Thursday, December 18, 2008

The View from Heaven

When I bought my ticket, I reserved a window seat so I could enjoy the view down below while I travel on air. For someone used to living down on earth, seeing things from heaven does look amazing and provides a different perspective.

Looking out of the window of the airplane that was traveling on an altitude as high as 38,000 feet, I saw vast land forms—green fields, cities dotted with minute roofs, mountainous regions (some even snow-capped,) miles of white deserts, plateau, and a wide array of fluffy clouds as well as thin drifting ones. The setting sun on the west painted layers of glowing red, orange, and bright yellow on the blue horizon. At night time, man-made communities and cities made their existence known through steady as well as moving lights.

I gasped in awe as I saw God’s wonderful creation. This wonderful display of colors and forms of nature is for me, God’s way ay revealing His creativity, grandeur, authority over nature, and love for mankind. To miss the view does not only mean denying yourself the pleasure of enjoying God’s creation and the gentle shower of God’s love (for who would not feel loved by such a feast of beauty and a flood of peace brought about by seeing God’s creation?) Missing this wonderful view is also missing a great opportunity to praise God.

From above, looking down at the cities below with roofs that appear like minute squares made me ask, Who could be down there? Who could be reading a book, taking a nap, doing household chores, or working in a factory? Is there anyone down there calling on God to help him get through the day, or pleading to know Him more?

Then I remembered the verse that says, “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him…” (2 Chronicles 16:9). From heaven, God sees us all and searches for anyone calling out to Him. The Bible says He is alert to the cries of His people and He is ready to answer and rescue them out of their troubles.

Meantime, back to earth, the pace and view is different. When my plane from Manila landed at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, I rushed to my boarding gate as soon as I passed by passport control so as not to miss my connecting flight to Frankfurt. I walked for about 10-12 minutes from the F9 gate where we landed to gate B22 (with stop-overs at security check-in and immigration) where a bus awaits passengers like me to ferry us to a Fokker plane going to Frankfurt, Germany. It was easy to spot someone who knows how to give directions in English. Also, I wasn’t surprised at all that there were Filipinos lining up before and behind me towards immigration. I quickly asked in Tagalog if I was in the right lane and got a nod and a friendly smile.

But since I was in a hurry, I didn’t have time to linger at the shops (although I wouldn’t buy anything, I’d probably just look around), sip gourmet coffee, or visit the museum inside the airport featuring works of Rembrandt. I could only glance at some of the men and women in suits with hand luggage in tow, and the backpackers in slippers or rubber shoes. I was in the midst of men and women from different nations in transit to other destinations. I uttered a short prayer for their salvation and eternal destination.

The view from the sky was awesome, inspiring worship; leisurely, inviting rest. The situation at the airport was dazzling because of the well-lit and brightly decorated shops everywhere. The ambience was cosmopolitan and international.

Isn’t life on earth like that? We hurry through one appointment after another, meeting people, making deals, accomplishing tasks. We do so at the risk of missing some quiet and quality time with God, spending leisurely hours with the people we love, enjoying the fruits of our labor, and just doing nothing—resting from all our works as the Lord commanded.

I pray that God will also bless you one day with a trip of a life time like He did to me. But you don’t have to wait for that trip to be able to enjoy the abundant life Jesus gave to us. You can do it now. Tomorrow, you can take time to view the glowing sunrise. Tonight, gaze at the millions of glittering stars. Or give yourself a day off this weekend. Go to the parlor for an overdue haircut or treat yourself to a spa. Call or email your friends. Perhaps, you can plan a romantic dinner at home with your spouse, or rent a DVD and watch the latest animated movie with your kids. On top of it all, don’t forget to say a prayer of thanks to your Creator for all the beautiful things He has done around you and in your life. He deserves your praise.

Friday, December 12, 2008

It's Confirmed!

I got a message from another travel agency referred to by a friend informing me that they were able to get a confirmed booking for me via KLM!

Until the last hour, I was still waitlisted in Lufthansa's flight. I was also booked with KLM through another agency but until Thursday, the Nov. 10-11 flights to Sao Paulo were still fully booked. But by Friday afternoon, the managing director of the agency told me that someone from KLM gave her a tip on how she could get me booked. God works in wonderful ways!

Compared to the booking I had with Lufthansa (which by now had been auto-cancelled by the airlines because I was waitlisted until the option to purchase the ticket was given), this route will be longer. I remembered Exodus 13:17-18. God didn't lead the Israelites to the shorter route to the Promised Land. Even though my route would be longer, I welcome it as a wonderful surprise. First, I know God has a purpose for it. Secondly, I will be having two stop-overs in 2 European cities--Amsterdam and Paris!

By the way, just to show again how God works perfectly on time, I got the confirmation on Friday, and it was also on that day that the amount to be raised for the ticket has been completed. It is best to wait upon God!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Art of Waiting

Exactly two years ago, in November 2006, I embarked on my first overseas trip. I was blessed to have toured Germany for a week, visited Strasbourg, France, and attended a six-day international publishing conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I called it my journey of faith because I went through situations that seemed impossible had it not been for divine intervention. Many times, my faith in God was tested, and in those times my weaknesses and limitations were magnified, but the power and limitlessness of God was all the more manifested. I kept a journal as I embarked on that trip and starting today, I would like to share with you the memories and lessons I learned along the way, hoping that one day, you too, will respond to the call of a journey of faith. (If this is your first visit to this blog, you might want to start reading the entries starting November to follow this story.)
Howard Whitman said, “The art of waiting is not learned at once.” I usually think of myself as a patient person. But these past weeks, I realized I have not yet perfected the art of waiting. I am being taught though by, who else, but the most patient Person--God the Father Himself.

For the past weeks, I have been revising a Values Instruction module on the topic of “patience”. The definition and practice of patience has been all over the modules I’ve written and rewritten. Patience is calmly bearing troubles, hurts, and challenges; it is waiting without complaining. In the midst of writing this instructional material for public school students, I guess God found a perfect opportunity to test me and see which area of patience I would need further coaching.

You might have guessed already the area of my testing—my trip to Germany and Brazil. Earlier, I was ready to pay for my ticket when I learned that the rate has increased tremendously. At that time, I didn’t have enough to pay the new rate so I decided to book with other agencies offering a cheaper airfare. I did this without canceling my first booking. Little did I know that I was committing a big mistake. I later learned that Lufthansa cancelled my first booking (with all flights already confirmed) because of double booking. Now I have to settle with the agency offering the cheapest so far, but I am waitlisted.

All this time, I have been busy scouting for travel agencies, making calls, asking people to pray for the confirmation of my flights, updating my bank accounts hoping for a new deposit, meeting donors, rushing the Values Instruction modules, leading Bible studies and cell groups, studying Revelations for Adult Sunday School, doing household chores, watching our children’s inter-school competitions for several days, and recently, attending a book launching and sitting as panelist for a discussion on women’s worth. My body was tired, my mind was occupied, and my heart was failing. Every morning, I was crying before God and on top of my prayer list is the confirmation of my flights. My booking is for a Nov. 2 departure from Manila for Frankfurt, Germany and after about a week, I should be flying to Sao Paulo, Brazil either Nov. 10, 11 or 12 to be on time for the conference from Nov. 12-17, then back to Manila on 19. Some of the leg of my trip is confirmed already except for the Frankfurt and Sao Paulo leg.

