Monday, March 24, 2014

Goodbye blogger, hello wordpress!

For several reasons, I have decided to make the change the blog from blogger to wordpress. Check out the new blog at:

See you over there! :)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Driver's license

Over our Christmas break, we ventured to get our Thai drivers licenses. We would have been fine obtaining an international license from AAA but they only last one year (and we would pay $30/year for both of us to get them). Additionally, if we were to be pulled over for anything and it was put "on record," it would be put on our Minnesota record, since an international license is given through the state. 

There were several things we had to get in order before actually going to the "DMV":

- I had to get a notarized affidavit indicating that I do indeed reside in Thailand; Mike did not have to do this because he has a work visa. This cost $50.00. I had to laugh at the embassy worker because he took one look at me, probably thought I was younger than I really am and asked, "Are you SURE you want to be driving in Bangkok?" I told him that I already do, to which he replied, "PLEASE be careful." Thankful for his heart and wanting for me to be safe...driving in Bangkok can indeed be chaotic.

- Health certificate indicating we are in good health and physically capable of driving. The interesting thing about this, is that we walked into a nearby pharmacy and paid $6.00 for the certificates. No exam. No questions. Nothing. Just the exchange of the certificates for money.

- We had to fill out a license application, gather our passports, passport pictures, as well as copies of every page of our passports (and sign every page).

Then we were finally ready to go the DMV. We had to do this within 30 days of the date we obtained the affidavit and health certificates, or else we would have to start all over.

Our Thai friend, Wat, took us to the DMV to assist us in the process. We got there as early as possible and what do you know...just like the MN DMV, we waited and waited. :)  We were supposed to watch an hour long video on driving cautiously in Bangkok, but we somehow missed it (darn!). It wouldn't have proved that helpful anyway since it was all in Thai! Then we were shuffled into a room with about 15 other people and had to take 4 tests.

Test #1: test for color recognition/blindness by looking at a stop light and indicating the name of the color that turns on.

Test #2: place your chin on a machine and name the color of the light that you see in your peripheral vision.

Test #3: test your reflexes by accelerating on a gas pedal when you see a green light and slamming on the breaks as soon as the light turns red.

Test #4: test your depth perception by using a remote to maneuver a vertical electronic post forward or backwards to be parallel with a stationary vertical post. The two posts are located in a box 15-20 feet away from where you stand and you have to get the posts parallel within a 3 centimeter margin on either side.

All of the tests were easy for us to do, despite feeling a little nervous after many people before us needed to repeat test #3. Correction...I was feeling nervous. Mike said the only reason he was feeling nervous was because he kept thinking about all the people around him that maybe couldn't slam on the breaks fast enough to prevent an accident.

After we passed all of our tests and got the stamp of approval, we paid our dues for the cards ($12.00) and walked out with our new licenses.

These licenses are a temporary one year license. We will have to go through this whole process again next Christmas break to obtain 5 year licenses. So for 6 years of a current license, it will be $136 if prices don't change from this year to next. For 6 years of an international drivers license it would be $180 and a possible Minnesota record if anything were to happen. So despite the hassle of going to the embassy and waiting at the Thai DMV, I think it is worth it.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Fear of man

Lately, I have found myself worrying. Worrying about what certain people may think of me or how they may react to the things that I do or say. At times, it has paralyzed me due to fear. Other times, it has made me frustrated that I don't feel that I can be myself and to say or do what I feel is necessary. As I have prayed and processed, I have to admit, I have found freedom in clinging to Proverbs 29:25: "The fear if man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe." I am finding that having fear of man inhibits my ability to fear God and to hear Him clearly. 

My heart has recently been stirred to take Thai classes to be able to grow in relationship with our Thai neighbors and condo complex guards. We are meeting so many wonderful people when we take our regular evening walks with the twins, or when I go running around the complex. The guards now recognize us and love to try to get our children to smile and laugh at them. It is delightful. I know it would be even more delightful if we could communicate better and grow in relationship.

Upon coming to Thailand, we were so focused on the ministry of the school and put off learning Thai since we were busy with adjusting to life in new country, learning the ins and outs of a new school, figuring out how to teach AP classes for the first time, etc. By year three, when it finally felt that we were in our groove and perhaps ready to take on language classes, we found our family multiplying in size. The first year of life with the twins was a blur with jumping into parenthood and adjusting to what the new normal was. I wish I could remember more from that first year, but honestly, it was hard for me to even hold a conversation due to extreme sleep deprivation. :) I now find myself in a place where I feel comfortable leaving the twins with our helper for a while, not feel guilty about it, and not have to worry about nursing or pumping. 

So what does all of this have to do with the fear of man? 

I am not a "yes-man." I say no to most things, honestly. A large part of it is due to being an introvert (I'm sure only introverts themselves really truly understand that). Another part of it is because I simply cannot handle having my hands in a lot of things...I like to dedicate myself to one or two things and do them really well. And the last part of it is that I guard my time and energy so that God and my family are my top priorities. Because if my priorities are not right, I am not patient and loving towards my family, I cannot be a model of Christ-like love, I don't demonstrate the gospel to my children, I am not a prayerful wife, I don't discipline lovingly to nurture and guide. Honestly, I just act ugly. 

So as God stirs my heart's affection for my neighbors and our neighborhood guards, and lays on my heart to take intensive Thai classes, it means less. Less opportunity to play with my children during the day when I go to class, less time to meal plan and have dinner ready for a tired husband, less time to take a cat nap when the kids are sleeping so that I feel rested and ready to lovingly display the gospel to them, and less time with friends because I will be saying "no" even more to guard the precious family time that I do have. It also means less energy. As a former language student and teacher, I know how mentally draining it is to intensely learn a new language. When I lived in Spain and learned through full immersion, I took naps that were 3 hours long after school and then slept 10 hours at night. With age comes responsibility, so I unfortunately don't have the luxury to do that now that I am no longer 16. ;)

I have been fearing the potential reactions of being more guarded and even more of a "no-man". Fearing mainly that I will be misunderstood...that me saying "no" will come across as me being insensitive, unsupportive or mean. As I write this, it sounds so silly...things that God has placed on my heart and how to best care for my family vs. fearing what others may think of me if I follow through with what God has placed on my heart and how I care for my family. 

I recently read this devotional on the fear of man by Mars Hill Church. An excerpt from it said, "We live with either the fear of God or the fear of man. It's impossible to live fearing both God and someone else at the same time. Whom we fear determines what we do and how we live." 

I don't want to miss out on what God has for me just because I am fearful of what someone thinks of me. So today I commit to choosing. Choosing faith instead of fear. Choosing to fear God instead of man. Choosing joy instead of worry. Choosing to surrender instead of cling to opinion of others. Choosing to be obedient to His call instead of the world's. Choosing to be the "no-man" when I feel it is necessary and choosing not to feel guilty about being more guarded. 

So if I say no to you, it's not because I don't care for's because I care about how my heart has been stirred by God and because I care about honoring and loving my family well.