Tuesday, July 31, 2012


My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord.
Let every creature praise His holy name for ever and ever.

Psalm 145:21

In grade school, once a year, our class used to go see the nurse as she examined our health. We’d gone in groups alphabetically arranged so the same group of people always went with me. My group included my cousin and eventually, my future high school best friend. We received individual turns with the nurse but we were all in the same room. One year, I was asked whether I took vitamins and wanting to impress, I said “Yes”, emphatically. That question was soon followed by “Which one?” and in the same vein, I earnestly replied with, “Muriatic Acid”. This happened over forty years ago but sometimes when I see this old friend, we’d have a good, hearty, throaty laugh about this story. I realize that some readers of this blog are from other countries so let me just explain that in those days, back in the Philippines, Muriatic Acid, more commonly known as hydrochloric acid, was used to treat iron and steel as a form of rust prevention. It was somehow also very carefully used in our house to whiten toilet bowls to rid it of mineral deposits. Had I truly ingested that liquid, I would have literally corroded my insides to kingdom come! =D I meant to say “ascorbic acid” (Vitamin C) but I was actually not even clued in to the mistake. I was oblivious which made it all the funnier, especially to my quick witted friend who started to then laugh. We still get tickled to the bone (!) with that memory. =)

That same friend is with me for a few days. I looked forward to this, anticipating the good time that we’re going to have. She said she wanted to come (all the way from Manila, Philippines) to celebrate my birthday with me. I was truly touched by even just the thought of that because I would have spent my birthday on my own. My family doesn’t get here until two days later and that’s what birthdays had always meant to me, celebrating it with them and having them pray for me. To have her here is like having a family member with me. I also finished my paper last Friday (YAY!) and so I have this week to just chill, enjoy, and celebrate. =) Those activities are usually better done with someone. In addition, I understood that in His grace, the Lord was allowing my friend and I to have this time together to truly reconnect, and reconcile. In our last year of high school, we had a falling out and I’d always regretted that our friendship was no longer as close as it used to be.

Yesterday, over our meals, we had LOONG, revealing, sometimes awkward, sometimes painful, but definitely necessary discussions about our relationship. I realized that I remembered it wrongly and that I needed to apologize for the way I related with her over the years. She also apologized. We forgave each other and in one exchange, I actually, instantly, felt released. =) The Lord is so good. He never wanted nor meant for me to carry that unforgiveness in my heart. I know it’s a sin that stood in the way of me getting closer to Him. I am so glad it’s been dealt with. I’ve been set free. We sang songs of praises last night (not together, not yet!) and that’s what it felt like, my heart was singing and rejoicing. My mouth was/is speaking in praise of the Lord. =D

One of the things she did earlier yesterday was to buy bottles of healthy detoxification drink. She was kind enough to share a bottle with me and I actually enjoyed the taste. She, on the other hand, thought it tasted awful. With a straight face, I told her that I should have her taste the ‘Oil of Olay’ that I periodically drink. At this point, she started laughing again and pointed out what I’d said. =D Then, I remembered the first story above and that got us going for another round of hysterics. =) Laughter is such good medicine.

Why was that funny? For those who may not be from North America, some of us have been taking 2-3 drops of ‘Oil of Oregano’ (this is about all you can take for the ghastly taste that it has!) added in a bit of water. We do this for our immunity level to increase. For years, I’d also been using ‘Oil of Olay’ facial lotion.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Faith Came

Faith is being sure of what we hope for
and certain of what we do not see.

Hebrews 11:1
Last week, our pastor at church taught on faith. I also have been praying with a new friend and we talked about where the Lord was taking us to and it was to a new level of faith and trust in God. I know that this year, as I began to go through the steps necessary to begin my graduate studies in Counseling, I needed to have faith that the Lord would help me do it. Not only is it a daunting task in that I need 27 courses to complete the program but I haven’t written an academic paper in over 20 years! Then there is the cost of each course which is over a thousand and the books aren’t included in that amount! Acceptance into the program was so competitive that I allowed the Admissions Officer to talk me into earning a Graduate Studies Certificate instead. As I realized my fears later, I insisted to be interviewed for the program and was thankfully accepted. Since then, I began to take an online course and I have a 12-page final paper due on Friday which I have not been able to begin to write. Then, last night, Faith came. She’s a new teacher at the school I teach at and also new to the country. I offered to host her since there are two extra rooms in the house but I knew it would mean giving up my time to do my paper. I had to exercise my faith and believe that I will get that paper written anyway. Tomorrow, I will work on it and it will get completed before Friday. I am being sure of what I hope for.

This morning, Faith and I went to church, then we spent the rest of the day together shopping, running errands, eating, napping, praying, and eventually, getting her to where she’s staying.

