Sunday, March 31, 2013

10,000 Reasons

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
O my soul, Worship His holy name.
Sing like never before, O my soul,
I’ll worship Your holy name.
From the song “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman

Tonight, we sang the song above just at the tail end of our time with four friends who came over for dinner. (We had a delicious and wonderful meal cooked by Eng. Their compliments about the food were so affirming in light of his future responsibility of managing restaurants.)   I also had a scheduled Skype call with a friend whom I used to sing and worship with so it was great that we sang as she listened. It felt so good that we could have an impromptu time to worship and thank God for loving us so much that He sent His son Jesus to suffer and die for our sins. When we prayed and then realized that we were all together on pre-Resurrection Day, or Easter Eve, we rejoiced that the Lord brought us together. We didn’t plan on being with one another because of the occasion; it was just the convenient time for all of us. Given the choice, though, we all felt that we had rather be with friends on Easter Eve, than not. The Lord, who knew us more than we knew ourselves, blessed us with our sweet fellowship. What a blessing!  =)
Mark 16:1-8 
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus' body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?"
But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
"Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.'"
Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb.

Happy Resurrection Day, Everyone!!!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! 
In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope 
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...
1 Peter 1:3 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

How He Loves

He loves us, oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us, Oh how He loves
From the song “How He Loves” by David Crowder

Eric turned 20 on the 20th of March. This was taken while
he shared a birthday Thai lunch with his college friends.
Tonight, while I listened to the song above, I couldn’t help but reflect on God’s love for us. Oh, how He loves! Papa God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are all so amazingly loving! It touches me. Sometimes I realize how much He blesses and just loves on us and it is simply baffling. There is no explaining Him. He doesn’t make sense. He just loves, and loves, and loves some more. We have no other reaction but to fall in love with Him, too. In fact, the more we see Him love us, the more we cannot help but love Him even more. At times, I end up getting so touched that I cry as I understand what He had allowed to happen. Other times, I’d hear a song about His faithfulness for example, and I would have a hard time stopping my tears from falling. It gets embarrassing sometimes because I’d leave a chapel meeting, for example, and everyone else’s eyes would be dry whereas mine would be all wet and I’d still be tearing up! I guess it’s a small price to pay for “seeing” and “understanding” His goodness and love. Thank you, Lord! I cannot help but picture myself running into your arms.

Oh, I’m running to your arms,
I’m running to your arms.
The riches of your love will always be enough.
Nothing compares to your embrace
Light of the world forever reign.
From the song, “Forever Reign” by Hillsong

Ethan's basketball recreation
league team, the Miami Heats
won their tournament on
March 14, 2013.
He turned 12 on February 27.
Evan will finish his six weeks of probation at the end of next week. He's been enjoying working as a full-time writer for a Divorce and Family magazine. =)

On January 19, Eli turned 17. A few weeks ago, he volunteered to also be the Timothy Project Bible Study leader for the next school year. He would be leading a group of students younger than him. He started doing that this year with his best friend who is a senior. Next year, he’ll be the senior! He has matured spiritually and continues to try to live with integrity.

Eng turned 53 on January 22. Tomorrow, the restaurant he will manage while our friends are away will be dedicated and prayed for. It will have its grand opening next week. As indicated in a post two weeks ago, Eng had always dreamed to own a restaurant. This is a partial dream come true for him! Today, he was excitedly saying that all he could think about was preparing all kinds of food in his head. =) He will be learning how to manage our friend’s two restaurants and then will take over completely in June, in their absence.

We celebrated our 26th wedding and 29th going out anniversaries on February 28. We still argue as most couples do but there has been a breakthrough and we are relating and communicating much better than ever. This is such an answer to prayer. Thank you, Papa God for everything you do! We love you!!!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Fully Healed

“i stand IN AWE. today i find myself healed. fully healed.
Facebook status posted by Melanie Sanford on Thursday, March 14, 2013

It isn't very often that I get to play a part in a healing miracle where the whole elementary student body and staff are involved so it is what this post will be about. Melanie (Mel) Sanford is a bubbly, energetic, full of life 6th grade teacher at our school. I once remarked to her that she was like a breath of fresh air whenever I saw her at the halls or walkways of the school. Her spirit affected those around her and she just exuded joy and warmth.

It was disconcerting and alarming then when she became ill six weeks ago. Her disease just quietly came upon her, unannounced. Mel and her husband were then shopping at Warorot Market during the week-end of the Chinese New Year. She said they had just left one of the stores when she started to feel dizzy. It was the first time she ever felt like that so she didn’t know what to make of it. She began to feel steadily unwell but still made it to school to teach by Monday. It was then that she noticed that in addition to the dizziness, she also started to feel exhausted. She told her students that she needed to sit while teaching; something she’d never ordinarily do. In spite the adjustment, she felt worse and ended up going to the emergency room – but no diagnosis was made at that time.

