Since I've returned to Davao we've had stronger earthquakes than in the past ten years here. Like a puzzle my mind ponders about political events, nations being judged, Christ's returning.
2 Samuel 22: 8 Then the earth reeled and rocked: the foundations of the heavens trembled and quaked. (see also Psalm 18:7; 60:2; 68:8)
We had a 4.6 earthquake today here in Davao. It's a bit disconcerting to feel the floor wave up a bit, to hear walls creak and gates rattle. We've had a few aftershocks today.
God is our refuge and strength, a present help in times of trouble. We will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea....though the mountains tremble
As we stood outside this morning during the earthquake the passage in Matthew 24 ran through my head you will hear of wars and rumors of wars...and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains
A teacher at the international school our children attend was near where a shelter fell on a woman and assisted her. A local newspaper snapped this photo.
I chose to rest in His peace. It is disconcerting to feel the earth move under your feet. Our times are in His hand (Psalm 31:15). I have and continue to calm and quiet my soul (Psalm 131:2).
O Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in peace. Help me in all things to rely upon thy holy will. In every hour of the day reveal thy will to me. Bless my dealings with all who surround me.
Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul, and with firm conviction that thy will governs all.
In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and feelings.
In unforeseen events let me not forget that all are sent by thee.
Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others.
Give me strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring.
Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray thou thyself in me. Amen.
Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow
On any given day, according to http://earthquaketrack.com/, there are over 100 earthquakes registering 1.5 or greater on the Richter scale.
As I type this, the current stats are as follows:
100 earthquakes in the past 24 hours
636 earthquakes in the past 7 days
3,332 earthquakes in the past 30 days
38,969 earthquakes in the past 365 days (http://earthquaketrack.com/)
It truly is amazing to dwell on the fact the earth crust is not this solid, steady, never-moving piece of rock that most of us believe it is.
Which makes me ponder even deeper on my loving Abba's Words -
Psalm 60:2 states, "You have made the land to quake; you have torn it open;"
Psalm 99: 1-3 states, "The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble!
He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
The Lord is great in Zion;
he is exalted over all the peoples. Let them praise your great and awesome name!
Holy is he!"
There are at least 17 references in the Bible to the mountains and earth quaking in the presence of God.
Do we? Do we stand in awe of Him and His greatness?
Hebrews 12 encourages us in this. The chapter is titled "The Kingdom That Cannot Be Shaken". We are to be grateful for receiving His salvation, His Kingdom. We ought not to refuse Him and His leading.
"28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,"
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)
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
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)
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