On a Vacay Mode

A rich man went for a vacation in a remote town.

His first stop was a sari-sari store, the only one that he saw around.

“Excuse me,” said the rich man. “Is there any good restaurant out here where I can eat?”

The lady of the store gently smiled at the rich man saying, “Good morning, Sir! It is so nice of you to viait our place. Welcome!”

The rich man was not pleased. He expected a straight answer . “This lady is wasting my time,” he thought.

“Did you hear me?” The rich man asked again the same question. “Is there any good restaurant out here where I can eat?”

The gentle lady said, “Oh, I’m sorry, I just wanted to welcome you first. Yes, there is a restaurant here that can serve you a simple but warm meal. What would you like to have?” The gentle lady smiled beautifully to ease the rich man’s stress.

“Where is the restaurant?” This time the rich man’s voice was higher as he became irritated.

The gentle lady answered, “You are in the right place, Sir. I will cook for you whatever you please. I am the only cook in this place.” The gentle lady spoke softer and very apologetic as she felt the discomfort of the rich man.

“What? This? How can I eat here?” He looked around and he sized up the gentle lady from head to toe.

Unsatisfied with what he saw, he started to leave. He got back in his car and sped off the dusty road.

The gentle lady just smiled and prayed, “Dear God, another lost soul came by. Please guide that soul, Holy Spirit of God.”

The gentle lady continued with her daily chores, humming that familiar tune which connects her to God.

Little Children

Trusting, Appreciating, Loving fun, Enjoying

Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

Trust among children is not as difficult to earn than trust among adults. The issue perhaps lie in the experiences adults may have through time.

Children are easy to appreciate others. Adults may have uncertainties and boundaries.

Children love fun and they freely express their joys. Adults may be more reserved and conservative.

But Jesus wants us to be like little children when we approach him, when we respond to his invitation, when we follow him.

We re-learn to trust, to appreciate, to be fun-loving, and to enjoy life; while we can.

The Air I Breathe

You are the fast wind that slowly lingers in my ears.

You are the cool breeze that warms my heart and soul.

You are the painter that colors my rainbow after every storm.

You are the sculptor that chisels God’s marvel in every rock.

You are the air that I breathe; I need you.

Please come in moments; I love you.

He Speaks

When Jesus was preaching, He quoted verses in the Old Testament to affirm God’s Will.

When Jesus was praying, He talked to God from His Heart about His situation, pleading His cause, and affirming God’s Will.

So when we walk with Jesus, in Jesus, and like Jesus –

1. We preach by quoting the Words of Jesus because He came to fulfill the Will of God.

2. We prepare for our encounter with Jesus just like how Jesus prepared Himself in the desert with the Holy Spirit, by

a) Asking the Holy Spirit of God to cleanse our hearts, mind, and soul and thus create a renewed person with a passionate heart, an open mind, a listening soul.

b) Allowing the Holy Spirit to clothe us with the Jesus’ character of Humility, Obedience, Perseverance, and Enthusiasm.

c) Acknowledging the promptings of the Holy Spirit to remind us of Jesus’ teachings thereby setting the mode for our moments with Jesus.

3. We pray and converse with Jesus by knowing how He feels, what He wants us to do, and where He wants us to be.
a) It is Jesus’ mentoring time.
b) It is Jesus’ affirmation time.
c) It is Jesus’ recognition time.

It is all about Jesus and never about us.

Freedom of the Soul

Looking back on those days when my body was like the punching bag for someone who just hated life, I can only let a cry in my heart thanking the Holy Spirit of God for making me strong for each punch that I took.

Oh yes, being a battered wife is not an easy life experience. It took me 26 years to finally say to myself, “Enough is Enough!” 

With fear in my soul and with a very heavy heart, I went to church one fine morning.  I poured all my tears to Him who created me. I asked, “Why are you letting me experience all these things? What have I done to deserve this?” I cried and cried alone in that church. 

Then like the bolt of a lightning, this message from Him came to my mind, “Everything I do, I do it for you!” As if it was not enough, the music from a Karaoke in a store near the church, glared loudly this song, “Everything I do, I do it for you!”

More tears flowed from my eyes. “Help me!” I said. “What should I do now?”

I know the way out from being a punching bag. But I was not ready to face society and what others would think of my family; a broken home. “Will you allow me to do this?” I asked.

The voice was clear, “You are the temple of the Holy Spirit! Preserve yourself!”

Tears when shed in God’s presence serve as a liniment for a hurting soul. The cold heart slowly warms up with God’s mercy. Yes, it is mercy that awakens the soul.

Slowly, I left the church and drove to the Hall of Justice. “I must seek help from my Cousin-Judge or else I may die in the hands of the man who hated life and used me as a punching bag,” I thought. So I asked my Cousin-Judge to go with me back to our home. 

