Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A Little Light

We do not undermine the value of a little light when the night is at its darkest. 

And at a time like this in my life, I trace my way back to that little light that kept me alive ten years ago when my heart was broken. Sometimes, you can smell heartbreaks from afar. Other times, they make themselves felt like a mini-earthquake underneath, not damaging but definitely alarming. But most times, they come unexpected. And unwanted. 

And so did mine. 

My convictions and peace crumbled before me like a wafer in a child’s hand. I am out of strength and slowly losing words. They say when you have a problem, all you need to do is to go out and stand under the night sky and you’d realize how small your problems are compared to the vastness of space and how few compared to the multitude of stars. I tried. But I could not even gather the strength to open my eyes. 

So this piece is my attempt to crawl out of this heartbreak. Eyes still closed, heart still bruised. Even with my troubled vision I can see a flicker of light at the end. I am not so sure except that it looks like the same light that lead me out of darkness ten years ago. Light in all forms look the same. And so I hope that this one too would lead me home. One more time.

Light, no matter how little is still light and darkness still gives way to it.

John 1: 4-5 " In him was life,and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Tiptoeing ( A New Year Post)

The sun shines like it is new. It seems energetic, like it is giving out warmth for the first time. It is only the 3rd day of 2017 and I am still tiptoeing into the new year, fearful I might trip. 

I am here in my office desk, writing this as I wait for the lunch break. I have so much to look forward to this year. However, I am still somewhat hinged to 2016 that I don’t know where to start. Thus, the tiptoeing.

A very good friend asked me what were my highlights for 2016. I paused for a few seconds to recall. Somehow, qualifying events as ‘highlights’ was a little difficult. I knew exactly why. The past year, I was beat up with work concerns that I hardly had time to pause and thank God for what was happening in my life. Yesterday, I took out my annual prayer notebook and wrote down my thanksgiving for the year. Today, I’m sharing some of them with you.

Highlights of 2016 (Best Twelve)

1. Attending the Global Discipleship Congress 2016 in Manila and hearing Ravi Zacharias speak again. It was a time of refreshing and realigning to God’s purpose in my life.
2.Writing short poems for the whole month of February. Writing used to be a breeze but for the years that went by,  it was a struggle. Maybe for the lack of a muse. Or maybe for sheer laziness. But, for the month of February, I was able to write 14 poems. Exercise is the key. You can read them at A November Miracle.

3. Earning the Masters in Ministry degree. The highlight is not the degree but graduating with my father.

 4. Turning 35 and enjoying the last stretch of single-life. (Why not?) Hahahaha!

5. Training young people to be better leaders. This year, two of my friends and I started a Public Speaking company. We called it The Speaker Crafters. We trained young children not only to speak well but also to become better citizens of this country. 

6. Visiting our students during their Gospel Team deployment. It was an experience that is one for the books. I went to far-flung villages to find out the situation of our student-pastors who were on Summer Internship. I am not an outdoorsy person but the lot fell on me. I was joyful enough to take the challenge. It turned out to be exciting!
7. Making myself available to be God’s mouthpiece in many places and different occasions. God gave me opportunities to speak of His love to people of all ages, in churches, campuses, youth fellowships and even the Police force. I am humbled by this calling. 

8. Studying Introduction to Hebrew. I can now read a little and write a little Hebrew. 

9. Coordinating benefit concerts.  The latest was in December. It was a production that brought me out of my comfort zone. It was only by trusting God that we made it through. Not only am I ecstatic that I am working with world-class performers, I am awed at how they are all-out in serving God. 

10. Being with high school friends is always a yearly highlight. These are the people I grew up with and somehow, being with them makes me forget momentarily the troubles of adult life.

11.Spending time with family. We had spur of the moment reunions and they were all fun!!! 

12. Having a family that accepts me for everything that I am not and holds the hope for everything I can become. 

I started this piece by saying how I am tiptoeing into 2017. Now, having looked back, I can say, there is nothing to fear! God has been faithful and will always be faithful. 

