It took a few days before the royals (William and Kate) of England could name their newborn.
I think they might have consulted so many people (or were pressured by even more people) and reviewed history to finally decide on George Alexander Louis, who will be known as Prince George of Cambridge.
It is my birthday (which I, typically, forgot when I woke up this morning) and in a couple of hours, I should be attending a seminar in church, which will gather about two dozen people.
“I am claiming it!” my friend Margie, who has been praying for a child for years, exclaimed with bravado. “The Lord will give me a baby soon,” she added.
I feel uneasy with the word “claim” when talking to God. I always have.
To my mind, nobody has any right to claim anything from the Lord; only He has the right to decide what to give us—and when. He owes us nothing. In fact this is what His grace is all about; we deserve zero, but He heaps blessings upon us anyway.
I verbalized my aversion to the word “claim” to an old pastor friend.
He laughed and said, “Christians who 'claim' are simply exercising their faith. They just want to show that they trust God 100%.”
“I trust God with the same percentage,” I argued. “But to 'claim'?!”
In my head I turned what he said around, but still couldn't grasp it. Not until I read a small coupon attached to an ad in a newspaper.
“Clip this coupon to claim your FREE eco bag at a designated booth at . . .”
The word “claim” hit me between the eyes. I looked for a catch in the ad—in the fine prints—but found nothing. It required nothing, all I needed was the coupon to claim my prize.
Ah, so, I thought, grace is like coupons upon coupons of free gifts strewn everywhere by God.
Many of these coupons are left unclaimed because we can't find them—we are either too busy with worldly persuasions, or distracted elsewhere, or are not looking hard enough. So when we finally find one or two (many more if we wish), we can claim our prizes because they're ours—free.
“From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.” (John 1:16 NLT)
Despite my new understanding, I still won't say 'claim' when praying, but I no longer flinch when I hear it from others.
Death is a universal fear.
That statement isn't mine; it is a research datum, the exact percentage of which escapes me now. This documented fear stems from dread of the unknown—what happens after death.
I like to think I have no such fear.
In my conversations about earthly death with my friend Yay, who shares my faith, my imagination has painted scenes so spectacular they can't be written in words. It will be a beautiful time—the most beautiful time—to finally see Jesus face-to-face and experience the splendor of heaven and the grandeur of grace for eternity.
My dread is more about being a burden to my children, who now lead their own lives, or caregivers in my last days. So while the going is good (meaning, my faculties are still well-oiled for using my gifts to serve my Creator), I will wake up singing a song of thanksgiving every morning till my designated last book shall have been written and my last breath snuffed out.
Let me segue to José Martí, a Cuban patriot, freedom fighter and poet. Although he never lived to see Cuba free, he is considered the national hero. This quote is attributed to him:
“Three things you need to do before you die: Plant a tree, write a book, have a son.”
In reverse order, I have done all three.
I gave birth to not one, but four sons (my second, Adrian, was flown home by angels to Jesus soon after he was born); I have written not one, but a few books, as you can see on this site; and I have planted . . . well, just one tree.
I couldn't do it alone, so someone came to my rescue. It was caught on camera for posterity and, yes, proof that I had indeed planted one tree!
Right now I fondly remember my uncle Billy. On his deathbed, he held my hand and said in his inimitable humor, “I am all packed, honey, ready to go.” I have never been blessed with an uncle more excited about meeting his Maker.
Jesus said in John 11:23-26 (NLT), “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die . . .”
“Our family never shared the same last name,
but our family was a family the same.
And they say blood is thicker than water,
but love is thicker than blood.”
This is from a song composed and written by country singer Garth Brooks, which never fails to bring tears to my eyes. It's about his family—how his parents each had children of his/her own when they married, then together, they had Garth. Theirs is a home of his, hers, and ours.
But in that family, the children were never allowed to use the words “half brother” or “half sister.” They were all told to regard each other as brothers and sisters.
This brings to my mind the many adopted children in our midst, who came into parents not related to them by blood. These children grow up with the stigma (except for those who were told early in their childhood) of being adopted.
Adoption is a recurring theme in the stories that I write for children. Unfortunately, all of them (except one that won a Palanca Award) keep being rejected by publishers. That, however, doesn't stop me from writing more.
The idea of adoption stirs me. If not for circumstances that got in the way, I would have loved to take care of needy children whose parents are unable to bring them up.
That's probably why I continue to write about the issue—to encourage adoptive parents to bare the truth to their adoptive child early on. I think it is a marvelous thing for a child to know that he is loved, even if he didn't come from his adoptive mother's womb.
I have seen, ringside view, how a hidden truth can ruin the best of families.
Man says, “Blood is thicker than water.” But our God of grace has demonstrated that love is thicker than blood.
Garth Brooks speaks of this love in this song he sensitively crafted, some parts of which I now quote:
“And if blood is thicker that water
Then what are we fighting for
We're all sons and daughters
Of something that means so much more
“I see it on my TV but I can't understand
Lord, it's one big contradiction to me
How in God's name we love thy neighbor
with fists in our hands
And kill each other when we just don't agree
Why can't we see the walls we can't see through
And see what God's been telling me and you
(and that is) Blood is thicker than water
Oh, but love, love is thicker than blood”
Today, July 4, is a red-letter day in the calendar of the USA and the Philippines (Fil-Am Friendship Day). And so it is in mine.
This is my wedding anniversary. Another year has passed by—smoothly on some days and roughly on others. So what's the big deal?
Not many marriages last long anymore. That's why, according to a psychologist, the monthsary has been invented—and celebrated—by the new generation. If a relationship can hurdle a month, then it's a big deal; to reach a year has become extremely difficult or just a dream.
I believe that grace walks with every marriage that lasts. It gives you just enough patience, understanding, concern, and trust that you need for the day. Then it walks with you again the next day and the next and the next—before you know it, grace has walked with you for years and years.
I now remember my old walking stick—the one that I used every walking day for twelve years. I lost it a few days ago and texted my husband: Mourning the loss of my walking stick . . . sob.
He went back to where I said I left it, but it was gone. He posted a note on the wall of that place, but zilch.
For several days I walked with an unopened umbrella in lieu of my stick.
When I woke up at dawn this morning, I saw a walking stick where I used to park my old one. It comes in the colors of our flag—red, white, blue, and yellow. It has the right grip, the right length, the right weight, and an outrageous look that matches my outrageous taste.
Upon closer look, it is nothing but a PVC water pipe discard, which the hubby wrapped in electrical tapes. I call it perfection, 43 times better than my old one.
My new walking stick is how I see my marriage to this man, who forgot to greet me and whom I also forgot to greet this morning, and who will be busy all day and will come home late tonight because he will attend a Rotary meeting. I will likewise be busy self-editing a storybook I had just written.
And grace continues to walk. Today, it got me the perfect walking stick and a perfect family news I am not yet privileged to divulge.
God's gentle grace walks with arms wide open to embrace our failings and frailties, turning them into marriages that last—"in sickness and in health."
This calls for a new header:
The old one comes down: