This blog is from my thoughts after Sgt Beans, our black labrador went through some horrifying ordeal in his doggy life. I could have entitled this blog as it is, but I would rather have the real point come across better than the illustration covering the event.

Sgt Beans developed a swelling in his testicles. It started out just his testicles turning red – and in a couple of days, got really swollen. Alarmed, I sent sms to two of the vets in the area and asked them what could have possibly caused his testicles to swell like that. They only answered “please take him here so we could inspect.”

Undeterred, I asked a veterinary student about Sgt Beans’ condition. He said something about a virus which I checked online, and then got me really scared. The virus could spread even to humans. I sent another sms to our vet and asked if it was possible for my labrador to have contracted such virus, he just simply said, “please come and I will have a look.”

Gave Beans a gentle bath and really avoided bumping his swollen parts. And once dried up, took him to the vet (which was thankfully, less than 5 minutes away).

Dr. Hernandez just got done with an eye operation on a small fuzzy dog, I can’t recall the breed right now. He motioned for us to get inside the room and we did. Beans was his friendly amiable self until Dr. Hernandez asked me to put a muzzle on Beans. I did not even know how to use it. Beans struggled and when I gave him my stern command, he didn’t resist – but I could hear the muffled, resistant groan.

And this was where we heard the first judgment.

“This is the first time I have seen a labrador growl at his master”. Dr Hernandez said. “This has never happened before…” My wife and I didnt say anything at that time but hours after the vet visit, we were able to process how that statement also affected us.

We carried Beans to the metal table. He had stopped struggling ( I thought the muzzle was too small for him…) and Dr. Hernandez inspected Beans’ testicles.

There it was. The wound that got really infected. There was a clear line of broken scrotal sac and it was red and bluish and gory looking. He gave Beans 3 injections and gave us some clear instructions. We were supposed to get him an Elizabethan collar so that he will not be able to lick his wounds especially after the medication has been applied ( 2x a day). But the collar Beans need would be a size 25 and the biggest they had at the clinic was 15.

Off we went. We were just thankful that it was not that virus that was texted to me. Got him some ointment antibiotics, betadine and a regular antibiotics.

The first night, Wifey tried to make an Elizabethan collar that would fit Bean’s neck. I’ve got to hand it to Wifey. She talked with Beans. Gave him pellets as reward until the makeshift elizabethan collar was already around his neck. Perfect.

But we could not staple it together and the cardboard material would bend every time Beans would slump his body on the floor. It wasn’t just working. It was also difficult to put the Betadine on his scrotal wounds because he would just try to get away from me. I was feeling really flustered already but I knew it had to be done.

The following day was a great day. I could see right away that the redness of the swelling has dissipated a bit and his testicles has started to shrink. Not much but it was noticeably smaller than the previous day. And it got easier to apply the Betadine on his testicles and then the antibiotic ointment.

Now he does not even get afraid of the cotton balls and the betadine liquid. The tube of antibiotic is no longer a fearful thing for him. I have actually taught him to raise one of his legs when I would say “raise leg, raise leg” – he would lift his leg a bit to give me room or would allow me to lift his leg so I can put the medication.

Starting the other day, he would just playfully lie on his back and just would allow me to put medication on his testicles. And every time I would apply medication on Beans, I would always hear myself defending Beans from the comments of Dr. Hernandez.

Here are my insights from that comment and the life application that I could glean from.

1. He was in so much pain yet he could not properly communicate it to us.

In a lot of pain, muzzle over his face, pain in his testicles and my dog was being judged for indicating he did not like what was happening to him.

People who are in pain do not necessarily know how to communicate their pain. All they know is that many times, the discomfort is too much that it saps their energies to be engaged in small banter or meaningful discussions about things that do not concern them. And perhaps, many people around them have trivialized their pain – that is why many of them would rather be quiet.

2. He has never worn a muzzle in his whole life and just putting it on a dog would be enough for them to be threaten esp in an environment that they are not used to.

Sometimes unknowingly, we put muzzles over the people who are in pain because we do not know how to draw them out. Or maybe we are already tired and worn out from listening and have entered the compassion fatigue phase. We would rather put a muzzle on them because we could not endure another moment of hearing the same pain rehearsed before our ears. We just do not want to be affected anymore – thus their pain becomes theirs to bear alone, even when we are in their company.

