Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Empty Nest

My younger sister and her husband are experiencing empty nest this summer. Their oldest has started university in Manila (hence a June start) and their younger son is experiencing the “real world” doing construction. I asked my sister how she was doing. She had one word for me-lonely.

We are a step ahead of them as our three girls all have a life on their own now. We raised our girls to be godly, responsible and make good choices in life. They are doing just that so I cannot be sad, right? But is it still lonely? At times, to be honest yes. But skype and MSN are huge helps. On the other hand it is also a great time of life. The living room stays tidy; my husband and I don’t need to go out to date or talk; no fight for the TV remote…. But I remember my mom used to say when we were all gone from home for boarding school- the Silence is deafening! I know what she means!

One motto we live by: Distance doesn’t separate us, silence does. So we keep chatting, keep calling, and visit as often as our overseas lifestyle can manage. But once a parent always a parent…. I just received this as I was thinking about the empty nest syndrome- kinda fits- and how true!

Is there a magic cutoff period when offspring become accountable for their own actions? Is there a wonderful moment when parents can become detached spectators in the lives of their children and shrug, "It's their life," and feel nothing?

When I was in my twenties, I stood in a hospital
corridor waiting for doctors to put a few stitches in my son's head. I asked, "When do you stop worrying?" The nurse said, "When they get out of the accident stage." My mother just smiled faintly and said nothing.

When I was in my thirties, I sat on a little
chair in a classroom and heard how one of my children talked incessantly, disrupted the class, and was headed for a career making license plates. As if to read my mind , a teacher said, "Don't worry, they all go through this stage and then you can sit back, relax and enjoy them." My mother just smiled faintly and said nothing.

When I was in my forties, I spent a lifetime
waiting for the phone to ring, the cars to come home, the front door to open. A friend said, "They're trying to find themselves. Don't worry, in a few years, you can stop worrying. They'll be adults." My mother just smiled faintly and said nothing.

By the time I was 50, I was sick & tired of being
vulnerable. I was still worrying over my children, but there was a new wrinkle. There was nothing I could do about it. My mother just smiled faintly and said nothing. I continued to anguish over their failures, be tormented by their frustrations and absorbed in their disappointments.

My friends said that when my kids got married I could stop worrying and lead my own life. I wanted to believe that, but I was haunted by my mother's warm smile and her occasional, "You look pale. Are you a all right? Call me the minute you get home. Are you depressed about something?"

Can it be that parents are sentenced to a lifetime of worry? Is concern for one another handed down like a torch to blaze the trail of human frailties and the fears of the FAMILY: Is concern a curse or is it a virtue that elevates us to the highest form of life?

One of my children became quite irritable
recently, saying to me, "Where were you? I've been calling for 3 days, and no one answered I was worried." I smiled a warm smile. The torch has been passed.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Uniquely Me

(I found this poem and dedicate it to all the Third Culture People out there like me)

I am

A confusion of cultures

Uniquely me

I think this is good

Because I can


The traveller, soujourner, foreigner,

The homesickness

That comes.

I think this is also bad

Because I cannot be understood

By the ordinary, mono cultural


They know not

The real meaning of homesickness

That hits me

Now and then.

Sometimes I despair of

Understanding them.

I am

An island

And a United Nations

Who can recognise either in me

But God?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Friends like Sam

I just watch the Lord of the Rings series through again. Frodo is called the hero, but it is Sam that gets my vote!

Sam was with Frodo from start to finish. He wasn’t even that concerned, especially at first, about the ring. But he was ALWAYS concerned about his friend. He was no fair- weather friend. He got frustrated with Frodo, tried to get him return home at first, but he never gave up on being his friend. Even when Frodo was convinced that Sam wanted the ring for himself and so sent him packing, Sam left, but not for long. He was back again realizing that his friend needed him more than ever, even though he didn’t know it!

Especially in the end it was Sam who was unselfish, the one who didn’t give up, the one who prodded and pushed and almost carried Frodo on to fulfill his mission. Frodo’s mission was to get rid of the ring, Sam’s mission was to be with Frodo full stop.

We all need Sams in our own lives. I am so blessed to have a few in mine!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Rick Warren's Take on Life right now

In the interview by Paul Bradshaw with Rick Warren (Purpose Driven Life " author and pastor of Saddleback Church in California), Rick said:

People ask me, What is the purpose of life? And I respond: In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven.

One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body-- but not the end of me.

I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity. This is the warm-up act - the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity.

We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn't going to make sense.

Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you're just coming out of one, or you're getting ready to go into another one.

The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort.

God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy.

We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that's not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.

This past year has been the greatest year of my life but also the toughest, with my wife, Kay, getting cancer.

