Friday, December 24, 2010
Back in the US, every Christmas Eve, we would wake up and go have Christmas Eve breakfast at my Grandma A's house, then that evening when we came home from Grandma and Grandpa's house, we would have a quiet settled family Christmas, just me, Momma, Daddy, and Bub...this year, that is all quite different. Here in the Philippin*s, Christmas Eve is a party! It's almost 11 pm and there are still very loud fireworks going off, I've had texts from friends who are feasting now, and some of those here at GH are in the next room screaming at the TV playing wii, planning on staying up all night.
The difference makes my mind reel...Christmas Eve to me is a quiet peaceful relaxing time, and here I am, relaxing and peaceful in the midst of partying buzzing nation.
Everything is still so new to me, this whole new world that God has brought me to, this all-new life. I can look and see the life that I would've planned for myself, and this life that God has given me is so much better... it leaves me speechless. I know exactly what I would be doing if I had planned my life, and yea.. it would be ok, but God's plans were so much greater! I'm soo soo thankful that He stepped in and took control of my life, that He loosened my grip and lifted my control.
This life is raw... there is literally life and death every day here. We have a baby less than a week old sleeping in the next room, life. Then a few days ago, we got word that one of our kid's siblings in a near-by squatter community died during the week.. simply from dehydration, death.
This evening we went to a Christmas Eve service, and the speaker spoke about how unlikely the words Merry Christmas are, how they don't really go together at all. Merry meaning happy and Christmas, the mas part meaning the death of Christ. So it's like being happy about the death of Christ.. how it doesn't seem to fit..yet through God's plan it does fit. We celebrate the birth of Jesus this time of year, but we remember that He came to this Earth for one reason, to die. He came to die and take the punishment for our sin. ("So.. Jesus gots a spanking?!?!" .. you'll have to read through my blog to find the story that goes along with that quote! :) ). But that's exactly what we are doing, we are celebrating the death, we celebrate that He was born.. born to die.. for us.
I have a blog post that I'm working on, I've been working on it for a while, and I'm not sure when the right time will come for me to post it, but it's something that has been stirring in my heart for a while now. There has just been so much reflection and remembering in my life and mind lately.
Well, ok, I think I'm done rambling for now.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
I'm getting used to the 'new feel' of Christmas.. the days of bundling up with cute scarves and gloves are far from me now for the time being... now come the new days of walking in the scorching bright sun to the grocery store on the corner for some cool refreshment. I was walking yesterday and in my head there is still so much clashing with the idea of Christmas time and the feeling of summer heat.
The songs that I grew up on being normal.. like White Christmas, Jingle Bells (talking about a sleigh in the snow), Let it Snow... all those.. are doing an excellent job of just putting a little smile on my face, as I giggle at the irony.. the thought of a white snowy Christmas here in Quezon City??? ... I don't think so. But.. back in Shep.. that's definately a possibility.. since they are already having snow days. Oh, how I miss the cold. I loved getting all bundled up, loved the pretty scarves, and pulling the gloves over my frozen fingers... but now I'm enjoying wearing a cute dress on Sundays, wearing short-sleeved shirts to do my Christmas shopping, and being able to walk down the street at any time because of lovely heat and sunshine overhead.
However, it simply goes to remind me, that no matter what your circumstances are, cold or hot, snow or sweat, that Christmas is still Christmas for only one reason. It is the time of year that we celebrate the mighty love of our Creator for us, by His sending His son Jesus to be born into this world. He came to simply give all, so that we might have life.
What a scarifice...for our simple human lives.
So, I pray that this Christmas season, you'll enjoy the blessings in your life that God has given you, but never forget the reason we celebrate. May we spend this time together worshipping our Creator and Savior and giving Him all the Glory.
~ To God Be the Glory!
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Ellaine comes and sits by my side on the bed, and put her arm around my back and lays her head on my shoulder.. "Ate Brittany...why? What's wrong?" I asked her what she meant... "Why Ate Brittany? Why are you crying???"
