God met me on OKCupid ~or~ How I met my church

Welcome back, friends. It’s story time…

Once upon a time, I was looking for a church. I had been reading my Bible and praying and walking out my faith while seeing the very real evidence of God in my life, but I was tired of doing it alone. I saw several miracles come to pass for me specifically – the supernatural hand of God in my life – and I knew without a doubt that God is. (Is what? He IS. He just is.) My eyes were coming open! I didn’t feel qualified to lead myself on the journey I was beginning. I had questions that needed answers. I prayed and searched the good book, but I was getting frustrated. I was at a fork in my spiritual road, and I felt I needed a point in the right direction. For the first time in my life, I knew I needed a church family. At first, it seemed like an easy problem to solve. The very next Saturday, the week before Easter 2012, I returned to the Seventh Day Adventist church where I had been a member since I was 18 years old. I hadn’t been in a few years, but I’m in the directory so I must belong there, right?

Before church there is a Sabbath School time. Basically, it’s Bible study, but it’s from a standard quarterly guide that all the SDA churches use. You can go to just about any SDA church on a Saturday and they’ll be talking about the same thing. I really enjoyed the discussion time. I got some of my questions answered, I had fellowship, I was in the presence of God. BAM. Then I’d go to service, and the service felt dead… I don’t know how else to explain it. I listened, hoping for a word that gave life, but I still left feeling thirsty and dry. Next Saturday, the same thing. The following Saturday, same. I still did my quarterly assignments every night and read my Bible. I thought maybe I just needed to get used to going to church again, and that it must be the enemy trying to keep me from God. It wasn’t long after I started back to church that I felt like I needed to be baptized. I asked about baptism at church and spent some time in the leader guy’s office talking to him about it. He sent me home with a stack of things to read and watch, and a list of things to do before we would talk about me being baptized. I felt like a boulder had been dropped on me… it didn’t feel right. When I left his office that day, I felt sick. I wanted to leave quickly. I felt like everything he said sounded like a lie! It wasn’t the first time I had talked to him, I had known most of the people in that church for a good long time, but all of the sudden I felt like I was escaping capture. I knew I wouldn’t go back there.

I started to research different religions and churches. I looked into the churches that are registered in the county I live in. I live in a pretty small town, and there are over 40 churches! I began asking around about where other people go, but many of the people I knew didn’t go to church. I asked neighbors, social media, family members – everyone. Once I started asking around, I started getting invited to services. It seems worth mentioning that I never got the same answer twice. I did not find two people that went to the same church in this small town. I accepted every invitation I got, and each church just didn’t feel right. What I concluded after all my visits was that the cliques I went to school with (or their parents before them) decided they wanted to maintain their groups. They wanted to worship God with just their crew, in the way that seemed right  to them, and outsiders were invited but not necessarily welcome. Nobody was mean to me, though I did meet some ugly looks. I also ran in to some of the people who didn’t like me in school, and they clearly had not changed their minds! WHERE ARE THE JESUS FOLLOWING, BIBLE READING, PEOPLE LOVING CHRISTIANS?? I was getting frustrated and sad. Every other Sunday my girls were with me and they were not happy about the church hopping, either. I gave up.

I gave up looking for a church and instead began looking for a man. During the great church search, I had removed Cali from my life and felt even more alone than I had before. He was pretty much the only person I had to talk to about God, and once I stopped talking to him I just returned to my lonely hole. Instead of reading my Bible, I read online dating profiles. During a road-trip with my best friend and my kids, I gave in to peer pressure (and boredom) and I downloaded OKCupid to my phone. I set up my profile, picked a username (with the help of my toe tattoos), and got to searchin’. There had to be a Jesus loving man out there somewhere who would be interested in a divorced woman with kids and who knows how to spell. There had to. Most messages I received were ignored. I didn’t send many, but when I got replies it was obvious they were not the one for me. I met one in July that I spent some time with, but one day he vanished into thin air. No joke.

School started back up in August, and I traveled a bit – I was a little miffed by the disappearing act, so I took a break from the online dating world.