Upon arriving in the house, “the man who hated life and used me as a punching bag” did not see my Cousin-Judge at first. So he was already determined to inflict harm upon me again. But when he saw my Cousin-Judge, his demeanor immediately changed. He acted like a kitten who could not spill milk. But my Cousin-Judge went straight to the point. He told “the man who hated life and used me as a punching bag” to leave the house and never come back. My Cousin-Judge said “Girlie needs peace. Leave her alone and do not ever harm her again.” 

After 26 years of being a battered wife, that day was the day when God liberated me. I became free. I had no more fears when I went to bed; afraid that I may die during my sleep. I could now pray in the silence of my room without being harassed, maligned, maltreated, or even despised. 

God works in mysterious ways. He listens to those who are crushed in spirit.

The Unworthy

Dirty rugs, foul-smelling shit, or a mountain of trash are always unsightly and abhored by man. I say that I may be filthier than all those; a sinner.

Man sees the face, the fancy clothes, the flashing cars, the big and manicured lawns, the fat bank account, the ladder of success, etc. Man judges by these standards. 

But God, the God of Mercy, does not look at our sins. He sees our hearts. He does not judge. When I returned to Him, God said, “I have thrown away your sins; Sin no more!”

One day, after my personal and closed-door prayer with God, He asked me to go to a church. “Go there because I want you to do something,” he said. The church that He wanted me to visit was at least an hour-ride from our home. Worse, I had no means to travel. I only had a Hundred Pesos in my wallet. I just resigned from my job and I had no other means at the moment. So I complained, “How can I go with only this?” But He persisted in His instruction saying, “Go and trust Me!”

Obeying His words and trusting Him, I went to the terminal where Jeepneys plied that route. I only had Ninety Pesos left of my One Hundred Pesos. I rode in one and timidly asked the Conductor of the Jeepney for the cost of traveling to that Church. “Fifty pesos is our fare,” he said. So that would be a hundred pesos travel with the Jeepney. But I still needed two more rides from the terminal to our home. My money was not enough. Again, I asked the Lord, “How can I go home? Should I walk?” 

The Lord listens to our prayers. 

Right at that moment, the Jeepney stopped in front of a store that sold slippers. I was in a high-heeled sandals. If I wanted to walk, I definitely needed slippers. My eyes almost popped out from their big sockets. “Dear God, I am only joking!” I said. I could not walk that far alone. True indeed, the jeepney speeded off.

I told the Conductor of the Jeepney that I needed to stop in that Church. After almost an hour, with all the stop-overs for more passengers and the going-down of other passengers along the way, the Jeepney stopped in front of the Church. 

The gate was open. The lawn was well-trimmed. Flowers were blooming. Obviously, someone took care of the garden. The front door was closed as it was already almost ten in the morning. So again, I complained to the Lord, “I am here, Lord. But, the door is closed!” 

God listens intently and we have to listen to him, too.

“Go to the side of the Church; there is another door that is open,” the Lord said. 

And so I went. Indeed, there was a side door. And lo and behold! In contrast to the well-manicured lawn, the Church inside was dirty and pieces of paper and newspaper were scattered all around. And there! There were two big dogs tied to two pews. 

“Lord, what do you want me to do?” I quivered. “Clean my Church!” he said. As if my Lord was not satisfied with the order, He said, “Look up!” I looked up and I saw that while the entire church was newly painted, the part directly above the altar remained unpainted and dirty. 

“What do you want me to do, my Lord?” I asked again. 

“Have this part painted,” my Lord said. “But my Lord, I do not have the money to buy for the paint and for the labor cost that may be needed to complete the job,” I answered. “You can ask someone to help you and you need to finish that before the start of the Holy Week!” He added. It was only three days before the start of the Holy Week then.

“Go, call your friend whose work is just infront of this Church. Ask her to clean the Church with you. You can also ask her to tell her Superiors to paint this part of the Church.” Then I remembered that my Lady Friend was working for this company in this town. So I called her. She was also shocked when she heard my voice and my story. Immediately, she came over. We had goose bumps and we were both crying while praying. Still crying, we started cleaning the Church. We got the brooms and the rugs from the Church Staff who was doing something in the Church Office.

My Lady Friend and I finished the cleaning of the Church at around twelve o’clock noon. My Lady Friend said, “Ma’am, why don’t I treat you to lunch.” I did not tell her that I did not have money to buy for lunch. Her generous offer was a blessing. So we had a simple lunch with tears rolling down because we could not understand what we went through. 

After lunch, my friend reached into her pocket and handed me her one hundred peso bill. She said, “Ma’am, thank you for cleaning the Church with me. This is for your fare back home.” I cried! God knows what I needed at that moment. I did not even have to ask my Lady Friend to help me. I did not even ask God anymore. God knew that I needed something.

I thanked my Lady Friend and I told her the truth that I did not have money to bring me home. She cried. I cried. We were both crying when we parted.

When I got home, I prayed and I thanked God for inviting me to participate in His acts of generosity. 

I thought that was the end of that journey. But no!

The next morning, after my morning prayer, my Lord said, “You have to go to your Aunt and ask help for the paint and the labor cost.” I was shocked because I had never in my life asked help from that wealthy Aunt of mine. “Lord, would not the company of my Lady Friend paint that part of the Church?” I asked. He said, “They did not believe in your Lady Friend. They even think that you are nuts!”

