Archives for October 2015

A Father’s Example of Humility

My sister, Candy, struck up a conversation with me about how our parents are crazy busy. She explained that in Sacramento, when mom and dad would visit her, they were hands on with her kids and 100% attentive to her. Naturally, since their visits to California were for the purpose of spending time with Candy and her family, they could do this.

Surprise! Just a few months into her stay in the Philippines, she discovered that mom and dad travel quite a bit and they have all kinds of conferences, ministry events, speaking engagements, and social activities that fill up their calendars. When Candy revealed that she was disappointed to discover that mom and dad didn’t have as much time to give her as she expected, I encouraged her to tell them her feelings. 

Sunday night provided the best opportunity to do so. Evenings on this day are reserved for accountability with mom and dad, family prayer time, and catching up with one another. Usually, everyone is pretty chill and relaxed on Sunday night. As we finished dinner, I told my parents that Candy had something to share with them. 

She was caught a little bit off guard, but since we are generally open with one another in our family, she proceeded to express to my parents that she missed spending time with them and that she wished they were more available. 

Edric injected his own perspective, sharing that sometimes he feels hesitant to connect with dad or seek advice from him because dad travels a lot and has multiple engagements during a week. Since Edric knows dad has a lot going on, he doesn’t want to trouble him with his concerns. Afterwards I also commented that we still look to mom and dad to mentor us. 

My parents received our comments and corrections with grace and humility, especially my dad. Dad didn’t say anything to defend himself. He just listened quietly, smiling. I am sure a part of him liked being needed by his adult kids. 

All of my siblings and I, as well as our spouses are confident in dad and mom’s love for us. We don’t have an issue with this. When we communicate that we need them, they prioritize us. But we do echo the general sentiment about their busyness. Our once a week dinners with them are supposed to be safeguarded but they aren’t always in Manila. As empty-nesters who are highly involved in ministry work and who enjoy traveling, they jet-set everywhere. They are in their sixties but they seem to have boundless energy to give to serving the Lord and others. But the fact remains that as grown up children, we still look for their wisdom and discipleship. 

 (My dad and me, eons ago)

 

(High school)

The great thing about my parents, especially my dad, is he is an instant action kind of guy. He reminded Edric that he is just a call or text away. And since Edric and I had to exit the family dinner early, he and my mom stepped away from the dinner table even if my siblings were still eating to walk us to our van. He did this to show that he wanted to be with us and squeeze in a few more minutes of talk-time. The next day, I found out that my dad and mom also made time for Candy, her husband, Jeff, and their kids, too.   

 I have probably said it before but I will say it again that I continue to value my parents’ desire to improve and change when they are requested to by us. It especially means a lot that my father is this way. He welcomes our correction and likes us to give him feedback about his messages, about the way he relates to others, his character, or his decisions. In short, he is a humble guy. (My mom is too but this seems to be a little more congruent with a mother’s personality than with a father’s.)

  My dad’s humility is one of the reasons why I know he is an authentic follower of Jesus. Dealing positively with rebuke is one thing. But as one who is in a position of influence, he has also had various insults and accusations hurled his way (untruthful and hurtful). Comments that would have sent me into an emotional tailspin hardly increased my dad’s blood pressure. He remained calm and still does when people attack his person. 

Furthermore, he tries his best to reach out to people who malign him or misinterpret him. Sometimes they respond positively, other times they remain hard-hearted and refuse to reconcile. Whenever unity seems unattainable, my dad keeps the door open just in case an opportunity to mend the relationship presents itself. Amazingly, some people who disliked him before are now his friends again! That is the grace of God! 

I don’t want to make boasts about my father but his example has shown me that a person who genuinely loves God will live differently, especially in the area of receiving rebuke, correction or dealing with criticism. And it’s not to my dad’s credit but to the Lord’s work in him. He isn’t perfect and he has his weaknesses, but I praise God for his heart to change and be a better man. I know that his motivations are ultimately to please God. And this is why he doesn’t need to defend himself or fight to prove he is right. He knows that it is honoring the Lord’s name with his humble responses that matters more. 

