Category Archives: Family

From pain to gain: A shift in focus

For more than a month, pain has dominated my world as I experience abdominal pain I haven’t encountered before. Even in one of my most critical health conditions, five years ago, and the subsequent gradual process of recovery, the pain is more on emotional and spiritual, less in physical. This time it cuts across all other aspects. In fact, I was supposed to undergo surgery because of gallstones as observed in the ultra sound. With reservation, I took heed of the advice consoling myself that is the only way to get rid of the pain. Because there was also a pancreatic cyst in the ultra sound, the surgeon recommended CT scan first so that he can include the tail end of pancreas in the operation.

sickMuch to our amazement, the gallstones disappeared in the CT scan. But the joy was short lived as another CT scan was recommended – the result of which highlighted the pancreatic cyst. Diagnostic operation was recommended as sure method for biopsy to determine if the cyst is malignant. I was caught off-guard. Unprepared because of my assumption that I would be excused from other illness having not fully recovered yet from previous one in almost all aspects. Considering all scenarios even the worst, with my wife’s consent, I decided to leave the hospital and take a rest, meditate, pray, try nature’s healing process at home. I want to have more time with God, especially that earlier I have inspiring experiences with Him . I even prayed for more opportunities to publicly bear witness to God’s faithfulness to me and my family.

Yes, I long to do that since I survived the aforementioned critical periods in our life. I want to stress God’s hand in my healing. Since my condition is volatile yet, I shelve it for a while until my full recovery to make it real, powerful and with full confidence. However, observing the very gradual healing process, I decided to start doing it in every opportunity to preach and teach. At the back of my mind, with my age, full recovery may not come and I’ll forever lose by default. While I keep on believing and hoping for it, I also started to be realistic.

capiz cbmaIndeed, opportunities came. Lots of speaking engagements in line with respective themes on God’s faithfulness and thanksgiving. I have gone to Bacolod City after five years during the Foundation Day of the First Bethany Church. I was privileged to be the speaker in the CBMA Capiz Chapter Assembly in Maayon, Capiz. And lately, at the  Baptist Church of Forward in Badiangan as Thanksgiving Sunday speaker. This is the church which adopted me as member almost 40 years ago because of a very productive ministry with young people during our Gospel Team while still a seminarian in Convention Baptist Bible College.

certificate

Forward

I grabbed each opportunity to boldly proclaim Gods faithfulness even in pain and sufferings. Although not used to a prescriptive sermon, I even made an acrostic to emphasize my point in one of my sermons. i.e. THANKS. Meaning, Trust God at all times even in bad times, Hope that never end e.g. hoping against hope, Accept realities even if harsh, Never give up, Keep the faith and Shift your focus.

I feel blessed and pray to God for more opportunity to bear witness on His faithfulness. I even thought of reactivating my blogs to broaden its reach.

BethanyUnexpectedly, however, I found myself in another crisis situation where I am entangled now- a painful one i.e. literally. While considering the worst scenario, deep within is a hope that I will still survive. The comments on facebook particularly those who offered prayers for my recovery inspire me to hold on. Of course, there were times when I cried to God like a child when the pain lingered more than expected disturbing even my sleep. Until I remembered the acrostics I made on THANKS and started to internalize each point of the word.

That’s the time I realized that God might have allowed this painful experience so that I can walk my talk because this physical pain was absent during that near death experience in 2009. Probably, God is not through with me yet. He is preparing me for something else beyond my imagination. “His thoughts are not our thoughts. Neither His ways, our ways.” Shifting my focus, I began to look for the gains, rather than the pains. The first thing I have seen is the revival of this blog which hibernated for some months due to my hectic schedule . I expect for more. Dear God, enlighten me more.

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A stressful Christmas

Christmas is supposed to be the happiest season of the year for Christians throughout the world. No need to worry about pressures inherent in work, school and other activities due to the usual Yuletide break, except for those who in exigencies of service continue to report for duty in respective endeavors. “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” as aptly described by one of the most popular carols.

However, like any other holidays intended for rest and leisure, Christmas has become a stressful time brought about by complexities in our modern world. There’s a stressful decision on what to prioritize due to limited budget, squeezing the budget in gift giving for family members and godchildren, and at times choices on where to spend the vacation. There are also mixed up of activities and celebrations, traffic, queuing in shopping, time pressures, and family tensions. Not to mention, threat/lose of employment, damaged properties due to disasters, sickness for some and bereavement for others. Even the thought of upcoming activities reserved for the incoming year can cause stress.

