Lessons from a Feisty Little Dog

Tsiken is our tan and black teacup Yorkie. He was bought with a hefty discount somewhere in Ortigas because he was already old for a pup (4 months) and no one wanted to buy him, for reasons unbeknownst to us.

He was energetic, his fur was a mess, but we loved him anyway. He would be me and my husband’s first dog – and first foray into taking care of a warm-blooded living being.

His name was intentionally misspelled – the Filipino derivative of the word and animal – “Chicken”, with whom our Yorkie had a close semblance to when he was first bought. He weighs 3 pounds, stands a proud 8 inches tall and is a little more than a foot long from snout to his short bushy little tail.

Tsiken is a social media darling for his sheer cuteness. Videos and photos of him shaking hands, staring at a TV and choosing a meal garner an average of 50 likes in a span of 4 hours (better than my post about “why I chose Endocrinology as a field of specialty in medicine”). Heart/dog/smiley/kiss/hug emoticons fill the comments section – people apparently prefer to express their reactions to cuteness with drawings than words.

He is a hit at home too. His diminutive size demands that he be handled with care. This also means he is the most portable dog – one you could easily bring to a visit to a family friend who lives a block away for instance. His head turns sideways when you talk to him – like he is trying his darnest to understand the English language.

But what I most love about Tsiken is his daily show of GUMPTION. If anything ever embodied that word, I believe it would be Tsiken.

He shares our home with his larger brother – Weiner Dog (literally, a weiner dog), who almost always beats him to the ball, the bone, the toy dog, the race to the ocean, the capacity to stay in the water longer without feeling cold, the couch, the lazy boy…but Tsiken is not bothered. AT. ALL.

sweet doggies

Tsiken playing with Weiner Dog

 

Tsiken just keeps at it! He keeps joining that race, that swim, that quest for the squishy toy. He adapts. For instance – he cannot jump onto the couch like Weiner Dog can, so he manages to find the corner of the couch, squeeze his body sideways and claw his way up like his most hated animal, a cat, until he finds himself successfully a top the couch (which thankfully is made of sturdy, claw resistant material).

doggies on couch

The red couch of power

 

This feisty little fellow lives an UNFAZED life. His bark is a tiny, high pitched one that is easily drowned out by the rest of the five bigger dogs in the compound whenever they decide to morph into a canine chorale. But he still barks with all his might.

What’s my point here? If you feel you are small, whether in stature/influence or clout, don’t feel bad. Small does not necessarily mean useless. Small can mean you can show the world just how you intend to beat the seemingly ginormous odds against you. Small is a platform for greatness, for innovation, for resilience, and most importantly, for the cuteness that you’ll need to raise an army of loyal followers…

tsiken

“I dare you to not hit the like button…”

Undulating and Flexing: Making Sense Out of the Senseless Killings

The You Version Bible App’s Life Journal Plan was designed as a guide for the user to be able to go through the New Testament twice and the Old Testament once within a year’s time.

Allan got us synced on it, and now we’ve gone through Zephanaiah, Jeremiah, and the history of the Israelites’ struggles against the Assyrian and Babylonian empires.

Assyria

A noticable pattern appears throughout the lives of some of our Old Testament heroes and the chosen people as a whole – that of running to God and then running away from Him to go back to the idols they have created. The attraction being that these false gods and idols are controllable (the alternative true God is of course, above and beyond us). These “gods” allowed all sorts of perversions that catered to the flesh – sex worship (the Asherah poles) and child sacrifices (to the god Molech) as examples.

One God catering to the eternal, the other gods, to the temporal. The ultimate choice that every believer faced and continues to face every single moment of every single day.

These days, idols are no longer as obvious as the ones our ancestors had to contend with. Asherah poles have been replaced by the idol of the concept of pleasuring the “self” – the thought that anything that makes the self “feel happy” is right and justifiable and rational and it matters not that other people and most importantly, that we go against the commands of God. Molech worship has been replaced with wanton disregard for what is good and pure and just. These disguised idols further the danger of turning to men and might for help in times of unimaginable hurts and struggles, eclipsing our one powerful and true weapon – prayer to the sovereign God.

