I See You

Thursday, July 30, 2015

More often than not, when someone tells us God sees everything or He is watching us, we feel more of paranoia than love. It is perhaps because the guardians of our generation knew no better than mentioning God’s all-seeing-ness to prevent us from behaving in the way of disobedience. Well, it was effective in that sense and pretty easy.

While I believe that God is very clear about things that do not please and honor Him, I think that threats without a firm establishment of a relationship with a loving God will only leave us more scared and distant from Him. He will be more of like a Santa Claus to us- someone who withholds gifts to the naughty and gives much to the nice. Moreover, he seems to know everything- without us knowing how.

But God is not just some Christmas character- He is not fiction, He does not do life by the system of reward or punishment, He is not all-seeing just so he nonchalantly test people and play with their feelings. God is a Father, and I think when we see it in the light of this intimate relationship everything changes.

To illustrate my simple point further here is a minute-video I made as  i collected snippets of my son on my phone…

As a parent, I watch Philip as much as I can at all times. For many different reasons, like to keep him from harm and to guide him, and most importantly, to just enjoy him. I watch Philip just because I love watching him and it brings me tremendous joy to see him do different things.

Similarly, God as a father must also love watching us just because He loves watching us. Not to watch out for the next big mistake to punish us, but to delight Himself with the sight of His children. After all, He took a break on the 7th day of creating the world not because he was tired- cause God can’t get tired, but because He wanted to enjoy us. And it humbles me to know that in all my imperfections and in falling short of His glory, I am still able to give God the joy just by being His child.

My prayer today is that every time you feel like God is some big police up there who can’t wait to punish you for every wrong move He sees, may you remember this video and similarly think of how God watches you from the sidelines for not any other reason but for the sheer joy of it.

*This blog is dedicated to those who consider themselves children of God. Ephesians 1:4-6, “In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”

Express Lanes for Moms

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

So we were in line for the whole Cristo Redentor experience. To be with a small child can be pretty tiring when going for a chance to see one of the wonders of the world. So I decided to stay out of the way, while our friends from Brazil stood in line for all of us. I explained, “You know, I want to go back home with my sanity, so please save me from all the stress of having to run after my toddler through people and long queues.” :)

Gratefully our friends agreed. And from then on I went to the snack bar with my husband and bought the boy his breakfast. After a while I thought of checking up on my friends, to see how far along we are in the line. Unfortunately, we are still about 50 people away from the counter.

However, in the corner of my eye I saw another sign that has the icon for those who are differently abled. Following my instinct as a mom I looked another time and then I heard all the angels sing! It was the express lane for the elderly, differently abled, parents W I T H small children, and those with pre-booked tickets online!

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So I began calling the attention of our friends so they could quickly make it to the other line and in about a few minutes we were at the front paying for all four of us.

Most of the time moms go through that stage where they have to ask themselves, “Should I really be doing this? Changing diapers, running after toddlers, singing nursery rhymes? Or should I be somewhere out there in the world, doing bigger and more significant things like fighting for causes or pursing greater heights with some career at the corporate or making more art and progressing with the gift I’ve been blessed with?” Or in short, are we moms missing out on so many things?

But this experience I had at the Cristo Redentor lines told me otherwise. It was motherhood that allowed me to jump on the express lane; had I not been a mom, I wouldn’t have checked that signage and would have had to make do with the slower lane.

In the same respect a different world opens up to women once they become moms. Different doors are opened and favors are gained, as well as blessing, wisdom, privilege, even new communities and opportunities, just by being a parent.

Personally I think that I have gained a new voice which allows me to differentiate the person that I was to the person that I am now. I also have renewed relationships and made new ones just because I am a mom. And it has made me more confident about myself on the whole, as well as more knowledgeable about a range of things I would never have picked up before!

Today I pray that all the parents, especially moms, who are reading this blog will take the time to realize what we’ve gained just by being a mom. While the world makes us think we are losing so much, may we have the strength to silence the lies and clearly see how in many ways, the slow down our children bring to our lives may actually mean that God has put us on the express lane of the meaningful life!

If you feel like it, do share your thoughts on the comments section below! What have you gained just by being a mom or dad? 

