Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My 3am Friend!

Recently I have been thinking about different friendships in my life. Some are for a season, some have been for a life time, some started off promising but hit a road block and sputtered out but there is One friend that sticks closer than ever, my 3:00am Friend!. Thank you Jesus for your unfailing love!

A Devotional by: By Elizabeth Gunter Wallace
            There are all sorts of friends. There are work friends that you don't interact with much outside the office, church friends, college friends, and long-term friends. Then there are smaller subcategories of friends... the "help-you-move" friends and "take-you-to-the-airport" friends are a rare breed. Everyone needs at least one 3 a.m. friend to call when you are struggling in the middle of night, and they don't question why you called so late. This type of friend will drop everything to be with you while you grieve a loss. That's the truest of friends.

            Isaiah 57:15 says "For this is what the high and exalted One says- he who lives forever, whose name is holy: 'I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.' "

            Our English language doesn't do this verse justice. The way it has been translated makes it comes off sounding very religious and exclusive. God only lives with those who are contrite and humble. Contrite and humble? Hmmm that leaves me out. But if you dig into the meaning of the words, you see a much different picture.

            Listen to it this way. "For this is what the high and exalted One says- he who lives eternity, whose name is Holy: 'I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one whose spirit has been broken and crushed like a fine dust and with the ones whose spirit is depressed and low. I live with them to revive and bring life back to their depressed and low spirit and to revive and bring life back to the heart of those who are crushed and broken.' "

            The love and worship I have of God as I read this truth is hard to put into words. But with all that is within me I say "YES!" God, You are so high, exalted, so "other-than" that we as humans cannot look on Your glory. Your name is holy, and You rightfully live in Your high and holy place, and yet You also live with me, even when I am broken, crushed, and depressed in spirit. When I would like to hide in a hole and pull the hole in on top of myself, You know right where I am, and You are there with me. You live with me there to bring life back to my heart and spirit. All I know to say is Hallelujah! What a Father, Savior, Comforter, Healer, and the ultimate 3 a.m. Friend.

            Be blessed to hear your Father speak to you about his deep bonds with you, deeper than friendship, deep attachment to you with cords of unfailing love (Jer. 31:3; Hos. 11:4). Hear him speak to you about trust, faith, and love that is much deeper than just surviving.Spirit, hear the soft voice of your Father speaking in the core of your essence: you are the beloved, right where you are. On you his favor rests. He sees you as a precious being. Be blessed to know you were infinitely loved before you were wounded. That's the truth of your life. Your life is an unceasing "yes" to the fact that you are beloved because of God's great love, and you are an heir to his healing power.
          Your Father says, "I called you by name from the very beginning. You belong to me, and I know you as my own, and I am yours. I molded you in your mother's womb. I carved you in the palms of my Son. I hide you in the shadow of my embrace. You have my infinite tenderness, and I care for you intimately. I have counted every hair on your head, and wherever you go, I go with you. Wherever you rest, I keep watch. I give you food that will satisfy all your hunger and drink that will quench all your thirst.I will never hide my face from you. Nothing will ever separate us. Wherever you are, I am.Live your life as my redeemed child. You can reach out to true inner freedom and find it evermore fully."

Be blessed in the name of the high and exalted One whose name is holy,
who revives the spirit of the lowly and the heart of the contrite (Isa 57:15).

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Time for Reflection

I love this time between Christmas and New Year. Its a a time of intentional decompression ---a time to be still, to sit and cultivate more of a ''Mary heart'' --- here in Cambodia, it is important to be intentional to take time out, to find a place of rest and solitude. Some people go down to the beach, others stay closer to the city. But solitude is not determined by location, it is cultivated by a longing, a desire in the heart to reconnect with the One who knows us more intimately than anyone else because He has shaped and formed us and knew us even before one of our days came to pass.

