Blessed and my 13 Reasons Why

Hindi lang makailang ulit kong binabanggit sa sarili ko na sobrang stressed ko na para magpatuloy. May mga pagkakataon na gusto ko na lang talagang sumuko. Nakakapagod, nakakasawa. Siguro kaya may mga taong pinipili na lang na wakasan ang kanilang buhay kasi hindi na nila kinakaya ang bigat ng kanilang nararamdaman.

13 Reasons Why

In my case, before I even get consumed with my stressful situations in life, with all my worries and fears for tomorrow, I try to diffuse negativities and lies and replace such with truths. I am blessed beyond measure! Maraming dahilan kung bakit dapat tayong magpatuloy. Maraming dahilan para hindi tayo sumuko. I strive to push on with life and let me share my 13 reasons why:

Just this morning, you were able to breathe in life

Pagmulat pa lang ng mata mo, late ka man nagising o sobrang aga, hindi ba magandang isipin na another blank page has been flipped sa pages ng buhay mo, and you are now ready to take the pen and write your own story? Ang haba ng sinabi ko, pero yun na nga. Ang paggising mo sa umaga ay isa nang dahilan para maging mapagpasalamat dahil…

Over the night, no harm fell upon you

May mga taong natulog lang pero hindi na inabutan ng umaga. Maaaring inatake ng sakit, o nadisgrasya habang natutulog, inabutan ng sakuna, trahedya o kung anumang dahilan. Bottom line is, their time is up. Pero ikaw, hindi pa! You are blessed kasi you were given something na hindi na ipinagkaloob sa kanila, kagaya ng…

1 more chance to tell your loved ones, I love you

At the final curtain of life, it is not the amount of money or achievements or earthly investments ang hahanapin natin at papangarapin nating katabi sa tuwina, kundi ang ating mga mahal sa buhay. Unfortunately, marami ang inaabutan na ng panghihina ng katawan o ng mismong kamatayan ngunit hindi man lang nasasabi na mahal nila ang kanilang mga magulang, kapatid, asawa o mga anak. Kaya ngayon pa lang, isipin mo na you are blessed to be given this chance to tell them you love them!

Listen to the sound of nature

Subukan mong pakinggan ang huni ng mga ibon, o ang agos ng ilog. Mahirap ito kapag nasa city ka kung saan maraming ingay, pero pakinggan mo lang ang ihip ng hangin, damhin ang init ng araw. They are telling us a message – they exist to serve their purpose! Kung ang init ng araw, ang simoy ng hangin, at ang kabuuan ng kalikasan ay may purpose sa mundo, how much more ikaw na anak ng Diyos? Kaya sa susunod na iisipin mo na wala ka nang pag-asa, why not listen to the sound of nature?

Add friends and meet new acquaintances

Isa sa mga blessings na dala ng panibagong araw ay ang pagkakataon na madagdagan ang ating mga kaibigan at mga kakilala. Blessing yun! Imagine kung iilan lang ang tao sa mundo, o kung ikaw lang kaya mag-isa sa mundo, di ba ang lungkot nun? Friends and acquaintances make our lives easy. Kapag may nakikita tayong nakangiti, masaya ang countenance, nahahawa tayo. Kung medyo badtrip naman sila, napapaisip naman tayo kung paano ba natin gugugulin ang buong araw natin, kagaya din ba nilang badtrip din? Malay mo, nasa paligid mo lang ang tulong na hinihintay mo, galing sa taong hindi mo minsang inakalang aalalay pala sayo.

New learning and experiences

Bukod sa mga bagong kaibigan, ang bawat umaga ay may hatid din na bagong karanasan at pagkatuto. Ang mga experiences na pagdadaanan mo ay ang siyang nagiging launch pad mo for greater opportunities ahead. Remember, experiences, whether good or bad, makes us who we are now. Ang tanong lang ay sa nagiging mas bitter ka ba or better? You can always choose the latter.

Improve yourself and others

May pagkakataon ka to be the best version of yourself, to be better than your yesterday’s self. Ang bawat panibagong araw ay nagbibigay ng pagkakataon sa atin para i-improve ang ating sarili, upang maging mas malakas tayo, mas matatag at mas kapaki-pakinabang. At sa pag-improve natin ng ating sarili, matutulungan din natin ang iba na ma-improve ang kalagayan nila. We are blessed to bless others. Don’t let it stop with you.

