Friday, May 27, 2011

Questions, Questions, Questions!

It's just the way it is: I don't have the answers to all my questions in life and beyond. And for some reason, I don't have any problem with that either. I am completely at peace that I don't know everything. But the thing is, I may not know everything but it is not out of ignorance. I don't know and I can't understand everything because I am a limited, finite being. The human mind and intelligence is limited no matter what kind of genius you are.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD." -Isaiah 55:8

As Christians, we do know that we have an omniscient, omnipresent, almighty God. I have complete faith in Him that He is in control of everything that is happening and all that is about to happen in the whole universe. I don't even know what is beyond the "known" universe. It's one of those things that I don't know and I won't even begin to think about it for fear of a resulting gigantic headache. I've read somewhere that the whole universe is so huge that the earth is just a mere speck on it. If the world is a speck then I am microscopic!

I also don't know where God came from, if He came from anything? And I don't know how and when the "beginning" started, if there is such a thing as a beginning? But I do know God is what He says He is since eternal past and He is the same for all eternal future because He said so. I can't fully understand nor explain to you the whole truth of the Trinity, but if I can put my God in a box and be able to explain to you fully of who He is, I'll be in big trouble!

Our generation and the next are the most educated and well-informed people of all time. The power of the internet is proof to that. We have a great array of information and data available to us at the flick of our fingertips anytime. We have thousands of books being published every year. We have schools and universities flourishing with knowledge and education. We cry "foul" when we learn (from the news) that children in other places don't get the same kind of opportunities to go to school. We have television programs and video websites available daily which cover anything and everything under the sun. Man has been to the moon and back and space explorations are now going on way beyond the stars. It's amazing and overwhelming to see how far we've gone as compared to our parents just a couple of decades ago. And these are great things! Education and schooling is important. The internet and all the other media resources are great. Books are essential to civilization, and astronomic explorations are very interesting, to say the least. I guess my point is, look how far we've gone but still we don't know everything. Does that say something to you? It says a lot to me. It's a poignant fact that tells me there is indeed a God.

And I don't know why He created the earth, why He created Adam and Eve, and why He placed the tree of knowledge of truth and evil amidst the garden when He knows what's going to happen to all mankind after the fall. I don't know why He choose to answer prayers differently, but I do know He answers prayers. I don't know why He allows suffering, pain and disasters to happen to good people, especially to children. These are very hard questions, but I do ask God about it once in a while. Not to mock Him or accuse Him of anything but just to talk to Him about how I feel. He knows I feel sorrow and fear whenever I see evil things happening around the world. He knows I feel helpless and inadequate to protect my loved ones from bad things, and He comforts me. He comforts me with the quiet assurance from the Holy Spirit within me though I don't have all the answers. Most important of all, He comforts and assures me with what I do know: His infallible Word. And that's more than enough for me.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Blessed Quietness

Growing up I don’t remember being really needed by anybody until I became a wife and a mother. As I strive to be a godly spouse and a Mom, I try to wake up early each day knowing my family needs me. I "labor and I toil," not only at my job so I can help my husband provide for our family, but also at our house to make it a home. Most of the time I feel unappreciated, my hard work unnoticed. Haven’t we heard the saying, "a homemaker’s job is a thankless job?" Then the day comes when our children grow up and they think they don’t need us anymore, somehow we start to feel sad.

We’ve also heard the term empty-nest syndrome. Actually, it’s the first time I’ve heard women talk about it, especially on TV and online, crying out in despair, feeling the pain of no one around to need them anymore, they feel anxious and restless. And I can't help to also think about my Mom now that all her six children are away from home, it hits me hard to think of her pain. I wonder what she’s going through and how she copes? Somehow it makes me feel helpless. But it also pushes me to ask questions.

