Thursday, February 28, 2013

go for the goal

It's soccer season again for the high school girls,
 and Amy and Elise are enjoying the challenge of being back on the field. 
We are so thankful for their great coaches, 
and for this opportunity, even as part-time students, to be a part of the team!
praying together before a game
Because the Filipino school year ends in March, 
the soccer season is a short one for these young ladies.  
By the end of March all of the local competing schools
are out on summer vacation.

Amy on defense
That means it's an intense time of preparation and lots of games condensed into about 9 weeks.

Elise on defence
Both Elise and Amy have had some minor injuries this season,
requiring frustrating time resting on the bench.
But even in that there are important lessons to be learned.

(Like how to make a DIY ice pack! - 
Leave it to Amy to track down a way to make one out of common household stuff!)

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. 
Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, 
ambition inspired, and success achieved.
-Helen Keller

Sunday, February 24, 2013

morning song

Rich tenor notes filled the otherwise silent morning darkness with a haunting lilt, the voice of a neighbor singing his pre-dawn M-prayer.  As I unlocked our gate to see Mark off on a trip out of town, I paused to listen.  The tune was beautiful yet desolate, a cadence chanted to God without any hope in His great salvation...

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness 
and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,
in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 1:13-14

Then suddenly, out of the darkness rose another song, loud and strong and sweet, and in surprising contrast, full of merriment.  It was the jubilant song of a small bird, perched on a power line high above the street, singing praise to his Creator.

For by Him all things were created,
in heaven and on earth...
Colossians 1:16a

a different bird I caught praising his Creator in Kirkland, WA
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! 
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 150:6

Friday, February 22, 2013


 The ant is knowing and wise,
but he doesn't know enough to take a vacation.
-Clarence Day
ants disappearing by the dozens into a hole in the floor - the hole is sealed now...thanks Mark!
Since our return to our home in Davao,
the ants have been relentless.

First they attacked the kitchen;
their appetites for our unopened, unguarded 
penne noodles and corn flakes was totally understandable.
I mean, it's a free lunch, guys!

But when I secured all the food carefully away in plastic bins,
the ants persisted, starting in on even more delicious entres,
like our paper napkins,

our rolling pin (maybe there were some vestiges of bread dough on it?)

and our ziploc bags.

Those bags are precious.  
And those crazy ants ate holes in the bottoms of them, 
so that when I popped them open to fill with leftovers,
the food fell out the other side.

Then the ants started eating Michael.
Or maybe more accurately, they infested his bed (again),
biting him in the middle of the night.

The whale is endangered,
while the ant continues to do just fine.
-Bill Vaughan 

ants gulping down Terro...the most effective ant poison we've found
 We did many a battle, with chemicals
and perfume (they hate it!) and rubbing alcohol on the walls,
 while sealing more holes
and using elaborate ant traps to keep food out of their reach.

this ant trap is keeping bread dough off limits...
So now, though we see an occasional scout,
life is fairly bug-free.
Except for our bulletin board.
They've been feasting on it for over two weeks now.
They eat into the background paper,
dusting the stairs below with white paper dust.
They bore into the cork, maybe to get at the glue behind it.
And though we've fed them dose after dose of Terro poison,
these ants just keep returning, with no sign of slowing.
They consume the poison, and then go back to the paper.

"It is not enough to be busy,
so are the ants. 
The question is: what are we busy about?"
 --Henry David Thoreau

My mind is boggled by their insistence in consuming my bulletin board.
(At least they aren't eating the photos of our friends posted there!)
I mean, if they have to eat something,
I'm happy for them to eat the bulletin board paper 
rather than our ziploc bags, or our food, 
or our children.

The ants remain unceasingly busy.
But is this obsession of theirs really worth all their work?
Watching them makes me wonder,
What am I busy about?

I'm not a huge Thoreau fan,
but he's got it right in the quote above.

What am I busy about?

Am I busy with what everyone else is currently obsessed, and investing time in?
 Am I consumed with the demands that seem so urgent, that scream for my attention?

