Monday, May 25, 2009

Coming of Age

We pulled off a movie premiere debut last Saturday night!

It had all the frills of a real movie premiere: autograph-seeking groupies, a red carpet host (with a live feed inside the ballroom entertaining the early birds), a photowall, a ticketbooth and of course, a popcorn stand.=) We had our LCD screen dressed up to look like a movie theater screen. Each table had a photo reel of the debutante’s photos and a poster of one her favorite movies (we had 23 tables). During dinner, 3 minute clips of her favorite movies were shown --- cue for the guests to proceed to the buffet table. Instead of the traditional 18 roses, we featured 18 leading men in the lives of the debutant. Her treasures came from her co-writers and wishes from her co-stars. So many different twists to celebrating a young lady's coming of age.
What made the night really special for me was that the “star of the show” was a former grade 1 student of mine. I adored her as a child and she adored me, too. I'd like to claim her knack for writing came from me thanks to the writing corner I put up in our classroom. She's always been a quiet and unassuming girl. For the whole theme to really work out, I told her she had to play the movie star part. She tried her best and by doing so put herself in the league of reluctant movie stars who in real life are quite shy.

When she came around to thanking everyone, she did so in general, but she said a special thanks to me --- teacher Arlyne. I hesitated when she asked me to join their family on stage. But I did. I was so overwhelmed that I didn't cry (which on "normal" occasions, I would have). It was really a night to remember.
Team Zarah: me, Mike, Charrie, Ammy
and Iya (clinging to her hubby's leg).
P.S. By God's grace, our team received a 'bonus' for a job well done and we celebrated with a round of coffee and pastries. Job well done, team!!!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

You Hypocrite! (Matthew 7: 1-5)

“You hypocrite! 
First take the log out of our own eye, and then you will be able to see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”Matthew 7: 5

Years back, as a new member of CFC Singles for Christ, I had come to the realization that I was really full of myself. By God’s grace and the prompting of the Spirit, I began praying for humility. Well, when you pray for what God knows is best for you, He really lays it on you --- and hard!

I had volunteered to go on mission to give a retreat to our breathren in the north. We were traveling on my birthday and I had actually boasted of my sacrifice to God. But as God would have it, I wasn’t able to give my talk because He knew that I wasn’t ready for it. Hypocrite! I got sick the day of my talk and had to be hospitalized. That was the start of my journey of being diagnosed as an epileptic.

Now, I come before my God and His people, knowing that whatever I am able to do is only by His grace. I continue to be humbled by our God --- and a year after that episode of mine I was finally able to give “the talk” on a mission in the south, this time. The title of the talk? "True and False Humility".

Guide Question: Have you removed the log from your eye?

Thought for the Day: If you think you are humble, then you are not.

My Hold on God (John 20: 1-2, 11-18)

“They have taken my Lord away, and I do not know where they have put him!”John 20: 13b

I am an epileptic. The onset of my disorder came late into my adulthood, about two years after I had joined CFC Singles for Christ. The first time I had a seizure, after I had been diagnosed as an epileptic, was truly a life-changing one for me.

I had been told that I would have at least a “10-second window” (or an aura) to sit down in a corner before my seizure hits and that I would be safe from hurting myself in any way. But as the seconds before my seizure was coming on, I prayed the “Our Father” until I couldn’t recall the words anymore and I was terrified! I recovered from my seizure crying because at the moment that I couldn’t pray anymore I had felt that I had lost my hold on God. More than the bump on my head (because I had been so fixed on praying that I had only been able to get down on my knees) the pain of losing my God was a terrible, terrible thought for me.

Even as I go through the difficulties of my life I know to hang on to God. He is my one true source of strength and it is only by His grace that I am able to serve Him in the many ways that He has called me to.

Guide Question: In what ways have you lost your hold on God?

Thought for the Day: God has a hold on your life allow Him to take charge of it.

