Grief is NOT Cowardice, Forgiveness is NOT Being Defeated: APRIL 1994

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4 (ESV)

As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:13-14 (ESV)

Dear Father GOD in heaven, thank you for accepting me for who I am. Since no creature is hidden from your sight, this is the truth in my heart: APRIL reminds me of the terror that engulfed my beautiful country, the shameful death my loved ones died 21 year ago: April 7 (Marie Claudine, age 11), April 17 (Dad, 43), April 24 (Mama, 40 & Jean Felix, age 15). This month brings back horrific memories to relive nightmares that filled the emptiness followed their departure from this world.

I often wonder why they were gone so soon and how could anyone harm them!! I tearfully wish they lived to see and be proud of who I am today. I truly hate when doctors here ask me about my parents medical history or how they died; what am I supposed to say? It’s hard to let go of the fact that my parents weren’t there to see their youngest son Eric getting married last December. When I am struggling, I miss Papa’s voice telling me that everything will be okay.

My Dear Parents!

Mama (photo taken in 1976; she was 22) and Papa (1985: he was 34)

Dear Lord, it’s not easy to accept that their grandkids and later generations will only meet them in my pages. My heart wanders each time I need someone to remind me of things from my childhood. I can’t help but wondering how my parents would have loved to see my place, meet my friends, see my new car, and hear about my job and stories of places I travel to on business. Father, I think that they’d have been proud. I am so sure of this!

Jesus, I very well know that where my loved ones are in your heaven, they’re no longer worried or suffering!

Will You please tell them that Miette, Alice, Eric and I miss them so deeply and love them very much!! Will You delegate your angels to narrate to them everything You had done for us for the past 21 years? Will You please assure Mama that You have been everything we ever need, that Your richness in us surpasses all our understanding? Will You tell Papa how your Protection keeps us safe, Your Love is our shield, Your Glory our success, Your grace our happiness?

Will You tell them that You have been our Provider, Defender and a shoulder to cry when we miss them? As I wrote last year this time that You and I would take care of their son’s wedding, will You please tell them for me that everything was perfect because You were our Guest of Honor? You are able to explain it better than I could ever do.

Father, will You again read the below TRIBUTE I wrote last year to Mama, Papa, Marie Claudine and Jean Felix? Thank you so much for putting an end to their pain and suffering of this life, and for making them dwell in your heaven and resting them in your eternal peace! And thank you for enabling me to honestly forgive their killers! You alone can make broken lives beautiful!

A Tribute to my Loved Ones on the 20th anniversary (2014)

In A Garden of Fame Where Their Treasured Memories Grow Fonder: Two Decades Later!

“For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:22-24

What if God’s Blessings Came Through Raindrops?

If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” ~ Martin Luther King

Just like the rest of the world, as I still try to wrap my head around the tragedy that cost lives of 298 souls from different nationalities and backgrounds aboard the Malaysian Airlines flight MH 017 that crashed in Eastern Ukraine, honestly, it is a harsh reminder of how fragile and short life is, regardless of the cause of the tragedy. I pray for God’s comfort for all the victims’ family members, relatives and friends during this tough time! God alone is capable of consoling their broken hearts. Words cannot describe the degree of their loss!

Late last year, as I planned to visit one of the Asian countries, everything was on schedule: the round trip ticket has been purchased in advance and all the details were coming together, except one important detail. Everyone, of course minus its own citizens, needs a visa to visit this country that shall remain nameless. I have never seen unprofessional way of handling matters than the way the Embassy staff of this country processes things.

In fact, it just reminded me how some third world countries, including my own home country, we have a ridiculous way of thinking that when we make people crawl to their knees to beg us, it proves that we have power over them. You may check in at the hospital to find a receptionist talking on the phone, during business hours, about her nails and hair and whatnot, when there is a long line of patients that have been waiting for hours and sick. It’s disheartening!

Image Copyrights: © Blessings by Laura Story

So, long story short, my visa application was neither denied nor approved. After waiting for about 10 weeks with no response from the embassy, except that I simply had to wait, I decided to go there in person. To my surprise, the staff answered me exactly the same: “you have to wait”. Eventually, I decided to withdraw my application. Because my flight was only few days out, I didn’t see a need to leave my passport there anymore. I figured that I may need to change my travel plans. I sadly hard to cancel everything at the last minute.

I definitely had to allow myself enough time to accept that a trip that has been planned for a long time, leave alone the money that was spent, has been brought to a sudden dead end for no clear reason. But as I tried to comprehend it all and asking God why, I pondered on this:

What if there was a good reason behind this disappointment? What if there was danger or harm on the way, and God who can see everything was shielding me from it?”

I don’t know the answer to that and just like there are so many questions that may never be answered in this life, but the Sovereign God who is above our thoughts and plans, knows what is best for us and loves us so deeply. He would rather let us cry than allowing us to venture into plans that He is not part of. Personally, as much as it hurts to not get things the way I want them, I would rather choose for God to have His way in my life! Because His ways and plans are flawless!

