“Unbreakable” Women: Hit by a jeepney, fell on a steel conveyor, not a bone broken

“Unbreakable” Women: Hit by a jeepney, fell on a steel conveyor, not a bone broken

 

What do these two ladies have in common?

Aiza (right) was recently hit by a wayward jeepney while walking on a sidewalk on her way to work.

Mommy Rose was about to board a plane on a mission trip to Myanmar when she slipped and fell hard face-down on a luggage conveyor at the airport.

Yet, here they are now, actively, busily, happily serving in church, and not one of their bones were broken.

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Why? How?

They serve the God of miracles. And they are part of a community where miracles are happening in people’s lives. Small miracles, big miracles, the most awesome of which are the lives of people being changed. Forever.

“With man this is impossible, but not with God. All things are possible with God”. – Jesus (Mark 10:27)

 

If you happen to be near Fairview, Quezon City in the Philippines, visit them on Sundays at Victory Churches of Asia, 2nd Floor, Robinsons-Novaliches, Quirino Highway in front of SM Fairview.

 

Puppy Whisperer

Puppy Whisperer

Dogs have always been a beloved part of my family ever since I could remember. There was a time I felt I should’ve been THE original dog whisperer, not Cesar Milan. Through the years, I have somehow become an expert on dog behaviour.

I know why a dog would react in a certain way. I know that whenever they “bow” in front of humans, stretching their front paws and lowering their head, they are actually greeting you with respect. I know that when a dog approaches me in a certain way, it wants to be cuddled and stroked. I know when they’re happy or jealous or irritated or hungry or just plain thirsty.

With puppies, however, you have to deal with their preconceived notions. Yes, some puppies have those embedded weird ideas about humans.

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I love cuddling a puppy in my arms like a baby, massaging and caressing their stomachs, which most puppies love. Stretched out in my arms, some puppies just learn to relax and abandon all cares, enjoying the sweet moment and loving every second of it.

There are some puppies, however, who behave like scared cats the moment you lift them from the ground. You try to get them to relax in your arms, mumbling dog endearments, rubbing their stomachs, but to no avail. They would squirm, cry out, struggle, and fight to be free from your grasp, even attempt to jump to the ground. For some reason, they just couldn’t trust you.

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Yet, they come to you for food. They know they need you whenever they’re hungry. To them, you are important because you feed them. But that’s as far as they would allow you to get near them.

They see you as a food source. A food source and nothing else.

The trusting puppies, however, would much rather stay in the comfort of your arms forever. When you lay them down, they would beg for more. They are thankful for the food you give them, but they would much rather spend a few more minutes with you in your arms. They light up whenever they see you, and sometimes you could literally see the love in their eyes.

Some humans are like puppies… in the way they approach God.

The scared puppy humans want to keep some sort of religion in their lives, going to church every Sunday, yet keeping God at a distance far enough for Him not to “see” inside the core of their being. Doing religious duties, yet denying the inner voice by which He calls them. Maintaining a form of godliness, yet keeping God at a “safe” distance, far enough not to be able to interfere with their actions, or thoughts, or habits, or prejudices, or decisions, or opinions.

Seeing God as a food source.

As a last resort for emergencies. As a fountain of favor and blessings and protection for their loved ones. The cloak of religion as a security blanket. As a ticket to heaven.

The scared puppy humans struggle and fight hard and wiggle their way out of God’s hands to avoid the things they fear the most—being branded as a religious fanatic, being thought of as “weird”, being counted among hypocrites, worrying about their reputation, trying to maintain a cool image among people they admire, and lots of other things.

They never realize that God longs to hold them in His arms, like a mother hen gathers its chicks under its wings:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing”. – Jesus (Matthew 23:37)

More often than not, religious puppies, I mean humans, want to be able to keep their pet sins. They see God as a “killjoy” who is bent on keeping them from being happy.

We used to keep our puppies in a dog house with wide cage bars, and to keep the puppies from slipping out, we placed steel fence material over the walls (we won’t ever do this again!). There was one puppy (the scared puppy type) who got his head stuck in one of the small metal openings, and he was crying his lungs out. His body literally trembling and his eyes filled with terror, he never for a moment closed his mouth, keeping it wide open and letting out this loud, piercing, desperately terrified cry for help. He never responded to his mother’s reassuring kisses, or to my soothing caresses on his head. He just went on and on and on crying and wailing louder by the minute.

