Sunday, August 28, 2011

In Between Rough Edges

Some time in our lives, there would be a dawning moment when we would turn towards heaven, and ask, “Why?” -- maybe not always of anger or unbelief, but could be of marvel and mystery. 

As I write my words, I would never know where would this end.  I woke up this morning thanking God for everything that I have, yet my heart was still heavy for my unborn baby. 

Maybe it was my fault.  Was it?  I would never ever wanted to hurt my baby in any way.  Or maybe things were just the way it should be, but why then?  If my God is able of all things, why could something so delicate and innocent leave without a future?  Why did He breathe on it and then take it back, anyway?

If anyone would firmly stand and undoubtedly reasons with the vagueness of my voice, then maybe he could also know the things written,

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On where its footings set,
Or who laid its cornerstone-
While the morning stars sang together
And all the angels shouted for joy?

Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea
Or walked in the recesses of the deep?
Have the gates of death been shown to you?
Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?
Tell me, if you know all this.” –Job 38: 4-7, 16-18

The definite answer to all our uncertainties may always be indefinite.  But when this time comes - when we look for answers that we know we could only find beneath the wonders of the skies, I am steadfast that the very seams of doubts would know the power of God.  And at the very moment that the human queries escaped from our lips, my hope is that we would swiftly realize our dependence on our God, and how we are at mercy on His throne.

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised.” –Job 1: 21

See You In Heaven, Love

I saw your laughter in my dreams;
      dried your tears on my thoughts
I prepared my chest to lay you down;
     settled my mind on coming pains to give you life

I announced your name in the throng;
     welcomed you in my whole world

I made you smile in my imagining;
     readied all we have to nurture you

In my vision I walked you on freshly cut grasses;
      cuddled you strongly in my arms

On my mind I kissed your feet so many times;
       and bathe you in the morning sun

When the Lord gave you to me
      my tears fell down, I knew you were mine

But when He took you back
      my tears well up, I knew I'll know you up there

We say goodbye for now
      but we'll see you in heaven, love

                                            -Dad, Mom and Andi

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

If I Want Mint, Then I Want Ice Cream!

I just can't get over loving this mint chocolate ice cream from Baskin Robbins -- yes, that I have to write it down and overload some of my yummy joys today.

I love those bits of mint chocolates that linger in my mouth for a couple of seconds after a spoonful!  It's not too sweet nor too minty. Not to mention I get that "Christmas feeling" whenever I eat it! :)

So, now I've said it.  And I don't know, I have to say some more.  The desert kinds of make me a little sad with the Yuletide closing in.  There are no carols or lanterns or colorful blinking lights in the streets -- but this kind of dessert will surely compensate a little! (Blah! Excuses! ^_^)

half-full ;)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Faith Fight: Bring it On!

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted."
Hebrews 12: 1-3

Here you are one morning, all dressed up and ready to face the day!  

You stepped out of the door, only to find out you are on the grounds of an amphitheater with your gladiator armor, ready to face the day... of battles! And there they are-- the Apostles and the ancient Christians, settled in the circular seats as spectators, cheering for you and awaiting for your next spiritual victory.

"...we are surrounded by so a great cloud of witnesses..." 

Of course, this is a figurative representation.  The scripture tells us to act as if the Christians of the old are watching our efforts to live by the purpose we are called for.  Those brothers who had endured greater sacrifices to the extent of their death, to live their faith and make everyone know that Jesus is Lord.

Going back to our present time, knowing the situation we are into and the things we need to give for the glory of God, we realize that it isn't so bad after all… we realize that it’s not too much at all. 

 “…sin which clings so closely” 

Can you believe that?!  I can imagine sin clings so closely that every time our faith grows, the scheme of the devil cunningly upgrades to the level apt to our spiritual maturity!  We could fail at times, all right.  But we all know that what really counts is getting up and learning from it .  Paul said in 1Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith.  Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses".  Yes we fall at times, but our God will always give us the grace to stand up and overcome! (2 Corinthians 12:9a "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weaknesses...”)  

Now let’s go back to the “great cloud of witnesses” surrounding us… what if we keep failing on the same level, to the same temptations?  The point here is, what if Paul and the other worthies are really watching us in the battlefield?  The ones who underwent a lot of persecutions, sufferings, imprisonment and pain for the sake of the same faith we have.  God will always give us a chance, but how shameful it could be?  More so if we compare our situation to theirs.  Are we even fighting anyway?  Or are we standing up just to stumble again?  The Lord knows our hearts!

