Friendships Always Matter

Friendships

Whether one is suffering from depression or not, friendships — true friendships —  always matter and are a source of support, whether they know about one’s mental illness or not.

I find myself actually “forgetting” or leaving behind my feelings of depression for a while  whenever I am able to “force” myself to get out of the house to accept some meal or get-together invitations. After such events, I find myself feeling somewhat elated and am thankful for being able to accomplish it — it does feel like an accomplishment — a small step forward.

My introversion does make me feel drained after being surrounded for hours by people other than my friends, but that’s par for the course.

It makes me smile reviewing all my photos on Facebook, and this particular photo, taken by my husband two Christmases ago made me want to blog about it. This was a “staged” photo, guided by our friend on the rightmost side, who was into advertising a few years ago. He asked us if we noticed how most print ads show people with “open-mouthed” smiles. We then realized it was true.

So while having that Christmas meal 2 years ago, we tried to make our own “print ad”. We tried so hard not to laugh while the camera was on a 10-second timer. Being a print ad model was harder than we thought!

The people in this photo (save for my husband and me) have been our friends for many years. They all always be friends we will treasure.

Hope you find yourselves with true friendships that will stand the tests of time, like we did.

 

 

Advertisements

At The Edge Of The Precipice

They say that fear of the unknown is not reality — because the unknown hasn’t happened yet.

Woman standing on precipice edge at Horseshoe Bend, Arizona, USA

Have you ever felt like you were standing on the edge of a very high cliff, with a leopard about to launch itself at you, while you decide if it is worth jumping to your “unknown” demise instead of being eaten alive — which you don’t even know yet, right?

The precipice, known also to me as my “critical juncture” in life, is where I find myself standing on the past year, and every decade. There is fear either way — fear of “staying” where I am, just on the edge,  afraid  that I will grow old not ever knowing what is on the other side.

And then there is intense fear of what lies beneath the precipice — will I fall too deep and too hard? Or is there a soft green meadow underneath the sea of dark menacing clouds? Or is there an actual safety net waiting for me? Or will it be just the same as it was before.

A pivotal scene in the movie Divergent was when the newly inducted Dauntless members  had to prove themselves worthy of belonging to such a “fearless” bunch, by leaping into a dark abyss as their first real test. No one wanted to go first. No one wanted to be the first to “die”. The deep, dark abyss represented death for them.

Beatrice Prior (the protagonist played by Shailene Woodley) was the only one with enough courage to literally dive into the unknown. She was afraid, but she also realized her fear was just that – fear. The fear of possibly dying has not happened, so dive she did.

Her triumphant smile upon landing on a huge safety net became the catalyst for change in her fellow Dauntless’ hearts. You know what happened next — everyone jumped — and survived!

I am afraid of something that hasn’t happened yet – a life change that could actually be healing for me and my family. Anxiety and depression make the thoughts and decisions even harder. Anxiety and depression keep my feet tightly glued to the edge, cause me to vacillate, think and re-think every decision and outcome, and stoke the embers of fear in my heart until they become a raging fire that consume me and whatever little courage I have tried to muster.

I am afraid to jump – yet I am more afraid to stay because then, I will never know what awaits me. There is so much fear at the edge of the precipice. I cannot stay there much longer.

Lord, give me the courage to jump, for when I do, I will land on the safest place — your loving hands.

 

The feeling of being homeless…

 

Homeless

My husband and I have been renting apartments since we got married. Where we live, it is not easy to own a home. The insecurity of being driven out of a place and being homeless has been with me ever since.

Just two weeks ago, we were informed that the apartment we are renting has already been sold and that we need to move out within 2 to 3 weeks. We were stunned and felt very betrayed. Looking for a relatively decent place to move into on a very small budget that allows pets is very difficult. We had to adjust our schedules so we could look at several places to rent at such short notice.

Without the money to advance to landlords (at least 3 months’ worth), we could just look at places but not reserve. We have been to most cities that are not too far from where my husband works and have seen really depressing places. We have been on a rollercoaster of emotions the past two weeks.

The reality that we will be homeless within a few weeks hit us really hard. Without the financial means to rent a place in such a short time drove us deep into depression. I have always been irate at the government for driving illegal settlers away without any relocation plans for them. It is cruel and inhumane. Every human being has the right to a decent place to live. Our society has blatantly ignored this basic right for decades. We are all answerable for this intolerable cruelty.