One of the books I have been reading here is called Embracing Soul Care by Stephen Smith.  I love what he says about solitude: Something happens in solitude that cannot happen in community. Something happens that does not happen at any other time. In solitude, we experience only ourselves. Community offers us companionship. With friends, we share our thoughts, dreams and disappointments. Solitude extends the invitation only to God and we share only with Him. Solitude invites us to experience the ''oneness'' that Jesus prayed for in John 17:22, when he said ''that they may be one as We are one.'' There is a ''giving up'' when we practice solitude. We give up others and our dependency on them. We give up noise and our fascination with what we hear. We give up our tendencies to be trivial and obsessed with our manic pursuits. We learn to receive what only silence and aloneness can give. When we practice solitude, we open our hearts and hands to finally receive. In our everyday work and life, we're tempted to make a fist to prove our point. Solitude relaxes the palms, prying them open to God's gifts. In these quiet moments we are like a beggar who receives whatever is placed into his hands. In these moments of being ''with God' we find that He becomes the Immanuel who is truly ''with us.'' Solitude replenishes the soul. This is why Jesus made solitude a regular and necessary part of His lifestyle and relationship with God. He detached from people so that He could attach to God. Solitude allows us to be stripped of others so that we can be covered with divine love.

As an extrovert, I am energized by people, I love being around people. But it must be an age thing for as I am getting older, there is a greater appreciation for solitude, for a time of reflection and stillness. I love going for daily walks on my own, listening to worship music or a sermon. Its my time of decompression. Its my time with the Lord when He is replenishing my soul, when He is ministering deep within my spirit.  Perhaps it is a hunger for a deeper intimacy with God. A longing to know His heart more and to receive from Him what only He can give. It is this attachment with and to God, that He desires to cultivate in each of us as we intentionally take ''time out'' from the world to spend that time with Him. What a great joy it is to discover His divine love washing over us, filling us with joy, ministering to our deepest needs and longings. But most of all, what a great joy it is to just be with the Divine Love Himself!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Living Your Destiny

I first heard about Graham Cooke from one of my mentors and this particular message spoke to my heart!

Living Your Destiny 
By Graham Cooke 
May, 2010

All of the tests you presently face are there to develop you into the person you need to be to live your destiny. Everything you are going through has been aligned by God to forge you into the person He has called you to be. Your destiny is unfolding before your very eyes. You have a battle to win, and He must prepare you for it. 

When we embrace the idea that God has a plan for us, no issue should be able to stop us. The statement, “This situation will be the death of me,” is completely incorrect. The truth is that this situation will make you into who you are destined to be. 

God partners with our present situation to prepare us for the future He has designed. He uses every test, every challenge, every hurdle, every issue to sharpen us for what is to come. 

We can use the prophecies over our life to navigate our way through our present circumstance. God wants to establish intimacy as a way of life. He wants to cover us in His favor. This process starts by God establishing the fact that He is our source. Quietly and deliberately, God will strip away every crutch we have been relying on and obliterate anything that detracts from His ability to provide for us. 

He wants to take away the false sense of security most of us have been clinging to. God is not in the business of playing second fiddle to anything—and certainly not to the many ways we try and take care of ourselves. 

Lesson one is to go into the future and bring back the traits and intimacy we will need to fulfill our destiny. We must understand what that intimacy will look like. How must our relationship with God evolve and grow in order for us to become the person He has destined us to be? 

When I was 31 years old, I had a dream about the kind of relationship with God I would have when I was 45. It was so alluring, so magnificent, so amazing, that I did not want to wait 14 years to get there. I was so hungry when I woke up that I immediately began to pray for that kind of intimacy to happen right away. I discovered something in the process of fighting for that word—I didn’t have to wait until I was 45 for it to come to pass. I had been looking prophetically at a 45-year-old who had lived in that intimacy for ten years! 

Our timeline is not always God’s timeline. He often wants to bring breakthrough far sooner than we dare hope. I wanted that intimacy at age 31, thanks to God creating a deep hunger in me for it. I thought about it, meditated on it, prayed for it, and began to come into powerful times of worship. An hour worshipping God would turn into two and then three and sometimes six. I desperately wanted to know God, and God always answers an extreme desire for intimacy

Prophetic words come to pass as our intimacy and reliance on God develops. Intimacy is a part of our destiny. Look at the prophetic words over your life and ask yourself about the intimacy you will need to live in that kind of wonder. Become hungry for that relationship, and your destiny will come into focus. 

