Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Joy of Waiting - Promise No. 2

Boat, ocean, and a sunset
Originally uploaded by Miguel Jette.
"I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry" (Psalm 40:1, NIV).

I didn't intend to blog today. You see, our son Ben is in the hospital. We were advised to have him confined after his fever wouldn't go down. The doctor said he has pneumonia and blood infection, worsened by his primary complex.

The past weeks have been quite hard for us, admittedly. On one hand, we trust that God has already apportioned healing for Ben and Star. Yet, when it doesn't come right away, what can we do? Not much, except to keep on praying and waiting.

These past few weeks, God keeps on reminding me, "Be still and know that I am God." Truly, it is so easy to fret. But what can fretting do? Nothing, except to make us more exhausted. So might as well just let go and let God! Yet, despite that knowledge, sometimes it can be difficult not to worry especially when it involves your kids. But God, in His never-ending patience -- keeps on reminding us through different ways. Sometimes, it comes through your mailbox. The moral lesson? Always open your mailbox! LOL!

As I read this article forwarded by my friend Cathy, I can't help but post this. It's so inspiring. Read on....


by Elisabeth Elliot
Taken from Keep A Quiet Heart

The tests of our willingness to wait patiently for the Lord come almost daily for most of us, I suppose. Probably I am among the Lord's most impatient servants, so the lesson has to be renewed again and again. A tough test came when my daughter's family (of ten) was searching for a house. Southern California is not a place where one would wish to conduct that search. It's a long story, but at last, all other possibilities having been exhausted, a house was found, an offer made. That night word came that two other offers, of unknown amounts, had also been made. Dark pictures filled my mind: the others would surely get the house, the Shepards would be reduced to renting and we'd been told that rentals start at about $2000 per month (imagine an owner willing to rent to a family with eight children!).

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord" (Psalm 27:14, NIV).

I lay awake in the wee hours ("when all life's molehills become mountains" as Amy Carmichael said), repeating Scripture about God's faithfulness, trusting, casting all cares, waiting. I had to keep offering up my worries and my impatience. At four I was up reading the story of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham called the place where he had offered up Isaac "The Lord Will Provide." I took that as the Lord's word to me that morning.

Before nine o'clock, my son-in-law Walt called to say "Offer accepted. Other offers, both higher, turned down." No explanation. It was the Lord's doing.

Waiting requires patience--a willingness calmly to accept what we have or have not, where we are or where we wish we were, whomever we live or work with.

To want what we don't have is impatience, for one thing, and it is to mistrust God. Is He not in complete control of all circumstances, events, and conditions? If some are beyond His control, He is not God.

A spirit of resistance cannot wait on God. I believe it is this spirit which is the reason for some of our greatest sufferings. Opposing the workings of the Lord in and through our "problems" only exacerbates them. It is here and now that we must win our victories or suffer defeats. Spiritual victories are won in the quiet acceptance of ordinary events, which are God's "bright servants," standing all around us.

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. "Peace I leave with you; I do not give to you as the world gives" (John 14:27, NEB). What sort of peace has He to give us? A peace which was constant in the midst of ceaseless work (with few visible results), frequent interruptions, impatient demands, few physical comforts; a peace which was not destroyed by the arguments, the faithlessness, and hatred of the people. Jesus had perfect confidence in His Father, whose will He had come to accomplish. Nothing touched Him without His Father's permission. Nothing touches me without my Father's permission. Can I not then wait patiently? He will show the way.

If I am willing to be still in my Master's hand, can I not then be still in everything? He's got the whole world in His hands! Never mind whether things come from God Himself or from people-- everything comes by His ordination or permission. If I mean to be obedient and submissive to the Lord because He is my Lord, I must not forget that whatever He allows to happen becomes, for me, His will at that moment. Perhaps it is someone else's sinful action, but if God allows it to affect me, He wills it for my learning. The need to wait is, for me, a form of chastening. God has to calm me down, make me shut up and look to Him for the outcome.

His message to me every day
Is wait, be still, trust, and obey.

