Strength and Dignity

True Blue Cubbie Fan      

I wish I could remember my first Cub game. I’m sure my brother, AKA baseball fanatic, could tell me every single detail of that game; from stats to players. My memories though are steeped more in the sights, sounds and smells. Like the aroma of steamed hot dogs, peanuts, and beer…vendors selling souvenirs, programs, and yearbooks…then that epic first crack of the bat, the organist plunking out, bu-da-bu-dump-da-da, and the audience’s excited response of, CHARGE! Oh, and of course, there are the players! As a young girl, I was sure that one day I would marry one of them, becoming Mrs. Baseball; only then to spend countless days at the ballparks. Ryan Sandberg, you totally missed that chance! By the way, my hubby did play the game in high school, so that kind of counts.

 

Although I attended many Major League games in my growing up years, there’s only one ballpark that can envelop my body with goose bumps on a 100-degree day and that’s Wrigley Field. As soon as the field comes into view, my eyes are misty and I am completely moved. It’s a beautiful sight to me!

 

The Cubs are part of who I am. Now I haven’t followed them closely enough to even rattle off statistics, or records, but I promise, my blood is blue. True Blue. However, there’s a sad reality I’ve been forced to recognize about true blue Cubbies. We carry a reputation. Maybe you’ve heard this, or quite possibly, experienced it. We are passionate. That passion, coupled with so many years of disappointment has allowed for a bitter root to take hold in some of us Cubbies. I won’t try to pretend it’s not there. I’ve witnessed it. Cub’s fans can be vicious and fierce. Waiting for next year can do that to you. Especially when the wait has been 108 of those!

 

It makes me think of Sarah. You know, Bible Sarah. Sarah waited 90 years to have a child. Although, there was a period of time that she tried to bring an end to her waiting, by manipulating the system. Some of you may be familiar with the story. Sarah offered her maidservant to Abram, her husband. Yep, she pretty much told her husband to sleep with someone else. No surprise, but that quickly turned ugly. Hagar, the maidservant, became pregnant and Sarah didn’t treat her so well. Imagine that! Shocking! Honestly, we all saw that coming, but it proves what can happen when we get tired of waiting and take things into our own hands. Looking for a way to move things along, we can create a nasty mess. Sarah trusted God’s promise of a child; she simply didn’t trust that God knew how to do it, so she helped Him out.

 

So this would be like, if I went into the dugout for game 3 of the World Series tonight and told Joe Madden, the Cubs manager, to leave, and I would coach. Right? I got this. We all know that would give birth to a huge problem, and that’s exactly what happened to Sarah.

 

Hagar gave birth to Ishmael, and this complicated things for sure. Have you ever grown impatient while you’re waiting, and then acted on that impatience? Be careful, because you may find yourself creating a much bigger problem than waiting.

Fast-forward the story more than 10 years. At this point, Sarah is 90 years old and hopeless that she will ever have a child. She’s in a place now where there is no waiting; Sarah has given up. Then suddenly one day 3 visitors arrive at Sarah and Abram’s tent. These were 3 Divine visitors that had some news for Abram and Sarah. God was calling a play that they had marked as impossible. Read the following interaction:

 

Genesis 18

“Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him.

“There, in the tent,” he answered.

10 The Lord said, “I will certainly come back to you in about a year’s time, and your wife Sarah will have a son!” Now Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent behind him.

11 Abraham and Sarah were old and getting on in years.[g] Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. 12 So she laughed to herself: “After I have become shriveled up and my lord is old, will I have delight?”

13 But the Lord asked Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Can I really have a baby when I’m old?’ 14 Is anything impossible for the Lord? At the appointed time I will come back to you, and in about a year she will have a son.”

15 Sarah denied it. “I did not laugh,” she said, because she was afraid.

But He replied, “No, you did laugh.”

 

Waiting can cause our hearts to grow bitter, cause us to lose hope and become callous. Waiting can cause us to forget that God is never waiting. Sarah had enough of waiting till next year to be a mother. Her hopes and dreams had washed away and now her heart was cold. The sarcastic laughter erupts from this heart has known disappointment for too long.

