Category Archives: My walk with the Lord

Crowns and Cows

Women who try so hard to earn their place through showing loyalty and working for free… Oftentimes, having to return sexual favors, co-habit or earn a man’s trust before he will actually marry her. Or sometimes, in the work place, to render more hours or wear numerous hats just because she can…

As a woman, one can bring so much to the table: the strength of her feminity, interpersonal skills and eye for detail are just some of what she can contribute, an educated and enterprising woman, more so! The skill set, years of experience and the value of their network is something most women take for granted.

I would have to agree to some some associates who brazenly stated: “Why pay for the cow if I get the milk for free?”

Harsh, yes. But there is truth to that statement.

Women get to be marginalized, their values compromised because they conciously choose to. They let these things happen because inately are desperate for approval, friendship, commitment, loyalty, and yes, the all enduring word…love.

There is this agony to make a significance in her work, the life of her partner, children… so that in the end, she won’t be shelved/discarded/abandoned because her worth and value have been proven, established…

All at a painful price: Her youth, her beauty, her years, her life. She is destined to live her life centered around her partner, her children, her work…because without them, she’s non-existent. Worthless. Invisible.

Notice that there are more and more women who find holding the “Busy badge” as some sort of trophy, or in this case, validation for saying: “I’m such a busy wife/mother/professional/business owner/etc… all of this, is all me. Finally, I am worth while.”

Busy doesn’t necessarily equate to productive nor significant.

“Busy” also begs the question: Where do you find your worth? Do you find your self-worth in the temporary? You can be doing multiple things all at the same time, you can be productive, sure. Hats off to you. But what if all of these are gone? What if you lost your work, heaven forbid, your spouse, children, family? What would you have as a woman? When all of these things gone, does your identity go with it?

Nothing is farther from the truth.

A woman doesn’t have to compromise who she is. She doesn’t have to replace her identity with the identity of her profession or relationships. She doesn’t have to “strive”. A woman was created by our Loving Father to “just be”. His grand design is for her to be the “crown”. Woman is His beauty incarnate. Diamonds need not force its beauty to someone who can’t see it.

The same principle applies to male-female relationships. A good man would be the one to do the pursuing. Allow him to ‘man up’ to the role. Just be. Unfortunately today, that role is reversed at very unhealthy consequences.

He will compromise your values, use you sexually/physically, emotionally/psychologically, (even financially…lucky guy!) and, as an afterthought, would probably marry you because, like a good girl, you’ve “earned it” (and besides, he needs someone who can look after him/his business/his children/his interests, his, his, his, his…etc. long after he’s gone. You’ve done it for free from the beginning, why should he start paying now? Insert cow reference here.)

The woman was his investment. He knows this. She just didn’t get full price for her “investment value”.

Can he be blamed? Not at all. Everything boils down to the woman.

In this world, a woman needs to earn her place, may it be a corporate title, or a place in a relationship. And even if she earned it, she still has to constantly prove she’s worth all that she’s striven for. She isn’t supposed to be pursued. She is commodity. Replaceable. Disposable.

So much for the grand design.

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Humanizing Noah

Have you watched the movie “Noah”? I strongly suggest you do. Though I do have my reservations about the accuracy of the characters called the “Watchers”, over all, the film was well done. Personally, the most outstanding performance in the film was Logan Lerman. As young as he is, Logan brought so much grit and authenticity to his tortured character. He is definitely someone to watch out for in future films. Given a saner schedule, I would definitely watch this movie again.

I requested a friend to do a review of the film, and she has done a fantastic job! I do hope that the film blesses you as much as it has blessed me.

Favorite Quotes:
Methuselah: He speaks to you. You must trust that He speaks in a way that you only can understand.

Tubal Cain: You stand alone and defy me?

Noah: I’m not alone.

 

Noah Movie Poster
Noah Movie Poster

(MAJOR SPOILER ALERT)

“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The Lord was sorry that He had made man on earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” (Genesis 6:5-7)

Everybody knows the biblical story of Noah and his ark: After the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden, the land increasingly became barren along with man’s wickedness. God wants to erase everything He has made – mankind and all the animals—and make a new earth. Good thing Noah found favour in God. So God gives him the task of making an ark and saving a pair of each animal on earth, together with his family. After a hundred years of endlessly working on the ark, the flood comes and everything is swept away. Noah starts mankind’s history anew.
Darren Aronofsky, the director of Noah¸ has successfully shown this in a highly-animated film and more. Russell Crowe (The Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind) plays the rough and persevering Noah. In a land where food is scarce and one has to constantly guard against scavengers, he is still able to come across as a warm father-figure who is brave enough to fight in a hand-to-hand combat to save his family. Jennifer Connelly (Blood Diamond, Hulk) brilliantly portrays Noah’s wife Naameh, who resiliently stands by her husband whatever the cost of his decisions. Ray Winstone (The Departed, Hugo) is terrifying as Tubal-cain, the self-proclaimed king of man who stops at nothing just to get into Noah’s boat and be saved. Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs) is also in this film, though a little bit unrecognizable, and surprisingly charming in the lovable character of Methuselah, Noah’s grandfather. One of the highlights of the film is Emma Watson (Harry Potter series), who, despite living in a wasted land, still looks pretty and dainty as ever, playing Ila, the wife of Noah’s first son, Shem.