I am reminded of what I read yesterday in Psalm 106. It was a recounting of how the Israelites turned away from God and how, each time, God came to their rescue. But, as the pattern repeats and the plot worsens, verse 44-45 say:
"Nevertheless, he looked upon their distress, when he heard their cry.
For their sake he remembered his covenant,
and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love."
I know now why the sun shines like it has not seen the troubles of 2016. It was created by a God whose love is persistent, endless,  unceasing. That fact alone steadies my wobbly feet.

Happy New Year! 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

To Teachers

I was raised by teachers. My parents were Public school teachers. Manila paper was a staple and the smell of Pentel pen ink was always present in the house. Back in the day, teaching using the computer was unheard of. Chalks were the medium and dustless chalks a luxury.

I am a teacher but admittedly, not a very effective one. As to why, I will explain it in another post. Today, in celebration of World Teachers’ Day, I dedicate this piece to the teachers who made a dent in my life. 

To the teacher who opened my world to the wonder of stories. I looked forward to every Sunday School, paid close attention to how your eyes would grow wide, and most importantly, your nail polish. I copied you at home, lining up my dolls and retelling the stories I heard from you.

To the teacher who taught me to read. It was not the reading I remember the most but how, one surprising day, we cut bananas and papayas in class and made fruit salad. It was the first time I wore an apron.

To the teachers who helped me discover new things. You taught me the word ‘kidnap’ and it was a fear that haunted me daily. You taught me the words ‘noisy pupils’ and I was careful not to be on that list. You taught me the word ‘quiet’ and I had a hard time being one, even until now. But, you also taught me the words assignment, cleaners, and pass your papers. With those I learned that some things have to be done on your own, you need to pick up after yourself, and most importantly, opportunities have deadlines.

To the teachers who gave me time on stage. You helped me conceive a dream I never knew I had until later when the stage became my avenue for influencing others.

To the teacher who made me take over her class when I was 14. You were right. I was going to need that experience to toughen me up six years later when I had to go on Practice Teaching.

To the teachers who made science and math the most important subjects in the world. You made me religious! True enough, algebra, trigonometry, chemistry and physics are nothing compared to the complexity of romantic love. I am glad I was trained in your class to survive!

To the teacher who taught me how to be a homemaker. I can bake, I can sew, I can arrange furniture, I know the color chart, I can make fruit preserves ,I can embroider,  heck, I can even dress a chicken all because you did not accept anything less than perfect from us. As to having a family, I am working on that.

To the teachers who had to deal with our adolescence. Today, as I deal with young people I have one question: How did you maintain your sanity without punching us in the face? *clap clap clap* I have many words but all can be summarized in two: Thank You!

To the teacher who made me fear my English class. You unearthed a wealth of courage I did not know I have.

To the teacher who scribbled notes on my essay. I fell in love with writing because of you. Also, I was slightly in love with you until you left us.

To the teacher who gave me an 80 in a major subject. I.will.never.forget.you. Hahaha!

To the teacher who made me interpret my Dexter’s Laboratory comics in class. I discovered my humor because of that experience.

To the teachers who instilled the love of country to us. I am fighting because of you. I will not be quiet because of you.

To the teachers who showed me the bridge between Theology and Practice. I am having a swell time because your lives are living examples.

Lastly, to my in-house teachers who until today check my attendance, give me occasional lectures on matters I usually evade, and evaluate my performance in life, thank you. You were our first teachers and will continue to be after every one is finished with us. Thousands of unruly, hard-headed pupils came and went out of your classrooms but, bad news, we’re staying! Sorry parents, you can’t get rid of us. Haha! After years of leaving the service, here you are still teaching us tirelessly about life and the one true God we serve. I guess, when you are a parent, you never retire from teaching.

I was raised by teachers. I hope that in this generation, I can also raise some. With everything that is happening in the country and around the world, I fear for this generation. The world is full of monsters ready to pounce at these young people. Therefore, I have committed to fight for them and with them. And education is my weapon of choice.

