Sabi Nila, Wag Umasa

Sabi nila wag ako masyadong umasa
kasi wala naman talagang kakapitan,
ano nga naman ang pwedeng panghawakan.

Sabi nila wag ako masyadong umasa
kasi sakit ang kahihinatnan
at ayaw lang naman nila ako makitang masaktan.

Sabi nila wag ako masyadong umasa.
Siguro, kung aasa, yung konti lang,
yung sakto lang,
yung naglalaro sa linya, sa palagitnaan,
yung sasabihing naniniwala ngunit sa katunayan nakahanda na kabiguan ang kalabasan
sapagkat ang Dios ay marahil na hindi ako pagbibigyan.

Siguro, di nila maintindihan
na mas gusto ko maghintay nalang,
panandalian man o pang-matagalan,
kahit masakit, kahit nahihirapan
kaysa habambuhay magsisi na di man lang nanlaban,
di man lang nagbigay katiyakan at katibayan sa mga dasal na dinadala sa Dios na sinabi kong aking pinagkakatiwalaan.

Sabi nila wag ako masyadong umasa,
ngunit aasa ako,
buong-buo,
dahil alam kong walang imposible Sayo.

Ano nga ba ang pananampalataya kung hindi pagkatatag ng kalooban sa Siyang hindi nakikita na kayang ipagpatupad ang hindi pa nakikita?

At kung di man makuha ang inaasam,
magtitiwala ako na may mabuti Kang dahilan,
na importante parin yung proseso,
at na mas hihigit pa dito ang ibibigay Mo.

Kung di man makuha ang inaasahan,
aasa nalang muli,
sapagkat Ikaw ang pag-asa ko.

My Best Yes

I don’t really know what to say when people ask me where I’m at in my life right now so I simply answer,

“in between.”

But really, what does that even mean?

Earlier this year, God gave me a vision of being pulled out from where I was and being placed in a new land, accompanying the verse about Abraham. I received that word and said yes, completely. I told Him to hold my hand and pull me through, and I said He could push me if He had to. I asked Him to bring me out of my comfort zone and to make all things new.

You guys, this is the part where I say be careful what you ask for, because He really does answer prayers.

He did make all things new – in every way possible. In fact, He wiped the slate clean. Soon enough, I found myself smack-dab in a place where everything’s quite literally out of my control. Things I thought I always knew about my life and myself suddenly became unsure. Anything and everyone that somehow represented a form of my comfort zone, God asked me to release. To say that this season is nothing like I thought it would look like would be a huge understatement.

I quickly realized that I had to say no to say yes. I had to say no to certain relationships, certain opportunities, and certain wants in order to say yes to what God was asking of me.

So as much as I joyfully embraced the adventure at the beginning, soon enough I struggled with the realities of it. I had so much difficulty with where I was that I had to frequently remind myself Whose I was. And when I approached Him with questions, He told me straight up,

“You asked for it.”

Seriously, be careful what you pray for.

But it wasn’t until I went back to the province for a 2-day visit that I grasped the intricacies of my pain.

A couple of hours before my scheduled trip back to the city, I was hanging out with some of the students and volunteers. My dad walked up to me to say an early goodbye because he had to take care of some things and he wasn’t sure if he would see me before I left. The moment he did so, I started crying uncontrollably. None of them knew what to do, not even I. I was partly embarrassed because there were other people there, but I couldn’t stop myself. My dad took one look at me and knew.

“You don’t want to leave, ‘no? You don’t have to go. Just tell me if you want to stay. You can stay.”

The tears kept on coming, but I fell silent. I knew what I truly wanted.

“No. I have to go. I need to go.”

I wanted to stay, but I wanted God more.

I understood then the choice that I made three months before and decided that I wasn’t going to change my mind. I knew that even if I had to keep saying no to my plans, my timeline, my options, my comforts, I would choose this path all over again. I would say a million nos if that’s what it meant to give my full yes to Him.

