Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Best Gift

Time is precious… enjoy the moment before the sun sets.
Alex Soh
No, the best gift is not an iPhone, although it’s a good one. =) This Christmas, I learned that the best gift is time. As I pondered on this, I realized that even Jesus took the time to be born as a man and do what He did. And my position probably has a lot to do with the fact that quality time is my very first love language (touch, words of affirmation, gifts, and service being the other ones). Like it or not though, we cannot do or deliver any of the other love languages without spending time. It is the one common denominator in all of them. We cannot write or say the words of affirmation, buy the gifts, touch, or serve, without setting aside the time to do it. Time will always be used. We cannot offer anything nor express love without using it.

This is how I got to this realization. First of all, this Christmas was different from all the others. It’s the first that we spent without Evan. We missed him and sleeping beside the Christmas tree was just not the same without him. We are consoled by the fact that he spent Christmas with my parents and siblings in Toronto. Secondly, Eng’s mom and brother (and family) from Malaysia were here (from 19-26 December). Seng is Eng’s only Christian brother (of four) so it was extra special that we were able to celebrate Christmas together. We did the usual touristy activities the week they were here so we were busy. We also took time to go camping (a first!) with the Moores (this was mentioned in our Canadian Thanksgiving post) and other families. And for Christmas day, we decided to invite friends who don’t have families to hang out with us so twenty of us were all gathered at the Moores. It was a lot of fun!

What Eng and I didn’t quite anticipate were the protests we received when we told our sons that we’d have our own Christmas celebration on the 26th after the relatives left. They were so disappointed and frustrated not to open their gifts on the 25th! I was really quite surprised by the drama that played out before me! I didn’t really think a day would make all that difference! However, we heard our sons and we’ve learned not to postpone our celebration without them understanding what we’re doing. In the end, Eric said that it wasn’t about the gifts. He said he just thought this year would be different from last year. He added that we were so busy last year that we didn’t have time to take him to the hospital when he talked to us about his neck. Ouch. Eng’s mom and Evan were both here last year. We also had Eng’s 50th surprise birthday party on the 2nd of January to prepare for. Time sure flew then. That same time was not spent on Eric’s request. Regardless of how we can explain where our time went, the fact is, had his neck been looked at sooner, it might have decreased the amount of treatment (chemo and radiation) he needed for his cancer. We should have taken the time then to get him looked at. Thank you, Lord, for our lesson. I see that Eric’s cancer was healed earlier this year but as we give him our time now (to talk, for driving lessons, his wart removal, playing games, etc.); he’s receiving the healing of anger in his heart. In this case, as they say, time (literally) heals. Let’s use it wisely. If we don’t, we could end up with hurt loved ones. We’ll find, like Evan that loved ones wouldn’t be around to give time to. And as we’ll all someday “set”, we won’t be around to give it.

Incidentally, Eric ate 33 pieces of sushi, a small pizza, and two servings each of Tiramisu and Cream Brulee when we had our Christmas buffet meal. For those praying for his eating, thank you, the Lord is surely answering you!

Eli made us realise that we're God's gifts to one another when as an eleven month old baby (above), he slept under the Christmas tree on Christmas eve. Over the years, we've had our own versions of sleeping by the tree - as this year's picture shows.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Joyous Christmas

May you have a Spirit filled Christmas celebration,
full of God's love, joy, and peace.

With love and blessings from all of us,
Eng & Linda, Eli, Eric, and Ethan

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Living Right

Yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this Godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves…
2 Corinthians 7:9a, 10-11
It’s interesting that we don’t question and scrutinize what we do. It’s far easier to rationalize our actions, especially when their correctness is dubious and it’s more convenient not to do what’s right. So, we park on the wrong side of the street, or do a U-turn in a clearly marked no U-turn street. I’ve done this. I’ve even sped up in our neighborhood. What was I thinking, or why was I not thinking, all those times? This is my other lesson from having lost my phone. I had to cancel the phone plan on it and realized that since the plan wasn’t registered in my name, I couldn’t do it. The plan belonged to our friend who left Thailand in June. Instead of closing the plan, he passed it on to my husband who used it for awhile then passed it on to me. Nice. I began using the plan and didn’t think much of it. I paid the bill on it and no one said anything. It became an issue when I tried to close the plan because I had no authority to do so, just like I had no authority to use the plan in the first place! I would have saved myself the embarrassment of trying to explain the situation to the company had I thought about what I was doing first. Thank you, Papa God, that I lost that phone! I really do feel more honest now.

I also resolved to think more of what I do. I cannot be on “cruise control”. The other day, I rode my motorbike on major roads to get to a nearby restaurant. As I raised my hands to remove my helmet, I ended up touching my head. I had no helmet! I rode all the way there without even realizing I didn’t have one on! Am I the only one like this? Folks, let’s put our thinking caps on and keep them on. Our minds are there to be used at all times. It can’t be good when you’re completely clueless as to what you’re doing! Let’s live right, and think right.

And just to update on the phone, God is providing me with a new one through my friend in Korea who wants to give me one for Christmas. How appropriate that another friend will spend their Christmas there (in Korea) and can bring me the new phone back. I’ve also had the chance to look at what’s stored in my computer and realized that most of what I thought were lost (songs, pictures, etc.), weren’t! Because I’ve backed up the contents of my phone on my computer, I’ve only really lost a total of 2-3 weeks worth of stuff. Grace is receiving what you don’t deserve. It’s mercy. Papa God, I really do get it. I’m acknowledging this because the name of the friend leaving for Korea in a few days, the one bringing me the gift of a new phone in the new year, is Grace. I get it Lord, I am touched by all this, all that’s happened, and I thank you, and love you. I cannot help but love you.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I'd Rather Have You

In addition to what’s already been shared in last week’s posting, I’d like to add that at some point during the evening flight from Korea to Chiang Mai, I felt I really needed encouragement. I think it was just after Ju (the Chief Purser) told me that they received a call from the Korean grounds crew at the airport and the phone couldn’t be found. I remember talking to God and saying, “Lord, can you help me even as I’m way up here?” I just finished reading a book that told me to read Psalm 56 aloud, to encourage myself, so I set out to do it. I borrowed a Bible (tiny!) and stood right under the light for my seat and turned to it. The verses below spoke to me so I read it aloud at least three times (Note that I inadvertently turned to Psalm 36 instead of Psalm 56!):

Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
O Lord, you preserve both man and beast.
How priceless is your unfailing love!
Psalm 36:5-7
I was amazed that there I was, in a flying plane cruising at thousands of miles above the earth, literally in the skies, and the Lord spoke of His love and faithfulness that reaches to the heavens. What a God, how truly incomprehensible and priceless is His unfailing love! He knew where I was, what I needed, what would speak to me. Had I correctly turned to Psalm 56, it would have told me not to be afraid but to trust Him. Well, I wasn’t feeling fear and I do trust Him so those verses wouldn’t have done much for me. I just know that I had to make that mistake. In the dimness of the lighting in the plane, He turned me to the right verses.

