Thursday, January 31, 2013

no bones about it

It was a hot day, and as usual a few degrees hotter in the kitchen as I began preparations for dinner over the gas stove.  I slid a big pot of boiled chicken to the counter, and began to cut it up, food for several meals in coming weeks.  As I stripped the bones clean, I put them in the trash.  At one point our helper, Bebeng, came into the room and noticed what I was doing.  “It’s okay I take the bones?” she asked me with an eager look on her face.

Those bones, and the extra fat I had also discarded, were a treasure to her.  She told me that she would boil them more to make chicken soup, and that the fat is filling.  Can you blame me if I didn’t clean the bones quite so carefully after that?  After all, what’s chicken soup without a little chicken?    

But who would have thought that bones and fat could be so valued?  

 The Psalmist knew their worth:
My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.
Psalm 63:5

I wonder, is my soul satisfied with what God has offered for my nourishment today?  Do I joy in the marrow and fatness, or do I only want the choice pieces of meat?  Am I only enthusiastic about some of His Word – the parts that taste good to me?  Or do I also find satisfaction in the parts that I find harder to digest?

Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.
Isaiah 48:10

But he knows the way that I take; 
when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.
Job 23:10

Morsels like these are ones I’d rather skip.  Throw out with the trash.  But what will I be missing out on if I do?  His Word must be taken in whole, or not at all.  I need every last bit.

Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, 
but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."
Matthew 4:4

The bones may be hard, but they are for my good.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

rest in His goodness

The rain has stopped, 
and the sun showed its face today, drying my backed-up laundry, 
and the muddy homes of thousands whose houses flooded this weekend.  

This quote from Joni Eareckson Tada put things in perspective for me today:

“I’m grateful that He only allows to slip through His sovereign fingers 
that which He’s convinced will help our souls and fit us better for eternity.”

What comfort, to rest in His goodness...

Monday, January 21, 2013

water under the bridge

Saturday afternoon here in Davao the rain began to fall.
And it wouldn't stop.  All through the night,
into Sunday morning, rain continued to descend.

 As the tide rose, too,
the Davao River began to swell and flood,
and some of the houses like these below were swept away,
devoured by the surge.

Walls from other homes at the river's edge were ripped away,
leaving a cutaway view inside, 
and for those families, an alarming view of the rushing river below.

Several local neighborhoods were flooded.
Mark captured these photos as we rode home from church yesterday.

 People hauled their belongings out to drier land, 
anxiously wondering how much higher the waters would rise.
Down side streets we glimpsed Filipinos wading through waters up to their chest.

 Over 30,000 Davao residents evacuated their homes this weekend,
often leaving one family member behind to protect their possessions from looters.

 As we crossed over the Davao River yesterday,
crowds lined the bridge, apprehensively watching the rushing river.

We're thankful that the rain finally did stop later on Sunday,
and when Mark ran through some of these same neighborhoods Monday morning, 
he found that the water had receded significantly.

**but in waking during Monday night I again heard the rain falling,
and now, Tuesday morning, it continues to pour.
Join us in praying for the families who have lost their homes, 
and for grace to those around us who are working to practically help them...
Muddy Michael, second from right...
We've had no flooding in our street,
but all that mud sure did make for a colorful bunch of Ultimate Frisbee players on Sunday afternoon!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

I didn't forget!

Why don't you choose a plant to take home?”  We were at the house of our friend, Ate Fely, last January for a special event, when she proudly showed me her collection of potted plants.  Fely loves these plants.  She once shared that she battles a form of idolatry, because her first desire every morning is to go and tend to her beloved plants.  And here she stood offering one of them to me.  

Together with Ate Fely last May
Honored though I was, I knew that our family would soon be leaving the country for several months, and I really didn’t want one of Fely’s plants to go neglected in our absence.  “May I choose one when we return?” I asked, and, understanding, Fely agreed.