Exercise your right to be happy

Wala namang humahadlang sa atin na maging masaya kundi ang sarili nating paglilimita sa ating mga sarili. If people try to bring us down, we can always think positive, realizing that maybe we are evidently blessed kaya tayo pinababagsak. If people throw insults on us, maybe because they’re insecure of themselves. Learn to see the good things behind the bad, and once you’ve found it out, lift them up. We can always choose to be happy, and one good thing to do para maging mas magalak ay ang tulungan ang iba na umangat din, habang iniintindi sila. Of course, this is easier said than done, pero why not try and choose to be happy today?

Do more of what you love to do

Oh yes! May chance ka ulit na gawin ang mga bagay na gustong-gusto mong gawin. Take pictures, cook sumptuous meals, write blogs, read books, whatever your heart and hands want to do, do it for the glory of the Lord! You are given another day for you to enjoy the gifts of the Lord through your talents and skills. Make the Lord happy by enjoying His gifts to you.

Others are looking up to you and cheering for you

Madami ang nakatingin sayo, humuhugot sayo ng inspirasyon at lakas. Kung susuko ka, paano na lang sila? You were given another day kasi you are an encouragement to people. You give them hope, you give them joy, you give them a reason to carry on what they are going through. Kung iniisip mo na wala kang kakampi, just look around you, sa pamilya mo, sa mga kaibigan mo, sa mga nagmamahal sayo. They are cheering up for you!

Leave your baggage behind

Panahon na raw para iwanan mo ang mga mapapait na bakas ng kahapon. Hindi mo kailangang makulong sa mga regrets mo, sa mga bagay na nagawa mong mali in the past. Forgive and forget. Ask for forgiveness if you must. Iwan mo na ang emotional baggage mo at mag-move on ka na. This is the perfect day to do that. Wag ka nang maghintay ng bukas.

Open doors and windows

At dahil iiwanan mo na ang mabibigat mong dalahin, buksan mo na rin ang sarili mo sa magagandang plano ni Lord para sayo. Wag kang magmukmok at isipin na isa kang talunan. Open doors so that opportunities may come in, windows so the rays of hope will shine on your face. Ang bawat panibagong araw ay may hatid na pag-asa, kaya wag mong hayaan na hindi ka makakatanggap dahil nagtatago ka. Open up!

Rest for another day and get ready for tomorrow

At the end of the day, you know what’s good? Yung ma-realize mo na makakapagpahinga ka, at tuloy ang buhay bukas sa biyaya ng Diyos! Anumang bagay na pinu-pursue mo at hindi mo natapos, maaari mong balikan bukas, laying onto God your plans and dreams. You are blessed, dahil hinding-hindi ka mauubusan ng dahilan para ipagpasalamat sa Diyos. Maubos man ang araw natin sa mundo, pero hindi ang kagandahang-loob Niya sa atin. Kaya rest in His love. He knows how to take care of you.

Ikaw, anong mga dahilan mo bakit ka nagpapatuloy? Remember, you are as blessed as I am blessed. Cheers!

Living Room of Heaven

To us, Filipinos, our living rooms reveal much about our cultural personality. We are known for being hospitable and accommodating to our guests, whether they are really dear to us or not. We are too courteous to welcome people in our homes, asking them to dine with us though we don’t have that much on our plate. We put our best foot forward by allowing them to use our “well-kept” china wares, give them the best portion of our inihaw na manok or sinigang na bangus, and even running to the nearest sari-sari store to buy ice cold soft drinks that we wouldn’t think of buying if not for our visitor. We are even too generous to make them “feel at home” and provide them the best entertainment by giving them access to our most precious “remote control” should they ask for it. And to top it all, the kids will automatically be obedient and silent, on their best behavior as if a switch has been turned on. A typical hospitable Filipino family, right?

Living Room of Heaven

Our living room is the extension of our individual lives. Slowly dethroning the dining room, our living room becomes the primary place in home where families meet together to share their experiences throughout the day. This is because some family members opt to eat their food in the presence of their digital member of the family – the television.

If there is a place where everything must be pleasing to the eye and striking to the senses, it must be the living room. It speaks much about the family who lives in the house. In here visitors are welcomed, entertained and given the best of treatment.

During Bethel’s worship concert held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on March 18, Amanda Cook, one of the worship leaders, expressed that she feels like she’s in the “living room of heaven”. It’s really one awesome moment really to be inside a huge room with your brothers and sisters in Christ while you are all singing songs of praise to the Lord.

Then I wondered, what does it feel like to be in the “living room” of heaven? Join me as I try to visualize heaven with my own silly imagination:

***

During a time when my spirit’s too consumed with stresses in work and in ministry, I found myself in dire need of spiritual refreshing and release. I am so full of worries and emotional burden that all I can ever think of is I am experiencing burn out and I need to find my rest.

