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 (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! :)


(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

More Than Grateful

(originally written on December 18, 2010)

The ugly bruise on my right arm has faded but my recollection of a wonderful miracle it represents still remains so vivid. And I don’t think I will ever forget about it.

I could have died from a “supposedly fatal” vehicular accident on the night of December 7 in Isabela, after we distributed housing assistance to 200 families affected by typhoon Juan. The vehicle we rode in on our way back to our staff house was a total wreck. It hit a concrete barrier really hard before it turned turtle. There were five of us inside including the driver (kuya Tophe, Crislyn, kuya Ruel, kuya Frank and myself -- all the men were fathers to very young kids!). Everyone who witnessed how the accident happened, including a number of our colleagues and volunteers, thought they would see a bloody and scary picture of death when they came to our rescue.

But very shortly after the shocking scene, the greatest display of God’s power I have ever experienced happened. All five of us got out of the vehicle UNHARMED…not a single drop of blood nor a tiny piece of broken glass on our bodies.

Everything happened in less than ten seconds. We were approaching a dangerous curve after a smooth drive along a long bridge. We overtook the van our colleagues were riding. Then the vehicle swerved uncontrollably. I began to close my eyes. I didn’t shout. I just uttered in my heart, “Lord, into Your hands I commit my spirit” and waited to pass out and die.

I remained conscious the whole time but I couldn’t remember feeling any pain nor hearing any frightening sound of our vehicle bumping on the concrete barrier then hitting the pavement hard. My eyes were closed but it felt like we were falling down for five seconds and then we “parked gently” still with our seatbelts fastened (I will always advocate for wearing of seatbelts at all times no matter where you’re seated).

We got out with all our belongings with us. The sight of the vehicle upside down on the edge of the road, almost falling over eight feet deep told me that my life could have ended there. I trembled and was so afraid. I wanted to cry but I didn’t know how to cry. We were immediately brought to the hospital but were released after an hour. The policeman who interviewed us said the area was really accident-prone and our experience was already the 100th time but the only time the passengers and the driver survived. All the other prior incidents took lives.

I wasn’t able to sleep that night as the scene kept flashing on my mind. I was afraid... and grateful at the same time. The messages, prayers, words of comfort and love I was receiving from colleagues and friends were also overwhelming! (My family didn't know yet. I chose to inform them when I reached home. It was the sweetest night in our home - ever!)

The next day, we had several tests to make sure we didn’t have any major injuries. Praise God, the results were all good! Not a single bone got broken. We were really untouched!

The reality of the accident and how God supernaturally protected us sank in me on the second night after it happened. It was mind-blowing! We have really experienced Psalm 91 firsthand – “For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”  (verses 11-12) I can just imagine God’s angels working double time to make sure we’re all protected.

I can’t stop praising God! I realized how gracious, good, and loving the Lord is for letting me live more, see my family and loved ones again, do the things I love to do and experience more of His amazing presence in this world. The experience taught me to appreciate all that I have in my life – people, things, situations, His promises, my desires, hopes, dreams, challenges…everything!! Indeed, all that we are and all that we have are only because of His grace and lovingkindness.

And the God we trust, serve and love is both strong and loving. His hands are mighty to save and His heart is so tender towards us. His presence and protection – oh they’re so real! He’s our Life-Giver and Dream-Maker!

I never imagined I could be swept away by the sweetness of God’s favor from a traumatic experience. I have already received the best gift I could ever have this CHRISTmas – my life and a fresh revelation of the overwhelming love of God for me.

“The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—He will watch over your life;
The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”
Psalm 121:5-8

I am more than grateful! I’ll always be in awe of God’s love for me. May our mighty GOD be praised forever!

Serve in Love

“The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25. NLT 

Week after week, I see committed volunteers prepare for and run our worship services. A number of them are professionals with a lot of work to do on weekdays. Some are students with exams, school projects, and assignments to complete. There are mothers and fathers who go out of their way to contribute. Even kids are eager to help! These volunteers don’t just do tasks assigned to them. They offer nothing less than excellence, springing from a heart to serve.  They volunteer not because they have plenty of spare time. They extend help because they love God and everyone God loves. Elizabeth Andrew is quite right, “Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.”  