Or am I being intentional with my busyness, 
focused on things of eternal worth,
things that will nourish and bless others and myself?

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; 
yes, establish the work of our hands!
Psalm 90:17

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


It used to be that when we craved a taste of America, 
the best option was the local McDo's.  
(That's McDonalds for those of you in the U.S.)

But then Starbucks arrived in Davao,
and walking into Starbucks actually feels a little bit like walking back into the U.S.  
Once in awhile that's a comforting feeling.

Mark and I found ourselves there the other evening on our date night to share a frappucino.
Waiting in line, we browsed the sandwich options in the display case.   
It was a reminder that though this might feel like America,
we're definitely still in a foreign country.

Spam anyone?

Friday, February 15, 2013

a trip to remember

Early on February 3rd, Michael left for the airport to join the other middle school students traveling up to the Manila area for a week on OE - outdoor education.

It was a week packed full of history lessons, spiritual challenge, ministry, hikes, games, and environmental education.

All the students at the airport...ready to go!  Yes, Michael's in there somewhere... :)

On the first day, the students visited
the memorial at Bataan, a famous WWII site.
 After five months of American involvement in the war, and bitter fighting in the Philippines,
60-80,000 Filipino and American soldiers were forced to march a cruel 80 miles under tortuous circumstances.  It's now known as the Bataan Death March, and this is the place where the march finally came to an end.

They also stopped at Mt. Samat National Shrine, built by Ferdinand Marcos in 1966
in memory of the Filipinos who fought and died on Bataan.

The cross is 320 feet - 250 to the arm, 

where the students could look out from a viewing gallery.

This excellent teacher, Mr. S, has been to this area about 25 times,
and is a master at sharing fascinating historical accounts.

On the next day, Michael's squad worked with students from a local school, singing for them, presenting the gospel, playing with them, and sharing Wordless Book bracelets.
the school was excited to have them come, and did their own presentation for the visitors!
hamming it up...Michael 4th from right
Wednesday, Michael's squad went to the beach.
There they played games, swam, and learned about sea turtles.
Michael (2nd from left) and his group measure and observe a baby sea turtle

 The activity ended with a grand finale of releasing a troupe of baby sea turtles into the sea!
The students slept on the beach that night, in hollowed out sand beds

The next day was Michael's favorite, as they visited the island of Corregidor,
 "Sleep my sons, your duty done...
for freedoms light has come.
Sleep in the silent depths of the sea,
or in your bed of hallowed sod
Until you hear at dawn
the low clear reveille of GOD."

Here they were granted special permission to climb the guns of WWII,

Michael with his squad - 2nd from the top!
jump off a long, tall pier into the warm ocean,

and not only see, but actually climb around in the ruins of  blasted WWII barracks.

They also had an adventurous night hike through the Malinta Tunnel,
in areas still littered with rubble and remains of the war.
Michael on right
 They visited the "Bat Cave" - an old munitions storage area that had been bombed.
The heat at the time of the explosion was so intense, it turned the sand to glass.
Here Michael found an old bullet casing as a souvenir.

 What a great adventure! 
And what a great squad to share it with.
THANKS to Mr. B. (Michael's squad leader)
and to all the other teachers who made this amazing trip possible!
(and to Ms. M, who took all of these photos, except the first one...thank you for sharing!!)

What was something Michael took away from this trip?
I'll let him tell you in his own words: 

"During WWII, Corregidor was nicknamed 'The Rock' 
because it was a stronghold that remained safe from the enemy for a very long time.  
And just like how Corregidor was a stronghold for many soldiers, 
God is our stronghold and our Rock, 
and we need to serve Him with all our heart, 
and give Him first place in everything."

Saturday, February 9, 2013

serious fun

This morning the local Filipino homeschool group
joined us for an aeronautics workshop

taught by Mark
(my intelligent and creative husband)

The kids had a great time experimenting with airflow

and Bernoulli's Principle,

and experiments with aerodynamics.

