” 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.

Serenity Prayer

January 4, 2009

This is my first post for 2009.  The Christmas break is ending soon and it seemed like it just came and went.  Now the Christmas lantern needs to be taken down and other christmas decors need to be put away.  I had barely enjoyed the lights and now it is back to the usual grind.

Let me share with you this Serenity Prayer.

May it usher peace in your hearts during those dark and discouraging moments.  I read this again and again tonight, and the more I did, the more I realize its simplicity and its profundity.

God, grant me the serenity

to accept the things I cannot change,

the courage to change the things I can,

and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time,

enjoying one moment at a time:

accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;

taking, as Jesus did,

this sinful world as it is,

not as I would have it:

trusting that You will make all things right

if I surrender to your will;

so that I may be reasonably happy in this life

and supremely happy with you  forever in the next.

AMEN

Reinhold Niebuhr

3lbs. 13oz

October 25, 2008

That was how much I weighed when I was born.  I am not making this up. I am looking at my official Certificate of Live Birth document from the NSO.  I needed to renew my passport and my license to solemnize marriages and both documents required a certified NSO Certificate of Live Birth.  This is going to be my 5th passport and please don’t ask me why I still need to produce a Live Birth Certificate.

So I applied for it last week.  The application was a breeze.  The following day, I went inside this huge “oven” for a covered area where the whole town showed up to get their NSO documents as well.  It was like a huge human processing plant. I submissively fell in line like a meek goat about to be slaughtered.  My receipt indicated Window 9.  I did not know what a blessing it was to be sent direct to Window 9 because it meant that my document was already for pick-up.

I found the last person at the end of the Window 9 line.  I did not let go of her because it was as if the whole place was a scenario of slowly gyrating mass of faceless people, all trying to fan themselves while their eyes were fixed on the window of their deliverance….  I wanted to take a picture of the place – because it was incredible.  It has always been like this and, and NSO lines have always been synonymous with chaos.

When I finally got it – it was like a very precious document.  I got 2 copies and headed out of the “oven” and I noticed the looks of envy thrown my way by those who were still lining up through different windows according to the difficulty and complexity of their records.

Once out of the building, I had to find my way through the maze of vendors littered all over the small sidewalk so I could cross the street where I parked the car.  Government ID cases, fake silver jewelries (P10! for a bracelet,  ballpens, fruits, banana-Q, chinese glass breakables…. it was amazing…. no wonder it was difficult to get in and out of the NSO complex.

So now, I am looking at the NSO Document.

3lbs. 13oz… I remember my mom telling me that I was born 2 months premature.  And when people hear that.. I was called “pitong gatang…”( reference to 7 cupfuls of rice.. and then others would nod their head as if finally realizing why I am like this!  Ha!

I remember my mom telling me that I was placed inside an incubator for the whole month. Hmmm… no wonder I still do not like bright lights and how my eyes even to this day, could not take the bright lights inside the malls, particularly SM malls.

I wondered how I must have looked then. 3.13lbs! whoaaa… no wonder the doctor cautioned my Mom that I may not survive because I was too tiny.  Remember this was 1967.

Looking at this document made me more realize how precious this life is. Life may have started precariously back in 1967 – but definitely, God looks after all the babies being born everywhere!

Now that 3.13lbs baby is now 41!

Thanks Dr. Josefina Macaraeg for doing the C-section on my Mom so I was born at 12:30 noontime on October 20th, 1967.

Thanks Nurse Rosita C. Opiana for attending to my mom and preparing my document on October 25th, 1967.

Thanks Dad.

Thanks Mom for giving me life. Sorry you had to go through a C-section when months previous to that you went through an appendectomy.

Thank you God for seeing me before I was born, for sustaining me through the days inside the incubator, and for the many years after that.

I know I will see you when I cross over.

I am ready to spend eternity with you.

Turning 41

October 22, 2008

This is it.  I am deeply entrenched now into this mid-life.

I have fully entered the zone where the mid-life crisis would come.  I think it has started already years ago – until a former psychiatrist colleague told me that there is already what is called a quarter-life crisis.

I am 41 and I look at my life and I could name many deceased people I knew.  I could tell stories upon stories  and tell them with such freshness as if they just happened yesterday!

So many memories to look back on now, and yet, still so much of eternity to look forward to.

What a journey. As I started a personal new year with the Lord, I could not help but think that God has really given us such an awesome gift called life.  And this life is not supposed to be lived on empty.  Rather our lives are to be enriched by the relationships we have with people around us.

What a journey! I finally got my FIRST BIRTHDAY CAKE AT 41!  What a blessing!  Wifey baked me a caramel fondant cake without taking any baking /cake- making classes!

My life has been unalterably enriched by the precious life-gifts of so many people.

Thank you Lovey for being the best wifey in the whole world. You are God’s most wonderful blessing that is way beyond what I expected or imagined.

Thank you for the young people who allowed me to pour out my life on them.  LM and Jocer, what a thrill when I hear you guys call me Dad.

Thank you for the wonderful friends who never fail to show me God’s grace and love.

Thank you for Kuya Eugene for reflecting God’s faithfulness and brotherly love.

Thank you Church for challenging me to grow. For the opportunity to serve. For the memories in those years of service and many more years to come.

What a wonderful journey this has been.  With all the ups and downs, the tears(!) and the belly-laughters.

Thank you Jesus for allowing me to discover what a beautiful life my life has become – ONLY because of YOUR sustaining grace.

Thank you for not letting me go.

Thank you Jesus for knowing the plans for my life.

Thank you for not giving up on me.

Thank you for taking care of me.

Thank you for being there for me even when I questioned your presence and care in my life at times.

Thank you for your daily provision.

Thank you for your encouragement.

Thank you for your great love.

I am a year older. A year closer to being with you, my Lord.

Today was a very hot day. Sweltering heat. If we humans are really complaining about it, I could only imagine what the thick coated furry friends are saying these days.

We live in a small house and much as we would like to, we cannot let our Black labrador stay inside most of the time. He has a small house built for him – but when the temperature is really high like what we had today, we would usually allow him inside OR, as the vet told me, let him cool off in his tub full of water.

Enjoying the water

Enjoying the water

Sgt Beans was given to me as a birthday present almost 3 years ago. I grew up having dogs around the house so I thought it was almost a no brainer. Growing up, our 6 mongrels were relatively easy to take care of. But when we got Beans, my wife and I had to learn ( I think I did most of the learning) a lot of things so we could really understand the dog’s nature and its needs.

Profile of a contentedly wet Labrador

Profile of a contentedly wet Labrador

I had never seen a gentler disposition and spirit. I always tell my wife that we should have gotten a labrador early on in our marriage. We have taken him to your youth camps ( along with our 2 other dogs) and Beans would become a friendly – receptionist by day, but once we closed the door and bid him goodnight outside our small cottage, he becomes a faithful guardian.

Of course there are no bad days with a labrador. Everyday is a good day to play, to walk or to swim. Amazing how he loves to fetch – but the tennis ball is really a labrador’s bestfriend.

The look of contentment

I just closed his house door for the night so he could sleep peacefully. A neighbor initially thought that it was cruel to put the dog in his house for the night. But dogs also need a place where it could be comfortable and where they could safely sleep at night.

It has been 3 years since Sgt Beans came into our lives. We look forward to having him for more years of awesome friendship and unsurpassed loyalty.

Love is in the eyes