Oh dear Ellaine, I'm not crying sweetie, I'm just tired and I have some allergies, but don't worry about me, I'm not crying...this was my response to her sweet concern.
Not believing what I was truthfully telling her.. She looked me in the eyes and sighed and layed her head back on my shoulder and started rubbing my back "Don't worry Ate Brittany, it'll be ok. Don't cry." And there we sat, with her arms around me rubbing my back and holding me...
And something happened in that moment.. I remembered.. that's exactly how my mother used to do when I was young. Whenever we were upset, she would sit and just hold me and comfort me.
It seems on many days now that I'm out of the season of being comforted by physical arms. This past week I got a glimpse of that season for a few minutes... and I'm thankful.
I'm thankful for those few minutes. I'm thankful for that sweet girl. I think of her life, and all the trials and hardship she has faced in her young life.
...and I'm praying. I'm praying for her future and the future of all of the precious hearts I'm daily surrounded by.
At first I thought I was being comforted for no reason at all, but it was afterwards that I realized... I've missed that feeling. The feeling of another person just truly wrapping their arms around you and just comforting you. I'm grateful that the Lord sees my needs and my heart even when I am unaware...
~ To God Be the Glory!
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Thankful for the 2 best friends I girl could ask for. Always ready to listen, always with Godly advice.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
I remember coming back from my second mission trip to Venezuela, on the longer plane ride and knowing that God was calling me to a life of full-time missions. I remember with tears in my eyes saying "Ok God... ok..if that's what You want.. ok." I remember telling my family and grandparents...
She might remember that odd white girl that put her arm around her when she heard the news...
I remember coming home from that trip to a new room,... with bright yellow walls, flowers everywhere, blue ceiling with clouds, new decorations, and bright colors everywhere.
She... she will remember nights sleeping on the street.
Me and her.. we had very different lives.. oh but the Lord is in charge of all. It was a calling I answered at the age of 14 that has brought me to cross the path of this 14 year old girl...
We have totally different lives, but now we have one thing in common... we've both said goodbye to our babies this year.
At the young age of 14, this girl became a mother. Living on the street, the family not knowing when she gave birth... she went through it all...alone. The child was left to sleep on the streets, not getting the proper care or nutrition...mostly because a simple lack of knowledge. A child taking care of a child, trying to make it living on the streets.
By the time 3 week old AJ was brought to GH, it was too late, he was too far gone, too dehydrated... he was already on his way to Jesus. He was brought to us around 7 pm ish.. and at 9:51, he went to Jesus.
Now all I can do is put my arm around her... I don't know her...but I feel for her. I feel slightly connected to her. I don't know the language enough to tell her that I'm sorry for the pain she is feeling, that I'm sorry she's having to travel this horrendous road through life...so I just sat, with my arm around her back and listen to what I know is the message that her child has died.
She's 14...I can't imagine.
Oh, LORD, reach to her, comfort her in this dark time of her life. Reveal Yourself to her and draw her close to You, that she might know You as her LORD and Savior. Amen
~ To God Be the Glory!
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Friday night, I went to church and everyone could just tell that there was something off, and they asked if I was ok and all, and I replied, 'Yea, I'm fine, just a very emotional past few weeks.' And I started thinking about it and was like 'Oh wow God... you really are making sure I never forget that You and You alone are going to be the One who gets me through all of this' because without Him, I probably couldn't handle a single one of these things, much less, all together. In the past month I've
- Said the official goodbye and moved away from home... to the other side of the world. Leaving family, friends, places, memories etc.
- Said a very very hard goodbye to my parents. And for once, they were doing the leaving and I just stayed behind and they got on the plane.
- Celebrated what would have been my daughter's 1st birthday.
- Witnessed the bittersweet (for us) adoption of one of our little ones. K left with her Forever Family this past week. Rejoicing in God's work, but also stunned by our own loss.
- Those are the main things, but there are a couple other more things that are also running around my head...
I think the word I used for bullet #4 is appropriate, I am stunned. Just stunned.