It’s a trade-off, it always will be. The same way He traded the golden streets of heaven to die for me.

How can I not say yes to Him? How can I not choose to be faithful to Him, to what He has asked of me?

He is worth every shattered piece of my heart.
He is worth it all so He can tear me apart.

Even when it hurts, I choose to be faithful.
Even when it’s difficult, I choose to be faithful.
Even when I don’t understand, I choose to be faithful.
Even when it’s nothing like I planned, I choose to be faithful.

I can choose to be faithful because He is faithful.
I choose to be faithful because He is faithful.

I choose to be faithful, knowing He will prove Himself faithful.

I’m a natural planner, but now I have to let myself take it one day at a time. So each and every day, I go back to my original yes. I remind myself why I said yes in the first place. Then I say yes all over again.

And when I have difficulty with where I am, I remind myself Whose I am: I belong to a good Father and a great God who wants nothing but the best for me.

Yes, He is worth every shattered piece of my heart.
He is worth it all so He can tear me apart.
But let me not forget that He makes the broken beautiful.
Let me not forget that He loves me more.

I may not completely know where I’m at, but I know I’m where I’m supposed to be. I know I’m where God wants me. I know that He is molding me, shaping me, preparing me. And I’m pretty sure He’s in the process of writing one epic story.

We can be confident in this: that He who began a good work in us will bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6).

For as it is written:
what no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived,
the things God has prepared for those who love Him.
-1 Corinthians 2:9

A Kind-of-Photo-Blog: 20 Things As I Turn 20

I realized that this blog hasn’t been a personal space really. And while I don’t plan on making it too much of such, this post would be a peek into my life. I hope that reading this one would make you appreciate life in all of its entirety – grand or ordinary. ✨

I turned 20 last March 1, FINALLY. Please don’t say twen-teen because I am fully embracing my age as I have waited 5 years to turn 20, no joke. 😅 And so to share my rejoicing, here are 20 things dear to me:

This blog and the readers

This space will turn a year old soon, and I continue to be amazed at how far God has brought this blog. Never did I expect that this would turn out the way it did, and I’ve got to give a shout out to you amazing people who continue to be interested in what I have to say. I am humbled and I stand in awe of your beautiful, receptive hearts. I hope you see His glory overtaking me, always. 🙌🏻

Amazing friends

Old friends, new friends, unexpected friends, and everything in between. I am blessed to have people in my life who would spend 12-hours on a bus to visit my hometown and constantly exchange messages to endure the physical distance; ones I can joyously walk life with – through seriousness and silliness.

             

Good food, tastebuds, and great metabolism

I cannot thank God enough for making eating such an enjoyable routine and for giving me such a metabolism that I can eat every second of the day, not work out, and still not gain weight.

   
    
 (particularly Dark Chocolate, Gummy Candy, and Fruits)

Take my word for it, go and try Brookside Dark Chocolate with Fruit Centers, Godiva Dark Chocolate Covered Pretzels, Amberlyn Almonds in Belgian Dark Chocolate, and Airheads Bites. I eat these three times a day… And more.

  
Also, fruits, because I’m always craving for them and they’re healthy and yummy.

Books

Particularly the ones in physical form, not e-books.

  
Lip tints

Allow me this and the next item. I don’t know how to apply any other kind of make up so these spruce up my entire look immediately. I managed to buy so much of these and I continue to collect them in every shade possible.

Clothes

Fact: I wear maxis and jumpsuits even if I’m just staying at home. Combine this with the previous item and the next one: I am the girly girl who sucks at being girly.

Nature and Adventures

Road-tripping at least a hundred kilometers has become a daily thing for me. I have jumped from a 60-foot tree, hiked for hours barefoot in the mud up a mountain in the rain with no guide (but with an OOTD-worthy outfit), and climbed rocks to dive in rivers. I have gone on so many adventures this past year, His glory is magnificently seen be it through bright lightning storms or soft lilac sunsets, and I am SO ready for more.

