Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Silver Anniversary

In his heart a man plans his course,
but the LORD determines his steps

Proverbs 16:9
Today is our 25th wedding anniversary so we are heading over to Niagara Falls for two-nights. It’ll be good to have our much needed break and time to ourselves. Earlier in the year, we actually talked about inviting people to celebrate with. We got as far as making a list of names. Because it’s a significant year, we thought we should do something special. In the end, we got busy with many things so we invited our relatives over on Sunday and celebrated that way instead. It was good to gather, be with family, and to acknowledge the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness in keeping us together this long.

Eng proposed in January 1987 while we were folding clean laundry in the basement of my sister’s house where I used to live. I matter-of-fact said “yes” because I knew I wanted to marry him. In my mind, I was thinking we’d marry in another two years. Eng dropped a bombshell on me when he said we should marry right away. At the time, he was here as a Malaysian tourist with a three months long visa. Because he arrived in November, his third month was quickly ending. He talked about his family saying he was crazy for coming back for me and how they’d react if he went home to Malaysia. He reasoned with finances and pretty soon I was convinced that it was best to marry in the nearer future. I knew I wanted to marry him anyway so what if it happened sooner? Surely, I reasoned, that it would be fine.

Less than six weeks later, we were married. My mind understood all the logic behind our decision but my body had other ideas the night before our wedding. I was with Eng while we picked up our rented bridal car and started to cry. I told him between tears that I wanted to marry at age 27 and I was only 26. I was about to do something I really didn’t want to do yet and my body was going AWOL on me. Thankfully, Eng (who admitted to me later that I scared him) was able to pacify and console me. The crying relieved the shock that I was going through then and I looked happy to be married the next day.

Eng left after consoling me and attended his stag party. He was dared (or coaxed?) to consume 13 shots of B52s and gamely obliged. He looked bloodshot, weary, and sick the next day but he made it. We wed; Eng a young Christian still finding his way and me, a very religious Catholic. We’ve certainly come a VERY long way.

Until then, I had my life all planned and figured out (at least, I thought I did). Meeting Eng and marrying him definitely changed me. I really started to see things in different ways since then. For the new ways of seeing, I am extremely grateful for Eng. May our next 25 years be better than the first one. With God helping us, it can only be so.

Incidentally, days later, I couldn’t help but wonder about why I was crying with regards to getting married. It was bliss. =)

Ethan's 11

Sons are a heritage from the Lord,
Children a reward from Him.
Psalm 127:3
For his birthday, Ethan said he wanted to be woken up with our traditional “Happy Birthday” singing and then receive his gift. Because Ethan sleeps like a log, we had to sing our birthday rendition twice as he slept right through it the first time! I had to literally shake him awake as we sang again. =)

He wanted a DS console gadget and a game which was way more than what we would usually spend on a birthday gift so all our sons (plus Ethan!) contributed. It was his only gift from all of us but he was as happy as a lark when he got it. Twice over the week-end, he wanted the day to be his birthday celebration. I know it was because he wanted to get his birthday gift ahead of time. In the end, because of the week-end being so busy, we weren’t able to designate another day as his birthday but it worked out well.

In the evening, we ate at his favourite restaurant, “Swiss Chalet,” and he no longer chose from the Kid’s Menu but ordered a half rack of ribs all for himself. That is a huge order as even Eric and I (Linda) only ordered 1/3 rack of ribs. He’s definitely grown up and is no longer our little one.

Our Ethan is still kind, athletic, sociable, likeable, and endearing at eleven years old. We are blessed to have him as part of our family. He has done amazingly well in our adjustments here in Toronto this year and made good friends. We praise God for Ethan. Thank you, Lord.

- - - - - - * Ethan with cousins, young aunts, and Evan's friend, Ben. * - - -

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dreaming Big, Part 1

I’m overwhelmed
That I keep finding open arms.
From the song “What Love is This?”
by Kari Jobe, Mia Fieldes, Lincoln Brewster

I’ve always had two dreams when I was younger. I should clarify that as a teen, I also wanted to know how to love a man in every sense by having a husband, and to know how to love my own child.

