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The truly liberated human being is not always fighting against something, but more frequently is fighting for something or someone.
– Denis Waitley

I have decided to face my King Xerxes and let my request be known to the king and to all.  For and on behalf of my family, my two children and my people whom I love and in whom I have unwavering faith – my fellow Filipinos.  I am ready to be ridiculed and to be thought of as foolish, to be considered naive and powerless to change the course of this nation because I am but a tiny voice.  But I cannot make light the burden in my heart, the heaviness and the grief that would not lift themselves until I do what I know I should do.  Mordecai reminded me of the tribe to which I belong.  He reminded me that I will not be spared if I remain silent:  that deliverance will come from elsewhere if I do not take action, and that I too shall perish, either way.  But I would rather perish for a cause, to take a stand – for a people, for my children, for the next generation… FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS.

To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there.
– Kofi Annan

Esther, was a young Jewish girl who became the Queen of all Persia, the wife of one of the most powerful kings during that time, King Xerxes.  Her true identity was hidden from him for security reasons.  Because of the evil political maneuverings of Haman, the king’s right hand man at that time, the Jewish people were decreed to be annihilated. Esther, if found out, would not be spared.

For all of us who love and declare our allegiance to God, we know the heart of God for this nation and for our people. We know that His desire is for righteousness to be established in our land.  We also know that His ways are not our ways.  We know He uses foolish things to confound the wisdom of this world.  We know where he wants us to go although we may not always know how to get there.  Yet, we are not lost because He has given us a roadmap in His word to guide us every step of the way.  For those of us who identify ourselves with Christ, we know who we are and whose we are.  Therefore, our choices have to be in line with the one with whom we identify ourselves.

7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

1 Corinthians 1:27
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

I have to admit that I deviated from this Scriptural guidepost in my choice for President for this 2010 election.  Like so many, I told myself that I will no longer vote for the candidate I voted for last time because I was disappointed by the events that followed his loss.  I CONSIDERED the other candidates who were running this year, weighed their qualifications and narrowed my choices based on my own reasoning and just hoped that they would eventually align with God’s vision for this nation during their term.  I did my homework and I asked questions about the candidates I was considering – from people who knew them personally to those who worked with them & were in a position to testify about them.  I weighed all the reasons why so-and-so supported this candidate and that.  Perhaps I was starting to “consider … appearance or … height“. I leaned towards one candidate but I was still undecided.

I knew that I had yet to see if any one of them have enough character in them not to buckle and fold once the pressure of payback time comes, or the machinations and sheer politics not only demanded but are intrinsic to the position.

The tide turned for me after I attended an Intercessors for the Philippines Conference earlier this year upon the  recommendation of a very dear intercessor friend.  It was a prophetic conference about declaring the Jubilee of Jubilees for the Philippines.  At the conference, nobody approached me and asked for any solicitation.  Nobody asked me who I was voting for, although a lot of them came wearing shirts supporting their candidate.  If anybody did that, they would surely have had a hard time convincing me because I held my ground of past disappointment.  It was supposedly a spiritual conference and I had no plans of ushering in the political picture.

But during the worship and intercession time, God exposed and started a process of changing my heart.  I even told my friend who was with me that God was dealing with me.  We were both in tears as we prayed and interceded for our churches and for the Philippines.  By the time the conference ended that day, my heart was changed.  My intellect was telling me otherwise, but my heart was no longer the same.  My choice for President was no longer a question mark.

He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.
Chinese Proverbs

Does this mean I will be voting blindly based on an emotional experience or mere religious affiliation?  Frankly, I still went home with my mind debating with my heart.  My mind battled with all the reasons why I shouldn’t but my heart was at peace with the reason why I should.

The networks, newspapers and blogosphere are filled with qualifications and credentials of all the candidates – arguments for and against each one of them.  You can easily find whatever suits your fancy and whatever appeals to your political leanings and declare it as the absolute battle-cry for and on behalf of your candidate.  I am not here to contest any of those.  One way or another, the scales will tip wherever we want them to, depending on the glasses we wear.  Furthermore, I am not here to convince you to change your mind to agree with my stand.  I believe we have reached a place in our country’s history where we can enjoy the liberty of disagreeing with each other freely and not succumb to lowly name-calling and backbiting when we express our differences.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
– Martin Luther King Jr.

Yet there comes a time in one’s life when one is compelled to do the unpopular thing… to swim against the tide and to risk one’s reputation and in some cases one’s very life… in obedience to a Higher Authority.  With regards to this election,  this time has come for me.  In light of eternity, I am answerable to this Higher Authority alone.