I agonized over the thought that I might have made the wrong decision of switching to another travel agency. It seems now it would have been better if I just waited for the rest of the money and paid the first agency and presto!—I could have easily gotten the ticket, unlike now when I am under the pressure of waiting. On the other hand, I have always been asking God for guidance. I believe He didn’t let me out of His sight one second. God wouldn’t turn back on His promise to guide me. Or did I miss His instruction?

After being done with the Values Instruction module, I spent the whole day yesterday with God at home. I immersed myself in reading the exodus of the Israelites, especially the part where it says that instead of guiding the Israelites along the direct route from Egypt to the Promised Land, He took them by a longer route to avoid fighting with the Philistines (Exodus 13:17-18). Lesson 1: If God does not lead you along the shortest path to your goal, don’t complain or resist. Then the Israelites panicked because they were trapped between the raging Egyptian army and the vast turbulent sea. We know now that God parted the sea and made a dry highway for His favorite people. Lesson 2: Just when we thought we’re already at the edge and trapped, don’t panic but watch out because God is coming to the rescue to show His glory.

Determined to keep this recovered peace, I pursued God this morning and focused on His character and promises. I’ve already gone this far in the journey; surely He has a plan how I would get there in Germany and Sao Paulo according to His time. This morning, I pulled from the shelf a book someone is borrowing from me. Then I noticed from among the standing books one that is titled PSALMS NOW. I pulled the book and discovered it was a paraphrase of the book of Psalms by Leslie Brandt. I haven’t noticed the book before so I decided I would use that in my devotion. God led me to Psalm 139, to a line that says, “I could fly to the other side of the world and find You there to lead the way.” I immediately checked six other translations including the King James Version, and the Tagalog Popular Version which I am writing here in full: “Kung ako ay makalipad, umiwas na pasilangan, o kaya ang tirahan ko’y ang duluhan ng kanluran, tiyak Ikaw ay naroon, upang ako’y pangunahan, matatagpo kita roon upang ako ay tulungan” (Awit 139:9-10). Following the cross reference on the margin of the Bible, I found Psalm 40, a psalm of David that talks about waiting on God. There I received Lesson 3: Because God has gone ahead of me and promised to guide me in my trip, I should wait patiently. In fact, I should be happy because in this time of waiting, I am right in the center of God’s will.
Are you waiting for something or for someone? God is teaching me to wait patiently, calmly, joyfully, confidently. Maybe it’s about time you enroll too in His school and learn the lessons of the art of waiting.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Wonderful Surprise

A wonderful surprise has come up on this journey. I wasn't only going to Brazil, I was also going to Germany. Bear with me as I tell you the story.

I learned from a church mate that her brother went to Brazil March of that year 2006. On the way to Brazil, he and his companions had a 15-hour stop over at Frankfurt airport in Germany. My aunt and her German husband live a few minutes away from Frankfurt. Out of my ignorance of airport protocols (you see, I have never been out of the country), I thought, maybe if I could get a flight to Brazil that stops over at Germany, my aunt could see me at the airport, take me to a restaurant or give me a quick tour of the vicinity. That would be a treat before going to Brazil.

Then last July 2006, out of the blue, my aunt called long distance to see how we’re doing. I told her about my plan to go to Brazil to attend a Christian publishing conference and about the possibility of a stop over at Frankfurt airport. Through the course of our conversation, I found out that I will not be allowed to go out of Frankfurt Airport if the plane I’m in is just in transit on the way to my next destination. But, she said she could invite me to stay with them a week before I proceed to Brazil, if I could confirm the flight. Even if she and my uncle were due to fly in the Philippines for a vacation in October, they were willing to adjust their schedule to accommodate me.

I couldn’t dismiss these circumstances as mere coincidences. The casual mention of a stop over at Frankfurt, the phone call last July, the willingness to adjust a vacation in the Philippines to welcome me in Germany…there seems to be more than just coincidences to all these so I asked God if it’s part of His plan for me to go to Germany also.

Personally, I welcome this opportunity to see a historical and beautiful place like Germany. Many people dream of traveling to Europe and now that I’m given the chance, I wouldn’t want to miss it. Let's see where this journey would lead.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


A striking advertisement on cable channel shows a former runner, who became blind, running a marathon once again and reaching the finish line. How is it possible? Well, tied to him is another man who runs with him and serves as his guide. Together, they finish the race with jubilation.

I wasn’t sure at first if it was the blind yet courageous marathoner, or the selfless running partner, that struck a chord in me. On second thought, I realized it was both of them. Both were admirable in overcoming obstacles to victory, and only in partnership did each one’s luster shine ever brighter.

In the months of my journey, God sent me partners to run this race of faith with me. They lifted my spirit and made my load lighter. Actually, I don’t know all of them by names, for some have chosen to remain anonymous, but I am truly grateful for these wonderful people. Allow me to introduce some of them to you:

o My husband, whose big listening ears allow me to share endlessly what God has revealed to me from the Scriptures. He has an open mind and heart and he encourages me to pursue what I believe is God’s plan and purpose for me—truly a loving partner in every of my life;

o Families, friends, and churchmates who readily prayed for me whenever I asked for prayer support;

o A pastor who tapped his network of friends and churches to help me raise funds for the trip;

o Individuals who surprised me with their pledges and financial gifts; some of them have even given sacrificially, others anonymously;

o A busy executive who took the time to help me scout for cheap airfare;

o A friend who had been to Brazil and who promised to give me some Brazilian real coins for emergency and who would lend me his Portuguese-English dictionary;

o Missionary friends who shared testimonies of their own journey of faith. I’m particularly blessed with a former classmate in Bible school who reached a London airport with only $10 as show money. God proved Himself faithful by sustaining my friend and brought her even to 20 countries afterwards. Another friend, armed only with God’s promise, marched to the US embassy and miraculously got a visa for religious training from the often strict consul;
o Inspiring individuals who sent me text messages which came at the right time. Their words of wisdom were manna from heaven;
o A spiritual mentor who reminded me of my spiritual inheritance and who at times gently rebuked me when my faith was faltering;
o Like-minded people who rooted for me, supporting me enthusiastically with words like, “Nothing is impossible with God”, “God will fulfill His promise to you”, “As God enables, I’ll make sure you get to Brazil”, and other encouraging and faith-building words.

There could be others whom I failed to mention but who, unknown to me, had done something beneficial for me. I may not be aware of it, but God certainly takes notice. I’m truly grateful He sent me wonderful people to join me in my journey. These human partners are in fact, a reflection of a greater truth—that I have an invisible God walking with me and making Himself known through these visible people.
Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so? Amos 3:3

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sowing and Reaping

I know God is able to provide everything we would need to accomplish His will, so I asked Him early in the journey how I would get the resources for the trip to Brazil. God told me to sow a seed.