Jesus endured it all, despite that He did not deserve a bit of it.  He bear all of it so “that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”  We had hard times, that’s true. It could be somebody’s fault or our own.  But then let us “Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility…”  Jesus is Lord.  Everything was created through Him, including these “hostile sinners” from whom he experienced cruelty beyond our imagination.  And for what? Just so He can fulfill what He was sent for… our Salvation. 

I believe we can go through all the growing pains of our spiritual endeavor.  We can overcome all the trials and temptations.  And we can finish the race of faith… for God has given us everything through Jesus Christ.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”  2Peter 1:3

With all these, should you still be lying, knockdown by the enemy?

Source: Barnes'  notes on the Bible

Friday, March 4, 2011

So, what about Fitflop?

Yeah, yeah.  I heard about this new thong mania during my stay in Manila last year.  It was absurd!  Buying around P3,000 up worth of slippers?  What IS that?

Yes, I said that.  I'm not buying this time.  No way you can fool me.  The Havaianas fever got me, all right (meaning I had two pairs. HahAHA!).  But this... this thing is way too expensive .  I am not buying.  NO.

Or so I thought.

My friend Mae and her fourth pair of Fitflop
When I got here in Saudi Arabia, my friend who's very fond of Fitflop caught my interest.  I kept wondering why did she buy  five  seven pairs [and will still buy more]?! She has two acceptable, and probably relevant reasons why.

First is Technology. According to the claims of the brand, the Microwobbleboard technology will help tone your thighs, your calves and your glute.  Wearing this flip-flop also encourages better posture.  I asked my friend, is she experiencing these benefits?  Well, there was no clear answer from her, really.  When she started using a pair of Fitflop, she was also having her regular day to day workout.  So she doesn't know how much it helped her at that time. Anyways, this counts because technology was initially what prompted my friend to try it out.  How's that?  It was from a testimony of a close aunt, who after years of enduring plantar fasciitis [is irritation and swelling of the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot.], affirms to have treated through wearing Fitflop!

Second is Comfort.  This feature could be what most Fitflop users would agree on.  Hours of walking could stress your feet.  And sometimes, even how flat are the shoes you're wearing or you're on your rubber sandals, tendency is that you would feel a twinge of pain in your feet and legs.  Surprisingly, despite Fitflop's high heels (compared to other "comfy' sandals/shoes out there), it is said to give you both comfort and style.

Needless to say, I got convinced and bought a pair of this Fitflop.  Honestly, the toning of the butt got into me. Maybe, just maybe, you know... ^_^  And I think it is right on time since winter is ending... meaning it will be too hot to put on closed shoes.  I chose to get their latest Oasis 2 early this month. 

I actually wanted the ceramic blue... but then again, violet is fine.

Fitflop in Action
Malls here in Saudi start at 4PM in the afternoon on Fridays, and are open until 11PM.  I decided to test my new Fitflop in the mall, where I was most certain to walk a lot.  I stroll around for seven hours straight (okay, I had an approximately 30-minute break for dinner)!  I even carried my 9-month old baby most of the time.  Fitflop was extremely comfortable! I felt no pain whatsoever.  My feet did not feel tired at all, and were relaxed the whole time.  But for the "workout" part... I'm afraid it's not "working out".  It was a one time test, so I can't assure anything at all.  But for now if you'll ask me if my butt was toned, I don't think so.

with my daughter :)
My Verdict
I am yet to find out whether the microwobbleboard technology really works.  But for now I can merely recommend Fitflop as a new trend of comfortable and stylish footwear.  And if its quality would guarantee long-wearing, then the price is okay.

Do I like it after all?  I'm wearing Pietra now.

Note: Fitflop is not yet widely available in KSA.  Advantage side is that it's a little cheaper here.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Emotional Outburst in Low Profile: Could there be such a thing?

It was a heck of a time for me the other day.

I was just getting off from a headache when I felt another one coming.

"Paging self-control... paging self-control... you are now needed in my heart and mind... please come immediately."  Yes, I should have done that, or of course something just like that.  Then I know things could have been better.

It's not that all the worst escaped from my lips or I became estranged to every face. [There goes the title " Low Profile..."] But I said something.  So meaningful.  And if I could be honest, a little hostile. 

Today, I am remorseful.  And no matter how hurting it was for me, I know I should have not done anything like that.  What else is the gist of the last one I wrote if even I, myself, cannot grasp it?

