Back to life

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Life has been a bit of a blur since I got back from Asia. In fact, the last few days of my trip are seeming more like a weird dream at this point…I can’t even believe I was there.

My trip was amazing, though. Truly. I will cherish those memories for the rest of my life, and hopefully be able to return to the magical country of Thailand in the not-so-distant future. I can definitely see why so many people I know have fallen in love with that place. It would be hard not to love it. The food, the people, the landscape, the hello kitty…It is all precious and beautiful and inspiring and fascinating. And getting to experience it with people who have either lived there in the past or currently live there now was unbelievable. I felt like I was somehow cheating the system, getting to be told how things work and what food to try and the things I do that are very offensive in Thai culture. How do people go places without people who know the culture so well?? I seriously lucked out.

One thing people told me a lot before and after my trip was “Enjoy it! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity!” 

Or this one: “Enjoy it now, because once you have kids…ya know. (wink).”

One one hand, sure. I might not ever get to go to Thailand with Constance again. Or (God forbid) Thailand again. But I will not accept whatever reality people are selling me that I can’t travel unless I am childless and have the semester off of school. This season will likely never ever happen again for me. But I certainly plan to make choices to keep those options open for me. I chose the OT career because of the flexible work schedule and potential opportunity to do medical missions. We aren’t buying a house because it is important to Josh and I to have the extra money to be able to spend time in other cities/countries. We dream to live abroad for at least a year in the next decade.

I don’t know about you, but I get a little frustrated when people tack their realities onto others as if their own choices weren’t the ones that got them where they are. We really limit each other when we do that. I want God’s best for my life, I want to see Him fulfilling the desires of my heart as I surrender to whatever He has for me every day, and I want the thing He does for me to be a new thing. Not a Caroline-shaped version of something that has been done again and again by those who fail to dream bigger. I am most effective and most loving and most like Jesus when I am allowing Him to shape me into something totally new-not something I’ve seen other people become, no matter how awesome I think they are.

I love to travel. Some people hate it. I am grateful, though, for this season where seeing the world is a reality. It is a gift. Having children will also be a gift. One full of difficult choices. One of the choices I plan to make, though, is making sure we go places. I want my kids to experience the bigness of our planet and witness the suffering of nations and not be ignorant of oppression and injustice. It is something I won’t compromise on, no matter how impractical it may seem. The hard stuff is the important stuff, anyway.

I would much rather live in a trailer park and leave often than a big awesome house that I’m stuck in.

I’m still trying to process all of the things Asia taught me. A lot of the truths came in the form of  long car rides with Constance through the Thailand rain forest. Some came in the form of prostitutes or street kids. It will be a long process of unpacking it all, but one that I enjoy so much. I am beyond grateful for all of it. Even “regular” life in Austin has been a bit more exciting now that I’m back.

It is Thursday. You can quit anything on a Thursday. Go make your dreams and God’s plans for you happen. I will fail a lot, but I plan to try and try and try again. And I hope to call the gifts out in the people around me, encouraging bravery and boldness in those God has put in my life.  Thank you to the many many people who do that every day for me. It is making a huge difference.

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Weekend in Phayao

Constance and I have been moving around a lot in Thailand, trying to hit all of her favorite towns and see as many of her friends as possible. This past weekend was spent in the town where she lived for 2 years called Phayao. We stayed with the incredible Reese family, who have been missionaries here for FIVE years. They have 3 of the most adorable and fun children on the planet, and we just had a blast together.

One of the days we were there, we all took a day trip to a town called Chiang Rai. Its about an hour away, has some amazing temples, and oh…ostrich riding.

Wat Rong Khun was the name of the white temple in the photos below, and it was probably my favorite temple we have visited on our trip-which is actually saying a lot! The building and murals and sculptures were all designed by a locally famous artist, who weird tourists like me take pictures next to when they see cut-outs of him.

But really, how majestic is this?? The girls kept joking it looked like Elsa’s ice castle from the movie Frozen. If you don’t get the reference, you should probably go watch that movie like right now.

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Then it was on to riding ostriches. I will say this about the whole ordeal:

It was really sad. It was really scary. I never want to do it again, but I guess I’m glad I did it for the pictures.

I was NOT expecting a giant bird to be way scarier than laying on a live adult tiger. Ann rode it after me, and honestly her laughing at the absurdity of the situation helped take my mind off the fact that I was probably killing this poor creature with my american-sized body. There was also a petting zoo there (soooo random) so we got to pet some sheep and donkeys afterward.

After all of the animal nonsense this trip has entailed, I have decided that the motto of this adventure is the following:

“Come to Thailand, where everything’s cheap and nothing’s illegal!”

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I’m going to stop now, because I could honestly spend this entire day posting pictures and this internet is super slow. Sadly, our time in Thailand is almost up. We are going to take a 24 hour-long detour in Tokyo on our way back, though, which I am super excited about. Can’t wait to put more ridiculous pictures and stories on here when I have time and American-speed wifi!

Cheers guys!

Thailand!

Thailand is incredible.

I have been dying to sit down and write a quick blog post about it, but now that I have a few minutes, I can’t even find the words to describe what the past 8 days have been like! I have experienced such a wide range of emotions, but mostly I have just felt completely alive. Being out of your routine and the grind of every day battles is something I NEED to do for myself every once in awhile. Being a world away from my husband and trying new foods and having no air conditioning isn’t comfortable at first, but I needed this. I desperately needed the reminder that the world is giant and full of people who have more basic needs than I can fathom. I needed some perspective and some adventure. I can’t believe I hesitated coming here even for a moment.

I have been in a state of absolute awe and gratitude since I got here, and the novelty hasn’t even begun to wear off.

Here’s a quick re-cap, and I’ll post more later when I have time.

Days 1-4: Spent time in Bangkok staying with an amazing family doing unbelievable work with the Thai and Cambodian community in the city. I saw so much pain and poverty, but felt encouraged by so many small things and empowered by ways God can use one obedient family to completely transform a neighborhood. We went to the Bangkok Farmer’s Market, saw the movie Frozen, went to the largest outdoor market in southeast Asia, and visited a LOT of Buddhist temples.

Days 4-6: Took a bus over night to Chiang Mai! Laid by a pool, ate amazing food, shopped at a night market…Oh, and PET A TIGER AND PLAYED WITH ELEPHANTS!!

Days 6-8: Drove 3 hours through the mountains to Phayao, where Constance used to live. We are staying with some friends of Constance’s who are missionaries here. This town is beautiful, and so different than the previous 2. Today we are riding ostriches, but more on that later…

For now, I leave you with pictures!

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