Monday, May 23, 2016

As I was driving my motorbike home from aerobics one night, I had to stop abruptly for something in the middle of the road.  As I stopped, I realized it was a bleeding dog.  At the same time that I stopped, a crying woman was crossing the street.  She picked up the dead or dying dog (only about 2 feet in front of me) and carried it into the house just on the left of the street.  (Houses in Thailand are very close to the street.)  I heard both her and another woman wailing.  I don’t know if she hit the dog, or if she saw it happen, or what.  I don’t know either of those women, but I pass by this place every day.  What should I do?  I was filled with indecision. Both women saw me.  In the end, I decided to go home, where the scene was imprinted on my mind. 

A day later, I was listening to a sermon, when God convicted me.  Job 2:8-13.

Job’s friends get a bad rap, and rightly so.  But there are a few things that they did right!   What?!  Susan, are you serious?!  They did everything wrong and in the end were rebuked and Job had to pray for them.  Yes, that is true, but there are still a few things they did right. 

The first thing they did right: THEY CAME.  They visited Job.  They didn’t just come for a few minutes or a few hours, but for days and weeks.  How often do we visit someone in distress, whether it’s physical or emotional, say a few platitudes, pray for them, commit to pray for them (and rarely ever do), end of story?  For me, it’s much more often than I would like to admit.  We think we HAVE to do something for them.  But all we really need to do, is just be there, let them know that we are hurting with them.  Let them know we care.  Let them see God’s love in us by just being available.  But that doesn’t always fit into our neat and ordered lives, does it? 

The second thing that Job’s friends did right was they sat in silence.  For how long?  7 days.  Wow, that’s a long time!  We have a hard time handling even 5 minutes of silence.  They were willing to sit in silence and they listened.  This, I think is one of the hardest things to do.  To listen, to REALLY listen rather than trying to formulate a response in our heads while the other person is speaking.  When we spend time listening, we earn the right to speak Christ into a hurting life. 

Going back to the above story:  Why didn’t I stop that evening?  There are two reasons:  The first is that it wasn’t on my agenda.  I had planned to get home, take a shower and spend time doing coursework for my online classes.  Stopping to comfort and help two hurting women wasn’t part of that plan.  The second reason is that I thought I had to DO something, and I didn’t know what to do.  Now I realize that I didn’t really have to DO anything, just be there.  What kind of open doors for sharing the gospel in the future have I now missed because I didn’t stop?  The interesting thing is that God used something that would get my attention.  He used a dog, something that I can empathize with and a hurt that I understand. 

Finally, I would like to encourage us all to just be present.  What does that mean?  That means to be present in the moment, to be willing to forgo our own agenda for God’s agenda.  There are hurting people all around us.  Will we let God use us? 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Just a little encouragement from my time in Israel.  Enjoy!!

"Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."  2 Cor. 5:17

"I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread."  Psalm 37:25

"He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm."  Mark 4:39

"He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun." Psalm 37:6

You don't have to be big and powerful to do great things for the Lord.  Just "be".  As the Jordan River here is not big, it just does what it does.  That's all we need to do - just be and do who and what God created us to. 

"Come now, let us settle the matter," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool."  Isaiah 1:18

Even when we feel dry spiritually, we can still lift your hands and voice in praise to God!

  "I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water."  Psalm 63:1
"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."  Proverbs 4:23

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.  This is indeed a prayer that God will honor.

It's ok to be different.  The yellow flower is different and stands out.  So should our lives as believers stand out among everything else. 

"There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death."  Proverbs 14:12

"The Lord is my shepherd.  I shall not want."  Psalm 23:1

Saturday, November 28, 2015

All of God's promises are sure!

"Remain in me and I will remain in you and you will bear much fruit.  Apart from me you can do nothing."  John 15:5

It's ok to be different.

"Be still and know that I am God".  Psalm 46:10

The tomb is empty!

"Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come."  Psalm 71:18

Mai pen rai.  Roughly translated it means "never mind".  Mai pen rai is the Thai answer to pretty much everything.  It's used for "you're welcome", "it's ok", etc.  In a culture that values "jai yen", or cool heart, i.e. laid back and relaxed, this phrase is heard quite often.  I've heard many a Christian testimony along these lines:  Before I knew Christ I was "jai ron" (hot heart, i.e. frustrated/upset/angry) quite often, but now that I know Jesus, I am jai yen.  Upon sharing a personal struggle with a Thai friend, it can be disconcerting to hear "mai pen rai".  End of story, next subject.  But, I must say that other than "Praise God" mai pen rai is now probably the one Thai phrase that comes out of my mouth the most. 

