Saturday, December 13, 2008

In Love, All Over Again

Before you jump into conclusions, this has nothing to do with the previous post, but everything to do with a book called The Shack.

My friends who have read the book, say the title with a touch of reverence and with eyes opened just a bit wider. And almost always, there’s this nanosecond pause before saying the title, like so: “Have you read…The Shack?”

If that doesn’t get you curious, then nothing would!


At first glance, the cover didn’t help. How warm and inviting is a picture of a lonely old run-down hovel that has seen better days—probably decades ago? To make it less inviting, it is dark and in the dead of winter. Only after I read the whole thing did I take a second look at the cover and notice the hint of something more inviting, more promising.

But the hint of something promising I saw in the eyes of those who have read it was enough to make me curious. So when I was lent a copy, I jumped on it—and so started the journey of falling in love all over again.

Peeking through the first pages of the book, I felt a little bit like Lucy Pevensie when she first opened that old creaky door of The Wardrobe, fumbled through the dark musty closet and suddenly found herself in breathtakingly beautiful Narnia.

What could be beautiful about a story of a father, Mackenzie Allen Philips, who lost his daughter in a tragic and cruel way? The cruelty I read in the first few chapters of the book made me want to quit—it was too painful and stirred up in me an anger that made me forget I was reading fiction. There are enough real-life situations to make one realize this is not just something that only happens in a book.

Yet, to stop reading almost meant leaving a gaping wound open. I had to read through to find my closure. And so throughout the book, I journeyed with Mack. I felt with him his barren loneliness, numbed defeat, bitter bewilderment, stark pain, heart-stopping surprise and later, unspeakable joy.

It showed me a different side of grief, and a refreshing view of The One Person who always gets the blame for every wrong thing in this world. The book showed me how in a wonderfully miraculous way, God upends what man meant for ugliness and evil and turn it into something beautiful and good. It also impressed upon me once again that no-holds-barred love that God has for a stubborn bunch of humans—so much so that He would sacrifice His own power and open Himself up to pain and suffering.

The ironic thing when I was reading this book and almost literally seeing lightbulbs turning on in my mind—is that it is nothing new. The truths are ancient. I read them over and over again in the Good Old Book. Yet being a dulled-by-too-much-hi-tech-entertainment Gen Xer, it took The Shack to take the thickening cataracts off my eyes and see the Bible for what it is, and see God for who He is.

And so I have fallen in love all over again.

I invite you to do the same.


===
P.S. I have since bought my own copy of The Shack. It is cheaper at National Bookstore than at Powerbooks. *grin*

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Matchmaker, matchmaker...

Joyce is a happily married mother of one. She met her husband through a matchmaking aunt who spotted her busily organizing an event in Davao. Not that Joyce is hard to spot—she is charming and vivacious—not to mention, pretty!

So she is a strong believer of matchmaking as a very valid, very effective way of finding The One. Not that she has actually hit the jackpot in that area—well, she did when she met her hubby—but I am talking about her own matchmaking attempts.

I once asked her, teasingly, “Aren’t you a bit discouraged that none of your matchmaking attempts have succeeded?”

Her reply? “Not at all! In fact, I am all the more challenged!”

That’s one of the reasons why she is one of my closest friends—her never-say-die attitude towards life, and her active desire for others to get the best out of life (marriage being just one of them).

I say active because she goes all out in helping others. Generous to a fault, she gives of her time in an unbelievable way. As if she is not busy enough with her work and her many ministry projects and preaching assignments, she would go out of her way to do things for friends, spend quality time on the phone with those who need wise advise or just a listening ear, and this is on top of family time. I sometimes find myself catching my breath for her sake as she talks to me about what she has been doing the past week. That is why I treasure all the more the Saturdays we spend together—talking, praying, sometimes crying and often laughing.

She is probably the only one who, aside from my mom and one other friend, I don’t actually mind fussing over me. But more than being the concerned mom, she has been a great friend in both rainy days and sunny ones. She cries with me and laughs with me—always ready to listen even when she has her own pressures that she needs to unburden. My eyes well up as I write this, because I remember those times when I badly needed someone to simply talk to and she, the ever busy mom, would go the extra mile—offering not just a shoulder to cry on but even opening her home to me as a haven to stay, rest, reflect or mend my wounds.

But aside from the rough patches, the sunny days are a joy to share with her as well. She can outtalk me, out-strategize, and outwit me at the best of times. Her charms border to legendary—how she manages to get people to do things for her is sometimes unbelievable. From her, I learn that charm goes a longer way that intimidation or anger. From her, I learn to make sure I don’t come out of the house looking like my passport photo. From her I learn how to handle sticky situations with wisdom and grace.

It has been 8 years now since I really got to know her. When I first came to Manila to work 8 years ago, she being a former churchmate from Davao who I didn’t really know very well, called up to ask me what I need and made herself available for me as I settled myself to city life. And since she is the kind of person that walks the extra mile, it was easy to see how our friendship deepened from there.

Being a matchmaker, of course, she just had to try her hand on me. And being a good friend, I just had to gamely play along! But this is one attempt I think she has given up on—though, to be fair, she has not given up praying!

It should assure her to know that even if she has not yet found success in the matchmaking department—unlike in all other areas—she has actually succeeded in one area that matters more to me—a good match of a friendship.

----



Thank you, Jenny for tagging me to write about a gift of grace. It has been a joy to write about Joyce!

Who is the person that you consider God’s gift of grace to you? I am asking this question to: Marilyn, Jophen, and Major Tom.

1. Put the logo in your blog.

2. Share a short story of someone whose life touched yours.

3. Add a link to the person who shared it with you.

4, Tag at least 3 other persons with blogs.

5. Leave a message on their blogs.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

One of Those (Good) Days

You know when you have one of those days that you want to put in a bottle, save it for a rainy day pick-you-upper?

Today was one of those days. I slept in and the light rain outside made it cooler than most days and all the more comfortable to snuggle up for another hour of lying in.

I woke up to a still day: no children hollering outside, no carpenters hammering away, no radio blaring news of doom. I curled up with a cup of coffee, reading The Shack, where I am half way—and in a weird way, something in the book reminded me of the two boxes that I had shipped back from the UK, which was due a few days ago. It had been niggling at the back of my mind—with my imagination running wild, something from The Shack stopped me from my imaginings and caused me to just say a short prayer, leaving everything to God. And on I went with my reading.

