My Online Shop is Up and Running!

13062157_10153639979811849_5165504760692843204_nGo check out what’s up at Cindy’s Creative Gifts! You can search for me on Facebook, and order from the “shop” link on the left side of the page. We won’t call the page “perfect,” but I’m learning a little more about how to do this day by day.  Look for my colorful doily when you search. Global shipping is included!

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Cindy’s Creative Gifts

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One of the things I'm doing to earn a bit of cash so we can survive until jobs are found, is to sell the crochet things I make.  Check out my Facebook page, Cindy's Creative Gifts.  There's lots of pretty doilies and coasters at a pretty reasonable cost.  LOTS more doilies should be going up Friday and Saturday (the 5th and 6th) as I just need to take pictures and post them.

I've not figured out a shopping cart yet, but if you pm me with your email address and with what products you want, I'll send you a PayPal invoice, and the business day after PayPal tells me you paid I'll get it in the mail.  The price you see is all–inclusive – nothing else is added in 🙂  So, enjoy shopping for Mother's Day, and don't forget your mother-in-law, your daughters, your daughters-in-law who are also moms!

God bless you as you help support us in our repatriation adventure!

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A Call to Repentance

25 April 2017

Warning:  This is not my normal type of blog!

God got me up more than an hour before my alarm this morning, having planted an exceptional hunger for His Word in my heart.  I’ve learned over the years to just get up, wash my face, get a cup of coffee, and dig into whatever is next in my Bible reading plan.

For the past year and a half, I’ve been reading through a chronological NLT (New Living Translation) Bible.  This translation seems mostly accurate, at least according to the Bible training I have undergone, and is very story-like and easy to read.  At the end of 16 months, I’ve made it all the way up to June 24.  I decided a while back that the chronology was what I was desiring more than “making it through” the whole Bible in a year.  I want to take my time and catch what God is speaking to my heart rather than rush through and “just gitter-done.”  I write all this to say I believe this is a very important message for me today, and it might be an important message to you, too.  I’ll just give you the (slightly revised – mostly more organized and with names confirmed) notes about what God showed me this morning.

Isaiah 8:5-8      Then the LORD spoke to me again and said, “My care for the people of Judah is like the gently flowing waters of Shiloah, but they have rejected it.  They are rejoicing over what will happen to King Rezin and King Pekah.  Therefore, the Lord will overwhelm them with a mighty flood from the Euphrates River – the King of Assyria and all his glory.  This flood will overthrow all its channels and sweep into Judah until it is chin deep.  It will spread its wings, submerging your land from one end to the other, O Immanuel.”  (NLT)

My personal take-away:  Do NOT rejoice when God brings judgment on evil men and women.

Before I go any farther, let me state a caveat:  I don’t pretend to understand politics and world events, try as I may.  God brought to mind a few events I know of as illustrations, using the few facts I believe are reasonably certain, to apply this Scripture to my life, and to the lives of my brothers and sisters in Christ.

How often do we, God’s children, rejoice when God brings judgment on evil men and women today?  When Saddam Hussein was executed by American forces?  When Osama Ben Laden was assassinated by Seal Team Six?  When President Trump sent the MOAB missiles into Syria, an attack against Syria’s President Assad, just this past month?

By God’s standards, all there of these men are evil men, doing evil things.  It may be possible that God used America to bring about His judgment upon these three men and their political kingdoms, rooted in the same evil.

Yet, I am reminded of a few things:

  1. The title of John Edwards’ famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”
  2. 2 Peter 3:9b tells me, “He [God] does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” (NLT)
  3. “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” (attribution uncertain)

A bit further down in Isaiah 8, verse 11 says, “The LORD has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does.”  (NLT)  Further down in verse 20, “Look to God’s instructions and teachings!  People who contradict His Word are completely in the dark.”  (NLT)

So, today I will choose to repent, to confess as sin and turn away from doing again, the times I took joy in seeing evil men – and women – brought to justice.  I will choose instead to begin praying for their salvation and their transformation into godly men and women.

Who will join me?

 

Repatriation Part 8

Hugs from the kids

Tonight, we leave for Phuket International Airport at 9 p.m. for our 2 a.m. flight tomorrow morning.  14 more hours in our neighborhood.  We’ve been here nine years, one month, and nine days.  This is “home.”  The stuff we’re leaving behind is selling quickly, the sofa gets picked up 4 hours before we leave – so a couple of lawn chairs for us to finish out our time here.

