Musings on Father’s Day

Sights and sounds of papa…

One of my early visions of papa is of him carrying my school bag to put beside my seat when I was in elementary. I believe he’s the only father doing that until middle grades. I’m a girl so I didn’t get teased being a papa’s girl.

He often took us for regular dental visits as the dentist was his good friend. I attribute my love for teeth-brushing (I have a set of toothbrush and toothpaste in every bag I have.) to his influence – seeing to it that my teeth were well-maintained. He also had the habit of brushing after every meal. Even when we ate at restaurants, he’d go gargle and decline offers to eat more saying he’s already cleaned his teeth. He also had a dentist for a god daughter. He’d refer her to his friends to be their dentist. I will never forget how anxious he was when I had my impacted wisdom tooth extraction. It took more than 3 hours and she had to saw the tooth into small pieces in those days when dental equipments were not that advanced.

In my early school years, he drove us (my mom, sis and me) to and from school in his beetle. We’d go to Luneta and seaside along Roxas Boulevard – in the Chinese embassy across Manila Bay to take in the sea breeze and see the sunset. Then in high school, we moved to live near the school so we’d just walk to school. First day of college, he accompanied me to Rizal Ave to teach me to commute to De La Salle University. One time there was big rain and the streets were flooded along Rizal Avenue, he hailed a calesa and waited for me at the jeepney stop so I would not have to wade the flood to go home.

When I got married and went home to visit, he would open the door for me like a true gentleman. When my kids went to school, he often picked them up from school for me – Hannah and Abigail were blessed to have guakong take them from school. He would bring Hannah to look at the rabbit in the neighbour’s place when she was small.

When he was in his 80’s and no longer as active, he never failed to thank me for going to visit him. ‘Toh sia di lai’ (Hokkien for Thank you for visiting me.) His appreciation for the food I bring never failed to touch me. (_______ yah hoh chia. – _______ is delicious.)

He often inquired about Andrew and my in-laws: Andrew, tah-queh, tah kwah, ho seh o? (Andrew, your mom-in-law, dad-in-law, how are they?) His favourite question to ask: Kui tiam? What time is it? He’s nearly blind so he cannot see the red digital clock placed in front of his bed. He’d often remind me to eat – not to let myself go hungry.

One time I went to visit and I was sad and pouring out my problems to him. He said: Kang papa kong. Papa tue dih ki toh. (Tell it all to papa. Papa will pray for you.) Papa, I miss u so much.

All these stories about my father… remind me of our paradoxical heavenly Father.

My dad loved to talk – and tell stories. He’s a friendly chatty person. So here’s a talkative guy married a hard-of-hearing wife. My mom was hard of hearing. She had hearing aids. Yet that did not stop them from communicating. Even as he was talkative in younger days, he was quiet and reflective in old age. One time I asked him – pa, what are you thinking? He said many things. He was contented to lie quietly in his bed. He did not get old and senile. He was mentally active and lucid each time I talk with him. His mind as sharp to remember many details of friends of long ago. His mental health, happy contented disposition are all God’s grace and mercy.

When he was sick, he was not afraid to show me his fears. I remember his shaky hands as we climbed 5 floors of stairs after his prostate surgery in his 70’s. When he was 92, his whole body shook when he remembered his fall going to the bathroom, he refused to get up from the bed. After praying, he said he’s no longer afraid.

Bravery is not the absence of fear. It is learned through overcoming fear – in the hard circumstances of life.
Falling so many times, blind and near totally blind, walking through with maids (small and seemingly not strong) leading him; each step… I learned what true courage and resilience is all about. It made me sad to see him weak and frail yet it touched me no end to see him strong and brave.

Another paradox:
Grieving, loving, hurting, suffering = the more you love, the more hurtful/painful, yet love compels…
Papa’s resilience, contentment = no complaint, easy to please, allowing mom to go on trips. Sleeping alone.. he’s alright with it coz he knew mom always returns. Even though they did not talk that much anymore, the presence counts a lot. After mom passed, papa knew she’s no longer beside him or sitting in her chair in the living room.. grieving yet not saying it out.. how hard it must be for him. So hard to pray and be joyful in his presence, when inside, my heart is sad and burdened – how to care for him, how to comfort him, how to pray and say mama is happy and healthy in heaven when here he is on earth, alone, and weak and frail, cannot see, cannot move freely.. how?

