We’re The Lost Sheep

I’m feeling kinda ambivalent in the last couple of weeks. I’m usually okay, then I’d get sucked into sudden bursts of being down, then I’d snap out of it, then I’d drift into it again unexpectedly. Sometimes, the intensity of it catches me off guard. I’d pray and ask God, this too, shall pass… right? 

Read a recent post on blog I’m following, and I was really encouraged. I remembered the parable of the lost sheep when I read it. When a sheep wanders off from its flock, the shepherd will leave the rest in search of the lost one. She tells that to keep the sheep from wandering off again, the shepherd will break one of its legs so that the sheep may lie still and finally find peace where he’s at. Otherwise, it will keep straying off and get lost forever. That’s when a shepherd would make sheep “lie in green pastures.” Break a leg, literally? Ouch. But believe it or not, it has happened to us many times.
I liked how she compared that to God – our own shepherd. Isn’t God in perpetual search for us lost sheep who had gone astray? And when we insist on going on our own way, disobeying Him and ignoring His will, doesn’t God allow us to get broken, so we can be stronger and wiser, learn harder and finally seek Him and return to Him? Because only through God can we find that elusive peace. Only through Jesus can we finally rest all our sins, worries and fears.
*Photo from lyndasgrainsofsand.blogspot.com. No copyright infringement intended.

Buh-bye February, You Were Great!

Whew, whatta week!

Let’s back track a bit to the weekend. my office barkada and I went back to Sitio Sampaloc, Zambales for some much-needed break and jump start the summer. What was planned as a big-group annual lakad dwindled to just seven of us plus a couple of new pals – Riz, her friends, me, Aclo, Honey, Leni, Boop and Cy, the last three being first-timers to the pristine, private island and the unspoiled fresh-water falls we visited last year.We had a lot of fun hanging out at the beach, eating fresh sea food, frolicking in the natural pool and stone slides and the hotdog-and-marshmallow fest around the camp fire. The only twist to the otherwise serene vacay was the trip back. 

The sun was super bright but the wind was strong, so our plan to leave the island at 10 AM was shelved. Eventually, the bangkero decided to split our group into two and our group left first at 3 PM. Call me OA but it was my first time to travel on an itty-bitty boat while huge waves rocked and drenched us. Thank the Lord we survived it (as well as the second group who sailed at night!) and we vowed never to travel on that tiny excuse of a boat without life vests. Wooh. Looking back, it was a careless thing to do, especially for a mother like me. Another blessing was when we got back in Olongapo, my sister Joy and her family were spending the night in Subic so they adopted little sunburned, starving me and fed me. It was such a luxury sleeping that night on a soft, hotel bed after a night camping on a sarong spread on the shore. I was on leave the next day so I traveled for most of the day, then watched Once Upon A Time Season 2 and rested for the rest of the day.

The next day, February 26, was a very special day for me, although I didn’t really plan anything grand, since I was still bushed from the weekend’s events. I was on half-day leave, though. Praised and thanked the Lord for finding and saving me a year ago. Has it been a year already? Just spent some quiet time with the only man in my life now (Hi, Jesus!), and treated myself to some cappuccino, blueberry cheesecake and a new book about a forty-something writer’s personal chronicles about men and their psyche. My plan for a little city sojourn for some authentic Chinese food and buy the Bible I was looking for a while now would have to be resked muna. 

Another half-day for me the next day, since we have the management strategy planning at Parque Espana. It was a great day of realizations, looking back at the year of planning (2012) and looking forward to the year of execution (2013), games, food trip, cheese talks (watched “Who Took My Cheese?”) and learned a lot from our guest speaker, Alvin from our business partner. My favorite nugget from his talk goes something like, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side; you just have to water your own greens on your side. Spent the night at the posh hotel suite with Jown, Dman and Myk and had a great – if bitin and abbreviated – talk due to sleepiness and tiredness. Next time we will go swimming and try the jacuzzi, please?