An hour or so later, what do you know? The boxes arrived! And at just the right time—that is, me being actually home (a rare event) to personally receive it.

I spent part of the afternoon “reuniting” with my stuff from the UK, including a bunch of dried lavenders I picked from the school gardens—now I can enjoy a whiff of the England summer in my Manila abode.

Then it was off to meet up with a friend at the mall (in a taxi with the driver actually giving me back my change…!) for a cheesy movie followed by a simple dinner and good conversation. Then to our pleasant surprise, a live wind orchestra was playing at the mall’s activity center. And so we sat enjoying coffee with the orchestra playing Beatles, Abba, Miss Saigon music, movie soundtracks and Christmas carols.

Now I’m back home and have just successfully assembled a nice lamp I bought in the UK and enjoying its warm glow while listening to quiet music and writing this piece.

If you think of it, there was nothing earthshakingly fantastic about today. But I think of this day as one of those small “bottled” treats tucked in unexpected nooks and crannies of life’s road to help us along in the journey. They could be something as simple as enjoying a bowl of Lucky Me Pancit Canton while reading greetings from long lost friends on my Facebook wall or chatting away ‘til past midnight with a friend on YM.

I am grateful that the Father knows enough to keep these “treats” sweet and simple, lest this pilgrim takes it all for granted and sets too high a bar on contentment.

The grass on my side of the fence is green!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Big Four

It seems to be tagging season again! And so typical of me, I take (too) long to get to them...no wonder it took more than a year for me to get tagged again! Anyway, Major Tom has not lost faith in me in the tagging department, so he tagged me with four questions.

4 Things Meme

Here’s the rule:

Click copy/paste, type in your answers and tag four people in your blogroll! Don’t forget to change my answers to the questions with that of yours.

Question # 1. Four places I go to over and over:
Office, Megamall, my Prayer Partner's house on Saturdays and Davao...!


Question # 2. Four people who e-mail me regularly
Hmmm...come to think of it, with the advent of YM and Skype, I think I should change the question to four people I YM/Skype regularly! So with that, it's Marilyn, Bebbs, Beng, and Rita.


Question # 3. Four of my favorite places to eat?

McDonalds (for spaghetti and Longganisa Meal), Kalye Juan (for their palabok and breakfast fares), Likha Diwa sa Gulod (at Krus na Ligas , UP), Davao's Penong's (Chicken BBQ) and...I could go on and on (I will have to do a few posts on food pretty soon..)


Question # 4. Four places you’d rather be?
Davao, Baguio, Thailand, and Palawan (the forth one's an unfulfilled dream)


Question #5. Four TV shows I could watch over and over.
Third Rock from the Sun, Bubble Gang, 24, Without a Trace

Okey,your turn: Aleks, Abaniko, Single Guy, and Lazarus.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Pink Sisterhood Meme

I've not been tag in ages so I'm happy to be tagged again after a long time, by Leah and Janeser for a good cause, that is--focusing on Breast Cancer Awareness and how important it is to catch it in the early stages.



* One in eight women or 12.6% of all women will get breast cancer in her lifetime.
* Breast cancer risk increases with age and every woman is at risk.
* Every 13 minutes a woman dies of breast cancer.
* Seventy-seven percent of women with breast cancer are over 50.
* Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in women between the ages of 15 and 54, and the second cause of cancer death in women 55 to 74.
* Risks for breast cancer include a family history, atypical hyperplasia, early menstruation (before age 12), late menopause (after age 55), current use or use in the last ten years of oral contraceptives, and daily consumption of alcohol.
* Early detection of breast cancer, through monthly breast self-exam and particularly yearly mammography after age 40, offers the best chance for survival.
Facts taken from Women’s Health

And now here is the tag and the rules:
1. Put the logo in your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who shared it with you.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs
4. Add your link to the list of participants below
5. Leave a message for your nominee on their blog.

1. Fara 2. Massy 3. N.O.Y. 4. Maruica 5. A Great Pleasure 6. Lady Java 7. Kim 8. Pink Thoughts 9. Turn-U-Off 10. Roxiticus 11. Stay At Home Mom 12. Fida Abott 13. href="http://alsomommy.blogspot.com/">Also Mommy 14. Janice Ng 15. Juliana 16. The Painted Veil 17. Heart of Rachel 18. Mga Muni Muni 19. Gypsy 20. YOU

I am tagging:
1. Beng
2. Jenny
3. Verns
4. Annamanila
5. Carlotta

Monday, November 03, 2008

Just one of those days...

By the time I saw my long lost uncle with his son in the crowded fruit section of SM megamall, it was too late to turn around and duck behind the pineapples. I knew by the direction of his eyes that it would just be a split second before he spots me. So I brave a delighted smile on my face and wave, “Uncle!”


As expected, the look he gave me was a cross between being pleasantly surprised and mildly exasperated. The last time we saw each other was gazillions of months ago at his daughter’s wedding. And even then, while he was enjoying the role of the proud father of the bride, he looked at me with mild exasperation.


Nothing has changed. For both sides, I guess. He is still mildly exasperated with this wandering gypsy of a niece who should set her priorities straight, get a life and settle down. I am still the wandering gypsy of a niece who has a life and probably may not settle for anything less than a better life than the one she already is enjoying!


True enough, the usual, almost one-sided conversation ensued,

“So where have you been these days?”

Singapore? Thailand?”

“Oh, you just came back from the UK?”

“Right!”

“No nice guys there?”

“Didn’t find any?”


As I gritted my teeth and smilingly replied to his questions and found a nice opening to say goodbye, I braced myself for the final usual goodbye my Uncle gives me.


“Get married! Okey? Don’t wait too long!”


So, off I went. Back to my lonely, rootless, crazy life—my uncle must presume.


However much I enjoy my own company, his exasperation put a damper on my good mood that day, which I spent on my own--having just left a friend right before I saw my uncle. It’s not that I don’t appreciate his concern, however misplaced it is. I do. But what gets me is me. Why do I get upset just because I cannot please him? Why do I let it affect me?