Worse, we are more aware of how stress has become detrimental to our health. Many of life threatening illnesses and long-term health problems are caused by stress. No wonder, various articles on print or web have been written towards a stress-free Christmas. Some even insert the phrase stress – free on the usual Merry Christmas greetings.

joseph

Image Credit: http://www.lds.org

However, before we make a rush on dreaming of a stress-free Christmas, let us be reminded that the first Christmas was indeed a stressful one for some important characters as told by the Gospel writers. Foremost, it was stressful for Mary and Joseph who were forced to travel from Nazareth to the little town of Bethlehem, at the time of expected delivery. One can imagine how slow the movement of a pregnant woman about to give birth as she trod on rugged terrain, the discomfort it brought to them for estimated four days to a week until they reached their destination. This, probably, explains why “there was no room or them in the inn” as these were already occupied by those who arrived earlier.

Those of us who have experienced the birth of our kids coinciding with equally important or demanding occasions can empathize with the situation of the couple. I can still recall the births of our three children which came at a time when there were pressures on us. Our eldest was born while I was at our home province attending the funeral of my father. Good that my wife’s insistence to travel with me was neutralized as it could have put us into a more difficult situation. Likewise, our youngest was born coinciding the funeral of my mother. So our hired taxi had to wait for us so that I could catch up the boat trip so as not to repeat what happened during our first born when I experienced the agony of waiting for the next day, worrying about the fate of my wife and our baby. At that time, there was no mobile phone or internet connection to get timely updates. The birth of our middle child was equally stressful as there was complication prior to his birth.

Image Credit: markwoodward.org

However, it was not only Mary and Joseph who experienced stress. Luke mentioned about the shepherds who were the least to be expected as purveyor of the glad tidings. Shepherds were considered to be among the lowest and most despised social groups, at that time. The nature of their work kept them away from the mainstream of Israel’s society. They couldn’t even perform rituals and observe religious celebration. From all angles, it would be unlikely for them to be visited by the throngs of angels. Thus, one can imagine how stressful it was for them to handle such a godly situation. That’s why they were terrified, much more with the sudden appearance of a great company of the heavenly host.

Matthew, on the other hand, mentioned another character who had experienced stress at that time. He recorded how the reigning king panicked…”Herod was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.” The connection between the reaction of Herod and that of the people can be gleaned from the recorded accounts of his cruelties. The Wikipedia has this kind of consolidated description for him: a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis; the evil genius of the Judean nation; prepared to commit any crime in order to gratify his unbounded ambition; and the greatest builder in Jewish history. Modern scholars agree he suffered throughout his lifetime from depression and paranoia.

That’s how stressful the first Christmas to the aforementioned characters. But how did they manage such stressful condition? And what were the effects to them and the subsequent relevance to us, nowadays. These are the content of the next post.

The wonder of you: Revised edition

No, this is not a revised edition of the song which became a top hit in 1950s. This is a revised edition of my blog posted during the birthday of my beloved wife last month.  But I really love the song as it is reflective of our  love experiences.

dzpatriarcaWritten by Baker Knight, The Wonder of you  was released as a single by American pop music singer Ray Peterson in 1959 and recorded by English singer Ronnie Hilton in the United Kingdom in the same year. Both versions became a top hits with Peterson peaking at #25 on Top 40 in US and Hilton’s version reaching #22 on the UK Singles Chart. Soon others followed their suit including the world legendary Elvis Presley which further popularized the song after its release as his single in 1970.

From the website of londonwelshmvc.org, I learned an interesting story behind the song. It was actually a spiritual search. The composer was ill at the time of writing and was searching for the Deity that would always be kind and forgiving toward him no matter what the conditions. While he couldn’t say it was written directly to God, he admitted searching for Him at that time. However, he didn’t finish the song until several weeks later. The delay made him realize that the song might also make a good love song. Since there was no Contemporary Christian music in those days, he decided to make it a love song.

