6/27/2014

Cc and Bcc


It was business emails day in class—how electronic business letters can effectively be used in the workplace. My students are all familiar with how email works; they've been using it for some time.

But emails per se and effective business communications are two different animals.

One is of the wilds (the kind they know).  Just type your thoughts at random, with no regard for format or rules.

And the other is of the circus, under a tent, properly trained and tamed—it does exactly what it should do: move and make the reader react favorably (the kind they need to learn).

When I started discussing Cc and Bcc, they gave me glazed, unfocused eyes that said “hohum.”

That was when I realized that these kids were born long after carbon paper had gone extinct.

So I went through the whole song-and-dance routine. Cc, I said, stands for "carbon copy.” Those listed in the Cc: field of a message will receive a copy of that message. All other recipients will be able to see who received a copy of the message. Cc is useful when you wish to share a message with someone but are not requesting that he replies. 

Bcc, I explained, stands for "blind carbon copy." The difference between Cc and Bcc is that Bcc recipients are invisible to all of the other recipients of the message (including other Bcc recipients). It is useful when you don't wish to share your recipients' email addresses with everyone who receives your message.

They gave me eyes that pop when light comes back after a long brown out. 

Funny how I thought all along that the kids of this electronics generation should be teaching me instead of me teaching them.

Well, I have been breathing far longer than they have. The blessing of being a teacher is having the opportunity to share the grace of experience earned through eons to a wide-eyed captive audience.   
  

6/23/2014

Baggy Pants


Just as the fashion world is into tight-hugging trousers, my roommate went in search of baggy pants.

The trouble with fashion trends is that shops carry only them and junk everything else. No clothing store—not one that Tony has doggedly trekked to in the last two months—carries baggy pants anymore.

“How can they stop making comfy pants?!” I think he might have been asking himself, loathe to wearing anything that hugs skin. “They’re the most comfortable apparel next to pajamas!”  He didn’t say those either, well, not aloud for any ear to hear.     

Then yesterday in a mall, while walking through the men’s section on our way home, he cried, “Eureka!”  Again, I actually didn't hear a peep, but that was what he might have exclaimed when he asked me, “We are in no hurry, are we?”

Next thing I knew, he asked the salesgirl for a pair in his size for fitting.

Naturally, it fitted him to a tee. The price was a bit steep, but he ordered them in all colors! Unfortunately, the shop had only two available, in similar colors. He took them both anyway and is now one very happy, two-new-baggy-pants owner.

Okay, that’s according to me, despite the impassive demeanor he demonstrates through his long treasure-hunt sojourn. It's because I yield to fashion trends, discomfort notwithstanding; he defies them (abhors them even), comfort is everything.     

As I was leafing through the dailies this morning, muttering to myself, Baggy pants are so passe, I read in the fashion section, “Baggy pants are coming back!”

Life indeed is full of grace. 

Now, mulling over my husband’s counter-trend attitude, I wish all Christians would likewise be adamant about following world trends when it comes to their faith.

Jesus said to His disciples,  "If  you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”  John 15:19 (NKJV)
 

6/19/2014

The Worst and Best Fear


A new fear or phobia, which was not even an idea in my youth, has popped up among the electronically-wired generation today. To them, our ancient fears below may now be utterly prosaic:   

Acrophobia (fear of height). Today's kids go bunjee jumping and ziplining, and are into extreme sports.

Arachnophobia (fear of spiders). Computer-generated movies now feature gigantic spiders the size of buildings and young audiences lap them up—the creepier the better.

Ophidiophobia (fear of snakes). Current TV food channels show exotic serpents made into delectable recipes. Reality TV feature people fondling snakes.  

Cynophobia (fear of dogs). Pets are all the rage; dog clinics, shops and salons abound; dogs sleep on their masters’ beds. 

Astraphobia (fear of thunder and lightning). This century's eardrum-breaking music on ear phones are louder than claps of thunder. 

Trypanophobia (fear of injections). Tattoos, tattoos, tattoos.

‘Nuf said.

So now comes the world’s worst fear. Nine out of every 10 people aged under 30 admit to suffering this new phenomenon: Nomophobia. The fear of having No Mobile phone.

These self-confessed addicts spend four to six hours a day on their mobile phone, checking it every ten minutes, and placing it next to their bed at night (it’s the new Teddy bear). They become anxious when their phone loses reception, runs out of battery, or is misplaced.    

Have mobile phones become as addictive as shabu, cigarettes, and gambling?

