and the kingdom comes…

“Blessed are the poor in spirit;

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” -Jesus

In this Beatitude Jesus declares that the poor in spirit already possess the kingdom.  Many people at the time of Jesus used the phrase the kingdom of God to describe a Jewish state where God alone was King.  In contrast, Jesus declared that the kingdom was already present in the poor in spirit (not among the Zealots). -Kenneth E. Bailey, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes

I’m an idealist.  Why it took me until now to realize this…well, that’s a good question. I easily see what could be, what I quickly think should be, and worry about why it  isn’t yet.

If I was living in Jesus time, I think I might have been a Zealot.  The perfection of the kingdom of God? Why, of course, God alone would be King!  It is His kingdom, after all!  Why would you settle for anything less than the ideal?

But Jesus didn’t share this idealism, or at least, He didn’t say “Blessed are the Zealots who demand their version of God’s kingdom.”  He saw the ultimate ideal, the new heavens and the new earth, the rule of God bringing perfect shalom, wholeness, and peace to all of creation.  But He also saw the upside-down, unexpected reality of the kingdom of God.

What would it look like to embrace God’s reality, His kingdom as it is presently?  I’m not entirely sure.  But I think it starts with poverty of spirit and exchanging my ideals for His truth.

Two-by-Fours and Transfer

Sometimes, it seems, I’m especially dull.  If life were a video game, I’d be stuck in this level for.ev.er.

The whole trusting God thing? It seems I learn the lesson in one area and poof!- I’ve forgotten it.

In education, we talk about learning for transfer.  You can apply what you know about adaptation in science to adapting fairy tales when you understand that adaptations are significant differences.  But my ability to transfer spiritual truth across the areas of my life seems to be a bit lacking.

The disciples struggled similarly, it seems.  Jesus fed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish, then had 12 baskets left over.  He fed 4,000 people with seven loaves, then had seven baskets left over.  Sometime afterward, the disciples discussed their lack of bread with concern, not understanding Jesus’ words.  So Jesus walked them through it, remembering His provision in each circumstance.

Sometimes, it seems, it takes a two-by-four over the head to learn a lesson.  These stories have come up in my personal Bible reading, my students’ chapel production (pictured below), and at church today.  If I can’t make the transfer to my own life, God will bring reminders to help.

Feeding the crowd
Feeding the crowd

If the kids’ production wasn’t enough, a friend texted me during chapel to get my attention:

LOOK AT GOD!  As in, look what He has done…and can do…and will do!

So after a rough week, and looking at some challenges ahead, I’m taking a few moments to rehearse the provisions of my faithful Father in heaven in the past.  When I look at those challenges, I pray for grace to trust a bit more.  Transfer may be slow, but it’s happening!

Results You Cannot See

I spent today at Corregidor Island, a small space with a detailed history and an important role in WWII.  While there is plenty to be said, the last comments from our guide struck me.  (Keep in mind that this is coming from a non-historian!)

The troops (US and Filipino) at Corregidor, the last stronghold as the Philippines was taken over by the Japanese military, held out for almost a month after the fall of Bataan.  They knew (according to our tour guide) that victory was unlikely or impossible, and yet they held out, living in a damp tunnel under 300 feet of a stone mountain.  The bombs fell, on average, once every five seconds.

Malinta Tunnel, where hundreds of men and women stayed through constant bombing before the surrender of Corregidor Island

The futility of their mission left me wondering why.  Why maintain your position when the end is in sight?

History is full of “now we know…” and today’s tour was no exception.  It is thought that the delayed Japanese victory at Corregidor forced a schedule change that kept Australia free from occupation.  (I don’t recall any of this from my history classes, but at the point, I’m taking the guide at his word.)  Sadly, many of the people, including the president of the Philippines at the time, died before they could see the impact of their courage.

But what they did mattered.  Even if they didn’t see the end result, their courage changed the way WWII played out.

