Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas 2012

You are my God, and I will give you thanks;
You are my God, and I will exalt you.
Psalm 118:28
Merry Christmas! Wishing you love, joy, and peace from all of us:
Eng, Ethan, Linda, Eric, Eli, and Evan.
After Eric and Evan arrived last week, we immediately left for a scheduled camping trip to Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain in Thailand. Aside from our family of six, there were 68 other campers (all together we were 33 adults, 28 teens, and 13 children) so we were a huge bunch. All the children went to the same school so they particularly enjoyed being together. Doi Inthanon also has the highest peak in Thailand (8415 feet above sea level) so it was cold with an average nightly temperature of 8 degrees centigrade. We enjoyed the cold weather, the people, and most of all, our surroundings. We took a two hour hike up the peak of the mountains where the view was simply spectacular. We hiked to waterfalls

and had walks into the woods. In between meals, we played games (board games, card games, and volleyball) with one another. There was enough for us to do and the freedom when to do it so we tremendously enjoyed our time. We praised God for the opportunity to be a part of the trip. It was such a blessing!

For our Christmas celebration, we slept by our Christmas tree in the living room last night. We’d been doing this for the past 16 years to remind ourselves that we were gifts to each other. Eli started us on this family tradition when as an 11-month old baby; he crawled under our artificial Christmas tree and slept on his tummy. Since then, it’s something we’d always done as a prelude to opening our presents on Christmas morning. I was amused when I took their picture this morning because although all of us slept under our covers, Ethan slept above his and without his shirt on! We turned on our air conditioner in the living room and it was set to 18 degrees centigrade. Also, during the quiet of the night, we again took turns saying “Goodnight,” “Merry Christmas”, and “love you” to each other. It’s my favourite and for me, the best part of our sleeping together. =)


Today, Christmas Day, we hung around the house and ate, played ping pong and card games, watched movies, and used the gifts we received. We listened to Michael Buble's Christmas CD as he bridged the generation gap in all our taste in music. =) We do thank God for His kindness and goodness to us for giving us one another. We had a wonderful Christmas. Thank you, Jesus, for coming as a baby and giving us a reason to celebrate. Most of all, we thank you for the salvation you offer because of that coming. Happy birthday - with love from all of us. =)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Recent Arrivals

first time flying alone, and my flight's been delayed... Lord have mercy.
please close your eyes and extend your hands heavenward in petition for me
to make it home safe and soon.

Eric’s post on Facebook, December 17, 2012
I should have listened to what Eric asked and prayed as intently as he requested. Although we did pray for him and his flights, little did we know that the delay he mentioned would literally mean over a day of waiting for him.

At right is Ethan when we welcomed Eric at the airport and below while relaxing with Evan at home.

Travelling separately from Toronto, both Evan and Eric arrived in Chiang Mai, today. We are extremely pleased but most relieved as Eric was actually due 26 hours before he actually got here. His first flight was delayed so he missed his other connecting flights. Delays are a normal part of air travel and because we’ve travelled so much, we normally dealt with the added “wait” as best we could. In typical fashion, Eric did just that and simply told his younger brother to tell us that his flight was delayed. We were then left
wondering what became of him for a whole day as we waited to hear when he would get here. Without him connecting again, we didn’t know whether he managed to get on other flights. We anxiously awaited his arrival which was thankfully tonight, over a day late. He ended up staying overnight at a hotel in London and the whole day at Heathrow Airport while he waited for his 10 p.m. flight. Sometime while moving about from terminal to terminal, he lost his passport, too. He said it provided a scary excitement to his day as he spent a fair bit of time retracing his steps until he found his passport with the people looking after the transit trains. Praise God. =) While all that was happening, I had people at the school I teach in and the staff at the OMF office in Canada, praying for him. Thankfully, God graciously answered and looked after him.

Eli obviously looked very happy to see Evan at his school. They hugged first!
Evan left half a day later than Eric but got here half a day before Eric. His flights were uneventful. Both of them spent long hours watching in-flight movies. All together, they watched close to 10 movies while on their flights! Too much! Both met people they enjoyed chatting with. The Lord’s hand was upon them as we asked for in prayer. We are so grateful to have them back and look forward to spending time with them for the next two weeks. We realize that it could be a very long while before we all spend Christmas together as a complete family in Chiang Mai. We praise God for this wonderful opportunity! It is such a precious gift. In light of all the sad and horrible deaths caused by shootings, we are not taking this for granted and thank God. He is good. =)

Friday, December 14, 2012

A God Who Speaks

You have permission to speak for yourself.
Acts 26:1
The Christmas Plant on the right is indigenous to Chiang Mai. It is usually green throughout the year. When the weather becomes cool and it gets closer to Christmas, the plant turns white. Upon closer inspection, it hugely resembles the red poinsettias.

Today, my Thai teacher asked me how I knew how much to give when I read her my written Thai story about giving. It’s the same story that was posted two weeks ago. In the past, my former Thai teacher and I got it translated in Thai so I could read it to different unsuspecting Buddhist people who spoke the language. At the time, I thought it was great to practice my reading and spoken Thai while sharing my God stories. I still do! I hope to continue to be able to do this in the future. As my language teacher said repeatedly, it is so encouraging to see how God works in our lives. It sure is!

In answer to the question posed, I talked to her about how we’re made up of three parts: spirit, soul, and body (1 Thes 5:23). Our physical body is the mass that gets left behind when our spirit leaves us when we pass away. Our soul (or mind) is that part of us that isn’t the body or the spirit. =) I think I’ll leave it there so as not to get into a theological entangle or explanation that could take up half the post.

I explained to her that I didn’t hear anything audible. There was no booming voice nor soft whisper that said P2,000. I just knew it was the amount like a thought that I didn’t think up. It wasn’t like I was there choosing a number from one to infinity. All of a sudden, I knew it was 2,000! Because I was praying and seeking God to know how much to give, the Holy Spirit communicated with my spirit and gave the answer. My mental mind eventually caught up and received the same answer as my spirit communicated it to me. I hope that made sense! =)

The manger scene on the left is a rare sight in Thailand. It's displayed in the playground of the school I teach at.

We have a God who speaks and He wants us to hear Him. The more time we spend with Papa God, the easier it becomes to hear Him. We are His sheep and we do know His voice. We can recognize Him. Sometimes, He's there when someone says something and their words resonate so much within us. Sometimes, we can’t even explain why we are so touched by what we hear; we just begin to tear up (even with music!). It's Him! Sometimes, we just know that what the person in front of us is saying is what God wants us to hear. We feel encouraged, full of hope, and know His peace. We feel affirmed and loved. We seem to bubble from within and become exhilarated by His joy. =) Ahh, what a wonderful God we have.

And I do want to add that it wasn’t always like this for me. There was a time (close to 20 years ago) when I couldn’t hear God. I didn’t know how to! Back then, there was a major change in my life that greatly affected how my extended family would relate with me and I wanted God to affirm that I was on the right track in what I needed to tell them. I locked myself in a room with my Bible and read and prayed for hours to know what to do. Finally, they were about to arrive and yet I still didn’t know what to do. Should I say what I felt God wanted me to do? How could I be sure? What if I was wrong in hearing Him? “God, please!” I implored. “Help me!” Nothing, there was only silence.

