The Centrality of the Gospel in adjusting to life in Davao

I'm back in Davao now. To be honest, I'm not sure I like being here.

It's hard to leave a daughter in a country half a world away from where I am.

I'm sure some of this unsettledness is the start of the empty nest season as children grow and venture out on their own.

In the USA I felt better physically. I had more energy, my thyroid wasn't swollen, my joints did not ache, I was not hot and sweaty all the time. I've been in Davao now five days and already I feel hot and sweaty, my thyroid has swelled to the size where it feels like a constant pressure on my esophagus and creates a sensation of choking, my joints ache, and my energy level is way down. Part of that could be because I'm still recovering from jetlag.

The Internet is incredibly slow. The traffic is jammed. Noise is high with dogs barking, chickens crowing, loud jeepneys and motorbikes traveling.

As I state these realities of life in Davao it could sound like complaining. It's not. It's just the way things are here.

And this time of adjusting back to my host country provides yet another context to incorporate the centrality of the Gospel into my life.

He wants me to give thanks in all things (1 Thess. 5:18).

"All problems, personal or social, come from a failure to apply the gospel in a radical way, a failure to get 'in line with the truth of the gospel' (Gal. 2:14)." Tim Keller

I'm finding this path hard at the moment, but Job 23:10 assures me He knows the way I take and when He has tried me I shall come out as gold.

The way forward is in giving thanks in all things, in applying His truth to all of life.

I rest in Him.

So, I call to mind and have hope, knowing the steadfast love of my Abba never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning and His faithfulness is great. He is with Kirsten in the USA, He is with us here in Davao, He is with us in the length of time it takes obtaining of James' US Citizenship and passport.

He is my portion and my soul rests and hopes in Him. (Lamentations 3:21-26)

Sharing a Writing

I write. I find writing enjoyable, therapeutic. I've been organizing some of my writings into a compendium. I came across this one I wrote when we were in the process of selling items to move overseas. Hope you enjoy it.

MOVING SALE DAY

Moving sale day.
Items once treasured now marked for sale at less than emotional value.
How can you put a price on attachment?  It is a grief a heart bears in itself.
Little griefs mark our lives.
Selling a blanket used for years, selling dishes many happy meals were shared on, selling towels used for 
drying and cleaning. Selling appliances, furniture, carpets, clothing.  All aspects of daily life marked 
with magic marker price tags of masking tape and low money amounts.
Needing to get rid of these daily life items to move on to another location, another continent, another 
assignment.
Life is letting go and accumulating and letting go, endless cycle.
Like Ecclesiastes talks about - a time to live, a time to die, a time to cry, a time to keep from crying, 
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;  a time to break down,
and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek,
and a time to lose;  time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear,
and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love,
and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Cycles, ebb and flow, waves on sand, beach ever changing shape;
sand dunes remade in every blowing wind,
baby growing and changing from helpless infant to adult to old person to death to eternal life.
Nothing stays the same.  Change is constant.

The chatter of yard sale customers brings me back from reverie.
How much for this?  Can I get this and this for this amount?  Bargaining.
Customers happily carrying wares home, thankful for good finds;
sellers left relieved to have stuff gone but saddened at its disappearal.

Grief is constant.  Not only death of loved ones, but death of life lived in certain area, loss of 
contact with friends when they or you move away, sadness at broken bowl or lost ring that represents 
so much more than words can say.

A time to mourn.  A time to embrace change.  A time to grow.  A time to let go.

(By Beth Symanzik 2006)

Honest Thoughts

I just finished reading a refreshingly honest newsletter from a missionary friend of ours. Missionaries are very prone to put forth a "good front" and not share the hard so much. My friend's honesty about his struggles, his family struggles, the fact that the honeymoon period of being in a new country is over has given me the courage I need to say I am having difficulties as well. It is hard to be a mom separated from three children while the child I'm with struggles through depression and transitional issues. It is hard to keep giving out encouragement in the face of resistance, fear, and anger. It is hard to face holidays with most of my family half way around the world from me. It is hard to be living in someone else's house and not be able to just relax. It is hard to stay patiently waiting on God's timing in James' immigration visa being granted when with my whole heart I desire all of us to come to the USA this coming summer. I don't look forward to another time of family separation even for just 6 - 8 weeks. But, apart from divine intervention on James' immigration visa behalf, we will have another time of separation while I help another daughter transition to the USA.

