May Day

Hey all, May Day is here and it has been more than a month since you have really heard from us here. The Strouds have been very busy with all sorts of fun. Here are a few of the highlights that we have seen over the past month:

Grandma and Grandpa Stroud came through for a visit and stayed about 10 days getting familiarized with the city. The had a great time and alas, Charlie got a good dose of spoiling. We hope to have them as regular visitors. Charlie hopes that Aunties and Uncles and cousins will come and visit someday too.

We had a great time celebrating Easter and all that went with it. Charlie was happy to explore the Easter basket full of goodies and still cherishes the soft bunny that lives with us now, though the candy from his basket mysteriously disappeared. We blame Grandpa.

We had a couple of great opportunities to get to the beaches just south of the city and they provided much needed relief and rest…once we got there! We decided to experience the train to get there and were thankful that Mom and Dad were with us to help keep Charlie busy. The trip that was supposed to take 3-3 1/2 hours clocked in at about 5 hours. This was not a serene, air-conditioned high-speed train you might be imagining. This was more like old west, clickety-clacking, windows open, 95F temps, standing room only, and sellers pushing through every 2 minutes with ‘cold’ drinks, hot soups, rice plates and desserts for sale. But what do you expect when a 250km train ride costs $5 US?

Once we arrived we found a peaceful seaside awaiting. Between the sound of the waves, the beauty of the hillsides around us and the general slow pace of life, we had many opportunities to relax and refocus.  It was wonderful.

The past couple of weeks have found us very busy with work and play. Charlie got his first haircut and has been babbling up a storm. He hit 15 months this week and has begun to ‘assert’ himself a little bit, throwing lots of little fits and frustrations at not getting his way, but he is learning. At this point, he understands Thai better than we do and we expect he will start speaking words very soon. He listens and responds to many directions in both Thai and English.

Thank you for keeping us in your prayers. We continue to face regular battles in language and illness yet we walk on, watching for the opportunities that God shows us to draw near to and depend on Him and to share His love with those around us.

Jay

Now Playing

I know Spotify offers regular updates via facebook about music and what I have been listening to lately, but every so often, I like to mention the albums that are the currently getting a heavy rotation.  Here is the shortlist:

1.)  Jeff Bridges – Jeff Bridges – Yes he is generally more of an actor than musician but this record is a timeless collection of cowboy songs that I have really appreciated a lot.  It has actually had some positive effects on my songwriting too.  Stay tuned for more announcements to come.

2.)  John Mark McMillan – The Medicine – Sometimes we sing in a way that we are rehearsing the songs and occasionally we sing with reckless abandon as though we really believe it.  JMM leads me toward singing to God with reckless abandon.

3.)  Seryn – This Is Where We Are – I stumbled upon these guys recently and they keep jumping back into the queue.  Listening makes me feel like I am back on the water on top of a board out at Bolinas or Lindamar.

4.)  Morcheeba – Blood Like Lemonade – These guys chill me out.  I just love it.

5.)  Mike Crawford and His Secret Siblings – Even The Darkness Will Not Be Dark To You… – This week, I revisited this one for the first time in a while.  This is such a dense record with so many layers of sound, of voice, of instrument, and of deep lyric and even deeper meaning.  There is something endearing about the honesty and freshness here.  It’s hard to explain, but worth the journey in attempting to capture it.

6.)  Griffin House – The Learner – Griffin House has been part of our soundtrack for life more than 6 years.  I love his writing and his passion.  The track Never Hide in particular is so beautiful and while a bit of a departure from his normal style, I find it inspiring and challenging as I think about songwriting and production on the songs that I have written but not yet recorded.

Runner Up Category

Josh GarrelsPearl Jam, Kanye West, John Mayer, Jonny Lang, and Brad Paisley

Everyday it’s a different flavor but that’s what keeps it fresh.  I hope you enjoy some of these.