In desperation, I closed my eyes tightly and flipped my Bible to a different page. I prayed under my breath and asked God to please show me what to do. I took my fore finger and still with eyes closed, made it land on a section in the Bible. It landed on the first verse quoted above and it was the perfect word for me. My family all knew how I grew up (in verse 4). My Lord was giving me permission to speak. Yes! =) And speak, I did!

The Lord will do that for you, too. He will answer you. If you seek Him, you will find Him. Go ahead and try. Don’t give up until you hear because He will speak. He is a God who speaks.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Still Amazing Grace

Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory,
because of your love and faithfulness.

Psalm 115:1
Yesterday, I sat on top of the table as I watched the children running around the track while they participated in the school’s “Track and Field Day”. It was a moderately hot day with just a slight breeze to cool us, somewhat. I don’t know how my sitting under that tent was singled out by that butterfly but it came. Possibly, my tent was a quieter one as I was alone. The other ones periodically had the kids cheering and screaming in them as they broke out in concerted yelling whenever their teammates passed them by. I didn't want to be in there either =) which was why I was on my own in another slightly way off tent. And, it was then that a multi-colored orange and brown butterfly fluttered around me and by my right leg. For a while, I thought it contemplated on whether to land on my shoe but it danced this way and that way, then flew off as my eyes followed it. IT was a beautiful sight and it reminded me to write about the week-end and my time of quiet at the resort I’d gone to. Why was I blessed to have a butterfly fly right around me? I honestly don't know. The Lord’s goodness puzzles and amazes me.

The painting on the right is Eli's work for "Scarlet Letter." The fine print are the words from the chapter. =)

Last week-end, my usual once-a-month 24-hours of time on my own happened. I enjoyed it tremendously. It was precious to me and allowed me to see the goodness of Papa God as I reflected on what was happening in my life. I had just finished writing my research paper and today, the course ended. =) I was relieved and I learned a LOT! There were sides to God that I wouldn't had known had I not taken the course. It was on the Theology of the Old Testament so Papa God and His plans for us then made more sense to me. He is such a compassionate God and has such a BIG heart for us! I’m sitting here wishing I could express myself better than that! Papa God is just too good to be true and His grace is AMAZING.

Although I didn't think I could do it, I know now that I’ll pass my second online course. I praise God for His help. With my mother’s passing, it was so hard to get started and to be on the right track but I made it. Still, in my being quiet, I realized that the busy life I had wasn't what I wanted. I didn't like the ways my prayer times, my relationships, my work, and my sleep, were affected! I weighed what mattered to me and although hard, I decided that earning my Masters of Divinity in Counselling wasn't worth it if I didn't handle my times with God and my family better. I saw God’s goodness in allowing my dream to come to pass but I am choosing to give it up if my relationships suffer. Please pray for me as I take the next course on the Theology of the New Testament and use that as a gauge on whether I should keep going. It will be from mid-January to mid-April, 2013. Thank you!

The finances for the courses' tuition will also need to be provided. If the funds don't materialize, I’ll take that as Papa God’s answer that I am to give it up. Thank you, Lord, that Your wisdom, leading, and guidance for me will be there.

At the resort when I checked in, the receptionist gave me her personal gift. It was a DVD with everything in Thai script except the words “Amazing Grace” on the cover. She said many things (all in Thai!) so I’m not sure what it’s about but she did say it was from her family. What a sweet gesture! Then, the next morning, their manager presented me with her gift (on left). With a journal notebook, she gave me a scarf full of different coloured butterflies. =) Amazing! I don't know why they both gave me gifts and she didn't know anything about butterflies in my life. [Please read the post “Transformed” on September 2, 2012 for this to make more sense.] The next morning, we were singing “Amazing Grace” at church. I get it, Papa God. You are AMAZING and full of GRACE! Thank you, for being you.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Giving's Reward, Part 2

…we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus
himself said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Acts 20:35
In August, I said I would write more about giving so this is another story about it. It happened a lifetime ago, in 1998. I’d never forgotten it. When you find out the story, you’ll understand why. We were then living in the Philippines as missionaries. Specifically, we worked in Bucana, a poor, Muslim fishing village in Davao City. I was a teacher in the pre-school that our team founded. Eng used to work with fishermen in a deep sea fishing project. Life was so different then. We had financial challenges because we spent more than the money we received from our supporters. It wasn’t hard to spend more than what we got because we hardly got any support at that time. Why we were in that predicament could be best left to another posting. Suffice it to say that in spite the little that we received, we survived, by the grace of God.

Our life abruptly became exciting when the pastor of our church announced that a special collection was going to be taken for the Muslims who were suffering from hunger. El Nino (an abnormal weather pattern which causes drought) hit the country and nothing was growing for them. We were asked to pray for how much we were to give the following week. Although we worked with the fishermen and not the Muslim farmers, we felt led to give. I suggested to Eng that we prayed separately to find out how much. I reasoned that the Holy Spirit should give us the same answer. He did. By week’s end, we determined that we were to give P2,000. We were relieved to get the same amount. A big concern though, was the fact that because we were living mostly from our savings, the amount was five times more than what we were used to giving! Still, we reasoned that there was no point in spending a week asking God how much to give and then not following through. It was hard but we gave the amount indicated in the collection that Sunday.

The day after, Eng left with the pastor and the other elders of the church. They bought rice, coffee, sugar, and other food and bagged them. Then, they distributed it to several families in the village that was badly affected by the drought. We wonder how any of those who received the food then are doing now. What we did know was that they were able to eat until the next season’s harvest came. The name of the Lord was glorified and we did what we could.

Two days later, Eng came back from the outreach so we went out for coffee and talked about his trip. When we got home, our helper greeted us happily while waving a cheque. She said someone dropped it off while we were out. She couldn’t even remember who it was. We looked at the cheque and were shocked. It was for P20,000! I honestly never saw that many zeroes in one cheque until that time. It was worth $800 US. It’s still a big amount in today’s standards but even more so for us who needed it badly. James Dobson said we could never out give God. We certainly didn’t! =)

Days later, as we thanked our donor, she apologized(?) for giving us the cheque too late. She said she’d been meaning to give it to us at the beginning of the year (it was late February). She said it was to help us with our support. I told her that her timing was just perfect. =) We saw that the Lord quickly and dramatically multiplied what we gave. How could we ever forget that?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Evan's 22!

“Since God did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t God, who gave us Christ, also give us everything else?”
Romans 8:32

Would God save our soul and then leave us to fend for ourselves? Will he address eternal needs and ignore earthly (ones)? Of course not.

Max Lucado from “Come Thirsty”

A week ago, Evan turned 22. A part of me can’t believe I can have a son so old. Some of my co-workers are just a bit older than him so it’s really hard to believe that he’d gotten so ancient! I can’t imagine anymore when he’ll need me for anything but I do remember him and the pleasure of raising him. He’d always been such a complacent child, teen, and adult. Having had some squabbles with his other teen brothers; it isn’t hard to conclude that he’s probably the easiest one to get along with as a teenager. (In saying that, I do want to state that I certainly don’t love his brothers any less!) Evan surprised me too, in terms of how he turned out. I always knew he would do well, but his accomplishments and endeavors at Houghton College, simply astounded me. He played the part of Linus in their college’s “Charlie Brown” musical and sang and acted truly well. We were also able to watch his two stand-up comedy skits presented at their pre-graduation celebration. Both were done exceptionally well but I’m obviously biased. =) Evan turned out to be the fine, young man that the Lord said he would be. We are so proud of him.