But hey, that’s life, eh? You can’t please everyone—whether you’re married or single, fat or thin, tall or short, somebody’s bound to have an opinion.


So long as I am fulfilling His (He not being my uncle…) purposes in my life, I am fine.


I will be fine.


And so will my uncle.



Monday, October 27, 2008

The Case of the Missing Links*


Is there a virtual yellow sticker tape that can be draped across this blog for the meantime while the investigation is going on? The crime being the Gypsy, in a moment of confusion, accidentally deleted the links from this blog while attempting to install a stat counter.

Initial findings show that the crime happened on October 25, between 2200-2315, Manila time. It has been determined that the links in question have been lost forever in oblivion, in the cyber black hole where all the deleted spams, email chain letters and letters from exes are forever sucked in---never to be seen again.

Meanwhile, sincere apologies are extended to the people behind the deleted links. If you can write a 500-word essay, double-spaced, explaining the benefits of your link to the cyberworld where the Gypsy is living, she will very much gladly link you back (The essay, of course, is a joke. You may write a poem instead. Or treat the Gypsy, or the policewoman, to a cup of coffee or a bar of chocolates, respectively).

*This police report written and authenticated by SPO1 Beng

(Please bear with this blog while the reconstruction---links, template, widgets---is ongoing. )

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

From ADHD Bees to Rafa

It took literally one whole day for me to get from Chiangmai to Manila but having gotten home after two back to back flights, none of which is the most comfortable in the world, I am not too obviously tired (will see later when my head hits the pillow)—my mind continues to buzz like a busy bee and it flits from one subject to another as only an ADHD bee would.

It feels like ages since I was home—having started travelling at the beginning of October to Mindanao and ending it with about a week in Chiangmai. The diversity of faces, events and the variety of experiences, beds, food, morning rituals and conversations push and shove their way to the forefront of my thoughts, trying to grab my undivided attention—but to no avail.

What is forming before me as I try to process the past three weeks—is a monster of a to-do list: of resolutions, of projects and other to-do’s. This doesn’t include the to-do list I had already come up with after coming back from the UK.

On top of this is a pile of work that needs to be finished or followed up which I left behind at the end of September.

Theoretically, I hate the idea of busy-ness and so wish in my heart of hearts that life be less frantic, less toxic; more an amble rather than a sprint but hey, reality in this day and age seems to disagree.

The thing is, I did say theoretically—meaning, I have yet to experience a lifestyle that requires only ambling. Who’s to say I would actually prefer it? Would I end up climbing walls and go numb with boredom? Or would I bask in it and gleefully stop and smell every flower along the way?

A matter of conjecture at this point.

I wonder when it will be tested and proven--or disproved.

****

On a different note, coming home also meant catching up on what I’ve missed of the Madrid Masters. Weird. The last time I was interested in tennis was during Pete Sampras’ heyday and even then, hadn’t been a real follower. Until this year’s Wimbledon and I am converted for real. Thanks mostly to the Rafa-Roger phenomenal rivalry which has all the ingredients of a great drama. But aside from that, what fascinated me all the more are the different personalities that make up the tennis world and the fact that most players, though they may brutally demolish each other on court, can be such humble gentlemen off court. Exhibit A is Andy Murray’s humble pronouncements after beating THE Roger Federer (making his head to head record against Roger 3-2) and going on to win the championship—no chest-beating a la Usain Bolt in tennis, which is nice to see.

Anyway, I am happy to find out that a certain Spanish tennis player will still be able to maintain the number one spot by the end of the year. Too bad he lost at the semis to Gilles Simon but as always, he takes losing like the class act that he is. If at all possible, I hope that next year, this charismatic yet humble, well-brought-up young man will be able to top the fantastic 2008 year that he had—and deserved. But hey, the year’s not over yet, there’s still Paris, Shanghai and Davis Cup! Weee! Vamos Rafa!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Never Too Old...

I got sick recently. With the number of bienvenida meals I ate my way through when I visited Davao, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that my tummy went on a gastric strike! So there I was on my last day home in Davao, horizontal and having to cancel three more bienvenida eat outs, and the all-important date with my favorite hairdresser.

The gastric pains woke me up in the wee hours and had me groping in the darkness of my mom’s house for the medicine box where different meds where neatly labeled and contained in different plastic packets. As I chewed on an antacid and got back to bed, I had to resist the temptation to crawl into bed with my mom---and wake her up to tell her I was sick.

I wondered about that.

Having already taken an antacid, what was the point of waking my mom up? What did I expect her to do anyway? She ain’t no doctor—-neither is she a miracle worker.

Late that morning, my stomach still thumping painfully on all sides, I moaned to my mom, “I’m sick. I just took an antacid.” She looked at me and said, “Oh, okey.” I felt a bit let down—and then I thought, what did I expect? I already told her I took an antacid, so that means it is being taken care of, doesn’t it?

I have been sick many times, and usually there was no mom around since I’ve been away from home most of my life. I’ve coped with it well enough and only very occasionally with self-pity.

Yet the mere fact that mom was nearby seemed to change my whole psyche—and I guess for someone my age—(shhh..don’t ask!)it is as surprising as it is strange! I was going to say pathetic, but I don’t see how wishing for a mother’s TLC could be pathetic. Come to think of it, it's probably one of the most natural things in the world, now having said that—I guess the other times when I have coped easily without crying out for my mom must probably be the more strange and surprising thing!

For the record, my mom didn’t fuss over me, she never does, all she did was nod to affirm that I did the right thing by taking an antacid. I guess that was all I needed. I guess what mattered most to me then was her presence. It was enough to help ease some of the pain—even if it is more psychologically than actually.

What power a mother holds. Come to think of it, moms are miracle workers in their own way!

**Sorry blogpals for being amiss in going about my blog rounds...been travelling again and internet availability is intermittent..I wrote this one yesterday, during a mind-numbing, wifi-less, seven-hour wait at an airport...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What A Difference A Year Makes

One year. Exactly. That’s how long I was in the UK. At this day and age of serial movies shown in yearly installments, a year can b a very short span of time. But it can be a long time as well, like when you watch how babies go from sleeping to crawling to talking. A year is also enough for me to enjoy certain experiences I would never have had if I stayed in the Philippines.