This goes to you.  Forgive me.  And yes I will remember well, to practise what I write, or all the words may as well go down to that stinky drain.

So help me God.

"Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control" - Proverbs 25:28

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Offended and The Offender

“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” – Proverbs 10:12 

There are times when we were left in our thoughts wondering,  “Why would she say such a thing to me?” or  “Who does he think he is to tell me what to do?” it could also be, “I never thought I would hear those words from her.”

There are also the things that people do that hurt us.  You maybe annoyed how you are treated inferior compared to others.  Or you may feel that you’re being judged with the way you do things, or the way you speak or dress...  or basically, you are criticized just the way you are.

Clearly, you are the one offended.

How about when you are in the opposite shoe?  You can’t sleep or can’t stop thinking about the thing you’ve said or done the other day because…

You told your new neighbor how messy their backyard is and gave them some do’s and don’ts instructions right there and then.  Or you made this impulsive reaction “I hope you’ll not so regret this…” to an excited friend who had just announced she is getting married soon.  Maybe, just maybe, you could’ve also made an overboard comment on how one should bring up his/her child or how one should chew his food in front of a crowd, a comment enough to embarrass him/her.

Could it be you have offended somebody?

The question holds, what you should do, or on the other side of the coin, what you could’ve done? 

Little offenses become big when it sank deep into ones heart.  When the offended thinks about how mean and conceited that other person is.  And while the offender does not know how to make up to his guilty conscience, he is trapped with paranoia and condemnation. 

I believe not all who offends really mean it that way.  It is usually out of concern or honesty that a comment is dropped.  It could also be out of ignorance, or the way a person always been when one does something offensive.  However as believers in Christ, we must be alert and conscious of what others may feel.  The Bible says, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other (Galatians 5:25-26)”.  Proverbs 17: 9 gives us a warning too “Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats the matter separate close friends.”  If we had offended somebody and realized it, then it’s time to make amends of our attitude.  There must be an effort to change hearts and a willingness to compensate of the damage done.

There are also a number of situations that the offended quite reacts a little more than they should.  It could be because of an overly sensitive personality.  We should try to analyze scenarios first before we react.  Holding one’s response and thinking about it twice or thrice before we deal with it makes a lot of difference.

When it comes to being hurt, the Bible says a lot about it.  Colossians 3:13-14 tells us to “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”  1 Thessalonians 5 reminds us as well to “… be patient with everyone.  Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.”

It is always easy to speak and get motivated with all these when you’re not in the picture.  Then again, putting into our hearts the love and grace that God gave us when we were sinners [not to mention the fact that time and again we fail Him] is more than enough to give love and understanding to other people especially at their weakest.    “If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.  And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1 John 4:20-21)

The bottom line of the story is that, it does not really matter who is the Offended or the Offender.  It is how we heal these inevitable situations when self-control is our first aid.  It is how we grasp the idea of “brotherhood” despite disagreements and mistakes and ignorance and insensitivities.  “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor (Romans 12:9-10).”  Unbelievable verses, aren’t they?  I will reiterate to stress what Paul wants us to do as brothers “Outdo one another in showing honor…” now that’s one great challenge!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Chapter 1. Starbucks in Slow Motion (continuation...)

The hours went by.  I was actually out of my mind.  I don’t think I have given the best of my professional suggestions but it was his fault.  Forcing me to work on Friday night?  Some people have no consideration at all!  He was enthusiastic with all the plans that he laid on my table—and to convince him I was all ears, I have to say things like “Ooh!”, “Ah!” , “Yeah!”,  “Hmm…”,  “Huh?!”. 
Finally it came to an end.  “Thanks for your time.  I know it’s a Friday but still you managed to meet up with me.” Now I think this meeting was conspired.  “Let’s just set another appointment so we can discuss a more detailed planning, all right?”

“Ah!” Ooops!

“Ah--I mean, of course!” This time he reached for my hand to help me get on my feet.  He then shook my hand.  I turned my back and hurriedly worked my way to the glass door... like there's still hope for Transformers.  Then I heard Ric’s voice again.

“By the way Robin, on our next meeting I’ll have my new hired Advertising Associate meet you as well.”

I half-turned, “Yeah, thanks. Goodbye.”  In other words, whatever.