This week as I was reflecting on my time in Thailand, especially this last year, I can see God working in my life in many ways that I never realized before.  There are many everyday things that I used to freak out about and many long standing hurts that I can honestly say from my heart....mai pen rai.  I can say this because God has healed my heart, because I'm learning to struggle less in and of myself and more in my prayer life.  The battle we fight is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers and authorities of this dark world.  I believe one reason why we're not seeing victory over personal sins and past hurts is because we're not spending TIME with God.  We think that if we come to Him a few times for a few minutes, He must do what we ask.  But we don't KEEP ON crying and praying and seeking and knocking and asking.  I shared in a recent prayer letter about a situation in which I literally spent 3 days crying before the Lord.  And God changed my heart, not the circumstances.  After those 3 days, I could honestly say mai pen rai.  Why?  Because it honestly wasn't an issue for me anymore.  God had changed my heart.  I was just chatting on FB with a former student who used to live at the boys house in Chiang Khong.  He told me to drive carefully and not to cry.  It used to be an on-going joke because one time I was trying to back the truck up in a narrow alley that was only slightly wider than the truck.  I was scared and started to cry.   The students thought that was hysterical.  As I was typing "HAHAHAHA" I realized that getting into tight spots while driving in Thailand no longer freaks me out like it used to.  I can say "mai pen rai".   God is with us.  He's still in control.  We give lip service to that, but do we really mean it?  We tend to live our lives like we ourselves are in control.  When things don't go according to OUR plan, OUR schedule, OUR wants/desires, we get frustrated with God.  When others don't do what they're supposed to, when others hurt us, we keep it inside or we turn to anything and everything except God.  You see, praying is not necessarily to make God do something, but it changes us, from the core of our being to be more like Jesus.  And that glorifies God. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Trust in God.  It’s amazing how trusting in God can be so simple and yet so profound at the same time.  God tells us to trust Him.  We know that He is trustworthy.  We desperately want to trust Him.  We know we should trust Him, we need to trust Him. But how much do we REALLY trust Him?  “Some trust in chariots and some trust in horses, but we trust in the Name of the Lord our God.”  Psalm 20:7
I thought I did trust God.  I thought I was ok.  My goodness gracious, I’m a missionary.  I was serving God.  I was doing all the right things, wasn’t I?  Then why did I feel so hopeless, so helpless, so distraught?  Why did I want to just crawl in a hole and stay there?  Why did even the thought of talking to people, spending time with others make me cringe inside?  Why was I tired all of the time?  Where was the zest for life, the desire to see people come to know the Lord?  Where was the desire to press into Jesus?  Why did God seem so distant? 
I first realized that I felt like this in December 2013, although I had been feeling like that for quite some time prior to that.  I just continued plodding on.  What else was I going to do?  Leave the girls that I loved?  Leave the ministry that I had been serving at for the past 10 years?  Go back to the States and do what exactly?  A dear friend suggested that I go back to the USA on furlough. So, I went. 
On the way back to the States, I stayed at the Juniper Tree in Dolphin Bay, a resort specifically for missionaries for 10 days.  For the first time in I don’t know how long, I spent all day just seeking God and enjoying Him in His creation.  For the first time in I don’t know how long, I started to relax and find my way back to God.  Or maybe I have that backwards.  God drew me back to Himself. 
Over the next 5 months in the USA, God started to minister to my heart.  He gave me a new perspective on things.  He began to challenge me in a way that I hadn’t allowed Him to do in my life for a long time.  He began to show me that He had a plan to do something new in my life.  God showed me very clearly that I was not to go back and work in the same ministry I had been working at for the past 10 years.  He had something new for me. But God didn’t tell me where specifically He was leading me.  God wanted to know if I would obey Him whether or not I knew the next step.  I can honestly say that was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make in my entire life.  I loved that ministry.  I loved the girls, the people.  I loved the city I lived in.  I loved my house and my comfortable life.  And then it hit me.  It was TOO comfortable.  I wasn’t relying on God.  I was relying on myself.  It was too easy.  I didn’t need God.  I could do it all on my own. 