For the next few weeks she was constantly exhausted, dizzy, or both. She couldn’t do much due to the exhaustion. Much of her days were spent resting on their living room couch. When she saw the doctor, she was told that it was Meniere`s disease: a chronic lifetime ear disease that would affect the quality of her life. She may eventually go deaf. This information was such a big blow to the Sanfords but for Mel, she couldn’t even deal with the implications due to the exhaustion she felt. She contemplated her future and thought that she may not be able to teach again. It wasn’t looking good.

Mel with Pilar Prus, the other 6th grade teacher
Thankfully, God had other plans for her. She was obviously laid on not just my heart because colleagues Sue and Susan went to visit her on Sunday. While I prayed for her on my own, they went to see her and prayed for her. Mel said the past week-end was hard and the symptoms, more pronounced. Yet, through the visit, a glimmer of hope arose. Sue talked about bringing more people to pray and Mel looked forward to the support of our community.

On Monday, I couldn’t shake the thought that I should go over and not just pray for her, but also anoint her with oil. I connected with her and she said it was all right for me to go over.  That same day, Sue sent out a message that on Thursday she wanted to have as many people as possible go over to Mel to pray and anoint her with oil. I had another commitment then so I just went ahead and visited Mel, bringing them drinking water. Later, I thought it symbolic that I literally brought them water but it also felt like the living water from deep within her was called forth to surface during our prayer time. I also prayed for her healing and deliverance. She later said that Monday’s prayer time encouraged her and got her excited that God was about to do something HUGE. Her symptoms lessened and she physically felt better. She had more energy and no dizziness. Spiritually though, she was still up and down.

Monday morning's greetings from very
excited and happy students.
 At Tuesday’s chapel, the teaching was on Psalm 23 and when people anointed with oil. There was also discussion on anointing the sick with oil as described in James 5:14-15. To end the time, prayers were said for Mrs. Sanford’s healing. All the students signed a poster that was going to be sent to her and they were all asked to pray while doing so. The teachers were encouraged to write messages of hope.

On Wednesday, Mel and her husband prayed for the folks coming on Thursday. She said she felt God say, “Get ready because I’m working and tomorrow my work will be done.”

Victorious Mel back at school
by the grace of God.
Meanwhile, I sent her an email saying Grace was coming. She described Thursday’s prayer time as grace indeed poured out. LOTS of teachers rallied and went. There was an intense hour of powerful praying. Past and present issues were prayed for. Mel said, “The darkness lifted and the light started pouring in!” She felt emotionally and spiritually free! She also apparently cried almost the whole time. =)

When they left, Mel spent some more time on the floor praying. She said God was speaking to her. She kept writing without even realizing what she was writing. When she then looked down at her paper, she saw that it said, “I am fully healed.”

As of this writing, Saturday night, she is still euphoric, ecstatic, and excited about her whole experience. Thank you, Papa God. We praise you.

I’d like to end with how she preceded her post, above. She was hardly capable of doing anything and was miserable for most of the past six weeks but she stated:

my heart is so full. i will never be able to say thank you enough for all 
the love and kindness and beauty of these last 6 weeks.

Sure, she was physically healed, but, her emotions and spirit were even more so.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Dreams Coming True

Forever, forever
We’ll honour You, forever.
From the song “For the Honour” by Elevation Worship

What a difference a week makes! As soon as the month changed, our situation changed as well. I praise God for the changes that have come about. =) The whole month of February, the weather had actually been anything but usual! It rained quite a bit instead of the typical dry tail end of the cold season. It was actually cool this morning, which although welcome, was puzzling. Change is definitely in the air.

Our lives are definitely changing as well. Eng will embark on another dream of his life. I say another because he’s actually now in China as I write. He went there for a week of meetings. When he turned 50 (he’s now 53), we threw a party for him where we encouraged the guests to give (instead of material gifts) monetary gifts for his dream trip to China. It has been on his “bucket list”, one of the activities he wants to do before going to heaven. He wants to travel there. He hopes to still use the birthday funds to go on a personal trip but the fact that he’s now in China is amazing in itself. The Lord is good. As an aside, he was actually bumped to the Business Class on his flight there! =)

His other dream is to own a restaurant. A pastor from India had actually spoken into his life almost twenty years ago, The prophecy was that Eng would feed many people and not for free. Since he’d always enjoyed cooking, neither of us had forgotten the prophetic word. We both thought it “fit” him and it actually excited him! Furthermore, the pastor who spoke didn't know he loved to cook! All these years, we had wondered about when there would be fulfillment. Last Sunday, Eng was actually given the go ahead from our leadership to be involved in the management of two eating establishments here in Chiang Mai. We are thrilled! It is going to change our lives and we’ll be even busier but it’ll be a great busy! The couple who owns the restaurants will be away for six months so they need someone to manage their businesses in their absence. The Lord had allowed that they connected with Eng a few weeks ago and we’d been praying to know how to proceed. Now that he received his approval, we are certain that this is the Lord’s goodness in allowing him to live out his dream. What a blessing!