The Christian community calls it backsliding. C.S. Lewis’ devil Screwtape so succinctly puts it as “undulation”: “Humans are amphibians – half spirit and half animal…While their spirit can be directed to an eternal object, their bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change…Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation—the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks…”

leaf-margin-undulateIs there hope for the undulating Christian? Sure. Christ offers us never ending grace and strength to face the toughest and most hurtful of challenges while remaining steadfast in Him. We need but to trust Him and obey. History – ours and the ancients, show us just how difficult it can seem to be…

In the ancient days, the fearful Israelites turned to then world superpower, Egypt, seeking alliance to help fend off the Assyrians and Babylonians. Not only were they disappointed, they were decimated, and their survivors, displaced.

Lately, disturbing news from the historic lands of the Old Testament books have been peppering the internet and cable TV, that seem to be recapitulating the ancient terrors described in the Bible – something to do with the ISIS terrorist group’s activities in modern Assyria.

I had just recently found out about the extent of the atrocities in the ISIS’ persecution of Christians through my brother and Allan as they asked me one Sunday in the comfort of the air conditioned worship hall, “Do you know about what’s going on in Iraq?”

Allan shows me news of how they systematically behead children with knives, rape women and hang men, and then points out that the cycle of fear appears to be happening once again – in panic, world leaders call on the United Nations, the international community, and the United States to intervene. Much like the desperate alliances that Israel sought when they were oppressed by Assyria. Running to the UN and US now somewhat feels like running to Egypt then. It seems that even with the benefit of the Scriptures, history and hindsight – we have not learned one valuable lesson: in the final reckoning, it is God who saves. Not military might, not powerful economies, and certainly not influential leaders.

So while it is good and worthy for the good and powerful people of the world to flex their muscles and intervene in the whole sordid issue, for the rest of us, let us not forget to flex our knees, and pray with all our might, every single day for our brothers and sisters in persecution, for their faith and deliverance and for their hearts to continue to find hope and comfort in the sovereignty of the Lord.

And while it is true that we undulate, we find that our best counter to this would be to flex our knees and pray unceasingly…

kneeling-prayer1

 

Message in a Dream

Strange dream last night:

Me and my dad were both desperately trying to get back home, on foot and exhausted from an ordeal that I was no longer able to retrieve from my memory when I woke up. Stuck in a hedge maze, we encounter a guide in the form of a woman (ethereal in appearance, complete with white flowing gown and glowing skin) who leads us to the mouth of a concrete tunnel, with the following instructions: “the tunnel takes you home fast, but you can only go one at a time and you have to be certain that you can be fast enough to avoid on-coming vehicles that travel at break-neck speeds that will not be able to see you, nor you it, to see as you make quick dashes from blind corners…“

The real-world me pondered at this strange scenario when i woke up…but let me continue with the story since I remained asleep at that point of the dream…

I decided I would be fast enough and in fact, would be faster than my dad in outrunning the chance of an oncoming vehicle putting my lights out permanently. I did not even feel fear as I glanced at my rubber shoes – half expecting it to magically give me a speed boost, and braced myself at the mouth of the tunnel that seemed to go on and on, without any hint of light at its end. My first dash was a short 3-meter run…I made it, barely missing the oncoming sedan that strangely did not have its headlights on nor made a sound.

To my dream-self, the sedan was just a motion blur, but I somehow understood at that point, how real the danger was. It was then that I felt fear. It was palpable, but I was able to come to terms with it by deciding not to push through, for the reason that: my dad might not be able to reach me in time if I ran into trouble, since we were made to go through the tunnel one at a time.

I woke up with a fuzzy head and threw a furtive glance at my bedside clock – time for work.

As I prepped for another weekday, I remember how many matters I needed to deal with as chief fellow of the prestigious Section of Endocrinology of the Philippine General Hospital. I feel the weight of the responsibilities on my ill-equipped shoulders once again. To shake it off, I afforded myself a short distraction by trying to make sense of my weird dream. Then I breathed a short prayer.

And then I remembered my D-group leader’s constant reminder to my constant complaints of being burned out: “Don’t try to keep doing it all alone. Do not draw from your own strength but from God’s.”

Then the dream made sense to me. I may be fast enough to avoid problems that I see come my way, but I will never be able to avoid those that I cannot. I do not have control over everything and neither can I see every task to complete success without God. My dream-self dared not go where her father was not going…I am finding out how neither should my real-self do too.

Exodus 33: 15-16: 15Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us?What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”scary-tunnel

image credit: http://www.wvbike.org/west_fork_trail/pics/tunnel-east-m.jpg