Would I trust God and take the leap of faith to leave my comfort zone?  Even up until the day I arrived back in Thailand I was still going back and forth in my head – stay or go?  Even though I had been telling people I was leaving, I confess there was a part of me that really wanted to stay.  But I knew I couldn’t stay and be in God’s will at the same time.  I took the leap of faith.
I arrived back in Thailand on September 9th, and it wasn’t until the first week of November that I knew the next step.  It’s amazing how one day I would be overflowing with praise to God and would be sure of His leading.  The next day I would be filled with fear - fear of the unknown, fear of the “what if’s”.  Why couldn’t I just trust God everyday all day?   “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”  Prov. 3:5-6
You might think that as soon as I had the confirmation from God that Destiny Rescue was the next step, that it was smooth sailing.  It was and it wasn’t. 
I say this quite literally:  God worked every detail out. 
God provided the paperwork and the money for a new 90 day visa.  I had the paperwork for the visa in one day.  I left for Laos the following day.  Two days later I had the visa and came back to Thailand – no problems whatsoever.  Then I had to find a house.  I found one within 5 days.  There were two other houses I wanted to rent, but I was told to wait by Destiny staff.  Not something I really wanted to hear, but I said ok, Lord, I’ll wait.  Literally, within minutes of me telling both God and Destiny staff that I would wait, we got a call about a house, and this house was THE PERFECT house, and my landlord is a believer.  Then I had to move all of my stuff to the new city I’m living in, an almost 2 hour drive.  God provided a dear friend’s family to come help who brought some awesome Khmu people (Khmu people are a tribal group living in northern Thailand).  We had a total of 4 trucks and they are amazing packers.  They amazingly got all of my stuff on the back of all 4 pickup trucks.  (I so wish I had pictures of this incredible feat, but at the time I couldn’t remember where I had packed my camera.  One truck with a high backed camper shell had 4 bookcases on their sides with a mattress on top and a desk on the tailgate.)  We made it safely to Chiang Rai in one trip. 
At every step in this process, I freaked out.  Not visibly for anyone to see.  At night, when I was trying to sleep, I’d talk to God.  Sometimes I wouldn’t talk to God – I’d just talk to myself.  (No, I didn’t answer myself, so we’re ok on that one!)  I’d think “what if”.  I was scared they wouldn’t approve my visa.  I was frustrated at having to spend money on a trip to Laos for the visa because I didn’t realize ahead of time that I’d have to leave the country.  I was terrified I’d spend 4-5 days going back and forth between Chiang Khong and Chiang Rai to move all of my stuff.  I was afraid no one would help me move.  I just wanted a house, any house would do.  I didn’t want to wait.  I was frustrated that I didn’t have a house the first day of looking.  “I will trust and not be afraid.  The Lord, the Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.”  Isaiah 12:2b
When God would work out a certain detail, I’d praise God and then I’d start worrying about the next detail.  God worked that detail out, and then I’d worry about the next detail.  I’d say God, if you’d only do such and such, everything will be ok and I won’t worry anymore.  God would do such and such, and I’d praise Him.  Then I’d worry again.
So, as we move into 2015, the big issue that’s on my heart is TRUST.  I look at my life from the perspective of where I was at spiritually and emotionally a year ago, and there is no comparison.  I look back and ask myself why didn’t I trust God?  He’s so obviously been working and leading me every step of the way.  I can truly say from the bottom of my heart:  God is trustworthy.  He and He alone holds the future in His hands.  He is my Rock and my Fortress.  I WILL NOT, NO NOT be moved.  It’s a conscious decision to trust God.  It’s not a feeling.  As I look back, I realize that I’ve relied on my feelings more than the truth of God’s Word.  I want to challenge all of us, including myself, to make a conscious decision to trust God.  Trust God when what you see with your eyes tells you something different.  Trust God when you can’t see the outcome. Trust God when it’s not convenient.  Trust God when others tell you not to.  Trust God when your flesh tells you not to.  Trust God when you don’t understand.  Trust God and He will bring you through the eye of the storm. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

