We have made it back to our second home on the other side of the world. Many people have asked, "I thought you were going to Seattle, what happened?"
(Side note: I wrote this sitting on an airplane, and there are two guys next to me right now talking about how much Seattle has changed. Funny how those things go.)
Hopefully this is not news to anyone by now, but this year our family has been dealt a heavy blow in the fact that we lost my older brother in February, and my mom and a close aunt in August. My mom's death was tragic, unjust, and unexpected.
After we held my mom's funeral at the beginning of August, we moved on to Seattle without stopping to reassess. I threw on my superman cape and moved to a brand new region--one that I had never been to-- to start a brand new job. People often say that some of the biggest stressors in life are a major move, a job change, and the loss of a loved one. If I had been more wise, I would have seen that moving to Seattle right after having lost my mom the way I did was not wise, but caught up in the flurry of emotion, I pressed on. That is, until a week into being in Seattle when I broke emotionally and had to come back to Tennessee.
It was a good thing we did come back, because the day I bought the plane tickets to come back, right before we walked into the office of our new supervisor who had been so kind to us and whose heart we were so not ready to break, I received a phone call that my aunt, Jane Vaughn, had just died. She had been struggling with health problems for a few years, including cancer, but when we said goodbye to her going to Seattle, it seemed like she was improving.
I can't even begin to describe how grateful I am for the friends, family, and members at Adamsville First Baptist Church that helped us during the time that followed when we came back and stayed in Adamsville. I will never forget the feeling of getting back to the church's house we had been staying in and just wanting to sleep for days. For at least a week I didn't even want to leave the house, including on Sunday. Even meeting together with God's people was too much for me to handle for a little while.
After a few weeks of mourning, I knew I needed to "wash my face" and stop living in my pity. I do believe there is a time for deep lamenting, especially after a tragic death. But I also know that there is a time to get back to everyday life. As one brother told me, "do not let this grief overtake you." I also believe that every person operates on their own timeline. I have talked to some people in this season who told me that when one of their parents died, it took them at least a year before they were ready to get back to their careers or education.
After those weeks of just "being," we started talking and praying about what we were going to do. I knew that in this next season, I needed to be either a.) within a day drive of my family in West Tennessee or b.) back in Thailand. I knew this would not be the time for a new city. So we prayed and listened and felt like God was calling us to go to Bangkok. We already have friends and a familiar church family there, and are used to the city from having spent time there over the years when we lived in Chiang Rai.
We don't know all the details of what this next season will hold for us, but we are keeping our eyes and ears open for how God will lead us to spend our time. Ultimately, we know there are a lot of good things we could invest in, but we want to do the things that He has chosen for us in His wisdom in this season.
Before I sign off here, I have one quick report worthy of celebration, and one serious prayer request.
The report I have relates to how God has been working in the life of an old friend of mine from high school. I went to school with Hunter Duke and remember having some great conversations with him about the Christian life. That was years ago. Since then, he has been through a lot of physical and emotional turmoil, and went through a dark time. I have been talking with him for over a year on Facebook, and then we spent time together when we got back to Adamsville. Not long after my mom's funeral, Hunter texted me and told me he was ready to trust Christ and follow him. Here is a statement in his own words:
Becoming a Christian and accepting Jesus as my savior saved me from drowning in my anger and bitterness I had for my life. I have found peace in myself. Thanks to God I no longer feel the weight and darkness of my past.
What an awesome thing to read! Please pray for Hunter in this season of his life. He is training in a collision repair program and is looking for work. He has a dream to move back to Florida (where he's originally from) and own/operate a fishing boat with his dad. Pray he will follow through with baptism soon, and that he will fulfill Jesus's calling on his life to not just be a fisherman but to be a "fisher of men."
The last thing I want to do here is ask you to pray for Chad Ball, who is the lead pastor of AFBC. Chad has been dealing with kidney problems for awhile, but he has gotten to the point where he is going to have to have a kidney transplant soon. He will start dialysis soon until he is able to get one.
Please join us in praying for this brother. He has 4 sweet kids all under 18. Also please consider asking God if He might be leading you to donate a kidney to him. His blood type is O+.
One final note here on the subject of giving. After prayerful consideration, we have decided to open up a way to receive financial support to help keep us living and working in Thailand. If you feel led to be a part of our team in this way, whether through a one time or occasional gift, or through regular monthly giving, you can do so on the homepage of this website, or simply click here. As of this moment, donations are not tax deductible, but we are hoping to have an organization be our intermediary soon so that they can be.
Thanks for being part of the team!!!