MacArthur- “I shall return” on the beach
Ruins of a barracks
Statue honoring the women of the Philippines and the difference they made

Oh, for courage to do what is right, even when I don’t see results.  While it probably won’t involve extended time in a tunnel under constant shelling for me, I’d like to live with that spirit.

Join the team!

Hello!  Welcome to my little space on the internet.  I’m really excited to share how you can join the team of amazing people who support me in serving at Faith Academy in the Philippines. First, please pray!  The last two years have been filled with more answered prayers than I had ever seen before, and I know that God is thrilled to partner with us as we pray.  Would you ask God to

  • give me wisdom with selling my car and buying a new one?  She’s strugglin’ lately!
  • help me to keep my focus on Him in the next three especially busy months!
  • provide the financial support I need in His timing.
  • bless these last five weeks of third grade with this class.

Next, see if you might be part of the solution.  As I finish my “short term” commitment at Faith, there are a few changes to my financial situation.  Between health insurance and visa changes, the cost of being here is going up.  I was also blessed with a lot of one-time support when I first came (which was great!), but I am specifically praying for people to partner with me through:

  • Monthly commitments.  Maybe it’s $10 each month.  Maybe it’s $100 each month.  You can sign up to give automatically through www.OneChallenge.org/give.  This becomes grocery money, gas money, etc.
  • A one-time gift, specifically for replacing my car.  Dori has been awesome, but she’s required major work each month since November.  I just don’t trust her anymore. :(  If you’d like to do this, please note that it is for my car.  This can also be done online.  Or, either type of gift can be mail directly to One Challenge with a note that it is for me.

Finally, share!  If you have a friend who might be interested, attend a church that would like to help send a missionary, or know a small group that would like to learn more, pass the word.  How?

  • I am happy to Skype in to share about this work.
  • Share the video and this blog post.
  • Let me know if we could meet up in June or July when I am back in the States for a bit.

If God is calling you to join the team, please let me know!  Shoot me an email at angeladawn at gmail dot com, message me on Facebook, or fill out the survey at  http://goo.gl/forms/6yyoorykwK. I’m excited to have you join the team! IMG_4007IMG_4009IMG_4010IMG_4036IMG_4012 IMG_4014IMG_4015IMG_4016 IMG_4017IMG_4018 IMG_4019IMG_4020IMG_4021IMG_4022IMG_4033 -Angela (with help from a few of my kids!)

What’s next?

The last six months have been filled (internally at least!) with this question.  I initially came to Faith Academy on a two-year commitment, not knowing what God had in store for me beyond those two years.  My usual response to the question about the future was, “God was clear when He sent me; He’ll be clear about the next step.”

Sometimes, I could say that with full confidence.  At other times, my faith wavered, and I worried about a possible uncertainty when the time for decision came.

God has been faithful, though, in making His plan for next year clear.  While I can’t say what the rest of my life will look like, I do feel confident that I should be at Faith Academy, serving the kids of missionaries for the next school year.

What does that mean when you are a missionary?  It means making sure you have a team in place for prayer, emotional, and financial support.  I know that my financial support need will increase some.  (That is, in large part, due to a lot of one-time gifts when I first came to the Philippines.  What a blessing they were!  Now, I’m praying for ongoing monthly support as well.)  If you would like to share your plans to pray, update your subscription preferences for newsletters and email updates, or let me know about your desire to be part of my financial support team, please fill out the survey here: http://goo.gl/forms/6yyoorykwK.

Please feel free to pass on this post and/or the link to others who may be interested, and pray that God will guide me in this journey!  My desire is to see His kingdom come and His will done here on earth, just like it is done in heaven.

Closure Counts

In the last 24 hours, I have had friends stop by my house, call on the phone (a rarity here), make time for a chat, and send emails with the specific purpose of saying, “Good bye.”

I’m not leaving for good.  I’ll be back in a week.

