Tag Archives: belief

When Tears Become a Language

Sometimes as I travel home late at night on my motorbike I feel a sense of camaraderie with those other late night travelers as we stop at a stoplight, waiting for the warmth of the green signal again and then shooting off again in the night, going for home, wherever it is. Sometimes I feel lonely as I round the curve under the glare of the streetlight with no other vehicle in sight. Sometimes I feel exhilarated with the speed and the wind on my face and the deep night sky in the few places stars are visible.

But usually its sadness, the inexplicable burden that rises in the darkness of a half sleeping city and hovers over my soul as I sweep along the snaking three lane highway at night. Sadness, that grips and coils like the tentacles of a giant octopus with no explanation for its heaviness. Sadness, with no story to foretell its coming and no voice behind its burden. Just sadness. It clings over my soul like the smog clings to the city in the daytime. A sense of melancholy, but more an ache.

Sometimes sadness brings a song, a dirge. This has nothing of the sort. This is only a cloud hanging over my soul, caught from the winds blowing from the heart of the city, the true heart. It is the cloud that collects the dust of unbelief, the ashes of hope burned unrestored, and the fog of fear from a world caught in senseless cycle of animism and materialism.

Man cannot drive it away. No amount of positive thinking or meditation or even goodness will cleanse this smog of sadness without the cleansing rain of the Maker of Hope.

It creeps around my soul. I lift my eyes to the sky, let the tears fall and cry out for those who, too, have become my people and whose storyless sadness numbs my own soul.  These tears become the medium and the voice for the sadness of these people whose sin has burned into existence this cloud. The cry echoes out of the emptying streets of sleeping Chiang Mai, swirls above the hundreds of exquisite and grotesque temples, circles the mountains and the high places where thousands worship each day, and climbs, climbs, climbs the heavens to the very throne of God.

And at the right hand of the throne, stands One who intercedes for those whose sadness has finally been given voice. Even if only through tears.

 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Romans 8:26


I Wonder

This poem is not a new one for me. I wrote it several years ago after a long, dark struggle. I came across it tonight as I was looking through some old files, and again it spoke to me.
We are free. 

Flying Butterfly

I wonder….

When the butterfly struggles

Out of the clenching confines

Of the dark cocoon

If it flies right away

Without a fear

Or a looking back over its wing

With a shudder, at the prison?


I wonder…

If without hesitation

It stretches its wings

And flutters away

No more to think of the long dark struggle

That lasted interminably

In that age long moment of not knowing

If daylight would ever be seen?


I wonder…

If it  ever thinks

It is still trapped back there

And forgets it has the means to fly

But struggles wingless in the dust

Trapped in a cocoon of the mind

Remembering the darkness?


I wonder…

If the butterfly ever fears the cocoon will come again

Or if it knows the freedom it has been given

Will last as long as the turning seasons

Bring out their shades of blue and gold and green?

And it goes dancing over the meadows

Free and unfettered?

I wonder….


March 2014



Sometimes I get very confused.

Who am I anymore?

Each of us is born with the legitimate longing to be known and understand. A child wants his mom to know when he hurts, or when he is happy, or when he is scared, sometimes not even for the words of comfort or praise that he knows will be reciprocated, but more because he wants to be known and understood. To not be understood and known catapults into the feeling of not being valued.

To know that someone understands you is like a damp cloth on a delirious brow, like a fresh breeze blowing after a rainstorm, or like steaming cocoa on a snowy day. It touches something deep inside of you that cannot be touched by anything else.

But no one can fully understand us. Ever.

Neither can we live in this world and be known by everyone around us for what we truly are. No one will ever fully understand our background, our thought patterns, our deepest struggles, even though they know us better than any other human.

And it hurts. It hurts to live in a world that does not understand you or know you or even tries to find out about you. Because all of us are like specks of dust in this life compared to eternity and compared to the vastness of the universe.

Do we really matter?

What gets really confusing is when I don’t understand myself anymore. Sometimes after living in another country for so long, it is hard to know who you really are. Am I the Lori who lived at home in Kansas and taught school and milked cows and penned poetry on the back of dairy records while milking? Or am I the Lori who rides a motorbike for transportation and teaches three year olds the ABC’s and sings the doxology in Thai at the end of every Sunday service?

I can never fully understand myself either.

There are three parts of identity, and all of them seem to be closely intertwined. One is our physical identity- our name, our face, our physique. The next is our soul- our mind, will and emotions, our personality. The last one, the deepest and hardest to understand, is our spiritual identity. When one of these three is affected by the outside world, the others are affected as well.

The identity of my soul is what feels dethroned right now. I am not who I was, neither will I ever be that person again. Can I accept that?

But I’ve listened to too many voices telling me who I am. It’s time that I stop listening to them. While my soul needs to be understood and known (it’s a desire planted in when we are born), as long as I know the identity of my spirit- a child of God- then I can walk on, even when I do not understand the identity of my soul anymore.