The Bible speaks much about the law of sowing and reaping. Proverbs 11:18 says, “…he who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.” Hosea 10:12 adds, “Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love…” The Apostle Paul confirms this principle when he exhorted the Galatians, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:9-10). And of course, who wouldn’t be encouraged by the promise of a generous financial harvest as expounded once again by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 9:6-15?

Since I started on this journey to Brazil, my journey of faith, God has given me various opportunities to sow a seed—a seed of the word of God, a seed of encouragement, a seed of good deed, a seed of generosity. And as I obeyed Him in sowing where He directed me, I am assured of a harvest of blessing and a realization of how God designed us to work together to accomplish a goal for the glory of God.

For instance, I realized that months before Littworld in November, I had been receiving prayer requests from friends and a relative for the approval of their visas in order to study abroad or go on a mission—from Hungary to Norway, from the United Kingdom to the United States, from Kuwait to South Africa. So I prayed for them and in doing so, I expected to receive answers to my own prayer for my trip abroad.

Months before, God gave me a chance to sow a seed of hospitality. What’s striking is that one particular morning, I was thinking about my accommodations abroad. In the afternoon, my daughter excitedly called from school, and asked if she could come home that day with a young Korean girl who visited their school and was on a mission exposure, looking for a Filipino family to stay with overnight. I readily said yes! Even with only a couple of hours left, I dashed to Makro to buy kimchi and prepared dinner for our little young missionary in the making. Also last week, a friend and his companion visited us on their way to Boracay, a famous beach destination in Aklan that’s easily accessible from the Batangas City pier. Fresh from a tour of three countries in Asia, they gave me traveling stories and tips while I shared with them a hot lunch and free rest stop.

Often too, God would gently nudge me to give to someone in need. At times, I had the money on hand to give, but at other times I didn’t have any extra and had to give sacrificially. One time, while looking at my bank account, I thought, This isn’t yet enough to buy me a ticket to Brazil. Quickly, God showed me John 6, where Jesus fed the five thousand. The only available food was five small barley loaves and two small fish from a hungry boy. Jesus took whatever little there was, prayed for the loaves and fish and asked the disciples to distribute them. And behold, all were fed and there was even a left over!

Prompted by that powerful Scripture, I offered to God from my savings, a portion, which He has impressed in my heart and sowed that seed to someone who was greatly in need. What’s amazing is that, my husband and I came to know about this person’s great need on the day I was asking God to whom I should sow a seed. Would you believe, this person’s need was almost the same amount I needed to raise for the trip to Brazil? I had no doubt God wanted me to share to this needy person. And so I did. About two weeks later, I received a call from someone asking me to pray with him as he help raise funds for the trip. Within a few weeks, I received enough funds to cover my round trip ticket!

When we sow, we reap. When we give, we receive. More so, when we sow generously, we reap generously. When we give generously, we receive generously. When we help others, we are helped in return. It's like passing on a favor. You'll never know, one day it will come back to you.
I learned that when God wants to accomplish something, He uses a person, a willing individual, someone who’s daring enough to place his confidence in the Almighty God. But He carries out His plan and provides for the fulfillment of that plan together with and through others who are also like-minded. When we do the part that God wants us to fulfill and when we also help others reach the goals that God has for them, God blesses us and we realize how great God is.

I also realized that the law of sowing and reaping is a great motivator for us to be like Jesus Christ. The grace of giving liberates us—it brings us to a deeper level of trust in God, and it makes us more selfless like Jesus Christ who gave Himself to die on the cross for our sins. Jesus reached the point when He found joy in sacrificing His very self (Hebrews 12:2) because it resulted in the salvation of our souls. May we all experience overflowing joy and abundance today as we sow seeds as God leads.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Twice Denied, Twice Confirmed

“Recently you submitted a request for scholarship assistance for the LITTWORLD 2006 conference in Brazil…Unfortunately, we do not have sufficient resources to provide you with scholarship assistance for LITTWORLD. We are sorry not to be able to help in this way.

We hope the Lord will provide you with funding from other sources, so that you can still join us at the conference.”

This was the email I received last Aug. 4 from Media Associates International, the sponsor of the LITTWORLD conference. While I was reading it, I felt at peace, even if the message meant I can not get financial assistance from them. Two years ago, I was able to attend the conference in the Philippines on a partial scholarship granted by them. It was a big help for me. I understood that this time, they had prioritized others. But even then, I was not disappointed. I know God could provide in some other ways.

I kept repeating to myself and to God that I trust Him and that with Him, nothing is impossible. He will make a way for me to get to the conference in Brazil. As I did so, I found myself crying. Have you ever felt that way? I don’t exactly know how to explain it. I was just pouring out my heart to God and telling Him He’s my only hope. Then the tears just kept flowing.

Within 30 minutes after I read the e-mail, I received a text message from someone I met in church recently. She said, “God loves you so much that He turns His ears to you constantly. He always answers your requests. Maybe not with a yes, but always with what’s best.”

I cried all the more. God loves me indeed He sent me this message through someone I barely knew and who didn’t know what I was going through. I felt so comforted. It was God’s soothing voice to me at a time I needed to hear from Him. It was an embrace from my heavenly Father. I lay down to sleep that night still in tears, but comforted by His loving kindness.

The following morning, another person sent me a text message at around 5:30. The message was sent so early, but it was so refreshing. The message read, “Praise the Lord, I’m setting aside $100 for your trip to Brazil…” My jaw dropped. I looked out the window, and saw the sun rising in the east. I raised my eyes to the heaven, and I could not help but cry again. In awe, I worshipped God, and thanked Him. I felt comforted again.

I was so amazed at how God could comfort me so quickly and assure me of His loving presence and provision. Three days later, I realized something else.

While reading the incident of how Jesus miraculously fed the 4,000 after He had earlier fed 5,000 people (Mark 8), I realized that this is the second time God had quickly assured me of his provision for my trip to Brazil. If you remember, last June, I was also hoping I would win the literary contest so I could be awarded the $425 scholarship (See “And the Winner Is…”). As you know, I didn’t win, but immediately, in just one day, I received financial gifts from three different people (well, they’re three couples actually). What’s so inspiring was that these generous people are full-time workers in the kingdom of God who also raise funds to support their family and their ministry. Yet they were more than willing to be vessels of God’s blessings.

And now, my earlier application for scholarship was not granted by the sponsor, but again, immediately, within 30 minutes and the morning after, God sent another confirmation of His provision. After feeding the 4,000, Jesus asked His disciples, “Don’t you understand yet?” (Mark 8:21). I felt a bit embarrassed when I realized that Jesus wasn’t just talking to His disciples, He was also speaking to me personally. Now I understand. Twice, He fed two different groups of hungry followers. Twice, I was denied the chance to earn for my conference fee, but immediately, in both instances God touched different people to share with me a portion of their God-given resources.

Are you in need of comfort and assurance that God will meet your needs? Remember your past victories and miracles. If God has done it before, He will do it again. God is not a one hit wonder. He has done it twice to me. On the other hand, if you think you have no miracle to remember, then begin trusting God that He is able to help those who humble themselves and call on Him. When we submit to His will, His method and timing, we set the stage for God to do a miracle. A door may be closed, but God can certainly open the windows of heaven to pour out His resources. Man’s denials could be God’s confirmation of His abundant blessings.