Then I found myself in front of a door with a sign that reads: “Living Room of Heaven. You are Welcome.” I looked around and found no one so I knocked at the door. To my surprise, Jesus opened the door, welcomed me and asked me to enter. As I enter, I noticed that the room is just a typical room, but the feeling’s so light and relaxing. There’s a couch, a coffee table with photo books, the lighting’s good and the ambiance’s comfortable. I wonder what’s in store for me in this Living Room of Heaven.

Jesus is very welcoming and warm. After a few introductions, He told me that He just have some things to do, and that I make myself comfortable in the living room. A very typical courteous act. So I was left alone in that room.

Are there soothing hymns in the background?

A soothing song is played before my very ears. Unlike the songs I usually hear somewhere, this heavenly chorus focuses on the glory of the Lord. At last, no longer I feel distressed by the songs of selfishness and greed of people around me. I am no longer hearing the songs of disappointments and frustrations. I am no longer dragged down by the depressing song I used to hear: “You can’t do it” by ConDem Nation.

In this place, all I hear are songs of victory, of celebration and of God’s goodness. Songs that heal all wounds and scars will soothe my soul. I feel so refreshed, renewed, strengthened. And all of happened as soon as I entered the living room.

Are there amusing photographs available?

I took the photobook. As I open each page of the photobook, I am amazed how the Lord has kept and captured all the things that has happened to me since I was born. He has captured all smiles, all laughter. It’s a walk down the memory lane as I flip the pages of God’s photo collection.

Yet what puzzles me is that He has also captured the moments I stumbled and earned a bruise for myself. I can vividly remember the times I seemingly failed in life – my first heartbreak, when I lost my job, when I lost someone dear to me, among others. I told myself that I will ask the Lord about such pictures but then I saw below each photograph a note that reads either: “This has made you stronger”, “This has made you wiser”, or “This has made us closer”. For every heartbreak, for every fall, the Lord indeed has a purpose. I can’t help but utter my thanksgiving. I felt relieved. No he is not concerned about my heartbreaks, He is in fact concerned about me.

WAIT! If He keeps such records, does it mean He also has photos of me in my most disgusting state? When I was so full of myself and of the world? I felt so terrified for the first time since I entered the living room. I can’t understand myself, should I continue flipping the pages of this photo book? Unknowingly I came to the pictures when I was 21 years old – the time I can vividly remember I have done a terrible act against the Lord (actually, even before and after 21 years old, I have been a terrible Christian). But to my surprise, some pictures are missing! I thought to myself, how can He lose some pictures, but I also felt relieved that He doesn’t have proof of my waywardness in the past.

Curious enough, I carefully inspected the blank pages, and in marks of red there are notes written: “I remember your sins no more”. Only then I remembered what’s written on my Bible and what my pastor’s been preaching about my sins. I have been forgiven – in full. His love doesn’t keep any record of wrongs.

Are there foods to be served?

Oh my! I felt so excited! I became so curious about the delicacies of heaven! To us, Filipinos, food equates to fellowship. So I assumed if there will be food, there will be fellowship! But then again, the reflective me was reminded of how many food fellowships I have shared with people I should not have alliances with. I have compromised my ideals, my principles and my calling by partnering with people with ungodly motives and with no regard to high morals. I have had unholy alliances with certain people God told me not to partner with, and most of our transactions and dealings went over luscious servings of food. I felt embarrassed.

And then one by one familiar faces enter the living room. I remember my childhood friends, my elementary schoolmate, high school teacher, college buddies, even people I am not sure when I first met. They all joined me in the living room of heaven and had a share of laughs and joyful reminiscing. We discussed how we have met the Lord, how one have been instrumental to one’s knowledge of the Good News, and how they have waited to join me in the living room of heaven. But what kept me thinking and curious is that, as beautiful and awesome the living room of heaven is, they said that the whole kingdom is beyond description. That is the place that I should be looking forward to enter into, in God’s time.

Funny thing is, they have seen my excitement in the beginning – that I am curious about the delicacies of heaven. No, they didn’t bring any food with them but they told me that a great banquet is being prepared for the “Wedding Supper of the Lamb”. Amazingly as well, since I entered the room, I didn’t feel thirst nor hunger. If this living room is perfect in itself, how much more the whole kingdom!

