Thankful For Home

November 24, 2016

Friends,
Our family had a lovely Thanksgiving today –we had a wonderful meal, played a board game, and hiked a long trail through the wooded hills amid perfect sun-shiny weather. There is much for us to be thankful for to the Lord. Much. Definitely. And I could list tons of them.

But one thing, tonight, that all of a sudden struck me that I should be, and am, thankful for is our home. I was standing in the kitchen and my eyes were “opened” to really see this home of ours. It’s cozy. It’s ours. The Lord has provided it for us. We’ve been here almost three years, and yes, I sometimes miss the ranch, but I love this place now, and it is way more than most people have. Even those who live in mansions may not have all that we have –peace of mind, decent health, all our family loving Jesus, and so much more.

I looked at the big refrigerator. Many in the world don’t have one. I looked at the plants, the floor, the sink. I thought of the fact that we have electricity and light that comes on with the flick of a switch and have plumbing and running water –things we didn’t always have while growing up, and which many in the world have never had. I looked at the toaster –it’s a luxury, though I think most Westerners forget that. And ovens? Luxuries also, and we have two at this house!

Well, I could go on, but those are some of the things I noticed in the space of a few seconds. I do thank the Lord daily for all sorts of things, but often I forget the more “mundane” things, things that to go without could be quite frustrating.

The Lord is good. His faithfulness and mercy never ceases. His kindness and His power can be seen everywhere. The blessings He gives us are too numerous to count. Should we not be exceedingly grateful? Should we not thank Him throughout each day? We should. Including for the gift of a home.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Swimming & Hiking In Idaho

September 2, 2016

Friends,
Below is one more set of photos I’m sharing of my vacation to Idaho this month. I stayed with my parents at the same camp I stayed with them at in Idaho two years ago before we went on to Yellowstone. I love the scenery in that area of the country! God has made such a stunning creation for us to enjoy.

The Lord had several very intriguing people cross paths with me who I was able to share my faith with, both on my flights there and back, and also while staying there. I kept thinking of how valuable every person is to God, even those who do not (yet) know Him. With every person I talked with, I had the impression that God was wooing that person to Himself and that I was just one step in the process. Some I talked with at length and shared the full Gospel with and the reason I believe it. With others I just dropped a few “seeds”, hoping that they would engage, but even with those who didn’t, I will continue to pray that God brings people and events into their lives to show them the Truth so that they will be saved.

I remember that many years ago my dad had two verses on their bathroom mirror that he was memorizing. It was this: “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Col. 4:5,6) These are commands for us, everywhere we go, near or far.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Spokane River where we swam on 8/21/16, a few hundred feet from our rented cabin.

We went sight-seeing 8/21/16; My dad, Bayview, 25 miles N of Coeur d’Alene.

8/22/16, early morning, my mom and I went for a hike around the hill by our cabin.

Me, and Spokane River and lagoon in background, 8/22/16

My mom and our cabin up ahead, 8/22/16

My dad starting out on the Tubbs Hill hike along the Coeur d’Alene Lake. 8/22/16, late afternoon

I went with him. (It’s a mouse in the moose’s antlers!)

My dad looking at the lake view.

Beautiful coastline

Rugged beauty!

Yes, I climbed down there, and it’s much steeper than it looks in the photo.

My dad overlooking a cliff, also much higher than appears in the photo.

Me by another cliff

Shot toward the sun from Tubbs Hill

Next morning, 8/23/16, at the camp, watching my niece and nephew swim

The camp beach of the Spokane River is so pretty! (8/23/16)

Violet, Jenny, me, and my mom watching them swim, 8/23/16

My dad and me, on another hike around the lagoon, 8/23/16 afternoon

A cross on the hill across the lagoon from our cabin, 8/23/16

My parents in front of our cozy cabin. (8/23/16, evening)

Friends,
Two evenings ago I arrived back home from being in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho for a week where we attended my sister’s oldest daughter’s wedding. It was wonderful and I heard several remark that even though almost all brides are lovely, Jillian was the most beautiful bride they’d ever seen. Below are some pictures and everyone can decide for themselves.