“So many are saying, “God will never rescue him!” But You, O Lord, are a shield around me; You are my glory, the one who holds my head high. I cried out to the Lord, and He answered me from His holy mountain. I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me.” Psalm 3:2-5

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

And the Winner Is...

June 30, 2006 was judgment day, at least for me and the other writers from other nations who joined LITTWORLD’s writing contest. June 30 was the day the organizers notified the winners of the said contest.
I joined the writing contest with hopes of winning, especially since the first place winner would be awarded a full scholarship to the conference in Brazil. That’s equivalent to $US 425 which covers registration fee, hotel accommodation, 14 meals, and tour. It would not only be an honor for any writer to win this international contest, but it would also be a big financial bonus. I figured if I win this contest, I would just have to raise funds for my airfare and pocket money.
Earlier that year, I also joined a lifestyle journalism contest sponsored by a national newspaper. The prize at stake was P25,000 plus gift certificates. Earlier I was hoping to win so I could use the money as start-up fund. I didn’t win and that somehow caused me to doubt God’s provision for a while (See “Have You Been Afraid?”).
Did I win LITTWORLD’s writing contest this time? Did God provide for the $US 425 by causing the judges to award me with the prize money?

No, I didn’t win the contest. I didn’t get any notice on June 30 that I won, not even honorable mention. I would not be awarded the $US 425 prize money, but YES, I believed God would provide that amount to cover my registration expense.
When I joined the lifestyle journalism contest, I was confident God would give me favor and let me win. When I didn’t, I learned to be more open and submissive to God’s ways and means. So even before June 30, I was already convinced that whatever the outcome, in the end, God will still provide for me.
I needed to be convinced of this so one morning, I turned to Psalm 74:12-17:

You, O God, are my king from ages past,
bringing salvation to the earth
You split the sea by your strength
and smashed the head of the sea monsters
You crushed the heads of Leviathan
and let the desert animals eat him.
You caused the springs and streams to gush forth
and you dried up rivers that never run dry.
Both day and night belong to you;
you made the starlight and the sun.
You set the boundaries of the earth,
and you made both summer and winter.

God is King of all the earth. He is the Almighty God who does the impossible and the unexpected. Everything is at His disposal and He sets the limits. He is the God whose blessings can be limitless to those who trust Him.

The following day, I went to the bank to check if the deposit promised by someone has been made already. I was pleasantly surprised to see that a generous gift has indeed been quickly debited. After about two hours, I went to the grocery to buy something when I bumped into a missionary couple whom I’ve known for some years. Before we parted, the wife apologetically handed me a few dollar bills, saying they’re seed money for the trip to Brazil. I was humbled by their selfless giving and willingness to help in spite of their own need. They truly blessed my heart.
I was already exhilarated by this turn of events when another surprise came. On my way home, I received a text message from a friend asking if I prefer a peso or dollar deposit. God is pouring out His resources just as He promised!

Sometimes, we second-guess God in the way He would bless us. But often, God would not let us win. He has plenty of surprises up His sleeve. It would be best for us to trust His judgment because if we do, we come out as winners in the end.

A Container with a Little Oil

One morning, while waiting for my turn to be served by the bank teller, an idea hit me. Why not open a separate savings account where I could deposit my incoming funds for my trip to Brazil?
I remembered the story of the widow of a prophet who was greatly in debt that the creditors were coming to take her two boys as his slaves (2 Kings 4:1-7). The prophet Elisha told the widow to gather all the empty jars she could ask from her neighbors. She was in debt. How could several empty jars pay off her debt?
The prophet of God required her first to gather as many containers as she could. The second step she was told to do was to go inside her house and together with her sons, pour oil into the empty jars.

Those were two things she could do naturally. Get empty jars. Pour oil. Now God would have to do His part supernaturally.
According to the Bible, the widow had nothing but “a little oil”. But as the widow obeyed the prophet’s word, the oil kept flowing. It kept flowing and flowing, filling all the other jars!
In the natural, she had little oil, but God, the Source of all resource, increased it supernaturally such that she and her sons had enough to sell in order to pay off their debts and live on what was left. Enough to buy some meat and bread they hadn’t tasted in a long time, and perhaps enough to buy some new clothes for her family.
God could also multiply my financial resources no matter how small, in the natural, it may initially be. I need to have a container too, so He could supernaturally fill it up! So prompted by this thought, I took another step of faith closer to Brazil—five months before Littworld, I opened a savings account with an initial deposit of P1,000.00 (around $20 at that time) to store the financial resources God would pour to finance my trip to Brazil. A container with a “little oil” is a good start for God to work on His miracle.

Twelve days after I opened an account for the trip to Brazil, a friend asked me for my bank account number and expressed willingness to extend financial support. Praise God!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Have You Been Afraid?

Whenever I prayed about going to Brazil to attend Littworld, I was led to Bible verses that talk about God’s sovereignty over the nations and supernatural provisions ( Acts 17:26; Psalms 74; Exodus 14, 17:6; 2 Kings 3). Those Bible verses greatly encouraged me to trust God and the impression to go to Brazil became even stronger.

But there came a point when my faith quivered. I became afraid.

This happened when I learned that I didn’t win in the writing contest in which I joined. I was hoping I could use the P25,000 (about $500) prize as start-up fund for the trip. Initially, I didn’t lose heart when I learned about it. I believed God had a better plan.

But a few days after, I began to doubt. I was then planning on sharing my journal with my family members and friends so they could also pray with and for me. But a thought struck me: What if I end up not attending the conference at all? I would end up being presumptuous, foolish.

I became afraid.

I cried and asked God to forgive me for wavering. Afterwards, I dared to be bold. I asked God to please grant me the favor of giving me another word to let me know if it is really His will for me to go to Brazil. Just one more word. Jesus, you’re the Author and Perfecter of my faith. Help my unbelief. I don't do this often, but out of desperation, I told God that I wanted to see a specific word that tells me to “go”. I want to hear that specific word: GO. Please, God, don’t be angry. If I hear that word, I’ll go on with this. No more turning back.

You see, for that day, I have a portion of Scripture to read. I have been reading a specific book from the Old Testament but I didn’t feel like reading that portion for that day. I did something which I don’t usually do. I asked God to speak to me through the part where I will randomly open the Bible. I was led to Matthew 14:22-33.

It is the story of Peter who dared to walk on the water when he saw that Jesus was walking on the lake. "Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."

"Come," Jesus said.

And Peter did. But when he saw the waves, his faith wavered. But Jesus immediately caught him and said, "You of little faith. Why did you doubt?"

My heart melted, ashamed that I doubted God. But I believed again, confident of His promise. Before I ended my quiet time that day, I thought I'd take a look at what I was supposed to really read for that day—my portion of Scripture which was Genesis 46. And the words of Genesis 46:3 stood out: "I am God, the God of your father," He said. "Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt..." Either way, God would speak to me that day to strengthen me!