I pray to be the same way when Edric or my kids point out areas that I should change in me. I tend to react to Edric (not the kids) because I focus on his style of correcting me, namely his tone and timing of delivery. However, a grace-filled and Christ-centered person (which I ought to aspire to be) will not make a big deal out of style and use it as a smokescreen to escape saying things like, “Okay, I will change,” or “Thank you for that reminder, I should work on that,” or “Will you forgive me?” 

As I end this post, here’s an excerpt from a site that imparts a good lesson on humility:

“A former missionary told the story of two rugged mountain goats who met on a narrow mountainside pathway. On one side was a chasm 1,000 feet deep; on the other, a steep cliff rising straight up. There was no room to turn around, and the goats could not back up without falling. What would they do? Rather than fight for the right to pass, one of the goats knelt down and became as flat as possible. The other goat then walked over him, and they both proceeded safely…When Jesus left His heavenly home, He humbled Himself and paid the penalty for your sins and mine. He saw us literally trapped between our sin and God’s righteousness with no way to help ourselves — no way of escape. He came in humility and took the form of a servant (Philippians 2:5-8). Then, by dying for sinful mankind, He let us “walk over Him” so that we could experience forgiveness and receive eternal life.

Validating Your Husband’s Leadership

I have been too exhausted in the past two weeks to write anything substantial. First came the Philippine Homeschool Conference and then Counterflow 2015 which were book ends to a number of social events and other commitments that kept me away from my kids and disrupted my day job — homeschooling. 

 Ready for the World – Philippine Homeschool Conference 

Counterflow 2015 

However, I am happy to announce that this week, I can return to a semblance of normal. Things should taper off even more by mid-November. I can’t wait…the perfect way to end the year…slowing down.

During the Counterflow parenting event yesterday, I was most inspired by plenary speaker, Cassie Carsten. He spoke with conviction, passion, insight, a large amount of humor. Although he directed his talk to the fathers in the audience, there were principles for everyone to extract.

Personally, I was convicted by the concept of the first follower. In a marriage, a husband is called to lead, to initiate. But his leadership must be validated by his first follower, also known as his wife. Children pay close attention to the dynamic between dad and mom. They watch, Cassie pointed out, the EYES of mom. Do her eyes acknowledge and affirm what dad is saying? Or does she roll her eyes in irritation or glare in defiance when he speaks?

I latched on to this insight when Cassie went on to say that followers watch the response of the first follower more than the initiator. In other words, wives can undermine the leadership of a husband when they communicate to their children, even in the most subtle of gestures, that they don’t think he can lead. Furthermore, the second follower (oldest child) is supremely important to setting the pace for the subsequent followers (succeeding siblings).

 Come to think of it, I have noticed this phenomenon with my own children. If I wholeheartedly agree with Edric’s plans or opinions on a matter, my kids tend to do the same. If I question him, even with a look that says, “Seriously? That’s your idea?”, then my children get infected by my coup-like spirit.

It is my wholehearted support of Edric’s leadership that matters most among all the followers in our home. Just a few days ago, Edric talked to me about this. He asked, “Why have you been so contradictory lately?” 

My version of this was different. Perhaps I had been more “opinionated” but not necessarily contradictory. However, he named several occasions when I flat out disagreed with his ideas with a tone that was condescending. And it bothered him even more when I challenged him by commenting, “So do you want a wife that is a yes-woman? Someone who always agrees with everything you say and do? I am not that kind of woman.” 

Truthfully, this statement came out of a heart that was boiling with pride, because the correction about being contradictory wasn’t about me not being able to present my perspective or opinions. But this was the angle I pursued to win this verbal jousting so that I wouldn’t be cornered about the real issue — disrespect. Annoyed, Edric claimed that I was missing the point and going all lawyer on him, which is his way of saying I was about to dissect his every word and look for holes in his hypothesis. 

I may not have intended to be contradictory but I had been on edge, emotionally, for the past two weeks. Multiple speaking engagements triggered my nervous system and I found it difficult to relax. So I mouthed out all kinds of things without filtering them as carefully as I should have. At the end of the day, however, it was simply a matter of disrespect for Edric. He didn’t appreciate my tone of voice or reflex responses that seemed critical towards him. 