Unfortunately, heavy rains in Dallas prevented my brother and two of his children from being able to fly out, even though they tried twice. However, his wife (Ruth) and son (Kael) had gone on a flight several hours before and so they made it. My husband did not go either for a number of reasons. But, the rest of us were there and it was a happy and Christ-honoring wedding. The vows, which they wrote themselves, were quite something –so sweet, so full of commitment and selflessness. Oh, that we all could vow such things and hold to them!

Jillian and Brent met their first day of college on the east coast because both were in the honors program. They were friends among a circle of friends until Jillian’s junior year when they decided to take their relationship further. Both of them love academia and Brent is a Math and Science wiz while Jillian is a Sociology major. Both of them love Jesus and have hearts and actions that reach out to the down-trodden.

We are all very grateful for God’s kindness and amazing ability to lead two very precious people –living on opposite sides of the country– to meet each other, love each other, and commit to one another for the furtherance of good in the world. May the Lord favor them all their lives and help them bring glory to His name.

Love and prayers,
Rachel

8/18/16 –My mom, Violet, and Jillian, two days before Jillian’s wedding

8/18/16 –My dad with Lincoln (the bride’s brother)

8/19/16 –Rehearsal day, and this is Jillian’s bouquet she made out of brooches everyone contributed

8/19/16 –Jillian with friends and with sisters, Violet and Clementine

8/19/16 –My sister (Jenny) and me

8/20/16 An hour before the wedding: My parents and Clementine

8/20/16 –Violet and her grandma

Ruth (my brother’s wife) and Jenny (mother of the bride)

Jenny and me before the wedding ceremony

8/20/16 –Jillian and Brent presented as husband and wife (Brent’s brother & dad were the groomsmen)

Ceremony ending

Wow! They look happy and excited, to say the least.

Best friends and happy couple

An emotional hug of brother and sister after Lincoln gave his toast speech

Jillian and Brent’s first dance being married

Jillian and her dad (a pastor and the one who married them) dancing

Beautiful Jenny, mother of the bride, watching her husband and daughter dance

Cousins, Kael and Lincoln

Beautiful Jillian talking with guests

Me between the bride and groom

Springtime Is Beautiful

March 20, 2016

Friends,
Being that it is the first day of Spring today, it is just another occasion to appreciate and enjoy God’s handiwork. May we be doing so and thanking Him for the wonders.

Below are some photos I took this month of the beauty.

A tree in a nearby parkIMG_7430

Irises near my parents’ houseIMG_7578

Another kind of irisIMG_7579

The wishing well picture I colored from the calendar coloring book my sister gave me this month. It is by Johanna Basford and called “Secret Garden”.IMG_7565
Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

The Ultimate Light

December 25, 2015

Friends,
I really like Christmas lights. I very much enjoy seeing the various ways people arrange theirs across their yards, on their roofs, and in their windows. I like how some sparkle and dance and some just glow. I love seeing all the colors and I appreciate nativity scenes as well as snowmen, angels, reindeer, and the rest. To me, it all spells celebration –celebrating love and cheer, and especially the God who became a human so as to pave the way for mankind’s salvation from sin.

Christmas lights, even ones that don’t appear to speak religion, are still –lights. Lights dotted everywhere. Lights gleaming in the darkness. Lights arranged to show order and beauty and a message. These lights are significant. They are symbols of something bigger. And to me, they are reminders of Jesus –He who is the Light that came into the world (John 12:46) so that all who believe and follow Him “will never walk in darkness, but will have the Light of Life.” (8:12) Yes, to me, Christmas lights are reminders of our Savior and Lord, the Ultimate (Perfect / Genuine / Supreme) Light, “the True Light that gives light to every person.” (1:9) Definitely this is something about which to rejoice greatly!

