Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Challenge to Love

November breezed through. We are in the Christmas season. "Time flies" is  cliche but there is no better way to describe what it does than exactly that - it flies!

I just finished reading a blog post by Dr. Everett Piper, President of the Oklahoma Wesleyan University. He wrote about how we have taught this generation to be self-centered and narcissistic. It was brought about by an incident where a student went to him and complained after a chapel service that he felt 'victimized' by the sermon on 1 Corinthians 13 by making him feel guilty that he does not love enough according to the terms in the Bible. Piper went on to say that this :

If you’re more interested in playing the “hater” card than you are in confessing your own hate; if you want to arrogantly lecture, rather than humbly learn; if you don’t want to feel guilt in your soul when you are guilty of sin; if you want to be enabled rather than confronted, there are many universities across the land (in Missouri and elsewhere) that will give you exactly what you want, but Oklahoma Wesleyan isn’t one of them.
He then concluded with the statement : This is not a Day Care, this is a University!

(You can read the whole article here:OKWU)

I share his sentiments because I am working in a Bible College. We train young people who answered the call of God for full-time ministry service. It seems like a noble place to work in. A cause that is a  major player in the Kingdom Agenda. But 4 years into the job, I am slowly coming to terms with what Jesus really meant when he said "take up your cross and follow me".

We try to help the students maximize the learning experience by enclosing them within a set of rules.In my opinion, boundaries help us discipline ourselves. And so, these boundaries were set so they can stick to their goal and grow while keeping at it. But this is where the struggle comes. Obedience is not man's impulse, sin is.

When some students are reprimanded for their obvious violation  of rules, there's usually a retaliation. Because for them, their judgement was right. And no matter how logically you present things, they will always see you as the adversary and will feed on self-pity and anger against the implementors of the rules. And this is the hard part - no amount of reason can win them. Only genuine love.

Man's impulse is not love, sin is. And puttting love to work the way Jesus did, is difficult. It is during these times that I tell myself "when Jesus said, 'take up your cross and follow me' he wasn't exaggerating!!!" This, here, most times feels like a trip to Calvary.

Giving up is the easiest option. Or apathy. But both will not let me taste the sweet fruits of victory when these young people are transformed into what God has called them to be. I, too, will  be transformed.

Everyday, I wish I could say what Dr. Piper has said. But following Christ has a taller demand.

And so I wait, and I work, and in the meantime, put Love into action until love becomes my compulsion.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Grace-fully Yours

My High School best friend was married last Monday to his girlfriend of many years. It was something he had long planned for. It went beautifully, I gathered. Yes, I did not make it to the wedding. Long story.
There are things in our lives that pushes us to get out of our own puddles and walk on dry ground. "Get up and Grow up", I once wrote. Growing older must mean growing wiser. Imperative. It is an odd sight to see people who are well in years whine about irrational things like a two-year-old boy who was not allowed to fly a kite in the rain.

I do not say that I have never ever acted irrationally. I have. Many times, I have allowed feelings to make decisions for me. I ended up either apoligizing to the person I have hurt or lose them completely. It is terrible.

But what is worse is my tendency to be apathetic about a situation or toward a person for fear of making emotionally-driven decisions. I mistake apathy for rationality. And the results are equally terrible. I still lose people.

Adult life is tricky. You stature demands an equal level of maturity of which we lack most times. It is frustrating to deal with immature people. More frustrating when it is your own immaturity you are dealing with.

Lately, I watched a movie with my friend that we found unsatisfactory - the plot, the acting - everything! And I endlessly expressed my disgust about this movie to anyone I was in conversation with. A few days after, I prayed and asked God for one thing: that He would help me manage the intensity of my expressions of disgust about things and people. Mature people dont spill their comments anywhere where it is not needed.

So what is the middle ground for irrationality and apathy? Grace. Grace. Grace.

The other person's incompetence may irritate you, but you don't count it against him. He does not deserve another mile of your patience (because, hello! You have repeated the instruction a thousand times!) but you stretch it anyway. Grace.

You're at a restaurant and ordered the  food they can serve the fastest (15 mins) because you are famished. 20 mins goes by. You call for the waiter. He comes back and asks apologetically if you could wait for another 10 mins as your order was not forwarded to the kitchen.  You are now unbelievable HANGRY (hungry +angry). You position yourself to deliver your Customer Rights monologue but you stop you take out your phone instead and type out a status message on facebook that will obviously bash this establishment. But you delete it. You ask for another glass of water and just make a mental note to not go there again when you are hungry. Grace.