Secondly, because the phone was a wedding anniversary gift (in February) from Eng, I was truly concerned about his reaction. He’s the type that when something gets lost (especially expensive ones!), he gets distressed (and all of us along with him!) and mad. It was one of my prayers that he would take my unfortunate news well. When I told him about it on Monday morning though, all he said was that he was sorry to hear it. Wow(!). Later at school, I cried as I realized the grace, what God had done for me. I chose to be grateful that I had that phone for as long as I did but I was also grieved for all that I lost (pictures, recorded songs and prayers, notes, etc.). I’m glad though that when I did cry, it was because of the Lord's kindness.

The next day, I went to Eng and told him that I was thankful that he wasn’t mad at me for losing the phone. It was then that he said the above, “I’d rather have you (than the phone)." That was the sweetest statement he’d said to me in a long time. =)

Lastly, my friend in Korea offered to buy me an iPhone to replace the one I lost. I don’t know that she actually will but when she wrote that, it really ministered to me. I knew that God was loving me and answering my prayers through her. I don’t deserve her offer, nor any of what’s happened (and all that I've learned as noted in last week's “Lost and Found” posting). For that and more, I’m really glad I lost the phone! That there is a crazy statement but an honestly TRUE one.

Oh, and just to satisfy your curiosity, I found out the next day that I turned to the wrong chapter in Psalms when I wanted to read the passage again. I rightly turned to Psalm 56 and was confused when the verses were missing. Only after investigating did I find out that the verses were in Psalm 36. God is just too good.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Lost and Found

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Cor 4:17-18
I unbelievably left or dropped my iPhone in the waiting area of Incheon International Airport in Korea. By the time I realized I didn’t have it on me, I asked to get off the plane so I can retrieve it but I was told that it was too late. I waited helplessly as the plane taxied off and flew us back here to Chiang Mai. During the flight, the Chief Purser Ko Bong Ju assisted me in going through all my belongings (in case the iPhone somehow made it). Alas, I was right and it was somewhere in the waiting area of Gate 19. I asked Ju if he could get the folks at the airport to search for the iPhone near the gate. He agreed and soon relayed the request to the grounds crew in Korea. I also asked Ju if he would believe there is a God if the iPhone was found. He said, “Maybe”. Halfway through our flight, he told me that it couldn’t be found. He said it was an expensive phone and someone probably took it. I realize the iPhone is expensive and people do steal but I believe even more that nothing is impossible with God. If He wants to, He can make the iPhone materialize. The only question is whether He wants to.

I learned a lot after being iPhone-less. I relied too much in it! Because it had the Bible on it, I read from 3 different books daily but as I took a real Bible to read from on Monday, I didn’t know what chapters I was in. I had everything bookmarked (and highlighted) and didn’t have to remember anything. I had all my appointments in it too so now, I don’t really remember what’s upcoming (time and details). It had all my notes; my Christmas list, who I want to see, what I want to buy, what I want to ask a friend. Where did my memory go? How and when did I allow it to be barely used? In the 9 months that I’ve had the iPhone, I’ve changed from a person who remembers to someone who can’t remember much! This is scary! How could I have allowed that to happen? Considering that my mother has Alzheimer's, remembering is something I should keep doing. I now picture myself in jail for my faith and without my iPhone, there isn’t much that I could encourage myself with!

In the last three days though, I found myself remembering more. I actually listen to my sons better when we part in the morning. They can no longer call me after school so we “listen” to one another well. I like it.

On Monday, I saw and acknowledged Grace (a teacher) three times. We don’t work near one another so I don’t typically see her. I now understand why I saw her three times then. Losing my iPhone is God’s grace to me. Yes, I had a nifty gadget but it didn’t have to do all my remembering for me. It shouldn’t have taken up so much of my time. In Korea, there was internet access anywhere we went so I was constantly on my email. Worst of all, I was proud of owning and using such a gadget. It’s no wonder that the Lord opposed me. I repent.

Whatever I deserve as outcome for my iPhone I don’t yet know, but I did grasp how I should use one. Yes, I did lose it, but I found answers. If I ever own one again, may the Lord be Lord in how I use it. God is able to restore what we lose but even if He doesn’t, He is still good and praiseworthy.

Lastly, I also receive that “God wants me to be a survivor and a “thriver”, not just to survive my catastrophe, but to thrive because of it.” (By Harold Ivan Smith) Amen.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Trusting Him in the Moonlight

Today, I had my usual morning walk. What’s unusual about it is that I’m in Dongtan, Suwon in South Korea. I’ll be here until Sunday afternoon courtesy of the school where I work. Because it’s my first early morning having only arrived the day before, I didn’t really know when the sun would typically rise. Breakfast was at 7 a.m. so I set out just a few minutes before 6 a.m. It was still dark. Yesterday afternoon, I enjoyed a walk in the woods with my roommate so I’d already decided to take the same route. While we walked, I asked her about her self-defense skills in case we were attacked in the secluded and wooded area. She said she didn’t have any training and I concurred that neither did I. But, in unison we both said bravely that God was all we had and needed. Our walk turned out to be an extremely enjoyable one. We were both amazed to be in Asia and yet feel the cool, crisp air. Pine trees and other trees with leaves that had autumn colors enthralled us. We kicked the fallen leaves and delighted in having them crackle under us as we walked. The black and white magpies (she said they were naughty) were noisy and beautiful. It was wonderful to be up and down that hill, the sunlight streaming through the leafless trees.

I’d imagined my morning walk to be a repeat of the one with my roommate except that I thought of the first morning rays of the sun greeting me on the way down the hill. While I didn’t really feel fear that someone would jump nor attack me, I did wonder about slipping and hurting myself. I could barely see the ground in the darkness. There were low lighted posts interspersed along the path but it was dark in between. At some point, when I started to go downhill and the path looked steep and precarious, I asked God if he could please turn on the light. Dusk is actually a fascinating experience for me each time I see one. I love watching the darkness slowly begin to lighten. It’s like watching a miracle each time. One moment it’s pitch dark, the next few moments later, there’s only brightness. Only this time, I didn’t feel like watching another miracle. I wanted some sunlight to guide my way. I wanted my usual orangey yellow rays streaking through the trees when I walked. I waited but I sensed Papa God say instead, “You can trust me in the moonlight.” And that was all it took to change my whole outlook. It was like I saw the full moon for the first time this morning. There it was, the moonbeam, hardly seen in between the bare branches of the trees but discernible all the same! Yes, I can trust Him, and I did! The rest of my walk back to the hotel was then uneventful, enjoyable, and much appreciated. I hope that as the Lord allows me to go through the rest of my life with new twists and turns, I will remember that I can trust Him in the moonlight, I can trust Him in those new situations, dark and unknown they may be. He will never fail me, nor you.

Sometimes in life, we respond to our circumstances innately, unconsciously, and unknowingly. Thankfully, Papa God untiringly, lovingly, and patiently reminds us how to respond.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

News on the EEEEs

Evan turned 20 last Sunday (November 14) so we all gathered to sing and greet him. He was obviously amused as we each tried to converse with him while Ethan continually made faces at him. I should point out that the last time we all “Skyped” him together was on his birthday last year. We should do it more often, it's fun! If only it’s easier to nail him down (and us!) at the same time. He is now on his 3rd year in college, taking English as his major. He recently finished acting and singing as Linus in their college’s Charlie Brown musical. We all wished we could be there but alas, we couldn't! Apparently, he did very well. Way to go, Ev!

