Sunday, April 29, 2012

All in Place

I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which He is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us – yes(!) …
Isaiah 63:7
This past week, we managed to pray as a family and one of our sons thanked the Lord for everything falling into place. That’s exactly what is happening. As I write this, so many exciting and miraculous events have transpired in our lives.

We came back to Canada to reconnect with supporters and family but with the intention of returning to Thailand to continue the work we were called to do there. We just found out that our mission group has given us our financial and medical clearance to go. We praise God. We are all healthy and we have the funds we need to leave.

We had several questions with regards to Evan and Eric and where they’ll be after we leave. Evan is graduating in two weeks and will look for work here. Eric is returning to school in the fall and had been looking for work. Both are now set to leave for a Christian camp north of Dryden, Ontario. They will work there as camp counsellors from June to August. The camp is run by volunteers and the camp’s counsellors usually raise their own funds to live and work there. In our sons' cases, one of our supporters generously offered to not just pay for their living expenses but to generously give money to them so that at the end of their time there, they’ll have earnings. The first time we heard the proposition; we all looked at one another and wondered why anyone would want to do that. We realized it could only be God and prayed for them to be accepted. Last week, they were notified of their acceptance.

On the right is Evan with his housemate and Ethan who at the moment seem to want to be just like Evan.

Evan was blessed by not one, but two awards, for his studies at his college. Recommended by their college's faculty, he made it to the list of 2011-2012’s Who’s Who among Students in American Universities and Colleges. His other award was a result of being voted by the students. Both awards had to do with his academic achievements and extra curricular work in the college's community. We are thrilled and super proud of him. Evan and I were actually type chatting on Skype when he told me about the Who’s Who award and I misunderstood and told him that I believed he would make it on the list at some point in his life. He then told me he was already on the list! I know only God can make that happen. The Lord is too good and kind. We also know that his awards will increase his employability. Yay!

Eric will need to be taken to his new, small college in Ottawa (with a student population of only 20-25/year). His getting there has been a prayer concern for us since neither Eng nor I will be here to take him. Miraculously, our doctor’s son was also accepted at the same college and they are willing to take Eric with them when they go in September. That exchange of information was done in the hallway in between appointments so it could only be God-orchestrated. The Lord is just too brilliant in His orchestrations! Also, Eric will finish his one-year Liberal Arts program in mid-April next year and since school doesn’t finish for us until June 1st, it would be very difficult to take the time to come back here and attend his closing ceremony. Again, God doing what He does, He already laid it in our friend’s heart, whose daughter just finished the same program, to attend the closing ceremony. When I visited her, she declared that she would also love to be Eric’s surrogate parent. Eric is welcome to go there during holidays and school breaks. They’re also willing to lend all the books that her daughter used for her year at the college. Now Eric has a ride, books, and a family he can go home to, if he wants to, and one that will also proudly represent us when he finishes next year. =)

Yes, we do praise the Lord for all that He has done for us: His kindnesses and His glorious deeds. How can we not love Him and be so grateful?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Knowing Myself

He knows my name
He knows my every thought

From the song "He Knows My Name" by Tommy Walker
Sounding very surprised, my closest friend of almost 20 years said, “You’re SO BEAUTIFUL!” Her eyes displayed the same reaction as her incredulous sounding voice. I just came back from a morning walk in their lakefront and it was chilly so I imagine that my cheeks were rosy and my face glowing. I also felt great after spending some time praying during the walk. It was good to be there. My other friend and I were visiting her and she lived on the island of Allumette in Quebec. To me, their house was an almost perfect home (it just didn’t have a piano) with lots of light and windows. Not only was I enjoying where I was but I loved who I was with. I liked my friends and I was so grateful to be there with them.

My response didn’t surprise me but the confidence in my voice did. When I answered her, I meant my every word and I sounded like it, too. I wasn’t being proud. I’ve heard the same line from other people before. It wasn’t anything new. I now know that the Lord must have prompted other people to say it to me so that I’d be given a chance to believe it. He also wanted me to heal and truly know who He made me to be.

When I was still small enough to be in a crib, a relative looked at me and said where my older sister was in beauty, I was at the opposite scale in ugliness. Bad angels did a great job reminding me of what was said because I grew up believing I WAS ugly. As a girl, my mother’s friends would compliment me for my looks but I’d be hiding behind her wondering why they were lying. Not only did I internalize that I was unattractive and ugly, I also equated flattery as a way to get people to do things for you. Every time someone said I was beautiful, my mind began to figure out what the person wanted from me.

