Saturday, December 29, 2012

12 DAYS in 2012


Meaningful days make a year special! Here are my 2012’s Top 12 Days and the priceless lessons I got:

January 16
God’s gift has His goodness stamped all over it!
(Started in the job I’ve long been waiting and praying for.)

February 1
Speak the truth and forgive…in love.
(Had a conversation that taught me a lot about myself, what love means, and how truth sets people free.)

March 3
When it is God’s will, even the impossible things just happen.
(Went on a work-related trip with a miraculously-healed eardrum!)

April 20
Provider, Healer, Comforter – God is all these and more!
(My brother was out of the hospital – healed from an almost fatal stab wound near his lungs.)

May 28
Trust the One who loves us the most and knows us the best.
(I had some questions answered that eventually gave me peace of mind and heart.)

June 13
God meets people where they are at.
(Heard touching stories of how Jesus revealed Himself to people who used to be clueless about who He is.)

July 13
Love is always stronger than fear.
(The sight of a beautiful rainbow made me endure a scarily turbulent flight from Hongkong to Manila)

August 6
A seemingly bad experience can actually be the start of something awesome.
(The monsoon rains got me stranded at my friends’ house. I went home with a new “sister and brother” I intend to keep for life.)

September 2
Find a job you love and your years will be fruitful and happy.
(Celebrated my 10th year with World Vision)

October 11
It’s never too late to make a dream come true!
(Had my 31st birthday at Jollibee!)

November 9
God has awesome ways of giving back to us what we learn to completely let go.
(Witnessed the most beautiful sunset amidst the rain after sadly thinking the sun has already set.)

December 25
A gift isn’t a gift when it costs us nothing.
(Gave the celebrant a costly gift that’s actually the best gift for myself, too.)

And I am so grateful to the people God has used to either teach me or learn these lessons with me. I may not be able to mention you here one by one, but as you read, you will surely know where you played an important part. THANK YOU SO MUCH  Praying for a more fruitful, grander, totally amazing 2013 for you  happy new season!!



Sunday, September 16, 2012

YOU, not me. YOURS, not mine.


I have always wanted to write about “worship”. But each time I would try to start, I find it too-complicatedly-wonderful-a-topic that I would end up just writing about something else. I think it’s because I see myself as a lifelong student in this area and I still have so much to learn. So everything in here will just be a glimpse of what “worship” is.

WORSHIP.

It’s definitely more than singing songs beautifully. If it is, then my worship would frequently be out of tune. I love to sing but I don’t have a great singing voice (it will get better in time, I know, hehehe!).

It’s far beyond just uttering (or writing) dramatic words of adoration, honor and love for God. Anyone can say or craft heart-piercing statements or songs, but still be far from God.

In worship services, we raise our hands, bow our heads, cry our hearts out, or even kneel down at times. These feel great! But there’s certainly more to worship than those.

The melody, the words, the tears and the worshipful gestures can be great expressions of worship but they’re just like the tip of the iceberg. The unseen, a lot more difficult part is what it really is: self-denial, obedience, and the resolve to yield to God’s will and ways no matter the cost.

Worship says,
“YOU, not me.”
“YOURS, not mine.”
“YOU lead, I’ll follow.”
 “Do YOUR will, have YOUR way – wherever it brings me, whatever it takes, right now!”

We worship when our actions say, “It’s all about You, God, never about me. So even it will make me unpopular or will go contrary to what people expect of me, as long as it will please and honor You, I will do it.”

We worship when we choose His will over our own – even at the expense of our own desires, convenience, questions and conditions. That could mean giving up something (or someone) you hold so dear, being in a place you’re afraid to go to, humbly initiating the talk with a person you’ve been avoiding for so long, doing that thing that doesn’t just make sense, forgiving even if it feels more right to do otherwise, and the list goes on.

We worship when our lives showcase the astounding beauty and love of God – in the words we say, in the things we do, in the decisions we make, in the work of our hands, in the way we treat others.

True worship is difficult. And here’s my main point: We can only worship by the grace of God! We are only able to do it as God reveals who He is to us. It is God-initiated, God-sustained, and God-directed.

Worship is both a motivation and an expression (to obey, yield, step out, and trust). But for always, it’s all about Jesus – His beauty, His unfathomable goodness, His awesome power, His unfailing love, His unending kindness, His sovereign grace, all that He is and He will be to us. It is never about us and what we can do for God. We are able to worship because of who Jesus is. We are therefore given the grace, wisdom, courage, faith, hope and love to do everything that pleases God the most.

Even the melody, the words and the gestures are from and because of Him.

Worship. Only Jesus. Always Jesus.

