August 24, 2010

Top 5 Thoughts on the Miss U Top 5 :)

(Four of the five finalists in the 2010 Miss Universe pageant.
Not shown: Miss Australia, who was also voted Miss Congeniality.)

#1. Our (Philippine) candidate for Miss Universe, Maria Venus Raj, was the frontrunner in the days before the pageant! Aaaah! (Look how "far" behind eventual winner Miss Mexico Jimena Navarrete was...!

I'm sad yet still very proud to have been represented by Miss Raj. I'm particularly proud of the fact that she is morena --- dark-skinned --- since (as far as I know), her complexion represents that of most Filipinos. There is nothing to be ashamed of and everything to be proud of being a dark, yes, even black, beauty. (I live in a country that glorifies whiteness, to the point that a common putdown is "she's not pretty, she's just white".) I was also pleasantly suprised to learn that, according to her mom, Miss Raj was previously called different terms of "ugly". Cheers to the late bloomers! ^_^

#2. The 2010 Miss Universe, Miss Jimena Navarrete of Mexico, looks like a grown-up version of High School Musical's Vanessa Hudgens (Gabriella Montez). I love her red outfit! So sultry yet so classy. :) As soon as I saw her in the evening gown portion, I silently wondered how to get that "look" using my "7-in-1" red dress. :D And I love the fact that she chose red to symbolize her nation's anniversary. Well done and congratulations! :)

#3. Miss Australia, Jesinta Campbell, is full of the smiles and perkiness of youth; a fine representative of the Aussie spirit. :) loved how she unabashedly raised her arms up high when she was called to be in the Top 5. (No studied poise lessons for her!) And she simply clapped when a fellow contestant gave a great answer, even when the rest (the other "rivals"!) didn't. It's no surprise she won Miss Congeniality. I would have also wanted to give her the Miss Little Sister of the Miss Universe award. :D

#4. Miss Ukraine, Anna Poslavska, made me think of a European Ally McBeal - slash - porcelain doll. She's so fine and delicate. She said she wants to promote Ukraine as a great place to visit; I think that her presence in the Top 5 has successfully earned her country plus points already.

#5. Miss Jamaica, Yendi Phillipps, gave an excellent answer when asked about her views on the death penalty. I'm trying to look for her verbatim reply. In summary, she said she believes that there is only one Giver of Life, and that we humans do not have the right to take that gift away. Her statements were very clear, full of conviction, and truly gave glory to her God.

To honor Ms. Phillipps' honoring God, here's my Facebook status for today:

Ms. JAMAICA didn't win
because she cannot represent those who do not believe
in a Supreme Creator,

but she represented Him and the rest of the world quite well.
What will *you* do when you are given one minute to speak? :)

All glory to the Giver of Life. (And Beauty.)

August 22, 2010

the other kind of strength

It takes more strength, I believe, to be vulnerable.

And so, while I may find it hard to believe, I am actually stronger now.

August 18, 2010

Taken care of. :)

"When you take care of God's business, God takes care of yours." :)

August 11, 2010

people of God, people of the nation

We are to praise our country when it does right.

We are to preach to our country when it does wrong.

God's people dare not be silent. Christians will be civil, but we will not be silent.

Nathan warned David. Elijah preached to Ahab. Eleazar warned Jehosophat. Daniel preached to Nebuchannezzar. Moses warned Pharoh. John the baptist preached to Herod.

- from "Pray for the Philippines", one of my Facebook friends

August 4, 2010

A faith based on evidence and logic

All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

I just came across this instance of cognitive bias on Wikipedia:
"Wishful thinking or optimism bias – We tend to want to see things in a positive light and this can distort our perception and thinking."

Indeed, I am often seen as a stubborn ("hopeless"?) optimist. But I am full of confidence and conviction in doing so. It might surprise the skeptics reading this (and those I interact with), that I actually have reasons for looking at the bright side, and even focusing on it. There is not enough time (or web space) to recount all the instances in my life where I trusted the Creator and have found Him faithful and almighty.

My perception and thinking are not distorted. I have looked at the dark, sh*tty side of things for the most part of twenty-plus years, sometimes blaming God for them all but mostly ignoring Him completely. At my lowest, darkest point, I finally turned to Him as a last resort, as a matter of life and death... but deep down I knew it was the "right" thing to do. Jesus has always been offering the power to do right, and I have always been in love with the idea that I was doing good, but I had no interest in following anyone but myself. It was only at the end of my self-righteous rope, when the best intentions led to the worst version of me and my life, that I had to admit that I actually needed Him.

But I have no interest in placebos. I listened to pastors and read the Bible with a skeptic's mind still. Literally and figuratively, I worshipped with my eyes open. But encounters and experiences (both mine and others') have merely confirmed His existence, power, and unconditional love. Now I praise Him, not because I'm desperately looking for reasons to validate my faith, but because there is simply every reason to do so.

To the skeptics/pessimists who think I am merely sweeping "the sad truth" under the rug, I simply ask: Now that I'm following God, is my life better, or worse? And I can explain it even. I used to be an unbeliever myself --- in small part because of (lack of) "evidence" but mainly because I wanted to not believe. I can now say that there are honest seekers (those who have yet to find enough compelling reasons for the existence of God, but are willing to change their states once they do find them), and there are those who just don't want to believe. Sad to say, it is actually the latter who sweep the truth under the rug.

There are those who felt God failed them, or disappointed them, or let go prematurely instead of roughing out the tough times with Him. And now they look to science, to philosophy, to anything that would validate their lack of faith. Sometimes they tell me that I need to look at the bigger picture, or that my faith is too simple. May I take this opportunity to tell them the same thing --- be open to the truth, even if it means admitting one is mistaken.

I am confident that I am living in truth, and that Truth is God. How else would both blessing and suffering make sense? All the times in my life --- whether I ignored or blamed, or loved and followed Him --- it makes sense now, in ways that atheism, humanism, pluralism, hedonism, transcendentalism (et cetera) never could. (Yup, I've tried them all.)

My eyes are open. Indeed, "all that I have seen".