 

Sarah’s response is like… “Yea, right. I don’t think so.”

 

Abraham had been told, promised, by God that He would be the father of nations, and here they were waiting for just one child. Cubs Nation has been waiting to win just one World Series! Kind of comparable…that might be a little over the top.

 

Guess what…next year has come!

 

Sarah gave birth to a child. At age 91, she gave birth to her precious son Isaac. Do you know what Isaac means? Isaac means “laughter”. Sarah laughed again, but this time her laugh was NOT from a cold and callous heart.

 

Genesis 21:6-7

Sarah said, “God has made me laugh, and everyone who hears will laugh with me.” She also said, “Who would have told Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne a son for him in his old age.”

 

Looks like the last laugh was on Sarah!

 

Seriously, there is no joy like that of hope realized. At the same time, no bitter misery like that of hope misplaced. There is One that is true blue to you. He ACTIVELY waits with you, all the while knowing the outcome. He has ordered all things according to His perfect will and for your good pleasure. This side of eternity your hope and wait may continue, but it will one day end when we arrive as the ultimate victors clinching the title of Champions in Glory!!!

 

I hope that His good pleasure is to see the Cubs clinch the 2016 World Series!

 

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I’m not who I was

nametag5

Hello, my name is:

I’m definitely not a fan of nametags. Who is? Honestly, who wants to stick an obnoxious advertisement of their name on themselves? I realize nametags can be helpful by way of introductions and identification, but let’s be honest, awfully tacky. Am I right?

Think about it, you take the time to think through just the right blouse for that big social gathering; only to discover upon your arrival to said gathering, you must attach the undesired element of identification to your shirt. As if that isn’t bad enough, your new little sticker friend of identity grabs at your hair all night, snatching you baldheaded! Who’s paying attention to the blouse I ask? I’m advertising a name on my chest; which by the way is now a big ole hairy sticker! I say “a” name, because on occasion, I might fill in a false identity. Don’t even pretend that you haven’t at least thought about it. I recall an event in high school where my best friend and I were Summer and Autumn. That was fun! I digress.

I do have a point. Nametags identify and even if we aren’t wearing one on our physical person, we all wear invisible nametag(s) of identity. We may or may not like them, we maybe make them up, but we all have them. My personal invisible nametag has carried different names throughout my life. The name depends on the view of myself in that moment, or quite possibly someone else’s view of me. I might simply extend that sharpie marker to others and allow them an opportunity to fill in my invisible nametag of identity with a name of their choosing. One of my earliest memories of a nametag idenity is kindergarten music class, after an accident on the playground…

Hello my name is:
Pee Pee Pants

Or High School when I was a bit overambitious with make-up…

Hello my name is:
Chisel Face

Can you identify? Whether the name is self projected, or inflicted, identity can be a battle for many of us.

Hello my name is:

UNLOVED
UNWANTED
UNINVITED
UNWORTHY
UNATTRACTIVE

However, there is one nametag that never changes, yet it seems to be the most difficult to put on. It’s the nametag we often leave on the sheet of “welcome stickers”, sure it must be for someone else. This is the nametag God fills out. He knows us always as His children, His loved and chosen daughters. This identity is true, written with the most permanent of all permanent sharpies! There are no Crayola washable markers for Father God when He’s filling out nametags for His kids. Even still, this can be the hardest nametag of all to wear.

Hello my name is:

LOVED
CHOSEN
WANTED
INVITED
BEAUTIFUL
WORTHY

We can more readily accept the names of false identity than our true identities assigned to us via the God of the universe!

Let’s take a deeper look at a woman who we can more than likely identify with. We find her story in John 4.
(read the Message version below)

We know her identity as The Woman at the Well. No other name assigned to her, simply the Woman at the Well. I’m naming her. I’m naming her Wanita, because I can…and I just looked it up and it means “God is gracious”. So, it’s pretty much God’s will that I name her that. (I’m really joking, promise…about the will of God part, not the meaning of the name. ☺)

Let’s pick up the story with Wanita heading out to the well at the absolute hottest time of day. It seems she intentionally chose this time of day knowing that no one else would be there. I think we can relate. Have you ever avoided a social gathering? Ever felt out of place somewhere because of who you “are” or who your “aren’t”? Wanita didn’t want to Her encounter other people. This was avoidance with great purpose if you ask me. She does however encounter someone. It is a Divine encounter with Jesus, and he greets her; not with a “Hello” or “How ya doin’?” He says,

“Give me a drink of water.”