Because of Your unfailing love, I can enter your house; I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe.” Psalm 5:7

Saturday, September 15, 2012

That Still Small Voice


What my ears hear,  
My heart knows well;
In silence, in calmness,
My soul can tell.

When worries try to steal,
The quiet confidence I feel--
I hear You, gentle yet so real,
In no time, all I am is still.

Darkness may seem to linger,
The path can be scarily bleak;
That voice will show the way,
Serene --never empty, never weak.

Battles tempt me, “Shrink back!”
Tears – yes they’re bound to fall;
I hear You, “The fight is mine--
Fear not, I already won it all!”

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Higit pa sa Ulan


Bawat patak, tila nga mga nota,
Unti-unti, bumubuo ng musika;
Gaya ng mga pangarap sa umaga
Hatid nila’y maningning na pag-asa.

Lumalakas, humihina ang hangin,
Takot na dala’y sumisilip, nagpapapansin
Puso’y nagtatanong, may nais alamin
Iyon ba’y ‘di na dapat pang isipin?

Ulan ay tumila, katahimikan ang narinig,
Di maikakailang nagungusap Iyong tinig;
Pinapaalala nito, Ika’y nasa aking panig,
Higit na malakas sa ulan ang Iyong pag-ibig.

Friday, July 20, 2012

When I Grow Up, I Wanna Be Like a Grown-Up :)

Recently, we had a blast celebrating my nephew's first birthday at Jollibee! I enjoyed it a lot (maybe too much!) that I told my family that I would want a Jollibee birthday party for myself this year. I started calculating the cost and working on my guest list (I tell you, it was oh-so-difficult to keep it at 50 - made me feel grateful for my many friends, relatives and loved ones!).

I want a Jollibee birthday party this year to remind me that I am no longer a child but I can always be child-like and young at heart. Age tells me I'm growing old (ouch!) and I hope the experiences that come with the numbers have helped me grow up, too.

These are just some of the things I've learned a grown-up should be like (and sometimes I still see myself reverting back to childhood or my growing up years when I reflect on them):

  1. You think less of yourself and what other people say about you. It's what you can still become, the grace to be grateful for who you are, and how you can enrich the lives of those around you that matter more.
  2. You learn that love is not a feeling but a decision - a conscious will to be patient, kind, not envious, not proud, not self-seeking, not easily angered, and to forgive when wronged...that as long as you are loving, you will always have hope, you will keep trusting, and you will persevere. That's why, saying "I love You" comes with a great responsibility.
  3. You realize what you truly value and align your every move accordingly: the person you'll marry, the friends you'll keep, the direction your career will have, and the way you spend your time. 
  4. You gain more courage - not to do all things, but to do the things that are right - with love as the motivation (read number 2 again)
  5. You enjoy the present but you live it with the future in mind because every decision and action you make at present contributes to shaping your future. You even go beyond the future for you know in your heart, you're meant to live forever. So you focus more on things that will matter in eternity.
  6. You can let go of the past because you believe in the beauty of the future! You develop the ability to accept things even when they don't match your expectations because time and time again, life teaches you that not everything will go your way as you imagine it. But our confident assurance is that, God's will is good, pleasing and perfect! We can always be excited about tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow and all the tomorrows after that!
  7. You ask yourself deep questions that enable you to genuinely know what you love doing, what you are designed to pour out your life on...and you feel the desire to pursue it. And pursue it, you will!
  8. You are able to see and feel people's heart better. In your relationships, you want to go beyond the superficial - you want to learn what makes them happy, what makes them sad, what cheers them up, what excites them, what keeps them going, who they love and why, and many more about who they genuinely are!
  9. You treasure the real riches - time, words, relationships, lessons learned, maturity, and above all, GOD. You know and experience that HE makes life truly life! And when the rubber hits the road, HE shows Himself more than enough! What a sweet way to be swept away! 
My list isn't very exhaustive..I'm still a student in the school of maturity. And most of the time, to grow up entails going through tough experiences. It is when you've been through something that hit you strongly (both happily or painfully) that you grow - maybe a bit..then a little bit more..then a little bit more..till you wake up one morning and you can tell yourself, you've somehow grown up.

Don't just grow old, grow up! 

When I grow up, I wanna be like a grown-up, but definitely someone who still finds partying with Jollibee soooo awesome :)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

SELAH (Pause and Calmly Think)


I love Saturdays!

It’s usually one of the highlights of my week. It gives me more time to sleep in, rest, read, reflect, pray, write, or just hang around and wait for what the no-agenda day has in store for me: could be an unplanned date with friends, time to curl up with a book, a lazy day with my computer (facebooking, chatting, blogging), opportunity for baking and cooking experiments and for a bit of cleaning up, or could be a space to just enjoy the warmth and silence of home.

