The Table Top Deco And The Tic-Tac-Toe Game


A friend gave my son a gift of a tic-tac-toe game many years ago when my son was still in elementary. The "X's" and the "O's" were made of blue and red glass against the wooden base. I never wanted to hide it and just to re-arrange, I set it on the corner table and paired it with a table top decoration that serves as a reminder for me to be grateful each day.

I like to start my day to always be thankful, especially at these trying times when nothing is constant. Plans change. People do, too. Peace can become conflicts. Joy can turn to sorrows. Faith is being constantly pummeled and being knocked out with blows of worries. Days where hope is in a tug of war with doubts, fears, disbelief, distrust, dislike, and despair.

But there's my reminder. In a corner. To start my day with a grateful heart. As I do, my heart and mind is strengthened each day, knowing that God's grace always sustains me in all of my weaknesses. I look each time now at the "tic-tac-toe". It doesn't appear like a table top game anymore to me. They serve as a reminder also of God's invisible hugs and kisses. I feel His reassurance that no matter what occurs in a day, He is faithful and His promises are true!  As I thank Him, I feel that His blessings aren't always given. Sometimes, He doesn't give what we ask for but instead, takes something away that will expose our vulnerabilities that we think we can manage to tackle on our own.  That is also a blessing. If the Gardener prunes what is not productive in our grafted vine, the process is painful, but the removal is a blessing in order for a branch to yield fruits. 

He takes away my fears, my loneliness, my pride. How can I not be thankful each day when He died on the cross so I can live? So can you! Or anyone who trusts and believe in Jesus. 

So, there goes the table top deco and the tic-tac-toe game serving its purpose of helping me focus on the One Who never disappoints! Each day! Here I am thinking that love is shaped like a heart. But when I surrendered my life to Jesus, I know now, that love is shaped like a cross and formed by pierced Hands. 

“When I lay these questions before God I get no answer. But a rather special sort of 'No answer.' It is not the locked door. It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze. As though He shook His head not in refusal but waiving the question. Like, 'Peace, child; you don't understand.” ~ C.S. Lewis

Growing Old

The aging process is kind of a "wake up slap of time on one's face". A period to re-evaluate what truly matters the most in a person's life's journey. Time that doesn't seem to bother a younger, goal- oriented life has become a reflective moment that runs so fast each day, like sands slipping through the fingers.

It is a sudden pause to make a choice to let go of temporal things and value those things that aren't seen. Things that have eternal weight. 

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13, NLT)

4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NLT)

Growing old is an opportunity to realize that life fades like a flower. Each sunrise that greets and reminds one about a new day and a step closer to face the end of a temporary journey and step one day in an unknown territory of eternity. Unknown if that heart isn't willing to surrender to what's obvious from the beginning that there is a Creator Who loved a rebellious humanity unconditionally.  Each sunset sets the time to reflect even more as life's busyness halts that day and can be an opportunity to address a hovering thought of doubts of existence and life's purpose.

"3 What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? 4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. 5 The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. 6 The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles. 7 Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea. 8 Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.

CR: offthebeatentrek.

 9History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. 10 Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. 11 We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now." - Ecclesiastes 1:3-11 ((NLT)

13 That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. 14 God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad. - Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 (NLT)  (emphasis is mine)

The Change

hot fries on my lap

My son advised for me to take a break from cooking. He wanted me to just rest. Him and my husband wanted to pick up something for lunch yesterday. My husband suggested the old diner where we always went for burgers and fries.

After running an errand, we proceeded to drive toward that diner we frequented pre-pandemic. Post- pandemic, we still went but always through the drive-thru. Not because we were afraid of being with people but because it was more comfortable eating at home to savor the labor less meals.

Paying at the window, my son handed a $50 whole bill for $28 we owe. The familiar guy, despite the mask donned on his face, who usually happened to take our orders each time, cheerfully gave a change of $22 which my son quickly gave to his dad, sitting on the passenger side, as my son prepared his hands to receive, anticipating for our bagged lunch be handed over to him through that window. I saw my husband looking at the dollar bills intently as my son paid attention also, wondering why his dad was holding the paper bills longer than he used to. No wonder! As my husband counted the change, an extra $20 bill was hidden behind one which that guy gave.