You're waiting for a phone call. He said he would call after this 2-hour meeting. By the time you turn-on your night light, your phone rings. And you pull out that mental drawer  where you kept the essay you composed in your mind as to how abandoned he makes you feel. Maybe this is not working for you. Maybe you are not meant to be together. But you quietly listen to how his day went and you lovingly tell him how frustrated you felt without putting the blame on his one-track male mind. You forget about your fiery essay. Grace.

Or he calls and you are determined to not talk to him again. Maybe ending it this way is better. No exchange of words. But you pick up the phone anyway and say hi. Grace.

It is not losing your cool over something nor it is losing interest over it.

Many times I find myself being completely out of reason. I do things I shouldn't. I hurt people I thought I couldn't. And oh, the scandals I make in the face of God! But, God has never lost  His composure in my presence. He has never banged the door on me. He has never let out an essay of how wicked, wretched, and beyond repair I am. Instead, he delivers sunshine at the doorstep everyday, inviting me to breakfast. Grace.

Truth is, God did lose his cool - in that workshop by the hill when he nailed his anger on the One who did not deserve it. Grace for me. Grace for you and me!

Grace is indicative of Maturity. There is a deeper truth to the term "Growing Old Gracefully". It is more than just embracing adulthood with a positive attitude. It is maximizing the moments of your life by not being weighed-down by the people who wear you out.

That's the kind of life you want right? Grace ushers you to live it. It is up to you to give it.


I don't want to miss anymore weddings of the people I treasure most. I decide to let people enjoy the Grace I enjoy.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

I am single. I choose Joy.

Last Saturday, my friend Emmy of A Beautiful Life invited me to be the guest in the first episode of her podcast series. We talked about the struggles and delights of being over thirty and still single. Aptly, it was titled that - "Over Thirty and Still Single". I have not talked about that topic in this blog although in my Poetry blog, A November Miracle, most poems are drawn out from my experiences as a single adult. Mostly, my romantic experiences..or the lack thereof.

A few years back, I ranted often about my single status. I usually talked about it in a comedic way. The only people who did not find it funny were my relatives, my mother most especially. Looking back, I had the constant urge to tell the world I am single. For advertisement maybe(Hahaha!), or plainly, I just wanted people to have something to laugh about. Thanks to Timehop, I am reminded everyday of the things I said and am embarrassed about them.

For a while, I tried to evade the issue of singleness. When people ask why I am single, I usually tell them "Nobody wants to marry me!" And then laugh. It was funny. Until, it became my default answer...and it wasn't funny anymore.

When your timeline is filled with babies and your calendar with weddings, being single is no longer funny. It takes the fun out of funny. When you are asked a million times why you aren't married, coached hundred times how to get a guy, and subjected countless times to matchmaking (which by the way you try very much to politely decline), being single is no longer fun.

Jealousy. Envy. Pride. Self-absorption. Arrogance. Bitterness. They all start to form a bedrock for you to fall on. It was very tempting and easy to pick a person, or a circumstance to take the blame for my single sorry state. But, it was not the route I was willing to take. And so, I sought the Lord how to graciously navigate through this life of singleness without draining the life out of me.

The solution? Joy. Not happiness. Not positivity. Not a ton of activities to take up my time. Not the constant urge to look like a head-turner.

Joy. That peace that tells you you don't have to run after your biological clock. That peace that tells you "this, right here is your best spot". That peace that tells you married life is something to look forward to but singleness is, as of the moment something for you to enjoy. That peace that tells you not everyone's love story is the same. That peace that tells you you are at the center of God's will. That for me is joy.

It is a daily battle to fight for joy. Tucked beside my door is a note that says "Choose Joy" so I can read it to myself before I leave the room. There are many things I struggle with everyday and being single is the least of them. In fact, being single, in many ways have become an advantage in the light of the other things I struggle with.

Joy is a personal matter. It is not tied to anyone. It is not tied to any circumstance. It is the evidence of God in you, a fruit of the Spirit.

Lately, singleness is not longer an 'issue' I need to evade. It is where I am. And I am joyful about it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Back to Baking

No, I have not been on hiatus. I have been inconsistent in updating this blog.

I still desire to finish that #35weekslist blog. I will continue next week. Meanwhile, let me share my recent ‘pick-me-upper’: Baking!

