Bored and Sad?

Gud pm, i got ur number frm a 2ndhand phone. I am Nxxxxx Fxxxxxxx female 20 frm makati/tarlac anyway im looking for some1 to talk bcoz am bored and sad thanks.

I got the above text last Sunday evening. I usually ignore msg from strangers. Her last sentence made me reply:

tell me why u r bored n sad. where r your parents? where r your brothers or sisters? r u studying or working? how come no one to talk to u that u need to text n talk to a stranger.

Guess what? No reply after that…

Sad indeed that millennial gen today is in the stage of being socially connected yet feeling alone.. having options n resources to do many things yet bored.. having choices to enjoy many good things in life yet sad… wanting to talk n be listened to, yet choose to be silent …

Teen depression and suicide is a reality… many are seeking help the right kind of help.. which is a good thing..

What about those who are silently killing themselves? No one knows.

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Having been gone thru deep depression myself, I know how hard it is. The road of the deep dark pit or the long dark tunnel is not to be travelled alone. The more I was depressed, the more I wanted to hide n stay away from people, the worse it became. I had to force myself to go out to be with small group of friends (even when I didn’t comb my hair). I went for counselling sessions. I seek professional help. Bottom line: I got out of the pit by God’s grace and mercy. God helps those who help themselves as they ask for help. Man is a social being. We r not called to be hermits. Even as every one is unique, sadness is a real human emotion. Even Jesus wept.

Friend, if u r sad, call a friend.. that Friend is Jesus.

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The Lasting Legacy of a Father

The legacy of a dad…of nails and timber, wisdom and courage

Many parents work hard to provide for their children. We plan, we strive, we do our best so that our kids will have a good, successful life and a bright future.

King David left a lasting legacy to his son, Solomon – the wise king of Israel – having none like him before or after him. What did David do? How did he prepare Solomon to be king, successor to his throne? Yes, David made material preparations – gold, silver, bronze, timber and even nails. (vv.2-4,14) He provided human resources to help his son build the temple. (vv.15-19) More than these tangible resources, David left a more important legacy..

I) The Vision vv. 6-10

David told Solomon of his desire to build a house for God. He also explained why God did not allow him to do so: because of the bloodshed he had in his lifetime as a soldier and king. (vv.7-8) Parents often plan for their children to achieve the dream they set out for themselves but have not been able to do.  David did so for a different motivation. He really loved God. Even when God said that it would be Solomon who would build the temple, David thought to do the best he could to help his son accomplish what God called him to do.  More than just material preparations and the plan, David shared God’s promise for Solomon.

1) to give him peace and quiet (peaceful rest) v.9 There would be no more war in Solomon’s days.

2) that God will be his Father and he will be His son (worthy relationship) v.10a This is a worthy promise – to know that God would take care of Solomon like a father would take care of his son.

3) that God will be with him forever – to establish his kingdom (lasting reign) v.10b How long is this promise going to last? Great news! It did not have an expiry. God promised that Solomon’s kingdom will continue and from his line would come Jesus – the eternal King of kings.

II) The prayer vv.11-13

1) David prayed that the Lord be with his son so that he may be successful to build God’s house. v.11

2) David prayed for wisdom for his son so that he may obey God. v.12-13a David knew the importance of obedience to God.

3) David encouraged his son to be strong and courageous – not to be afraid. v.13b How important it is for a father to encourage his son to be brave in the tasks of being a king! Perhaps he knew the importance of ruling wisely with righteousness and justice.

Application:

It is good that we know and tell of God’s vision for our lives: ours and our children’s! A Godly vision makes a purposeful worthy life.

Equally important is equipping our children to fulfill God’s vision and mission for our life and in our daily living. How? We pray for them. For what?

1) For God’s presence in their lives – that they experience God being with them in whatever they do.

2) For God’s wisdom – that they obey God in whatever they do.

When I know that God is with me and that He gives me wisdom to know what to do, I can be brave, I can be strong. Certainly, God’s vision in my life will be fulfilled.

