There’s Hope

“…but those who hope in the Lord  will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  – Isaiah 40:31

My work contract ends on March 31.  My bosses are working hard to keep me.  However, visa issues have kept them from making any promises if I’d stay or leave. 

If I’d manage to stay, I would survive a second redundancy case.  Being kicked out is nothing new.  Working in the Middle East as an expat is an uncertainty these days. In fact, it has been, the past couple of years.  My husband was actually one of the first casualties.

It’s sad considering we’re still way above our heads in debt.  And with my husband still unemployed, I should have worried myself to death, or to debt, for that matter.  To even imagine the prospect of being jobless as well, would have made me cringe.

But even I am surprised how the grace of God has given me the absolute trust that my husband and I are not alone in this plight.  I know that He sees what we are going through, and He will not leave us alone, helpless and hopeless.  

I don’t know what’s in it for me by the end of this month.  But God knows.  Because he had already written it long before I was even born.  He planned it for He is the architect of my life.

Surely His plans are not to harm me, but to prosper me.  Exactly how, only He knows.  And if only for that, I should not be afraid.  Because if I depend on what I know, there’s nothing but despair.

But in God, I lean on because only He knows what my purpose is.  Through Jesus Christ, who is the Way, I shall find it.

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Bloom Where You Are Re-planted

“Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them…” 1 Corinthians 7:17

I just celebrated my 48th birthday a few weeks back. As part of my annual sentimental “look-back” at what have been, I realized that there is one constant that dominates the story of my life- and that is MOVING.

Before I finished my studies, I lived at 5 different houses and went to 8 different schools. from the time i got married until now, I lived at 9 houses and worked in a commercial establishment, a government agency, a bank, 2 schools and a hospital. That does not include where I live and work now.

Sometimes I wonder what my life could have been if there wasn’t too much action. How stress-free it could have been if i work at the same office table until i retire. And how comforting to live in just one house until my last breath. But who really knows?

So S also wondered how it could have been if I was stuck in only one corner of the same office and worked consistently on the same assignment everyday. by now I would have probably mastered the grooves and accomplish all without batting my short lashes, but how bored to death I would be now.

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I also wondered how many places I would not have the privilege to visit if it was my destiny to normally age within the four corners of the same house i was born to. How I would have missed the rapid beating of my heart whenever i experience the rising of the sun and its setting from different perspectives, the changing of the seasons under a different view of the sky, the genuine tastes and sounds of various societies.

And yes, I wondered how many people I would not have met… and known… and loved, if I was just bounded by the walls of my immediate family. I would not have known people from other nations who are as diverse in our culture and tradition, yet so similar in our humanity.

Moving is actually a joyful adventure for me rather than a futile exercise; like a flowering plant that is constantly being pulled from where it has grown its roots and re-planted to a new and strange spot. It may be a new pot or a beautiful garden. It doesn’t matter where, only its purpose is to bloom.

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I believe I am God’s little flower. And I am repeatedly being uprooted and re-planted to serve my purpose. I am in the here and now because God planned this from the beginning.

When it is time for that little flower in me to move again, I will no longer wonder. because all I need to do is bloom.

the coconut nut

“Should you then seek great things for yourself?  Seek them not.  For I will bring disaster on all people, declare the LORD, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.”  Jeremiah 45:5

fely comes to our house regularly to do the laundry.  she also helps mommy with  stuff.  she runs errands, cleans and cooks too.  sometimes, she just drops by to check on mommy and if there’s anything else that she can do for her.  but at the end of  every day’s work, fely walks to her humble abode to be with her family, for whom she works very hard for.

fely, who did not take an oath, serves our family the best that she can.  with her frail and thin physique, she is able to do things which seem incredible for us to do.  she doesn’t demand to live in our house, much less sleep in the master bedroom.  her husband, who drives their family-owned pedicab for a living, follows simple barangay traffic rules and regulations.  though life is hard, they do their jobs diligently.  and i am certain that they are happy and comfortable with whatever they are blessed with –  jobs to do, family to belong, a small rented house.