God always looks at the heart. It is not about how much we can accomplish for Him, but the size of our hearts as we work for Him. We all have been given gifts or talents – things we do well or excel at. These are meant to be used to benefit others. Without love and the heart to serve, we’re only completing tasks. We’re not serving at all.

I volunteer for KIDS Ministry at least once a month. It’s something I look forward to, a highlight of my month! I terribly miss the kids when I don’t get to teach - their honest and witty comments, their determination to get a prize, their super funny “knock knock” jokes, the sweet smiles, the way they remember my name, their colorful outfits, out-of-this-world ideas, and a lot more! Yes, it can be very physically tiring at times. Children know very well how to be a “cute challenge” to your patience. But it’s amazing how every Sunday I teach, I go home refreshed, inspired, and ready for work as Monday comes. And the KIDS Church lessons always become God's special messages and encouragement to me. My involvement in this ministry keeps bringing me back to the basic and most essential - "Love God. Love Others." - this is what we hope to impart to the children.

The more you give of yourself, the more you get enriched. That's the paradox and beauty of serving.

So, do you want to please God and make a difference in people’s lives while being refreshed and blessed at the same time?

Serve. Serve with all your heart. Serve in love! :)

(originally written February 27, 2011)

Summer Dance in the Rain

(originally written on April 9, 2011)

Every season has its beauty. It’s now summer and i like its irresistible offers - getaway with loved ones, beach, sand, sunglasses (so you can stare at the warm sunshine) and time off from school.

Spring equals colorful and fragrant flowers, blue skies, quiet and cool winds, and just-fine-weather. How I wish spring is just a natural season in my country!

I also want to experience autumn or fall someday. It signals change. It’s a transition from the hot summer sun to the icy winter chills.

But if there’s a season we’re so familiar with, it’s the rainy season. It brings refreshing sprinkles and moods perfect for all-day-sleep treats. It also gives generous cups of drink to our crops and gardens.

Recently I learned about two varieties of rain from a promise given by God. I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil.” – Deuteronomy 11:14. Autumn and spring rains also mean early and late rains or first and last rains. Rain in every season, blessings each at its proper time!

It doesn’t matter if we’re experiencing the dryness of summer, the boredom of autumn or even the coldness of winter. Through the seasons that change, God’s blessings abound and His love remains strong. God gives abundant showers of grace all the time.

Every season presents an invitation to a graceful dance in the rain! :)

Emergency Room Scenes

(originally written on April 16, 2011)

Two nights ago, I asked my mom and my sister to bring me to the hospital. I was having chest pains. It wasn’t the first time I felt that. I was just too stubborn to see a doctor. Wait, “stubborn” might not be the right description. Perhaps “afraid” would be a more appropriate term.

Since it was already past 10 in the evening and the pain was getting worse, I had no other choice but the Emergency Room. You see, I have this strange thing about hospitals and doctors. I automatically panic the moment I enter a hospital door. The sight of doctors and nurses in white makes me nervous. I also keep putting off my plan to go for Annual Check-Up when I can actually have that for free as an employee’s benefit.

“The cowering prisoners will soon be set free; they will not die in their dungeon, nor will they lack bread.” Isaiah 51:14

But the other night was different. I was calmer and braver. Thank God He made me read a note that reminded me of His power and love as well as His promises of healing and protection. God’s Word is living and active! And as God quieted my noisy mind and heart, I became more aware of the situations around me.

I was at the Emergency Room. There were a lot of people. A very old lady was fighting so hard for her life. The family decided to just bring her home, perhaps to die there. The man behind the curtain on my left couldn’t bear his stomach pains anymore, he asked for pain reliever. The doctor said it wouldn’t do him good so he would have to endure the pain. A mother came in carrying a very skinny little girl who looked so frail and weak. I overheard the conversation of interns about an old woman who just died earlier. Anxious loved ones walked to and fro waiting for the results of laboratory tests, xrays, CT scans and ECGs. Doctors and nurses were very attentive - yet confused at times: a nurse instructed me to sit up straight to prepare myself for abdominal x-ray. Only to find out, the instruction wasn’t for me but for the guy on the bed next to mine. I just smiled when the nurse apologized. Maybe he hadn’t had enough sleep for days! My family was there - very worried about me.