Jesus initiates conversation and right out of the gate Wanita takes on a “less than” identity.

Hello my name is: Samaritan.

She explains to Jesus that people like Him don’t associate with people like her. She’s basically from the other side of the tracks. If you’re a child of the 80’s, just think “Pretty in Pink”…sigh… Moving on, Jesus responds that if Wanita knew Him as the gift of love He truly was to her, she would understand the satisfaction He had to offer her longing soul. Wanita the Well Woman was having an encounter with the Savior of the world, and she was completely unaware.

Hello my name is: Unaware

We can often respond quite the same way. Forgetting that Jesus is ready, sitting by the well of our soul, offering the only water that will completely satisfy. Yet, we neglect to present our need to Him, and we lower our bucket into a well that’s run completely dry. He knows our deep need, and longs for us to look to Him for satisfaction.

Hello my name is: Thirsty

Jesus then delivers one question that presses directly into Wanita’s true identity.

“Go get your husband and come back.”

If you know what is coming next, you might be able to feel the sting of that request by Jesus. I kind of like that Jesus delivers it wrapped up in a package of sarcasm. Jesus is direct for sure, and it seems He’s surprised to get a nugget of truth in Wanita’s answer.

“I don’t have a husband”

Jesus proceeds to fill in the blanks that Wanita indeed has no husband, though she has had many intimate encounters as if she has had MANY husbands… if you follow. This causes her to understand that He clearly knows everything about her.

Hello my name is: Known

To be fully known and yet, fully loved. Completely vulnerable, I sense Wanita was feeling this way, and the shame of her full identity caused her to try to turn the conversation. Can you feel the tension? Our sweet friend Wanita is thinking, “Let’s talk about something else.” At that point, she addresses the logistics of worship in their day. Jesus is kind to answer her concern, but then brings it all back around to emphasize that identity will not matter, it will only matter who she is and how she lives before God. I love how the message translation puts Jesus’ words
WHEN WHAT YOU’RE CALLED WON’T MATTER!
What will matter???
LIVING by the SPIRIT and in TRUTH! (See vs. 21-24 the MSG below)

Hello my name is: Loved

In spite of her attempts to distract from Jesus from her identity, Jesus lets her know that what matters is who she is to God.

Hello my name is: Daughter

Then, it’s the power of her story. It’s what she carries into town and shares unabashedly with other Samaritans. Her avoidance of people has now turned to a pursuit of people, for her identity has changed and she is empowered by the TRUTH that’s taken hold of her!

Hello my Name is: Witness

This is where it lands for all of us. The identity we carry has a THEN and NOW; a WAS and AM. You may have a then and now in just this day alone.
Hello this morning my name was: IRRITABLE
(Then, after some moments at the well with the Savior)
Hello this afternoon my name is: JOYFUL

Our WAS and AM of identity can fall within years, weeks, or months in between. Be true to it. In the truth of our identity is our witness, our story.

And don’t forget, it’s a work in progress!