I used to think that life was hills and valleys - you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don't believe that anymore.

Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life.

No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on.

And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for.

You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems.

If you focus on your problems, you're going into self-centeredness, "which is my problem, my issues, my pain." But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.

We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people, God was not going to heal Kay or make it easy for her.

It has been very difficult for her, and yet God has strengthened her character, given her a ministry of helping other people, given her a testimony, drawn her closer to Him and to people.

You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life….

God didn't put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He's more interested in what I am than what I do.

That's why we're called human beings, not human doings.

Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.

Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.
Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.
Painful moments, TRUST GOD.
Every moment, THANK GOD.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


I have a nomadic lifestyle so what is home to me? Lets take the last 6 months. I have been in a different country each month. So what makes home to me?

Home is where I am surrounded by people I love and who love me. When I walk into my house and see our family portrait and children’s pictures, I know I am home. It is the place where I have enough hangers for my clothes in the closet. Also where I am free to cook what I want when I want. It’s knowing where to shop for safety pins, groceries and blank DVDs.

Familiar smells make me feel like I am home- like the sheets freshly laundered smelling like my brand of soap powder and my husband’s shaving cream in the morning. Home is a place where if I want to relax I have things on hand, like a good book or movie. Home is where the phone rings and I have my video cam set up to see my kids when I talk to them on skype.

My job takes me around Asia seeing beautiful sights, buying cheap but great clothes at markets, eating great spicey food and doing what I love best- teaching. But when the trip is over and like last night my husband comes out to greet me with a kiss and get my suitcases from the taxi, I know I am home. The greatest place to be!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


I got this from a friend:

Life isn't about keeping score.
It's not about how many friends you have
Or how accepted you are.
Not about if you have plans this weekend
or if you're alone.

It isn't about who you have kissed,
It isn't about who your family is or
how much money they have
Or what kind of car you drive.

Or where you are sent to school.
It's not about how beautiful or ugly you are.
Or what clothes you wear, what shoes you have on,
Or what kind of music you listen to.

It's not about if your hair
is blonde, red, black, or brown,
Or if your skin is too light or too dark.
Not about what grades you get how smart you are,
how smart everybody else thinks you are,
or how smart in standardized tests say you are.

It's not about what clubs you're in
or how good you are at "your" sport.

It's not about representing your whole being
on a piece of paper and seeing who will
"accept the written you."

Life just isn't.

Life is about who you love and who you hurt.
It's about who you make happy or unhappy purposely.
It's about keeping or betraying trust.
It's about friendship, used as a sanctity or as a weapon.

It's about what you say and mean, maybe hurtful, maybe heartening.
It's about starting rumors and contributing to petty gossip.
It's about what judgments you pass and why.
And who your judgments are spread to.

It's about who you've ignored with full control and intention.
It's about jealousy, fear, ignorance, and revenge.
It's about carrying inner hate and love,
letting it grow and spreading it.

But most of all, it's about using your life to touch or poison
other people's hearts in such a way that could have
never occurred alone.

Only you choose the way those hearts are affected, and those
choices are what life's all about.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Rhythm of Life

There is a rhythm to life. Birth-death, joy-sorrow, hard work- results, morning- night. I find the rhythm in my life is made up of Routine and Spontaneity.Usually I fight routine and embrace spontaneity.

Routine is repetition, monotonous, predictable and bland. Spontaneity is energy -building, surprises, joy and welcome.

BUT, call it wisdom coming with age or common sense starting to seep in, I am finding that the equilibrium to a stable, productive, even a fulfilling life is BALANCE between both, routine and spontaneity.

As I look at God’s creation I see this balance. We till the ground, plant the seed, water the plant and watch it grow- not all of a sudden but in laboriously long months. Then we happen upon a splash of feathery purple in a crag of a rock. Soft and fluttering and delicate, emerging from the foreboding, unmoving, granite rock face. Or we look into the starry night sky. They are in order and so predictable that the order of the stars that were named as the Bear and Orion hundreds of years ago, are still in that pattern to this day. Then one night, with only a fortunate few watching, a light streaks across the skies. You may call it a shooting star- I like to call it God’s spontaneity.

But too much spontaneity and I start to feel out of control. Necessary things aren’t getting done and the surprises aren’t so welcome anymore. Why? Isn’t this what I longed for? My energy that is created from spontaneity is spiraling down and my to-do-list grows. Can I really afford an hour in my quiet time this morning- do I have the time to pray for all the people I have committed to pray for?

I am learning to feel comfortable walking long distances in the predictable rhythm of the routine, but still ever ready for the short, unexpected, dance of spontaneity.