Throughout the years, women tend to beat themselves up with too much responsibility, more tasks, increasing work loads, and more things to do just to be busy and to feel needed. Experts say it’s inherent in women. I guess this "quality" prepares us for a life of family, community, and church. Come to think of it ---women are behind every affair, every event, and the flourishing of our families and communities are always backed up by "active" women. We run every institution, we take on each responsibility we put ourselves into, and we manage our homes and groups with much gusto. Most of the time women are just behind-the-scenes movers but there are times that we are also at the front lines.

The first year we came, I was restless in Chicago. I wanted to do something, anything for the Lord! I needed to be busy for Him. But every time I had my quiet time, the same verse keeps on popping up in my devotions! So after 2 to 3 weeks of reading the same verse over and over again, I finally said, “Okay Lord, I hear you."
The verse: "Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." -Psalm 46:10

To be still and be silent before God is the hardest for me to do. I wanted to have an active, "visible" part on what He is doing! But He said no. And I do understand now that it was not a no-forever but a no, for now. He wanted me to learn something first. No amount of busy-ness, hard work or ministry will make me know Him deeper. He wanted me to learn how to be quiet before Him. He wants me for Himself alone. He is a jealous God after all. He wants me to shut up and enjoy His Person without any hoopla. He wanted me to have a blessed quietness within me and about me. He wants me to be rooted and grounded on His Word alone, in His love, and with His peace.

I love that term blessed quietness. I first read it in a booklet by Mrs. Debbie Jenkins. I wanted that quality for myself. It's hard and it's not particularly popular especially in these modern times when women are encouraged to speak up and to speak out, to be vocal about our feelings and our opinions. Our world has become very opinionated. Sadly, the character of meekness, silence, and gentleness has been unwittingly regarded as obsolete and uninteresting by many. The digital age also help to stoke the fire of unrest and noise. People always are on the run, gotta be busy, and somehow feels inadequate if there's nothing to do or say. I am a victim of those thoughts myself. Why do you think I'm blogging now?

But I am a work in progress. God is not done with me yet. I still want to have that blessed quietness and to be still before Him. So help me God.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

We Named Our Car Sudoki

I confess, we are one of those families who name their cars.

Actually, it's all my husband's fault. He was the one who converted me into this curious practice. Though I'm not sure where he got it from but for as long as I can remember all the automobiles that have touched our lives and passed by our garages since we got married all have names. See, I guess it's one of the reasons why he endeared himself to me when we first met. I thought this was cute and funny.

And this is the story of how our cars get their names.

The first one was Ning-ning. Technically, she was not "our" car. She was my husband's car. He got her before I met him and I didn't get to meet her at all. Only in photos. By the way, you may ask how we figure out if it's a "he" or a "she"? Save your breath because I've absolutely no idea. It's like naming your own child. Sometimes you already have a name ready even before the baby comes out but sometimes you just have to meet him or her personally then you'll know what to call them, right?

Going back to Ning-ning. My husband told me how he picked the name for his car. He was a medical sales representative in the Philippines. He comes from the northern part of the country but because of his job he got transferred to the central Philippines. On one of his trips around town he said he saw the first pretty girl of the area. And yes, you've guessed it, her name was Ning-ning. Two things I have to say to that: first, he was either blinded by heat or starvation because all the girls from that part of the country are pretty. Second, we have not met yet at that time. Just saying!

I don't know how long Ning-ning lasted but I personally met the next car after her. In fact, I got to know her a little better. She was his car when we began dating. We even thought of making her my bridal car for our wedding. Her name was Ursula. I know what you're thinking, but no, I didn't help pick out that name. It was all him. If you don't know the famous Ursula from whom the car was named after, Google can help you with that.

A little after we got married, we got a new car. Ursula was sold to another family. But no worries, we still saw her around town parading her wares. And she was still in great shape for her age! Our new car we named Draco. He was named after the valiant and funny dragon from the movie DragonHeart. The dragon was named by Bowen (played by actor Dennis Quaid) after the constellation in the far northern sky. Draco the car was a faithful part of the family. He was with us as we started our new life. He was with us through the birth of our son. And the endless drives to school, to work, to the groceries, to the market, to grandma's house, and just about everywhere we needed to go. He never complained and he never let us down. Until it was time for a new car. We had to give him up. But we need not worry, he was staying with family. My Dad bought him from us.

