Monday, May 29, 2006

Top Ten "Ickiest" Remarks Made to Singles

If you want your single friends to cringe..these are the Top Ten Comments to make...(and suggested answers for singles):

1. Don’t be too choosey!
(Hmm…shouldn’t I be, since we’re talking about “till death do us part?”)

2. There’s somebody I want you to meet…
(Psycho music plays..)

3. You should put on more make up and dress up more…
(If we should look like Barbie, how come they don’t look like Ken?)

4. You’re too smart, guys might get intimidated.

5. You don’t pray hard enough.
(Gee…maybe I should also fast for 40 days…)

6. Don’t worry..just wait, the right guy will come...
(I might die if I hold my breathe too long..!)

7. Go out more often, maybe you’ll find somebody.
(Que horror! I didn’t know I look like I live in a cave!)

8. Hey, your younger brother got married before you did!
(If I knew it was a race, I would’ve grabbed the first guy I saw on the street and dragged him to the altar before my bro beat me to it!)

9. How about him?
(Psycho music gets louder.)

10. You should go and catch the bouquet!

To all singles (and married folks), carpe diem!
This is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it. Amen.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Missing Him

“I miss you.”

Three good friends sent me this same message today: by text message, by YM and by email. Such heartwarming words. Yet in them is a taste of both the sweet and the bitter.

These words have in them a sense of…
Longing to touch, to see, to talk or to simply BE with another.
Wishing that another is with you as you walk through certain patches in your life.
Frustration that a dear one is not within grasp or hugging distance.

I miss my friends, too, in varying degrees, in different occasions. There are days I wish I could gather all my friends together for a tight group hug that would squeeze away pain, sadness, loneliness and self-pity, and infuse joy, togetherness, peace, and faith.

In this imperfect world, that couldn’t happen. So it eases the frustration just to know that ‘I miss you” can also mean
becoming an important part of someone’s life.
being appreciated.
being longed for
being held dear.
being loved.

There’s One Person I have missed every single day since He made Himself known to me.

Glimpses of Him in His love letters strengthens my resolve to trudge on through rough patches.
The brush of His loving fingers on my cheek in the warm summer wind lightens my spirit.
His tight embrace through the arms of a friend assures His healing comfort in grief.

Still I miss Him. I long to see Him, to stare into His keen, loving eyes, clasp His hands and feel the scars against my palm. I long to lean my brow on His, feel the warmth of His presence near me and simply Be with Him.

Miracle of miracles, He misses me too. So much so that He won’t allow anything to stand in the way of my journey to get to Him. Every obstacle I face, I push away with His strength and walk on. Every time I am down, He buoys me up with His love.

The day when I finally see Him will definitely come.
My friends will be there as well.
We will all be together.
We won’t miss each other anymore.

I won’t miss Him anymore.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Mom's The Word

Ours is not a Hallmark Card-type family. Meaning, we don’t smile at each other goofily, hug each other and say, “I love you” every 30 seconds. (Yikes. I’d consider that type to be on the other end of the dynsfunctionality continuum!!)

If I start going Hall-marky on my family members, they’d most probably think I’m dying or have gone bonkers. I’d feel the same if they did that to me.

Before you start thinking we’re a heap of cold fish, I would have you know that I can go “Hall-marky” to friends who are into it. It all depends on the cultural norms of the relationship I am in.

But before I get carried away with that stuff (hmmm….this topic merits a lengthy blog), I’d just like to talk about my mom. As I said, we weren’t brought up amongst sunshine and roses. There were lots of things that happened when I was a kid that scarred me—but who doesn’t have childhood scars?

I credit my mom for bringing us up well despite the scars.

She was a tower of strength in tough times, yet she taught us not to lean on her so much that we become weak and spineless.

She made sure our wants and needs are provided for, forsaking her own, yet not so much as to make us giddy and greedy over worldly excesses.

She disciplines us when we misbehave, but just enough for us to know our boundaries and not so much that she breaks our spirit.

She cares for us when we were sick, but doesn’t fuss over us so much so that we become soft and whiney.

Mom is the only daughter of Chinese immigrants who came to make a new life in the Philippines many years ago. Her own childhood was empty of gentility and creature comforts. Rough was a word they lived by. All these toughened her spirit, but thankfully, not her heart.

I remember sharing a box of tissues with her over soppy movies. I also remember her being concerned for strangers even over small things, like when an old lady was at a loss on where to line up to buy food in a cafeteria. I also remember her going out of her way to act as peacemaker over many a family mess (hers or a friend’s).

Our house will never make it to the cover of Martha Stewart Living. There are stacks of magazines and newspapers piled high on certain strategic corners of the house—a sign that my mom has not gotten over her hoarding tendencies probably developed during her tough childhood days. The kitchen wall has a stain of oil splattered on it— a sign of the many delicious Cantonese dishes she’s whipped up for us. The curtains in the living room don’t match the sofa’s upholstery—a sign that she is more concerned with the fact that we had curtains and a living room to enjoy!

She’s no paragon of love modeled by silly smiling TV moms who lovingly feed their kids with MSG-smothered instant noodles. (Thank God!) She has shown her love in so many other ways—and the fact that three of us kids grew up relatively level-headed, confident and considerate of others, is enough proof of her love.

