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Showing posts from 2014

A paradox... Christmas Day 5

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A friend of mine writes me asking what truths and what lies I am believing in this place of grief.
Hardship and sorrow can wear us down. It is part of our being human. It doesn't mean when there is faith that there isn't doubt there, too. They both strangely exist together, it's one of the paradoxes of our Christian faith. 

It's in faith that we remember all that is true. It's also in the presence of doubt that more honest faith is born. We say in one breath that God is still good and yet God sometimes is hard to find. We surrender to His sovereignty and yet express with honesty deep heart -questions because we are in true relationship with God and it's safe to ask. 

Emotions are frayed, the immediate future is unclear, and there is temptation towards impatience with one another. I want to look at my youngest each morning and give him the plan I know would make him feel safe, but God is teaching him security and safety that can be found even in the uncertainty. 

Bu…

It's how we live in the moments.... Christmas Day 2

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I'm on a flight with my husband who can now sit for short periods of time for his mother's burial service. So much packed into that short description. Tears linger as I write, the sacredness of this event, that my husband can make this trip at all is a miracle, the kindness of strangers today in the airport from the wheelchair assistant, the security officer, and the flight attendant. 
This week has been more than I could have imagined, a table in the wilderness, set before our family. Witnessing my husband grieve with faith, honesty, and truth has been holy. He really believes the truth written in Scripture about who God is, who we are, the place He has prepared for His children, and the healing and restoration to come. It has been worship for me to watch, participate in, and together lead our children through. 
A friend of ours prayed for us this week, testifying that God is and has been with us in these challenging times. Endurance isn't something you know you have until …

A steady rain..... Advent Day 23

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It has rained steadily metaphorically speaking this past month for our family. An unexpected turn of health for my mother-in-law brought on a very unexpected ending of her life. The shock still stuns us. It might for a very long time. My husband's health from kidney problems due to the oral chemo drug to a herniated disc bulging 9mm also came as a blow especially when the expectation was that he would be near his mom for the time of her sickness. We find ourselves somewhere beautiful with family, yet unexpected for Christmas and wonder what was all of this that has happened? 
A quick trip to the store yesterday turned into a culture shock trigger, lost in Target with my cart, musing over the frenzy of buyers filling up carts with items for loved ones. Can I say that people watching is fun? Two days away from Christmas and my dad laughs saying men make up the bulk of the shoppers in the next couple days. He might be speaking from experience. Christmas is a Western tradition adopted …

On a pilgrimage ..... Advent Day 21

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We are on a pilgrimage my kids and I. To see Grandpa and family. To mourn together and laugh together. So many memories to celebrate. Pictures of Grandma and her kids. Laughing at fashion from the '70s the grandkids enjoy thinking that their clothes and tradition of the day will be around in a decade. Velour is back in we all know. 
The reunion surprises us. It makes us want for what was, remembering the early memories of Grandma and her delicious Chinese food; she loved cooking for her family. Instead we opt for takeout and no one minds because what we really long for is to be together. Life is such that we can never have again what was. We can only make good of what is now. Nostalgia forgets the hard of the past, creating yearnings for something that never might be again. Grandma is no longer with us, but we remember her story, take pictures, share personal stories, and plan for new memories. Being together helps ease the pain. But my husband is missing from this moment. His back…

He is the One.... Advent Day 18

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She passed today. From this life into Life eternal. My sweet mother-in-law who loved Jesus and others with her whole life. 
It's hard to describe. I know for those who have lost a loved one you can identify here. The grief is mixed with joy. Sorrow that it was all so fast and soon and we wanted more time with her. Joy because she's not in pain and suffering and that she's been ushered into That Place where she rests with Him forever. It awakens in our hearts a holy longing, holy hope, and holy love.
This month's reflections have been colored by circumstances we've been undergoing, but I suppose in every moment of life, it is so. I have no intention to be down or sad, but rather honest in my ramblings because the trials of life are real and hard. It doesn't diminish in any way the reality of the Father's loving presence in our lives, it only makes it all the more real. We can say with the disciple Peter, "but where can I go, You have the words of eternal …

Telling stories ..... Advent Day 16

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I'm a language student.

