Thursday, November 27, 2014

Living Significantly

Before each year ends, I return to an annual habit. I look back to the previous months and recall the year’s events and milestones. This year, we grieved as many people close to us passed away.  But this year, we also celebrated the gift of life as babies were born to our family and friends reached their 50th birthday. What an undeniable reminder that life on earth has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

In one of the psalms, David affirmed that God created him and planned the number of days he would live on earth. If the number of our days on earth is limited, how then should we conduct ourselves so as to live significantly?

Live loving.
Jesus Christ summed up the commands of God this way: love God and love others as you love yourself. Is there a conflict here? None, if you keep it that way. Because when you love God first, He will enable you to love others and yourself. But when you love yourself most, you will have a hard time loving God and others.

 Live serving.
Rick Warren said, “There are three things you can do with your life: You can waste it, you can spend it, or you can invest it. The best use of your life is to invest your life in something that will outlast it. The worst thing you can do is to live simply for today and to live for yourself.” God did not put you on earth to live for yourself. Look for an opportunity to serve.

Live laughing.
We take medicine to reduce pain and to prolong life. There’s a saying, laughter is the best medicine. So if you want to live longer, healthier, laugh more often. Laughing boosts immunity and lowers stress hormones. It adds zest to life and improves relationships. And people tend to be more attracted to cheerful individuals. You’d want that, right?

Live wondering.
As we grow older, we lose our sense of wonder. We get busy and give up smelling the flowers. We face troubles and get tired easily. When dreams become unreachable and we fail to reach our goals, we lose our hope. When these happen, it’s time to pause and recharge. Enjoy God’s creation. Discover ways of doing things differently. Do something new. Recover your sense of wonder; God is a wonderful God and He is doing wonderful things in our lives.

Whatever stage of life you are in now, live loving, serving, laughing, and wondering. 

Learn more tips on how to live significantly from my book Life in the Middle. Available at PCBS, CSM Book Corner and other book stores. Or if you want the e-book version, get it from Buqo. If you want a signed copy delivered at your doorstep, please email me at

Monday, March 10, 2014

Our One Week of Manna

It was one of those days when I found myself wishing again for something more. I wanted something more and yes, it was something material. I imagined what I could do if only I have more of what I already have. By coincidence, I heard a preacher on radio say something that snapped me back to my senses. “Don’t take for granted what you have. Don’t get tired of your manna.”

In biblical history, manna is food miraculously supplied to the Israelites in the wilderness for forty years. They were thin flakes that appeared on the desert floor every morning. According to the Exodus account, it was white and tasted like wafers with honey (Exodus 16:31). That’s why it was aptly described as bread from heaven. In spite of the seemingly sweet taste of this miraculous provision, the Israelites lost appetite for it and craved for meat.

The radio broadcast was a heaven-sent message for me. I was reminded to be thankful for the things I already have, no matter how little or few they may be. Six days later, my family and I would experience what I would consider as almost miraculous--we would receive manna for the next six days. 

On Friday, my friend texted me to ask if I was home. Less than an hour later, she was knocking on our door and handing to us a bag full of goods from the wet market: eight fillets of blue marlin, the half of a big squash, about a kilo of ripe mangoes, also a kilo of red tomatoes, three salted eggs, and two pieces of eggplants. We were surprised at the bounty she brought to us. The following day, Saturday, a couple who came from Tagaytay brought us a pasalubong of one big watermelon and two small pineapples. We were so thankful because we love fruits.

We were already pleased and satisfied with our surprise supply of fish, fruits, and vegetables for the past two days, but another feast was yet to come. On Sunday, a couple we know celebrated their wedding anniversary. We didn’t go to their celebration but they sent us a sample of the delicious dishes they served--lumpiang shanghai, pork caldereta, and pansit bihon. I didn’t have to cook lunch and dinner for our family that day!

Monday came, and a colleague came too. She dropped by the house just to sign some papers but she didn’t forget to bring four oranges, one for each of the members of our small family. That’s four days in a row of blessings coming to our abode. Our next-door neighbor felt prompted to share his blessings too for on Tuesday, he gave us five pieces of heart-shaped green Indian mangoes, freshly plucked and coated with shiny resin. No one came on Wednesday and Thursday with a bag of grocery, but on Friday night, my daughter arrived from a cell group meeting with two big maya-maya (red snapper). The mother of one of her cell members gave the fish to our family as a present. Of course, I turned them into our favorite sour stew.

Getting all these free food felt like receiving manna. I said in the beginning that I was wishing for something more, but actually it wasn’t food, it’s something else. But the same principles stood out from our one week of manna experience. First, God knows our needs and even wants, and He can amply supply. But more than satisfying our stomach, God is concerned that our hearts are right. God wants us to have a thankful spirit. 

I also learned not to take for granted what I have. Let’s not forget that aside from material wealth, our family and friends are one of our treasures. They can be used by God as channels of blessings. In return, we can also share with others whatever we have. Don’t underestimate whatever “little” you think you may have. Until you give it away, you’ll never experience the joy of realizing that it’s the miraculous provision someone is waiting for. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Before the Year is Over (and the New Year Begins)

Five days before the end of 2013, I opened my diary and turned each leaf, scanning the monthly planner for significant events. I was grateful and glad as I noted accomplishments, opportunities and milestones not only for me but also for my family. Two books were published this year. A major translation project was started during the second half of the year.  There were learning opportunities right in the comfort of my home through online courses, as well as through a seminar overseas. Plus treats to a few trips here and abroad. 

Then there’s the usual routine done on specific days or weeks of the month—paying bills, filing reports, making deposits. Even those were noted on my planner. There were also plans and projects that didn’t materialize. Maybe they were not meant to be or maybe they will be fulfilled this coming new year. I’m thankful for whatever good thing God has allowed to happen and for whatever worthy work He has enabled me to do. Though this year brought fears and doubts, lonely moments and discouragements too, God’s grace comforted me. I couldn’t imagine living the 365 days of 2013 without Him.

I already bought a planner for 2014. How about you? Before the new year arrives, you might want to recall also and thank God for the blessings, opportunities, milestones, as well as the lessons learned in 2013. Hopefully, it will give you courage and confidence to face 2014. 

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11