I checked my watch.  Great, it’s already past nine.   Maybe even Megatron is prepared to go home somewhere in the galaxy.   I called up Zeke right away so we could meet up midway somewhere.  He’s been waiting for almost four hours now!  Rats.  I’m so dead.

Now I feel guiltier introducing Zeke this way.  Actually, he is a very nice guy.  We’ve met in college and since then been hanging out once in a while.  We spend time in the most ordinary almost weird ways you could think of – walking around the mall with nothing to buy until the stores are closing, eating at McDonald’s and collecting happy meal toys, watching Anime series (we don’t care for replays) at my apartment with pizza takeaways, checking out thrifty, second-hand and other unknown bargain stores at the most crowded places in Manila, and we definitely love book stores, especially Book Sale and of course, Midnight Mall Sales (okay, I drag him to this one).  I can’t really tell what kind of relationship we have.  I don’t think it’s just friendship… or maybe that’s what I would want to think.   He is a gentleman, and also thoughtful.  Not to brag too much about him, but he is also smart.  He has a say about every topic I could imagine.  Sometimes I’m convinced I’m also really smart, you know, having someone to get along like Zeke. 

“Hey Zeke…?  Sorry!  Where are you?”  I said as soon as he answered my call.
“I’m sitting here right in front of Book Sale.”  He is calm.  This is bad.  And he is seated, which means he is already tired.  I hurriedly said, “Okay, be there in a minute.”

The problem is -- this is not the first time that Zeke has waited for me because I have to run for some urgent, unexpected and long meetings whenever we plan to do something after work.  I can’t just send him away, right?  We always meet up within the vicinity of my office, and his work is far from mine.  So telling him that our get together is off when he is already out there somewhere isn’t a good idea.  Plus, he refuses to leave just because I have to be a little late (which I often tell him, even I know that I would be so late)—Like now.

When I get to the meeting place, Zeke was slumped to a steel bench.  He looks so cool with the huge head phones stuck on his ears.  I approached him.  He looked up as I smiled weakly at him.  He smiled back wearily. 

“Sorry…” is all I can manage to say.  I sat down.  Think of something smooth to say, Robin.  But then I heard him saying, “You know, it would be easy for me, and easier for you, if you can just teach yourself to be a real professional…” 

What was he saying?  Okay, calm down.  I can’t be angry since I was the one late, right? 

“What do you mean?” my voice quivered a bit as I uttered the words.

“Robin, look at you.  Are there any other things you’ve been doing other than work?  If I have not been here, you will just go home and sleep.  Being a professional is working when you’re at work but eating when you got to eat and going home when it’s time to go home.”  He speaks slowly but then there are those emphases I can’t miss.  On a quick realization, I think he was emphasizing every word.  “You work while you’re eating, you work while you take your leisure time... if it's still called "leisure" for you... you work while you’re on the road going home… heck, you even work even while you sleep!”  

I would want to jump the gun and tell him how wrong he was.  But then again, I fear that there might be truth on what he was ranting about.  I actually got a feeling that everything he said was true.  So before reacting, I reviewed his arguments.

Argument #1:  Are there any other things I’ve been doing other than work?
Of course I do!  I watch movies whenever there are sponsored premiers and I attend parties hosted by TV Networks (not that I always wanted to, but it’s sort of a PR so that my clients will get better deals).  And I got a lot of things to do when Zeke is with me! We watch DVDs and Anime series and shop outfits for my work (You know in advertising, you can’t be caught wearing the same thing every time you meet with your client, well that's my personal principle.), we eat out and get around the mall.  Wait!  Do the things I do with Zeke count?  Because he was telling me that if he’s not here now, I would just go home and sleep… So what do I do when Zeke isn’t around?  Hmm… there’s got to be something!  I know I’m busy on weekends!  Oh yes!  I do the laundry, right?  I also change my sheets and curtains on weekends!  What else? I surf the net.  Yes sir!  I surf the net for what could be the latest trend.  Knowing what’s in and what’s out hint me of prospective clients I need to go after! I surf the net for ideas on the latest campaigns that we need to work out for my…  Oh no.  This is pathetic.  I’m just 25, and the most creative personal activity I do is to change my sheets and curtains?  
Argument #2:   C’mon.  Do I work all the time?  That is SO impossible!
And where did Zeke get this thing about how to be a REAL professional, anyway?
“I had a meeting with the Head of the Engineering in San Miguel today.  He gave us this principle about being professionals…” and then he goes on about how achieved this man is, both in his career and family.
Okay, so I eat my breakfast and lunch on my desk while I do some papers.
Well, I had some out of towns, right?  I went to Cebu last November for… for Advertising Congress.
Now I have to admit that I dream of my newspaper deadlines, too.