Last Saturday (November 13), Eric was accompanied by Eng to Bangkok to get his PET/CT scan. The results showed that he is doing well and cancer is no longer in his body. We praise the Lord for this! His hair has now grown too, even in the areas where he had his bald spots. When he was 4-6 months old, his hair stood up. His new hair is doing that now, too! Eric is now in his senior year and is currently looking for a college to go to. On a recent essay, he wrote: “Life is not just about the good things that happen to a person but also about the bad. Some of life’s greatest joys can come from sadness; the end of the best of your life makes way for more great days to come.” He should keep writing, yes? Great job, Eric!

Our 9th grader Eli had a lot going for him just a few weeks ago but due to wrong choices, he’d lost a lot of what he valued. It broke all our hearts to see him so distraught yesterday but he’d repented and is learning a lot from the experience. When told by a friend that his parents don’t want him to hang out with Eli anymore, Eli's response was, “I deserve that”. It’s so sad to hear that but it’s a humble response compared to the one he would have made weeks before. He’s in a hard place now but he is learning and is taking the right steps towards redeeming himself. We know God’s mercy will see him through a complete transformation. We are proud of you, Eli. Keep on!

Here we are trying to fit all our faces in the frame of the computer's camera while "Skyping" Evan. Clockwise, we are Eng, Linda, Ethan, Eric, and Eli.

Ethan is 9 years old and in fourth grade. He’s athletic, smart, and extremely likable. He seems to be processing everything by talking it through. And, it appears that for his oldest brother’s enjoyment, he’ll put on the faces just to get the laughs. You are very funny, Ethan. Please don’t grow up too fast! =)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Hearing God

Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing His plan to His servants the prophets.
Amos 3:7
I was prompted to write this because I’d like for us (including me) to hear God better. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could hear our Lord or understand Him more? He’s always speaking to us in myriads of ways! Yet, a typical answer when you ask a believer how he hears from God would be through the Bible, the preacher, or a friend. Yes, the Lord has spoken to me those ways too. It’s always touching and exciting when He reveals Himself to us even in familiar ways. But, could He speak in other ways?

I sat through a teaching this week-end at a women’s retreat (one of the great things about Chiang Mai!) and was bowled over by what I heard. She shared many things but the one that stood out to me was about her fascination and delight with flowers and how they seem to beckon to her. She added that the Lord spoke His love to her through them. I could only agree wholeheartedly. I have hundreds of pictures of flowers on my phone for the same reason. I feel like if I take their picture, I’m saying, “Yes, I hear you. I love you too and what you do.”

On Friday, I was on my way to chapel when I noticed that the water tower in the school property was overflowing with water. The water freely flowed from the top of this very TALL tower, cascading on all sides all the way to the ground. Hmm, what a strange and unusual sight! I wouldn’t have given that much thought but the message during chapel also showed an image similar to the previous one. It was of a beaker overflowing with water, again pouring out from all sides. What was that about, I wonder? Then later, I realized I left my sunglasses so I picked it up. As I donned it on, these thoughts followed:

• At the women's retreat, I will be filled to overflowing with the Lord’s blessings, His revelation, and His love. Later I wrote a friend and added that I just didn’t know which one He would fill me with. Now I wonder why I thought He would only fill me with one!
• I will see things in a new light, in new ways – just like seeing things differently when wearing sunglasses!
• I will change.
So now that the retreat is over, I can attest to the accuracy of what I heard. It just surprised me that not only was I filled with either blessings, revelation, or love, but all three of them combined! Amazing! Not only that, the speaker prayed for me and she said she saw a waterfall and would God please help me contain what He has for me? =)

Fascinating! The Lord is too fascinating. Now, if we could only free ourselves from all the distractions and the worries of this world. If only we could be still long enough to hear. Let’s incline our ears. “Speak Lord, your servants are listening.”

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Seven to Go

That’s the number of months that we have left to live here before we head back to Toronto for a year long Home Assignment. I’ve been thinking about it because I know I contemplated “withdrawing” from relationships with friends and just busying myself with stuff that have to be done (they are aplenty!). Last night, we saw my friend, Susan (and her family), off at the airport. They were leaving for good. Susan and I have spent a great deal of time praying, sharing hearts, and singing/worshipping together so my heart was naturally grieved. I was actually surprised by the amount of tears that I shed! And it’s for this reason that it seemed to make perfect sense to emotionally pack up and stop allowing myself to get closer to people and to stop working on relationships. I know I would probably hurt less seven months from now if I choose to do this. Self preservation, how right it feels.

The only thing is, Papa God won’t let me be that way and I found out in the most unusual way. It was while I was receiving a massage from a Christian Thai lady named Pa Jum Pee (of Healing Hands on Soy 14 of World Club Land, cell #0871760030). As she was getting rid of the knots and aches in my weary body that day, my mind relaxed, my body was soothed, and my spirit was well ministered to. She had soft worship music playing which flooded my heart and I know she prayed beforehand that the Lord would use her hands to bring healing to my body (thus the name of her business!). And healing, and revelation, is what I indeed receive. I know the Lord impressed in my heart that I would miss out if I stopped relating with people. Not only will He not be able to use me to be a source of encouragement or help to those around me but I won’t be ministered to by Him through people if I don’t relate with them! He assured me of His grace to not just deal with my pain of loss in the future but to also help me get over it. He reminded me that He is faithful and His love is boundless and endless. There would always be lots of His love to give me and His help I will receive!

So I am reminded of “The Thorn Birds”, a book that I read years ago as a teen (by Colleen McCullough). The last page of the book talks about thorn birds and how they impale themselves, led by an immutable force that they know not what, on thorns, and then as the thorns do its deadly work in their bodies, they die singing. The author then mused on how we as people know and understand when we impale thorns in our hearts, but still we do it. Still we do it.

Thank you, Lord, even as we do choose what would actually give us more pain in the future, with purely your help, we are actually able to survive it and still end up being blessed by it. You are such an amazing paradox!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

And Yet Again ~ Thank You!

Beth Moore said “Grace evokes praise and thanks just like lightning follows thunder. Whether we like it or not, when we see the lightning, thunder is just a few seconds behind. It’s just the way God made them. We may wish for the thunder not to follow the lightning but inevitably, it always does. For us, grace is new every morning. Papa God just delights in giving it. I wish I could always see it. Sometimes it’s so subtle, I would hardly notice it. I wish to have eyes that see in the spiritual so my heart will always swell with thanks as grace happens before me. I know giving thanks, like praise, look great on us and please our Lord enormously.

Well, the cheque has arrived from the insurance company. In the end, although they denied the claim in the first place (August 16th’s “End of a Journey”), even though it took a long time in processing as they figured out what to do (September 21st’s “Answered Prayers”), the cheque that eventually came covered the complete expense that we had to pay for Eric’s chemo treatments. They didn’t just partially refund us the money; they gave us a refund for EVERYTHING we spent towards his chemo! God gave us grace for Eric’s life, grace for the help we received during his illness, grace for how He met our needs, and now grace for this. And so yet again, because we cannot help it, we thank and praise, and thank and praise, and thank and praise.

