Yesterday, while on a boat trip in Davao bay, we saw a pod of dolphins. A couple of them came and swam right along side the boat. It was so cool. God's creations are awesome.
One of the boat crewmen had us clap and as we did the dolphins swam next to the boat keeping up with the boat's speed. When we stopped clapping they'd go away a bit. This went on for a few minutes and then they all swam off.
While I've seen dolphins in the bay before, this was a first to have them swim along side the boat. So cool.
"Emotionally healthy spirituality requires you to go through the pain of the Wall - or, as the ancients called it, "the dark night of the soul" p 117 Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Pete Scazzero.
I sit here on the morning of the 8th year anniversary of being here in the Philippines and I wonder if the journey has been worth it.
And, not to keep you in suspense, yes, it has been worth it.
It's been a hard 8 years. There is no turning back the hands of time. We made our decisions, buggered on through really tough times, and here we are. Stronger, wiser, more sobered, more in love with Christ than ever before.
Seasons happen to us. I've been through a long season of winter. I feel tired, worn out, yet deeply centered in the love of Christ. A solemness has settled - not a despairing, but a soberness.
Sober. 1. quiet, serious, solemn, grave or sedate 2. characterized by reason, sanity or self-control; showing mental and emotional balance. (Webster's New World Dictionary)
Hope springs eternal and there is hope. Spring follows winter, hope swells anew. I am reminded "be sober, be alert" - the new testament exhorts that at least ten times.
1 Peter 1 tells us "13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
I have changed - overall for the better - my faith in Christ solid-built in fires, furnances, pressures, crushings.
My love for Him deep. Not an emotional display of fake smiles and insincere "all is well" , but a deep, abiding peace and assurance; a settled contentedness in His hand, a peace in the eye of the storm.
Yet, at times, a 'why' whispers, arises, wants an answer to all the hard. But knowing an answer won't come. Just reminders - Jospeh sold into slavery, Jacob wrestling with an angel, Jesus beaten and crucified - - - - His love constantly whispering, "rest".
Like a dad leading a child by the hand through a busy airport or train station - "hold my hand and trust me, I'll get you there" he says to the child; this my Heavenly Dad says to me.
I was naive when we moved here - ignorant of all the transitional changes, hidden motives and pressures felt, cultural differences, the hardness - even a trip to the grocery store here not easy - laundry, noise, dirt, poverty, interactions with others - taking in two orphan boys, Jerard with so many health problems; family dischord, a personal journey dealing with painful events from childhood, marital issues, communication issues - daily life the threshing floor to winnow out the chaff.
I wouldn't trade it - this journey. I am so thankful to be here. Yes, it has been bone wearying, hard; and yet filled with grace, joy, thankfulness, love, hope; learning contentment. Our family is closer together.
We are more honest.
Poverty, heat, injustice, dirt, despair, facing "the dark night of the soul" bring greater joy, rest, unshakeable confidence in Christ and His leading. There is a gift in the hard time, the dark night of the soul. Christian life is a journey - a path involving movement, action, stops, starts, detours, delays and trips into the unknown.
The hard times are like seasons. They happen to us. Walls happen and only by journeying in and through the wall can one find true freedom, rest, confidence in Christ.
I'm reminded of a song I've sung "There's a peace I've come
to know though my heart and flesh may fail.
There's an anchor for my soul, I can say it is well." (Chris Tomlin, I will Rise)
And it is.
It is well.
Our son, Jerard, taught me much about resting in my Saviour. I am thankful for the years we were parents to him.
All is well. It is well with my soul. This journey has changed me. I'm not who I was eight years ago. I am stronger, more sober-minded, resting in deep, unshakeable abiding confidence in the love of Christ - knowing nothing can separate me from Him, knowing He loves me. This is not just head knowledge like it used to be. This is deep heart speak. I am loved. All the way my Saviour leads me. It is well, it is well with my soul.
"The difference is that now we give out of a new, grounded center of ourselves in God. We have rediscovered God's profound, deep, accepting love for us. A deep, inner stillness begins to characterize our work for God." p120 Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Pete Scazzero.
I'm thankful for these eight years here.
Part of me wants to stay longer, but another part pulls to get back to the USA, to reconnect with family, friends, to help our children learn a new culture. While their passport country is the USA, three of them have spent more time here in the Philippines than in the USA. Moving there will be another foreign country to them; and for us. We are not up on current trends, tv shows, fashions, etc. And really, in the face of poverty and need what matter is it what the latest fashion, movie star, sports icon is. It seems like superficial drival.
What really matters is building for His kingdom.
This journey has changed me and I thank God for calling our family overseas on this journey. Lead on, Dad.
Last night, Kurt and I were guests at the 34th Founder's Day celebration of the only government run orphanage here in Davao.
Venus, the social worker who worked with us in the adoption
some of the children dancing for the guests.
We were blessed to see how well the children are cared for, yet saddened at the many children abandoned. We heard stories from the social worker that some of the children had been exploited by parents in cybersex human trafficking, one child was found in a plastic grocery sack, another left in a church. Many of the children we saw had histories of abuse. Some of the children are unable to walk due to clubbed foot and other orthopaedic issues.
Founder's Day guests
The staff that works with the over 50 orphans in their care.
This is the orphanage that James and Jerard could've been placed in had we not taken them in. I am thankful we took them. While the children are well cared for at the orphanage, there is a lack of ability to provide as much one on one stimulation as each child needs for language development, etc.
The kids having a special visit from a McDonald's character.
James 1:27 reminds us Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.