The Other Side of Setbacks

 

American swimmer Dara Torres had a remarkable career. She appeared in five different Olympics from 1984 to 2008.

Late in her career, Torres broke the US record for the 50-meter freestyle – 25 years after she herself set that record, but it wasn’t always the medals and records.

She also encountered a lot of obstacles in her athletic career. Failure after another, mistakes after mistakes, injuries, surgery, and being almost twice the age of most other competitors.

She said, “I’ve wanted to win at everything, every day, since I was a kid.., I’m also aware that setbacks have upside; they fuel new dreams.”

“Setbacks have an upside” is a great life lesson. Her struggles motivated her to reach for new heights.

Romans 5:3-5 states that “… we also rejoice in sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance produces character, and character produces hope. And hope does not disappoint us…” The Apostle James also told us “consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds, because you know that testing of your faith develops perseverance. Allow perseverance to finish its work…”

Adopting this perseverance on the difficulties of life is not easy, but worthwhile. Trials provide opportunity to deepen our relationship with God. They also teach lessons that success cannot by developing the kind of patience that waits on God and trust Him for the strength to endure.

I remember an excerpt from one of my prayers when I was in one of the darkest days of my life way back then,

“Lord, I hope my prayers will be answered tomorrow, else I could die, but if it remains a ‘no’ until tomorrow and I am still alive, teach me to be more patient and help me to understand more Your reasons, though the same reasons I may not know until tomorrow or the next month or the next decade. All I know is that what is happening at this very moment is for my own sake and my family’s welfare, so that I can share this experience to anyone in the future, so that Your light will shine to others through me, even at darkness”.

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Death of Aral Sea

 

Once the fourth largest lake, four years ago, NASA satellites take photos showing that the eastern basin of Aral Sea had for the first time completely dried up.

According to Philip Micklin, an Aral Sea expert and a geographer emeritus from Western Michigan University. “It is likely the first time it has completely dried up in 600 years since medieval desiccation associated with diversion of Amu Darya River to the Caspian Sea.

Aral Sea is actually a freshwater lake, which once had a surface area of 67,300 square kilometers. It had been long ringed with prosperous towns and supported a lucrative muskrat pelt industry and thriving fishery, providing 40,000 jobs and supplying the Soviet Union with a sixth of its fish catch. It was fed by two of Central Asia’s mightiest rivers, the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya.

In the 1960’s, Soviet Engineers decided to build an enormous irrigation network, including 20,000 miles of canals, 45 dams, and more than 80 reservoirs, all to irrigate sprawling fields of cotton and wheat in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

Some say, the system built was leaky and inefficient, causing the rivers drained to a trickle. In the couple of decades, the Aral Sea was reduced to a handful of small lakes, with a combined volume that was one-tenth of its original size.

Now, the Soviet Union is long dissolved.

In 2005, Kazakhstan took drastic measures. They used World Bank Funding to build a dam across what was once Aral Sea’s largest island, Kokaral Island, which become a peninsula, then an isthmus as the water level dropped. Water levels north of the dam, in what is today called “North Aral” or “Small Aral” Sea, have risen three meters.

Water streams through the dike during the wet season may be enough to bring some fish barns, but, 90% of the Aral Sea is gone forever.

Name

 

Charles Ponzi’s name is and will be forever associated with the financial fraud scheme he did as his way of life. It is widely known as the Ponzi Scheme.

He committed minor financial crimes and a number but momentary times in prison. Back in 1920, he began offering investors a 50% return on their hard-earned money in 45 days and a 100% profit in 90 days.

Though seemed too good to be true, the money poured in. He used money from new investors to pay prior investors and fund his lavish life-style.

By the time his fraud was discovered in August 1920, investors had lost 20 Million dollars and five banks had failed.

He spent 3 years in prison, then deported to Italy, and died without a single cent in 1949 at the age of 66.

The Proverbs Book frequently contrasts the reputation of wise and foolish people: “The name of the righteous is used in blessings, but the name of the wicked will rot… Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes a crooked paths will be found out” (Proverbs 10:7,9).

The Wise King ads “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold” (22:1).

It is not too late, the Apostle Peter knew this. Peter repeatedly denied that he knew Jesus, he went out and wept bitterly (Matthew 26:75; John 18).