But I can’t tell you how well-sent-off I feel as I leave, sitting here in the airport with my emotional backpack full of good wishes, assurances of prayers, and hugs.  (There were also many offers of help, an amazingly capable and fun guest teacher to take my place, and more. The efforts to send me off, though, really struck me.)

I’m terrible at saying good bye.  I don’t like leaving a party with a farewell; slipping out silently is much easier.

At this moment, though, I think a new goal is in order.  When I leave for a week or less or more, I’ll invest in the moments it takes to close the moment well.  Thanks to my awesome community for showing me how.

The Most Important Thing

What’s the most important thing about you?

As grown ups, we talk about identity and self-esteem and all that.  I was talking with my kids the other day about the most important thing about them.

And then my grandpa died.  Let’s face it: at your funeral, they mostly talk about the most important things about you. Everything else is forgotten.  He would have liked this song.

A few of my favorite artists have a new song and it about- surprise, surprise!- the most important thing about life.

I rejoice in my Redeemer, Greatest treasure
Wellspring of my soul
I will trust in Him, no other;
My soul is satisfied in Him alone.

As summer flowers we fade and die:
Fame, youth and beauty hurry by.
But life eternal calls to us at the cross.
I will not boast in wealth or might,
Or human wisdom’s fleeting light.
But I will boast in knowing Christ at the cross.

You can find a free copy of the choir chart and hymn chart here.

So when the stuff of life seems overwhelming, my own wisdom is utterly insufficient, and I watch myself fade, I will trust Him.  That’s the most important thing about me.

Giving Thanks…Health

There’s nothing like being sick to make you thankful for health.  I have never known the truth of that so much as I did with dengue fever.  A week of sleeping all day and all night (literally) with a fever of 103* and weeks of recovery after that contrasted with normal life.

It’s so nice to be back to normal. I’m grateful for all the help I had in my classroom (yay for Emily, my student teacher) and the care of friends and coworkers who supported her, my kids, and me.  I’m thankful for a flexible group of kids who prayed for me and reported to their parents on my increasing time at school each day (2 hours the first day, 3 hours the next, etc.) as I returned to work.

For sleep and healing and feeling good again, I give thanks.

Giving Thanks…technology

for Facetime

instead of  poor-quality but expensive long distance phone call

or a two-month turn around on letters

(…and I am challenged by the sacrifices made before me!)

for little giggles and fresh photos each day

for high fives and “hugs” and peek-a-boo

for videos of sweet songs and silly stories

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(watching Eli read Love and Logic- priceless!)

for staying connected

even when the sharks eat the internet (for real.)

I give thanks.

Giving Thanks…Aunts and Uncles and Cousins, Oh My!

Is it weird that there is no plural, gender-neutral word for aunts and uncles?  Do you ever think about the words that don’t exist in your language?  Or do you know a word like that?

I digress.  This is a quick post to kick off a week of posts dedicated to expressing gratitude.  I’ve been absent from the blog despite many thoughts of “I should post!”  So here goes.

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A very exciting meal of Thai food this summer with my Uncle Rick and Aunt Joy

One of the joys of my adult life (and of the last year in particular) has been fresh, grown up relationships with my parents’ siblings.  As I started the process of sharing my plans to come to the Philippines, my aunts and uncles were some of the first to start supporting me (in various ways), and they continue to do so.  Cousins have jumped in with kind encouragement, scripture, and love.  I get delightful emails sharing how they are praying for me, and I got to see many of them in the States over Christmas.  My Aunt Dondi came to visit in November, and we had a blast!

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Dinner with my Aunt Dondi. (Yes, we like to eat!)

My childhood was filled with holidays and family reunions with extended family, so it’s not that I have discovered people I never knew.  I am, however, enjoying this sweet blessing of extended family putting a lot of effort into investing in my life and ministry.  From gifts for my classroom (math game!) to many prayers for me from my aunts and uncles and cousins,  I am giving thanks for all this love!