And this brings me to the matter of counseling. Upon our return from a trip to England I found a pile of mail, so many letters asking me what to do about things, for example: a wife's critical spirit, unemployment, a wife who has abandoned husband and children, a single mother doing a job she hates, an unfaithful husband, a woman (who tells me she is Spirit-filled) having an affair with her pastor, a farmer who'd like a wife, a mother-in-law who is nasty to her daughter-in-law, a stepson who is angry because "we don't spend enough money on his children," a wife who snaps at her husband each time he tries to snuggle up, and a husband who "drinks like a fish, curses like a sailor, and says he loves God."

I wish I could write the same letter to everybody: Wait patiently for the Lord. He will turn to you and hear your cry. It is amazing how clear things become when we are still before Him, not complaining, not insisting on quick answers, only seeking to hear His word in the stillness, and to see things in His light. Few are willing to receive that sort of reply. "Too simplistic" is the objection. One listener to my radio program, Gateway to Joy, wrote, "I got so upset at what you were saying I ripped the earphones out and aid, 'I'll do what I want to do!'" But there are those who can say, "This is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation" (Isaiah 25:9, KJV). Here are two testimonies:

"I've lost my mother, my brother, my husband, and my baby. My song is More Love to Thee, O Christ."

"God picked up the scraps and pieces and made us whole--a whole woman, a whole man, a whole marriage."

Friday, October 27, 2006

40 days of God's promise - Day 1

God has written hundreds and hundreds of promises in the Bible. Sometimes, they are for a specific person. Other times, they are for a specific group of people like the Israelites. But God's promises, based on the Living Word, can also be true for every believer. I just wana remember one promise everyday and be inspired by the truth that God is good all the time.

TODAY'S PROMISE: Need I say more? :-) Each one of us is unique and special before God. Therefore, what He plans for me is always different from what He plans for others. And so with you, dear friend. Think about it.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Enjoying the roller coaster ride

The Descent
Originally uploaded by gwENvision.

A wise person is one who at least survives and at most enjoys it. -- anonymous

If I updated my blog yesterday, I would have written a completely different thing. I would probably have started with a question: How do you survive a roller coaster ride? By that of course, I meant the proverbial roller coaster of life.

I am just plain tired. Physically and emotionally. Workload has been crazy. The health of our kids have not been too good. There is no medical facility in this country that can diagnose the strange nosebleeding of our little girl... Blah-blah-blah...blah-blah-blah... I can rant and rant.

But then again, is life really that miserable? How miserable can it get when people you don't even know suddenly calls out of nowhere to say they are praying for you or your family? Or angels disguised as either friends, family or total strangers sending in help of different kinds?

Isn't it just too myopic to see beyond the here and now?

Everything is about points of view, Pastor Ed Lapiz tells our Bible class this morning.

Try looking at another direction and you'll see a different view. A sailing ship may look smaller and smaller to the sight of a man on the wharf. But to those on the other side of the ocean, the ship gets bigger and bigger.

And so also with the challenges in life. You can either fight the tide and be miserable, or flow with it and enjoy every moment. I would rather chose the latter.

Why does God bring you to difficult situations? Surely, it is not to punish you. God is a loving God and He never desires for you to suffer. In fact, it grieves Him to see His children suffer.

But why? Maybe because He knows you are most likely to do something to turn your situation around. Or maybe because He wants to show you once again that He is the God of your lives. He is in control of everything. He is the source of all things. In Him and through Him, all things are possible.

For indeed, how can you see the good things when you don't see the bad? How can you experience His miracle when you still have something to cling on? How can you experience healing when you are not sick? How can you bask in His grace when you don't feel any need? How can you rely on His strength when you are not weak?

As the Wise Man once said, "there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven..."

Really and truly, this too, will pass. In the meantime, enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Please pray for Star

Praises be to God, from whom all good things come from! Since we started an email brigade for our 7-year-old Star, help has been pouring in from near and far, even from people we don't personally know.