But all he had to do was close his mouth, relax, and he would be free.

After several hours, of course, he finally got really tired enough to close his mouth and never realized it was his wailing that kept him from freedom.

So this is how scared puppy humans tend to hang on to their “pet sins”. They would not, could not ever give them up, never knowing it’s keeping them from freedom.

At the point where they become too tired to keep up and fight on their own, just like that puppy, that’s when they realize they needed God – and not just as a food source. At the end of their rope, that’s when the scared puppies get to discover the secret that only trusting “puppies” knew.

That being in His Presence, wrapped in His arms, is the single most wonderful, most meaningful, life-changing, awesome moment worth pursuing everyday.

 

“O taste and see that the Lord is good…” – Psalm 34:8a

Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment 🙂

Planet-Viewing in an Observatory Hotel

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Credits: Sevensuiteshotel.com

Some time ago, my husband had to attend a training in Antipolo, a hilly semi-rural area a few hours from Manila, and we decided to stay at a boutique hotel that houses a space observatory on the rooftop. It was said to have one of only four existing extremely sharp high-resolution telescopes in the Philippines.

I found myself enjoying every minute of our stay, probably because when hubby was out attending to business, I got to do my dream job—writing on my laptop in my pajamas on a terrace overlooking verdant hills, surrounded by greenery in the cool crisp mountain air. The nearest building was a restaurant just a short walk away where my husband and I had our dinners.

On the second night, we decided to go to the rooftop and check out the observatory. A local scientist/ astronomer was there as our “space guide” to help us with an enormous ultra-sensitive telescope.

High up Antipolo’s hills, the stars were truly a sight to behold. We saw one planet up close—I’ve actually forgotten what it was—could be Venus. But when the scientist showed me Saturn, I was totally astounded. The only thing I could think of was, “Oh my God, it’s real!!”. Seeing the planet and the rings, not in a textbook or on a website but in its actual reality, half of it lit by the sun—it just felt surreal. It was utterly beautiful.

Seeing things like these kind of shakes your perspective a little. Especially when you’ve been preoccupied with petty little things in your very small part of the world.

The same kind of feeling seizes astronauts when they view earth from space. That feeling of awe and wonder when you realize how small your world is in the grand scheme of things.

Imagine what it would be like seeing the universe through the Hubble telescope, which is said to be the most highly advanced satellite telescope ever. Images gathered by the Hubble show myriads of galaxies and constellations in an ever-expanding universe.

This tells us one thing—we are but a speck of dust in a boundless, limitless cosmos. Even with the most powerful lenses, scientists have yet to see the edge of the universe, if it even has one. A tiny speck of dust in a huge plethora of stars through unending light-years of space, billions and billions of them, too many to be numerically documented. We seem to be just a tiny speck of dust in a tiny dot which is our solar system, which is but a tiny dot in our galaxy, which is but just one among billions and billions.

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Hubble telescope image from Los Angeles Times

The sheer vastness of space could just make one feel insignificant. Irrelevant. Unimportant…

Yet here’s the mind-blowing part: The One who created all that is the same One who created you and me. And He considers you important and precious enough to sacrifice and die for.

Just think about it. To Him, you are valuable enough that He was willing to leave heaven for a while, take on the form of a human, suffer mockings and torture at the hands of the very people He came for and be nailed to death so He could get His message of love, freedom, and victory to you. You—a minute particle in the grand design of creation.

The psalmist even wrote,

“What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:4)

Biblical history shows God’s obsession with reaching out to man despite his stubborn insistence on following his own errant ways. In God’s Book, man is the crown of His creation, His beloved, the apple of His eye whom He wants to be with forever.

Yet our puny mindsets dictate our belief that He couldn’t possibly love us individually. Our clouded vision thinks He could probably love all of us as a whole—humanity in a general sense, just as a rockstar could “love” his audience or a politician could “love” the poor. And even if He could love us individually, our feeble thinking believes He couldn’t possibly pay attention to all of us at the same time.

