Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Being Still

“Be still, and know that I am God.”
Psalm 46:10

The other day, a friend from church asked why I have a bunch of little things hanging on my waist. I explained to her that it was given during a women’s retreat and was supposed to be a reminder to be still and know God is God. I have to admit that I do wear it but it hasn’t made me more still than other days. The fact that she asked about it confirmed that I should write about being still though. Today’s staff meeting’s agenda also had the verse above. It’s all I needed to confirm what I thought the Lord was saying to me two weeks ago.

I was again in Room A3 at Lanna Resort (053 365 222) doing my once a month time of quiet. As I lay in bed, I noticed a constant buzzing. It was like a million bees were just behind me. The buzzing was interspersed with slight thumping sounds on the wall of the room. What was that all about? I looked behind me and sure enough, there were hundreds of bees out there! I slightly panicked as I considered the possibility of them getting in through the closed windows. I contemplated calling someone to come with a BIG SIZE bug spray to zap all of them dead. Nah, I didn’t want LOTS of dead bees on my conscience. I didn’t want my quiet to be interrupted either! But, how could I remain calm and still with buzzing bees seemingly knocking to be let in? I wasn’t about to give in to them so they’d stop pestering me! Still, how could I continue with my time of quiet? Quiet was the last thing it was! I also noticed that English speaking men were talking loudly outside. Because it was in English and not Thai, it meant I could eavesdrop on their conversation. They were harder to ignore. “God,” I asked, “couldn’t you give us a quiet time like we always have?” I don’t know which came first but I began to understand that in the midst of the noise, the Lord was teaching me to be quiet and still before Him anyway. Secondly, because they were bees, each thumping sound they did seemed like the Lord was saying just “BE, BE, BE, BE,” etc. It is amazing what our minds can do with the Lord’s help. After a while, the talking men were still there and the buzzing bees remained knocking but they no longer bothered me. It was like when I had a sleeping baby and he’d wake up from his nap. The TV or music could be on and I could be on the phone talking but I’d hear my son’s cry. Just as I did then, presently I successfully tuned out the unwanted noise and tuned in to the one I wanted to hear. AH, what a relief! We can be still before God in the midst of the clamor (literally and emotionally) of our lives. I have so much to do as we prepare to leave, I have a friend whose life is slipping away, and I have another friend getting her surgery today. Life is FULL and full of distractions. Yet, I, we, can be still.

You know what I love about being still? God’s presence is WONDERFUL (plus all the superlatives you can think of COMBINED!) but what touches me most is that He always tells me He LOVES me. And He tells me in such a way that I understand well. Like the other day, He said He loved me like a ripe, juicy mango. And I knew exactly what He meant because mangoes are my favorite fruit and nothing beats the juicy ones. Ever wonder what Papa God will tell you? Be still. He loves it when we are.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Alive and Grateful

Eric had a birthday last Sunday, March 20. He’s now 18 years old. It seems like just awhile ago when he was very cute and chubby and walking around on tiptoe. He’s now a very slim and muscular senior. He can draw, do the limbo well (to a level where you think his body might snap in two), and can dance. Ethan thinks he “rocks” at dancing. Eng and I are amazed that when he determines to do something, he’ll actually do pretty well at it. He taught himself to play the ukulele for example and he sounds great.

Last night, Eric talked about his choir teacher reading his essay in front of the class. He said he was put on the spot. He wasn’t angry, he just seemed perplexed.He added that the way his teacher read his work made it sound good. Eli, who’s in the same class, continued the story for him. He said the essay started initially to talk about “spit” and that he was a bit apprehensive with regard to how it would end. [Yes, it’s the stuff that’s in our mouths. =)] Being a teen and a brother to Eric, he didn’t know whether he wanted to be associated with him by the end of the essay reading, or not! In the end, Eli was relieved and impressed. He said Eric was "rocking."

