” Would I Be Enough?”

January 7, 2009

Driving home late one evening, about 2 weeks before Christmas 2008, I felt a stirring within me.  I was having a quiet driving conversation with the Lord and I was telling the Lord how Christmas has become a season for self-centeredness and consumerism.

How it was easy to lose the real reason of the season when the preparation of the heart involves looking at physical gifts, expensive gadgets and awesome parties, to name a few.

Since I was talking with the Lord, I asked the Lord what gift He would give me.

I started naming those gadgets I had been salivating for quite some time now:

Xperia – yes Lord, that is such a nice phone and wow all the features are really good.

OMNIA – wow Lord that is also nice..

iPhone – that one too… wow just one of those cool nifty gadgets and I knew it would be a real awesome break!

But then I felt the Lord asking me a question:  ” If I were to come wrapped in a present, WOULD I BE ENOUGH AS A GIFT?”

There was a pause.  “Am I Enough?”

The following morning, I shared this conversation with Wifey over breakfast. It was a very powerful reminder that the real reason for the season is not those cool laptops, cellphones, parties etc… the real reason is JESUS HIMSELF.  He is the gift.

Little did I know that when the Lord asked me that question, He was already preparing me or giving me what I would need as we experienced what I have called “the bleakest period” of my life in recent years.

The huge problem is still not over.  I can already begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I was asked by a friend how I was doing and that simple question became such a profound question that it literally hurt inside as I tried to answer the simple question.

On the eve of Christmas day, I found myself staring at the horrors of pride and un-forgiveness.  Pride does hurt and makes the righteous fall. Unforgiveness makes one sink deeper than what is imaginable.

I remember driving home with Wifey a little past midnight… with tears literally blinding my eyes.  And as I drove, I heard the question “Am I Enough? Am I enough?” being asked of me.  It was not asked in a condemnatory way but I knew that answering that question would give me the strength to make it through the deepest valleys.

As each day slowly progressed, as each painful moment was slowly played out – I found myself answering “Yes, you are enough!  Yes, you are enough!

I didn’t want anything else. I didn’t long for the parties and the sumptious dinners.  No I did not want anything else – not even the solution to our dilemma. I only wanted Christ.

On Christmas day, like a bruised reed, I got up from bed and with no schedule for the day, just watched FOX news as they showed the Christmas sermon of Ptr. Rick Warren.  I briefly smiled when he started using Hebrews 11:6, a passage I had used for one of the retreats I had conducted recently.

But what really struck me was when he said ” Do not exert too much energy focusing on the solutions to your problems… focus on WHO HE IS. FOCUS on CHRIST alone…”

It was definitely a message for me.  I was too weak and too hurt to find any solution – and that was the perfect state to just seek Christ alone.  Lord, yes you are enough. You are more than enough!

We are almost there, but not quite.  The other night I felt like I went through an extensive open heart surgery.  It was clearly needed – and the heart can only be healed through such an extensive heart operation.  I even praised God for allowing it to happen.  The “heart stitches” have been done – and in its most fragile state, utmost tenderness must be done to ensure its proper healing in the days to come.

Yes… our healing is on its way.

Yesterday as Wifey and I went to the mall to get some of our groceries, I was very surprised to hear the Christmas songs still being played in the mall.  I missed Christmas.  It all just came and went.  It was a long vacation here in this country – made longer in our anticipation to see the end of what we were going through.

I found myself humming the songs “O Holy Night…”, ‘Come All ye Faithful…”

I was singing again.  My wounded heart is able to sing again – and it was my wife who quietly pointed it out to me when she said “Hubby is singing again…”

I smiled quietly.

Yes Lord… thank you.. You are the only Christmas gift I would ever want in this lifetime.

Lord, you are more than enough.

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I was finishing the retreat in Iloilo when I received a series of SMS from Manila concerning a  domestic problem in oneof the families back  home.

It was a case of a young 16 year old being thrown out of the house after a conflict with his grandfather.

As the people were telling me their goodbyes and appreciation for the just concluded retreat, i was on the phone trying to calm this 16 year old boy as he cried while trying to explain to me the incident.

But the family wounds go deep. Much deeper than what I could write here on this blog. He almost retaliated and boxed his grandfather when his grandfather choked him on the neck after some argument over some clothes that were left inside the bathroom.

24 hours later, I was talking to another family who was gracious enough to accommodate this young man’s need for housing.   I could not believe that it came down to this:  this young man who is basically an orphan now, was kicked out of the house mercilessly by his grandfather.

It stung deep when I realized that non-family members could be more gracious, merciful and forgiving sometimes than those who share their same blood in the lineage system.

This young man was already exasperated.  Sent a text message to his mom overseas and told her that he is leaving the house because he could no longer stand it anymore.

