A prelude to 2019

This is my 2018, in a nutshell.

**I hadn’t blogged (or journaled) in a while, and I consider not writing a barometer for how “engaged” I was or was not to how my life was going along. That I had not written for a long time says I’ve mostly been just “going along” with life, and that’s a bad thing for me personally.

It’s not that nothing major happened in my life the past year. It’s probably because I hadn’t paid enough attention, or was too unintentional to stop, meditate, journal, and evaluate my life. In years past, I was more intentional in doing those things because it made me more conscious of God’s presence in my life, and also made me more prayerful. This is something I definitely want to change this coming year, and I know I have to be more intentional about it.

Speaking of major happenings in my life, I finally started working again at the beginning of the year.

Those who know my life know I stopped working for 5 years because I went back to school to study Optometry. Those 5 years were a very interesting time of my life, because from being independent and working, I was back to being financially-dependent and studying. So much happened in between those two phases of my life. Through it all, God sustained me. He is really the one constant.

Me working again meant more wiggle room financially (among other things), and one of the things I enjoyed being able to do more consistently again was to tithe, to bless others through financially supporting missionaries and causes we believe in, and having a little extra to make memories with my husband.

Tithing shouldn’t be an issue in the life of a Christian, in my opinion. But there were times I didn’t do it consistently, and so I pray that I will really obey in this area. Giving is also a barometer for Rayjohn and I in terms of our spiritual lives. One of our core values as a family is generosity, and we want to be consistent in this area as well. I believe that God’s economy is so rewarding for givers, and it’s so much more fulfilling than receiving, for sure.

This year, Rayjohn and I traveled together for the first time since our honeymoon. Again, that had to do with my studies, and frankly, as a matter of priorities. We went to Japan for 2 weeks and really enjoyed the experience of traveling together again. (Will blog about this separately).

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We loved Japan so much we’re planning to go back again sometime, but in the meantime, we are saving up for next year so that, Lord-willing, we will have saved enough to visit family in the US. I really want to spend more time with my mom, as she is again fighting an uphill health battle. Please, pray with us for God’s gracious healing.

Also, my twin sister moved to the US just last week. So, that’s another reason to visit often, hopefully.

I am always reminded of this quote from our pastor: “Ever spending decision is a spiritual decision.” Indeed, how we use money speaks volumes on where are our hearts are. That’s why we would rather invest on memories, relationships, experiences and being a blessing, than buying material things that are temporal and could take away from our focus and purpose.

Some of this decisions include not having a Netflix or cable subscription, because we know how addictive TV watching can be, and by having a subscription, our thinking is, we want to maximize how much we’re paying monthly, and so, we’d have to watch. And that takes away from our precious time which we can use instead to make disciples, or make memories, or read the bible, and so on and on. In fact, one of the blessings God allowed me to enjoy this year is to continue to disciple. And to be more consistent in attending my long-standing singles dgroup, 9 years and counting! (which I chose to still be part of even though I am already married and part of a couples dgroup)

Just a few days ago, my dgroup got to relax in Pico De Loro, thanks to our leader Ate Jill. We all had a blessed time of fellowship over food, games, and activities. And I got to bring Rayjohn too :-)

(Full disclosure: we’ve also been flip-flopping on whether to buy a gaming console (Switch) or not. Weighing the pros and cons–having one makes get-togethers more fun, but also increases the temptation to play–and for me personally, I’m aware of the weakness in me. I have claimed before that if I were not a Christian, I’d absolutely have no problem spending hours of my time gaming. End of disclosure :-)

Speaking of buying stuff, I recently helped my friend move in to our house, because she had been looking for a place for some time, and we just happened to have a spare room to rent out (because Kz had moved out already). When she arrived with her stuff, I must honestly say, I really was blown away with how much stuff a person can have (haha, love you Mel!) Having experienced life in Japan, I really appreciated their emphasis on minimalism and simplicity. Just look at how simple our accommodations in Japan were:

And I realized, there’s so much we can learn in that respect. One goal that we have going to 2019 is to live with as few stuff as we need and not have an attachment for things. I’ve spent the last 2 days decluttering and I’m still amazed at how much stuff there is in the house when, to be honest, Rayjohn and I have not been buying anything at all. Mostly, it’s stuff from all who lived here–my parents, my siblings, even with my uncle–and, seeing how much there is makes me want to move out to a smaller house and live with the essentials. Haha!

Speaking of which, again. we are really praying to move in to a simpler, probably smaller house, with fewer clutter and dust. Living in the only house I’ve known my entire life has it perks, like being cheap and central in terms of location and convenience, but also, I think the time is coming for us to let go of this house and make newer memories elsewhere. Wherever that is, and whether that’s in 2019 or much later on,  only God knows. Please join us in praying for these things we’re working on as we approach 2019. Thanks for reading!

