The Lesson from the Socks and the Shoes

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I remember fifteen years ago. My youngest who was a cutie, little boy then, could barely open his eyes much less put on his uniform to go to school.

Every morning, from the bathroom, he sat down on a chair with his curly hair still dripping. His eyes drooped as I helped him get into his uniform.

I remember how I would kneel before him when I put his socks, and then his shoes onto his tiny feet. His helpless baby face tried hard to stay awake.

Now he has grown. He can do pretty much all things by himself. As I grew older, my power over him diminished by the day.


There will be challenging situations in our lives, when our human battery will be depleted, and only a higher power can recharge us.

It is our God Almighty. Not Bruce Almighty. Definitely not the Marvel Super Heroes, nor the Fantastic Beasts. 

God is the power bank to which we should be connected at all times.

Notice when, at our weakest, we instinctively call upon Him. Because deep in our hearts, we know God is ever present and powerful. That the mere mention of the name of Jesus, all the heavens hear.

He won’t hesitate to put our “socks and shoes” on for us when we need to, but can’t. So we can go forward.

For as much as we love our children, God loves us even more. 

Embrace the Sadness

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

It’s been four days now. So I told Bhoy yesterday that I feel sad and I don’t know why. Being the thoughtful husband that he is, he tried to find ways to make me happy. 

He bought chocolates for me. He agreed to walk 3km in the park even if unsure of the heat and humidity. He tried to make me laugh with his antics. But to no avail.

It’s not just him. I also did my part. I worked to distract my thoughts from my sadness. I blogged. I listened to Wayne Dyer’s podcasts. I watched the Pope in New York. But even that made me sadder because there are many issues in the world and only a few care and act.

But that’s getting ahead of my story.

Today we planned to go fishing and moon watch. They said the super blood moon will appear again only after around twenty years or so. So it’s a must to go and witness this rare phenomenon at least once in our lifetime. 

But we remembered it is a Sunday. We go to mass at 7pm. So there, change of plans. Fishing has to be scrapped. We’ll go to the tree of life after mass and hope that we’ll still be able to catch the moon at its grandest.

There you go. I feel this way because life has not turned out the way I planned it. Even the simplest plan for the day would often be cancelled or changed as needed. 

But come to think of it. Life is not about my plans. It is about His plans for me. Since my life is intertwined with all of God’s creation, I should welcome all that it has to offer, including detours, cancellations, postponements and pleasant surprises.

I still feel sad. I embrace the sadness trusting that God has a purpose for its existence. I may not figure it out yet, but I trust God’s perfect time when all his plans for me including dreams, failures, lessons and achievements will be realized. 

It’s never about me. It’s all about my Lord. 

The Journey Continues

“But take care, as you value your lives! Do not forget the things which you yourselves have seen, or let them slip from your heart as long as you live; teach them, rather, to your children and to your children’s children.” Deuteronomy 4:9

On February 27 of this year, our Christian Life Seminar was finally over. The “travelling angels” from Riyadh in Saudi Arabia and from San Diego in California, USA noted that it was the longest CLS in the history of CFC-FFL.

Tito Cris and his wife, Tita Poochie began with the first talk in March 2014. They went home to the Philippines in summer. Thereafter, they encountered difficulties in securing visas to enter Bahrain. So that it was only in early November that we were able to meet again. In February of this year, we were introduced to Tito Froy who was temporarily assigned to Bahrain. And before our dedication, came his wife, Tita Belle. During the Feb Fridays that we gather in Jesus’ name, Guadalupe, a two month old baby girl, together her parents Bro Seneth and Sis Joy, joined our family, Bhoy, Megan, Miguel, and Mac in our praise and thanksgiving to God. And so our CFC-FFL family was complete, just as the CLS was completed.

That was the chronology of the CLS events as I recalled- one year summed up in one paragraph. Yet the substance of each single moment that we have shared together in the love of God is so profound that it will take a lifetime for me to share. It is pure joy to know God and love God. It is divine to share His love.

As the purpose of the CLS is evangelisation and spiritual renewal, it is now our life’s purpose to fulfill the will of God.