Thankfully, we settled this conflict with sincere apologies, but God had a more personal message for me. 
It came delivered by Cassie Carstens, when he highlighted how important the eyes of a wife are — the way she looks upon her husband and acknowledges him. 

As I sat in the audience yesterday, listening to him speak, the rebuke that convicted me was this: Joy, you need to improve in the area of respecting Edric. You may think you are submissive, good, and respectful as a wife but deep inside you have not fully embraced your role to validate Edric’s leadership. You still like to prove that you are right, wiser and better which stems from conceit, insecurity and self-centeredness.

 Aaaaaahhhh. It’s true! It’s true! As God’s Word declares, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” Mark‬ ‭7:21-23‬ ‭
I also spoke at Counterflow yesterday on motherhood. Furthermore the entire event was for parents. But God intended for me to reflect on my marriage. Edric and I, by His grace alone, have a wonderful relationship. However there are hidden crevices in my heart where character flaws reside and these emerge when Edric and I have conflicts. Sometimes these flaws actually start the conflicts. So I was grateful for yesterday, to uncover the parts in me that God must still redeem. 
There is always room to grow and improve as an individual. Sometimes it takes a guest speaker from South Africa to be God’s messenger of truth to reveal these areas of improvement. But the point is to keep seeking and learning about what it means to be a better spouse or a better parent. 

For those who missed Cassie’s talks at Counterflow yesterday, he will have a series of events Tuesday to Thursday. He is one of the best speakers I have ever listened to and I don’t want to miss this opportunity to invite anyone (especially dads) who can carve out time to hear him speak. You will be changed…for the better! 



 
Good news! CCF will be offering the workshops at a hugely discounted price of just P50!!! (For three days!)

Just Married…Again

In a day and age where people spend a ridiculous amount of money to pay for the wedding “of their dreams,” I’m dedicating this post to all the singles and engaged couples out there who are planning their future weddings. Please, please, please, make your wedding about the marriage you are going to have and not about having a picture-perfect ceremony and reception. You don’t need to spend a lot to make your wedding meaningful and special.

Today many couples borrow money in order to afford a glamorous wedding. How sad it is that weddings have become a business and a production. I’m not trying to make people feel guilty. I have good friends in the wedding industry and I love them dearly. My appeal is to consider the why, the motivation behind the costliness of a wedding. 

Last night I attended a beautiful event, a DIY occasion put together by family and friends for a couple who decided to have a ceremonial wedding on their 15 year anniversary. Although they were married civilly, the husband, Blue, decided it was time to gift his wife, Emily, with a we’re-getting-married-today kind of present on their anniversary. For one month, family and friends conspired and connived to orchestrate and execute the details of this secret wedding. Emily didn’t know anything.

Blue broke the news to her yesterday morning so she had half a day to prepare herself. In the meantime a number of us were at the venue setting up for the beach themed wedding amidst the blustering winds of a super typhoon. I ended up in bare feet on the muddy grass, which brought me back to childhood memories of dirty toenails from outdoor adventures without my shoes on. 

   

  

 For a while it was the gusty winds we had to contend with but then the rained poured relentlessly at 3:30 PM, just an hour before Emily was about to arrive! We had to move the ceremony indoors at the last minute. But thanks to my favorite caterer, Passion Cooks, the reception area already looked amazing!

Everyone was in good spirits. There were no cranky or hustling organizers.  People volunteered to lift flower arrangements, backdrops, fabric, lanterns, candle sticks, candle holders, signs, and tables into the reception venue. Instantaneously an aisle appeared lined with 1 Corinthians 13 verses on love, softened with rose petals leading to the beach-themed stage where vows would be spoken. 

   

 We had some guy friends running about in the rain finding creative ways to hang paper lanterns, too. 

   

  

 Most of the guests were bible study friends and old classmates. With just sixty people, the evening affair was personal and intimate. There were only three sets of ninongs and ninangs, not chosen for their wealth or social status but hand-picked because of the spiritual relationship they had with Blue and Emily. Edric and I were one of them (what an honor for us). Blue and Emily’s children served as the rest of the entourage.