So-called Miserable Lives (Matthew 28: 16-20)

“When they saw him, they worshiped him, even though some of them doubted.” - Matthew 28:17

As a volunteer for a youth development program of Gawad Kalinga, I have been blessed to witness the spiritual transition of so many of our underprivileged youth. At our initial profiling, I would hear stories of the difficulties that their families go through and I am not surprised when I hear that God is not a priority in their lives. How can God actually be part of their miserable lives?

Yet after just a few months of values formation sessions and talking about God and His ways, the Lord moves these youth. Even if their families have yet to be truly alleviated of their poverty, they come before God and worship Him with their all. Their empty stomachs, tattered clothes, and broken relationships are sources of doubt for them. But I have been humbled in so many ways as I would participate in worship with them. The words that they speak out to God are so full of love for Him and His people that I am always moved to tears.

God can actually be part of their so-called miserable lives.

Guide Question: Is God part of your day-to-day life?

Thought for the Day: Even when you doubt, God is there.

He Should Have Prayed (Mark 8: 27-33)

While discussing the friends of Jesus with my grade two students, one girl expressed her disbelief when I told them that despite denying him three times, Jesus anointed Peter to become our first pope.
“Why, miss?” she asked.

“Why not?” I replied.

“Because he wasn’t a true friend of Jesus,” she answered.

“Well, maybe because he was scared at the time he denied Jesus,” was my defense for “The Rock”.

“Then why didn’t he just ask God to make him brave?” was her retort, the most obvious solution her mind could think of.

My adult mind raced. I wanted to explain that Peter once again allowed his human nature to get the best of him. That like teacher, Peter though he knew better than God. “Okay, Lord, so what do I say to her?” I prayed.

Then with a knowing smile I answered, “You’re right, he should have prayed.”

Guide Question: Is prayer your immediate answer to life’s questions?

Thought for the Day: Do you think you know better than God? Think again.

In His Steps

I consider it a blessing to have been tapped to help out in editing and writing for the daily prayer and scripture guide of Couples for Christ, In His Steps. It has been a journey of learning for me, in more ways than one. Allow me to share with you some of my reflections that "didn't make the cut"....

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Letter to Our Silid Aralan Learning Facilitators

I wrote this letter about a year ago...

When I first got to sit down with Arcie, Marc and Russel to discuss developing learning modules for the Silid Aralan children I recall telling them that more than coming up with learning packages for the learners, they should focus on the training of their facilitators. I must have said a lot more about making sure that their facilitators were well-trained and how to go about it such that I found myself agreeing to be their “multiple intelligence consultant”, but eventually becoming their learning consultant was more like it and that is where I find myself now.

I am a teacher at heart. To bring out the best in my students has always been at the core of my never occurred to me to write down what I have learned over the years. But everything happens in its perfect time. It is time....

Presently I am “giving birth” to the manuals (or modules, if you please) which will serve as a guide to Silid Aralan facilitators. The Silid Aralan Learning Technology or SALT© that we (I cannot claim sole conception of this for many minds have come together to make this a possibility.) have conceptualized will bring about skills that will help our learners throughout their lives. More than the academic learning, it’s the emotional learning that we will put most of our efforts in. For I have personally come to the understanding that when an atmosphere of trust is established in the learning environment of children, they are motivated to excel in the different aspects of their lives. Knowing that they matter and are greatly loved fuels them.

A few years back I was a grade 2 religion teacher. I recall a colleague of mine telling me that, “Teaching religion is more difficult than teaching math, science, and other subjects.” My face may have registered wonder with the words that he just spoke, so he explained, “Math and science are subjects that you can teach in the classroom, and then leave the concepts there, as well. With religion, you can’t only teach it, you have to live it.” I dare say the same thing now to you, our dear Silid Aralan facilitators, as we embark on inspiring our children to be life-long learners who will give back to their community, “Live what you teach. Never cease to love learning. Live your life to its fullest potential. Seek to strengthen your purpose for living.” These are what we hope for our learners, thus, these are what they should learn from us as we stand before them.

Mga kuya at ate, as you go about your days as a Silid Aralan facilitator, know that you have been chosen for your capacity to love. Therefore, love deeply and fully, for your love will truly change tomorrow.