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Naiveté

Today, I added “natural medicine” to the list of “Things You Only Talk About To A Select Few”. Politics is obviously right there. You want to lose some friends? Bring up Duterte and Marcos. (Thankfully, religion is something I will not hesitate to talk about. Specifically, my faith in Jesus, because this is THE one topic worth dying (and living) for.) I remember what my pastor told us in church one Sunday, that there are some debatable things worth dying for, and there are some debatable things that you don’t have to win. Drums in church. Unclean meat. Women pastors. Tattoos. All controversial, but not worth losing sleep, friends, or your life over.

Still, I have to admit it does bug me how difficult it is to deal with people. (late-bloomer, eh?) Specifically, realizing how different we all really are. It doesn’t matter whether you both are Christians, or you’ve been friends for a long time, or that you hold shared values and beliefs…there will still be some things you will disagree about, things that people just respond to differently. That’s what makes relationships so beautiful and hurtful at the same time. That’s why in instances like this, where I said something with no other intention but to simply share something I assume would be worth thinking about, and got back an unintended effect, I go back to God’s word (sanity-saver) that teaches me important life lessons:

  1. Before you react, stop. Be quick to hear, slow to speak… James 1:19
  2. When you stop before you speak, before you type, clarity takes over the impulse to react. Proverbs 14:29
  3. With clarity of thought, you clarify the message:
    • What do you mean? (Removes misunderstanding, allows you to ask for intention)
    • Can you clarify? (Allows you to state your position clearly)

The key, I’m learning, is still communication. It has to remain open and intentional. When people react instead of respond, offenses take place. Instead of reacting, we can ask questions so that the things we do not understand, we understand a little or a lot better. I think this is responsible, mature, and demonstrates integrity.

Also, what comes to mind is how crucial empathy is to making relationships work. If we make it a habit of placing ourselves in another’s position, or better yet, to defer to one another (Philippians 2:3), how different our responses would be!

Unfortunately, many life lessons come as thorns. My naiveté in the protocols of relationships, in the Things You Only Talk About To A Select Few, in the life area conveniently called Experience, temporarily cause me heartache. Things like, “why should people complicate it?” Or, “why must the response be adversarial instead of accommodating?”, or “why not just say, thanks for sharing” nag at me. See? Naive. Experience is indeed the best teacher. Tomorrow I’ll laugh about it. Today, I’m learning. And hopefully I’m a better person for it.

How then shall Christians respond?

I think, in my lifetime, I’ve never been part of such a time as this, where people are so divided over what they think is right versus what is wrong.

I’m speaking of President Duterte; his unconventional, even controversial ways of implementing the changes he wants to see in our country. So much has already been said and written about him and his methods, and while I have my own opinions on the matter, I’m not here to write about those things. Rather, I want to address this post to fellow Christians who, like me, struggled or are struggling with how to respond to what we are seeing and hearing on the news, and what we are reading on social media and the Internet.

First, as Christians, how should we treat President Duterte?

His presidency is ordained by God. Therefore, we are to live in submission to his authority.

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Romans 13:1

Secondly, what does the Bible say about speaking evil or blaspheming God-ordained rulers?

And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.

And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.

Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?

And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God’s high priest?

Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.

In the opening verses of Acts 23, we see Paul standing before the Sanhedrin, addressing them to defend the gospel and his actions. As he spoke, men beside him were commanded to hit Paul on the mouth, to which Paul responded angrily and carelessly with a curse against Ananias, high priest of the Sanhedrin. Paul was rebuked and in humility, admitted that he had done a wrong thing by speaking evil against Ananias.

Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people. Exodus 22:28

This part of the story could have been left out of the Bible, but everything that is in the Bible, God has a purpose and a lesson. Aside from this being contrasted to how Jesus responded against those who hit him, I believe this also teaches us that regardless of who is in authority, be it Stalin, Hitler, Trump, Obama or Duterte, we are to honor them (context, of course, as long as it does not contradict obedience to God’s commands, which are paramount)

Of course, lest people take this out of context: While Paul’s short outburst was an issue between him and God, God still vindicated and honored him for his confession before men. Therefore we have the assurance that injustice committed by God-ordained authorities will not go unpunished.

The bible talks also of submission to authority:

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;

Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. 1 Peter 2:13-14

Therefore, we must check our hearts if we are sinning in this respect.

Finally, having established President Duterte’s authority, how then do we respond as Christians, whether we are in agreement with Pres. Duterte’s methods or not?

We all know how social media amplifies thoughts and opinions, and how quickly one can go viral or be subject to cyber-bullying.

I have had my moments of posting my thoughts on Facebook. Thankfully, I have not been trolled (since my posts are private) but I’ve seen some spirited discussions from friends, some of them from Christians, partaking of the vitriol, the mockery, the sarcasm, the ridicule, the hate, the anger.

I took a step back and asked myself, is this what God wants from His people? How can we be salt and light to the world if in our Facebook posts, our conversations, and our actions, we contribute to the confusion, hate, anger, and distrust, whether intentionally or unintentionally?