Saturdays mean rest for me.

But this week (while away from home on a work-related travel), I’ve been learning about a different kind of rest. One that does not just happen on a Saturday, but the kind that truly gives you a break any time of day and week!

Have you encountered the word, “selah”?  It’s actually a musical term that signifies a pause or an interlude. I have come across this word several times while reading the book of Psalms. I consulted Google and discovered more about it - Selah is to:
  • stop and listen
  • weigh and value
  • hang
  • worship (in Aramaic)
  • break
  • reflect and understand
  • pause and calmly think of that! (as written in the Amplified Bible)
I have a very active mind. My imagination can go really out of control – to my disadvantage sometimes. I worry a lot – most often about things that are not true or never will be true. In a sense, my mind is noisy, thus making my heart restless. But this week, I’ve seen how my heart longs to have the Selah it needs:

To stop and listen. I’m here in busy and noisy Bangkok. But it’s such a sweet surprise to be having a meeting in a guest home that offers quiet rest amidst chirping birds and trees that make a rain-like sound. It’s so easy to ignore this nature-produced music, in the same way that we could miss God’s still small voice if we are not attentive. To hear Him, we need to quiet our minds and hearts and kill the nagging sound of worries, paranoia, fears, disappointments, and sadness. Then, really listen…and hear. He has so much to say.

To weigh and value. We make plans and life sometimes happens totally different from our hopes and expectations. How do we respond? To rest is to let every circumstance fade in the glowing light of God’s will. We measure our experiences against the weight of the wonderful plans that God has for us. Then, we realize that our momentary troubles mean nothing compared to the surpassing value of having God in our lives. His presence and promises far outweigh anything that this life could throw at us. We fix our eyes on Him. We rest our hearts in His and trust His good, pleasing and perfect will.

To hang and just worship. Have you been in situations that felt like you’re against the wall? You don’t know what to do. No more space for another step – it’s dead end! You’re left hanging. That’s a “selah moment”. While you’re there hanging and helpless, just worship. Think about who God has been, is and will be to you. Let go of the need to move and let God move mightily on your behalf. You’ll realize that being left hanging can be turned into restful waiting for God to intervene and remove you from where you are.

It’s Saturday today. I slept in, read a bit, reflected on my week, prayed, went online, and wrote this. This afternoon, I plan to go out, eat and shop. It will be noisy and crowded outside but I’ll keep my mind and my heart on Selah mode.

Rest happens in the heart in full trust, complete reliance and confident leaning upon the Lord. In our hearts, God is there. Wherever God is, we can find rest.

Selah: pause and calmly think of that!

The LORD replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." – Exodus 33:14

Saturday, June 09, 2012

OUCH! (Pruned to Blossom)


Pruning (transitive verb)
  • To cut off or remove dead or living parts or branches of a plant, for example, to improve shape or growth.
  • To rid, clear of, or remove anything superfluous or undesirable.

Pruning is a gardening process needed for a tree or a plant to grow in health and shape. This is a truth that is at times associated when a person growing in God experiences tests and difficulties.

Of course, plants don’t get hurt (do they?!). But in “real life”, when something is cut off or removed, there is always pain involved. The degree of pain can be proportionate to the extent by which the thing that is being removed has grown on a person.

But why do some things (which, more often, we find desirable, comforting or giving us happiness) need to be taken away from us? Similar to what happens when pruning is done, this process – no matter how painful it seems – causes GROWTH, BEAUTY, and FRUITFULNESS.

Growth. Every gardener knows that for a tree to grow, it will need some (sometimes serious) cutting of branches that are already dead. For our own good, God cuts away parts of our lives that drain us of energy we need to focus on Him and what He wants us to do. Are there things that take most of our time, resources and attention to the point that we already compromise what should belong to God? Surely, these things will soon go through some pruning. But God’s intention is not to hurt us or deprive us in any way. He wants us to grow…and grow we will!

Beauty. For a plant to remain in good shape, pruning is also done. This takes the form of trimming unnecessary leaves that make a tree look dull and lifeless. Are there aspects of our character that do not reflect God’s breath-taking beauty? It can be the way we manage our emotions, how we demonstrate patience, our attitude when conflict arises, or how we value our relationships. As a woman, one of my favorite encouragements from the Bible is to have that unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. God has been teaching me to be calm, trust and rely on Him completely and sit still as I rest in His unfailing love amidst confusions and difficulties. This takes some painful trimming of things that make me worry, restless and unsettled. And all because God wants me to bloom in beauty!