    

 I loved the simplicity of this wedding. How refreshing from the elaborate and huge ones I have attended in recent years.  More importantly, God was glorified as the couple honored their parents and declared their vows to one another. Several friends also shared how they have been blessed by the marriage of Blue and Emily. Blue and Emily came from a very dark place in their relationship when they were a younger couple but they chose to seek after God, who healed what was broken and continues to redeem them for His glorious purposes.
   
 As I sat at our table listening to several versions of friend’s stories about Blue and Emily, there was no doubting that their marriage is being used mightily today to encourage and strengthen other couples to make God the center of their relationships.

A homemade sign on the backdrop read, “Just married…again.”

   

  

(Wood cross by The Carpenter)

 It’s one thing to get married for the first time and another thing to choose to marry the same person all over again. Somehow saying “I do” after you have lived through the difficult realities of marriage is sweeter, more romantic, and a more powerful testament of authentic love.  Love is a choice to say I do everyday and forever no matter what. This occasion celebrated the history of a marriage saved by the grace of God, for the glory of God!  

When a wedding is planned to exalt God as the motivation, God becomes the sovereign organizer and magnanimous provider of an event that is simply divine! This was one of my favorite weddings of all time!

On a thread among friends Emily wrote, “Good morning ladies! My heart is full. Thank you all for helping out during the past weeks to put together our wedding. As Blue shared with me last night what went on behind the scenes, tears started coming. The wedding last night was more than me and Blue. It was also all about you, about us. How you guys really really wanted to make this special, so you just gave and gave. I know you have a separate chatroom (I’m a bit jealous that I am not part of it, he he). You sacrificed your time, efforts, money, peace.. Sanity? Lol! Even taking time away from your family. I know you were happy to do it. My brother in law told Blue later on that he just couldn’t believe his eyes. Even though everyone was dressed and had makeup on, you guys were doing something. Carrying, moving, running, placing. He said “Hanep mga kaibigan nyo Blue. Lahat sila, lahat.” I did not see all this, but God did and I am sure He was smiling. I know that you all care for me. 2Cor 9:8 says “God grants us blessings so we have an abundance for every good deed.” God has blessed you in each unique way and you shared a part of that with us last night. And everyone saw that. People saw something amazing, something wonderful… It all pointed to Jesus. We got a lot of texts… Those who wanted to talk because they had problems, those who said they want to grow and deepen their relationship with Christ, those who saw that in Christ there is a family that transcends this world and comes together when we need each other the most. I want all the details when we meet Thank you to you all. We love you. We love you!”

And that, my friends, is what a REAL wedding should be about…exalting Jesus Christ!

“Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.” ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:22-32‬ ‭

Congratulations Blue and Emily and the team of family and friends who lovingly and sacrificially came together with one heart to make this event a success!  
  

  

  

    
And thank you to Passion Cooks for your creative styling and delicious food! 

Outdoor area by family and friends…

  

  

   

  

   
    
    
    
    

      
Indoor reception area by Passion Cooks…    
    
    
   

   

  
    
 Our couple’s bible study group…  

  
Cake by Andi Benitez…

  
 

The “organizers” with Emily…

  

The Guardians

  I was late to pick up Tiana from her ballet class but Elijah, my eldest, came to her rescue. We intersected paths as I walked towards the elevators of our church building from the cafe, where I was hanging out with my sister-in-law. Elijah informed me that he waited for Tiana to end her class then brought her up to the floor where he and my other boys had their violin lessons.

   
He didn’t have to do this. I usually stay and attend to her. But today, I decided she needed to mature in the area of independence, so I found a comfortable spot in the building to pass the hour and a half while she danced with her cousin and friends.

Elijah’s thoughtfulness and protectiveness was a pleasant surprise. On his own initiative, he trekked down to the floor where the dance studio was at, peeked through the glass window on its door to see if Tiana was alright, and collected her afterwards.

I told him I was so proud of him and he replied, “I am her guardian, mom. I am supposed to look out for her. She’s my sister. Dad told me to.”