Even after being back for the last three weeks, I can still see myself in my mind’s eye running down the college corridor, chatting with my friends in the student kitchen, walking down the streets and feeling the chill in the air. These were routine stuff I did in one year, but there was also the one year’s worth of experiences—loads of them:

--like missing the train, twice.
--like getting locked in twice and locked out once.
--like trying my hand at cricket
--like trying my foot at football
--like obsessing about tennis
--like watching the whole FIFA season with an amazingly diverse crowd of nationalities in one year (most of which find them cheering for their own countries from the TV room)
--like successfully teaching my African classmates how to cook rice from a pot without burning it.
--like watching a whole game of rugby (icky)
--like whipping up a five-course dinner on my birthday (I never thought I could do that!)
--like picking up a bit of the Irish accent.
--like getting snowbound in winter and missing my flight.
--like developing deep and hopefully lasting friendships that will have to be maintained through skype or SMS.

..the list goes on.

But those are about me. Coming back, I realized that a lot of good and bad things have happened to friends and loved ones.

--like a worrying number of friends or their loved ones diagnosed with cancer, with a few having passed away after a short bout of chemo;
--like colleagues who have celebrated new life
--like colleagues who have left their jobs
--like friends who celebrated milestones
--like friends who have enjoyed new additions in their families through adoption
--like friends who have fallen in love
--and some who have gotten married.
--like some who have moved away
--like neighbors who have returned.

…the list goes on.

Thankfully, some things remain the same, like good friends, good food, and good ol’ Manila--still as noisy, as riotous, as fun, as crowded, as dirty, as in-your-face as ever.

All this in a year.

I still can’t quite make up my mind if it is too short or too long. Can you?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Frustrated to the Nth Degree

I STILL DO NOT HAVE INTERNET CONNECTION.

Grrr.....

Friday, August 29, 2008

Of Tears and Goodbyes


I must be getting old.


I read a goodbye card today from a good friend and was surprised at the tears that suddenly sprung up! It has been ages since I cried saying goodbye. The last time I did, I distinctly remembered it, simply because it seldom happens to me. This is not to say that I have a heart of stone—though I have been (unfairly, though teasingly) accused at times by people who don’t really know me. I guess the reason why I don’t break down into tears whenever I say goodbye is because…hmmm….come to think of it, I also don’t know why exactly. The reason must be hidden deep in the inner recesses of the subconscious. But just because I am hard put to think of a reason doesn’t mean I don’t know what the reasons are not.


Not crying my goodbyes doesn’t mean:

--I can’t wait to get away from this person/place.

--I don’t value the friendship and the time spent with this person/place.

--I am cold and unfeeling.

--I only have shallow, inconsequential relationships where goodbyes have no impact.

--my heart is not right.

--I have no tear ducts.

--I have some deep psychological issues about attachments.

--I don’t need anyone.

--I am impatient to move on (which some of you might have an impression of after this post).

--I don’t care enough.


Well, I guess that’s enough negatives for one post. Anyway, it seems things have changed. Age supposedly does that to you. Well, the fact that I have to stretch my hand out further just to read something clearly should prove the age theory. Figuratively, this might be true as well for goodbyes—the further a memory gets, the clearer it might become.


Go figure.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

SO VERY VERY PROUD!!!

I am posting this with a stupid grin on my face which I cannot, for the life of me, wipe off. This is because of three important things:

First, I FINISHED MY DISSERTATION--every single one of the 18,000 words has been spelled out (correctly, I hope) and typed in. Now I can slowly get myself out of the landslide of books that I have been buried under. The thing is I have yet to give it to my supervisor for a final look through but since he has been looking at bits and pieces of it over the past couple of months, my guess is that it shouldn't take too much tweaking. (fingers crossed).

Secondly, I AM A PROUD IRISH AUNT!! My closest friends here are a young Irish couple. Husband Mark woke me up at 6:30 this morning with a call to say that Rachel has given birth to a bouncing baby boy at 530am, more than a week ahead of schedule! Ohhhh...I am so unbelievably chuffed and so deeply touched that I was one of the first to be informed...how I sooo wish I can just hop on a plane to Belfast and see my Irish nephew in person. I'm sure he will look like me, what with amount of Chinese food his mom has been eating with me this past year!

Thirdly, and this is actually not my achievement. Rafa Nadal is the world's no. 1!! Yes, after that historic 5-hour match at Wimbledon this year, I have become a bonafide fan of this 22-year-old tennis wonder from Spain. French Open champion four times in a row, then Wimbledon (beating the mighty Federer on grass) and an Olympic Gold. "Wow" is an understatement, si?

Okey, so I am slowly coming back...but this last week will be a whirlwind of tying up loose ends, saying goodbye, sorting, packing and all the "regular" stuff a gypsy's gotta do--will squeeze time to slowly get back to the blog community and visit all of you soon, thank you so so much for your comments and visits even when I have not been coming over to your place these past months. Appreciate you all very much!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Just a Wee Distraction...

It is cloudy and raining outside…the usual, unpredictable British summer. The college corridors and halls are empty of the usual hustle and bustle of students rushing to classes or pulling tricks on each other. I am holed up in the library, trying to focus on my dissertation but really, looking for some distraction.

During term time, it was so easy to get distracted, what with nosey students plopping into a seat beside you and offering food or just "good banter," as the Brits would say. I thought to myself then how much work I could do when I have no more distractions. Now with the rain outside, there is no sun to lure me out—there goes another distraction. How ideal is this to settle down and get some work done!

Hah. Famous last words.

And now, having made myself a cup of tea, and having chatted with a friend back home who happens to be on line, I need to settle down and work and what do I do? Blog!! Oh well, the spirit is willing but the flesh is--otherwise!

Hauling myself into the library was suppose to get me all disciplined and productive but in the end, whatever I do won't get me working---I will just have to simply force myself to do it. As Nike wisely adviced, “Just do it!”

Right, okey, will do!!

Until the next distraction...;-)

Help. Can my 18,000-word dissertation just write itself?

PS. Still on my so-called leave. This is just a--er--distraction. So I will still be scarce in the blogosphere.