Had I been nervous and afraid, I would miss seeing and hearing these scenes. I realized how fear could keep us from being mindful of the sufferings and needs around us. It makes us forget God’s promises and how He has come through for us in many ways. To fear is to doubt God’s power and love. It’s like saying He is not strong enough for us and He doesn’t love us – definitely a big lie! God is all-powerful. To His love and kindness, there is no end! His perfect love erases all our fears. Fear is a prison but the Spirit of the Lord always brings freedom.

The emergency room scenes brought me to my knees – asking God’s forgiveness for being fearful and praying for His mercy and healing for the patients and wisdom and strength for the ER staff.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18

Now back to my heartpains - the reason I was at the ER. I had ECG immediately. Praise God, the doctor said the results were perfectly normal! Further assessments led to the conclusion that the pains were only acid-induced and nothing serious. It could be because of stress and too much acidic food and drinks. I would need to be more disciplined about my tea intake, chocolates and making sure I have breakfast everyday. They also gave me medication. I wish I went to the doctor sooner. I could have been spared from a lot of unnecessary worries and fears of having a heart ailment.

We all have fears but God is bigger than our fearful hearts and He promises to never leave us nor forsake us. He holds our hands and strengthens us to the very end.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 

Why Protect Children

I recently came across this reflection I wrote two years ago for a Child Protection newsletter. I pray that this will encourage us all to continue taking part and doing our share in keeping children around us safe and cared for at all times.

“Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.”
- Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision

Currently, children comprise more than forty percent of the country’s population. In every home, it’s typical to find at least one child – someone below the age of 18. 

Sadly, cases of abuse and violence committed against children continue to rise and one doesn’t need to look farther. The UN Study on Violence Against Children tells us that children can be unsafe in the home, on the street, at school – wherever they go. The study’s central message, “No violence against children is justifiable and all forms of violence is preventable,” calls for more deliberate and proactive efforts to keep children safe.

For Christians, taking part in the work to protect children goes beyond being duty-bearers (these are people who have the responsibility to protect and promote the rights of children). It is one concrete way of giving utmost importance to things that matter to God. 

Our efforts to ensure children’s development should always be coupled with our commitment to protect them. God gave a strong warning against anyone who harms the children: he/she would be better off thrown into the deepest part of the ocean with a heavy stone tied around his/her neck. Intense as this may sound, we believe that children—so precious to God, deserve the best care we can give. We should make every effort to create a safe and enabling environment for children’s total growth.

As we engage in God’s ministry to children, at the heart of our work should be the desire for fullness of life for every child - as God intends. Definitely, a child being abused or violated is not part of God’s intention. 

God believes in children. The Bible tells us of stories about girls and boys called by God to fulfill His purposes—the young king Josiah did what was pleasing in God’s sight; Joseph corrected the sins of his father; David was a young man who mightily fought a giant and a lion—faith being his powerful weapon; Mary, the teenager courageously submitted to the will of God, though not having a complete understanding of what she was up to; and the boy who generously gave his two fishes and five loaves of bread so Jesus could feed more than five thousand people.

These stories and many others speak of God’s belief in children and their essential roles in the fulfillment of God’s plan. In partnership with God, children can effect transformation if they are given the space and the opportunity for meaningful contributions.

God places high value on children. A child is of no less in worth than an adult, having been created in the image and likeness of God. Children are a gift from God and those who have children under their care or influence are called to be good stewards of these gifts.

God has a plan for every child. He invites us to take part in His work of fulfilling those plans. Child protection work springs from a heart that gets broken by the things that break the heart of God.

