Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011

Merry Christmas Everyone!
Let's be intentional in having fun and in building memories with those we love. =D

With love and blessings from us,
Eli, Evan, Linda, Eric, Eng, and Ethan

Monday, December 19, 2011

Of Trees and Men

Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them.
Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy;
they will sing before the Lord, for He comes,
He comes to judge the earth.
Psalm 96:12-13a
I’d wanted to write about trees for a long time now. There’s just something about them. In Chiang Mai, I’d made friends with several of them. In Seven Fountains where I used to go to be quiet, I’d make sure to walk around and lay a hand on each of the trunks of trees that I’ve become fond of. I’d audibly bless and thank them for doing such a great job praising our God. They really do, and now that I think of it, I suppose they can’t help themselves! They don’t have a free will like us people so they are just so into God. They don’t ever wonder whether they should or that they don’t have the time, they just fully adore God. They stand majestic and all-knowing. Their branches seem to be arms reaching out to the heavens, dancing and swaying, praising and rejoicing. I enjoy looking at them, they are a wonderful sight! I tried hugging them before too, but the ones I liked were humongous so my arms couldn’t reach around them. Secondly, some barks are rough, hard, knotty, and sometimes crawling with ants so my tree hugging experience stopped very quickly. =)

Tonight, I remembered to write about them because we have a real balsam pine tree in our living room this year and I was just touching it awhile ago. It is beautiful and smells great! We used artificial Christmas trees in the past so I was really excited to have a real tree for a change. It’s great not to have to look out to admire a tree. A gorgeous one sits right in our living room. It is a blessing.

Trees fascinate me. Now that their leaves have fallen, they’re even more interesting to look at. The complexity and intricacies of the branches are now visibly apparent. Apart from the beauty of the leaves, the baring of the branches is God’s way of showing off His creation. One cannot help but be fascinated by the way they are made!

I now understand my fascination with trees. I heard a teaching that said God is complete. He doesn’t need anything. He made us not because He needed us. He is a Creator and He lovingly made us in His image and gave us our free will. Our greatest gift to Him is to use that free will and willingly choose to love, worship, and adore Him. Trees and the way they look like they’re crazy-about-Him-all-the-time is I think what I relate with. They don’t ever stop praising; it is why they exist. Which brings my thoughts back to us; it’s what we should be doing. I’m drawn to trees because they show me what I should do more of: lift up my hands, rejoice, clap, sing, do with a purpose to serve, and just adore and love our God. Lord, please help us to simply adore and worship you in everything we do, just like the trees.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Peace

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27
Today, I received an email from my doctor explaining the results of the biopsy done on a cyst in my right forearm. It’s been over two weeks since the actual procedure was done. I actually initially started thinking worse case scenarios because during the removal of the cyst, the doctor commented that he hadn’t seen anything like the “stuff” he took out from me.

First, he showed me the small piece that he cut off the top of the cyst. As he prepared to stitch me, I asked him if I could watch. Somewhat perplexed that I was interested, he paused and allowed me to shift my body so I could have a good view of my arm while he “closed me up”. That momentary delay was all that was needed for him to see the unusual ‘something’ in the cyst. He commented that it looked like they had tiny legs and might be parasites. The only way to be sure was to look at it under the microscope, he explained, and then we’d talk about the treatment.

I don’t know how you would have reacted to that but I started to look at the other growths in my arms (there are a few) and wondered if there were tiny parasites in each of them just like the ones we saw. I had a good look at the beaker where the cyst was deposited. The tiny white particles looked like little fat caterpillars to me. How could they possibly be eliminated if they lived in cocoons in the form of cysts? What if there were cysts near the vital organs in my body? Would those little critters start invading my organs where it could kill me? Would they then do incisions in different parts of my body to rid myself of all of them? Yes, for several minutes and upwards to two days, my mind imagined and thought of all those. I think the funniest was when I looked at my arm again and saw little white spots. I started to imagine that underneath my skin were the bugs trying to escape the site of the biopsy’s incision!

Thankfully, I got a hold of myself and learned to choose what to think. The enemy could continue to steal my peace or I could just let the results of the biopsy arrive (as it did today) and deal with it then. I certainly had other things to deal and think about. I did that and with the Lord’s help, enjoyed the last two weeks, peace intact.

There was a time when I dealt with Eric’s cancer treatments and my hands literally shook. My lips professed faith but the rest of my body expressed fear. Eventually, complete calmness and peace took over but not before missing both of his first chemo and radiation treatments. I had to learn to trust God to take care of Eric in my physical absence. The Lord taught me to obey His command not to fear (Joshua 1:9). It was a hard lesson but worth all the difficult inner wrestling of sorts to learn it. Praise God for His patience in teaching.

Had I not learned, my last two weeks would have been stressful for me. Thankfully, it was anything but. Now that I know the cyst wasn’t parasite filled but merely a steatocystoma which is benign and has a hereditary pattern, I’m even more grateful I didn’t waste my time worrying! I’m glad I didn’t allow my heart to continually be troubled. There isn’t even a need for treatment! Thank you, Lord, for your grace and goodness, and most of all, your peace.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7

Monday, December 5, 2011

Being Washed

"Wash me, wash me, and I will be clean.”
Alberto and Kimberly Rivera from the song “Wash Me”

“Wash Me” had been a favourite from the moment I heard it. Every now and then when I listen to it, it becomes my prayer. I like to be cleansed, especially of sins that I commit while unaware of my selfish motives and humanity. Thankfully, Papa God is more than willing to oblige if we sincerely ask Him to cleanse us. He is not just once but three times Holy (Rev. 4:8), and wants us to be holy, too. He will expose our sinfulness if we want Him
to. Last week, I became aware of mine on Sunday morning. After my alarm woke me and I sleepily thought of what I needed to do that day, I was immediately excited to get up. I remembered that it was a Sunday and it’s when I played the piano and worshipped. Sunday mornings have been my time with God and I enjoy the quiet while no one is afoot. Everyone in our household is asleep so I’m usually undisturbed. I could sing loudly or off-key and no one minds. Before I was able to head downstairs though, I remembered that our two older sons were home and I knew they would go back to their colleges by the afternoon. I also knew that I should cook breakfast and have them eat nutritious food since they don’t usually eat healthy food while in school. Sigh, I didn’t really want to cook. Cooking isn’t on my list of things I like doing. If I was getting up early on a Sunday, I’d really rather play the piano and try to worship with my playing. I wanted to do what I usually did during my undisturbed time with God. Still, the novel thought of giving up my usual activity to serve instead, felt too right. I didn’t want to do it but it dawned on me that it was a new way to worship. It wasn’t worshipping the way I wanted to. Instead, it's a sacrificial way that I knew the Lord would receive just as well and, it would also bless our family. I was reluctant and hesitant but I cooked blueberry pancakes and eggs. While doing it, I remembered all those other Sunday mornings in the past when Eng would wake up and come downstairs. He’d come and kiss me while I was playing the piano but I used to see that more as an intrusion than receiving the greeting that he was giving me. After all, couldn’t he see that I was busy “worshipping”? Unpleasant as it was, I realized how selfish I’d been. I’d actually carved out that time for myself and called it my “worship” of God. I honestly never really
listened to Him to find out what He may have me do instead. Had I listened, I might have heard Him say, “Go read my Words with Eng” or “Spend the morning with Eng”, etc. Thank you, God! With my selfishness discovered, I can change and begin to behave differently. I can deal with it, and with God’s help, I can continue to be transformed. This is just like washing in real life. We can just use water (as Ethan would often do!) but it doesn’t really clean us. If we wash with soap however, similar to having the Lord work in our lives, we can be truly made clean and be completely made new. The Lord not just forgives but also cleanses us of all unrighteousness. Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful process that you do in our lives if we let you. =) Praise You!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Grace's New Look

Grace – the freely given, unmerited favour and love of God.
From Dictionary.com
Today, the message was about the grace of God. The Pastor talked about our separation from God and how because of His grace, the Lord saved us from ourselves. We became His transformed beings with new hearts and new minds. I agree with him. The Lord is very much into redeeming people and then transforming them. I, for one, changed a LOT because of His work in my life. Praise God!