I am a warrior. I teach. 

Back in the days when my ideas of entertainment were cutting my bangs, and letting my Grade 2 students interpret the skit "The Cat and Dog" on their own. They made their own costumes and did their own make up.

These kids are in college now and I, well, am tempted to cut my bangs again.Hahaha!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

CPU Christ Emphasis Week

I just came back from a week-long preaching engagement. It is a miracle I have even managed to write. My body is weak, as of the moment, suffering from Acid reflux – the kind where you can not eat but you have to eat. I think it is my body demanding some rest. Or maybe it is my mind that needs to. Whichever it is, I will not let that stop me from writing about this. 

I have never realized the depth and width of a Christian university's ministry until I had this opportunity to speak at Central Philippine University last week for their semestral Christ Emphasis Week. I was invited to speak to the high school students of the university for five days. It was daunting to face 1500 young people, full of energy and all with different backgrounds. It was only by the grace of God that I was able to go up on stage, speak the word and invite them to commit their lives to God.

But 1500 is nothing compared to the 10 thousand plus college students the university has, and all these  heard the Gospel all week. And this happens every semester. Imagine, if each college student stayed in the university for 8 semesters, that’s 8 chances of telling them the Good news! Not to mention the many campus ministries who are also doing their best wining the students for Christ! Kudos to Rev. Cris Amorsolo Sian , Rev. Francis Neil Jalando-on and the pastors in the Chaplain's Office for putting their heart, mind and body into this, making sure the Gospel will not be delivered unsatisfactorily. 

I am glad CPU is still going against the tide. These days when it is even difficult to call yourself a Christian School, CPU is standing up, bearing strong the legacy of the missionaries who started it 110 years ago! May God protect the hearts of its leaders. It is my prayer that It will continue to put Christ central to its objectives. 

Isaiah 55:11 "so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."

Sunday, March 27, 2016

I Looked For the Living Among the Dead

“Where do I go to take a break?”

I heard myself ask this question a few times over for about three months now. I felt that I was in dire need of refreshing. No, I was not bent from work – just a little chipped maybe. Normal, I guess. I was not going through an emotional problem. I read my bible. I prayed. These were the things I told myself that were NOT the reasons why I needed to get away.

Or maybe, these were the reasons why I needed a break. Because everything was normal on the outside but inside, things were a little messy. We know the mess we keep inside. I ‘try’ to keep the office table tidy by dumping all the things inside the drawer. The table looks clean but the drawers are another story. This was how I felt these months.

I tried to read the Bible everyday for fear that if I don’t , I’d fall off completely. I walked the way of wisdom but during the day I find myself making some foolish decisions or spilling ungodly talk. It was terrifying to go to bed at night and realize how horrible I lived the day.

I marched through a ceremony, bowing my head not much as a sign of commitment but in shame for how unworthy I am to say yes to a task for the chosen. Me, chosen?

Most times, I felt God was a little far. No, not that He was. I FELT He was. It was a foreign feeling. I justified it by saying maybe this is how I should always feel so that I would always seek Him. I told myself maybe this is what they mean when they say have a “hunger for God”. But it wasn’t.

I figured, a personal retreat would cure it. A special time of meditation, a special revelation and a dramatic visitation would be the turning point for this.

Until this morning.

My unexcited self went to church (thanks to also being sick for days) unaware that what I was longing for will be answered. My pastor talked about Jesus being alive in our lives. She talked about how, in our daily living we say we believe Christ is alive but live as though He isn’t. It was the prelude to how God revealed to me the truth about everything I've been going through.

Then we sang “He Lives”. And all that has kept me chained came loose.