We mistakenly ascribe human qualities and limitations to an eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, Almighty God.

And this is where we begin to go wayward in our thinking. If you find it hard to believe that He knows everything about you and loves you enough to die for you, just consider the works of His hands. Have you ever known anything or anyone else capable of creating such majesty, such awesome wonders with such precision and wisdom?

"You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. 2You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.4Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.5You hem me in behind and before,and you lay your hand upon me. 6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain (Psalm 139:1-6)

“Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered…” – Jesus (Matthew 10:30)

If He could create billions and billions of clusters of galaxies in a never-ending space, and fill the earth with a multitude of awe-inspiring creation, how hard could it be for Him to pay attention to you and love you every single moment?

 

Question: Has there ever been a time when you found it hard to reconcile the awesome majesty of space and creation, and how the Creator feels about you? Please leave a comment 🙂

Revisiting the AlDub Craze

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Credits: AlDub FB (@aldenandyayadub)

Our Obsession with “Kilig”

Kilig (noun): – the overwhelming thrill and excitement felt by someone who is in love or under a strong infatuation, caused by a word, action, or mere presence of the object of love or infatuation. It is characterized by various weird physical reactions such as smiling from ear to ear, laughing uncontrollably, giggling, blushing, hunching one’s shoulders, perspiring (even in a cold environment), cold hands and feet, a strong heartbeat, shaking, or other unexplainable actions. (My own personal definition 🙂 

The peak of the rare social phenomenon in the Philippines known as AlDub happened in the second half of 2015. After almost two years, many are now asking – is the magic over too soon?

One thing’s for sure—the accidental love team of Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza will forever go down in history as a marketing miracle, a rare advertizing goldrush event where millions of passionate fans broke social media records, movie ticket sales and tv viewership stats. This duo had remarkably attained many “firsts” in the world of Philippine entertainment and social media. All these happened within the loveteam’s first six months–a real feat indeed.

Marketing experts and media analysts have come up with various explanations about the “Secret Formula” – that magic ingredient that caused everyone from A, B, C and onward down the line in the entire viewership spectrum to stay glued on their TV screens or on YouTube at the height of this “madness”.

But that was in 2015. What’s going on with it now? We do suppose their TV producers or directors are hell-bent on re-creating that magic formula, whatever it may be, and realizing it is not as easy as it seems. An inherent nature of this “magic formula” seems to be spontaneity, an element of “realness,” a real tugging at the heart that couldn’t be summoned merely by a script or tv production.

That “secret ingredient” is what the Philippines calls “kilig”—a Filipino word that has no direct English translation.

Imagine an entire population, or what is known as the “AlDub Nation”, collectively feeling that exact same sensation, although vicariously, at the same time. The result is a widespread phenomenon never before seen on Philippine television or even in the international social media.

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Credits: AlDub FB (@aldenandyayadub)

The AlDub craze, if anything, has demonstrated something in “kilig” that people young and old, whether they be poor, unschooled street laborers, or highly skilled intellectual professionals, married or single, are just drawn to.

There is something in the mere prospect of true, unadulterated pure love that we seem to desperately want to be a part of.

We want to live in the world of this love unfolding before our very eyes, although vicariously through Alden and Maine.

Our primal hunger for love is the real reason why we do most of the things we do. It explains a lot of what we see on social media, for instance—the desire to be liked and admired and accepted. The desire to feel important and treasured. It is such an intrinsic part of you and me, as if we’ve been actually designed for it and it’s a major part of our DNA or genetic make-up. And to be honest about it, of course, we are talking about something beyond just romantic love.

This is why abandoned children usually grow up feeling incomplete. This is why jilted lovers harbor deep emotional wounds, sometimes for years. This is why teen-aged girls give up their virginity way ahead of time. This is why people turn to drugs and alcohol to cover up the emptiness from not being loved, or at least, not being loved as much as they desire to be loved.

And you know what, all of it would not even begin to make sense…. unless you believe that there’s a God who created everything in the universe including you, and that He purposely designed you for love. For His love.