She asked me how Eng and I met and I narrated how we met in three different line-ups at York University. I told her how after Eng first saw me, he wrote the date on his Bible beside Proverbs 31, about the wife of noble character. The date was to mark when he started to ask the Lord to grant me to be his wife. He had faith! I remember how odd it was then that I would see him from afar on campus and think to myself that I wouldn’t mind marrying him. I hadn’t really even known him then! What a strange thought! And no, I didn’t think that of every man then that I was attracted to! Eng was the only man ever that earned that thought from me!

In Matthew 17:20, it says if we have faith as small as a mustard seed, we can say to a mountain to move and it will move. Nothing will supposedly be impossible for us. Eng and I didn’t go out on a date until a year and a half later after we met but his faith indeed moved me! =)

I am excited that faith came to me and that Faith symbolized it. I see it now. I understand. I was just writing Eng and telling him that talking out our differences is hard work but that we should do it for the sake of relating better. It’s easier to give up and not bother but it doesn’t lead to growth in our relationship. Eng’s faith brought us together but it is my faith that will keep us together. We had our relational difficulties and the last time we were here, there was a real strain in our marriage. However, I am sure that as I hope for a relationship with truly knitted hearts, it will happen. I am certain that it will. With the Holy Spirit, nothing is impossible for us! Thank you, Jesus, for interceding, and praise you, Papa God, for answering our prayers. =)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Old and New Friends

You move. We want more.
You speak. We want more.
You move. We want more
We want the fullness.

from the song "Shekinah Glory" by Cory Asbury
I mentioned on the June 12th posting (“Home”) that of the 17 friends that I left last year, only four are in town. Seven of them left for good and the other six will arrive back here at different times (one as late as April 2013). The four in town were themselves away at various times so it’s been very quiet. Thankfully, I’m getting to know new people and my oldest friend (the one I’ve known the longest in Thailand) is back from her own Home Assignment. =) I can see that although replacements of friends can never really happen, new ones will be there to love, and be loved by, in the future.

In the quiet of the last few weeks, I’ve learned to appreciate new types of friends. Songs always seem to evoke all kinds of emotions from me. Each special tune that plays on my computer have become like friends paying me a visit. Our dog Fudge has been a perfect companion. She’s quiet, always where I am, and hardly ever complains about anything! She cannot see very well off her left eye but she is her usual self. Now that she is 10 years old, she’s a LOT slower. It takes her longer to finish her food and instead of leading our walks, she walks lesser distances and behind me. Because the life span of English Cocker Spaniels can be between 10-15 years, I am purposely enjoying her as long as I’m able to.

Like the volleyball “Wilson” in the movie “Castaway” starring Tom Hanks, a batik dancing girl on a square white cloth would every now and then seem to beckon to me to
worship. I hung her on the screen of the living room window so sometimes the wind would make her sway. Each time she does, I cannot resist going over to the keyboard beside her to sing and play. This has worked perfectly since day or night, no one gets bothered by us!

The other day, one of my friends here made me salad with grilled shrimp and fish. She served it with iced tea as we sat in her living room with their air conditioner on watching a very encouraging documentary about how God is moving in different parts of the world. The movie made me cry several times. Just thinking about it warms my heart. That time not just nourished my body but my spirit! Papa God told her exactly what to do because it was perfect! Another friend who lives in the US woke up at 7 a.m. so she could Skype with me and we chatted for 3 hours! She herself was going through a challenging time but she still made herself available to me when she found out what I was going through. And then my best friend in high school who lives in Manila not just thought of coming here to celebrate my birthday with me but she actually booked her flights! A part of me can’t believe she’s really coming. And I can’t explain why these friends did what they’d done. I don’t know what I’d done for them! I really believe it’s the Holy Spirit in them loving me.

And this brings me to my newest friend, the Holy Spirit. I’ve been relating with Papa God and Jesus, I know. The Holy Spirit, though, is someone I’m really just beginning to get to know intimately. It is ironic that the one who lives inside me is the one I know the least. I am glad for this realization! Holy Spirit, I look forward to getting to know You better. Please reveal yourself to me. Help me hear you well and know You more. In my becoming aware of Your Holy Trinity, You are the one I must learn more about. Thank you, that you do want to be known and to be my new best friend. Amen!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Being Cradled

I want to sit at your feet, drink from the cup in your hand
Lay back against you and breathe, feel your heartbeat.

From the song “The More I Seek You” by Zach Neese
Popularized and sung by Kari Jobe

The Toms left for Hawaii (please see previous post for context) two weeks after their initial scheduled departure. The picture on the right was taken at the airport (from left to right they are Nicholas, Michael, Nathaniel, and Iris) Please pray for them. They’ve all been placed in a new level of relating with the Lord and thrust with growth in their maturity. Their lives will be so different and the Lord will be the one sustaining and undergirding them. Our prayers will help them go through that process sweetly and joyfully. Thank you.