In Spanish, my name means beautiful. At an early age, my identity was already stolen from me. By the time I was 9 years old, my sister suggested that I only use my nickname, “Dee” because she reasoned that it was more unique than Linda. Had people used my real name, I might have at least entertained the idea that I was beautiful - since that’s what the name means. Instead, I grew up believing a lie and it affected how I saw myself. I didn’t believe, for example, that anyone would want to marry me, nor choose me to dance with at parties.

The Lord took pity on me. I became a believer and as I was worshipping one day, at age 32, the Lord told me that I could use Linda again. By that time, no one even knew what my real name was! Everyone knew me as Dee but I began to inform them all of the new name they should call me. I did it because when I prayed and sought answers, I found out what my name meant and the Lord allowed me to hear the words spoken over my crib as a baby. I realized that my name meant beautiful but it was the last thing I believed about myself! I couldn’t even accept that anyone would find me attractive.

The last 18 years of my life were used by Papa God to teach me who I was in Him. This is why I thought to tell this story. The Lord transforms, heals, and reveals to us how He sees us. There are many aspects of myself that need further work but as to who I am and my identity in Him, I’ve become confident. Of this I am sure: He loves me and is so proud of me (and by the way, He feels this way for you, too!). Lastly, I am beautiful. That is how He made me.

So, when my friend told me I was SO BEAUTIFUL, I said, “I know, the Lord made me that way.” Thank you, Lord, for restoring what was stolen from me, for revealing who I am in you, and for transforming me. I know for anyone who reads this, you are doing the exact same thing. Amen to that!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Dancing Again

Teach me to dance, teach me to dance,
I need to dance.

From the song “Teach Me to Dance” by Joy Reimer
Yesterday, I woke up and the lines above kept repeating in my head. They’re from a song that my friend wrote. I recorded her while singing it to me in Chiang Mai. I told her it was a great song but that I couldn’t understand some of the words (as her guitar was too loud). She then recited the lyrics but we both forgot to turn off my recording device after her song, so her recited lyrics were recorded also. Since then, I'd listened to songs on my phone and her lyrics played as well. =) Her spoken words were the ones that sounded like an echo in my mind. I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that the Lord knew about how I’d wake up yesterday, almost two years after that time.

As I pondered that experience, I realized that the words were the cry of my spirit. It seemed to be telling my body what to ask the Lord in prayer.

On Good Friday, I attended the prayer meeting of Church on the Rock. It was led by their pastor so we did as she suggested (pray for the city, the church, families, etc.). We were then asked to form a circle, hold hands, and pray as a corporate body. I thought it was by chance that I ended up holding Pastor Peter’s, the former pastor’s, hand. NOT! We all prayed as a body, prayed in smaller groups, and were then asked to hold hands again. The two of us ended up side-by-side again(!) even though we came from different corners of the room. That's significant because both times, when our prayer times ended, he turned to me and spoke prophetically over me. He said many things but the last was that I would dance with the Lord. He mentioned the foxtrot and the samba (as examples, I think!) and then added that the Lord would lead and teach me to dance. =) I was amused and of course remembered my friend’s song. I also wondered if it was a literal dancing, or a figurative one.

Days later, I realized that it was mostly literal. I remembered how as a girl, I was performing the Hawaiian hula with my sister and the two relatives who were watching us, kept laughing. One of them said I resembled a stick in stiffness when I danced and then laughed some more. Because I felt insulted and embarrassed when I began to understand why they were laughing, it was the last dance I did in front of people without fearing that I’d be laughed at again. The whole time I was growing up, I didn’t dance unless I had to (like needing to perform in school to get a grade). I was already 19 years old when I realized what I was doing and I resolved and decided that I wouldn’t let people’s assessments of my dancing stop me from doing so. I also forgave. The older I got, the more convicted I was that I would dance if I wanted to, and did! I wasn’t comfortable and would always feel awkward but I was determined to persist and overcome my discomfort and fear of humiliation.