Yesterday was difficult.  It was our last church service with our beloved church family here.  Pastor Levi and his team are perfect for the church here.  We feel so blessed to have them come.  There are three cell groups nearby that will be joining in.  It will be good!

The most difficult part was saying good-bye to the children.  Those of you who know us well know that we were missionaries in Riverside, California with Child Evangelism Fellowship© for 11 years.  You know we also served as volunteers with AWANA Clubs in two churches in the Greater Riverside Area.  Children are near and dear to our hearts.  Every week, two of the children pray at church before they collect the offering.  These kids want to serve!  So, we let them!  The church has been a shining example of 1 Timothy 4:12 – “1Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”  When the adults started drifting away from the Wednesday evening meal/prayer/Bible study meeting, the children continued to come, learning the Scriptures and growing in their faith.  They continued to share, every single one of them, something they were thankful to God for, every single week.  Two of the older girls – seventh and eighth graders – helped with translation from time to time.  It’s exciting to see how they’ve grown!

Dana “just happened” to be preaching from 1 Timothy 4 yesterday morning.  If you know how Calvary Chapel teaching usually works, the pastor teaches through a book of the Bible chapter by chapter, verse by verse.  Sometimes a chapter is broken into two or three parts, sometimes two chapters, or more, can be combined. And yesterday it worked out to 1 Timothy 4.  The church, including many of the new members, were charged to continue a focus on the children.  There are not many “second generation” Christians in Thailand.  These children are the first in their families to come to faith.  They are the foundation of continued growth here in Tha Chat Chai.  Pray for them.

The picture I chose to use for this blog was taken at the most difficult part of our day yesterday.  Pastor Levi and most of the adults had gathered around us and prayed for us.  Then the kids.  The hugs.  The tears.

Even if we never make it back to visit Tha Chat Chai, we KNOW we will see our beloved Thai family again.  What a comfort as we end one chapter in our lives and begin the next.

Repatriation, Part 7

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So, it’s March 9th  here in Thailand, four more sleeps, hopefully a nap Monday afternoon, then off to Phuket International Airport at about 9:30 p.m.  These days are flying, but they’re also dragging.  So much to do, so overwhelming.

Tomorrow morning, in about 27 hours, the sea container guys come to collect our packed stuff.  You see most of it in the picture, minus four more buckets and the keyboard and a couple of pictures.  We still have stuff to sell, a bunch of kitchen things, the wardrobes, shelving, the sofa, THE MOTORCYCLE!  Some things will be going to the thrift shop that takes the funds to help train women in skills so they can support their families.  I think that trip will happen on Saturday morning.

We’re feeling a bit overwhelmed right now.  Such mixed emotions!  Excited to be closer to family, so sad to be leaving our home these past 9 years and all those in our neighborhood and church, leaving the country we’ve called home for 10.5 years.  Reverse culture shock, here we come!

One thing I learned very early in our stay here in Thailand is where my TRUE CITIZENSHIP is.  I’ve come to the realization that I live in Thailand, my earthly citizenship is in the U.S. – the proof of which is my passport, but my TRUE CITIZENSHIP IS IN HEAVEN.  I’m praying that I don’t lose that perspective once we repatriate.

So, a 30 minute break to check email, write a little blog post, then back to work.  My physical body is beginning to rebel, especially my knees.  Not sure why they’re acting up so much.  Must be all the junk I’ve been eating these past few days causing inflammation.  I really need to get back to the strict vegan + salmon + sea fish diet, adding in ½ of a burger each week.  (The beef in the burger seems to give me more energy – could be just a mental lift, or could actually be doing something – who knows why?!)

God bless you, my friends, and say a quick prayer for us as God brings us to your remembrance.

25 February 2017

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Saw this picture on my Facebook news feed this morning.

This talks about traveling, and having your heart in many places.  Can you imagine living in another country, in another culture for over a decade, and then repatriating?

I know that many friends and relatives are excited that we’re “headed home” in just a couple of weeks from now.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited too!  But I’m also torn.  Ohn considers me her big sister, and she’s like a younger sister to me.  The thought of maybe not ever seeing her again this side of Heaven is sometimes overwhelming.

I hope and pray that friends and family will bear with me when homesickness hits – it’s usually around its worst at 7 weeks in for me.  It’s not that I don’t love you any less, but it’s that I don’t love the friends – and some I consider family – in Tha Chat Chai any less either, and I will be missing them dearly.

So, I guess I’m asking for grace in this transition.  Starting over again.  We don’t have ministry positions or jobs yet.  We don’t have our own apartment yet.  That can be a bit unsettling.