Seemed waking up from a nightmare I was on my feet to face Zeke once again.  From that reflection, all I could manage to say was “can we get something to eat?  Viet food, maybe?”   In a few seconds, he looked at me with those kind eyes.  He took my hand, and then we slowly walked the wide aisle of the mall.  People were everywhere and the sound of the arcade was deafening.  But at that moment, I felt good… with Zeke’s hand holding mine.  All these years, I never tried to define this feeling.  Neither did he.  We just go with it.

We ate and forgot about what was said before.  We talked about other things like the cool Quicksilver and Roxy surf shorts he saw at Surfworld (we don’t surf, but who cares?  We just like them).   There was also the new model of Blackberry we both wanted to buy but we can’t so he goes on to say that the latest of Sony Ericsson was quite good as well.  Every time I attempted to open a thing about some situations with my clients or in the office, he will playfully slap my hand.  We’ll both end up laughing crazily.

Zeke never missed a time to walk me to the bus stop.  Like a parent to a child, he always sees to it that I’m sitting properly in the bus before he leaves.  Climbing in to the bus, I waved goodbye to Zeke.  He smiled back and hand-signaled with thumb tapping the forefinger – meaning to text him when I get home.  

It’s going to be a long ride to Soldiers Hills. Usually it takes me an hour and a half.  I often wonder, maybe these buses have some sort of “magic trick” to knock out its passengers in the highway.   I myself am a victim.  Sometimes, I come to my senses in the middle of the trip and find myself worrying whether or not I missed my stop… that’s because I don’t really know the roads taken from the start. 

Okay, I’m coming clean!  It’s just so irresistible not to fall asleep in the bus, with all those little bumps, sudden breaks and swerving attacks—it feels like I’m a newly born child in the cradle of a mother!   

But tonight is different.  I got to be strong and matured.  There are a lot of things to think about my life.  Where am I going with this workaholic attitude?  I’m 25 and I got nothing best in me but my job, which I’m still doubtful despite of it all.  Oh I know I’m not that depressing.  Yes, I don’t have my own car yet but I have a collection of Zara, Mango, Juicy Couture, Topshop and more brands of clothing, bags, shoes and accessories—all those whether I got in a big time sale or e-bay.   But I know it’s not enough.  I got to move forward.  I don’t know where, but somewhere you know.  There’s got to be some growth in me -- a new hobby or an impressive set of mind.  Or boyfriend, maybe.  Boyfriend?  And why Zeke’s face pasted on my brain?  Uh-oh.  I’m feeling dizzy…

to be continued...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Chapter 1. Starbucks in Slow Motion

September 10, 1998

What a day! Sophomore is definitely busier than freshman, all right. But it’s soooo much better! You see, something happened again today.  There he was… during our lunch break.  Naturally, I was looking at him, and then suddenly, he looked at me. His cute little eyes looking directly to mine! That’s the third time this week!  It was maybe 2 seconds that our eyes linger to each other… come to think of it… maybe it was 3 seconds… right! It was about 3 seconds of magical moment! How can Kim be so blind not to interpret these facts?  I keep on telling her but she seemed unsure.  Chris is going to date me some time.  He’s getting to it I know.  I just know!

I looked at the odds of not meeting this prickly client.  It was already 6 o’ clock in the eve and this is the nth time he wants to revise an ad layout for his upcoming campaign.  No way.  I don’t want to end my work day this way.  Kate announced free premiere tickets for tonight’s showing of the Transformers.  These are one of those little benefits we enjoy being in the advertising business – free movie tickets, parties, big time raffles, celebrity mingling, and other social events for the prominent people.  And as I was saying, it’s Transformers night tonight and this client is bugging me to the core of my bones.

“Hello?” I get sudden intensities when my phone starts to sing “Top of the World” by the Shonen Knife.  I used to like the song.  Now, I jump just hearing its intro.  I have to remind myself to change my ringtone before I start to hate it.

“Hello Ms. Robin?  I would just like to confirm your appointment with my boss at 6:30.” It’s Ems on the other line, Mr. Yu’s assistant.  

“Would there be any way we can move this?  I have… I have an emerg…”  I cleared my throat.  “I have an emergency to attend to.”  My voice fainting, I’m not really good at lying.

