Thursday, January 16, 2020

OF BOOBOOS AND CANCER

Meet Varian, my dear constant date of late.

Now, before you raise your eyebrows, let me clarify. Varian, surnamed Truebeam, is this high-tech, space-age thingamajig dispensing radiation therapy against this totally dreaded disease---cancer.

With Heather and Cheri, and yes, gigantic Varian.
Yup, I’ve been diagnosed. But thank God, mine was itty-bitty and early stage; so my good doctors ordered only surgery and radiation therapy as major interventions.

Still, at the onset, this feeling of shock, “What, me? Cancer?” persisted. But as I catatonically hurdled the back-and-forth diagnostic tests and consultations, shock and fear gave way to awe.

How could a small “c” hold itself up against my big “C”!

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you,” Hebrews 13:5b, had never been crisp-er and touchy-feely. Christ promised to be with me through the highs and lows of my life---been utterly faithful so far. So how could I not trust Him now with this pin-prick?

Oh, yeah, pin-prick!

Because others really have it bad. My sister Malu endured her worst days with late stage cervical cancer.  As I write, three more among my loved ones, both sides of the family, are grappling with advanced stage cancer! I'm sure you have your own story to tell. 

No laughing matter, this insidious small "c". 

But see, mine was diagnosed early. And just in the nick of time! My hubby Jack and I recently just got our health insurance here in the US, breezed through a battery of baseline health diagnoses. Then bingo!

Yet, no fear! Him who holds our lives at the palm of His powerful hand has our backs covered.

He provided in advance for my situation. Because he never sleeps nor slumbers! (Psalm 121:4)

Loved ones, friends, our church pastors and brethren, bible study group members, prayed; sent well wishes; and checked in on me from time to time. May He give it back to them a thousand-fold.

Flowers? Never got a single petal. LOL, just kidding!

(Trivia from my daughter-in-law Opalyn: flowers are a no-no for cancer patients, especially those on chemo treatment. Something in them may lower their immune system.) 

Had my surgery at Scripps Mercy Hospital before Christmas. And enjoyed my best Christmas ever---my daughter Lucci's family from Australia spent the holidays with us. Talk of perfect timing. Talk of love being the best picker-upper.
Happiest Christmas every with my family...
and with my sister's family
 
Didn't He promise that His joy would be our strength? (Nehemiah 8:10)

He’s Jehovah Rapha, my healer, Exodus 15:26.

Booboo or cancer? They’re all the same to Him. If he commands, away it goes, pronto!

I thank Jack, son Carlo, and Opalyn for their perpetual presence, patiently bringing and waiting and sitting with me as we went from doctor to doctor and a myriad of diagnostics.

My family, especially our grandkids, have been a balm for my perennially downcast self . Yes, even as I ceaselessly prayed for my  little booboo to go away.

That’s what healing is all about: God’s love and family constantly going the extra mile with you even in your worst days. 

So here I am, on my third day of a three-week radiation treatment, with Varian as my everyday gizmo date. Won’t miss him though when it’s over. 

I’ll treasure though the radiation team behind Varian—Cheri, Heather, Noelle—of the Sharp Medical Center Douglas and Nancy Barnhart Cancer Center, San Diego (as all my doctors and other carers from both hospitals).

Today, trainees Kailey and John came to observe. Yey! for young people entering the medical and health care field. Patient caring is probably one of the toughest jobs around. It's a calling and a passion.

A special shout out to Scripp’s nurse Janice (a Filipina!) who made sure my pre-surgery procedures pushed through in spite of some scheduling snafus. A grade ten for commitment and stick-to-itiveness.

Lord, bless them all: doctors, nurses, other hospital and specialty medical services personnel whose expertise and genuine caring for patients make our days a little brighter.

Grace personified indeed.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

DON'T MISS CHRISTMAS



Christmas is not about what we do, but what God has done, says Pastor David Jeremiah of Shadow Mountain Church. 

We may celebrate Christmas, yet disregard the celebrant, he lovingly reminded us. Could you see yourself in some of the characters he mentions? 


The first group---those who could have rejoiced about the Messiah's coming yet missed it. 