John 4 (the MSG)
9 The Samaritan woman, taken aback, asked, “How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (Jews in those days wouldn’t be caught dead talking to Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered, “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.”
11-12 The woman said, “Sir, you don’t even have a bucket to draw with, and this well is deep. So how are you going to get this ‘living water’? Are you a better man than our ancestor Jacob, who dug this well and drank from it, he and his sons and livestock, and passed it down to us?”
13-14 Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.”
15 The woman said, “Sir, give me this water so I won’t ever get thirsty, won’t ever have to come back to this well again!”
16 He said, “Go call your husband and then come back.”
17-18 “I have no husband,” she said.
That’s nicely put: ‘I have no husband.’ You’ve had five husbands, and the man you’re living with now isn’t even your husband. You spoke the truth there, sure enough.”
19-20 “Oh, so you’re a prophet! Well, tell me this: Our ancestors worshiped God at this mountain, but you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place for worship, right?”
21-23 “Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you Samaritans will worship the Father neither here at this mountain nor there in Jerusalem. You worship guessing in the dark; we Jews worship in the clear light of day. God’s way of salvation is made available through the Jews. But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter.
23-24 “It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God.
Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”
25 The woman said, “I don’t know about that. I do know that the Messiah is coming. When he arrives, we’ll get the whole story.”
26 “I am he,” said Jesus. “You don’t have to wait any longer or look any further.”
27 Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked. They couldn’t believe he was talking with that kind of a woman. No one said what they were all thinking, but their faces showed it.
28-30 The woman took the hint and left. In her confusion she left her water pot. Back in the village she told the people, “Come see a man who knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out. Do you think this could be the Messiah?” And they went out to see for themselves.

39-42 Many of the Samaritans from that village committed themselves to him because of the woman’s witness: “He knew all about the things I did. He knows me inside and out!

In the Eye of the Storm

Hurricane Matthew has invaded just about everyone’s world this week in one way or another. Whether you have friends or family affected, plans that have shifted, or spent moments in prayer for God to allow His protective hand to rest; the storm has hopped on our radar of life. It’s been interesting to watch this hurricane in both its predictable and not so predictable behaviors. The path of this storm can shift. If a slight change in velocity or route takes place it could put some in the path of destruction, and others free from imminent danger.

 

What I find intriguing with major storms such as Hurricane Matthew, is that there always seems to be that person(s) who choses to hunker down and ride out the storm. I read a statistic that 30% of people who refuse to evacuate do so because of a pet they won’t leave behind. About 2 years ago I personally would have viewed this reason as absolutely ludicrous. Now, I have a dearly loved pup of my own. My empathy has grown with these pet lovers, yet I don’t know that it would keep me anchored to ride out a hurricane with sustained winds of over 145 miles an hour. I could be wrong, but I think I’d evacuate.

 

Along with the pet lovers, are those that simply chose to live in denial; refusing to acknowledge that the storm will really be as bad as predicted. Chances are they have already seen a hurricane or two come and go without much impact on their personal lives. Having had that experience there seems to be no concern the new threat would bring anything different.

 

There are also the select few who distrust authority, feeling that there is some ulterior motive to evacuate entire communities, other than to save lives. They can be quite obstinate. I’ve actually watched some interviews on youtube with some. It is understood though, that unfortunate circumstances, such as disabilities, and/or financial restraints can leave some with the choice to stay put.

 

Whatever the reasons may be, after weighing out options, considering circumstances, some people take the risk. Putting not only themselves, but also others in harms way.

 

Today, you and I may not find ourselves in a situation where we must decide whether to evacuate our homes due to a brewing hurricane. We will however, have to make decisions to evacuate circumstances that could leave us in dangerous places, or cause others to be in harms way as a result of those decisions.

 

                               EVACUATE

: to remove (someone) from a dangerous place

                           : to leave (a dangerous place)

                                   ESCAPE

                           : to get away from a dangerous place or situation

                           : to get away from something that is difficult or unpleasant

 

These words, quite similar in their definition, brought the following scripture to mind:

1 Corinthians 10:13 (HCSB)

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.

 1 Corinthians 10:13 (AMP)

No temptation [regardless of its source] has overtaken or enticed you that is not common to human experience [nor is any temptation unusual or beyond human resistance]; but God is faithful [to His word—He is compassionate and trustworthy], and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [to resist], but along with the temptation He [has in the past and is now and] will [always] provide the way out as well, so that you will be able to endure it [without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy].

 

God provides us with an exit plan, an opportunity if you will, to make a right decision.

 

This brings me back to the non-evacuees I mentioned earlier. I can relate to them.

The Pet-lover: Loving someone/something so much it clouds your decisions, impairs judgment, or simply takes God out of His rightful place in my heart.

 

The Denier: Watching, looking, listening to something that you think will have no impact on your heart, mind, or soul. Possibly having done it before without recognizing impact.