Ponzi could have changed whatsoever associated in his name, but unfortunately didn’t.

Like Peter, we all fall short, but failure is not fatal. Jesus forgave the repentant Peter for his failure (John 21) and used him to preach and lead many to God.

We seek a good name, not to honor ourselves but to glorify Christ our Lord whose name is above all names. God lovingly restores those who turn back to Him.

THE IRREPLACEABLE GAP (PART 1 OF 4)

 

Four years ago, an accident took my beloved away and very often I wonder, how does my wife, who is now in the heavenly realm, feel right now? She must be feeling extremely sad for leaving a husband who is incapable to taking care of the house and the kid. Because that is the exact feeling that I have, as I feel that I have failed to provide for the physical and emotional needs of my child, and failed to be the dad and mom for my child.

 

There was one particular day, when I had an emergency at work. Hence, I had to leave home while my child was still sleeping. So thinking that there was still rice leftovers, I hastily cooked an egg and left after informing my sleepy child.

 

With the double roles, I am often exhausted at work as well as when I am home. So after a long day, I came home, totally drained of all energy. So with just a brief hug and kiss for my child, I went straight into the room, skipping dinner. However, when I jumped into my bed with intention of just having a well-deserved sleep, all I heard and felt was broken porcelain and warm liquid! I flipped open my blanket, and there lies the source of the ‘problem’… a broken bowl with instant noodles and a mess on the bed sheet and blanket!

 

Boy, was I mad! I was so furious that I took a clothes hanger, charged straight at my child who was happily playing with his toy, and give him a good spanking! He merely cried but not asking for mercy, except a short explanation:

 

“Dad, I was hungry and there wasn’t any more leftover rice. But you were not back yet, hence I wanted to cook some instant noodles. But I remembered you reminding me not to touch or use the gas stove without any adults around, hence I turned on the shower and used the hot water from the bathroom to cook the noodles. One is for you and the other is for me. However, I was afraid that the noodles will turn cold, so I hid it under the blanket to keep it warm till you return. But I forgot to remind you ’cause I was playing with my toys…I am sorry Dad…”

 

Continue Reading Part 2, Part 3, and last Part 4.

LIFE WELL-LIVED

 

I will not forget her smile, so sweet and can be tasted from the air, upon seeing us arriving at her doorsteps. Puzzled, she ask, “So how are you guys doing?”, as she kisses and embraces my mom.

We brought some rice cake, corn pudding and roasted chicken, which are all comfort food of my grandmom.

There is no occasion, we just decide to pay her a surprise visit in her house as my mom misses her.

At a glance, you will notice how difficult for her to stand up and walk and move, due to age and some health conditions, but the same glance it is obvious how strong the woman is.

Way back when my siblings and I were growing up, my parents used to bring us to our grandmom’s residence in Manila or in her Fruit Store in GSIS office. I remember one time when we eat up all the available bananas in her fruit stand, and instead of getting angry, grandmom disciplined us with a sweet smile.

All her life, she is working hard to support some of her children and her grandchildren. A lot of times, she is too busy doing things for a living and she almost always forget to have a life.

Sometimes, we would invite her over for an out-of-town family get away to relax and have fun.

She is a real champion of hard-work, and it never fails her.

We can also enjoy our work. King Solomon advised “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your strength, for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, where we will go” (vv. 10)”. Whatever our job or role in life, we can still do things that matter, and do them very well. We can encourage people, pray, and express love each day.

The Wise King also told us, “Time and chance happen to them all… No one knows when our lives on earth will end, but gladness and purpose can be found in this day by relying on God’s strength and depending on Jesus’ promise of eternal life (John 6:47)

Grandmom Ofelia reminds me to live each day well. Death is a reminder of life, and life is a gift. King Solomon said, “Anyone who is among the living has hope (Ecclesiastes 9:4). Life on Earth gives us the chance to influence and enjoy the world around us. We can eat and drink happily and relish our relationships” (vv. 7, 9).

To my grandmom, who is now goes back to her Creator, we would like to thank you for the opportunity you gave us to live, for all the lessons you taught, and for the unconditional love you brought. We will surely MISS BEING WITH YOU.