For passengers who missed the Malaysian flight 17 earlier this week, we can only imagine the extent of gratitude that they have now & for the rest of their lives, to whatever cause that hindered their way to catch this flight: rides to the airport, bumped to the next flight, financial difficulties, bad timing, sickness, road constructions, or visa application delays, you name it!

If it was possible for me to peek through the tears of my broken heart and be made aware of why my trip was unsuccessful, and perhaps find out that possibly something like a plane crash was what caused my trip cancellation, I wouldn’t even have hesitated for a second. I would have made every effort perhaps to meet every single staff at this embassy and thank them for whatever reason that caused the delay in processing my visa application.  And I am sure you would have felt the same way, no doubt about that!

© Blessings by Laura Story

Image Copyrights: © Blessings by Laura Story

If you could look at all your life plans today, how are you and I handling those that aren’t just working out the way we had hoped? It’s fair to be frustrated but do you ever wonder if there may be a good a reason behind everything? What if that job/promotion you didn’t get or that man/woman you didn’t end up with was going to be your worst nightmare?

What if that business plan or trip/vacation you tirelessly worked hard for but didn’t work out was going to end tragically? What if some of your dreams will not come true anytime soon for a specific good reason? What if some of your prayers aren’t answered yet for your best?

Take time and pause: be thankful to God for what you have today and for things that didn’t work out for your very own good.

Just like Laura Story sang, praying to God:

“What if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if the thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life, are Your mercies in disguise!
What if my greatest disappointments, or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life, the rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise!”

****

What if your misfortune, trials , pain, disappointments only happened to you to bring God’s Glory? Would you still question God to ask him why this, why now, why me? If your prayer is like Jesus in Gethsemane: “Not my will, but yours be done God”, then fasten your seat belt and rest assured in the backseat that you are in good hands as long as God is the driver! You will be safe under His leadership and guidance!

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world”. John 16: 33

She Is A Pure Beauty. And A Woman of GOD!

I am very privileged to know this stunning woman and eternally honored to call her my sister. It may sound silly to say that about your little sister, but if I was asked about someone I know who is wise and rich in knowledge, she would be the first one in my mind. She is so many years younger than I am, but it’s incredible how she is full of wisdom. She always reminds me of our mother Colette; all my Mom’s good qualities got passed onto my little sister. The love she has for God is truly outstanding; she is a prayer warrior, a woman of faith. She inspires me and challenges me at the same time.

Alice is a very good planner and someone who makes everything look normal and organized in our family.  It’s not unusual to hear her friends entrusting their whole wedding plans into her hands and resting assured that everything will be perfect, because Alice is there. Unlike me and the rest of our two siblings, she is very outgoing and gets along with everyone she meets. She makes friends in public transportation, churches, public market, everywhere she goes. I definitely find it impressive because the last thing I would be comfortable doing is to talk to strangers in random places.

She is a very good cook, too, a skill that I certainly don’t have. She makes everyone feel welcome. You may find yourself too comfortable to leave; it happens often with her friends. On the other hand, I am not good at hosting parties or knowing what to prepare when I invite people over. I must admit that I have to think so hard when I have friends over :(. It doesn’t come naturally I guess!

Ladies and gentleman, allow me to introduce to you the most amazing woman on the whole planet, Miss Alice.
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce to you the most amazing woman on the whole planet, my little sister Alice.

I am not the only one in our house who thinks Alice makes things work; recently we had a conversation about an upcoming big family event, trying to piece things together. Since Alice is currently away in grad school, our youngest sister Mireille said that when she comes back, she will fix this and that. None of us objected to that, we nodded in agreement. She doesn’t even know we volunteered her during her absence.

If there is a new project to be proposed for our family, Alice is somehow always the best one to bring it up, and she does it so amazingly that you can never argue or say no. When something major needs to happen, my little brother Eric and sister Mireille always put her in front and say that it’s her idea. She is very reasonable in what she says and very well articulated. My little sister especially slows me down when I am needlessly in a rush or being unreasonable, and reminds me that I can relax, after all, even parents need to chill sometime.

She is someone I can trust with all my heart; I can always rely on her words of wisdom. They lift me up. She is very creative in so many ways, brilliant and a very hard worker; for example, she initially went to grad school with the expectation to get one Master’s degree. When she arrived there, she decided to double major. She is now expecting two Master’s degrees this year. Alice also gets nominated for leadership roles everywhere she is, always. I often wonder how I am possibly related to my 3 siblings who are all way beyond talented and so beautiful!

There is not a single day that passes by without praising God for putting an incredible little sister in my life. I doubt that our parents ever got to know how amazing and special their little girl is, in only 6 years they had known her. I am glad I am there for them. I treasure everything in my heart and ponder on it often; I cannot wait to tell my parents all about it, in heaven.

Alice is an astonishing young woman, and I am very very honored that she is indeed my sister. She is beautiful inside-out, and I am forever proud of the marvelous woman my beautiful baby has become. I know she will do great things in life, there is no doubt about that; I am equally excited and looking forward to it all with great anticipation and gratitude.