 

The Distruster: Compromising truth of God’s standard in His Word, buying into a lie that God wouldn’t be loving if He required that standard. Being obstinate in my view of truth.

 

Look at the places God tells us about specific escapes provided in His Word:

 

Proverbs 12:13

An evil man is [dangerously] ensnared by the transgression of his lips, But the righteous will escape from trouble.

Maybe it’s that conversation about a particular person, that quickly turns to gossip or slander.

 

Proverbs 19:5

A false witness will not go unpunished, and one who utters lies will not escape.

Could it be that story that exaggerates a few extra details to draw added drama or attention that is not complete truth.

 

Proverbs 14:27

Fear of the Lord is a life-giving fountain; it offers escape from the snares of death.

Are there other things you fear (respect): your reputation, opinions of others, more than God Himself?

 

Conviction has accompanied my heart as I’ve written.  Let this encourage you, as it has myself, to think through where God is offering the escape route for you. He is all about our best interest. That is why He offered us the greatest escape route ever…

 

Psalm 68:20

Our God is a God of salvation, and escape from death belongs

to the Lord God.

 

Choosing to believe Him, and the truth of His Son (Jesus) allows us to receive the ultimate escape; the escape from death.

 

Let us hold solid to His truth and lift up to Him the needs of people, evacuated or not, effected by Hurricane Matthew.

 

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nbcnews.com

 

 

 

Wednesday’s Woman – Jessica

Jessica

I met my friend Jessica through a Women’s Bible Study. She is a beautiful and warm woman whose smile is commanding and spirit welcoming. As I learned more about this precious girl, I was inspired by her story. It is a story that was written by the Sovereign hand of our Divine Father God, and His fingerprints are recognized all throughout. I invite you into this story. I am certain your heart will be moved, if not changed as you read.

 

XUAN means spring in Vietnamese. This is the name of Jessica’s mother. Xuan and Jessica’s father, Binh, were both born in Vietnam. Their families were dear friends, which eventually lead to a semi-arranged marriage for Xuan and Binh. Together, Xuan and Binh had 7 children, of which Jessica is the youngest. Her parents are devout Christians, and have instilled deep faith into their children. The children: Peter, Canh, Minh, Matthew, Chuong, David, and Jessica along with their parents, were living in Vietnam during an intense time of war and political unrest. It was the late 60’s, early 70’s and North Vietnam was rising up against South Vietnam. The United States had been on the ground with troops. You and I would recognize this time period as the Vietnam War.

 

During this time, Binh, Jessica’s dad, was working for the Vietnamese government in the area of intelligence. Binh was directly connected with the U.S. through his role in the intelligence department.

 

January 27, 1973 the Paris Peace Accords were held and a peace treaty signed that ceased direct U.S. military involvement with Vietnam in the conflict. The fighting between North and South Vietnam stopped temporarily, but time passed and peace right along with it. North Vietnam ignited the battle once again. Pressing toward their goal to take over South Vietnam; bringing the entire country under the communist regime.

 

Amid those days of unrest, Binh found himself away on an intelligence assignment. One night while Binh slept far from his family, he dreamt that the central city of Qui Nhoun, where Jessica, her mother, and siblings were living had fallen to the North. This dream was powerful enough that Binh sent word to have the family, along with Aunts and Uncles, moved to a more southern city, Cam Ranh Bay. When Binh’s assignment was complete, it took him several months to find his family in Cam Ranh Bay. Once Binh was reunited with his family, he made the decision to move them further south to the capital city of Saigon. Due to the fact that the Northern regime continued their advancement into South Vietnam, Binh felt more secure being in the capital with his family. In order to travel to Saigon, the family would need to travel by ship so Binh booked the passages. Soon, the day of departure arrived. Xuan along with the 4 younger children boarded the first ferry out to the ship that would carry them further south to safety. As Binh and the 3 older children began to board the next ferry across, they came under fire by the communist regime. They were unable to make it to the ship, unable to make passage with the rest of the family to Saigon.

 

As the days passed in Saigon, Xuan desperately sought for any information about her husband and children, but everything was in complete chaos.

