Friday, February 24, 2017

THE BLACKSMITH, TRIALS, AND GOD



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This is a repost. (Written some time ago but a friend needs to see this today. Take care, dear friend.). So please bear with me on this one, friends. Thank you.
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"Try me in any way you wish, Lord, 
only don't throw me on the scrap heap."

I have singled out that line from the story. You see, that line means more to me and (I believe) to a lot of other people I know. And I guess there's more out there who hold questions in their minds and hearts about --------- 'Just what is God doing to me?'
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Here's how the story goes..... and to quote --
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"You perhaps recall the story of the blacksmith who gave his heart to God. Though conscientious in his living, still he was not prospering materially. In fact, it seems that from the time of his conversion more trouble, affliction and loss were sustained than ever before. Everything seemed to be going wrong.


One day a friend who was not a Christian stopped at the little gorge to talk to him. Sympathizing with him in some of his trials, the friend said.........

“It seems strange to me that so much affliction should pass over you just at the time when you have become an earnest Christian. Of course, I don’t want to weaken your faith in God or anything like that. But here you are, God’s help and guidance, and yet things seem to be getting steadily worse. I can’t help wondering why it is.”

The blacksmith did not answer immediately, and it was evident that he had thought the same question before. But finally, he said..........

“You see here the raw iron which I have to make into horse’s shoes. You know what I do with it? I take a piece and heat it in the fire until it is red, almost white with the heat. Then I hammer it unmercifully to shape it as I know it should be shaped. Then I plunge it into a pail of cold water to temper it. Then I heat it again and hammer it some more. And this I do until it is finished.
But sometimes I find a piece of iron that won’t stand up under this treatment. The heat and the hammering and the cold water are too much for it. I don’t know why it fails in the process, but I know it will never make a good horse’s shoe."

He pointed to a heap of scrap iron that was near the door of his shop.......
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“When I get a piece that cannot take the shape and temper, I throw it out on the scrap heap. It will never be good for anything.”
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He went on ......... “I know that God has been holding me in the fires of affliction and I have felt His hammer upon me. But I don’t mind, if only He can bring me to what I should be. And so, in all these hard things my prayer is simply this:
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TRY ME IN ANY WAY YOU WISH, LORD, ONLY DON'T THROW ME ON THE SCRAP HEAP."

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-Unquote
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Great story, isn’t it? 

God's attention on us simply means that He cares. Oh I know it's an odd way of caring, to our puny human understanding. I had some trouble with that too. It isn’t easy – especially if you’re hurting real bad. That’s a huge Ouch-Ouch!! But as hard as that is to understand, it is THE explanation to our 'why me?!' --- a question we so often pose to GOD. 

BUT have we tried, even for just a moment, to imagine what we would be without God? Yup, maybe right there on that unfortunate scrap heap. 

And have we also tried to imagine what we would be or have become with God? The answer to that is ---- the best we could ever be.... and that work isn't even finished yet. Imagine the exciting possibilities and potential when HE's done with us. It can be awesomely mind- boggling!

More trials? Yet is there a life without one!? Let’s try to see it this way (we can always learn, di ba?) ------- What are they but simply God's loving and undivided attention upon you and me and everybody who believes. HE is making us even better (believe this) --- worthy of life and of Heaven. By God's design. Whom God loves he disciplines. Like a mother disciplines her child with the intent of seeing her child grow into a fine human being. Gold is made better when passed through the furnace or fire.

Hard to take that? Well, maybe it's time to try to see things from the eyes and heart of God. -- God THINKS you are special. God SEES you as special! The reason why He gives you His full attention and care. .God works not to harm you but only to make you better. (Check out the poster on Jeremiah 29:11)

YOU are SPECIAL! And GOD LOVES YOU SO MUCH!
Blessings to you all!


Saturday, February 11, 2017

MUCH OF THE BEAUTY OF LIFE IS FOUND IN PROPLE WHO CARE



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Yup, I'm back at my laptop again! Three weeks of nursing a bad, very bad cough, and I'll say this much..... never again! I'm done with coughing-fits, meds, doctor-visits, and a brief stint at the er when I had trouble with my breathing. But I'll say this, too, that something good came out of that sick-cay-tion --- I was able to catch up on my reading. Cruising down my tiny library of favorite books I chose this one "1000 Stories - Volume One" by Frank Mihalic, SVD. Would you believe that I got this book that lucky month of December in 1993?! And yes, the glue which held the book together finally gave up its job and caused the pages to free itself from its bondage of many years! And gosh the edges of its pages have browned with age, too. But no, I didn't discard them ... everything is still here --- all of its 243 pages and all of its 500 stories intact!