Mighty God, Awesome God, THANK YOU! WE LOVE YOU.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

More Thanks

I wouldn’t ordinarily write about meals or celebrations but I thought this year’s Canadian Thanksgiving celebration was exceptionally special, and for various reasons. First of all, let me start by saying that the actual Thanksgiving Day was on Monday, October 14, 2010. I don’t really understand why the Canadian Thanksgiving is on a Monday (the second one). I think the American Thanksgiving falling on a Thursday is far better. At least they have the rest of the week-end to eat the leftovers, work off the extra calories, and recover from the stupor after eating all that turkey! Apparently, turkeys have natural chemicals in their bodies that put us to sleep.

We celebrated with some Canadians on Saturday, October 16th. They live in the same house that our Australian friends (the Himstedts), who left in the summer, used to live in. It felt really strange initially to walk in there because we miss the Himstedts but, it was soon apparent that we all liked this new family (the Moores), and Canadians at that! That was the first reason to be thankful for. We lost our good friends the Himstedts but right at their old home, we discovered the Moores and their friends.

Secondly, we’ve been missing the Feniaks, our Canadian friends whom we’ve been spending Christmas with for the last six years. They left this summer as well causing more heartache and making us wonder how Christmas this year would be spent. Imagine my surprise when one topic that we talked about during the meal was what we’d do come Christmas. We’re actually now going camping together during the Christmas break and maybe share another scrumptious meal together. It is amazing that long before we even thought of our future, the Lord had it all figured out.

Thirdly, I didn’t think it was possible but as I posted on my Facebook, it was the first Thanksgiving meal we’ve had where we truly feasted. It was strange to be doing it in Chiang Mai, Thailand, but we ate, and ate, and ate, until we felt like the turkey, stuffed! I actually passed on eating the Apple Crisp dessert although I admit that I couldn’t resist at least a half a slice of pumpkin pie! We looked at our spread after our feasting and we hardly put a dent on the meat (ribs, turkey, and roast beef). That was how much food we had, way too much! It was a bounty (with corn, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry jelly, pickles, and bread). YUMMY!

For the first time in a very long time, we carried on our conversations the whole evening and not once did any of us have to explain what we were saying. When, “IGA, Maple Leafs, and referendum” were spoken of, we knew what those were! We, all eleven of us, were all from the same province of Ontario. What a refreshing way to spend Thanksgiving together!

Lastly, we capped off the evening by playing a game on what we were thankful for. LOTS! Thank you, Lord, for old friends, new friends, feasts, grateful hearts, and feeling ridiculously Canadian in Thailand. =)

Monday, October 11, 2010

(Canadian) Thanks Giving

Eng and Linda with Eric and Ethan. Eli wasn't feeling well when the shot above was taken.
Since it is Thanksgiving in Canada today, we thought it would be great to think of what we're grateful for (Canadian themed or not). Here are the answers in random order that we are thankful to God for:

Eli is grateful for our family, his school, sports (soccer) and the diverseness of Canada.

Eng is grateful that he's 50 years old and still alive. He's thankful for Eric being well (from cancer), for our prayer and financial supporters, and that we're able to celebrate Thanksgiving with a Canadian family this Saturday. He's glad that the Canadian dollar is almost at par in value with the US dollar and that the Toronto Maple Leafs have won two in a row. =)

Ethan is grateful for his family, for his friends, and that God made people. He's thankful that Canada has allowed for his relatives to live there.

Eric is grateful to be alive. He's thankful for the opportunities that his family was able to have because of Canada. "If it wasn't for Canada, then my parents never would have met or gotten their education. If it wasn't for Canada, I wouldn't be able to speak English as well as I do. I'm also grateful for my free public education (4th and 5th grade) in Canada as it taught me a lot."

I, Linda, am grateful for the Lord's love and where that love has taken us (Philippines, Canada, back to the Philippines, back to Canada, and now Thailand). I'm grateful for all that He's teaching and challenging us with. Canada will be just as welcoming and beautiful when we return there next year. The Lord will be just as faithful and loving. =)

Thank you, Canada. Thank you even more, Papa God!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Women and Prayer

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

James 5:16b
Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of enjoying not just a delicious breakfast but also the company of some women that work at the school I teach in. It doesn’t happen very often but every few months a teacher named Amy would organize us ladies and have any of us who can, congregate at one home to share a pot-luck breakfast. I like the variety of food and tantalizing smells that often makes attending these events worthwhile. I would usually go home too full to eat any more food until suppertime. Yummy!

But, I also go home with my heart touched and it is more for this reason that I keep going. After the meal, we’d share about the Lord and what He’d done. Some, like I did, shared some praises and requested prayers. I told them that as a family we were going back to Toronto for Home Assignment at the end of the school year. By then, we would have lived here for seven years with two months being the longest that we’ve been back in Canada in all that time. My request for prayers was for our sons who didn’t want to go back home for one year. Eric has no choice since he’s going to college next year but both 14 year old Eli and 9 year old Ethan would rather stay here, given the choice. They have been quite vocal about their unhappiness with us going home.

After the sharing, we spent some time praying together. It always warms my heart to hear heartfelt prayers but even more so when it is spoken with earnestness and tearful intercession. Imagine my surprise when come evening time the next day, a totally unprompted Ethan spoke of how eager he was to go back to Canada. I heard him but I couldn’t understand why he had a sudden change of heart! Much later, Eli remarked on how much fun it will be when we’re back in Canada. He wasn’t even addressing Ethan and again, he was totally unprompted! It seemed like they were then just lost in their own thoughts and decided to voice out what was on their minds. I was fascinated and elated.

I decided to end the evening by playing some praise songs on the electronic keyboard. When later, Eric came over on his own with his guitar (a first!) and Eli (who came over to tinker with the keyboard – another first!) started to play (Eric played) and then sing (they both sang) the next song with me, I began to see the Lord’s grace on us. Please understand, prior to this time, for them to sing with me, I usually would have to beg, cajole, or force them. We sang freely, “King of Wonders” and the line went, “King of Wonders, we stand amazed, there’s no other, other than You.”

Righteous prayers do accomplish much. Hearts are changed, praises rise. I sang while mesmerized with my sons. I was transfixed and yes, definitely amazed! My heart was bursting with happiness and pride, I wanted to cry. Our God and King, Wonder of Wonders.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Answered Prayers

Great news! We received a letter from our insurance company and they informed us that they have approved our claim for Eric's chemo treatment expenses (approx. $8,000 USD). We've asked for prayers for this on this blog's August 16th posting entitled, "End of a Journey". Going against their own policy, they've decided to grant us our request. Praise God! Truly, nothing is impossible with Him. We still don't know at this point how much of what we've claimed will be paid but we are pleased with their decision. Thank you, Papa God. =)

And oh yes, my mother has been eating much better. Thank you for praying!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Desperate

And I, I’m desperate for you
And I, I’m lost without you

From the song “Breathe” by Marie Barnett
It occurred to me that realistically at different times in our lives, we are alone even when we’re not. I, for example, can have a job at a big school (such as I have), live in a city, be in a house with family, and yet inadvertently find myself (emotionally) alone (as in being disconnected). It cannot be helped. Sometimes, your spouse is distracted, your friends are busy or gone (on trips, home assignments, or for good), your teens are out, and your other son is at a sleep over, and then you are also literally alone. I’ve been finding this to be my reality more and more in the last few weeks. It isn’t deliberate. I really don’t think those around me are having a conspiracy so that I am dealing with my being emotionally on my own. I believe the Lord is allowing and allowed me to go through this time to realize one thing.