 

April 30th, 1975 a day unlike any Vietnam had ever seen. It would go down in history as The Fall of Saigon. This time was nothing short of panicked and chaotic. Binh, because of his role in the intelligence program working with the U.S., had special clearance to evacuate his family safely. Binh had made it to Saigon with the older 4 children, yet had not located Xuan and the younger 3 children. He was resolute and would not leave Vietnam without his whole family. After several months, at last Binh was reunited with his bride and children and took them all back to Cam Rahn Bay.

 

Soon after the arrival in Cam Rahn Bay, the communists communicated that everyone should return to their hometowns, all being forgiven, including if you had worked for the non-communist side. With that announcement, Binh packed up his family and they returned to their hometown of Qui Nhon. Upon their return to Qui Nhon, Binh was immediately captured and taken deep into the jungle to a “reeducation camp”.

 

The Communist government had moved in and completely taken over.

 

All had been lost for Jessica’s family. Xuan now found herself with 7 children, no home, no money; stranded. Xuan’s mother was with them as well, so able to offer some support so she could find some work.

 

As Xuan struggled to make a living, her deep faith continued to guide her, she never waivered or questioned the circumstance they were in, she simply trusted God would provide for all their needs. God did provide, and He used the church as part of that provision. The church played a key role in caring for the needs Xuan and her children had during those years. Yes, it was not weeks, or months, but years that passed for Xuan and her children. Binh was in the “Reeducation Camp” for 6 years. Xuan was allowed a visit 1 time each year. The family did not have much hope for Binh’s release. Many ended up dying in the camps because the torture was so severe.

 

Xuan would travel, making and selling items to people. She even farmed. Sustaining her family was her greatest concern, and she did whatever it took. In her sales travels, Xuan would meet fisherman who owned boats, and had helped people plan escapes. Vietnamese people were risking their lives to seek liberation, and escaping to the Philippines. Upon arrival to the Philippines, refugees could be processed to enter the U.S. Xuan began to plan an escape for her own family, feeling it was her only hope to give them a better life. A route carrying them through the South China Sea began to come together. This would be safer and less monitored route than most. A full year of careful planning took place.

 

Xuan explained to her children that they would be leaving shortly but not to tell anyone or they would all be thrown into prison. As plans continued to fall into place, something unexpected happened, Binh returned home. Jessica, 7-years-old at the time, had not seen her father in 6 years. When she arrived home from school the day of his return, her mother had to explain to her that the unrecognizable man sitting at their kitchen table was her father. Binh would now be a part of the planning committee for the escape to the Philippines and by God’s grace, be leaving with them.

 

The whole family would depart from Vietnam except for the oldest son, Peter, who was in seminary at the time.

 

At 8 years old, in June 1982 Jessica and her family set out on a journey of hope for a better future. The escape was planned for a night of a bright moon. They would need the moonlight to guide them up over a mountain, where a boat would be waiting on the other side. Once again, the family would leave everything behind, even the beloved family dog, Sony. All they took were the clothes on their back.

 

That evening, by the light of a God blessed moon, 27 boarded the boat bound for freedom. Among the group was the oldest daughter, Canh and her husband. Canh was 6 months pregnant with their first child. The journey was expected to take a week.

 

Just a few short days into the trip, the propeller fell off the boat causing it to stall. A quick decision was made to hoist the sails in effort to start sailing. At this point they were still within the Vietnam boundary of sea and more distressing than that they were without wind. Minh, the oldest boy on the boat dove into the waters with another young man to attempt replacing the propeller. As they dove into the water with equipment in hand, wind suddenly picked up, turning the boat completely around.

 

Unbeknownst to them…

 

Many years later Peter shared this part of the story with the family:

 

Peter, back in Vietnam in seminary, was aware of his families’ planned escape. He was tuned in on the radio and overheard that a patrol boat was in pursuit of a vessel of passengers escaping from South Vietnam. It was reported over the airwaves that as the patrol boat approached the vessel, it quickly turned toward them, and 2 men dove out of the vessel with what appeared to be bombs and were heading to attack the patrol boat. At which point the patrol boat turned back to Vietnam.

