old windows and reflections

77. Time with new and still newish friends over food and laughter.
78. Time to remember the past with gratefulness to God.
79. A full heart.
80. Loving arms to be enfolded within.
81. The miracle of life.
82. Our first year of blessed marriage.
83. Our covenant of marriage – first with God and then with each other.

84. Fun projects to do together.
85. Exploring new areas together.

86. Old windows.
87. Metal twisted pretty.
88. Faded paint.
89. Wood with a face of a happy and long-lived life.
79. Reflections of sky and tree lines.
80. Popping in to visit friends just on a whim.
81. Provisions that bless.
82. Sweet baby smiles being big brothers’ favourite thing of their new sister.
83. Excitement of new bugs and their unexpected movements.

84. Boys running, jumping, leaping up, down and everywhere they can find space.
85. Discovering new community.
86. Palates overwhelmed with scrumptious anniversary food.
87. Spontaneous dance parties in our living room with just us.
88. A saved treat shared at last on a fitting occasion.
89. Friends and mentors who have spent time with us and encouraged us in how to grow.

two unwanted intruders

We have been feeding four cats for the last couple of months. Two of the cats are our own – David and Bowie. But the other two are strays: one big black one and an orange tabby – both male.

They come in through any open door or window downstairs. Lori and I rarely see them eating the food but when the cats’ food dishes are licked clean, we know that they’ve been about.

Sometimes they come in when they’re not aware we’re downstairs. They leap in through the window, spot us and dart out through the front door, but not before briefly glancing over at the food bowls.

David and Bowie have taken to guarding the downstairs room. They’ll set themselves up in strategic locations so as to be able to most effectively pounce on the intruders or growl at them to scare them away. Unfortunately sleep beats them each time and instead of guarding the food bowls, they awaken, hours later, to find their food all gone and their owners a little perturbed that they’ll have to put out food AGAIN for them.

David won’t necessarily admit it but he’s actually becoming friends with the black cat. Maybe it’s a black cat thing. He was found a few nights ago in the kitchen doing absolutely nothing while the black cat saw me and jumped out through the one open window.

I’m nearly 99.9% sure that these two strays are not actually Corky and Connick – two out of the three kittens that went to live in Napajat (these two disappeared from their adopted families several months after being there) – but I have this Homeward Bound or Milo and Otis idea that perhaps they survived the jungles of Mae Hong Son and made it back to Sop Soi… only to discover their family doesn’t want them anymore. But I’m nearly quite sure it’s not them. I think.

At any rate, it’s getting expensive feeding four full-grown cats. We’ve tried covering the food dishes but those sneaky intruders are too smart and just knock the heavy plates off the bowls. I don’t know how to get rid of the strays and with free food available for them, I don’t think they’re going to be leaving any time soon.


little birds and a du-gae

The birds are back. Not all of them though. Yesterday morning I found myself having to duck as a little bird came swooping down on its way across the room. It had managed to find its way into the upstairs in my house. But couldn’t get out. Eventually it must’ve found a way out – it wasn’t there later on.

We also have a du-gae pooing in our house. Pleasant – I know. It’s weird though. We haven’t heard it, nor have we seen it but every morning we find more of its poo in the same location in the kitchen. At least it sticks to the same spot. Today my language teacher confirmed that the poo we were finding in the kitchen was indeed du-gae poo. She asked if I was scared. I said no. “What can I do about a du-gae that I never see?” I thought to myself. She told me that she was scared. If they had the word in Thai-yai, I’d say that she actually said that she was freaked out by the du-gae being in my house. And then we sat down and studied Thai-yai together. I wasn’t very compassionate about it. I never gave the du-gae another thought. She probably did though. Hmm….

the itsy bitsy spider… or not

Somehow, I had this spider on my head briefly today and lived to tell the tale.

It’s been hanging out in or just outside our bathroom for the past day or so. Today I reached up on the shelf where the extra toilet paper rolls are kept in our bathroom and something landed on me! I don’t remember if I brushed it off or it jumped off but the next thing I knew that huge spider was on the wall.

It’s nearly as big as my fist – body and legs, not just the body. It’s body is maybe as big as the first digit of my baby finger – in case that helps any.

