a quick second to think about it then laughed as they agreed with me. 

I thought to close is this physical example to the process/journey of our lives. We spend so much artificial effort trying to make everything about us and around us look beautiful and we reject (refuse to eat) anything that is not pretty about us. Don't get me wrong I think we should make efforts to change the negative hindrances about us, but what I'm saying is- actually- the more those ugly things about us surface (instead of keeping them buried or ignored) the closer we are and will get to our purest harvesting. 

If a life ends "beautifully" in our eyes...yet it has been tampered with disingenuous agents such as unapologetic thievery, greed and beautiful is it really? Yet this same life looks different to God and (to others) if those same ugly traits have gone through God's organic harvesting process. A life cultivated by God's process will be one that may not "look pretty" on the outside (all the time)...but will be- as God has made everything beautiful in its time (Ecc 3:11) and from the Divine perspective there is no ugliness in the events in our lives...when we give our lives over to God's refinement process. 

By God's grace we will be selected as delicious vegetables "ready" to participate in the eternal feast of joy, love and life with Christ.

I hope the next time you pick up a vegetable from the supermarket or garden you take a moment to reflect on this :)