Thursday, July 28, 2011

Being Human

Human Being. What a curious and very interesting creature, don't you think so? There is nothing like us. Of course, there are the other crawly and jumpy, huge and microscopic, aquatic or amphibious, and adorable animals in the world but there is nothing like a human being. Our brains and intelligence put us on the top rank in the animal kingdom, as I've learned from science class. Even in our weakness, those tears and emotions make us different and unique from all the rest of creation. We are special. Can you imagine earth without humans? It would be chaos! Not that it's unchaotic right now but you know what I mean.

I am not a very "science-y" person. I only managed to pass all my science subjects since grade school by sheer wit and charm. Or, maybe it was all those "allnighters" I used to put in, who knows? But, having said that, I do enjoy a little scientific discussion for as long as I don't have to take an exam after. Museum visits do not excite me but I do try very hard to enjoy and entertain myself, learn new things from the exhibits, and appreciate facts I've never known before. I've learned that the "workings" and "mechanisms" of the human body is so amazing that everything that goes on inside of us is so wonderful and mind-boggling.

Take the fact for instance that our stomach's digestive acids are strong enough to dissolve zinc. But since the cells in the stomach lining renew so quickly, these acids don't have enough time to harm us. They are designed to be where they are only to help us digest food efficiently. Isn't that a relief to know? And here's another one --each of the human kidneys has 1 million individual filters. They filter an average of 1.3 liters of blood per minute, that's approximately 3 and a half regular cans of soda. And here are more facts: there are 25 million cells being produced each second in our body. Our skin emits antibacterial substances that kill most known bacteria, germs and spores that we come in contact with every second. When we're asleep, that's when our body do most of its "repair" work. There's no specific figure I can find but experts say, approximately 70-80% of our body's healing happen at night when we're sleeping. These repairs are not just for replenishing our lost energy or taking away the tiredness after a long day, but from the cells to our kidneys and the lungs, they replicate and repair themselves. All we have to do is sleep! If you're still not convinced that, exceptions aside, we have an awesome body and are not blown-away by these facts, please pinch yourself, you might not be alive.

Now that we have established how impressive our bodies are, add to that a heart and a brain that function beyond the "mechanical" features they possess, then the whole package is astounding. A living, breathing, feeling, thinking, incredible creation! How can anyone even begin to think that we came from the apes? No offense to the monkeys, but I don't think human beings are evolved primates. No matter how many millions or billions of years have passed since the earth and its occupants "came into being" (this according to scientists and anthropologists which is not accurate either, as per the Bible experts), there's just no way a shrimp can become a lobster, or an ant can become a camel, let alone a primate becoming a human being. I don't know about you but I don't particularly feel affiliated to them at all.

If I tell you that a simple, lowly pencil I use at work just happen to come into being, that it just appeared from all the molecules hovering around, and from the combination of the atmospheric chemicals, the air, and maybe some toxicity somewhere, then my pencil was "produced," would you believe me? Of course not! Even a lowly pencil has a creator. Someone made it. Someone designed and planned for it to be a real thing. So how is it that when it comes to human beings, with all our wonders, complexity, our staggering features and qualities, people still can't fully accept that we are made by a Creator? Why is it so hard to believe? To me, believing I came from apes takes even more faith than believing that God created me.
"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." -Genesis 1:26-27

And another glorious thing of being human is the truth that we have a God who truly and completely can say that He knows how it is to be like us. I know that I can cry out to Him and be absolutely sure that He understands everything I'm going through. Jesus left His heavenly throne and abandoned His divinity to become a fetus inside a nervous teenager and He became dependent on humans for His survival as an infant. The King of kings and the Lord of lords came down from heaven to earth and can't even speak nor feed Himself as a baby, but He did it all because of love. He is my almighty, perfect God who loves me so much that He is willing to be a human being so He can come down to my level, see my humanity with His own eyes, and then die for me. What more do I want from Him?