These days, Evan hangs out and lives at my father’s house in Toronto. He graduated in May and had been looking for full-time work. One company was willing to hire him for data entry work but he opted to continue to look after my father. As his mom, and because my mother just recently passed away in September, I am so thankful for his choices. I know my father has Evan for company and consequently handles his grief better. I also know that Evan can’t be doing that for my father without our Lord blessing him back. I’m sure Evan will, at the very least, have someone who’ll look after him when he gets old. He’ll definitely reap what he’s sowing.

Evan was also the editor of their college’s paper and currently writes a blog. For those interested, you can read it at: http://culturewarreporters.com/ This part of him didn’t surprise us. He had been writing for awhile. He’d always been an avid reader and book worm and also loved to draw. He drew (and still does) some of the comic strips for the same paper. Currently, our prayers are that he’ll find a job that’ll challenge him and use his gifts well. My desire is that whatever he writes will glorify God enormously.

We’ll have the pleasure of having Evan (and Eric!) come here for Christmas. We are so looking forward to that! And when he returns to Toronto in January, we’re confident and grateful that the Lord will provide the job that he needs. For surely, the Lord won’t ignore Evan’s earthly needs. Thank you in advance, Papa God. =) We praise you and thank you, for Evan.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Papa Fun God

You delight in me.
From the song, “You Delight in Me” by Julie True
For our early Sunday morning walk, my friend and I passed under a tree with falling small flowers. The day before, I had four of the flowers land right on my left hand so I tried to duplicate it. We walked under the tree twice but only proved that it was not easy to have a flower fall right on your hand. I even had both hands held out and waited for the landing but none happened. I tried to literally catch them! Not even one got close to my hand. Those made me conclude that when the Lord’s grace is all over you, all sorts of miraculous, wonderful events happen. =)

Such a grace-filled day happened this past Saturday. On my morning walk, I noticed that the birds were outdoing one another with their chorus: cooing, tweeting, and chirping. They sounded wonderful! Then, I noticed that I was wearing a pair of black shorts, a blue T-shirt, and a blue hat, all with “grace” on it. The school I teach in had grace as its name so I actually ended up wearing the school’s promotional materials all at the same time. It certainly wasn’t intentional on my part! When
I saw myself, I thought, “Oh look, grace is all over me!” And it was, indeed, such a day. =D Even on that walk, I ended up marveling at the beautiful flowers (I love flowers!) and I passed under 10 different trees with various flowers on the ground for me to enjoy walking on. The last tree was the one that had its sweet fragrance in the air and as I walked under it, the flowers literally landed on me. Four of them landed right on my left hand and it was what I was trying to duplicate yesterday. Papa obviously had fun with me and me, Him!

And this is why I wanted to write this. Too often, God is seen as an angry God, or one that is waiting for us to mess up so He can punish us, the one who waits to judge. Not so, He is, for me, a fun-loving, wonderful, generous God. He delights in us!

I saw even more of this side of Him on our recent trip to Malaysia. Flying there and back here, I had window seats - even without asking for one. I marveled at the sights and wished my cell phone could give justice to the various cloud formations I saw. Looking at clouds just beside, below, or above us thrilled me to no end. I felt blessed enormously. =)

This winding river seen from our airplane can only be created by a fun-loving God. =) No other with a different heart could do that!

On Thursday, I joined the school’s community choir and enjoyed listening to the different but all angelic voices of the people. I particularly enjoyed singing with harmony. So fun!

Our teacher was filled with energy, enthusiasm, exuberance, liveliness, drama, and flair. Just like when the Lord created the peacock, other animals, and us, He must have worked whistling! How else could we all be so unique and special?

And the ultimate grace on Saturday was Eli’s soccer team winning their tournament. I could only see that as grace because Eli hardly played in the first four of their six games. He felt so badly because he was obviously benched. Yet, when he played in the finals, he scored two goals in a row which made their team win 3-1. How cool is that? =) The Lord is just too good, and SO much FUN.
Others love you because of you, because your dimples
dip when you smile or your rhetoric charms when you flirt,
Some people love you because of you. Not God.
He loves you because he is he.

Max Lucado in “Come Thirsty”

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Rising

They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.
They shall mount up with wings as eagles;

Isaiah 40:31a
Yesterday, I came back from Malaysia where my husband, Eng, was from. We were there to celebrate his mom’s birthday with her. She turned 82. It was good to reconnect with her again, along with the other relatives. It’s also an “eating town” so we did a LOT of that. My stomach is still quite big from all the consuming that happened. Mom’s delicious 9-course celebratory meal ended with a Durian Cheesecake. Mmm! It was definitely a blessing to have been there.

I wasn't able to take many days off work so I came back here before Eng. He’ll only come home tomorrow. Due to overbooking, I stayed with my niece in Kuala Lumpur to catch my 7 a.m. flight yesterday. I enjoyed getting to know her and her husband more. I was amazed at how the Lord blessed me with food I loved to eat even though I never told them what I liked! I also enjoyed talking about the Lord’s goodness with them. I just know that those stories made an impression in their hearts. I prayed for them, as I did for Eng's Mom, that they'll soon relate to God on their own. My prayer is also that they’ll see and feel God’s kindness and overwhelming love for them, themselves. Papa God’s love is simply too good to be true. =) For you, too!

Yes, those are watermelon balls beside a scrumptious chicken dish. They went so well together! Yum!

Having said all that, for my present online course, I need to hand in a 12-page paper. Since it’s a research paper, I looked for reference materials at school but found none. I’d since been looking at websites but progress has been very slow. Last Sunday morning, I could feel my tension grow as I realized that work could only begin again once I got here on Tuesday morning. How could I finish it? I was overwhelmed! I was glad to be there in Malaysia but I knew that I lost at least 3 days when I could have worked on the research. I took a morning walk and was surprised to find comfort at a Christian cemetery. There, engraved on a tombstone near where I sat to rest and be still, was the verse above. And then I remembered what I read about eagles and storms. During a storm, eagles fly to the highest spot and wait for the strong winds to come. Then, when it does, they spread their wings so the wind can pick them up and lift them above the storm. They end up soaring above the storm while it rages below them. I couldn't help but see the parallel in my life! I feel like I’m in a storm with my present circumstances but I’m to rise above it. I need to spread out my wings and let the wind lift me up. The wind is like the grace of God sustaining me and helping me with everything I have to do. I'm actually an eagle already rising even as I plod along daily to complete as much work as I can. It isn't easy and it is so tiring but eventually, I’ll get to that eye of the storm, the calmest spot, and soon rise all the way up. It's hard for an eagle to be in the storm but unless it meets the storm head on, it’ll never get to where there’s a break and a calm spot for it to rise up completely on. What a fascinating process! I am so glad for our God who continues to work in our lives and mold us and shape us and help us get to where we need to be. Amen.