Just saying that makes me laugh. In my fourth decade in life, I'm attempting to learn in quasi-studious form my fifth language. I'm afraid language learning abilities decrease with age, so I'm thinking there is little hope for me in this language with 5 tones, 44 consonants, and at least 28 vowel forms. Sigh.

My neighbors humor me as I stumble through conversations. I am anxious to speak words that really matter rather than just yes, I'm going to the market and I am a student (smile), and no, I am not Thai. (They couldn't tell from my lack of language?) I ask my teacher today how to say words about the heart- for the Thai are all about the heart. The word impatient is described by "a hot heart". I find that to be a perfect description of what happens to me when I am waiting for a web page to load. It's how I feel about the rate I'm learning this language. It's heat that overtakes me. I tell her in very broken senten…

When there are no words... Advent Day 15

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There are few words tonight. Weariness has settled in my soul like a good friend.

I have wanted to pray today and yet words are hard to find. Can the Lord hear the prayers that are but a faint whisper? 
Mary is on my mind today. What were her days like? The ones preceding the birth of the Messiah? Did she do laundry, mop the floors, and prepare meals like the rest of us? Her nights must have been her only moment to ponder. Just what did the angel mean when he said that she had found favor with God? How did Mary pass the time of her pregnancy, knowing in her womb she carried the Christ-Child. No one else knew and no one would understand if they did. A miracle was being born in her. I wonder if the waiting was hard. Those 9 months of waiting for Him to come. 
I'm waiting, too. For the miracle. For God to reveal to us what He is doing in our lives. For Him to show us what He is birthing in our hearts. These moments to reflect feed my soul. To slow down and let my mind catch up with t…

Peace comes through worship.... Advent Day 14

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We wash dishes, my son and I. The best conversations happen in the kitchen where we don't have to look eye to eye with each other.

It's something I have learned having three sons.

Do you ever wonder... I start out.

If it's worth it all this? Living cross-culturally, serving others, experiencing change often, and even getting sick....  he finishes. Someone's been thinking.

Is it worth it? 

I sit in our international fellowship this morning. This gathering of people from different parts of the globe all serving here in our city. I am moved by the thought of the stories represented by the lives of these people. How would they answer this question?

We all start out fairly idealistic. Thoughts of changing the world, bringing light, helping the poor, loving the marginalized capture our imagination and the possibilities are endless. I did not expect the life change God would do in me. The rough edges that would need sanding off, (and continue to need it), the darkness of my own …

Not what I thought.... Advent Day 13

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It's not what I thought it would be like. Life. 

Can you relate? Has that thought crossed your mind, too? 

Twenty- two years ago I first moved overseas on an adventure, me and God. The adventure has turned into a even longer one filled with ups (so many ups) and downs (many valleys as well). God brought a husband into my life who also shared this desire to bring light to dark places and together we took steps, steps that take us to the present.

My husband still lies on his back, not the mobility we hope for after nearly 2 weeks of excruciating pain. He speaks of suffering this morning to the kids. Encouraging them in the midst of his pain to remember God's presence in our lives and his never changing love for us. I leave the room, tears fill my eyes. Parenting across the ocean with an iPad, now this is discipleship at its best. Our oldest is off to university next year and his journey will include pain and trials and he gets to hear from his dad what holding on to God looks like …

Just when it's needed.... Advent Day 12

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A cold gets the best of me and I hole myself up in my room for the morning to get over it. I really don't have time to be sick. (Can I hear an Amen?) My kids get themselves up and start their schoolwork for the day. My new friend is the kleenex box and I can't even find the energy to give instructions to my kids, I can only hope they know what to do. My husband helps them start their day over FaceTime, praying for them before breakfast. Modern technology is amazing.

I should confess that I'm terrible at resting. I lay in my bed and my mind launches in a million directions and it takes great discipline to not get out of bed and clean up the mini-piles that have assembled around the house. When things are uncontrollable in life I often look for things I can control. Too bad we just moved to this country so there aren't many messy spaces to reorganize, a habit I confess to have when I can't do much else.

Why is it that control is my first response and not rest? 