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Champorado is one of my best memories of childhood. It's a Filipino porridge made with sticky or sweet rice, chunks of chocolate (specifically Filipino tsokolate called "tablea"), brown sugar (but white is okay), and evaporated milk or coconut milk (whatever is available in the kitchen). I grew up having champorado for breakfast and for merienda. I still remember those mornings when Mama would serve us with bowls of piping hot champorado with a thick swirl of milk on top. Then, she would mix it in a circular way until it's cool enough for our little tongues to handle. She would show us the best way to eat the champorado, starting from the outer edges going in, because that's where the porridge is cooler as compared to the rest in the bowl, she said.

Now I do make my own champorado but for some weird reason it doesn't taste exactly the same as my childhood champorado. I'm pretty sure I use the same ingredients and the same, exact recipe. I even called Mama to "walk" me through the cooking process again and again but the resulting porridge is just not the same. Have you ever had those childhood memories and experiences that no matter how hard you try to duplicate them, they're simply not the same ever again?

I often look back to those times of breakfasts with champorado, or a big snack after a long siesta. My memory of those moments always come back to me, complete with the old sensations that were lovely and warm to the heart. It is still so vivid in my mind that I still remember the taste of the champorado and the "tingly" feeling of contentment it always gave me. I've always wondered why we remember some things from our childhood and yet most things we can't? All I have are bits and pieces of memories from when I was still a child and most of them are like snapshots. My memories of childhood are so unlike a movie. They are more like a photo montage instilled in my mind. Everytime I see a bowl of dark rich, hot champorado these days, it triggers a trip down memory lane with those images with sensations all coming back to envelope me all over again. That's why I so love champorado because it brings back that warm, cozy feeling from the past and the love a child can only feel from a parent. In my case it's from my Mama.

We are not the "huggy-lovey-kissy" kind of family. I grew up without those demonstrations of love from my parents but I've never doubted for a second that they truly care and love their children. We didn't show too much feelings and we didn't kiss and hug every time we see each other but I was sure that love is always there. There is nothing like the love a child can receive from a real loving and good parents. And then, I became a mother myself. Now, I do understand how capable a parent can love a child. It's the kind of love that encompasses and transcends everything. I would rather be the one sick than see my son not feeling well. I'd rather be the one to feel the pain and all the hurt this life has to offer than for him to go through all that. But, as I strive to be a better mother everyday, I know I have to let him experience those things so he can be a better person.

"Modern" parents are more demonstrative of their love for their children now. I hear it all the time on how new mothers profess a deep love for their child. On how much in love they are of their babies and how they will sacrifice and even die for them. As a mother, I do understand all that and more. To be capable of loving another human being so much is an eye-opener for a lot of "new" parents. And now that I have a teenager, I am even more amazed on how that love doesn't diminish at all. No matter how my son would mess up or make bad decisions that will hurt me and his Dad, we will always love him. Forgiveness comes easy and automatically for us. Sure, we do get mad and he gets punished for deeds that call for it, and I may not even like to look at him for a couple of hours (and this is always the perfect time for him to go to his room!), but I'm absolutely positive that when he gets out of that room, we will still love him beyond reason. I didn't have any idea that kind of love even existed before I had my son. How amazing!

My heart may be full of all that motherly love but there is a more perfect, even more amazing love that exists.
"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." -Romans 5:8

There are different numbers out there on how many times the word love is mentioned in the King James Bible, some say it's 314, others say it's 429. My online Bible comes up with 281 when "searched" for the word. Well, it doesn't really matter to me right now what the correct number is, because my only point here is, the word love appears several times in the Bible, and that is the only important fact right now. A lot of people might view this holy book as only a source of do's and don'ts, of prohibitions, rules and punishments, commandments and consequences of sins, but the truth is, this is the ultimate "love book!"