We wish the whole world understood! For the Light is also the Life that appeared (John 1:4 // 1 John 1:2) on earth, as Jesus. (John 14:6) By being in Him, we walk in the Light, live by the Truth, and progress in the Way to the Father. (Same verse // 1 John 1:7) Because we are in Him, we eat Him (John 6:53-57), meaning we meditate on Him who is the Word-who-became-human (1:1,14), who is “the Word of Life” (1 John 1:1) Himself, whose words are Spirit and Life (John 6:63), and who keeps us clean as we obey the Word. (1 Pe. 1:22) Then, by obeying, we learn how to shine our lights (His Light and Life) out to the world, and this, so that others may see and praise our Father in Heaven. (Mt. 5:14-16)

Consequently, Christmas lights should inspire us, I would think, to rejoice with grateful hearts as we remember the True Light that came into the world –He who has saved us and has enabled us to shine across the globe the radiance of Eternal Life. (1 John 5:20)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Our family has heard some great news this week: APECO, a huge multinational corporation in the Philippines which has been forcefully pushing the Casiguran Agta and other locals off their land for the past six years, has just been ordered by the national government to “cease and desist” for acting illegally. (The Agta are the tribal people my parents work with and among whom my brother and sister and I grew up.)

Here is a report:

http://www.rappler.com/nation/111523-apeco-housing-project-illegal-dar

At that same informative news site, here is a past article that discusses the abuses against the Agta and the need for improving their education so that they can better know their rights:

http://www.rappler.com/move-ph/62311-bringing-inclusive-development-casiguran-agta

Within that article, my dad is cited with a link to many other abuse cases against the Agta that he documented, as well as the link to the 2013 letter, signed by 198 international scholars, which was sent to President Aquino (the president of the Philippines). Here is the part of Rappler’s article that includes those two links:

~~~~~

As documented by American anthropologist by Dr. Thomas Headland, who lived and worked with the Casiguran Agta for 5 decades, the human rights abuses against Aurora’s Agta tribes have included slavery, mass murder, kidnapping of children, but most especially, the takeover of their ancestral domains by outsiders.

Though the first settlers of Aurora province, the Agta have long been displaced from their very homelands by international and national logging firms, mining companies, military battalions, and unscrupulous immigrants – developments which have resulted in a 40% decline in the [Agta] population from 1960 to 2010. Last April 2013, Headland along with nearly 200 other social scientists from around the world, affirmed that this danger continued to hang over the heads of the present-day Agta, through the sustained operations of APECO.

~~~~~

On 10/22/15, I wrote about the typhoon that had just hit the Casiguran area, and that same day, much to our appreciation, President Aquino visited the town to distribute supplies and to personally assess the typhoon’s damage. See here:

http://www.rappler.com/nation/110272-aquino-casiguran-relocation-typhoon-lando

The day before that, several officials flew into the area to do the same (which is also very much appreciated), and at risk to themselves, not only because of the weather conditions, but because of reported problems with the airstrip. Rappler also carried that news story and there is a link there of the Agta chieftain being interviewed. (He and others viewable in the video, as well as others in some of the photos, are Agta in whose village we lived for many years.) Here is that link:

http://www.rappler.com/move-ph/issues/disasters/110250-typhoon-lando-kuppo-task-force-ground-zero-formed-casiguran-aurora

We know that the Lord is caring for the Agta and for others in Casiguran. Maybe the typhoon, which fueled an inspection of its damage, was also God’s way to get officials to further inspect the damage in the region caused by APECO.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Stockyards Day

September 30, 2015

Friends,
I can’t believe how this month has sped by! Time to serve the Lord is moving quickly and we are all, hopefully, making the most of each minute. Serving the Lord is great and He often brings special and unique activities our way. This last Labor Day (9/7/15) my brother, a pastor for college and international students, had an outing for them to visit the Stockyards. My parents, my nephew, and I joined them and got to go around together. Here are some photos from our fun day there.

Rachel

My dad, my nephew, me, & my mom in front of the stagecoach we took a ride in

The stagecoach we rode in and the two sweet Clydesdales that pulled it

My mom being helped out of the stagecoach

Another sweet horse and its carriage

My nephew petting the cowboys’ horses

My nephew with two of the gunmen

Texas Longhorns being driven down the street by cowboys on horses

Watching the Longhorns