   
    
    
  
   

Victory Ilagan

The people and their hearts continually humble me. They’ve just started and there’s still so far to go, but there is such an anointing over this body. The volunteers who are there every single day, even in the midst of finals or night shifts at work, amaze me with their willingness and commitment.

   
 

Victory Malate

A family I can always go back home to.

  

Service workers

This is so random but I have great appreciation for service workers. I cannot imagine how hard they work day in and day out – through the sun and rain. May the job be waiting tables, cleaning streets, or directing traffic – I cannot picture the physical toll and stress. May we all thank them for all they do.

Time

Time to know God more, time to know myself more, and time to rest and be at peace. Even in the midst of back-to-back events and daily services, there is the luxury of sitting at His feet for lengths of time without rush. I am still at the point of waiting without knowing what I’m waiting for, but I am grateful for the time knowing I won’t have as much eventually.

  

Family

I have been a university graduate for almost 2 years now but my parents not once pressured me to work and figure out what I want already. They have spent the past 25 years faithfully loving each other and being cheesy. I have siblings who I can be open with and who put up with my weirdness and crazy. I have extended relatives who are unbelievably tight and supportive even if we’re countries apart. I couldn’t be more grateful.

   

Music

Top of mind, my Christian faves this past year has to be by Bethel Music, Elevation Worship, Hillsong Worship, Hillsong United, and Victory Worship. Non-Christian current playlist, I have Always by Panama, Bright by Echosmith, and Love is Beginning by Imaginary Future on repeat.

  
 

Kids

I’ve wanted to have kids since I was a 10-year old kid. No joke.

   
    
     

JaDine

James Reid and Nadine Lustre – the only celebrities (local or international) I follow and I fangirled over, ever. For the first time in my life, I watched a Filipino television show – all because of them. I must confess, I pray for them, I fight for them, and I media-stalk them. Seriously, just looking at photos of them makes me smile. I don’t know what has gotten over me. However, over conversations about them, I got to build friendships with people I never would have expected. I speak nothing but life and blessings over them and anyone who would dare say otherwise – may God keep you accountable for the words you speak. 🙈

     
 

Theology

A relationship with God simply cannot be built on experience alone. It is built upon solid doctrines as well, so that the foundations of that which one holds on to is actually of truth. I’ve been diving into it more and more, and I believe every believer should too.

Brave worship

The kind that offers broken perfume bottles at His feet, the kind that is fixated on His glory and nothing else, the kind that lives out. Worship that is true, authentic, and abandoned.

  

Truth and Grace; Love and Justice

Always both, complementing and never contradicting.

The Triune God

The Father who formed every crevice of my being, the Son who gave up His life to give me mine, the Holy Spirit who surrounds me every second of every day. Forever, I will be caught up in the mystery and the majesty.

  

Holy

It has always been the attribute of God that I highlighted the most, but this past year moreso. I love His love and I couldn’t live without it, but on a personal note, it is in holy that I feel His glory most, piercing through my being. It would be my one word for Him, and it would be the one word that encompasses all I am to be.

  

  

Quite frankly, I spent a good part of this past year being broken, but I still consider it the best year of my life so far simply because there is always joy that surpasses all circumstances. There was wonder in the brokenness for it was in brokenness that I became whole. There was so much beauty in the ruins. And I want to encourage of all of you: there is sunshine behind every dark cloud. There is always something to be grateful for. He is the breath in our lungs. Christ still came down for us. No matter what goes on, He is sill worthy of praise.  Life is so, so beautiful. I love every second of mine, and I am looking forward for so much more. Thank you for being a part of my journey and I believe the best is yet to come! ✨

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

-‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭

  

Tales From Summertime: Always On Time

Plan:
6 am – leave Tuguegarao
11 am – arrive Pagudpud
1 pm – go to Lighthouse
3 pm – go back to Tuguegarao

Reality:

6 am 

It was Good Friday and we were supposed to be well on our way to Ilocos when we found out that one of the wheels of the car was flat. We couldn’t borrow any other car from the parents because they stayed at our other house in the next town; no shops were open at the time – more so it was a holiday – and what were the odds of a vulcanizing shop open then? Zero to none. We were stuck.

