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 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!