Herod---whom the wise men asked about the King of the Jews---instead raged with jealousy, and ordered the murder of Bethlehem infants two years old and under. 

Scripture experts, the religious, of that time who knew that the Christ was going to be born in Bethlehem never bothered to check and worship the new-born King.

The inn-keeper---particularly busy, excited about his cash-register's ca-ching as guests filled his rooms while they arrived for the population census---failed to recognize the promised Immanuel. 

"God with us" born right under his nose in his very own stable! The very One who could give him real riches! 

"How could he have missed the explosion of light and the angels? asked Pastor Jeremiah. 

Thousands must have flocked to the city that particular season, but only a handful got wind of that most significant event. 

Our second group---the wise men; the shepherds; and Joseph and Mary, the mother of Jesus who treasured these things in her heart. 

Unto us a Child is born. Unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6) 

A cause for wonder! A reason to worship. And proclaim.

The greatest event in history should make us pause and ponder and kneel in awe and talk about God's infinite mercy through Christ our Savior! 

Most of us miss it though. We get excited instead with the trimmings---the parties, the tinsels and the gifts, and the blinking artificial lights. 

Oh yes, the carols and kids all over, pay greater tribute to this jolly good fellow in a red suit. 

It's good to party. Giving gifts? Why not. But if we're tied up with these outward manifestations and symbols and rituals more than Christ himself, we celebrate Christmas in vain. 

Be in the party, but don't miss the celebrant!

Some people, like Herod, are so vested in themselves and their status that they fail to see the Christ, says Pastor Jeremiah. 

Others are plain too busy and tired---always rushing, fretting and worrying, and never having time for what matters most. 

Being extra generous especially on Christmas, yet not acknowledging Christ who is the source of all things, is simply a no-brainer. 

Mary, after being told by the angel that she would bear the Christ, proclaimed to Elizabeth her cousin, "My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, Luke 1:46-47.

Why not be like these three: 

Mary who stood in awe of God, pondered about it in her heart, and freely spoke about God's favor. 

The wise men who traveled from foreign lands to worship Jesus and lay gifts at His feet. 

The shepherds who enthusiastically proclaimed the Christ to whomever they met. 

Push back all that unnecesary "stuff", suggests Pastor Jeremiah. "Don't do Christmas yet miss it." 

Let Christ alone be Christmas.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

GUT ISSUE

image credit: rgbstock.com
Your gut—that's where it hurts the most, if you miss your meal, or took strong medication so that your stomach flora fails to function properly.

End result? Ulcers, rupture of your stomach lining, damaged vital organs like liver, pancreas or kidney, and iffy overall health.

I'm no health expert but I just want to use the gut as a metaphor for this thought which has percolated to boiling point in my heart.  

A very recent news: Our fishermen's boat hit by a boat from China. As neighbors should, a little help—like bailing out the 22 Pinoy fishermen and bringing them to safety—would have been the instinctive response,right? Could have been a good closure. End of story.

But it was not meant to be. No such help was offered. Per reports, a Vietnamese fishing boat came to the rescue—corroborated the Pinoy fishermen's story, by the way—along  with a Philippine navy ship.  

Was the damage small? Were the fishermen shaken? Whether it was a big or small dent, or the fishermen remained calm or not—these don't matter anymore.

What matters today is: How did our leaders treat the situation? Take note, these Pinoys were fishing in Philippine waters. And the Chinese were the intruders. 

"Maritime incident," dismissed the man from the palace. "It is best investigated. I don't issue a statement now because there's no investigation and no result. The only thing we can do is wait and give the other party the right to be heard."  (Straits Times report, June 18,2019)

The incident happened June 9; above statement was uttered June 17; what happened in between? Whose right should he be concerned with—his people or the Chinese's?

OK, he's the top honcho. Where were his orders to investigate? Did his subalterns do it? Couldn't an official inquiry have been made sooner? 

He said further, the Philippines will not escalate tensions with China by sending military ships to the South China Sea…" As a knee-jerk response, is "the need to go to war" even a justifiable statement?  

What about compassion? What about a trickle of help? What about going there yourself or sending someone to commiserate with and get the fishermen's side first-hand?