A Day of Solitude

What comes to your mind when you think of the word solitude?  Have you ever taken an entire 24 hours as a day of rest and solitude to seek God?  What do you believe the benefits would be? 

As part of the leadership matters course that I just finished we spent one 24 hour period of time in solitude.  We didn't talk to anyone.  We had the freedom (without guilt) to sleep in or take a nap, jump in the swimming pool, go for a walk, etc.  The purpose was to seek God in a special way and to well, just rest.  How important it is in our very busy lives to take time out to rest and seek God!  I want to encourage all of you to do this as well.  I'm committed to doing it once a month.  I don't want to be at the place of burnout like I was the beginning of this year.  That is not from God.  Jesus calls us to take up His burden because His burden is light and easy and He promises that we WILL find rest for our souls. 
This water is very stagnant.  Our lives can become stagnant when we're not seeking God (although we may still be having our daily devotions) and resting in Him
These leaves are a clear picture of what it looks like to be connected to the vine.  They are vibrant and alive.  We need to examine our inner man on a regular basis and ask ourselves if we are living and vibrant and connected to the vine.  Jesus said "Abide in me and I will abide in you.  Apart from me you can do nothing."
This is a picture of something that is still alive, but starting to decay.  It's not getting enough nourishment from the vine.  I've noticed in my own life that when I start to be like this leaf spiritually, I don't even realize until I'm much browner than this leaf.
Notice how the branches hanging down from the tree are brown and appear not to have a lot of life even though the tree is still alive?  When we isolate ourselves from others like this rock is isolated from the rest of it's environment, we start wasting away little by little. 
This second picture is a close up of the tree in the first picture.  How many blessings do we miss out on because we're not really looking or watching or waiting expectantly on God for those blessings.  We're so busy going about our daily routine that we miss these wonderful things that God has for us along the way.
We are to be a clear reflection of God's glory. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014


How to sum up 5 months in the USA?  That is the question before me.  In the 12 years I’ve been in Thailand, this is the longest I’ve been back in the States.  Before coming back to the USA, I prayed for a car and for money to sightsee around AZ, and to see many things that I haven’t seen in a very long time.  In the end, I didn’t sightsee around AZ, but God took me to CA and to CO and I saw things I have never seen before.  God far surpassed my expectations!!
New and wonderful cultures, (if I may be so bold as to use the word culture) I’ve been introduced to: 
Duck Dynasty

God’s creation that I’d never before seen:


Lake Tahoe

Maroon Bells

garden of the gods

Glen Canyon
Independence Pass

Things I can now cross off my bucket list:
Milked a goat; got licked by a cow; fed squirrels from my hand;  
Rode the tram at Palm Springs, Sky Harbor Airport and the Phoenix Metro Tram
Billy Graham Library

Interesting tidbits:
After many of years of living with teenage girls in Thailand, I find myself relating more than I ever dreamed of with friends who have children of their own.  Who would’ve thought??
I got to share about Thailand with a Teen challenge group. 
I’ve shared about Thailand with twice as many groups as I ever have before, and God is working, even when we can’t see it.
I saw “God is not dead” and I now have a crush on Michael Tait of the Newsboys.
I’ve stayed at 13 different homes throughout these 5 months and each family I have stayed with has enriched my life in some way.  I’ve taken something away from each place I’ve stayed. 
A time of personal reflection is a good and profitable thing. 
My collection of postcards is increasing by the day.  I’m so happy!
Finally, after 2 days of tears, I learned how to use an I-pad. 
I have regained a sense of adventure and zest for life.  I’m excited about leaving my comfort zone, believe it or not.  I’ve learned more about HOW to rest in God.  I’ve learned that I can be busy and still be at peace in my heart.  My circumstances don’t need to control my emotions.  I CAN have victory over my emotions and my sin when I remember who God is and who I am in Christ. Christ has already won the victory on the cross.  The same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at the right hand of God in the heavenly realms is available to me as His child.  I am adopted into His family and am co-heir with Christ.  But too often I forget that and dwell in my own little disgusting world, allowing free reign to my fleshly thoughts.  The apostle Paul said that we are to take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ and to let our thoughts dwell on things above.  All of those little irritations and frustrations of everyday life are minor in comparison to the glory that awaits us.  Oh God, let us truly be able to say from our hearts “It is well with my soul.”  
Let us wallpaper the walls of our minds with Scripture!!






