Wednesday, August 25, 2010

On Getting Places

Our friends got married last Saturday. The wedding was remarkably kind to young children. (Thanks Ivan and Sherri!)

It took place in a park, completed with a zoo! The pavilion had all the benefits of an outdoor wedding (overlooking a lake!), but was cool and shaded. A good fraction of the crowd was children, yet their voices and laughter were not the least bit distracting. Crayons and coloring booklets were distributed before the ceremony.

It was incredible. I was grateful.

The zoo had giraffes and polar bears. It was not an opportunity to be missed. Emeth made sure of it. He repeated the phrase "see giraffe!" at least 77 times that afternoon.

Walking around in the heat, I enjoyed every look of wonderment in his face. Like Adam did in the beginning, he named all the animals.

When we got to the giraffes, he proudly declared: "Emeth found giraffe self!" (translation: I found the giraffe myself!")

Never mind that he was sitting on daddy's shoulders.
Never mind that daddy's back kindly bore 30-pounds for hours.
Never mind that it was daddy who walked everywhere.


I am convinced that the Lord gave me children so that I might see myself more clearly.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"I will be praying for you..."

I am beginning to think that I need to have a "Hans' sermons" label as I am noticing a trend...

OK. Done.

Matthew 9:35-10:15
Scene One.
Jesus had compassion upon the crowds, seeing that they are like sheep without a shepherd -- harassed and helpless. He instructed the disciples to pray that the Lord will send laborers into the harvest.

Scene Two.
He called his twelve disciples and gave them authority to cast out demons, and heal every disease and affliction.

Scene Three.
He sent them out.

The disciples are the laborers.

Note to self #1:
The next time I say "I will be praying for you,"
there is the possibility that I would be the answer to my own prayer.

Note to self #2:
Do not use "I am praying for you" lightly and without commitment.

Note to self #3:
Before even telling people this, I need to ask myself how I can serve them in their situation.

p/s His sermon had an entirely different emphasis. He only merely mentioned this in the passing.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


I have a relatively boring conversion story, except for the part about how I was redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, delivered from eternal damnation, and obtained the hope of everlasting glory. Apart from that, I have a pretty boring story.

All of this is to say: I love listening to other people's conversion stories. I love hearing them and thinking about them.

There are two stories I think about often, because they make me chuckle in wonder.

We have a friend from Singapore.
His mom was a practical Buddhist, and his dad was a traditional Hindu.
He chose to be an atheist.
The more superior way, he thought to himself.
And then,... he had a crush. (hmmm...)
On a Christian girl, (ahh...)
my dear friend Deborah,
who rejected him. (go Deborah!)
So, he decided to visit her church. (so typical)
Bored and lost during the sermon, he flipped through a pew Bible.
The Lord met him there.

In the maps.
Yes -- the ones in the back, the ones that were hardly ever used.
"Maps of actual places?" he wondered,
"Christianity isn't just based on myths? God in human history?"
He is now a full-time pastor.
Deborah married him, and they have two little boys.

Listen and be afraid,
the Lord God can use anything to turn hearts to himself --
boyish infatuation, maps, and all.

We have this other friend, an Igbo woman from Nigeria.
Bold. Intelligent. Articulate.
A PhD degree from France -- rare among her community.
Long braids. Make-up. Jewelries. Her tall figure flaunted the latest fashion.
After rejecting a long line of suitors,
she married a doctor from a powerful family.
Her earthly edifice looked expensive.
One night, a wave came crashing in and washed everything away.
She was accused of adultery,
forced into a divorce.
The name she made for herself -- shattered.
The Lord met her there.

In her devastation.
She shaved her long braids (her hair remained this way, even when we met).
She washed her face (never again did she apply make-up).
She became a secretary in a Christian organization (for which she was definitely over-qualified).

Listen and be afraid,
the Lord God changes people --
cleans faces, purifies hearts.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Beyond my wildest dreams

I am grateful everyday that the Lord did not grant me the man of my dreams. Not that I had such a man, or such dreams. Though I think people should. No, I did not know what I was looking for, but the Lord gave me Hans. He is beyond my wildest imagination.