Is this not the lasting worthy legacy for a parent to give to his son?

 

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Post Birthday Musings on life… given or taken…

Yesterday as I sat in our living room, looking around the walls of my home, I thought and prayed: Let me remember this day in this moment of peace, security, contentment and joy. Let me not forget that all that I have are by the grace and mercy of God. Let me remember always the God of grace and mercy who has taken care of me through 56 years of life.

On the first day of my life, God saved my mother from bleeding to death. What a different life I would have if I were to be an orphan on my birthday.

On the first year of our marriage, on the 5th month of my pregnancy, I lost our baby boy – Gabriel – our little angel. When the medical staff came to our room to ask what to do with the body telling us they named him (If I remember right, it was Jose) hubby and I didn’t even know what to do nor did we think to bring him home to bury. The thought and feeling of what would have been, could have been, should have been … I do not know how to put a word to it. For years, I looked at other parents with boys with envy and longing. I went through years of prodding and hints, subtle or not, pressure from my mom-in-law to bear a son – so that her son would be taken care of – like she would be in his old age. If Gabriel were with us today… he’d be 30 years old… there would be no Hannah, no Abi and no Mimi. I cannot imagine nor do i want to ponder on how life would be without my three girls!

On the day that I learned that i had cancer, I thought and prayed, Lord, if you still have anything else for me to do on earth, you will see me through. If not, I am at peace with it. Today, it’s been almost 9 years since I had lumpectomy, since 34 sessions of radiotherapy, 7 years of cancer med maintenance and more than 10 years of annual mammography and ultrasound. Each negative result is God’s grace and mercy, His gift of life to me.

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Today, my prayer is Teach me Lord, to number my days so that I may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12) Let me live wisely to make use of each opportunity – each moment of each day to live out your purpose for me. Let me “Be very careful, then, how to live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Help me not to be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” (Eph 5:15-17). So help me God. Amen.

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How to be wise

Do u want to be wise? Here’s the secret…

Proverbs 1

1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: 2 for gaining wisdom and instruction;
for understanding words of insight; 3 for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
doing what is right and just and fair; 4 for giving prudence to those who are simple,
knowledge and discretion to the young—
5 let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance— 6 for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.

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7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

As Psalms are mostly credited to King David, Proverbs are to his son, King Solomon.

Solomon was known to be very wise because he asked God for it for the purpose of ruling wisely over God’s people. God granted his prayer and gave him more than wisdom, riches and glory.

As reading Psalms enlighten the soul, reading Proverbs enlighten the mind. Let us learn from the wise king whose wisdom came from the all-wise God. The secret to being wise: start with the fear of the Lord. When I fear God, I will be prudent in behavior; doing what is right and just and fair (v. 3). What is prudence? It is the quality of being cautious and having good judgment. Its synonyms: wisdom, common sense, sense, sagacity, shrewdness.

Proverbs 1:4 The word ‘simple’ in Hebrew denotes a person who is gullible, without moral direction and inclined to evil. To be gullible is to be easily persuaded to believe something. It is being naïve like a child – overly trusting and easily deceived. This is further supported when in the second half of verse 4: giving knowledge and discretion to the young. What is discretion? It is the quality of behaving or speaking in such a way as to avoid causing offense or revealing private information. Its
synonyms: carefulness, caution.

Proverbs are not only for the simple and the young. They are also for the wise. v. 5 says let the wise listen and be wiser even. Let the discerning get guidance. What does it mean to discern?

It is to judge well. (in Christian contexts) Discernment is the perception in the absence of judgment with a view to obtaining spiritual direction and understanding.

The fear of the Lord is equal to knowledge, wisdom, discretion, discernment, guidance. The fear of the Lord is not about being afraid of the Lord for His punishment and wrath. It is more about honoring God and wanting to be right with Him – to love him in true obedience and to obey him in sincere love.

Fools despise wisdom and instruction. (To despise is to feel contempt or a deep resentment. Its synonyms: detest, hate, dislike). Proverbs 1:7 The Hebrew word for fool in Proverbs, and often elsewhere in the Old Testament, denotes a person who is morally deficient. To be a fool is one who does not care to be right with God. A morally deficient person is not afraid to sin because does not have the fear of the Lord.

