Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Posts tagged ‘love’

Train Up A Child In the Way He Should Go…

Little Judah was already tired. He’s just three years old and he had this long, unwavering patience not found in most children. Lans had to tag the little boy with us because she was his babysitter for the day.

“Ban-og ka (Are you tired)?” she asked Judah in Ilocano.

The little boy shook his head a wee bit as we were trudging along an inclined path. Still, she lovingly gave him a piggyback ride on her back.

I was impressed with this little boy. He has been with us in an event full of adults, an almost childless place where he could have the right to be bored and display social tantrums. But I did not hear him whimper a sigh of complaint. I have noticed that this has been the personality of most Igorot people – they are not pushy and they are very kind. I wonder how well they were raised as children. I could see that Lans and with the other adults around him are raising him well.

Most parents today, especially those who the Igorot people would label as lowlanders, are quite confused with the thin line of discipline and cruelty, as well as kindness and spoiling children. I find some parents not being aware that their way of discipline is actually destroying them.

I had observed how some parents would berate and try to embarrass their children in public by calling them “stupid”, “fool”, or “useless”. A former colleague felt sorry for a three or two-year-old who was berated by his father by blurting out a curse just because the child accidentally spills his drink inside the jeepney. Parents who would scold like that would never discipline a child because they are just declaring who their children might be when they grow older. They usurp their authority as a parent because they don’t realize there is power when they are declaring names over their children.

I must admit I don’t like children who do not regard their elders around them. There was a five-year-old girl who did not give me a mano (the Tagalog tradition of children placing their elder’s hands on their forehead as a sign of respect), despite her mother nearly screaming at her to do it. In return, I could not help but glare at her threateningly to set down her utensils because she was already waving them before our faces (despite her mother screaming at her again). Most of the times, screaming and shouting is not the way to discipline them. I guess children are tired of their parents’ screams so they would taunt them by closing their ears. A sincere heart-to-heart talk is all they need because they need to understand the consequences of their actions.

Let me go back to little Judah. Now, Judah has an elder sister named Blessie. At one time, Blessie made drawings on the wall and Judah imitated her. You know how messy a clean wall can become when scribbled by a playful kid. Lans, in her patient nature, set aside Blessie and talked with her gently.

“Did you see the drawing on the wall?”

The little girl nodded.

“Did you see what Judah did after you wrote on the wall?”

No long sermon needed. By the sound of her question, Blessie understood her mistake. She nodded without a word.

“Do you see it’s wrong to draw on the wall?”

Blessie nodded.

“That’s right. You should be a good example to your little brothers because you are their ate (elder sister). So be careful with what you do. Ok?”

No raising of voice. Words were just spoken calmly like the morning waves of the sea. But it deeply strikes the conscience like an arrow. Blessie did not leave any marks on the wall anymore.

It’s tragic when our lighthearted culture dictates it looks cute when small children display tantrums around elders because they look funny. But tolerating that would only tolerate rebelliousness. That’s why when parents correct bad habits by the time children are older, these kids snap out of it and slap it back on their parents’ faces.

Much needed to correct in the way we correct our children. Somehow, most parents in my generation are not used to be disciplined because they belong to a generation waning away from the strict authoritarian rule exuded by our much older Spanish ancestors. They have created their own way of discipline. There is a need for parents to be aware how to discipline their children well without removing love out of their system. There is a greater need for parents to learn how to pass down good traits to their own children in a well-mannered and disciplined way.

I have this sense that our culture has a big factor in the way we react to correction and discipline. Truly Proverbs is already advising us to “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” If we instil into them the wisdom to do what’s right at an early age, they will embrace it as they grow up. When we discipline them in the correct way, they will grow up as good-mannered citizens. With this, we can be proud of ourselves and with them, because we are adding up another history maker in this generation that needs deeper understanding on what is right or wrong.

Pressured To Marry

She’s nice. She’s cheeky. She’s bubbly. She’s your typical story-filled housewife who got some good cooking. Until she blurts out. “What a beautiful girl! Does she already have a husband?”

Ok. I’ve encountered this question a hundred times. This time, she was asking my mom while she was eyeing me whose head to toe is donned in my favorite yellow, flowered dress. “No.” My mom replied as a matter-of-factly.

“That can’t be,” she gasped, just like any typical gossip-obsessed housewife. It came with that typical warning that never failed my irate eyebrow rocket towards my hairline, “You’ll grow old a spinster. You should have children.”

With that sympathizing look, she made me look like another human casualty in the evolution of genetics. Fine.

If I would point out my argument in the middle of that dusty, rural street she would never understand. Just like hundreds of married people who have asked me that same question.

I just couldn’t understand why they have to pressure me with that farcical question.

Our Asian culture dictates women to marry at a young age. Women at their thirties are considered too old to marry, more so get a boyfriend (I’m sure I’d be fatally labelled a “leftover woman” in China). As time and culture evolves, women are becoming more empowered, independent and are given more choices to challenge themselves outside the confinement of motherhood.