When the Lord created us, he each gave us gifts that in our uniqueness, no one is able to do as best as we can. I think throughout life, we search out what we love and enjoy doing and we are blessed when we actually find out what it is and live it out. We revel and thrive when we do what we were uniquely created to do. Eng’s been managing a finance office for many years and he worked in a payroll office before that. Although he’s very good with numbers and could do both those jobs, I believe he’ll love this new venture even more. He worked in his uncle's restaurant for many years and had always had a knack for cooking. He even loves to watch cooking shows! While some men watch football games, my husband enjoys watching “Iron Chef”!  =)

We praise the Lord for this gift of a dream to live out. We have such an amazing God. He knows the desires of our hearts and as we delight in Him (and sometimes even when we don’t!), He allows us to get or meet those desires. We praise you, Lord, and thank you! You are so GOOD! How can we not honour, and love you?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

SS Amazing Grace

Yet, I am with you always, holding you by your right hand.
I am fully aware of your situation,
and I will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to bear.
February 27 devotion write-up for “Jesus Calling,” by Sarah Young.

Captain Mintz and his ship-mate, Sandra Bradley,
 on SS Amazing Grace
The title is actually the name for the school’s ship that parents coined for this week’s Staff Appreciation Week. Once a year, they go out of their way to find ways to bless all those who work at the school; from the guards, the maintenance crew, the teachers (the group I belong to), all the way to the administration. We received our ‘luggage’ invitation last week that we would be recipients of some kind of treat all of this week. Monday was a holiday for us so we were invited to rest. On Tuesday, we were treated to a delicious granola breakfast with plain or strawberry flavoured yogurt to go with it. For dessert, we had a choice of cherry or cream filled donuts, or twisted donuts. YUM!

Wednesday, we each received a 15-minute neck massage from professional masseuses. Ahh, it was such a great way to relax our tight and stressed muscles! =) On Thursday, we had baked goods like brownies, cakes, cookies, and squares delivered to the school. We only had to wait for hunger to dictate the eating times. =)

And finally, on Friday, we were treated to a fabulous international cuisine that was catered by a local restaurateur. The delicious lunch fare included mouth-watering ribs, gluten-free chicken barbeque, and sweet and sour fish. That was accompanied by pasta, potatoes, and salad. The parents also brought sushi, dumplings, chips and salsa, and other scrumptious appetizers. Each table was exquisitely set with decorations from that country and an appetizer popularized by its people. Seeing roti on the Pakistan table, I lost no time and quickly sat there. Later, when I bit on that still warm flat bread, I was so glad! I would often need to go to Malaysia to taste roti that good. Not yesterday, it was there to savour slowly. =) The whole message to us was gratefulness for what we do and we could only respond with the same appreciative hearts. Life is so good and we are so blessed to work in the school we do. There were various yummy desserts too hard to choose from but up until then, I’d not seen Pecan Pie served here in Chiang Mai so I chose that. It was delicious!

The Morocco Table
I was already wowed just walking up the stairs leading to the school’s lunch room. When I saw how they literally transformed the whole room so that it became the insides of a cruise ship, I was tickled beyond description. It just spoke volumes to me. There was a real captain (a pilot in real life) and people who posed as various folks found on a ship. There was a pianist who provided the light music and towards the end, even students who provided a song to entertain. It made me wonder how something like that could happen. Who does those things? I could name the actual people because that’s why I decided to write about it, so I could honour those who went out of their way to bless us. But, I know of the one inside them whom I know gave them the ideas and creativity. I know they prayed to know how to bless us and they were obviously helped. It is just the kind of fun splurging that our Papa God will do for us. Thank you, parents, for everything you did to show you appreciated us. We were awed by you, touched, and grateful to be here doing what we do. I’d chosen not to name you so your reward will wait for you in heaven but I honour you with this write-up.

The Italy Table
I have had a really rough and tough week. . For the first time, I couldn't even write because I was so worn down by what I was going through. This week, just receiving as I did helped me to keep paddling so I wouldn’t sink. It was so tempting to just crumple in a heap, or sink in the deep. The fact that God spoke to me very clearly in the devotional I was reading (quoted above) helped me (among other things). Yesterday, I knew I was on the last vestiges of feeling low. I sat and worshiped in the Music Room. I sat still and His amazing grace lifted me up. SS Amazing Grace! I get it! Thank you, Papa God. I receive it and I LOVE you back so much! You are AWESOME!