Friday, March 29, 2013


It's 6:15 a.m. as I fill my teapot with fresh water for my morning cup of tea.  It's strangely quiet outside, at a time when the streets are usually alive with Pandesol (bread) sellers, recycle collectors, students on their way to class, vendors shouting their wares, jeepneys  and motorcycles rumbling by.  Not today.  It's Good Friday, and everything in the city has come to a grinding halt.  Malls will be closed, jeepneys will be parked, schools are out and the streets are quiet.

A main street at midday - all but deserted.
Until I hear the notes of a song, a recorded tune that seems to be getting closer.  I curl up on our couch nursing my cup of tea with a view of the street outside our gate so I can watch what is happening.  That's when the silent masses of people begin to pass our home.  It's a strange sight, but I know immediately what it is.  It's the local barangay (neighborhood) observation of the Stations of the Cross.  In the midst of the crowd slowly passes a small van with a loudspeaker positioned on top, playing a song, then a mini exhortation about the Cross of Christ, followed by numberless rounds of 'Hail Mary's.
Filing past our house
 And the people keep coming.  There must be over 200 people, silently filing past, heads bowed in devotion.  I sit here in pajamas in the already stifling morning air, wondering about my own level of devotion, and feeling some shame.  After all, I'm not out there, remembering His death, or setting apart a special day to observe His suffering.

But there's a fundamental difference between us.  These men and women sincerely believe that today, Good Friday, is a day when Christ is literally dead.  God's back is turned today, and there is no deity left to protect or defend mortal man.  They march in silent fear.

Some of these people may go so far today as to 'crucify' themselves as penance for their sin.  They will use anesthesia to numb their hands before actually being nailed to a cross.  These same men and women take communion with fear and trembling, believing that in the blessing of the bread, it actually becomes the literal body of Christ, and the cup becomes His literal blood as He is sacrificed once again for their sin.

But this cannot be the same Christ who suffered on Calvary.
...just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,  
so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, 
will appear a second time, 
not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
Hebrews 9:27-28

Our Savior died once, satisfying God's wrath against sin.  Could we imply that Jesus' death wasn't enough?  Do we need to take on the pain of crucifixion too as penance?  Or should we insist that Christ suffer again and again, believing that what He did 2000 years ago could not fully atone for our sin?

For Christ also suffered once for sins,
 the righteous for the unrighteous, 
that he might bring us to God.
1 Peter 3:18 
 Jesus Himself said, "It is finished!"  And He sat down next to His Father.  
His sacrifice is done for all time. 
So on this Good Friday morning, I can rest here on our couch with my cup of tea, 
because He completely finished the work. 

 Thanks be to God!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


just a few highlights of our spring break...

An intense Bananagrams competition at Starbucks...
lots of words, coffee, a quiet cool atmosphere...
what a fun way to kick-start our week off of school!

Then Amy and Elise hopped a plane and a bus for a very long trip up to Baguio
with their soccer team where they competed in ISAC,
a sports tournament for international schools in the country.
Elise in blue above

Amy, center

This beautiful group of young ladies brought home the 2nd place trophy
even though they represent by far the smallest school in the league.
 Congratulations, Faith!!

Meanwhile, we took a day trip with one of Michael's friends out to Paradise,
away from the heat and crush of the city.
What an amazingly beautiful place!
Mark, Michael and B play a game of beach Frisbee

Elise and Amy arrived home very early 
on Michael's birthday after traveling all night.
Lunchtime found us all at Army Navy, one of Michael's favorite eating spots.

And that evening we celebrated with 13 candles.
How did this boy get to be a teenager?!?!?

Happy Birthday, Michael!
May it be a year of growing in wisdom and stature,
 and in the knowledge of Christ!

Friday, March 22, 2013

us6 for a day

Spring break means a change in routine,
and opportunities to do some special things...

Like becoming a family of six
while Michael's little buddy M spends the day with us!