I also got to spend a little time sitting beside an old friend the next day at work. Haven’t really talked nor interacted with him for a quite a while. It was kinda like a case of the more things change, the more they stay the same. We still found the same things funny and by mid-day had lapsed into the same hiritans we used to do before things got, well, tricky (I was gonna say complicated but that term has gotten a bad rep when Facebook started using it as a relationship status label). In hindsight – and this I honestly say without any tinge of regret or bitterness – it occurred to me just how much pain, time and effort I could have saved myself if I had just taken his friendship at face value right from the start. Things would’ve been simpler if after that fateful Sunday exactly a year and two days ago, we had gone back to our own lives, each one entirely separate and different from each other and just stayed friends, in the truest sense of the word. 

Later that day was our town hall, and then I helped film my old team, Team Dorobo, do a crazy Harlem Shake dance at the office parking lot.  Watching them, I got a pang I sometimes feel when watching Ging do her own stuff now, and think back to when she was younger and can’t do anything for herself and would need Mommy’s help on everything. 

Capped this week with a team dinner at Bon Chon. Here’s to hoping the good vibes will be a great start for the month of March. Time to put all those find-my-cheese lessons to action, eh?

Because We All Have Storm Stories To Tell

Written August 12, 2012.

The floods brought about by the Storm-With-No-Name monsoon in the past week obviously affected the lives of countless people. Some lost their homes, their possessions, their livelihoods. Some lost a friend, a neighbor, a loved one, a beloved pet. Maybe some out there also lost a little bit of faith, of hope.

For the fortunate ones, the nasty weather meant nothing but a little inconvenience, an excuse to miss school or work and stay home in a warm, dry bed, watch TV or tinker with the laptop all day (Guilty!). We watched the news with a mixture of horror and sympathy as brown waters engulfed countless towns and provinces, and we wished we could do more for them than a couple of prayers and some bags of old clothes and canned goods.

The message in the service today really touched me. This is not the first and last storm that will come. And this is not the only storm we will encounter in our lives. Even in sunny weather, we are constantly beset by other “storms,” big or small: problems at home, pressure at school, issues at work, heartbreak, broken relations, rocky friendships, financial woes, wavering faith.

Pastor Adrian’s question struck me hard: What do you do when a storm hit you?

Difficult times like these always bring out a myriad of reactions from us. We panic at the first sign of trouble and immediately ask for help. We get scared and angry and ask the heavens, why do these things happen to us? That was how I normally reacted before whenever things become rocky or they don’t go the way I planned them to. “Ano ba naman yan God, problema na naman? Hindi pa nga tapos yung huli, meron na naman bago?”

I’m a fairly young Christian, but even before, I was taught to trust in God, to trust in Jesus. Nowadays, even as I continuously work on building my relationship with Him, I still fall into the trap of worrying. Sometimes, I’m still afraid. I have to constantly remind myself to trust that He is in control. God is indeed bigger and stronger than my “storms.”

At the same time that the heavy rains were drenching almost everything in its path and wreaking havoc in cities and towns, I was also trying to weather some personal storms: a strong wind of obedience to Him but which hurt someone I love and respect; whether to take refuge from a steady downpour of affection from someone that both delights yet confuses me at the same time; the constant thundering of uncertainty in my career and wrestling with the long-overdue decision of whether to finally step out of my comfort zone.These storms are still raging inside me as I write this, and they won’t just dissipate any time soon. But knowing that I am not alone in this keeps me going.

In Matthew 8:23-27, “Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!’ He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, ‘What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!'”

I remember when Ging was younger. Like any typical kid, she used to be very afraid when there’s a storm and sharp lightning bolts would slice the sky and the loud grumble of thunder would immediately follow. She would jump in bed with me if at home, or would scoot close to me and hug me if we happen to be outside. She was scared but as long as I was there to hold her, she would be fine. She trusted in me not to let anything bad happen to her.

I pray that I would be like this with Jesus more often. That when a storm hits me, when I feel uncertain, inadequate or desolate, I will be as calm as He is. The Bible says in Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those who are crushed in spirit.”

When faced with a storm, it doesn’t matter where I am, but who I’m with.

*Illustration from Google. No copyright infringement intended.