A meal…

The garment of praise Advent Day 11

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Putting on the garment of praise this morning. Choosing joy. 
A sore throat threatens to steal it away, but a Christmas carol in a lower octave still works. 

There are songs at the table this morning. Humming during math from my son who sings all the time, and no one tells him to stop which is the unusual part. We look at each other and say, it's a new day. Good Morning, Lord. Thank you for another day.

Sometimes it feels like we're faking it. Do we wait until all is well to put on praise? Praising Him in the storm is a choice. Habbakuk also makes this choice in the midst of the "what is not"... Though the fig tree should not blossom And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold And there be no cattle in the stalls, 18Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.19The Lord GOD is my strength, And He has made my feet like hinds' …

What is all this for? Advent Day 10

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We hold a family meeting this morning because we need it. 

Hearts are fragile and news from Daddy this morning has all of us holding on by what feels like a spider web of hope. Each morning we wait for better news but these days, well, there is none.  Not the kind we want. 

Don't we do that? We want to wake up and find that whatever was weighing us down the days before is all gone. That we'd wake up from this terrible dream and find broken things fixed and all darkness gone. My daughter expresses this from her chair this morning. I wish that life could be normal again. What's normal? I ask.  Where we're not talking about pain and no one is dying. 

Sweet girl. She like many of us aches for heaven. 

Grief and joy are intermingled in Scripture, paired together like oil and wine. There are five references that speak of mourning turning into joy. Mourning turned to dancing. (Psalm 30:11) I look up all of these references this morning because I need to know it can happen. Can yo…

How to get through.... Advent Day 9

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When will it end? All of this that is going on.... 
Does God know that it's hard? 

More questions come out this morning around the breakfast table. The table that transforms into the homeschool table, then the lunch table, and the craft table. It's the everything table that represents more than a place to eat and do school. It's a gathering spot.

Tears are coming again. It's been a few days since our last cry. They're starting up again. I'm not as worried about the cry-ers. I'm worried about the one who isn't crying. It's bottled up in his heart and he controls it for now but I want him to know that you don't have to do that. But you can never predict when the dam will break so for now I just keep asking and assuring that when it all falls apart that I'm here. He's not sure how he feels, he tells me. That's okay. I hardly know how I feel. So we lean on our schedules and choose today to keep on living.

Exercise is important. I know this…

What does joy mean? Advent Day 8

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I can't be happy all the time, Mom.

We're talking around the table this morning about Joy in this second week of Advent. What does it mean, I ask, to have joy or be joyful always as we are exhorted in Scripture? Why is Joy the word for us this week? What does it have to do with Advent? How is it related to Hope? 

So my son answers in his childlike way which I love because it's uncut and honest. The rest of us laugh because we know what he means. No, he can't. 

We'd all agree. There's no way to be happy all the time. 

Happiness is based on circumstances and fluctuates with the times. Joy shouldn't. It is found in the One who is unchanging and good. In the One who made us and called His creation good. The God who even when sin threatened to separate us from relationship with Him forever, had a plan to rescue us and bring us back to Himself. God who wants us to know just how much He loves us. God who longs for you and I to trust Him completely. The reason for Joy …

When you can't hide the cracks.... Advent Day 7

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The cracks are starting to show.

A friend takes our oldest out for breakfast this morning and asks him to write down all the things that have been going on. Concerns, Conflicts, Transitions, Crisis... the list is long of unattended heart needs. My heart breaks as my son shares them with me.

Wish I could protect my children from pain. 

Sometimes I misread my kids' responses. It feels callous sometimes. When I'm crying and they're not. When I'm angry and they seem happy. When I'm burdened and they are playing uh, mine craft.

I call it selfishness and careless. It hurts them when I do this. They're hurting, too.

It's not the recent 10 days of pain and unknowns that are causing the cracks. It's the last 1 1/2 years of stuff. It's when my son's ability to feel pain stopped when I told him that Dad had collapsed in Thailand and I needed to get on a plane to be with him right away. He says he stopped being able to feel pain. It was too painful then just…

Hope in small and big packages .... Advent Day 6

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There were smiles this morning in the house. Thanks for praying. Grateful.

