friday hits and misses

I missed a day. Grrr. My Friday was so full I forgot about my blog challenge.

I took a leave from work Friday to help out at Samaritana, a Christian ministry that reaches out to “vulnerable and exploited women.” My friend Jean works as program coordinator there, and she asked me two weeks ago if I could lend a hand in the Valentines Party that she was organizing for their women. I said, “Sure ba!”

My task was to “serenade” the women with a few love songs. I’m not a great singer at all, but I do love singing. Earlier this year, I made a commitment to use the gifts that I have, no matter how meager, to serve others. And last Friday, that commitment meant singing to a group of women who have had a rough life on the streets, and who, by God’s grace, are now beginning to experience the beauty and the purity of True Love. It was my honor to serve them.

The first song was Parokya ni Edgar’s Harana. I had sung this before at my officemates’ wedding so it didn’t take much to prepare for the number. But nothing prepared me for the women’s warm (as in “blush-inducing”) reception. Good-natured cheering and screaming, flowers and handkerchiefs handed to me ala TV variety show, and smacks on the cheek had me missing my accompaniment cues! But it was all in the spirit of fun. I could only manage a joke with them afterwards, after my face had turned all shades of red: “Feeling Sam Milby naman ako nito! See you in Araneta!” Yeah, right.

The guest speaker spoke on the Five Love Languages, a concept popularized by Dr. Gary Chapman. Essentially, the idea is that there are five different ways by which people express and receive love: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, Gifts. One’s love language is that which, when expressed by him or shown to him, meets his deepest emotional needs. It varies from person to person. So it’s possible that a wife who is showered with gifts by her husband may still feel “unloved” if her love language is, say, quality time. You can see that there’s bound to be misunderstanding, conflict, and frustration between two people who speak different love languages–unless they work at understanding and “speaking” the other’s love language.

The speaker expounded on the five, helping the women think through each one and then identify which love language is their own. As for me, I’m not quite sure what my love language is yet. I think I’ll settle for Gifts meantime. Haha. Seriously, I should read the book (which, incidentally, is being distributed by our publishing house.)

And that’s the highlight of my post-less Friday. I may have missed my post for the day, but I’m thankful I didn’t miss the chance to minister to, and be blessed by, the staff and women of Samaritana.

cs lewis on love (again)

For someone who fell in love quite late in life, C.S. Lewis had lots to say. And here are two, so far, of my favorite Lewis thoughts on the four-letter word:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”

“Why love if losing hurts so much? We love to know that we are not alone.

Happy Heart’s Day!

morning ache

The first thing I said this morning was, “Awwtch!” The cold nights had finally taken their toll on my arthritic joints and achy lower back. Instead of rushing through my morning rituals, I had to take a deep breath and slowly, very slowly, cajole my lethargic joints to move, one small motion at a time. I decided to take the morning off after popping a few pain relievers.

All these body issues are premature, I know–I’m turning thirty, not sixty! But ever since twelve years old, I’ve had to live with arthritic pain. There are many ways to deal with the pain and inconvenience of arthritis. For me today, relief (and consolation) came in the form of chocolate ice cream that I got on my way to work around noon.

And, just so we’re clear, I didn’t use it as cold compress on my joints.

techie bits

Agggh. I can’t access my WordPress account tonight! (If I were paranoid, I’d think someone is attempting to sabotage my little blog marathon. Gasft.) I’m typing this in Google Docs, for pasting onto WordPress later.

Speaking of Google Docs, have you tried using it yet? Google Docs can be a convenient way to do your “office” stuff–creating documents, spreadsheets, or presentations–online! Imagine having your important documents stowed in cyberspace, all ready for you to access and work on wherever there is an Internet connection. You just need a Gmail account, and then you’re good to go. Google Docs comes with a host of features, including an option to share your docs with others, who can edit, comment, or simply view your material. A recent feature of the spreadsheet that I discovered are the forms–quite nifty for doing email surveys and what not. Coolness!

But that’s old news. I bet you already knew about Google Docs.

Since we’re in the turf of techie stuff, may I enjoin all ye who are geeks at heart to click over to this uber-cool site: lifehacker.com. Fun, fun, fun! (Thanks, Besp, for tipping me about this site! It’s become my daily fare.)

