Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Sweet Love

Lunch for that day was the usual steamed rice, fried milkfish, and a vegetable mix of squash, stringbeans, malunggay (moringa) leaves boiled in water with chopped onion, tomato and flavored with fish sauce. It was a satisfying meal that made my tummy happy. But just when I finished my meal, I felt a craving for some sweets. Without hesitation, I expressed my desire aloud, "LORD, I want a dessert." No, it was not a demand, but a request made known in a way a little child would confidently ask something from her father or mother.

Probably no more than five minutes had passed when a couple knocked on our door. My husband and I were expecting them to visit that day to deliver their wedding invitation, but it never crossed our minds that they would bring something else--a box tied with green ribbon. And inside the box was, well, a round mango cheesecake!

I was tickled pink not only with how quickly God answered my request for dessert, but with how this incident is also an answer to another prayer that morning. You see, I was reading a verse that goes like this: "There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear, because fear involves [the expectation of divine punishment so the one who is afraid [of God's judgment] is not perfected in love [has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God's love]."*

The verse is talking about the love of God and how God's love for us removes all our fears. Though I have moments of victory over negative thoughts, I admit sometimes I still feel afraid and I'm distracted by thoughts about the past and future. How can this perfect love of God drive out all my fears? I was drawn to the last few words of the verse: The one who is afraid has not yet grown into a sufficient understanding of God's love.

I realized I may never fully grasp the dimension of God's love for me, and for that matter, for any man. But as God enables, I can at least gain a sufficient understanding of His love, enough to cause a positive change in me. Knowing God is a lifelong process, and everyday is an opportunity to know Him and experience His love. So I began that day with a prayer. "LORD, please open my eyes and let me see how you love me."

When the dessert arrived swiftly than I expected, I thought that God was showing me that He is aware not only of my needs, but even of my wants, and that He is willing to provide for them. On the other hand, I accept that He also demonstrates His love when he withholds a request that will not be good for me. But this time, this precious time, I'm free to savor this demonstration of the sweet love of God my Father in heaven.

“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him." Matthew 7:9-11

*1 John 4:18, Amplified Bible

You can have a relationship with God today. Read this article to find out how.
Did you know that God has adopted us as His own children? If you have some minutes, learn more about it from this video message.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Hungry Like Kopiko and Copycat

Our cats Kopiko and Copycat

Our cats, Kopiko and Copycat, are always waiting outside our kitchen door for my husband to feed them. In the morning, once we open the door, they scramble and meow, expressing their need for food. And as my husband prepares their daily fare of sardines, they run quickly and cry even louder. They're hungry and they're excited to be fed.

Psalm 130:5 says, "I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and with hope I wait for his word". The psalmist is also hungry for food for his soul and he knows what can satisfy him and how he could get it. He knows that only God can feed his soul with His satisfying words. And so he waits on God till He receives a message of hope.

Jesus said that we are to live not on bread alone, but on every word that comes out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). Fortunately for us today, God's word has been neatly put together in a book form--the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation, the importance of hearing, or in our case, reading the Word of God is always emphasized. The Bible is not just a guide for life, but it is food for our soul. As a human father nourishes his children with food that will make them healthy and strong, our Heavenly Father also offers us spiritual feast for our growth and contentment. His Word encourages, enlightens, invigorates, infuses us with hope, calms our fears, and fills our heart with peace. But like our cats, we are to come regularly, humbly, and with expectation to our Father's table so He can feed us with fresh manna from heaven.

If you would like to start each day with a reading of a Bible verse, visit  BibleGateway. This site also offers various devotionals, Bible study guides, and various translations of the Bible. 

OMF Literature also has a physical and online bookstore where you can purchase Bibles that will suit your need. 

The Philippine Bible Society also publishes and distributes Bibles in different dialects spoken in the country. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Rediscovering the Wonder of a Children's Storybook

I was overseas last week to conduct a training for those aspiring to write for children and young people. My co-trainer Emily Lim from Singapore is an award-winning children’s book author whose works have been translated into different languages. Naturally, she was tasked to share about writing children’s storybooks. My assignment was to teach the participants how to write devotional and personal experience articles.