I serve a risen Saviour, He's in the world today;
I know that He is living, Whatever men may say;
I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him He's always near.
He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and He talks with me Along life's narrow way.
He lives, He live, salvation to impart! You ask me how I know He lives:
He lives within my heart.
In all the world around me I see His loving care,
And tho my heart grows weary I never will despair;
I know that He is leading Thro' all the stormy blast,
The day of His appearing Will come at last.
Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian, Lift up your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs To Jesus Christ the King!
The hope of all who seek Him, The help of all who find,
None other is so loving, So good and kind.

I saw what was wrong with me. I did not remember that Jesus, this God I believe in, is living in me. So,I desperately looked for him elsewhere. I was like one of those women during the resurrection morning “looking for Jesus among the dead”.

I looked for him in the songs I sang. I looked for him in the feeling of accomplishment at having read my bible. I looked for him in my ritualistic service. I looked for Him in my theology. There, I fooled myself into believing that I can look for him. I. As if my eyes were clear enough to see Him.

But there He was, having not left at all, loving me through my pride, arrogance, my constant defeat against my flesh, my anger and my unforgiveness just to name the ‘majors’. Believe me, people who are in the 'ministry' have a longer list.

I forgot that He was walking with me “along the narrow way” as the song says. I always thought that this refers to some problem or devastation but today, I realized THIS IS MY NARROW WAY! And what comfort it is to know that I don’t have to keep walking to find Him. He’s here!

I forgot that He took the long and dusty road from heaven to earth to find me. Me, the lost one.
And all this time, I made myself believe it was I that should look for him. He's here!

I forgot that He bore to be forsaken by the Father so he can win over death. Win over any form of death anyone can imagine so we don't have to keep looking for him like sorrowful lovers. He's here!

I do not boast of a steady spiritual life  nor a strong one. But one thing I boast of is this, that the Christ I believe in has conquered death and lives every day to bring life to me.

I may need a break, but no longer to 'find' God. He's here!

Today is Easter. Indeed, my Easter!

Happy Resurrection Morning!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Challenge to Love

November breezed through. We are in the Christmas season. "Time flies" is  cliche but there is no better way to describe what it does than exactly that - it flies!

I just finished reading a blog post by Dr. Everett Piper, President of the Oklahoma Wesleyan University. He wrote about how we have taught this generation to be self-centered and narcissistic. It was brought about by an incident where a student went to him and complained after a chapel service that he felt 'victimized' by the sermon on 1 Corinthians 13 by making him feel guilty that he does not love enough according to the terms in the Bible. Piper went on to say that this :

If you’re more interested in playing the “hater” card than you are in confessing your own hate; if you want to arrogantly lecture, rather than humbly learn; if you don’t want to feel guilt in your soul when you are guilty of sin; if you want to be enabled rather than confronted, there are many universities across the land (in Missouri and elsewhere) that will give you exactly what you want, but Oklahoma Wesleyan isn’t one of them.
He then concluded with the statement : This is not a Day Care, this is a University!

(You can read the whole article here:OKWU)

I share his sentiments because I am working in a Bible College. We train young people who answered the call of God for full-time ministry service. It seems like a noble place to work in. A cause that is a  major player in the Kingdom Agenda. But 4 years into the job, I am slowly coming to terms with what Jesus really meant when he said "take up your cross and follow me".

We try to help the students maximize the learning experience by enclosing them within a set of rules.In my opinion, boundaries help us discipline ourselves. And so, these boundaries were set so they can stick to their goal and grow while keeping at it. But this is where the struggle comes. Obedience is not man's impulse, sin is.

When some students are reprimanded for their obvious violation  of rules, there's usually a retaliation. Because for them, their judgement was right. And no matter how logically you present things, they will always see you as the adversary and will feed on self-pity and anger against the implementors of the rules. And this is the hard part - no amount of reason can win them. Only genuine love.

Man's impulse is not love, sin is. And puttting love to work the way Jesus did, is difficult. It is during these times that I tell myself "when Jesus said, 'take up your cross and follow me' he wasn't exaggerating!!!" This, here, most times feels like a trip to Calvary.