September rolls around and life is looking up. I moved out of the ghetto and into a good size house, I have my kids after school most days, I have two jobs, Riss moved in with me so money wasn’t as tight… I had some extra time and thought I’d see what OKC had for me. I reactivated my account and had a look around. A few days later I got a message from a guy commenting on my hair. “I had that same haircut last summer.” That’s all. I responded asking if that was his attempt at beginning conversation, or if that was all he had to say. I figured I wouldn’t hear from him again, but, to my surprise, he responded with an upbeat message and I felt compelled to indulge the exchange. After a day of exchanging online messages, we switched to texts. From his profile, he had kids and loved God. He was athletic and good looking. He could spell. Why not? We spent a few days texting and getting to know each other. We had so many things in common! We made plans to meet in person the following Saturday. On Wednesday, however, we had a particularly awesome day of shared interests and good conversation. I asked him if he was sure he wasn’t free that night because I wanted very much to see if he was real. He informed me that he had to be somewhere, but that I was welcome to go. He was going to a church small group entitled Faith-Based Parenting. This excited me for two reasons… I had prayed many times for God to show me the man for me by him inviting me to church AND I was going to meet this guy. Nevermind that going to this small group meeting meant that I would get off work at one job, drive 45 minutes home, work at my other job, get dressed, and drive over an hour to the church he invited me to. I might have turned down the invitation from a friend inviting me to a church that far away, especially on that night since it would be such a hassle to make it, but I was not going to tell him no! Priorities, yo.

I get there. This church is BIG. I’ve never been to a church like this before. I had seen big churches on TV, but it just wasn’t my thing. The group was in a small portable building that was labeled as the K-1 building. The toys inside let me know that it was usually used for children’s activities. I was the first one to arrive, and was 20 minutes early. Upon entering, I met a beautiful woman with the most welcoming smile I’ve ever seen. She welcomed me in, asked my name, complimented me on my bow and started up a conversation. I was immediately at ease. People started to file in, so I made a name tag and took a seat at the back. Right before class started, in walks Mr. Charming (MC). No time to talk, so I surprised him with a hello hug and we turned our faces front for the message. The more she talked, the more I fell in love with Jamie Keith. Her southern accent was adorable and she spoke from her heart. It seemed like the class was short that night. It was just over an hour, but it certainly didn’t feel that long. MC and I talked after class for about 30 minutes and I made the long haul home. I did meet him Saturday as planned (kind of) and he invited me to check out a Sunday service the next day. I, of course, accepted that, too. The small group met every Wednesday for about 8 weeks, and I had come for the first time on the first night of the class for that session. Coincidence? I think not.

I continued making the trip to Celebration Church every Wednesday and Sunday. After the second small group, I was invited to dinner at the fellow’s house. We began hanging out after every Wednesday service, and usually Sundays, too. At first, I’ll admit, I attended church (over an hour from my house, faithfully, twice a week) in order to spend time with this guy and his pretty fantastic kids. I fell in love with the little ones almost right away, and my girls made fast friends with them, as well. He lived right near the church, so it made sense for me to stay there if I didn’t have my girls but I did have church the next day. That way, I wouldn’t have to take time from my work day to drive to church during peak traffic times. I very much enjoyed attending service, but I hadn’t met many people yet and I wasn’t committed. I basically used church services as an excuse to see this guy more often.

I was, however, getting into the Word more often as I was challenged by Pastor Joe Champion’s sermons. Every message he gave was straight from scripture. The more I read, the more I wanted, and the more I got. The longer I went to this place, the more often I wanted to be there. The non-relationship I had with the guy who originally invited me got confusing, and I looked to God more and more for answers. The message God kept giving me was to keep going and not give up. Persevere. It seemed like every time I thought about giving up on the feeling I had for this guy, God stopped me in my tracks. I stopped talking to him, suddenly there was a reason I needed to talk to him. I decided never to go back to his house, I left my life-giving computer cord at his house and arrived to retrieve it at the same time that work needed me online right away and before I could finish and leave, the littles arrived home from school and asked for homework help (MC was at work). These things sounds so insignificant as I read them back to myself, but I was compelled to stay where I was. I was uncomfortable, I wasn’t satisfied with the return on investment with him, but I felt the Lord calling me to just keep doing what I was doing. Whether I imagined that or not, I kept right on. Funny how God works… He knew that if I gave up on the guy, I might give up on that church. I hadn’t yet moved my investment.

Anyway, I began to meet more people. Through MC, I met a family that he had been friends with for a long time (their kids were best friends, and so were they), and they also just happened to go to Celebration. Actually, they were the ones who invited him to go in the first place. The more I talked to them, and the more our kids hung out, the closer we got. To this day, I love them dearly and consider them like a brother and sister to me. They were there for me in a few tough spots, and when they were needed they came running to my side. I thank God for them often.