I can go through self pity (which I did), I can whine (done this too), I can fret, be aloof, or simply be unhappy (check, check, check). Eventually (and thankfully!), I got tired of all those reactions. I learned to choose how to respond and did so accordingly. AAAHH and I felt a lot better. Through all those reactions (good and bad), I had one constant, Papa God. He never tired of me, never complained, just stuck with me and loved and encouraged me through all of it. He still does.

One night, we were just hanging out and it dawned on me, what if He turned His back on me? What if He left? Who would I turn to? Who would be there for me as He had been? Where would I go? Where can I go? For several moments, I was desperate. I would get desperate even now just thinking about it. I’m lost without Him. I’m so glad it’ll never happen that He’ll leave nor forsake me.

Nowhere, no one, could satisfy as He does.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A - OK

Following Eric's appointment with the oncologist on Monday, we were told that he is doing really well. He had his blood work done and we are awaiting the result of one more test but all the rest of his test showed that he is on the mend. His next appointment will be in November following his PET scan which will have to be done in Bangkok.

In the meantime, he is now able to function normally in his Physical Conditioning class. He finished his last radiation treatment just before school started so he's had to take it easy for the first two weeks of school as he waited for his energy to return. Right now, he is able to behave like any typical 17-year old teenager.

The only thing that is delaying his back to normal state is his sore throat. He's been having it since his radiation treatment ended on August 11. For a while he's not been able to eat dry and hard food but he is doing much better now. He still finds it hard to brush his teeth but he is able to eat almost anything. According to him, the pain is more tolerable. We are hoping he'll need less than a month to be completely pain free.

Thank you for your continued prayers on his behalf and the rest of us. We are grateful for you. Bless you!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Our Healer

I believe You’re my healer.
I believe You are all I need.

From the song “Healer” by Hillsongs
Last night, I watched Eric’s “Thank You All” video for the third time. [It can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0FxopvsU2c. Just want to point out that Eric came up with the video idea by himself. As parents, Eng and I had nothing to do with it but we are glad he did it and are extremely proud of him. Over the summer break he’s been pondering how he can thank everyone for helping us until he came up with that. For those who may be watching it for the first time, he just finished his last radiation treatment when he recorded it so his throat was very sore. It explains why he kept clearing his throat to speak.] It was when I was informing a friend’s son (who prayed for Eric) that I decided to have a look at it again. I think what stood out for me this time was how Eric started out by thanking God for healing him. He said it all starts with Him. Amen, and rightly so. He then ended his video by saying he couldn’t repay all those who helped us but he could pray for them.

Eric started with God and ended with God. Over the last few months, I’ve seen the Lord’s love and goodness, His provision of friends who helped us, and His healing of Eric. I know He’s not going to do anything differently for us in our future. I don’t just mean physical healing but healing of relationships, hearts, and minds so that we think better. I’ve had a lot of heart ache in the last few weeks. I realize I’ve been hurting for many reasons; friends who left the school, the situation with my parents, and relationships that aren’t going well. For a time, I’ve wallowed in my grief. I even found a verse (Proverbs 14:13) that says “Even in laughter the heart may ache, and joy may end in grief.” That verse made it even easier to hurt. But, the good thing about pain is that after awhile, you can get numb. The choice then becomes choosing to dwell in that numbing pain, or moving on. I choose the lines above and move on.

Nothing has necessarily happened just yet but He is my healer and He is all I need. He will make something happen. He will heal; He will fill all my need.

I’ll end this with the following lines that I read in three different successive email messages. The Lord is on the move already to point me in the right direction. =)

The journey has been difficult. Many voices have tried to stop you from proceeding. The reward for you in this next season is great. Proceed into celebration. You need to celebrate the victory now over the things that you are praying about and that you are concerned about. Celebrate the victory now, and when you get into that place where you see what you have been praying for, the victory will manifest before you. Chuck Pierce

Your response determines your future. Your goal is to just finish well, not losing your joy. Theresa Phillips

God wants His children well and joyful. Joseph Prince

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Back to School

In less than three days my four month stay in my grandparents' basement will come to a close. It seems so much longer this time around, though maybe it's because my mom's visit was so short, or because I was both employed and unemployed for equal lengths of time. Either way, I feel like I have been here for much longer.

As I begin packing up my room down here in preparation to move out, I think about the time I've been able to spend with my grandparents.

I spent a number of my unemployed afternoons helping my grandfather do construction on the front porch. In spite of his age (he's eight-nine) he managed to continue on long after I'd started going to work. His commitment to this personal project is impressive, and definitely something to admire.

My grandmother, on the other hand,has proven that Alzheimer's can progress in front of your very eyes. During my time here I've watched as she has forgotten how to eat with both hands, an action that should be both simple and natural. Throughout this time, however, she has become very comfortable around me. I know that somehow, deep in her mind she knows that I belong in the house with them. I've actually watched her check the basement several times while I'm upstairs, so I suppose she's realized someone lives down there.

I've tried to help them out whenever and however I could, and I feel like that's something I've managed to accomplish. I care deeply for both of them, and hope that while I'm away at college they won't miss me too much, and will be able to get along on weekends without me.

Please pray for both of them, as recently my grandmother has begun eating very, very little. It's very worrying to see her eat only half of whatever tiny portion we put on her plate. Also pray that my grandfather would be able to finish the porch, and that his sons would come up often to help him out with that.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

End of a Journey

Well, to the 8 rounds of chemo and 16 radiation treatments, and the cancer cells, we've reached the end. But, for the next five years, Eric will keep seeing the doctor to get tests done to ensure that cancer is kept at bay. His next appointment is on September 6th then it'll be followed by a PET scan in Bangkok in three months. We don’t expect for those next tests to reveal anything but continue instead to praise the Lord for His goodness in helping Eric get well.

As noted in last week’s post, we celebrated with a party last Saturday. It was hard to know how to go about it with so many people to thank but we ended up with a handful that we knew had to be with us celebrating. The Lord will have to bless the rest of you and those that couldn’t be with us in other ways. It is our family’s prayers that He will bless you abundantly for helping us go through Eric’s journey with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Although extremely shy, Eric made a 5 minute video that he posted on YouTube as a way of thanking everyone. Please check it out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0FxopvsU2c

<-- With Phillip who also had a buzz cut, RJ, and Kurt who shaved his head even before Eric decided what to do with his hair.