But while I am pondering about all these, a very radiant Person entered the room. Jesus, so white and magnificent, beaming with glory and kindness is walking towards me and as He draw nearer, I felt nervous and afraid. At the back of my mind, I’m asking:

Am I really accepted in the Living Room of Heaven?

He motioned me to sit, since I stood up from my seat as He draws close. He looks at me in the eye, not with condemning stare but with eyes full of compassion and grace. His love emanates from His presence, and His holiness is so extravagant that I cannot really look directly at Him. Again I am reminded of my previous life – about how I tried to be good, to be loving, to be gracious to people. How I served Him in church, how I spoke about Him, how I lived my life as a Christian. But all those things doesn’t really count in His presence. No amount of my efforts and sacrifices will make me feel better in His presence.

But in His most reassuring words, He spoke life to me: “My son, you are accepted. In this living room of heaven, everyone’s welcome. The only question is, are they gonna welcome me in their life as well?”

I remembered the time I first accepted Him as Lord and Savior. That’s the time I gained the keys to the living room of heaven. A special place in His presence, where my sin meets forgiveness, my weakness meets strength, my failures meet victory and me as a sinner meets Jesus as Savior.

This is the living room of heaven, where the song of my salvation’s being played, the panoramic episodes of my life is being blessed by the Lord, and where genuine fellowship with brethren is being generously served. This is the living room of heaven – a place where I am accepted. And in this living room of heaven, I can find rest for my weary soul and burn out spirit.

If you’re gonna ask me where is this living room? It’s not out of reach. Just seek for the Lord. He’ll lead you to it. There you can find comfort and rest, salvation and hope.

In this living room of heaven, are you willing to meet the Lord too?

Gleanings: Off to Moab

“In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons.” – Ruth 1:1, ESV

Elimelech wants to spare his family from famine. Tulad ng isang mapagmahal na ama, gusto lang naman niya ang best para sa kanyang asawa at mga anak. Sino ba naman ang ayaw na mapaayos ang sitwasyon ng kanyang pamilya?

Off to Moab

During the time of famine, life was hard for the Israelites. Remember Jacob’s family during famine? They even went as far as Egypt para lang makahanap ng pagkain. During this period in Elimelech’s life, even Bethlehem, also called as the “house of bread”, ay nawalan na rin ng supply. Kaya naman napilitan si Elimelech na dalhin ang kanyang pamilya somewhere na may maibibigay siyang pagkain.

Elimelech, whose name means “my God is king”, have forgotten his God and King when he faced a time of great need. Instead of trusting the Lord, he relied on his own wisdom to carry himself and his family through. May sarili siyang diskarte. Sabi ko nga, he just want to spare his family from famine.

OK lang sana kaso the problem is he will be moving from the land of promise to an “idolatrous” land. He will be moving out his family from under the hem of God’s protection to a place of temptation and idol worship. He will be exposing his family into a compromising environment. Their law even says not to give their children to the ungodly people for intermarriage. He’s putting his family in danger.

Maybe on his mind he’s thinking: “pansamantala lang ito. We’ll go back to Bethlehem when the famine ceased”. So off they went. They left their own country, trying to escape the famine, and headed to a land of uncertainty.

Elimelech went with his family: his wife, Naomi, which means “sweet, pleasant”, and his two sons, Mahlon, which means “sickly”, and Chilion, which means “wasting”. Ang weird di ba? Papangalanan mo ang mga anak mo na sakitin, at nanghihina, worse naghihingalo.

“But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years”. – Ruth 1:3-4

Unfortunate of Elimelech’s family, after they have settled in Moab, their place of refuge sana, they have lost the head of their family. So without their supposedly spiritual, financial and emotional leader, ang magkapatid ay naghanap ng kanilang mapapangasawa sa mga kababaihan ng Moab – a direct disobedience to their law. Along with the death of the father is the prolonging of their stint in Moab na umabot hanggang sampung taon, na dapat sana ay pansamantala lang.

“and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband”. Ruth 1:5

To top all the misfortunes Elimelech’s family has experienced in Moab, Mahlon and Chilion both died, giving justice to their names. Iniwan nila ang kanilang mga batang biyuda – Ruth and Orpah, both childless. #Sadlyf.

***

What I have gleaned from the account first few chapters of the book of Ruth is that we have the tendency to veer away from challenges na dumadating sa buhay natin. It was not mentioned in the Bible kung sila lang ba ang umalis at nagpunta sa Moab to find comfort, but it doesn’t matter. Looking into the life of Elimelech, he may have good intentions for his family’s welfare, pero he failed to trust how the Lord works on the welfare of His people.

God cares for us more than we care for ourselves.

