146,000 silent nights

Malachi 3:1  “’I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,’ says the LORD Almighty.”

These were last words God spoke.  For 400 years.

The people waited.
And they kept waiting.
400 years passed;
God was silent.
146,000 silent nights.
But all the people were watching and waiting,
and watching some more.

They were not fighting each other.
They were not worshipping other gods…
for the first time in a LONG time.

They knew God was with them as they watched and waited,
but, the promise…
from the prophet Isaiah:
For unto us a son is born
Unto us a son is given
The peace, justice, righteousness…
they knew these were coming.
They knew HE was coming.

But, do you think the people wanted to give up?
Did they get tired of waiting?
Did they think God’s promises weren’t going to come to be?

Maybe.

But the next time God spoke, it wasn’t through a judge, king or prophet.
It was in the cry of a Baby.
God would break the silent nights, with a not so silent night,
through the screaming cry of a baby.
The Son of God,
Emmanuel,
GOD WITH US.

Two people waited expectantly day and night in the temple worshipping God, waiting for the Messiah, or the Christ.

Luke 2:25-32  “There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israel’s consolation, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple complex. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for Him what was customary under the law, Simeon took Him up in his arms, praised God, and said:
‘Now, Master, You can dismiss Your slave in peace, as You promised.
For my eyes have seen Your salvation. You have prepared it in the presence of all peoples— a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory to Your people Israel.'”

Luke 2:36-38  “There was also a prophetess, Anna […] . She was well along in years, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and was a widow for 84 years. She did not leave the temple complex, serving God night and day with fasting and prayers. At that very moment, she came up and began to thank God and to speak about Him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”

Simeon and Anna both were waiting,
and after waiting so long, they finally gazed into the eyes of God-
a baby.

Someone asked me last week – why do we celebrate Jesus coming at Christmas time so much? What’s so special about it?

Jesus was and still is the hope of all mankind.
Jesus was and is God – who came to earth to live as one of us,
to share in our sufferings, our struggles,
to live as we live,
and years later – this baby, now a man
would die on a cross and rise again
because of one reason:

LOVE.

God’s love for us – you and I and this entire world
is so big that he didn’t leave us alone,
He didn’t leave us to walk this life alone
He came to be with us,
He came to rescue us.

And that indeed is good news,
the good news of love
that was worth waiting for all those years.

Love.

 

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The mystery and wonder

There is something about Advent 
Filled with mystery and wonder
in the midst of busy lives filled with noise
noise that simply fills the silence
we are invited to pause, reflect and wonder once again.

Imagine how it is that God himself became man
how it is that God took on human flesh
we stand in awe of the mystery of the incarnation
can we ever humanly understand this beautiful, awful, preposterous thing?

But God dwelled.
God dwelled among his people
Tabernacled with his people
so we could have a mediator
the God-man.
Emmanuel, God with us.

The wonder of Advent is the story,
the story that each moment,
we are invited once again to join
again and again.
Because no, it’s not just a story,
its the reality of mankind:
hope.

And hope is a person: Jesus Christ.

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Standing by the Cross

I just love this song… the picture of being so close to the cross, and really understanding the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross.  I especially think more about the cross as we approach Thanksgiving, and of course Christmas.

We have so much to be thankful for, I’m amazed at his mercy and grace, new every morning.


Sweet the moments, rich in blessing
Which before the cross I spend
Life and health and peace possessing
From the sinners only Friend

Here I’ll rest forever viewing
Mercy poured in streams of blood
Precious drops my soul bedewing
Plead and claim my peace with God

Standing by the cross
The cross of Calvary
Looking up to my sweet Jesus
Mercy given full and free

Truly blessed is the station
Low before His cross to lie
While I see divine compassion
Beaming in his gracious eye

Here I feel my sins forgiven
While upon the Lamb I gaze
And my thoughts are all of heaven
And my lips overflow with praise

Standing by the cross
The Cross of Calvary
Looking up to my sweet Jesus
Mercy given full and free

it’s beginning to… wait, it’s Christmas?

Aside from the glittering glam at all the malls I go to, I would have no clue it was Christmas!  But apparently it’s Christmas Eve-Eve today.  December 23rd.