As I also thanked everyone during the party for their part in helping us, I realized that I left Eng out in the acknowledgement since we hosted the party. I should point out that his astute leadership and decision making helped us as a family to put things in perspective. I probably would not have gone back to Toronto at the time I did (because of Eric’s treatments) but I’m glad he “pushed” me to go. It was the right thing to do; for Evan, for my parents, for myself. I’m grateful for the balance that his wisdom provides for us as a family. Thank you, Eng!

On the issue of finances, would you please pray for the approval of the insurance claim to cover Eric’s chemo expenses? We were asked to register as an In Patient at the hospital during his chemo treatments even though we didn’t stay overnight. Apparently however, the treatments are only covered by the insurance if received as an Out Patient (something the hospital doesn’t do). Since the insurance has initially denied our claim, we are currently appealing their decision. Please pray with us for a favorable response. Thank you!

Lastly, some of you know that my mother has Alzheimer’s. Please pray for her. Our son, Evan, has noted a few weeks ago that she’s forgotten how to eat (as in she no longer uses her left hand to hold the fork to help her eat and she no longer puts catsup on her meat, etc.). As of late, she seems to have forgotten the value of eating as well as she’s not doing a lot of it. Thanks for praying for wisdom to know how to care for her best. Bless you and thank you again for the part you played in our journey. =) We appreciate and thank God for you!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Amazing Goodness

But I trust in your unfailing love, your heart. Please help Eric to at least graduate at GIS. Thank you, Lord. You said, “Nothing is impossible with God” and I believe it. I know you can turn this around for good. Please use it to glorify yourself, to unite us as a family, to strengthen our faith, to not lose hope and to be a constant source of encouragement. Please help us to be able to use this to point people back to you. Thank you, Papa. Please use it for your purposes however the enemy might have attacked us and want to use it against us. Kindly help us know how to resist well and submit to you.
I wrote and prayed the above on February 20 while away on a Silent Retreat. At the time, we just found out that Hodgkin’s lymphoma couldn’t be ruled out as the reason for Eric’s swollen lymph nodes. In the end, he did have it (we found out on March 3rd) and so began our journey with his cancer. There was a LOT of unknowns then. It was easy to be overwhelmed, to be afraid and to be gripped by fear. But for God, that’s where we would have easily been. Thankfully, He answered my prayer and more; He blessed us as well. A teacher at GIS who was not there last school year gave me a hug yesterday and said she was sorry for what we’ve been through. I had to honestly tell her, “No Marge, it was good for us. It was hard, but good.”

I won’t even attempt to summarize what the Lord has done. I’ll likely forget something and to really capture the Lord’s goodness, it is best to read the full stories. They are all documented here. Please check out the older posts dating all the way back to March.

I do want to point out that Eric never lost his hair the whole time he had his treatments. The side effect of all four of his chemo medication is hair loss but only the top part of his hair thinned out. He currently has short hair but it’s because of his choice to have a buzz cut. Praise God for His goodness. Eric did not want to lose his hair to chemo and he didn’t!

Tomorrow is Eric’s last radiation treatment. This afternoon, I was able to go with him and see where he receives his radiation. I met the little, old lady that he mentioned in last week’s post. She has nothing but love in her eyes for Eric. Please pray for her, Yay Samon, that she will know our Lord and find healing in His arms. They have been writing one another since she cannot talk and Eric was able to say that it is the Lord who helps him. May she know the Lord as her helper as well.

Towards the end of the Silent Retreat mentioned above, I listened to what the Lord wanted to say and wrote what I sensed Him say, “I will send people/friends who will be there for you. They will help you. You will feel my love and compassion on you through them. Be strong and focus on me. Keep looking to me. I will never leave nor forsake you. You will know my strength and my love will be revealed to you in a (new) way you’ve not seen before. Trust me, I love you and am not giving you more than you can bear. This time in your life will be used for the furtherance of my kingdom. I am good. You can and will taste and see that I am good.”

Aye, then He did what He said. Good, He definitely is.

Thank you for praying with and for us. After tomorrow, Eric will periodically go for check ups (blood work) to ensure that he is cancer free. We will celebrate this Saturday (with friends) and together say "Goodbye" to cancer for good! =) YAY!!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Eric's Break of Silence

My name is Eric Yeong. About 5 months ago my family and I discovered I had cancer. Cancer is a fairly scary word. A loaded word, I'd say. I say this because whenever people hear the word cancer they think, "Woah, someone's gonna die!" I can tell you now, though, that I will not die. At least not from this. After catching our breaths and doing some research we learned that Hodgkin's lymphoma although being a cancer and although being worse than non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, was a "nicer" cancer and wouldn't take my life away. God has given me an opportunity to be around a little longer. We caught it early enough that it wasn't very serious but I still had to do chemotherapy, 4 months of it, (8 treatments every 2 weeks = 16 weeks.) and 3 weeks of radiation. (5 treatments each week. I guess even cancer takes the weekend off). My last treatment is August 10th, just 8 days away.

All this information, I wish I could tell to the little, old lady at the radiation clinic. Sadly, even after 5 years of Thai study I can't communicate well enough to be the other half of an intelligent Thai conversation. Maybe Thai isn't my forte and maybe I wasn't paying enough attention. It's the past and now I'm taking Spanish.

Today is my mother's 49th birthday and we started the day EARLY, much too early for a summer day. I woke up, skipped the shower and stumbled to the car. We drove up the mountain to eat breakfast at Lanna Resort, as well as enjoy the scenery. I was much too tired to enjoy anything except go back to sleep but we walked in the garden and my mother asked us to ask God for ways to bless her. We ate a breakfast of ham, eggs, toast, and sausages. As we drank our hot chocolate, we prayed and blessed my mom, sharing what each of us had heard from God. Afterwards we drove back down the mountain and I caught up on lost sleep while my family went to go do their own thing.

Later that day my mother drove me to the hospital for my daily radiation treatment. I was a little late because I had watched a movie earlier at the mall with some friends. I watched "Avatar: The Last Airbender" and like the reviews said it wasn't one of M. Night's best but I do disagree with people saying that it's racist. Because of my lateness, I had to wait longer than normal but because I was waiting, I got the opportunity to see the little, old lady and stumble through some form of communication. On most days I'd pass her on my way out and I'd give her my best smile. She'd return my smile and give me a thumbs up. Today she stopped me to try and say something to me. She couldn't talk because the radiation was affecting her throat. I also have a sore throat, courtesy of the radiation. She told her friend to tell me, from what I understand in Thai, that I was good for being alone. That's exactly how it translated but I think she meant something more like, "You're brave or strong for being able to go through treatment by yourself." She may also have been addressing the fact that I'm so young having to do treatment. She may have noticed that I was the youngest person in the cancer treatment ward. I was glad to be able to communicate with her and maybe in the future I'll be able to say more. I'll try to give her a note that I can copy off of Google translate.