Since I had my own child, I comprehended more clearly the love God has for me. It may not exactly be the same but it gives me a glimpse of what and how it is. He says in His Word that He is my Father and I am His child, so therefore, His love for me is like my love for my son although His love is absolutely perfect and unblemished compared to mine. So, when He says that whenever I ask for forgiveness for my sins, He is always able and willing to forgive me, and He means it. For there's no other sweeter words I would hear than from my son sincerely saying he is sorry and that he loves me and his Dad. It's the absolute joy of my heart. And it humbles me to know that my praise and worship, my thanks, my profession of love, and even my begging for forgiveness, are my heavenly Father's utmost joy as well! He delights in me not because I am so lovable but because of His character and of who He is. He is the perfect God, the Creator, my King and my Father. He can't help but to be true to Himself. 
"For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish." -2 Corinthians 2:15 

"The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand." -Psalms 37:23-24

Thank God for giving us love, great memories, and for champorado!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Divinely Acquitted

I attended law school after I graduated from college just because I was bored. I know, I know it's a lame reason and a lamer idea. I didn't stop first to think that I would be wasting other people's time, specifically the professors, on someone like me who was not even interested of becoming a lawyer. Not to mention that I was wasting my own time and money on something I just whipped up out of thin air in the middle of the night just because I was bored. Oh well, I was young and ignorant. A very dangerous combination, now I know. But, for all it's worth, I did love law school. I met some of my closest friends there and I actually learned some very important things. Though I didn't get to finish my last year and a half because I decided to start a family instead, looking back I don't regret a thing. I might have done a couple of things differently if I knew back then what I know now but there is no point in discussing the what ifs, is there?

Law school is very toxic and demanding. The readings and studying are non-stop! I wouldn't mind reading at all if the materials were interesting in the least, but not for me. It was endless memorizing and that is plain torture since memorization is not one of my strong qualities. I remember one of my professors coming up to me after a major exam and he told me how he appreciates my answers and that he knows I had a good grasp of the lessons but he said he would prefer actual quotes "to the letter" from our textbooks. I reasoned to myself that I was only being "creative." I was interpreting what was said on the books and putting it down on paper in my own words. Sadly, it doesn't work that way with the legal profession. It's a very exact and "by the book" kind of study. I was not too happy. So I digressed and had a baby instead. Ha-ha!

One thing I've learned from law school was the subject of guilt and innocence. On how the legal system requires evidence and proof beyond reasonable doubt before we can call anyone guilty. On how feelings and emotions are not accepted as truth in the courts. There must be some kind of physical evidence or a credible eyewitness account pointing to the guilt or innocence of a person. The legal system is not perfect and the lines between facts and lies blur all the time, and that's why lawyers are supposed to be very careful and meticulous with their work. Unfortunately, that latter part doesn't happen "to the letter" all the time. There are holes and flaws with the justice system anywhere in the world but we have to admit we've come a long way since the time of the "shoot before asking questions" era. Or, are we?

Innocent before proven guilty is the "motto" of a democratic justice system. Sounds very promising, doesn't it? Yet in our society that doesn't happen all the time. We love to "convict" and judge people even before they are legally and formally prosecuted. Humans have a "mob" mentality. You remember the story in the Bible on how the crowds were stoning an adulteress because in their eyes she was already guilty as sin? What did Jesus do? Did He also pick up a stone and threw it at her? He had all the right in the universe to judge her right there and then but He did not. Instead, He chose to speak to the crowd and turn their accusing fingers right back at them.
"He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." -John 8:7(b)

In the eyes of the Almighty God, and according to His perfect justice and the requirements of His divine nature, I am guilty. I am a sinner with the root sin lodged in my inner being ever since I was created in my mother's womb. I may not have known this truth when I was still an "innocent" child but once I was at the age of recognition of what is good or bad, I was guilty of my sins. There was no hope for me. I was bound for punishment just like any criminal who is guilty of a felony and who has to be sentenced to jail or even death. That's the way our justice system works, and even though there's still a clamor for a much better one, no one wants to abolish the system because it does make sense. When there is a crime, a punishment must be meted out, plain and simple. But for some reason, when it's God who presents His perfect justice for sin and its consequence of eternal punishment, we think it doesn't make sense at all. Mankind can create our own justice system to help make this world a better place but God, in all His perfection and divinity, can't make His own rules that should apply to us?

