Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Quiet Time

I’ve been quiet on here for quite some time. That’s because I have had a lot of thoughts floating through, in and out of, my head. Sometimes I feel like a little boy, lying on his back, watching the sky, and watching the kites as they fly up and down and around. Occasionally one of those kites will swoop low enough that the boy can read the lettering on its side. That lettering? Those are my thoughts most of the time.

I used to run around chasing and trying to catch the kites. But that was too much work and produced hazy end results. This way, letting the thoughts coalesce, is much more restful – still hazy – but more restful.

Two quotes have come together, from two very different sources, to hopefully produce one coherent thought.

Many mornings I wake up an utter unbeliever – worse than any atheist” – Christian Wiman

Every morning I must say again to myself, Today I start.” – St. Anthony of the Desert

Do you feel this way too?

I don’t know. Maybe it’s just that I’m too busy in the mornings. Or maybe I’m not enough of a morning person.

Either way, it seems like, if I let me, my self likes to get to lunch time-ish before I remember to start properly.

And by then of course I have to start with penitence for my reticence and when I’m done with that I usually forget why I wanted to start anyways…

The point is. I’ve been much better about starting the day with what we used to call, “quiet time.” That idea of starting fresh every day, not because I should, but because I need.

Do you feel this way too?

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Delight

The good news is that God has such low standards
And reaches out to those of us who oftentimes are unlovable
And offers us a chance to come back inside out of our storm
Of drama and toxic thoughts

Love reaches out and reaches out and reaches out

It is staggering that it is always giving another chance
Another day
Over and over and over

Or maybe, it isn’t low standards – but high delight
                                   By delight I mean                    Mother 
looking over the crib at her sleeping baby
                                Daddy                 bouncing baby on his knee
Laughing and laughing and laughing

Maybe God’s delight in us is just so much
So big so high
That the dirt smudge on our cheek doesn’t bother him.

And Remember
delight true delight is best received when it is reciprocated
Given back to the giver


Mutual Joy in the Other

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

An update!

The easiest way to say this is to say that things are good. Things are great. Stupendous, really.

I’ve moved from my apartment across the street from Cornerstone, and from now until the 20th of October, I’ll move several times until I settle into my friend Ruth’s house for the remainder of my time.

Besides the logistics involved in moving around for the next month, I feel confident in saying that I am settled in and comfortably living in Thailand.

In regards to actual counseling, I haven’t started seeing any clients yet. However, I have had the opportunity to observe several other clinicians during some of their sessions and that has been a really good learning experience.

I’m back to running somewhat seriously. I have a couple marathons planned for later on this year and then in February I will race a 100k. Here's a view from a Buddhist temple just outside of town. 

From a practicalities standpoint there is probably quite a bit more I could tell you. But, I think this is a good place to leave those sorts of details.

By far, without even thinking about it, the best experience thus far has been the staff retreat that I just returned from. Wednesday afternoon we piled into cars, drove about 25 minutes to a little hotel/retreat center, and proceeded to spend the next 48 hours doing retreaty things.

Here’s what I can tell you. These are great people, doing great things, with each other. And, for some reason, they let me be a part.

And I feel like I fit – like its where I should be – where I want to be. It also feels too good to be true. But in the real way.

“Wherever you have dreamed of going, I have camped there, and left firewood for when you arrive.”
-Hafiz

That’s how it feels here. It feels like dropping the backpack at the end of a long day of hiking, looking around the area you’ve found to camp, and finding a makeshift fire ring with a pile of dry firewood ready for the evening. Stupendous, really.


So, thanks for being a part of my journey!

P.S. Some humor to highlight how beautiful Thailand is!


Saturday, September 9, 2017

10 Days in.

Friends!

I'm sitting here on an early Sunday morning, slowly getting ready for church, checking emails, and feeling really grateful to be here - in this apartment, across the street from Cornerstone, in Chiang Mai, in Thailand - you get the point.

I have been super busy getting settled in and so haven't sat down to write the last several days. So, instead, I made a little video. Talking isn't my strong suit, so bear with me. : )



So, anyways. Things are great!

Contact: One of the incredible things about living in 2017 is that even though I am halfway around the world we can still communicate easily! 
- Email - david.emch@gmail.com
- Facebook - If you have messenger that's an easy way to communicate
- iMessage - my phone number is +66 93-125-9293
-Whatsapp - Whatsapp is a great texting app. If you have it or want to download it, you can find me with my phone number.

I will leave you with a couple prayer requests.
   - My Mom and Sister's family live down in Florida. Will you pray with me for their safety?
   - I would appreciate your continued prayers for my getting settled in.

Thanks! Talk to you soon. 




Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Greater We

In a couple of days, I am finally, after what has seemed like an extremely long wait, getting on an airplane. I’ll be flying west for twenty-four hours to arrive in the Far East.

I’ll wave goodbye to my Mom, who is taking me to the airport, and getting onto an airplane. All by myself. This is a journey, an adventure, an opportunity, an experience, that I will be taking all on my own.

And yet, I am deeply struck by the fact that none of this would have been possible without a myriad – literally a huge group – of people. If you’re reading this, you’re probably one of those people.