In previous postings, I’ve indicated that without the Lord’s grace, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Each day that we are still alive is purely because of the Lord’s grace.


This week-end surprised me though because both Evan and Eric were home. The Americans had their Thanksgiving holiday so Evan had the long week-end off. Eric knew Evan would be home and he wanted to attend his cousin’s 18th birthday gathering so he came home also. It was a joy to have both of them here. As Ethan declared, it is good to be together as a family again. What struck me as especially unusual was the way we spent our time and why I recognized it later on as grace.

It all seemed so ordinary. One son wanted to watch “The Muppets” so he was making plans to go see it. Another son wanted to go as well so soon, all of them wanted to go, including the youngest one. I told Ethan I’d take him. Eng was away at a conference so I took our four sons out to catch the late show. Before we got there, one son kept joyfully proclaiming that he was so excited to watch the movie. It wasn’t Ethan so I was particularly amused. I was a girl when I last watched some of the Muppets on “Sesame Street”. It surprised me that my grown up sons would want to watch it. It puzzled me even more why one would be so “excited” to see it. I didn’t know that the lead actor was in a popular series. Still, by now, I’d grown accustomed to hearing them want to watch movies like, “Thor”, “Captain America”, or a movie filled with action, suspense, violence, and sometimes zombies (now why they’d want to watch supposedly dead people move - scary and ugly, too(!) - is really beyond me).


While watching, there were several moments in the movie when we all heartily laughed! It was a movie that the “kid” in all of us related with. I watched Kermit the frog and Miss Piggy as a kid and so did the older ones. Ethan hardly watched TV in Thailand but he knew the characters. It was wholesome FUN all around. When the “Rainbow Connection” song was sung, it was familiar to all of us. We sang along with it in our heads. When the movie was over, we talked about the different funny parts and laughed all over again. We sang some of the new catchy songs together even the day after. It was surprisingly fun! I went along more as a driver but ended up enjoying myself tremendously.

The next day, one son had to cook for us as part of his school project so he fixed our supper. He had us eating green salad, pasta with Alfredo sauce, and baked pork chops. It was delicious! Later they wanted milk shakes so they headed out to the corner store while the cook and I cleaned up and washed dishes. The milk shake machine was unfortunately broken but they kept their happy mood, content with their second choice: slushy drinks.

The evening ended with a game of Scrabble. While playing, we listened to the same movie’s soundtrack and sang along. Some unkind words were even spoken but nothing escalated into a fight. All in all, we enjoyed ourselves. It was while playing that one of them said, “I’m really glad you guys are here.” When I heard that, I realized that it wasn’t an ordinary week-end. The phrase spoken, was used for the first time by that teen. It sounds more like something Papa God would tell us. Also, we were living in harmony just as the Lord said (mentioned in the July 17, 2011 posting “New Provisions”). Last but not the least, it is grace to truly enjoy being together. I know that to have fun, not all families would watch a movie like “The Muppets” and be tickled by it. For drinks, neither would very many choose milk shakes nor slushy drinks. We have an unusual family but I love it. Thank you, Lord, for Your grace. None of us deserves it. You are good to let it happen. Next time, please let Eng be with us also. =)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Displaying Knowledge

The heavens declare the glory of God;
The skies proclaim the work of His hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
Night after night they display knowledge.
Psalm 19: 1-2

It was cold and an overcast morning when we headed for church. We were late leaving the house as we had friends from London, Ontario who stayed the night after watching a concert in downtown Toronto. They arrived after midnight so we didn’t really visit when they got here. We spent some minutes visiting during breakfast and then when they left, we hurriedly got ready for church. Knowing God, we just had to be late so we wouldn’t miss what we saw. As we drove south on Highway 404, we were first witnesses to beautiful rays of morning sunlight streaming through a clump of clouds. It’s not quite like the picture
on the right but it looks a little bit like it. Aloud, I praised God for His favour in showing us the beautiful sight. Suddenly, as if the Lord was saying,
“You thought that was gorgeous? Check this out!” and the overcast sky that we had, was no more. In its place were beams of light from our left to the right, streaking through the clouds. It was a panorama of awesome display! I’d never seen one like it before. There was 180 degrees of rays of sunlight peering through the clouds with just the right combination of gaps in the clouds to make it look so magical. It was a truly, rare, awesome sight to behold. And as usual, Ethan and Eli’s remark to my excited, “Look, guys, look!” was a sleepy “Ah huh.” If only they realized that 50 years (my age) was a long time to wait to see one of those. I wonder now if in my lifetime the Lord had made a display just like the one I was raving about but I failed to notice it. I think sometimes, like me, we go through our day and what needs doing distracts us. We inevitably miss out on the beauty that God creates around us. What a shame! I hope to pay more attention. If not like me, you may be like our sons who are seeing but not completely comprehending the uniqueness of what’s in front of them. In the face of extraordinary, all they could see is mediocrity. May all our eyes be open to the beauty of the Lord’s work which displays His glory.

As the verse above states, there isn’t a day when the skies are not proclaiming the Lord’s glory and what His hands can do.

There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
Psalm 19:3-4
Can you see His glory? The skies are speaking it. Each day’s awesome brilliance screams who the Lord is. Yes, skies, please keep it up. Speak and shout. We are listening.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Evan's 21!

“By this time next year, you’ll be carrying a child in your arms.”
Mitch Hartman, March 1990

Today is Evan’s birthday. Since we’ve been living in Thailand, it’s the first time we’re here in Canada on his birthday since 2007. We really wanted to be with him to celebrate but since it’s a Monday, it was far too complicated. It’s a school day and because he’s a four hours drive away, a total of eight hours on the road was a big time commitment. Still, we felt that being with him was worth the long drive. We planned to leave early yesterday and make it there in time for lunch. We thought we’d eat somewhere special, spend the afternoon together, and start the drive back just before it got dark. Then, Eric arrived from Kingston to spend the week-end with us. With all the driving needed to see Evan, I thought he wouldn’t want to go to Houghton, New York but he said he wanted to. Kingston is in the east and Evan’s in the west. It meant an even longer drive as Eric needed to be driven back also. Instead of just eight hours, we needed another four hours. It’s tiring to even just think of it but it’s exactly what
we did. We left just after seven in the morning and got there before eleven. We enjoyed a delicious lunch in the next town and captured ourselves on film. We hung out in his room for just a bit, we prayed for him, and then we had to leave (around 2 pm) so we could be in Kingston by 7 pm. We gave a new definition to fast food by eating really quickly at Subway. Then, we left for home arriving at 10:30 pm. We were all exhausted and weary from sitting too long but we felt great on the inside. Neither Eli nor Ethan complained the whole time we drove. It was so good to do something so physically tiring yet positively loving. Evan seemed delighted and pleased. The whole trip was over 15 hours long with just four hours of visiting. We drove over 1000 kilometers on dirt roads and highways with the sunshine, rain, and finally the moonlight for company. For Evan (and Eric, Eli, and Ethan), we’d do it all over again.