"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
It is my utmost joy to know that God's perfect justice "system" doesn't end at sin and my eternal damnation. He knew I can never make it on my own, it was hopeless for me. So from the very beginning, He designed the perfect plan of atonement for man's sins and to mete out the eternal punishment that will fulfill His divine requirement. It is only His Son, Jesus Christ, who can fulfill God's necessary payment for man's transgressions by Jesus' death on the cross, shedding of His blood, for Him to become sin even though He is sinless, and through His resurrection. Jesus arose from the dead and has victory over sin and death forever. All I have to do is accept this truth and to trust in Him alone in order for me to be saved from the eternal punishment of hell. I have been divinely acquitted in the heavenly courts above. I was guilty beyond reasonable doubt of all my sins but by His grace now I'm innocent in His eyes. I can never fully comprehend this wonderful truth but that doesn't change anything. It is still the truth. And to God be the glory! 
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast." -Ephesians 2:8-9

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Painted Toe Nails

There is something special about painted toe nails. That's coming from me who is not the "girly" type at all. I think I grew up doing "tomboyish" stuff. I distinctly remember that I didn't like playing with dolls. What I loved was riding my BMX bike (and leaving a scar on my face in the process), playing with slingshots, and participating in street games with my playmates. And I remember them being mostly boys, including my brothers. I have four brothers, and my only sister came into the family when I was already 10 years old, so I ended up taking care of her instead of playing girly things with her.

Since I wasn't particularly enamored with girly things, you can just imagine how I hate to do my nails. But as I grew up and became a "responsible" adult, I found out that I have to do some things a "lady" should do, like having my nails polished. I don't remember when my first time was but I know I made a huge mess after that first attempt. Now I leave it to the experts. Honestly, my favorite part of the whole process will always be the foot massage. The painted toe nails are, of course, also nice as I get to enjoy it for the rest of the summer or until they get chipped, whatever comes first.

I'm guessing even during the time of Cleopatra, they had some form of toe painting. It's indeed fit for a queen! Now in these modern times, it has evolved into some kind of an art in itself. There are hundreds of different colors available, hundreds of different styles, and even the artificial and sculptured ones like the acrylic, gel or fabric are out there for our choosing. The list is endless!

It is something pretty to look at and some ladies say it makes them feel good. This may sound vain but there's nothing wrong with making ourselves beautiful and "presentable." Even for men, who normally don't care about cosmetics, hair styles or nail polish, they also like to look at pretty nails as compared to looking at some not-so-pretty ones. Everytime I have my nails buffed and painted, my husband notices them and we call it the "jingling bells" on foot especially when I use a red, glittery polish whenever I can. It's fun and it is nice. Life is too short to be too rigid about some things.

Yet it is also my hope that as I try to be pretty and to be "easy on the eyes" for my husband that I will also make an effort to be more beautiful for my God. He says in His Word that man looks at the outside but God sees the heart. I hope that I may be pleasing in His eyes from the inside as it radiates to the outside as well. 
"Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." -1 Peter 3:1-4

Submission to anything or any person has always been a struggle for me. In college, where feminism, human rights, and justice were parts of my life and my daily environment, those days have instilled in me a "fighting stance" where and when it matters. But I don't consider myself a real activist but if I feel threatened or "stepped on," I do respond accordingly. So, when I got married and me and my husband made the decision to follow and obey God in everything, it was difficult to read verses that say "wives submit to your own husband." What, me... submit? Oh, do pigs fly?

That was then and this is now. God has taught me a lot in this area of my life and I can't believe that obeying my husband as the leader of our family, submitting to him and trusting his decisions and his leadership, and to be his partner (the Bible uses the word helper) is like breathing air for me. But sometimes, even when breathing we may choke up or the air goes down the wrong pipe. It happens. So I wouldn't say that everything is perfect all the time because I would be lying. What's important is how we try to make things work and how we made the decision for God to be the center of our marriage. My husband would joke that the secret of our good relationship is that he makes all the "major" decisions in our life, and there has been no need for him to take over yet because it has only been "minor" decisions for me so far! Funny guy, isn't he?

It is my prayer that as I continue to love my painted toe nails and try to make my outward appearance "not too shabby," that I will also focus on my inward parts and not to neglect the things which are not seen so I may be pleasing to God. 
"Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom." -Psalms 51:6
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