On the upside, older people are in no danger of being nomophobic. Often I forget to check my phone, or bring it with me when I leave home. I don’t take it to bed nor to the bathroom. I don’t get panic attacks if it is missing. 

Up until two weeks ago, I had a dumb Nokia phone. Now that I have been persuaded into buying my new smartphone, I am struggling with the how to use it. It will take dollops of grace for me to master half of its functions. 

In contrast to this worst fear is the best fear—a fear that does not cause panic nor irrational behavior. We read about it in the Bible at least 300 times: Fear of the Lord.

Scripture is full of examples of how fearing God is a positive thing. Joseph wins his brothers' trust when he declares he is a God-fearing man . . . it was because the midwives feared God that they obeyed Him and spared the Hebrew babies from the authorities . . . Pharoah brought disaster on his nation because he did not fear God . . . Moses chose leaders who feared God and therefore wouldn't take bribes. There are many more.

In the New Testament (Matthew 10:28), Jesus states this even stronger, "Don't be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell."

Fearing God saves us from caving into irrational fears such as nomophobia. That's why hearing someone is God-fearing actually makes us trust that person more. People who fear God become sensitive to other people’s needs because their thoughts are not centered on worldly gadgets.  

Fearing God frees us from even the worst fear in the world.

Top photo credit

6/15/2014

Five-star Dad


Here is a letter a father received from one of his children. He keeps this in a special place in his heart, treasuring it more than anything he ever owned.

Hi, Dad!

How do I love thee? Let me count the stars. You’re a five-star dad! Thank you for the five important stars you bequeathed to me, now shining brightly to light my way . . .   

1.    The star of priority – to love God more than anyone or anything  
2.    The star of a clean and unsullied life – to never let my guard down when temptations come 
3.    The star of courage – to make tough decisions and to stand up for what is right   
4.    The star of discernment – to choose with whom to hang out; and what new ideas to trash or treasure   
5.    The star of fortitude – to move on despite disappointments and difficulties     
 

I thank God that you are my father. On Father’s Day, dinner’s on me in a five-star hotel, no less. Would you be free? 

Love,
Larry (not his real name)

What a blessing to have a child like this. And what a father he has!

To all dads reading this, Happy Father’s Day! 

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”  Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV)

(This is the last in a series of  four blogs leading to Father's Day in gratitude to our heavenly Father for the grace of dads in our midst.)

photo credit

6/13/2014

A Salute to Single Dads


Two days from now, on Sunday, many parts of the world will celebrate Father’s Day. I wish to pay a special tribute to all single dads who see to their children’s needs all by themselves. 

Research studies have shown that single moms, wired to be caregivers and multi-taskers, have better coping mechanisms and resilience than single dads. That’s why I have always held singles dads, who do a remarkable job of both dad and mom, in high esteem.

In Oh, Mateo! (illustrated by Beth Parrocha-Doctolero)—a series of 15 books plus a one-year devotional revolving around eight-year-old Mateo—I draw attention to a single dad, Ador.

A poor farm hand, Mateo’s father lost his wife when Mateo was baby, but he slogs on, works hard, and does his best for his little boy despite dire lack of resources.

Mateo is growing up to be a responsible, happy, and adventurous boy, well-liked in the neighborhood. His father Ador has instilled in him Christian values, the blessings of life, and God’s amazing grace.
In Sunday school, Teo and his classmates are asked by their teacher to write a letter to their father on Father’s Day. Here’s Teo’s letter . . .  

Dear Tatay,

You are my superhero. And Apong Cion said that because Nanay is already with Jesus in heaven, you do a super Nanay job, too.  But it is not Mother’s Day, so this is only for F-A-T-H-E-R.       

Thank you very much for . . . 

F – Framing Nanay’s photo so I will always remember her.   

A – Adding coins to my alkansiya. It’s almost half full! 

T – Taking me to Sunday School to learn Bible stories. T is also for the Tree house you built for me.

H – Helping me and my friends make kites. Yey! H is also for my Half of the fresh fruits you bring home. 

E – Explaining why I need to always pray and always read.

R – Rushing home from work when I am sick to give me a sponge bath. R is also for Nanay’s Recipes which you teach me to cook with the secret ingredient.

Happy Father’s Day, Tatay!  Oh, I should greet God, too, right? Because He is the Father of all.  Happy Father’s Day, God!  

Love,
Teo

“The father of godly children has cause for joy. What a pleasure to have children who are wise.” Proverbs 23:24 NLT

May God give all struggling single dads the wisdom and fortitude to raise their children in the way they should go. 

