Monday, November 28, 2011

Speak N Spook

A senior's spooked car at the parking lot

One of my daughter Lucci's most prized toys when she was four or five years old was Speak N Spell, gifted by her Uncle Vince.

Whipped up by Texas Instruments, it was probably one of the first "intelligent" speaking and interactive toys, along with Speak N Read and its math counterpart. "The reason why I became a spelling bee champion," wrote one Speak N Spell die-hard.

That's the nature of kids. They pick up fast, absorbing and orderly filing every word, image and experience in their minds---to be accessed when the need calls for it.

Recording and retrieval somehow slows down as one matures, pretty much like a Betamax* tape gathering soot and gnarling from too much heat or use or under-use.
*(For the sake of my young readers, you ought to know that there was a time in the history of mankind when recording sound or video involved an actual tape rolled in a plastic case, OK?)

And so those in mid-life find themselves constantly spooked, finding themselves more and more in this hearing-but-not-recalling, seeing-but-not-remembering, or wanting-to-speak-but-words-escaping state of calamity.

It's not really tsunami-level calamity but it's the type that sends you in crisis mode once you realize the frequency or immensity of your forgetfulness.

"Senior moment," we justify; then having a hearty laugh about it with our friends as we recall our own embarrassing incidents.

Ruben, one of our bible study members, shares his hilarious senior moment experience in a mall. (Ruben, please excuse the inaccuracy but since you told us this story close to 12 midnight, I was in pretty deep senior moment malaise myself.):

"My wife and I went down the parking lot but didn't find our car. We searched and searched but really couldn't find it. We felt miserable, and came to the conclusion: 'Our car has been stolen!'

"We must report this to the police, we decided.

Patay ako! (Woe is me!)' the police chief cried, upon hearing our story. 'Mag-re-resign ako!' He came close to panicking, apparently because he never had any record of carnapping in his territory. And he took pride in the fact that he had kept his record clean. Until now.

"It was now my turn to assure him everything would be alright. He really felt bad about the incident.

"With the full force of the police back with us in the mall, the search and investigation started---which brought me to another level of the parking building.

"Lo and behold, our car!"

I figured that because Ruben is such a jolly, friendly and good natured person, the police just laughed off the incident---though I wouldn't be surprised if they wanted to gang up on him and even hang him upside down, for the commotion he'd caused.

I've had loads of senior moments too. I bet you do too, if you're above 50.

I turned 60 recently. The more I think about it, the more I realize that whatever strength I have now is divine health lavishly poured on me by God. Come to think of it, in spite of some memory lapses, I can still write, teach, hold seminars---and remember the things I need to remember to teach or write with all the energy I can muster.

"Duh..." "uh..." and "er..." moments rarely happen when I teach. It's as if the Holy Spirit takes over as soon as I stand in front of the class.

Didn't Jesus say He will give us the right words to speak when we need to? Because He empowers through the Holy Spirit.

He continues to prove Himself true to His promise: "I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me!"

Seniors' creatinine, cholesterol, triglyceride and sugar counts may rise from time to time; thank God for doctors who help us with our ailments through medicines and wellness aids like food supplements and age-old solutions like malunggay and ampalaya.

But God's grace is still the daily pill which we could not do without. The same grace that He poured on us through Jesus Christ is the same grace that will sustain us through moments of forgetfulness and frailty---and enable us to be joyful and even laugh and not take ourselves too seriously if once in a while we blow it.

Ruben can laugh it off because He knows the one who sustains Him will never leave him or forsake him. He may have caused pandemonium among the police because of his temporary mind-shut, but Jesus will always be there, forgiving, encouraging, upholding, giving him a second or third or nth chance.

The Lord upholds those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The Lord is righteous in all His ways and loving toward all He has made. The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him; he hears their cry and saves them.(Psalm 145: 14; 17-19)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thoughts at Sixty

Look at how God has brought me, Jack and our kids thus far!