Only God knows how much I love her, her sister and brother; because my love for them came from above!  They are my treasure all my days!

Glory be to you GOD, always!

God is not “Fair”. He is JUST!

By definition, being fair means: “free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice. A fair decision; a fair judge; legitimately sought, pursued, done, given, etc.; proper under the rules.” When we get what we truly deserve, in a good way, it’s called fairness. The jurisdiction system should be fair.

On the other hand, God is not “fair“. This is simply a definition we give to “justice”, in our eyes, not God’s. A simple example is Psalm 103:10 (NKJV): “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities.” If you read the definition I shared above, this is not fairness at all. If you continue and read a few more verses up to 14, in lieu of fairness, we see mercy.

So, digging deep into the meaning, if God was fair, there shouldn’t be tragedies. Of course God does not cause them but He is mighty to stop them from happening, right? But we, as human beings, have ways of justifying what we “think” is right, or fair. But this does not necessarily mean that God sees it the same way, although we tend to believe so.

Let’s look at these few examples:

  • The city of Moore, Oklahoma pummeled by the tornado is beyond comprehension. Emotions of lucky parents reuniting with their survived children from the two elementary schools debris were simply contagious and very moving. The news of some other parents who waited on what may be their loved ones’ fate was simply heartbreaking.
  • Watching the news as the death toll climbed every minute, of people whose lives depended on the little money they made for hours in a country half way across the world, at a Bangladesh garment factory, didn’t make sense at all.
  • Words cannot depict the earthquake that reduced the Haitian capital city to rubble, where more than two hundred thousand people died in January 2010 and the country incurred heavy irreparable damages. My heart was overwhelmed with fear as I waited for the news of a good friend we met in grad school: Katarina, her husband and their baby boy, who was less than 6 months old at the time. By God’s grace, although they lost everything they owned in Port-au-Prince, they were safe and later returned to the United States. My friend’s survival story is unthinkable.
  • Last but certainly not least, the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda remains the worst atrocities of the 20th century; about a million Tutsi (and some Hutu who opposed the genocide) were killed in a period of 100 days. Roméo Dallaire, a Canadian UN Force Commander (UNAMIR 1993-1994), with an objective to assist the implementation of “Arusha Accords” between the Government of Rwanda and the opposition, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), wrote about his experience. I highly recommend his book: Shake Hands with the Devil.

Romeo Dallaire

You can add a lot more stories, and sadly more are happening as I type. Of course the cause of these tragedies always has little to do with people who encounter them. Also, the conclusion is not about who suffered the most or who deserves the most attention. I personally believe that it’s about what we learn from the experience and finding God’s Power & Plan amid the situation.

In my human mind, of course it’s not fair for children to die, or innocent people to suffer, or bad things to happen to good people. It is very hard to understand that some people may be in abundance while in some places others die from hunger. When all this happen, we start blaming God and wonder where He is as everything happens. Many expressions in Rwanda later quoted that the “God of Rwanda” was absent starting the evening of April 6, 1994.

In some scenarios, we even take it further, by suggesting the Mighty God what would have happened, had He been there! We’re not the only ones though. When Jesus arrived 3 days after his friend Lazarus died, his sister Martha started to blame him. She instructed Jesus that if he had been there sooner, that her brother wouldn’t have died (John 11:21). Of course Jesus was there to not only raise Lazarus from the dead, but to also glorify His Father’s Name. If Jesus healed him instead, I am pretty sure that the miracle may have not been as powerful to them as bringing him back to life.

The truth is, no matter how one may seem to have it all together, we each have struggles on our own levels. We face different challenges in life, but the good news is that God cannot give us more than we can handle. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it“. 1 Corinthians 10:13

To sum up everything, I know without doubt that God is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. It’s absolutely not because certain places or people are cursed that they should deserve what happens to them. “For God makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust“.(Matt 5:45). God is Just, Almighty, a Healer, a Counselor, a Father to the Fatherless, filled with unwavering mercy and everlasting grace. Along with that, His calendar, schedule, curriculum, budget, judgement are NOT reasonable to our terms.

God does not cause earthquakes, hurricanes or tornadoes, but He is right there when and as it happens. After all, we hear survivors’ amazing stories. After all, it’s not by their own power that those are spared. God is forever on the highest throne; His ways are not ours, nor His thoughts are like ours. You cannot advise Him nor question what He’s doing. He does according to His will on earth as it is in heaven. He rules the world with Truth, Grace and Justice. If you trust Him, when everything falls apart, you will be safe in His arms.

Weep with those who mourn and rejoice with those who celebrate. Treasure each day you have, tomorrow is not granted. Be eager to lend help, you never know when you may need it, too. Be considerate, mindful and sympathetic. Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them.

May God comfort those who mourn today and ease pain for those who are suffering, in the name of Jesus. May today all those who are in distress hear His soothing voice and may their hope be lifted high.

May His Holy Name be praised, now and always!