In January I realized I’d been there almost 4 months, and it was time to put my money where my faith was. I began to tithe. I had never tithed before and it was tough to put it first, but I did. I had to. I knew the Bible was clear about honoring God and giving Him the first fruits, and I was well aware that I only had my job because of His grace to begin with (that’s another testimony). I began serving at the church and giving of my time doing things like cleaning classrooms and restocking for service. While I served I met more people, and then I began forming relationships with these people. I even reconnected with someone from my past when we joined the same small group for the next session. God totally put her in my life back then and now, and her friendship is such a blessing. She has spoken life into my soul on more than one occasion. Over time, when I went to service I stopped walking around with my head down trying not to make eye contact and just find a seat, but I started searching the crowd for familiar faces. It got to where I couldn’t go far without a smile or hug from someone who knew my name. I still saw that guy a lot, but he was no longer the reason I was driving so far to be in God’s house. His face wasn’t the face I looked forward to seeing two to four times a week. The convenience of his house was just that – a convenience that enabled me to be at my church more often. I had unknowingly become part of a church family. God used what I wanted to give me what I needed.

I didn’t go to Celebration looking for a church – I went to Celebration to meet a man. What I found was the family I belonged to. What I found was acceptance. Love. Relationships. Truth. What I found was the place God wanted me to be planted. Where He wanted me to grow. I was planted and being watered and fed by a congregation of believers who accepted me as I was. Everyone I met was the embodiment of “come as you are”. I’ve changed a lot since then, but not because they manipulated me or asked me to change or even suggested that I change. As I was loved and accepted, I longed to be a better person. I wanted to be the kind of person worthy of what they were giving me. I began wanting to reflect the light of God to others the way it had been shone into the dark parts of my life. I made more connections and started speaking life into people with scripture in their time of need, and being sought out for advice. ME! I was being asked for Godly encouragement! Even some of my nonbeliever friends would come to me when things were rough because they recognized that I had something that was getting me through my own rough spots. It was like I was a whole new person. And I was. Except for a few parts of my life that I just wouldn’t let go of, but He would soon strip me of those, too.

Luke 11:9 NLT “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”

You will receive; You will find; It will be opened. But it might not look like what you expected.

I’m proof that God will meet you wherever you are and lead you where you need to be if you’ll just follow Him. God met me on OKCupid.

Where did He lead me? Stay tuned…

Instagram. It’s like Facebook, only better… no drama!

Welcome back, friends.

I know, I know. I promised to blog more, and I haven’t. From the stats here, I can see that I’m still regularly read and checked on even though I haven’t posted a new one in a few months. I have some posts started, but I just haven’t been able to really say what I want to say the way I need to say it. I closed my Facebook recently (much to the chagrin of many) and I have begun using Instagram more often. I enjoy Instagram because it is pictures. That’s it. Just pictures. No drama, no bullshit. I get to see the people I care about (who have an IG), and they get to see me. As of today, Instagram is on the web. It has a feed. I can view my feed, my profile and my friend’s profiles on my computer! Anyone care to guess what that means? That’s right… free time = gone. lol

Come take a look… my profile is private, but if you are on Instagram, request to follow me. If you are NOT on Instagram, what are you waiting for???

 

 

http://instagram.com/sa55ymama

I will blog again soon. Promise. No really. I have so much to say about where God has taken/is taking me and the people he has brought into/taken out of my life.

Are you one of them?

Batu Caves, home of monkeys, a lot of stairs, and a really tall statue.

Welcome back, friends. I had this post saved as a draft from September. The pictures are beautiful, as are the memories, so I’m posting it 🙂 Soon after the happening in this blog, I came back to the United States and Cali went on with his travels. I wanted so badly to go with him, but I couldn’t. I was feeling the effects of being away from my children, friends and family. Depression was setting in. After Mark died, I was painfully aware of how little time we have with the people we love. God was leading me back to the United States, and to a time of change… I hope you enjoy ❤

We took a taxi out to the Batu Caves. The caves are a Hindu shrine and they sit at the top of 272 concrete steps. On your way up the steps, you pass by the tallest Lord Murugan statue in the world–104 ft tall! Also on the steps are macaque monkeys 🙂 they are cute, but I also thought they were scary. I mean, they just look sneaky and unpredictable… all the shuckin’ and jivin’ and movin’ fast, probably. It wasn’t a terribly long drive out there, but it was nice to get out of the congestion of the city for a while. The caves followed the same weather trend that We found common in Malaysia: hot and muggy. Not many pictures that day from me… it was almost time for me to leave Him to go back to the US and I was already feeling the separation anxiety. I spent more time holding His arm than snapping photos 🙂

Enjoy!

The statue and steps. (Photo by me)
Sneaky monkey. (Photo by me)
Awesome... thing. I don't know 🙂 (Photo by me)

It was a nice day. We went shopping and bought a few new dresses, bought things for loved ones back home, dropped off Our laundry, watched Star Wars II and Cali even took a lil nap ❤ Later that night, We went to the Ceylon Bar to have a few drinks and enjoy each others company.