Books never grow old, especially books like this one. Here are six of my favorite stories lifted from the book (oh but there are so many and each one a treasure) which I would like to share with you.
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1) POLITENESS


One time at a dinner given in honor of Marshall Foch, one of the guests remarked that there was nothing but wind in French politeness. Marshall Foch retorted, “Neither is there anything but wind in a tire, yet it certainly eases the jolts in a highway, as politeness eases them along life’s highway.” - Quote
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2) GOD IS NUMBER ONE


In arithmetic we learned how valuable is the position of the zero relative to the decimal point. The more zeros separating a one from a decimal point, the less the value of the one if the zeros come first. (.000,000,1)
Put one first, however, then add the zeros and finally the decimal point and the very reverse is true. Why? Because the one is first. (1,000,000.)


So long as God is first in our actions, everything we do and the more we do will add up, the greater value it will have. The further away God is from our minds in our actions, the less their value. Frank Mihalic
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3) JUDGING


A tale in a German song told of a contest between a nightingale and a cuckoo, to prove which sang more beautifully. As it happened, the only creature around to judge was an ass.

The nightingale sang first. As its beautiful melody trilled through the woods, the ass twitched its long ears and looked on with a stupid, puzzled expression.


Then the cuckoo called its simple, two-note song. Suddenly the face of the ass registered a serious, appraising look, then he began to nod. This he could understand: cuckoo, cuckoo… really isn’t all that different from: hee-haw, hee-haw.  It should come as no surprise that the ass judged the cuckoo to be the better singer.


And thus it is with all who pass judgement. We all judge according to our own limited perceptions, our biases, our varying degrees of ignorance. Nuggets
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4) SUPPORTIVE WORKERS


One day when I was eleven years old, I came home weeping because I had been given a small part in the background of a children’s program at the church, while my playmate was assigned the leading role. Quietly, my mother took out her watch and put it in my hand.
“What do you see?” she asked.
“A gold case, a face and hands,” I replied.
Then she opened the back of the case and repeated her question. “What do you see?’
“I could see tiny wheels and screws.” I replied.

“This watch would be of no use at all,” mother said, “without every part --- even those you cannot see.”
Her little lesson has made me happier all through life. – Ms. Floyd Crook
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5) LOOK IN THE MIRROR DAILY


A Californian had two daughters in their early teens. One was attractive, the other, plain. One day, as they were getting ready for school, the better-looking girl peered into the mirror beside the face of her unflavored sister. The latter complained to their father that this was done as a reflection on her lack of looks.
Instead of growing angry or taking sides, he advised them,

“I want both of you to look into that mirror everyday. You who are favored of Nature, to remind yourself never to dishonor the beauty of your face by the ugliness of your actions. And you who lack beauty, that you may hide your lack of it by the superior attractiveness of your virtue and beautiful conduct.” - Tonne
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6) YOU ARE MADE TO HELP


I saw a small girl on the street, cold and shivering in a thin dress, and very evidently hungry. I became angry with God and said, “Why did You permit this? Why don’t You do something about it?”
That night I heard a small voice inside say, “I DID do something about it, I made you… What have YOU done about it?”             - After De Mello



  Hope you're all having a lovely day! Blessings!




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Friday, January 20, 2017

EVERYTHING IN LIFE WILL PASS TOO


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Started early today with my morning walk. When I looked up to the sky, I saw that it was the least inviting... overcast, cloudy, a bit moody and all that. But I had to have my walk, so thus commanded my feet to get moving quick! Not a very long walk this time though because I was a bit worried that it might suddenly rain and certainly wouldn't want to get caught in that. 

The neighborhood looked the same.. but who knows really! Much is happening in Mother Nature's wonderful world by the minute-by the hour. Birth.. growth... and decline. So much like the human world and existence, too. Not many familiar faces out on the streets now. I guess the weather has something to do with that.

So finally got back to my house, but before I could take off my walking gear.... a strong wind blew, rattled the treetops, hinawi ang mga ulap, and out came the sun!! Shining brightly! Oh yeah, Mother Nature knows how to play jokes, too, doesn't she!? This one she played on me! 

