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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bucket List, anyone?

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." -John 3:16

I really don't get it. I don't get the whole bucket-list thing. Who started this? Is it supposed to be fun? Or is it supposed to be serious? Maybe both? We're sort of indirectly talking about our own demise when we bring up the subject of having a bucket list, right? So what's the real purpose of having one in the first place? Is it the proverbial need of man to attach meaning to everything including our own existence? Or maybe we just need some kind of a sense of fulfillment that we've actually done some important things in life?

But I still don't get it. And yet I'm writing about it right now, right here. Talk about our incessant need to assign meaning to things and to comprehend just about everything. Maybe that's why I'm writing about it today so that somehow along the way I could understand it a little more.

As of today I don't have a bucket list but I do have dreams and aspirations for my future. Does that count? I do have plans of what I want to do and places to go once I'm not tied-up with work anymore and with whatever it is that makes me busy right now. Am I insane thinking this way? I guess we do all dream and plan for our future. Even a "couch potato" has certain plans made up in his head for tomorrow, I guess?

It's sort of gloomy to make a list of things that I have (or want) to do before I die. Maybe this is why I don't understand (or don't want to understand) the bucket list thing. I don't particularly like feeling gloomy or depressed. Maybe I don't want to be confronted with the blatant reality that yes there's indeed death somewhere in my future. Though I'm one of those people who think about man's mortality more often than the next person but I guess I haven't really, really quite stared at my own mortality straight in the eye. Why is that? Why is there an inherent fear in each person of death and dying? Why is dying such an off-limits and a sensitive topic for most people?

Before I've come to know and trust my Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, death was one of my biggest and paralyzing fears in life. I was so afraid to die. The fear was lodged in my heart and brain that it had a tight grip on me. But after I've believed and trusted on what my Lord and Savior Jesus did on the cross to save me from spiritual death and eternal separation from Him, it's the first thing He took away from me, the dark fear of death. Now I know and I'm fully persuaded by God's truth in His Word that physical death is not the end of everything, it's only the beginning of a glorious eternity with God for those who believe in Him.

I may not have a bucket list right now but I might reconsider having one in the future. I'm not worried that I don't understand the purpose or meaning and the need of having a list but I just want to have fun! I'm not worried at all because my future after this earthly life is guaranteed and secure one hundred percent. Not because of anything I've done nor anything I will do, it's only because of my Lord Jesus Christ. Hallelujah, praise the Lord indeed!

"So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." -1 Corinthians 15:54-58

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Love Letters

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." -John 1:1

Valentine's Day has already passed more than a month ago but I still wanted to write something about love letters. It's one of those things that's not supposed to be outdated or tied up to just one holiday per year. Love letters should be a daily, favorite and an untiring hobby for people who are in love.

Yet I admit I'm not one of those romantic people who enjoy writing love notes. I love writing, period, but just not love letters. It's one of those things I don't quite grasp. How many times and in how many ways am I supposed to say I love you to my husband? What am I supposed to say in the letter that I can't say or I haven't told him already to his face? Is there anything else we haven't talked about at home, on the phone or during our time together that I can still put into writing? (Sigh.) I guess you think I'm a horrible wife. Maybe you think I'm one of those romance-killers roaming the earth. But I'm just not the romantic type. Sorry! Sad but true. And I'm so glad I married someone who doesn't mind my "anti-romantic" ways at all. I think he is even more relieved that I'm not a sucker for those romantic stuff since he's not too romantic himself either.

But wait, maybe we have to define what's romantic before I move on. Maybe what I consider as romantic is not romantic after all for other people? Maybe what I think as romantic acts are just ordinary gestures for some? The reason I'm saying this because I remember what our friends and family said to me on how romantic my husband and I are as a couple. I don't exactly know nor remember why they said that but I just shrugged it off as no big deal.

I'm glad they see us as romantic but after being married for 17 years (and counting! Thank God!), I believe that some of the passion that most people associate with love and romance have waned down a bit. I don't mean it to be necessarily bad at all because I know for sure that my love for my husband has never diminished after these 17 years. It has actually matured and deepened even more. I don't equate passion with love. With pure love there may be a resulting deep passion, but with deep passion, love may not necessarily be present.

When my husband was still courting me, he used to send me bouquets of flowers at my job which was enough to give income to a flower shop for a week. That memory still makes me smile but I don't wish for those flowers anymore especially considering how much they cost! Besides, flowers wilt after a few days and then what? Talk about killing a "budding" romance. Ha. Yes, I've become more practical and thrifty not because I don't like flowers but because I know that my husband loves me and he doesn't need any flowers to prove it anymore. More importantly, we are raising a family. There are much more important expenses for us right now.

I'm writing about love letters but all I'm giving you are proofs of my being unromantic. How depressing is that? I do apologize but I just wanted to show that even I, with all the best intentions in the world and the love that I have for my husband, cannot bring myself to write any love letters.

I'm so glad and thankful that my Father in heaven took time to "sit-down," take an ink pen and paper (figuratively) to write to me the most wonderful, enduring, honest, truthful, loving, wise, infallible and living "love letters" of all time: His Word, the Bible. There's nothing more I need from Him. God has already poured out His heart, mind, Spirit and His whole being into that love letter. All I have to do is read, re-read and read it some more everyday for the rest of my life. Then I'll be fully nurtured, fed, loved, refreshed, confirmed in my love for Him, equipped, rebuked and corrected, convicted and burdened about His purpose and be blessed all the time. I don't have to be a romantic to know and to understand God's perfect love letter for me, and for all of you!. Thank you, Lord!

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." -2 Timothy 3:16-17

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Laundry Detergent and Luxury Cars

"Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain." -Philippians 2:14-16

On my way to work one morning I saw some new, glossy banners of advertisements at a train station. It was commercials for Tide laundry detergent. It's not one of those ordinary print ads we see from Tide and that's why it caught my attention quick. It was like some commercial for an art gallery or some gimmick from the pop culture that's sprouting around the city. It may even pass as an ad for electronic gadget or high-tech accessory for computers. The banners were cutting edge. It was very modern, stylish and suitable for the bustling life of Chicago. I've never seen anything like it before, particularly not in ads for laundry soap anyway. Maybe for a smartphone app or for a PC software but not for Tide.

Here are some of those banners:

© Copyright MMD Images, 2012

© Copyright MMD Images, 2012

© Copyright MMD Images, 2012

© Copyright MMD Images, 2012

Which brings me to my post today. Even before I saw that Tide commercial, I already wanted to write something about laundry detergents. I've read in an article which said that whatever is the common and most prevalent commercials on TV in a country say a lot on how that nation is doing economically and socially. Living in the Philippines all my life before leaving for Chicago in 2004, I know that one of the most common and prevalent commercials on TV are for laundry soap. And those were not even detergents for washing machines, they were ads geared specifically for hand-washing.

I guess this goes to show that one of the major occupations of housewives and homemakers in the Philippines is doing the laundry. I know it's one of the major household chores back home (emphasis on the word "chore" because it really is one!). It's not that women don't do laundry in other countries and particularly here in America but for some reason it takes more time and effort to do laundry in countries like the Philippines. Reasons like the difficulty of access to clean, running water or an almost nil presence of washing machines and dryers in most homes and also the hot and humid weather which contribute to a piling laundry of sweat, dirt and dust. Bad weather can also cause the moldy smells on slow drying clothes due to the lack of sunlight.

Those laundry soap commercials in the Philippines were specifically geared to target the female mind. Its selling points are the long-lasting flowery perfumes or the clean linen smell, the moisturizing effect on hands even after 20 loads of hand-washing. The whitening or bleaching powers it has on white clothes is very important too. Those features help sell Tide in the Philippines. I used to hear my mother chat with neighbors on how a particular detergent performs as compared with other detergents. I'm not kidding when I say that doing the laundry is one major chore in the Philippines. I don't mean to be degrading or negative about this, it's just the reality.

While here in America, despite the new cutting edge and colorful ads for detergents, it's still not the most common commercials I see on TV. I've noticed that the major and most prevalent ads in the U.S. are for automobiles especially luxury cars. This is what pumps up the world of advertising here in America. So what does it tell about the economic and social structure here? One thing I'm sure is that we're doing much better compared to most people in the Philippines or any other third-world country for that matter.

So does this mean that I don't hear any more complaints around here? Complaints against the government, the leaders, on the social and economic status of the nation, and on how things should be run? Of course not. Especially at this time when unemployment is at its worst in the history of America, corruption is rampant and with the economic depression that seem to linger people will naturally complain and sound-off on what's wrong in this sovereign country.

My point is, no matter what one's "chore" in life is --- from doing the laundry or making a decision on what type of car to buy; or no matter that my occupation in life is to choose the best detergent for my clothes or to choose which car brand is the best ---people still and will continue to complain. We are never content. We're never satisfied. We tend to overlook all the blessings that are right under our noses. I try my best to see God's hand in everything. Even in the most mundane tasks of daily routine.

I've come from a nation stricken with senseless and utmost poverty and I do remember complaining a lot before. Now that God has allowed my family to see a different side of the world and to live in a progressive country like America, I try not to complain too much (though I still have the inkling inside me to do so). I want to be more grateful. I need to be thankful for every blessing God has bestowed upon me, on my family, my church, friends and neighbors, my job, my co-workers and for life in general. My life may not be perfect, for nothing is perfect except for Jesus, I think life is a lot better with a renewed sense of appreciation for everything. God is good indeed, all the time!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Springtime in January

I've lived in Chicago for 7 years now, and I know how unpredictable and crazy the weather can be in the Windy City especially in the wintertime. In those 7 years, I've almost seen it all --more than 25 inches of snow dumped in just one snowstorm, I've seen flurries, sleet, hail, rain-wintry-snow mix go down hard on the city, lots of icy roads, gloomy skies, 30-below-zero temps, bone-chilling wind chills, slush, and freezing rain.

I know there's no getting used to this kind of weather but I must say I pretty much expect it come late November to early December until late March and maybe early April (but I dread it too!). It's winter after all. I'm just so glad I don't drive because those roads and highways out there are no places to be during winter storms and icy conditions. It can be very dangerous and so stressful. I've heard that a 20-minute trip can rapidly turn into a 3-hour drive because of snow, sleet and rain. I salute all the Illinoian drivers who hit the road everyday for you got to have a specific driving skill, talent, and lots and lots of patience to be able to survive on those wintry roads.

On top of these wintry conditions, I've also experienced snow in April here in Chicago. The very first time I was told of its possibility, I laughed so hard thinking it was the most absurd thing I've ever heard! Snow in springtime? Get outta here! But true enough, I think it was in 2006 or 2007, when I've seen snow for the first time in spring. It was sometime in April. That shut me up for good. No more laughing at winter jokes for me.

And I thought I've seen it all. But not yet! Come winter 2011, it's springtime in winter! Huh? Confusing right? But it's true. We've been so spoiled the past year (since October) until now (it's almost February) because we've been having mostly spring-like weather! No snow, no sleet, no slush, no below zero temperatures, at least not until the second week of January when we had our first snowfall for winter. It's been simply beautiful! And as I'm writing this today (it's January 31st), the weather outside is 46 degrees Fahrenheit with an expected high in the low 50s! That's unbelievable for January in Chicago. I could actually get used to this. And yes, it's kinda scary too, but gorgeous nonetheless. Chicagoans actually don't know how to dress-up in the mornings ever since last Fall because we're not sure if it was going to be winter or spring on a particular day. It can be confusing, not that we are complaining, because I'd rather be confused with the weather than be freezing. But in a word, it is really weird.

And speaking of weird, it seems like the whole world is getting into this "trend" of drastic climactic changes anywhere. As we continue to have great weather for almost 4 months in a row now since autumn of 2011, sadly other places are reporting record temps, floodings, earthquakes, snow and ice in places where it doesn't normally happen, too much heat and warmth in places like Alaska and Greenland, record rainfalls in Asia especially in the Philippines, hail falling down in areas where hail has never been seen before, and other such kinds of "phenomena." Due to these changes, weather experts and scientists are scrambling to explain what is happening to the world in an attempt to make sense of it all. People get easily confused, scared and paranoid when the norm is not the norm anymore. I'm sure you've heard of global warming? That's one of the experts' explanations for this. I'm sorry to disappoint but I don't have any opinion on that particular matter. I'm not a scientist so I will just continue to write about the beautiful weather we're having in Chicago.

And of course, after being spoiled with spring in winter, snow and frigid weather finally came to Chicago in the middle of January. All is well. Back to normal. This is how it's supposed to be --winter in wintertime, spring in springtime, hot in summer, crisp and chilly air in autumn. That's the normal cycle of things here on earth. But oops, I think I've spoken too soon because springtime is back again in Chicago. This is becoming seriously crazy! I don't know if I should wear my sandals or my snow boots on one given day. Sigh.

But who am I kidding? We can't deny it, there are serious and clear changes on this earth that we can't escape. Changes that can be compared since the time of known scientific recordings. Changes in weather, climates, temperatures, movements of the physical components of the earth like the mountains and hills, volcanoes starting to stir again after years of dormancy, and even changes in people's hearts, minds and actions. Drastic changes that have never been seen nor recorded before. We don't have to be scientists or experts to be able to see these things. And we shouldn't be ignorant about them either. We actually have been warned about some of these changes to our world whether we like it or not and whether we believe it or not.

"And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!

And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately,

Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?
And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:

For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet.

For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.

But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them.

And the gospel must first be published among all nations.

But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.

Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death.

And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:

And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house:

And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment.

But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.

For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.

And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.

And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not:

For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.

But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.

But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,

And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.

And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.

And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.

Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:

So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.

Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.

Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away." -Mark 13:1-31

For more Bible reading on the actual words of Jesus Christ on this matter, please read Matthew chapters 24 and 25.
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