Thankful for: 1. Imported Swiss Miss (overpriced, but you buy it when you need to pretend it's cold outside, when it's 90 degrees, and to cheer up hearts)  2. A Christmas tea party for moms and their daughters, sweet new friends here in the community  (going even though my heart is tired because I know it's good for me) 3. Kids making music together and recording their songs (loud drumming that doesn't bother our downstairs neighbors because we no longer live in a 6 floor building) 4. A big sister who teaches her younger brother how to crochet so he can make Christmas presents for the family (for a son who writes his list early of presents he is going to make for all the people he loves, and the list is long because there are many) 5. A friend who calls to take me to coffee and for conversation that is fun and uplifting and reminds me of things I love 6. Dinner sent over by another friend who wra…

Choosing Life Advent Day 5

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Today did not start out well. 

I woke up to find my daughter curled up on a 3 foot couch in our landing-office-prayer room area. Her long legs stretched over the edge, her blanket (the one she's carried yes, from her crib) in one hand, and the sign of tears still collected at the corner of her eyes, it has been a bad dream kind of night.

Finding your way after a bad dream isn't easy. Sometimes our nights are uneventful. We wake up rested and ready for the day. Other times, well you have them, too, you can't seem to shake the affects of your night. My just -got- accepted- into- university son tells me that our logic portion of our brain turns off when we sleep. That's why our dreams/nightmares can feel so crazy. Whether or not that is true, (I'm not going to google it) I nod and tell him he's so smart and I wish I could know things like that. My daughter needs me today to say it will be okay.I hold her close and we look at craftsy ideas for Christmas on pinteres…

Needing a Miracle... Advent Day 4

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Sweetheart, you want to hear about a miracle? My husband across the ocean tenderly asks our daughter over skype.
Yes, please, Daddy. Please, I need one. It's an honest polite cry. It's almost desperate. 
We have all been there once or twice in our journey. Needing a miracle that is. Needing to know that the God who fed the thousands, will still feed me today. To know that the God who healed the woman with the bleeding disease will still heal today. We know He can. It's just if He will?
My husband's oral chemo drug that he's on is hurting his kidneys. The Thai oncologist wants him off his medication to give his kidneys a break. I'm not thrilled about that. But the kidney specialist here says his kidneys may never recover. What are you supposed to do? When you're making a decision between bad and worse. When you're tempted to say to God, why are we talking about this in the first place? I hate the c word. Cancer. But the fear of it returning again can be …

Questions from a child

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Advent Day 3

Sigh.

I could tell my sweet 10 year old who holds much in his heart and mind, has something to ask me.
With my husband away the days and nights run into each other. Four hearts and personalities to attend to and love. Tiredness is hitting, but I know this is one of those moments when I need to be present. I confess I'm not always so. Bedtime routines sometimes are just that, routines so I can move on to the unfinished tasks for my day. The lesson the Lord continues to teach me is that He is in these moments, I only need to pay attention to them.

Mommy, I want to be faithful. I want to trust God. But sometimes I just want to ask, why did He allow all these things to happen to us? 

His little heart wonders, too.
He's brave enough tonight to ask.

What do you think? I turn the question back to him because I do that, I'm always teaching and because my kids stay at home and do school with their mother they never get away from the questions.

So that I can grow in my rel…

He Came and He's Here

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Advent. 
A celebration of Christ's coming.  An anticipation of Christ's coming again.  But it's not really "again".  Christ never really left us. 
I just need to know that He's still here.  That He hasn't left me.  Have you ever felt that way? 
In what feels like darkness to me I sometimes can't feel Him.  So I pray that He'll come.  But He's not left. 
The religious beliefs has this country I live in shrouded in a cover of darkness. My neighbors place their incense and fruit in front of their idol shelves in their yards. To the undiscerning heart it may not feel like anything. But it is something that tugs at the heart and screams to shut it down and stop the feeling and celebrating. Our first Christmas here in this country and the feeling is tangibly dark. My own darkness of the journey shrouds the Light. 
I'm reminded today of His Word. God's Word must be the plumb line for life and faith. I must measure all that I see and feel against the trut…