Fruitfulness. After a pruning process, a tree bears much fruit. According to the Iowa State University Reiman Gardens horticultural brochure, Pruning Grapevines, “The purpose of pruning is to obtain maximum yields of high quality grapes and to allow adequate vegetative growth for the following season.”  A painful experience can actually be the preparation we need for an upcoming season of fruitfulness. It should then make us excited! We are being pruned now so we can be fruitful soon!

Are you going through a tough, painful time right now? Be of good cheer! As you abide in God, the Master Gardener, and trust His process, you are on your way to blossoming growth, beauty and fruitfulness. Listen and obey when He asks you to let go of things that keep you from His purposes and your ultimate good. He knows and does what's best.

As we go through seasons of pruning, I pray for the grace and strength to fully yield to God’s work in us as He steadies our hearts for what He has secured for us - all in His good, pleasing and perfect will. The best is yet to come! :)

"But if you remain in Me and My words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are My true disciples. This brings great glory to My Father." John 15:7-8, NLT

Monday, May 07, 2012

Sakura

We all have those "shallow but heart-deep dreams". They may take the form of simple and childish things we wanna experience in life. Some might even be close to impossible. But they definitely hold a greater and special meaning to us - could be a reminder of God's love, a sign of His promise or a proof that God indeed hears and answers prayers.

I have a number of this kind of dreams. One of them is to walk along a road with cherry blossoms around. I have imagined the scene many times before. I saw myself singing praises to God while smiling my sweetest! I would dream of being swept away by the flowers' lovely scent - the cool breeze touches my face and my eyes reflect the whitish-pinkish color of the flowers as I enjoy the dream-come-true walk!

And this dream recently did come true! But my experience was quite far from how I imagined it would be. It wasn't like the picture-perfect, one-for-the-Hollywood scenes I created in my mind. I couldn't even describe it as beautiful. I walked along a road with cherry blossom TREES around - without the flowers. I had a glimpse of the flowers but only saw them in their most dry state already.

glimpses of cherry blossoms - they waited for me! :)
But still, it was an answered prayer! Oh wait, a MIRACLE even! The season of cherry blossoms lasts for three to seven days. This year in Seoul, the flowers fully blossomed on the third week of April. I came on the first week of May. It was actually already impossible to see even remnants of the flowers. So, the walk was even more meaningful for me. God performed a miracle to make it happen! Awwwww, so sweet! We walk by faith, not by sight :)

Sakura (its popular Japanese name) blooms sooo magnificently - but it is extreme beauty that quickly fades away. The flower is richly symbolic and the very few days that it blossoms is the much awaited highlight of the spring season. It signals a new start, a breathtakingly gorgeous beginning!

Much like the life we have. A song says we're like flowers quickly fading - here today, gone tomorrow. Sakura  reminds us that we're called to bloom with all our strength and beauty - that is to live life to the full, with passion and purpose - with the days God has given us. Do not let God-given moments pass you by:
  • Savor God's love through life's beauty everyday 
  • Be strong in every trial, knowing we have a great God who keeps His promises
  • Don't miss the chance to express love in different ways when God gives the opportunity
  • Be generous with appreciation. You'll never know how life-giving it could be to some people around you
  • Trust without wavering and hope without doubting
  • Some things may be difficult to do but always give and do your best
  • Love with all your heart - completely and passionately - and do not let fear keep you from giving and experiencing love
  • Know and obey God's will in everything - big or small. I couldn't think of a better way to live and enjoy life than that.
Like the cherry blossoms, make your life and presence felt and so evident in this world. When it's your season, bloom, shine, and blossom with all your beauty and might!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Engagement Ring


I have always wondered how an engagement ring would look on my finger. Will I get an expensive one or a “cheap yet priceless” kind? Will it have a diamond or a pink-colored precious stone? Will I ever get to wear one? I sure hope so!

Just like a lot of women, I have dreamed of a perfect wedding, too. But as time passes by and I grow up, I find myself praying more for the marriage and my future husband and kids, rather than the wedding or the engagement ring.

Five nights ago, God showed me, through a dream, how an engagement ring would look on my finger. 

Here’s the scene: My father handed a gorgeous tiny gift box to me. I opened it and was most delighted to have found an ENGAGEMENT RING! I immediately wore it but my ring finger got wounded…it bled – several drops of crimson-red blood! As I was still wearing the ring with my finger bleeding, my eyes turned to see an open big box with so many engagement rings. I frantically searched through it hoping to find another ring. Then, I woke up.

I asked a number of my Godly friends what the dream could possibly mean. They had different interpretations. Somehow, I was still looking for more. I knew God was telling me something and I was so eager to finally unveil the message from that dream.