By His grace, I will get that paper done and soon find myself out of the storm. Thank you, Lord. Praise you!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Week of Grace

Praise the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all his benefits –

Psalm 103:2
Last week was slower than usual as both my online course and the school I taught at were on break. I initially thought I’d do a lot of school work but Papa God had other ideas on how I was to spend my week. A day was spent with Eng and our two sons. Since they all love to eat, we ate at a restaurant we all liked and walked around the mall. Then, our time together was topped up with us watching a borrowed movie at home. It might sound like a boring time together but it was what we could all agree on doing. Ethan couldn't get a massage with us, Eli didn't like bowling, and no movie was kid friendly so watching one at home was the next best thing to do. It was our very own Yeong family time. =)

On Tuesday, Ethan was invited by his friends to go to the houseboats on Mae Ngat Dam. At 11 years old, I’m still a bit perplexed that he was the only boy there from his class. It was an outing attended by three of his female classmates. Thankfully, the girls’ brothers (who played with Ethan) and their mothers (I had someone to talk to!) were with us, as well. It was a perfect day to look at the beautiful view, use the canoe, eat, swim, and just relax. I also enjoyed the boat ride to and from the house boats. Neither Ethan nor I had been there before. This is our eight year in Chiang Mai and I've heard all kinds of raving comments about the place but there was always someone in our family who wouldn't want to go there when I’d recommend it. What a gift to finally make it there!

From Wednesday to Saturday, Eli’s school had a soccer tournament so we spent most of our days at the soccer fields. It was hot but a LOT of FUN. It helped with the enjoyment that Eli’s team won all their games except one (tied at 4-4). =) Most of all, it was heart warming to see Eli mobbed and congratulated for scoring a goal. He had been trying so hard the first few games and had several near misses so getting one was such an answer to prayer! Papa God is so gracious!

I was able to get some school work done and managed to spend some time with Eng and Ethan separately. I particularly liked an hour long early morning walk with a friend to a breakfast place, eating heartily, and then walking back home. It was a blessing. =)

Lastly, I wanted to give God praise for letting my father find his beloved, lost, pet bird. The said bird was the partner of the first lovebird that escaped due to my distraction. The story of that first escape was posted on March 26, 2012 (called “Receiving Forgiveness”). The second bird escaped some time in August while floor renovations were done at my father’s house. Then, when Eric stayed with my father during the Canadian Thanksgiving early this month, he took a walk out of boredom. He subsequently saw a flyer from an animal shelter about a pet bird found on the street. Owners of missing birds were encouraged to send them a picture to find out if the bird belonged to them. Sure enough, even though it’s been at least six weeks since the bird flew away, it turned out to be my father’s! I say this all the time because I cannot help myself. What a mighty God we have! He truly is! Thank you, Lord!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Best of Three

It is not the piling up of knowledge. that stills and satisfies the soul,
but the tasting and savoring of things from within.

Ignatius of Loyola
The first week-end of September was extra special and busy because I was at three different resorts for three different kinds of retreats. The first one was the school’s Elementary Staff Retreat which was from Friday morning to Saturday noon. I would have been there the whole time but I was invited to sponsor the High School Chapel’s Prayer Team which had their own retreat from Friday afternoon to Saturday at 2 p.m. As a sponsor, I’m in charge of a team of students that I pray with, guide, or lead (if necessary) as they pray and encourage prayer from all the secondary students. I initially declined the invitation because attendance to its retreat was mandatory and it conflicted with our staff retreat. However, as I casually chatted with a friend and told her what I passed up, she surprisingly advised me to ask permission if I could be excused from part of our staff retreat so I wouldn’t have to miss the chapel retreat. Realizing that nothing could be lost from asking, I did ask, and sure enough, I received my “go ahead”! God definitely affirmed it for me then that I should be the chapel’s Prayer Team sponsor. Now that the first quarter is over, I’m grateful to have met five, young, and passionate prayer warriors. Our times together were interrupted by my being away in Toronto but I’m looking forward to what we’ll do together as a team in the future.

The staff retreat was FUN and entertaining as we spent most of the morning playing ice breakers and team building games to bond us as a unit. By the time the morning was over, we surely felt like we could work better together. Later in the day, we met with our own department members to deal with specific job related topics. Shortly after that, I left them to join the chapel retreat. I was at once met by the energy and exuberance of youth. They were a lively bunch and a lot louder! =)

The next morning, I heard the testimony of Chris. He talked about his childhood and his mother who became mean after difficult life changing circumstances. Due to her mean streak, he became angry, bitter, and rebellious and sought to be loved and accepted in the wrong places. He went to college and soon had a low GPA of 1.9, eventually dropping out. I was amused when he shared that he had three majors: drugs, sex, and alcohol. He also cut himself. Later, he reached the end of his rope and after a series of God ordained events, he prayed to the Lord and felt 200 lbs. lifting off of him. He felt himself made whole and holy. =) His life turned around and changed. He went back to college and made the Dean’s list and graduated Cum Laude. His mother became ill and Chris ended up taking care of her, even washing her feet. He stayed with her until she passed away. Chris ended his story by saying, “Now, I ain’t got nobody.” I sensed the Lord had something else to say about his last statement so we spent a bit of time praying so that he’d hear what the Lord would do in his life.

I left that retreat touched and elated about the events that morning. I was soon on my personal retreat, a day of quiet and stillness, just listening to Papa God and sitting by His feet. I had a great time at the other retreats but the one with the Holy Spirit, Jesus, and Papa God is the best of all three. I wrote in my journal then, “I don’t know how you do it but that you do. Oh mighty God of the universe and everything that lives, you make time for me. I am worthy in your sight.” I am grateful to be able to have that time with God. He always fills me, always satisfies. What a blessing that Eng allows me to go and that he takes over at home. Thank you, Lord, you are my everything and an ever present help. I love you.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Awakening

In our hearts Lord, in this nation, awakening
Holy Spirit, we desire awakening

From the song “Awakening” by Chris Tomlin
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_J9BI6AFO0
This morning, I finally realized why the song above tugged at my heart both times when we sang it at worship. I first heard it (not for the first time) last Friday when I attended a worship meeting at school. When it played, I got a sense in my spirit about what the Holy Spirit seemed to be telling me but my mind still needed to play catch up. I had to wait to understand what He was saying. At our church’s service on Sunday, the same song was sung. Since the song above was quite new here in Chiang Mai and not very popular yet, and two different worship groups played it, it resonated even more within me. Yet, what was I to get out of it?

Since arriving here on October 3rd after three weeks in Toronto, I felt like I landed in a sprint. I spent the first four days buried deep in my textbooks, lectures, and handouts from my online course. I couldn't do any of my course work the first two weeks in Toronto because of my mother’s viewing and funeral, subsequent 9 days of prayer times with my family, and family meetings. On the last week, I purposely didn't do any of the work, choosing instead to have some quality time with my father. Although, I know I chose how to spend my time wisely, it nevertheless meant I had to catch up on 3 weeks’ worth of late online postings plus keep up with the homework on the week we were in. Typically, a week's workload is enough to keep me busy for hours. Four weeks’ worth of work in four days was just brutal! I hardly slept and subjected my body and mind to hard mental labor.

I stopped just to eat a Thanksgiving Dinner and was soon reading again about my course, the theology of the Old Testament. In the end, I finished my homework (Praise God!) but I was soon back to school and trying to make sense of what I used to do. Suffice it to say that with my mind so tired, thinking about how to teach Elementary ESL stretched me to the limit. I had to postpone eating lunch and meeting with anyone until I could have a handle on what I was doing. After a week of that, being organized and comfortable with teaching finally resurfaced today. I also began to eat at the lunch room again and met with a friend. I heard her stories and actually remembered them. =) When we prayed, the semblance of normal began to creep back in.