“I don’t know if that would be possible.  He’s been expecting to meet…”

“Oh, all right, I’ll be there.”  I cut the conversation.  I’m too tired to argue, as if I can argue with a client’s request.  The fact is, it is more appropriate to call it a “demand”, but I’d rather stick to calling it request, for it lessens the burden of helplessly giving in to what they want.

Starbucks was a few blocks from my office.   I was immediately settled to walk right through several buildings and intersections to get there.   Since it’s a Friday, taking a cab would mean harassing my heels.  There are gazillion of other people out there queuing up for taxi.  Besides, the ride may cost me more than a hundred pesos, doubling the usual fare because of traffic.  Whoever the mayor of Manila right now, should work this out (How could you expect me to know him?  Who reads the paper nowadays, anyway?).  Well, my watch says 10 minutes before the meet time.  I got to break the habit of always being late in these meetings.  Kenny is eyeing me right now…

“You’re still here…?”  He seriously looked up from his laptop (porno playing I bet!), then to his Tag watch.

“I’m going now! Bye!”  I grabbed my bag and laptop hurriedly.  I bumped onto Pam who is coming in from the restroom (where else?). 

“Not coming, mare?”  I realized the lipstick indicator of “getting out of here now” on her face.  Pam was one of my best friends in college, still she is.   We address each other “mare” for obvious reason that I am the godmother of one of her children.  She’s got three now actually.  Nevertheless, she still looks good -- not a trace of motherhood in her cool aura.

“I’ll try to catch up with you guys, got a meeting! Call you if I can make it!”  I hurriedly reached for the glass door when Pam got hold of my bag strap.  I froze.  “What the…?”

“You sure you want to go to your meeting again with those?”  pointing to my shabby slippers.  Like an increasing ringtone, her giggling alarmed me!  By the time I ran to my cube she was slammed to a chair with her hands on her stomach. 

I forgot to change on my shoes.  So what?  It was just twice or thrice… okay!  It’s the fourth time that I was caught on these this month.  But I love them!  They are my gears to avoid varicose veins.   Those heels are killing my feet.

I peeked from my cube.  Good.  Coast is clear.  Kenny is not around.  Time to take off and invade my client’s coffee pleasure.

I pant.  And pant more.  Yeah the office was near to this Starbucks when you’re in sneakers and carrying a lightweight load.  I feel some drops of sweat clinging on my forehead.     I wiped it off with the back of my hand and took one deep breath.  I quickly scan through the room.  Now, where is that guy… gray and black… gray and black…, client spotted!  As usual, He was wearing gray long sleeves and a pair of black trousers –no way could I make a mistake on this.   He was always on those colors!  I know it’s weird.  But I don’t care as long as he gives me business.  He has already started with his coffee.  That’s good.  That will be less a hundred for my out-of-pocket reimbursements. 

“Hi Ric!  How do you do?”  Wow.  My voice sounds really cheerful and energetic.   I’m starting to sound like Kenny.  Oh, no.

“Good.  Nice you could make it.  I thought for a moment you’ll let me down.”  Smiling but intently looking at me.  As if my skull is transparent and he sees my brain’s content.  I wish I wore a hat.

“Oh no… no, I wouldn’t do that to you!  I will cancel anything for you sir!”  Not because he is special, of course, but because this is my job.  And I love this job… because I need money.  “Now, would you like a cake to go with your coffee?”

Ric Yu is a son of a businessman who owns a number of fast food chains in major malls around the country.  He was young but smart.  I think he mentioned during one of our meetings that he will be his Dad’s business successor.  I always have to remember that.  So I can keep up with this special treatment.  Right now, we are discussing revisions for the launch ad of his newest branch at SM Mall in Pampanga.  We’ve been revising this forever.

“Ric I’m sorry but you have to make up your mind which concept you would want to use for this ad, and which text would you want to go with it.  If not, I would have to charge you for the revisions.”  Nobody stands to clients this way but me.  That’s why Kenny avoids arguing with me, too.
Ric looked up to me from the print ad layout.  I can feel the tension the moment I mentioned the word “charge”.   So I gave him my sweetest smile.  “I can help you to choose if you want.”
I guess I wooed him because just after a few minutes, he finally made up his mind.  He chose one concept layout and finalized the text of the ad with me. 

“So I’ll just send you this layout finalized and ready for print in two days.”  I stood up, and prepared to shake his hand.  “Thank you Sir!” Wow, this meeting was fast.  You’re good tonight, Robin!  I’m so sure I can still make it to the movie.

