Sunday, March 29, 2015

Rewards

Last week, my colleague told me that she got free cinema tickets, popcorn, and drinks from redeeming her Smart Rewards points. She told me to check my points too so I can also get some freebies. I did it immediately and found that after 2 years of subscription, my Smart postpaid plan earned me 40,000 points! I used some of my points to earn rebates for my next bill. So when my bill arrived, it was PHP300.00 off my usual balance. It felt great because I never expected to get something out of paying my monthly phone bill.

This reminded me of my rewards in heaven. There were times when I think about the hardships I’ve been through and seek the purpose of all the pain. Sometimes I find the answers, but most of the time, I am left clueless. That’s the time when I ask God, “Why did I have to go through that?” His answer is always simple: to love. The more love I give, the move lives experience heaven here on earth. And eventually, there will be more lives saved, all of us earning more rewards in heaven all together.

A few days ago, I felt so hurt about a wrongdoing of a person I love dearly. I felt so betrayed. I talked and cried about it with God and asked Him to lead me to what I should do with the situation. The Lord’s message was clear: forgive. I didn’t feel like doing it at first, but after one day, I just felt forgiving. And so I surrendered to the Lord the situation, and entrust the person to Him for transformation. Again, I am reminded that I may not earn the rewards here on earth, but together with the person I have forgiven, we will reap God’s unfailing love in all eternity.

How about you, have you checked your rewards points?


So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us... Galatians 6:9-10 MSG

Love Yourself

That is my mantra for this year.

Yes, I love myself. But I realized lately that it's not enough. I used to think that it is sinful to love myself because God and others should come first. Yes, we must love God first and foremost. But lately I found out that there's a missing variable in my formula. According to the Gospel of Mark, "Love others as well as you love yourself."

So here's my new formula and I'll call it the iLove Theorem

x=y (where x is self-love and y is love for others).

I'm not so good in Algebra but I know that if x is 0, y will also be 0. And if x is 10, y is also 10.  

It sounds weird but we need to have a relationship with ourselves. If we fail to establish this "inner connection" we'll fail to connect to others. It's like the relationship of internet signal source, internet connection, modem, and Wi-Fi router. God is the internet signal source. We are the modem. The internet connection is our self-love. Once this is established, the Wi-Fi router transmits the signal to other devices. If we have good connection with ourselves, it is easier to transmit love to others. If there's poor connection, all we transmit is Wi-Fi signal without internet. And that is as good as throwing nothing.

And so we ought to search for ways to establish this connection. There's no need for ala-Star Cinema movie soul searching. I'm sure God has made the ways to self-love readily available around us and in us. Yes because He is love.

According to Marjorie Duterte's book titled Love Yourself As God Loves You, working on self-love can be easy. Let go of expired negative emotions (guilt and anger) that are eating you up. Stop for a while and be reminded that God is thinking about you at this very moment. Laugh even if there's nothing funny (your brain won't know it's not real). Write yourself a love letter. Embrace yourself. (Read the book for more).

Once we have mastered this craft of self-loving, it will be easier to accept love from others and give love as well. Remember the iLove Theorem, x is equal to y.

Love Like That

It was one of the most unforgettable moments of my youth. Together with other missionaries, we went to Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro for our annual summer house training. After two days of travel, we reached our training house, which we later called our “rehab”. After some introductions, our leader discussed the house rules. “Call and text your love ones now, because we will keep your mobile phones for the rest of the week,” he said, as one of the rules. I knew then that God will reveal a lot to me that week.

One of the highlights of that week was the night of surrender. We circled around a bonfire and our leader asked us to take away our masks. He told us that God wanted us to let go of our hidden addictions and deepest hurts, and we can only do that if we reveal our true selves to one another. Then there was silence. I felt fear inside me, and around me. We were afraid to tell our stories of shame because we might be judged wrongly and our friends would love us less.

The silence was broken when our leader started to share his story. Tears flowed from our eyes because we felt his pain and shame. It felt like his story was also ours. After his revelations, we embraced him. Then another one shared his story, until all of us have removed our masks. We have been set free.