We give thanks and glory to God for them. May they be blessed a thousandfold.

God willing, Star and I will be able to leave for Hongkong end of the month or first week of November at the latest. This week, Star (and her Kuya and Ate) has periodical exams and so I will only be able to bring her to the Department of Foreign Affairs to apply for passport next week. We also decided to have her further blood tests done by next week so she can concentrate on her test and doesn't get disturbed by all the trips to the hospital.

We'd like to ask you to partner with us in prayers.
* for Star's nosebleeding to stop
* for provisions that we can leave for Hongkong by 1st week of November at the latest
* for the doctors to clear her of von Willebrand disease
* for complete healing of whatever causes the nosebleeding
* for strength for Star, that in all these she's experiencing, she will only remember the love of Jesus through people around her and not the pain and inconvenience this nosebleeding brings her
* for us, her parents and siblings, that we will be able to shower her with all support, understanding, love and care

We know God has great plans for Star. She has been our family's prayer warrior since she was very young. She may not completely understand what she's going through right now, but we know when she grows older, she will praise God for what He has done in her life.

Monday, October 16, 2006

As sure as the sun rises

Sicilian sunrise 3.
Originally uploaded by Patrick Lavin.
Faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of things you do not see. - Hebrews 11:1

Our church has just started a series called "Hall of Faith," a very timely topic indeed. As we go through one trial after another the past months, I've been asking God -- am I true to myself? Why am I so confident amidst all that we're facing? Is my confidence for real?

With all sincerity, I can say yes. God has performed just too many miracles in our lives for me to doubt His faithfulness. I used to live a life apart from Him and what a catastrophe it was! But when I entrusted my life to Him and completely relied in His goodness no matter what the circumstances are, I see His beauty unfold before my very eyes.

Faith doesn't come easy. Sometimes God brings us through a dark valley, says one of my favorite authors Bob Sorge. But it is always THROUGH, not IN. God doesn't leave us in the valley to suffer but brings us through it, to learn.

God has promised us that He will never leave us nor forsake us.1 So we can say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid."2

Sunday, October 15, 2006

About Star

Few weeks ago, I wrote about my daughter Star's nosebleeding episode. It's been over a month now that she's nosebleeding almost daily, sometimes up to three times a day. At the time I wrote that entry, we were still waiting for the results of her bloodtests. When we finally got the results, the hematologist said there was nothing to worry about. While a bit anemic, her blood seemed to be okey. What a relief!

But our relief, it turned out was shortlived. When the bleeding continued, we decided to seek another opinion. We felt that even though the ENT and the first hematologist both said there was nothing to worry about, daily episodes of bleeding for a month by now is not normal. Star's pediatrician also thought so and so she asked us to see another hematologist -- Dr. Mary Chua, the founder of the Hemophilia Association of the Philippines.

Earlier on, as I mentioned, I already had apprehensions about the nosebleeding. My mother died of profuse bleeding while undergoing operation for mayoma, an otherwise common condition. We were told she had infantile genes that made it difficult to stop her bleeding. She died on the operating table. She was 51 at the time of her death, leaving us all six siblings in our teens and early 20s motherless.

My eldest sister had profuse bleeding during her first childbirth and almost died. My other older sister has very heavy menstrual bleeding since adolescence. Our uncle (my mother's brother) almost died of bleeding while undergoing tonsilectomy. In my father's side, one of my nephews (by my first cousin) has hemophilia. This bleeding problem in our family, I now figured out, could also explain why all my three kids were born prematurely.

All these factors, it turned out, make Star a candidate for von Willebrand disease. While a common kind of blood disorder with about the same prevalence as hemophilia, it occurs to only about 1% to 3% of the population. Most of the time, it is hereditary. Unfortunately, were told, there is no hospital or medical facility yet in the country capable of detecting this. The doctor advised us to bring Star to Hongkong or Singapore so she can be properly diagnosed and given the right intervention.

