Monday, November 28, 2011

Grace's New Look

Grace – the freely given, unmerited favour and love of God.
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.