Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Omnium-Gatherum (Random Thoughts 11)

The tightening of my pants is a witness to what I have doing in the past few weeks. Eating a lot! Since I did not spend Christmas last year here in Manila, I’ve almost forgotten how we Filipinos celebrate this wonderful season. Though my friends can’t and won’t believe me, it is true. I’ve gained some weight because of the too many pastas, chicken, chocolates, cakes, ice cream, sweet desserts and drinks that I have taken in. I plan to continue doing this in the next 3 or 4 days and then, back to normal fare. And I hope to lose all those weight I gained!

= = =

It was quite difficult to choose gifts this year. Busy schedule, Full-packed malls. Hundreds of choices. And well, limited budget too. And so, some friends I met for dinner, my treat. To many, I gave something that is completely practical and useful. To my godchildren, I included an extra item to their actual gifts… a plastic piggy bank (to encourage them to save up!). To some needy children, we gave little books about the love of God (others gave food and fun). And also food, specifically sweet yam. As a side story, I over-ordered and thus, ate a lot of sweet yam for the next five days!

= = =

It feels a bit weird to be in Manila, going to work each day whereas others seemed to be on a holiday already. It was wonderful though to leave home just 30 minutes before the start of the work day (I used to leave two hours before in order to beat the traffic!). It was fun to meet friends almost every night to celebrate, reunite (after a year!) and eat! It was tiring, of course. Especially if you sleep past midnight each night.

= = =

Thankful. That is what I feel. For the Lord’s faithfulness. For the Lord’s presence. I prayed that He would be with me this season. And He is, as He has always been with me.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Leaving home...

Pastor Rodel and I were just talking about it via Facebook. He and his family wasn't able to sleep well last night because of neighbors who were so insensitive. The singing went on until 3am. And here I am, desiring to do the revisions on my thesis and I couldn't think. Why? Singing neighbors at the back of our apartment!. It almost 10pm and they are still at it. Good thing the kids playing in front of our apartment were done playing (and shouting!) volleyball.

For the past two years, we have been discussing about leaving this place. For many reasons and one of which was given above. Why are we still here? Because when there is a respite from these troubles, I forget the need to find a new place. I wish we didn't need to move. We are comfortable. Well, almost. Easy access to my office, church, shopping malls, etc. We can go home in the wee hours and still reach home safely. Good supply of water (only in the last five years, I think). No flooding. We can keep pets. No robbery (except for our mynah bird many years ago). No rental increase since we started living here.

Until 2008. Somehow, the demography has changed. The one living beside us started holding drinking bouts at our shared little entrance. The strong smell of cheap alcohol often wafted into our home. Cigarette smokes were blowing into our living room and bedrooms. It felt so uncomfortable to go in and out because they were blocking the gate. The number of kids increased in number and for the life of me, they seem to like congregating in front of our house. Sometimes, songs would suddenly play from cellphones and disturb my midnight slumber. Dogs yapping all night but were never made to stop by their owners. Every time there is a feast, a birthday, a holy week event, etc. they would set up the tent in front of our gate. The men living at the boarding house at the back of our apartment multiplied. There were more noise, more frequent visits and arrests from either the barangay tanod (village security) or the police. Then a few months ago, another floor mushroomed, effectively blocking our second floor window. Meaning? Less air and more noise. Many constructions were being done and thus, lots of sand and dust. And construction workers who huddle together and follow you with your eyes. I am not being discriminatory or paranoid. When I passed one group, I heard them suddenly talking about my dislike for cigarette smoke. How did they know? From then on, I took a different route to work.

The ceiling started leaking again. Even after I had it renovated. Yes, I had to initiate the renovations otherwise, the apartment would have crumbled over our heads (that's the reason why the rent was not increasing, I think). The cost I just deducted from the monthly rent. One reason for the renovations was to stop the rats from living inside the ceiling. But I think they have become so comfortable and strong that they were able to destroy the hurdles placed there. One even died and I could still smell it three months after (the renovations we did backfired a bit... we can't get to the dead rat!). Partly causing my asthma and allergies.

I don't want to move but the signs seem to be pointing to that. I have to admit that I am concerned about the cost and finding the right place. This is my comfort zone. Or used to be. It used to be my shelter when I feel worn out, afraid, and sad. But the "home" is now alienating us, even attacking us. I sometimes hate coming home, knowing that it is no longer my haven.

I am now praying to God to give me (or us) the courage to leave and trust that He would bring us to a better place in His time. I know there is no perfect place but somehow I think there is one out there where I could have more peace, safety, and comfort. A home. A haven for a tired soul.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Count your blessings

It is not right to just write about difficult things. Especially after a short hiatus from the blogging world. Thus, I would like to reclaim this moment and declare that I hope to write good thoughts in the next few things. Before I do that, I quote here a poem written by an unknown author. Count with me, please.

Count Your Blessings

Count your blessings instead of your crosses.
Count your gains instead of your losses.
Count your joys instead of your woes.
Count your friends instead of your foes.
Count your smiles instead of your tears.
Count your courage instead of your fears.
Count your full years instead of your lean.
Count your kind deeds instead of your mean.
Count your health instead of your wealth.
Love your neighbor as much as yourself.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


It hit me hard. It hit me well. As I read the Exodus of Israelites from Egypt, I remembered God's wondrous miracles. He opened the Red Sea so that hundreds and hundreds of people could pass through dry land. He talked to Moses and allowed this chosen servant to see Him (only from the back). He clothed and fed this disobedient and grumbling people because of His great love and His promise to their forefathers. Throughout the Bible, I read stories about His faithfulness and grace.