In Genesis 18:9, God says a remarkably simple thing about Abraham, His dear friend: “I have known him,” (NKJV). God wants that same intimacy with us, and has guaranteed that it can occur through the love and motivation of Jesus. Intimacy draws us and keeps us in the presence of God. Jesus taught on the importance of this relationship in John 15:4-5—

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothingIntimacy is a reciprocal act; there is exchange and dialogue. It is not a one-way street. There is interaction between us and the Lord Jesus, and that interaction results in us staying, dwelling, and remaining where God has put us in Christ. 

The enemy wants to knock us out of that place of intimacy. He knows how key that relationship is to everything the Lord wants to accomplish, so he tries to poison it from the start. Without water, a seed won’t grow; the enemy wants to kill the seed of our destiny before we grow even a single inch. But our job is to be so established in an intimate relationship with God that nothing can come between us and Him. 

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting,” David sang in Psalm 139:23-24. That is the very crux of intimacy—allowing God to look deep into us and remove any blockage between Him and us. Everything in our lives, every situation we go through, is about growing our intimacy with God.

By Graham Cooke

Friday, July 15, 2011

Letting Go

These past few days I am becoming more aware of what is going on in my internals. Certain emotions are starting to surface as the time draws closer to my departure in a few weeks. When you are busy cleaning up, you just are in 'doing' mode, as things need to get done and given my tendency to be a 'task oriented' person, this is exactly what I am doing. Emotions tend to take a back seat. But this week, there is a shift going on in my spirit. I feel it, the mourning and grieving has started. The 'letting go' has begun and the Lord is summoning me to enter into this most challenging phase of the journey. I hate saying goodbyes and while I'll be back some time next year for a brief visit, the reality is, friendships change, relationships change, we all do because God is changing us through the experiences He gives us. It is the mourning of losses of shared experiences and being pilgrims in the same place that I am now asked to work through, to embrace as part of the cross of following Christ. 

Tears are coming at unexpected times and so I'm being reminded of a comment I read recently by Frederick Buechner. 'People often ask how do you listen to you life?' How do you get into the habit of doing it?  How do you keep ears cocked and your eyes peeled for the presence of God or the presence of anything else?' Pay attention to any of those moments in your life when unexpected tears come in your eyes. You never know when that may happen, what may trigger them. Very often I think if you pay attention to those moments, you realize that something deep beneath the surface of who you are, something deep beneath the surface of the world, is trying to speak to you about who are you. You never know what may cause them. You can never be sure. But of this you can be sure: whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention.' They are not only telling you something about the secret of who you are. More often than not, God is speaking to you through them of the mystery of where you have come from and to summoning you to where, if your soul is to be saved, you should go next.

So what do these tears signify? I am realizing it is the process of letting go of my life here. With each person I spend time with, with each meeting I have, it is a reminder to me, that a season is ending.  In a strange way, its as if I have a date with destiny and in the big scheme of things I do. I am stepping into the destiny that God has for me in Cambodia but to do that I am being called to step out of my life here. A life that has involved many circles of friends from different shared experiences. Last night I spent a wonderful evening meeting with many others from my church who are preparing to serve internationally and are on the same journey as I am. They are leaving in the next month or less. They too are wrestling with transition, with uncertainty but what keeps us all going is knowing that we are called by the One who is in control of all our situations. I was struck by the comments of one couple whose daughter had to write out the names of all the friends she was saying goodbye to and how sad she was feeling.  She was already began that journey of grief and she is just 8 years old. I found myself praying for this little girl and was surprised at the tears that followed. Perhaps it was a reminder of my own journey, that with each person or group I spend time with over these remaining weeks, I too am saying 'goodbye' and 'letting go' of the familiar to step into the unfamiliar. It is a dying to all that I know. It is the growing realization that our journeys are now taking different paths and it is coming to terms with the fact that we will most likely not be able to relate to each other to the same degree as we did while living here in the same place. A disconnect is happening and as a person who treasures her friendships, this is the most challenging part, to recognize that disconnect is starting and to entrust and release these friendships into God's hand. In many ways, it is a lonely journey that each of us is called to embark on. It is a necessary journey that we are called to embrace. No one can do it for us. We need to feel the pain, the loss and the grief.