I am one of those women who have chosen that path.

Of course, that does not mean I don’t want to marry. I would like to fall in love and be loved. I would like to see myself wearing a wedding gown and kiss the man who is destined to be The One. But I am not in a hurry. Why should I marry if I am not in love and no one’s in love with me?

Just like many modern women today, we are given a wide range of choices and paths to take. Be the CEO of a prestigious company. Go into extreme sports and adventure. Explore the Mariana Trench. Manage fifty lucrative businesses. Achieve the Air Force with flying colors. Claim the Miss Universe crown. Win a presidential race. Save the world.

This is the viewpoint of women (and even men) who live and work in the metropolis. But not those who live in the rural life.

I would honestly never forget my chagrin when a member of the Badjao community had told me I should get married so I can have kids who would bury me when I die. Girls as young as 13 are marriageable to this group of people while 18-year old ladies are considered a spinster among them. I could not believe the limited perspective these people have nurtured throughout generations. 

This line of thinking is almost similar to the people living in my community. Partly rural and partly urbanized, most residents living here are below middle-income earners. Some were not finished in schooling. Basically, their choices are limited, as well as their resources. This leads them to the pattern of living-eating-marrying-working-have kids-die.

Ok, it does not mean one dies immediately after giving birth. But my point is most of them believe this is the same pattern everyone should go through. And every women should marry in the age history had dictated on man.

Or maybe, the age that our ancestors have dictated on man.

“Thirty! You’re too old to get married.” Rolls eyes.

“I’m married at 18 but I’m happy.” That’s your happiness, not mine.

“Would you like me to recommend somebody?” Shows me a picture. Throws up in the trash bin.

“You should marrying –” Shhhhh!! I don’t have a boyfriend! You mean I’d marry my toenail?!?!

I have sighed endless of times at those sickening questions. Gentle warning, some would say. But for me it’s the gripping reality on how limited a cultural perspective could be. 

I am not in a hurry to get married. I don’t worry about not having children. Too many marriages are broken because they have served their own selfish urges or followed the dictation of society without testing it through wind and fire. Marriage comes with careful consideration, prayer, commitment, and refinement. 

No one could ever understand when one is different among them. A single lady living among married contemporaries is as odd as the house of the Mad Hatter standing among the same tattered houses. Society dictates us to go through the same path they have gone through. They call it normal. I call it boring.

One’s destiny should not be dictated by the majority who knows no other way out of the box. Our age and status is not the basis of our purpose in life. Man’s judgement is not the fulfillment of things. No one has the right to taint the purity of our choices as only we ourselves can understand why we have chosen this path that’s different from them. Only God knows the best for us and society can never grasp that for our sake.

Acting Like A Queen

“Hegai liked Esther and she won his favor. He lost no time in beginning her beauty treatment of massage and special diet. He gave her the best place in the harem and assigned seven young women specially chosen from the royal palace to serve her.”

Esther 2:9

I’ve always felt a dislike towards rich or powerful people. They seem snobbish towards the poor and the disadvantaged. But what I don’t realise is sometimes their regality is a reflection of their true identity that is honorable and pure.

Esther must have been regal in every way, the reason she was chosen to be the Queen of Persia. The six-month treatment given to her seemed to have spoiled her well. But it’s not meant to spoil her. It was meant to mold her into what she was meant to be.

I have been battling with an orphan mindset for a long time. (Maybe that’s why I love to recite the line, “Alms, alms…spare me a piece of bread” with wide, teary Puss In Boots eyes when I was in high school…nah.) But really, I’m 31 but I would move around like a sorry little girl by thinking I should not become better than others. I have always thought I’d offend people when I do. And this what hinders me to my calling.

I believe I have been called to be a leader since I was a kid. I have been placed as a leader in school projects but would not fare well, I believe. Others would see a leadership potential in me that I could hardly see. But I’d always shy away…

But no matter how I run away from the call, it always follow me. There are times I’d do well as an elder, an ate, a leader. But at the back of my mind, I’d tell myself I can’t do this…it’s because I’m afraid of failing.

But Esther, an orphan, did not act like one. Instead, she stood out among others by going beyond the notch. Before she became one, she already acted as a queen and already had the heart of a queen. Besides that, she dislodges all notion that all powerful and rich leaders are aloof and distant to commoners as she saves her Jewish people from being destroyed under Haman’s plan.

Romans 8:17 says, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

So being a co-heir is like being adopted into the family of God! Because we accept Jesus into our lives, we share in His inheritance, the glory and yes, even sufferings. But I believe these sufferings are not meant to punish us but they are to refine us, knowing that Jesus Himself has carried the punishment meant for us on the cross. 

I need to act as one who is in authority, just like Jesus. I should not stalk around like a little orphaned girl asking for alms while the Father is willing to give the best for me. I need grace – extra, extra grace to get out of the wounds of the past and break off from the pride of the pity party in order to take the crown and overcome in love and boldness. May I become totally free, so as not to be hindered from what I am being called for.