I know people who also almost lost their homes – and those who actually did. It is downright wrong.

I applaud people who establish shelters for the homeless. There should be more of them and more facilities for the homeless. No one should ever be deprived of this basic human right.

Now I personally know how it feels. I pray to God that we will be given the means to help others in this plight.

Worship no matter what…

It’s another new year. I am very grateful for the physical, emotional and mental rest I am enjoying with my family for a few weeks. The past year has been pain-filled; losing many loved ones, grappling with God and his promises, struggling to keep my head above raging waters, and simply striving to survive.

God’s many promises seemed irrelevant to me and my situation. They were outdated and were definitely objective reality as far as I was concerned. I witnessed injustice, suffering, severe pain and loss among my family, friends and countrymen. God’s mercy and deliverance seemed very far away.

After more than a year of leaving my Bible on a shelf to gather dust, I fearfully picked it up and leafed through the still crisp pages. It was an emotional experience. I know in my heart that Jesus never left me, but I stopped believing in his word — at least those that promise deliverance, provision and help to the widows, orphans and fatherless.

I did not go to my “favorite”‘ books. I simply skimmed through and decided to read Habakkuk. This was not a book I often read so I was stunned to read “myself” and my situation so accurately described by the author. I cried his cry for many months: “How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you , “Violence!” but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong?” – Habakkuk 1: 2-3 (NIV throughout)

Did I receive the answers I wanted to hear? I guess not. I was utterly despondent and wondered if God would ever forgive me for dwelling in negativity and misery for so long. In his unfailing love and mercy, he whispered these words to me.

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.” – Habakkuk 3: 17-19

He is healing me enough to begin praising him – “….to choose to trust God and declare that his character is perfect – even when we don’t understand and our hearts are breaking.” – Insight on Worship, CGSB, NIV

My heart is still breaking. My husband and I just lost another beloved pet only one week ago. By God’s strength, I choose to be hopeful and to continue to live my life with all my heart and might because life is just too short to remain in pain, anguish and grief. We have a mighty and loving God who continues to save and heal us. And he continues to save and heal me, one small step at a time.

My Experience at an Adoption Home

CRIBS

My husband and I just came from volunteering at a local shelter for abandoned and abused children. Appropriately called CRIBS (Creating Responsive Infants By Sharing), it opens its gates to people who wish to give an hour or two of their time, in the morning and in the afternoon, caring for and interacting with babies and toddlers.

Since it was our first time to volunteer, we didn’t quite know what to expect. After changing into our clean and white “work clothes”, we entered the babies’ and toddlers’ sections and were immediately and eagerly greeted by the tots. I hardly had time to see where my husband went because the child that greeted me at the door of the nursery held up his hands to be carried.

I was overwhelmed. So there I was, wondering how I could help when I didn’t have children of my own and nervous as to what was expected of me. It didn’t take me too long to figure it out. I just needed to give them love.

There were many volunteers but there were also more babies than everyone can handle. I was in the room that housed eight babies ranging in age from four months to perhaps one year. Each one wanted to be carried, comforted and put to sleep. After playing with two of them, I carried a crying little boy with almond eyes and a cute round head. He was crying  and rolling from side to side in one corner of the play mat that I had to attend to him immediately. All volunteer hands and arms were full so I rushed to him after putting down the little boy that first greeted me.

It took me just two seconds to lift him up and he immediately stopped crying. The distress was lifted from his tiny face and he seemed content to just be held. My heart just melted. I needed no special mothering skills or years of child-rearing experience to calm a crying baby. I was humbled and I offered prayers to God for those babies whose parents didn’t want them anymore.

I put no blame on their parents. I don’t know their stories and I’m not their judge. I can only pray for more people whose hearts will be touched to volunteer their time and love to these children. This is not the only shelter in our country. There are many more that need not only volunteers but donors so that these homes and shelters will continue to be in existence and will be able to take care of more children. You can look them up on the internet, check out their wish lists, and give them a call.

There is also a need for more caring people to adopt these children and give them a more permanent home. Each child needs special and constant attention, which adoption shelters cannot provide 24/7. There are costs to be counted, the most crucial of which, I believe, is commitment.

