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


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. =)