Believe and Receive

Welcome back, friends. If you don’t already know (or didn’t figure it out from my last post: Long Time, no Blog), I live in Lockhart now. Not my first choice of places to reside, but where my baby daddy lives. Slow down… I don’t care to be closer to him than necessary, but my kids live with him, so I made the tough choice to return from whence I came. I don’t get to see my girls very often. Our custody agreement says that he MUST let me have them on every Thursday and every first, third and fifth weekend. Not only, but minimum. He has decided that minimum means only. *sigh* I ask him multiple times weekly for more time with them, I have asked to be able to pick them up after school every day and keep them until he gets home from work, I have tried to schedule times in advance when I am not “scheduled” to have them for us to be together. All shot down. For weeks, coming up on months now, I have prayed DAILY for more time with them. Still, every time I ask-he says no. I bring this up so you have a general idea of where I’m coming from with the rest of the story.

Yesterday, Wednesday, I got a phone call from the baby daddy’s mom. She was asking if I could pick the girls up from school and keep them until someone got home. They had some type of misfortune that required them to leave the house for the afternoon. While I am, and have been, praying that their hard times will be eased, I can’t tell you how AMAZING it was to get that phone call! All this time I have been sad and upset because their dad denies me more time with them. All this time I have been trying to see them and seeking his permission (which I kind of have to have). All this time I have been praying for his heart to soften towards me and let me have them more. I finally got more time with them when God gave HIS permission. No, I’m not happy that their normal after school caretaker is ill. However, that meant there wasn’t much he could do about me seeing them that day. God gave me more time with my girls, and I believe it is only the beginning.

I have mentioned multiple times already in this blog that my ex, let’s call him X, denies me time with my girls. “Why would he do that?” you might ask. Logical question, my friends. I have made mistakes. Many, in fact. Over the past five years, I have not always been there for my kids. As you can see from the many blog posts over the past years, I have been absent a good deal of the time. I maintained contact with them and sent them gifts and videos, but that is hardly the same as being present. They cried many tears, many times, that he was there to wipe. They asked many questions that he didn’t know how to answer. I caused a lot of pain to many people during this time. Have I ever done anything while in their presence that should keep me from them? No. But his thinking is that I could be gone again at any time. I understand. He doesn’t understand the life I have lived. He doesn’t know anything about me or my thought processes firsthand. He has decided on his own what my motivations have been and built a wall as high as heaven between me and those girls. I handed him the bricks to build that wall and it has my face all over it. I stand by the statement that he built the wall himself, however, because it is his ill will towards me that holds it together.

Only the grace of God will tear that wall down. Brick.by.brick.

I truly wish I saw those beautiful faces daily, but I didn’t always feel that way. It has been my own actions and decisions that got me to where I am now. I absolutely brought this on myself, and it is on me to prove myself worthy of them. God gave them to me for a reason. Now is that reason. I have learned so much from them. Their forgiveness and love never fails to amaze me. Teaching them about life, about God, about me and about themselves is humbling. Feeling like a giant and like a pea at the same time is disconcerting, but I don’t think there is a parent alive who doesn’t know that feeling. I only know that feeling because God showed it to me. He has changed me on the inside. In places I could have never reached on my own.

I have nothing but what the Lord provides me with, and I need nothing more. Being patient (there’s that word again) and trusting in God’s plan is heartbreaking at times. The thing about that is: sometimes we NEED the heartbreak. Sometimes, we need to remember that we are not in control. All times, we need to realize that God is perfect and so is His plan, and that if we follow Him we can not go wrong. God only knows how long it will be before I am in the regular presence of my princesses, but however long that is-it is worth the wait.

What are you waiting for? Have you asked God for it? Are you willing to do what is necessary to get it? Do believe it will be yours?

1 John 5:14, 15  And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for. (NLT)

Long time, no blog.

Welcome back, friends. As you know, I have not blogged since Malaysia (September). Around then, my life started changing and there has hardly been time for blogging. The time I have when I get to sit still and think is better spent praying than blogging. There is the first clue that my life has changed. I have been asked many times for blogs that chronicle the rest of the adventuring Cali (the love of my former life) and I did before stopping to return to the US. This is not that blog. Sorry for the disappointment, folks. I just don’t have it in me.

What this blog IS… I don’t quite know yet. I hope you’ll join me as I figure it out.

I feel like I could talk all day about the me I used to be. I could tell stories you might not believe, and others you would hope are not true, and others still that bring a smile to your face. I could talk about my journey back to the US alone, the aftermath, the joyous reunion and the heartbreak that followed. I believe I could even find it in me to share with you the mistakes I’ve made and learned so very much from… but I won’t. Why? Because if you don’t already know, then that part of my story isn’t about you. It isn’t for you. If any part of my story will bring a light into your darkness, God will lead me there with a flashlight of faith that never runs out of batteries. I will not provide my story as a basis for gossip, rumors or hearsay. I will sit down and have a cup of coffee with you and tell you all about it should you choose to ask 🙂 I don’t live in the dark, I don’t keep secrets, I don’t tell lies and I am not hiding anything now that I would be ashamed to uncover to the world. Now and here just aren’t the time and place.