The following day, a high school friend who rarely sends me a message, sent me a text message: "The verse “DON’T BE AFRAID” appears 365 times in the Bible…enough ASSURANCE that for each day we can trust God to help us 2 face our day."

Are you afraid? Don’t be, for God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never forsake you.” That is why we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my Helper, so I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Heb.13:5-6).

Thursday, November 6, 2008


A passport allows a citizen to travel abroad and discover new horizons. Last June 6, 2006, my expired green passport also provided me with an opportunity to break through in my journey of faith.

Because my passport expired last June 4 (again this was two years ago), I planned on renewing it as part of my preparation for the trip to Brazil. Two days after it expired, I went to a travel agency to ask for assistance. The woman at the desk asked for my passport and quickly flipped it to see the inside front cover that bears my picture, name, and other information. She then frowned, and turned over my passport to the woman beside her who was busy typing something on the computer.

I got the same response from the second lady after she examined my passport. She then asked me, “Where did you get this?” I was beginning to sense that something was wrong but I tried to keep my peace. What could be wrong with my passport?

“I lined up myself to get that from Lucena,” I confidently said. The regional consular office of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) covering the place where I live was located in Lucena, Quezon.

“Sorry, we can’t accept this,” the second woman said, suspiciously returning the passport to me. “It might be tampered.”

How can it be? Five years ago, I went through the tedious process of securing my authenticated birth and marriage certificates, traveled all the way to Lucena, waited for hours for my turn, filled up the forms, and presented my IDs. I didn’t use a fixer. After a few days, the man at the window of the DFA issued to me a crisp, green passport. What could be wrong with my passport?

I calmly walked out of the travel agency, thinking nothing could be wrong with my passport. I quickly uttered a prayer. Lord, this can’t be happening. I need to get a passport to get to Brazil!

I decided to go to another travel agency. But when the lady looked into my passport, she said, “This is weird.” Then I was subjected to the same interrogation I had in the first travel agency.

“This is the first time I saw a passport like this,” the lady said. To prove her point, she randomly picked a sample from a box full of passports. “Look,” she pointed to the inside front cover, “all passports are laminated. Yours isn’t.”

I tried to keep my peace that was being threatened by this bad news. Be calm, I instructed myself. God is in control. If there’s trouble, God can iron this out.

The lady asked me if I wanted to leave my passport so that their liaison officer could consult the DFA about it. With nothing left to do, I consented.

When I went home, I was somewhat bothered by the thought that I might be accused of conniving with fixers or with syndicates falsifying passports. For a while, I was afraid. But before any disheartening thoughts could creep into my heart, I took hold of my thoughts and convinced myself that I didn’t do anything wrong. God will clear this thing for me. He will make sure I get a passport and that I will not be held accountable for doing something I didn’t do.

I asked all those who knew that I’ve been praying to go to Brazil to please pray regarding my passport. I don’t want to worry about the passport because that day, I needed to translate five scripts and I have an after midnight deadline. I can’t spend the rest of the day and night worrying. I won’t be fearful. I shouldn’t be.

After praying and confessing some promises from the Bible, I felt at peace for the rest of that day. I was flooded by an assurance that everything is under God’s control. I was able to finish the five scripts on time.

The following morning, I remembered the story of Miriam, who watched at a distance the basket carrying his baby brother Moses as it floats along the Nile River(Exodus 2:4). She quietly expected God to save her helpless baby brother. And true enough, God maneuvered the basket and Moses was brought to safety in the arms of the pharaoh’s daughter who was bathing at the river. That’s faith. I realized that God is perfecting in me that childlike, quiet trust mentioned in Psalm 131:2: “Surely, I have calmed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with his mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me [ceased from fretting].” I also realized that it’s possible to be like an eagle that soars above the storm, undisturbed because he is flying high above where peace and quiet reigns. It is possible when you wait upon God and trust Him to act on your behalf (Isaiah 40:31). It's not easy to wait, but it is possible. And if you wait and trust God, He will flood you with such peace. (See my blog entry last September "Why Wait?")

As for the passport, the people at DFA allowed me to get a new passport, but not without being puzzled first as to why the passport released to me five years earlier was not laminated. Well, God definitely knew about it even then, and maybe, He used that incident to test my faith and make me trust Him more. It also drew me a step closer to Brazil, my journey of faith.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Starting Today: Journey of Faith

Exactly two years ago, in November 2006, I embarked on my first overseas trip. I was blessed to have toured Germany for a week, visited Strasbourg, France, and attended a six-day international publishing conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I called it my journey of faith because I went through situations that seemed impossible had it not been for divine intervention. Many times, my faith in God was tested, and in those times my weaknesses and limitations were magnified, but the power and limitlessness of God was certainly manifested. I kept a journal as I embarked on that trip and starting today, I would like to share with you the memories and lessons I learned along the way, hoping that one day, you too, will respond to the call of a journey of faith.

Journey to Brazil: A Journey of Faith

Where the journey began

It began last November 2004. Through a tip passed on to me by an editor, I was able to get a scholarship and attend LITTWORLD 2004 at Tagaytay City. LITTWORLD is an international Christian publishing conference held every two years in different parts of the world.

LITTWORLD 2004 was the first international publishing conference I had attended and it had greatly impacted me. I learned many things about writing, editing, graphic design, marketing, and publishing in general.

Aside from listening to Philip Yancey’s talk, I also met and had a chat with an old, bearded Russian philosopher/mathematician and writer of fairy tales; an Australian editor who edited an inspirational story contributed by worship leader Darlene Zschech for an inspirational collection of stories; a warm, gentlemanly publisher from Kenya; a Chinese based in Hong Kong who smuggles Bibles and Christian books to mainland China; an American female novelist; Malaysian, Russian, and Greek translators; and other interesting peers. I also met other Filipino editors and publishers.

I came out of the conference fueled by a vision, recharged to write, more equipped to battle and build with the pen (aahh…most of the time, with the computer), humbled by the experience, and wanting to attend the next conference.

And that leads my journey to Brazil.

Where the journey leads

LITTWORLD 2006 heads to Sao Paulo, Brazil in November 2006. At first, when I learned about it, I wasn’t sure if I should attend. Go get a globe or map and you’ll see that Brazil is half-way around the globe from the Philippines. It’s just too far, and that means, the air fare would definitely be very expensive. And the conference fee alone costs $425!

But as I prayed about it, I felt the urge to trust God for the trip. At first, I wanted to go because I wanted to be further trained as a Christian writer, and honestly, I wanted to go abroad for some sight seeing. But as I seek God’s will, my motive was redirected to a desire to glorify God and encourage others in their walk of faith. By journeying to Brazil, I am willing to let God do for me the impossible and I am hoping that in the process I could inspire others to trust God also for the great things God has planned for them. I wanted to be sure this is part of God’s good plan for me so I asked my mother and husband to pray for me and ask God for a confirmation. After they’ve asked God for guidance through the Scriptures, I beefed up my preparation for the journey.

Find out in my next blog how a passport can test your faith as it did mine.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Why Being a Mother is Like Playing Domino

Not all of you may be mothers, but definitely, you all have mothers. Some of you may have pleasant memories of your mothers, some may have forgettable ones. The official Mother's Day is still seven months away, but it's always timely to hear a story from a mother.