The question God is asking me is this, “Am I enough?” Is God enough when dreams and desires lie on the bottom of our busy lives, untouched? Is God enough when no one else can fully understand? Is He enough when our souls are stifled for the sound of prairie winds and rustling grass and slow German hymns and horse hooves on blacktop highway? Is he enough when our body craves, craves, craves a juicy hamburger, or a T bone steak marinated in Italian dressing, grilled to perfection? Or when we long for the cold touch of snow kissing our cheek on a twilight winter evening?

He is. I believe He is. Oh God, help mine unbelief!

So when being a cultural bridge between two (or three) vastly different groups of people twists me about in ways that a bridge should not be twisted, I will listen to God.

When I am indescribably lonely for someone to sit and listen and say, “Uh huh, uh huh. Yes, I know exactly what you mean”, then I will listen to God.

When I long for a quiet pond to sit beside to soak up the silence of the night, I will listen to God.

I spread out my hands to you;
I thirst for you like a parched land.

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.

Psalms 143: 6,8


God, I just want to live.

Right now, I feel like I am living in one of the best times of my life. Or what could be the best time of my life. I’m living out a dream, a God-given one, in another country, learning to speak another language and interacting with people I love.

I live with a native family. I love them to pieces and they love me back in more pieces.

I get to teach English to two delightful Catholic nuns 3 times a week at an HIV orphanage.

I have a pet monkey.

I get to walk beside new believers and see their faces light up at learning the simple, yet amazing truths of God’s Word.

I get to tell the story of Jesus to those who don’t know him.

I get to watch the passion of native evangelists as they seek to bring their own people back to their Creator.

I get to watch the potential of young children being unlocked and blossoming.

There is so much joy in every day.

Opportunities abound. It seems like no door is left unopened. Except one. So many others are open that I find it difficult to know which door  to walk through.

The one door I want to walk through the most leads to deeper freedom.




Freedom from a tangled, messed up belief system that is self-focused, confused, forgetful and ungrateful, fearful, carrying guilt and expectations and “shoulds.”

Not the kind of belief system that a follower of Jesus should have.

Sometimes I wonder if in this journey of seeking and searching for a deeper communion with my Father, if God might want me to stay in  this bondage so that I continue to thirst so badly for Him, because I know I didn’t used to be like this.

And yet, God never wants us in bondage. It is for freedom that He has set us free.

It is His passionate desire that we can experience that freedom.

Freedom from doubt.

Freedom from past mistakes and regrets.

Freedom from double- mindedness.

Freedom from anything that strangles or smothers or suffocates that connection with the God Himself who created the world.

Just think- the God of the universe wants you and I to be free, and free, not just for the sake of freedom, but that we would be trees of righteousness that He might be glorified. (Isaiah 61:3)

God, I just want to live.

The Battle

Tonight I stand at the doorway of my home and watch thousands of people walking past, most of them holding small boats made of folded banana leaves with incense and candles on the top, heading to the river. They walk, some laughing and dancing, some singing, some with no expression, some sad. Interspersed with the people are trucks carrying large floats, some beautiful, some hideous, and in the middle of the floats are small images and idols of gods. At  the river, they will light the candles and incense, attach some money to the boat and send it off down the river as a thank offering and sin offering to the river god.  To some, it is a serious thing, yet others scarcely know what they are doing. It is beautiful and empty ritual, useless. It’s called Loi Kratong.

Tonight I hear a young man speak about his fear while living as a monk in a temple for one month. He talks of his fear of evil spirits in the temple at night, as well as dogs howling when they sense evil.

Tonight I see a face on the street. It is sad, lined with worry and fear.

Tonight I hear a story of superstition and fear, the fear of bad luck, and the belief that if a lizard cries more than nine times it brings good luck, and if less than nine times, it brings bad luck.

Today I see a little girl, moved with compassion at her father’s need for money for his farm, donate several hundred baht to her hero.

Last night I heard a seeking heart give voice to  questions: How do you know if you have done something wrong? What if you have sinned and you don’t recognize it?

Today I listen to the heart of a woman, full of love for her children, seeking to give them the best she can, even when she doesn’t always know how.

Today I hear children praying for money for financial needs for kingdom work.

I am watching the fight of good and evil. Sometimes I forget this. Living in another country takes energy. Sometimes it seems all my energy is used up just in the process of living, and I feel like I am living only on the surface, floating along without making a difference in life, wrapped up in my own world. Then come glimpses, reminders. And for a little bit I can see and remember- there is more to this than I realize. At first glance it is hidden. But if you take a closer look, you can see that beneath the jewels and lights laughter and smiles and beauty of this country lies a heart of fear. Fear that can be catching and suffocating and compelling and controlling.

If only they could see with the eyes of God the army behind us.

God give me words to speak that they might know! And the courage to speak that they might be saved!

And a heart that is passionate enough to die to its own desires.