 

The travel buddies all bummed out

My brother remained hopeful though and so he went and drove around, looking for tire services around the city. Lo and behold, 15 minutes later he drove back to pick us up with a new wheel in place. Apparently, one store around 3 blocks from us happened to open as soon as he was pulling up.

After taking out breakfast from McDonalds (which took around 30 minutes to get served), we went off. 

6:45

Ilocos, here we go!

  

   
At this point, I was a little agitated because I’m very time-conscious and it was only a day trip so I was worrying about how much time we’ll have to roam around since we also wanted to visit the lighthouse and we were supposed to be on our way back to Cagayan by 3 pm so that we won’t reach the dark night on the road. Apparently though, I didn’t have to worry. We were aiming to arrive at the beach 11 am, but we got there an hour early (thanks to my brother’s driving 😏) so we had plenty of time to swim before hitting the road again. 

10 am 

Touchdown!

  
  
There wasn’t enough water in the showers so we decided to have lunch already. We were already resolved that we won’t take baths anymore and so I just had a quick rinse and change in the hotel restuarant’s bathroom. However, as it turns out, the guys were way more particular than I was and decided to wait out until the showers had water again. Not only that, but they take much longer showers than I. 😒

1:45 pm

We hit the road again.

The car’s fuel was already running low and there were no gasoline stations in sight. We had around 10 km to go before we would have ran out. By God’s grace, we came across a station just before the engine died. And so we went on.

2:15 pm 

We weren’t planning on visiting the windmills anymore because we were told that it was further than the lighthouse. And so it was to our complete surprise when we passed by a sign saying the windmills were only 700 meters away. Winging it, we decided to follow that path. In doing so, we chanced upon the most beautiful sight.
  
  
2:45 pm 

I was honestly uptight at this point because we were supposed to be on our way back by 3, but my brother said we can probably make it so I turned on Waze. Cape Bojeador (the Lighthouse) turned out to be still 30 minutes away. We decided to push it.

3:15 pm

However, we weren’t the only ones who thought checking out the lighthouse was a good idea. The parking was full and there was a long line of cars. But since we were already there, we waited it off. To our delight, the car line started moving fast and by 15 minutes we were parked and in.

3:30 pm

It was extremely windy and the view was breathtakingly splendid. 

   
    
4 pm

Back to Tuguegarao!

… Or so we thought.

4:15 pm

We chanced upon an amazing view and decided to pull off to the side of the road and stay there for a while.

      

  

 

4:45 pm

Alright, now we’re off!

5:30 pm 

…that is until we saw the sunset and decided to pull over until it hid behind the mountains.

    

 

6 pm

My brother said so himself, that was the last stop over. The sun has set. No more sights.

6:30 pm

What can we say, God is full of surprises! We just HAD to stop over.

 
6:45 pm

Alright, God, whatever comes our way.

8:00 pm

We were entering Tuguegarao and were running out of fuel fast. All gasoline stations in sight? Closed. We were doomed.

8:10 pm

Turned out, not quite. A station was turning off it’s lights when we pulled in and they decided to service us still. The gas boy’s statement “sakto lang po kayo, dapat kanina pa nga kami magsasara e” (you’re just in time, we were actually supposed to close down much earlier than this).

If we had one conclusion from the entire trip that day, it’s that things won’t always go the way we plan them to – if they ever. God’s timing isn’t always going to coincide with ours. But at the end of the day, we realized that the “detours” and “side trips” weren’t considered delays.  Rather, we were thankful they happened.

If things didn’t happen the way they did, we wouldn’t have seen the things we did and experienced the adventures we had. If things went to plan, we would have missed out on so much fun. As it turns out, God had a different plan all along, and His was much better. Everything happened just in time.