I  have been inspired  to make a blog on this song. My way of expressing my gratitude to the woman whose love has created  wonders  which changed my life.

edsa shiftShe came into my life when I tried to return to the mainstream of normalcy after the EDSA Revolution in 1986. Resuming my remaining year in the seminary was not possible for technical reasons. Thus, I shifted to Social Work. No longer young as my classmates, a class period was an agony, having been conditioned to a non academic life. Making the adjustment worse was the label attached to my name because of controversial past. It included my participation in a movement of church people who participated in the struggle against dictatorship. It was sort of taboo in our denomination at that time.

Isolated from my faith community, coupled with difficulty in adjustment with studies and relationship, I was about to quit and go back to where I belong. But the thought of her made me hold on. Like me, she shifted to Social Work while in senior year in another course. It was a” love at first sight“, for me, the first time we met. A terror on her part, though, having a knowledge of my background. Thus, while I tried to get close to her, the more she distanced herself. Still, she served as a challenge to me against odds.

rainbow

However, all my attempts to woo her almost came to naught, including my prayers. In desperation, I think I revealed to her my plan to stage a protest action against God. (Indeed, I was really very serious with that plan.) I didn’t know if it had a bearing in my eventual success to get her precious yes. I called her the rainbow of my life. Thereafter, the wonders in our relationship, as portrayed by the song. Hence, the lyrics of  The wonder of you with intervals of the poem I made for her more than two decades ago, are addressed to my wife, as they explicitly capture the essence of our love experiences.

When no-one else can understand me
       When everything I do is wrong
              You give me hope and consolation
                       You give me strength to carry on

Like a rainbow. . . .
you come, after the storm
you accept me just as I am
you let the sun shine through
……I am no longer the same.

And you’re always there to lend a hand
        In everything I do
             That’s the wonder
                      The wonder of you

Like a rainbow. . . .
I wish the luster would stay forever
inevitably, at times it disappears
But I don’t have fear
I know its presence is still there
to appear again after another storm
……….thereafter.

And when you smile the world is brighter
        You touch my hand and I’m a king
                Your kiss to me is worth a fortune
                       Your love for me is everything

Like a rainbow. . .
our relationship looks like a compromise
between the storm and sunlight
my life’s clouded with rainstorm
yours is brilliant as daylight.

I’ll guess I’ll never know the reason why
         You love me like you do
               That’s the wonder
                       The wonder of you

Like a rainbow. . . .
Our love will glow
to prove the paradox of life,
how contradictory forces harmonize
to show the beauty in life,
when unlike poles unite.

DZai

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY, PROF. DZ QUERUBIN PATRIARCA-LARIZA.

Snapshots of Life

Like the black and white photographlariza1
Life was so simple in the 1970s
My hairline was perceived to be that of a “conservative”
Reflective of my lifestyle and perspective

In the 80s, however, some areas turned into gray
More so, when the art of photography captivated me
My focus was  on pictures of harsh realities in the society
Likewise, in solidarity, I participated in the people’s struggle for democracy

Lariza2

The last quarter of the 1980s witnessed the change                                                              Lariza 3Life was added with colors.
Like the emerging fad for colored pictures
Yet, the black and white side of life did not end

Lariza 4Life became the more meaningful in 1990s
When our union produced a family
Blessed with three kids, I intended to add more
But my wife’s protested, we might not take care of them all

Lariza 5

At the dawn of a new millennium, and thereinafter
More colors were added into our family affairs.
Commitment to service was no longer an exclusive property
My wife and children became active in their respective way

Lariza 6Later, however, life has become complicated
Especially, with the resurgence of my principled stance to fight for what is right
This time, directed to our Lariza 8community of faith
For these, I almost did not make it in the first decade of the new millennium (due to serious illness).

Lariza 9

By God’s grace, I successfully crawled to the finish line to cap my leadership And continue to avail of the grace of God for another decade
Believing that there is hope, where there is breath, I never cease thanking God for the coming decades

Lariza7I do not know what snapshots of life await for me
Be it black and white or colored, come what it may
Whatever happens, God will never leave me nor forsake me
This I believe, with utmost certainty

Lariza10Looking back on the snapshots of life
I cannot find any reason to fret
Rather I have to move on and give life’s best
No matter what, I will continue to live and serve

____________________

This blog started as a photo album entitled Retrato sang Kabuhi (Snapshots of Life) I posted on Facebook on the eve of my birthday,  May 27, 2012, with captions written in our local dialect- Ilonggo.The likes and comments from friends inspired me to transform the album into a blog with English translation of the Ilonggo captions for the benefit of other readers.