   
He really is a wonderful older brother to all my kids. But this gesture, in particular, blessed me. We need more gentlemen in this world, and I am not saying that my son or sons exemplify noble character like this all the time. However, I truly appreciate that my husband, Edric, has purposefully taught our boys to mind their manners, consider the needs of others before their own, and protect their sisters (and me).
 For example, there have been many occasions when my sons will volunteer to come with me to the grocery, not because they like going, but because they refuse to let me go alone. They often insist on protecting me, declaring, “I will guard you, mom.”

Picture these young boys thinking their presence will thwart a thief or malicious person if they are by my side. Obviously I would have more success fighting for myself than they would for me, but it’s the heroism behind their offer to come along that I find so admirable.

How can Edric and I keep encouraging our sons to be honorable? Sometimes I wonder if they will stay noble in heart, innocent and tender hearted, valiant and courageous to stand for what is right and pleasing to God. I have fears as a mom…thoughts like, what if they change because they are influenced by peers, media, and the lies the evil one puts into their heads? What if life’s disappointments chisel away at their zeal for holiness and righteousness?

It’s humbling and frightening to know that Edric and I aren’t enough to safeguard our sons from the environment of a fallen world. No matter how hard we try and how intentional we strive to be, they aren’t immune to corruption. God has to be the one to hold them in His hands and preserve their virtuousness. He has to be the one to grow the seeds of character Edric and I have planted in their hearts. Praise be to God for His faithfulness. As Psalms 103:17-18 reads, “But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep His covenant and remember His precepts to do them.” 

In the meantime, I am cherishing who my children are now, especially their love for God, for us, and for one another. These are a mother’s greatest joys. I am also thankful for the privilege of raising boys who strive to be “guardians” for their younger sisters and me. This is a bonus. 

I pray they remain this way and excel all the more as God continues to prepare them to become the men He wants them to be. In the end, may they grow up to be more and more like Christ and manifest the goodness that comes from Him.

Allow me to quote what Edan, my second son, has shared in front of audiences in the past: “I want to be a gentleman because Jesus was a gentleman. He was kind to ladies and looked out for the needs of others.” Yes, indeed, my son!

 

Dying Young, Living Forever

Edric and I were on the way up to Baguio for the recently held Executive Couple’s retreat when my brother, Paul, phoned us. He called to relay the shocking news about his brother-in-law, Steve’s, untimely and tragic motorcycle accident. Edric choked down the tears and turned over to me in disbelief, trying to take in the reality as he struggled to say, “Steve died.”

“What?” I cried out, stunned as the tears came uncontrollably.

We found out that Steve’s motorcycle swerved off the road, and a head-on collision with a pole killed him instantly. He passed away a day before his 30th birthday.

I am ashamed to say that Edric and I were in the middle of a silly discussion about our communication issues in marriage when we received the call from Paul. The news broke through the trivialness of our argument and crushed us both to the core. How could Steve be gone? How could he have died like this? How could Edric and I have been upset over such small things when my sister-in-law just lost her brother?

We sat in the silence as Steve’s death eclipsed every feeling that seemed so big and important just moments before. Steve would have shared Christmas with my side of the family in the Philippines. Over the years of knowing him and seeing him grow up, he certainly felt like part of the family. His easy-going spirit and passion for God and people were contagious, too. It was impossible to encounter Steve without being impacted by his charisma. Edric and I were always convinced that Steve was a great guy with a great future.

 For the rest of the ride to Baguio, I kept thinking about Steve. Edric and I were scheduled to speak at the retreat but I had little motivation to. The tragedy of his unexpected death hung heavy in the air. My thoughts were restless until I had more information, more details. How was Jenny taking all of this? How was the rest of the Reed family?

Paul and Jenny were back in Manila, trying to schedule a flight to Seattle. Edric offered to adopt their kids for the time being. That was the least we could do. Neither of us got to speak to Paul or Jenny face to face before they left, but we stayed in touch online to keep them updated about their kids. A few days after, Paul also sent us a short video of his parents-in-law, Nelson and Linda, who delivered a beautiful, impromptu reflection during one of their church’s evening services.