Hey, this seems to me a good-enough post already. I’ll stop writing now, and head over to Lifehacker. See you there?

quitting

When I was nine or ten, my father would ask me to recite the poem, “Don’t Quit,” in front of our house guests. I would oblige, without needing to be asked twice, because I knew that after my bombastic recitation, I’d be a few pesos richer. It became my little fund-raiser, that long poem.

It took years before I started to understand the poem which I had so easily memorized one lazy afternoon (oh, the feats young, healthy brain cells can do!) To this day, I can still recite most of the poem from memory. I’ve had to use it to encourage myself and give me perspective during times when I feel like giving up. It hasn’t always worked though. I live with the memories of my share of quitting moments–some which, in hindsight, now seemed like a wise decision, while some I still regret to this day. Thank God we need not be defined by our poor decisions and moments of weakness. For even for quitters — especially for quitters! — God offers grace and hope to stick it out yet another day.

(Don’t worry, I’m not quitting this blog marathon… At least not just yet.)

cram

It’s harder than I had expected, this blogging marathon of mine. Tonight, coming home from a coffee meet-up with friends, I was looking forward to jumping straight to bed. Then I remembered that I still had one thing left to do before the day ended: blog.

And so here I am, on the third day of my 30-post challenge, cramming because in less than half-an-hour this day will be over. I rack my brains for ideas. Most that pop up in my head require time to simmer before they could be written with any semblance of coherence.

My head is still spinning from hearing my friends’ stories and sharing some of my own. The laughter still rings in my ear. I won’t be surprised if my dreams tonight are a montage of mispronouncing college professors, an alleged transvestite named Jean, a badly written novel that could give you a heart attack laughing, Pinoy bloopers abroad, tear-jerker movies and favorite movie lines…

Now I just need to wait for the effects of caffeine to wane so I can start snoozing my way to these crazy dreams.

(One minute to midnight. Whew.)

i sing

I had the opportunity to sing with co-workers at a conference this afternoon. I love singing, but I will be first to admit that I’m just an average singer. No false humility there. Truth be told, my range isn’t impressive at all, and I have trouble with harmonizing. But I love singing – did I say that already? – and I consider it a privilege to, once in a while, be given a chance to sing for God’s glory.

We did a medley which was actually a reprise of the opening number during our company’s 50th anniversary last month. Accompanied on guitar by Arnold, Gladys and I sang My Redeemer is Faithful and True (Steven Curtis Chapman) and In Christ Alone (Brian Litrell – yes, of the Backstreet Boys fame). I chose the songs and did the arrangement. The words are so powerful and meaningful to me it takes quite an effort not to choke on them.

Here are my favorite lines:

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30 till 30

Exactly thirty days from now, I will be thirty years old.

Three decades of being silly and serious, and everything in between. I’m not quite sure how to feel about it, except that I think it’s cool that Jollibee is also turning thirty this year. The Bee’s my age and look where he is now–gleefully on top of his game, way ahead of his closest rival with the big red shoes and bright-yellow clown costume. And he even looks younger and cuter, doesn’t he? (I know of a few female friends who actually have a crush on the Bee! Unbee-lievable!)

I guess you can say Jollibee is successful at 30. Can I say the same thing about Jolly Me? Hmmm.

At my friend Arnold’s 29th birthday party with Jollibee.

Anyway. Today I start a 30-post marathon that will culminate on my birthday. This means I will blog every day for thirty days. I haven’t decided on any theme yet, but I’m guessing I will be writing mostly about being 30 (and still single! Waaah!) This is a serious challenge for a delinquent, flash-in-the-pan writer like myself, so I beg your indulgence. I doubt I can churn out anything particularly interesting under pressure, but we’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we?

One down. Twenty-nine to go…. so fast, like the years of my life.

imprecatory

Imprecatory. Now there’s a word I don’t remember ever using. And when it describes a prayer—as in imprecatory prayer—it’s the kind I would never have thought of praying. Click over to dictionary.com and you’ll find imprecatory defined, using its root verb imprecate: “to invoke or call down (evil or curses), as upon a person.”

Now, what godly person would do that, pray ill of another? Well, there’s King David—the man after God’s own heart. Besieged by enemies on all fronts, he cried out to God without holding back, pouring his heart out to Him with the rawest of emotions… and the result? Imprecatory prayers spread all over the Psalms. Here’s a sample: May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever. That’s one of the milder ones, really.

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