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Meghan. I live in Lockhart Texas, and my interests are: praying, reading my bible, driving legally and spending as much time as possible with the two most beautiful little girls this world has ever seen. I have 2 daughters. I am divorced, but still hold my married name. I would do anything to help anyone, be it stranger, loved one, friend or foe. I love to smile. I enjoy a glass of wine or two, but I do not get drunk. If I hear of a hard time you are experiencing, I will pray about it and ask others to do the same. I juice fresh produce at home. A lot. I want a garden. And chickens. I am growing my hair out to be as long as it can be, which presently isn’t very long since I’ve been shaving most of my head for about a year. I take very good care of my skin with Mary Kay products. I will own a house one day. I love my cat more than you can imagine. I wear comfortable clothes whether or not they are fashionable, though I do LOVE to be in style. My usual attire consists of a tank top and jeans with slip-on ballet flats, or a dress so cute you’ll want to slap me for it. My day (and sometimes night/weekend) job is as an editorial assistant and organizational wiz for a financial copy writing company. Read: I get paid to correct people’s spelling, punctuation and grammar, and I put things away in nice, neat little boxes online. My direct supervisor is one of the most amazing people I have ever met. I heart my job. I love to clean. Not just clean, but CLEAN. Clean like you can see your reflection in the bathtub. Clean like you could cook on and eat off of the floor. Clean like even the dish soap bottle gets a wipe. If I have been to your house, especially if left alone there, I have probably cleaned something whether you know it or not. I am also available to be hired to clean your house, car or office. Did I mention I like to clean? Moving on… I have a large-screen blue laptop that I named Fancy. She hasn’t yet let me down. I listen to Adele quite often. When driving, I only listen to Christian radio. I will let you change the channel to suit your tastes if you ask, but I choose between 3 stations I can pick up depending on what area I’m in. I like to cook. I can cook a few things quite well without any direction at all, but I can follow a recipe with amazing results. I put sandwich cheese on spaghetti. I do not have any outstanding or unpaid tickets. I like rules. I love pink. I want to get married. Yes, again.

All that being said-you still know nothing about me unless you know that GOD is the most important thing in my life. The only reason I’m alive to write this blog, actually. Once I stopped struggling against God’s plans for me and accepted that He knows best, my life changed in ways I couldn’t possibly articulate.

Around February, I found myself with quite a bit of daily time on my hands. My world had been rocked; my future uncertain. I had hit a rock-bottom that I certainly can’t compare to other people’s much rockier bottoms, but for me-it was a devastating time. I felt myself hit the slab of concrete at the bottom of a hole I had been digging for myself over the years. I didn’t even want to wake up in the morning, and I certainly didn’t want to get out of bed when I did.  As I lie there, bleeding and broken, I had to make a choice: Die, or rebuild on this solid foundation of rock that I’d been given. I have always prayed. I have always believed in God. I have always claimed to be a Christian. At that time, there was nothing else I could do. I had lost everything I had fought for. I had done the “right” things and still felt so wrong. I no longer felt as if there was any tangible control to be had in my life. On that rock, I got on my knees. I prayed like I had never prayed before. I prayed with the belief that God could and would intervene in my life, not with the intention that praying would somehow give me the power to do it all myself. That was the biggest difference in my prayers… the belief that I was praying because I needed God, not because I was checking in with my supervisor/insurance policy in order to keep me in good standing or gain power. I lifted my hands and voice to God, and He was right there. Right.There. He didn’t pick me up off of my knees and deliver me into fortune, or take away all the pain I was feeling. He didn’t smite my enemies or bring my love to my door. But once I made the decision to ask God to open my eyes, ears, mind and heart to His word and plan, He did. He began speaking to me. He began changing me. I started to read my bible every day and listen to sermons from an app on my phone. I began vocalizing my intention to follow God and letting go of trying to control my own life.

I came to the realization that I am not capable of running my life alone. I can not be trusted to make the right decisions on my own. Without God, I will ruin my life and the lives of anyone I make decisions for. Once that became my truth, I began to make decisions prayerfully. I began to make decisions based on the old “WWJD?” philosophy. I began asking God for discernment and confirmation. And He gave it to me. No, He didn’t call me up on the phone, or leave me a creepy written on the mirror in the shower fog message, but He was (and is) very clear about things. Listening when God speaks has brought so many blessings into my life and I recommend it to everyone.