So off I went to my Aunt’s house. I did not know how to start my solicitation. But I prayed and boldly, I went straight to the point. I narrated the story to my Aunt. She was in awe and somehow she doubted. She wanted to give me cash for the paint, perhaps thinking that I was only making up a story and was trying to coax her to give me some money. I told her I would not accept any cash. She could let her Driver buy the paint and I would bring the paint to the Church. 

God knows what we need. 

On that same day, I was able to collect a small amount from someone. I had two thousand pesos in my wallet. 

So with the 4 gallons of paint, I asked someone to go with me to the Church. We rode the Jeepney and after an hour we were in the Church. I directly went to the Church Office. The Staff already recognized me. He said, “Ma’am, the Parish Priest was asking for your name so he could thank you for cleaning the Church.” I told the Staff that there was no need for that. I gave him the 4 gallons of paint and I parted with my one thousand pesos to shoulder the cost of painting that part of the Church. The Staff wanted me to wait awhile so he can call the Parish Priest. I told him I did not want to be known. I told him I was nameless.

After praying inside the Church with tears freely flowing, I thanked God for blessing me in this mission. 

The God of Wonders and Mysteries would always give us the opportunity to feel His love through deeds. It is when we experience His love that we would love Him more. 

I am an unworthy servant but God does not choose only those who are spotless to become His soldier. He can also send the filthiest for His cause. 

Uprooted and In The Pit

Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Matthew 7:19

Everything seemed alright. Lights, camera, action! Life was ablazed; full of excitement and enjoyment. Everything seemed alright until…Everything flashed with just the flick of the finger. No premonitions. No preparations. No turning back!

Everything was under control but suddenly, with the bat of an eyelash, everything has fallen apart.Everything…everything has fallen apart.

It is very hard to understand when things do not go the way we wanted them to be. It is very difficult to accept failures. It is very stressful to handle the sails when the boat has taken a different course. But life is like that. I believe so now. It has always been like that. I realize so now. It will always be like that; and so we pray.

During the times when we are at our lowest, we are still left with two options, actually. One is to continue to fall down the pit full of regrets. The other is the opposite. We climb and we struggle to get out of the pit. 

Joseph, the Dreamer, was in the same circumstance when his brothers threw him in the pit. But Joseph pursued his dream and he came out victorious from the pit onwards.

Getting uprooted is always with a reason. There is someone bigger than our plans; someone bigger than our dreams. He uproots us when we have gone astray from our journey. Getting uprooted is a blessing in disguise. It may seem unfair at first but then in the end, a blessing is a blessing.

God is always fair!It is how we get replanted from the uprooting. It is how we get out of the pit and be healed from the fall. It is what remains in our heart after each fall that matters.

Uprooted. Yes, for a purpose.

Into the pit. Yes, for a reason.

Whatever it is, anything… everything is a blessing. It is how we look at things in life and how our heart responds that is essential. After all, we do not own our hearts. God does.

THE STEPS

There could be a million, a trillion, or even google steps towards your dream. But there is only one bold step to give yourself that breakthrough.

I still remember my very good cousin saying, “You see, I am where I am now because I took that one bold step. It was not easy back then. Looking back, I could not believe that I made it.”

But how bold can we be? How courageous can we take that one leap? We know there are risks. There are insecurities. There are apprehensions. There are anxieties. Will we be able to handle that?

Many of those who succeeded in taking that leap would say, “You can do it!” 

But what is really the difference between those who made it and those of us who are afraid to take that leap? How can we overcome our fears? How can we stop from being anxious? 

The other side of that indecision would be, “Will I just be forever looking towards that horizon? Will I just be viewing the greener side? Will I just continue to dream?” Will I allow the “what if’s” to dominate me?

I know someone who took that leap. How bold can he be. When everyone else of us, including me, were hiding in our sanitized homes for fear of covid contamination, this someone went out there and grabbed the offer. That was very bold and courageous of him. He got the golden opportunity. He was at the right place at the right time. No one else wanted to be there. He was there.

What will give us the courage to make that leap? What will embolden us to close our eyes and move ahead? Determination.

One time, I joined an adventurous trek. The first part was to jump from a bridge that was at least two-storey high. It was quite high to me especially that I had to plunge myself into the river. I did not know then how I would survive after that jump because I do not even know how to swim. But I was the only one left and all my companions were already in the boat by the river, shouting, “Come and jump! It is just four shouts of long “Ahhhhhhhhs…” 

I could not make myself jump. So the guide said to me, “Please just close your eyes. Trust me.” And so I closed my eyes. And oh my! He pushed me into the river. Yes, he did not give me a warning. He just pushed me. I plunged. I panicked. But I survived.

Perhaps the leap is just like that jump from the bridge to the river; somehow. We just have to close our eyes and take the leap. We just have to trust the One who is always with us no matter what. He is, He was, and He will always be. His Name is Jesus.