Tim Keller in a sermon on 'Praying your Tears' noted the following:  becoming a person of faith may lead you to weep more. When the gospel changes your heart, your heart becomes more of a heart. (In Ezekiel, God says I will remove your heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh) It is getting softer, more vulnerable, more touchable. You feel the evil and pain around you and you feel the pain of the people who are the victims of evil, you feel grief over the evil, you feel the things around you before, you just didn’t. As Christians grow in grace, they should expect to cry more. We should expect tears and when they do come, we should sow those tears, we should invest them. Psalm 126:5-6 says: 5 Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. 6 He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.  The poetic image here is that the farmer is going out sowing tears or perhaps watering their seed with tears. It is telling us do not avoid your tears, don’t just express your tears but you have to plant your tears, you have to sow your tears. Religious people tend to stuff their feelings and secular people tend to express them. But neither of those work, cause if you take your seed and sit on it you will never have a harvest, but if you take your big bag of seed into the middle of field and just dump it you will never have an harvest either. You can’t stuff your seed and you can’t dump your seed you have to plant it. We are being called to plant or sow our tears; to see your tears as an opportunity for fruitfulness and growth. Don’t waste your sorrows. That is not a masochistic idea where it says embrace your sorrows but it not a hedonistic spirit where it says avoid sorrows. It says when the sorrows come, invest them, plant them. We have to sow our tears and what is our reward…joy. The bible teachers that tears gives way to joy.  The kind of joy you really need is the product of tears. There is a kind of joy that comes from avoiding tears that does not really change you. There is a kind of joy that comes from the tears that really does change you. Such joy comes from when we plant tears.

And so as I reflect on all of this sadness, grief and tears, I am reminded a fresh to not avoid the tears but gracefully accept them, knowing that as I invest them, as I sow them, they will lead ultimately to a journey of fruitfulness and growth that will produce joy as the end product. Jesus was a man of sorrows, well acquainted with grief. So too, He calls us to enter into this aspect of the cross as part of our pilgrimage.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Living The Dream - July Newsletter

Eleven years ago I began a journey to Cambodia. Little did I know that initial visit in the 2000, would be the beginning of a quest that would lead to God’s call on my life. Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York said ‘an adventure is a “ there and back again”. It is an exciting thing that you choose --- you go and you have your adventures, you have all your thrills and it spices up your life and you come home again and pick your life up where you left off. But a quest is not something you choose, it comes to you, you sense a requirement, you are called to it because of what is involved. You never really come back from a quest. In a quest, you either die for the quest or if you do come back, you are so changed, that you never in a sense come back. You are never the way you were. You change so radically. Christianity is not an adventure, it is not a ‘there and back again’. Christianity is a quest. God says ‘get out, you are going to be radically changed, don’t ask Me whether or not what I am about to do will fit into your agenda. Christianity is a whole new agenda. Don’t say ‘how is this going to enrich my life, Christianity is a whole new life.’ Indeed these words seem so fitting as I reflect on the past trips to Cambodia, the Lord was leading me on a quest, shaping His call upon my life by revealing His agenda, His purposes and His destiny for me.