Then the older students branched off to make a variety 
of paper gliders to fly
(even the parents made a few!)

While the preschool students made their own fun,

learning the names of the parts of an airplane,

making roto-copters,

and watching them spin from way up as high as we could go!

The preschool grand finale was to make edible airplanes,

with a banana fuselage, graham cracker wings, a cookie tail, and
candy windows.

How sweet it is...

Okay, this one didn't quite look like an airplane,
but it was still some serious fun.

Thank you to the Homeschool Network 
and all of the wonderful families who attended today. 
 We were blessed by you!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

february love

art by Amy

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

the gift that made me cry

My friend Leanne, who is a volunteer nurse at a local maternity clinic, texted me last Wednesday morning.  She wanted to drop by for a minute.  I brushed my hair and put on a smile to meet her at my gate.  Leanne came in and handed me a big, golden mango saying, “Yesterday I delivered a baby girl at the clinic.  I had in my purse a couple of the baby blankets your sister Judy had sent for the new babies, so I gave a pink one to the mother.  She was so happy, she gave me two mangoes in return!  So I want to share this one with you, since the blanket was a gift from your sister.”

I couldn’t help it.  I began to cry.

What Leanne didn’t know yet was that earlier that very morning I had received an email from the US from my sister Judy, to tell me that she had been given a very different sort of gift from the hand of God.   Judy had been diagnosed with breast cancer.  

Judy is my closest sister, both in age and in friendship.  She is the one who shared a bedroom with me from before I could remember.  She’s the one who made a list on the inside of our closet door of fun games to play when we were bored.  She’s the sister who loaned me her Charlie Brown books to take to the hospital when I was hospitalized as a six-year-old for surgery, and then made me cards and bought me presents with her allowance to cheer me up.  She’s the one who tolerated her 5th grade sister at her high school basketball games, took me to see Chariots of Fire, twice, at the theater, let me borrow her much more fashionable clothes, wrote me long entertaining letters from Europe when she worked in a Swiss camp for a summer, discussed with me theological questions deep into the night, and now sends me boxes filled with the school books we need, special gifts from home, and baby blankets for new babies who have no blankets.
Judy and me in November 2012
 How can we possibly call this evil, Judy’s cancer, a gift from God?  

Joni Eareckson Tada, speaks with years of experience about God’s faithfulness in suffering:
“Sometimes God allows what He hates 
to accomplish what He loves.”

That’s a gift.  That God plans for our lives the very things that will fit us most for Heaven, even when those things are the hardest things on earth.

Judy is convinced that this cancer is what God allowed.  She wrote:
” I have been … realizing that my worry is centered in my wanting to control everything. It's like me being on an airplane and questioning the pilot about everything he does, annoying him and being a back seat driver when I know nothing about flying or the skies ahead. And the pilot says, ‘Don't worry, just leave it to me, I'll do the flying, you just sit back and relax and read a book or something.’  
So I'm trying to not be a back seat driver to God, but to just allow Him to fly (my husband, our sons) and me through the unknown skies ahead, and trust Him to carry us safely through.”

I wish I could take this burden for Judy.  It’s very hard to be so far away at a time like this.  But I can stand behind her, cheering her on as she bears the burden, encouraging her to hold on to the knowledge that God is faithful, and that He’s a pilot to be trusted.   

When Leanne arrived at my door on Wednesday morning, my heart was too raw with the heavy news.  I didn’t think I could talk about Judy’s cancer yet.  But when Leanne held out that gift, I knew this was God’s provision for me, that it was time already to share the load. (Thank you, Leanne, for being there at that moment.) 
Will you share the load too, by praying today for Judy and for her family? 

Judy has an appointment next week at the local cancer center, where she will meet with multiple doctors to discuss a plan for treatment.  Please pray that God will continue to calm her heart, and for restful sleep instead of wakeful hours.   

Thank you for praying.  We are convinced that God hears and that,
The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. 
James 5:16 

May God show off His glory, even through the gifts that make us cry.

Giving thanks,