6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’s anointed stands here before the LORD.”

7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The LORD has not chosen this one either.” 9 Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the LORD chosen this one.” 10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The LORD has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”
“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered, “but he is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down [
a] until he arrives.”

12 So he sent and had him brought in. He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features.
Then the LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; he is the one.”

13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power.

Seven sons passed before the prophet Samuel hoping to be the one the Lord would anoint.  The Lord told Samuel not to consider appearance or height… not to look at the things man looks at.  The Lord sees what we fail to see.  He chose the least likely of them to lead his people.  He chose a SHEPHERD boy…a pastor of dumb sheep…to be KING.

On hindsight, what qualifications did David have back then that God would choose him to be king of Israel? This is what one of Saul’s servants said about David:

18 One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the harp. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the LORD is with him.”

David was a harp player, a brave man, a warrior who spoke well and was a fine-looking man even, the Scriptures say.  No PH.D.’s, no Harvard/Yale credentials, no political savvy.  He was a shepherd boy who led sheep.  Yet, even Saul’s men recognized David’s anointing and recommended him to King Saul.

Fast-forward to 2010 and compare David’s resume with the rest of the candidates and what do you have?  He wouldn’t stand a chance against the sterling list of achievements of most of the candidates today.  What did David have going for him that set him apart from the rest?

GOD TOLD SAMUEL TO ANOINT HIM and THE LORD WAS WITH HIM. Not his brothers.  Not any other Israelite. GOD CHOSE HIM.

FOR WHAT REASON? THAT BELONGED TO GOD ALONE.  Yet we all know that DAVID WAS A MAN AFTER GOD’s OWN HEART.

Let’s backtrack a bit to the time when King David was already ruling Israel.  He made major mistakes during his reign. The anointed King chosen by God conspired to kill one of his special warriors so that he could take his wife.  At one point, he also became proud and started to rely on the strength of his military.  He had children who didn’t have the same heart for God as he did.  He was not perfect. Did God, then, make a mistake when he chose David to rule over Israel?  If you were living during David’s time would you blame God for choosing David?

“In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.”
— The Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy

Friends, family and all those who chance upon to read this post:  The impact of this election is too great to pass up. There is a golden window of opportunity for us to choose what will happen in the next 6 years of our lives.  Let us not only think about the financial, social, or political impact of those who will lead this country for the next six years.  What is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.  Consider the unseen impact in light of eternity… in light of the higher purpose and destiny that has been prophesied time and again about our nation.  Those who love photography like me know what it feels like when they are not able to capture a specific moment because they were not prepared to take the shot.  That picture of the sunset that I failed to take a picture of today, will never be the same tomorrow.  It will never be the same no matter how many times I go back and try to take that shot again.  It is an opportunity lost that time cannot regain.

Right now, this opportunity is open to us.  Why settle for “puede na” when we can have ALL that has been promised to us?  Does that mean that the candidate I am voting for is the “only savior” of this nation?  By all means no.  But let us not forget that every time a righteous king ruled Israel, God blessed the nation.  I am FOR the purposes of God being established.  I want to see the destiny of this nation fulfilled in MY lifetime.  I URGE you to see what Samuel didn’t see. Who among them is “a man after God’s own heart”? So will all our problems be solved in an instant once this man is elected?  Is this a band aid solution to all our ills?  Again, no.  Yet, knowing that the one who will head this nation is not only concerned about protecting the reputation and the legacy of his parents but the HONOR and the NAME of our GOD, presupposes a greater accountability.

I did not give this brother candidate a second look at the start of this campaign although this brother who runs for the highest office is not devoid of political credentials. They are just not barked loudly  enough to the mass media. Yet like many well-meaning Christians that  have expressed that this candidate must stay in his calling because he is more effective by doing so, I had my reservations about his decision to run again because of the past. To me, keep the status quo. It’s safer and more peaceful that way.  But who am I to limit the sovereignty of the God of the universe to transform a man’s life and change the path he takes? to change his vocation and occupation at any given point? Biblically, David had a career change from shepherd boy to King. Peter, from fisherman transformed into a fiery preacher. Paul, from a respected Pharisee and teacher of the law to a rogue itinerant speaker. Even in 21st century context, how many people have shifted careers and are flourishing in their latter choices?  Be that as it may, to box a person by confining him in one place is to box our God who is able to use His people anywhere for as long as they are faithful and willing.  Isn’t He, after all, the God who enables; and, isn’t His Spirit the One who moves and leads? To the human understanding, such moves are either a promotion or demotion. Yet to our God, it is a masterpiece in the making.