What about assuring the public that this government is on top of the situation and will not tolerate abuse within our waters because we're a sovereign nation?  

What about taking the offenders to task if they're proven guilty?

That's the stuff of statesmanship—doing right by the people or the nation who put you in power in the first place. Not to throw blame or a cold shoulder because, who knows, "they may be telling a lie." What separates noblemen from the ignoble!

Or he just doesn't want to ruffle the guy or the people next door.  They who have swarmed our shores lately in the hundreds of thousands, either as illegal workers, 'build, build, build" financiers or contractors, businessmen and entrepreneurs, drug traders and many more. The list is endless.

Unless they're blinded or calloused, our leaders must by now know that our nation has run aground.  

It is a gut issue when our fishermen could not fish in our territorial waters—something which our leaders have relegated to the back-burners even if the international courts have already ruled in our favor. Why?!!

It is a gut issue when a daily earner's wife is in debt—to cook something to sell, because her husband is unable to fish.

It's a gut issue when illegal workers render jobless our carpenters and other manual laborers; with the Malacanang resident even labelling them, "Lazy! That's why the Chinese are taking over them."

It is a gut issue when a people is divided—with lies, cursing, sexual and rape jokes, shock and awe tactics, and bullying becoming a nation's daily fare. O, pity our children who are confused about which one is the better way—the bad or the good.

It is a gut issue when well-meaning politicians, and responsible media and media practitioners, are threatened, unfairly accused and lied about.  

These are gut issues because of their spirit-quenching and economic-shattering impact. Pinoys deserve better!

All these from one man (and his minions)? President of the Republic of the Philippines! What weight that title carries. But the one who answers to that exalted salutation—does he even care?

The One in heaven cares. He listens and He acts. What seems impossible with men is possible with Him. Meanwhile, let's not be coyed from speaking truth, calling out evil as it truly is—evil. 

We desire a corrupt-free and peaceful country? It comes at a price: taking a stand for what is right, obeying the law and contributing our fair share of productivity to nation-building. All these shall come to pass.

Pray and do good! We can do no less.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

IN PRAISE OF LEMON


Pity the lemon, a word oftentimes associated with mediocrity, worthlessness or misfortune.

"A lemon of a car," for a below-par-functioning vehicle.

"When  life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, " seems okay at first blush—because a lemonade is actually quite refreshing; but it really insinuates someone getting a raw deal in life.

"So just suck it up," is your only recourse—because though sour, lemon is juicy. Mapag-titiisan (bearable). Consuelo de bobo (mock consolation).

How did lemon get such bad press?  

Per english.stacexchange.com, lemon has since the mid-19th century been used as a metaphor for something leaving a bad taste in one's mouth,"and as a colloquial term for someone with a 'tart' or acidic personality, or more significantly, for 'sucker' or 'loser' or 'dim' person."

Enough of this, don't you think? Because to a lot of women, homemakers, chefs and food lovers, lemon is a God-sent.

Love pho, a Vietnamese comfort food? Lemon, plus the scent of basil, make it oh-sooo heavenly!

Arroz caldo, porridge Pinoy-style? Perfect match with lemon or calamansi, its Pinoy version .

You a pancit-lover? Apart from lemon or calamansi, our traditional noodle dish can be pretty bland.

Even cakes can be tart-ified with some lemon zest. Refreshing!

Need to detox, lose weight or whiten your teeth. Lemon-ize it!  

It would take book volumes to sing praises to lemon—from making us healthier,  to turning our dishes divine, to functioning as a cleaning and hygiene agent.

And because it can be raised in abundance, this gem of a fruit is not priced like gold. And here in the US of A, we're blessed to have friends surprising us from time to time with these golden treasures. (Waiting for our lemon tree to fruit.)

So this is a shout-out to Reggie and Nyorly. We're feasting on your lemons! Thanks. 

"Good!" That's how God described the plants he placed in Adam and Eve's garden.

Genesis 1:12 "And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after its kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after its kind; and God saw that it was good."

Just like salt, lemon is a flavor enhancer. Jesus calls his followers salt, earth flavorers.  

