The Showroom

“Father, where are we going? I should be going back to my paper.”

Silently, He kept on walking until we reached a white bungalow surrounded by a vast  garden dotted with red and white carnations and  various colors of roses–my favorite flowers. Although I was glad He intervened in my hysteria over my paper that I cannot seem to write perfectly (which I always do), I was anxious about visiting another person’s showroom. Upon adopting a child, Father made him or her a showroom where He hammered away the nails, painted all the right, beautiful colors, exterminated all pests and embellished the entire house at the right places until perfection emanates from all its [showroom] angles.  Once He took me inside an extension room of twin brothers (they each had separate showrooms) where I learned how shallow my life was in my own little world back in “the real world” and how I was victimized by the world’s low expectations of me. I got mesmerized by the beautiful, exciting, disciplined and different lives on display across the red walls of the room that I vowed to step in the “rebelution” myself. Right now, though, all the passion and zeal contained in me two years ago slowly faded away as I encountered tough challenges. Maybe–just maybe–I wasn’t made to be that different at all. Father fumbled for the key in His  bag, and having found the right one, He unlocked the showroom and opened the door. “If I were you, I would forget about that paper for a while and enjoy this showroom. Leave your bag by the porch.” So He heard me after all. Although He did not intend to comfort me (or maybe He did because His tone was gentle),  for some reason His words brought consolation to my weary soul. I removed my heavy backpack and left it on the porch. I walked to the showroom frowning, but when I entered inside, I smiled. Make that beamed.

“This is my dream design!” The thick cement walls were painted white with a wooden design like old bungalows on a private beach. Vintage and femininity marked every item, painting, furniture piece, appliance and object that were neatly and correctly designated in different areas. A large, square colorful sketch on a canvas of my family of five–Dad, Mom, Josh and James–hung on the wall facing the door. “I always wanted a family painting in my house.” Below the gigantic picture were two pictures half the size of the first one which showed the beaming faces of my relatives from each parental side (the maternal side seemed smaller from afar, though, because we had to squeeze in all 20-plus of us while on the paternal side, we are only 11). I continued tinkering with accessories, toys and other objects that I had back at home which reminded me of my elementary and high school years: the glass plate I received in grade 4 for having the best-looking cubicle (only this time, the plate was marble and my name was engraved in Old English font) and the many 1st-place medals I won for Poetry Recitation, Storytelling, Singing with 3 other girls and memorizing and reciting five books of the Bible. My favorite part was the diploma display above all the other medals and certificates in a staircase style–the first one back in preschool was on the lowest stair, followed by the elementary diploma then the high school diploma. The empty case above the high school diploma inspired me all the more to work hard in college because I was only 3rd best in high school. After a minute passed, I walked to the adjacent area near the dining room where pictures attached in strings hung from the ceiling. Memories flooded my mind as I held each photograph: my firsthand experience in government under the Arroyo administration; the various retreats I’ve attended and enjoyed, my evolving style and physique (from “What was I thinking” to “I’m in my right mind now, thank you very much”); receiving my gadgets from my Dad; birthdays in hotels and fancy restaurants; roles in different plays, performing at the Araneta Coliseum during our church anniversary and so many other memories. After what seemed to be an hour or two of beholding this showroom–my showroom–I heard that deep yet gentle voice calling me from a not-so-distant room. I totally forgot about Father.

I followed the path of His voice and arrived at a small room. “Do you remember this, honey?” What He showed me awed me. I held a 3D and 4D LCD replica of my church’s previous architecture back when the main auditorium was smaller and was situated in the 4th floor. Inside the hall, it was dark, but light emanated from a stage where I saw a familiar man speaking.

“Oh, it’s Kuya Ryan! He used to be Jzone’s youth pastor.” His voice sounded exactly the same as if today was five years ago–February 25, 2006 to be exact. “I remember this very much Father! This was the time I became your daughter!” It was indeed a glorious time for Him and a comforting moment for me as I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart that day. Father hugged me tightly and at that moment all the stress, fear and anxiety I stuffed inside me vanished. Finally, I was free. I cried in His arms, mumbling sincere confessions and breathing deeply every once in a while. After a few minutes, I let go, wiped off my tears and smiled. I looked up to Him and saw that He did exactly the same. He cried when I cried. I couldn’t be any more joyful.

“I saw a while ago that you’ve enjoyed My design for you. But that’s not the best part.” He closed the windows and shut off the lights until the room was pitch black. He switched on the light and suddenly, stars appeared on the ceiling.

“The dark room!” I exclaimed. It was indeed wonderful. The pictures floating in midair seemed to be generated by some highly advanced computer software where the people in them moved. I watched the photos intently as they passed before me. Each passing scenario flashed a moment when I encouraged someone in one of many ways: staying up late to help a brother with his homework; nursing my Mom when she was sick; listened to a friend who was burdened with so many problems; or simply smiling to a child along the street.

“Don’t you ever dare say you are insignificant, child, because if it weren’t for you, these people would have missed out on the most important person in their lives: Me.”