Finally, the certainty that the Holy Spirit had been drawing me to Himself became very clear. In the emotional three weeks there, and busyness and craziness in settling back here and doing my work, somehow, our intimacy was affected. I never stopped praying to Papa God but because I had no time to just be still to receive from Him, I was literally drying up from the inside. I haven’t had the inclination to worship the Lord using the keyboard and it’s been five weeks! I began to understand today, that as indicated by the song’s lyrics, my heart’s yearning was to be awakened. I wanted to be back in His arms receiving from Him. He’d been prompting it. And, there is no place I’d really rather be! Thank you, Lord, for calling me to yourself. Yes, please awaken me.
For You and You alone, awake my soul
Awake my soul, and sing
For the world You love, let Your will be done,
Let Your will be done in me.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

2012 Thanksgiving

Last night, together with other Canucks, we gathered at a friend's house and enjoyed turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, ribs, mashed potatoes, pickles, marshmallow salad, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, peanut butter chocolate cake, and other delicious delights!


Eng is grateful for me being back here =), his sons, and his good health.

Eli, not in order of importance, is grateful for his friends, family, school, possessions, and his life.


Just before flying back here, it was good to spend some alone time with my father. We had a chance to visit the KEW Beach in Toronto and enjoyed the cool air.

Ethan is grateful for his friends, family, soccer, his Christian community, and school.

Where do I even start to thank?


While in Canada for three weeks, it was great to see our older sons Evan and Eric, my siblings and their families, my friends, gorgeous flowers, and the beginnings of the fall colours.


I particularly enjoyed the lakes and trees on the drive back from Alumette, Quebec to Toronto. I traveled on Highway 41 from Renfrew County to Kaladar, Ontario and the sights were just wonderful!

Canada is such a beautiful country! =) Thank you, Lord, for everything!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Exceedingly Good

Taste and see that the Lord is good!
Psalm 34:8
As I write this, I am on a return flight back to Chiang Mai. It’s been a very eventful and tiring three weeks. I’ve been crying a LOT. It makes sense to do so in light of my mother’s passing away. On the days following her death, I was grateful that she’d gone to heaven where her mind’s thinking clearly again and she’s with Papa God. I’d been praying for her healing for years. I know that the healing she received was way better than a physical one. However, during the funeral, watching my four brothers and two sisters cry, especially my father, was painful. Even in the last two weeks while staying at my father’s house, I heard my father sob and weep. All I could do was cry with him and pray with him when able. I’m glad that even though it was painful for me to be there, I was able to share his pain and help him grieve. We also had several discussions on the goodness of God and I know he was encouraged

Today, after I checked in, I had an almost two hour wait for my flight so I sought out a bank machine. On the way, I stopped by a washroom (restroom/toilet) and turned right instead of where I came from. Consequently, I saw the Chaplain’s Office which also had the Airport’s Prayer Room. Wanting to process and pray over things, I went in. Now I know my steps were directly guided there. My heart was then heavy as I spoke to Eric before I left the house and as I said goodbye, I asked him to forgive Eng and I for most likely missing his college’s closing ceremony next April. He said “yes” but it saddened me anyway. I would love to be there. Also, because they dropped me off at the airport, I just said “goodbye” to my father and Evan. This is the hard part about being a missionary.

In the Prayer Room, I prayed as I mindlessly flipped reading materials. Pat Di Fonzo, the chaplain there, then walked in. He saw me and commented on how sad I looked and asked if he could do anything for me. I asked him if he wanted to pray for me and we were soon talking. I shared with him the events of the last three weeks. The Lord used Pat to encourage me. He reminded me that the Holy Spirit was able to comfort my father and take care of his needs. He also encouraged me regarding my grief in leaving my loved ones here. He had me read Psalm 128:2 which was on a bookmark he gave me, “You will eat the fruit of your labour; blessings and prosperity will be yours.

I knew the verse above but it didn’t really make it easier to leave. I only felt slightly better. And then he quoted Matthew 19:29 and it made me start to cry again. I actually was close to weeping by the time he started praying for me.

15 years ago, while pushing Eli (who was then 1-1/2 years old) on a stroller, a scary question crossed my mind. “Why was I (we) giving everything up?” There was nothing waiting for us in the Philippines. We just gave away most of our material things and sold our house and van. Eng quit his work and we (with 3 sons under 7 years old) were soon to leave for Manila. What were we doing? Some Filipinos sold their land to move to a more developed country. There we were, doing the opposite as we prepared to leave Toronto. I asked God to remind me why we were doing what we were doing. Eli had fallen asleep so I returned home from our walk and sat in the porch to watch him. I opened my Bible to read and was soon reading the passage that Pat quoted me. It became alive to me then, and now, it just makes me want to weep.
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.

The Lord knew exactly what would minister to me. I was amazed! I thought I knew God but now I know I’d barely scratched the surface. He's not just a good God, He is exceedingly good. Thank you, Lord, for who you are! Praise you.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Being Sustained

I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.

Psalm 3:5
The past week is a blur to me, now, but I remember it being full of the Lord’s help and blessings. Following my mother’s funeral on Saturday, my sons (Evan and Eric) and I left to go to Ottawa very early the next day. I had not planned to drive us there but no public transit was available for Eric to return to his college in time for his week-end commitment. After we arrived, I remembered that it was my desire to bring him there. I’d forgotten because I gave up on its fulfilment since I had to return to Thailand to renew my visa in June. Of course, because of the perfect timing of my mother’s death, I was not just back here to attend her funeral, but also to do what I’d hoped to do for my son. Truly, Papa God gives us the desires of our hearts. It isn’t really hard for Him to do it even if we ourselves have given up on it! =) It blessed me to see where my son lived and to meet his housemates. He is in good hands. =D

Aside from that, after driving Eric, Evan and I proceeded to Alumette Island in Quebec to spend the night at my best friend’s house. This was recommended to me since 9 hours of driving (Toronto to Ottawa and back), after an emotional and tiring week, would have been difficult. I immediately realized it to be a brilliant idea! My friend lived in a picturesque, peaceful, and remote island so it was a perfect place for me to pray, process my mother’s death, listen to God, and REST. I was blessed with the solace I needed and the exercise as I also had a chance to use their canoe. =)


The rest of last week was spent being with my family as prayers for my mother were said nightly, ending just last night. It’s been super TIRING! I am just so glad that the Lord has been faithful to sustain me with new energy and strength each day. Not only has He been touching my body to function daily with very few hours of sleep but He’s also been giving me peace about my mother’s passing. I know her stroke caused bleeding in her brain which was accompanied by a severe headache. For the first time since she became ill with Alzheimer’s, she went through the door leading to the basement, entered it, and closed the door behind her. She then fell down the stairs and lost consciousness. When she was found, she was brought to the hospital but she never regained consciousness. Just over an hour later since her fall, with her loved ones all around her, she died peacefully and painlessly after final rites were prayed over her. The Lord’s grace was her fall and subsequent unconsciousness to immediately not feel much pain. I am grateful. The Lord is SO GOOD and she is whole and alive once again, with Him. Amen. =)
Death, where is your sting?
Grave where is your victory?