The new car after Draco was also very special. Our son named him after his best friend at that time and which was also based on the car's license plate. The plate number started with XEF and my son's friend's name is Joseph. So he named the car Joxef! How cool is that? But we didn't really get to know Joxef as much as we did Draco. Not too long after we got Joxef we had to move to Chicago. We had to give him up. I still remember he was a very sleek, nice car with a clean, rubbery smell of new leather inside. My son was so sad on letting him go. I can't blame him. He named the car after all.

Then we're in Chicago! What an exciting time for our family. It felt like we're starting a new life with new beginnings and endless possibilities. But I wouldn't lie, it was also a bit scary. Homesickness was something I've never felt before because I haven't been away from home and from my family before Chicago. We traveled and vacationed to different places but we eventually went back home to stay. The first year when we first arrived in Chicago was the hardest. I was so homesick that everything I touched seemed bland. It was like the opposite of King Midas and his golden touch, but just as terrible! I missed my family, the environment and culture I was so used to all of my life. And I even missed the pollution! But God has been so gracious and merciful. He is true to His Word when He says He will never leave me nor forsake me. He was my comfort and peace during those moments of sleepless nights (primarily brought on by jet lag) and loneliness due to the physical absence of the people I love. I was so thankful that I had my husband and my son with me during those trying times because without them I would have flagged down a 747 at the O'Hare airport just to go home to the Philippines.

And even getting a new car in our new city was very exciting! The thrill of the car hunt itself and the unfamiliarity of buying in "unknown territory" made the experience so different. Then it was time to welcome Tin-tin into our family. She was a good car and was in very good shape. We liked her a lot especially during that first year in a new city where we wanted to get around, tour some and get to know our neighborhoods and the suburbs. Sadly, on one gloomy, cold afternoon in the Fall of 2005, Tin-tin conked-out. I wouldn't go into the details of her demise but I should say it wasn't her fault. She was just a victim of circumstances and people's mistakes. She is still with family until now but no matter how hard my brother-in-law tries to revive her to her old self, she will never be the same again. But life goes on...

And of course we had to get another car after that. This time, we were more confident with the process. My husband chose a Suzuki Esteem with a great heart. We named him Sudoki. A name combo based from the car's brand and from my husband's favorite pastime, the Sudoku game. And how we love that car! It's been almost 5 years since we got him but he is still going strong. His outer appearance might not be too attractive when parked beside those shiny, sleek ultra-modern, uber "green" cars we see on the roads today but he is family. As long as he brings us from point A to point B with no complaints, we're happy to have him. We're the kind of family that sticks together through thick and thin, through potholes and burning rubber. Ha.

I love sharing the story about how we name our cars not only because it's weird and funny, but it kinda reminds me of one of God's powerful promises. He says in His Word that even before I was born, He already knew me. Even as I was still in my mother's womb, He already knew my name. I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139). This truth is so amazing to me. I once was lost and now I'm found. I was nameless but He made me His own. And I can't thank Him enough. Our car stories also remind me of another one of God's promises: that even our family, a sinful, finite and imperfect bunch of people, knows how to love and to take care of inanimate objects like cars, how much more shall the perfect Father in heaven love His children and take care of His own? (Matthew 7:7-11).

We love our cars that's why we even give them names. They're part of our family. We are sad when they get "sick." I know it's crazy but my husband even speaks to Sudoki sometimes. If we can feel this way about family and cars, I can't even begin to imagine how much love God feels for all the people He died for. All we need to do is to love Him back. To accept His selfless offering of grace and love. I love Him because He first loved me (1 John 4:19).

Does your car have a name?