The essay described how the radiation he received from his cancer treatment last year affected his salivary glands. Consequently, he doesn’t have as much saliva as he used to. He reasoned however that losing some of his saliva was far better than losing an eye, arm, or leg. He’s truly grateful that not having much saliva also reminds him continually to be thankful.

When we first prayed for my friend who has a tumor behind her eye, Eric thanked God for His gift of healing to him and then prayed the same for my friend. He is alive and well and glad for his life. Thank you, Papa God. This month's most recent CT scan and blood work revealed no sign of the cancer Eric had last year. Praise God.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lessons Learned

Wouldn’t it be great if we learned our lessons quickly and easily? Just last night, my youngest sat near me as I used my laptop computer. I sent him off to brush his teeth and get ready for bed. I told him that I would soon join him so we could continue reading “Letters Never Sent” together. He noted that we would have a long time together so he gladly left saying he’d wait in bed. I was actually waiting for my friend to get online so we could chat. She was scheduled to have a surgery to remove a tumor behind her eye so it was important for me that we connected. She didn’t get online so we never did chat but somehow I reasoned that I needed to unwind. That’s how I rationalized that I should be able to play “Typing Maniac”, a game on Facebook. Big MISTAKE! I ended up playing for at least 45 minutes. I wish I could say it unwound me but if my heartbeats were the indication, it obviously had the opposite effect! Thankfully, Ethan was still up and we did get to read together before he slept. I fell asleep too so that was how my evening ended. Only later when I woke up (around 2 a.m.) did I get upset that I didn’t even have the chance to connect with my teens. I spent my prime family time on a typing game on the computer and it didn't even relax me but hyped me up! I wasted what could have been good quality time with my sons, or productive time with regards to the work at home. Since we are leaving to go home in 3 months, I do have a lot of packing and sorting to do. I need your mercy, Papa God. Please help me to change and learn my lessons fast. This is obviously not the first time this has happened. =(

My other son just got his motorbike license 2 weeks ago. With great trepidation, I told him to ride carefully and wisely. On prior occasions, I told him to always wear a helmet, shoes, pants, and if possible, a long sleeve shirt. Exactly a week after getting his license to ride, he skidded on the road just near the school as he over sped. The borrowed motorbike was scratched in different places and so was he. He was thankfully wearing shoes and his helmet. If only he had pants on though, he could have spared himself the BIG road burn on his leg or the deep gash on his ankle. The same could be said for the small wounds on his arm and hand. SIGH. What a painful and expensive (he pays for the damages) lesson. The pain was even made worse because in his desire to clean up his wounds, he ran out of hydrogen peroxide so he used alcohol. I was told that he was screaming and grimacing in pain. I was glad I wasn’t yet at home. By the time he called me, he had gauze all over his wounds held by scotch tape. He was a funny sight actually except that he was remorseful and in agony. Thank you, Lord, for lessons. I think he’ll know what to do next time. Best of all, he’s seen how the Lord protected him. He knows he could have been more hurt. He only has a wound on a small area of his waist because his backpack received the impact of his crash. I also phoned the school’s nurse for advice and she ended up coming to the house for two days to clean up his wounds and put on his dressing. He was blessed in spite the choices he’d made. Thank you, Lord.

Deep down, in our lives, we all know what we should do. The Holy Spirit even prompts us to remind us what we should do, or not do. "Will we listen?" is the question. May we not have to endure literally painful lessons before we do.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

March 3rd

For me, it’s God’s day and His number. I’ve explained why I see the number three this way in the posting weeks ago (Grace Came, February 15, 2011). I don’t even know when I started noticing. It used to just be my youngest brother’s birthday. When we moved here to Chiang Mai, we met our neighbor on the right and it was her birthday. Just a year or so later, we met our neighbor on the left and it was her birthday, too! Hmm, I just realized as I’m writing this that those neighbors helped me pass away the loneliness when we first moved here almost seven years ago. They were Thai Buddhists but God used them anyway. Thank you, my 3G! You used them to make it easier to adjust here and signed the whole deal. =)

Last year, we were supposed to know the results of Eric’s biopsy on February 20. When they moved it to March 3rd, I was dismayed but relieved. I knew God’s good will come out of it and now looking back, it certainly DID! Learning then that Eric had cancer wasn’t easy news but receiving it on this date made it easier.