I flagged down a jeep to take me home. After attending a two-hour PTA meeting, I squeezed my way through the crowd and boarded the jeep so I can reach home by 6:00 P.M. For sure the children are already waiting for me and I don't want them to be anxious.

After a while, a familiar face stepped into the same public vehicle and greeted me as soon as she recognized me. Her slender figure was clothed in a lilac blouse and a slightly darker pencil-cut skirt. Though smiling, she was obviously tired.

"Hi Ma'am!" I smiled back at my son's former teacher. "Going home?"

"No, I'm going to tutor one more student. Just one more…"

I learned that after class, she tutors a pupil and now she’s on her way to one more tutee before she heads back home.

“You’re so hardworking,” I remarked.

“It would be a loss if I don’t work as hard. The fees also help augment our income," she said, referring to her and her husband's earnings.

I wondered if she still had the time to prepare dinner for her family. On my part, I had pre-cooked our dinner and all I needed to prepare was the rice.

"Actually, I have no more time to cook for my family. My mother-in-law cooks for us. After eating, I just go to bed."

"Do you have kids?" I asked. This is the first time I had talked to her lengthily about her family.

She nodded. "Sometimes I feel guilty because I no longer have time to teach my first born who is in Grade One." She seemed embarrassed by her confession. But soon I sensed pride in her voice when she added, "Surprisingly, he's on top of his class!"

I congratulated her for her son's achievement.

"You know what my son told me? He said, ‘Mommy, you teach other kids but you don’t teach me.’”

I tried to imagine what that boy must have felt having a teacher-mother who could not be by his side all the time to help him with his homework. I know there are other boys and girls like him whose father and mother are so busy working that even if they would like to, their tired minds and bodies could no longer bear another task. Or whatever energy that's still left, is unfortunately, reserved for an extended work at home. That's what happened to me and my son Ephraim that very night.

Later that night, I was so engrossed preparing for my Research Methodology class in a seminary where I teach part-time. It was my first time to teach the subject so I really needed to study hard. But my eyes were already drooping. Imagine, I did the usual household chores in the morning, I taught half of the day, attended the PTA meeting in the afternoon, and afterwards I dropped by a friend’s house to borrow an electric drill--and now I had to prepare a lesson plan.

That's why I barely noticed Ephraim playing with his domino, not until I asked him to go to bed. He was lining up his dominoes, spacing each black tile so that each one would lean and topple the one next to it in perfect motion and timing. Probably because he was rushed into finishing his project, the black pieces didn't collapse thoroughly. He didn't succeed at completing a domino effect.

Frustrated, he cried, buried his head on the bed and whined, "That's because you didn't help me!"

Initially, I defended myself. I reasoned I was busy working so I wasn't able to help him set up his dominoes. Then I softened as I recalled that when I was also in elementary, I cried once because my mother could not help me with my homework because she was busy with her business. I felt deprived, and I think even unloved. I forgot what my mother told me to appease me the night I cried. But I do remember that she hugged me.

And so I hugged Ephraim. I felt sorry and asked him to forgive me. He did. With a promise to help him next time, he went to bed.

Most of the time, being a mother is like playing domino. I hope I could get the exact white dots that could fit perfectly into my children's dots. Now as a working mom, I always hope that my work schedule would jibe with my children’s school program, sportsfest and other activities. But, as in a domino game, sometimes I have no choice but to "pass" and just get back in the next round. Sometimes I wish my two kids can connect with me. I wish they can understand my dreams as well as my fears, my struggles as well as my victories. I am thankful when my children don’t make huge demands; when they understand and cooperate with me. But when they can't, I must give them the chance and the right to say "pass". After all, they too can run out of the right piece.

Making the rectangular pieces stand next to each other and toppling them by just one tap of the finger is fun and exciting. Once they've collapsed, you start all over. But it's not exciting when my children's trust in me collapses. Unlike a few minutes' task of setting up the dominoes for a rerun, rebuilding my children's trust in me may take a longer time, even a lifetime.

I'm thankful that God knows how to reconnect with me. Not that He is at fault. He is the perfect Father in heaven, and I am the prodigal daughter. But even while I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me and reconciled me to God the Father. Through His Holy Spirit now dwelling in my heart, I can be in touch with God. As I walk closely with God who gifted me with two children, I understand more clearly my priorities as a mother. I am humbled when I realize that sometimes I also fail, yet the grace of God prevails. I start again, with God's help, determined to be connected with my children again.

Question for Reflection: Our desire to be connected with our heavenly Father should be greater than our desire to stay connected with our children. What steps or adjustments do you need to do to be closer to God?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Like Watermelon Seeds

Ephraim, when he was about four, with his sister

Previously, I wrote something about my daughter. To be fair, here's something I wrote about my son after a swimming incident.

The water was shallow. In fact it's only thigh-deep. But for my son Ephraim who was only four years old at that time, the seawater was up to his chest. With one more step, the salty and greenish brown water would reach his neck. The water was murky because there were too many people, especially children, playing in the water. It was summer and the cool and frisky water of the sea was too inviting.

While holding the tiny right hand of my son, I observed the people around me. There were young girls in pink suits. One even had a pair of goggles. I think she was only three but she showed no fear of the rushing waves. Some children her age are naturally fearful and wouldn't dare to swim alone. But this girl looked even excited. Another group of young boys about the age of my five-year old daughter, were throwing water at each other.

I also heard my six-year old niece, Erika, shout, " Tita! Tita! Look at me, I can swim!" Then she quickly demonstrated her apparently new skill. She looked back at me, as if looking for a confirmation that indeed, she now knows how to swim. I watched and nodded to please her. But the truth is, she wasn't swimming at all. She was just crawling.

From the middle of the sea, I saw my husband rose. His body was itching so he decided to say good-bye to the brine. But I still didn't want to get out of the water. I was actually itching to go to a deeper portion of the sea, not here by the beach, babysitting Ephraim. I wanted to go there, in the middle of the sea where my sisters-in law were, frolicking together with our friends. They giggled as they all struggled to remain afloat by embracing a solitary bamboo pole. I also wanted to float and to feel the warm sunbeam on my skin. I wanted to be cradled by the rolling sea waves as the gentle breeze touch my cheeks. Ahh…how relaxing it would be. Unfortunately, I'm stuck here at the beach with Ephraim…Ephraim…

Ephraim! I was too busy watching others I forgot that I was keeping an eye on my young son. When I turned to him, he was already submerged in water. His little face was ashen white. With both eyes and mouth closed, he nervously paddled. He wrestled to rise to the surface.

My heart raced, my mind reeled. No! He's not going to drown. I will not let him get drowned. I immediately grabbed him. As he rose to the surface, Ephraim caught his breath. After the rescue, his first words were, "I didn't know seawater is salty. It tastes just like watermelon seeds!"

Looking back now, I thought that was a brilliant comparison. I always knew the sea is terribly salty but in all my English composition class, I had never thought of comparing the saltiness of the sea to that of the watermelon seeds.