Brilliant Casting

Russell Crow depicted a very human portrayal of Noah. He is tough because he is hardened by living in an empty and dangerous land. But despite all the cruelty of the world, he is still able to appreciate the beauty that is left: a flower blooming should be left where it is because it is its place; a wounded animal should be treated and not be feasted on; and respect for man even if they are wicked inside and out. But high acting praises for this film goes to Jennifer Connelly, who is deeply moving as Noah’s wife. She understands that she has to be submissive to her husband, but she knows how and when to speak her mind. (Spoiler alert) When she learns that Noah has to kill Ila’s child, she spoke against it and confesses to Noah that it is her who asked for the children. “It was me, Noah! I asked for this!” she cries. She then proceeds to give Noah an ultimatum—she will leave Noah, regardless of whether the child is a boy or a girl. Her intensity truly radiates beyond the screen.


An Impressive Ark

This film undoubtedly uses a number of special effects: from the cartoonish way of telling the Adam and Eve story to the physical manifestations of Noah’s dreams. This approach is very effective in getting the message across, though somewhat a little bit base for a serious movie-goer. Setting all the animated effects aside, the rest of the technicalities of the film are amazing. The land is as inhospitable as how one would imagine the ends of the earth. The ark, shaped like a chest (because it’s Latin origin literally means “chest), is the most realistic ark ever. It is humongous and built only for two functions: to save the family and animals, and… to float.

 

Unbiblical storytelling

Some audience are showing concern that the film is “very unbiblical”. This could be discussed because some points of the film indeed are not mentioned in the bible. One of these is the fallen angels or The Watchers. According to Aronofsky, the Watchers’ design is inspired by three images: six-winged Seraphim angels, a seagull trapped in oil, and ballet dancers with blocks attached to their feet. Afronofsky continues on to say that “these are angelic forms captured, malformed, imprisoned by the earth; winged creatures who got encased and had to use their wings as arms and legs.” Source: (IMDB) There is no verse in the bible indicating that the angels had helped Noah build the ark. Perhaps, if angels did help, it wouldn’t have taken Noah 100 years to finish it?

A friend also raised the fact that since Ila had twin daughters and Noah’s two youngest sons are still unmarried, it could be speculated that these two couples might end up together to start the new generation of mankind. The friend expressed disapproval for this scenario and described it as “icky”. Well, if you think about it, mankind did start with Adam and Eve. Of course, mankind had to continue on from their children, and their children… and their children. Do you get the drift?

 

Christian Issues

Noah is certainly not a religious movie—with all the added elements of The Watchers and Ila’s twin girls—but it is a Christian film. This is to say that the film heaved a number of Christian issues taught in services and sermons today. Here are some of the issues raised:

1. God will speak to you in ways you will understand. When Noah seek the counsel of Methuselah regarding his visions, the old man assured his grandson that the Creator only speaks to them in ways they will understand. Pastors often advise Christians to ask God to speak to them—and He does. Of course, God will make sure that He gets the message across. “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” (John 16:13)

2. Deciding on things without the counsel of God will always have lifelong consequences. Naameh asked Methuselah for help because she wanted her children to have their own wives and children. She did this without asking counsel from the Creator, or from Noah. Methuselah decided to touch Ila’s barren womb and made it fertile. Because of this, her babies became the bane of Noah’s mission – which is to end the course of mankind on earth. He is made to decide to kill these babies – a great consequence of Naameh’s plea to Methuselah. We must always remember to ask counsel from God for everything we do because “he who trusts in his own heart is a fool”. (Proverbs 28:26) Remember that “Through insolence comes nothing but strife, But wisdom is with those who receive counsel.” (Proverbs 13: 10)

3. When you ask God to put His desire in your heart instead of your own, you will receive it. Noah is ready to drive the knife into the baby’s heart. He is driven by his mission from the Creator. I am sure that he has prayed about this endlessly, being a friend of God. He has already uttered the words, “It is done”—pertaining to the Creator’s mission for him. But something in him stirs. His heart is wary because his desire has changed. Though he wants to fulfil God’s mission for him, something else has replaced this in his heart. It is God’s mercy—because he has prayed about this. “I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” (Ezekiel 36:27) Christians must also bear in mind that “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts. To do righteousness and justice is desired by the Lord more than sacrifice.” (Proverbs 21:2-3)

Aronofsky ‘s interpretation of Noah’s narrative is riveting and dramatic. It shows the human surface of Noah – he could hear the screams of people drowning outside the ark but he knew he had to remain steadfast to what the Creator had asked him to do. You could imagine the pain in his heart for every cry for help he had to endure. His character is in pain and sometimes anxious – which makes him relatable. Good job on that, Aronofsky. Though the idea of The Watchers is still far from convincing, Jennifer Connelly’s acting could make up for that. Reactions are mixed for the movie Noah, but nevertheless, it is a movie worth taking the time for.