fely and her husband are simple people with simple needs,  but that doesn’t mean they live without dignity. 

what is dignity then? it is the quality of being worthy of esteem or respect.  we don’t have to be rich, or pretty, or hold a high government position, or live in a coconut palace to have dignity.  dignity is not something that one should demand from others because it emanates from one’s innate nature of being treated with respect.  dignity comes from within and radiates spontaneously. 

for a newly elected public servant to even consider a grand residence and office for dignity, is an insult to the poor people that he promised to serve, a great percentage of which live in shanties.   we are made to think that our house is what we are.  that thinking only reduces the self-image to inferiority and helplessness. no less than President Noynoy said “Kayo ang boss ko.”  can’t a vice-president also serve his countrymen and perform his functions with dignity if he lives in a modest house in a modest neighborhood? was his predecessor less dignified? now more than ever, it is worthwhile to recall what lolo and lola once said “Mabuti pa ang kubo kung ang nakatira ay tao, kasya isang palasyo na ang nakatira ay kwago.” 

isn’t it ironic that the new president whose official residence is a palace, humbly chose to reside in a small guest house across the river, yet his vice-president asks for a palace with the famous view of the manila bay sunset to be his official residence? if this is a tumor, there’s something benign here that must be treated soonest before it turns malignant.  seriously…

we are all equal in the eyes of  God.  He placed us exactly where we are now, because he has a master plan for the natural order of things. my fervent prayer is that each of us realize what our role in that plan is, in order to fulfill the ultimate purpose of our existence.  otherwise, the tale of the coconut nut in the palace will go down in history.

message sent

“And the angel said to her ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and you shall bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom, there will be no end.’…

…And Mary said ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.” Luke 1:30-33, 38

have you ever wondered how simple misunderstandings result to  severed ties, destroyed friendships, couples split-up and broken families?  how about workplace foul-ups?  ha-ha, now tell me about it.

yesterday was my lucky day.

a corporate volcano spewed verbal pyroclastics and an emotional flow of  utter annoyance  from the intense heat had taken place.  if  i had given into temptation, a full-blown eruption could have ensued.  but thank God,  i was able to hold my composure, and my joyful nature prevailed. 

it all started with a simple email, the response of which should have been the answer to my query, or a simple idk ( i don’t know).  but instead the recipient confronted me asking me why i sent him the email, that he was not the right person to send it to, that he doesn’t have any idea of what i was asking for.  i tried to reason out with him but instead his voice took on a higher and angrier tone.  i was dumbfounded because i have absolutely no idea where all that furor was coming from.

God knows how much patience kept my tolerance to a manageable level.  until finally the guy got tired, probably because he did not get the reaction that he expected.  he started to walk away.  as he did, when i realized he already let his guard down, i told him with poise and dignity intact,  “your reply could have been just a simple yes, no or i don’t know.  no more, no less.”  we could have spent our time in more productive endeavors, and preserved a bit of whatever is left of the wee respect that we still have for him.

the trouble with people is, sometimes we tend to read between the lines instead of accepting the message at face value.  we are always suspicious that maybe, we are told with what was meant otherwise.  if we keep living in doubt, then where will we find certainty?

today is the feast of the Annunciation.  when the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she will be the mother of God, indeed she was full of grace, she had enough faith to believe.  just imagine if she did not say “let it be done unto me according to your word”

Jesus is the message sent by our Father for our salvation.  let us then, pray for discernment.  so that when we respond, it wouldn’t rot in the outbox.  but rather, by our acts of faith, we would be able to forward them.  and through us, that same message of  God would be sent.

to love and to labor

“Let your life be free from  love of money, but be content with what you have, for he has said “I will never forsake you or abandon you.” Thus we may say with confidence:

 

The Lord is my helper,

(and) I will not be afraid.