Stunned because the last weekend I woke up and was thinking about what I would do with Momma and Daddy today... forgetting that they left Friday night.
Stunned because there are always gonna be days when I just need to be held in big hug by my brother. His hugs make everything all right.. they are magic.. I'm certain of it.
Stunned because my 2 best friends back home are going through 2 different joys of life, things we all dreamed of... and I'm not there to witness the growth of new life within another ... and I'm not there to help plan the special days.
Stunned because, I can't even begin to describe how my arms ache to hold her again. How a month was just too short.
Stunned because in the midst of my pain and saddness, I'm surrounded by children who have never known the love of a mother and father, much less that of a Momma and Daddy. Kids who for their first years won't have the memories that are my nightly slide show in my mind. Memories of picnics in the yard w/ BBQ chips with Momma. Memories of when Daddy first taught you how to ride a 2-wheeler in the front yard on a girly pink and white bike. Memories of sneaking upstairs with Bub at 1 am to get a midnight snack or a movie, or playing hide n go seek in the dark outside on summer nights. That realization hits me like a ton of bricks, how dare I be sad for what I've lost, when these precious children have never had a taste of it to begin with.. instead, most of them have had much much worse to remember.Stunned because today as we are leaving Malabon, Ate hands me a baby, I've seen her a couple times before, been to her house a couple times. I don't know much of her story, just that she has some obvious special needs, she is 9 years old (tho she looks 3 or 4) and from what I understand, her mother up and left. I can't imagine what this little girl has gone through. Her eyes are just haunted with pain. As one person said today 'Even her face is sad,... its just a sad face.' And its true, even when she gives you that tiny little smile.. her face is still sad.
Stunned at how much God loves me. Stunned at how He has planned this life specifically for me, that He cared enough to change the plans I had for myself, for something so much greater.. His plans for me.
I'll be honest, I don't understand it, not one bit of it. Most all of life makes no sense to me at all. But this I know... God is in control. He is sovereign. In Him I will trust and in Him will I find my comfort and my peace. When all else fails... ALL ELSE FAILS... He will not leave me. I will cling to Him.
~ To God Be the Glory!
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
One year ago today, the LORD gave the world a precious gift. Though the world surrounding this precious gift didn't want it... They didn't want her...
Such a heartbreaking start...its undescibable knowing her short little life started out that way. Makes you want to question the ways of God. Makes you want to question all of mankind.
But I can't bring myself to question the LORD... because it was when that world didn't want her... it was then that the LORD gave me the biggest blessing of my life asides from Him adopting me, He allowed me to adopt her.
In the weeks following my dear Pamela's journey to Jesus' arms, I was so scared that I would eventually forget. That she would start to fade.
Now, the LORD has confirmed that my fears were and still are all in vain. I will still have those fears. But Pamela is more a part of me now than ever. My love for her continues to grow. Her memory there in my heart for good. I look at her pictures and I remember the feel of her little hand around my pinky, I remember when we first got her, walking around the first floor with her, telling her what all the pictures were. My body shudders at the memory of those long nights, watching each hour come and go. But my heart has the strongest memory of all. My heart is forever changed.
The LORD blessed me with a dream the other night, which I'm not going to share here, but I will share about the message of it. I will see her again, He will one day place her back in my arms as we both are in His arms.
Today as I celebrate her birthday without her, I can't imagine but think... Heaven is the best place she could be.
So my Princess, my dear Pamela, Happy 1st Birthday sweetheart! Today it will be hard to be here apart from you. Mommy misses you with all my heart, but I would not wish you for a second back on this earth. You are in the arms of Jesus, and there is no where better or greater than that. I know you are happy, full of joy worshipping our LORD and Savior. Looking forward to the day when you'll be in my arms again.
Me and Lucy walking hand in hand
Me and Lucy never wanna end
Just another moment in your eyes
I'll see you in another life in Heaven
Where we never say goodbye
(excerpt of lyrics from the song, linked above, Lucy by Skillet)
I heard this song first this past summer, as my dear friend Jordan was going through similar cicumstance, watching her child, Lucy's time on this earth come to an end.