I love this nation and have chosen to live here no matter how hard it might be.  I am sure a lot of you share this same sentiment.  Who would not love to see this nation flourish in all aspects of life?  Who would not want to see righteousness and honesty in all the land so that businesses can flourish and prosperity can reach the grassroots?  Who would not want to see this nation honor and love God and lift His name up in the truest sense?

I am not voting for a person alone.  I am voting for the opportunity to change this nation’s destiny in my lifetime.  I am voting for God’s will to be done and for His kingdom to come in my lifetime.  If my candidate wins, does that mean everything will be magically transformed?  That we can sit back and relax and let him do all the work and expect him to fix everything? within 6 years? No, it’s just like the ram’s horn being blasted across this nation saying to all that it’s time to rebuild. The work has just begun.

“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” — Henry David Thoreau

Think about it.  Why are we so eager to stop a person who is willing to face the scrutiny and ridicule of his former supporters just so that he can be given another chance to deal with the source of our country’s woes?  To strike at the root and not just settle for the branches.  The other candidates have noble intentions, if not noble propaganda, to rid this nation of corruption.  We know that corruption springs from the evil that is in all of our hearts and is impossible to get rid of unless it is overpowered by the grace of God.  Shall we settle for hacking just at the branches?

The future belongs to people who see possibilities before they become obvious.–Ted Levitt

Friends, family, readers and perhaps foes?   “If it pleases the king, may I find favor in his eyes… but if not then, let the axe fall where it may.” I URGE you once more to lift up your eyes to see the small cloud of rain in the distance. May we understand the time and the season we are in and see what this nation can be if we allow the fulness of God to move in our land.

For all the possibilities that I see in the future, I support Brother Eddie Villanueva for President.

I also support Ruffy Biazon, Kata Inocencio and Alex Tinsay for Senators.

GOD BLESS THE PHILIPPINES!

If you have read this far, allow me to share with you the thoughts of my children about this election, our nation and their future.

Today was quite crazy as it was so busy and I had only 3 hours sleep the night before.  The latest eye cream review would be of help now, considering  our sunken, aching eyes. This deviation from our normal Monday schedule was due to a prayer conference my wife was attending.  We had to leave quite early because the kids had to be dropped off.  At the end of the day, it paid off as we got fresh new insights about our role in the coming days.   We even got to rethink the motivation behind our leaning towards certain candidates in to upcoming elections in the Philippines.  Bottom line, no matter how crazy our day is, God is in control.

To prepare myself for the day, I usually start praying after I wake up.  I ask God to have his way with me and some direction about what to pray for and do for the day. I then read the Bible for a few minutes.  At the end of the day, I do the same thing only this time with the kids. I usually find myself centered throughout the day as I go through it walking with God.  Christianity is never about dead rituals and religion but rather about a close relationship with the Christos.

… and so it did. Typhoon “Pepeng” did move by the grace of God and I’m sure because a lot of people from all walks of life prayed and asked God to spare those who have suffered from Typhoon “Ondoy” another onslaught. I’m sure there were lots of people who fasted as well. (Yes, Virginia… Fastin‘ does wonders.) Of course, although Metro Manila and the nearby provinces were spared, those in Northern Luzon still got hit. The biggest lesson they learned was disaster preparedness. IMHO, it made a world of difference to those in the North. Gleaning from what happened in NCR, the local government units were ready for Typhoon “Pepeng” and their constituents, thankfully, were cooperative as well.

But are we really prepared for disasters on a massive scale? The pitiful number of rubber boats and emergency equipment and vehicles pro rata to the population of this country makes me wonder what the politicians do with their pork barrel. Typhoons will always be part of our landscape and they are inevitable. Think of how many rubber boats, amphibian vehicles etc. etc. that could have been bought with the money spent by our politicians on that elaborate dinner in New York! Disgusting! Perhaps it’s time to pray and then say to these disasters called politicians-“MOVE!” so that they would disappear?  Hmmm, I wonder…

Yeah, I did. I missed the live chat at Pixel Canvas last Sunday. Actually, I missed both chats. I was just glued to the news since last Friday because I was monitoring my siblings in Meycauayan. I remember every time a storm would come, my dad would always ask me to check up on my siblings to see if they were already submerged in the floods since their area was always prone to flooding.