This is why we are forever drawn to love or the prospect of true love. This is why nothing in this world could ever remove that emptiness or unfulfilment or discontent deep down that we keep trying to cover up with busyness, or money, or fame, or material things, or a career, or the love and admiration of other people, or adventure, or power, or illicit sex, or influence, or achievements, or drugs, or beer, or a nightlife, or social happenings, or any form of distraction, or any form of excitement… and the list goes on and on.

God created and designed you for love. For His love. And unless you believe and respond to His love, there would always be something missing in your life, no matter how far you think you’ve come.

God doesn’t want to be your religious icon or an object of religion. He doesn’t want to be your Santa Claus or your genie whom you merely go to for your wishes. He doesn’t want to be your goodluck charm or your talisman to protect you from bad luck. He doesn’t want you to go to Him merely as an emergency recourse in times of trouble. He doesn’t want you mentioning His Name merely for a semblance of morality or to make you look good. He doesn’t want you to see Him merely as your ticket to heaven.

He wants your heart. He wants you to know Him. He wants to be in your life. He wants to have a relationship with you. For real.

Question: Has your search for love ever influenced your actions or decisions? In what way? Please leave a comment. 🙂

Radically Changed

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She was a man trapped in a woman’s body.

Or at least that’s what Leng had believed for the past 50 years. She used to take pride in being a toughie, thinking it was her masculinity and her strong and unrelenting personality that got her through most of life’s challenges.

That was until when, at the age of 50, she encountered something that radically changed her life. Or rather, she encountered Someone.

Her world was changed the day she encountered Jesus Christ and realized He is not just the religious figure she had revered since childhood, but a very real Presence, an all-consuming fire that revolutionized her entire being. For the first time in her life, she desired nothing more than knowing Him, following His lead, and experiencing His love.

After so many years of playing it tough, her rock-hard psychological defenses finally broke down in the face of this awesome reality. The sheer freedom of finally knowing the truth and knowing Jesus Himself was more wonderful than anything she could imagine. Soon, one after the other, changes were happening in her attitude, emotions, and the way she looks at life.

For one thing, she no longer desired sexual relationships with the same sex. Understandably, at first this didn’t go well with her long-time girlfriend and companion with whom she had raised a son. For Leng, however, the woman she had lived with for so long together with their son would always be her family and home. She would always be to her a dear sister and bestfriend, and mother of her son.

Despite her girlfriend’s initial displeasure, however, it didn’t take long and she was soon convinced to come to church with Leng. Together with their son, they now attend services at Victory Churches of Asia in Quezon City, Philippines every Sunday like a regular family.

The profound change in Leng’s life—the transformation from a defensive, tough-talking, bitter and usually angry façade—left no doubt to its authenticity. Physically, however, she still prefers her usual get-up—pants, leather jacket, sneakers, and closely cropped hair. It’s not that easy to get rid of half a century’s fashion habits. She couldn’t bring herself to wear a dress either. While she is aware of occasional looks of disapproval from some “religious” Christians, she is happy to find in God’s Word that

“People look at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart” (I Samuel 16:7).

Still, there are times when she would ask God—“Why am I this way?” meaning why does she still prefer to dress up like a man. And the answer soon became apparent.

The sense of God’s overwhelming love compels Leng to share Jesus to everybody and anybody she meets—in the office, on the streets, and everywhere she goes. And that’s when she finally understood. The way she looked gave her some sort of “access” and approachability to people whom other Christians would normally find hard to connect with. It was easy for her to reach out to both men and women and people who consider themselves of the third (and fourth) sex. She reveled in the thought that even her appearance had a purpose for His cause.

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A few weeks ago, she got to her office at City Hall and found an old man slumped motionless on her desk. She asked around and learned that the old man had been standing in line in one of the cityhall’s transaction windows and could have suffered a stroke. So the office staff took him to where the airconditioner was a lot cooler—in Leng’s office—and had him sit on her chair.

For Leng, it was an opportunity she couldn’t miss. She talked to the old man, telling him of Jesus’ love and power to heal. She touched his arms and found that he couldn’t even raise them. His fingers were twisted and gnarled and very stiff, and he was just totally weak.

Leng knew that just as Jesus healed a lot of people while He was on earth 2,000 years ago, He is still actively doing so now—through the hands of people like her who believe and have a living relationship with Him, who take Him at His word, who are willing to step out despite what other people might think. Thus, in obedience to Jesus who said, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, drive out demons,” Leng declared healing for the old man in His Name.