If I told you all of the stories about all of the people who have lent me a hand to get me on that airplane, it would take a book. If I told you all of the stories about all of the little things that got worked out for me to be getting on that airplane, it would take another book.
There is a Bible passage that says this way better than I could.

1 Cor. 12:13-28  - Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. It’s exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything. (This is what we proclaimed in word and action when we were baptized.) Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive.
 I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.
 But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, “Get lost; I don’t need you”? Or, Head telling Foot, “You’re fired; your job has been phased out”? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the “lower” the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach. When it’s a part of your own body you are concerned with, it makes no difference whether the part is visible or clothed, higher or lower. You give it dignity and honor just as it is, without comparisons. If anything, you have more concern for the lower parts than the higher. If you had to choose, wouldn’t you prefer good digestion to full-bodied hair?
 The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.
 You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything.

So. In a couple days I get on that plane all alone. But, as just one small part of the greater WE!


Thank you all for your love and support up to this point! Next post from Thailand!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Arthritic Shoulders

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Isaac Newton

I’ve always loved this quote. It pays tributes to those who have come before – something that has always been really important to me. But it also backhandedly alludes to the fact that I can see really really far. That’s important to me too.

I was thinking about this quote the other day and something, a popcorn kernel of discontentment, stuck between my mental teeth. After having chewed it over for a while I think I know what it is.
It makes everything seem too neat and clean. It makes it sound like everything, all of my well laid plans, have worked out just fine.

Let me tell you something – if I happened to find myself standing on some shoulders it wasn’t because I planned on it. Just the opposite. Most of the time I just sort of wander into good situations.
Can we just all admit that this is the truth for most of us?

I’m tired of trying to make you think I’m something I’m not. I’m really bad at some things. I’m not good at a lot of other things. I’m pretty good at other things (sleeping is my #1 skill). I’m not beating myself up. I’m just tired of trying to hide who I really am behind a mask of competence.

What if Christianity’s culture changed enough that we could all walk around with our masks of near-perfection off?

Here’s another thought – a thought that I really love.

If we were all able to allow our real selves to be visible we could all just rest in our imperfections and rest in God’s love/grace.

Beautiful.

I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world. I have had so many people come beside me in my life. I can’t even begin to count.

If I can see anything in life I can honestly say that it’s not because of my wisdom or insight, it’s because I have had the incredible privilege to stand on a lot of shoulders.

Those shoulders that I’ve stood on? They’ve been arthritic. Knotted, broken, weak, and in pain. And to me – I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because those shoulders, shoulders riddled with arthritis, are so much broader and so much kinder than any other type of shoulders.

That seems a lot better to me. Admittedly it sounds better to me because if anyone ever was to stand on my shoulders I know that they would be standing on shoulders plagued with arthritis from day 1.


Saturday, July 29, 2017

30 days. Yeah. I'm counting.

30 days until I leave for Thailand. I have so many thoughts going through my head and feelings pounding through my heart.

It was early 2014 and I found myself in Dimapur, India, sitting on the porch of a new missionary acquaintance. We were talking about missions, life, and everything else. My life had kinda stalled. I was in the middle of my master’s program trying to decide if the piece of paper and the financial burden associated with it was really worth it. It was that conversation that convinced me to finish this degree.

Since 2008 I have been working in the technology field. What a blessing that has been. Inside of that blessing though has always been a seed (sometimes a lot more than a seed!) of discontentment. Computers have never been a passion. But, I did my best to work faithfully and diligently in what God had provided. Moving to Thailand signifies what is hopefully the laying down of the career in technology, and a moving towards a career in counseling. A career – a job – that I believe God has gifted me for.

More so, moving to Thailand is giving me the incredible opportunity to explore the option of being a counselor to missionaries. I’ve been counseling now, during my practicum (mini internship), for 11 whole weeks. Not very long, but long enough to know that I find a deep fulfillment in this work. As I talked about in an earlier blog, I believe that God has given me a heart to work with missionaries. Going to Thailand will give me the experience, over the 9 months, to see if counseling missionaries is where I want to take my practice.

As I look back over the last year I am blown away with all of the ways that doors have been opened. I called or emailed over 35 missions organizations and overseas counseling centers with the question, “Do you all take counseling interns?” I didn’t hear back from a lot of those places. I got “No” from the rest. Except for SIM. SIM said, “maybe.” And so I applied. 4 months later, SIM accepted me as a short-term missionary. And then, they started to help me look for a counseling center where I could intern. Cornerstone, in Thailand, said “let’s give it a shot.” And so, I applied. 4 months later I was accepted. For brevity’s sake, I’m leaving out a lot of really neat things and stories of doors being opened. Either way, the journey, up to this point, has been incredible. God is faithful.

And to finish. So many of you have blown me away with your generosity. You’ve been generous with your encouragement of me pursuing this dream. You’ve been generous in your prayers. And you’ve been generous financially. It’s been incredible to see. So, thank you so much! I do still need to raise a bit more money, so if you are interested you can donate here: https://www.simusa.org/give/ But, really. All of you who have already given, thank you.


I’m feeling really humbled, full of anticipation, and most of all grateful for all of this.