We will be forever grateful to our “travelling angels”, Tito Cris, Tita Poochie, Tito Froy and Tita Belle, for their valuable time, perseverance and effort to enable us know God and love God better. May the Lord continue to shower his blessings upon them.

Our CLS may have come to an end, but the journey continues. We, who are called, together with Bro Seneth and Sis Joy, have a lot to do. May we not be weakened by the world’s distractions. But rather, call upon the Holy Spirit day by day for the constant renewal of our faith, while we carry our own crosses together with our Savior, Jesus Christ, on the path towards the eternal kingdom of God.

 

 

 


Of Misencounters, Reencounters and a Prayer for Peace

“Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” Psalm 34:14

The images of the honorable PNP SAF Troopers who died on that fateful morning on January 25 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao will forever be etched in our minds and hearts. The details of what many in our government call a misencounter had already been told and retold. The weeping of the families and loved ones of the fallen are being heard over and over within the echoes of our recent memories. And now as the continuing story of investigations and inquiry will follow through the pain that would never go away, there is one thing that we should never forget. The one thing that these gallant 44 had fought hard for, and that we should cherish so their sacrifice would not be in vain. That is PEACE.

At this moment, when the wounds in our hearts are still fresh and the strength of each loved one is still delicately fragile, there is only anger, outrage and betrayal. I must admit, as far as I may be from Mamasapano, my initial reaction is shock at the number of lives lost. They were just too many to comprehend. Then sadness…The sight of the lifeless bodies who once stood with dignity and courage were just too much for a gentle heart to handle. And finally anger… I was angry that people are capable of doing something horrific so close to home. I was furious that the President Aquino made a choice that caused the hurt already too much to bear, to swell all the more. I was like “OMG you are President and you can’t cancel a scheduled appointment? Not even for the sake of your so-called “bosses” would you spare some mercy and compassion to what they were going through at the time they needed them most?” I would have wanted to think that the Mitsubishi rendezvous was a “misencounter”. That the President went to the wrong place at the wrong time.

But who are we to judge? What good deed have I done for my country that make me consider myself better than the President or other government officials for that matter so much that I loathe every unpopular decision that they make or any grave mistake they commit? So we are all angry. Now what? Does my loathing help ease the pain of a hurting nation? Or am I just adding to the problem instead of solving it?

As prayers continue to pour for the souls of the valiant PNP SAF Troopers and for the family and loved ones they left behind, I continue to pray for peace. I realized, that as it is human to feel the way we did, there is a time to get past the rage. What good would it do if we keep on scratching the wound? It would just cause the wound to grow bigger and eventually impossible to heal.

I am still angry at what had happened in Mamasapano. I am still grieving together with those who mourn. But I choose to continue to pray. For HEALING,for JUSTICE, for PEACE…

We need not wait for deals, agreements or pacts to be signed to attain peace. We can begin now, with ourselves. We have the choice to be channels of peace. It is the only way. So that after the haze of gunfire and tears had died down, our reencounters will instead be borne of brotherhood and love.

To our heroes, rest in peace in God’s sweet embrace and I pray that your great sacrifice would be worth it… I salute you.

1. Sr. Insp. Ryan Ballesteros Pabalinas
2. Sr. Insp. John Garry Alcantara Erana
3. Sr. Insp. Max Jim Ramirez Tria
4. Sr. Insp. Cyrus Paleyan Anniban
5. Sr. Insp. Gednat G. Tabdi
6. Insp. Joey Sacristan Gamutan
7. Insp. Rennie Tayrus
8. SPO1 Lover L. Inocencio
9. PO3 Rodrigo F. Acob Jr.
10. PO3 Virgel S. Villanueva

11. PO3 Andres Viernes Duque Jr.
12. PO3 Vitoriano Nacion Acain
13. PO3 Noel Onangey Golocan
14. PO3 Junrel Narvas Kibete
15. PO3 Jed-In Abubakar Asjali
16. PO3 Robert Dommolog Aliaga
17. PO3 John Lloyd Rebammonte Sumbilla
18. PO2 Amman Misuari Esmulla
19. PO2 Peterson I. Carap
20. PO2 Roger C. Cordero