What can anyone do to me?”

Hebrews 13:5-6

 

CNN featured a story about a top advertising executive of a company who had lost his job and is now working as a a5d6bf9b313eef1abarista in Starbucks, quite a leap from the prestigious career he once had.  Aside from his age which is not the usual that we see in the coffee shop, his aura of joy and contentment when he sometimes mops the floor and clean the counters was really remarkable, considering he was not used to manual labor.  During the interview, I couldn’t help but admire his wisdom especially on how to get through these tough times.

 

He said something like: no one is really in control of what’s to happen, but we can all control our reaction to whatever situation we are in.   And when asked if he would accept a “half a million dollar a year” job offer again, he said no for the reason that he now found a full-time life with his part-time job.

 

for his complete inspiring story, go to:

http://edition.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/worklife/02/05/starbucks.saved.my.life/

 

cafdf0a262fb34701This is in contrast with the tragic story a week before that, about a father who killed his wife and all of his five children, before killing himself.  This happened after he and his wife lost their jobs one after the other.  Desperation and frustration might have driven him to end it all.  Whether it was to spare his family from a difficult life ahead, or to simply  spare himself from stretching his comfortable limits, we would never know.  But if only he had an encounter with the Starbuck’s guy and heard about how he coped, he and his family might still be alive.

 

for twenty years now, i have already been in and out of work, employed or otherwise, and by choice.  i have seen how different office environment works.  i have endured managers and co-workers with diverse personalities.  i have met people from all walks of life during a short stint with our  small business venture.  i have bridged generation gaps when i had the privilege to teach in our small town’s community college.  really i have a very colorful resume.  sadly, colors don’t have anything to do with success in terms of career.  numbers do.

 

now that the world is in chaos, the global economy in shambles and millions are losing their jobs, i am now beginning to see employment in a different perspective.  way back when there were choices to make, (although i give my more than hundred percent in whatever i do)  i see it as just a temporary occupation.  something else to do when my motherhood needs some diversion.  f60fb6d21fa7d698but now that job offers are scarce and life can be harsh without one, i am learning to value mine like a treasure.  aside from having a great boss, such nice guys to work with, and tasks that are custom-designed to my capabilities; my job now is such a blessing from heaven which the angels delivered when i am ready to harvest its fruits. in short, i am falling in love with work and overwhelmed by its importance.  not just in terms of money, but by the intricate design of destiny in which the Lord had painted me onto.  if only all of us shall see jobs as a privilege where we may serve God and be instruments of His peace and hope….and yes, love.

 

1_985790768l3during this month of  love, and now in this world of recession, i guess the best statement is “love means never having to say i resign”.

 

 

 

 

Wayne’s time to go

“He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer saying, “‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will’.” Matthew 26:39

 it was a very ordinary morning in the office.  but after the brief meeting with the boss, it turned out to be one that would that would change not only the mood for the day.  but the general outlook in the office for days to come. 

 after the new year, we were all in a “fresh start” mode.  the past one was not as good as the previous years in terms of business, so they all say.  in fact, in global terms, it was disaster.  though the company was already starting to feel the crunch, our team is exceptionally determined and hopeful that we shall brave the stormy weather.

Mr. Wayne's Moody KSA family
Mr. Wayne's Moody KSA family
our team is a merging of different nationalities who blend together on a common vision.  it embodies the ideals of each individual employee.  and despite differences in opinions and disagreements on certain minor issues, at the end of the day, these diversities are molded to form a strong bond to which the company leans on during times when it needs support the most.

but what really holds our team together is the company’s best asset.  his name is Wayne Allen

Mr. Wayne
Mr. Wayne

and this morning he announced that he would soon be leaving.   

first reaction was shock.  we never saw this coming. 

and then, concern.  in our minds, we were all asking the same questions ‘why?’ 

then, anxiety.  his leaving would greatly affect the team.  but how?

