Fight for Your Heart

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
– Proverbs 4:23

This verse has been preached a thousand times in a thousand different ways. But such are the joys of the Bible being living and active – there’s always something new to get from it every time.

Allow me to tackle this today in a different way.

I have recently gone through a process with the Lord wherein He took me to different places in my memories – memories that I somehow managed to forget were there. At first, I was apprehensive and tried to run away. I wasn’t quite ready to face where I was being taken and wanted to protect myself from the hurt that I knew was coming.

The Lord then had to talk me through it. “I’m not trying to break your heart. I’m trying to bind up your broken heart.”

I was confused because I was at a perfectly good place. At least, I thought I was. The Holy Spirit then kindly made me understand that there were issues I buried from years ago that I thought were already dealt with but in fact still had roots, and it was time to deal with them before they come back up rearing their heads. I really didn’t quite think they were worth paying attention to because the blows I took were not as horrible as others have received. However, we all break differently and such comparison of brokenness doesn’t invalidate the trauma.

There started a process that was painful, to say the least, but was also enlightening. You see, I thought I was protecting my heart by putting up walls and keeping it safe, but the truth is I was actually killing it.

We’ve taught ourselves to not talk about things of the past; to not think about things that hurt. We say what’s done is done, but does that really make it over?

There is constant talk about how the love of the Lord is like a soothing balm over our injuries and yes, that’s true. However, His love is also like disinfectant fiery over our wounds because His hands need to take the bullet out and stitch up the holes.

It hurts, but it’s necessary if we want to live.

If we want to really protect our hearts, then we have to stare all the painful memories right in the face and not look at away. We have to go back to those moments and bring the Lord with us.

It gets scary because we do have questions and regrets. “Why did I do that, how could I have been so stupid?” “Why did the Lord allow that to happen to me?” “Why is life unfair?”

And so it’s important to hold the Holy Spirit’s hand through all of it; we need to be aware of what He is saying about all the things we went through. We also need to be reminded of the fact that the enemy comes to steal, to kill, and to destroy. He is actively working day in and day out to snuff out your hope and your spirit.

It might sound threatening but reality is, he’s threatened of you. He’s scared of all the things that you could become and is terrified of you reflecting all of God’s goodness and glory. Therefore, he has set up a thousand situations to take you out and has placed a million lies in your head, telling you you’re not good enough, that you’re unwanted and a burden, that it’s all your fault and that it happened because you had it coming anyway.

But one quick look at the Bible will tell you that even before the Lord formed you in your mother’s womb, He knew you. While you were still a sinner, He died for you. And His heart is to bless you, heal you, and give you life that is lived to the full.

You’ve probably heard of conspiracies regarding the Illuminati and that they make agreements with the devil so they can have the life that they want. Making such transactions with Satan is not the only way to have an agreement with him. Each and every time you agree with his lies towards you and even towards others, you are entering into an agreement with him.

We have to cut ties with those lies. This is not just about having low esteem. This is spiritual assault at its finest and this is why we have been implored to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.

Notice the term “take captive.” It’s a term that belongs to the vocabulary of soldiers and the military. This is because we are in a fight and we have to understand that trying to ignore the battle or deny the war does not mean we will be spared from it.

One of the common translations for one of the names of God “Jehovah Sabaoth” is “The Lord of Hosts.” The literal translation for this name is “The Lord of Angel Armies” and I like that a lot better. The Lord has been constantly accused of being a bystander, but He has been anything but. In fact, He has always been the frontliner, going forward as the sacrifice for the rest of the people.

We look at all the defeating blows humanity has received and point fingers because we have bought into the idea that we don’t have to fight because we have Jesus, but that is heresy and just another lie the enemy has managed to infiltrate in our culture. It’s like someone from the Navy saying, “I don’t need to fight, the Commander will do all of the fighting.” We have been called to fight the good fight (1 Timothy 6:12) and to take up the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). We have to realize that we have been slated into this war and were never meant to play civilians; we were meant to be warriors.

A verse that I commonly hear being quoted completely on its own is Exodus 14:14. “The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still” as Moses told the people of Israel. What people fail to pay attention to is the context of the verse, because in the next verse, the Lord told Moses “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward.”