I recently had to make one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. A decision I did not (do not?) believe I am ready to make, but God impressed upon my heart that it was time. It involves being patient. Have we met?? lol Patience is not something I can claim to be good at. Even moderately. Knowing I might be waiting for something that will never happen makes it even harder. Trusting in God and believing that He has perfect timing and knows what is best for us all makes it… not easier, but less hard (if that makes sense). I no longer pray for easy. I no longer pray for God to take away my pain or move an obstacle or deliver anything into my hand. I pray for the strength to weather the storm and always believe that God is right next to me fighting for and with me through any pain. I pray for the ability to see and take whatever opportunity God presents me to overcome whatever obstacle might be there. I pray for the patience to wait for the time when I should receive, or the ability to accept when it is not meant to be. I communicate to God what I desire, even though He knows my heart better than I do, and then I trust that if it is meant for me, it will be. If I see a need in someone, I will give all I have to fill it because I know God will provide me with everything I need. If I don’t have something, it is because what I NEED is to go without it.

I still make mistakes. I still fall down. I still cry more than I’d like to admit, earning my “crybaby” nickname from an unnamed source. But now, I learn from my mistakes… when I fall, I don’t try to get up any further than my knees… when I cry, I thank God for His blessings in between sobs. I’m happier now, though my heart is broken, than I have ever been in my life. I am not sinless, but I strive to sin less. I am not perfect and I never will be. I am not who I once was.

Hello. My name is Meghan.

Easter 2012

I may have switched the station, but I still hope you’ll stay tuned…

Merdeka Square, home of the tallest flagpole in the world.

Welcome back, friends.  This blog is not going to be very wordy.  These are photos from a day when We just did some walking around.  The map We have (that is marked with the touristy things to do in KL) pointed out the Merdeka Square area, with a few interesting buildings and the Tallest Flagpole in the World.  We walked on over and took a peek and this is what We saw:

Did anyone notice a common theme in these photos?  I will tell you.  Flags.  Malaysian flags every mother-hmm-in where.  No joke, scroll up and look again.  Flags.  Everywhere.  Except, for on the tallest flagpole of the world.  That last picture?  That’s it.  GIANT flagpole-no flag.  This is not a joke.  There is a funny part though…it was also their independence day weekend.  The anniversary of the first time the flag ever went up.  Again- no.flag.

Really?  Yes.

Stay tuned…

Exploring Malaysia

Welcome back, friends. Today will be more of a visual blog. On this particular day of exploring We went to 4 different temples, none of which I know much about…so I don’t really have anything to say about them. They were all different looking but served the same purpose- to be a house of prayer and worship. We walked around inside them and took some photos and headed back to the air-conditioned hotel room 🙂

This first photo is of the temple right outside Our hotel.  Kinda cool to look at while waiting for the elevator or walking towards the stairs.

Sri Maha Mariamman Temple built in 1873

The next few are of the “God of War Temple”.

Guan Di Temple built 1888

From the ceiling hung rows of burning incense spirals.

Next, a clan house that looks deceptively like a temple and is even sometimes called the “Green Temple” because of its striking color.

Chan See Shue Yuen built 1906

Last, We visited a temple dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy.

Guan Yin Temple built 1880

In each of these places, We found there were wreaths of flowers draped over the statues and incense burning in pots, or on altars, or even hung from the ceiling.  There are vendors along most of the streets leading to the temples that make and sell the flower wreaths for people to purchase them and hang them on the statues when they visit.  Sometimes, We were required to remove Our shoes (and charged a fee to rack them). They were interesting to visit, that’s for sure- I’ve never seen anything like it.

Once We finished looking at temples, it was time for me to experience picking out a plate of street food.  I stuck with vegetarian for my first time.

The food was…well, it was fuel. I didn’t starve and I didn’t die so it served its purpose and I will live to eat another adventure 🙂

Or will I?

Stay tuned…

And the new stamp in my passport comes from…

On Our way! @Gold Coast Airport Australia

Welcome back, folks.  Those ^^^ are the faces of multi-international travelers.  We left Byron Bay Australia at 5am Saturday August 27th and via the Gold Coast Airport flew to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.  BAM!  New stamp in my passport.  🙂 It was around an 8 hour flight and then an hours bus ride to the hotel.  We booked Our stay at Alamanda Hotel in the heart of Chinatown Kuala Lumpur weeks beforehand so that even if We spent all the money, We had a roof over Our heads 🙂  When the bus let Us off in Chinatown, We knew immediately it would be a very different experience from Oz.  Obviously, We were in Asia (big difference #1) but it was more than that…the traffic was horrendous with cars and motorbikes flying around in no particular lane whenever they felt it appropriate to do so, the trash was strewn about in the streets with no “rubbish bin” in sight, the people rushed around or stood around with no clear agenda but to carry on about their own business in complete disregard to anyone near them.  I didn’t hear english words unless someone was yelling out the name of what they were selling as We passed by…Cali took it all in stride, I tried to do the same.  My excitement about being in a new country was being squashed by the unfamiliarity of it all.  I was definitely outside of my comfort zone.