Earlier, I was having a conversation with Ate Zen-y (wife of our Lead Pastor). I was sharing with her what God has been teaching me in this season of my life. And then we talked about the dream. I was telling her that I have been sensing in my heart that the vivid picture of the blood on my ring finger presents an important message.

Then, came this: the ring on my finger with the blood reminded me of what it took to demonstrate real love – the sacrifice of my Lord and Savior Jesus on the cross. He is a gift – given by the Father…out of His great love for us.

A lot of times, I don’t seem to remember that. When I go through tough times, I want to be assured that I am loved. I frantically look for ways to satisfy that need and rely on people, situations and even things. And most often, these fail me. Then, I get lonely and disappointed. Why search through a box of engagement rings when I’m already wearing one, bought at a price I would never be able to pay – the blood of Jesus shed for the forgiveness of my sins and so that I could live an abundant life.

And when I’m in that deepest valley of sadness, I realize that every low point, every down moment, every gloomy time,each time I just couldn't cheer myself up  – these are invitations to a sweet time with God. They point the way to God’s intimate and warm embrace. And there, you are secured. You know without a doubt, YOU ARE LOVED.

Through seasons that keep changing, God's unfailing, unchanging love remains our hiding place, our home.

 "My child, give ME your heart, and let your eyes observe My ways." Proverbs 23:26

Monday, April 09, 2012

A Boaz-Kind-of-Man (A Ruth-Wannabe's Insights on Biblical Manhood)


This will be my first attempt at writing about men - a topic I'm definitely not an expert at :)

As I was reading one of my favorite books in the Bible (the book of Ruth), I found myself jotting down notes not about Ruth's character and how to be like her, but about Boaz and some glimpses of what a Godly man should be. 

Anyway, I believe that what I've learned is meant to be shared. So, if you are a man reading this. I pray that you are (or are already in the process of becoming) just like Boaz. And if you are a woman reading this, may you see (and perhaps, help pray for and  bring out) the Boaz-kind-of-man in the men God has placed in your life.

A Boaz-Kind-of-Man....

  • Showers a Ruth-kind-of-woman with favors that bless not only her, but the people she loves, as well. (Ruth 2:8-10 and 14)
  • Takes notice of a Godly woman and finds ways to get to know her more, beyond the physical. (Ruth 2:5)
  • Looks at a woman's faithfulness to God and commitment to people God has placed in her life. He speaks words of encouragement and comfort in a way that honors a woman, without the intention to get her affection prematurely. (Ruth 2:11-12)
  • Is not concerned about putting his best foot forward to impress a woman. And, if needed, he even does things in secret for the best interest of and to help others. (Ruth 2:15-16)
  • Knows how to appreciate a woman for all she is and for all she has done and makes an effort to reward that appropriately. (Ruth 3:10-11)
  • Does not sit and just hang around when something important needs to be settled. He gives himself no rest until he does what God is nudging him to do - whatever it takes, no matter the cost. This eases women of so much worries and confusions. In order to protect a woman, he strives to be certain, clear and consistent (Ruth 3:18)
  • Is a man of faith, integrity and God-led actions. He does the right things in a way that restores, enriches, and blesses a woman. (Ruth 4)

Disclaimer: I'm not a theologian nor a Bible-student so this may not  be exhaustive. Please see this more as personal insights on Biblical manhood from a woman who prays that she would be just like Ruth - faithful, committed, and obedient to the Lord.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Gaze Deeper


Gaze [geiz]) - to look steadily, intently, and with fixed attention. (from the freedictionary.com)

Gazing is much more than looking or staring. It’s done with wonder, fascination, awe, and admiration. It cannot just happen – it has to be deliberate. The eyes stare or look. Gaze involves and engages the heart.

This week, as we are taking time to remember (in a special way) what our Savior Jesus Christ has done for us, I send you an invitation: Let’s GAZE DEEPER.

We exercise faith when we trust God to answer our prayers. Going beyond waiting for our hopes to be fulfilled and our dreams to come true, may we enjoy every step and embrace His unchangeable faithfulness, until we realize He is indeed all that we need. Only HIM satisfies.  
Deeper than having sentimental gush over His love for us, I pray that God will enable us to grasp (the best way we can, with our limited minds) the pain and sacrifice it cost Him to demonstrate that love. May we never take lightly what should make us offer all and fall head-over-heels in love with Him each day.  
Stronger than just getting emotional and teary-eyed when we pray or worship, let our unwavering faith and complete obedience prove our love for Him. As we get encouragement from His Word, may it go beyond just a “feel-good-reading time”. I pray that its truth will pierce our hearts and go through every fiber of who we are…change us, mold us, conform us to what is most pleasing to Him.  
Far from being just good people, may God reveal what LOVE really means through our relationships: patience in the most irritating situations; kindness to those who don’t deserve it and don’t care at all; rejoicing when the truth wins out, even if it causes us pain; constantly hoping, keeping the faith and persevering in times that are beyond challenging. And being able to do all these not because we’re good but only because of the GRACE God generously supplies. May His grace never stop amazing us!  
And above all – more than just enjoying life and feeling blessed for what we are receiving from God, I pray that we will ever be grateful for the most precious gift of all time – JESUS. When we have Him, we have more than enough!