At 21, Evan did turn out to be the fine, young man that the Lord told me he was going to become. When he was young, I was so concerned about his frequent nose bleeds so I prayed incessantly for him. The Lord said not to worry because Evan would grow up to be a fine, young man. Our pastor friend also prophesied his arrival to us 21 years ago. We went up for prayer then as we felt completely inadequate to be parents. Eng and I weren’t sure whether we should have children. Our friend prayed against the fear that we felt and told us that the Lord desired to bless our marriage with children. As we were walking away, he called out to us and said the quote above. He was right! Unknown to me, I was already pregnant. When we next saw him again the following year, Evan was no longer an infant but a child.

The Lord is so good to share Evan with us. He’s God-fearing, creative and witty, loving, and funny. He’s so artistic and is a LOT of fun to be with. We are blessed to be his family. Thank you, Lord. Keep on, Evan!

Monday, November 7, 2011

God's Favour

For your loving kindness is great beyond measure, high as the heavens.
Your faithfulness reaches the skies.
Psalm 108:4, TLB

I know now that being in Kingston this week-end was God ordained. I was headed for Montreal to represent OMF at a mission’s fest but changed my mind just days before when I found out that Eric was facing great discouragement in the midst of his studies in university. Instead of Montreal, Eng (who was already set to go to Kingston to share) and I drove early yesterday morning to be in time for the Heart for Asia Conference in Kingston.

The morning went very well and allowed us to meet up with women interested in getting into missions. It felt like God orchestrated it so that we shared what we did and those women happened to be there to hear us. Later, as we chatted, more information was shared with regard to how they can answer the leading that they sensed God was doing in their lives. It is great to be a part of His plans!

Later, we met with a Holy Spirit filled, godly 90 years old English woman who will have a room available in December for Eric to move into. We sat mesmerized as she told several stories including how she lost her 13 years old son and how the Lord brought her to Himself and used her ever since. She is truly amazing and a living testimony to the Lord’s faithfulness! Even more unbelievable is the fact that she lives in a mansion-like home in front of a beautiful park and just two houses away from Lake Ontario. I don’t know that it can get any more ideal than that! It being cold, we didn’t walk out onto her garden but she said she owned acres of land. It’s too good to be true and yet it is. The house is about a five minute walk from the university. That Eric would be blessed to live there is an understatement and she charges the same amount that we pay the pastor to rent the room Eric is currently staying in.

As I’ve seen the week-end unfold, I’ve begun to understand the Lord’s favour. I’ve been reading about it from the book “Your Best Life Now” by Joel Osteen. [I highly recommend this book if you haven’t read it yet!] The author talked about learning to expect the favour of God because He is as described in the verse above. I’d like to add that King David wrote in Psalm 27:13, “I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” and if he expected it and saw it happening in his life, so should we! Joel Osteen wrote about expecting people to go out of their way to be kind to us because of the Lord’s favour, not because of anything we’d done but because we belonged to Him.

Sure enough, I’ve been praying and declaring that the Lord’s goodness and mercy will follow me in my day-to-day and that His favour is upon me. With eyes that now see, and because I expect it, I’d been witnessing the Lord blessing me/us. On Friday, for example, Ethan and I were shopping for a jacket when a random lady walked up to us and just stated that a jacket sale with 40% off was happening at another shop the next day. Yesterday, as I took an apple to give to Eric, another lady who ‘happened’ to be walking by said there was an apple sale at the local grocery store. A mother we hadn’t met before came over to where Eric and I sat after Eng shared the message at church this morning. While she held Eric’s hand, she sincerely told him that he was welcome to go to her house any time he wanted a meal. She further asked for his number and said she would call to invite him over. The couple who hosted us for the week-end went out of their way to make our stay comfortable and when we left, we even had snacks for the drive home. They fed us, gave us books, and prayed for us! They also said they’d invite Eric over and feed him. And just before we left their place, I sat down to write them a thank you note and the verse above was the very verse displayed on their desk. Just in case I wasn't paying attention, the Lord saw it fit to accentuate the obvious. =)

Needless to say, our hearts are overflowing with gratitude. Anywhere we went this week-end, we got the prime parking spot just outside the store we wanted to patronize. It is amazing to see the Lord’s favour at work! My prayer is that you will see it, too! Start now, thank the Lord for the great day you’ll have. Thank Him for His favour that rests on you because you belong to Him. Thank Him that His goodness and mercy will follow you as you go through your day. Then watch and see your day unfold. I know your days will end with smiles on your lips as you think back on what He’s done. The Lord will go out of His way to bless you. =D He is, such a God! Thank you, Lord, for who you are. I LOVE you.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Being Helpmates

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Genesis 2:18

Being married for almost 25 years, I can’t remember my wedding vows anymore but I do recall that I’m to stick it out with Eng for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. I happily and eagerly declared those words on our wedding day. I was in love with Eng and very thrilled and content to marry him. I had no idea though of the hard work that it is to work on a marriage. I didn’t anticipate then that it’s something to constantly put effort and improve upon. Sadly, because of my lack of purposeful doing, I’d have to admit that our marriage, although happy, can’t be deemed as “easy”. I think the fact that Eng is Chinese born in Malaysia and I’m Filipino definitely has a lot to do with many of our differences. We both moved to Canada as teenagers and met there as university students so our new culture also influenced us greatly. When we married, we had four different, sometimes conflicting cultures (Chinese, Malaysian, Filipino, and Canadian) that we adjusted to.

To add to the mix, we worked for over four years in the south of the Philippines which was an entirely new culture even for me! That was followed by two years in Canada and then seven years in Thailand, an even stranger culture to get used to. With all the adjustments to cultures, different roles in our lives, our four sons and their nurture and growth, and our missionary work, we can definitely look back and say, “Wow, life was FULL.”


I can see now that it makes sense that it wasn’t all easy. We’d lived extraordinary lives! I think our mixed marriage and orientation would have been a challenge just living in one place but the fact that in the last fourteen years we moved several times and are now in our 9th home in three countries (Canada, Philippines, Thailand) is a testimony of how trying and difficult its been. Thank you, God that we’re still together after all these years!