Fast forward a whole year. Yesterday morning a car pulls up in front of our house, and Ate Fely hops out. “I didn’t forget!” she calls out with a beaming smile.  She opens her trunk and lifts out a heavy pot, brimming with bougainvillea and philodendron for me. 

Fely's special gift
 Today as I stand admiring my new plants brightening the tiny courtyard outside our kitchen window, I wonder at Fely's memory for kindness.  I'm ashamed, knowing that my own is woefully weak.  Fely's thoughtfulness reminds me of how grateful I am for God's constancy; that though I am all too quick to forget Him, He never forgets His promises to those He loves.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, 
for He who promised is faithful.  
 Hebrews 10:23

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
-Robert Robinson, 1758

Thursday, January 17, 2013

the end of transition

Life may have remained just as lazy and ordinary for some around here,
Our cat, Tsinelas, was waiting for us upon our return, and this is still her favorite spot.
but not for us!
Our days since arriving back almost two weeks ago
have been packed full with cleaning,
Ate Bebeng helps to scour the kitchen
(we found it hard to believe just how much dirt can accumulate in a few short months!)

Dirt-covered storage boxes packed just before we left.  Yes, these were INSIDE the house in our absence.
 Another friend helped us to clean,
and here she is, delightedly wielding the new shop-vac.
When we went shopping for a small vaccum cleaner,
this is the only option we found.
But it's fabulous!  
I'm giving thanks for what might just be my new favorite appliance.

We've also been working on some minor repairs,

and fighting off ant invasions (what's new?)

We painted Michael's and Amy and Elise's rooms,
and the Legos and the keyboard were unpacked and dusted off.
Michael's room WAS clean...yesterday!
The second semester of school
 started back up again - both classes at the local school
and our home school routine,

but some of us have found some time for fun in the midst of it all.
Lego Rivendell, from Tolkien's books
Mark and I are back to work, 
and it feels good to be back in our routines,
all through, at least for a little while, with transitions!
Laminating an order of bookmarks
“Isn't it funny how day by day nothing changes, 
but when you look back, everything is different...”
- C.S. Lewis

Sunday, January 6, 2013

there and back again

We are officially back in the Philippines again,
battling jet lag,
joyful to see 'old' friends,
bunking at a guest house while we
clean up our home before moving back in!
New Year's Eve at Mark's sister's home in the Seattle area
ended with games up to the stroke of midnight
(okay, for some of us...others of us read books!)

 New Year's Day more family joined in the games,
 and we enjoyed a delicious celebratory meal
and scrumptious dessert together!
(Thank you, Mandy and Mom!)

January 2nd we left frosty Seattle,

saying final good byes at the airport,

and beginning our 29-hour journey back to Davao.

The trip was long but smooth,
except for a bit of intestinal trouble.
But now we are here,
and so very thankful for all of your prayers along our way!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Saying goodbye is like a mini-death, a loss, a separation.  It can’t really be done well, because, like death, it’s due to our sinful condition.  Separation from those we love on earth brings grief and sadness.  No amount of hugs and “I’ll miss you’s” is adequate to dispel the pain.  We were not created for goodbyes.  In Heaven we’ll know what we long and groan for here – the end of partings.  The ceaseless unity and fellowship of souls specifically designed for such oneness. (John 17)

Just like in death, saying goodbye hurts.  And it hurts because in some way you have blessed our lives.You have demonstrated something of Christ to us.  Thank you. 

 If you had not, it would have been easy to say goodbye.

And then we remember the goodbyes Christ said for us, so that we might know Heaven’s long hello.  

We don’t grieve like those without Christ.  Our hope is grounded in nothing less than the promises of God.  Now we get to go and share that hope.  And your prayers blaze the trail; they avail much – though we don’t understand how or why, we know they do.

So thank you for praying for us.  Please pray that, as a result of our goodbye, there will be richer, sweeter, fuller glory to God for all eternity from His entire kingdom, His perfected bride, His completed body; not one stone of His church missing.  

For He alone is worthy!