As my friend in his news letter stated, "This would normally be the point where I shift gears and quote some uplifting passages of Scripture - say, 2 Cor. 4:16-18 - in order to give you some inspiration. 'Look how our family is being sanctified by experiencing difficulties...' That may be true, but right now, we (I) don't feel like we're (I'm) being sanctified by these things. Rather, we (I) are/am experiencing them as practical problems to be solved."

I did call our senators office a while ago and discussed with someone knowledgeable about adoption and immigration issues my concern and frustration over the length of time things are taking to get an immigration visa for my adopted son - my son who's been in my care since he was 9 weeks old and is now 9 years old. She listened, and after I'd shared about our situation and our lawyer's advice, she concurred we were on the right track. It was good to talk with her, it settled this momma's heart a bit to know we are doing things in good order and that despite media coverage that makes it seem as if immigrants are easily entering this country, that is not the case. She said most immigration visas, even for adopted children who are not adopted through international adoption agencies, take 3 - 10 years.


Restlessness and impatience change nothing except our peace and joy. Peace does not dwell in outward things, but in the heart prepared to wait trustfully and quietly on Him who has all things safely in His hands. (Elisabeth Elliot)


I am willing to wait on His timing, yet moments of frustration arise even in the resting grace of knowing and believing with all my heart that "God's providence is his almighty and ever present power, whereby, as with his hand, he still upholds heaven and earth and all creatures, and so governs them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, food and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, indeed, all things,come to us not by chance but by his fatherly hand."

I am thankful and glad when our family's mission work and adoption process encourage others, but right now, we, I, really need your prayers.

"Preserve them from every danger to which they may be exposed; from perils by land and sea, from persecution and pestilence, from discouragement in their labours, and from the devices of the adversary. May they see thy work prospering in their hands..." – prayer for Missionaries, from the Book of Common Prayer

Ten Years - November 22

Ten years ago on November 22 we landed in the Philippines.

I can tell you honestly within just a few hours a few of us were ready to board the next plane out of there and return to the USA. But we stayed.

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And we've been blessed.

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We've grown in more ways than just physically.

Walking paths where joy and sorrow meet do that to you.

Christ is all and in all. We rest in Him Alone, so thankful He has called us to the mission field.

Scattered Center-point Thoughts the day after the US election

This morning, as the sun rises, I am grateful for the reminder that there is light in the world and that the True Light rules over all the affairs of us earthly beings created in His image (1 Kings 12:15, Genesis 1:26).

sunrise

I miss the 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of dark that is so consistent in Davao. I miss being with my whole family. I am grateful to be with my daughter as she transitions. I am grateful for Skype and the ability to see and talk with family half a world a way even if it leaves me melancholy afterwards.

I'm not able to feel settled in here with the majority of my family in the Philippines. I'm in a state of "between" - and this unsettledness reminds me to settle restfully in my Father's love, watch care, and guidance - to practice center-point living. That's my name for it. Jesus tells me, tells all of us, in Matthew 6:33 to seek Him first. Every moment of every day, seek Him.

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Colossians 3, one of my favourite chapters in the Bible, reminds me to set my mind on things above - on His way. My Abba reminds me, in all my ways, to listen well, love well, be thankful, do everything - word or deed, in His name - Center-point living.

And in the moments when my momma heart bleeds profuse missing my family half way around the world, I cast my cares on Him and seek Him first.

And in the moments when depression blankets loved ones so profoundly they lose hope of another day, I seek Him first.

Those moments I dread the upcoming holidays because our family is not together, I seek Him first.

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I hear the question play through my mind, "What do I understand by the providence of God?" I know that He is almighty and ever present and that nothing comes to us by chance but by His loving Fatherly hand (Heidelberg Q. A. 27) (Jer 23:23, 24; Acts 17:24-28. Heb 1:3. Jer 5:24; Acts 14:15-17; Jn 9:3; Prov 22:2. Prov 16:33. Mt 10:29.)

The benefit/peace of this center-point knowing that God creates and ordains all is that I can be patient in adversity, thankful in prosperity, and hopeful for the future. Nothing can separate me from His love. All things, all people, all affairs of state, government, world are so completely in His hand that without His will they cannot so much as move (Heidelberg Q.A. 28) (Job 1:21, 22; Ps 39:10; Jas 1:3. Deut 8:10; 1 Thess 5:18. Ps 55:22; Rom 5:3-5; 8:38, 39. Job 1:12; 2:6; Prov 21:1; Acts 17:24-28.).

He is our great High priest. He understands moods and hopes and despair and desire - "...we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4: 15-16).

So remain confident, draw near to His throne of grace, receive His mercy and grace, know that He is sovereign over all and rest - "Rest, the Lord is near; Refuse to fear, enjoy His love" (Steve Green).

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