Michael and M on the way to our house
It's been a very long time since we've had a little man around the house.

Stirring up a batch of pancakes
His little eyes see all that is new and exciting about the world,
challenging us to remember the wonder...

A piggy back ride up the street
Even a ride in a taxi is full of endless delight and excitement.

Counting all the other taxis on the road!
With a little downtime to rest,

and time to play with friends,

A rousing game of Duck Duck Goose
it was a full and wonderful day.
Thanks for sharing it with us, M!

You won my heart by bringing me a beautiful flower!
We're so thankful for the community of family we share,
a true fulfillment of Jesus' promise in Luke:

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, 
“no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children 
for the sake of the kingdom of God  
will fail to receive many times as much in this age, 
and in the age to come eternal life.”
Luke 18:29-30

Sunday, March 17, 2013

having a field day

The soccer field at the local international school 
was teeming with people early Friday morning for Field Day,
the annual pre-Spring Break event for elementary and middle school students.

Michael's favorite event is always the 1k. 
He had some tough competition from the other 7th & 8th grade boys 
(you can see that Michael on the right in his red t-shirt 
wasn't exactly the longest-legged man on the track)

But he still managed to come in first. (Way to go, Michael!!)
(He wishes they'd figure out a way to do a 5k,
but a student got lost out in the neighborhood a few years ago(!), 
and the on-campus options are pretty limited.)

The three-legged race was more of a challenge,
being paired with a friend who is a little bit taller...

photo thanks to Mrs. Shiel
The morning ended in an all-school relay
and Michael carried the baton over the finish line first for his team,
with his good friend J right behind him...
Way to go, guys!!

Michael with friends of all ages...
 The morning was a gift from God,
with bright sunshine,
great friends,
and strong, healthy bodies in competition
to the glory of God!

Every time I step on the field 
I will give everything I have...

-Tim Tebow

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

warp speed

I flipped the switch on the sewing machine and began to sew a sample line 
before stitching up the seams of a new kitchen curtain.
The machine hummed, and as I stepped on the foot pedal, it sprang into action,
whizzing out a startlingly quick line of stitching.

I knew something was not quite right, 
especially when I saw how irregular and frazzled the sample looked.
Had someone used the machine in our absence, and readjusted all of the settings?
I checked them out, making some minor changes, and tried again.
The machine whipped out another seam, just as fast and as messy as the first.

photo by Elise
Still puzzled by the warp speed and dreadful results, I decided to re-thread both the bobbin and the machine.  That would have to fix the issue.  But it didn't.  Once again, the needle flew across the fabric, and I realized all at once the real issue.

I was operating a 110v sewing machine on 220 voltage.

No wonder it was going so fast.
No wonder the light was so bright.
What a wonder it hadn't detonated.

I wasted no time in unplugging it and routing it through our transformer to regulate the voltage,
resulting, to my relief, in a perfect, normal-paced seam.

And it made me think of all the times when I'm just like that machine,
running at high speed, making a mess of things,
operating on the wrong power source. 
"...that you may live a life worthy of the Lord 
and please Him in every way: 
bearing fruit in every good work, 
growing in the knowledge of God,  
being strengthened with all power 
according to His glorious might 
so that you may have great endurance and patience,"
Colossians 1:10-11

Monday, March 4, 2013

no place like home

“The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.”
Charles Dickens

We've had much joy in returning to Davao;
in being back with our friends at church,
 with our co-workers and fellow expats,

 and with others in our community.

Even the old man who loads my groceries into the taxi at the local mall
greeted me with a beaming smile and a 'welcome back!' when he saw me again.

It was oh, so good to be back home in the U.S. for a season,
but it's oh, so good to be back home again in Davao, too.

“Home is the nicest word there is.”
  - Laura Ingalls Wilder

Friday, March 1, 2013

march on

painting by Amy
God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, 
but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars.  
~Martin Luther