Almost immediately, the man was able to raise his arms straight up, his fingers softened and were able to move, and strength began to return to his body. Overwhelmed with joy, the man reached out for Leng’s hands and almost wanted to kneel before her. Leng recalled reading from the Bible about the exact same reaction from a lame man whom the apostle Peter had healed. Peter had said,

Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see”. (Acts 3:12-16)

Leng patiently explained to the old man, “It wasn’t me. It was Jesus”.

Question: Have you ever met a person whose life had been radically changed from inside out? Please leave a comment. 🙂

Woman Proves Jesus Still Heals the Sick Today

Woman Proves Jesus Still Heals the Sick Today

When Mommy Ofel went back to her home province last year after a long time of not seeing her children, things were never the same. Gone were the feelings of hurt and bitterness, and all she ever wanted was to share her new life with her children.

Mommy Ofel is 68 years old and lived in Manila a long time before deciding to pay her family in the province a visit. Her relatives who reunited with her marvelled at the fact that there seemed to be something different about her—a new attitude, an air of peace and calm, an inner joy.

When Mommy Ofel learned that her brother suffered a stroke and was at the ICU of the provincial hospital, she rushed to take care of him. The sight of him with all kinds of tubes and machines supporting his weak body was just too much. But instead of feeling discouraged, somehow Mommy Ofel felt unfathomable hope. She knew things were different now, and she has that one important thing she hadn’t known before. Or better yet, she has come to know Him—Jesus, the reason for the joy deep inside her that nothing else, not even sickness, could break.

It was Jesus who changed her life, took away her emptiness and emotional baggages, and who said these words: “…these signs shall follow them that believe; In My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover…” (Mark 16:17-18)

The provincial hospital was the largest in the entire region but numerous patients occupied the ICU, and their relatives were crammed together in a waiting area where Mommy Ofel sat waiting. The stench of near-death and the atmosphere of hopelessness was heavy in the room, but she was more bothered by the negativity and vulgarity of the conversations around her. Whenever she mentioned God, they would react with sarcasm and irreverent humor.

Among the patients in that ward, her brother seemed to have the worst of conditions. Still, she would place her hands on him everyday, praying in faith, believing that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross brought healing to everyone who truly believes—healing in the mind, emotions, and the body. In her spirit, she bound the evil that brought this sickness upon her brother. She made a stand and used her authority as a child of the King of Kings. And in the powerful Name of Jesus, the Name by which the entire universe was created, the Name to which every force or sickness or disease must bow down, she claimed healing for her brother.

Soon, the people in the waiting room witnessed how, one by one, the tubes and medical gadgets were being removed by the doctors from Mommy Ofel’s brother. Gradually, all his vitals were improving and to their surprise, he recovered faster than any other patient in the ward. Before long, he was up and moving about like nothing happened.

Seeing this miracle right before their eyes, the relatives of the patient next to hers asked that she pray for their patient, too. Mommy Ofel obliged, supernaturally feeling Jesus’ compassion for the person who in the natural sense was but a complete stranger. There were no magic words, no hocus-pocus. It was pure unadulterated faith in the One who, while He walked on this earth, spent as much time as He could healing people of physical, emotional and spiritual sicknesses. And knowing Him enough to believe that He still wants to do the same things today. Through people who, as He said, truly believe.

The same thing happened. That patient recovered faster than the doctors could believe what they were seeing.

Mommy Ofel is old, lived in a poor community and works as a laundry woman. If you were an advertising or promotions manager, you wouldn’t choose someone like her to show your product to the world. She would be the last person anyone would choose for an endorsement or a publicity campaign.

Yet, the Creator of the entire Universe, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, does not think like we do. In fact, Jesus had prayed, “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. 26Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way! (Matthew 11:25)

And this story did not end there. The people at the hospital waiting room—those who thought they were pretty cool bad-mouthing those who believed in God—suddenly lost their cynicism and asked Mommy Ofel to pray for their patient, too. And of course, Mommy Ofel was just too happy to oblige.

Question: Do you believe that Jesus still heals the sick today through people like Mommy Ofel? Please leave a comment. 🙂