As I begin to gaze deeper, I am seeing that I could never go too deep enough to fathom how great God’s love is! Could it be that He really makes the thirst unquenchable and the hunger unsatisfiable so He could have more of us and enjoy a relationship with us all the days of our lives and beyond? He really delights in us that much, huh?

I am in awe! And so, I’ll keep gazing deeper :)


"My child, give Me your heart, and LET YOUR EYES observe My ways." - Proverbs 23:26, NRSV


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Love at Sunrise





You rise the sun in beauty
I feel Your heart for me.
I bow down, Your majesty,
Lord, how You love me completely!

I look at the sun's brightness,
I see hope and Your kindness.
I imagine its warmth on my face,
My soul is uplifted to give You praise!


Photo taken from the plane descending to Manila on March 24, 2012.
Special thanks to Richard Supat for "bringing out the best "in the shot :)



Saturday, March 17, 2012

CHERISH


Cherish (cher-ish) 
to hold dear; to embrace with interest (from thinkexist.com)
- to keep fondly in mind (from the American Heritage Dictionary)

Each day, God gives us moments worth cherishing. 

It can be as simple as seeing the sun shining so brightly on a planned visit to the beach, or can be as grand as seeing the same sun smile at you in its strength on the day of your June garden wedding (June is a rainy season in the Philippines)

It can be as small as enjoying a bar of your favorite chocolate, or as big as finally carrying in your womb the baby you've been longing to have for years!

It can be as little as waking up to the sound of chirping birds amidst a crowded city, or as great as waking up after miraculously surviving a fatal car accident.

It can be as trivial as walking around the mall and enjoying it, or as monumental as being able to walk again after doctors said it would already be impossible for you to even move your legs.

This blogsite is about those kinds of moments - simple or grand, small or big, little or great, trivial or monumental. I pray that my "far-from-enough-words" will be able to somehow capture God's sweet and delightful ways of showing His power and love.

"Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the LORD" Psalm 102:18


My old notes are found in the archive (on the right side). Enjoy reading! For God's glory and pleasure :)

The Longest 2.5hrs of My Life and What It Taught Me

(originally written on July 19, 2010)


The announcement of our plane’s safe landing at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport was like a very sweet song to my ears. That came after we had to endure a two and half hour bumpy, stressful, unusually long, and at many times, scary flight from Davao to Manila - on the day of my father’s birthday (July 18).

It was a story to tell - a story about God’s divine protection and a struggle to overcome fears. It was a love story – a kind that is perfect – able to extend grace beyond measure and drive out all fears.

I was with Doreen, a teammate and friend. When we reached the airport in Davao, we were told that our flight would be two hours delayed due to mechanical problem. The weather was gloomy. It rained heavily the other night. I began to entertain thoughts about experiencing a turbulent flight again after the one we just had the other week. So, I texted some friends and my family to ask for prayers. I was a bit sad, too that I would reach home later than I planned to celebrate with my family my dad’s 54th birthday and to attend an 8pm church service after.

As the airline promised, our plane took off at exactly 2pm. It was a smooth take off. An hour passed and we were still having a smooth flight. Then, the plane began to be unstable. The seat belt sign was turned on. It became like a roller-coaster-kind-of-a-ride. We went up, down, down, down and up again. As we approached Manila, the flight became bumpier and we couldn’t see anything outside the window but dark clouds. 

Then, we saw on the screen that we were going up again, reaching 5,800 feet going to San Fernando. We didn’t hear any advice on what’s going on. We just noticed that the flight attendants kept walking around, checking to see if everyone was okay with seatbelts on. Their restlessness and roaming eyes made me feel nervous. I could feel my hands sweating cold and my knees slightly shaking. People began to ask for cups of water. I drank two cups and went to the toilet four times during the entire flight.

Then we heard an announcement, “We regret to inform you that the runway at the Manila airport currently has a foreign object which may not be safe for landing aircrafts. We will remain in this position for twenty minutes.”