Dream Book

The title reminds me of tutorial sessions with my father when I decided to join him in his trade after graduation from High School. Unable to pursue college immediately in the university of my dream (Central Philippine University), I did not entertain any other alternative. Hence, I decided to be trained by my father on the mechanics of numbers games, Daily Double, popularly known as jueteng in the our country.

He was considered mayor koredor during that period, supervising all the game collectors under him in our town. It was sort of lucrative job except when, periodically, the government stepped up its drive against illegal gambling. Ironically, my father was not a gambler. It was his means of livelihood that raised us 5 children who are all professionals, now, sans our youngest brother who went ahead in the beyond.

I could still recall how he meticulously taught me the mechanics of the trade every night. From equating the bettor’s win with the amount of bet and the number combination to the interpretation of dreams. He gave me a dream book which I read and memorize like a bible or dictionary in order to interpret the dreams of a bettor into a winning number combination.

My father, indeed, was a good mentor because I easily mastered the craft and together with my elder brother became his disciples for some years. In fact, I learned to love the job and would have considered it a profession, had it not been for two major accidents that forced me to enter a bible school. Details of these will be included in my Dream Book.

Such recollection took place early this morning when I reviewed previous posts on my first blog which celebrated its first anniversary yesterday. Dubbed PADAYON: Our Life Journey, it serves as journal of my experiences to inspire readers to continue the commitment in service, no matter what.

PADAYON is an Ilonggo term which means continue. In deeper sense, it connotes moving/going on (or never give up) despite adversaries or adversities. PADAYON encompasses my life’s story. The word served as Journey Framework as posted exactly a year ago today on my pioneer blog. While reading it, my motivation to write the book has been revived.

PADAYON was the slogan that capped my successful 6 year- stint as president of our national association of Baptist pastors, the Convention Baptist Ministers Association (CBMA). It was conceived a year before the culmination of my term. Inspired by the overwhelming responses of pastors on the CBMA leadership and governance, as well as the advocacies on changes in the CPBC politics, systems and governance, I was looking for a punch line/ clincher to sustain the momentum in delivering the concluding remarks for that particular assembly.

Then came the message from my *Ihado when the worship leader innovatively asked the participants to write on the provided piece of paper, message to a particular person of choice. All of the notes I received have common message of encouragement to “keep up the good work.” My ihado gave me a note with one word which captured all other messages. Subsequently, I used it to officially close our national assembly. Thereafter, it has become our by word or slogan.

PADAYON serves as framework or acrostic of my life’s experiences and the lessons learned from life. This will be the content of my dream book. Each letter represents the title of the seven chapters of the book. Incidentally, 7 is my lucky number, a manifestation of how I have internalized my past experiences in the world of gambling.

In life’s journey, I realized even those unlikely experiences in past life were similarly useful. Like risk taking, from gambling, and the skills in arranging/organizing cards, mahjong tiles to win despite their weak/losing state. Likewise, calculating combination and predicting occurrence in the numbers games like jueteng. These were further honed and given social component in my involvement with the people’s struggle and in practice of social work profession.

The seven chapters of my dream book will include the following:

Personal circumstances: Life’s experiences and transformation.
Antipodes of life’s journey: Pains and Gains in the ministry and service
Doing God’s will is dangerous:Perils of standing for the way, truth & life
Adversities: Stepping stone towards wholeness (blessings in disguise)
Yardstick of living: The relevance of bible in life’s journey
Opportunities come in the fullness of time: How to grab them
Networking: Essence of the Church as Body of Christ

*Wedding godson

(to be continued)

A poem for DZ Querubin Patriarca on her birthday

 Angela: The Rainbow of my Life

Like a rainbow. . . .
   you come, after the storm
        you accept me just as I am
            you let the sun shine through
                ……I am no longer the same.

Like a rainbow. . . .
   I wish the luster would stay forever
      inevitably, at times it disappears
   But I don't have fear
       I know its presence is still there
          to appear again after another storm
               ……….thereafter.

Like a rainbow. . .
   our relationship looks like a compromise
     between the storm and sunlight
       my life’s clouded with rainstorm
   	yours is brilliant as daylight.

Like a rainbow. . . .
   Our love will glow
      to prove the paradox of life,
         how contradictory forces harmonize
           to show the beauty in life,
             when unlike poles unite.