I approach the coming days with mixed emotions---excited at the prospect of enjoying 20% discount at every eat out or movie date, offered a seat at the supermarket while waiting for my groceries to be totaled, not to mention receiving my pension; yet perplexed that I'm now officially "senior".

Well, because reaching 60 means I've sort of crossed the threshold. I'm a bit closer to the revolving door. Just in the last few weeks, some friends---and they were younger---went ahead of me!

Tomorrow, I might still wake up to familiar surroundings---the smell of tuyo frying in our kitchen; but the very next day be looking down at my very rigor mortised or smoldering self inside the cremation chamber.

But then again, how could I not be thrilled that, with my curtain call, I would instantly be in the presence of my Maker, walking with Jesus streets of transparent gold, and maybe once in a while making chika with my mother or father or David or Joseph and other biblical characters whom I'd only known superficially as I read about them in the bible.

"Sixty" also floods my heart with thankfulness for His unceasing grace:

"When I think about the Lord, how He saved me, how he raised me, how He filled me with the Holy Ghost, how He healed me to the uttermost.

"When I think about the Lord, how He picked me up and turned me around, how He placed my feet on solid ground.

"I just wanna shout! Thank you Jesus!"

This song constantly resonates in my heart as I meditate on His faithfulness all the years of my vapor-like life!

All along, it has been His amazing grace enabling, healing, protecting, strengthening, empowering and providing my needs and my family's. It is the very same grace which will sustain Jack and me as we grow older. And who knows how many more grandchildren will call me "Wowa"? Only a few hours back, our son Carlo and daughter-in-law Opal joyfully confirmed that our third apo is definitely making his or her grand entrance June next year! Another apostolic mission.

So who's afraid of 60?

If the Lord delights in a man's ways, He makes his steps firm; though he stumbles, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand. I was young and now I'm old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. (Psalm 37:23-25)

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Wikipedia photo
Did you know that at one point in history, aluminum was more valuable than gold?

Aluminum bars took center stage in the 1985 Exposition Universelle in France, and Emperor Napoleon III was said to have gifted his honored guests with aluminum utensils and the lesser ones with gold.

Well, today, we know that that new standard is gold, priced at US$1,787 an ounce. Wow, that's a whopping P77,393---that much moolah to jet me Down Under for a grand vacation with Joaqui and Charlize!

In the old testament, God instructed Moses to have artisans hammer gold into sacred objects for the altar. God manisfested His presence in the tabernacle, made of acacia wood, but overlaid with gold, befitting God's glory.

Jesus talked about a time--which is now---when God would no longer reside in a tabernacle or temples made by human hands. This became a reality when at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles, filling them with power to live victorious and preach His Word with conviction.

Imagine that! We are like that acacia wood. Too ordinary, too prone to decay, but once overlaid and sealed with heaven's gold, the Holy Spirit, have become priceless!

No wonder Job said (Job 23:10), when He has tested me, I will come forth like gold!

Gold cannot be formed into fine jewelry unless it has been subjected to extreme heat to remove its dross or impurities, pounded, pulled, and subjected to the acid test---to ensure it's gold indeed.

Have you been going through difficult times lately---issues or problems which seem to pull and pound at you, pressing you against the wall and you can't see a way out?

Precepts, ordinances, statues. Whatever you call it, His Word is the only solution to take us out of any crisis.

Psalm 19:10- "They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold!"

Because the Word is Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. The Way the Truth and Life.

We strive hard to possess gold and all the other trappings that gold can buy---power, popularity and all the obagi treatments, liposuctions, plastic surgeries and implants your desire to make you look eternally youthful.

But all of these treasures perish!

The standard today may be gold. It may one day be replaced by coal or copper or aluminum again. That's how unstable the world's currencies are.

I'd rather invest in the most stable currency of all: His Word which will never change, or perish or fail. He's the inheritance I'd be proud to hand on to my children and grandchildren and the ones after them. Because Jesus is the same---yesterday, today and forever!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Life's a Marathon

Jack (right) in his 42-km marathon

It's Sunday morning, jogging time. Not mine, silly, but Jack's.