Eh bakit may famine?

In the same way that there are sicknesses and trials and pains and challenges in our lives, famine represents a hurdle we must overcome for us to be strong spiritually. Bethlehem is a very blessed place, kaya nga siya “house of bread”. Ang lahat ay provided. Pero what if God has allowed all such blessings to be taken away from His people? Magtitiwala pa rin kaya sila sa Kanya? Unfortunately for Elimelech, he failed the test.

  • Tumatakbo din ba tayo kapag may mga challenges sa harapan natin?
  • Umiiwas rin ba tayo sa mga pagkakataon kung saan sinusubok ang pagtitiwala natin kay Lord?
  • When all His provisions went low, can we still trust in His love?

O baka naman instead of waiting upon the Lord, we begin charting our own plans and off we go to our own version of Moab. Isang lugar, isang sitwasyon na nako-kompromiso na ang ating sarili.

Saan nga ba ang ating Moab?

  • Rather than trusting in the Lord’s provision, nagpapa-rescue na tayo agad sa mga usurers kapag medyo na-challenge ang ating mga pitaka
  • Tumatakbo tayo sa anumang nakagawiang bisyo para humanap ng kapayapaan ng loob at solusyon sa problema
  • Ginagawa nating escape plan ang pagiging magagalitin at pala-away upang ilayo ang ating sarili sa mga tao
  • Eto worse, pero baka naman kapag may away kayo ng ka-relasyon mo e may “sidechick” ka na pinupuntahan
  • Sinusubo na natin ang ating integridad sa pamamagitan ng pangungupit, pandaraya o pangingikil ng iba pang ilegal na paraan para lang mapunan ang anumang kakulangan

Big or small, subtle or obvious, when we choose to run to other things as source of salvation and comfort other than the Lord, that’s the time we leave our “house of bread” for an idolatrous Moab. And like what happened to Elimelech, bad choice produces bad results. Mas may chance pa sana siya if he chose to stay.

God wants to make you strong in the face of difficulties. Don’t run from it – face it! It’s safer to be in the eye of the storm with the Lord on your side than in a stronghold where the Lord does not guide.

***

I am writing this at the eve of my father’s birthday. Well, he may not be a perfect father but I know that he loves us perfectly. We may have had arguments in the past, I may not approve of some of his opinions and principles in life, but still no one could ever take away his place in my heart.

We all have Elimelech tendencies within us. Kagaya ko, kagaya ng tatay ko, kagaya nating lahat. Yet the grace of God allows us to run back to Him when our Elimelech-ness urges us to sojourn to Moab. At kung napadpad ka na sa Moab, balik ka lang. Wag mo nang hayaan na mahuli pa ang lahat.

A Single’s Journey to Family & Finance Conference 2017

I love going to seminars about biblical stewardship and financial management. Partly because yun ang naging course ko noong college, pero mas compelling reason din siguro na kailangan ko ng matinding motivation para maging mas matipid, masinop at enterprising. Kaya nga when I learned about CCF’s Family and Finance Conference on Facebook, I immediately clicked “interested”, without even checking the registration details. 🙂

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Yet when I was notified na malapit na yung event, and I learned that it will cost me P850-1k/tix (P1.5k-2k couple’s rate), medyo napaisip ako. I wanted to give it a go kaso I have bills waiting for me. Kailangan ko ulit I-spell ang P.R.I.O.R.I.T.I.E.S. Sa huli, I decided to give it up (pero narealize ko rin na I really need to learn how to manage my resources para sa mga susunod, hindi na mahirap mag-decide. Haha!).

Eh mabait si Lord. I read from Joei and Me’s Facebook page that she’s giving away free tickets for the event. I messaged her, and she told me to wait until 3pm for the announcement of winners. Since I seldom win in any kind of raffle draws, medyo chill lang. Until I received a personal message from Ms. Joei telling me that I won a pair of tickets! Wooh! Thanks for hosting the giveaway Ms. Joei! God bless you more! 🙂

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So ang medyo inalala ko na lang after ay since couple ticket and napanalunan ko, saying naman ang blessing kung mag-isa lang ako. Syempre meron na ako on top of my mind na iimbitahan, hehe. Kaso, hindi siya available (aww, sad). Then I thought, maybe a college friend? Time to catch up and apply the Pray-Care-Share lesson namin sa church. Kaso I didn’t get any response. Then pag-uwi ko, I realized, bakit hindi si mama? Siya na lang ang ide-date ko! Besides, tamang-tama rin ang seminar na ito as the CFO ng aming munting pamilya. So, ayun na. 🙂

Learning from the gurus

Yung first session pa lang, medyo mahirap na i-swallow. We were asked to conduct a personal financial health check by identifying what we own and what we owe. As an accounting major, at dahil nasa financial management din ang trabaho ko, medyo familiar naman na ako kahit paano sa mga financial concepts being discussed, pero iba ang kabog kapag sarili mong pera ang inaanalyze mo. Pero mas mahirap lalo kung wala ka naman talagang iaanalyze. Haha!