21. PO2 Nicky DC Nacino Jr.
22. PO2 Glenn Berecio Badua
23. PO2 Chum Goc-Ong Agabon
24. PO2 Richelle Salangan Baluga
25. PO2 Noel Nebrida Balaca
26. PO2 Joel Bimidang Dulnuan
27. PO2 Godofredo Basak Cabanlet
28. PO2 Franklin Cadap Danao
29. PO2 Walner Faustino Danao
30. PO2 Jerry Dailay Kayob

31. PO2 Noble Sungay Kiangan
32. PO2 Ephraim G. Mejia
33. PO2 Omar Agacer Nacionales
34. PO2 Rodel Eva Ramacula
35. PO2 Romeo Valles Senin II
36. PO1 Russel Bawaan Bilog
37. PO1 Angel C. Kodiamat
38. PO1 Windell Llano Candano
39. PO1 Loreto Guyab Capinding
40. PO1 Gringo Charag Cayang-o

41. PO1 Romeo Cumanoy Cempron
42. PO1 Mark Lory Orloque Clemencio
43. PO1 Joseph Gumatay Sagonoy
44. PO1 Oliebeth Ligutan Viernes

Doing the Math

John answered and said “No one can receive anything except what has been given him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said I am not the Messiah, but that I was sent before him. The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; the best man, who stands and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine is complete. He must increase; I must decrease.” John 3:27-30

I was never good at Math. I disliked it. In fact, I feared it. I cringed at the thought of it.

After high school, I wanted to be an architect. As a child, I fancy recreating home scenes especially with mahjong tiles. I remembered waiting patiently for my Mom and aunts for their mahjong breaks when they had coffee and snacks. I would build rooms upon rooms with matching furniture and appliances, all of mahjong tiles. Imagine how amazed I was with the introduction of Lego.

So I was determined. I would design houses. Much to my Mom’s disappointment. She wanted me to take up AB English. She believed I would be a fine journalist or a great teacher. But then no, I was a stubborn girl. I followed my heart’s desire.

But reality showed its ugly face… I flunked College Algebra, then Analytic Geometry and more. I loved designing, but I refused to see that I have a weakness. Because I thought I can do anything, reach anything, achieve everything. Then slowly my dreams fell apart, like mahjong tiles that were stacked up in a rather crooked manner. It took two grueling years to wake me up from my most dreaded nightmare. The dream was gone. I would never be an architect.

There is nothing wrong with having to dream. In fact, it is the stuff that success stories are made of. But if our dreams cause us to be insanely proud and self-righteous, then we are doomed for disaster. If our dreams become the vessel that separates us from the innate kindness and innocence from within ourselves, then our definition of success is meaningless.

Yes, I should have listened to my Mom. My case is one example when the statement “Mothers know best” holds true. It is too late for me when I have proven that. I was young. I was proud. And I was a fool.

I was raised Catholic. I studied in a Catholic school. I prayed. But I never really acknowledged God’s presence in my life. All along He was there. Patiently waiting to catch me the moment I fall from my own folly. But I was too busy looking at myself proudly. Not because I was seeing the beauty of God’s creation. But because I was blinded by the vision of a false image of success. I was blinded by myself, I failed to see Him.

It didn’t stop there. My journey was a series of unfortunate events. It is a painful process. But if it would take that to keep my eyes open, then I would take the painful path over and over again.

We are not kings of our selves. The Creator is always greater than His creation. Only God rules over us. He knows the way, because He is the Way. And if Jesus Christ humbled Himself as a man to show His perfect love for us, then why can’t we, in our lowliness, be humble like Him?

Our pride and ego are formidable structures that are difficult to break, a potent combination for self-destruction. So it is truly essential that we keep our feet on the ground while reaching for the stars. Lest we shoot for the moon and get burned by the sun. We must decrease. Jesus must increase.

Labor Pains

“Martha, Martha” the Lord answered, “you are upset about so many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42

It’s the first day of the new year!!! It’s time to write a new book in our life’s story.
But first let me remember how I got this far.

If asked to describe 2014 in just one word, I choose “meaningful”.

From day one of 2014, the scene in our home where we just moved just days before, was absolutely chaotic. Except for that spot where we sat for the obligatory family photo, everywhere we look at were boxes upon boxes of stuff that were yet to be unpacked and sorted out. It took us about a month to put order into our new home.