Fast forward and now that I’m fifty years old, I have what I wanted. I am married to a man I love and do love our four sons. My dreams, though? They’ve always been that, dreams that I actually even began to forget. As I write this, I understand now that 2012 is the year that begins the fulfillment of those dreams. In January, I read an article about dreaming big so I recalled the dreams I’ve always had. I agreed with the writer that if I still didn’t do anything about my dreams, I’d be 90 years old and I’d be regretting what I didn’t make time for. It was time to act on it.

My first dream was to become a counselor. From as far back as I can remember I enjoyed talking to friends going through a hard time and just listening and helping them sort things out. It’s something innate that the Lord instilled in me when He made me. However, I lost my innocence and found out about rape, incest, abuse, etc. I changed my mind in becoming a counselor as I realized that finding out about what people had gone through would just sadden me. I wouldn’t have any answers for them and wouldn’t know how to help them.

As I matured and became a Christian, I realized that Jesus is the answer to any problem and I could point people to Him. He’ll take their pain, suffering, anger, bitterness, etc., and easily transform them. He’ll bring healing, peace, and hope. They’ll have new lives!

Encouraged, I enrolled in a graduate counselling course 11 years ago but soon dropped it when Eli (who was then 5) and Ethan (just a few months old) started to cry as I left to go to school. I knew it was the wrong time in my life to pursue studies then. I didn’t know if I could ever study again but I did what I knew was right. Now that Eli is 16 and Ethan is turning 11 on February 27, could it be the perfect time? I’m certainly old enough! I began to pray, inquire, and finally apply. Lo and behold, Eng and the leaders in our organization had all approved. I also have our sons’ blessings. I am about to start a long and arduous journey but I am all excited! Life was good but it’s begun to be even better! =)

In the near future, I believe I will soon be taking online courses so that I will eventually become a counselor. Our God who sees our sacrifices and knows the desires of our hearts will make it so. He is that GOOD. I am so awed. I feel undeserving but He just loves, loves, loves, magnanimously. I see no other reason and know it’s His work.

Aim high and dream BIG. The Lord will make a way for us because of His amazing goodness. Nothing is impossible for Him and as we allow ourselves to dream, we give the Lord something to work with in us. =) Go for it! I most certainly am, and with His help, will do it.

The second dream will be posted in Part 2.

Monday, February 13, 2012


Who will teach my children to have integrity
and to walk in the ways of the Lord?
I will!
Adam Mitchell in the movie “Courageous”
Before watching the movie “Courageous” at Bayview Glen church here in Toronto, I had something else I wanted to write about. Now I know that if I could encourage just one reader to watch it, it would be worth this post.

The movie is funny, exciting, poignant, and heart warming, all fluidly interspersed at different times in the story. It’s odd that I had tears rolling down my cheeks one moment and yet in the next few seconds I was laughing or chuckling over what’s going on. My emotions went on a roller coaster ride as I watched. There’s also tension, and drama as four men dealt with their struggles as fathers and the relationships within their homes. I wouldn’t elaborate on the plot so future viewers will still enjoy watching it. I just want to point out that the film touched on many important aspects of family life including dating, spending time with each other, providing, having integrity, understanding loyalty in friendship, and most of all, applying the important role that fathers need to live out for their children.

In August 2011, gangs of teenagers started riots, looting, and vandalism in London and other parts of England. Months later, the politicians there blamed the fatherless generation for the attacks. It is sobering to read the statistics of what happens to some of the children of absentee fathers: (from http://thefatherlessgeneration.wordpress.com/statistics/.