You have a part to play. You have to keep moving forward. Don’t allow the enemy to belittle the things that the Lord has placed in your heart. Remember that Satan does not want you stepping into all that the Lord created you to be and will do anything to prevent that. He will try to break you down, discourage you, meet you with failure and dishearten you.

Wonder, love, grace, joy – the world wants to take it all away from you. Hell will fight you over what heaven has called you.

There will be doubts. You may be fronted with shame and judgment. Satan may even use people to mock you and look down on you, but don’t lose heart. Think of Joseph’s brothers and how they were so threatened of Joseph that they plotted to kill him. If you’re in that situation, know that it only cements the fact that there is a good future waiting for you and that if you push through, there is glory to come.

“So, it becomes the devils business to keep the Christian’s spirit imprisoned. He knows that the believing and justified Christian has been raised up out of the grave of his sins and trespasses. From that point on, Satan works that much harder to keep us bound and gagged, actually imprisoned in our own grave clothes. He knows that if we continue in this kind of bondage, we will never be able to claim our rightful spiritual heritage. He knows also that while we continue bound in this kind of enslavement we are not much better off than when we were spiritually dead.
We must face up to the issues and attitudes and doubts which constitute our fears, that keep us from being happy and victorious Christians with the true liberty of the children of God. We seem to quake about many things. In the first place, are you still afraid of your past sins? God knows that sin is a terrible thing?and the devil knows it, too. So he follows us around and as long as we will permit it, he will taunt us about our past sins.”
-A. W. Tozer

This also helps us be sensitive to the fact that everyone has their own battles. So be kind, be gracious, and love one another as Christ has loved you. Stand together in prayer and hold the ropes for each other. The Lord knows we all need it.

Don’t be afraid to bring to light all that you’ve hidden in the shadows. Don’t put your heart under a shade and hide it away. Don’t buy into the lies of false humility and shame.

Allow everything in your heart to shine and break through. If we truly want to protect our hearts, then we fight to keep them the way the Lord designed them to be – loving, selfless, brave, and free.

“As for myself, I have learned to talk back to him on this score. I say, “Yes, Devil, sin is terrible-but I remind you that I got it from you! And I remind you, Devil, that everything good -forgiveness and cleansing and blessing- everything that is good I have freely received from Jesus Christ!” Everything that is bad and that is against me I got from the devil -so why should he have the effrontery and the brass to argue with me about it? Yet he will do it because he is the devil, and he is committed to keeping God’s children shut up in a little cage, their wings clipped so that they can never fly!”
-A. W. Tozer

Fairytales

We live in a fairytale world of wonder and tragedy, where darkness is pitted against starlight and battles between good and evil happen everyday. Every day is a fight between love and hate, joy and despair, life and death.

Every day is a fight to hope.

Yet for all the twists and turns, for all the pain and tears, we know how fairytales end. Like little children at the edge of our seats, we anticipate what is to come. Marked by a battle between the hero and the villain, fighting to win the heart and life of the Bride, we are expectant. The Hero always emerges triumphant.

The tension is this: our fairytale didn’t happen once upon a time. It started from the beginning of time and it is happening still. We are not anymore in Eden. We are not twirling in a world of roses, sparkles all around. We are smackdab in the middle of the drama and the chaos, living in a warzone where there is a violent clash of swords and kingdoms. And so we anticipate the horrible and never embrace the beautiful long enough because we’re waiting for the clock to strike midnight, somehow convinced that every wonderful thing we hold right now is bound to be taken away.

But even when the magic fades, even when the evil villains reappear and it seems like they are winning, we can get our hopes up. For when it seems like all is lost, the Prince comes in h
His white horse, ready to save the day.

No matter how many more pages it takes, we know how the story ends. We know who truly wins. We know how it goes.

Happily ever after. Until then, the story is not over. Until then, it is not the end.

“I am concerned with a certain way of looking at life, which was created in me by fairytales, but has since been ratified by the mere facts.”
-G. K. Cherston

Originally posted on Instagram – Nov. 18, 2017. Modified.

How to Pursue Your Boaz (Like Ruth Did!)

Is there anyone here not familiar with the story of Ruth? So often cited in Christian circles as justification why women can make the first move, we look at her story with profound interest. I’ve always been intrigued by the lives of the women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus and every time, I find myself thoroughly enjoying the way they were, in their own ways, rather scandalous.