My mother was able to enjoy the rest of her birthday by taking us to eat a meal at a new pizza and pasta place that we had not tried before. The food was very flavourful and we all came home satisfied with a couple of slices left over. We're all glad to have had her for all these years and hopefully we'll all see many more together. I'm glad to have been able to write you all tonight and I thank you for all the prayers and thoughts you've dedicated to me. I am truly grateful, touched, and feel very blessed. God bless you all.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Warm Welcome Home

I am now back here in Chiang Mai. It is good to be back! Eric gave me a long hug when he saw me, Ethan insists that my arm has to be around him when we walk (in the mall), Eli kisses me when he leaves the house, and flowers were laid out on the bed (courtesy of Eng) the night I arrived. That's it; I'm convinced that I need to leave more often! =) With touch being one of my love languages, I also hope the shower of affection lasts for quite awhile. I am enjoying it enormously!

Eric finished 5 days of radiation last week and says he's fine. He still says he doesn't feel a thing and that his energy level is good. Praise God! Thank you for praying.

This week, his radiation will be from Wednesday to Friday (28-30 July) because of two Thai holidays. Coming home tonight, I realized after seeing lots of lights and candles lit that another Buddhist holiday wreak havoc in our household. Not only did almost all of us not get along last night with a nasty argument but I had a freaky experience where I saw myself in a weird and strange room as I tried to sleep. Evan's and my parents' faces were reflected on a mirror at the side of the room but they were nowhere! Sensing immediate discomfort, I started to pray audibly but I couldn't speak. I was praying aloud but my words were coming out muffled. I saw nothing on me but I couldn't speak properly, and I couldn't move! Finally, continuing to pray, I ended it by saying the enemy had 3 counts to leave or I'll get the Holy Spirit to burn them with His fire. A muffled “one” and “two” barely escaped from my lips but I heard a very distinct “THREE!” (with my normal voice back!) clearly. I opened my eyes (or blinked?) and I was back in my bedroom. Wow! Thank you, Lord.

My 89 year old father drew all the plans to get a building permit so he could enclose their front porch. He's done all that is pictured here with a little help from Evan.


He's been using a power saw and electric nailer, among other things! I've been thankful for this, "his little project". He is proud of it, as I am of him. In my 80s, I wish to also be renovating our place.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Loving Better

Once again, being here in Toronto with my parents has taught me more about myself. The other day, I was taking a nap on the couch when my mother walked by to close the door by me. It was a hot day so the fan was on and as she got in between the fan and I, I caught a whiff of excretion. She must have gone to the bathroom again and failed to wipe or wash herself well. Since arriving here 3 weeks ago, I’ve been saddened by the fact that my mother’s Alzheimer’s has caused her to forget how to use the washroom properly. Many a times have I gone in to use their bathroom and found it in different and unusual states. Repulsed, I would reluctantly disinfect and wash all around their toilet. I’m just grateful that she still makes it to the toilet in time, most of the time. I’ve been told that she sometimes would not get there soon enough. At any rate, since I was tired and wanted to nap, I didn’t get up to inspect her as to why she smelled. As she passed, I pretended to be asleep. How often she passed back and forth, I do not know. (It’s normal for her to do this, walking back and forth.) Soon, I was half asleep, barely aware of where or what she was doing. Imagine my surprise when all of a sudden, I felt her hand caressing my face and moving my hair off my face! She was saying words that sounded tender and loving. At this point in her illness, my mother would sometimes speak none sensibly. Different words would be spoken but every now and then, they would not make any sense. The words are strung together confusingly. I wish I could say that I received her loving action and responded accordingly, or gratefully. Instead, I recoiled at her touch, remembering what I smelled moments earlier. The grace is that the smell didn’t come from her hand. My disgust this time was at myself for making the smell matter more than her gesture. I received what she did to me but moments late. If only I didn’t make such a fuss about the smell. I then realized that my kind of loving has a lot to be desired. Where filth is evident, I need to learn to love and receive love anyway. The Lord has done far more for me as I wallowed in my filth. Why can’t I? My prayer is that I’ll love better.

As for Eric, he’s received 3 radiation treatments now and says he feels a slight tingling on his nose during the treatment but nothing else. Thank you for praying!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

From the Eldest Son

It's interesting being back here, on YeongLife, after so long; it's been years, actually, since I've posted anything here. For those of you who have been reading this since its beginning, you know that I, Evan, the eldest, was once the one who updated this blog every Monday. Alas, life moves on, and since graduating from high school and heading off to college I no longer see my family enough to write on the events that occur in their life.

So here I am, trying to update you on my life in a brief, concise post; this will really just be about the past year and this summer.

This summer I have been working at Foundations Ministries, a Christian ministry organization which is backing one (1) Pastor Marie Miller. It's enjoyable work, though the issue is that the office is in Mississauga, meaning that my commute is two hours (only one way). I don't mind, though, as just getting a job this summer has truly been a blessing from God, and I thank him for this opportunity to both make money and further His work in the world.

I am in this picture with just 8 of my 19 cousins. Second from left, Leslie, is the cousin who raised over $900 for Eric's medical expenses. She had a "Cut It or Keep It" fundraiser, offering her long hair.

I am living with my grandparents (my mother's parents, whom she has written about in the previous post), which is nothing out of the ordinary. This year, however, I feel like I've really been able to help out more and pull my own weight. I get meals ready for them, I distract my grandmother when she's pestering my granddad, and I generally do what I can to make sure the house is running smoothly. I feel like I've become a big help in their lives, and it's actually going to be a little bit difficult moving back to college, knowing that they'll be living here without me.

Speaking of college, I am moving out of the dorm. This is an exciting prospect, as it means that seven of my friends and yours truly will be moving into a townhouse together. This change brings with it a smaller living area, a kitchen, and, in my case, a smaller meal plan. The implication of that being that I will be eating lunch in the cafeteria, but will be preparing my own dinners. Hopefully all goes well with this; if I manage to become a tenth of the chef my dad is, I think I'll do just fine.

I'm not really sure what to say about this. I don't really know what my mom has and hasn't told you about my life. She asked me to ask for prayer requests, so I suppose it would be nice if you asked God for help in my keeping my grades up (a GPA of 3.5, minimum) and my social life interesting. When my mom leaves on the twenty-second I'm back to holding down the fort myself, so hopefully I'll remember what it's like when it was just my grandparents and me, and get right back to where I left off.

As a closing note to this very brief update on my life, I'd like to keep you up to speed on how my younger brother is doing. On Monday Thai time he had a CT scan. What it's revealed is looking good. His radiation treatment will start on Thursday. Please keep him in your prayers, as I know many of you are doing. I really want to thank you for that, as it means a lot to me, and us, as a family.

Depending on what happens, I may be back to throw another update your way, but until then. Thank you for reading this blog and taking an interest in my family, my mother really slaves away (I write these in about a twentieth of the time it takes her) to bring you updates every week, and it's great that you get to read what results from her efforts.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Atop the Jacuzzi

Lord, teach me what real love is and make me a loving person.” This week’s dare from “The Love Dare, Day by Day”

Actually, I’m on the bed but it sits atop the Jacuzzi at my parent’s house in Toronto. It’s where I’ve been sleeping since arriving here to visit Evan and my parents. It’s very comfortable as in the absence of bodies (Eng’s or sometimes Ethan’s), I’m surrounded by pillows. I just have to make sure I’ve done what needs doing in the bathroom or I’ll have to climb back down again on the chair that’s set just by the door where the bed ends. It’s a strange arrangement but it works for me. I like it better than sleeping on the couch as it gives me some privacy when the door is pulled shut.