            Although I came to the writers’ workshop as a trainer, I was expecting to learn more about writing children’s story from Emily. Many years ago, my first attempts in writing were stories for children. I attended workshops for writing for children and wrote stories soon after. Eagerly, I submitted them to a publisher but not one of the stories was turned into a book. I picked up the pieces of my broken ego, and mustered strength to write again for children. Satisfied by the fruit of my labor, I took another bold step: I entered a national contest. Sadly, the story didn’t impress the judges. I was so discouraged I stopped writing stories for children. Instead, I turned to writing magazine articles, curriculum, and radio scripts for children. Occasionally, I would write short stories for students as part of my textbooks, but I have given up hope of writing a storybook for younger kids.

            So at the workshop, I took notes of what my co-trainer shared about writing storybooks for children—the parameters of writing for different age groups, the classic story structure, “sins” to avoid in writing for children. There were also many books displayed at the training, and so I had the chance to feel once again the hard covers of a children’s book, feast on the splash of colors on its pages, and hear the rhythm of the words that were meticulously put together by the author. Each participant also shared the summary of the book they’ve read, and then...one by one they came. The sense of wonder came. Pleasure made sure his presence was felt. That “aha!” moment finally arrived. The joy of reading and hearing a retelling of a children’s story was coming back to me. There I was, an adult rediscovering the wonder of a children’s storybook.

            There were times I choked when I heard about how a poor teddy bear longed to be loved, or how a rocking horse, when given a chance to be real, chose to remain a toy for a disabled friend. I surely identified with the fearful little seed and the worrisome fox who both had to go through unfamiliar situations. How can that story of trusting God through fear and change told in a child’s language also speak to an adult like me? That’s the power of a children’s story.

            I didn’t come out of the training with the resolve to pick up the pen, so to speak, and begin writing stories for children again. No, I came back with a renewed appreciation for children’s storybook writers like Emily and the others I know from the Philippines. I will, most probably, open another children’s storybook the next time I visit a bookstore, or maybe download an e-book. And then, as I read again, I hope the wonder returns. 

If you wish to read children's books published in the Philippines, I recommend books published by the Hiyas imprint of Omf Literature

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Your Purpose for This Generation

A friend passed away in her hospital bed last week. She was only 45. Too young to die in midlife, I lamented. She left three children who are all still going to school. She has dreams for her family and for herself, but now she wouldn't be able to fulfill them in this temporal setting. We who love her are somehow comforted when we try to see things through teary eyes of faith, believing in the wisdom of God's sovereign purpose.

Then I remembered a shepherd boy-turned-king named David who lived a full life: "For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers and underwent decay" (Acts 13:36). King David conquered the city of Jerusalem and made it a flourishing capital; united the north and south kingdom into one Israel; drove away their many enemies; and paved the way for a succession of leadership over Israel and the building of the grand temple by his son Solomon. Most of us would be timid to compare our resume with the beloved king's curriculum vitae. I wouldn't; there's no comparison at all.

Yet reading a line from Samuel Bakutana's devotional article from Light for the Writer's Soul* sparked hope in me today. "Every Christian writer is a gift to his or her generation." Furthermore, he said, "We often underrate the greatness of God's writing gift in us...we often utilize that gift with slow speed, little passion and almost no urgency."

Though I have dedicated God's writing gift to me for His use, I feel guilty at times of not making the most of every opportunity to write more books, help an author reach more readers by translating his material, or work with a writer in polishing his or her manuscript. I allow myself to be distracted by scrolling down further and clicking more links on my Facebook. Or I take a break from the computer screen to focus on the TV screen and linger much longer. I blame lethargy for postponing a translation project that's long overdue. And I admit, sometimes multi-tasking didn't help accomplish more what I thought I could.

If I want to fufill my God-given purpose for this generation, I must use through God's grace what was entrusted to me--time, talent, treasure, things--while I'm still here on earth. In the end, we don't compare our accomplishments against our siblings or colleagues. We will be judged according to how faithful we have been in using our gifts to fulfill our purpose for this generation.

*Light for the Writer's Soul: 100 Devotions by Global Christian Writers is jointly published by Media Associates International and Armour Publishing. To order, please click on the links.

 How will you serve God and this generation effectively in today's turbulent times? Our Anchor in a World Adrift by Jon Hirst and Marlene Legaspi-Munar tackles seven things that are changing our world (refugee crisis, economic instability, disconnection in a digital world, shifting sexual morality, secularism, suicide, and the quest for spiritual home) and how you can make a difference. To order, click here.