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Matthew 5:13-15

What then sets us apart from the people who do not know God?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be vigilant of what’s happening; that we should turn a blind eye or live as if everything is fine. I’m not even saying we should not complain, or not have any say at all.

I’m saying, as Christians, what do our actions (posting critical thoughts and articles, engaging in debates or arguments) achieve?

  • Does it glorify God? (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

  • Does it build up other people? (Ephesians 4:29)

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

  • Does it promote unity in the body of Christ? (1 Corinthians 1:10)

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

  • Does it point people to Christ? (Matthew 5:16)

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

I’m saying, as Christians, we ought to exercise more restraint, especially in this day and age of social media where it’s so tempting to join the fray and let our thoughts be heard, because the world is looking at us. Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. 1 Corinthians 10:23

I’ve realized, more than ever, we ought to pray. In prayer, we can bring all our complaints, cares, worries, fears, and anxieties over what is happening in our country.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Philippians 4:6

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 1 Timothy 2:1-2

In prayer, we acknowledge that we are sinful and tend to worry. In prayer, we bring all these things to the proper authority. There, God will meet us and assure us He is sovereign.

As I began to think about these things, I checked my heart and motivation. What did I hope to achieve? To have more people on my side? (nope) Knock some sense into them? (probably) Just air my grievance for friends to know where I stand? (a little)

Ultimately, to what end?

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and these other social media platforms, are powerful platforms. They are neutral in themselves. We can either choose to use these platforms to glorify God, or turn people away from God, through our words and actions. My prayer is that we choose to use it in a God-honoring way.

I am still learning these lessons, and in the past have failed by sharing my thoughts needlessly. I have realized, more than anyone, it is God to whom I should be sharing my thoughts and anxieties, and allow Him through His Spirit to work through my heart; to help me be prayerful instead of critical; to see the good instead of the bad. Situations do not make character; they reveal them. My prayer for you and I is that we will develop the spiritual maturity in responding, as we ought to.

prau

Live in view of eternity

…Being oblivious to eternity leaves us experts in the trivial and novices in the significant. If life’s greatest certainty is death, wouldn’t it be foolish not to prepare for what lies beyond this life?

-Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions and Eternity

Why Optometrist

My classmates and I undertook a project last semester on the public’s knowledge of the term “Optometry” or “Optometrist”. I already know, by firsthand experience, what kind of answers we will be getting even without documenting it. Nevertheless, it was a great experiment because it opened my classmates’ eyes on how the public sees optometrists, and it allowed us to educate those whom we were able to interview.

Now, I don’t exactly know if being made aware of the perception and knowledge of the public on optometry made my classmates feel good about our profession. Sure, we got a good laugh on their incredulous answers, and we probably made a mental note to do our best to educate the public. But it got me thinking, what are we really doing, intentionally, to educate the public on what is optometry and what is an optometrist? More importantly, if we really want to educate the public, then why are we so scrimpy on referring to ourselves as optometrists? How can we make the term popular (in the Philippines, that is) if even amongst ourselves (not me, I can tell you that!) we’d rather use “eye doctor” than optometrist?

Think about it. Dentists are “teeth doctors”. They wear the “dentist” proud and don’t trifle with terms like “teeth doctor”. Optometrists are eye doctors, yet we don’t use it as if there is something to be ashamed of. Is there?

Perhaps the reason why most optometry students prefer eye doctor is because of the perception of optometrists, in general. But how will we change the perception of optometrists if we don’t use the term and practice clinically, as doctors?

We have observed that the general public equates optometrists (generally) to those who only sell glasses or measure eye power. They don’t see that refraction (and selling glasses), which optometrists are known for, constitute such a small part of primary eye care and clinical optometry.

This public perception on optometry is almost unique in the Philippines. In other countries, optometrists are well-respected doctors. They are equal with ophthalmologists. So why isn’t it so here? I think (and I could be wrong) optometrists have settled for selling and just doing refraction, “labo-linaw” – the very thing the public knows about us. Only a small percentage of optometrists practice clinically. And so, when we tackle the issue of public perception, is it accurate to conclude that it is how it is because it is what most of us have been portraying all along?

What’s my point? We’re still optometry students, and hopefully in a year, we will graduate and become licensed optometrists. Do we want to change the perception of the public and educate them? Then I advocate using the term Optometrist. Make it popular. Wear it proud. More importantly, I advocate practicing clinically, because it is in this area where we truly fulfill being eye doctors. Otherwise, if we stop at selling glasses and refracting under a strict chair time, we perpetuate the perception that optometrists are more salesmen than doctors.

The onus is on us, future optometrists, to elevate the standard and practice of optometry in the Philippines. It is so much easier to just sit back and be indifferent or apathetic towards this reality. This is the curse of the “millennials” – wanting change but not acting on it. My appeal is not so that we will feel better once we’ve educated the public. No, it is so that optometry will survive in the future. If we do not take ownership of our would-be profession, somebody else will. And yes, it starts with the simple act of calling ourselves Optometrists, proudly. That is why.