Nelson explained that when Steve was born he held him up in his arms and thanked the Lord for the gift that he was. At the same time, he also surrendered him and dedicated him to God. As Steve grew up, Nelson didn’t stop him from being adventurous or doing things like riding a motorcycle. He trusted that his life was in God’s hands. As someone who is a personal friend to the Reed family, I know that the idea of surrendering Steve (and their three older children) wasn’t about neglecting their role to instruct him in the ways of the Lord. Nelson and Linda intentionally discipled all their kids. Nelson’s point was that he didn’t try to control Steve. And since he surrendered and dedicated Steve to the Lord as a baby, he and Linda were able to accept Steve’s passing as God’s will. Nelson professed all of this with peace even as he hurt as a father. Furthermore, he challenged the audience to surrender their spouses, children and even themselves to the Lord. As the Psalms says, “The earth is the Lord and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it.” (Psalm 24:1) The act of surrender is acknowledgement that we don’t own our loved ones or even our own lives. Sometimes, God may elect for us to go through tragedy. Will we trust His sovereignty and His love?

  Even if it is difficult to grasp the reality of the grief a parent or sibling is left with after a son or brother is gone, I have been so blessed by the grace and faith-filled responses of Paul and Jenny, Nelson and Linda and the rest of their family. Collectively, they have chosen to process this tragedy with spiritual lenses. Without diminishing the pain that Steve’s absence has marked their hearts with, they cling to the hope that one day, they shall see Steve again. Steve was a man who walked intimately with God and he most certainly is living eternally with God.

Here’s a tribute to his life and death, written by Nelson, which I requested for permission to post here. I believe it will strengthen and encourage all of us to ponder upon the purpose for which we were created and to look forward to eternal life, which God has destined for all those who are His children through Jesus Christ.

 — 

ALIVE FOREVERMORE!

Stephen John Reed entered heaven the afternoon of September 16, 2015, a day before his 30th Birthday. Medical examiners said he was probably dead before his body hit the sidewalk.

If what the examiners said is true, Stephen’s Lord and Savior took him in the “twinkling of an eye” to be with Him forevermore!

Anyone who knows Stephen knows that he lived “larger than life.” A few snapshots from Stephen’s abundant life will help explain the phenomena.

Stephen became a Third Culture Kid when born into a missionary family in the Philippines. He grew up forging close relationships with children from the nations. Swapping lunches and clothes with his buddies, he developed a palate for every cuisine and fashion on earth. He lived multicultural abundance!

Turbulent times rocked the Philippines the first decade of Stephen’s life. Yet fear never enslaved him; rather he flourished in love and adventure with his family and friends. Life was to be lived on the streets, not behind walls!

 Speaking of family, God graced Stephen with three older siblings – Jenny (Tanchi), Becky (Mangin) and Ben. All three trusted Jesus Christ as their Savior before they reached the age of six. Influenced by them, he too sought the Lord at a young age, not wanting to be entangled by sin and miss the blessed life the rest of the family enjoyed. Fast forward 25 years, a month before he died a summary of his journal entries reveal, “Live large, God is for me!”

Stephen thrived by surrounding himself with friends; not to get for himself, but to give. For example, his coach would get so upset when he didn’t “close” a breakaway, but would pass the basketball to his teammates so they could score. He was comfortable in his skin, liberated to encourage others in theirs.

During his high school years, Stephen began to blossom into his own person, less the little brother. Mom remembers times Stephen expressed desires to become great. As a young adult, “excellence” became his passion. He explained it like this, “Jesus promised an abundant life. I seek to excel in everything – spiritually, socially, in business, in fun and adventure! I believe this is what Jesus wants!”

Stephen started two businesses and was involved in several other enterprises. One month before he died he wrote of his walk with Jesus in the market place, “What ever I (Jesus) call for, I provide for!”

Motorcycles were another passion. God used a motorcycle crash to usher him home to glory. He was ready for eternity in every way, but we are sure he was surprised when he woke up in heaven.