I have learned from Chris’ life including my re-evaluation of my fireworks usage. I see my future appreciating the beauty of colors and wondrous lights in the night sky but the thrill of lighting fire crackers to make loud noises is forever snuffed off of me. Thank you, Lord! There are other ways to get my adrenalin going. And I'm not saying Chris did anything wrong. I’m speaking from the way I recklessly handled fireworks in the past growing up in the Philippines where each New Year was greeted with literal LOUD explosions, the noisier the better. I see quieter days ahead of me.

But what I will never forget is the way the Lord ministered to me in my time of distress. When I found out the details of Chris’ death, I was so overcome with sorrow for his family that I couldn’t understand my books. I was behind in my homework and needed to get it accomplished but I couldn't understand anything and no one was here to distract me! I left to do an errand but I almost got in an accident as I changed lanes without looking. Eventually, I realized that the Lord was the one I needed to go to and the only one I could go to.

When I did, I sat on a rocking chair which I placed near the foot of the stairs. Rocking while cushioned in pillows, I looked up the window by the stairs’ landing as it fascinated me. Just days before, the house owner replaced the curtains of our living room and for that window, a new one that could be drawn open was installed. Prior to the installment of the new curtain, we couldn't fully see out that window because the screwed curtain couldn't be opened. I was looking out of the window for the first time since moving here 4 years ago. I thought of the song above and gently rocked, looking up. It dawned on me that I postured what my heart and spirit were doing; looking to the Lord. Not only that, as I cried and asked all my questions, I felt the Lord taking me and cradling me. It was like I was His baby needing to be comforted and consoled and He was carrying me, swaying me gently, whispering His words of reassurance, love, and understanding for me. As I literally rocked on my rocking chair nestled in softness, my Lord was spiritually soothing me and giving me peace.

My friend once taught that we were like little specks of dust on a pepper corn in this great big earth. I even placed a real pepper corn just by my computer to remind me of who I am compared to God. YET, this great, big God took the time to hold me and be with me when I needed Him and in a way I couldn’t deny. "But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 4:29 rings so true! Thank you, Lord!

I'm ending with the first few lines to the song as loving the Lord is ultimately what we cannot help but feel and do when we are with Him. Please go seek Him to find out for yourself.
The more I seek You
The more I find You
The more I find You
The more I love You

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Mercies in Disguise

What if trials of this life, the rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise?

From the song “Blessings” by Laura Story
I was at Chris Tom’s memorial this afternoon. On Thursday, we prayed for his wife Iris and we also asked that today, God would be glorified and that we would all go home without heavy hearts. I felt the second request was extremely hard for even God to do. You see, Chris and his family served here for 8 years and for various reasons, they were going to go back home for good. They were supposed to have left on Monday but Chris was fatally wounded in a fireworks explosion the night before. The worst news of all for me was that their two sons were just a few steps behind him when the tragedy happened. I thought the whole scenario was just too gruesome and terribly sad. Yet, is anything too hard for God?

They talked about Chris not feeling much pain because of his severed nerves. He died in the ambulance because he lost too much blood on the way to the hospital.

Chris was honored; his life story was told. He lived a life of service: he loved children (his and others) especially the problematic and fatherless, a former dentist, a Sunday school teacher, a church planter, the morning playground monitor at school, a lover of music, a committed family man, and a man of prayer. I know I missed many more but suffice it to say that he lived his life well. Considering that he had a successful dental profession, it was amazing in itself that he left that and gave of himself. It didn’t look like doing much watching children play and keeping the balls when play time was over but my son for example grieved for him because his love shone. He lovingly served and it was felt.

A friend of theirs shared how she didn’t want anything to do with God because His standards were too high for her to measure up to. She declared that Chris was instrumental in helping her to see the Lord with new eyes. Apparently, she was a sleeping seed but the Lord used Chris to help her bear fruit. She also talked about how much she and the other children learned from the Sunday school teachings that he and Iris did. I know she was just one of many that had all kinds of stories to tell about him.

The pastor encouraged us to not let our hearts be troubled. From the same scripture he quoted Jesus preparing a room for His disciples in His Father’s house. He assured us that Chris went home to be with His God. =)

Songs of hope were sung and Chris’s favorite song, “Blessings”, quoted above. The emcee said Chris liked oldies but Laura Story is a contemporary Christian singer. She just won a Grammy for the same song above. Why she is part of the mix is the Lord’s grace in using his death to teach many of us about how He blesses but yet we don’t see it as such. Chris, a man of prayer, regularly prayed. He firmly believed in the one who answered his prayers. He must have prayed to teach well because the testimonies were telling today. Most of all, it’s because even in his death, he taught through his favorite song. Let’s learn the lesson well. It’s a good one. It’s why our hearts aren’t heavy. We can trust the Lord’s goodness and His blessings. The Lord answered our prayers mightily. =) He was glorified and we are grieving but full of hope.

Thank you, Chris. You exemplified your Lord Jesus well. We are blessed for having known you and seeing you in action. Thank you, Iris, for allowing me to write about Chris in this post. I am excited for you and your three sons and the wonderful blessings the Lord has in store for your future. He is too good to do otherwise. Praise Him. =)