Regrets, what-ifs, if-only (sana/dapat)
What if we didn’t install the peg? What if we just let him starve, will that be easier on him?
If only we know it will come to pneumonia n kidney failure, if only we didn’t install the peg, if only…
What is the fine line between holding on and letting go? Between loving, not wanting him to suffer, and doing our best to help him, yet in some ways – prolonging his sufferings..

Lessons I learned:
1) To love is to endure pain
2) Life is a journey of sufferings
3) No use in regret, and remember the good times, the memories of our conversation when he was still healthy
4) How to pray: Lord have mercy, Your will be done. We lament, we submit. We plead for mercy. We trust and obey.
5) How to be content, to be grateful (thank u to small things, for caregiver), to be positive (good morning, fine), to say/remember good things about people, to be brave.

All these memories and lessons from my father – the only one I have and I thank you, Lord for papa..

Till we meet again, pa I love u and miss you always.

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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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Which comes first?

Happy new year… Happy and new.. which comes first to have something new and be happy or to be happy and experience freshness in all things?

Thanksgiving and joy… which comes first… to rejoice because there is something to be thankful for or to be thankful because you choose joy?

A joyful heart is a thankful heart as is thankful heart a jubilant one. To be thankful when things are going well is easy. To be joyful when life is hard is not. To be thankful is a choice. To be joyful is also a choice.

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It’s another new day on my side of the world. My new day thought and prayer: Lord, thank you for loving me. Please enable me to rejoice in you always… to always be joyful and be thankful because all of life is by your grace and mercy.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

How to be happy 102

1) Do not be a KJ (kill-joy). Don’t be a Mr. Grumpy or Mr. Greedy.
2) Throw away JK (joy-killers). What are they?

Anger:
Many things in life upset us: when there is injustice, when our employees make a mistake, when our children disobey us, when we are wronged. It is alright to be angry – the thing is ‘Do not let the sun go down on our anger.’ Eph 4:26
1) Do not dwell too much on the issues that upset you.
2) Move on.

Antidote to Anger:
In the end, it is about forgiveness. Forgiving is not about condoning the mistake or denying the offence. Forgiveness is giving the offender the opportunity to do better next time. And even when he did not ask for forgiveness, forgiving frees the offended from being in bondage of bitterness.

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It is impossible to be angry and happy at the same time, right?

Anxiety (a.k.a. worry)
We often worry about many things as well: job securities; family relationships. Will our children do well in school, in their careers, in their marriage? Will our test results be favourable? Will the helpers stay long? Will my husband stay faithful to me… and on and on goes the list. All our worries are about what’s to come – and how often we waste lots of angst and energy worrying about things that never happen. The Bible tells us not to worry about what to eat, what to wear – not to worry about tomorrow. I know it is easier said than done.

Antidote to Anxiety…
Think back to the past. When I worry about whether my maids will stay long or leaving soon or when I am about to panic about having no help at home, I look back to the times when God provided for me. It might not always be according to what I wanted – but He always helped me through each challenge.

In the end, worry is a trust issue. Do I trust God enough to let God be God and let go? Letting go = worry free = happy. Try it!

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Happy, not grumpy

How to be happy… stop complaining.. rise and shine!

Philippians 2

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life.

To grumble is to complain or protest about something in a bad-tempered but typically muted way.

Why do people grumble?

They see fault in everything. They focus on the bad. They fail to see the good. They see the glass half empty instead of being thankful for it half full. They take things for granted. They complain for what they do not have and forget what they have.

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They do things grudgingly – half-heartedly. They argue: exchange or express diverging or opposite views, typically in a heated or angry way.

They quarrel, disagree, squabble, bicker, fight, and dispute about anything and everything – even the trivial and petty.

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To be happy, do everything without grumbling and arguing.

How? Keywords to learn are blameless, pure, children of God

Is it not ironical that people who are grumblers or grumpy are often the ones not so perfect themselves? They complain about other people yet they fail to see how they are. If we do things without complaining, we learn to examine ourselves – are we blameless? Do we seek to be pure? Do we remember that we are children of God? What kind of people are the children of God? Are they grouchy, grumpy complainers? To be blameless is to be without fault. Instead of finding fault, we are to be faultless.