My husband and I are seriously considering adoption and we are doing our research, on our knees. If we could give a home to just one child, then that’s one child less at a shelter. That’s one more child assured of love and a better future. We don’t have all the resources just yet, but by God’s grace, we can work those out.

We pray for that baby He has already matched and prepared for us. And as we wait, I am always reminded of our own precious adoption by God the Father, through Jesus Christ.   “5He (A)predestined us to (B)adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, (C)according to the kind intention of His will” – Ephesians 1:5 (NASB).

I was never alone…

Southern Luzon Medical Center

It has been a week today since my first ever surgery. I had a laparoscopy cholecystectomy done last March 24 to remove my gall bladder because of the many stones that resided in it and caused me many hours of pain. Many may say it’s a very common procedure for a minor organ and that I’m making too much of a deal of it. Like I told my hubby, it’s still my bladder and it’s still my body. There is nothing common about it. I only have one of each!

I had about a week to prepare myself physically, mentally and emotionally. I thought I was doing pretty well in that I was still able to function around the house and do my baking and deliveries. Well, not really. I did break down the day after my surgeon told me that I had to go through the surgery. I was tearing apart at the seams as my fears surfaced and almost engulfed me. I was losing my bladder! It’s major!

Many friends and family members sent their support and prayers through text messages and e-mail. I read and re-read my Facebook messages and thanked God for His love expressed in tangible ways. These were the messages I reviewed in my mind when I was wheeled to the operating room. And as I was laid down on the bed with the many green and blue-masked figures hovering around me, the bright OR lights reminding me of the many ER episodes I’ve seen, I listened calmly to the soft buzz and beeps of the various machines I was hooked up to. I thought I was calm until one of the nurses read my blood pressure to me: 120/90. That’s high! I’m cool with my normal 110/70.

I realized then that the surgery may be postponed if my BP didn’t cooperate. That was when I suddenly felt Christ’s comforting presence in me. I thanked him for the treatment I was about to receive and silently prayed for my anesthesiologist, surgeon and nurses. And then I blacked out.

I woke up to the voice of my able anesthesiologist and my sweet hubby. Since I was just beginning to regain my consciousness, I could only manage a “thumbs up”, with my heavy eyes and parched mouth still shut. I also realized that I survived the surgery and that I was never alone. Jesus was with me the whole time.

I look back now and still fight back the tears whenever I remember that special moment before I lost consciousness. That was the moment when I felt so much fear yet so much peace and comfort afterwards. I am also filled with gratitude for the love and support of our church family who visited me in the hospital and stayed to care for me. That was love in action. I will never forget that. And to my hubby, a big kiss and hug for his loving care and sacrifice.

I was never alone. I know that now.

When Compassion is Sadly Lacking

Christmas

The Christmas season is fast approaching. For many families here in the Philippines, it will be a season of sadness and grieving, of homelessness and even hopelessness. The Christmas carols and blinking lights will be cruel reminders of loved ones lost and bleak futures. The typhoons that ravaged the country one strong fury after another will cast a dark shadow over the holiday celebrations. In these times of darkness and pain, the gift of compassion is greatly needed.

Sadly, there is a dearth of compassion in this world, even among so-called “Christians“.  It is highly encouraging to witness through the news funds being raised and food being distributed among the typhoon victims week after week. The heroism of a people is usually seen in tragedies of epic scales. But among the ordinary folks eking their way into existence every single day, a brief encounter with compassion is an oasis to a thirsty and war-weary soul. Yes, an oasis in the desert — hard to find, seldom seen, and a flitting mirage at best — but very much needed.

Compassion —  the deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the active desire to alleviate it — is something every hurting soul needs right now. Let us give it. Let us throw away useless platitudes, judgment, self-righteousness and even a messianic complex. Let us just feel with the hurting — no words, just feelings and loving gestures. Maybe a hug, a sincere pat on the shoulder, an understanding and kind glance. This is compassion. A soft and gentle voice mouthing judgment is not the same thing.

We call ourselves “Christians” — let us live in the way Jesus Christ lived. He is compassionate (Exodus 34:6 – “…The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.”). If we want to know how else we can sincerely express compassion, we can look to Jesus’ examples in his word (you can check out BibleGateway.com). After all, he is our best example.

Previous Older Entries