Cheers, mates!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

On Temporary Leave

Excuse me, folks, I don't think I have much good will and cheer to spread around these days. But instead of coming up with a whine list (and I could give you a really long one!), I will just go off line...for now, and besides I have gazillion-word essays to write, so....pray for me!!

I wonder what I ate that day I decided to go back to school?!

Oh well, will miss bloghopping for now.

******
Let me just leave you with this verse from the Bible I read this morning:

"The Lord your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you.
He will quiet you with His love,
he will rejoice over you with singing."


Zephaniah 3:17

May this truth manifest itself in your life.

*******

Cheerio!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

God Will Lift Up Your Head

by Jars of Clay

"But you are a shield around me, O LORD;
you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.
To the LORD I cry aloud,
and he answers me from his holy hill."
- Psalms 3:3-4



Give to the wind your fear
Hope and be undismayed
God hears your sighs and counts your tears
God will lift up, God will lift up, lift up your head

Chorus:
God will lift up your head
God will lift up your head
God will lift up your head
Lift up your head

Leave to His sovereign sway
To choose and to command
Then shall we wandering on His way
Know how wise and how strong
How wise and how strong

Chorus

Through waves and clouds and storms,
He gently clears the way
Wait because in His time, so shall this night
Soon end in joy, soon end in joy
Soon end in joy, soon end in joy
Soon end in joy, soon end in joy
Soon end in joy, soon end in joy
Soon end in joy, soon end in joy

(3X)
God will lift up your head
Soon end in joy

(3X)
God will lift up your head
Soon end in joy

Friday, April 18, 2008

Jack's Back!

Oh Joy!!

Disappointment over.

I just stumbled on a trailer of 24's season 7! Apparently it came out late last year--and I missed it. Oh well, better late than never. Can't wait to start another adrenaline-rushed couch potato adventure! Weeeee!



===
...and speaking of disappointments, Blogpal Swipe comments:

"No 24 this year though due to the writers' strike. sigh..."

Oh, well...life's not too good these days it seems. *sniff*

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tara Na!

You know how it feels when you anticipate something and then it doesn’t happen? Yeah, disappointment is not the best feeling in the world. Sometimes, it may just be a small twinge that gets you all self-deprecatory, “See? Told you so—it won’t really happen...” And that’s fine, a day out with friends would easily erase the feeling—without even having it mentioned out loud.

And then there are the more crushing ones that could literally make you feel heartsick, or angry or sad. Those ones need more than just a pep talk from friends—for some, it would take more than a hug, or even a good cry. This is something not easily erased.

The strange thing is—what could trigger deep disappointment in one and just an “oh, well…” reaction from another could be almost the same thing. Not all the time, of course but on certain occasions anyway.

It all depends I guess, on how high you set your expectations, or how many disappointments you’ve already been through in life (some only have a diploma in disappointments while others have Ph.D's!).

Whichever the case maybe, the whole point I guess is when one starts moving on from that disappointment. And yes, the key thing is “when” not “if.” What a wasted life it would be if one decides to wallow in it or build a home on top of it. Yes, analyze it if you must, philosophize about it (like what I'm doing now), deal with it, cry over it—and if the disappointment redeems itself at some point, great--but for now, we’ve got to move on.

I have always loved the phrase moving on—in almost all areas of life, most especially in the area of disappointments. Because moving on means giving yourself the chance to heal, to hope again, to grow, to discover better things and to journey on.

So, if you are disappointed, just like I am today—what are you waiting for? Let’s go! Let’s get a move on! Or as we say in Filipino, Tara na!”

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Voice of Our Own Gladness

“The voice we should listen to most
as we choose a vocation
is the voice that we might think
we should listen to least,
and that is the voice of our own gladness.
What can we do that makes us the gladdest,
what can we do that leaves us
with the strongest sense of sailing true north and of peace,
which is much of what gladness is?
Is it making things with our hands out of wood
or stone or paint or canvas?
Or is it making something we hope like truth out of words?
Or is it making people laugh or weep
in a way that cleanses their spirit?
I believe that if it is a thing that makes us truly glad,
then it is a good thing and it is our thing
and it is the calling voice that
we were made to answer with our lives.”

by Frederick Buechner,
quoted by Ken Gire
in "Windows of the Soul"


Monday, April 07, 2008

"Seize" the Unexpected

Just when I thought I could stow away my hoodies and my jumpers and put on my summery short-sleeved tops…
Just when I thought I would trade my comfy thick slippers with flip flops…
Just when I thought I should set the heater aside and get myself a pair of sunglasses…
Just when I thought I could start studying al fresco instead of the warm comfort of my room…

===
I woke up with a start at 5:30 in the morning and saw a narrow sliver of dim amber colored light between my thick curtains. I burrowed my head back into the pillow but then looked back again at that familiar looking amber light and sensed how still it was. Saw I snuck out of bed, tip-toed and looked out my window but couldn’t see much through the condensation but had an impression of ghostly white shapes. My curiosity peaked and I went out to the corridor and looked through the half open window…and my hunch was right: snow had fallen.

As glad as I was for another chance to crunch on snow, I couldn’t help but wonder on how capricious the British weather can be. The past couple of weeks, you would think that we set our clocks forward one hour to welcome summer instead of spring. The past couple of weeks, we were playing in the sun and eating our dinner picnic-style under the bright evening sky.

And then…suddenly spring/summer gets interrupted by a winter that seems to be making up (with much embarrassment, I am sure) for its weak showing during its scheduled season.

You can gauge its embarrassment by its timid showing of hardly a foot of snow dusting all surfaces except the pavements and roads…and how quickly it melted away by noon.

Leaving not a few disappointed folks who decided to sleep in on a Sunday.

But then who knows, it might decide to keep its promise to show up again tomorrow and the next day as the weather stations predict. If one is to gauge from the way the temperature has again gone all the way down and the heating’s back in full blast, then maybe we will see another white and wonderful world (limited edition) tomorrow?

===

But for now, I leave my flip-flops within reach…
I put back on three layers of warm clothes…
I continue to study in the warm comfort of my room…
And enjoy this temporary time warp.

Whatever the case maybe, it pays to be flexible and enjoy the day as it comes.

Carpe Diem (with or without snow)!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Have You Ever...?