All I Need to Learn About LOVE, I Learned from My MOM

In honor of my mom and all the moms who inspire me to be a mom, too, when I grow up :)

My mom is the quiet, shy type. She loves staying in the house. And she loves it more when we stay in the house with her. Though she always has something to say, seldom do I remember my mom forcing her piece of mind on things that are happening in our lives or imposing her decisions on us. But still, she is the most influential person in my life. From her, I’ve been learning the most essential things about LOVE:

  • She is happiest when we appreciate the food she prepares for us. When I stay around or come home from long travels, she cooks my favorite food. To love is to make the people you love happy.
  • She gets up very early in the morning to make sure things are in order at home. To love is to serve those you love and to do it with enthusiasm.
  • We (her four children) are sometimes (maybe often?) unreasonable, demanding, disobedient and unkind. She has seen us at our worst but she loves us the best. To love is to overlook offense and still choose to love over and over and over and over. It is unconditional.
  • I saw and felt my mom’s pain during a trying time in my parents’ marriage. I’ve listened to her hurts and wondered if I could ever bear something like that as graciously as she did. But when I see my dad and mom now, it’s as if she has never been hurt. To love is to forgive, forget and be generous with second chances.
  • When I am sick, afraid, sad or at my low point, she is most worried. She sleeps beside me and comforts me. Nothing beats a mom’s tender love and care. To love is to give the gift of your presence and care to those who need it.
  • When we say or do something that touches my mom’s heart, she isn’t afraid to show us her tears of joy and to tell us how much she appreciates us. To love is to be vulnerable and to open your heart to receive love, as well.
  • Each year that she celebrates her birthday, her birthday prayers are always for her children.To love is to think about the welfare of those you love above your own desires for yourself.
  • I haven’t experienced giving birth yet (I hope I’ll also have that blessing when I grow up!) but I heard of countless stories about how painful it is! I’ll forever be grateful for my mom for enduring the difficulties of child-bearing, the pain of child-birth, and the challenges of raising me up so I could see the beauty of the world and experience the love of God. To love is to know it can be painful but taking the risk anyway so you can give life and let others experience God’s love.

I thank God for my mom and for giving her to me as my life-and-love-coach! My mom doesn’t have a Facebook account. She never goes online. I know she would also prefer reading something in Tagalog. So I took the time to read this to her and explain some parts a bit more. First paragraph pa lang, naiyak na kaming dalawa. 

I love her but I know I could not outgive her in love.

To all my mom-friends and the moms of my dear friends, thank you for showing us what unconditional love means. You are wonderful beyond words! 

Happy Mother’s Day! :)

Picture-Perfect Daddy-Daughter Scenes

(written on Father's Day 2011)

To honor my father in celebration of Father’s Day, I thought of writing about my favorite "daddy-daughter scenes". This morning, I shared the idea with my parents and some of the things I was thinking of including in my note. My mom started making suggestions. My dad didn’t comment much but I noticed he became unusually excited, in a delightful kind of way!

So here’s sharing with you my favorite “daddy-daughter scenes”. These are pictures that my heart has perfectly captured – from childhood till now.

Why I Love Chocolates
I grew up in a poor family. My father had no regular source of income but his being street-smart and resourceful saw us through as a family. Financially, there were tough times - lots of them! But one of the sweet things my dad used to do when we were still kids was bring home imported chocolates when he had extra earnings. Most of the time, we (my two other sisters and my mom – my only brother wasn’t born yet) would divide a bar of Hershey’s milk chocolate or Alpine white chocolate among ourselves. We would get small pieces but we’re all happy! I guess this explains why I am a chocolate-lover. My dad trained me to be so!

Daddy, thank you for trying your best to provide for us.

My Dad, My Hero
I studied in an elementary school situated in a flood-prone area. I still remember how my dad would carry me and my sisters in his arms or on his shoulders so we wouldn’t need to walk on the floods.

The 1990 earthquake happened when I was in grade three. We were in school at that time. I could still vividly recall how my dad went to the school at once and frantically looked for us immediately after the earthquake to check if we’re okay.

Daddy, thank you for doing everything you’re able to do to protect us.

Countless times, I heard my dad bragging about his children when he gets the chance (like during family reunions). He would tell people how beautiful his daughters are and how handsome his only boy is. He would share about the honors I received and what I’ve accomplished at work. When it was recognition day at school and we got to receive awards, he would invite his “kumpares”, brothers and sisters to witness the event.

Last year, I had the rare opportunity to be a “makeover model” in a fashion magazine. I went home really late still with my hair done and make-up on. My dad opened the door for me. I saw how his jaw dropped. He said I looked like a celebrity! He excitedly woke everyone up so they could see me.