Yes! Believe it or not, I know how to bake. Haha! I learned baking in High school. It was part of our Home Economics class and one could never graduate without learning how to bake a cake and decorate it. I still  have the index card recipes that our teacher told us to copy and keep.

Last summer, my cousin gave me her unused electric oven. Just in time, the mango season came and the overflow of mangoes perked up my creativity. So I made mango jams to preserve them and baked mango muffins and pie tarts just so we wont have to throw out overriped mangoes. That rekindled my love affair with baking. I discovered, it relaxes me and gives me a sense of satisfaction when I hit the bed at night feeling very tired from it. It is also a joy watching people eat the sweets.

Homemade Mango Jams

Mango and Chocolate Chip muffins

Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Cookies

Carrot Cake. I am glad I tried baking it.
Carrot cake is my favorite cake :D

One of my favorite bible stories is that of the widow of Zarephath who fed Elijah during the time of famine.When Elijah came and asked if she could bake him some bread,  this is what she said:

“As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.” 1 kings 17:12

But she did anyway. And we know what happened next. The flour never ran out and the oil kept on pouring.
I love this story not only because the story book showed a picture of a woman kneading flour to make bread, but also because it tells us of the joy and blessing of obedience. 

I count it a privilege to meet the need of a man of God. The rewards are endless.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Love is...( A DIY Country-Themed Wedding)

On Easter Sunday, while the sun was slowly retiring, my friends Peter and Kay were married in a small chapel in Cadiz City. It was a beautiful afternoon. Friends and family gathered to celebrate their union, one that was written by God, as evidenced by their lovestory.

Kay and Peter grew up in the same small city, went to the same church, made many common friends but fell in love only later in life. Born a few years apart from each other, Peter being the senior, they developed different interests that amazingly makes them perfect for each other. Like how Kay had always wanted a ranch-like wedding - laid back, raw and cozy, and Peter, long before falling in love with Kay, has planted so many trees, a necessity in this country-themed wedding. Those trees are what they cut off to enclose a clearing that made the venue look like a barn. Perfect! That, and many more, they just go well together, bringing out the best in each other.

So, here are a few pictures from that wedding. Pinterest-worthy, I must say!

The very beautiful bride, Kristine Anne Yee

The Wedding Ceremony at the Chapel
The equally beautiful Maid of Honor, Kathrine Rose Yee
This amazing lady conceptualized the Dessert Table and made all the desserts. 

Cocktails ala Country

The Bride's Maids and Matron

Oh, the unmatched Dessert Buffet!

The tiered cake was made by the bride's sister Mae Anne, of Cakes4You

The Bridesmaids.
Photo by the bride's brother in law, Josiah of Team Fotograpia

With my Sisters Jemima and Jezrel

My sister, together with Coleen was the WEdding Singer.

With Pastors who are also my classmates in the Masteral class


What's a country wedding without apple pies? Yum!

The backdrop at night


And here's the Wedding Video snippet

This video was also shot and made by our church friend Rene Kristian. 

A DIY Wedding is really a labor of love. It is tedious, and sometimes frustrating, but it is a testament to how much the couple is loved by people around them. I wrote on my facebook page that when Artistry is fueld by Love, expect a masterpiece. This wedding is a masterpiece. Indeed, True love brings out the beauty in everything. 

Congratulations, Peter and Kay! Keep love alive!

1 Corinthians 13: 4-13
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails."

Note: Photos were grabbed with permission from Aisa Alladin, Ian Karos, Jezrel Oberes and Josiah Caare

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Week 4: What is in my Bag?

Photo not mine

Week 4 of #35WeeksOfLists is "What is in your Bag?" I used to carry 2 bags on a normal day. And it had all that I "thought" I would need for the day. I was scared that if I needed something, I would not have it in my bag. However, as I grew older, I realized, I don't need much to get through the day, and that most of the weight I carry with me are unnecesary.

I live in the campus I work in, so even if I just carry a toothbrush to work, that would do. Well, I don't even have to bring my toothbrush. I can literally run to the bathroom anytime. So, here's what's in my bag.

1. Food Supplement
2. Make-up bag
3. Charger
4. Dexa lotion for my allergy scars
5. Gray nail polish
6. Lip balm
7. CoffeeMate
8. Earrings
9. Body spray
10. Mentos gum
11. Planner (yellow)
12. Bead necklace
13. Keys
14. Phone
15. Markers
16. Coin purse
17. Wallet

What? Seventeen items for someone who can 'literally run to the bathroom anytime'? Oh well, I don't really like running. Hahahaha! Some of the items here are there because I forgot to unload them from my bag. Also, I have not included the trash that is in my bag (papers, leaflets, candy wrappers, etc.) If anyone does not have trash in their bags, they're littering them anywhere. I am pro-environment. Haaaaa!