“But Father, you were the one Who sought them out. I mean, You  died on the cross,not me.”

“But you let yourself be used by Me. I want people to be members of my team. You stepped outside your comfort zone and bravely shared My Word to broken people in spite your fear and own problems. You depended on Me every step of the way. And I commend you for that.” Immediately Father switched on the lights and the images disappeared. I looked past Him and saw an unpainted wooden door with  “Progress” written on it. “What is that room, Father?”

“That needs yet to be furnished. If you continue to trust Me, this showroom–and in the future, a house–would grow more beautiful than it already is.”

Wow. More beautiful. Anything far more beautiful than what I just saw exceeds the capacity of my imagination. “But why is the door different? I mean, it’s so shabby and holed.”

Father looked at the door, then at me. “Everything you saw a while ago and the things I plan to do in the future are all made with joy. Once the termites set in, they start corrupting.” I looked down and knew exactly what He was talking about. Why didn’t I think of that? Worry should have no place in my life.

Before I could even ask Him more questions, the house vibrated. I wished it didn’t, but I knew that we had work to do. This was Father’s workplace. “It’s time to go back now, my child. Do not be troubled. I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. I love you.”

“I love you too, Daddy.” The showroom faded into black and then into my room. I stopped my vibrating phone and looked at my word-free paper in front of me. Finally I can write a creative narrative of my life–perfect, just the way I like it. 🙂

 

Reasons To Be Thankful


The temperament I was endowed with sometimes makes me throw a pity party, wallow in depression then suddenly “find myself again” and become really happy. I learned that the best antidote to this tendency is a grateful heart. Before I typed this entry, I was thinking of scars and heartbreaks, and I realized it wasn’t healthy to discuss that (I think I’ve had enough with negativity in my previous post about my “thorn in the flesh.”) So I believe it’s just right and appropriate to write about good stuff. 🙂

Last Friday, 12th of November, was the 18th birthday of my dear HS batchmate, Nomel. It’s debut season for me–that is, attending debuts. I enjoyed talking and seeing my classmates and schoolmates again.

Of course, there was the Sunday victory. Up to now I still cannot explain the feeling of pride and triumph over a foe I didn’t lift a finger to defeat. We call it national pride. Well, I don’t really care how it works; all I know is that, finally, we Filipinos have something to be proud of. Actually, it’s not just the victory I’m proud of: it’s our HONESTY. Margarito was a cheater. Unfortunately, he had to learn his lesson the hard way and in front of millions of people worldwide.

Poor guy.

Manny, why you so rich?

Yes, the wealthy Pacman  has become even richer! I hope that he does not fail to give God the 10% and even donate to the building fund! 😀

I also received money last Sunday courtesy of my grandmother/aunt (only one person). Of course it’s no match compared to Manny’s 43-million prize (according to reliable sources), but I thank God for it. I needed it to buy gifts for special people in my life for their birthdays.

Lastly, I thank God for today. Using the money I received from my Aunt Zeny, I bought gifts for my youngest brother and a close friend who celebrate their birthdays TODAY! 😀 It was a pleasure buying gifts.

Thank You, Lord, for a wonderful weekend and a nice head start. Tomorrow’s another rest day!

Are You Smarter Than a Butterfly?

“He makes everything beautiful in His time….”


Next to childbirth, a butterfly’s metamorphosis is my most favorite natural process. It is a clear and factual example of ugly duckling-turned-swan–from a fat, ugly caterpillar to a fragile, attractive butterfly. I still cannot comprehend how such a fat creature can turn into something big. It encourages me with two things. First, thinning down is possible. The butterfly “exercised”; so must I. Second, something bad can turn into something good. A problem is a blessing in disguise. An enemy can be your best friend.

The most difficult stage of a butterfly’s life is the third stage–the stage where it has to fit itself–its former, stocky caterpillar self–into a 2-3 inch cocoon.Imagine the struggle it suffers day in and day out. What must the poor creature be thinking? Could it have thought about getting out of the cocoon in order to breathe and live normally again as a caterpillar? What if, halfway through the metamorphosis, it chose to give in to the struggle and give up the challenge? Would it ever emerge so beautifully as an intricate piece of gold embellished with various stones and gems?

Ponder on the last two questions for a while. Relate a butterfly’s metamorphosis to your own life. Notice how struggle applies to both situations. It’s a fact: life is a daily struggle. Life, as you grow older, gets less “spacious” and more difficult to live in. Just like a butterfly, you push side to side and wait. For a looooonnng time. Hoping. Imagining what life must be outside. In a spacious paradise. Where I could fly freely without being decapitated by a cocoon.

Another question: does the caterpillar know that one day, it would become a butterfly? I don’t think so. Actually, I can’t be so sure, but either way, it does not matter because insects cannot think. But we can. That’s what makes humans exceptional and spiritual. We have a soul. If you’re a child of God, you know the promise that awaits you in Paradise. You long for it so much–you wish you could break free from your earthly cocoon and fly freely in your Heavenly Home. Let’s emulate the butterfly’s ‘attitude’. Without knowing the beauty that it would soon possess after undergoing severe lock-up in a cocoon, it waited and suffered a little suffocation and loneliness. But hey, if God cares about a negligible butterfly, won’t He care much for you? You whom He created and loved. You whom He saved from the depths of hell. You whom He thought about since the beginning of time. “Will He not graciously give you all things for your enjoyment?”