This year, I came home from school on March 3rd and Ethan’s pet hamster Nike still looked cute but was unmoving. I couldn’t believe it because Ethan’s best friend Mathias left for Home Assignment two days ago and so losing his pet too just did not look too good, timing wise. I returned to the cage several times. I called out to Nike using different voices: playful, friendly, frantic, loud, and finally, desperate(!). None worked, he was obviously dead. I enlisted the help of friends to pray for me as I picked up Ethan from his friend’s house and delivered the grim news. We also swung by Nike’s former owners because I thought Ethan was simply looking after their hamster. It was explained to me that Nike was Ethan’s and they no longer wanted him back. Praise God for mercy! Nike was totally Ethan’s and that was good as he was totally dead. Now, Ethan has a new hamster named Moopy. He’s older, white, furry, and just as cute as Nike. Mathias’ family needed a home for it so Ethan inherited him. What a blessing as Moopy now distracts and comforts Ethan and helps with the sadness of losing both Mathias and Nike. Papa God looks after even the tiniest detail of our lives.

I slept early then. If not, I would have read the email that indicated that my childhood friend had Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma (ACC) behind her left eye. The prognosis does not look very good. The survival rate is not very high in the long run. She could lose the use of her left eye. She could even not make it. Still, the news came on March 3rd. It will turn out for good. I know because they were supposed to see the doctor on the fourth but they were asked to come on the 3rd instead. The Lord had marked it again. Thank you, Papa God. You are SO GOOD. I choose to trust you.

And this brings me to the last point which is the Jarots. I think if they knew the significance of March 3rd, they may not have been as anxious as they were for their daughters’ adoption paperwork. I’m sorry that I can’t elaborate any more than that. Paula wrote an excellent and compelling book about their adopted Cambodian daughters and what they had to go through to get their US citizenship. I don’t want to spoil it for you. I just know if you read “Daughters by Design,” you’ll be glad for the time you spend reading it. It’ll leave you with a heart praising God and rooting for more of what He does. It’ll encourage you and warm your heart.

Lastly, I hope you won’t take offense that the Lord has related to me this way and that this is what I believe. He probably does it differently with you and March 3rd may not mean anything to you. He’s still good and does what He wants, yes?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ethan's 10!

Ethan fell asleep on my lap and in my arms yesterday. I can’t remember the last time that has happened. It was right after school during the tail end of our talk regarding his fears about Christians being killed. I comforted, encouraged, then later prayed for him. Our “talk” time ended with his heavy breathing signaling that he’d fallen asleep. No, I’m not that boring. I really think it was what his body needed, the rest in his Father’s arms, through his earthly mother's arms. It’s one of those tender moments I’ll cherish for a long time. [I saw Grace walking by the school as I parked in the morning yesterday. I understand what that time with Ethan was about.]

Ethan turned ten on Sunday, February 27th. At ten, he is outgoing, athletic, popular, extremely likeable, and sensitive. He breaks the ice easily over people we meet. Long ago, someone prophesied over him that he’d be a peacemaker. He is exactly that! He also would talk ‘issues’ out until he comes to that place of peace. Sometimes, the talks can be long and arduous like the one we just had. Other times, they’re smooth, fun, and easy.

On the right is Ethan with his coach and prized trophy after winning the Recreational League Tag Rugby Tournament at school.

Ethan will sometimes surprise you with his wisdom. I know he has it because we pray for the Lord to give us wisdom as we drive to school each morning. One day, I frantically realized that I forgot to bring our camera. As I contemplated turning around to get it, he said, “Mom, its okay. Our brain is the best camera.”

Thanks, Ethan! You are such a delight.