The wounds have gone too deep.

I do not know how anyone could start repairing the breach that had taken place, especially when violence has been involved.

But for now, at least this young man, has a place to sleep.  Behind a small vulcanizing shop, he shares a room with a highschool friend.  He may be unloved and orphaned right now – but he is not alone as he has found refuge in the home of some gracious samaritans.

Thank you for these people who did not even ask for the financial arrangement when they took in this young man.

I could hear Jesus telling them…”if you have done it for the least of them… you have done it for me..”

Lord God, be with that young man and encourage him that life does get better. Do not allow him to wallow in self-pity but in your grace, make something out of himself.  Tell him Lord that his past do not necessarily determine his destiny.

Thank you for taking care of him Lord.

December 6th was a stressful day because of the myriad of details that need to be taken care of.10th Wedding Anniversary Portrait

Car needed to be cleaned because it was going to be used a the bridal car. It gave me a good excuse to buy flowers and have it arranged right at the floral shop!

Cake and cupcakes ( made by Wifey) need to be delivered to the venue and then come back for the whole family to attend the wedding which I officiated.

The wedding of Andy and Jorie started at about 30 mins after 3PM.  It was a simple yet very relaxed wedding because I wanted Andy and Jorie to be comfortable by injecting some humorous stuff along the questions I asked them.  Andy was able to get Jorie’s sweet yes 10 years ago, 7 minutes ahead of when I got Sheila’s ‘i love you too…”

I told Andy that we are going to be brothers for life now – since we got engaged on the same day and got married on the same date…(with a gap of 10 years!)

At the end of the reception, my little plan was put into action.  Aron sang “I’ll be” by Edwin McCain as Larry Parane played the guitar as his accompaniment.  I came out from my hiding place and handed the flowers to Sheila as I led her outside to dance as Aron sang that beautiful song…

dance Hans followed with 2 songs (The Way You Look Tonight) or it could be something else, I need to check my details now.  We just quietly danced as some well-meaning friends looked on approvingly.  Pretty soon, all the wedding photographers were there covering our simple anniversary celebration. Hans sang another song…Containing the tears . . .

When it was over, I led her to the laptop and watched on the projector screen the powerpoint presentation I prepared containing the greetings of friends here and abroad.  Even the Chief Justice joined and accommodated my request for a greeting and sent his the day before the anniversary!car

At the end of the presentation, wifey was overwhelmed and turned to me and cried.

It was priceless.

kiss1

Thank you Lord God for this most awesome gift.

After an instructional flight with Capt Harris and Wifey

After an instructional flight with Capt Harris and Wifey

Today is our 10th Wedding Anniversary.

I could not even begin thanking the Lord our God for what He has allowed us to experience all these years.  My life has been so meaningfully enriched since we first knelt as a couple and was prayed over as husband and wife.

I remember all the challenges we faced early on and the difficulties that followed when 4 months after our marriage, my wife became an orphan when Mama died.  Her only sibling lives in Malaysia and I remember the late nights and the early morning cries because of the grief her small heart could not contain…

I remember so many moments… precious moments that would be, to borrow Max Lucado’s phrase…”eternal instants…” Moments that made time to stand still.  You just breathe in that moment and savor its detail, and allow its subtle fragrance be infused in your well-being.

Eternal instants… my wife and I have many of those.  Quiet walks, crying over a movie (The Notebook!), walking the dogs, early morning brewed coffee… little things that may seem so ordinary and insignificant.  But when love is in those ordinary and insignificant things – they take on an extra-ordinary quality.

Thank you Lord for sustaining us through.

Ours is a relationship that could only boast of You.

Thank you Sheila.

If God would allow me one wish… then it would have to be this:

“Lord, let me hold her hand for all eternity….”

Lovey, I love you today

More than yesterday

Less than tomorrow!

Watching CNN at 3 am today, I was startled to see that the number of babies affected by the tainted milk produced in China had ballooned to 13,000!

The figure could still rise in the coming days.

There are no words enough to describe my outrage.  I could feel for the parents who are struggling to make sense of this right now.

I pray that the Chinese government, after that impressive display of the OLYMPICS would also show an OLYMPIC-SIZED efforts in treating these babies for free.

God, take care of the precious little ones.  Rescue them. Those babies who may be very far from medical facilities and whose parents do not have any means to have them treated.  Lord God, perform your miracle in China.  Hear the cries of the parents and the little ones.

Forgive the people whose greed significantly affected the innocent ones.

Dear God, you know each one by name.  Reach out to them as a FATHER, that only YOU, our Divine Father ever could. Embrace each one and whisper your healing words to them.

In Jesus’ name

AMEN

I got an email today from a friend in the Middle East.  What he sent was really priceless.