All through Stephen’s life, his desire was that his friends would come to know the assurance and joy he had in an intimate personal relationship with Jesus. In fact, his confidence in the loving care of his heavenly Father seemed to take fear and anxiousness off the table for him. He wanted others to see that freedom comes from knowing God, not running away from Him. Though Stephen is dead, his voice and life still speak. He is alive forevermore in the presence of His Lord and Savior.

Friend, what about you? We write to you as “Friend” because Stephen would see you as his friend and we want to be like our son!

In your heart, is the Spirit of God calling you into a closer personal relationship with Jesus Christ? Do you have the assurance that Stephen has, that if you were to die today that you would be ushered into the Lord Jesus Christ’s presence?

You can have this assurance by simply confessing your rebellious and sinful heart toward God and by faith believe that because of God’s love for you He gave His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for your sins; and by believing that God the Father raise Jesus up from the dead to be the firstfruit of all those who would be saved unto eternal life.

Stephen prayed this prayer about 25 years ago. Two weeks ago today Stephen began to literally live eternal life . . . Alive, Alive, Alive Forevermore with his heavenly Father.

Christian friend, what is God saying to you? Please open your heart wide to the Spirit of God to fill you with His love and comfort. Cast off every sin and weight that keeps you from going deeper into the joy of God’s presence and living fully to His glory here on earth (Hebrew 12:1-4).

We want to hear from you, especially if you struggle to make sense of Stephen’s tragic accident. We ache in our hearts for the loss of our precious son, but at the same time we are experiencing the comfort and strength from our Heavenly Father. He is enfolding us into His love and goodness. So Dear Friend, do not hesitate to call or email us if you have concerns. We sincerely mean that. May God bless you!

Lovingly,

Nelson & Linda Reed
425-984-5724, n.reed@actionintl.org; linda.reed@actionintl.org;

Click to watch Stephen’s Memorial Service; also click to watch “Dream Big – A Video Tribute to Stephen Reed” by Chris Storer

Housing 12 Kids

Over the past two weeks, we have temporarily adopted my siblings’ children. My brother lost his brother in law to a tragic accident so he left the kids with us as he and my sister-in-law attended the wake services and funeral in Seattle. And then my other nephews and niece wanted in on the fun so they stayed with us, too.

From the 12 kids we housed at one point, we are now down to just 7. It’s been a crazy week, but a grace-filled one, too.

There were a few instances when one or two of my nephews and nieces acted up. One of them bit and clawed at our househelp. I know. Not good at all. Another one outrightly rebelled against Edric in front of the other kids. Edric and I dealt with these matters…primarily by talking to my siblings who could do something about their own children. And they did, which was greatly appreciated.

During one occasion, I did have say to one of the little boys, “You are in our house and you will follow our rules which means you will obey. If you don’t, you don’t get to stay.” I had to lay down the “law,” and he didn’t hate me for it. He knew I meant business and respected that. Children appreciate boundaries. Plus, being banished from a house full of cousins was the last thing he wanted. 

Apart from these minor attitude issues, and some unprecedented events and circumstances…like one of my nieces coming over with a head full of lice, and all the kids getting intestinal flu, by God’s grace, Edric and I survived and we are still surviving more children in our house! 

I have come to realize that it’s not the number of children that are a burden. (Okay, groceries can get expensive but praise God for His provision.) What makes the biggest difference is obedience and respect! 

Because MOST of my nephews and nieces are obedient and respectful they haven’t given us heartache these past two weeks. In fact, I can honestly say that having all of them over has been a delight! I experienced first hand how true the Bible is when it reads, “Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.” (Proverbs 29:17)

So I applaud the efforts of parents all over the world, including my siblings, who are deliberate and give their best effort to training their children. Even if no child is perfect 100% of the time, a child who has the heart to be obedient and respectful is a wonderful blessing to everyone! 

Some highlights of the past two weeks:
Edric getting the kids to recite their memory verse… 
Homeschooling together…  
    
Outdoor fun… 

    

    
Evening playtime… 

    
Some physical labor…    

   

Movie time… 

    
Playgroup…

    Tiana having more girls to play with…

  Visiting my friend’s farm… 

   
    
    
    
 
   
    
 

Let’s see how this next week goes!