Friday, January 29, 2016


In a blog that I visit once a month for inspiration in photography, I saw a picture of a flower that was titled lagniappe.  Being a horticulturist, forget about photography, I immediately looked up the "plant". Well, if you already know the meaning of the word, you probably are laughing by now.  Lagniappe is not a plant's name.  It is English word (from Louisiana) that refers to the extra gift given to the customer by the merchant.  I recognized the meaning of the word because the tradition of giving the customer an extra measure of the product being purchased is very familiar to me, from my Filipino upbringing.  It is translated as surok in Ilocano or dagdag in Tagalog.  It is given by the merchant freely out of his good will.

Now, excuse my chutzpah in extending the use of the word...

When we take a close and honest look at ourselves there are little things we are good at that are valued by those around us.  Let's just say that God, when he was putting together the package that is you, threw in something extra in there out of his generous heart.  Lagniappe!  A bonus.  Small something beyond what was required.  And yet small as they were, they become part of your identity.

In my case, I believe I've been given smile. That's right.  Smile on my face! People notice that I often smile - it is my default expression.  I'm smiling even when I am not trying to smile.   We all know that smile is a barrier-breaker.  It makes people more approachable.  A genuine smile is a safety indicator.  When we smile, people around us are encouraged to smile back.  Sometimes when used properly it can help you argue more effectively. :)   It makes things better between me and others.  I have a generous supply of it.  Smile is something I will never run out of.

Sharing this gift requires no struggle on my part.  But when sin takes control over me, I withhold it and deny others of seeing grace through my face.  I act as if I never had this gift.  The world around me becomes a different place -  more hostile.  With this lagniappe I have the ability to affect the atmosphere around me.  In a recent conversation with Tim, he said that one of the things that he likes about me is my smile.  He enjoys seeing me smile.  My  thought was - that is very easy to give.  The investment on my part is nothing - really nothing - compared to the value that he puts in it. It is not just about having the gift in the first place.  It is more about sharing it as a lagniappe to the people in your immediate surrounding.

Everyone has a unique little gift.  That thing about you that doesn't require much effort to display and yet it makes your corner a more delightful place.  Identify that gift in your own life.  Cultivate it.  Use it improve the world around you.  Next time you remember, give an extra measure of that treasure you have - as a free gift!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

An overflow is always outward

The question of the day was: "How do you want to spend your next wedding anniversary?".  

Tim asked the question first. Naturally I have to respond to the question first.  What a burden!  When you are about to celebrate your 25th anniversary, like us, and you have gone to most of the places you've been wanting to go, eaten at numerous restaurants, visited gardens, seen so many Broadway and not-so Broadway shows and concerts, bought all the rings you wanted and all already stolen by burglars, spent so many times in cottages near ocean and beaches and did most of the pleasurable things you thought were great - you begin to think other ways to celebrate the next one.  So I pondered as we walked the mulberry tree-lined road.  There was nothing that I was really dreaming of doing with my husband. This is not because I am not interested but this is attributed to the fact that we have exhausted almost every possibility within our standards.  It does not help that Tim's favorite occupation is planning trips for the family.

So I shifted to a different level of standard - outward.  How would I spend my anniversary when God has blessed me so much already? In the past, He allowed us to do so many fun things and at present He put us in a good position to do more. How would we mark this milestone in our our marriage differently?   Let the blessing overflow! Do something to make someone's circumstances a better one. Tim asked me to come down to earth.  So I mentioned two specific examples that we could do. And Tim, being Tim, does not think twice once he knows what I want.  As if I am the one that sends the hints of pressure to be generous and he is the sensor that automatically opens the valve. Yes, this is how giving always worked between the two of us.  I propose with selfless intentions and he implements without reservations.

People can splurge on status symbol and experiences, but helping others experience life a little better creates a deeper sense of significance.  All glory to God!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

First Trip of 2016 - Portland

January 4, 2016  Miriam and I traveled with Tim to Portland.  One of those trips when he is doing business while kid/s and I are on pleasure trip.  It was convenient because Miriam was still on her long winter break.  We were pleasantly surprised to see snow. It was different visiting Powell's Bookstore when everything around is slushy snow.  We also got to visit Multnohah Falls right before we headed to to airport.

During this trip we also swung by Salem to visit Daniel and Becky Gossard.  Becky was expecting their third child who, at that tie time was overdue.  They were gracious, they served us dinner.  The girls, Eden and Alex are very cute girls.  Interacting with them for a couple of hours brought memories of the time when Shannon and Brahms were that age.  Eden seems quiet and mellow while Alex is more sociable and adventurous.  It will be interesting to see if they maintain their personalities as they mature.

It was also good to see Paul and Pam who were in Salem when we visited there. We were not surprised because Becky was supposed to be giving birth  around that time.  Overall, it was a very nice time to catch up with the family.

And yes, Tim was able to accomplish what he planned to do in relation to his work - the very reason why we traveled to Portland in the first place.  :)

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year 2016 - Four Goblets

We did the same things:  Cooked the traditional food we always prepare on the eve of the new year;  Watched the same version of Pride and Prejudice; listened to War of the Worlds album;  paid all bills; prepared next year's filing binders; cleaned house; washed bed sheets; etc... But this time there were only four of us.  Shannon was not home.  For the first time in the history of our family, we were not all together on New Year's Eve.  This is a reminder to me that this house is slowly changing. 

We welcome 2016 as another chance to improve on  moving towards our goal - live a life that brings glory to our Maker.  So help us, God!