From the song “He’s Alive” by Cory Asbury and Laura Hackett
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcvbLbD3X_Q

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I Love My Husband

I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God grants,
I shall but love thee better after death!!

From the poem “How Do I Love Thee” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Since we’d been living overseas, I’d been returning to Toronto in the summers to look after my parents. In one of those times, I overheard my parents while I hung out in their room. My mother (then at the beginnings of her Alzheimer’s) said, “What am I going to do with my head? What if I can no longer remember you?” My father then said, “You can forget everything, just don’t forget me.”

Years later, as her sickness progressed, it became very apparent that she had forgotten most things and most people (including us, her children). At one of her neurologist’s check-up, she was asked the same questions from the years before: “Where are you? What day is it? What is the month? What city are you in? What is this (holding a pen)? What is it used for?” And for the last question, my mother motioned with her hand that it was for writing. The word “writing” wouldn’t come to her. The doctor then wrote the word “BLINK” on a piece of paper and asked her to do it. She did so.

As I watched, I was very relieved that she was able to do at least one thing correctly! Then, the doctor asked her to write a sentence. It seemed like we all held our breaths. My father, their caregiver, and I, waited to see what she wrote. Finally, she held out her paper to the doctor who asked her to read her work. She smiled and proudly said, “I love my husband.”

I treasured that memory in my heart. I actually cried while there. I understood the significance that although she had forgotten most things (including how to eat!), she remembered the most important thing to her: love. In their 50th Wedding Anniversary album she dedicated the poem above to my father. She said it best described her love for him. It was as if she knew she would die first. Had she kept living, they would have celebrated their 64th Wedding Anniversary on September 12th.

“Moments of Peace for the Morning” by Bethany House says that “if you love others, God – the source of love – lives in you. The more you practice His unfailing love, the more His presence is perfected in you. The blessing of love is twofold. Love others, and not only will your love grow, but God – the spring from which all love flows – will show Himself more powerfully within you.”

And that was what was evident in my mother; her love for God, my father, us - her children, grandchildren, flowers, music, cleanliness and order, their church, teaching, studying, etc.

So, although much can be said about her, I wrote of her love. She was next in line for EARIST’s (an institute of Science and Technology in Manila) presidency and she loved her job dearly but she quit it to be with us in Canada. She said she loved her family more. By then, she was the Vice President of the university and Dean of its Graduate School.

She also wrote of her thankfulness to God for His countless blessings and for being the giver of gifts and lives well lived. She desired for us to have the same happiness she had.

I never knew until she died, half of what she did and accomplished. She lived her life well. I will remember most of all how she swayed us as she had her arm around my shoulders while I played the piano. It was a joy to be with her as she sang with gusto to the music. Then, she kissed me, thanked me, and told me she loved me. Thank you, Lord, that you shared her with us. It is comforting to know that she is with you and basking in your love.
Liwayway (Lily) Nora Angeles (Nanay)
March 10, 1924 – September 9, 2012

May the Lord make your love for each other and for everyone else grow by leaps and bounds. 1 Thessalonians 3:12 CEV

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Departure Date

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.

Job 1:21b
“Do you understand what the song is about?” I asked Ethan as I drove us to school. We were just singing along to the song “Blessings” by Laura Story which had recently become his favorite. He’d complain to me whenever I played the CD over and over but never when that song was on. In response to my question, he said when bad things happen; they can actually be God’s blessings. I agreed with him and further added that at times when we pray and don’t get what we ask for, it's because God has something better in mind. That’s what He does and gives to us. Little did I know that just two hours later, I would find out some grave news which would make the song just uncannily perfect as a comforting reminder.

After arriving at school, our oldest son phoned and said my mother had fallen down the stairs and was in the hospital. She was not doing well with some bleeding in her brain. An hour later, another call came through saying she was in a coma. Following that by just five minutes, a final call informed us that she had just passed away.

The photo above was taken last year when my father turned 90 years old. My mother was then 87 years old.
Death is so very much a part of our lives but there is just no way to prepare for it. I had long told myself that living overseas as a missionary would most likely mean receiving a call such as the one I just took. Still, in spite the necessary expectation, the shock predominated. In just a few hours, I’ll be on a flight to go back to Toronto to be with my siblings and father. It hasn’t even been 12 hours since I found out.

Thank you for praying. Our family values it greatly. My father loved my mother very much (we all did!) and made sacrifices daily to take care of her. She’s had Alzheimer’s for at least 8 years and in all that time he never spent a day apart from her. He lived to care and pray for her. Please pray for him specifically as he deals with his loss and consider what his future plans will be.

I had a very busy week-end but I managed to get away for my monthly quiet time from Saturday afternoon to yesterday afternoon. I thought I needed that to pray and prepare my mind for my online course which started today. I knew I would be busy in the weeks ahead and needed to be rooted in the Lord. I was just sharing at a meeting that my times away were what kept me sane and not burned out from all I’ve been through in the last few years. I had friends I always shared and prayed with. Yet, it was my times with Papa God that sustained me. It wasn't so much my pouring out my heart and woes to Him that helped me. It was His pouring His love and affirmation in me that truly ministered and satisfied my soul. And it was coming out of that connectedness with Him that I received the news today. The timing couldn’t have been any better. First, He loved on me, then the news. He knows that coming out of our time together, I would feel that I can handle and do anything! So yes, I am grieving, but, I am so grateful for my Lord who loves me and helps me.

Today, I just felt so ministered to by those around me. I was hugged, prayed for, loved, fed, listened to, considered, helped, and asked to leave so I could do what I needed to do. I was awed. We serve a great, big God. What won’t He do for us? I even received a sympathy card with a butterfly on it. Yes, Lord, I see! Thank you! Please see previous post, “Transformed”, for more information. I just love the Lord and His ways!

I’m ending with an inspirational thought with the title above. It's from Max Lucado’s book “Grace for the Moment vol. II” for September 9th, the date my mother died. A friend handed the book to me just as I was leaving the school. =)
You, as all God’s children, live one final breath from your own funeral.
The day you die is better than the day you are born. (Eccles. 7:1 NLT)
Heaven enjoys a maternity-ward reaction to funerals. Angels watch body burials the same way grandparents monitor delivery-room doors. They can’t wait to see the new arrival. We don’t grieve when babies enter the world. The hosts of heaven don’t weep when we leave it.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Transformed

Through You, I can do anything
I can do all things, ‘cause it’s You who gives me strength
Nothing is impossible

From the song “Nothing is Impossible” by Planetshakers
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGYAkjPukOo
Thursday nights and early Sunday mornings are the times when we practice as a worship team before playing during the service. Usually, the list of songs is emailed by Tuesday so we can individually practice with our instruments ahead of time. Due to computer problems, I only found out what we were playing on the way to church on Thursday. I play by ear so I have to be familiar with a song to have an idea how to play it. There was no time for me to practice, let alone hear (thru YouTube) how a new song played. Thankfully, my singer friend repeatedly sang the unfamiliar song to me as I drove us.

I sounded awful when we practiced together. I knew I had to practice some more on my own, and did! Unfortunately, trying to practice without playing the melody – which was how my right hand knew how to naturally play(!) – wasn’t easy. I tried to play using the chord variations but it didn’t sound right. Worse of all, I couldn’t worship because I was trying to figure out how to play!