Since I grew up where New Year’s Day is the gauge to which the whole year could be predicted to become, we made sure that on every New Year’s Eve, there was bountiful media noche; a clean house down to each cabinet drawers and shelves; pockets full of coins and bills; among other handed down traditions that somehow shape the way we think and live.

But traditions or not, regardless of the disorder in our New Year’s dwelling, 2014 was one that’s full of trials, challenges and difficulties. A year which one with a weak heart and spirit could not endure. The pain was excruciating to say the least. Though not physically, the pain nevertheless pierced each and every part of my being to the very core. But then with each surge of pain, there was always an anticipation so great it momentarily made me forget I was hurting.

Like I was in labor after months of carrying, not a bundle of joy, but a load too heavy to bear. I finally heaved a sigh of relief when a couple of days before Christmas of 2014, my prayer was answered. God once again gave me a gift of hope, like on that first Christmas when Jesus is the “gift” for our salvation.

I cannot recall ever praying so hard like I did those dark days in 2014. And when I saw the light in my answered prayer, the more I felt God’s presence in the here and now. Nothing compares, even those two times I gave birth to my children. The labor pains I had to endure became flickers of memory. The pain disappeared into the wonderful sight of a baby. Now into the sight of a rebirth to a second chance.

It never stops at giving birth. We had to nurture the life that was entrusted to us until it grows into its own fullness in Christ. So should I not stop after receiving the gift of answered prayer. This new year 2015 and for the rest of my life, I have the responsibility to follow through my promise to fulfill the will of God in me; a humble way to express my endless gratitude and praise for His unconditional love for me. I don’t expect the labor pains to go. I’d probably give birth to a new hope over and over again until I grow into full spiritual maturity. Until then, I look forward to this journey to more New Years to come with the Lord in my heart. As that first way of Jesus to the Cross, the pain would be worth it.

So please do not be discouraged. All of us has battlefields to go through at some points in our lives. God will never leave us, if we only let Him fight our battles for us through constant prayer. We have to acknowledge our weakness and believe in His power over all things and in all things.

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.

Let It Go

“Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.” Ecclesiastes 7:9

My office mate have been singing “let it go, let it go” since I came to work this morning until now that work is over.  I love the song but to hear only those three words over and over (she hums the rest of the song), annoyed me. Until I realized it may be an angel’s way to get a message across.

My patience is on a limited supply usually on the first week of each month, with all the deadlines and the cramming.  God knows i try so hard to be nice.  But there’s a lot going on in my life too.  The personal stuff, if you know what i mean.  And it’s causing my patience meter to do a roller coaster on me.  So it’s hard to flash that smile.  The way to go for my face now is blank.  Like no expression at all.  Like i’m on an out-of-body trip to the nearest exit. Like i’m frozen or something.

Finally before the day is over, I get it.  Tell that to me again… LEt it go.  Let it go. Let it go.  And I say, alright! alright! alright!

This is synonymous with sacrifice because I have to part with what I have.  Apparently, no one ever lets go of what he doesn’t have. So let me see, what do I have now?  I have negative vibes. Worries. Stress. Pain. Insecurity. Sadness. Darn! I didn’t realize how much I have until now. These I don’t really need in my life. So yes, let them go.

It is probably the best way to partake in the suffering of Christ.  To let go of our own.  and focus on His Cross.

Life Begins At 40

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”  Matthew 6:25-34

Life begins at 40. They always say, and yet when we reached that certain age, we already feel exhausted. Like we face a wall and BAMMMM!!! There’s nowhere else to go.  Nothing else to do but drop dead.

That’s just one of the harsh realities we face especially in this fast paced, buwis-buhay, survivor cum amazing race kinda life.  You slow down and you’re out of the game.  You catch your breath and you lose it even before you are able to exhale.

Even time offs are stressful! Packing bags, long queues at the airports, lost baggage, double bookings, unexpected weather conditions. Some things just gotta get in your way.  And before we realize it, we’re back to reality sitting behind our desk working our butts out or sweating it out on site.  Wherever, it’s the same old day.  We gotta do what we gotta do.