Facebook has this game called “Have you ever…” and after you answered whatever question is asked of you with a Yes or a No, you see the results on the following page accompanied by another question—and if I am going to base my sense of uniqueness on this test, then I’d probably fall flat on my face!

Imagine being asked,
“Have you ever licked the bottom of your shoe?”
…or “Have you ever eaten gum off the ground?”
…or “Have you ever been licked by a cow?”
…or “Have you ever swam with a crocodile?”

Hmm…

Naturally, the resulting percentage of people who actually said “yes” to the above questions are at a minimum. But the fact that they are not less than 8% makes me wonder about them. These are obviously some of the most interesting people on planet Facebook. I would say none of them would be people I know since I have a sneaking suspicion my friends are interesting but not in a “I-licked-the-bottom-of-my-shoe” kind of way.

Though some questions need qualification---like for example,
“Have you ever intentionally killed an animal?”
…well! A mouse does come under the animal category, right?

And then there are the questions that you don’t want to be caught dead saying yes to, like:
“Have you ever pretended losing your wallet so you don’t have to pay for a meal?"
Of course, I would say no (especially since this is on Facebook which would then eventually publish your answers) and I promise you, I am being TRUTHFUL in this occasion…

While some of them would constitute real abnormality if you say no to them, like
“Have you ever felt like dropping everything and escaping from everyone?”
…or “Have you ever felt alone in a roomful of people?”
…or “Have you ever missed someone that you actually felt the pain?”
…or “Have you ever wished you could turn back time?”
…or “Have you ever pretended that everything was alright when it wasn’t?”
…or “Have you ever been so confused that you didn’t know what to do?”

I am relieved that in these instances, I am actually with the majority--that is, I am normal!

But how about “Have you ever wished you were someone else?”
…hmm, what if I did wish this, even just for a rare second, when I chanced on a photo of a sparkling and sunny Kate Hudson? I’d venture to say that this still means I’m normal!

But then again, I was not asked certain questions that would show that even if I have never swam with a dolphin or gotten married in Las Vegas or been to Paris or Egypt, I still could say that I had some pretty exciting times.

Oh well, I guess one person’s excitement could be another’s “Yikes-I-wouldn’t-do-that-even-if-I-were-paid-a-million-bucks…” situation.

Whatever. At least I am over my “I-wish-I-was-Kate-Hudson” moment. I’m back to being happy with myself!

So what have you ever done that would put you on the normal-but-special category?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

This Thing Called "Age"

Age.

There’s no neutrality in this word.
No indifference.
No middle ground.
Either you hate it or you embrace it.
Even putting down your age in
innocent-looking official forms
is not neutral
--it can either open windows or close doors.

Age can limit a person,
Or become a passport to freedom.

It can gain one credibility,
Or it can make one a lightweight.

It can be a source of contention,
Or be the tie that binds.

It can make one sophisticated
Or soaking wet behind the ears.

It can be covered up with a lie,
Or declared out loud with pride.

It can make one reckless and brave,
Or scare one witless.

It can prove a point,
Or disprove some prejudice.

It can be a subject of ridicule,
Or trigger an amazed gasp.

It can be a goldmine for jokes
Or a can of worms.

It can be embraced eagerly,
Or fought against tooth and nail.

It can be a rude shock
Or a pleasant surprise.

What of you,
what do you think of age?

Whatever you think of it,
this is just to let you know: it’s my birthday
(says the attention-deficient blogger)

So, I guess you know where I stand
in the emotional pendulum on this subject matter.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

This Day in Paradise


This day in Paradise
new feet are treading through
high halls of gold

This day in Paradise
new legs are striding over jewelled fields in which
the diamond
is considered ordinary.

This day in Paradise
new eyes have glimpsed the deep fire ready
to flame the stale earth pure.

This day in Paradise
new blood, the rose-red juice that gushed at Golgotha
now ripples and races down the pure veins
of a recently arrived beloved.

This day in Paradise

a new heart pounds in praise
a new body, shaped by sacrifice.

This day in Paradise

the daunting dart of death
has no point
no place
and no meaning.
And whilst we mourn and weep
through these human hours
this day in Paradise
the blazing embrace
between Saviour and Son,
goes on, and on, and on.

- By Stewart Henderson in A Giant's Scrapbook.

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Reassuring Vision

Sharing with you one of my favorite stain glass images...something to reflect on for Lent, maybe?


Click on image to enlarge

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Grace Within You



"I fell in love when I was 17…
with God.
A foolish girl with romantic notions
about the life of a religious,
but my love was passionate.

Over the years my feelings have changed.
He’s disappointed me.
Ignored me.
We’ve settled into a life of peaceful indifference.
The old husband and wife who sit side by side on the sofa,
but rarely speak. He knows I’ll never leave Him.
This is my duty.

But when love and duty are one,
then grace is within you."

-The Mother Superior in "The Painted Veil"

Monday, March 10, 2008

I Just Might Strike Twice!

I was tagged gazillions of months ago by Lazarus on "What Type of Weather Are You?" but only just now got around to doing it. The fact that I am suffering from Blogger's Block helps fill the blog silence somehow...(blame it on too much reading assignments!)

So, anyway, here goes:
1. Below is my profile...


You Are Lightning



Beautiful yet dangerous

People will stop and watch you when you appear

Even though you're capable of random violence



You are best known for: your power



Your dominant state: performing



2. Contradict/Consent to the Result
I was actually quite surprised with the results--makes me out like a really frightening person, after all, who wants to be hit by lightning? But come to think of it, I DO have a temper which I manage to curb most of the time, though not a hundred percent of the time...

3. Share a Practical Weather Tip...
If you are in the Philippines, walking under a light drizzle is nice--but doing the same thing in the UK is NOT a good idea...BRRRR...!

4...and a Life-Giving Weather Quote

I'd rather be a lightning rod than a seismograph.-Ken Kesey

5. Tag 5 people...
Hmm...unlike lightning, I have been too slow in responding to this tag so I wonder if everyone else in my blogroll has done it. Anyway, whoever wants to do it, feel free!!

Thanks for the tag, Lazarus!!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Do You Look Like Your Passport Photo?

“43 years of living out of a suitcase.”