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Then came budgeting. Ang saya! I was encouraged to set financial goal, both for short term, medium term and long term. Ang daling maglista ng mga financial goals natin sa buhay – this age, dapat may ganito na… this age dapat meron na ako nito… this year ganito na dapat…. But setting goals is just the beginning of achieving such goals. It doesn’t end there. Malayong lakbayin pa!

While Joy Mendoza is speaking, alongside her husband Edric Mendoza, about her husband being so in love with spreadsheets, I uttered a silly prayer: Lord, help me to love spreadsheets too. I can’t believe na my whole career revolves around using spreadsheets and yet hindi ganun katindi ang pagmamahal ko dito. Hahaha!IMG_1145

Makailang ulit din tinanong kung ilan ang single sa crowd. Madami rin, considering that the event is a Family and Finance seminar. Magandang pagkakataon to learn the value of finances in the context of the family. The fact that most of the speakers did their talk as couple is something that I really appreciate. #RelationshipGoals indeed.

Ptr. Joby Soriano shared that 2/3 of couples fail to talk about money matters before they say ‘I Do’. No wonder why finances remain as the most argued concern for couples. Contentment is key, he emphasized. We are mere stewards, God is the owner, controller and provider of all things.

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After all the talk, I am convinced that there is really no great divide between the secular and the spiritual. Sabi nga ni Mr. Randell Tiongon, “the whole idea of investing emanates from you being a good steward” and in Proverbs 13:22a, which Mr. Tiongson emphasized as well, “A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children”.

 

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Syempre, Mama and I discussed about what we’ve learned from the conference. Medyo inexplain ko yung ilang concepts na hindi niya masyadong naintindihan, but nevertheless I am glad that like me, she’s encouraged to be more enterprising, to save and on top of that to be a good steward of God’s entrusted resources.

On my part naman, mamahalin ko na si MS Excel.

Tsaka parang rewarding din sigurong maging RFP 🙂

 

April Fools!

Marami na naman ang mga posts na maglalabasan na obvious naman na hindi totoo pero pinaniniwalaan pa rin. Marami na namang mga pranks na ibibida sa atin. Masaya, nakakatuwa rin na may mga bagay tayong ginagawang kasiya-siya sa kabila ng ating mga problema sa buhay – sa pinansiyal, sa pamilya, maging sa ekonomiya at sa politika. Hindi naman masama ang mabiktima ng mga birong nakakatawa paminsan-minsan. Kaya kung maging subject ka ng isang prank – wag naman masyadong KJ.

april-fools

Ok lang naman ang mabiro lalo na at di naman fatal. Pero kailan ba nagiging fatal ang isang biro?

Yung akala mo ay smooth ang lahat sa buhay mo – all is well and good, only to find out that you are missing out on the most important thing in life. Yung akala mo na you have it all together, that you are getting the most out of life, but at the end of the day you’ll realize that you have not pursued what matters most. Ito ang klase ng biro na mahirap sakyan – ang biro, ang deception ng ating sariling comfort zone.

There are times when we get too comfortable with our lives that we fail to see the world around us. We have been too preoccupied with our needs that we become apathetic to the needs of others. Our life’s purpose is reduced to getting the comfort that we think we solely deserve. Wala namang mali – Jesus wants the best for us. In fact the Apostle Paul claims that “this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19).

Note that God is willing to grant us our needs. We are more valuable than the lilies in the field or the sparrows in the skies so we need not worry about anything (Matthew 6:25-34). Yet it doesn’t have to end with us. God blesses us and He expects us to bless others as well. We are blessed by the Lord to be a blessing to others. God showers us with gifts so we can shower others with gifts as well. This is God’s way of opening more doors of opportunity to bless us and make us a blessing. The cycle doesn’t have to stop. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed (Proverbs 11:25).