Last Saturday, I could almost see my dad telling me to check on my brother and sister so I texted them. True enough, my brother was stranded in BB in Karuhatan! The worst place to be stranded in IMHO. He told me he felt like crying and all he could do was pray. I told him to just stay put and find a place to stay overnight because there was no way for him to go home since it was flooded everywhere. Good thing he found a “motel” to stay in where a lot of other stranded folks spent the night as well. He actually slept on the floor! I also texted my sister and she told me that my niece had to brave the floods because the bus she was riding couldn’t go forward anymore. She had to walk for more than four hours just to get home. Funny girl told me that she made sure that her slippers were safe.

But the disasters are not over. Vietnam has just gone through the wrath of Ondoy (Ketsana). American Samoa had an est.magnitude 7++ earthquake and was hit by a tsunami as well. Indonesia has experienced a devastating earthquake  with an initial estimate of 500 people killed. A super typhoon is threatening the Philippines again. And the latest I have heard on the news is that, California has been hit by an earthquake as well.  What is happening is extremely disturbing. For those who cannot physically help in the stricken areas, I think the best help that can be done round the clock is to pray for now. Pray without ceasing. It transcends coastlines and oceans. So dear friends, let’s.

The past few days my emotions have been on a roller coaster ride. I have been quiet on this blog. The death of President Cory stirred up so many emotions I have tried to manage for the past two years. August 4 marks the second death anniversary of my father and I couldn’t help but go back to those moments while I was watching the necrological service of Tita Cory at the Manila Cathedral late this afternoon. The circumstances have been so similar it just brought me to tears. I am reminded of these two verses that somehow give me a glimpse of what still needs to be worked on in my own heart.

Genesis 32:28 (NIV 1984)

When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”

2Corinthians 12:7 (NASB 1995)

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me– to keep me from exalting myself!

A broken spirit and a contrite heart, I know God will not despise and that is what He so desires. It is the best heart jewelry one can wear and worth more than all the jewels in the whole wide world. It is what pleases God. The question is, is pain necessary to achieve closeness to God? Is the path of sorrow and suffering the only way to be near God?  In my opinion, my answer would be yes. It is necessary.

We do not need Faith if we have the ability to do things on our own. It is the impossible that requires the divine to be employed. Faith is what moves the mountains of pain and suffering aside and parts the sea of sorrow so that we can take one more step closer to the promised land. Faith enables us to struggle and wrestle inspite of the thorns of imperfection and the flaws of our character. It is the adrenalin that pushes us forward to overcome all odds and step into victory. Without faith it is impossible to please God.

Unfortunately, this does not happen overnight. This is where patience comes in. Through plodding and perseverance. Mountain after mountain, valley after valley, struggle after struggle… day after day. Through faith and patience we will overcome. It has already been two years since I have started on this road of coping with the grief and pain because of my father’s death. I am reminded more so today because of President Cory’s death.

My father was working for the Marcos government during that time when the People Power Revolution happened. He was the Chief Engineer in charge of setting up the government transmitters all over the Philippines. How he got into government is a whole other story but I knew he was a man of integrity and uncorrupted by what was around him. He knew what was going on when the transmitters in Malolos were taken over by the military sympathetic to Cory. He told me how crucial communications and media were that’s why these were one of the first things that were taken over aside from power and transportation. He often told me inside stories about media and propaganda and the psy-war tactics that were being employed by both sides. Aside from being an employee of the government, he was also a son of Tacloban and a kababayan of Imelda Marcos. A lot of what I know about government and country I have learned through him. His love for country and integrity in fulfilling his duties have been imparted to me and have made me come to love this country as well.  This is his legacy to me. Every province where I see a government transmitter, I am reminded of him. It is a struggle to hold back my tears…to wish for him to still be here. It is a journey that anyone who has lost a loved one deals with everyday. And I guess a “thorn in the flesh” to ground us and remind us of our need for God each day.

Yet inspite the pain, the thought of knowing that the memories and the legacies of our loved ones will live on through us they have left behind, is an assurance that their lives are not in vain. Thank you Tita Cory for reminding me about my father once again. My father is not a well-known figure. He lived a simple quiet life. A life of faith. A life of patience. A life of forgiveness and generosity. A life that overcame self and became selfless for others. A life that mattered to me. A life I will remember always and will be grateful for forever.

Thank you, Jan.