Please extend grace when I’m overwhelmed at the immense variety of one item in the grocery store.  I usually don’t have that luxury here.

Please extend grace as I sit in a Thai restaurant (which will probably happen sooner, rather than later), and find that the price on a little plate of Vegetable Fried Rice is nearly ten times what I pay for it here.  It literally takes my breath away.  And don’t be shocked if I don’t like the way Thai food has been westernized in the States.  Sometimes it’s just horrific to me!

Please extend grace as I “wai” you when I see you.  That’s what I’ve been doing for over a decade now!  No, I’m not bowing down and worshiping you.  If you ask, I’ll show you what that looks like, but I don’t do that!

Please extend grace when I wear my flip-flops to church.  I don’t generally wear “real shoes” here.  And now they feel very confining.  I may have just forgotten to put “real shoes” on.

Please extend grace when I can’t access a common word in English.  It’s probably one I don’t have occasion to use here in Tha Chat Chai in either English or Thai.  It’ll come back to me over time . . .

Please extend grace as I ask you to catch me up on something so I can follow your conversation.  If you didn’t send me an email or post it on Facebook, I don’t know about it.  I probably don’t know everything you’ve posted on Facebook anyway . . .

Please extend grace as I ask about a loved one or friend who has passed on.  Chances are I just never heard about it.  It’s difficult staying fully connected while being half a world away.

Please extend grace if I feel I need a day (or two or three) to quietly be by myself, processing all of these things.  The United States is not the same as it was a decade ago when we left for Thailand.

And I pledge to do my best to extend grace too.  I’ll (usually) wait until a quiet moment, or use private messaging or email, if I think you need to know a bit more about something to do with Thailand or Asia or Buddhism or Animism or how Islam is practiced here or the like. One of my main giftings is teaching.  I always purpose to speak with respect and with facts.  I remember how steep my learning curve was when we arrived here.  We still don’t know everything there is to know about it all!  And I can only speak for the community I’ve lived in these past 9 years.

These are my thoughts for today.  I’ll probably be posting little stuff like this a lot in the near future.  It helps me to process all of these events.  I think, too, it will help others as they walk this journey with me and others who are repatriating.  I must confess, too, that it may be a way of procrastinating with the packing and other things that must be done before we head out for the States.  If I’m not fully prepared, I can’t leave, right?  And if I can’t leave, I don’t have to say good-bye, right?

This Week’s Adventures

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I realize I’ve not posted in a week, maybe a little more.  It surely wasn’t due to my laziness!  Planning and packing for our repatriation and getting my little book (Living Boldly: Acknowledging and Overcoming Fear) published on Kindle Direct Publishing has taken most of my “spare time.”

The packing is going well.  Hopefully there will be a little “garage sale” this weekend.  Of course, we have no garage and this really isn’t a Thai thing, but it’s time to dispose of some of the bigger things and appliances now.

The book publishing adventure is surely an adventure.  I’ve found that there are two misspelled words in the text, and there’s a goof-up on my cover – never noticed it!  I’m going to have to get the graphic artist to fix it for me.  It should be quick, and then I’ll have to figure out how to fix both of those things.  This has surely been a learning experience for me.  THEN to figure out how to get everything sized so that it can be available as a printed product.  That may take a while with everything else going on.  Check it out at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06WW81JGX/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1487894561&sr=8-1&keywords=Cindy+Bratton.

Funny thing as I was getting ready to click the publish button on this.  A wave of fear hit me.  “What if no one likes it? What if there’s something that’s not quite right theologically?  What if . . .”  That’s the topic of the book!  So, I remembered where this fear came from (not God!) and hit that publish button anyway.   To be honest, it’s a bit odd to begin thinking of myself as a published author.  I really believe that God has led me down this path, and I’m excited to see what He will be doing with it.  I believe He has given me insight into how to simply apply the Word to my everyday life in order to impact those around me, those in my sphere of influence.  I just want others to be able to be encouraged to do the same.;

My posting on this blog may be a bit sporadic over the next several weeks.  A lot is going on, a lot of it physical too.  Selling/giving away most of our earthly possessions; packing up 4 cubic meters to ship on a boat; flying to Los Angeles from Phuket; recovering from jet lag; a day at Knott’s Berry Farm with family; a day at Disneyland Anaheim with family; a road trip from Southern California to Vancouver, WA to catch up with family, then back again; finding employment/ministry positions and an apartment; settling in to life in the States again.  God is good!  He will take us through it all!  I’m excited, but also a bit exhausted just thinking of it all.  Overall, I’m excited to embark on this next step of our journey.