I now know that I did all that on my own. If I’m to be completely healed of my fears of getting laughed at however, I’d have to do it with the Lord’s help. He’d have to teach me and I’d feel proud of myself as He looks at me with pleasure at how great I’m doing. He would lead, and I would follow, very much like the reed gets blown by the wind. The reed always sways where the wind directs it to.

The very idea that the Lord would dance with me is enough to tickle me all over. And with God, there is no room for fear since His love casts it out. The pure enjoyment of dancing is all that is left, which is how it’s meant to be. Yes, Lord, teach me to dance. My spirit was crying out for it and now my mind and body want it, too.

Unexplainably, one of my older sons danced in front of me twice last week and I jokingly imitated him both times. As I danced like him, I realized that I was taught how to dance! =) The extra fun part with God is that He can dance with me literally through any Holy Spirit filled Christian. Let’s do it, Lord! Every part of me wants to dance with you. Teach me to dance, please, I need to DANCE!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter 2012

The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.
Matthew 28:5-6a
~ ~ From our family to yours, Happy Easter, everyone! He has risen!
Lord, bless you. And may we all know the power of the cross in our lives.
It was a blessing to have Evan home with us last week because of the Easter holidays. With Evan back, Eric took the opportunity to celebrate his birthday some more, with his favorite: ice cream cake.

I have no excuse for why I haven't functioned as the believer indicated by Jesus below. I really hope to rectify it from now on. I just made loud declarations over myself as to the kind of believer I'm going to be. New signs will begin to accompany me by the grace of God. Please join me.

And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.
Mark 16:17

Thank you, Lord. The best is yet to come because you have risen indeed!

Sunday, April 1, 2012


For if you forgive men when they sin against you,
your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men their sins,
your Father will not forgive your sins.

Matthew 6:14
Since March 21 when my father’s bird flew away (discussed in the previous posting), I’d found myself wondering about the fate of the bird. The temperature had dropped to -5 C so had the bird stayed outdoors, it would surely have died as my father thought. Two days after the incident, I attended a meeting and one of the members talked about a tame bird that landed on her while she was out gardening. She said they took the bird in and kept it as a pet for a few years before it died. I’d like to believe that’s what happened to my father’s pet. I think it's highly unlikely that any bird would just fly to anyone. The fact that I heard the story just after what happened couldn't have been a random occurrence but one meant to encourage me.

At left is the remaining bird in its’ cage as it’s usually left inside my father's house; with the door open. The birds used to fly out and in, as they pleased, but they mostly stayed inside their cage.

At the back of my mind, however, I’d been trying to understand why it happened. The good Lord is always up to something good. I know He’s saying something through it. I actually have ideas on what He means but am still unsure. But what I am certain about is that He wanted me to deal with another bird incident which happened 40 years ago.

When I was barely 10 years old, I thought of having fun by letting my brother’s two chicks out of their cage. I let them run around in the garden first and then I chased them around so I could capture them and return them back to their cage. I managed to grab one and quickly deposited it back to its home. The second one was too quick and elusive though. Try as I might, I couldn’t get to it. Our garden had a seesaw and we were running around it. I backtracked and ran the other way to intercept the chick but it immediately dashed the other way also. In a flash, I thought of pulling the bottom part of the seesaw that was down, up, so that as the other part descended on the ground as the chick was running towards it, the thud would scare it and make it run towards me. Unfortunately, I underestimated its speed. The wooden part of the seesaw landed not in front of it as I had intended, but exactly on its tiny, yellow body. I saw the speedy chick slow down instantly and began hobbling instead. My grandmother saw what happened and asked me to bring the hurt chick to her. She tried in vain to revive the poor bird but it was in such a bloody, sorry state. It soon died and I was heartbroken and guilt stricken. I wish my brother punished me afterwards but my grandmother spoke for me and he took a look at my distressed face and just forgave me. Yet, I blamed myself for his chick’s death and until last week, I never realized that I still needed to forgive myself for what happened. I just did. I shouldn’t have played with them that way and should have treated them kindly. I forgave myself too, for killing one accidentally.

I’m grateful now for the realization and the resolution. Sometimes, the emphasis is on forgiving those who offend us or hurt us. Sometimes, we look at the relationships we have and deal with those. Not often do we look within and deal with forgiving ourselves. I’m glad the little chick was brought back to mind. The Lord is good and always up to something good.

What about you, who do you need to forgive? As you forgive, please don’t forget to forgive yourself, too.