Applications:

We all need wisdom to live well in this world. Biblical wisdom is different from the worldly wisdom.

The Bible teaches us to fear God (v. 7) and love him with our whole being. This is the beginning of wisdom – to discern (differentiate right from wrong).

How do we do that?

We need to be teachable – willing to receive instructions in the ways of the wise so we become wiser. (v.3)

We need to become like children – simple and young, willing to admit that we are lacking in prudence, knowledge and discernment. (v.4)

We need to listen well – to constantly seek wisdom and discernment. (v.5) This is an attitude of continuously learning to be wiser. Beware of being self-righteous and complacent – thinking that we are already wise or that we know enough already.

Final warning, beware of despising wisdom. Such is the foolish person – one who does not seek wisdom. Only the fools dislike to be wise. They foolishly think they do not need wisdom. Fools are fools because they are ignorant of their own foolishness.

Praying for our children

Parents… question?

Q1: How do you pray for your children?  What do you ask for in their lives?  Good health?  Safety?  Successful studies, careers, marriage? That they be happy and successful?

Q2: How do you pray for yourself as a parent? For wisdom? To do what?

Each time I think about these two questions, these are the key Bible verses that come to mind:

For my kids: to grow in wisdom and stature – in favour with God and man…

For myself: to train up a child in the way that he should go so that when he is old, he will not depart from it.

In the Bible, two children (one in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament) were described like this in their growing years.. guess who…

And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favour with the Lord and with people. (1 Sam 2:26)

And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. (Luke 2:52)

Wisdom is more than intelligence in academic excellence or successful career.  Wisdom is about discerning right and wrong and making the right choices in life.  Stature is more than just physical growth. Stature means reputation, standing, position, prestige, distinction, eminence, prominence, importance, influence, renown, acclaim. Wisdom and stature that is both in God’s favour and rapport with man – this is the ultimate growth to strive for.

Prayer is one legacy we can give our children. We cannot be with them 24×7. We can only entrust them to the God whose eyes are always on them. As a parent, my prayers for my children are calls on God to help me be a good parent. Prayer is knocking on God’s throne of grace and mercy for our children to live a blessed life. It is not a life of sunshine with no rain. It is a life lived by faith in the God who calms the winds. It is also about trust in the God who sees us through the storm when the winds and waves persist.

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What is my mom’s legacy to her children and grandchildren? If you were to ask Hannah, my eldest child, she’d say: ‘Guama (Hokkien for maternal grandma) always prayed for us.’ Yes, my mother’s prayer life is something precious to emulate.

Unfortunately, I do not practice prayer enough. Perhaps, things have been too easy for me, or maybe I just take it for granted God knows, He’s taking care of things – I don’t need to keep telling him. Or often, I just pray when anxiety begins to trouble me. Other times, I just give up praying and put it to one side. Persistence and perseverance at prayer is one thing I need to learn from mama. It is her habit to pray for each one of us everyday. Today, by God’s grace and mercy, I am who I am, where I am, how I am, what I am, why I am because my mother prayed for me.

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I know she prayed for me and my future life partner. I can’t recall I prayed about a husband or what kind of man I wish him to be. One of my criteria (quite shallow/mababaw) is that he should be tall.. even though I am not.

My mom once told me my ninang (Filipino for godmother) wanted to ‘kai siao’ – (Hokkien phrase for referring me a boyfriend.) I told her “oh no, i don’t want kai siao.” Not knowing that Andrew was the one my godmother had in mind. God works in mysterious ways but He also allows man in partnership with Him through prayers and actions. My ninang referred Andrew a job in our godfather’s company where I worked. And the rest is history. There was no other more presentable and taller guy in the workplace who could make me laugh.