(This post is the 3rd in a series of  blogs leading to Father's Day in gratitude to our heavenly Father for the grace of dads in our midst

Translations:
Tatay
Daddy
Nanay
Mommy
Apong
honorific for an old woman
Alkansiya
piggy bank

6/12/2014

Many Dads


Francis (not his real name) was in his mother’s womb when his father died.

“But I grew up having so many father-figures in church,” he tells his friends or anyone he encounters. “Not once have I felt fatherless. Most important of all, I have our Heavenly Father who has been with me from inside the womb to where I am standing today.” 

On Father’s day, Francis gives about a dozen of his surrogate fathers a token gift to show his appreciation of their support and love.

Unlike Francis, some people struggle with Father's Day—especially those who only have adoptive fathers, those who may be living with stepfathers, or those whose birth fathers have died. 

Jesus’ statement to Mary after His resurrection should encourage those of us who feel fatherless, “‘Don’t cling to me,’” Jesus said, ‘for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God’” (John 20:17).

Jesus gave all of us an open relationship with our Father God.

Thank you, Lord, for giving us fathers through whom we found our Heavenly Father.

(This post is the 2nd in a series of  blogs leading to Father's Day in gratitude to our heavenly Father for the grace of dads in our midst.)

6/09/2014

Dear Father


Father’s Day is as much about You as it is about my earthly father. Everything I know about You and Your grace I first learned from him.

You guided my dad as he instilled wisdom in me. Through him, I felt Your love every day while growing up. Through him, I know all about Your promise never to leave me. 
Thank You, Heavenly Father, for sending Your only Son so that my dad and I can have the gift of salvation.

On Father’s Day, I want to thank You for giving me a father from whom I have witnessed how love can be passed on.

Someday, when I become a father myself, I pray that my children will see You in me—that I am there for them as You are with me.

Signed
(Every son/would-be father who feels the same way)

(This post is the first in a series of blogs leading to Father's Day in gratitude to our heavenly Father for the grace of dads in our midst.) 

6/06/2014

Where Are the Dinosaurs?


There are many scientific theories why the dinosaurs are gone from the face of the earth. 

Asteroid, huge volcanic activity, severe ice age, climate change, and deadly disease—all these theories present possibilities that could have altered the sun, water, and atmospheric conditions on Earth, causing the death of dinosaurs.

There is one reason that laymen toy around with: Dinosaurs were too big to fit in Noah’s ark. So they were left behind and died in the flood.

They were humongous all right, but in God’s infinite wisdom, He could have easily commanded Noah to have baby dinosaurs or dinosaur eggs to get in there.

Speculations are always rife about what happened and what did not happen in Bible times. That’s why interpretations of all kinds exist today. Scientists also continue to look for concrete proofs of many theories. 

The only antidote to endless speculations is faith. No human mind can ever fathom the depth of God’s wisdom.

Prophet Isaiah explained it in Chapter 55, verse 9: “For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

Note to self: never rely on man’s wisdom about the Lord’s works.

May God’s grace strengthen our faith so we will continue to believe that His words are enough.

6/02/2014

Fellowship in Suffering


Six of my close friends are battling cancer, in various stages, at the moment. And so are many of my friends' friends and loved ones. To some, chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and medication are options. To the rest, none is left.

But they are walking on a common road, treading on the anguish of physical, financial, and psychological pain every day. 

So we suffer with them, spending much of our prayer time on their distress. In our prayer groups, we reach out with compassion and have entered into the fellowship of their suffering.

While this is right, Apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians (1:24 NLT), “I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church.”  Meaning, we should try not to become consumed by our own hurts, and the hurts of our suffering loved ones; we need to find time to think and share in Christ's suffering. 

When I was in Bacolod last week, my new friend, Glenda, shared with me her “secret” to inner peace: “Each time my mind is in turmoil and my heart is in pain, I meditate on 1 Peter 4:13 (NLT), 'Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.'”

In suffering, we are actually in fellowship with Christ, who suffered so much more for our sake.

There are so many Christian books dealing with human hurts (depression, fear, rejection, crumbling of marriage, loneliness, single-parenting, etc.), helping us how to cope. Yet so little is written about sharing in the sufferings of the Lord.

As human beings, we need all the help we can get, but we desperately need to pray with Paul and Peter that we may understand Christ's sufferings.

“May His grace help us get our eyes off ourselves and our own hurts, and remember that when we suffer, we fellowship with our Savior,” Glenda reminded me.

Amen.