On Sunday, as we finished practicing before the service, our team leader told me I should just play the chord and hold it down. I wasn’t to allow my fingers to go up and down the keys (playing arpeggio). I asked if he meant for just the intro of the songs but he said for each chord I played. Immediately, I knew I had to re-learn a new way of playing and just minutes before the service started! Playing the melody was what I naturally did. Playing arpeggio was how I naturally played! When I prayed before the service started, I knew I needed a LOT of help! I knew I could play as he asked but it was no longer anywhere near how I liked to play and it certainly wasn’t as fun. Most of all, I was disturbed because I knew I had to pay attention to the new way I was supposed to play and would have an even harder time worshipping! Still, I was determined to obey. When we started, I tried as best I could to play as he asked.

I don’t think I succeeded the whole time but I knew I tried as well as I could, in the time I was given to get used to playing that way (which was none). I surprised myself that I worshipped anyway. In my heart, the Lord deserved it regardless that I thought I didn’t sound right nor good. And that’s when the butterfly flew in the sanctuary. We were singing the lines above and it started to fly towards us in the front. It fluttered here and there just in front of the stage and I thought I imagined it. I didn’t! I smiled broadly when one child loudly said, “Look, a butterfly!

The last time I was mesmerized by a flying butterfly was six years ago as the school’s principal asked me to consider teaching first grade for a semester. As I listened to her, the custodian opened the door of the classroom we were in and in flew the butterfly with him. I stopped hearing her because my mind was completely baffled that a butterfly would fly inside that second floor room, at that perfect time, as a new direction in my life was being offered to me. And it happened again in the sanctuary. In both places, I’d not seen any butterfly fly in before, nor after. Those times were firsts!

Almost 20 years ago, I received a prophetic word and I was likened to a butterfly. I remember because I wrote down what she said and kept it. Since then, butterflies in general, and butterfly sightings in particular, fascinated me. They’d flutter by me and one even landed on my finger! One came from a nearby island, danced this way and that, and then flew back the way it came. I was sitting by the edge of the water on the beach and saw the whole thing. I was trying to write on my journal what I was hearing from God and there it was. =) The Lord’s delight in flying form!

I know that I was like a caterpillar transformed into a butterfly. The Lord changed me, taught me, and helped me to be a new person. He brings about changes like being able to play the keyboard at church and then exaggerates the point by flying in a real one. He is so amazing!

And, as I sat there listening to the preaching, all of a sudden, the pastor said, “It doesn’t matter that our musicians cannot play well so long as they can take us to the presence of God.” I might have wondered if I really heard that but Eng was then pressing my hand and making sure I knew it was a word for me. I don’t know what else to say. We have an amazingly fascinating God. There is no end to His surprises!
I’m not gonna live by what I see
I’m not gonna live by what I feel
Deep down I know that You’re here with me
And I know that You can do anything!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Stepping Out

“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat and walked on the water to Jesus.

Matthew 14:29
This morning, I played the electric keyboard at church for the very first time. I was part of the worship team that led the singing for the morning’s service. I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun while playing the piano or keyboard. I’d been playing for years (mostly on my own) but nothing beats the way worship was, today. For years, I’d also known that I’d be playing just like I did but I just didn’t know exactly when and where. It finally happened at today’s service and I am overjoyed.

Before we became missionaries, Eng and I used to attend Friday night prayer times at our friends’ house just two streets away from where we lived. This goes way back to the early 90s. One night, I received prophetic prayers. My hands were held out in front of me (as I postured myself to receive) and my eyes were closed. Our prayer leader rested his fingers on my left palm and continued to pray. Involuntarily, my left hand suddenly started to go up and shake uncontrollably! This went on for a few seconds until the shaking slowed and stopped and my hand finally descended on my lap. Because I was being prayed for, it never occurred to me to stop my hand. I probably could have stopped it from shaking but I didn't want to. Far from frightening me, the experience excited me. It seemed like my mind was just a second or two away from what was going on. By the time it began to sink in my brain that my hand was shaking by itself, it stopped. Then, as the thought began to form in my head, “What about my right hand?” there it was, already shaking and doing exactly what my other hand did. When my right hand finally rested on my other lap, the first and only thing I could think of was, “Now, I know, I can play.” I knew the Lord, through the Holy Spirit, touched my hands and made them shake. I also knew I could then begin to play the piano. Up until then, I’d always played the same pieces that I’d memorized by rote (like the theme song from “The Sting”). In my life, I might have had a summer or two of piano lessons but that was it. I enjoyed playing however, so I used to finger the melody of songs with my right hand. I never knew how to play and what to do with my left hand until that time of prayer. After that night, the same prayer leader taught me about chords and so I did begin to play with both hands.

For the next 20+ years, I played mostly at home and hardly ever publicly. I didn’t have the nerve to play anywhere else! I didn’t think I was good enough to play with trained people. It was only because I was here on my own over the summer and had more free time that I thought I’d give it a try and find out if I could play at church. Last Thursday, I attended the worship practice and I struggled. I actually wondered if they’d fire me for not playing well enough. =) They asked me not to play the melody with my right hand but that’s all it knew to do since childhood! I was in trouble and frustrated. This morning, our pastor actually talked about how it is in the frustrating environments that we are more fruitful. He said faith takes us beyond where we’re comfortable to a new place. In the passage above, Peter left his place of comfort to a new type of shaky surface. But yes, he couldn’t stand on the water until he was off the boat! I didn't realize it but from Thursday onwards, as I practiced and trained my right hand to play a variation of the chords instead of the melody, it was new territory for me. And playing at church was also my actual stepping out to a new environment. In both cases, I’m glad I, in effect, stepped off the boat and stood on the water. I would not have known the joy and exhilaration of playing and worshipping with a crowd of people. What a thrill it is!

This morning, I also woke up to a line of a song that repeatedly played in my head. It was “He (the Lord) shall reign forever.” When I heard it, I knew the Lord was going to reign over the whole worship time. I knew I could be confident that it’ll turn out well because how else would it be if He was the one reigning? He’s too good to let it be otherwise. And this was affirmed by what the pastor said that our confidence should not be on the journey but on the living God. Yes!

Thank you, Lord, for the new challenges you gave me and that you actually prompted me to “Come.” Amen to that. Bless you!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Giving’s Reward

…we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Acts 20:35
I was asked to share a story about our kids and when I prayed about it, this was the one that came to mind. It happened when we were still working in the south of the Philippines over a decade ago. May it bless and encourage you. =)

“Are you sharing your other lollipop?” is what I asked 7 year old Eric since he had two pieces and neither of his two brothers had any. We just finished our lunch and I wondered what our two sons would do with their treats. Eric said, “No, I’m not. It wouldn't be fair since one (brother) would get one (lollipop) while the other wouldn't.” I was a bit surprised with his answer but carried on, “What about you, Eli, are you sharing your candies?” He had three candies while 10 year old Evan had none and Eric had his two suckers. Almost 5 years old, Eli quickly responded with, “No, I wouldn't, because Eric would end up with way more than me!”