P.S. Literally seconds after the guys got on a bus back to Manila the following evening, rain fell and the region was declared under Signal Number 3. 😏

“We’ve got to stop categorising time into minutes, days, months, years, ifs, buts, maybes and regrets, and instead, experiences, the things we’ll remember. It’s not life that’s short, but our passion for it. When you see a film, or read a book, do you skip straight to the ending? No. And why should our lives be any different? A good twist is essential to spectacular stories. It’s important to be surprised now and then — don’t you think?”
-Beau Taplin

Tales from Summertime: Face your Fears

I will be telling this story with some pictures from Day One and Day Two, so bear with me. 🙂 

My friends know me as the “maarte na hindi maarte.”

Meaning I like to dress up and my personality is such a girl, but at the same time I don’t mind roughing it out – I don’t make a fuss. I’m not exactly one of the boys, but most of my closest friends are boys probably because I enjoy what most of them are game to do – going on hikes with the heat burning my skin, climbing up a rock 20 feet high and jumping off, screaming along to Kamikazee and Silent Sanctuary songs, talking about cars, for a season I even played FF8! I do just as well in a 5-star hotel discussing ideas with businessmen and mingling with their wives talking about designer bags as I do at an “ihawan” just chilling out with guys.

And so this Holy Week, 3 guys from our barkada in Manila visited Tuguegarao and the 5 of us (along with my brother) spent 4 days going around Cagayan and Ilocos. We were always somewhere, and each day was an adventure.

 

Now having an idea of my personality, you must have noticed that I like risks. I like roller coasters and bungee jumps. There was an instance more than a year ago that a huge storm took Manila. Establishments were shut down and streets were flooded, but I took the train from Mandaluyong to Taft – the wind was pounding against the train and it kept on rocking. I was actually the only person in there because I was probably the only one crazy enough to go out during that time, all because I wanted to see someone. For so many times, I would ride the jeepney and walk in the dark to go to Janna’s place wearing a sparkly dress and heels. Not exactly wise, but I’d do it for the people I love. (I’m saying these for a reason, we’ll get to that later).

And then I take risks for ootd shots. I would sit on the railings of a bridge or stand on the edge of a cliff for minutes in a twirly skirt so I usually have to shuffle in place for a while to fix it, getting one of the guys to take my shots. And one of the guys (whom I won’t name) keeps freaking out. He panicked when I made him take these shots of me, repeatedly telling me that I might slip or that the boat might tilt over. He obviously isn’t too keen on risks.


Now why am I saying this? On our second day, we went caving.

Afterwards, we rode a boat through a river of deep waters and decided to do so without wearing lifevests.

We stopped in an area where it was around 30-feet when the guys decided they wanted to swim. I was hesitating because we brought no change of clothes with us and I was wearing a knit sweater and jean shorts, which would be very heavy to swim with. However, within seconds of my brother diving in, I thought “oh what the heck”, and I jumped off the boat.

For the next hour or so, four of us were splashing and swimming in the water, totally enjoying the cool breeze and the clear water.

Where was the other one, you may ask. Well he was inside the boat, watching us have fun because he didn’t know how to swim and he was too afraid to try even after we repeatedly coerced him and reassured him that we were all strong swimmers who wouldn’t let anything happen to him. And so he missed out.

Yet somehow, he can go through ridiculous lengths to take crazy good photos.


I talked to him before writing this piece and he totally backed me up, giving me permission to use him as an example and encouraging me by saying that my idea is all good. And so I look forward to the day he himself gets out of the boat. 🙂

Anyway, back to my topic – facing fears. I partly tackled this in my last blog post, but that was more about exercising faith and waiting on God, holding on to the steadfastness of His character. This time, I’m focusing on how much we’re missing out on if we let our fears get the better of us, and how we have to face our fears if we want to live our lives to the full.

As I said in that post, there’s no adventure inside a box, and God is always yearning for adventure with us. But stepping out of the box, walking on the deepest waters, going out of our comfort zones, means we must learn to risk.