In loving memory of former President Corazon C. Aquino, I am encouraging the blogosphere to light a candle for her. Grab the image below, add your prayer for Mrs. Aquino and link up.

1. Bits & Pieces – Thank you Lord for giving President Aquino
the gift of life. It was a well-lived life as she
touched nations all over the world.
It must have been difficult for her
especially the last months of her life.
But everything is well now as she joins you.
May her family find comfort knowing that
she is now safe in your kingdom.


2. A Matter of tEys.T
Dear God, we share the grief and we identify
with their pain. No words can describe the loss and the
void one feels when you lose someone you love
and only You, O Lord can reach into the depths
of our hearts where no one can.
Comfort them, be with them, let the silence
speak gently of your peace. Wrap your arms around them, God.

Let them know that though the world may be a little dimmer this day,

the heavens are much brighter than yesterday. Shalom.

3. your blog here

I condole with the Aquino family at this time. Our family lost our dad on Aug. 4, 2007. Though it has been almost two years already, the pain is still there… I followed President Cory’s story in the news and saw and heard what was not said. I knew what went on behind the scenes even if  it was not reported. My father spent almost the same number of days at the hospital. My siblings and I had our share of hospital vigils. The stress, pain and fear of the unevitable loomed over us each day. The anguish when the expected finally came goes beyond words. The finality of the struggle became evident once we saw him in his coffin. I clung to the grace of God in the days that followed. I still do to this day. My selfishness wanted him alive. There were many what-ifs that followed but in the end I know God’s ways are higher. I see those reasons each day and I have to admit to myself, truly, God knows what is best.

Shalom!

I had no intentions of being heroic but I literally did “stand in the gap” or was it “stand in the way” yesterday and it hurt like hell. We went to a children’s birthday party at Hotel Kimberly in Amadeo yesterday right after church and of course being a children’s birthday party, there were games… not just for the kids but for the mommies and daddies as well. The host called my name to join one of the games and I obliged. I’m normally a reluctant participant but I wanted to be a little “game” this time and so I did. It was a mini race where you had to circle a chair twice, write the word SOS with your butt and then pass on the hat to the next person. I did my part as fast as I could and as the last person turned the corner to run to the finish line I saw her body headed for a fall. Being a dancer, I instinctively recognized that her body was going to crash into the tiled floor and she was going to get hurt pretty bad. So I poised myself to catch her. Unfortunately, the force of her fall was so strong we both crashed on the floor with me hitting my tailbone so hard I was stunned and couldn’t get up. I remember something hitting my cheekbone as well so hard I was in a daze for a few seconds. The first thing that crossed my mind when I was down on the floor was “Oh no! I might not be able to dance tomorrow!” The people around us tried to carry us up. I was disoriented but walked to my seat as if nothing had happened but I felt everything as I sat down. The hubby tried to do TKM (The King’s Method) on me and it did relieve me but it made me want to close my eyes and just sleep. I was scared to fall asleep because I feared that I wouldn’t wake up. My kids were so surprised and couldn’t believe I did what I did. They had mixed feelings of anger and concern… anger at the person who crashed into me and concern for my well-being as well. That made me think hard. I needed to teach them something. They needed to know why I did what I did.

I had one of those “my life flashed before my eyes moments” and “what is the purpose of my life conversations with myself” running through my brain as I was trying to find a little relief from the waves of pain and disorientation. The hubby who’s been studying on kinesthetics and all that dance physiology blah-blah-blah assured me that my tailbone was the location of hundreds of nerves that’s why I was feeling that way and it had just gone thru trauma so it was normal for me to feel that way. I was having a spiritual moment on the other hand. LOL

These are some of the things I learned, realized and remembered all at once:

  • Standing in the gap is hard. I realized that what Jesus did on the cross was so hard compared to what I did. I had it easy. I had a thick layer of fat on my butt to cushion the fall. It still hurts the day after but compared to what Jesus did for us, this is a walk in the park. Jesus had nails thru his hands and feet. His pain was so much greater than mine.
  • Standing in the gap saves lives. I’m no savior but had I not been in her way even if I did not intentionally try to help her, she would have crashed her face into the concrete floor. Newton’s first law of inertia says “An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.” Jesus is the force that stops us in our tracks and saves us from crashing into whatever.
  • Standing in the gap is not faceless. I hardly knew the person who crashed into me. We saw each other just minutes before the game started. No heroics. Just instincts. Standing in the gap is also commonly interchanged with intercession. Many times I receive prayer requests for people I have never met and yet I still pray for them. Sometimes God puts people and circumstances in my heart to pray for whom I have no inkling about and yet I know it is not in vain. This has been my training hence this is my instinct.  Jesus loves us and knows us by name. We are not faceless to Him.
  • Standing in the gap is a choice. My children kept asking me after “Why did you do that, mama? I don’t like it that you got hurt…”. My kids are the sweetest kids in the world and I know they are and will always be protective of me. What I want them to know is that Jesus chose to do what He did. He died on the cross to save us from our sin, by choice. Why? Because He loves us. I can’t say I loved that person. I hardly knew her. I don’t think she realized she needed any “saving” from me. Does God love her. I’m sure He does. But what about me? I’m the one who got hurt? Doesn’t He love me? Why didn’t He spare me from the pain? This passage came to my mind:

New International Version (©1984)
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

another version says this:

Bible in Basic English
That I may have knowledge of him, and of the power of his coming back from the dead, and a part with him in his pains, becoming like him in his death;

Sometimes, it’s the painful times, the seasons of hardships and the difficult moments that yield more insight into another person’s life. These times create deeper bonds, deeper friendships that transcend time. They give us a peek into the other person’s heart and soul. We all have friends but those who share their most intimate thoughts and share their deepest pains with us are those who regard us as true friends. We end up “knowing” them beyond words. This incident has made me “know” God more and has made me appreciate and love Him more. It allowed me to peek into His heart and understand why He did what He did for all of us.  I know now that I am His friend.

Have a wonderful week, everyone!

(warning : please be advised that there are graphic scenes)

The tragedy is increasing as we follow the events that are ongoing in Iran today. This video is heartbreaking to watch… My heart goes out to her family and relatives. We know an Iranian friend who has since left the country before all this began. This person wanted to stay for noble reasons but because of circumstances concerning safety and security, the family had to leave. We had been praying for this family and God saw them through. It makes me ponder the goodness of God upon them and how He spared them from all this. But what about the rest who are living in the country? We will continue to pray for them and may the will of God prevail upon their nation.

Mark 11:17
And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ” ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for ALL NATIONS

Please say a prayer for Iran. Have a blessed week everyone!

Just popping in to say that we are about to have one hectic week ahead. Kids recovering from sudden cough and colds due to the erratic weather, a death in the family, visiting grandparents from Davao, visiting family relatives from Cebu, a just concluded summer dance workshop in Sta. Rosa, an unfinished article, layouts to finish, a costume to paint, a surprise party for a dear, dear person, technical dress rehearsals and a photoshoot, of course the first two-day Noah’s Ark ballet recital of my kids at the CCP no less, costumes and makeup to attend to and would you believe after 10+++ years of not dancing, I and a few of my dance ministry friends will brave a dance for a friend’s birthday…. whew, are you still breathing while reading all this?  All of that in 7 days!!! I feel like I’m riding a tiny little scooter and am about to have a head on collision with a ten-wheeler truck in the middle of the freeway! Get me an Oakland motorcycle accident lawyer, pronto!

With a gazillion more things I might forget, I know that God’s grace is sufficient for me. To my mind, I need buckets and buckets of it but it is amazing how He can quiet down your soul and order your world if you let Him. I heard someone say this long ago ” I have too much to do today, I think I need to spend more time praying.” And so I shall.

I had a wonderful mommy moment with my son tonight. He’s slowly growing up into a fine young man and I’m so happy to say that I’ve witnessed up to this very moment every step of his journey. I’ve been there from day one and will continue to be there until the homerun. I am not a perfect mom, I’ve had my bad hair days and my “alto soprano” moments and many times I question myself whether I “get in the way” of what God wants for my children. I used to think that I was a patient person, tolerant and not easy to anger – I thought too highly of myself and my journey as a mom for more than nine years has truly  convinced me that I am not. 🙂  But by the grace of God I have learned to move according to the measure of grace that He gives me in each and every circumstance.

Why was tonight special? Well, perhaps it’s because I was able to reach my son’s heart and help him to understand that life’s obstacles are not hindrances but God’s way of forging character and fortitude into our souls. I am reminded of a blacksmith pounding away at a red hot piece of metal on a heavy anvil and how each time the mallet hits the hot metal, it slowly transforms it into the shape that he envisioned the metal to be. I saw this in my son tonight – (btw, he’s only nine years old). God was the blacksmith, my son was the metal and I was the heavy mallet that became the dreaded instrument of torment, er I mean transformation.