Well, I missed out on my morning sun... but I got my morning walk still. Beautiful pleasant day to start with! Despite the initial bump to it.

There's a balance of good and bad in life. Certainly we get affected by that. Delighted are we when in the midst of misery suddenly some piece of glad tidings glide in. On the other hand, it crushes us when our happiness gets its shower of bad news unexpectedly.

An old friend said this long ago..... "When that happens, you only have to ride the wind... go with the flow... because it will pass. Both the good and the bad. In whatever degree it will affect you it will pass. Still."

I guess that was what Mother Nature was trying to say to me this morning. But I also know this --- that even on a cloudy day the blue sky is still there. Right, Mother Nature? Lesson learned.... and thanks!

P.S. Just now I looked out my window...... and a gorgeous lovely blue sky I see! 


EVERYONE HAS A STORY



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Heard this spoken by a friend on the phone....... 

'Huy, mahirap mag-Facebook ah, kelangan smart ka at sumakay ka sa trend dito. Makisabay ka at wag kang papalag.' - (Not easy doing Facebook. You've to be smart and ride on the trend or bandwagon. Blend in.)

That made me think but also remembered that I had heard that line from another friend before. So I hastily made my way back to my files to rummage for this particular post. Found it! I was about to read it to her on the phone but she stopped me with..... "Ipadala mo sa email ko yan. Antayin ko!" (Send that to my email. I'll wait!) So I did.  I'd like to share it with you, too.
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Whatever one says here, I believe, comes from one's history. A person thinks-speaks-acts according to, dictated by, and gathered from his past - his personal history - which shaped and continually shapes him in the present.
 
Everybody has a story to tell. It could be light, heavy, sad, scary, silly, naughty or nice. Everybody has something to say. Sometimes you may not like what is being said nor appreciate the views being presented but he owns it. In the same manner that you yourself have your own version or understanding of things, of life, of people, and of the world... And because you respect the person you try to understand where all that is coming from. 

By listening to a huge diversity of personalities and characters, I think I have gathered enough to have learned that.....

What is essential perhaps is to learn how to say it right... so that people don't walk away embarrassed, disgusted, offended, belittled, diminished -- and will instead stop and listen to joy, faith, hope, love, courage, humor, comradeship, learning, and positivity.

The rule, as I understand it, is not to tear people down...but rather to build them up. The world has enough of wars to keep it busy through the changes of time and season and reason.. Surely we need not have to add to those things which we know only serve to destroy peace and harmony, within and without.


"Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer." ------- Barbara Kingslover



Friday, January 13, 2017

CHANGE AND UNEXPECTED TEACHERS


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I was going through my old files, sorting through it with the intent of ridding it of non-essentials. This made me think. Non-essentials --– if you think about it you will understand that there are indeed plenty in your store of life and living… the accumulated bits and pieces that you might be better off without. But of course you wouldn’t want to deal with that when you are young for the simple fact that you are so attached to it. Even if conscience tells you to be done with it.

The thing is when you get older or have grown older you get this feeling that something inside of you has changed. What was isn't anymore. What may have been important to you back then may not be anymore many years after. It’s sad but its importance or relevance has waned or diminished, its attraction fizzled out or maybe gone in some. It seemed to have lost its life. Holding on to it, you get to realize, has now become dead weight.

So I am now on a fresh and determined journey of ridding my store of dead weight. Some people may have a name for it but I am calling it change.

Change is something you cannot fight. Maybe you can delay it, dilute it, mask it, or give it another name perhaps but change it still is. And I’m starting with my files.

This morning’s activity though came to a brief halt when…….

I stumbled on this piece of writing paper and on it were printed these words. Now it made no mention of its source or of who wrote it so I guessed that it was quoted from something. Here it is by an anonymous writer. A wonderful piece that made sense back then, still does in the present and I guess will continue to do its job of imparting its precious wisdom to anyone who stops awhile, pay attention, and learn.

Quoting…….

UNEXPECTED TEACHERS
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Some of us have our prejudices, some of us have our biases. Some of us, no matter how old we become, remain childish. We continue to select only those things we want to listen to.

But in doing this, we also lose.

Everybody is in the same boat. All of us do not know everything but, we can listen.

Because we have a lot to learn from people for whom we think we have no respect.

Who are the people for whom we have no respect? For whom we have incorrigible biases? People for who we think we have nothing to learn from?

Think well and hard.