To be pure is to be free of contamination. As children of God we are to be clean, clear, sparkling in a ‘warped’ and crooked generation.  We are to be in the world but not ‘of’ the world. We are to stand out and be differentiated from the world. We are to not only be different but ‘make’ a difference. What is the effect of not grumbling, arguing, and being blameless, pure.

We will shine – we will stand out like stars in the dark world. We are to be salt and light.

To be beacons of goodness in the world we need to hold on to God’s Word. Read the Bible and walk the talk. The bible is our manual for happy living… it teaches us how not to complain – to be grateful, to be contented. It teaches us how not to argue – to be peace loving, to be humble, to think of others better than ourselves. The Bible shows us how to be blameless and pure. It assures us that as children of God we are empowered to shine like stars in the dark world. God’s Word is our guide to live victoriously in joy in this warped and crooked generation.

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Being happy even though…

 

 

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“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of
your life.” 
-Proverbs 4:23

So true… A thankful heart makes a happy heart. Today I am thankful
for my oncologists. I am happy that EVEN THOUGH I have to take cancer meds, I had a kind oncologist who looked after me for the first 5 years and a 2nd wise and equally kind oncologist for the past 4 years.

To have a kind and capable doctor is a blessing. It is added bonus when there is rapport between doctor and patient. I learned so many things from my oncologist. I am grateful that EVEN THOUGH my meds have side effects, there are remedies
to make up for them. I am glad that EVEN THOUGH I have osteopenia, it is not that serious. It encourages me that doing weight exercises help to strengthen my bones. It’s inspiring to know that “people who do regularly exercises age slower.” After the visit, I feel happy. Thank you Lord EVEN THOUGH our bodies are wasting
away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting
away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians
4:16

All things work out… Good and bad

I am a PWD: Person with Disability. Perks? Priority lane in movies, airports, payment counters, 20% discount for movies, , parking, food in restaurants n meds, n P65 weekly discount in groceries. it’s advanced Senior benefits 6 years ahead of my time. For me, the biggest perk is to be ahead n avoid long queues esp when time is of essence like urgent call of nature.. I go in the PWD toilet without feeling guilty. 😜

With all the benefits that come with the PWD, would I volunteer to break a leg just to get the card? Of course not! It’s difficult to depend on another person to just go pee, much less to wake your own kid in the middle of the nite to do so. It took me almost a year before I could go downstairs without tightness in my ankle. And the months of therapy that go with it. Even now, i feel needles running thru my right leg when it’s being rubbed where the plate n screws are. As I have no intention to have another surgery to remove them, I am a PWD for life.

Whats the the point of my story? God does work all things out for my good..the PWD card is the least of them. All thru the journey, God gave sufficient grace to grow my faith. It’s like scaffold upon scaffold on a building construction.

Few months before I fell n broke my ankle, I was anxious for my mom’s failing health n maid issues: hers n mine. After mom died, I was near breakdown. I had less than 8 hrs sleep in a week. I imagined checking myself in a hospital for mental breakdown. I was anxious for my 92 year old dad. I went to consult a psychiatrist to ask for sleep aid to cure my mental anxiety. One night I prayed, Lord the meds are not working, I won’t take them, pls grant me sleep. The Lord was gracious, that night I slept so well I woke up a normal person. But then, it was on n off sleep problem. So I went to a 2nd psych. 3rd morning after that I had my fall. It shook me hard really hard coz it started me on the journey to cure my anxiety attacks.
Little by little, moment by moment, day by day, God showed me He’s in control, he loves me n he provides for me. He enabled me to accompany my father on his dialysis even as I was in my wheelchair. God provided for our daily needs.

The lessons of faith I learned through this period of my life could only be learned when I became a person with disability. Because a PWD is not self-sufficient, because he has limitations, he has to depend on another. I discovered that God sufficiently takes care of the PWD me… He allowed me to experience the consequences of my bad choices so I could learn how to trust and obey…to be grateful for moments of grace, not to take things for granted like the freedom n ability to walk, to relish in the opportunity to stand in church to worship n sing his praise, to remember to choose joy in spite of… To not forget the lessons of the PWD … a person with disability turned PWG…person with grace, person with gratitude, person with God by her side.. Person walking with God… Let me remember so help me God.

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