Yes, there are things that we ought to do now, that we don’t.  Like STOP!  and LOOK!

Today marks the beginning of LENT. Only 40 days of fasting, repentance, forgiveness, charity and prayer.  We owe it to God to look up to HIM on the cross. We owe it to others to look after them.  We owe it to ourselves to look beyond the world’s travesty. And we are in big trouble if we don’t know why.

40 starts today.  If we cannot stop, can we at least PAUSE? who knows?  This may be when “life” begins.

After Haiyan, so what now?

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”  Psalm 23:1-4

Long before Haiyan, clothes, shoes and bags that were unused for at least 6 months were collected and stored in boxes supposed to be sent to the GMA Foundation in Manila. But numerous typhoons and earthquakes had occurred, still the boxes remain open and unsent.

Excuses? Each box isn’t full. There’s no time to make any effort to fill them up, much less time to have them sent. Besides, there was no sense of urgency nor any need to send them sooner for we could see that there were enough donors to provide whatever the needs were for a certain calamity at any given time.

Toink!

I have seen it during the tsunami in Indonesia, typhoon Katrina in the US, earthquake and tsunami in Japan, with Ondoy, Pepeng and Pablo back home in the Philippines, but to see how an overwhelming number of lives can be taken in an instant at such scale, which no military intelligence or government spying could have prevented, makes devastation and tragedy real.  Not just words, photos and videos from the media. It is REAL. And it is shocking.

I realized that my heartache and grief stood for nothing because all I did was just sit and watch and sigh. I feel sorry for myself as much as I did for the victims because I did nothing. And I passed on those chances to help, be kind and generous. I’m alive yet what on earth am I living for if I would remain passive and useless.

Haiyan is the most powerful typhoon on recorded history.  Indeed, it didn’t just wipe out communities in Tacloban and other  towns in Leyte, Samar, Cebu, Aklan and other nearby island provinces. For a while, it also reduced the dignity of a people in favor of survival, which is a basic human instinct.

But Haiyan also moved the world.  Suddenly, we are all united as human beings towards a common goal- to help those in desperate need. Indeed this  super typhoon, not only brought about the worst damage, but also the best in terms of human spirit of brotherhood.

The open boxes will soon be closed and head to where they were intended. They won’t remain where they are any longer.  With fervent prayers for comfort, strength and hope, they will reach their destination, and their purpose will be served.

Those boxes represent the beginning  of an entirely new perspective on who I should have been all along.  Who we should strive to become- purposeful, useful, meaningful.

We’re 8 hours of flight away from where the world is focused on today.  From afar, I just pray that each one would think about what Haiyan brought forth.  Near or far, this typhoon changed us. If we still don’t get it, then everyday, it would keep trying to.  And I hope that it would not take a typhoon or any calamity  more devastating than Haiyan for us to finally get it.  Filipino or not, Haiyan sends its  message to one and all.

From now on, let us pray without ceasing.

Let us pray for healing, as a nation; as an individual, body and soul.

Let us pray for wisdom, to comprehend the profound message of recent events.

Let us pray for souls of  those who perished, and those they left behind who die over and over with anguish  knowing they lost everything, and not knowing how to start from nothing.

Let us pray that our lives would  be  “relief goods” to others and not “body bags” that are dead within.

Let us pray that instead of looking out on what other’s are doing (or not), let us look at ourselves.  WHAT ARE WE DOING?  We don’t know what others are going through, let us not judge. or we’ll be judged with the same measure. If you think or feel, that others are not doing enough, let our God be the judge to that.

Let us pray that instead of adding more negativity  to what has already happened, let us find  a way to  be a beacon to  one another to lead each other towards the light.  Not back to the eye of the typhoon, lest we revert to our doom  over and over again.

Let us fulfil God’s will in  our lives.  There is a reason why we are still alive and spared from the tragedy that is Haiyan.  Let us unite in faith, humility, perseverance, kindness, understanding,  empathy, generosity… and put an end to finger-pointing, blame game, doubts, sarcasm, insults, apathy,  selfishness, grandstanding, greed.

At the end of the day,  it is between me and my God…between you and your God.

Keep the Filipino spirit burning…PHILIPPINES, we can do  this!