 

airplanes, growls, & fathers

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

We were walking down the streets of Rio when Joseph insisted he buys the wooden airplane for our son Philip. But before buying I had to ask, “Will he really enjoy that?” Being my usual stingy self, I thought it to be too expensive for something he might not enjoy for long. But Joseph was so sure and so excited that he could not wait for my approval, immediately let out cash from his pocket to pay for what he claims to be a well-made wooden airplane.

Seeing his joy as he purchased something for my son made me give in. And guess what? All through out the day, it kept Philip happy as we walked long stretches and he had to stay in the stroller. There is really something about the connection of dads and sons.

Elsewhere I’ve heard that manhood is learned. I did notice that Philip’s aggression was drawn out by my husband’s own growls and roughhousing when they play. His silliness, his laughs, his interests in Batman, cars, buses, planes, running in open space, were results of my husband’s influence on Philip.

Imagine if all that Philip saw everyday was his mom putting on mascara, fixing her eyebrows, applying BB cream, curling her hair? So it really makes me glad I can parent with Joseph. That there is a husband who would insist to buy airplanes for him, growl when they’re playing, roughhouse even on odd hours, cheer for battle scars, avoid being too gentle at all times- in short, all things I will never think to do as a woman; boys need men in their life, to bring out the right things.

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This is not to say that solo-parents are less fortunate or blessed, but in truth they are to be congratulated for such a feat. To be able to physically handle motherhood alone and to be emotionally mature to find the perfect influence for her kids is nothing short of amazing. And above all, their grace to parent solo makes it evident how God is husband to the “widow” and Father to the fatherless, which assures that no matter what happens, He is able to take care of all His children!

Have a great Tuesday!

 

Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You

Monday, July 27, 2015

I was chatting with our new friend, Victor, as we were walking through the streets of Belo Horizonte. Everything looked so pretty and peaceful and I just loved the sight of their flowering trees.

Now Victor was telling us a bit about his life and his plans to travel next year. He is still single and so I said, “Enjoy this before you become one with wife and kids. Everything will be harder to leave- both the bills and your family. And it will surely not be cheap if you had to take them with you all the time.” :)

He said he understands and began telling me about a conversation he had with his mother recently. He asked her, “Mom when we were kids and you took all three of us to Disney, what do you remember?” He said that his mom had a hard time replying, “I really don’t remember anything because I was always looking down to watch all three of you!” Nevertheless she immediately followed this up with, “But it was not a problem because I was already so happy seeing that you were all happy!”

This resonated so much with what I’ve been experiencing on this trip. I am beginning to feel the limitations of having to bring a child around with you on travels. There was no way to see everything, and no way to accomplish all on my explorations list. And yes, all I see are my feet and Philip’s head most of the time since he is already a toddler and has been running and running around! Not sure of how many sites I may have missed just because my eyes were following Philip.

But then Victor’s mom is right. There was this incomparable joy in seeing my son with glee, identifying buses and bugs and pointing at his toes and saying, “Feet! Feet!” Actually, moments like that make it hard for me to get my eyes off him. I just love seeing my son happy and enjoying. :)

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Then I thought about how faith is also the same way. How at first, my decision to quit drinking and smoking were my ways of saying, “God I put You first. I love these habits but let me say that I love You more and honor You with the decision of leading a life that pursues Your holiness, Your blamelessness.” Surely it felt like I was “missing out” on the beginning, but soon enough I realized that looking at God more than looking at my desires have made it hard to take my eyes off Him. I guess when something is valuable and this lovely, you’d know that it’s all worth it. What’s more is that your mind shifts from thinking you have missed something, to actually gaining something more precious.

So today, my prayer for my readers is that whether a mom or a Christian who feels left out because of the choices we have to make, I pray we see our lives not only as glasses that are half-full but actually abundant and overflowing in the Lord. Have a great week ahead of you all!

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

Ephesians 1:16-21

lit-3d-5Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books by Tony Reinke

This book is a gem! And to be honest, I only unthinkingly opened this one seeing it on the shared shelf I have on my Kindle with my husband; I could never be so happy about being so unmindful!

Well, where do I start then? I have too many things on my thumbs up list for this book. But let me begin with the author’s reader-centered writing.

1) Reader centeredness.

It is obvious that he values the reader’s time that he goes straight to the point the whole time. He knows this is not a novel or poem where beating around the bush is valued, so makes everything as brief and as direct as possible.

2) Author raises reading to the level of essentials and not merely as a hobby, especially in relation to our Christian Faith.