Among other things, this was how the life of a couple who served God all over the world, was described.

And you would think that having their life described as 43 years of living out of suitcase, they would look much worse than their passport photos!

But they don’t. In fact, they look the exact opposite—that is, they looked like they’ve been living very well in a nice comfy house all their lives. The harsh realities of life that usually show in people’s faces left no marks in theirs. There was nothing in them that gives off a sense of rootlessness or unsettledness. They seem to be people who knew who they were, where they've been, what they’ve done, where they’re at and where they’re going.

Wow.

I’ve lived out of a suitcase for a significant number of years myself—and there are certainly times when I definitely feel like (and, I'm sure, look like) my passport photo! I can’t quite say that like this couple, I have no feeling of unsettledness and rootlessness. Many times I still feel that sense of what’s next--with which I would respond with either an “oh, no!” or an “oh, joy!” Hopefully, more often with the latter than the former.

But then again, I’ve obviously experienced less than what they've been through—or less than what God has put them through to get to where they are at this point in their lives.

I guess too, that there is this matter of attitude and choice on how to take what life dishes out to you. And one thing that life seems to be dishing out to me in heaps is air mileage (and no business class upgrade to show for it!)

Not something my environment-conscious friends will be happy about—polluting the world with my “carbon footprints.”

Carbon footprints aside, I will just make a commitment to myself to choose not to look my passport photo.

And hopefully, after x number of years of living out of a suitcase—and a pink one at that—I can, not only choose to look gazillion times better than my passport photo (through natural means, thank you)—but feel just as good, too!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Can Hardly Wait

Outside the sun shines in all its brilliant glory. The gigantic plane tree is still naked—barely a leaf to cover its many scrawny arms and fingers. But under its stark monstrosity, a carpet of lavender flowers is slowly unfurling, spreading out and overtaking the green grass that had held on to its vibrance through the winter months.

And its just mid February. It seems like spring can hardly wait to come in and shoo the bitterness of winter away.

And I can hardly wait to go out and enjoy the brilliant weather outside, especially knowing how the warmth of the sun has taken the edge of the winter chill that still lingers—hopefully not too long now.

Can hardly wait. How impatient I sound! But these days, I find myself not being able to say, “I can hardly wait to go home.” A few months ago, that would have been so easy to blurt out and mean it. But with friendships formed, life settling into a comfortable, predictable pattern with splashes of spontaneity, the strange has become the familiar—and I find myself singing a different tune.

But then again, as I remember the warmth of the weather back home, the good friends back home, the food back home, the work/lifestyle I enjoy so much back home, I find I can actually say, I can hardly wait.

There are still a number of months before I finally go home but my feelings are as ambiguous and unpredictable as the English weather—now dark and damp, now bright and dry, now sunny and foggy.

If life can simply be like neat little compartments, things would be less ambiguous, less complicated, less of a hassle…and then again, less of a life.

Oh well, I can hardly wait---for life to continue its unfolding. Ambiguity can be the spice of life.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Odds are Good!

Speaking of "odds"...here are some photos of odd and not-so-odd stuff around the UK...

Speaking of British Dry Wit....


Nothing is impossible...(oink if you agree!)


Huh?!


Guess who?


Seen him around?


Speaking of chunky...could this be him?!


How...organized!


A refreshing (and life-saving!) sign for the mildly dyslexic (like me!)

Monday, February 04, 2008

You Just Have to Laugh...

At the city center one night, while enjoying the chill in the air, and steaming hot coffee, a strong aroma of grilled beef made all our heads turn. It was from an open-air hamburger stall that said “THE BEST BRITISH BEEF.”

Rachel turns to me and says, “So, what do you think of our British Beef?”

I whispered loudly to her ear, “MAD COW.”

Her husband, Mark, pokes me with his finger and says, “How dare you call my wife names!”

=====

George from Uganda touches his 1/8 inch close crop of hair and sighs.

“What’s wrong?” I asked him.

George gives another loud sigh, “I need a haircut, my hair is so long!”

======

Rachel’s dad nudged Paul, the only single guy in the party and with a sideways glance at the group of us single girls, “Hey, aren’t the odds good for you tonight?”

Paul looks at us chattering away and sighs, “Yeah…but the goods are odd.”

Thursday, January 24, 2008

RAIN

This video of Rob Bell speaks to me so profoundly. Thought I'd share it with you. Hope you will be blessed just as I was.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

My Best Friends

These days, these two are my best-test friends. If not for the two of them--I would be cold, uncomfortable and miserable...hopefully these are temporary conditions...


...a warm comfy pair of slippers...


...and the heater I inherited from an old student...


..and I SO look forward to the day I won't need them to be my best friends anymore...

Monday, January 14, 2008

Unwritten

I think I am not only speaking for myself when I say that the past is made up of jigsaw pieces of unexpected moments that finally fit together on hindsight. Looking forward to a new year means bracing ourselves for more of those unexpected moments to happen. Even though we have certain things penciled into our calendars, who’s to know how those supposedly planned events play out?

I find the song “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield reflecting much of the mood I am in as I face the new year. Each day is a blank page and its up to us what to write on it—yet, in a divinely strange way, each day is also a page filled with God’s invisible ink, authoring the events of our lives—but its up to us whether to trace His handwritten words on each page or not. I wonder what blog posts I will be writing about? I wonder how things will look like when I look back to 2008?