As their mother, I was befuddled. I thought I always taught them to share what they had but it obviously didn't work. I considered forcing them to share but I truly wanted them to do that out of their own volition. Not wanting to waste a teaching moment, I opted to tell them a story. I told them of the 4-5 year old Muslim kids that I taught in pre-school. My kids knew they were poor and didn't own much since they’d seen them and had been to the little nipa hut that housed our school. For a peso (a few cents worth), we served snacks to the students since several came to school hungry. The children didn't eat to their heart’s content. They usually were only given a snack packet of biscuits or a piece of bread with their drink. Yet more than once, I saw two of my students keep the rest of their snack after one bite. Concerned that they didn't like their snacks,I asked them why they didn't eat them. They said they wanted to bring it home and share it with their little siblings. My heart broke when I heard their reason. I hoped it would have the same effect on my sons regarding their sharing. I said nothing further to them.

Later, Eric asked me how many students I had. “Twenty”, I responded. He then gave me P20.00 and asked me to give each of my students a peso so they wouldn’t have to give up their food. They could just buy their siblings a snack. =) I was pleased. The next day, I did exactly what he told me to do and then I led my students in a prayer that God would bless Eric back for what he’d done for them.


Two days later, Eric was invited by our friends to go to the beach with them. I gave him P100.00 to pay for his expenses. When he came home that day, he excitedly told me that he had P200.00. “What?!? I told you to pay for your food! How come you have twice the money I gave you?” He explained that our friends paid for his expenses as their guest. And the last P100.00? He found it when he was digging in the sand.

That day, Eric saw first hand that when he gave to God (directly or through others), the Lord blessed him back ten times more than what he’d given. Try it. I'm sure you’d be as pleasantly surprised and shocked as he was. =) I'll be sharing more stories on giving in the weeks to come.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

More Changes

Change – verb (used with object) to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone: to change one’s name; to change one’s opinion; to change the course of history.
A few years ago, while attending a revival meeting at Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (TACF); the speaker encouraged us to offer our coins by throwing them on the floor. He was teaching on “change” and how suddenly or quickly the Lord brings it about. When the walkways were littered with coins, he organized us and got us to walk on them (in one direction) as a prophetic act. Change, symbolized by the coins, was going to be a part of our lives but we were not to be overcome by them. Instead, we’re to be on “top” of it. I wasn’t exactly sure how that would look as I lived it but because I’d never done that before nor since, I’d never forgotten it. Since then, I also began to choose to view changes in my life positively. The changes may not be easy nor pleasant but I choose not to complain, whine, nor fuss about it.

In a previous post (“Change”, posted on August 28, 2011), I wrote that a lot of us resist change and do not welcome it but it’s undoubtedly a part of our lives whether we want it or not. I said change was necessary. Papa God always wants to transform us so we can be holy just as He is holy. We must desire, or at least welcome, change, so we can be more like Him faster.

Yesterday, while my friend and I took our early morning walk, I saw a coin on the road. Immediately, because of my experience above, I said, “Oh look, change!” We walked by it but as I realized that I was just talking about what I wanted to happen with my situation, I thought it was prophetic that I all of a sudden found change. My friend was asking for my prayer request and as I was explaining it, I saw the coin. =) I saw that as the Lord’s way of encouraging me that indeed, change will come about. Yes! I then told her that I wanted to take a picture of it so we returned to the coin. After taking pictures of it, I took it and put it in my “Place to be Quiet” spot. Now, every time I see it, I can be reminded that change is coming. =)

I also know that I need to perceive incidents and my circumstances in new ways. I’ve always appreciated flowers but when I saw it through the eyes of my friend who took pictures of them, I understood the need to dig deeper and look more closely at whatever I’m dealing with. Sometimes, especially in arguments, it isn’t just always about the issue at hand. It is often far more complicated. My added prayer is that the change in me, will be, that I’ll understand what is going on beneath the surface of our situations. I’m grateful that the Holy Spirit has been prompting this. Thank you, Lord, for not leaving me alone but for helping me change.


And as I change, with the Lord’s instigation, He will forever be just as faithful, reliable, dependable, loveable, helpful, kind, glorious, and patient. He will, Himself, never change. He is the only constant. He is perfect. There is nothing in Him that needs changing. =) And that is still a comforting truth. Praise You, Lord!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

60 Days Later

I will praise the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

Psalm 146:2
My family finally joined me last Saturday. =) Considering that my love tank had been empty for awhile since no one had been around to give me lots of hugs and kisses, it truly touched me that as I pulled up in front of the airport to pick them up, my teen son opened the car’s door and before I was able to get off the car, he gave me a long, tight hug. He told me that he missed me and that he loved me. That warmed my heart real good but he also told me later that he truly missed me because he wanted to talk to me about his predicament with his friends while he was still in Toronto but he didn’t want to do it on Skype. That statement warmed my heart even more. =) My son and I had not always been on the best of terms so hearing that was like music to my ears. The Lord is so good to me.

Now, the house is suddenly messy in several places and the noise level increased several notches, BUT, I am glad they are home. It is good to have them back. I will miss my extended time of being responsible to no one and the freedom of just doing anything I wanted (sing, play the keyboard, sleep in, not sleep, not cook, not eat, eat oatmeal for supper or just fruit all day, leave the house, come home any time, etc., etc.). I will look back on this time of my life as nothing else but a gift. I thrived and enjoyed it. It was good to be on my own, enjoy the Lord, and the ways He protected, provided, looked after me, and loved me exceedingly and abundantly. The other day for example, I was out for a buffet meal with friends and we were surprisingly presented with roses by the hotel’s staff (they even knelt while giving the small bouquet to each of us). They also gave us chocolate bars and a gift each. When we asked why we were being blessed that way, they explained that it was because we were special. =) Some days, I thanked Papa God because I knew people around me were kind to me just because I belonged to Him. It shouldn’t have surprised me that we got treated that way but it’s always such a pleasure!


As our new normal begins with Eng and just our two younger sons back, plus the school year starting, I’d like to specifically thank the Lord for:

• The end of bug bites on my feet. There were 26 by the time it stopped! I literally walked around the house with a bug spray on my hand, sprayed invisible enemies where my feet normally were, when I stood or sat, and it worked!
• The way He became so real to me especially during Chris’ death (please see previous posts). He soothed, comforted, cradled, and powerfully ministered to me.
• The peace He gave daily. Sometimes, I even walked in the dark. I felt no fear.
• Helping me understand the creator side of Him. I started a “Place to be Quiet Project” just outside where our dining table was. I worked with flowers and plants which I placed around Eng’s water fountain. When I decided which plant got transferred to pots or when, or which got tossed out, I related with the Lord so much. To be surrounded by beauty is wonderful and creating/giving (?) life is so fulfilling. I’d cut off a stalk, soak it in water, and in a few days, there’d be roots growing from it. New life formed from the stalk and when I planted it, the potential for more beauty got started. What fun!
• Abiding in me. This became so crystal clear when a friend and I went out for coffee. I went to the washroom (toilet) and there at the door where it would typically have a figure with a skirt was the baffling sign “Abiding”. I don’t know why their sign displayed that. It just did and it definitely spoke to me.

And, of course, my best friend from Manila visited me for five days. I don’t think I’d ever be able to duplicate that. My online course ended so I had no responsibilities (to my family, work, nor school) and just had time to relax, enjoy, and have fun. It was such an amazing gift, all of it, 60 days of grace. Thank you, Lord! I love you, so much.