Sunday, January 29, 2012

Fashionable Eli

How can a young man keep his way pure?
By living according to your word.
Psalm 119:9
On January 19th, Eli turned 16. I would have written about him last week but as it was Eng’s birthday on Sunday, I wrote about Eng instead, knowing I can do this for Eli now. I know Eng is in agreement with me that Eli had changed so much from last year. It is amazing how he’d matured. For starters, physically, he’d gotten taller than Eric. They used to stand back to back to figure out who’s taller but now, Eli is clearly taller. A lot of people actually think he’s older too, because he does look older. It isn’t so much that he looks old; it’s more because Eric looks so young.

Back in Chiang Mai and when Eric had cancer, Eli was overlooked by a lot of people. Some people talked to him and related to him like he’s Eric. They didn’t really look that much alike but they’re similar enough that some well meaning people confused them for one another. Eli received a lot of encouragement meant for Eric. Sometimes, folks would know who he was but instead of relating to him, they’d inquire about Eric. I know the mistaken identity and that he wasn’t acknowledged for who he was, bothered him a bit. He eventually learned to deal with it and took it all in stride, choosing instead to understand and not make a fuss. It really helped that he had great respect for Eric and loved him so.

When we arrived here in Canada for Home Assignment, Eric left for college and Eli stepped up the plate as oldest brother in the house. He’d done well and had taken on more responsibilities. Thanks to the way the Lord had worked in his life, he’d become a gentleman. As I posted on his wall in Facebook on his birthday, he’s compassionate, generous, strong, manly, passionate, and tender hearted. He’d come out of Eric’s shadow, after all the comparisons and identity confusions, and is standing tall as his own person. He’s still very athletic and definitely particular about what he wears. He color coordinates his daily attire from head to foot and does an excellent job at it! He really has a great eye for color and what looks well together. He’s still fascinated with shoes and hopes to design them someday. Who knows? Maybe he will do just that! It remains to be seen what he’ll truly be. I do know whatever he does; will be done with a LOT of intensity and enthusiasm because that’s what he is, Mr. Energy. Keep on, Eli!

Thank you, Lord, for the way you’re molding and shaping Eli to be the man you want him to become. May He love you with all his mind, soul, and strength, and truly live according to your word. We praise you for him. Thanks for sharing him with us for 16 years already. We look forward to many, many, more years with him. You know he wants to be pure for you. With your help, he can do it, and with you at work in his life, he could only get better. Thank you!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Eng's 52!

Because Eng’s birthday is today, I thought I’d write about him. I checked on what I wrote about him last year and was surprised by what I read. I had forgotten! I shared then about him praying for us when he woke up on his birthday. He asked for the Lord’s blessing on our marriage, for help that he remain committed, and to be willing to do the work to make
it a better marriage. Now a year later, I’d like to attest to the Lord’s faithfulness in answering that prayer. We have indeed been blessed in our marriage! In the past year, we travelled to Manila (twice!), Malaysia, Europe, and we are now in Canada. The Lord’s been amazing in His help while we are on Home Assignment both as we transitioned and shared about the work in Thailand. We are relating better as a family and with the counselling that we are receiving, Eng and I are communicating and getting along better.

He asked to be committed to our marriage and he had been. I also know that it hasn’t been easy for him to see a counsellor (reflecting on why he does what he does is not something he likes to do) but he’s certainly sticking it out. It is also a big time commitment as not only do we go for our hour and a half session bi-weekly but we also have to do homework. Eng had certainly been willing and doing the work to make our marriage better.

For his birthday, I gave him a book about an issue he’s struggling with. Understandably, he wasn’t “thrilled” about his gift. In retrospect, I can understand why. I would love to get a book that would help me change because I welcome change. He’s more on the resistant-to-change group of people though, so the book was probably the last thing he wanted to get. You know what he did? He thanked me for the gift and said he would read it. Then, he proceeded to do so! He is an amazing man. I had no idea.

Lord, I’m grateful for this man that you have given me. He’d been such a challenge to me (as I obviously am to him!) but in your wisdom he’d provided the balance that I needed in my life. He protects, provides, controls, and serves. He does those so well. He’s an excellent cook. What I’m not, he is. What a wise God, you are. You put us together in spite our differences not so we would argue and keep arguing but so that we would learn to value each other and collaborate together, celebrate our uniqueness and keep loving one another. Thank you, O wise and knowing God.

Happy Birthday, Eng. You are God’s blessing to me. Keep on. =)

As iron sharpens iron,
so one man sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:17
Gift giving tip: buy something the receiver would like even if you think what you've got in your hand is what he should get.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Unwrapping Gifts

Great are the works of the Lord;
they are pondered by all who delight in them.
Psalm 111:2
I just unwrapped a piece of Ferrero Rocher and am currently enjoying it. It’s my favourite chocolate and since university, Eng used to get them for me as a gift. He hasn’t changed much in his gift giving and still gives them to me. I received a box from him for Christmas. I actually ended up with three boxes altogether over the holidays. The other two came from friends who visited separately. The Lord is so kind to ensure that even with my sons enjoying the treats with me; I’m still to have my fill of them. I am certainly relishing them. =) We are now (mostly me) consuming box number two.

Another gift I got over Christmas was a book by Ann Voskamp called “One Thousand Gifts”. It is amazing the wisdom I already gleaned from her book and I haven’t even finished it. I’m seriously dreading the day I finish reading it. It will feel like losing a friend if I am no longer able to reach out for it to read it some more. I highly recommend it as a must read. It’s probably available in your local bookstore since it is a New York Times Bestseller.