My Father a loving God. His powers are infinite. He makes impossible things possible. He is in control.

Those who do not believe would wonder why believe in someone I cannot see. All I can give as a reply is that because He is real in my life. And I am so grateful that He chose to reveal Himself to me. For that I am so very blessed.

And so, I resist the temptation to worry. Instead, I take hold of His love and grace. He would always be there for me. He has my tomorrow in His hands.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

I am learning: 2009 - A learning year

When the year started, I took hold of a challenge I felt God was leading me to take and embrace the things that He would teach me. Thus, I excitedly declared it as a learning year. I didn’t realize the significance of the challenge I took. It became a year of learning in all aspects of my life: spiritually, emotionally, mentally, socially, financially and even physically.

For the past 11 months, I have written here about some of the things I had to grasp, often with open arms, sometimes reluctantly and, now and then, bowing in acceptance after a long and arduous internal struggle. If asked to identify the many things I learned this year, I would include the following: trusting people, being a Filipino, security in Christ, and the gift of a mid-course correction.

Trusting people

It takes me time to open up and trust people. This year, I allowed myself to share more of what is in me to several good-hearted people around me. I tried my best not to be held back by my fear of being judged or rejected. Truthfully, there were those who didn’t understand me or did not even attempt to see things as I saw them. But they were counterbalanced by those who opened their hearts to me and my life stories. In the process, I learned that it’s okay to say what I feel and think. The talking intensified the joys, invited helpful insights and needed prayers, helped wash away the doubts, contributed to the faster healing of my pains, and increased my faith in God and in how He would fulfill His purpose for my life.

Being a Filipino

I struggled through the writing of my final paper for a political science class not only because it was intellectually difficult but because I also had to battle through my definition of who is a Filipino. It was my journey of finding out how I saw myself as a Filipino. It was not easy to reconcile the tragic and ugly side of our story as a nation with the gifts and blessings given to us as a country and people. I realized that we are a special breed of people - a unique blend of East and West - able to adapt, mimic and then create our own from our experiences, whether painful or blissful. I learned that leaving our country is not always a betrayal of it. For in the larger perspective of God, we are part of His heavenly country. We go wherever He sends us. We are being used for His glory.

Secure in Christ

Rejection, in whatever form and for any reason, can bring about a deluge of self-doubt. Yet, it is through these experiences that we are tested on whom we base our identity and worth. This basic belief became more entrenched in my heart - I am a child of God; I matter. Otherwise, He wouldn’t have sent His Son to die for me. There would be many more challenges, more pains and more heartaches. Life won’t get any easier as the years go by. But if I know who I am and what I have in Christ, I can survive whatever life brings me. And the wonder of it all is that I will be able to see the beauty and the blessings in everything instead.

Mid-course correction

Until we reach our final Destination, our journey will continue here on earth. And it can sometimes be disheartening to have in our pockets the many inadequacies, failures and mistakes we have made along the way. I thank God for the gift of mid-course correction (from the book of the same title by Gordon MacDonald). Whatever our age, regardless of our past, God can continue to regenerate, redirect and refine our lives. The choice, again, rests with us. To choose the consequences we would have to live with, to choose Him and His direction for our lives. As we voluntarily submit to God, He will breathe fresh vitality and introduce a new adventure in our lives.

The year is ending soon and so will this little corner where I have written my realizations and thoughts. I am glad that we are still being given the chance to learn from our past so that we can be better persons in the future. As the year ends, I am praying just one thing for all of us - greater intimacy with God.

Here’s to another year of journeying with God!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Omnium-Gatherum (Random Thoughts 10)

I have been out of the blogging world for the last three weeks. It took me some time to replace the laptop charger and somehow the momentum to write got a little bit lost in the process. Then, the reality of life intruded too much into my world and left me little time to reflect on what to write. It has its good side. I talked a bit too much to God. Yet, I remind myself that when I put my thoughts into words, I still speak to Him. The process of writing is a way of sifting through the things that are in my heart and mind and concretizes my faith and vision of God.

= = =

As the daily calendar on my desk became thinner each day, the passing of time became more palpable. Thus, I realized today that it’s the beginning of the end. December is here and soon we will bid goodbye to 2009. I told my closest friends that I couldn’t wait for this year to be over. In my mind, I want it to be 2010 already so that I would have a fresh beginning. The past year has brought me a lot of struggles and challenges in various aspects of my life: spiritually, intellectually, physically, emotionally and socially. I am not complaining though because my life has become richer. I do believe that I have become a better person. True, I sometimes wish that pain didn’t have to come my way but there are things that we could only learn when we experience the realities of life. The impurities in our character are winnowed out and we become better prepared for the next stage we are to face on this earth.

= = =

I received the expected criticisms. Not the commendations. What remains with me now are the praises telling me that I was courageous for taking on the challenge. A challenge that loomed over my life for the last two years. There were many times that I was prepared to give up, wanting to disregard the time, effort and resources I already gave in the past. The hurdle felt too big. But there were wonderful people pushing me to go on, to finish what I started, to strive and persevere even if there were others who seemed to be making my life a little more difficult than before. Have I finished the challenge? Not yet but almost there. I will be on the finish line soon. For now, I am relishing the surprising appreciation I received.

Lion Chaser Manifesto

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. Don't let what's wrong with you keep you from worshiping what's right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze new trails. Criticize by creating. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don't try to be who you're not. Be yourself. Laugh at yourself. Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away.

Chase the lion.

In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson (www.evotional.com)