The sun was already up when we finished sharing our stories. We ended the activity with a powerful worship to our God, who embraces us when we are full of shame; carries us when we are too weak to fight; and loves us no matter what. This same love is multiplied in our hearts, and so we were able to love others even if we know how dirty they are inside. It is the kind of love that cannot be explained. It is the love that makes us love more than we think we are capable of. That is God’s trademark of love-uncontainable, unexplainable, unending.


Blockbuster Finale

I took up one subject in college twice. The subject is called Molecular Biology and Biotechnology or BIO101. The first time I took it, I was either half asleep or lost in my own world. Whenever the professor steps inside the class and utters words like recombinant DNA technology, polymerase chain reaction, and Agrobacterium tumefaciens, my brain automatically shuts off and brings me into another world where there is sanity. I just didn't get what the professor was saying. My classmates also admitted that the professor was not so good in explaining things, but then they still learned something while I flunked the exams and eventually the course.

The following semester, I took up all the courage to take the course again (or else I won't graduate). I prayed hard that I would be assigned in the other section, handled by another professor, hoping that I would be enlightened with the world of biotechnology in her classroom. On the first day of class, I almost had a heart attack,  because the same professor entered the room. I felt frustrated and asked God, "Why, Lord?" thinking that what I was asking was for my good and was too easy for Him to give. Having no choice, I braved every class, attended group reviews, did my assignments, and prayed novenas to pass each test. By the end of the semester, my name was on the list of students who got 4 as grade, meaning I have to take the removal exam again or else I'll take the course one more time! I went to the church and cried bucket of tears, lamenting that I might not be able to pass the course again.

When I got my class card, I saw my grade. It is 3.0. I passed the course!!! (Play Alleluia Chorus here). It was as if I saw 1.0 instead of 3.0 because it felt like I aced the course.

There are these moments that we are too pissed off about the situation we are facing. It seemed like we experiencing the wrath of apocalypse and there's no more end to the hurt, frustration, and agony. Whenever I face such situations, I remind myself, "Hey, it isn't over yet." For sure God has the best in store for me and all my hardships would not end here. He's never deaf to my prayers. He loves me. So I hold my head up high again and wait for God's blockbuster finale to that phase of my life.


My BIO101 story did not end there. Four years after college, I found myself applying for a company with biotechnology in its name. I recalled my ordeal with the subject and thought that I might not make it to the company. But God had plans. I am now on my fifth year as a science writer in that company, developing materials and publications to demystify biotechnology and help the public make informed decisions about it. Now I can explain recombinant DNA technology, polymerase chain reaction, and Agrobacterium tumefaciens to anyone without batting an eyelash. Isn't it ironic, don't you think? 

Beep beep beep nose!

Kaitlin is learning to speak more words every day. It’s just so amazing how she has developed from a small infant who only knew “waaaah!” more than a year ago can now utter so many words like mommy, daddy, wiwi, kiss, bye, and nanite (good night).

Last night, she started singing a strange song, “Beep, beep, beep, beep nose...” We were so puzzled, because we did not teach her any song with such lyrics. We asked all the persons she has interacted with during the past days, but they were also clueless. We tried to listen to the songs and movies she used to watch but still, we had no answers.

This afternoon, I told the story to my best friend, a stay at home mom of a toddler. She affirmed that her baby also seems to compose songs but she later realizes which song her baby was singing. I sang the song to my best friend, and she knew the song! It’s from FrozenArendelle’s in deep, deep, deep, deep snow…” We cannot stop laughing at ourselves for not recognizing the lyrics and the tone.
This story reminded me about recognizing God’s voice in our everyday lives. His voice isn’t like what we watched in Super Book, where God speaks in very low tone coming from the clouds. Today, with so many voices in our heads, it could be hard to listen which one is God’s, especially if we are not used to listening to Him.


A prayer is a conversation with God. We talk, he listens; then He talks, and we listen. If we miss the part when God speaks to us, then the conversation is unfinished, incomplete. So let us speak to Him every day, and listen to Him more. By this, we become more familiar to His voice. We become more drawn to His call. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Blessings, come here

Last week, I made a bold prayer for provision. God's answers came instantly in different ways.

In just one week, I got two free shirts which were unexpected. I also got rush orders for Cupcake Factory. Our boss treated us with pizza as afternoon snack! I know God has more blessings in store for us, and I am thanking Him in advance.:)