There were no second thoughts between the three of us. We knew surrendering that extra $20 bill was the right thing to do.

"Excuse me!", my son uttered as he softly raised his right hand to get the guy's attention.

"I gave you a $50 bill and I'm supposed to pay $28," he added, as the guy now was closer to the square window, the whiff of freshly-fried potato fries spilling toward our car.

I could see a little annoyance through his eyes even with the dark blue mask he wore. I felt he might be a little offended that my son, waving all the paper bills change he gave in front of him, was challenging his accuracy regarding the money exchange. 

With a sure, slightly arrogant tone, he replied, "Yeah! But I gave you $22 dollars!!!" 

"No!," my son replied.

"You gave me $42, so here's the other $20 back!" 

Those hurt look kind of gaze was immediately replaced with a grateful kind as his voice cracked and didn't know how to thank my son. How to thank all of us.

As someone else handed him our order, I heard "Thank you guys" many times from him and ended with a wish for us to have a nice day.

Moving out of the drive-thru, my husband started a prayer. We all thanked the Lord Who deserved to be praised first for giving us strength to always do the right thing in what would always be pleasing to Him. Secondly, for the bagged lunch He blessed us with.

It was a good teaching moment for our son, and also to my husband and I, that we must continue to walk in integrity despite these evil times. I could only hope that the guy learned something, too that assessing the whole scenario first would be helpful than jumping to conclusion that he didn't make a mistake. I prayed that it softened his heart to know that there was nothing wrong about being corrected if it would improve towards some kind of growth on his part in dealing with their customers. 

I didn't want to write about this. I wanted to keep it between me and my family. But this morning, I felt the need to do so as the Lord made me feel that we all fall into traps of temptations. There are many kinds. 

It's not our own strength that will help us get out of them. It is His.

It's not the change (money) that was a big deal. It's our hearts, (especially if calloused) that need to change and be softened by His grace. 

8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. - Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT)

10 “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. 11 And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? 12 And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?" - Luke 16:10-12 (NLT)

When Life Give Lemons

How quickly any life's journey can be turned upside down! I know. I have been there. My family has been there these past few months. Or years... Well, since the pandemic hit the whole globe!

As soon as my husband was to retire, we had our plan to downsize. We even bought a new house in Florida. But before the ground was even dug and its foundation prepped, my husband had a change of mind and we decided to cancel the plan. Unable to visit his aging parents and family back in our country, he had a mixed feeling of wanting to move there and be settled when our original plan was to retire here where we've been residing for so many, many years. 

I get it. A sudden change of life's routine can be stressful and overwhelming. Like him. From being a busybody to all of a sudden, merely has no work to do like he used to.  Except to eat, sleep or fix whatever needs to be done in our house. My husband is the type who loves to do something and make useful of each passing minute. Slowly, that period has been subtly stealing my husband's joyful heart. At the same time, his mind is being filled with worries of life. All the worrying and all the unknowns manifested with lesser appetite, broken sleep at nights, and having no interest anymore with the things our family used to enjoy. It became a cycle. Happy in one day. Sad for more. It took a toll on me and our son also. My son and I felt helpless seeing a stranger we used to know as my husband, his Dad.

How true of that phrase... "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!" But how do we make lemonade? What is the proper way to make lemonade that will overcome the sours of this ever changing life's journey?

Happy conversations, enjoying each other's companies, laughters always saturating each corner in our home, strength from our triple binded cord, our shared daily petitions morning and night... They all suffered.

We still pray. We know that is the vital lifeline we hold on to, to make our purposes still work.

I know the way that no matter where we go, our ultimate destination is never in any place of this earth. I know the truth that no matter what we plan or what step we take, God is the One Who directs that. I know the life that in this dark valley we're walking on, His Light will guide us and will never leave us alone in the dark.

So... When life gives us lemons...No!!! We don't make lemonade. We seek God first! The One Who promised to those who love Him that He would never leave us nor forsake us and would be with us up to the end of age...

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. - James 1:2-8 (NLT)

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