I wrote this poem for my sweetheart  in 1987. Inspired by the newly established relationship, I spent my day in making  a poster to dramatize the change in me by such relationship. Instead of joining the usual activity associated with the Martial Law in the Philippines every September 21st, I became  engrossed in my work . After giving it to her, the poem  has found its way to various places:  in literary corner of school publications, office table, walls and other venues including the current web.  But my sweetheart   Angela ’s true identity remains a secret.

Yesterday, while looking for  meaningful quotes in our memorabilia which  I plan to post on facebook  to greet my wife in her birthday today, I found the  poster  instead.  Tattered,  I realized how  time and circumstances  made a difference in its form.  It has survived  both life’s figurative and literal storms with subsequent  flood which ruined most of our important documents. Its form has diminished.  But the message remains in tact, readable, real  and relevant .

Yes, twenty five years have passed,  my love for Angela  continues to grow. Times and circumstances  never  alter our commitment. Rather they have galvanized  our  relationship. Married now for  20  years,  blessed by three charming and intelligent  kids,  I still consider  Angela  the rainbow of my life. And my wife knows that and likes the poem, as well.

Hence, on her birthday today,  I send this poem to her through  the web to dramatize how I love her.  And  to publicly reveal  the identity of my former sweetheart, Angela Noble, to whom the poem was addressed 25 years ago.

Happy birthday, Prof. DZ Querubin Patriarca, my wife, from whom Angela Noble got her name. Querubin (Angela) and Patriarca (Noble).         I love you very much.  No storm will ever  curtail our rainbow.

 

Can the meaning of the name influence a person?

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, By any other name would smell as sweet.” This statement has been immortalized by Shakespeare’s tragic tale of two lovers whose romance was destined to fail from the beginning. It sums up the basic struggle of the tragedy. Coming from two warring families, Romeo and Juliet fought out their love to the end. Juliet’s famous line implies the value of essence over form, the person, not the name. Some extremists use the statement to put to naught the meaning of the name, though.

Yet, the power of a name and its inherent meaning has been recognized since time immemorial. From the primitive to modern civilization, name has been associated with the person, place, event, object, or circumstances closely related to the child’s birth. Wikipedia describes the significance of names, as follows: Many names describe nations, people, and ancient history. Some describe expressions of hopes, revelations of divine purposes, and prophecies of the future. Some are part of genealogical histories, as it was common in Jewish customs to keep a family history. Sometimes names indicated certain circumstances with their birth or family line. Characteristics and traits of people were an important aspect of names in ancient Israel.

The meaning of a name was very important in bible days. Sometimes the bible itself informs the reader what a name means. Famous biblical persons such as Adam, Cain, Seth, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his 12 sons, all have the meaning of their name explicitly given in the bible. Their names tell the story of why or how they were born. However, can name influence a person’s character?

Who's the fairest? A proud mother of an unusual daughter. (DZ and Dazen Dawn)

I tend to agree based on experiences with our three kids. Let me start with our eldest and the only girl who is celebrating her 18th birthday, today. Her coming was preceded by this lyrical declaration to symbolize our life’s experiences: “The darkest night was over. Dawn has come. The dawn of a bright new day.” Hence, we thought of naming her Dawn. But we found out life’s prelude was not the usual dawn that marks the beginning of the twilight before sunrise. It was a dazzling dawn. We were dazed. Thus we call her DAZEN DAWN.

That was 18 years ago. Thereafter, she stands true to her name, dazzling us and others no end. Yes, she is unusual. At less than one year old, she already attended the classes for college students. Can you guess why? If not, I will tell you in the next blog. When she learns how she walks and talks, she enjoys going with us wherever and whenever possible.

At one instance, she joins her mother in shopping mall. Her curiosity in almost everything makes her wander away from their reach. When a sales lady notices her walking alone, the former offers her assistance in case she is gone astray. She politely declines. Instead, she requests the lady to look for her mother whom she claims the one who is lost. Subsequently, she is brought to the customer service counter. Guess what could have been the content of the call? Is it the usual page to a mother of the lost child or otherwise?

Happy birthday to our dearly beloved DAZEN DAWN PATRIARCA-LARIZA. We are proud of you. We will always be grateful to God for giving us a daughter as lovely and wonderful as you.