Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Where I'm From

A few week-ends ago while at a friend’s house, I browsed through the books on their bookshelf. It was then that I first saw “Third Culture Kids, Growing Up Among Worlds” by Ruth E. Van Reken and David Pollock. Mildly interested since our sons were Third Culture Kids (TCKs), I started reading it. My friend later joked that pretty soon I would say I was a TCK. Having sped read the first few pages, I retorted that I already knew I was an ATCK (Adult TCK). I really didn’t know that days later that line would literally take on a significant and new meaning for me. It would define me.

That visit ended with me putting the book back on the shelf. I had no intentions of reading another book as I was already then reading two. The folks in that house pointed out to me that they had three copies, one for each of them. It was apparently required reading for them by their different mission groups. That was an interesting point, why wasn’t it a known book nor required reading for our organization?

I am currently half way through the book now. It’s a thick book and I have enough to do as we leave this country to go back to Canada in less than 4 months. Still, I started reading it because when I came in to work on Monday (following that visit), there sat a flyer in my office about a talk given by Ruth, the author. I turned on my computer and one email talked about a different talk (also by her!) held at another place. Both the flyer and the email referenced the book to introduce the speaker. By lunch time when I visited the friend mentioned above, I noticed another copy of the book in her classroom, I literally said, “AAAHH, this book is hounding me! What is it? Why does it seem to be following me?” It was then that I decided to read it. Six instances of either seeing it or reading about it and I thought I better pay attention! God does use books to instruct.

The book allowed me to understand who I am. It gave sense to confusing questions. All this time I could never comfortably say where I was from. I finally have a label, I am an ATCK. Having left the Philippines at 18, I no longer feel like I belong there, even though I will always cherish it and occasionally would feel patriotic and even protective of it. Living in Canada for many years gave me a home but I don’t feel like I’m Canadian (even though my passport says so). Instead, I belong rightly so, somewhere in between with a foot on each country. =) I know, it’s unusual, but it’s okay. I am just different because of all the places I’ve lived in.

Ruth wrote another book, “Letters Never Sent” and it made an even deeper impact than the first book mentioned. It helped to relive the grief and emotions that I buried. I am reading it a second time with my son Ethan who is 10 years old. We’d cried at different parts. It’s so refreshing that we could begin to talk about what we’d been through as we’ve left places and people we loved. At his age, he’d lived in 3 different countries. It's good to not let his grief or other feelings remain unresolved. I am so grateful to have understanding and to be able to give understanding. Thank you, Ruth! Praise you, Papa God, for your healing. =)

I now have a better way of handling the “Where are you from?” question. You know, deep down though, I still wish that I could just answer “heaven”. I know that’s where I’m going. Thank you, Jesus! Will you head there with me?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Grace Came

Your ways, O God, are holy.
What god is so great as our God?
You are the God who performs miracles;
You display your power among the peoples.
Psalm 77:13-14
A few years ago, I was tickled and felt really special when driving to school one Valentine’s morning, I turned left on Rachapruek Road (a main road just near school) and saw a line of red roses on the whole stretch of road that I needed to take. Of course I was surprised and filled with wonder but I was delighted even more! I enjoy flowers so as I drove to school that day, I felt loved. I followed the trail of roses as it snaked its way to a smaller road and went all the way to the driveway of the school. WOW! What an amazing treat! I later found out that a student meant it for his loved one for Valentine’s Day but the pleasant surprise already did its work on me. I felt what I did and the fact that some random person meant it for another couldn’t erase any of it. I knew I was my Lord’s Valentine and He just showed me that I was. I was extremely grateful and wore a silly smile on my face that day. =)

Last Monday was Valentine’s Day again. As I was teaching the morning’s first class, grace came. There was a knock and my Korean friend Grace walked in. With a great, big smile on her lips, she said, “Here it is!” as she handed me my new iPhone in a pinkish bag. I had to take out a new set of earphones and a new plug adapter before I could get to it but there it indeed was! I couldn’t help but marvel at the fact that the friend who gave it to me thought it necessary to give me the other things that came with it as well. Why was it necessary? Wasn’t it enough that she was giving me an expensive phone already? Aloud I said, “Wow, she’s too kind,” as I fingered the other items. Grace concurred with me and then we had to quickly end our visit with a kiss and hug as we were well aware that my student was watching what went on in front of her with interest. The exchange took barely even three minutes but it changed my whole morning’s outlook. The phone sat untouched as I concentrated and continued on with our class but the same feeling of pleasure and delight on the Valentine’s Day described above was surely there and it never left.