Enough of our love story. My point is that my mom prayed for me everyday. Prayer is her lasting legacy for her family and friends. I have heard her praying with friends on the phone. I asked her to pray with my mother-in-law on the phone. Prayer is one ministry she did even when she was sick and could not go out. Prayer is her one and only resort when she was sick and afraid and did not want to bother us or burden us with anxiety. Prayer got her through many deep valleys and dark shadows of life.

Now that I no longer have her with me, I often think about her legacy and I pray more often – telling God what I would have told her.

I’m sharing this, friends so that you will be encouraged to pray for yourself and for your children – just as I am reminding myself to persevere in this journey of intimate chat with our Father in heaven.

So dear parents, let us pray:

Lord, please grant me wisdom to train my children in the way that they should go so that until they are old, they will not depart from it.  Let them stay on the right path, to always follow Jesus closely. As they go through life, let them grow like Jesus in wisdom and stature in favour with God and man.  Amen.

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My Living Will

Nowadays, there’s such a thing as living will… that is while I am still alive, I will say what i want to happen to me or to my children when i am to die.

First, I do not want to be hooked up to machine to keep me alive. I certainly do not need to be poked and pierced here and there so that i can live each day like a vegetable.

Second, I hope that during my wake, my family and friends would sing happy songs – songs that I like in my lifetime… songs that we sang together when we were in the choir or in our family bonding time.

Third, I pray that my children will continue in the ways of the Lord… remember the times when God led us through the tough times, the bad times and the happy times. In short, I hope that I will have time to write about all of the standing stones in our life – when i gave birth to each of my children… times when we were together praying, singing, traveling, talking, eating, playing.. This is reviewing our history – our past – which will encourage us to bravely live in the present.

Most importantly, I hope that my children will keep the faith – they will continue to read God’s word, pray to Him at all times, worship with God’s family, share God’s word and be a good testimony to their friends and people around them… influence others for good and not be influenced by others – according to the ways of the world – not for peer pressure or to please people – but to please the Lord.

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These I am writing because after reading from Deuteronomy and from Joshua, I observed how both of these great men of old – leave a lasting legacy to the people they left behind – they both reviewed the past – stories of God’s goodness and faithfulness. They both gave instructions for the future – to walk in the truth of God’s word and commandments.

So parents, this is one good thing we can leave to our children – beyond material wealth and knowledge of the world, we want to leave something of eternal value – things that moth will not destroy or thieves will not rob.

Cheers to the important role of parenting… May God help us all.

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Musings on the 32nd…

There are at most 31 days in a month. In the Filipino-Chinese community, we used to say when one reaches 31 years old that he/she’s getting off the calendar. It seems to be a transition period from youth into adulthood. The next number would be the max limit of the thermometer – 40! Hi fever to reach 40, isn’t it?  But life is said to begin at 40.  What about marriage? What’s the magic number for the promise to love, to cherish and to hold  – in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer, till death do us part?

On FB, there are often professions and confessions of love and devotion, through thick and thin, cheesy and warm declarations and greetings of anniversary celebrations filled with smiles, seemingly all things bright and beautiful. Indeed wedding anniversaries are a milestone to be happily and thankfully celebrated. Yet behind each marital journey, there are always tears and heartaches along the way. Life is not a bed of roses. Even as there are roses, roses have thorns. It would be unreal to just see all sunshine without the rain. Even when the rain does not fall, black clouds loom in the horizon that threaten to dampen the way.

Hubby and I are entering our 32nd year of the journey called holy matrimony. Looking back the 31 years of being together, there was certainly much sunshine as there were storms. There were tears as there was laughter. Going through the marital path is about seeing both sides of the coin not just fuzzy idealistic lenses but also with a bare and clear realistic perspective: that man does not love perfectly. We are flawed no matter how much we love. And no matter how much we strive to be the ideal partner, we often fail. Honeymoon does not end after the first few months or even the first year or in spite of the kids’ arrival.

Is there a formula to a joyfully strong and ideal marriage? Hubby being good at Math, came up with a simple equation for our special dates. My birthday is the sum of his birthday and our anniversary. We are both born on the same year in the same month – only 17 days apart. Today is our anniversary. Basic algebra will give you the answer to our birthdays. It so happened that in the year we got married, 17 was a Sunday. But our love story is more than just numbers on the calendar.