~ To God Be the Glory!
( To see more of Pamela's story, start reading my posts from January 2010.)
Thursday, October 28, 2010
I knew it would probably come eventually...
I mean at some point, it just becomes ineveitable...
Impossible to avoid...
And here it is...
My sweet precious toddlers (well one in particular) has learned a new word... and is delighting in using the word... no.
Right now, Mr A is still just testing it out.. but he's been testing that word inparticular more and more the last couple days. Each time, I try to gently explain that its not nice and respectful, that he needs to obey... but honestly.. ya'll know.. how often does that 'reason' work???
So... we'll see how it goes...right now that adorable cute aspect is still there...but I know it won't last for long. Soon instead of a no.. it will be a NO!
Oh LORD, give me wisdom and grace. This is yet another new chapter in my life, lead me through this chapter as You have done in the past, never leaving me, always faithful.
~ To God Be the Glory!
Monday, October 25, 2010
As most of you know, pictures do not do sunrises or sunsets justice. This was the sun coming up over Manila this morning...absolutely breathtaking. Even in the midst of the hussle and bussle of the city, the smog and pollution, only intensify the beauty, making God's creation look like something straight from a storybook. Coming up, the start of a new day for this very busy very crowded city.... oh how I LOVE IT!!!
~ To God Be the Glory!
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
As Caleb Chapman talked about at the beginning of the night, its as if the Lord shifted a part of the events over the past months into focus tonight; there is still much blurriness, but a part of it was shifted into focus tonight. And the Lord has laid that focused part on my heart, giving me a new message and story to share.
I was listening to Steven and Mary Beth and Caleb tonight and I know a portion of what they've gone through. I see how they have trusted and relied on God the whole way through this, and I myself, have turned and had to rely solely upon the LORD, and the LORD is faithful to see us and to continue to lead me through and out of the pit.
But I have also seen people who have gone through the unthinkable and have not come through it; people that have simply fallen into the pit and never found the strength to climb out. Its as if they gave up and quit life. And I simply asked, half already knowing the answer, how, when facing the unthinkable (in all its various forms) do we come to such different responses?
And in the middle of singing, is when the LORD kinda just whispered in my ear 'Remember???... Don't you remember?? All those years ago? The promise?' And in my mind I flash backed to years ago, when I was a teenager, just starting to grasp what the decision that I had made when I was 8 years old meant. I remember when I first started to understand the love that God had for me, the compassion He has shown me and the ultimate sacrifice He paid for me... I remember when I first started to truly and intentionally worship my Savior. With that realization came a love for the LORD, and out of that love I promised that with whatever came I would always, ALWAYS love Him; that my response to whatever HE BROUGHT my way would be WORSHIP. And I don't take promises lightly, so when I was in the process of making that commitment, I let my mind wander... to What if...? What if I was faced with the unthinkable? At that time there were only a few options for unthinkable to take form, and I thought about each, often to the point of tears, and I, knowing that God was sovereign and that He loved His children, I committed whole-heartedly to the promise that WHATEVER MAY COME, I WILL LOVE YOU LORD. MY RESPONSE WOULD BE WORSHIP.
Remember??? Don't you remember now sweetheart?? Now remember another moment... I heard the Lord gently whispering again, and again my mind flashed to one of my trips to Venezuela when we read the book The Cross Centered Life, and then again to BLBC's Jeru Project, when we read a follow-up book, Living the Cross Centered Life, in one of the chapters in both of these books, the author, C. J. Mahaney, talks about not listening to your heart but talking to your heart. Our emotions can be deceiving, and we can't trust them, instead we have to speak to our hearts the truths that we know, truths that the LORD has promised us.