So brother or sister, worry not when life seems to trap you in its suffocating cocoon. The Creator has not neglected nor forgotten you. Wait. Patiently suffer affliction. Persevere. Be hopeful for that promise. Because if you don’t, you would be outsmarted by an insect. And you wouldn’t want that, would you? :>

unSHACKled

Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?

Countless people ask this question. Some find answers, some don’t. Maybe they do, but they choose to reject the truth because they think it is too unbearable, too painful to simply accept it.

Mackenzie Allen Phillips asked the same question and felt the same way. He was on vacation with his family when his youngest daughter, Missy, went missing. As time and search progressed, evidence found in an abandoned shack in the Oregon wilderness suggested that Missy may have been brutally murdered. Four years later, in the midst of his “Great Sadness,” Mack receives a mysterious note in his mailbox that invited him to revisit the shack for the weekend. Apparently, the note came from God.

Desire won over Mack’s better judgement. Thus, on one wintry afternoon, Mack left home and revisited the shack where all the pain inside him stemmed from. The succeeding events inside that shack will change his life forever.

Let me be the nth person to say it: This novel is a magnum opus of Jesus– next to the Bible, of course :D. He used W.M. Paul Young, the author, to intelligently and wisely connect the dots of the plot, match the right words and create an extraordinary masterpiece. His working in Mack’s life is an encouragement to all His other children especially those who harbor pain, grief and independence in their hearts.

Mack’s story made me smile, think and shed a tear. Although it’s not and never will be as perfect as the Bible, it somehow corrected my wrong notions of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It’s a mystery I have been trying to solve for months, but after reading the book, I decided to just leave it at that. When there is no mystery, thrill does not exist. And who does not love thrills? Okay, maybe you don’t, but I certainly do!

This book is for everyone–Christian or not, in pain or in joy. Never neglect the divine revelation of God–the Bible–but also do not belittle the wisdom and spiritual truths explained in this novel. As I flipped the pages and comprehended every paragraph, I understood the nature of God; His unexplainable and overflowing love, grace, compassion, patience, forgiveness and provision for me and all His children. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are overwhelming but amazing. There is no regret in choosing to trust them. In fact, it’s the only key to understanding the essence of human existence. Depending on Jesus is the first key to being truly human.

Dear friend, as you near the end of this review, I encourage you to go to your nearest bookstore as soon as possible and purchase a copy of The Shack. In the Philippines it’s quite an expensive book compared to other Christian books, but I tell you, it’s definitely worth the buy.

As you read, there will be times wherein you have to stop and think about a statement or principle mentioned in the book. You may not agree with it or find it too difficult to comprehend. It’s okay; I experienced the same thing. You do not have to agree with everything the author says since he has his own values and morals, but as with any other Christian book, The Shack has one main objective: that you get to know Jesus better and in a more personal way. He is the Source of heartwarming, life-changing stories that turns the world upside down.

The Shack. Buy it. Read it.

And may our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ unshackle you from your suffering and pain! 🙂

Beware of Joy-Stealers

Yesterday I experienced a little bit of the downside as a rookie in an ad/media agency: boredom, feeling of being so unproductive, unnoticed. I had no meaningful conversations with the people around me, only simple yes’s and no’s when needed.

My parents have to bring my uncle to the airport by 7 P.M. so my dad picked me up by 4. I was so bored (and quite sad) that I decided to leave at 3, vanishing from the scene. (But I asked permission from my superiors about my early dismissal)

Today is quite the opposite of yesterday’s dramatic scene. We had lunch at a delicious Vietnamese restaurant (though I did not order anything because I had pack lunch!) and finally, I had something productive to do. I also received free teenage magazines and piaya, a delicious Filipino snack. I had meaningful (more than yes’s and no’s) conversations with the people around me.

Today as I type this entry, I analyzed myself: feelings, emotions, reasons for sudden changes. What was the cause of it all? Hormones? The people around me? Those two things are beyond my control, but even they are not the sources of my sudden change of emotions. The problem lies within my character, perspective and object of joy. I am reminded of a very remarkable preaching by our senior pastor. Who is my god? Is it God, the Creator of the universe, myself or my job? “Anyone that can cause you worry or sadness, or the opposite, is your idol.” I realized I’ve made my job my idol–the god I worship. The job determined what I would feel, how I would act and respond to certain situations. If God was my god, I would respond joyfully even if I don’t get what I want.

If ever you feel downcast, anxious or depressed because of your job or ministry, check your heart. Maybe you’ve lost your joy because you focused your eyes on another idol and started going after it. Beware of joy-stealers. They add lines to the forehead and speed up the ageing process. :))