It’s good to be here and to spend some time with Evan. Today was his day off so he bought me lunch at an All–You-Can-Eat Sushi place and then we visited his favorite book store. He’s shown me where he runs 3x a week in the morning and we saw “Toy Story 3” (an excellent movie!) last week. It’s great to see Evan again. With regard to Eric’s being sick, he’s handled it well and resorted to praying a lot for him. =)

My parents are as well as they can be. My mother is 86 and has Alzheimer’s. My father is 89 and has Diabetes. He injects himself with insulin twice a day and it isn’t uncommon for him to wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat because his blood sugar level is too low. At those times, he eats chocolate bars (KitKat) that he keeps by his bed to quickly increase his blood sugar level. Every day, I thank God for another day with him. He’s been living on the Lord’s grace for a long time.
My mother is a different story every few minutes. We never know what we’re going to get. When she has good moments, she’ll take her medicine without a fuss and would be pleasant, warm, and cheery. Her many other sides could be any of the following: anger, rage, suspiciousness, vindictiveness, fear, confusion, doubtfulness, weariness, etc. We’ve had many tense moments as she attempts to throw her pills, react furiously as to why she has to take them, or call my father names for having her do something she doesn’t want to do. Every day, there seem to be a drama yet waiting to be played. Thankfully, she still responds to music and I’ve been able to play the piano for her to dance to. Unfortunately, the music does not keep her occupied as much as it did last year. She seems to tire more easily nowadays. Evan’s friend’s grandmother has the same illness but she isn’t talking anymore and just sits all day. For what my mother is able to still do, we are grateful.
The other day I found her unsuccessful in cleaning herself after going to the bathroom. I explained to her that she needed to change and proceeded to help her. She didn’t like how I removed her shirt so she furiously yanked it from me and attempted to pull it over my head. We struggled over the shirt, she pulling it down while I tried stopping her. At one point, I wondered what I should be doing. Should I physically resist her to the point where she would feel pain? I really didn’t want a smelly stained shirt on my head! In the end, she physically stopped and resorted to verbally say what she wanted to do with her hands. The whole incident shocked and surprised me. I felt fear for what she might do next but even more so for my reaction of not wanting to care for her. Only later did I mentally choose to let go and just now, forgive. Like she’s forgotten me, she’s forgotten the incident already. She really isn’t the problem; she is ill. The Lord is obviously answering my prayer above. I have a lot to learn.

Thank you for praying. Everyone is doing well at home. Eric is getting a CAT scan on July 12th and is now scheduled to receive his first radiation treatment on July 15th at Siripat Hospital in Chiang Mai.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

By the Grace of God

The last round of chemo was administered today without any glitches or complications. Our whole family was at the hospital so we could all celebrate when it was over. Ending with us corporately saying “Alleluias” and doing our clap offering, we thanked God for His goodness, faithfulness, mercy, and grace. Eric’s 4 cycles, or 8 rounds of chemo treatments, are now a thing of the past for him.
Praise God!

Ethan instantly liked Eric's doctor, Dr. Rattiya. Please keep praying for her to know Jesus. We just found out that our Christian friend started seeing her as well. A routine check up showed he had cancer also.

We came back from our vacation at the beach late Sunday night. We had a magnificent time and were all rested and tanned by the time it was over. Not only were we blessed with delicious food, good company, perfect weather, and restful sleep, the Lord continued to bless us with His love through His people. The temporary hosts of the place treated us to a delicious seafood meal on our last night and then gave us money as we left the next morning. What a gracious God we have!

Lastly, as an indication of Eric’s stamina, I would like to admit that he beat me in our swimming races across the length of the pool (twice!). On our last race, I even started a few strokes ahead of him but he beat me anyway! It was several years ago but I did use to swim for the school team. I don’t get where he gets all his energy! It isn’t his own but God’s.

I actually wanted a rematch of our swimming pool basketball game since he and Eli beat Eng and I in our game. I told him I couldn’t believe they beat us. I said, “Aren’t you supposed to have cancer? How could you beat us?” Although initially amused, he then took on a serious look and said, “By the Grace of God, Mom.” And that there explains everything.

Eli wore the hospital garb just for fun. While waiting, they spent time watching T.V.

Thank you for praying. Two to three weeks from now, Eric's 3-weeks’ radiation treatments will start. The half hour treatments will have to be done in the evenings so it works perfectly with Eng being able to do it after work. What excellent timing. =) Thank you, Lord!

I am leaving for Canada tomorrow for a 3-week visit with Evan (our oldest son) and my parents. Evan has been living in Toronto with my parents while he works there during the summer. He has been studying to become a writer or editor at Houghton College in Western New York for the past two years.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Deeper Than Any Ocean

Yesterday, I managed to take an hour long walk on the beach. It was so satisfying. The early morning breeze coupled with the right combination of magnificent sky, glorious clouds, soft lapping waves, and powder fine sand on my toes made it perfect. The waves weren’t numerous. At one point the Lord said His love for me was as many times the waves hit the shore and they were coming frequently then! So this time when I saw the waves, my first question was, “How come there isn’t much?” asking God. Then I noticed the sand and He reminded me that His love was as numerous as the sand on the shore. The song that was playing on my randomly playing phone sang, “Your love is deeper than any ocean” and as I looked at the vast body of water beside me, I couldn’t help but feel loved abundantly. Then the waves felt like soft caresses and gentle kisses from God. I wish to be as aware of this great love in the absence of His creation. Surely He is always telling us how much He loves us! If only we always had eyes to perceive and hearts that understood His love easily.

We are now in Prachuab Kirikhan staying at ‘The Pines’, an OMF vacation home. Thanks to a donor who helped us with our airfare, we are here for a week long vacation. It is wonderful to be here! Along with the realization of His love on the beach, I noticed my lone footprints in the sand and remembered the “Footprints in the Sand” poem by Mary Stevenson (http://www.footprints-inthe-sand.com/index.php?page=Poem/Poem.php). I know we’ve had trying times in the last few months with Eric’s cancer but the Lord carried us and is still carrying us. Thank you, Papa God, you are so good.

Eric’s last chemo treatment was scheduled for this Friday but we asked to move it to Monday (June 28th) so we can stay here until Sunday. Just the thought of staying here that long makes me sigh with relief already. =)

Eric hasn’t been wearing his mask since he got here. He’s breathing in the fresh air and swimming and eating lots! Yesterday, he and Eli beat Eng and me (Linda) in a game of basketball in the swimming pool. We played them hard until I was panting like crazy and could feel myself sweating even though I was in the water! Still, we lost badly! Yes, they’re young but he’s got cancer! Even though there probably should be, there is no sign of weakness in him. He is definitely doing very well.

A prophetic friend prayed for him today and declared that Eric will be healed of his cancer through his treatments and it will never recur again in his lifetime. We said a resounding "AMEN" to that! Thank you again for praying.