Archive for December, 2011

Christmas: A Season of Faith and Hope

December 25, 2011 4 comments

 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

As I watch my kids unwrap their Christmas presents, I can’t help but be emotional about the experience. There’s really something special about a family gathered under the Christmas tree. This happens to be our very first Christmas here in Canada ever since we moved here back in 2008.  The Christmas tree, however, has now been gracing our living room on it’s second year. But I can still remember setting it up last year because my kids were asking why I was crying while setting it up. You see, it was our very first Christmas tree. While most people won’t be as emotional as I am setting up their very first Christmas tree, this one is different. It happens to be our very first Christmas tree after 9 years of being married.

I remember setting up our Christmas tree when I was a kid. I did not come from a well-off family but my mom made sure we had everything we needed growing up. When my wife and I got married back in 2001, we’ve made a conscious choice to stick it out no matter what. We didn’t have anything when we started but were very happy we had each other.  But it was really hard back then. I remember sleeping beside my wife in a bed that’s just a bit larger than a single bed, with a cushion that’s roughly 2 inches thick, while my eldest slept in the stroller.  I remember the sleepless nights caused by buzzing mosquitoes and a temperature of 37 C (98 F) coupled with very high humidity, the 20-cent meals that my wife and I shared, and the long walks we needed to take because we didn’t even have enough change to take the bus.  We didn’t even think about Christmas trees back then. But we definitely shared good laughs and dreams of having at least a comfortable life.  We talked about how we wanted to have a house we can call our home, a car to take the kids to and from school and the opportunity to share our blessings to others. They have been dreams seasoned with faith and hoping that, one day, will come to pass.

I think one of the most difficult thing to do for all of us is to wait. The advances in technology has given us the ability to get everything fast – NOW. From the instant coffee to the burger at the McDonald’s drive-thru, the single-click option at Amazon and everything else we can think of. The wait becomes a bit more challenging when we can’t see the horizon and the future looks a bit dark. That’s why it is important to keep the faith. Faith, as the Holy Book defines, is the evidence of things not seen. We humans are visual creations that’s why it’s easy to appreciate things that we see with our eyes. But faith requires us to close our eyes and see beyond what are visuals can perceive. It means looking beyond our current situation – whether good or bad – and see what lies ahead. When you don’t know where to get food for your next meal or the next job that you need to take after getting laid off, faith lights a small fire of hope. Fan the flame and don’t let anything blow it out. The wait may be a struggle, I know it has been for me. But don’t let faith and hope die out on you. It could spell the difference between life and death.

This Christmas, I encourage you to keep the faith and continue to hope. The wait could be just a few days, a few months, 9 years like mine, or even longer. The Prince of Egypt, Joseph, spent 13 years both in Potiphar’s house and in prison before becoming second-in-command next to Pharaoh. I bet it wasn’t a pleasant waiting experience. But he waited, nonetheless. Because he kept the faith and never lost hope. So, while you open the last box under your Christmas tree, take a few moments to pause and reflect. Give yourself the gift of faith and hope for the coming year. Now, open the box. It could have been what you’ve been waiting for all these time. And keep a box of Kleenex handy.

Merry Christmas.

Santa on a Christmas tree, by bassplayerdoc on Flickr


Follow Your Passions

December 17, 2011 2 comments

There’s a reason I use bassplayerdoc for my blog. Having been a regular in Microsoft and other technical forums and newsgroups since 1999, I used bass_player as my nickname. That’s because I was a bass player back then – playing for the church band every Sunday and getting invited to play in performances every once in a while. Had I not decided to focus on my career as an IT professional, I might have been either a session musician for recording artists or a performing artist myself. My family has a long history of being music lovers, most of which are simply indulged as hobbies and past time activities. I got bit by the music bug when I was 4 years old when my uncle gave me a Casio VL-1 for Christmas. He probably didn’t even know that I would love it. I’m glad he did. Playing the keyboard was my first love. However, growing up playing in various bands has it’s challenges. One of them is having to fill in for a member who went AWOL. That’s how I got into playing the bass guitar.

In 2005, my family moved from Manila, Philippines to Singapore because we felt God was calling us to go. That would mean leaving a lot of things behind, including the opportunity to play in a band. Being a bass player has it’s challenges as well. You need a very good drummer to get the groove spontaneously going (I like drum machines but nothing beats a real live human that you can wave your hand to if you need to change your beat.)  So, I went back to my original love – playing the keyboards. Before we moved here in Canada, I got myself a Korg X50 so I can still practice and enjoy music without the luxury of being able to play with a band. That left my two bass guitars laying in the basement waiting for an opportunity to be played again while my Korg X50 sat in the comforts of my home office, keeping my sanity intact when stress comes knocking in.

Most of us are stuck with doing things for the sake of doing them. When we were kids, we dream about what we wanted to become when we grow old. However, when reality starts to get the best of us, we end up settling for what’s available and totally forget our dreams and passions (like getting stuck with our day jobs because it pays the bills.) Leaders, however, know that passion is a key trait that they need to keep and maintain. Jonathan Byrnes, a Senior Lecturer at MIT and President of Jonathan Byrnes & Co., writes that “Leaders are people who leave their footprints in their areas of passion.” Customers, business partners, followers, fans and people around you will sense what you’re passionate about because they can see it in you. The late Steve Jobs understood the value of passion where he described one of his major mistakes at Apple when he came back in 1997: Letting a desire for profitability outweigh passion. Great leaders are passionate about what they do, inspire others and ignite the passion within them to do the same. We need to do the same to take our potential to the next level. The problem is finding out what we’re passionate about. Mary DeMuth, an author, speaker and book mentor, writes about how you can find your passion and re-orient your life around it.  I’d like to hear about what your passions are and how you live them out.

By the way, I got my hands dirty with Garage Band, my MacBook Pro and my Korg X50 this morning while doing my worship devotional. Ever since I got my hands on a music synthesizer, I’ve always dreamed about having a simple music workstation to play around with. While looking at my external hard drive, I noticed that the USB cable fits the port on my Korg X50. I took my MacBook, plugged in my Korg X50 and opened up Garage Band. An hour later, this is what I got.

I think this will become a weekly habit. I hope you’ll like it.