 

This would be another fingerprint left by Sovereign Father God.

 

Now 10 days into the journey, with propeller fixed and moving closer to freedom, the food supply ran out. If you recall, the journey had been estimated to take a week. Supplies had been planned accordingly, but some of the food containers had become cross-contaminated with the fuel on board wiping out anything extra. With the food supply completely depleted yet another crisis came upon them, the engine died. At that point, with no engine, food, or water they had one last hope and set sail. Set sail they did. The boat was a drift and it’s passengers without food or water for 7 days.

 

As Jessica poignantly described these days on the boat, and recalled being overcome with hunger and thirst to the extent that they thought they would all perish at sea. Crawling around on the boat and finding some dry noodles, Jessica said she offered them to her mom, but she told Jessica to eat it. Jessica expressed that once again her mom, Xuan, was just being who she was, humble, serving, and looking to the interest of another before her own.

 

As always, even in the darkest of days, Xuan relied on God, and found her faith increased when she had a vision of the Virgin Mary. It was through that vision that God gave her reassurance that they would make it to safety. That vision gave her strength to hold on.
THEN… It rained!!! They collected the water that God had sent. They were beyond desperate for it! Through tears Jessica softly spoke, “We needed that rain.” I could hear her heart saying it was a life rescuing rain.

 

Shortly after the rain, fishing boats were spotted on the horizon; they assumed they were near the Philippines at this point. Raising the white flag to indicate their intent to the fisherman, the boats came out to them and pulled them to the shore. They had landed on the island of San Fernando where great crowds of people welcomed them to the island. Due to their fatigued physical state, they were all carried off the boat and taken to the hospital.

 

Jessica and her brother were taken to the pediatric hospital; separated from the rest of the family. Neither of them knew any English so they communicated through hand gestures and facial expressions. Even though Jessica felt like she was in a thick fog, she recalls that the nurses were incredibly gracious and kind as they cared for them.

 

A week passed, then she and her brother were united with their parents. God provided a Vietnamese woman who had married a man in the Philippines to interpret for them. A much needed blessing from God’s hand. This helped to bring clarity and calm to hearts that were still a bit unsettled. It wasn’t as if they had done this “escaping” and “refugeeing” thing before, or spoken with anyone who had.

 

Next would be a transfer to Manila, capital of the Philippines, where they stayed for a year learning English and awaiting sponsorship to the U.S. Jessica’s sister, Canh gave birth to a healthy baby boy which; they rejoiced over God’s protective hand in his development which had taken place under much duress.

 

About that same time, God moved in the heart of a woman in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She felt compelled to sponsor a family to the U.S. from Vietnam. Recruiting 2 more of her friends from other churches to join her in that effort; they raised the necessary funds to bring Jessica’s family to Cedar Rapids.

 

In August 1983, they arrived in Cedar Rapids Iowa, with their parkas on! They had been told it would be bitterly cold, so they had all been given parkas to wear. Jessica said that it was 90 degrees that hot August day in Iowa!

 

A house had been rented for them. It was close quarters for all of them, but it was safe and even more importantly, they were living in freedom! All of the children started school, Xuan and Binh were assisted in finding employment. Binh worked at the school/ church, and Xuan began housekeeping.

 

All throughout Jessica’s life her parents stressed faith and education. The focus was always on God. What was most impactful for Jessica, was seeing how her mother depended on God to be everything, even when her circumstances left her with nothing. Her parents believed that there were 3 things that they would always have: their children, the church, and God.

 

Jessica described her mother as a woman who lived selflessly, not out of choice, but by character. A woman who never questioned, or waivered in her faith, and also never complained about rising up to meet a need. She described her as someone who simply responded with service and humility without a thought, it is just who she is; a humble servant, denying herself and taking up the burden of others.

 

When I initially asked Jessica about sharing her amazing story, explaining my view of her as a woman who exemplified strength and dignity, she was adamant that it is her mother, Xuan that is the woman of strength and dignity.

 

I chose them BOTH as woman of Strength and Dignity!

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