Monday, May 26, 2014

two suitcases and a carry-on

   Look around the house. If you were asked to whittle it all down to just two suitcases and a carry-on, what few things would make the cut?  Grandma’s cookie lifter.  All the handmade cards from our children.  The clothing that’s not yet threadbare.  A dog-eared book or two.  The computer, of course.  Snacks for the journey, and a pile of good-bye notes from friends.  Toothbrush.  A stuffed animal from childhood, and a Filipino sarong.

And so it is that when a man walks along a road, 
the lighter he travels, the happier he is;


  That’s where we are now, all packed, ready to leave Davao tomorrow on an early morning flight.  Home and belongings have been distilled into a few suitcases.  They’re heavy enough, though we’ve left behind so many possessions that composed our home.  Our hearts are heavy too as we leave our place of service, our community of the family of God – loved ones we may never see again this side of Heaven. We will board the plane sad but grateful, smiling because it happened.

a few of our farewells

   As we disembark Tuesday evening, after over 30 hours of travel, we’ll be entering another world – yes, our own home culture, but somehow so foreign after daily life in S.E. Asia.  We may look just the same on the outside – Michael a little taller, Amy and Elise more sweet, Mark a little more handsome.  But inwardly we’ve been changed, impacted in inexplicable ways by these people and this place.  

So we zip up our suitcases, memories packed in tight, giving all thanks to God for His gift of these five years.

Go in peace! 
I will not say: do not weep
for not all tears are an evil.
J.R.R. Tolkien

We’ll see our American family and friends soon! 

How we’re looking forward to seeing your dear faces again!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

presenting the class of 2014

Graduation - Thursday, May 22nd
Congratulations, Amy and Elise...
we are delighted in each of you...
profoundly thankful for both of you, 
and for the wonderful people who have impacted you here in Davao.
 We're so excited to see what God will do in the coming months and years of your lives.
 May you never know an hour apart from Him,
and may His goodness and mercy follow you all the days of your lives.

"You'll travel where my arms won't reach
As the road will rise to lead your feet
On a journey of your own.
May my mistakes not hinder you
But His grace remain and guide you through;
This is my prayer for you.

Take His hand
And go where He calls you to.
And whatever comes, seek Him
With all your heart;
This will be my prayer for you.

Father, hear my ceaseless prayer;
Oh keep them in your care."
From: A Mother's Prayer
by Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty,
and Fionan de Barra

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

whirlwind of transition

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind
as we prepare for our departure from the Philippines.

Along with many other things, we've treasured time with friends,

cheered as Michael celebrated his 8th grade commencement,

Michael (front and center) with the rest of the 8th grade class

moved from our house to a guesthouse,

Amy and Elise on an early morning run with their friend, T
 treasured more time with friends,

Michael's buddies
and another Michael buddy who brought a sweet going-away gift

visited Immigration for more fingerprints,

prepared for finals and...

our sweet friends pick up the items they bought
and dispersed the last of our household goods.

 Transition is never easy.

But we give thanks for God's goodness...
for our health and strength,
for Elise's braces that came off last night! 
that Amy and Elise have been asked to walk in graduation with the senior class,
(though they are part-time students)
for this guesthouse - a quiet, cool harbor through the transition,
and for those of you who are praying for us through this process...
thank you!

It is well for us that, amidst all the variableness of life, 
there is One whom change cannot affect; 
One whose heart can never alter, 
and on whose brow mutability can make no furrows. 
  ~ Charles Spurgeon

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

a new nest

It's the season again to sell what we take apart the twigs of our nest.  

Eager shoppers wait for our garage sale to begin!
These bits and pieces of furnishings and possessions were individually not of that much value, but they had been gathered over the past 5 years to compose our home, our family's haven. 

Amy prepares for the flood of customers
Since we will be moving on to another phase, a new position in a partner organization, we won't be returning here to Davao. So we laid all of these elements of home out to be gathered by others who came to pick up fragments that will be of use in their own homes and families.

While friends and strangers browsed and bought bits of our home, some commented that they had come to find mementos of us.  And as they left with this and that to feather their own nests, I realized that it's not the things I'll miss - it's these sweet people and the friendships we've grown.
Sweet friends come to shop and to visit

In a sense it's a sad thing to again have no home, to be reduced to the minimum, 
flying away to find a new spot, 
to build a new nest, create a new place for our family.  

The sale was almost like a party, friends staying for an hour or two to shop and talk and help one another!
 But I have a feeling it's also the very best place we could be.  
Purged of the clutter of these temporary possessions,
we have a new vantage from which we can look all the more eagerly
for the eternal home being prepared for us.

 As if that's not enough blessing, in God's comforting goodness,
He painted a picture this week right outside our kitchen window
of His perfect care for us.

built her little nest
right here.

Just where I'd see it
and be reminded that it really doesn't take much to build a new home.

Only a little courage and time,
a few twigs and feathers,
all supplied by the One Who cares for me,
and filled with family and love and His nearness -
not one of which are lost in this move.

 And He said, 
“My presence will go with you, 
and I will give you rest.”
Exodus 33:14

Thanks so very much to all who have helped us, 
and prayed for us through these transitions.  
Please keep praying...
the transitions are challenging, 
and we treasure your intercessions.
♥ us5 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

no sweeter mother

There never was a sweeter mother.

Happy Mother's Day...
in memory of my precious mama who loved and nurtured,
guided and prayed for all nine of us.
(I'm the youngest - not yet born in the photo above!)

Mother’s love grows by giving. 
~Charles Lamb

And with thanks to our own precious 3...
who worked to honor me today,
and who bless me with laughter,
insight, hugs, silliness, help, thoughtfulness, challenges, hungry stomachs,
questions, and more laughter every day.
There never was a richer mother.

Wishing every single one of you moms a day of celebration 
in this beautiful gift of motherhood. ♥

Thursday, May 1, 2014

on guard

I remember when we first landed in Manila, back in 2009,
how startled I was at the profusion of security guards on duty in this country.

 Not only do they guard banks
and armored vehicles,
but just about every other place of commerce too.

Some are stern, as you'd expect,
but others are surprisingly friendly.
These two (below), guarding the entrance of a mall, 
were happy to have their photo taken!

Guards can be found at McDonalds,

on school campuses,

and at many store fronts and all malls.
Below the guard (left with the white gloves) checks our bags as we enter.

These men and women are a constant visual reminder to me to be on guard spiritually.  God's Word exhorts me to guard what has been committed to me (1  Tim 6:20), to be on guard against a grudging or contentious spirit (Phil 2:14), and against covetousness (Luke 12:15).   I'm to be on guard against falling back from God's grace (Hebrews 12:15), against false teaching (2 Peter 3:17) and against idols (1 John 5:21).

But, even more importantly, these guards remind me of God's faithful guardianship over His people!

He guards us from stumbling (Jude 1:24), He's put his angels in charge over us, to guard us (Luke 4:10), and His peace, which is beyond our understanding, will guard our hearts and minds (Phil 4:7).  He is faithful, and will guard us from the evil one (2 Thess 3:3), guarding until that day what we have committed to Him (2 Tim 1:12).

Michael poses with J, a local guard and friend!
With all these guards around the city, I feel pretty secure, 
unworried about my personal safety.  
They're watching out for me and others.

But they can't hold a candle to God's faithful guardianship.  
We rest safe in the hollow of His hand.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord
“My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.
Psalm 91:1-2