I don’t really know if it’s dangerous or not. I generally let these spiders live in my house because they’re fast and I’m not really the best spider killer. Lilli, one of my previous roommates, was a very good spider killer. She had amazing accuracy and speed in her killing of spiders. I think this kind of spider may even eat cockroaches, and for that, I’ll let him/her live. So long as it doesn’t climb on me again.

snakes, sovereignty, suffering and suplication

Several days ago, I was out for a walk. I wasn’t paying much attention to the road and was in my own little world. I had walked out from my village to the outskirts where there’s another section with some new houses and had turned around to head back home when I noticed a red truck approaching. It was in the middle of the road and it had slowed down. The driver was also trying to get my attention by pointing to something in front of the truck. It was a snake.

By this point I was only a few metres away from the truck and the snake. As soon as I saw the snake I immediately starting walking backwards, but slowly, away from it. The guy in the truck drove over top of the snake but not with the tires, just the body of the car. He then backed up slowly. The snake had risen up. I later found out that only cobras do this. [It’s probably a good thing that I didn’t know that at the time.]

He continued to back up and eventually the snake went flat on the ground again and continued crossing the road. I waited. Then I went to the side of the road from which the snake had originally come, relatively far away from where it currently was, and spoke briefly to the guy driving the truck. It was actually my neighbour’s brother, Waat, who was driving the truck. He told me that I was lucky.

Thinking back about the snake incident, I’m amazed at the timing of it all. The Lord sovereignly brought that truck at that exact time. If he hadn’t come, I wouldn’t have seen the snake until we had crossed paths. I asked some friends about the incident later (which is when I found out that it was a cobra) and found out other details which make me even more thankful that the Lord protected me as He did.

That very morning, I’d been reading in Dallas Willard’s “The Divine Conspiracy” about the Lord’s prayer and how we need to pray that God would keep evil away from us. “Lead us not into temptation/trials/evil…” Early on in my walk, I’d been thinking about that and what I’d read and was praying to that effect.

This snake incident is such a clear example to me of God looking after me. It very easily could’ve turned out differently – but it didn’t and I praise God for that.

Willard writes,

“God expects us to pray that we will escape trials, and we should do it. The bad things that happen to us are always challenges to our faith, and we may not be able to stand up under them. They are dangerous… The excessive confidence people have in the strength of their own faith – usually it is when they are not suffering, of course – simply makes the danger worse. The attitude of James and John, seeking in advance their own promotion in the government they expected Jesus to set up, is characteristic. He asked them if they could go through what he was going to go through. They replied, “Yes Sir, we can do it!” (Matt. 20:22). This is precisely the attitude of self-confidence we must avoid, and the final request in the model prayer is designed to help us avoid it. Once again, we are asking for pity, this time in the form of protection from circumstances. We are asking a Father who is both able and willing to extend such pity to not let bad things happen to us.” (p. 265-266)

You may be thinking to yourself, “But what about what we can learn through trials and through suffering and what God wants teach us through these things?” or, “What about when bad things happen to good people?” or, “What about when you pray this and you still face suffering?” “What then?”

Willard fairly addresses each of these points.

“As we attentively make this prayer a part of our constant bearing in life, we will see how God indeed does keep us from trials and deliver us from evil. Constantly. We will see how often good things happen even to “bad” people – as well as to the good. And of course we will find that we do have trials, and that some bad things come to everyone. No one is exempt. We can count on that too.

“But we will also become assured that any trial or evil that comes upon us has a special function in God’s plans. As with daily provision of food, there is continuous provision for every need, no matter how dire. We may not always have it ahead of time, but often right when we need it from the God who is right there with us. Our bedrock certainty of this will stand firmly upon our many experiences of the presence and goodness of our Father. We will have firsthand experience of how his strength is brought to perfection in our lives precisely by our weaknesses, combined with hopeful faith…

“People who do not ask God to spare them from trials and evils usually do not even recognize his hand when they are spared. They live under the illusion that their lives are governed by chance, luck, accident, the whims of others, and their own cleverness. And because they do not ask, do not constantly invite God in, that may well be, to some significant extent, no illusion. If one is content with such an outlook, God will probably leave one with it. He respects us, no matter how wrong we are. But we will never know our life to be one in The Kingdom Among Us.”

(p.266-268, “The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard)

I am very aware of God’s hand in my life and I’m incredibly thankful for Him and His care for me.