He sent me 4 pictures taken yesterday when he and his wife and their daughter, visited my sister who is working there in the United Arab Emirates.

I must have stared at those pictures for the longest time.  I thank God for their ministry and how they took the the time to visit my sister.  What a priceless blessing.

I was deeply encouraged.

I was up at 4am. And by 5:30 am, I was already driving through SLEX.

Arrived in San Mateo before 6:30 am. It was going to be a long day (August 4th) because my sister Joy was flying to Abu Dhabi.

By 8:15 we were driving through Marikina and along C5 we made a right to pick up my older sister Ethel. Joseph was his typical 15-year old self. Sleepy and would not participate in any meaningful conversation, the last few ones before his mom would take off.

We arrived at the general airport area by 9:30 am and we had a lot of time to kill. Jollibee was a good option so we had our real breakfast. By 10:25, we drove the short distance to the NAIA1 Departure terminal. I dropped them off while I made a long turn toward the parking.

Over at the OFW pre-departure area, I was really thankful that we could at least be comfortably seated while waiting for the 4PM flight. The liaison officer of the agency arrived shortly and instructions were given.

The OFW pre-departure area was a microcosm of the whole OFW phenomenon. Banking booths, seamen counters and other OFW booklets, paraphernalia, POEA and OWWA counters, free coffee, cafeteria counter for the last goto, sandwich, canned drinks and other food items. A big TV tried to entertain the families as they struggle with the reality of a loved one leaving for an overseas work in minutes.

I would look at my sister and my nephew many times. I still could not believe that she was finally leaving. Mixed with anxiety and the fear of the unknown, I find myself praying again and again for her safety and protection. Looking at Joseph, I would ask God how He would allow a single Mom to be separated from her only child, and for a 15 year old boy to suddenly become physically orphaned.

We were like most OFW families there. Trying to engage in some funny and yet memorable talks. Figuring out the OFW Sim card, getting the last minute instructions and curiously looking at the other OFW families.

There were so many younger people in their 20s who were leaving. There were those who had been to an overseas work for quite awhile, and then there are those who wore on their faces, the quiet anticipation of someone going out for the first time.

It broke my heart to see fathers carrying their small children, trying to have that final family picture as they fumble with the settings of their digital cameras. Of women trying to get some privacy as they talk for awhile on their cellphones, saying their goodbyes to their families who were maybe still at the parking lot. Husbands doing the last minute hand carried luggage check before their wives leave. Of little children crying when a parent finally gets up and head for the DEPARTURE entrance.

I was taking all these in. These scenarios are played out on a daily basis in our international airports.

We were just like them. We took pictures using our phones and bluetoothed them. I took pictures of Joseph napping comfortably on the steel chairs, unperturbed by the goings on. I would hesitantly look at the wall clock because it would factually show us that time is ticking fast and our long goodbyes would have to end soon.

At 2:30 PM, I got the courage to tell my sister that maybe it was best for them to head to the Departure entrance. I was getting emotionally drained already and besides, we wanted her (her first flight ever) to have more time adjusting to the environment and get settled before her flight. Her OFW companion also followed and said goodbye to his wife and 2 small daughters. I hugged and kissed my sister Joy. Hours earlier, God comforted me in my grief. The Lord GOd can and will take care of her while she works in the Middle East. And as I looked at all the people going through the Departure entrance (MGA BAGONG BAYANI – our new heroes / rightly so, because their remittances of P12.7B and counting this year, has given our country an annual hope, and sadly, a false sense of security that our economy remains strong. One newspaper editorial even went so far as to declare that because of the OFW remittances, our government fooled itself into thinking that it was doing a good job securing the economy of the country.)

I did not see her go through the departure entrance because I started to head down the stairs to the parking lot. My brisk steps betrayed what I was really feeling at that time. I was sad with a mixture of guilt and anger all strewn in between…

The three of us were quiet as we drove to Market! Market! My sister offered to treat us for a meal. Then we headed for the groceries for Joseph to get his provisions for the week. I could not imagine being by myself at 15. He lives with the grandparents – but he would still be basically very alone.

I wrote his excuse letter from missing school that day, gave some more instructions and tested the Skype on his computer – then I left for Laguna.

It seemed as if I had been driving the whole day. I was tired. I was emotionally depleted. Wifey was already asleep when I entered the house. She was still asleep when I left 18 hours earlier.

Sent an sms to my sister’s OFW SIM and said a prayer for her. Thankfully, I drifted off to sleep.

It was going to be a long day tomorrow ( August 5th) because 14 Americans will be visiting us and I will be picking them up at the airport.

At 1:22am – I got an sms response “Here now in Abu Dhabi. My Nokia 8250 (for the OFW sim) is working.”