How many things have we missed out on just because we were too scared to step out of the boat? How many opportunities did we allow to pass by us simply because we weren’t sure, only to regret afterward? How many open doors have stared us in the face yet we didn’t walk into them simply because we don’t want to leave where we were at that moment?

The most common command in the bible is “do not fear.” Every angelic appearance began with “do not fear.” And there must be good reason.

I’m sure my friend wanted to jump into the water with us. I’m sure he wanted to try and swim again (he almost drowned when he was younger). But the thing is, he wasn’t sure anymore. He wants to, but he’s not entirely convinced if it’s worth it anymore, no matter how much he desires it. I don’t think it’s that he think it’s not worth it, though. In a chamber of his mind, I think he knows it’s worth it – it was always worth it and it will always be worth it. He just couldn’t muster enough courage to experience it being worth it, and so he convinces himself otherwise.

And doesn’t that resonate so much about our hearts truest dreams and deepest desires? More or less you’ve tried to grab hold of that dream and there was something along the way that stopped you. So now you don’t want to try again, because you just might fail and only end up hurt again. We can convince ourselves that we don’t want, so we won’t hurt.

Trust me, I know. It took me a while to get past my fears, as you would know if you read my Managing Strengths series. But I learned, and the things I had to go through to learn was very costly and I lost so much, I missed out on so much. Once I got the hang of it, I found out that the jump is scary, yet it’s also what makes it so much fun. And I wondered what took me so long to get it. The good thing is, there’s no such thing as too late – not with God. He redeems, He restores, He makes all things new. And He has things prepared ahead of you.

But we have to get past that place of being fearful to get where God wants us. We have to stop waiting for the fear to leave and instead, we have to attack it head on. Quoting Paula Rinehart, you must, by the grace of God, do the thing you cannot do. It becomes possible – in the actual doing of it.

What would you do if you knew you could successfully? What have you tried to convince yourself you don’t want anymore, laying it repeatedly before the Lord, only to find the desire still burning in your heart? Where would you go if you didn’t rain or your own parade or if you didn’t listen to the voices of other people telling you not to?

As a child of the Most High God, you can only imagine the destiny He has prepared for you. 1 Corinthians 2:9 states, “what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” We have to realize at this point that some dreams aren’t going to materialize the way we hope – even the ones we thought God gave us. Some will turn out better than we could imagine, some will flop. And hardly any will match the picture in our minds. 

However, continuing to 1 Corinthians 2:10, “these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.” No matter your age, gender or experiences, God has planted something in your heart. You know it when you know it, and your Spirit knows what it is. It might be so big that it feels too intimidating or seem so average that you wonder if it should be considered a dream at all. But either way: you have a God who shaped you for what He has placed in you. It’s not always logical, and it won’t always feel okay. Like I mentioned earlier, I have done things that aren’t exactly logical. They may also not be wise and I am not encouraging you to imitate them. What I’m trying to drive at is the essence behind why I did it – because I chose to look beyond my fear and held on to the fact that I’m doing it for people who are worth it.

Acknowledge your desires, your fears, and decide that the desires God have placed in you – the power of the God who has placed them in you – are much greater than what you fear. The truth is, it won’t always work out. There’s still the reality that you might drown. But then there’s also the reality that you just might float. Even beyond float, you just might swim ahead. 

Fear can either paralyze you, or it can make you come alive. What stories do you want to tell your children and grandchildren? Are there even any at all? Live a life worth telling stories about. You are eventually going to die in any case. The real question is, are you going to live? Will you be able to say “I am doing what I was born to do. I am where I was created to be?”

You may be at a place in your life when you know deep in your heart what you want, but you can’t bring yourself to go out of the boat because of fear. I suggest you stand up and start taking small steps to the edge of the boat. Then position yourself, take a deep breath. Jump. You may not know how to swim, but believe that you have a God who will keep you from drowning.