Kaya naman wala nang mas sasakit pa kung biniruin tayo ng ating sarili na “ok ka na, kaya na nila”, kung ang nakikita ng iyong mga mata ay hirap o kawalan ng pag-asa, sakit o kumakalam na sikmura, kung dinadaya ka ng sarili mong comfort zone at nabubulag ka o nabibingi sa mga hinaing ng iba – wala nang mas sasakit pang biro. Ito ang fatal na klase ng biro. Fatal sa ating buhay-kristiyano.

Sabi nga ni Apostle James, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:14-17). Ang sakit lang di ba? Ang maparatangan ka na may pananampalatayang patay.

At bilang pangwakas, ang sabi pa ni Apostle John, “if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (1 John 3:17). Ouch! #NoteToSelf

Ngayong April Fools, maraming maglalabasang mga pranks, mga biro. Pero higit na kailangan kong bantayan ay kung nabibiktima na rin ba ako ng biro ng aking sariling comfort zone.

The Dream

 

It was bit amusing yet chivalrous, bizarre yet encouraging, finding myself in a dream fighting to win someone’s heart. I know, it is imperative not to over-spiritualize things, especially dreams which are most of the time product of our ‘subconscious’ personality, but I believe my dream speaks of every man’s journey to search for his ‘better half’ and upon finding her, to serve and protect her with all his might. After all, God sometimes speaks through dreams. And while I do not claim any direct, divine explanation for my story, allow me to just sprinkle some thoughts I pondered as soon as consciousness hit me on my bed that day.

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The story unfolds inside a mansion with many rooms; contemporary in design yet the expanse so big it is comparable to an ancient castle. Some of the rooms are breathtaking in design and intricacies; some are so plain and dull. A fine, attractive lady is escorting me in my trip inside the mansion, bringing me from room to room boasting of its beauty. Her facial expression goes along with the design of the room – plain and mediocre when inside the plain rooms, radiant and spirited when inside the beautiful rooms.

As we progress in our journey that day, I noticed that the rooms are depreciating in splendor. The surrounding becomes damp and crowded; cobwebs begin to be visible and there emanates a stinking smell. Then I also noticed the embarrassment in her face. Our pace reduced and I can see the hesitancy in her eyes. It’s as if all the pain and doubts and worries and fears in life came upon her that moment. But I admired her for being strong. We moved slowly and she led me to the rooms with the worst condition compared to the first ones. She cries as she was telling me the stories behind the rooms. For some rooms, she can cite reasons, for others, she just returned blank stares, suggesting her lack of idea. I joined her in tears until we reached the terrace, which is also the end of my journey with her inside the mansion.

[I joined my friends outside the mansion. There we talked about our respective journeys in life. We poured out ourselves to each other as a band of brothers, ready to protect one another.] But when I gazed at the terrace, there I find visions of men and women contributing to the ugliness of the rooms I have witnessed inside the mansion. Some are even attempting to create new ugly rooms. Then a stirring came upon my heart. I need to protect the lady. I need to rescue her from people who try to add tears from her eyes by building ugly rooms in her mansion.

With friends alongside, we fought the forces. We fought our different battles. They had their own motivations. Mine is to rescue the lady. But we fought on the same battlefield. Our weapons seemed to be small and weak compared to our antagonists’, but we can retaliate. It is as if Someone stronger than anyone else in the field is backing us up. Ultimately, we won. We ended up victorious. And a celebration awaits us.

I gazed again at the terrace. There she is, surrounded still by the horrors of the ugly rooms behind her. With her as well are the people who love her and care for her welfare. But now I can see her welcoming countenance. Without hesitation, I asked her to come down from the terrace. She turned around and bade farewell to the people behind her, as if asking for their approval, which they gave. And with just a glimpse, she joined me at the celebration below; with the happiest face I can ever imagine, ready to build beautiful rooms in our own mansion.

Seeing Through Things

Minsan ba nasabi mo na sa sarili mo na sana nababasa mo ang iniisip ng ibang tao? Malamang sa mga lalaki, they can relate with me when I say, “sana naiiintindihan ko ang takbo ng isip ng mga babae”. It doesn’t matter kung sino ba siya sa buhay mo, as long as babae siya, marahil hinangad mo na maintindihan kung gaano nga ba kabilis tumakbo ang ‘train of thoughts’ nila. Ok sige, pagdating sa mga babae madali niyong mahuhuli ang mga lalaki kung sincere ba o hindi sa mga sinasabi namin, though alam naman namin may intuition naman talaga kayo sa kung ano ang totoo sa hindi.

seeing through thingsIf we can read minds, most probably we’d think that we can minimize misunderstandings sa mundo. Paano ba naman, alam mo na agad kung sarcasm lang ba ang totoo na ang sinasabi ng isang tao. Madali lang din malaman kung gusto ba nila tayo o hindi. Ang dali-dali siguro magdesisyon kasi we will no longer be left in the hands of presumptions. Imagine how things will go between couples. Ang saya di ba?