He reached out for my hand.  Then I realized that for a minute our hands linger on the air.  What the…? 

“Thanks Robin.  You saved me a lot of headaches.”  Well, because I have to catch ALL of it. 

“No problem sir.  Anything I can do to help you.”  I just want to get out of here fast!  And give me back my hand!!! 

“Why don’t you stay a little so we can talk about the marketing plan I prepared for next year?”  Then he pulled my hand down, forcing me to get seated.   “S-sure.”  Sure! SURE I WANT TO SMASH ALL THE COFFEE MUGS NOW!!!  I was supposed to be happy, right?  This is business opportunity.  But I can’t get my heart cheered up.

“I am obviously satisfied with the way things are going on with our companies’ partnership… and I just thought, why don’t you get started with my next year’s advertising campaign, anyway?”

“Yeah, that would be brilliant!”  But why does it have to be now?  When it is Friday and there’s a free premiere showing.   I know what you’re thinking—that it’s just a movie!  Yes, just a movie… the greatest movie on earth, not to mention that Zeke (he is important!) has been waiting for me outside the cinema for two hours now.  “You see Ric, as much as I am excited about this announcement, I think Kenny has to be here when we get to it.  I know you wouldn’t dare miss his crazy ideas!”  I winked.  Praying that I’ll convince him somehow. 

“Hmm, sounds right.”

I exclaimed “Yesss…” involuntarily under my breath.

“I’m sorry?” Ric’s eyebrows rose.

“Oh…  No. Nothing.” My cheeks feel hot.  I’m clutching my bags, anyway.  Ready to disappear in two seconds…

“Let’s discuss the details when Kenny is here.  But I would like to give you some overview on our strategies next year.  I want to hear your initial comments on it so that I can discuss with my group.”  I heard a business tone.  

 Now, I’m trapped.

to be continued...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Is Too Much Shopping a Sin?

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” 1 Timothy 6: 6-8

Wow.  Of all the wisdom to read in the Scripture, why should I read this now?

February is a month of End Season Sale here in Saudi.  And unlike in the Philippines, sale here is really huge.  It’s a 75% off Buy 1 Take 1 Promotion at very good brands.  I say this to give you an idea how tough it is not to fall for that kind of deal.

So there we were, my friend and I, chatting when would be our next visit to the mall to buy more things.  I was so excited about this, I kept thinking what to buy next, when to wear the things I bought, who else to buy for gifts and pasalubong.  And so, mindlessly (because my mind was on the sale), I typed Grace to You in Firefox and started checking on what preaching of John MacArthur I can download to listen while chatting (imagine?).  I made a quick choice and effortlessly clicked on the “4 Marks of the Man of God”.

And there it was, the preaching stressed that a Man of God must flee from “foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction”.  John MacArthur (of GTY) even said “…but flee from these things… from what? From the love of money and all the attendant corruptions that come with it.”  He also added “You don't ever want to get caught into all of the temptations and traps… that go along with materialism...loving money produces all kinds of evil. It's not just the evil of loving money, it's all the evil that goes with being preoccupied with the material, the physical.”


At first, I was asking myself, was it really all about the money I spent to buy all these?  (Believe me, it’s not much).  I just get to buy these brands every sale and as far as I know I have always kept track of my expenses.  

So what was the compromise, really?

Maybe spending money was a part of it, well that is if I had really spent too much.  But I believe I did not.  Maybe buying more than what you need might also count.  But as I think through, I also bought the things I need (although I have to admit, it’s not in the category of the “strict necessity of mere food, shelter and clothing” level.) 

And so I prayed and asked Him, what is this all about God?  Teach me what I need to learn.

The thought came through me.  Loud and clear.  I got caught.  I got preoccupied. That was it.  I was tempted in a sense that my full mind was into it – going back to the mall, thinking what else do I want to buy, rushing into what I can get, etc.  I was devoted to THE sale!  I got crazy spending my time with invaluable things, and without knowing, I had myself trapped into these material things.  Without knowing it, I was already meditating it instead of the Word!

Maybe you were thinking that it was funny that I got caught with just that.  I guess the devil knows my weakness.  I really didn’t know at first.  There was the gut feeling but I kept saying to myself no way is this a sin. 

But then the Lord reminded me through His Word. 

What about you?  What have you been so preoccupied lately?