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11 August 2024 @ 10:16 pm
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And the journal goes places.

The 9th of August marked not only Singapore's 49th National Day, but it was also on that day in 2004 when I wrote my first entry on this blog.

On and off in the past decade, this space has become the playground for my fascination with music and live acts (from jazz to the Idol franchise), stray travelogues, odes to romance and twentysomething musings on the myth and truth of "quarter-life". The life of jamypye as I knew it.

And all throughout, I held a sense of wonder at the rarity of my own updates (yes, narcissistic that way), with every post a major and sporadic effort to break the monotony of wordlessness. Yes, something akin to the recent UP men's basketball win and matching bonfire over the weekend.

For that was the tone I set from the beginning. "Good to hear from you: An attempt at the possible". An allusion to hearing a song not often played, or receiving word from an old friend. At the same time, holding the optimism that one will, in time, hear from them again.

I'm not sure if it was pretension or false humility that led me to refer to myself from a second person perspective. Well, it did sound better than saying the even more self-serving "Good to Hear from Me". Most of the time, this journal felt like me talking to myself, which is what writing in a journal tends to be about anyway.

But as life and the years would have it, a twentysomething's concerns eventually make way for a thirtysomething's realization that there is more to all of this, than vain attempts at making my voice heard.

What a difference ten years made.

With this life and blogging entering a new phase, I make one small, yet significant change from a lower to an upper case "Y"--"Good to hear from You: All things are possible through Him". And with that, the same title takes on fresh meaning, as with the thrust of my life and words to come.

That there is great comfort and blessing in silencing my own voice and all the internal and external noise, so that I may hear more clearly what God wills. And even as my own thoughts make their way to this blog, they can never be higher than His infinitely wiser thoughts and ways. And I pray this will serve to record His authorship of my life, as the story is revealed in the days, years and seasons to come. Truly, the writing, the living, everything happens through Him, in His perfect time.

"Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end."
Ecclesiastes 3:11

May I neither become overwhelmed by the enormity of an eternity I am too small to fathom, nor too self-sufficient in whatever earthly knowledge or understanding I have within my grasp. For I would be deluded by such foolish wisdom. Instead, may I listen closely to His voice and trust entirely on His faithfulness that remains unchanged from season to season.

Watching that obstructed view of the National Day fireworks by the Kallang river, with spark and color peeking through silhouettes of trees and buildings, that word Majulah* rang through my head. And so it goes, that profound sense of gratitude for the decade past, and greater hope for what lies ahead.

Onward to new seasons, and here we go.

*Majulah, from Singapore's National anthem, "Majulah Singapura" meaning 'Onward'
17 July 2016 @ 03:05 pm
I’ve waited long enough to write.

So much so that I pray this moment has not yet passed its expiration date.
Back in May, a spate of work trips saw me flying back to Manila every so often. It was the height of election season, and I was plunged straight into the impassioned swirl of campaigning and heated support for each one’s candidate of choice. And now, just over a week into this Duterte administration, change has indeed come—and no, I’m not referring to this new brand of governance.
The sense of impermanence on this earth has become even more imminent to me in the wake of all that unfolds around the world. Major political shifts, senseless mass killings, redefined societal values and on a more personal note, death in the family.

Mama Lily had waited long enough.
It was surely no mere coincidence that my visits to Manila became more frequent leading up to Mama Lily’s final passing. In her final months, Mama talked about her anxiety around wanting to go, coupled with a fear of what was to come next. She feared being alone. The longer her solitary days at home, shifting between bed and wheelchair, the more she felt imprisoned in her frail body.

This was very different from the Mama I knew in my childhood. Strong, in-control, self-confident, fiercely proud, a veritable institution in her community, a pillar of her Church. This was a woman who had gone through a lot, growing up and then raising children in the turmoil of Jolo; knew a lot being a true help and partner to our grandfather in his role as town doctor; and did a lot, extending assistance to all around her.
She could get things done and as she would regard, better and more efficiently than others could. The results a proof of her resolve, whether it be her signature leche flan or getting her grandchildren to put on a show. She had a tough love for her five children and slowly softened over the years with us grandkids, while still maintaining a no-nonsense demeanor.

On that final weekend in the midst of our sister’s graduation celebration, I sat at her bedside during downtime in the hospital room. We prayed, sang and piped worship music into her ears (oh and yes, even that Frozen classic, “Let it Go”, for not all humor is lost). Even when she could no longer respond in words, those few labored muscle movements, gasps and breaths were fading signals of her presence.
One by one, we said our goodbyes, let go of hurts, assuring Mama of our love, acceptance, and that she had nothing to fear in this farewell. That God would be there in these final hours as He has always been from the beginning.