Come to think of it: In the first place, who would have thought that there's still food to scrape in a tiny watermelon seed? I don't know the origin of this novel morsel. But maybe, just maybe, the one who peddled the idea that a salted butong pakwan can be eaten, is someone who had too much time in his hands. So he invented a food that will require him a lot of preparation before he can actually eat it in seconds. Or he could be someone who was an environmentalist and thought of a novel way of recycling spitted watermelon seeds. Or most likely, he was someone who had nothing to eat, but saw lots of seeds spitted by those who have much watermelons to eat. Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention. I also believe that afflictions have a way of bringing out the best from us, even the best ideas.

That’s why the next time I find myself in the middle of a sea of problems concerning my kids, my husband, my friends, my budget, my work, my whatever… and I feel like I’m drowning, I will not panic. For a while I may feel like my lungs are ready to burst, or I am about to pass out for lack of oxygen. I can paddle my arms as vigorously as I can so others would know I’m crying out for help. Then I’ll remind myself that great ideas come when one is submerged. That's when I get a different perspective of life. That's when I realize my limits. That's when I call out to Someone stronger than I am who can save me. And sure enough, He will come to the rescue. When I come to the surface, I know better about life, and about what really matters.

Jesus said, "Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." The Bible, from Matthew 11:28-30

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Bike Ride

My cute daughter Phoebe (second from left, last row) when she was eight years old

I wrote the following when my daughter was around eight or nine years old trying to learn how to ride a bike.

The street was a sea of people that shady afternoon. Boys were scrambling to possess the orange rubber ball and shoot it in the ring that was hoisted on one side of the road. Mothers were strolling the wide street with their kids. A man, his shirt rolled up to his stomach, was fanning a barbecue pit in front of his house, obviously getting ready to grill some barbecue. In a few minutes, people would start milling around his improvised stall and buy his barbecue. This is a common sight in our neighborhood especially every summer when children are out of school and adults have enough spare time on a Saturday afternoon.

That afternoon, I was on my way home from the grocery when I spotted from afar a thin girl in a familiar shirt and pair of shorts. She was pedaling a bicycle, slowly at first, then breezily. When the girl saw me, her face brightened up. She smiled and shouted, “Mom!”

Hey, that’s my daughter! Pride flooded my heart as I saw my eight year-old daughter, Phoebe, navigate our busy street. Her Tita Rothy gave her that bicycle. Even before she had her own, she had been practicing already on a borrowed bicycle. And when she finally got one, she spent almost every afternoon learning how to balance herself on the two wheels.

I did not watch her every time she practiced, but I would ask her from time to time how she’s doing. During her first few attempts, she would say, “It’s hard,” or “I can’t balance myself”. The succeeding trials were rough. Sometimes, she would come home with scratches on her leg or knee. I would kid her, “You’ve ruined your legs. You can’t be Miss Universe anymore.” She would pout then ask me for a remedy. I bought her cebo de macho and cautioned her to be careful.

In spite of the wounds she suffered, Phoebe would still practice riding on her bike until her efforts paid off. Later on, I asked her, “How did you feel while you were still learning how to balance and control your bike?”

She replied, “It feels good. I get excited but I get nervous too.”

“Didn’t you feel embarrassed with the people on the street looking at you…you know, whenever you fall down, or when you can’t park sooner to give way to a coming vehicle?” I was imagining how I would feel if I was in that situation. I don’t like people staring at me, so for sure, I would feel uncomfortable.

“Oh yes,” she said. “But now I can balance myself, and I can go wherever I want.”
At the age of eight, my daughter has learned how to ride a bicycle, and up to now she still rides in the afternoon around our neighborhood. I admire her for that. I admire her for her courage and persistence in facing the challenge of riding a bicycle, in stretching her abilities, in getting up after a fall, in taking a risk.

Like my daughter, I think I should also take more risks. Not only in trying a new hairstyle, but also in trying out something new that would help me grow as a person. I should also muster the courage to let others see not only my strengths but also my weaknesses so people can see the real me. I will keep on putting my persistence to the test by writing (even at two in the morning) and sending queries to editors until my works get published. And even if I get rejection letters one after the other, I’ll keep trying. It’s all part of the risk. Hopefully, afterwards, it will be a breeze, just like riding bike.

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. The Bible, from the Book of Romans 5:3

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Your Spaghetti Doesn't Always Have to Be Red


If you have been following my blog this past week, you definitely noticed the physical change—I changed the template. Let’s say I got bored with the color and font. I also thought it’s a fresh way to mark my second week of blogging. But more than that, I thought it’s a good object lesson in changing perspective.

For some of us, when we keep seeing the same things, we lose our excitement. Or when we refuse to listen to someone who has a different insight, we get into trouble. When we snub the veggies, we miss out on the nutrients that our body needs. Trying something new—rearranging the furniture, cooking a new dish, doing things spontaneously, doing someone a favor instead of always asking a favor, giving instead of receiving—these could give you a boost of energy, a sense of adventure, an important benefit, and even teachable moments.

My “change” this day is not only the template of my blog, but also the food that I served in my family’s plate. We often have spaghetti with tomato sauce and cheese. Sometimes we garnish it with tuna flakes, sardines, sausage, or ground meat. But for the first time today, I cooked spaghetti with olive oil, basil, garlic, and bits of German franks. (While doing so, I imagined I’m one of the cooking hosts of Lifestyle Channel or Travel and Living preparing culinary dishes.) I got the recipe from my youngest brother who served it on his birthday. I liked his olive oil and basil spaghetti, which he also garnished with raw slices of tomato and mussels then topped it with toasted peanuts and garlic. Delizioso!

Today, I’ve proven that in our family, our spaghetti doesn’t always have to be red. We all liked the spaghetti in olive oil! Our heart will also benefit from the antioxidative substances and good cholesterol found in olive oil. For more information on the health benefits of olive oil, check out

When baking, follow directions. When cooking, go by your own taste. ~Laiko Bahrs

It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato. ~Lewis Grizzard

A nickel will get you on the subway, but garlic will get you a seat. ~Old New York Proverb

No man is lonely eating spaghetti; it requires so much attention. ~Christopher Morley

A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without Him, who can eat or find enjoyment? ~The Bible, from the Book of Ecclesiastes 2:24-25

Monday, October 6, 2008

Things Could Get Better

How's your thank you list? My two friends shared the following:

Clemenchita said, “Ahummm... thanks for the "Thank You List" you've shared Ate. It reminds me also to give thanks to the Lord for His goodness in my life even in a small thing that I've done.”