Secondly, he makes a very good theological breakdown of how Christians should value reading because God’s value, after all, is found in The Word! He has spoken, He has written, He has come as the fulfillment of the Word; God is for words, texts, language!

3) Author shows that the tension between image versus word or text as a longstanding war, of human tendency to valorize image and drop the word in favor of it, while using Biblical evidence to back up the claim. (Very strong argument: MUST READ.)

His discussion on how from time immemorial, as seen in the Bible, image hasn’t been as helpful as the word, image being subject to idolatry, enables laziness, and disables the opportunity to be sharpened when struggling with texts.

“As Christians living in an image-saturated world, we must guard our conviction about the vital importance of words and language that best communicate meaning,” warns Reinke.

4) The author’s balanced views about image versus word, and Christian to Non-Christian literature.

The good thing about Tony Reinke is that he is able to assert what is more valuable without vilifying the other. He does not say to drop watching TV altogether, but merely showing us where we may get more and why. To a reader who believes the same thing Tony is our champion!

The other thing is about reading non-Christian literature which can be a touchy subject among Christian communities and families. Well, I loved how he simply addressed it. “Choosing what books to read is often not a yes/no decision but a now/later decision.” Yup, and this means while some books may be right off the bat you see as trash, there are some that can be read given the maturity needed to process complicated concepts within the book is already present.

Reinke uplifts non-Christian authors and Literature as exposing truth and beauty which can only come from Our God, and so there is nothing wrong about appreciating it. He also believes that even dark pieces are not a “NO” right away as these are also very reflective of our falleness and current situation- the age of the ear, and not the eye, he says, where our sights still aren’t flawless as one day they would be.

5) But author is also self-reflexive, attuned to what his primary readers might say and discloses his stand that nothing comes before the Gospel and His Word.

Christians better not panic about these statements because Reinke does not forget to remind that all these things come only after the supremacy and lenses of the Gospel and Scripture. Should at any point we have to choose, we shall pick those two over everything else. In fact, he proposes that a good grasp of the Gospel and Scripture is the starting point, as it serves as good lenses by which to curate our reading materials.

5) The author’s own struggles when it comes to reading makes it relatable and even relevant as he discusses the perils of electronic options.

His though-provoking narration of his own struggles, especially when reading in this age of e-books, must resonate within the hearts of many readers out there, too. He says he’s made the decision to shift back to hard copies, and I think that many other readers are doing the same these days. I myself have gone back to purchasing paperbacks instead of electronic copies.

However I do have a comment about that. Some people really do finish more books and are able to conveniently as much as they want when they have an e-reader. (Take note that I said e-reader and not an iPad. I strongly believe our choice of device affects effective reading, too.) As a mom, I know that sometimes, having an e-reader helps me to read conveniently even while I am watching over a growing kid AND a thousand other things at the same time. Case in point: I only finished Lit! because it was on my Kindle. It was a great companion throughout my crazy airplane positions as I lug baby around and go from one state to another looking and feeling heavy like a Christmas tree.

6) Book contains many practical tips for reading that are doable and effective. It encourages reader to certain systems that will help reading happen!

The solution I find about this though is to follow his system of reading and align it with my hard copy versus e-book choices: to put those he calls light and shallow, easily digestible readings in the device, and those he calls “steak” or desk reading – “the longest and most difficult books, the books that require the most caffeinated attention,” leave to be purchased in hard copy format. (System of categorizing reading level for books is his, but choice between e-shelf to physical is mine.)

7) Then don’t miss that great note to reading mentors, like pastors and parents, too!

I also love Reinke’s note to Pastors and Parents who have the privilege of modeling the enriched life of those who read books. He does this at the end of the book complete with tips.

8) Book moves reader to action and the determination to read against all odds.

Ultimately all thumbs up for this book because you can only come out of it 1) appreciating the act of reading and 2) fighting for it. Simply he says that unless we put it in our schedule, really put aside time to do it, reading will never happen. So we have to be more intentional about it, more deliberate.

  • Category: Religion, Christian Literature
  • Publisher: Crossway (September 9, 2011)
  • Price: Kindle $9.99 | Paperback $13.17 (208pp)
  • Available on Amazon

I also think that is has a fantastic cover, don’t you think so??? #bibliophileforeva

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