3. If you have swollen body parts, the last thing you would want is to have someone closely inspect it and poke it. And yes, the medications? They may be good for him, but they do sting. Sometime people just wipe you with medications without really caring if it stings or not.

I remember during one of my Masteral classes in Counseling, our professor reminded us that ” you will know the counseling theories and you will know how to apply them. I hope that even you will not be so good as to just rip a person’s mask off without even hearing it rip.”

We can get to be too clinical when addressing their pain.

Or there are times when we become too spiritual that, as we address their wounds, they feel judged as well.

In helping people deal with their most private pain, we may know what is good for them or what medications to use. Please be gentle because even the most beneficial medicines do sting early on in the treatment process.

Sgt Beans is healing well. I had just applied Betadine and then the antibiotics on him. He was steady and still as I applied the medication, waiting for me to finish. Once done, I gave the command “House” and he walked straight to his house. Sgt. Beans was not a spoiled dog as my vet had judged him to be. He was simply in a lot of pain that was very difficult for a young, and playful male labrador to deal with.

Next time you are around a person who is in pain? Remember Sgt Beans and be very gentle when you deal with their private pains.

Image cover THE SHACK

Image cover THE SHACK

A couple of days ago, a friend posted on his multiply site that he received a copy of that Christian novel The Shack.

The rest of the article has been moved to this link.  Please click on the link to read the full article.

Thank you.

Lately, I have been mulling about the things that I have noticed to be slipping fast through our fingers. And while the reality of these precious things are slipping away, I could not for the life of me, figure out how and where it started and how it could be alleviated.

While having lunch recently with some friends, we started sharing about what has been happening these days. One of our friends said that he noticed that people seem more “hardened these days.” I could very well understand what he meant. What he said resonated with some of the things that I have been weighing on my mind. There was no dissonance in what I had experienced as well even with some of the people in the church.

Well, here they are:

1. RESPECT – this is a dying characteristic. The death of which I have realized, has become endemic in our materialistic, self-focused, self-centered, i want it now-generation. What used to be a trait that can be seen elsewhere has become akin to the melting of the glaciers due to the climate change. It seems that we have insisted on our rights for too long that we have now believed it to be so. To the point that NOT showing respect to people in general has become our basic right. The sadness brought about by this reality can be seen in how children treat and answer their parents, how siblings relate with one another, how husbands and wives would not respect each other, how young people would show rudeness in their manner of speech toward people older than they are….


You would be hard-pressed to find this in our society that has grown to be critical and suspicious of people’s motives. We could hardly blame them – but NOT showing compassion is a grave error in itself. Observe this: when someone is sharing a problem ( no matter how small ) – the general response of the hearer right away is to simply offer a solution without properly assessing if the person was really looking or asking for a solution. Chances are, when people share their problems, the first thing they are looking for is someone who is willing to listen. It seems that we are seeing a lot of people are too -stressed out now that we could easily see compassion-fatigue from everyone.

Take this case for example: You were driving the car and someone rear-ended you. It was not bad in the sense that you did not lose your life, but it was enough to exact some damage in your car that would cost some money and take a lot of your time, etc. You were feeling down and told a friend that something happened to you on the way

“What happened?” – he asks.

“I got rear-ended… .. ” – as you try to tell some more details, your friend asks…

“Well – how much was the damage to your car?”!! The friend was more interested in assessing the damage to the car. And depending on the damage, it would perhaps determine the level of compassion that would be shown toward you. The “how are you? Are you okay?” was never asked anymore….you have been assumed to be okay since you could walk and you are very much alive.

Respect and compassion. Let us make the decision not to let it slip through our generation. Contrary to what society about respect being earned, respect can also be shown even to the people we deem are not worthy of our respect. Let us be compassionate to people who may be going through some of the things that may seem irrelevant or insignificant to us ( perhaps maybe losing their files due to an infected computer).

The depth of how a person feels over a certain loss is not in the intrinsic value or objective value of the object lost, but in the ascribed value of that object in relation to the person who lost it. In other words, we do not measure the pain of other people according to our scale of pain assessment, but through theirs.