Matthew 5:13 "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?"  

Not on our own but by His grace—to touch others' lives for Jesus.

There's a nice ring to this too: "You are the lemons  of the earth. But if lemon loses its juiciness and zest, how can it be made juicy and zesty again?"   

Here's a tart "Never again!" to lemon slander.

Friday, May 3, 2019

DARIUS AND HIS ALLERGIES

Darius with his self-published book
"Narwhal and Squid"
A kid and his park are soon parted—at least momentarily for Darius whose one great love is playing in the park with his friends. 

A few months back, Darius joined an art competition in his school (Wolf Canton Elementary School, Chula Vista, San Diego).

Not only did his video project make it to school district level; his was the only one in its category from Wolf Canyon which moved to California state competition. 

Till today, he's more than euphoric. Who knows? National award may be next! 

I'm writing about Darius for a number of reasons. 

First: Darius is just ten years old (apart of course from the fact that his family and ours treat each other as kins). I've not met many kids this age quite serious about accomplishing tasks. 

Second: Darius wisely chose a topic he was familiar with. His entry dealt with a subject he'd experienced—allergies, which he's wrestled with since he was a baby.

(A lesson for wannabe writers! Write about things close to your heart. By the way, Darius also self-published a book, entitled Narwhal and Squid.)

Third: He poured precious time and energy to complete this project. 

Using Lego parts and a script he'd sequenced in his mind, Darius painstakingly put together those tiny interlocking bricks over and over again for the effect needed to animate them.


Resulting in one compact story: Boy eats cake, gets rashes. Dad calls 911. Ambulance arrives. Crew alight to put patient on stretcher. Ambulance drives to hospital. Staff unload patient. Medical staff attend to him. Boy gets well. 

All in three minutes, a total of more than a thousand clicks or frames, with music and sound effects for that edge-of-your-seat yet funny kiddie vibe to make you root for Lego Darius. 

Fourth: He heeded his parents' words and not the tugging of his playful self. Here's where I realize what parks and playgrounds mean to children. 

"He initially completed 400 shots, just enough for 40 seconds. And the requirement was a three to five-minute video," says Mom Elaine.

Realizing tons of work still needed to be done, Darius tried to cop out. "I miss playing in the park and being with my friends," he said, almost teary eyed. He'd been cooped up in this project for quite sometime. 

His dad Dennis asked, "Do you want to really join the competition?" 

"Yes," replied Darius. 

"Then you'll do it—because you can do it! Do a few shots a day so you can complete the story." added his dad. That meant 200 to 300 clicks—and Lego rearrangements per shot—a day! 

Two very loooong weeks of not setting foot on the park! Must have been torture! 

Fifth: This young man's patience and perseverance paid off. 

"I hope I make it to national level," confided Darius when I butted in recently as he and his Mom chatted on Messenger.

Pretty simple, huh. Accomplishing something is a step by step, click by click, one Lego-brick-at-a-time process. The image or plan simmering in your mind does not get to boiling point until you actually do it—and you stew in the process with seeming dead-ends, reworks and even disappointments.

But it's in the latter where real learning happens. And where a child realizes his parentsand those who care for himare around for their hugs and words of wisdom.

Doing things for the first time and being imposed a deadline are scary prospects for a kid. Actually, the being-afraid-part never ceases, yes, even if you're a confident career person or a senior. 

I pray that as Darius tackles life's bigger projects, he takes to heart this bible verse: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," Philippians 4:13; and continue to seek his  parents' guidanceMay he lean on Jesus for wisdom, the fear of God be foremost in his heart even as he, like David, confronts more Goliaths along the way.  


Saturday, April 27, 2019

EVIDENCE, YOUR HONOR


All those who believe in Jesus, raise your hands. 

I hope you did.

Yet, let's probe further. Have you entrusted your life to Jesus?

Your "yes" signifies that to you, Jesus is not just a religious icon or tradition; but someone you know and trust. For real! as my grandkid Natalie would say to prove a point.      

That's what faith in Jesus is all about. God didn't send His Son to bully us into submission. He wants us to get to that place where Jesus reigns as YOUR way, truth and life.      

