Sunday, December 22, 2013

Climbing to Nagata Falls

Let me start by saying this may be the most confusing blog I post, but just go with me on this heart journey for a minute and I pray you can remember back to what you read if you ever face something like this.

So, our friend, Lora, asked us if we want to go hiking to these beautiful water falls. She said it was about a three hour hike. We said, yes, we would like to do that. So on this particular day our house helper, Mercy, watched the kids and we left to go hike around 7:30am.

Days before the hike, I was really struggling with letting go and also facing some of my past giants. Now you see I am not dwelling in the past, but I had recently had some dreams that truly rocked me to the core. See the enemy cannot tempt me and I give in when I’m awake, but in my dreams things take place like they used to in my past and it sets me back. James and I spent many hours praying over me and these issues leading up to this day of the hike.

The morning of the hike I was feeling emotionally defeated and even drowning spiritually. When we started out on the hike James had the back pack. In it we had sandwiches for lunch and plenty of water for the hike. As we began our walk it was ok. Starting out there was some incline as we began to climb the first mountain, but it wasn’t bad at all. We got to this little resort place about 20 min into the hike. WE just looked around and kept going. It was really beautiful there. We crossed over the shallow river on a bamboo bridge then walked a few steps in the water to finish the walk across. The water was cold which felt great and it was as clear as can be. This water started in the mountain we were going to that day.

We had about 15 people on the hike that day. Our friends Evan and Lora (Evan’s 8 friends) her sister, Ivy and nephew, and James and I. The crowd thinned out pretty quickly, meaning the slower ones (us) we at the back. One of the guides stayed with us to keep us safe. I was not sure why until we got further into the hike. So about 30min after the resort stop, I began to become very tired. This hike was a major deal. I was under the impression it would be like 1.5 hours there and 1.5 hours back but NO, its 3 hrs there and 3 hrs back. Now I haven’t even taken a 3 hr walk lately, let alone a 3 hour mountain hike. This was serious business and I was in no way prepared for this.

As we set out on mountain top #4 I was done. James was really done. I had already gotten the back pack from him because he was near passing out. At each step I began to call on the Lord for help. I wanted to finish, I wanted to see what I set out to see. I wanted to reach the goal, but the climb was, at times, just too much. As I sat to rest at one point (on a fallen bamboo branch) the guide gave me a stick. He said it’s like a third leg, it will help. I had some water and we started out again.

AS we were going I began to realize that this hike was a lot like my spiritual journey. See I have a goal in mind, something I really want to make it to see, and that is Heaven. I want to complete this journey here yet it’s such a hard thing sometimes. Just like the hike, there are days of immense uphill battle. Some days we need an extra hand, some days we need to just sit because it’s just too much. One thing I loved was my ‘extra leg’ I had on our hike. To me that was God. He was the thing I should hold on to for all my strength. Lean on Him, my always there, solid rock. At one point on the hike I asked James to walk beside me so he could catch me if I fell. He said “no, if you fall I’ll go down with you.” 

Now that spoke so many things to my heart:

1 - he was not going to be there for me.

2 - he was right, we were both so weak that he couldn’t help me.

3 - sometimes we only have us and God, not someone else. 

At first I was upset with James, but in the spiritual realm of all this I felt God saying “me, all you need is me.” See I am one to look to others for help and advice so many times and in that I neglect the Wonderful Counselor. He has everything I need; I just have to take the time to tap into my own resource.

Into the hike I began to slip and fall a few times. Every time I slipped it was on a downhill part. I was so thankful for the downhill times, but they soon became something I seriously had to be alert in. See in our spiritual walks we tend to relax in the easy times, the season of downhill. But it is there, when the enemy can sneak in and cause you to fall before you even know what is happening. At those times it hurts, it surprises you, and then getting up is painful but keeping on is even more painful because there is now a bruise. Well we then have a choice, keep going or just quit and turn around. Fight through to the end with pain or go home defeated. Man, I wanted to turn around but NO, I came to see the falls and I was not going home until I did. I have one goal in mind…. Being in heaven with the Lord and giving Him all the Glory while I’m here on earth. I fail so badly, I fall, I am caught off guard, I AM A SINNER, but I am a child of the one true King. He loves me, He adores me, and Heforgives me and most of all HE never never leaves me. When every one else moves on ahead, goes home, gives up, or just says no, God says “I’m here.”