Last summer near the end of my 2 month stint in Cambodia, I was lamenting to the Lord that all those years of taking short term teams to Cambodia were like milk, but the 2 months He had given me were a glimpse of the solid food and I didn’t want to go back to the milk. I wanted to eat more solid food. I then heard him say ‘you will not be going back to the milk. I am going to give you more solid food’. At that point, something had shifted in my spirit as the Holy Spirit revealed that while Toronto was my home, my heart was in Cambodia. When I came back to Canada, I knew that I could no longer deny the call to Cambodia. The time had come. God was calling me to move forward, to step into the fullness of His call and destiny for my life.  This truth was affirmed when I read the scripture from Isaiah 42:9 in September 2010. It said: ‘behold the former things have passed. I am doing a new thing and before it springs up, I will declare them to you.’ The Lord began to show me what this new thing would be even before it had come to pass. In October 2010,  Brian McConaghy the founder of Ratanak International asked when I was thinking of moving to Cambodia and my response was ‘well I’m hoping and praying it will be in 2011 but I’m waiting on the Lord.’  He then asked, if I would pray and consider becoming the Country Director of Ratanak Cambodia. Without missing a beat, I said ‘yes  as I felt it was an answer to the prayer from Isaiah 42:9.  The dream was beginning to become a reality.  Shortly thereafter, my mum, a widow gave her blessing for me to go to Cambodia as did all my siblings. It was evident that the Lord was orchestrating events and consolidating all the pieces of His ‘call’ upon my life. This continued into the new year as in  April 2011, a dear friend Marie Ens, a Canadian missionary who has been ministering in Cambodia since 1961 was visiting Toronto and graciously said ‘when you move to Cambodia, wherever you are, I will come and let’s spend time together so that we can pray and encourage each other in our ministries.’ To sit at the feet of one who has so much wisdom and experience serving in Cambodia is such a precious gift from our Heavenly Father. God was not only shaping His agenda in me, He was going ahead of me and preparing the way.

The new thing continues to take shape and form not just in my life but in the corporate life of Ratanak International. While Ratanak has partnered with many organizations in Cambodia over the past 21 years, this year marks the beginning of a new era where we feel called to develop independent ministries directly in Cambodia. We will have the privilege of establishing a Ratanak Transitional Home that allows former victims of sex trafficking the opportunity to live independently. God has called us to be a part of His plan to rebuild and restore the years the locusts have eaten from these precious young lives, by providing them with the necessary tools to strengthen their personal resilience to pursue their new life.   For these young women, successful integration back into society is a very complex process that requires a "Next Step" of a more open handed mentoring phase after being in highly structured and institutionalized settings. We are grateful for the opportunity to walk along side them and invest in their potential so that they can fulfill their God given destiny as He empowers them with His dreams and hopes for a new future! Joining me in this journey in November 2011, is Beth and Stephen Lauer who have worked extensively in project management and strategic planning in various postings locally and globally. We are so thankful for the skills God has blessed them with and the gift they are to our organization as we seek to serve the least of these in Cambodia.

As I am leaving for Cambodia on August 2nd, I covet your prayers as I begin this new chapter of my life. I know it will not be easy as Cambodia while being, a beautiful nation, is not an easy place to live and work. The years of civil war and the Khmer Rouge era left a moral vacuum that continues to wreak havoc on its people and also fosters an environment that can weary and drain one’s spirit because of the endless needs. Yet it is into these dark and difficult places the Lord wants to shine His light, to pour out His love to the unloved, to bring hope to the hopeless and peace to the restless.  It is in these places that Jesus longs to release His compassion, justice, mercy and grace upon lives that have experienced much pain and suffering. It is in these places, that I look forward to witnessing the power of the gospel and the outrageous promises of Isaiah 61 being fulfilled as the broken hearted are comforted, the oppressed are liberated and the downtrodden are lifted up as Jesus transforms and heal their hearts and sets them free from all that so entangles them.

Twenty years ago the Lord planted in my heart a dream to be involved in investing in the lives of former child sex slaves. This year, I am humbled and in awe of seeing Him make that dream a reality as I follow Him into the promised land He has for me. For those of you who are living in the Toronto area, I will be sharing my testimony and will be commissioned at Rexdale Alliance Church on the weekend of July 30 (6:30pm church service) and July 31 (9am and 11am services). Hopefully I’ll be able to see some of you there, but if not, I am hoping to be back in Canada annually for a 3 month period each year.

Please pray for:

  • My closure on this side of the pond that all the outstanding logistical and administrative details will be completed in a timely fashion
  • My adjustment in Cambodia, that I will be able to pace myself and settle in well. For wisdom and discernment in setting up the Ratanak operations in Cambodia, that the Lord will help me to prioritize all that needs to be done.
  • My 6 months of language learning and ongoing diligence in studying and practising the language. Praise God for the Cambodian brothers and sisters in Christ who are eagerly waiting to teach me their language and culture and for the expat missionary community and friends in Cambodia that the Lord has provided me with over the past 10 years.
  • Unity of spirit and oneness of heart, mind and purpose for Beth & Stephen Lauer and myself as we work together to establish a greater work of Ratanak Cambodia
  • Protection and good health for both myself and my family who remain in Canada, that God will surround us with His holy angels and watch over our comings and goings.