In our bible study group, I shared with my cellmates what I always tell God when I encounter difficulties. After I pray, I say, "God, it's not my problem anymore. It's Your problem now." Then, I sit back and just wait upon Him.

And truly, when we wait in confidence for Him to work things out for us, we will be amazed by what He does.

I really don't know why we are going through this now. But one thing is for sure, all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.

Upon the suggestion of a friend, we started an email brigade for Star, urging help of any form -- foremost for prayers, then referrals, spare dollars, etc. For instance, we learned that Mabuhay Miles can be given away. Or for those who have a spare dollar or, they can probably send it. We are just so overwhelmed with the response. Love, prayers and help have been pouring in since the first hour that I sent the email, even from people we don't personally know. Friends of friends (who got forwarded emails from friends) texted and emailed to ask how they could send help for Star. God is truly amazing! May God bless them a thousandfold.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Tranquility amidst the storm

Originally uploaded by imapix.
Ni hao! Life has been so crazy the past two weeks. Too many things seemed to happen at the same time. Good and bad. There was Milenyo's grand albeit unwelcome visit which turned out to be real eye-opener for most of us. Then there was the AIDS convention in Davao City which I got so busy with the past month.

By God's amazing grace, the convention (especially the UN part) went well and I will share some insights another time. I got high with the successful launching of UNICEF's Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS campaign Friday. Hats off to the Davao City AIDS Council for their active involvement in raising public awareness on the HIV and AIDS pandemic. Dr. Nick Alipui, UNICEF's country representative (our boss), who flew in for the convention was pleased and it made everyone in the HIV/AIDS programme team breathe with relief.

I started Saturday on a high note though so tired physically from all the preparations. Middle of the day, my husband texted that one of my friends from GMA7, Dan Campilan, died of car accident. Dan and I covered Edsa II together (he was still with RPN 9 and I was with Inquirer). Later on, as GMA 7 reporter, he would cover Bro. Eddie and so we would have long chats. May this year, I invited him to visit Santa Ana, Cagayan, where the husband of my friend P is mayor. Dan enjoyed the trip so much that he and his crew extended their stay. He said he just loved the place and thanked me no end. But my friend and her husband were more grateful -- Santa Ana got featured in GMA 7 at least four times -- no mean feat for a small town.

I felt sad upon hearing Dan's passing on. He was one of the few reporters who remained grounded despite their perceived "fame." Because we were both Cebuanos, we naturally clicked right away. Moreso when we found out we had common friends and we used to attend the same church.

Dan was the third friend in media who passed on to the next world. September 2004, my daughter's ninong -- Boyet Aravilla (of Philippine Star), succumbed to cardiac arrest. Boyet was such a dear. Two months ago, it was Hazel Recheta. And now Dan. Sad, really sad.

Then another gush came Saturday evening, this time in our home. My husband told me Ben (our son) has Primary Koch's Infection. He has been complaining of backpains so we had him x-rayed. And we are not yet done with our daughter Star's bleeding problem.

Far away from my kids, some of my colleagues tried to comfort me. One said it's alright to tell my kids that I worried about their health. Another told me to go through healing session for the whole family. Thank God for friends and colleagues. How doubly difficult life would be without them!

We've gone through so many storms in life. Ben is one living proof of how we survived a tough one. (Read the Birthing of Ben). I still get worried at times, but only for a moment. So many times I have said how I've seen God's faithfulness up close and personal. If God made Ben survive cardiac arrest and woke him up from coma, then there's no reason why He can't heal Ben from his infection or Star from her nosebleeding.

I believe the literal storm in Milenyo, and the proverbial storms of different forms, carry messages from Above. They hit us where we are most vulnerable. And so, it opens our eyes to our weaknesses. When we realize that (what our weaknesses are), then we are able to decide -- to do or not to do?

Storms are difficult. We get shaken. But only when we get shaken do we really get to appreciate God's role in our lives. As God said, "My power is made perfect in weakness."1 It may sound weird to some, but truly now, I learned to thank God when I go through difficulties. Because as always, after the storm is the rainbow -- the promise of a new beginnning.