Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Slow Down

As cars and jeeps honk and snake their way to downtown, I silently sent a request. "Lord, please make this a quick trip." I recalled my itinerary for the day--pay bills, make deposits, buy groceries. I wanted to finish everything quickly so I can get back home and continue writing. But when I reached downtown, instead of going to the bank, I followed the alley leading to a cafe. I haven't had a full breakfast and my tummy wants to be filled.

I scanned the menu and ordered a sausage penne and lemon cucumber shake. I was hoping I could finish the brunch in a few minutes so I could then go to the bank, but I saw a reminder in front of the cash register: We slow-cook your meal so please bear with us. Oh, maybe that's one reason why the small restaurant has a shelf of books. So while waiting for my meal, I randomly picked one. The title is The Good and Beautiful God: Falling in  Love with The God Jesus Knows. I began to browse.

I surveyed the table of contents and saw that the last chapter has the most interesting title: How to Make a Pickle. It's subtitle gives a hint on what the chapter is about: Soul Training: Slowing Down. The author, James Bryan Smith, reminds us readers to slow down so we can get a clear perspective of things and hear from God. Actually, I've been planning to go on a personal retreat the next day. I've just been dispatched.

So I'm slowing down for a day or two. And yes, I'm enjoying the view.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Morning Blessing

I stepped out of the house for my early morning walk and talk with God.  The air is chilly and fresh. No bustling sound coming from the main road a few meters away from our place. No belting from videoke enthusiasts in the neighborhood. It's too early for that. Even the birds are still asleep. I couldn't hear even a faint delightful chirping. Perfect moment.

I uttered a prayer. Bless me, O Lord with the joy of  Your presence. Increase my rejoicing with Your wonderful promises. Make me happy with answers to my prayers. 

I needed God's comforting presence. The past days have given me enough reasons to weep, worry and be worn. Two friends lost their fathers. A contagious virus struck my son at a time when he needed to complete requirements for graduation. For months now, I've been looking and hoping to find a lost item. And we've been praying for an important application to be finally approved. I desperately needed God's presence and promise. And so I prayed.

In my past conversations with God, He would speak as I open the Scriptures. Sometimes the verse is the exact answer to my question. But at times, I would read a passage that has nothing to do with the thought that's troubling me. Then I would just trust that God heard me anyway. I may not get my answer now, maybe it will come later, or not at all. God's silence doesn't mean His absence.

But this morning, God answered my prayer with a promise as I turned to a Bible reading guide and discovered the verse for the day. It's Romans 15:13. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Joy and peace come from trust in God, but such trust is finally the gift of God, for believers abound in hope only by his grace (ESV Study Bible). Thank You, LORD for enabling me to trust You, and as I trust You, You fill my heart with gladness. What a blessing for this lovely morning.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Worth of a Book

I won! Or at least that's how I felt when I received this email from a reader who came across my latest book, How to Keep Your Hubby Happy at Iba pang Tips para kay Misis. On the last page of that book is a list of my website and blogs. My website has a contact page and it was through that site where she sent me this feedback.

         Good day! I was walking in National Bookstore earlier, when I caught sight
                     of this book--How to Keep Your Hubby Happy. When I opened it, it directed
                     me to the page about Leave and Cleave which I believe is an answer to my 
                     confused mind. I immediately bought it hoping I would be enlightened about
                     my marriage and my relationship with the Lord. I honestly need help but with
                     God's grace I know help will come to me soon. I believe God sent me the
                      answer to my my prayers through this book. Thank you for writing this book
                     and I hope a lot of women out there could read this. 

I was touched and teary-eyed because a reader went out of her way to let me know how the book has affected her. To create a manuscript, writers often work in seclusion. We're wordsmiths who carefully select words to craft them into a message that will inform, instruct, and inspire. So when our readers interact with us, especially with a positive feedback, we have reason to rejoice. This particular comment was also an affirmation of a calling to write. God enabled me to write and used what has been written to impress a message of hope at a time when it was needed the most. Mission accomplished. I give back all glory to God. 

But I was not the only one who accomplished the mission. My publisher, OMF Literature, is committed to offer books of inspiration, instruction, and insight to make a difference in people's lives. Each department works hard to ensure that each book, including How to Keep Your Hubby Happy, is prepared, printed, and promoted so it could reach its audience and touch lives. I'm thankful to OMF Literature for the opportunity to be part of a big team who loves books and produces books that make a difference. 

The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it. 
--James Bryce

How to Keep Your Hubby Happy at Iba pang Tips para kay Misis is available at OMF Literature Bookshops, Passages, National Book Stores, PCBS and other book stores. 