Giving up is the easiest option. Or apathy. But both will not let me taste the sweet fruits of victory when these young people are transformed into what God has called them to be. I, too, will  be transformed.

Everyday, I wish I could say what Dr. Piper has said. But following Christ has a taller demand.

And so I wait, and I work, and in the meantime, put Love into action until love becomes my compulsion.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Grace-fully Yours

My High School best friend was married last Monday to his girlfriend of many years. It was something he had long planned for. It went beautifully, I gathered. Yes, I did not make it to the wedding. Long story.
There are things in our lives that pushes us to get out of our own puddles and walk on dry ground. "Get up and Grow up", I once wrote. Growing older must mean growing wiser. Imperative. It is an odd sight to see people who are well in years whine about irrational things like a two-year-old boy who was not allowed to fly a kite in the rain.

I do not say that I have never ever acted irrationally. I have. Many times, I have allowed feelings to make decisions for me. I ended up either apoligizing to the person I have hurt or lose them completely. It is terrible.

But what is worse is my tendency to be apathetic about a situation or toward a person for fear of making emotionally-driven decisions. I mistake apathy for rationality. And the results are equally terrible. I still lose people.

Adult life is tricky. You stature demands an equal level of maturity of which we lack most times. It is frustrating to deal with immature people. More frustrating when it is your own immaturity you are dealing with.

Lately, I watched a movie with my friend that we found unsatisfactory - the plot, the acting - everything! And I endlessly expressed my disgust about this movie to anyone I was in conversation with. A few days after, I prayed and asked God for one thing: that He would help me manage the intensity of my expressions of disgust about things and people. Mature people dont spill their comments anywhere where it is not needed.

So what is the middle ground for irrationality and apathy? Grace. Grace. Grace.

The other person's incompetence may irritate you, but you don't count it against him. He does not deserve another mile of your patience (because, hello! You have repeated the instruction a thousand times!) but you stretch it anyway. Grace.

You're at a restaurant and ordered the  food they can serve the fastest (15 mins) because you are famished. 20 mins goes by. You call for the waiter. He comes back and asks apologetically if you could wait for another 10 mins as your order was not forwarded to the kitchen.  You are now unbelievable HANGRY (hungry +angry). You position yourself to deliver your Customer Rights monologue but you stop you take out your phone instead and type out a status message on facebook that will obviously bash this establishment. But you delete it. You ask for another glass of water and just make a mental note to not go there again when you are hungry. Grace.

You're waiting for a phone call. He said he would call after this 2-hour meeting. By the time you turn-on your night light, your phone rings. And you pull out that mental drawer  where you kept the essay you composed in your mind as to how abandoned he makes you feel. Maybe this is not working for you. Maybe you are not meant to be together. But you quietly listen to how his day went and you lovingly tell him how frustrated you felt without putting the blame on his one-track male mind. You forget about your fiery essay. Grace.

Or he calls and you are determined to not talk to him again. Maybe ending it this way is better. No exchange of words. But you pick up the phone anyway and say hi. Grace.

It is not losing your cool over something nor it is losing interest over it.

Many times I find myself being completely out of reason. I do things I shouldn't. I hurt people I thought I couldn't. And oh, the scandals I make in the face of God! But, God has never lost  His composure in my presence. He has never banged the door on me. He has never let out an essay of how wicked, wretched, and beyond repair I am. Instead, he delivers sunshine at the doorstep everyday, inviting me to breakfast. Grace.

Truth is, God did lose his cool - in that workshop by the hill when he nailed his anger on the One who did not deserve it. Grace for me. Grace for you and me!

Grace is indicative of Maturity. There is a deeper truth to the term "Growing Old Gracefully". It is more than just embracing adulthood with a positive attitude. It is maximizing the moments of your life by not being weighed-down by the people who wear you out.

That's the kind of life you want right? Grace ushers you to live it. It is up to you to give it.


I don't want to miss anymore weddings of the people I treasure most. I decide to let people enjoy the Grace I enjoy.