 

 

About the Contributor:
Jihan Estrella is brainstormer for soap programs at GMA Network, Inc. She is currently involved in the primetime shows “My Destiny” and “My BFF”. She is also a social media operations analyst for a Singaporean social media services company.

 

 

Beautiful in His Eyes – A Happy Panda Shares Her Story

Do you still remember the entry I did on How to Heal a Broken Heart?

Well, guess what? The people I dedicated that entry to are doing well and are on their way to recovery. All through His Grace.

It’s amazing what happened that day. You’ll never really know how He works but He does indeed change lives. He offers the gift of love: A love that is real, full and freeing.

Please make sure to read the full entry from my friend. She has an amazing story to tell: A story of heartbreak, restoration and finally, redemption.

This entry is about her and the many others whose hearts have been broken and have come back, whole and beautiful. You can read her full story here: Darn Beautiful in His Eyes

 

Restoration of Israel

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, Bring her into the wilderness And speak kindly to her.”

Hosea 2:14

Through Heaven’s Eyes

During the Holy Week, I was able to catch the movie “Prince of Egypt” on cable.  It’s been awhile since I last saw this film, but it always brought back fond memories.  The film is a wonderful combination of creativity, music and love.

A single thread in a tapestry, though its color brightly shine, can never see its purpose in a pattern of the grand design.

How can you see what your life is worth? Or where your value lies?

You can never see through the eyes of man.

You must look at your life through heaven’s eyes.

Whoah! Did you get that? A single thread in the tapestry of the pattern of the grand design. I am floored. Beautiful.

Aside from watching the movie, I also highly encourage you to see this live version of my favorite song in the film “Through Heaven’s Eyes” sung by Brian Stokes Mitchell together with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

He’s absolutely lovely here, especially as he sings with the choir!

Enjoy folks…

And remember to always look at your life through heaven’s eyes 😉

Don’t Forget About Me

I had dinner with a few friends a couple of days ago. The conversation moved from American politics, to alternative history then eventually, religion.

It makes me cringe that friends think I am a ‘religious’ person. I am not. In fact, I believe religion is the very reason that disconnects people from one another.

In that same dinner party, I was harmlessly put on the spot by our host.

After careful thought, he asked everyone “If Jesus Christ suddenly popped in this room, what would you say to him?”

I was taken aback. I have never been asked that question by my friends from Church, let alone in the midst of those who don’t know Jesus Christ that well.

He asked each and everyone of his guests. Most were statements and questions like “Why are you homophobic, God?”, or “If your God, why do you allow suffering?” or “I don’t understand the concept of celibacy of priests and nuns. Can you explain that, Jesus?”

Then eventually he turned his attention to me. I couldn’t speak. I was literally sinking in my seat.

“Paula, maybe you’de like to share your thoughts?”

I told him almost embarassingly, “Not me. Please don’t put me on the spot”.

“But have you thought about it? Do you have a question to ask Jesus?”

“Yes, I do. But it’s not a question.”

“But you don’t want to share it?”

Beaten, “No, not right now. I can’t. I’m sorry.”

When I got home that night, it took all my strength not to cry.

I felt like a failure. That was the best opportunity to share Him. To let Him be known. But I was too embarrassed and scared of what they would say and think of me and my “beliefs”.

Not being able to courageously talk about Him has the same weight as to deny Him.

“Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him,“Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.”And he went out and wept bitterly. “- Luke 22:54-62

I only get the chance to share Him with people who I know I will get approval from or who can“understand”. In other words, I have resorted to preaching to the choir solely because of the fact that during the course of my Christian life, I have met individuals who actually make fun of, scorn, insult and mock His name.

I am so tired of having to meet insult after insult from such individuals and trying to answer their list of questions that, I have to admit, I am not equipped to answer. It can get draining sometimes. It is so hard to share Him in a world that laughs and jeers at His very name.

There are times that I just want to throw in the towel. It makes me question, maybe I am not equipped for this or I don’t have what it takes to really go out there and be the woman He designed me to be.

Then He shakes me up. He brings a particular person in my life who needs Him. He presents me special circumstances that say, “Don’t give up now. You are doing a good job, my child”.

And then I am me again. I can’t give up. Not now. Not after all the things He has done in my life and the lives of others. And though I fail Him so many times, I am hopeful in His love and promise: “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6

Back to the dinner party, our host asked a very profound question. If Jesus did indeed show up that night, I would have told Him this:

“My Lord, please don’t forget about me”.


One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” – Luke 23:39-43

 

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