Having said that, I realized recently though that my husband is my first priority, and ministry. I’d been guilty of being there first for my sons and my friends. I know I could have been more helpful, caring, and supportive of him, more encouraging and loving. As I looked forward to Eng arriving (he did today) determined to be a better wife, someone attended our Bible study for the first time last Friday and she said the same things that I just wrote about. Except, her husband died so she was filled with regret for what she could have been for him. I’m glad the Lord (and I’m sure her husband!) had forgiven her. I’m even gladder that Eng is here for me to love and be a help to. As we head into our 25th anniversary in February, may our next 25 years together be extraordinary in that it’ll be full of joy, laughter, and love. Thank you, Lord, for the great marriage that you want us to enjoy! You are good. =)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Grace to Speak

I know that You are for me. I know that You are for me.
I know that You will never, forsake me in my weaknesses.
Kari Jobe from the song “You Are for Me”

This morning, I woke up just after six to get ready for the day. I remembered feeling completely inadequate as I contemplated what I had to do later on. A few years ago, I had the difficult task of sharing the news from the front of the church that one of our friends drowned the day before. As I gripped the sides of the podium then and thought of the best way to deliver the grim news, I just knew without a doubt that I was going to be sharing a LOT more from where I was. That was over 14 years ago but the fact that I knew then that I would share from the front didn’t make the task easier to think about. I still wondered if I heard the Lord right in what I intended to say. I prayed some more then later got up and played a few songs on the piano. The song above ministered to me as I prepared for my sharing so I fingered it and played it a few times also. I hung on to the words and willed myself to believe it to be true. Satisfied, I went upstairs to wake up our two sons. I reminded them that I was sharing and asked them three times to please get ready. Then, I showered and got ready myself. [Eng’s been away to renew his visa and work in Chiang Mai for the last two weeks. He was grateful that while there, he managed to do a side trip to Ipoh to visit his mom and ailing brother.]

Half an hour later, I poked my head out of our bedroom door and announced that we needed to leave in five minutes. I saw one of my sons with nothing on but his boxers and the water on his wet hair. I shook my head as I calculated that he probably needed longer than the remaining time we had to put clothes on and dry his hair. Still, I told myself to relax. He had five minutes. He’d be ready in that time, or so I hoped!

A little later, I came out of our room and declared that we had to leave. As I rounded the banister to head downstairs, I saw our other son also in his boxers and the t-shirt he slept in! He just got up from bed and looked surprised that he heard what he did. At this point, my stress level completely peaked as I took in the situation. We had to be at church where I was to speak and the service was starting in twenty minutes. The drive took at least half that time and I still needed to turn in a file that I was going to use for the talk. Meanwhile, our other son was dressed but looked like he was still looking for something. I don’t know what you would have done but I started yelling. Eventually, we all headed to the van. My tardy son hurriedly got in on his bare feet with his socks, shoes, and jacket all tucked under his arms.

I’ll spare the details of the lecture delivered in my sternest voice as I drove us speedily to church. I was stressed and upset and it was the last thing I wanted to feel before I shared. Worst of all, I was praying for the Lord to minister through me and yet I was definitely not the person to receive ministry from! Feeling completely defeated and dismayed, I knew that I was toast. I stopped my ranting and turned on the CD player full blast as I realized that the same song above was playing as I pulled in to park the van the day before. I wanted to have a better frame of mind and I was hoping the song’s words and the loud volume would blast my stress and anger away.

Strangely enough, the words penetrated my soul and warmed its steaming heart. In spite what I was: physically exhausted, sleepy, hugely stressed, angry, and feeling totally undeserving, my Lord was for me. I saw my weakness in its raw, ugly form and was glad that although I was such, the Lord was not going to forsake me. I didn’t know how I was going to deliver the message but I was sure He was going to be there for me.

It’s a blur now, how the morning went, but the sharing happened by the grace of God. As I walked back to my seat, I felt glad and relieved. Our two sons gave me the “thumbs up” as I passed them. Thank you, Lord, for being there for me.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fall

God’s Coloring Book
We saw the two lines above on a sign in Wyoming County, New York

I should have stopped and taken a picture of the sign but I didn’t want it to get too dark and still be driving in the countryside of western New York. It’s an almost four hour drive back to Markham from Evan’s college so I was rushing to get to the big highway before it got really dark. This also means I didn’t think to take pictures of the hundreds of bright, orange pumpkins displayed by the road. They were a joy to see.

Today might actually be described as a horrid day by many. It was cold, wet, and windy. Gusts of wind would suddenly and scarily lift the van I was driving, shifting it slightly over to the right. I made sure there were no vehicles by me as I ascended two particularly high bridges. It rained intermittently, sometimes with scarcely a drop or two, but sometimes with torrents so strong it felt like buckets of water were falling (or cats and dogs)! The wipers couldn’t do its work speedily enough to rid the windshield of the rain water. I was so glad to cross the American border and be back in Canada. By then, the rain cleared up a bit and I was just over two hours nearer to home.

There were the usual fall colors. The wet trees and its leaves looked magnificent even amidst the grey skies. It actually occurred to me today that the Lord wisely interspersed rainy days with sunny ones so there could be more appreciation for the beauty of fall. To begin with, people around here see the colourful leaves every year so it can’t be helped that it’s become common. Truly, not very many people are excited about the leaves! For us, however, it’s our first fall in seven years! I surely missed it and I feel like I’m seeing it with new eyes. I wish I could truly capture its beauty. No matter what picture I choose to post here, it still pales in comparison to the real thing. Oh, Ethan’s just over three years old when we left seven years ago so everything’s new to him. Each time I ask him to look at what excites me, though, he says, “It’s just a tree, Mom.” Some of us obviously appreciate the leaves more than others. =)

There has to be dark, gray, cold rainy days, so when the sunshine comes back and shines on those gorgeous leaves, some people will actually notice them. Some people will smile at the beauty around them. Thank you, Lord, BRILLIANT, is what you are!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

2011 Thanksgiving

I will sing to the Lord, for He has been good to me.
Psalm 13:6

Today, for lunch, we ate a scrumptious turkey meal at the church we attended. We haven’t had turkey in a LOOOONNNG time so it was a delicious treat. May the Lord keep blessing Church on the Rock. For excellent teaching, it’s also a great church to go to.

I love the feel of dried, pine needles on my feet!

For this Thanksgiving week-end, we spent Saturday driving around the Muskoka area. It’s the first time ever for us to be in that popular area so it was such a delight to finally begin to see why people liked going there. It didn’t disappoint! We even had a chance to climb up a tower on top of the hill in the Dorset area so we could look at the gorgeous fall colours. Beautiful! I’m so glad we went.

It dawned on me that this is the first time in seven years for us to see the beauty of God’s creation at this time of year. WOW, simply amazing! The Lord is too good. It is great to be back and I am grateful.

Our friend, who took us to Muskoka, also brought me two of her winter jackets that she said she wanted to lend me. She joked that she was going to go without so I would have something to wear. We laughed at the sacrifice that she said she was making on my behalf. It was obvious that she had other ones to wear but it touched me anyway that she’s willing to do what she did. Friends that would think to do something like that when they don’t really have to, are real treasures.

Lastly, I’m grateful that Eric was able to come home from his university to be with us. It’s always a joy to be with one another. Evan didn’t have Monday off since he’s going to an American college but he’ll come home this Wednesday for his October break. Eric, Eli, and Ethan hung out with their cousins tonight as we celebrated Thanksgiving together with my parents and other siblings. Family is always something to be grateful about!