The interminable minutes soon ended as I taught another class after the first but I was finally able to examine my gift. =)

The iPhone’s box had 3G on it. Did God really mean for me to get it that way? Of course I would attribute it to Him! But, He has an amazing sense of humor. He knows that He’s my God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. He's my 3G! First, He brought me a gift through Grace (by His grace), then He signs it! What an amazing God He is! Next, He emphasizes His exceeding, abundant generosity by having the giver bless me with not just the phone but the other stuff that came with it! I am simply awed.

I’m going to add that I messed up in how I handled my first iPhone. If you’d like, please read the December 1-15 postings (“Living Right”, “I’d Rather Have You”, and “Lost and Found”). I don’t really deserve to have another one. I don’t have answers as to why I do. The only thing I know is that grace came. Thank you, Papa God. Praise You for who You are.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Worth Far More than Rubies

She is worth far more than rubies.
Proverbs 31:10b
I probably wouldn’t have written on worth except that I received an email over the week-end and it talked about how women in general underestimate their value, their worth. It said women have vital things to say and everything to give but they forget their worth.

I can’t say that I’ve forgotten my worth nor underestimated it but I certainly didn’t feel worthy of even buying myself M&Ms (with peanuts!) up until a few weeks ago. Just before the year ended I discovered how unworthy I felt and so began prayers on why I thought like that. I felt unworthy of anything expensive, sometimes unworthy of anything new, unworthy of anything that isn't a need.

What exactly brought this kind of thinking is still a mystery but my prayer is that it gets resolved soon. I’m part of a Theophostic Prayer Ministry group and it is an excellent topic to delve into. I’m looking forward to being prayed for regarding it.

Being my spouse, Eng had admitted and repented to being partly the reason why I felt unworthy. I accepted his apology and forgave him but he still magnanimously responded by giving me money with one stipulation that I was to spend it on no one but myself. SWEET! =)

My thoughts ran amuck as I considered various ways to pamper myself. I bought myself packages of M&Ms and soon booked myself to a half day in a spa! Still, I had more money and certainly had more ideas of how to spend it. I’d probably still be spending it now except that we were attending a wedding and in my desire to accessorize myself, my friend helped me buy jewelry and that’s where the rest of the money went. I bought jewelry and wiped out my short lived “you are worth it” account.

I must add that I struggled and prayed as I bought. I asked Papa God, “Is this wise? How about all the shopping I wanted to do?” But like the extravagant father that He is, it seemed like He just chuckled and smiled while knowingly nodding. Then, like His audible voice, my friend said the jewelry reminded her of the verse above. I honestly stared at her blankly because I READ Proverbs 31 just that very morning! I knew the verse she meant! It was a set up! It was for my healing. I AM worth far more than rubies. I am worth it.

Later, I realized that spending my money on jewelry was the best way I could have used it. Clothing, food, more pampering, etc., and the memories of them, would have all dissolved years from now. Not what I got, it will outlive me and can be passed on to a future daughter-in-law or grandchild, for generations. AND, it will be a constant reminder of my worth (each owner's worth). I am worth even more than it. I AM WORTH IT.

And you know what, so are you.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Perfect Moments

We’ve all had them. It could be when you were playing with your son, having a drink with your best friend, walking hand in hand with your special one, or lying on a hammock by the beach. However it comes about for you, it’s just great to have them. There is nothing like it. I had several of those this past Sunday. They happened as I sat on the porch of room A3 at Lanna Resort (053 365 222). I spent the night there to have some time of quiet and prayer and the next day, I came back from church with BBQ pork on a stick, a piece of fried chicken, and some sticky rice. It was one of those “just right day”, not too hot, not too cold. I relished being outside eating my food and feasting my eyes. The perfect moments that followed consisted of:

- delightful, chirping sounds of birds (some flying, others just being),
- fallen leaves twirling and landing (especially those landing on me!)
- floating leaves on and in the water of the stream
- fluttering butterflies
- feeling the gently blowing wind
- watching branches sway leaves
- and the soft sunshine with me under the shade

Perfect. My mind was on God enjoying what He was showing me and we were having fun. I was grateful to be there. It was good to hang out. =)

The one sight that disturbed me somewhat though, was that of the leaves that floated swiftly on the stream. Since it was a lazy day, I wanted to just watch them float SLOWLY. Not those ones, they looked like they had a mission! They were going somewhere and they had no time to lose. The leaves in the stream did the same thing, competing in an invisible race with the ones floating above. I wanted to have a good look at them but they would have none of that! Resigned, my thoughts wandered and mused on us as people. That’s what the leaves reminded me of, people. I think sometimes the Lord just wants to put us on His lap and have a good look at us, LOVE us, lock His gentle arms around us in a tight embrace, BUT, we would have none of that. We have a mission and we’re off somewhere, carried by the stream controlling our lives.

I wish I can say that never happened to me when Papa God wanted moments with me. What about you? Can we even do anything about it? Dare we?