We got to Our street with some broken help from a passerby and realized that when the hotel site said “heart of Chinatown” it meant “middle of the busiest market street in Kuala Lumpur”.  We barely navigated the maze of shop stalls 6 deep across the street and sidewalk to the middle of Petaling St recognizing our hotel only because of the sign high above the crowd.

Our large packs bumped into people and stalls without enough horizontal clearance to move forward quickly.  Figuring out how to leave the chaos of the saturday afternoon shopping frenzy without crashing through a stall was tricky, but at last We made it to Our new home.  (We would soon find out that the market chaos wasn’t just a weekend thing, it was an everyday thing.)  We checked in and dropped Our packs.  The air conditioner was welcome-it was definitely hot outside- and the room We were checked into was a free upgrade from the hotel since We would be staying at least a week, they wanted Us to have a window.  Once Our packs were off, it was finally time to eat.

We had been traveling about 13 hours by the time We looked for food.  There was an in flight meal, but neither of Us liked what We got and were therefor pretty hungry.  Unidentifiable meat on a stick, or Subway for dinner?  SUBWAY please, thanks.  The restaurant looked  like a Subway, said it was a Subway, and had sandwiches named the same, but it tasted… different.  Get used to it sweetcheeks, you are not in TX anymore.  After dinner, We checked out the complimentary in-room internet and fell asleep.

The width of the room, from side to side.

The next morning, Cali let me sleep in while He went for a walk to check out the surroundings.  Once I woke up, I headed down the elevator to make some coffee in the lobby.  I was quite surprised when the doors opened and what I saw was Cali standing there holding a bunch of beautiful flowers for ME.

A wonderful way to start a new day in a new country.  Since it was the end of the month We were getting low on funds so there was not going to be any shopping yet, but We did go sightseeing.

What sights did We see?  Did I adjust any better after a good nights sleep?  What did Our street look like in the morning?

Stay tuned…

Goodbye “Land of Oz”.

Welcome back, friends.  When last we spoke, I mentioned We would be going surfing-and We did.  I got off of work at 1 and with Jessie’s help, We rounded up some wetsuits, grabbed a couple surfboards and headed to the beach.  It was a cold and cloudy day which made me skeptical of the whole getting in the water thing.  You would not believe how warm a wetsuit keeps you!!  I was wearing one with short sleeves and legs and I was still more than comfortable.

The surfing itself was entertaining.  Neither of Us stood up fully on Our boards and both of Us spent a majority of Our time falling off but We caught a few waves on Our knees and had an amazing time.  Seeing Cali in the water and enjoying it (not to mention being particularly fantastic at the whole surfing thing) was awesome.  I got a few new bruises and thought I was going to drown a few times, but had so much fun!!  We intend to do it again whenever possible-who knows, maybe We will become a world-famous surfing couple 🙂  you can’t really take pictures while in  the water, so here is a few of Us immediately after.  How official do We look?? ❤

So much fun!!

Post surfing, We took showers and reconvened at Jess’s house for a delicious home-cooked meal and some “super-fun-times” after which We went back to the Arts Factory and ate a “stoner surprise”.  I don’t mean “finding roaches in the pot” kind of stoner surprise, I mean a cup containing a scoop of ice cream topped with hot fudge topped with hot brownie topped with more ice cream topped with more hot fudge topped with cocoa powder.  Yes, it was amazing.  It was devoured before I even considered taking pictures of it. 🙂  It was off to bed after that…We were officially DONE.

Our last day/night in Byron was pretty awesome.  There was a good long walk to the Cape Byron Lighthouse on which We saw baby dolphins playing in the ocean, a wallaby, a visit to the most easterly point on the Australia mainland and some goon drinking at a candlelight concert.  Most of this can’t really be described in words, so I will let the pictures do the talking and interject when necessary  🙂 enjoy!!

The perfect start to a new day 🙂

The photo above was taken at a hang-gliding ramp.  During Our walk, We came upon someone about to jump so We hung around to watch.  Seeing them strapped to a glider and running off this ramp to glide down to this:

View from hang-glider ramp

Was pretty damn awesome.