Eng admits that he should be more thankful than he is but he is thankful for his favoured hockey team, the Maple Leafs, for winning their first few games of the season. He is also glad that our sons are all doing well.

Evan wrote to say he’s grateful for his college and his friends. He’s also glad he’s able to come home (to us) for break this year. This is the first October break that he’ll spend together with us as we’d always been in Chiang Mai for the previous ones.

Eric is so thankful that everyone around him speaks English. He can, not just understand them, but be understood as well. After years of hearing Thai, and not always comprehending what’s going on, he's glad for the change.

Eli is grateful for his good high school, soccer, and the nice house that we’re in.

Ethan is thankful for his old (the ones in Chiang Mai) and new (from his school now) friends. He had a dream where he saw all of them playing together. =) Ethan is also grateful for his family and the way the Lord’s been providing for him.

Oh Lord, you are definitely good. Thank you!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Our Hour

No man knows when his hour will come
Ecclesiastes 9:12
A week ago today, our friend Paul Beaupre, from our South Riverdale Community Church days in the ‘90s, was found dead by his wife. He died in his sleep. He was partway through writing a poem for his wife at the time, so he surely didn't know that his hour would come when it did. He had been ill with a very rare neurological disorder but no one thought he would go so soon. He was only 57.

Today at the funeral home, we saw so many of our old church friends. Some of them, we hadn’t had the chance to see since we left the church or the country in ’97 to go to the mission field. It was great to see everyone again. Memories, 14 years old and older, started flooding back. I remembered Paul setting up chairs or putting them away when our services were over. He was always up to something and often with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. There was a cheeriness and friendliness about him that stood out. He (Caucasian Canadian) and Alison (Hong Kong Chinese) looked like a couple who wouldn’t stay together long because they seemed so different from one another, but stay together, they did. We were at their wedding in 1994, at the same Bible Study group various times, and we visited sporadically over the last few years. They even lent us their van when we came home for a short two months Home Assignment in 2008.

Yes, along with many that were there, I’m sure we’ll all remember Paul and miss him for a long time to come. During the funeral service, those who spoke said he was an encourager, a loyal friend, and a lover of his wife, family, nature, and animals. He was also described as someone who was simply passing through. That, coupled with his other traits, was something I could completely relate with. He knew he had a final destination; that his life here wasn’t all there was. His pastor actually shared that Paul would often tell him that a Sunday morning service wouldn’t be a great one if the question “Would you say ‘yes’ to Jesus?” wasn’t asked. His position was that Jesus died for you so you could have eternal life. Would you then say ‘yes’ to him? As a way of honoring Paul, I’m asking on his behalf because I know he would want you to be in heaven with him one day. Actually, I'd like you there, too! Would you say "Yes" to Jesus?

Paul’s pastor further added that today we were on the other side of the room and not in front of the room, like Paul’s body was. He said it wouldn’t always be like that because one day, our body will be the one in front of the room. When that happens, where would your spirit have gone? Will it have gone to heaven?

Thanks for everything, Paul. You were such a blessing. Glad to know that you’re finally home. See you there, some day. =)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Unending Love, Amazing Grace

My chains are gone. I’ve been set free,
my God, my Saviour has ransomed me.
And like a flood His mercy reigns,
Unending love, Amazing grace.
From the song “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)
By J. Newton, J. Rees, E. Excell, C. Tomlin, and L. Giglio
On Wednesday last week, I spent a good chunk of the day just being quiet. I also spent some time praying. By the time I was writing on my journal what I sensed the Lord was telling me, I knew that I was feeling inadequate in all areas of my life. I just felt like I was not doing anything well. By then I had my iPhone on and had it on shuffle (a feature that randomly chooses the songs it plays from a collection of songs selected). The playlist (or collection of songs) I picked then had 622 songs. I calculated that if each song played for three and a half minutes each, it’d take me 36 hours, or a day and a half to finish listening to all the songs once. I explained that because what happened truly BAFFLES me. I am convinced that my phone is possessed by the Holy Spirit! I should point out that my first phone was a gift but I lost it in the airport in South Korea. A friend in Korea then gave me this phone I’m using, as a Christmas gift last year. These events were narrated in "Lost and Found", "I'd Rather Have You" and "Living Right" (1-15 December 2010 postings). It arrived on Valentine’s Day and was hand delivered to me by my friend Grace ("Grace Came", February 15, 2011 posting). All to say that having this phone in the first place is only because of God’s grace. Maybe it’s why the Lord keeps using it to speak to me; this way I won't ever forget.

As I began writing, the song “Amazing Grace” played. It is impossible but it played three times! I investigated and found that I actually listened for a total of 37 minutes. The first time it played, I didn't think much of it. Different songs were playing “randomly”. In my mind, I just thought, “YES, (grace) that’s exactly what I need”. Minutes later though, I heard the “Amazing Grace” song by Chris Tomlin and others, not once, but TWO MORE TIMES! Because it played a third time, I knew it played for a reason. It was obvious that the Lord was telling me that His grace was sufficient for me. I was deeply touched and crying. How DOES He do it? I checked to see – in case I was dazed for some reason – by looking at all the songs that played. There it was, “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)” listed twice, only separated by another song labelled “Track 03”. Three, is our Lord’s number to me ("March 3rd", March 9, 2011 posting). Just in case I wasn’t getting it with the repetitive song playing (I could be truly slow =D), Papa God signed it.

I should explain that there are some songs duplicated on my playlist. Chris Tomlin's song is one of those songs. I also have an older version of "Amazing Grace" sung by another group. So yes, I do have 3 copies of the song but the fact that all three played on the same 37-minute session is NOT probable. Today, I drove Eric to Kingston (almost six hours of driving) and I listened for at least two hours (same playlist on shuffle) but I didn't hear the song play even once. On shuffle, I may will a song to play, but it won't. It's obviously not a problem for God, though. He's TOO GOOD. Nothing is impossible for Him!

Thank you, Lord, your unending love and grace is unfathomable and incomprehensible. It truly boggles the mind. As I’ve been pondering what happened since Wednesday, I sat at the church service this morning and what do you know, there it was again! Even as I thanked the Lord for who He is and what He does, the same song above was sung. Such grace, such love, how can I not LOVE Him back?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Our New Normal

It’ll change some more in the future but for now, we are at our “new normal”. Evan and Eric are at their respective universities while Eli and Ethan are the only ones living at home with us.


We are now settled at this house in Markham, Ontario. It has four bedrooms but we can only use three as one bedroom is used by the owner of the house to store their things in. It is a spacious home with two living and two dining rooms, a finished basement, and a porch deck. We are thrilled to be living in this house, truly a wonderful provision from God!

Eric, Ethan, and Evan were belting out a song that was playing on the radio when this picture was taken. We were on our way to Evan's college to bring him to his townhouse shared with six flat mates. We took off one of the middle seats so our van could accommodate more of Evan’s things. Among many of the things he brought along were a bicycle and a rice cooker.


Eric is now renting a room in a pastor’s home in Kingston where he is attending university. The house is conveniently located less than two kilometers away from his school. He is able to use the pastor’s bicycle to get around. His bedroom window overlooks the church that he goes to. Along with the new digs, school, and course load, he is fixing his own meals. We’d be glad to see him when he visits this week-end.