Me? I'd rather curl up in bed, savor my no-rush day and drink in Pastor Charles Stanley's living-water-teaching on TV.

Sunday morning jogs are pretty much cast in concrete as far as my husband is concerned. Since he could not walk or jog on weekdays because of work, he makes sure that Sunday AMs are his and his jogmates' alone.

He's done this for the past 29 years and will probably do so until he finds himself walking heaven's streets of gold. Oh, wouldn't that just be the day for all of us?!
Araw runners in 1984

You can call Jack a certified marathoner, having finished his 42-km with his Araw Running Club mates when he was as light as a feather. He still runs with the very same folks every Sunday, capping each run with breakfast either at Tropical Hut Hamburger, another restaurant in BF or a member's house.
Araw runners today
Jack is also one of our teachers in our 20-year bible study group. And you guessed it, one of his favorite topics is Life Being a Marathon, based on Paul's encouragement to, "Run with patience the race set before us" (Hebrews 12:1).

So let me summarize his lesson here:

1. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Life is not a 60 or 100-meter event but a long drawn-out race which can turn into tiresome and painstaking plodding--- a discouraging experience if you don't pace yourself as you go through the entire 42-km route under the extreme heat of the sun, battering rain, gusty winds, or suffocating smog from vehicles plying the streets.

So take it easy. Life has its challenges but life is also about triumphing over adversities, those daily disappointments which nibble at our spirit to make us want to give up. God's plan is for us to achieve our purpose. Trials are there to strengthen us, testing our faith so we can cling on to Him for wisdom and strength.

2. Wear light. Marathoners are advised to wear singlets
(polyester, not cotton), sandos so light your body is constantly aired as you run---unlike heavy jogging pants and jackets which are just too much baggage, making you perspire a wee bit more, resulting in dehydration and even fainting.

Our lives can be like that too. We carry way too much weight we just could not move on. I used to be this way, walking around without joy in my heart, until I encountered Jesus as my Lord and Savior. He also removed the brick-like heaviness in my heart caused by years of worrying and fears, resentment, unforgiveness, anger and hatred.

3. Hydrate yourself. A marathoner knows that his immediate objective---once he starts running---is the next water station. As you run and perspire, take advantage of every water station placed along the entire 42-km route so you can replenish your body fluids, especially the electrolyte which sustains you for the entire run.

In my book, "Going Up," I wrote about filling ourselves up daily with "spirelyte". We need to be filled with the Spirit of God to sustain us through a day. And it doesn't come from any form of drinking water which you pay for. It's offered free and even to overflowing as we seek Him daily through prayer and studying His Word which is life and light!

4. Huwag makinig sa mga kantyawero. Be deaf to voices that will discourage you. These are the bystanders who poke fun at slow runners, saying, "Hey, fatso, you cannot make it. Sumakay ka na lang! (Take a ride instead!) Jack tells me that this pambubuska or taunting happens only in the Philippines, but not in races abroad like the Boston marathon.

Didn't we at one time or another hear these voices?:

"You cannot make it." "You're bobo." "Ikaw ang pinakamahina sa lahat!" Walang mangyayari sa yo!" You will amount to nothing!"

Well, that's the enemy saying, "God has abandoned you!"

That's a total lie, because Jesus says, "I have come to give you life and life more abundant." He is the author and the finisher of our faith. He is the great I am who created us and breathed His life into us---mere dust whom God has chosen to manifest His love.

The great I AM who's also the beginning and the end, He therefore holds our life and everything about us in His strong mighty hand!

At the end of their 42-km marathon, the Araw members awarded themselves each with a trophy, sort of high-five-ing themselves, "We've made it!"

"You've made it!" That's probably what we'll hear too from the Father as He welcomes us to the finish line, that eternal divide which spells eternal joy and peace for those who believed in Jesus.

Then we will receive our reward---not just a trophy but a crown of life which will never perish and or be eaten by moth or stolen by any thief.