Remember?? was the whisper again and a tiny bit of blurriness shifted into focus. My own reaction, as with many others out there, was to rely on the LORD, was not only my relationship with God, but also because I had made that commitment many years earlier. I had told myself what my reaction would be if faced with the unthinkable. So.. when the time came to sit and watch my daughter slowly fade away, I remembered the promise. I remembered, even though I may not 'feel' as I did when I was on those mountains; I may not 'feel' like looking to Him; I still remember the promise that I made, I remember to look a little deeper, past the 'feelings' to the joy that I have that comes only from the LORD; I remember the truths, the truths I promised to remember, that He would never, NEVER leave me nor forsake me, He is ALWAYS faithful; I remembered ... WHATEVER MAY COME, I WILL LOVE YOU LORD. MY RESPONSE WOULD BE WORSHIP.
So I want to challenge everyone to decide today how you will react when faced with the unthinkable, whatever it may be. I'm not saying dwell on it day and night, but think and decide for yourself, if that time comes and you are indeed faced with the unthinkable, decide now how you will react, because if the time comes, your feelings WILL be deceiving.
~ To God Be the Glory!
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
As the night started, I was thinking, how grateful I am that the LORD allowed (predestined) me to be home during the time that the Chapmans would be touring through Louisville. Only the LORD knows how much of a comfort the words on the album Beauty Will Rise, my Steven Curtis Chapman have been; how they have continually reminded me of God's promises; how the lyrics put words to the thoughts and feelings that were reeling inside of me surround my sweet time with Pamela.
Tonight as we were closing the night in worship of our God, nearly everyone was in tears, simply thinking of how God has been faithful in delivering us from the various valleys that we've been through; for me it was a time of remembering the LORD's constant presence during that time, when I went through the darkest valley I have ever been through. Tears had already formed a steady stream on my cheeks, and when Steven had finished one of his songs, he started with a song many of us know It is Well With My Soul;... my thoughts when he started playing that song, 'At least it's not Pamela's song...I can at least sing this... if he started playing her song right now, I would really lose it.' For those of you who do not remember my updated 1 month post Pamela's journey to Jesus, it is here: http://louisvillegal.blogspot.com/2010/03/march-28-2010.html .
Well...wouldn't you know it...a couple minutes later the beginning of that very song started playing. I sat down and no longer was there a steady stream, but a river of tears. I sobbed. I sobbed, hard, the hardest I have cried in 7 months, since I was last with my daughter. I have surely cried, as many of those who have been around me in these last months can testify; but I have not sobbed as I did tonight.
There is not a day that goes by that I don't think of and miss my daughter, but on most days I don't dive into those memories, I intentionally don't go back mentally; I don't want to live in the past and dwell on the pain, when I know that the LORD has so many blessing in the present and that the pain for my little girl is gone, she is happy with Jesus. But on the rare occasions when I do just go back and dwell for a few minutes and reflect on the love that I still carry every day for her, I realize...even when she is in the arms of Jesus, I still love her more and more every day.
~ To God Be the Glory!
Friday, October 1, 2010
Oh how indebted I am to my Magnificent Savior and Father!! He gave his life for me, and then on top of that He continues to remain ever faithful and to lead me, and yet still on top of that, He continues to bless me everyday, so much more than anything I deserve, quite the opposite of what I deserve. I realize more and more every day how in love I am with my Creator and Savior, I don't live my life trying to fulfill some order, I don't live as a slave, I live as a child who loves her Glorious Savior and wants nothing more than to be in the center of His will, bringing Him Glory and showing others this wonderful relationship that I have and showing them that they can have that relationship also! That they too can have that joy deep down that no matter what, you know there is hope and joy in your Father that loves you!
~ To God Be the Glory!
Friday, September 24, 2010
Manila, Philippines was the farthest place from my mind. I never had a specific image or place, for a time I assumed it would be Venezuela, since that was all that I knew. Growing up in the country, I definately didn't expect to eventually be living in a HUGE city...