At first, it was a struggle of the wills – him succumbing to self-pity and condemnation and I, the imperialistic queen dispensing the law upon him. But I am no queen… I am his mother and I saw that divine opportunity to speak into his life. To lift him up from where he was wallowing and impart destiny into his soul. What joy it was to see him step out of his self-centered world and into an awareness of the world around him where his greater destiny lies.  It was a priceless moment. I don’t want to forget it – hence this post. 

Sometimes the pain of discipline (not necessarily physical) can blur the lines of love and acceptance and distort it into separation and rejection. When that distortion happens, the one who delivers the discipline may be perceived as unloving and uncaring. I believe as a parent, one needs to address those doubts immediately and reassure the child that it is the behavior that is being corrected and not the person being rejected. What do you give a child who misbehaves? Give them a “sandwich”! Yup, a “sandwich”. You give them the “big fat juicy discipline” between two buns of praise and acceptance. A word of encouragement right before the correction and a word of acceptance right after the correction. A sandwich, right? 

Well, my sandwiches aren’t perfect all the time but I try to arrest those “self-pity party” moments when I sense them rising up in my children. I always assure them that my love for them is unconditional and is never based on how “good” they are. That is not to say that they will not be corrected when they misbehave.  But good or bad behavior is not the criterion for my love for them. I hope that when they grow older there will come a time that they will see that side of the picture as well.

I love them dearly and I thank God that they have made my life so much richer in every way imaginable. I will be forever grateful to God and to them for giving me a chance to know and experience the reality that children are indeed precious, priceless gifts from above.

I read this via a homeschooling site and I want to share it to you straight from the source right here: http://www.freshbrewedlife.com/cd_69.aspx . It’s an excerpt from a book by Nicole Johnson entitled “The Invisible Woman“.   I seldom post stuff like this but i think it’s worth the read … really.  Besides, I think it’s in keeping with my little motto up there in my header. Thank you, Nicole for sharing this excerpt to inspire us.

Excerpt By Nicole Johnson

It started to happen gradually…
One day I was walking my son Jake to school. I was holding his hand and we were about to cross the street when the crossing guard said to him, “Who is that with you, young fella?”
“Nobody,” he shrugged.
Nobody? The crossing guard and I laughed. My son is only five, but as we crossed the street I thought, oh my goodness, nobody?
I would walk into a room and no one would notice. I would say something to my family, like “Turn the TV down, please.” And nothing would happen. Nobody would get up, or even make a move for the remote. I would stand there for a minute, and then I would say again, a little louder, “Would someone turn the TV down?” Nothing.
Just the other night my husband and I were out to a party. We’d been there for about three hours and I was ready to leave. I noticed he was talking to a friend from work. So I walked over, and when there was a break in the conversation, I whispered, “I’m ready to go when you are.” He just kept right on talking.
That’s when I started putting all the pieces together. I don’t think he can see me. I don’t think anyone can see me.
I’m invisible.
It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I’m thinking, “Can’t you see I’m on the phone?” Obviously not. No one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.
I’m invisible.
Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more.
Can you fix this?
Can you tie this?
Can you open this?
Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being.
I’m a clock to ask, “What time is it?”
I’m a satellite guide to answer, “What number is the Disney Channel?”
I’m a car to order, “Right around 5:30, please.”
I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude – but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.
She’s going…she’s going…she’s gone!
One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out of style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped
package and said, “I brought you this.”

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription. “To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.”
In the days ahead I would read, no, devour, the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I would pattern my work:

•    No one can say who built the great Cathedrals—we have no record of their names.
•    These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.
•    They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
•    The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, “Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.”
    And the workman replied, “Because God sees.”
    I closed the book, feeling the missing piece just push into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, “I see you Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one else does. No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become.”
At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn, pride.
I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who will show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.
When I really think about it, I don’t want my son to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, “My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for 3 hours and presses all the linens for the table.” That would mean I’d built a shrine or monument to myself. I just want him to come home. And then if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, “You’re gonna love it here.”
As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right. And one day it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

I think this is one of the most encouraging articles I have read that’s why I am sharing it here as well with all due credit to Ms. Nicole Johnson. No amount of home insurance, financial stability or social recognition can reach deep down and give us that security we need about ourselves.  The affirmation and the self-worth that we all crave and long for can only be found in that quiet place of rest; that place where you are safe and secure in the unconditional love and acceptance of God – unshaken by the pull to be someone other than who you are. I know this place – I’ve been there… it is my place of refuge… my hiding place.