Daddy, thank you for believing in us and for letting us feel that you are always grateful for your children.

A Special Polo-Shirt and a Love Letter
When I was just beginning to work and earn, I bought my dad a polo-shirt – a gift for his birthday. I was wondering why two months already passed and he wasn’t wearing it yet. And so I asked him why. His response touched my heart deeply, “Hindi ko pa sinusuot kasi special yun. Pamasko ko yun.”

On my 28th birthday, he woke me up very early in the morning to give me a letter. I read the letter soon after he left me alone. It was just a short letter but it was the most heartfelt “love letter” I’ve received so far. I cried buckets! I’ve been keeping the words in that letter like a treasure till now. Here are excerpts:

“Anak, hindi ko man palaging nasasabi sa’yo pero na-appreciate ko lahat ng ibinibigay at itinutulong mo sa amin. Ang mapapayo ko lang ay alagaan mo ang sarili mo. Huwag puro trabaho. Maraming maraming salamat sa lahat! I love you.”

Daddy, thank you for valuing us and all our efforts to show that we love you.

Happy Father’s Day, daddy! Thank you for teaching me to love chocolates, for being my protector and stage-dad, and for loving me just the way I am. I love you!

I am grateful to my Heavenly Dad for my own dad and all the dads who try their best to be protectors, providers and leaders to their families.

To all my dad-friends and the wonderful fathers of my friends, HAPPY FATHER’S DAY! You are heroes!

And to our Great and Loving Heavenly Father, thank You for all that You are to me - You are the perfect Provider, Protector and Leader. I just can't live without YOU! :)

More Delightful than Answered Prayers

(originally written May 21, 2011)

I woke up on the best side of the bed this morning! :)

After a week of going though different and extreme emotions, God has brought me back to my favorite chamber - that special moment when I feel my heart is dancing to gratitude's melody.

I started by listing down the blessings I receive regularly. They happen on a DAILY basis, so more often than not, I am forgetful and ungrateful. Here are just a few of them. I thank God for:
  • waking me up each morning
  • the chirping birds by my window (though I live in a crowded city)
  • keeping my family intact in love
  • keeping me safe wherever i go 
  • good health (for me and my family)
  • the capacity to read His Word and express myself in prayer
  • the food i eat - most of the time, they're more than enough
  • a great job where i can use my gifts and grow holistically at the same time
  • shared-lives and friendships that allow me to know myself deeper and experience God's presence
  • God's gift of forgiveness and fresh starts (take it from someone who has done so many bloopers - me!)
  • many, many, many, many, many more! 
As the list grew longer, I was reminded of the overwhelming miracles and favors I experienced (and continue to experience) in my life. I remembered how God rescued me from the worst of situations and gave me the best views of His grace. I called to mind very specific prayers God has answered. And, they're a lot! Some even gave me sleepless nights because they're so awesome and unexplainable, yet undeniably God's work!

But more than the delight that blessings, miracles, favors and answered prayers bring, I find much greater joy in knowing why God gives and does all these.

God's Word to Moses (and I believe for you and me, as well) in Exodus 33:17:

"I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” (NIV)

“I will indeed do what you have asked, for I look favorably on you, and I know you by name.” (NLT)

"All right. Just as you say; this also I will do, for I know you well and you are special to me. I know you by name." (TMB)

"I will do what you have asked, because I am your friend and I am pleased with you." (CEV)

"I will do this thing also that you have asked, for you have found favor, loving-kindness, and mercy in My sight and I know you personally and by name." (Amplified Bible)

God answers our prayers and showers us with blessings NOT because we're deserving, or good, or performing well. When the very things we're desiring or praying for get answered, it's because God is pleased with us, He looks favorably on us, knows us personally and by name, considers us His friends and says we have found favor, lovingkindness and mercy in His sight!

WOW! That in itself is more than enough blessing and reason to rejoice! :)

I pray for the grace to:
 - love the Giver much more than His gifts
 - worship the King much more than the splendor of His Kingdom
 - desire the Lord's presence much more than His promises
 - seek His heart for me much more than what's in store for me

Friends, happy weekend of answered prayers - because the One who answers is pleased with you and knows you so well! :)