Monday, May 23, 2011


As originally published on through Triond on September 6, 2011.

One of my favorite pastimes is cloud-watching. Ever since I was a child, I remember lying down on my back somewhere, anywhere just to look up at the skies. I don't particularly remember if I was at the park or I was on top of my Dad's old beetle. But I do remember how I felt as I watched those cotton-like (and sometimes gray) mass up in the sky. I felt peaceful and happy. As any other kid who has looked at the clouds, I often see different shapes the mass takes on. I saw shapes of animals, trees, and sometimes people but mostly, I saw pigs and ducks. I don't know why.

When those shapes begin to form and un-form before my eyes, I can't help but think that there is some kind of a huge force blowing at those clouds to create the magnificent shapes. The bluest of blue skies often frame those works of art. I had an exclusive art gallery in the skies. Of course, I didn't quite think this way when I was a child but as I reminisce those warm, clear summer afternoons of cloud-watching, it's as if I'm 8 again.

As I try to peek at the clouds now that I'm older, I still get the same old feeling of peace and contentment. Sometimes I wonder if those are the same clouds I watched when I was a kid? Maybe not. But isn't it the same endless sky we share with the whole world? I really don't know and it doesn't really matter. It just makes me happy to see my old "friends" again from afar and from way back. We do have a history together, as they say. We share lots of good memories, great shapes and awesome white or gray pigs and ducks against a blue canvass of heavens.

"Look unto the heavens, and see; and behold the clouds which are higher than thou." -Job 35:5

I like clouds but I don't remember most of their names or their kinds. The only ones I know are the nimbus and the cumulus clouds. But I feel it's okay. They don't mind at all. I think they like being watched and that's more than enough. But they're also a force to reckon with. As I learn more grown-up facts about clouds, I respect these creations even more. They have so much energy in them that when two clouds meet and they happen to have opposite charges, they can produce climatic disturbances. This fact alone should tell us that those fluffy-looking, cotton-like mass up in the skies are not at all cute. They are made by the Creator who has power, force and unlimited energy that lasts forever and ever.

Yes, clouds always make me think of pigs, ducks and God.

© Copyright, MMD Images, 2011


I love Springtime!

© Copyright, MMD Images, 2011
To experience this beautiful season for the first time after some 30-plus years of life does something to a person's soul. Everything that's written about it is true. It does give you hope. It symbolizes new beginnings. It brings joy to weary hearts (and bones, too!), especially after a long, dreary winter. When I see those tiny buds coming out of trees and shrubs and flowers appearing everywhere my heart swells up with thankfulness and praise for the Master Designer and Maker of these things!

I walk from my house to the train station everyday when I go to work and I love it when the cool morning air and the sunlight greet me. I love to hear the birds sing as if they're telling me it's springtime! Each day is different. And it always surprises me to see the bare trees of winter come to life with tiny buds of leaves and flowers. The next thing I know those buds become full-grown leaves! It's so wonderful to see the naked tree branches begin to take on new foliage with different shades of greens, dark reds, maroons, yellows, whites and lavenders. Spring has sprung indeed!

© Copyright, MMD Images, 2011
All of God's creation is beautiful. All the works of His hands are marvelous! What the Bible says is true: that no man has any excuse not to know that there is God. Just to look at all creation and nature itself clearly points to a Creator. How can anyone miss it? 

"For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse." -Romans 1:20

© Copyright, MMD Images, 2011
Springtime maybe short and sweet but hope is eternal. I thank God for giving me the opportunity to experience one of His perfect creations. I lived all my life in a tropical country where spring is unheard of and then we moved to Chicago. After living here for almost seven years now, I still marvel at the wonders that springtime brings with it. And I think I will never grow tired of it, ever. I guess that's what hope is all about. It gives light to darkness. It lifts out the gloom. It clears the cobwebs of bleakness. It gives us reason to move forward.

And moving forward I am! Summer, here I come!
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