Year 1992.  We were headed for Winter Break.  The students had already made plans where they will spend winter break.  I was going with Ron to his home in Buffalo, New York.  Plans had been made and we were just counting the days.  Just a few more exams to hurdle and we will be free at last.  Arrangements have been made to ride with some of our classmates, driving assignments were completed and even parental arrangements for pick-ups in Harrisburg.

All things were set. Except for this friend who said something that up to this day, still haunts me.

It was about 5PM and we were eating dinner and I asked about his plans for Winter break.  He stopped eating and said “I don’t know.”

“What? You are not going anywhere?” – my mind was already racing with ideas how to take him or with whom he could share a ride with up the greater north…

Before I could suggest anything he softly said “My dad had remarried…” and he left it there.

“And?” – I was expecting the rest of the sentence to come.

“He didn’t tell us where he lives now…”

Before I could process all these things he was telling me, he followed it with these words that forever left a sad mark in my heart…

“He did not tell us where he lives…. so now, I don’t even know where home is….”

That statement stayed with me.  I can still see him right now as we were seated at the corner of that dining hall in the Fieldhouse in Big Sandy, Texas back in 1992.

I could not erase in my memory what he said nor how it made me feel.  I was thousands of miles away from the Philippines, but I clearly knew where home was.

I have seen this statement played out many times as I have worked with the young people through the years.  They do not say this statement but I see this being acted out countless of times.  Many feel so lost and many are just simply trying to find their way.  I never realized how his statement made an impact in my life.  It made me want to help others find their way.  To help others find where their real home is.

This friend did not graduate from the college where we studied together.  The last time I heard from him was 8 years ago when we had a YM conference and he introduced me to his pretty little daughter.

I still think of this friend from time to time and wonder how his life turned out.  I would like to hear from him and share how my life is turning out to be. He was a good friend.  He was quiet and he did not feel rotten every time I beat him in chess.  We sat next to each other in most of our freshman classes because the alphabetical arrangement made it that way.

Hey JDK, I hope to see you again.  I still carry in my heart what you painfully shared in 1992.  When we meet again, I will tell you where our real home is.  Our Father is waiting for us.

God bless you my friend.

Two of the pastoral team members of our little church in Sta Rosa was hospitalized at just about the same time. The first one is fondly called DadFen ( how I got to call him as such is another testimony on its own. The second one is Reuel, about my age, husband to Jing and father to Tim their less than 2 -year old baby)

Prayer Request for Henson Fen Santos and Reuel Avila

The family requests the prayers of everyone for Henson Fen Santos (77 years old), an elder residing in Sta. Rosa, Laguna whose left kidney has been damaged and whose bladder has been found to have a large mass inside. He has also been experiencing much pain from time to time. A biopsy is to be done by the doctor this Friday afternoon for further tests. He is now confined at the Southern Luzon Hospital and Medical Center, Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

Prayers and help is also requested for Reuel Avila who “suffered a stroke which seemed to have progressed to a nervous breakdown.” His wife is requesting for single males to assist. He is now confined at the San Juan de Dios Hospital. Reuel is a pastoral team member of the Sta. Rosa Church (Laguna).

Lord God, incline your ear to us and hear us when we pray. Please visit them in their afflictions Lord. Touch them and heal them Lord. We are nothing without you. These two men have served you in various capacities and have dedicated their lives for your service. Dad Fen is in pain Lord. Grant him your peace and and your joy as he awaits his full healing in You. Provide for their needs Lord. Strengthen Mommy Cerma as she takes care of him in the hospital. In the advancement of our years Lord, we go full circle to when we were born – helpless and in total dependence to the people around us.

The same way Lord for Brother Reuel. You are the only one that can reach him where his thoughts are. Visit him there in the valley. Speak healing words and comfort his mind. Do your miracles in the nerves of his brain Lord and restore him back. When he gets anxious and when his nerves are interacting differently than the way they should, I pray for your “theopneustos” to be upon them. Breathe upon them Lord and they will get up from their hospital beds and live many more years for you service and glory.

In Jesus’ name,