Eli is happily attending Grade 10 at a public high school. He recently found out that he made it to the school’s soccer team. Ethan and Eli also joined the community’s soccer club that will play at a covered dome. They’ll start in October and can keep playing until April 2012. On Saturday, they’ll start a job delivering flyers to homes in the neighbourhood to help with their expenses. As seen on this picture, he rides the bicycle to school, usually with a helmet!


Ethan wasn’t too thrilled when he found out he had to tuck his shirt in as part of his uniform at his new school. Here he is wearing his cardigan and looking very dapper on Day One. He was so eager to get started. He’d been off school since late May and only started last week. Having had over 14 weeks of summer break, he was so ready for school. =) He started 5th grade.

A very handsome looking wild rabbit hops around in our backyard periodically. We enjoy watching it nibble at the grass and weeds in the garden. Our sons talked about catching it, eating it, or taking it to make it their pet but as soon as any of us go out to the back porch, it quickly hops away out of sight. Smart rabbit!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Our Strength

He who sits in the heavens laughs...
Psalm 2:4

This past week was a little harder on the heart than usual. I won't go into details with the other reasons but we drove Eric to Kingston (three hours away) and got him settled in his room. He didn’t get in the university’s dorm but the Lord graciously provided him a room to live in through a pastor that we knew. The house is located less than two kilometres from his university (where he’s going) and he has access to bus transit (free for students) should he decide not to walk. Eric's just starting university so it’s the first time for him to live apart from us for an extended period. It will take some time for us to get used to him not being around. Thankfully, he plans to come home some week-ends and definitely during breaks. =) We’ll be glad for visits from both him and Evan. The house seems strangely quieter since they left. Evan is finishing his last year of college in western New York.

The other news we received was from Eng’s 2nd brother from Malaysia. We just found out that he had Stage 4 cancer in his colon. They operated on him and later found out that the cancer had spread to his lungs. We are praying that during this difficult time, he will be spiritually healed and be more open to the gospel. In the past, he’d never been interested in hearing anything about God. May this time be a turning point in his life.

Eli started tenth grade and adjusted well in his first week. He now has a friend who lives just the next street over that he goes to school with and hangs out with. He’d also been trying out for the school’s soccer team. We’ll find out this week if he makes it.

The Lord continues to provide for Ethan through our friend Joy. She was also the same friend who talked to us about the school that Ethan is going to (in the August 14th posting of "Grace Extended"). Joy gave Ethan enough uniforms (PE included) in time for school which starts for him tomorrow.

I am surrounded by high school classmates in this photo. It was so good to reconnect. We laughed a LOT!

It occurred to me that I needed to be purposeful in understanding situations that gave me joy. Papa God laughs and so should we. Our happiness is circumstancial but joy is a fruit of the Spirit and goes much deeper. It is a knowing and resting on the reassurance that God has everything under control. Whatever we’re going through, we can trust that the Lord, because of His goodness, will make it work out for our good. As we delight in Him, regardless of our situations, His joy permeates our being and we are strengthened. The joy of the Lord truly is our strength!

Sometimes, there is a purposeful, conscious work involved in being intentional to acknowledge (or to tell ourselves) what gives us joy and what warms our hearts. It's necessary though so that our hearts swell with gratefulness and we begin to exude our laughing God. May we grow joyful each day and rejoice in Him always!

In this posting are pictures of joyful moments this week. Thanks, Papa God!

A lack of joy in our lives is the working of unbelief. When we have faith that Jesus will help us, guide us, and provide for us, the only thing left is to praise God and laugh in the face of adversity.
By Ivan Roman

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Life's Too Good

Life counts – all of it.
John Ortberg

This morning, I went to Unionville and took a walk. I’d wanted to return there since my birthday so it’s good that I finally had a chance to do it today. I enjoyed seeing the pond and the bigger birds in it: Canadian Geese, Mallard ducks, and even a Great Blue Heron. I also heard a loon but didn’t see it. I walked around the pond and enjoyed the beautiful scenery and foliage. I crossed several bridges; one had several fallen trees on the water while another had Cattails on both sides of it. I don’t know why they’re named after cats’ tails. They look more like sausages on reeds. =)

After awhile I saw a sign indicating that the pond is called Toogood Pond. Understanding the obvious, I chuckled that they chose “too good” to be its name. I suppose it’s better than calling it “Gorgeous Pond” since it is post card perfect.

Finally, I sat on a bench that was facing several weeping willow trees, a favorite. I reflected on my life here and being back in Canada and knew that I’ve been feeling like I was in the desert. I still haven’t found a caregiver for my parents, I’ve felt the pressure to care for them beyond the time that my family is willing to share me, I’m missing Evan and know I’ll miss Eric as well when he leaves on Tuesday. Relationally, there have been some disagreements and they all weighed heavily in my heart. Yet, as I sat there by Toogood Pond, I couldn’t help but be drawn to the obvious. It was like a magnet. Life is in fact too good. Yes, everything I pointed above is still true but even as I deal with what’s difficult, the Lord is using it to change me. My pleasant and unpleasant circumstances are opportunities for Him to work in my heart and not just on how I see things but more importantly, on how I respond to those around me. Difficult situations are actually there to help me mature as I deal with them. Life is not too hard, it’s too good. The fact that I believe Him makes my life too good!

As John Ortberg points out in his book, "The Life You’ve Always Wanted",

Our season of life – whatever it is – is no barrier to having Christ formed in us. Not in the least.

The Lord will use whatever we’re going through to mold and shape us and change us from glory to glory. Alleluia. Nothing is ever wasted. Thank you, Lord, You are brilliant!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Change

The Father of the heavenly lights, (who) does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17b

It’s not always easy. We packed up our home of three years in Chiang Mai and arrived here eight weeks ago. Four of those eight weeks were spent in a Guest Home. The last four weeks were spent in this rented house. In between visits to cottages, we’d learned to live together as a household of six. It’d been fun and enjoyable and full of adjustments and changes.

On Monday and Tuesday, while Eric, Eli, and Ethan were at their MK retreat, I stayed at my parent’s house to help look after them. My mother changed. She’d been taking a dietary supplement to help her brain function better and it’d been working. Her sentences were still not sensible but when asked why she was scratching, she responded by saying because she was itchy. =) She asked questions and told stories. It’d been awhile since she’d made sense so it made us who looked after her truly rejoice at the change. Thank you, Lord.

Last Thursday, we took Evan to his college for his final year. Since he lived with us when we arrived here, we initially got pleasantly used to him being with us and now, we’re adjusting to him no longer with us. We miss him.

When I took a walk this morning, I noticed that the leaves on the maple trees were beginning to change color. Change is in the air. Whether it’s the frequency of earthquakes or hurricane Irene on the east coast, new things are happening.

Next week, we have more changes as Eric leaves for college.

We cannot escape change as we even change ever slightly as we age every day that we live. A lot of us might resist change and not want to change but it’s undoubtedly a part of our lives whether we want it or not. Change is necessary. The Father always wants to transform us. We must desire change so we can be more like Him faster.