Ending An Old Dream

I am beginning to cut myself from various organizations I’ve worked with a few years ago. For the last two weeks, I’ve been sending text messages and e-mails to their media officers to remove my name from their list of recipients. I have nothing to do with the press releases I have been receiving for a long time, now that I am not a part of any media body anymore.

I’ve come to a moment in time that I would want to completely turn away from a career I once esteemed highly: a reporter. For four years, I’ve been part of various coverage that had made their niche in history. I have witnessed newsworthy events that tingled my adrenaline to grab a good story, as well as having the privilege to brush elbows with the popular and even the notorious. But I have to leave that all behind now.

I guess I’m getting old. I have become tired of spending countless hours of staying up late just to finish a story. I am also tired of being ubiquitous wherever the desk or the executive producer demands. I want to work in peace. I want to live a normal life.

But it doesn’t mean I regret having this career.

I would always cherish this season in my life as memorable, not because of the prestige its label bring, but because of the lessons I’ve garnered and the character -refinement have undergone. I’m not as brave as I look, but it boosted my guts to go out and face silly questions like “Does anybody watch your station?” or try not to panic at a raging rally. It shifted my views from being apathetic to being sober to the things happening around me. But most of all, it humbled me to be the one to deliver the story and not to be the one the story centers at.

This season has ended. The moment I turned away from it, the moment I also turn away from the bitterness of being unrecognized for a long time. Being a reporter does not last forever anyway. What’s important is that I keep my focus to the God who carries me from season to season, His overwhelming love and grace washing away the disappointments I’ve received from the past.

Dwelling In His House

“One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.”

Psalm 27:4
I was ironing my clothes when I had the fun of memorizing the first six verses of Psalm 27. I couldn’t help but go back at verse 4 over and over again, as this has become the favorite of many of us who are in love with Jesus.
Here’s one thing I realized while meditating on this verse. While this cry from the psalmist’s heart has become our heartfelt prayer, too, the Lord has already answered it through His Word, too.
1 Corinthians 3:16 reminds us, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” God’s has given His promise of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling to those who have given their lives to Christ. As we stand as the temple of His Spirit, we have access to His glory and His beauty which we can gaze all the rest of our lives. We don’t have to look for His presence from some distant place as He Himself is already living within our hearts.
I have been praying Psalm 27:4 but was surprised to know that God has already answered it. But this doesn’t mean I have to disregard it. Instead, I have to ask for an increase of awareness and of desire to walk with His closely, I can hear the sweet rhythm of His heartbeat.

Words Of Might On the Walls

I was getting ready to bed after a long day when I was captivated by an old framed picture in our house with these words…

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This gave me encouragement and a reason to be thankful for having real friends. I’m not rich with a millionaire’s bank account, but I realize I’m richer in God’s love through friends who don’t mind my status quo but who just love me for being myself. This wall decor has been with us with years and I never thought it would speak again powerfully. Here it quietly lies along the others in a small corner beside my room, where our eyes pass by them everyday but their existence is nearly taken for granted.

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I used to muse at each one of them when I was a small girl scratching the walls with various colored pens. I thought some of them was too dull to look at, so maybe I could make up a little story on one of them:

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As I was growing up, I would meditate at each of them from time to time. I believe this one has been the motto of most Christian families:

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This one is also a favorite verse during Sunday school days because it’s easy to memorize.

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As for this one, I pray the same for you.

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One little framed picture above them was a prayer for marriage. I have not mused on that yet, maybe because it’s not yet the season. 🙂

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My favorite among them is this framed poem of “Footprints In the Sand”. I’ve always wondered if real sand was used in this mixed artwork and marvelled at how Jesus can be that loving after reading the poem over and over again.

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Topping them all was this short but popular quote among Bible-believing Christians in my generation. That used to scare me as a kid because I haven’t had the grasp of what salvation was all about. I once thought that heaven was boring because I thought that we’d do nothing in eternity but play harps among the clouds.

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Lastly, the sides are furnished with these decors made if shells with a nearly fading handpainted blessing.

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Dust has already settled on them but the words they contain still carry the same power that can change lives. From time to time, I can’t help but stop and stare at one, and let me consider God’s promises in my life. I guess this is the reason they remain hanging on our wall. We just can’t take away God’s Word off our lives because it makes us alive. The time will come that these decors may deteriorate just like us, but for a season they have served the purpose of bringing back to our hearts of God’s covenant with us.

A Penny For A Thought

Ever wonder if the King of kings is fascinated with the cheerful laughter of an innocent child amidst the formalities of a Sunday service?

Or the silence of the winds on the trees while the drums blare wildly?

Do you ever wonder if these unnoticed signs say more than those we think say already much?

When are we going to communicate with our inner being that can secretly reach the Almighty without rocket science?

Once we do, would we be surprised if we discover new treasure folds of wisdom more amazing than the most mysterious of galaxies?

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