So after a terrible yet amazing journey we finally reached the falls!!! Along the way were some amazing views and treacherous inclines along with a few falls, but we finally made it!!! It was so beautiful. It was amazing to see what our God created with only his words. Only His words… think on that. I thought of that song Redeemer…"Who taught the sun, where to stand in the morning. And who told the ocean, you can only come this far. And who showed the moon where to hide til evening, whose words alone can catch a falling star?” I mean really, and to think I doubt Him. To think I doubt His love and provision for me. He created me/you in His image. He sent His son to die to save us. The greatest love of all was poured out for us, and yet, I complain about the journey. Oh Lord, please forgive me. Please!

So after an hour of resting and eating it was time to go back home. Now understand, I’m still exhausted but somewhat rejuvenated. However I just wanted to stay here at the falls forever. I did not want to leave this beautiful place and face the walk back. Much like say church camp, a retreat, an awesome worship service, those things where we feel so alive and so close to the Lord, don’t we want to just stay there forever. I believe these things are a taste of eternity which in turn keeps us going until eternity. And because of that simple taste we choose to press on. Press on toward the Goal. To run the race, to discipline ourselves to be used for His Kingdom Glory.

Well no more than 10 minutes into the hike down, a bamboo bridge rail broke and I fell. I leaned on it for support and it broke. I fell about 10 feet down the mountainside.  A tree broke my fall. As soon I quit moving a just sat there. My friend screamed my name and the guides were there to pull me out right away. I had lots of cuts and bruises now. I mean real blood, but it was time to keep going. So as we continued my hands began to constrict. I could no longer grip my stick. I had lost the strength in my hands and I the fall had done some very real, damage to my right hand. Even today I am still having pain. So instead of a stick, I had a man named Kalaful who helped me up and down all the rest of the hike. See to me, in the thick, terrible, life shattering events, sometimes we get a Jesus in skin. A person in the flesh, sent to be a Jesus in skin for us. And let me tell you, I needed Kalaful for every step of the journey back. In my spiritual life I could list you a hundred Jesus in skin moments I’ve had. Each one, in each season has been a turning point to help me make it through. I am so thankful God loves me so much that He sends a friend, a word, a song, anything HE knows I need at just the right moment. He loves me that much!!!!

The walk back was just as bad as the walk up but once we reached our car I truly broke down because of the pain I was in. I mean, I cried. I let it all out and I went straight home for a shower and bed. AS I laid down that night all the spiritual aspects came over me. I thought of that song The Climb “there’s always gonna be another mountain, but it’s not about how fast we get there, it’s the climb.” There is so much truth to that. Don’t miss the journey and the lesson God has for me and you, just because the climb is too much. WE were placed on this earth, during this season for a purpose. We have a choice. WE can follow Him on His path for us or we can choose our own. His path ultimately leads home, heaven, eternity with no pain, no loss, no tears, no anything that hurts me now. My path leads to hell. Simple as that. And although this world is hard and the journey is some days terrible, this is truly the only hell I’ll ever know. Because on some glorious day, He will call me home where I will sing with the angels and the saints around His throne!!!

Today, in the Philippines, it is 3 days until Christmas. The first Christmas I’ve not been home for. I have spent many hours in tears for being homesick. My friends hear me. I miss my family and friends back in the USA, but THIS WORLD IS NOT MY HOME!!! I’m longing for Glory. I’m longing for no more sin struggles, no more hurting souls, no more starving children, no more hurtful words, no more no more no more. 

So today I choose a verse in 1 Cor. I choose to discipline my body, soul, for the race ahead. I am going to win the prize, I am. And I will face all things, I will learn in all things, and I will give God all the praise and Glory for each circumstance. The good and the bad. The times when it hurts to breath and the times of awe when my breath is taken away. I bless your name, I bless your name, I give you honor, I give you praise. You are the life, the truth, the way. I bless your name, I bless your name (a song by Selah).