and finally, that lingering sadness.

it’s only been three months since i first joined Moody.  the first impression that Mr. Wayne had on me is how simple, straightforward and intelligent he is.   and during the months that followed, the first impression proved to last. 

he always remembers to express his appreciation even for the smallest deed, or simplest instruction that we followed.  and he would always praise us for reports  well done and on time.   he is gentleman enough so as to refrain himself from saying !#*!?^$&@#?!+=^  words during meetings because ladies were present.  he is always ready to listen to whatever we had to say.  no matter how silly it may seem,  he would still like to hear what’s on our minds. 

he calls our attention for our inaction.  he scolds us when we do wrong, but he is humble enough to apologize when he thinks he had already scolded us too much.  well most managers do that too.  but these things he does in a way only Wayne Allen can.

Mr. Wayne with Mr. Hussein, Nelson, Bong, Riyaz and Rehan
Mr. Wayne with Mr. Hussein, Nelson, Bong, Riyaz and Rehan
he is a good boss.  but as for me, considering the numerous companies that i had already been with, he is the best boss that i ever had.  but on top of that, he is a good man.  he brings out the best in us. he inspires us.  he moves us.  he cares for us.  he is special.   he is one of a kind.  he’s one great, cool guy.  that’s what sets him way above the rest.

in this lifetime, we are fortunate enough to come across extraordinary people like Wayne Allen.  and we are all overwhelmed with sadness, because our journey with him is soon to end.  but the seeds of  kindness that he planted in our hearts shall bear fruits to do our jobs the best we can with pride.  it’s the least that we could do to remember him by. 

though the office would be gloomy for quite a while after he leaves, we shall also be happy that somewhere in some part of the world, others shall be as blessed to know him and work with him. 

It is always an honor to have worked with you.  We will be missing you SIR WAYNE!

now there’s three

‘”..Amen I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you.”  Matthew 17:20-21

having to decide between two choices is hard enough. but three? oh it’s extremely tough now.  i was able to ask for another week from the hospital where i was interviewed before to think things over.  i agreed to their offer, which really is acceptable to me already.  what makes me hesitate though is the working hours that i have to endure.  split duty; the other half of which would require me to stay until midnight.  it’s no problem to most. but i’m not really a night person, and evenings are when our family is complete, when we can share with each other the hustle and bustle of the whole day doing each our own stuff.  so you see i’d be missing all the fun if ever.  besides, wondering what the other choice has to offer makes me stop and think awhile.

but still jittery of this new going ons in my life, comes this new opportunity that one wouldn’t be able to ignore. a call came from the bigger and more reputable hospital to review my resume again for possible placement.  but now again i stopped. and i shall wait.  not for any call from these possible employers.  but for the voice of God to  tell me what to do next.  He didn’t fail me last week.  He will not fail me ever.  meanwhile, my hands are full with what i love doing most and what God has assigned for me at the moment.  take care of my family. and do my art.  which i intend to do.  with or without the job offers that are coming my way.

letting God

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things will be given you besides.”  Matthew 6:33

praise God for all His grace and glory!  yesterday, i had an initial job interview with the chief finance officer of a reputable hospital.  today, i would like the whole world to know that i have been able to go through it all because of God’s unending mercy and greatness. 

days before that i really was in a dilemma if i should go or not.  you see, i have another offer from a multinational company which i really preferred.  i would have rather waited for them to call first.  but there’s no way to be certain which really is a better choice. so again, i asked God for his guidance.  you know, let Him lay out all the  pros and cons. all i needed to do was sit still and quietly discern all the clues and do my best. so there during the course of the interview, matters of grave importance which was of no concern for me before were brought up.  and then, i had a better perspective.  no longer do i see choices in a one track point of view. i believe God showed me which way to go.  and i was glad that i let Him. as always.  what happens next?  guess i still have to find out and reserve the answers for my next blog.  but sure is all for the best. 

Thank you Lord.