The songs, food, lights and everything we prepared for the Christmas program have long faded, and the mess from two nights of programs has been cleaned.  Our first program was on Friday night, and it was the younger kids, and then the older kids were on Saturday night.  Here are a few pictures, just to give you a taste of the evening:

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Anyway, it was a good night, but I’m so glad it’s over.  I can hardly believe it.  It feels so weird that it’s all over.  We worked for 6 weeks to get ready, and it was all a whirlwind.  It was a lot of fun dressing up for the programs, myself and two of my roommates got dresses made for the program, and as you can see, they did a BEAUTIFUL job on my dress!  Over here, the tailors, and all clothing makers are amazing.  We all just brought in pictures of the styles we liked, and they made them for us!  I also have videos of all the songs for the younger kids, so eventually hopefully I’ll put those up.

I don’t really know who reads this blog anyway.. maybe mostly facebook people since it pops up!  Anyway, for the past three days I’ve laid low, and haven’t made any huge plans.  Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and as of now, I plan on going in the morning to Hot Yoga at our gym, then hanging around our apartment for the rest of the day.  We have a Christmas Eve service at the church, and I’m singing a special song, so I figure I should get ready for that!

Christmas morning, Tiffany (a fellow teacher here at GES) and I will go over to our friends for breakfast, then we’ll have a Christmas Dinner at our Pastors’ home.  I’m so glad I’ll be surrounded by great people on Christmas day, it’ll be a great great time.  

My plans for this week were to: rest, have alone time, work out, and just RELAX.. which I’ve gotten to do so far, so I’d say it’s been a great break thus far.

This Saturday I’ll head down to the beach with several other teachers, then come back the following Friday.  I can’t believe it’s almost 2009!!  I think my next blog will be wrapping up 2008, and talking about 2009 goals… :).

Hope you are all well (whoever is reading this!).  Have a very Merry Christmas, and may you be reminded of your blessings as you’re surrounded by loved ones and you reflect upon the past year in all it’s trials and victories.  Love you all.

Four more…

days!  We have four more days of school, no school this Friday, but rather prep for our first program (Friday evening), then Saturday will be our second program.  I can’t believe it’s already here!  It seems like just yesterday we got back from our break in October.  

Christmas time here in Thailand feels like any other time in Thailand.  It’s still warm, yet cooler than when I first arrived and also during rainy season.  All the malls are decorated extravagantly, some even more than I’ve seen in NYC.  It’s like magic, or it would feel like magic if it were cold.  Christmas just isn’t Christmas when you aren’t home.  That’s what I’ve come to realize.

I need prayer for this week.  Stress-wise I’m doing just fine, but I have a feeling as the week goes on, it may get worse.  I’m also sick again.  I really need prayer for that.  I’m so discouraged.  I have been sick on and off for nearly 3 months now with one thing after another.  I had to miss our all-Staff Christmas party on Friday because I had a fever (again).  I think my body just isn’t used to being so warm all the time, and not having the seasons.  (Who ever would have thought I would say anything like that!)  Anyway, so just pray for healing in my body, and that I wouldn’t struggle with sickness for the rest of the year.  It really does a lot for well-being.  

We have a two week break again after our programs, and I’m really looking forward to some down time.  For the first week I will definitely be staying here, and enjoying the peace and quiet around campus for that time.  I will be spending Christmas Day with our Pastor and his family, which looking forward to.  Our church has a Christmas Eve service as well, which I hope to be involved with.  My friends will come back from a week in Chiang Mai on Saturday, the 27th, then we will take off for the beaches down south.  Maybe I already mentioned this.. in fact, I think I did, but none the less, I am really, REALLY glad to have a break soon.

Exciting news for Nonthaburi, we just had a mall put in near the school called “Central Plaza Chaengwattana” and I went there last night, but only for dinner, and was BLOWN AWAY!  It’s HUGE!  23 Stories to be exact!  Next time I go there, I’ll take some pictures, but I think it’s potentially one of the largest malls I’ve ever been to.  Downtown, “Siam Paragon” is rather large, so maybe it’s competing with that mall, but for way out here in Nonthaburi, this is definitely BIG NEWS.