This blog would no doubt embarrass her (and me—if she reads it). Thankfully, she doesn’t know (or care!) what hi-tech nonsense a blog is. She’s too busy these days being the doting grandma to my two nieces.

I pray,
for the most unselfish human being I know,
a mom who never considered her own needs, only ours,
that as she now basks in the warm glow of her sunset years,
the Lord will be merciful to her and shower her
with much joy…and love,
no matter how soppy.
She deserves it.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Six Things I Love About the Philippine Summer

1. Fire Trees in Full Bloom—nothing beats the sight of these magnificent trees that boasts of fierce fire-orange blooms. The best summer treat is a super long row of fire trees blazing the way somewhere on the Batangas-Manila route.

2. Halo-Halo- every thought freezes as the ice-cold sweet blend of ice shavings, milk, sweet beans, leche flan, nata de coco, gelatin, ube and ice cream melt deliciously on your mouth.

3. Long days—isn’t it great that you can enjoy an hour more of daylight before the sun sets? Just to delight in being able to find your way home by the sun’s light instead of the weak light of a streetlamp.

4. Children’s laughter—what could cheer one more than kids giggling and playing outside your door early in the morning because school’s out?

5. Dry clothes in a jiffy – what could be more convenient than having your wet laundry, hung up in the morning, dry by early afternoon?

6. Dry streets – what could be easier to walk on than streets free from flooding and mud and muck that rains inevitably bring?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Sandpaper People

One of the most interesting relationships in life are those with people who have sandpaper-type personalities. Yes, you guess it, people who are gifted in rubbing others the wrong way.

Like sandpaper, they also have degrees of roughness. Some of them are so rough that people would rather jump in front of a rampaging bus rather than talk to them. Others are mildly rough but irritating enough for people to prefer eating raw garlic, if only to ward them off!

I remember countless times when I mentally winched and groaned in agony at the company of sandpaper people. If I grit my teeth some more, I might have to get dentures to replace my ground-out teeth...and charge the cost to these sandpaper people.

Real sandpaper loses its roughness after much sanding—the problem with a number of the sandpaper people I have come in contact with, they themselves don’t seem to lose their roughness! In fact, they seem blissfully unaware of their effect on people!

The sinner in me would absolutely love to smooth their rough edges by coming up with stinging comebacks like, “Here’s a hundred pesos, maybe you can go rent some poor desperate soul to talk to!” Or “You know, you look like you could win a role in one of those Harry Potter movies!” Or maybe, “We’d really like you to come with us, but we don’t have enough room in the car for your head.” I know they sound cruel—but let him who has never had a cruel thought cross his mind cast the first stone…!

Okey, so I shouldn’t be cruel. What would be a good alternative? Is it to mindlessly, silently chant, “They are good for us…they are good for us..” like a Good Friday penitent who whiplashes himself on the back or like a child being force-fed with liquid cod liver oil (ugh)?

But the Christian side of me, reminded by the grace of Jesus Christ, insists that I do not lash back, but to instead, turn the other cheek. Obviously, easier said than done. One way I have tried to turn the other cheek is to bite my tongue and not allow my homicidal thoughts to get the better of me, but as my anger gets bottled up—it doesn’t fizzle out like a punctured balloon—but waits to burst like a can of thoroughly shakened Coke. Imagine the mess when the can is opened.

I think I've been around long enough to realize that worse than getting hurt by sandpaper people is to have to clean up the mess after a burst of angry words. Contrary to what popular culture advises, revenge only leaves festering wounds and emaciated spirits (on both the sander and the sandee).

So I am striving on another way of dealing with sandpaper people—it’s a process a friend once told me about called Cognitive Reinterpretation, which simply means being positively philosophical when you are at the receiving end of sandpaper comments.

Meaning, instead of waiting for the right time to blow them away to Kingdom come with my own sandpaper-like comeback, I could:

1. …think, maybe they had a bad day.
2. …take the high road, and respond with dignity that is reflective of Christ.
3. …perceive it as God’s way of smoothing my own rough edges.
4. …reexamine my own life…maybe there is some truth in what they said about me and discovering that truth might help me become a better person.
5. …just let it go, life’s too short to be spent bickering and wallowing in anger.
6. …look at it with a dose of humor.
7. …try hard to look for something positive about the other person.
8. …remind myself that Christ was at the receiving end of much worse tongue-lashings.
9. …remind myself that they are as much an image of God as I am, and pray for healing for whatever wounds that torment their souls.
10. …if I have the nerve, follow the Matthew principle and speak the truth in love. If they do not respond, I release the matter to God.

Having done much of item number 4, I realize that my own sandpaper quality can be quite high. I realize I have hurt many people myself with my own brand of 'sanding.' I wish I could claim that my brand of ‘sanding’ is God’s way of smoothing their rough edges, but that would be the height of arrogance and the most pathetic excuse for lashing out.

This may be a worn out cliché, but all through my life as both a sander and sandee, I am deeply grateful that I am under a gracious Father who will lovingly work out my life and give me many “second chances” to smoothen out my many rough edges.