Twenty minutes??!! Twenty minutes of being “up there” while it was so dark outside, we didn’t know what the foreign object was, and with the fear I was having in my heart? You see, I have an irrational fear of heights. The kind that would leave me weak everytime the car or bus I’m riding would go through EDSA’s flyovers and each time I need to take the overpass. I won’t try anything that will test my endurance of heights like Cebu’s Sky Experience or Davao’s Zipline. I cried when I crossed the hanging bridge in Bohol and it was just 20 feet above a river. I wanted to go to the pilot deck and suggest that we make an emergency landing at the Subic Airport instead since we were very near. But I didn’t do that, of course.

The twenty minutes up there seemed so difficult for me. Good thing, they turned the seatbelt sign off which eased my worries a bit. But there were still occasional shakings. Everyone on the plane was quiet. Except for the two toddlers seated in front of us who were shouting and laughing everytime the plane would move. Maybe they thought they were riding a roller coaster. Or it’s child-like faith – plain and simple. No worries, no fears.

Doreen and I prayed while holding hands and encouraging each other. I was reciting Psalm 91 over and over in my mind while having thoughts about dying on the day of my dad’s birthday due to plane crash – not a lovely thought! Suddenly, I felt the urge to open my cellphone and call my family and close friends to tell them I love them. But I knew it was all fear-borne. I immediately asked God for forgiveness.

I asked God to give me peace in my heart. I silently prayed that God would clear the way of air packets and anything that will cause turbulence. I could sense His assuring presence. I looked up and saw one of the flight attendants (the most handsome for me!) going towards our way. He was smiling as if saying, “We’re fine. We’re safe, don’t worry.” I wanted to embrace him! Doreen’s gentle tap and grip of my hands were so reassuring. She kept saying, “Ayan, malapit na tayo!”. Thank God for her. The two of them were heaven-sent. I could feel God’s peace flooding my heart.

After more or less twenty minutes, we started to move again. I could see we’re on our way back to Manila. We closely monitored the screen in front of us, we’re definitely near. I kept looking outside the window to check if we’re already there. We did not experience any bumps anymore – an immediate answered prayer! 

And then we landed, I was so overwhelmed with joy and gratitude! 

People in the plane had different reactions. A lot were grateful for God’s protection. You could see some people doing the sign of the cross and hear them uttering words of gratitude. Some clapped their hands. There were also some who looked annoyed. One young lady said she was so irritated that we were four hours delayed – what a waste of time!

As for me, it was a battle to overcome my fear of heights and ugly death - an opportunity to trust God. Will my faith prove genuine? The 2.5hr-flight really brought me closer to God and made me more appreciative of His gift of life. And even when it could have been already time to die, to go home to God, I should still be grateful and unafraid. I was reminded of His promise in Psalm 23 – though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we fear no evil for He is with us.

And because God willed it for us to land safely and still live, I can be certain that He still has plans for me. He wants me to know Him more and love Him deeper. He’s teaching and helping me overcome my fears and struggles. 

Maybe, I’ll get married sometime soon. Maybe I’ll serve Him in more different ways in this generation. Maybe, He will give me more assignments to be His channel of love, blessings and joy to my family and loved ones. Maybe, I’ll go on a cross-cultural mission. These are all very possible. All I know is that in this life, I can always trust God’s heart for me. He always has my best interest in mind. I am very excited and expectant!

I’ll have my next flight nine days from now. Will I be afraid? With my human frailty, I might be afraid. But God’s promise stands. He will be with me in that flight and in all my next flights. I’ll fly again and will not be afraid because I trust God. His perfect love drives out all fears. His faithfulness is my shield and rampart.

One more important learning is that I should always make sure to tell or show people dear to me that I love them and that I am grateful for having them in my life. I thank God that I still have the rest of my life to do that. I pray that I’ll be able to show genuine love and make the most of every chance I get.

Praise God for His divine protection and His gift of life! I'll always be grateful! :)

OVERWHELMED

(originally written on December 3, 2010)

“Cherry Marcelo is on her knees while on her toes, needing extra dose of God’s grace and favor for tomorrow.”

That was my wall post at around 7:00 last night. It was a prayer from a heart that journeyed from “anxious” to “trusting” and now “swelling with joy” as God spectacularly answered this prayer in an overwhelming / mind-blowing kind of way.

Let me try to explain this a bit more without becoming too excited (I hope) so I can clearly put my thoughts in writing. I’m sleepy but I couldn’t just let this day pass without recording how God has been so gracious, kind, and good to me! I bet this one’s going to be lengthy!

Last night – “The Insomnia Girl”
I had difficulty putting myself to sleep. I must confess that I was anxious about the paper presentation I had to do (before a large crowd of doctors, social workers, child protection experts, PHDs, professors, NGO workers, etc.) the following day and I didn’t feel prepared nor fully qualified for the task. I kept reminding myself that God would definitely come through for me, as He always did. His grace and love never fail to make me brave. So at 2am, I dozed off.