- 63% of youth suicides (US Dept. Of Health/Census) – 5 times the average
- 90% of all homeless and runaway children – 32 times the average
- 85% of all children who show behaviour disorders – 20 times the average. (Center for Disease Control)
- 80% of rapists with anger problems –14 times the average. (Justice & Behaviour)
- 71% of all high school dropouts – 9 times the average. (National Principals Association Report)

Hopefully, movies like “Courageous” will encourage some of the male population to rise to their calling and “take the challenge”. If you are not married but want to have your own children, watch the movie and plan to incorporate values from the movie in your future homes. Our three sons watched the movie with us and each one shared what they would strive to do with their future children. Men (especially the loving fathers), I urge you to mentor others. Moms, please teach your sons to be there for their children. Absentee Dads, please live out your roles. It takes time, discipline, guts, and courage, but it’ll be well worth the effort, not just for the kids’ sakes, but most of all, for you.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

All is Grace

Give thanks in all circumstances,
For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Since reading Ann Voskamp’s book, “One Thousand Gifts”, I had seen the phrase “All is Grace” on another occasion. I was at a book store and it was the title of a book. Quickly perusing the cover page, I gathered that the author experienced some kind of oppression and hardship while in prison. It’s hard to imagine but I can guess that in spite the physical, emotional, and possibly spiritual abuse he received, he probably concluded (Was it right at the end? Was it while he was in prison?) that everything was grace. I don’t know since I didn’t read that book. However, he’s probably in the same place where Ann is, a place of seeing everything that happens, good and unpleasant, as grace. I agree with her question although I’m probably not wording it the same way, ``Does God ever do anything that isn’t good?”

I’ve been trying to see deeply and I’m happy to state that unwrapping my gifts daily is a happy preoccupation for me. I look forward to being quiet and mentally going through my day, listing what I’m grateful for. Sometimes, I list the gift as I see it. A lot of times, I say the gift aloud so I won’t forget, mentally noting what I should write later on. Oh yes, if I'm not making sense, please read the “Unwrapping Gifts” post (on January 15, 2012) before continuing. As insinuated there, it is so easy to thank for wonderful sightings or heart tugging moments. What’s a real challenge for me is when awful or sad situations occur. As an example, my cousin’s 57 year old husband died suddenly. In her grief, I wonder if she’ll agree that his death is grace.

I had an argument with Eng the other day and my heart became negative towards him. Still, I had the presence of mind to look for something to thank God for in our situation. In the next moment, I was grateful for his life. He’s a blessing to us in various ways! I was really glad he’s alive.

That one was easy. My next argument happened with my son over lunch in a restaurant. I know I tried to maintain a calm voice (since we were in a restaurant!) but he talked to me in a disrespectful loud voice, and with accusing and scathing words. Twice, he said our conversation was stupid. Eng said he was about to leave on a trip and our heated discussion was making his heart feel heavy. I knew it was his way of making us stop. We persisted, anyway. Needless to say, I was angry, hurt, and insulted. By the time our son decided he was tired of talking and just wanted to wait for us in the van, I was in tears. I didn’t know how to fix our situation. All I could feel was his hatred and his disgust towards me. I felt so hopeless. Why did we have to relate that way? I felt like a failure as a mother and because I didn't listen to Eng, a rebellious wife, too. Why couldn’t I handle it better? Yet in all that, a thought struck me, yes, all is lost and hopeless, but not for God. Somehow, He can fix us and help us, and turn our situation around for good. I don’t know how but He surely can and I knew He would. I felt a little better as we went home.

I began to wonder though, how was that grace? What kind of gift was that? How do I unwrap what I couldn’t see as a gift? I was stumped in coming up with an answer. I thought and thought but got nothing! I realize now that with my heart so distressed, I couldn’t understand. It took so long to get it. After midnight, I suddenly realized it and almost shouted, “I got it!”

262. better understanding because of conflict
It is necessary to have conflict sometimes to identify issues, especially the buried ones. Without conflict, the issues don't usually surface or get talked about. Without that argument, I wouldn’t understand my son better. Because of it, I know him more; what hurts him and what angers him. And since that time, that son and I apologized to one another. He also told me that he loved me. We fought and yet are wiser because of it.

Thank you, Lord, for your gifts of lessons and lessons learned. No matter how long it takes, please help us to see the uneasily recognized grace, the disguised ones, that you allow to happen in our lives. Please help us to really see your gifts for what they are and to remember always, all is grace.