Jay

 

Moving Mountains and Walking Through the Valley

Bangkok is a flat city, but don’t let the lay of the land fool you.  Everyday there are mountains to be climbed.  Each day there are minor challenges like transportation and traffic and more major stuff like attempting to order a meal with no Thai language and no assurance that they will have the ingredients to make the one dish that you can sort of say.  Sometimes the mountain path we are on seems to come to a cliff and there seems to be no way forward.  So far, we have not fallen off.

When I lived in Kazakhstan, my city was right on the edge of the mountains and often I got to take day trips and some camping trips to run around up there.  I remember one particular trip, we hiked up past the treeline – that is the elevation that trees no longer grow because it is too cold or there is not enough water or nutrients in the soil.  This photo is not from that camping trip but it gives you an idea of the mountains there.

I learned a couple of major lessons while I was hiking around in the mountains.  When you are walking through the valley, or up the side of the mountain, it is difficult to see how far you have to go.  Sometimes, the trees and bushes are so thick that you cannot see where you are going at all.  You just have to trust that if you keep going, you will get to a point where you have a better view of what is ahead, and perhaps your end goal will be in sight.  As you get close to the top of the mountain, you pass the treeline and the path has a little more room, it is easier to see where you are going.  When you get up to the top, you can see for miles!  It is exhilarating!  You look back at your journey up the side and it seems much shorter than it actually was.  From this perspective, perhaps it looks easy, or perhaps you are surprised you made it at all.

Looking around though, you notice that there is not much growing that happens on top of the mountain.

And as exhilarating as it feels, you realize that there are taller mountains in the distance.  In order to get to them, you need to go down the other side of this mountain, down through the valley where it is so much harder to walk because there is so much more growing that seems to be happening on the path you must take.

This past week, I have felt like there were a lot of mountains to climb.  At our service on Sunday, a musician was leading us through an exercise of identifying some of the mountains standing in our way of growing spiritually, or standing in our way of connecting with God.  There were some things that God spoke clearly to me about, things we need to work through together.  But He also asked me this question, “Would you rather Me move the mountain and you can walk on through on flat ground, or should we walk up this one together and see what happens?”  There are some difficult times that walking through on flat ground will bring God great glory as you testify about how he moved the mountain.  I believe that He walks with us on the flat ground after He moves the mountain.  In this instance, however, I was excited to take Him up on the invitation.  I’m excited for this journey, to see where this mountain path will lead.

What are some mountains that seem to be in ‘the way’ of connecting with God?  

On the Mend

It has been a week of highs and lows for the Strouds this week.  I won’t get too much into the lows but wanted to mention some of the highs.  Charlie is really getting excited to go to daycare and play with the other kids and his teachers.  They are doing a great job and it has been amazing to watch his excitement grow.  At first he would begin crying as we turned the corner walking up to the daycare.  Now some days he doesn’t want to leave he is having such a great time.  We know that his teachers love him very much and it is clear that he loves them too.  What a blessing.

We are all finally healthy too!  Thank you for your prayers for healing.  It has been difficult with all of us going through illness recently.  So good to feel alive and energetic again.  I have been enjoying writing some new songs lately and all of us are beginning to feel a little more settled in though every day has its challenges.  Thank you for your continued prayers for our adjustment and ability to learn our way into the hearts of our city and its people.  They are beginning to find their way into ours.

 

Jay

Down but Not Out

This past couple of weeks have been long. It feels like a month between Sundays and is amazing how much can seem to happen in just a few days. We are exploring and loving this great city and praying that we might see some of the ways that God is at work in the people here.

With this new life and surroundings, inevitably sickness is going to happen. We have not been immune. Some of it has been the usual stuff but currently both Charlie and I (Jay) are sick with headcolds that have become bacterial infections. We both had to go to the doctor this afternoon. Would you spend some time praying that we would be healed and also that Melissa would stay healthy in spite of being around us sickies? We’ll keep you updated.

Jay

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