Some co-workers of mine have seen their share of snakes. Many of them were inside their home! And in each of those cases, it occurred when my friend’s husband was away and my brave friend had to go at those snakes with a large machete. After I told her about my snake experience the other day, she told me how they have one prayer partner who prays specifically about the snakes and other dangers. She also told me how since she herself started praying specifically about the snakes, they haven’t had any snake problems in their home.

I think that I also need to be praying in this way! I would appreciate your prayers as well!

getting rid of the ants

The ants in my cupboard are resilient. They somehow invaded the ‘tuu kap khaow’ (aka food cupboard) in our kitchen awhile ago. We cleaned the cupboard out several weeks ago and thought we got rid of them but alas… they’re still there. So we cleaned out the cupboard again, carefully examined all of the food in there (and as a result had to throw out a lot of what the ants were enjoying to eat) and sprayed the cupboard. Then, after several days of just leaving the cupboard bare, we put out some bait to lure them out of their hiding spots (because I think they’re living in the frame of the cupboard) and they’re still there! I can’t say that they’re thriving since we took away all their food sources but they’re there. So now we’ve put out some ant poison. As you can see by the picture above (click on the picture to see them up close), they were busily taking the poison back to their nest – just as they were supposed to and as we hoped they would. I hope this works to get rid of the ants! They’re such a nuisance!

It’s amazing how something so small can drive one nuts and suck up so much of your time. It’s kind of like the bird problem in some ways… which is much better by the way. The pigeons are still around and they’re annoying for various reasons but they don’t try to get into my house like the small sparrow-like (but scary) birds did. They’ve gone for the time being. Yay! Thanks for praying if you prayed about that! I just hope and pray that they don’t come back!

Saturday was lizard day

Geckos abound everywhere in Thailand, to the point that you don’t really notice them anymore (except when they drop on you from the ceiling or when they leave their poo everywhere or you find the evidence of new geckos having hatched from their eggs). So I don’t get too excited over geckos. Yesterday, however, brought forth 3 different lizards into our house – 2 of which were brought in by David and Bowie. [The white object in the bottom left-hand corner is the big water bottle that contains our drinking water. Its whiteness is kind of overpowering…]

This is called an “akhang” in Thai-yai. It has a blue head normally but it seemed to change colour while Bowie was attacking it. She’s been after it for days actually, pursuing it up a tree just outside our house on an almost daily basis this last week. She’s a good little hunter.

At one point I thought it was dead but it “came back to life.” I’ve been told that it’s hard to kill akhang and that they bite and it’s difficult to get them to release their grip. They’re also poisonous if you eat them – well, they’ll make my cats throw up if they were to eat it. I swept this guy outside after a while, where Bowie played with it to its death. She didn’t eat it – at least as far as I know anyhow.

I’m aware that this isn’t a lizard but I just thought it was a cool looking bug. Amazing colours, eh?

Late in the afternoon, this “du-gae” was spotted near the stairwell. You DO NOT want du-gaes to reside in your home because once they take up residence, it’s really hard to get them to leave. I think this is the same du-gae that visited about a week ago. That time some people working on the road in front of our house took a bamboo pole and beat the du-gae off the side of the house, scaring it away to our neighbours house.

Du-gaes are named after the sound of their call (like the chickadee). Usually they call out several times in a row – I only ever notice them calling out in the evening. There are some superstitions associated with du-gaes – some of which have to do with evil spirits. So some people are scared of du-gaes for that reason I think. Don’t quote me on that.

This time, I went and asked Uncle from across the street to help get rid of it. Du-gae‘s are fierce creatures and their bite is MUCH MUCH worse than that of the akhang. They’re much bigger than akhang and they also won’t let go once they bite. And they’re really difficult to kill. I’ve seen some friends of mine in a different village try and beat one to death. They were guys with muscles and they beat that du-gae with bamboo poles and it wouldn’t die.

Uncle, from across the street, didn’t want to kill it and after hitting it with a bamboo pole a couple of times, he took a broom to it and got it to clutch the end of the broom. Then he took it far back behind our house to a tree and let it go. It’ll probably come back again. Hope not though.

The last lizard of the day may also be an akhang but I’m not sure. Apparently the male akhangs are the ones with the blue heads and the females have brown heads. David ate it after playing with it for a while and didn’t vomit it up so who knows??