Mei said, “Just this morning I was thinking along the same lines.. dami kong reklamo sa mga nangyari sa kin last week that it's about time I reverse the trend by writing a gratitude journal. I am thankful simply for another week that may not be perfect, but full of promise and hope. if everything was soooo bad the previous week, then things could only get better! =)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Thank You List

Managers have to-do list. Mothers have grocery list. Children have wish list. I think we all ought to have a thank you list. Here is mine for this week:

I’m thankful that...
…I’ve finally started blogging
…wonderful people like you read my blog
…high school friends still remember me after so many, many years (I won’t
tell you what year I went up the stage in my gala uniform to get my diploma!)
…my husband cooked spaghetti for our kids and their 11 friends who came to the house
…we celebrated a friend’s birthday last Wednesday with pizza and pistachio ice cream
(my favorites!)
…I keep learning new things because my job requires that I read and research a lot
…when I read some verses in the Bible, I realized its application in my life
…I’m now able to reconnect with my cousins whom I haven’t seen in years, thanks to
Yahoo Messenger
…I had a nap this afternoon
…last month’s telephone bill was already paid (on time)
…we have a kind neighbor who gave us lumpiang ubod at pritong lumpia (fresh and
fried spring rolls)
…I found six yards of fabric for our couch at a bargain price
…someone gave me a tip on how to get a scholarship for our daughter

Most of all, I’m thankful that…
…God made all these things possible. Without Him I can not do anything. He is my
Source of wisdom and strength, my Enabler and Helper.

Why not spend your weekend making your own thank you list? Share them with me and I’ll post it here. Thank you!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Tower Bridge

Gazing at London from My Kitchen Sink

Gazing at London from My Kitchen Sink

While sweeping the kitchen floor, I threw a glance at the shelf just above the kitchen sink. A solitary laminated plate with a strawberry painted on its surface leaned against the pink wall of the shelf. I decided to adorn the half-empty shelf with some souvenir which my husband and I have collected. I placed on the shelf a small Korean tea cup given by our friend who attended a seminar in Korea. I added a miniature porcelain plate from Strasbourg with hand paintings of its towering buildings which my sister bought when she toured Europe. Next to it I displayed an egg-shaped salt shaker given by an aunt who’s residing in Germany. I also borrowed some pieces from my daughter’s porcelain mini tea set (I think they’re made from China, as usual). To complete the decoration, I placed against the wall of the shelf a coaster with a picture of the Tower Bridge, a well-known London landmark. An English missionary gave it to my husband. Though I really want to visit the countries where these souvenir came from, for now I am pleased to gaze at each one of them each time I wash the dishes. I particularly like gazing at London from my kitchen sink.

There are other ordinary things I find pleasure in. I like to watch the sky in the middle of the morning and follow the clouds as it drift against the blue expanse. I gasp in wonder when at dusk the sky is painted orange-pink. At night, I gaze at the millions and millions of stars that adorn the firmament. And when my children are already asleep, I stare at them, one after the other. I stroke their hair and pat their behind the way I used to do when I put them to sleep when they were still babies. I don’t know why but it gives me a great sense of serenity doing that. When I wake up in the morning I spend about a minute tracing with my eyes the features of my husband’s face—his closed eyes, his big nose, his full, red lips, even his sunken eye bags. What a delight to wake up each morning beside the love of your life.

I consider it a blessing to learn to enjoy the ordinary things in life. To be thankful for the things that I already have, like my husband, my children, my family and friends who remember us enough to give us souvenirs, and many more. I’m thankful for the sun that shines so brightly causing my laundry to dry quickly. I’m happy to see a bunch of mangoes dangling from a branch. I get excited cooking my husband’s favorite dish. And I easily get satisfied munching chocolate chips. It’s liberating for me not to covet or gripe about the things that I still don’t have or the things that I won’t ever have. If I don’t have them, I still have other things to enjoy and be thankful for. Or maybe I’ll have them too later on. I just enjoy what I have for the moment.

Later in the evening after I had displayed my souvenir and had enjoyed the view from my kitchen sink, I received a message that my brother, sister, and sister-in-law were going to Bangkok for a pleasure trip. I’m glad. I hope they enjoy the trip. As for me, the view from my kitchen sink is just fine.

What are the things you are thankful for?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sunrise and Sunset

Sunrise and sunset are wonderful occassions for the Creator to display His marvelous work of art. They are fleeting moments for us to enjoy, opportunities for us to give praise to the One who adds color to our lives.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Picnic, Anyone?

I neatly laid the diced boiled potatoes on the plastic container. Then next to them I piled the sliced ripe red tomatoes as well as the fragile hardboiled eggs. Quickly, I prepared the herb and oil dressing for my salad. It was an exciting day. I was going on a picnic.

The idea to go on a picnic all by myself came several days after working hard in front of the computer. In the past, I had set aside special days for rest. Quiet times with my Creator in a secluded place. My wearied mind finally agreed with my tired body and hungry spirit. I needed a rest.

Seconds after I made the decision, my cell phone beeped. It's a text message from a friend: "Time spent with the Lord is always time well spent. 'Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.' Mark 6:31. Have a good and godly day."

Coincidence? More like a heaven-sent confirmation!

So I packed my salad, apple juice, banana, Bible, and two other books. I retreated to a nearby campsite and enjoyed the green and peaceful scenery. I climbed the tree house. I curled on

the hammock. I listened to the joyful songs of Hill Song from a borrowed MP3. I thanked God for His blessings as well as asked for a few more favors. I read some verses from the Bible and finished two chapters of a book I bought from a second-hand store. And yes, I leisurely forked my salad, savoring the taste of the potatoes, tomatoes, and eggs with herbs. For a few hours, the countdown to deadlines stopped ticking. All I could hear were the swaying of the leaves and the creaking of bamboos as they bent to the wind.

I often read that rest is good. After resting, we come out recharged not only with a renewed strength, but with a refreshed mind as well. Picnic, anyone?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Why Wait?

Pause for a minute and think of the times when people have to wait.

You'll realize that most people wait for a lifetime partner, for the birth of their first baby, for a chance to own a house and lot. Some are too eager for a promotion while others are getting impatient to finish an obligation.

Many people like you wait for a petition or request to be granted, for prayers to be answered, for the bus or the pizza you ordered to arrive, for weekend to come. I can mention some more but if I go on you might accuse me of wasting your time.

The truth is, time is a precious commodity. And for a busy and sensible person, the maxim to live by is use time wisely and make use of every opportunity.

However, there are well-appointed moments when we have to leave our time machine and free ourselves from the strait jacket of schedules. These are challenging moments, for the tendency to yield to frustration and anguish is so great when we wait. But consider this: Times and seasons of waiting are unique opportunities for us to grow and experience God's provision.

This is what one lady missionary learned when she became very ill while on a mission. Sick and in need of good food to nourish herself, she waited for her check to arrive but it did not come. So she was forced to content herself with oatmeal and canned milk for 30 days. This sad turn of events caused this Christian worker to doubt God's goodness.

However, in spite of her measly diet, the missionary recovered. At the end of the 30-day oatmeal diet, she finally received her check, enabling her to buy other foods. When she finally had a chance to speak to a congregation, the lady missionary related her tough experience to them. After the meeting, a kind doctor inquired about her ailment. Upon hearing the nature of the digestive malfunction, the doctor said, "Well, if your check had arrived, you would not be here talking to me today. The diet we always prescribe for that trouble is a 30-day oatmeal diet."

Like the missionary, we often feel that God should do something concrete in our times of trouble. The good news is, God is always at work, though it may seem that nothing is happening. God may require us to wait so that we may learn the virtue of patience, trust, and moving according to His timing.