As time permits, I hope to be providing weekly or daily updates of our work in Cambodia through our mission blog: so feel free to sign up at our blog site. Thank you for your commitment and your partnership in prayer and support of our ministries as we seek to bring life to the Killing fields of Cambodia.  For those who feel led to partner in these new Ratanak endeavours, you can designate funds to Cambodia Operations or Child Exploitation.  We look forward to sharing with you many stories of how the Lord is building His kingdom in Cambodia!

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Final Countdown

Wow its been a long time since I have blogged. I think the desire has always been there but sadly there has been no time. Poor excuse but some how I suspect in the days and months ahead, I will be doing a lot more reflection and so I'm hoping to revive this blog a bit :-). 

This week is the final countdown. After working for over 23 years in the corporate world, I am hanging up my corporate booths to move into a new role with an NGO (Non Governmental organization). I can't believe I have worked so long but then again, time has a way of passing by quickly and yet I would not trade all the wonderful and amazing experiences I have had. Business has always been one of my passions and so I never really saw these jobs as just 'jobs'. I loved what I did and especially my most recent job in investment banking. I loved advising stock brokers what stocks to buy and experiencing the adrenalin high of seeing the value of stocks go up and also feeling quite the opposite when they went down. If anything I have learned from the financial world and the volatility of the stock markets is how easily one's emotions can be so captivated by what happens in the markets. I have learned much about what it means to have Jesus as my rock, who never changes when circumstances changes. He is always in control regardless of what is happening in the stock market.

So as I begin to take stock of all these wonderful career opportunities, I have seen the many ways in which the Lord has used them to equip and train me with so many different skills which I now take with me into a whole new role as Country Director in Cambodia of Ratanak International . Going from an environment of capitalism, of investing in stocks, to investing in lives, how can one compare. There really isn't any comparison. The Lord has given me an incredible privilege of investing in young lives who have been rescued from child sex trafficking in Cambodia in an effort to restore dignity, hope and new life into lives that have known much pain and suffering. This yet again represents another privilege to live out a dream and a life long passion. 

And so these next two months, I am entering into the phase of 'transition.' I'e been reading a book by William Bridges entitled 'Transitions' and in it Bridges notes: 'change is situational. Transition, on the other hand is psychological. It is not those events, but rather the inner orientation and self redefinition that you have to go through in order to incorporate any of those changes into your life. Without a transition, a change is just a rearrangement of furniture. Unless transition happens, the change won't work because it doesn't take. All transitions are composed of 1) an ending, 2) a neutral zone and 3) a new beginning

Indeed this is what I feel I am entering into. 'Transition always starts with an ending' and for me, it is the end of a corporate career, the end of certain friendships, the end of a certain way of life, the end of a certain lifestyle and even the end of a certain identity. It is for all intents and purposes a death and it involves learning to embrace the loss, to grieve it. In many ways, I think that grieving process has already begun for with each passing year as I have traveled back from Cambodia, there was always an ache in my heart. An ache to be there and to let go of here but perhaps it was more poignant last summer when I returned to Toronto and realized that something internally had shifted in me. Toronto maybe my home but my heart was already in Cambodia. So as I wrap up this final week at work, I am waiting and wondering to see what my emotions will be. 

Last Friday my boss was in town to say goodbye and I was surprised by my emotional reaction but at the same time I knew it would happen. He has been an incredible support to me and I am thankful for working with a man who had such integrity and fairness, always looking out for my best interests and always covering my back. That is a rarity in the corporate world but I give thanks to God for giving me such a wonderful boss who demonstrate such leadership and care for his staff. 