You can also purchase and download the e-book version from AmazonFlipreadsBuqo, and Barnes & Noble

with OMF Lit CEO Aleks Tan and wife Daphne
Photo courtesy of Aleks Tan
with OMF Lit Publishing Director Yna Reyes
Photo courtesy of OMF Lit

with Senior Editor Ian Magallona

with Beng Alba Jones, editor of How to Keep Your Hubby Happy

OMF Lit Family
Photo grabbed from OMF Lit Facebook page

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Unfading, Steadfast Love

I did something different that day. Instead of settling myself on a couch in our kitchen corner to do my Scripture reading, I stepped out of the house and wore an earphone. I listened to an audio recording of Psalm 104 as I scanned the blue sky with white clouds of various shapes drifting by. Our neighbor's coconut trees tower above the other trees and added to the delightful view. The cool morning breeze was refreshing and so are the words I was hearing.

Bless the Lord, O my soul!
    O Lord my God, you are very great!
You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
  covering yourself with light as with a garment,
    stretching out the heavens like a tent. (verse 1 and 2)

I was busy the past days with writing assignments and other errands. Because of this, instead of meditating I hastily finished my daily Bible reading and just quickly uttered prayer requests to help me make it through the day. It was like saying "Hi!" and then "Good-bye" right away to an important person who longs to spend time with you.

I needed the quiet time to calm me, but more than that I needed to just be in the presence of my loving God. Hearing an audio recording of the Bible, I was reminded of God's beauty in creation, how He caused each flower and tree to grow, how He formed each mountain, how He caused plants to grow to serve as food for me. God even marked the day with sun and moon to let me know when to work and when to rest.

O Lord, how manifold are your works!
    In wisdom have you made them all;
    the earth is full of your creatures. (verse 24)

God made many wonderful things and often I overlook them. I fail to see how God surrounds me with love. When I take time to read His Word, or in this case, hear His Word, and look around, I realize how much He loves me and how much He desires to spend time with me. 

After standing for some minutes listening to the audio Bible and looking up, I sat down on the porch and fixed my gaze on the ground. A small, faint red spot caught my attention. I looked closely and realized it's not just a spot, but a familiar shape--it's a little heart. I scratched the surface to see if it is paper or other lightweight material, but no, it wasn't. Could it be a drip from a paint? We didn't paint anything red or pink these past weeks. What could it be? I didn't bother to find an explanation anymore on how that little heart got into the ground. I took it as a reminder from the God who created the sparkling stars and fluffy clouds to remind me that He loves me very much with an unfading, steadfast love. 

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures foreverPsalm 136:1

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Heart and a Jar Filled with Gratitude

On the first day of this year, a friend on Facebook invited us to keep a Gratitude Jar for the rest of the year. The idea is to think daily about one thing you're grateful for, write it on a piece of paper, and toss it in a jar of your choice which will be aptly named as, yes, "Gratitude Jar".

My Gratitude Jar

I took on the challenge and found right away an empty, transparent, green bottle with a long neck. Perfect. I jotted down each day on a small strip of pink paper one thing that's worth thanking God for. For the past month, my heart has been spilling with gratitude for many things. Each day, I find reason, actually more than one reason, to be happy and thankful. 

My pen scribbled with joy when within the same month, I signed two contracts for a project. Remembering the law of sowing and reaping, I was thrilled when an opportunity was presented to me to donate to a worthy cause. It was just a few hundred pesos which I've been saving for a personal need, but the joy I received in return was priceless. That incident was recorded and kept in the jar. 

But there were also things that I wish didn't happen, still I found reason to be grateful. My son was hospitalized, but we were relieved that he recovered quickly. I had a flu soon after, but I was in bed for just a day. A software I was using was corrupted, but I didn't get cranky this time and stayed calm while downloading a replacement. Cool! 

Because God is in control and He is a reliable help in time of need, I can be thankful in any situation--good or bad, happy or sad. I may be bubbling over with excitement one day, or feeling blah the next time. Yet, when I remember that God loves me dearly and He has a purpose for everything, I train myself to pause, take up the pen, express my thanks, and toss it in my Gratitude Jar. 

At the end of the year, I will unroll each pieces of paper and read them one by one. I will relive God's goodness, thank Him once again, and praise Him for all that He has done. 

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."      
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Here's another story about a Gratitude Jar. 

If you're inspired to make your own Gratitude Jar, share it with us. Let your heart and jar be filled with gratitude to God!