It is a paradox. The instigator of change, the one who wants us to change, will Himself, never change. He’s the only constant. Somehow, I find this truth comforting.
He is perfect. There is nothing in Him that needs changing. =) What a God He is!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Enthralled by Beauty

Listen, O daughter, consider and give ear:
Forget your people and your father’s house.
The king is enthralled by your beauty;
Honor Him, for He is your Lord.
Psalm 45:10-11

On the 17th of August, 17 days after moving into the house we’re now renting, we decided to anoint our home with oil and pray over each room. The 4-bedroom house we’re staying in belongs to Christians but since we all have sins we struggle with and spirits associated with our sins ensure we keep sinning, we prayed that anything that didn’t belong to Papa God, be removed in each of the rooms we are able to use. (One bedroom is off limits to us because the owners have their things stored in it.)

Our prayer time went well but even more noticeable was the increase in openness to the things of God (over the lure of the electronics) since we prayed. One of the difficulties I see in living here is that between the cable TV and the computer, our sons don't seem interested in doing anything else. Shortly after we prayed however, I’ve been able to have individual times with them just to talk, pray, and bless them. It’s also been easier to have corporate times of prayer. Whew, it sure is great to be able to do those!

This week, a friend sent me the verse above and it resonated within me so much that I spent two days meditating on it. I listened and considered. I knew I was too caught up with the must-dos of my sons and the house work. At my parent’s house, their needs occupy my mind and time. Even when I’m at home, I’m still phoning around to look for a caregiver for them. As the verse stated, I needed to forget my preoccupations. I could perfectly relate! It’s the third line that stumped me. Why on earth would the king, God Himself, be enthralled by my beauty? What beauty?

I was confused and decided He must certainly mean my inner beauty. Still, because I am aware of my struggles, my sins, my past mistakes, and my present temperament and temptations, I couldn’t figure out why God would be enthralled with me. In my mind there is nothing to be enthralled with! I waited for His answer. As I spent time with my parents though, I’d felt Him say, “That’s why!” for the different ways I cared for them. I further became still and waited for more answers. Soon, I understood that His eyes saw our potential. Because He isn’t bound by time, He sees us in our future transformed state. Also, He created us and He is fascinated by the beauty of His work, us! I realize that some of us don’t like some of our features but He made us perfectly. We are beautiful to Him! Most of all, as He sees that we are willing to have Him work in our lives and ask for more of Him in us, He is surely pleased with us because we are becoming more and more like Him. This is why He is enthralled. =)

It is fascinating! The more I understand God, the more loveable He gets. He truly is, one of a kind. Awesome God and Lord, please help us to honor you and do it well.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Grace Extended

And You answer, "My child, I love you. And as long as you’re seeking My face, You’ll walk in the pow'r of My daily sufficient grace."
From the song “Grace” by Laura Story

After feeling like I was failing miserably in staying focused on God since arriving in Toronto, I asked Papa God to forgive me, asked further for His help to do better and was soon ready to go to bed. Just before sleeping, I thought to listen to a song that He might want to use to minister to me. My iPhone had 518 songs in the playlist I chose and I proceeded to choose shuffle (an option where the gadget randomly chooses which of the 518 songs to play). Amazingly, the song “Grace” played. Immediately, I was touched and knew I needed to focus on what happened that day, or some time this week. I realize that it is God’s grace that I’m even alive. What I wanted to recall were those moments of His unmerited kindness that were out of the ordinary.

It didn’t take long and I was soon thanking Papa God for the miracle of Ethan being accepted at a private Christian school that will soon move near us. We were asked not to disclose the details of the arrangements we made. Although the tuition fee costs $9,300 for the year. The Lord had seen it fit for Ethan to be able to study there. It is truly amazing!

Eli is happy to attend the local public high school for his 10th grade and Ethan will be in 5th grade when school starts.

Before even coming to Canada, two friends (who don’t know one another) wrote about the school and asked if we’d consider sending our sons there. Deep down, I knew I was just being polite to them when I wrote back to say we’d pray about it. I knew of the school’s expensive fees because years ago I homeschooled Evan in his 1st grade as we didn’t have the $7,000 to send him there. After arriving here, I visited with one of my friends who recommended the school. Unprompted, she talked about the school again and she even gave suggestions on how it might work for Ethan to go there. I was still unconvinced but I shared it with the family and we began to pray to find out God's will for Ethan's schooling. Our friend even went ahead and talked to the decision makers of the school so we were soon expected to meet with them. That meeting did happen the morning that the song played. Before we finished the meeting, we were told that Ethan had a green light to attend their school.

The lines in the song went; “I ask you: "How many times will you pick me up, when I keep on letting you down? And each time I will fall short of Your glory, how far will forgiveness abound?” just before the (Lord’s) answer quoted above. Because of my inability to stay focused on God, I had the same questions and the Lord couldn’t have answered me more graciously than with a song that actually verbalized my questions and answered them.

We have an amazing God. His grace abounds. Nothing is impossible for Him and He always desires to bless. We do not deserve His mercy and grace but He’s always willing and wanting to give it. For this reason, we love Him so. Thank you, Lord, Papa God, for who you are. =) Love you!


Since frog legs were on sale, Evan prompted Eng to buy some and soon it ended up on our table, along with eggplant cooked in bean sauce. Half of us liked the bottom part of the froggies but the rest of us were turned off by them. The half who enjoyed them soon ate them all and we were left with the meat-less bones. Soon, we were all laughing as three of us decided to make the bone legs dance to "can-can" music. =D

Monday, August 8, 2011

Amazing Grace

However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all.
Ecclesiastes 11:8

On Tuesday, August 2nd, I turned fifty. When I was younger, I used to think people over fifty are old so now I’m feeling old. At some point, I’ll probably begin to wear polyester slacks and double knit cardigans – NOT! =D I don’t think a wardrobe change will happen any time soon but I know I’ll be thinking twice before doing anything strenuous. The other day I saw an exercise bar in a house I visited and quickly did a “chin-up”, as in pull my whole body up with my arms to get my chin above the bar. I barely succeeded and worse, my left arm now hurts periodically. I’m told that I probably pulled a muscle or strained it. I used to do several of those “chin-ups” effortlessly as a teen but definitely gone are those days. My mind can still remember what my body was able to do but I need to be realistic now to understand what it can actually still do. Like Peter and the other disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus asked them to wait, my mind and spirit could be very willing but my flesh is definitely weaker and no longer what it used to be.

My body’s limitation is my first lesson in what Eli calls, my “turning of age”. Secondly, I woke up early on my birthday to take a walk. During the walk, the Lord ‘wowed’ me with the sea of yellow flowers on the grass, the blue sky, and the perfect cool weather for walking. I was grateful. Still, as the Lord does with me, the next incident happened. On my way back, I was just half a block away from our house when I saw a young lady picking up strewn garbage on the street. A raccoon had knocked down her green bin the night before, rummaged through and ate the smelly leftovers, then left without cleaning up. She was doing the awful job of gathering the stinky mess. I saw some newspapers on the ground so I used it to help her pick up the refuse. She was appalled and insisted that I stop since I wasn't wearing gloves like she was. I continued to help anyway and with her advice that I wash my hands, she introduced herself. Her name was “Grace”. I suppose it shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did anyway. On this blog are several old postings which talks about the times when the Lord literally used women named “Grace” to help me realize what He’d done for me, and extended me. If you regularly read this blog, you’ll know what I mean. At any rate, after our encounter, I knew the Lord wanted me to concentrate on His grace in my life so I spent the rest of the day on the look out for it.