But, here I am years later after that plane ride at the age of 14, and now my prayers and wonderings are finally answered. Quezon City, Manila, Philippines is it. I have prayed through every step regarding the Philippines, since I first knew God was planning something, when I first started looking at possible International Mission Board (IMB) projects. I felt the LORD's confirmation as soon as I started praying. God has been so gracious and so faithful to answer my continual prayer of LORD, please just continue to confirm this in me. Please reconfirm this plan. LORD, it's not that I'm hesitant to do Your will, but I want to be totally sure that it is from You and not of my own wanting. I keep praying this prayer...and you'd think eventually I would just... stop. But I don't... even as He is continuing to confirm His decision.
So, as of now, I will be returning to the Philippines mid-October. For how long?? (As the question always goes) ... let's just say this... I currently have no return date in mind. Of course I would like to come back to the USA and visit my dear family and friends as God permits, but I don't have any intention of living in the USA until God intervenes and changes my direction again... which could easily be in a couple years, and if that would be His plan.. then I will go where He calls.
For those of you that know me or regularly check my blog for updates and are constantly in prayer on my behalf, I thank you so much! The LORD has truly blessed me beyond reason with the enormous amount of encouragement I've recieved. I believe more now than ever in the power of prayer to our Sovereign LORD, and I know that the LORD heard your prayers and there were many times that the LORD came to my rescue and turned circumstances around so quickly it nearly made me dizzy just watching Him work.
As excited as I am to be taking this step in my life, there are certainly some aspects to this decision that are heartbreaking to me and my family; but it is in those moments when we will be forced to our knees, in those moments when the LORD WILL BE our Comforter, our Strong Tower. He is always faithful, even when we have our days of doubt, HE WILL be with us; even on the days it seems all we want to do is cry, HE WILL be with us; even on the days where it seems our world is falling apart around us; HE WILL BE WITH US...and for that and in the midst of all situations, we will worship Him and trust in His Sovereign wisdom and plan.
~ To God Be the Glory!
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Today is ... RAMMY!!!
Rammy has been at GH for a couple years now, I first met this precious little boy in June 2009, on my first trip to the Philippines. When I first met him, Rammy didn't speak, didn't walk, and didn't really like interacting with the other kids that much at all..
but today Rammy is turning into a different child. He walks around... wobbly still... but he's walking everywhere, curious as any 3 year old and is playing more and more with the other kids! Rammy does have some mental delays, he has been diagnosed with cerebral palsey.
Rammy is such a sweetheart ( I know I say that about all of my toddlers,... but they all really are... I highly doubt sweeter kids exist anywhere else.... hehe!) Rammy is becoming so increasingly affectionate and is starting to 'jibber-jabber' more and more...which I love to listen to. He has a certain doll that he loves to carry around and care for and will often bring the doll to me so that I can 'baby-sit' while he goes and plays with other toys... so precious!!
As precious as he is today, its hard to believe his heartbreaking past... you see, Rammy was born 'different'. So, for that reason, he was unwanted here, abandoned at birth left in the hospital under the care of doctors and nurses that likewise didn't want to take care of an 'unwanted child'. Then... GH took over. At GH he recieved love, care and attention. The caregivers have really tried to work with Rammy to get him walking, and interacting with the other kids and if the pics above don't show you how happy of a boy he is now then the pic below surely will! I am constantly amazed at the backgrounds of some of these children and how cruel people can be... and I know...that is why the LORD has placed that specific calling upon my life, the same calling that was/is on Ate C's heart when she rescued Rammy, along with the nearly 40 other children at GH. The passionate heart for the abandoned, the neglected, the abused... for the orphan, for the heart of God.
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for Rammy and for saving his precious life, when so many people around him gave up on his life so early on! I thank You for keeping him and sustaining him, now and especially during those first months in the hospital, when no one else cared, You cared for Him, You were his Comfort and Protector. I thank You for Gentle Hands, for Ate C's heart of compassion for Rammy and the many other little ones that You, and You alone, have placed at Gentle Hands! I pray that You would continue to watch over this little one and I pray for his future Forever Family! I pray that You would join them together and that Rammy would know the love that You have for him and how You provided for him! I thank You LORD again.. I thank You for his life!
~ To God Be the Glory!