I am unwritten, can't read my mind, I'm undefined

I'm just beginning, the pen's in my hand, ending unplanned

 
Staring at the blank page before you 
Open up the dirty window 
Let the sun illuminate the words that you can not find 
Reaching for something in the distance 
So close you can almost taste it 
Release your inhibitions 
 
Feel the rain on your skin 
No one else can feel it for you 
Only you can let it in 
No one else, no one else 
Can speak the words on your lips 
Drench yourself in words unspoken 
Live your life with arms wide open 
Today is where your book begins 
The rest is still unwritten 
 
I break tradition, sometimes my tries, are outside the lines 
We've been conditioned to not make mistakes, but I can't live that way 
 
Staring at the blank page before you 
Open up the dirty window 
Let the sun illuminate the words that you can not find 
Reaching for something in the distance 
So close you can almost taste it 
Release your inhibitions 
 
Feel the rain on your skin 
No one else can feel it for you 
Only you can let it in 
No one else, no one else 
Can speak the words on your lips 
Drench yourself in words unspoken 
Live your life with arms wide open 
Today is where your book begins 
The rest is still unwritten 

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window 
Let the sun illuminate the words that you can not find 
Reaching for something in the distance 
So close you can almost taste it 
Release your inhibitions 
 
Feel the rain on your skin 
No one else can feel it for you 
Only you can let it in 
No one else, no one else 
Can speak the words on your lips 
Drench yourself in words unspoken 
Live your life with arms wide open 
Today is where your book begins 
 
Feel the rain on your skin 
No one else can feel it for you 
Only you can let it in 
No one else, no one else 
Can speak the words on your lips 
Drench yourself in words unspoken 
Live your life with arms wide open 
Today is where your book begins 
The rest is still unwritten 
The rest is still unwritten 
The rest is still unwritten

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Irish Highlights

I’m back!!

Do you remember how when we were kids we all had to do essays about “My Summer Vacation” almost every beginning of the school year? Well, that’s how I felt about blogging about my Christmas break! But unlike those summer vacation essays where you write about the usual went to the beach, watch TV, and all that, I actually have special stuff to write about—coupled with the excitement of being back in cyberspace. It is a small miracle that I survived the limited internet connection I had during my break but then again, I thought it would be pretty pathetic to be holed up in a room surfing the net when I should be out enjoying my first time in Northern Ireland! So there—hopefully that will excuse me for my long absence from cyberspace.

Anyway, what was it I was going to say? Oh yes, highlights, highlights of my Northern Ireland adventure—oh how do I count the ways?? Anyway, here goes..

A Blast in Belfast
Not the political sort, thankfully, as Northern Ireland has experienced peace for about 10 years. I had fun scouring through different shops and just enjoying the sights of Belfast—including going on a bus tour on an open top bus on a rainy day! The tourist guide’s Belfast accent was so thick that I did a double take at one point on her short spiel about the docks where the Titanic was built (they claim not to be responsible for the sinking!) and pointed out the presence of “two giant yellow Koreans” that was a testimony of the busy shipyard of the Belfast past. Koreans?! Oh…cranes! Oh well, she almost got me there. (And yes, I did manage to go a few rounds in the Belfast wheel!)

Awesome Sites

I loved the walks down the beach that I did with friends on Christmas eve and on other occasions—though nobody would ever-ever dream of going in for a dip, except maybe for a few odd Irish who has made it a ritual to freeze their behinds for a few seconds, I guess just to check out how it feels like to get hypothermia! Anyway, I was happy enough to hear the sound of the waves crashing while some of my friends decided to lie on the sandy shore in their warm jackets—a pathetic but funny sight, if I may say so!!

And wouldn't miss the chance to see the famous Giant's Causeway--even if my hosts rolled their eyes when I asked if I could go there--apparently, they have been there a million times, since every single visitor who goes Northern Ireland wants to see it. One of my hosts happily obliged--wee!

Irish Hospitality

I spent time with a number of friends and that meant sleeping in a total of 5 beds in 5 different houses over 20 days—which meant literally living in my suitcase but it also meant being able to spend extended times with friends and getting to know their friends and family as well. I think I can safely say that I know half of Northern Ireland’s population—and if you talk about six degrees of separation, I think I must be then “know” every single person in Northern Ireland somehow—you see, I found out how all my Irish friends knew each other, or at least knew somebody who knew them who knew me. Oh well, you know what I mean!! The Irish culture is such a warm inclusive culture that it didn’t take too long for me to feel at home (which also meant lots of tea, coffee, potato bread, minced pies, Christmas pudding and chocolates.) Speaking of chocolates, I found out the secret of winning the Irish over--just feed them chocolates!

White New Year

THE highlight of my stay turned out to be the fact that my holiday was snow-capped—literally!! You see, on my third to the last day in Ireland, I decided to spend it staying overnight with a retired couple who are long time friends (from their days in the Philippines) in the seaside Irish town of Newcastle. The plan was for them to drive me back to Belfast the next day at about 530pm after I have seen the sights. So we spent that day enjoying the sights—the fact that the wind was strong and bitterly cold by the shore and up the Mourne Mountains did not deter us (though it was the first time my cheeks were frozen!) from enjoying the sights. Almost the whole day, there were drops of ice that intermittently rained down and each time I would look eagerly at Sam, my host and ask, “Is it snow?” and he would say no each time I asked (which was problem a hundred times) and then finally 530pm came and it was time for them to drive me back to Belfast so that I can catch my flight back to England early next morning. By 530pm the sky was already dark and so I could hardly make out the shapes outside the window. So how was I to know that the lumps by the side of the road as we drove more inland was actual snow? Until Sam pointed it out to me, “There you are—snow!!” The more inland we went the more excited I was as I saw the white sheet that seemed to cover thing around the countryside—but as our car came to a crawl and as we looked out at the gazillion of red taillights in front of us, thrill turned to worry. After twenty minutes of inching our way and sometimes just waiting on standstill, we were able to ask the cars on the other side, seeming to be coming back from Belfast and realized that most cars were unable to go up the slopes because of the slippery road conditions. So my hosts decided to take another route and with the same results! So we decided that I should just miss my flight the next day and book a flight two days later just to be safe. And so I did miss my flight and returned home with my hosts in Newcastle-but hey, I was not really all that put off—who would since missing flight meant enjoying an hour a half’s walk on 6 inches of snow (it felt like taking a tour of Narnia when the Ice Queen still ruled), taking in the awesome sights around me and building my wee snowman? (I could hardly go into snowball fights with the retired couple I was with so had to settle with crunching on snow--which was just as great).

Back to Reality

There is so much more to tell (Like my first fox and reindeer sighting, like the first time I ate blue cheese...)!! But alas, since my flight was three days late, I came back to college hitting the ground running—that is, having to do all my pre-class readings, housekeeping, etc etc. It is indeed back to reality, and after hugs and hellos from classmates, it was great to find out that even though this meant the end of a great break, I was still happy to return to Gloucester.


May the New Year be a great adventure with the Lord--for me and for you.