Matthew 6:34
"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Friday, March 27, 2015

A grocery list, a tough week and a sweet God

Its time to update the #35WeeksofLists again. This week is "Grocery List". 

This week was really tough. As a college registrar with no staff under me, this is one of my busiest weeks of the year. I was always asking for joy to never leave my side. The Lord has graciously provided what I needed. 

We graduated 20 students who are ready to serve as full-time pastors and church workers. While it is a joy to see them graduate, a certain pang of sadness fills my heart. I lived with these young people day in and out and one cannot evade the unhappy feeling of separation. And i have to deal with this scenario every year. 

I am looking forward to many good things in April - the celebration of the Holy week, my closest friends' wedding, and the family reunion in Manila. More than that, I am excited to turn 34! Some don't like the idea of getting old. I say there is so mcuh to look forward to when you have a God who grows sweeter everyday. 

"Oh taste and see that the Lord is good. How blessed is the person who trusts in Him." Psalm 34:8

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

#35WeeksofLists: Week 2 - Speeches

I dont know the category but the prompt from A Beautiful Life  told me that the list for this week 2 is Speeches.( I am a week behind, by the way.) So, I wrote down my list of the speeches that are significant for me.

1. Efren PeƱaflorida's acceptance speech when he was awarded as CNN Hero of the year in 2009. I like his speech because it has all the elements of a good speech (Opening, Body, Conclusion) despite it being a very short one. I use it in most of my lectures on Public Speaking.

2. President Aquino's speech during the Global Discipleship Congress in 2013 at CCF Manila. It was a very humble speech. He talked about why there is a need to constantly pray for him. Now, I am not a fan of politics and seldom do I give comments about it, but after that speech, I grew a deeper commitment to support our leaders in the community.

3. "Single, Satisfied and Sexy". This is the speech I delivered in Davao  in 2009 during the national Humorous Speech Contest of the Toastmasters International. I won the championship trophy and my life was changed since.
Delivering the "Single, Satisfied and Sexy" Humorous Speech
at Marco Polo, Davao City in 2009.
Writing and delivering speeches are very much a part of me. I am committed to training others to be effective public speakers. Many leaders with a a good cause are misunderstood because they can not convey their messages in a way that is convincing and memorable. Words are powerful. And when you employ it to your advantage, it can usher you into so many posibilities.

Ravi Zacharias, one of my favorite authors and speaker once said, "There is a massive difference between the use of fine words and the fine use of words." 

"A word fitly spoken  is like apples of gold in a setting of silver." 
Proverbs 25:11

Monday, March 9, 2015

I am doing the #35WeeksofList

I am resurrecting this blog by doing the #35WeeksofList that my friend Emmy is also doing on her site A Beautiful Life. My hands have been full lately (excuses, excuses!) but I thought this one should at least spark my writing energy.

So, here goes WEEK 1: Books Read the Past 2 Months

These books are not newly acquired except for the last one. 

1. David and Goliath, by Malcolm Gladwell. Status: Unfinished. 
This is a book I gave my father last year. The joy about giving books as gifts is, it benefits the recipient and the giver. hahaha!

2. The Practice of Godliness, by Jerry Bridges. Status: Unfinished. 
I started reading this book in January, about five years after it was given to me as a birthday gift by my friend Jaja. 

3. The Jesus I Never Knew, by Philip Yancey. Status: Second Reading.
 I finished this years ago and I started rereading it last Christmas. This has to be one of my favorite books. 

4. Brothers, We are still Not Professionals, A compilation from Desiring God.org. Status: Unfinished. 
I downloaded this free e-book from Desiring God last month. I am halfway into the book and I find it a good read for ministers. There is one article though that I don't completely agree about - one which talks about why women should not be allowed in the pulpit. My disagreement does not stem on the fact that I am a woman. I just think that the Biblical basis the writer mentioned was taken out of context. That, or it was not extensively explained. 

Having written that, I am thankful for the ability to read, the eyes that has not failed me yet, and the love for reading that has grown in me since childhood. 

I am hoping this #35WeeksofList will not only compel me to write but will develop in me a habit of remembering God's faithfulness in my life. 

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Proverbs 7:3