And God never delays.
Mama would not be Mama without one last act to set the stage for her remaining days. Amidst debate on whether to keep her in the hospital or bring her home, she moved her left leg to express her wish to be brought home.

Just two days after, in the confines of familiar bed sheets, it was time for God to take her into His embrace. On the day the Philippines inducted its new president into office, our prayers were answered with a peaceful passing for Mama Lily. The end of an era in many ways.
We like to say that phrase, this too shall pass, in full hope for something better.

In grief over the loss of loved ones. In the pressure of everyday struggles, making a living or writing a thesis. In the anxiety of finding a new job or waiting for a pass approval. Or quite simply in that state of wanting to be anywhere but where we are.

And only Jesus makes that hope something worth our whole life’s existence.  Not the security of a job offer. Not the promises of a new president. Not even the love of a grandparent or parent. Not anything that we can claim as our own on this earth.

"All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field.
The grass withers, and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever."

           1 Peter 1: 24-25

All the temporary balms and relief this world offers are nothing compared to the glory waiting for those who faithfully press on toward the eternity ahead. Indeed, at the end of the ages, all these things shall fall and only the source of all these will remain. Only God’s kingdom shall stand, never to pass.

Mama Lily, your life here with us has run its course, but we look forward to the day when we too shall be joined with our Lord, never to part.
06 April 2016 @ 02:07 pm
What is it about the crucial moments that make us decide to rise up and fight? Are we spurred on by the challenge? On the other hand, what makes us crumble and fall short? Do the weight of expectation and the real or imagined scrutiny of those who watch become too heavy to bear?

In the wake of the Easter weekend, there was one character, aside from Jesus, who jumped out at me from the pages of the Bible.

Who was Joseph of Arimathea? Who was this man who took Jesus’ lifeless body from the cross and laid it in his tomb?

Across the four gospels, we find a handful of descriptions—a rich man who followed Jesus (Matthew 27:57), an honored member of the Council, awaiting the coming of God’s kingdom (Mark 15:43), a good and righteous man, who was not in favor of the Sanhedrin’s actions against Jesus (Luke 23:50-51), and perhaps most aptly referred to as a “secret disciple”, dreading judgment from Jewish leaders (John 19:38).

On paper, here was a man who appeared to have it all together. He had the wealth and status, the connections and acceptance in society, even more so the faith and an upright life. Yet none of this human-defined goodness could get him that which he truly desired. Deep inside of him was a yearning for Christ, a hope yet to be revealed. At the same time, there must have been a fear in his heart, of what the consequences of going public with his faith might be, and the opposition that awaited him.

But in that moment when it counted, he summoned the courage to come forward. He went to Pilate—and as the NLT phrases it, “took a risk”, and asked for Christ’s body. And there it was, the disciple from afar, now up close and intimate with Jesus and the ravages and glory of His suffering. A dangerous move, but well worth whatever price would need to be paid.

I wonder how many of us can identify with this man, Joseph.

Could you be among those who have yet to come to Jesus? Those who may not even know what it is they seek in this chaotic world, but find a stirring in their hearts, an ache they cannot put their finger on.

Or are you already a “secret disciple”? Perhaps God has once revealed Himself to you, yet something holds you back from fully embracing Him. Perhaps you have felt God’s love in your life, but earthly trappings make it difficult to grow this relationship.
Then there are those of us following Jesus out in the open, but from time to time forget the reasons why we made a decision in the first place.

Oh, that we would all be willing to make a courageous step and come to Jesus in all humility.
Lord, what joy you bring to those whose heart’s longings are finally revealed and made one with Yours. May all of us who take this risk—who dare to ask the tough questions and be faced with the hard truths—may we truly find You, Lord.
And more than just doing these actions for others to see us—may we open our hearts, so that all may see Christ who lives in us.

Meanwhile, there are those whose courage shines brightly and in full view. I cannot let this week pass without mentioning Courageous Caitie (Caitlin Soleil Lucas), a brave little girl from the Philippines who battled a rare form of leukemia, whose life and death have impacted many, including myself, in spite of not having known her personally.

Much has been said about her, but let me share what I will remember—how in the most crucial moments, she rose up, carried by Christ’s strength and love. How she held on even more tightly and did not allow the dark night of suffering to snuff out God’s light in her life.

No “secret disciples” here. Instead of retreating in their anguish, her parents Jay Jay and Feliz Lucas took the risk of letting people into their pain and sharing their hope in Christ. As the events unfolded before our eyes, the hearts of this family in full display, God was glorified and made known in both Caitie’s life and death, for all to see.

“For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all His glory.” - Colossians 3:3-4

In Caitie’s short, but nevertheless courageous and joyful life on earth, she stayed close to Jesus, and God kept her faithful to the end, so that others would also be emboldened to come forward, to know Him and embrace Him.