Not far from the lighthouse We stopped to look out over the water

and happened to spot some giant black spots swimming erratically.  Upon further inspection, We realized they were dolphins.  Dolphins!!  In the wild!  Not in a zoo, or an aquarium, but like, right freaking there!!

You can kind of see them just over my left shoulder here...
And here is a zoomed photo of one...look close. See the fin sticking out?

It was pretty damn cool to see dolphins just swimming around in the ocean while on a walk.  The view of the lighthouse on the walk was also cool.

The lighthouse at Cape Byron.

We walked all the way up to it and inside it, but the close up pictures aren’t so awesome.

Just past the lighthouse is the most Eastern Point of mainland Australia:

Awe.Some.

On the walk back, We encountered a man with a camera standing very still staring into the bushes.  Of course, I had to see what was going on, so I crept up and at long last saw a damn wallaby!  Cali had seen several since the first week We arrived in Oz, I hadn’t even seen 1 and it was Our last day there.  Finally 🙂

Wallaby!

After the wallaby, We walked back to the campground and started packing up.  We got organized and then went back into “town” to the bottler and picked up some “goon”.

I present to you, the goon.

Yes folks, that’s right, the drink of choice in Byron is “goon” (pronounced: drunken trouble).  I don’t know why they call it that, I always thought it was box-o-wine but that must be far too simple so goon it is.  The picture is actually making it more fancy than it is since most people just remove the bag from the box and drink from it.  We prefer to keep it classy by leaving the bag IN the box and drinking it from nalgene bottles.  That’s right- classy.

That night the Arts Factory hosted a candlelight concert by the pond and there were several talented performers. Drums, hula hooping, guitar playing…and Our surf instructor/best chai maker/awesome chick Jessie-Rose performed.  She was the headliner, actually, and it was the first time We would see her perform live.  She has a beautiful voice and some serious skills.  She writes her own stuff and is working on an album that I simply must own, but she also did a cover of one of my favorite songs.  Jolene.

This same Jessie-Rose also picked Us up at 5am the next day to take Us to the Gold Coast airport for Our departure to Malaysia.  Seriously, she rocks.

Next stop, Kuala Lumpur and another stamp in my passport.

Stay tuned.

I love the smell of Hippies in the morning…

Welcome back, friends.  By now you may be wondering “What, exactly, do hippies smell like in the morning?”.  They smell like chai, bacon, pipe tobacco and happiness.  Some smell like long nights and some smell like new days, but all smell like happy.

We found Ourselves back in Byron Bay, land of happy hippies, on the 17th of Aug.  The bus dumped Us off around 11pm and We walked down to the Arts Factory to claim a campsite and settle in.  It was awesome to arrive and feel immediately at ease with the surroundings.  Since We started Our trip, We just go places, We don’t go back to places.  We set up the house and walked around a bit saying hello to people and relaxing before bed.  One of the first people We ran into was excited to see Us back and welcomed Us with smiles. 🙂  It was rainy, but there was a whole 10 days ahead of Us.

When We went to pay for Our stay the next morning, I asked again about work for accommodation and luckily, there was enough work for me to pay for 8 of my 10 nights!  They had 4 days of dorm cleaning from 10-1 which was just making beds, emptying trash bins and general tidying.  So, that is 12 total hours of doing stuff I would have been doing at home anyway for fun!!  Sounds like a good deal to me 🙂  A fantastic one, in fact.

Today is Thursday 25 August, and so far We have only had one day of sunshine.  During that day, We actually got INTO the ocean.  Cali hadn’t ever been into the ocean and We were in up to Our armpits.  Waves crashing on Our faces and stuff…magical.  Other than that one day, it has rained almost the entire time We have been here.  Because of the rain, We have spent a large portion of Our time watching movies and hanging around the tent.  I touched a lizard one time:

and later that night We attended a “Talent Show” at the Arts Factory that is basically an open mic night.  It was a couple hours of jamming and poetry and music and FUN!!!  The sound is not the best quality but oh well, here is a little glimpse:

Where else can you hear aggressive “rapping” over a beatboxed didgeridoo with accompanying drum?  Exactly.  Nowhere.

Today is my last day of “working” and then We are going to the beach with Jess to surf whether rain or shine.  We have never surfed before and We haven’t quite figured out the surfboard/wetsuit situation, but today IS surfing day.  Tomorrow is Our last day here in Byron-well, Our last day in Australia- and it is coming quickly.

I have very much enjoyed Australia.  It was my first foreign country and aside from everything being ridiculously expensive it was awesome.  Clean, well mannered, happy…I will miss it, but I’m happy to be moving one step closer to going home and hugging my babies.

In roughly 48 hours, a plane will take Us from the Gold Coast International Airport to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.  Scared?  Maybe a little.

Stay tuned…