5:30 AM – “Early Morning Warning”
I woke up having mixed emotions. I was already excited about the conference and what I would share! But before I even started to focus myself on having quality time with God, sudden thoughts about my plan to apply for a graduate program at the UP Psychology Department made me feel anxious. Since I couldn’t brush it aside, I just made a mental note to call UP to inquire about the requirements and deadline for application.

9:00 to 10:00 AM – “Immanuel – God with us!”
We had an insightful and very inspiring team devotion at the office. It was about the birth of Jesus and its personal message to us. My favorite part was when we shared about how Jesus being “Immanuel” is real in our life and work. I was reminded how God has been my Protector, my Rescuer and the sweet ways He communicates with me and makes me feel His presence.

10:10 to 10:30 AM – “Miracle Needed”
I called up UP and found out that the deadline for application would be on December 6 (that’s the coming Monday and it’s Friday already). I was even told that it would already be impossible for me to complete the requirements in time for the deadline (which would also be the day of my travel to Isabela for relief operation). I told the guy on the phone that I would still try.  So I panicked and rushed to UP. I asked for prayers from my teammates. I needed a miracle. I asked God for favor and forgiveness because I kept putting this plan off, thinking the deadline was still far. I just sensed God’s assuring presence telling me that if this is really part of His plan for me, He would still make it happen despite my procrastination.

10:30 to 11:00 AM – “Against All Odds”
I got the application form and paid the corresponding fee. The staff from UP Psychology department asked me if I was really sure I could complete all the requirements by Monday. I said YES and that I would see her at 8AM sharp on Monday with all the requirements (I appeared certain but I was saying a prayer while making a plan on my mind on how to make this happen). I already had my Transcript of Records but I would still need endorsements from two of my former professors and from my employer (which according to the staff usually takes long). Getting one from my employer would not be a problem, I’m sure. My boss has been very supportive of my plan to study.

11:00 to 11:30 AM – “Feels Like Home!”
While walking, an idea came to my mind! I would drop by CSWCD (my college, which is also in UP) hoping I could see two of my former professors there and request for their endorsement even without prior appointment with them. The thought made me feel sick. You see, I haven’t seen nor communicated with most of them since I graduated. Plus, I only had 25 minutes for this because I needed to go back to the office, get my stuff and immediately proceed to SMX for the conference and my presentation slot at 2:45pm. Lord, favor again, please. When I got there, I was warmly welcomed by the staff and my big sisters and big brothers (the librarian, the canteen manager, the janitor, the admin staff). They remembered me – I was sooo touched. And I got to meet two of my former professors who readily gave their recommendations with extra kind words! They were delighted to know I’m finally pursuing further studies. And so I got to complete the requirements in less than an hour! WOW, that was a kiss from heaven!

1:30 to 5:00 PM – “God is Good!”
At SMX. I was number four presenter. A pediatrician, a child protection super-expert, and a child psychologist with PHD did their presentation before me. Of course, to say that I was intimidated would be an understatement. Was that panic attack I was having there? But I heard a sweet voice whisper to my heart, “I’m right here with you, my daughter.” Okay, I’m ready to present! And the presentation went well, praise God! It has generated interest among a number of the participants (doctors, professors, guidance counselors, social workers, psychologists) who want to learn more and are now interested to partner with our organization. That’s extra dose of grace, I must say. Amazing! And my favorite part: the speaker who presented after me was a child psychologist and writer. She writes children’s books that are therapeutic and use these in her actual sessions with children who lost a loved one. And that is EXACTLY what I want to become (perhaps in four years time, aside from having my own established business) and the reason why I was applying for a graduate program in psychology. I want to write therapeutic story books for hurting children. I was teary-eyed listening to her. God was showing me what He could still do with my life!

6:00 to 8:00 PM – “Far More than What I Asked or Imagined”
I joined the fellowship dinner – great food! And then, the beautiful  fireworks display! With every spark of color, I could hear God say He loves me so much. I thanked Him for how this day has been such a wonderful blessing to me and told Him how I am always amazed at His grace, His faithfulness and how He keeps pursuing my heart! I couldn’t thank and praise Him enough! Little did I know, God still had another surprise in store for me. Immediately after the fireworks display, there was a raffle. And yes, you guessed it right, I won!!! My first time to experience winning a major prize in a raffle. I got a new Nokia 2700 but I felt like I received an iPhone 4G! :)

I thought I already had more than enough but God had even more in mind for me! OVERFLOW! I really experienced extra dose of His grace and favor today!

I asked. I received. I am overwhelmed with joy and gratitude!

LORD, there’s none that compares to Your awesomeness! :)

"The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy." - Psalm 126:3