It's not blind faith at all. Our trust in Jesus is backed by evidence.

Evidence 1: The empty tomb.

Third day after Jesus' crucifixion: the heavily-guarded tomb—with its huge stone covering—was empty.  

Instead, an angel sat there, saying, "Do not be afraid, I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay." (Matthew 28: 5-6)

JUST AS HE SAID. Yes, Jesus told His disciples beforehand!

"This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day…" Luke 24:46—foretold centuries ago by Moses, the prophets and the Psalms!

Evidence 2:  The risen Christ interacted with His followers.

Matthew 28: 8-10: So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell His disciples. Suddenly, Jesus met them. "Greetings," He said. They came to Him, clasped His feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."

They did see Him. Not only that, Jesus appeared to the eleven and other followers a few more times. He asked doubting Thomas to touch His nail-scarred hands.

Too, historical accounts testify of Jesus appearing to hundreds of people in numerous places for almost seven weeks after His resurrection, writes Paul Strand, CBN News.   

Evidence 3: Changed lives

"Something huge did happen to suddenly and forever turn all the cowering, cowardly disciples into bold believers, proclaiming a risen Messiah they were willing to be tortured and die for, " added Strand.

One can't dispute the evidence of changed lives. Who would risk ridicule, alienation and persecution for a lie?

And how can one explain the millions around the world, with our once off-track lives, foolishness and sky high egos, detouring toward God-righteousness?  

What would take for us to believe?

Thomas—who heard Jesus' life-changing messages and witnessed His miracles—doubted His resurrection!

“Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe,” Jesus told Thomas (John 20:27).

“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed,” verse 29.

The evidence is clear. Jesus—Son of God paying the perfect sacrifice for our sins—defeated death then went back up to heaven to intercede for us. Not surprisingly, heaven responds through no other name but His.   

Acts 4:12 "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved."

Thursday, April 18, 2019

WHOSE POINT OF VIEW?

Image credit: https://pixabay.com
We all have our own points of view—paradigm, I heard a Human Resource manager say while explaining varying world-views on morality.  

Because these perspectives are nurtured through time, we own them—or they own us—eventually. The closer they are to our convictions, the more we tightly guard them.

"I'll bring these beliefs to the grave with me!" I've heard this countless times, especially when talk comes to religion.

Discussing topics like faith, truth, integrity or honesty is like opening a can of worms. Debate about it some more and you're game-on for a word war; worse, your friend unfriends you.  

Our Creator, knowing us so well—our propensity to follow life's dark alleys—certainly didn't want us mired in a battle of wits and minds.

With these warring perspectives about key life issues—or simply what's right or wrong—the truth must lie somewhere, right?

Well, God didn't leave us clueless. He's provided us a template—the Bible! Just like an appliance manufacturer giving you a manual to operate your gadget properly.  

And if that's not enough, He sent His own Son, the consummate teacher—one who listened to and embodied His Father's instructions. Genesis described Him as the Word, Creator of the universe. At one  point in human history, He came down from heaven; lived among us; and taught us heaven's perspective.

John 1:14 reads: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

"I am the Way, the Truth and the Life…" (John 14:16), Jesus claimed; and proved it.  There's no losing your way on Truth Street!

When Jesus said, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free," (John 8:32) He's telling us even today: "Get my drift! Then filter your other so-called truths through that. Let's see which gives you genuine change."

But one does not need to die yet to prove that Jesus' words ring true. Proof of following after Christ or having his perspective and obeying them (having the mind of Christ, 1 Corinthians 2:16)?

Changed lives! Who can argue with that? The bible has proven itself to be not just a book; it is the book of life!

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

By all means explore life's different philosophies, faiths, ideologies. You owe yourself that—to acquire knowledge, understand and develop your point of view; then decide for yourself which way points to life. Real life.   

I once believed Darwin's theory of evolution; but the more I learned about God, the more I realized how foolish we've all been for believing a lie. Oh, the falsehoods we need to examine and let go!

What do you believe in?   


Believe in Jesus. Obey Him. And enjoy heaven's perspective.