Me and dresses, we have this thing going on. They are not to disturb me and steal my attention away. They are to look bland and utterly ugly in their little corner at the store while I go buy my groceries. Yet there they are, just a few steps away from where the vegetables are, beckoning me with their pretty colors, adorable laces, and insignificant details visible only to me.
They never stop looking so bright and interesting. I have to muster all control to ignore them entirely.
Once in a while, I’d succeed without ever looking at one dress. Occasionally, I’d fail and try a dress or two. Other times, I’d fail with honors and arrive home with a dress in my bag of groceries.
Tonight, I failed with honors. I brought dinner home with a dress in the bag.
I know what you’re thinking. There is nothing wrong with buying a dress or two. I agree with you.
September. The first -ber month of the year. It marks the beginning of the Christmas season in the Philippines — a tradition that I really enjoyed while growing up, and now, long for as an adult. It was the month I looked forward to enter each year even more so than December.
I used to anticipate the obvious and lighthearted shift in the atmosphere anywhere I went in my hometown when the first day of September arrives. Everyone appeared buoyant and optimistic about life. Radio stations would air Christmas songs that were loudly played in jeepneys (a public transportation in the Philippines). Homes and, yes, malls were lavishly decorated with Christmas ornaments and trimmings.
And Christmas lights! They were my favorite. Christmas lights in different shapes and form emitting a variety of hues were ubiquitous; the spectacle was a pointillism of colors. At night, I would be sticking my head out of the jeepney window staring at stunning displays of these dancing lights on the road mesmerized by it all. I remember feeling my heart bouncing up and down in bliss as I carefully watched them showing off. Continue reading “Christmas Lights”
“What if a drug-addicted prostitute came to church and sat beside you one Sunday, how will you feel?”
This question lingered in my mind since my husband raised it during his message a few Sundays ago. I mulled it over and contemplated how I would react if this did happen to our church. After several days of ruminating on it, I came to a definite conclusion.
I am ashamed to admit: I believe her presence would make me feel so uncomfortable and compel me to move away from her. I would probably pretend she is not there or most likely not even talk to her. I might even be offended by her presence.
I asked myself, “Why?” The answer, “Pride.”
Pride because I deem myself better for not committing sins as “big” as hers. Pride because I estimate myself “superior” compared to her for not stumbling over vile sins of the flesh (as if all sin is not sickening to God). (Really, the keyword here is “compare.” Comparing myself to others readily spurs my arrogant heart to either false humility or false superiority.) Continue reading “I Desire Mercy And Not Sacrifice”
My husband and I are fond of movies. If some couples take pleasure in running together, Jason and I relish our movie time together. One of our favorite genres to watch is crime and mystery. We like following the process of how mysteries are solved and how suspects are proven guilty or not guilty.
In a crime, before a suspect is convicted guilty, three things have to be present: means, motive, and opportunity. About a month ago, Jason preached a concept of living out the teachings of Jesus parallel to carrying out a crime. He asked, “If Christianity was illegal in Thailand, would there be enough evidence in our lives to convict us guilty of following Jesus?” He went on unpacking that question suggesting the means, the motive, and the opportunity before we can be found guilty of being Jesus’ followers.
He proposed in his message that our means for serving should be exercising our spiritual gifts. Our motive should be love. Our opportunity should be the freedom we have in Christ. Continue reading “A Poem: Do I Love You?”
Today was one of those days were everything just seems off.
A few hours ago, I was upset. My anger was eating me up that I unintentionally directed my displeasure to my husband as we were preparing the slideshow for his sermon tomorrow. Poor Jason, he had to deal with my lousy attitude. My irritation consumed me; I did not realize I was being, well, rotten.
After working on the slides, we got ready to leave for the regular Saturday prayer meetings. We were not expecting a lot of people today knowing that some are gone for vacations or other reasons. I almost did not want to go, but I knew I had to. In the car, I was a bit more reflective. I started pondering about how I acted earlier. (Unfortunately, I have not quite mastered thinking first before acting. I frequently fail in this area. Sigh.) I apologized to Jason, and I started pouring out to him. Continue reading “Overtaken”
Learning a language is a very humbling enterprise. In taking on Thai, my greatest hindrance from truly grasping it is fear to commit mistakes, which to me translates to looking foolish.
Pride, essentially. It was the main culprit of my slow and painful progress, but I had read enough amount of literature and accumulated sufficient personal and vicarious experiences about learning a new language to realize that if I intend to communicate with the people I live in the midst of and share the love of Jesus to them, I had to let go of that crippling mindset.
No, it was not easy. I had to basically swallow my bitter-tasting ego. I had to learn to accept that this time I was not the teacher, but the student. I also had to take my own medicine. I used to tell my students that mistakes are not entirely bad because you learn some valuable lessons that you can’t learn otherwise.
We were in a city in China, window-shopping at a mall looking for souvenirs; we happened on his store. For numerous times, we kept coming back for more of his items. The team came and bought many of his products — me, buying most of his ceramic-made bracelets.
We seem to be drawn to his quirky store, an assortment of charming accessories and knick-knacks. There was a welcoming feeling in his tiny space in this interesting mall.
On the second night (and yes we went to his store again), one of us saw his bracelet with the cross dangling on it. She burst in excitement and asked, “Are you a Christian?” He had a ready and eager answer, “Yes!” With little English on his part and virtually no Chinese on our part that question and answer prompted a heart connection among strangers who have only one common ground — Jesus.
The next morning, after that joyful discovery about the storeowner, we went to the orphanage where we were spending time with kids who suffer from brittle bone disease. Brittle bone disease is a genetic disorder characterized by fragile bones that break easily; some of these kids can’t walk due to this condition. Continue reading “The Storeowner and Joseph’s Prayer”
I have battled with insecurities, feelings of inadequacy and ugliness for as long as I can remember.
In those unpleasant moments I sometimes wonder, “Do other women feel the same way?” But a lot of times I just conclude, “I am all alone in this.” Often, consumed and blinded by the lies of what I feel, I become so self-absorbed seeing nothing but my own hurts and pains. It’s like I could not see pass my own nose. I seem to unwittingly surrender to the falsehood of my sentiment and pride; I completely succumb to the trickery of my emotions.
No, I am not trying to shame myself for the whole world to see. I know this is something you don’t admit to people especially when you are a Christian. Best to tuck it away neatly so no one would notice it. Except I know that I am not alone in this struggle even among Christian women.
I have exclaimed this famous line hundreds of times, possibly even more. I have used it to comfort a friend, to congratulate someone for success, and even to assure people that their situation is going to get better. I have thrown around this statement almost without thinking, not attentively considering if it’s even appropriate or not, or whether the implications of what I declared and when I said it upholds God.
I have recited to various groups of people — strangers and familiar ones — comments like, “God is good. Your son will be healed.” Or, “God is good. You passed the test.” Or even, “God is good. He answered what you have been praying for.”
These words accurately describe our previous week.
At least for me, these are the very words that defined how I initially felt when Jason, my husband, had to leave for Bangkok to help someone who was in a particularly unique predicament. It wasn’t in the plan, and I don’t like straying from plans especially when it involves having to be by myself at home.
I know. I should have learned a long time ago that most of the time, whether you are in ministry or not (maybe even more when you are in ministry), not everything goes as you have designed your time to be.