Long story short, there is a simple formula that seems simple and yet profound. It does not take two to tango. Ours is a love triangle. Perhaps I could borrow some geometry to describe our marriage. It’s like a pyramid with God as the base and God as the peak. It’s God that holds us together by His grace and mercy. If there is one thing that is more important or just as important as our love for each other, it is our common faith – we both have Jesus as our Savior and Lord. We both receive God’s gift of salvation and eternal life to be lived on earth as it is in heaven.

Let me give practical illustrations on having a dual lens of the marital adventure. It’s like some paradoxical mystery with God as the puzzle mastermind.

Two but One

First, it is a fact that women are from Venus and men are from Mars. A man and a woman are different even as God created Eve from Adam. They are called to be one flesh from two bodies. And so my first dual lens is that we need to affirm our individuality yet find our way to be one. It is more than just about me eating ice cream and hubby having hot soup together. It is also not about him trying to fix things and find solutions each time I tell him a problem. It does not have to end with him feeling helplessly frustrated at finding  a solution. Why? Because more than a fix, I just need a listening ear or bluntly a sounding board. So how do we traverse this paradoxical issue? We need to accept one another. It is easier said than done. It takes lots of practice on self-awareness and other-thoughtfulness. And this leads me to the next paradoxical secret.

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Head and Heart

There are many truths about love and marriage that we know in our head. We can get so theoretical, rational and logical – we reason and argue with this and that – how right we are or how wronged we are. The head needs to be balanced with the heart. Sometimes the distance between the head and the heart can either be very short and near or long and far or even boundlessly unreachable! So how then do we deal with head and heart thing? We need to read God’s Word and practice what we read from it. James speaks of looking at the mirror and not doing anything about what you see in the mirror. Reading the Bible is like looking at the mirror to see that your hair is not in order. Not practicing what you read is like going out of the house without combing your hair. Love is not a thing of the heart. It is more than just warm fuzzy happy feeling that you have – when your spouse is so lovable and thoughtful and doing all the things right and serving you in the way that you expect him/her to do.

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Love is being kind and serving hubby food even when I do not feel like it – even I think that he does not deserve it… even when I feel like letting him starve or even when I wanted to storm out of the house and not appear again for a day or two to let him taste what it would be like to go a day without me! Love is a decision in the head – a choice to make to do what the Bible teaches me to do. It is thinking of myself less and more of what God wants more. The Bible teaches me to submit to my husband. It is not about being a slave – oppressed and depressed either. It is about making a choice to be humble and patient. Again it is easier said than done. Where is the line between humility and inferiority complex? How do I get past these obstacles of hurt, pain, wrath, frustration and disappointment?

Forgive and not Forget

What to do then? I practice to let the sun go down and not holding on to the wrong, the hurt, the pain etc. How am I doing with this lesson? Perhaps just a little higher than the passing mark or sometimes even way below the borderline. It is hard to let go of the pain. It is not easy to hold my tongue and not justify myself or defend myself. If I hold my tongue, I need to let the tears fall. It’s my way of coping. But again practice makes perfect even if perfection seems to take practicing forever. And it’s not about forgetting either. It is perhaps about remembering less and less the wrong. Love does not keep a record of wrong. How to remember less the wrong? How about remembering more the good? I need to remember the good words that hubby said, the good traits that he has, the good deeds that he does.

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And before this piece gets too long, I need to stop and practice some more. 1, 4, 17, 21, 31 or 32 or more… these are just numbers. Many things in marriage cannot be counted – they are abstract and difficult to appraise. Yet these priceless stuffs are what count.

As husband and wife, we need lots of practice – to be different yet united, (through acceptance), to be rational and yet emotional too (in our loving), to let go and to hold on (in our forgiving/appreciating). Let God be the base and the peak.

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As man and wife, pray this prayer together… Together, we can do it – you, me and God!