Contents Under Pressure

My wife and I moved our family to Thailand this week.  Or maybe I should say my wife moved the family to Thailand….the closest I got them was the Bangkok airport on Sunday.  I had a flight to catch.  (I know…bad husband!  But I felt that I had a non-negotiable waiting for me in Singapore, and my wife is a wonderfully resilient person – and I hope, forgiving.)

So, here I sit in Singapore, having just finished facilitating a three-day conference for our Asia leadership team.  I’m flat.  Like a soda with no fizz left.  But that’s not surprising, because God’s been shaking me up for the past few months.  Here are the short bullets to summarize the long story of our activities over the past two weeks:

  • Got final immunizations
  • Held multiple garage sales to reduce our stuff-load
  • Offered all remaining stuff free on Craigslist
  • Held first/last meeting with realtor
  • Met with carpet person to measure house for new carpet
  • Met with people who wanted our stuff and helped them get it home
  • Cleaned parts of the house
  • Packed 600+ lbs of luggage
  • Prepared to lead a three-day seminar in Singapore
  • Made flight arrangements
  • Took four psychological exams to see if we were mentally ready to live outside the U.S. 
  • Met with counselors to get approval to go (two days before our flights)
  • Met with boss to go over counselor recommendations
  • Purchased books that counselors recommended to help us adjust
  • Conducted an in-home sleep study
  • Met with a doctor to interpret the sleep study
  • Met with a vendor to get fitted for a sleep apnea machine
  • Boxed up all our stuff that needed to be shipped
  • Bagged other stuff to give to the DAV 
  • Arranged with two shipping companies to work together to get our stuff to Bangkok
  • Left the titles for both our cars with our friends so that they could give them away
  • Attended several going away parties
  • Struggled through tearful group meetings and one-on-ones with our best friends
  • Hosted a belated birthday party for our daughter 
  • Provided shoulders for our daughter to cry on
  • Shuttled our oldest son and his best friend on a boys’-day-out to the mall
  • Sent kids every which way for sleep-overs with their friends
  • Put my laptop in with IT for a three-day overhaul
  • Met with HR Director to talk about compensation changes when we move
  • Registered for international medical benefits
  • Paid estimated state and federal taxes for four quarter
  • Paid monthly bills
  • Deposited $400 in coins we have been saving
  • Renewed prescriptions that we didn’t have time to pick up before we left
  • Cancelled utilities, trash pickup, car insurance, cable, phone, and internet service
  • Picked up a nine month supply of CPAP replacement parts
  • Weighed luggage to make sure it was compliant with airline requirements
  • Stopped automatic withdrawals from bank accounts
  • Cleaned out desk at work
  • Applied for long-term visas to Bangladesh and India
  • Attend training on new security sign-on system for my work computer
  • Met with staff member at work to discuss international visit
  • Found homes for all our dogs
  • Took family to boss’ house for dinner
  • Did all the laundry in the house
  • Resent our visa applications after they were rejected the first time
  • Made a special trip to work to pick up approved visas and passports the morning of our trip 

That’s not everything – just what I can remember right now.  Fast forward to the day we are supposed to leave the country.  Of course we weren’t ready; we don’t do ready.  We do last minute.  And we like it.  While my wife frantically tried to pack up everything we had left with the help of our neighbors, I ran errands to work, the sleep apnea doctor, my friend’s house, the bank and the typist.  I made it back home about twenty minutes before it was time to leave.

Since we were out of time, we threw everything we could into some bags and left the rest on the floor for our dear friends to pack up later.  Twenty minutes later, we unloaded at the airport, got checked in and went through security…only to end up waiting for over three hours for our flight after finding out it was delayed. 

The flight agent moved us up to the front of the plane so that we could run to our next flight, but in the end, it didn’t matter.  After we landed in L.A., we had to quick-walk twenty minutes to make it to the Thai Airlines desk.  No one was there, because the flight was already closed.  We waited for fifteen minutes for someone to come not help us, and then we made the twenty minute walk again back to the United desk so that they could not help us there, too.

While he made us wait for over a half hour while he did something in the back room, the United agent did get us two nights at the Motel 6, where my children got to see naked women on HBO as they flipped through the channels looking for something to watch.  The next day, we went to the airport four hours before our flight and waited in lines for hours to turn our standby status into real tickets.

It’s been a hard few weeks, but here’s what I learned.  People pay more attention to you when you are getting the shake-up…..especially if they know you are a Christian.  They want to see what happens when a Christian is under pressure.  How will he or she react?  Will she dissolve?  Will he lose it?  Will they act the way that we suspect that they act when no one is looking?

When God allows our contents to come under pressure, it’s a tool and a test.  A tool, because it makes us more like Him.  A test, because it reveals our character and our level of spiritual maturity.  If we handle the situation correctly, it becomes a testimony.  Everyone who sees will wonder how we kept it together, and when that happens, God gets the glory.

The shake-up is a gift.  It’s an opportunity to point others twowards Christ.  It’s also God’s invitation to join Him at a higher level of spiritual maturity.  Thank God for these opportunities to give Him the glory.



Filed under Challenges, overcoming obstacles, Religion

4 responses to “Contents Under Pressure

  1. is that all we’ve done? it feels like so much more.

  2. mike

    what a great message using all things for the glory of God. Love you Mike hope all is well–you are in my prayers. I look forward to skyping with you. Love Mike

  3. Carrie

    how true that is! you all are amazing people! we miss you lots but know that we will see you again because that is what true friends do. i wish i was there to help mon through all the caos. i am glad you kept your cool it sounds like everyone is being so calm and taking everything in stride!

  4. you think you’re under pressure?!?!?

    you ought to be here.!!!!!!!!!!!

    seriously though-the house is empty and waiting for the cleaner, painter, handymen

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