So for these next two months, it appears as though I am entering into the 'neutral zone' . Bridges goes onto describe the neutral zone as this: 'that apparently empty in between time when, under the surface of the organizational situation or invisibly inside you, the transformation is going on. Everything feels as though it is up for grabs and you don't quite know who you are or how you're supposed to behave, so this feels like a meaningless time. But it is actually a very important time. During your time in the neutral zone, you are receiving signals and cues---if only you could decipher them as to what you need to become for the next stage of your work life. And unless you disrupt it by trying to rush through the neutral zone quickly, you are slowly being transformed in to the person you need to be to move forward in your life.

I guess I am in a temporary state of unemployment --- in between jobs since my new role doesn't 'officially' begin till August.I suppose all the purging and cleaning I am doing during this time is really about getting rid of the 'old' and preparing for the 'new'. It is another form of letting go and dealing with the uncertainty of what this 'new life' will be like in Cambodia. Strangely enough, I feel as though the Lord is protecting me and shielding me as I can't say I'm too perturbed about the uncertainty. There is much peace in my soul as I rest in the truth that He has called me and because of that, I believe He will take care of the details so why do I need to be preoccupied with the future. He is the One who holds my world in His hands so I am simply called to rest in His faithfulness and not worry.

As I think about what transitions means, the scripture that comes to mind is from the the book of Ecclesiastes:

A Time for Everything

 1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
 2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
 6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
 7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
 8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace

Indeed all that I am and will be going through during this time involves dying, planting, uprooting, tearing down, building, weeping, laughing, mourning, dancing. Indeed it all these things and much more but for now, Jesus is teaching me to take it one day at a time. Christ is my daily bread and as I look to Him, He will keep me walking steadily along the course He has set before me. My job is to seek Him first, keep my eyes on Him and not look to the left or to the right. Thank you Jesus that you are the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the End and also the Middle. What you start in each of us you will complete. It is these truths that I rest in, knowing that Jesus is sovereign and that He came to give us abundant life (John 10:10) even through a season of transition, a season of ending, a season of uncertainty and a season of new beginnings. Thank You for being the Lord of all of our times. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Little Baby Neang Rua - A Gift from God!

Today is one of those days when I have to just stop and give thanks to the Lord in the midst of a busy morning. Why? This morning I got an email from our friends at Place of Rescue overseen by Marie Ens, one of my heroes and favourite people!

Her staff had sent me a picture of a little friend called Neang Rua (which means life)…Rua is just under 2 years old but I remember in July 2009, when I first saw her small feeble body, I cried. Her mother, a prostitute was told by the hospital that there was nothing they could do for this baby who had spina bifida and advised her to take her home and let her die. But God had other plans, special plans and a special purpose for this fragile, broken baby. Thanks to Pich, a wonderful staff member of Daughters Cambodia, one of our partners, this little baby was brought to the Daughters centre. I so clearly remember 3 of my team members and I surrounding her and laying hands over her small frame as we cried out that God would do a miracle and spare her life. He has done more than that. He has given her new life as she was placed in the hands of Place of Rescue and since then she has been cared by a house mum who looks over several orphaned babies.

I have had the privilege of seeing her last year and hope to do so again when I am there this summer---it is a privilege indeed---to see the broken be restored, to see the forgotten become the chosen and to see that the Lord lift up the weak and demonstrate that His grace is sufficient for them. The staff at Place of Rescue mentioned that children born with spina bifida usually are paralyzed from the waist down, but Neang Rua is able to sit up on her own. She is eating well and she is a happy girl. That is a glimpse of the miracle that the Lord is doing in this little one’s life. A miracle that I sense and suspect will continue as she grows older. She is a living testimony that there is no life so broken or so‘disabled’ that God cannot resurrect and transform.  When I saw her last summer, she was smiling. In fact, I was told that she smiles often. It is evident that the joy of the Lord is her strength, that He has put His joy in her so deeply.

 Each day when I open my bible, I look at her photo  --- she is a reminder to me, that every life matters to God, no one , no baby is a ‘throw away’---He does not forget the weak, the defenseless and the vulnerable because He has shaped and formed them and has made them in His image. I can’t wait to see how Neang Rua will grow up. I often pray that she will be a prophethess for the Lord, one who will not only display His splendour but who will demonstrate to the world that God’s power is manifested in the weak! Thank You Lord for Neang Rua, for blessing us with her life! She truly is a special gift from You!