Pero when we see through things, malaki din ang mawawala sa atin. Sa context ulit ng mga couples, mahirap nang i-qualify ang effort kung ‘effort’ pa nga ba na matatawag kung hindi naman talaga diniscover ang gusto mo at ayaw mo. Everything’s just plainly revealed. The element of surprise will no longer be ‘surprising’ but rather mapapalitan ng ‘expected ko na yan’. Yung raw emotions nang pagkamangha, pagka-gulat, pagkatuwa at iba pa ay mababawasan, o di kaya’y tuluyang maglalaho.

Eh paano kung hindi mo magustuhan ang iniisip sayo ng ibang tao? Ang sakit sa puso nun di ba? Posibleng makaramdam ka ng galit sa taong yun, at malamang ay iiwasan mo na siya sa susunod. Maraming relasyon ang masisira. Hindi mag-ooperate ang tunay na pag-ibig kung lahat ng ating iniisip ay nakalantad sa madla.

Maraming mga panahon na naging laman ito ng panalangin ko:

  • “Lord, baka naman po pwedeng malaman ko po kung ano yung plano Niyo para sa akin.”
  • “Ano po ba yung gusto Niyong gawin ko, Lord?”
  • “Lord, I don’t know which way to go and what to do, tulungan Niyo naman po ako.”

What if we can read the mind of God? Yung mga tanong at panalangin natin na kagaya ng nabanggit ko ay mabibigyan agad ng tugon. We will be spared from lots of heartaches and pain dulot ng ating mga mistakes and missed priorities. Di ba ayaw din naman ni Lord na nasasaktan tayo? Generally, sino ba namang ama ang nagnanais na masaktan ang kanyang mga anak?

Yet things don’t operate the way we want it. It takes an intimate relationship with the Lord to comprehend His plans in our life. At hindi pa nga natin totally mababasa ang Kanyang isipan dahil syempre, He is an infinite, eternal, omnipotent God, as opposed to our finiteness. Yet He is gracious enough to lead us to His perfect will through His written Word, the Bible. Pero to give us specific, to the detail, and black and white instructions on which way to go, which option to choose or the specific words to say, unfortunately hindi ganun ang paraan ni Lord. It takes faith on our part to trust God na kahit hindi natin nababasa ang kanyang isipan, alam natin na maaari Siyang pagkatiwalaan. It takes faith on our part to understand na His ways are higher and dependable than ours.

Actually it’s a blessing din nga for us not to know the details of His plans sa buhay natin. Mas nae-excite tayo how things will unfold for us. Mas nagiging dependent tayo at mas lumalalim ang ugnayan natin sa Kanya. The moment He reveals His plans, mas nauunawaan natin at naaappreciate how He operates in His divine schedule. Mas naiintindihan natin kung bakit tayo nasaktan, kung bakit tayo iniwan, kung bakit tayo nawalan, kung bakit kailangan marami muna tayong maranasan. At the end of the day, as Christians we “walk by faith and not by sight”.

Isa pa, hindi Niya rin tayo hinayaang masaktan kagaya ng sakit na nararamdaman Niya sa tuwing binabalewala natin Siya. He can see through us clearly, dahil omniscient Siya. Everytime we reject Him, ignore or make fun of Him, He sees it, hears it and feels it. Alam Niya ang lahat ng iyon pero He is gracious and merciful enough to forgive us and bear with us. Imagine kung alam natin how people think about us – life will be a never-ending pursuit of trying to win people’s affection and escaping their judgment on us. Ang hirap nun! Ang bait ng Diyos ano?

John Piper, in his book Don’t Waste Your Life, quoted C.S. Lewis and it reads:

You can’t go on “seeing through” things forever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it. It is good that the window should be transparent, because the street or garden beyond it is opaque. How if you saw through the garden too? It is no use trying to “see through” first principles. If you see through everything, then everything is transparent. But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To “see through” all things is the same as not to see.

Makes sense, right? Hindi rin maganda na ang lahat ay plain and bare sa ating harapan. Not being able to see through things makes life more exciting and rewarding. Mas maganda pa ring makita ang ‘raw’ emotions ng mga mahal natin sa buhay through our ‘efforts’.

The best thing is, we may not be able to see through things but let’s thank the Lord that He sees us through. Dun pa lang panalo na tayo e.