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Machete Experience

Sometime ago…(late October)

The day of the children’s parade we showed up at the school to help decorate. I was going to stay there and help and James and the kids were going to Caticlan to pick up some stuff. When we arrived I asked Lora if she needed anything and she did so she came to the car to tell us what she needed. While she was talking to James we heard a lady yelling and turned and saw a little boy walking down the street crying, with blood all over his white t-shirt. He wasn’t holding his head but I immediately knew he was bleeding from there. I ran to him and picked him up and we sat in the back of our van. I got my sweat rag and applied some serious pressure to his cut. The grandma said he was cut by a machete. So we said get in let’s go to the hospital. 

She had his little brother and sister with her and Daniel, Lydia, and Sam were there with us too. We sped up the road and at the end the grandpa was there milling rice. The grandma beat on the side of our car yelling for him to get in. He jumped in and was immediately pale. Now it’s hard to get pale as a Filipino because of dark skin, but he was pale. I can’t imagine as a grandfather to see that much blood on your grandson and not flip out. On the way to the hospital the grandmother was beating on the side of our van yelling for people to move. The little boy I was holding was crying “nani, nani, nani (mommy)” I just held him and sang Jesus loves me very softly. 

When we reached the hospital (10 min) we honked to let them know we were an emergency. I carried him into the ER and laid him on the bed while still keeping pressure on his head. The grandfather left to go get the mom who works in the nearby town and the grandmother answered the doctor questions. Lydia, Dan and Sam stayed in our car until James went out to them about 10 min later. They were so scared for the little boy that they didn’t even want to get out. 

I found out his name is John Lloyd. I laid him down on the table, on his back until the nurses came and they turned him over. I never released pressure because every time I did blood would spurt out. The nurses looked at the cut and then they came over to shave his hair away from the cut, with a straight razor. Now mind you there has yet to be cleaning and deadening of his skin. So he was gripping my hand as hard as he could. When they began to shave all around the cut he cried out in pain. The nurses here are not the most comforting people in the world so I distracted him as best as possible by asking him about school. I found out his favorite subject is Filipino and his favorite color is blue. Once they were done shaving it, they cleaned his wound (still no lidacaine) and washed it out. 

Finally the doctor came in and deadened it but immediately began to put the stitches in, John Lloyd cried out again, but once the 3rd stitch was in he was better. As soon as the nurse was putting the dressing on his head I heard the trike pull up and I went to see if it was his mom. It was so I met her at the door and showed her the way to her son. She was crying and holding him as they both cried. I stepped outside and fell into James’ arms. I lost it. I cried so hard. My heart was releasing so many emotions through my tears. First relief, then the initial fears I felt but couldn’t express, then the overwhelming Love for our Lord for His perfect timing and trusting me to mother one who is not my own. 

After a few moments of tears and heart pounding cries, I went back in to check on things. His mother immediately hugged me and held on tight. I held her as she cried. All she kept saying was ‘Salamat Ma’am. (thank you ma’am) I only smiled and said it was my honor to be here. We then had to get the x-rays done and wait for results. Thankfully after about 45 min all that was done and we learned there was not skull fracture. But while waiting for the results James bought all the kids (6 of them) some chocolate milk, and the adults (4 of us) water.

We learned they are believers and actually have come in the past to our church. We invited them to come again soon. After all that was over, Kim came by and was there just in time to pay the bill. That is also a part of their ministry here. It’s also very inexpensive here. All that was only $30 or p1,500. We took the mom back to work and then took the family home. Before they left us I prayed over John Lloyd and for their family. 

You see, to me, that is what it’s all about. Being the hands and feet of Jesus is only a part, but lifting them up before the Father in their presence is the life changing part. To humble myself before the Father while holding the hand of a small boy here on earth, is what it’s all about. That afternoon John Lloyd and his family came to the children’s program we had a school. It was a blessing to see them and hug them again even a few hours later.

The Lord is so very good and I’m constantly in awe of His love and provision for us. It is always easy, never, but worth it, always!! I’m so thankful for the life and experiences I’ve had up to this point. I might only be 29 but looking back if I hadn’t’ been through what I have up to now, I would be useless where God has me. Remember this; what you are facing might not make sense until years down the road. Hang in there; persevere with in endurance to the end. The movie of your life is one in which you will be glad you held strong.

Praise be to the creator of all things, Glory to God in the Highest.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

In the newspaper

Marie Bakken wrote a wonderful in the Rockdale Reporter concerning what happened and is happening in the Philippines. You can still grab an issue or go to the Rockdale Reporter link.

Blessings to each of you.