Monday, June 23, 2014

It's been an amazing 2.5 months since being back in the States.  God's love and grace that He consistently pours out on us is overwhelming.  This is my first trip back "home" (our real home is in heaven and we are only strangers and sojourners here) in 4 years and the first time in the 12 years that I've been in Thailand that I've been back longer than 3 months.  I will be here for a total of 5 months, and I've been here for a 2.5 months already.  I pray that everyone who reads this will be blessed and encouraged to continue on in faith in our wonderful Lord Jesus Christ.  I personally have nothing to say, but I pray that God will take the few things that I do say to encourage each and every one of us.  God has allowed me to rest, relax and spend time with friends. 

Fellowship with many of you has been one of the highlights of this trip.  Getting to see where everyone is at and praying with you and for each other is a blessing.  The church is believers, not just a building, and it's been great to just be with the church and have fellowship, food and fun.  (I've already gained I don't know how much weight!  My clothes are not fitting anymore, and I know that when I go back to Thailand, they're all going to say "Susan, you're really fat!")  But the food has been out of this world!

I've spent 2 months in AZ and 2 weeks in North Carolina.  One of my goals while I'm here is to do things I've never done before.  We have a tendency to get in that rut of "same ol' same ol'" and forget that there is excitement and adventure out there if we only look for it. Never be afraid or to busy to do something new. I believe that God meant us to walk with Him on a daily basis and EXPECT Him to do new, great and wonderful things in our lives.  Our problem is that we aren't looking and we get sidetracked by many different things.  Here are a few of the NEW things that's happened to me and that I've done since being back:
milking a goat
Seeing alpacas up close and personal
riding both the Sky Harbor tram and the Phoenix metro tram (downtown Phoenix is an AMAZING place! 
Painting a house, or at least part of one!
Experiencing the Billy Graham center (library)
I was struck by how God can take an ordinary person who is humble and sold out for Jesus Christ and use him/her for God's glory in a great way.  God wants to use each of one of us right where we're at.  Are we willing to seek God's plan and His glory rather than our own??
For the first time since I was 12 years old, 2 of my brothers and my sister and I were in the same place at the same time.  Anyone who doesn't believe that God still works today, this is proof my friends.  Also, (unfortunately, no picture as of yet) my other brother (who is not pictured above) have renewed our relationship after 23 years of no contact whatsoever!  God does indeed work miracles!

As this tree provides a sort of covering for whoever, whatever is underneath it, so God provides a covering for us, shelters us from the storms of life.  But we can always decide on our own to walk away from the covering/protection that God provides.  We do that when we willfully sin, disobey God and seek our own path.  God's covering/protection is for our own good.  Under His shelter, we find safety, love and grace.
It's ok to be a little weird and different!!
The live tree is next to the dead tree.  The live tree is a picture of us clinging to Christ during the dry times while the dead tree is a picture of us apart from the Living Water. 
One of the things I have struggled with since being in Thailand, is that I always feel like I'm in a fishbowl.  Everyone watches everything I do and they see the good and bad.  I can't just be anonymous.  As I was admiring all of the beautifully colored and shaped fish in this aquarium, God spoke to me.  He told me that I'm to shine forth His glory to those around me so others can see God's light in me and admire Him just as I was admiring the fish.  An incredible sense of peace enveloped me as I sensed God's nearness and His presence with me.  He's right there with us through the calm and the storms. 



God reaches down to us (upper picture) and we reach up to Him - the picture of a personal relationship with Christ. 
The power of God is an incredible thing to behold!  God's power is the mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at the place of honor at God's right hand in the heavenly places.  That is the same power that is available to us who believe Him!  Eph. 1
I love this sign!  You have to keep your sense of humor!!!!!!!!!
A big thank you to each of the churches that I've shared at or just visited!  I have been truly blessed to be part of the fellowship and to worship with you!  A big thank you to my coffee and 24 buddies.  You know who you are!  A big thank you to everyone who has opened their house to me!  Your hospitality is beyond description.  Thank you to 2 very special people who have sacrificed much of themselves and leant me their car to use for 2 of the 2 and a half months that I've been here.  A BIG thank you to everyone for the great food.