What spoke volumes to me is how she shared how to have joy all the time. She wrote:
“If I can give thanks for the good things, the hard things, the absolute everything, I can enter the gates to glory. Living in His presence is fullness of joy – and seeing shows the way in.
The art of deep seeing makes gratitude possible. And it is the art of gratitude that makes joy possible.”

It is the deep seeing that isn’t always easy for us. We go through a hard time and seeing the good in it is usually the last thing we do. She wrote about noting down what she sees that she’s thankful for and as she notices them, she compares it to unwrapping the Lord’s gifts. She started to list them, hence the title of her book. She got to a thousand gifts and now just keeps going indefinitely. Encouraged by her list, I started my own two weeks ago and intend to keep going, myself. Some of what’s in it are:
3. a New Year welcomed with words full of hope
13. a day of rest full of sunshine
18. my mother smiling and enjoying my touch
24. unwillingness of a son to just do without certainty and clear leading
39. five more months with undecided son at home
62. cold nose pressed on a warm cheek
91. kisses goodnight
107. a mission's committee happy to hear about what we do
108. the sun’s warmth on my cheeks
112. directions known
114. reading by candlelight
115. waking up to a song playing in my head
There’s always something to thank the Lord for. He is constantly blessing us with gifts. I am happily unwrapping mine daily. Please choose to see deeply and go unwrap yours.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Change Winner

...the help of man is worthless.
With God we will gain the victory.
Psalm 108: 12b-13a
Last night, we again had our annual end of the year family meeting. Since it was already January 7th, it truly no longer qualified as a year-end meeting but I’m glad we did it nonetheless. It’s a meeting where we write down one another’s positive and negative traits. We do it with the
intention to encourage ourselves on what we do well, and to mirror out ourselves so that we find out what we can change. We started by each of us writing what we liked best about Evan. Although we first did this activity ten years ago and had already established a way to go about it, we had to do it differently this year because we didn’t have our notes from the years before. It must have been left in one of our boxes in Chiang Mai. Except Evan since it was his turn, we individually wrote no more than three but at least one positive trait that each one liked about him. Then, we also wrote one trait that we thought he could focus on in changing for the New Year. He then read our positive and negative comments. After that, Eng affirmed Evan and prayed for him. The Lord was thanked for what Evan does well and then requests were made on his behalf to do better and change in the areas written.

When Evan's turn was done, we did the same thing all over again for Eli, Eng, me, Eric, and Ethan. We usually feel great after knowing what we do well. With regard to the negative trait, we often pray first to word it graciously. Thankfully, no one had been hurt in the ten years we’d done the activity. As I facilitate the whole process, I often would add that the intention is to let the other person know what he can change for the better. Often, the encouragement is to have the negative trait worked on as a resolution for the New Year. With the prayers offered, the hope is that the negative trait won’t be seen nor heard again in the following year and especially during the year-end's meeting.

The final thing we did was to vote on who changed the most last year (a new addition in the last five years). I thought an award would be an extra incentive to change. Sure enough, one of us kept saying he wanted to win! There's a $30.00 or 1,000.00 Baht (when we were in Thailand) award. The winner of who changed the most in 2011 was Evan; his second victory in the last five years.

I’d never won once. All the same, as my family told me what I can change, I hope to truly do so. May this year be the year I change so well that they'd actually notice. It’s not because of the award since the money comes from Eng and me anyway. It’s because I thrive on change. Winning would mean the changes in me were truly evident. And change is really good for all of us. As the Lord transforms us, it’s great for us to be purposeful in joining Him in the process. May all our resolutions and intentions to change in 2012 be fruitful for His glory.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Thanks to 2011!

Praise the LORD, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise His holy name.
Praise the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all His benefits –
Psalm 103:1-2
In 2011, the Lord changed me. For that, I am grateful. I also understand even more the magnitude of his love for me, what grace truly is, and just recently, comprehending joy. I’m sure I have LOTS more to learn about all three. The Lord blessed us so much and had us do many things last year that I’m extremely grateful for but learning those three tops my list. =)

Ethan is grateful for his family, his friends, this house, Eric’s graduation, and our trip to Europe.

Eli appreciates his school, his family and friends, and being in Canada.

His graduation, plus our Europe trip and his seniors’ trip to the south of Thailand are the highlights of Eric’s year.

Evan is grateful for his college, that we are home this year, and his grandparents as he’d been able to stay with them while we’re on the field.

Eng is glad he was able to travel to Malaysia to visit his mother and other relatives. What made that trip very special was the concurrent visit of his friends from Manila. He is likewise thankful for our Europe trip and Eric’s graduation.

It’s been an eventful year and one that we closed off by being at a church service. We were all there, along with Evan’s friend. Not all of us wanted to be there to greet the New Year that way. Some of us were excited to do the countdown, share a toast, meander around Nathan Phillips Square, etc. By the time 2012 did come around, the speaker was passionately talking about what the Lord will do in Toronto this year. After that, we shared communion. Prior to that, we worshipped and heard prophesies for the year. I think the only way we could have made greeting 2012 better was if the speaker paused just before midnight and we all welcomed the year rejoicing together. Also, it would have been great if we stayed at the service until it was finished. Instead, we left shortly after midnight since some of us didn't really want to be there in the first place. We came home for some drinks and snacks. I know that someday, in our old age, we may look back at how we ushered in the New Years of our lives. There would have been the ones spent lighting fireworks, being in front of the TV doing the countdown, cajoling at a party, praying with people, or simply hanging out with friends. I believe last night’s way of waiting in the new year tops it all. I’m glad we were at a church service honouring the One who keeps giving us new years. Thank you, Papa God, for 2011, and all the exciting events You have in store for us in 2012. You will not do any less. YES! =D