We met during my intentional year of repentance. I got lost during my years in college. I had forgotten who I was. I was tired, and I didn't want to not be lost anymore. So, I set aside one year to hope that I would be found.

I met Hans the summer after my graduation, though we didn't start talking until months later. I told Hans about my lost and wasted years, and he told me that he was not interested in who I was or what I had done. "I am only interested in knowing who you are right now" was what he said. I thought he was kind, and very sweet to say that, but I don't think I believed him.

But here we are, seven years later, married, with two children, and he has not once asked me about the past. Not once. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine a husband like this, who would love me in this way.

As I was getting Emeth ready for bed tonight, I thanked him for being such a good boy. He then recounted something wrong he did this morning, reminding me that he hasn't been good.

I paused. The Lord is gently teaching me this lesson about forgiveness, again.

I have forgiven him. I do not want to remember. It gives me so much pleasure to tell him that mommy has forgiven him, and we are now going to forget about the whole thing.

My husband loves me. It matters not to him who I was before I met him.

Lord, teach me about your grace, for I cannot imagine it.
I do not know how far the east is from the west.
Those who are forgiven much, love much.
Those who are forgiven little, love little.
Help me to know how much I have been forgiven.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

In Defense of Being Busy (Rant #1)

I walked into the bathroom and noticed puddles of water near the toilet.
"Emeth, did your play with the toilet brush again?"

This is what happens when my child is bored -- he gets himself in trouble. When I do not keep his little hands and feet busy, and direct his attention toward constructive activities, his little mind quickly fills with ideas, often mischievous ones.

Being busy can be a good, and even necessary, thing.

Unfortunately, busyness has gotten quite the bad reputation, especially among Christian circles. Often, it is used as an excuse for "not doing devotions" or not coming to church. There are many silly jokes about how busyness is a "weapon of Satan" or "the devil himself." I think someone ought to correct this over-simplification.

First of all, the opposite of busyness -- being idle -- gets us in trouble. The book of Proverbs speaks against sloth, again and again. I do not recall, however, the Bible speaking against being busy. Lady Wisdom is a very busy woman -- established and fruitful in her home (Proverbs 31), whereas Madame Folly is loud and flighty, here and there, gossiping and seducing.

If boredom gets little boys in trouble, idleness gets adults into trouble all the more. When we are lazy/procrastinating/bored, in other words -- not busy, we indulge in entertainment. Each of us has places we go to fulfill our own pleasures, where we are at the center of the universe.

So. Being busy can be good. We should be busy.
The question, then, should be:
Why I am busy? What is the reason for my being busy?

Monday, August 2, 2010

My Burmese Uncle

People I meet along the climb up this mountain are precious to me. The first moment when I knew Hans will always be someone special was when I realized how much I loved having him as a traveling companion. Hopefully, we will be walking side by side for a long, long time. Meanwhile, I will attempt to record the footprints of some of those we met along the way.

I had a neighbor from Myanmar (Burma). He was like an uncle to me.

He was a Christian from the Karen tribe, a group who suffered much persecution for their faith. Where he came from, people traveled on foot. On Sundays, they trod upon many hills to worship.

He was dark and thin, a quiet man with kind eyes. One day, when we were grocery shopping, I asked him what was the monthly household income in his community . He thought for a moment and answered, "Ten dollars." I can't remember how I responded, but I can almost hear myself exclaiming something that made me looked quite silly.

He once showed me a picture of his family. With his wife, they had three children and adopted five. Every year, they took care of at least four to five homeless children who lost their parents due to the persecution.

Because we lived in an intentional community, some of the chores in the compound were done by volunteers. In the fall, I saw him outside raking leaves; in the winter, shoveling snow; in the spring, planting flowers. He was that kind of neighbor -- the kind who made people throw open their windows and shout friendly greetings.

He was heading back to Myanmar two days before our wedding. When we were saying our goodbyes, he took out a red envelope.

I wept.
He insisted.
We still have that ten dollar note.