I received several email and Facebook birthday greetings, phone calls, and, cards and gifts from family and friends who came to the house to celebrate with me. I appreciated the show of care and love. In all that, what particularly stands out is the morning walk by the pond in Unionville with my sons and Eng. I picked a beautiful spot and asked them to pray for me. Each one prayed sincerely and thanked God for me. =) Then, they gave me a group hug. In the arms of my four sons and husband, and with the felt blessing of Papa God, I could feel the Lord smiling and couldn’t help smiling myself. Those tender moments made up my best birthday gift!

In addition to that grace, I saw two teens in a locked embrace early last week which reminded me of my ungodly relationship in the past and where I’d been. Had it not been for the grace of God and His mercy, I wouldn’t be married for 24 years, with 4 sons, on Home Assignment after serving as missionaries for over 10 years, etc., etc. Thank you, Lord, for your faithfulness in my life for the past 50 years! Praise you.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The God Who Sees

You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
Psalm 139:2

In just two days, we’ll be moving into the house that we’re renting for the duration of our stay here. I remember our landlord writing us when we were still in Chiang Mai. She said, “All you have to do is arrive at the house with your bags. You can unpack your suitcases and you’ll be set up. You can use the towels, sheets, and everything else!” With that in mind, I looked around our place today and noted the pieces of luggage in the different parts of our apartment. Well, she was right! We are indeed moving to her house with our luggage but also with LOADS more of other stuff! We didn’t anticipate nor even hope it but the Lord had seen it fit to bless us abundantly. Right now, our living room and hallway literally have stuffed bags, full boxes, and even a complicated gerbil cage (with two gerbils!) waiting to be transported to our new place. We also visited with a friend today to celebrate her birthday with her but we were the ones that left her place with several bags and containers full of stuff that she gave us! Consequently, our van is now filled to the brim with items from her. In both instances, our friends were given things that they didn’t need but they thought of us so they passed on the stuff to us. The one family had items that they no longer needed nor wanted (like the gerbils). It is amazing how the Lord provides and knows what is useful for us. We don’t even know half of what are in the bags that we got today. Somehow, I have a sense that we’ll probably need those things someday. The Lord’s just already provided them ahead of time. Along with many other things, Ethan now have new toys and pets, Eric and Eli have ice skates and clothes, Eng has shoes, Evan has a brand new rice cooker and a non-stick pan, and Linda now has a cell phone that even has money in it! It shouldn’t surprise that the Lord knows our needs before we even think it but it is mind boggling how He sets it all up! Last week, another friend offered to help us move on Monday and we accepted her offer out of wanting to make our move easier (and more fun!). Now that we’ve got an overflow of things, her and her husband’s help will truly be much needed, a real Godsend!


Ethan while excitedly building his just received LEGO set.
Also last week, we talked about not having a rice cooker to cook our rice on. Just a few days later, our neighbor gave us a brand new rice cooker! How did God do that? Today, on the way to our friend’s house, Evan talked to his brothers about wanting to see a movie together. Just a few minutes after our arrival at her place, they all received movie coupons from her! It’s unexplainable how Papa God does it! He sees, He knows, He hears, He impresses, He does, He orchestrates, He gives, and He probably chuckles at our reactions when we are amazed and awed out of our wits when we understand what He’s done. Thank you, Lord, for your kindness and goodness in providing even when we don’t ask you. You are such a good God! There is no one like you. We love you.

Added Later: Today at church, the Lord reminded me of how He sees us just like He did Hagar and Ishmael in Genesis 21:8-19. I met a social worker last Friday while looking for a caregiver for my mother and after talking, we prayed. While praying, she started to cry, later remarking that the Lord heard the prayers she said on her own and used our prayer time to speak into it. As she heard what the Lord will do, she couldn't help but be touched. Every time we pray, the Lord sees, hears, and does.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Gift of Kisses

My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord.
Let every creature praise His Holy Name forever and ever.
Psalm 145:21

Tomorrow, we would have been back here for three weeks. Time has flown. We’ve gone to different shopping places several times to shop for toiletries, groceries, and other stuff we needed to feel at home. We’ve been attending one supporting church that’s close to where we live. But most of all, we’ve been to my parent’s house to spend time with them.

Sadly, my mother, who has Alzheimer’s, has progressed in her illness since I saw her last year. While before she sometimes strung together random words when she spoke, now she does it almost all the time. Words come out of her mouth, mostly in Filipino, but they do not form a thought. Consequently, as listeners, we’d end up confused. She’d be talking to us in a normal conversational tone but we’d be guessing as to what she means and trying to come up with our own random answers. Sometimes, she looks like she understands us. Other times, she looks just as confused as we are.

She’s forgotten who I am and that I’m her daughter so there is no reason to relate with me. As a way to connect with her and to distract her, I’d play the piano. While I do, she sings or hums the words to the songs while her head sways to the beat, or she would sometimes dance to the melody. She also gets irritated if I misplay the song. =) At the very least, she would tap her foot in time with the beat. I look for that as my sign to keep playing. If she’s preoccupied with the music, she’s not scolding my father (which she sometimes does), nor sleeping (which she always does). It’s good for her mind to engage in something.

It’s been so HOT this week so I barbequed some meat on the grill instead of cooking inside their house when I visited them. It was close to 40 degrees so I was soaked in sweat. Not only was I wet, I could also smell the BBQ’s smoke on me. Ethan tried to hug me but quickly recoiled when he felt me (or smelled me?). I could perfectly understand him because I didn’t want to hug nor kiss myself either! It’s smelling like I did which makes me wonder all the more why I got the kisses I received from my mother that night. As I said “goodnight”, I offered to put powder on her face. (In the past, she loved using Johnson’s Baby Powder.) She allowed me to apply the powder on her left cheek with my fingers and then later told me to put some on the right cheek also. Soon; she was holding my hand and using my fingers to spread the then imaginary powder all over her face. She still liked the powder’s smell and I think it soothed her. I kissed her cheek then she asked me to kiss her other cheek, too. I thought maybe she’d change her mind as Ethan did once he caught a whiff of me but not only did she receive my kiss, she then kissed me on the one side of my forehead, then the other side and then she kissed my nose. Finally, she kissed
my chin and smiled at me. I was so taken aback by her gesture that I thanked her because it really touched me and I was so GRATEFUL. I know it may not sound like much but back when my mother wasn’t ill, she used to just sniff me, instead of kiss me. In one of her rare lucid moments, she actually, truly, kissed me (not once, but four times!). It was such a blessing.

My mother reminded me of our God. In our ugliness and stinky, dirty state because of our sins, He still takes us and incomprehensibly loves us and lavishes us with His kisses. What a God He is, the maker of the universe, lowering Himself to our level just so we could feel His love. Thank you, Papa God. =)

I will bless the Lord at all times...
Psalm 34:1