We will have a lot to learn from these unexpected teachers.

(Author Unknown)

Unquote.

Have a great and blessed day, folks. Siksik, liglig, at umaapaw pa!



MEASURE LIFE BY MOMENTS THAT TAKE OUR BREATH AWAY

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Last night my youngest daughter nudged me to go out to the patio, sit there and savor my warm cup of chamomile tea, enjoy the early evening with my dog Maxie. So I pulled out the monobloc (that's what we call a two-sitter plastic chair), placed a sheet over it and ordered Maxie to get on it with an 'Up, girl!'.... and she did. Then we sat side by side on the monobloc with Maxie sending out an audible sigh of contentment as she settled in. This chair has been with us for years now, old and worn, but still in one piece doing its job well in providing us and our pet dogs rest and comfort. Has undergone a repaint job before but now looks like it needs another one and soon. Sometimes old things are a comfort to keep.
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A slight evening breeze blew... so refreshing to the senses. Looked up to the evening skies and saw a solitary star shining brightly. I guess the others would be coming out soon. Just one star but it was enough to make me smile. Similarly, imagine what a single good thought or deed can do to someone, near or far.
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Another year is unfolding in our lives. Should we be counting years? Again? Nope, not anymore. Yes, we used to do that with our old selves. I think we have gained wisdom through the years to learn to shed all that. Change.
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This time we will be doing it differently. We will be counting moments. Precious moments which take our breath away.
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Like last night.


Sunday, December 25, 2016

MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!



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To my wonderful friends/readers 
here in Blogspot, 
visible and invisible..... 

May the joy, peace and blessing 
of the Holy Family 
fill your homes this Christmas 
and remain in your hearts 
forevermore.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!


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Monday, December 19, 2016

WHY ME, GOD?

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A good friend just recently asked this question on the phone...... "Asan siya kung kelangan ko siya?" Well, as the chat carried on I learned it was God she was referring to. Translated she meant -- 'Where is God when I need Him?' -- I countered though gently that I was the wrong person to ask that question to.
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She became silent. And I got worried. So I encouraged her to talk... vent out whatever it was that was bothering her in that moment it seemed. I got what I asked for .... a long line of woes that if you strung each to the other it would circle the globe! Twice if you let it.
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Well, that's as much as I can tell about my dear friend. Oh don't worry about her because after much nudging she finally went to see their family's friend-priest. She'll be fine.
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My friend is so much like the rest of us... some of us.... most of us, in small or big measure, vocally or quietly in the silence of our hearts. We do it all the time...or at some time in our lives.. in dire situations of fear, desperation, hopelessness, anger, misery, and overwhelming loss. Punching bag natin lagi si God. We always blame Him for the seemingly unfathomable problems of our lives and of the world. We always blame Him for those things we do not, cannot or fail to understand. Why this? Why that? Why me? Why my loved ones?
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But, I think, nobody alive can provide you with the answers you may be seeking, wanting or needing. Not from people anyway, I think. I understand it as something which is between you and your God. Like I pose my own share of mind-boggling questions to Him, too.
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Now you might wonder, too, if I get answers to those questions. Well, I think I do or I did but not in the way I want it or wanted it. And not at the time I needed it. It doesn't happen that way. God does things HIS WAY.
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I have learned that everything is all up to Him really. . We are only asked to ... believe, trust, and be of good faith. He answers but to see the answers we must learn to see them through His eyes. That is the real challenge.
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Why am I writing about this now? I feel for my friend and I want to say that she need not feel strange or weird for feeling the way she does. She's not alone. People are the same everywhere, basically. We simply try to cope in a diversity of ways with who we are and what we know...... and how we relate to our God.
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Blessings to you, everyone!




Friday, November 25, 2016

MOTHER NATURE - MY ETERNAL LOVE

 

 --- Do you know why I love road trips,especially out there in the provinces? It's the pleasure of gazing at a wide expanse of meadows and fields and of the blue skies that I love. Blue skies punctuated with clouds white and light, stationary or in flight. Add to that the landscape of mountain ranges and the rich greens of trees and forests and the magnificence of the plant kingdom. There's nothing like it.

These were my thoughts when I painted this back then. And it has been a constant theme in my paintings.... the diversity of Mother Nature's landscape. She's a beauty and always will be to my eyes, heart and mind. I love her and always will.

I'm bringing this here to share with you who, I believe, also share the love for Mother Nature.

Thank you.