How about you? Are you invisible?

… just to clear the cobwebs over my head. I don’t like hospitals especially if someone I know is confined in one of them. I have a brother who is a doctor and a sister who is a nurse so most of  the time we ask them first about any medical concerns we have before making that final decision to go to the hospital. Except for giving birth, an outpatient lasik treatment and a serious bout of amoebiasis ( from drinking sago and gulaman in a village stall where we live) I hope that the only time I will find myself in a hospital again is to visit someone who just gave birth to a healthy baby. Better yet, by tomorrow afternoon our friend will be out of the OR and be on the road to recovery and will be ready for a visit from us in the next few days… That would be a wonderful reason to go to the hospital, don’t you think?

… today because I just got news that one of our friends from church has to undergo an emergency bypass operation tomorrow. We just met up with him last Tuesday and he was quite fine at that time and all of a sudden the news hit us this afternoon. He’s actually a doctor himself at the Asian Hospital and they had to transfer him to St. Luke’s for the operation. ( I distinctly remember the Asian Hospital ER a couple of years ago… the rows of chairs, the tv wall mount, the residents on duty and that confusing triage process that made us wait for more than 20 minutes before they attended to my little girl… I’m rambling already…). If you happen to read this please include our friend in your prayers and that there would be enough blood donors for his bypass operation tomorrow. Thank you so much!

To be perfectly at peace amid the hurly-burly of daily life is a secret worth knowing. What is the use of worrying? It never made anybody strong; never helped anybody to do God’s will; never made a way of escape for anyone out of perplexity. Worry spoils lives which would otherwise be useful and beautiful.  

Restlessness, anxiety, and care are absolutely forbidden by our Lord, who said: “Take no thought,” that is, no anxious thought, “saying what shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed?” He does not mean that we are not to take forethought and that our life is to be without plan or method; but that we are not to worry about these things.

Oh, for grace to be quiet! Oh, to be still and know that Jehovah is God! The Holy One of Israel must defend and deliver His own. We may be sure that every word of His will stand, though the mountains should depart. He deserves to be confided in. Come, my soul, return unto thy rest, and lean thy head upon the bosom of the Lord Jesus.  –Selected 

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It’s a Friday today. Good Friday to be specific but I don’t think this season is remembered around the world as it is here. Although it’s not the same as I remember when I was growing up, the Lenten season is very much a part of our culture and tradition. 

I remember whenever the Semana Santa would come, before the invasion of cable tv, local tv stations would be off the air and there would be nothing to watch for days and networks would resume programming only on Easter Sunday. The streets would be quiet, people would be doing their church rounds and I would always hear the Pasyon being sung over a microphone blasted thru the church patio for all to hear. Perhaps a loud attempt to get God’s attention. There would also be kasoy and suman and ripe yellow mangoes on our table. Lots of watermelon, guavas and all that summer fun feeling of simple goodness. Those were my good old days.

Today, however, Holy week has a different and deeper meaning to me. I appreciate the fact that the whole country stands still… work, politics, school, shopping are suspended temporarily giving each one a chance to step back and re-assess one’s life apart from all these things that fill our daily grind. It is a chance to have a leisurely conversation… to commune-icate with God.

It is amazing how much communicating with others has evolved. I remember those days when our town had switchboard operators that would plug those red and black cables into a thing that looked like a massive piano with little holes and blinking lights that connect you to the person you were calling. Now we have space saving small business phone systems that do the job of 3-5 people. I remember when cellphones were so thick and bulky, you could whack someone with it and you could be charged with assault with an ugly weapon. Now cellphones come in all sizes with all the G’s, X’s and all the alphabets that go with it. You could practically do anything with it except cook, perhaps? Our conversations have evolved into abbreviations, spellings and acronyms that would send Noah Webster into confusion. KWIM?

In the middle of all the traditions, the technology and the gadgetry to help us communicate, I still relish the simplicity of spending a quiet afternoon, with just the wind on my face, the grass for my bed and the clouds as my blanket…to get down on my knees and bow my head and my heart… to whisper a simple wish, to utter a silent prayer, to send a message of eternal gratitude to this awesome, merciful and loving God who has given me forever access to His line in heaven 24/7. I will never run out of load, never get my line disconnected, never need the latest model with all the bells and whistles whenever I need to make a call. Knowing this, my heart is content.