Oh, so yesterday in the midst of my sickness, I went with a family of one of my students to a puppet play downtown.  It was actually really well done, and the puppets were controlled by 3 people, and performed traditional and modern Thai dances.  Here’s just a picture I pulled offline.. I’ll put more pictures up when I get them.

01Alright, well the night is quickly passing, and I need to head to bed early tonight.. for REAL!  I hope you all are well, and again I apologize for all the unnecessary concern from the email sent out last week!  I still feel awful about it!

Blessings and peace to you all!

November 29

I’ve begun to write several blogs since my last update, but then I give up because I have so much to say, and just can’t seem to put it into words.

November really has flown by, as we all had anticipated.  Now we have 3 weeks, and 12 school days until the Christmas Program (and Christmas Break of course!).  Last weekend was the church retreat, which I mentioned earlier, and it went really well!  Aside from me being sick and running to the bathroom ever 10 minutes, it was wonderful!  Haha, I did spend a significant time sleeping and just relaxing, so that was nice. Here’s a picture from one of our worship times:

n1081742605_30200445_8292I’m not really sure what to say.  I’ve been going through times of such deep discouragement at times, marked by short times where I’m filled with so much joy that I can’t even explain.  I don’t even know how to be myself at times… if you’ve ever been overseas for a significant amount of time, I think you’d understand some of the things I’m describing.  It’s hard for me to think about making rational decisions about the future, when everything seems so cloudy at times.  My friend Joni and her husband Paul are the Youth Pastors at our church, and she told me once, “Here in Thailand, you never really feel ‘normal'”, which I think is the truth.  This isn’t my culture, this isn’t ever what I pictured my life to be, and therefore no wonder I feel so weird at times.  For the past week, I haven’t even been able to really eat Thai food.  That’s partly because when I got sick (for the second time) it had been because of some Thai food I ate.  So, I’ve been on an all-American food diet (consisting of : KFC, McDonalds, Pizza, Sandwiches….).

Anyway.  Our Thanksgiving day quickly passed, just like any other day that we’ve been here.  That night we did however eat a nice dinner ad McDonalds.  🙂  We will be having a dinner here at the school on Sunday with turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie.. and everything else!  So that is definitely exciting.

In less than a week, I will also celebrate another significant event: my 6 month anniversary since arriving in Thailand.  I can hardly believe it.  It seems like it’s gone by really fast (which is good NOW I suppose!).  On June 5th I left home and arrived here in Bangkok.  In many ways, it still seems that I’m eternally stuck in June here.  It’s still hot, and everything is the same around me.  Weird.

Christmas break we will also have another two weeks off of school!  I’m not sure exactly what my plans are, but I will probably be heading back up to Chiang Mai to the orphanage we were at over October break, then a bunch of us will meet up on Phi-Phi (pronounced “pee pee”) Island to celebrate New Year’s together!  It’ll be nice to have another break, and try to feel not so far away from home over Christmas.

I’m told January-March goes by really fast, and isn’t quite as unbearable as things have been lately.  That’s a relief to hear.  Anyway, it’s now Saturday morning, and I’ve eaten my oatmeal breakfast, and now I’m going on a run before taking off to visit a friend downtown (and of course go shopping!).  Please keep me in your prayers, I know God has me here for a reason, and I need to hold onto the peace that I felt deep down when I first arrived here 6 months ago.  

 

Psalm 46

1 God is our refuge and strength, 
an ever-present help in trouble.

 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way 
       and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

 3 though its waters roar and foam 
       and the mountains quake with their surging. 
       Selah

 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, 
       the holy place where the Most High dwells.

 5 God is within her, she will not fall; 
       God will help her at break of day.

 6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; 
       he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

 7 The LORD Almighty is with us; 
       the God of Jacob is our fortress. 
       Selah

 8 Come and see the works of the LORD, 
       the desolations he has brought on the earth.

 9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; 
       he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, 
       he burns the shields with fire.

 10 “Be still, and know that I am God; 
       I will be exalted among the nations, 
       I will be exalted in the earth.”

 11 The LORD Almighty is with us; 
       the God of Jacob is our fortress. 
       Selah