Every year starting December 1, I re-visit the stories of the people part of Jesus’ ancestry and so once again dwelled on the story of Ruth. I thought of her as scandalous in the sense that she went and “made the first move”, which I figured was acceptable in their context and culture, but I came to see that things went much deeper than that.

The overarching theme of Ruth was Naomi’s bitterness turning into joy as she saw God redeem her and her family. Ruth’s story is that of an outsider being taken in and shown love and mercy. It’s much more of a testimony of God’s grace and faithfulness than anything else.

Don’t we all want our love stories to look like that? Here’s how Ruth got it right.

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.
-Ruth 1:16-18

Upon closer inspection, we could see that Ruth was anything but the take-control, aggressive woman we made her out to be. All throughout her book, we could only see one thing she was determined about: going where Naomi would go. In fact, it was when she was eligible to get married to younger, richer men that she decided to leave everything behind and follow wherever the Lord, through Naomi, would lead her and call her to. She basically gave up her right to live her life the way she wanted to.

Forgive me for saying this, but we have become a culture so obsessed with self. Instead of looking at our singlehood as an opportunity to serve, we see it as a time to focus on self.

I’m not saying that self-development and discovery is wrong in any way, but while we’re busy bemoaning our relationship status, complaining about the lack of available men, and scrolling through social media sites, children out there are dying of starvation, women are being sold and prostituted, and families are broken apart by sickness and poverty. We are present at every singles get-together and retreat, yet we wouldn’t even sacrifice a couple of hours to be of service to other people.

And then we have Ruth, who laid all of her to serve the person entrusted to her.

She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.” She gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley. And she took it up and went into the city. Her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also brought out and gave her what food she had left over after being satisfied.
–Ruth 2:7, 17-18

From the very beginning, her intention and her service was for her mother-in-law. Every decision that she made from the time her husband died was not to her own advantage. In fact, she basically shunned the thought of marriage and prioritized working and providing for Naomi. Her desire was not for herself. Naomi then had to be the one to convince her to get back in the game again.

And even then Ruth in her humility responded,

“All that you say I will do” (Ruth 3:5).

I think one thing a lot of us overlook is that when Ruth approached Boaz, she didn’t do so because he was the one she desired or because he paid attention to her. She did so because he was her kinsman and culturally, one of the few people who can redeem her family lineage and legacy. She did not do so out of her own volition, she did so out of submission.

Her act of going to Boaz did not speak “I like you Boaz so please marry me” as most of us would interpret it. What she was truly saying was, “In order to redeem the family name of Naomi, I am willing to be a living sacrifice and thus offer myself as your wife.”

Ladies, let’s be completely honest here. We all want to be in a relationship, but how many of us are ready to offer ourselves like that? And if we wouldn’t even let God refine our hearts to get to that point, then why bother magnifying your desire for a guy in the first place?

At one point or another, you have probably come across a Jim/Elisabeth Elliot quote, but I love this one certain line from a letter before they got married:

“Let not our longing slay our appetite for living.”

We’re all always longing for something. Love. Relationships. Family. Peace. Provision. Security. Health. Beauty. Purpose. We’re all longing – each and every one of us. Yet all of these must not in any way hinder us from living; from embracing and thriving where we are now, with what we have now.

I’ve talked to countless women who said they were praying to end up with a godly guy, only to find out 5 sentences later that they’re doing so in the throng of bars, speed-dating, and matchmaking sites. I’ve had single women older than me come up to me and ask me to write about how we live in a generation where men are afraid of commitment and pursuit, more so than any other generation before.

And I’m not going to deny the statistics. The trend goes far beyond the romance department. Working for the ministry, high on the list of our greatest, most pressing needs are male missionaries who would be willing to go places and spearhead certain pursuits. We have a huge pool of women volunteering themselves to go to the most dangerous of places because there is such a lack of men willing to rise up. (While I would love to discuss that in length, this isn’t quite the place or post to do so).

Either way, I believe that this does not at all hinder God’s stories for His children. Our frustration does not in any way give us the right to grab the pen from God’s hands and try to overwrite what He has already spoken. The fact that the cute office-mate you have is brave enough to pursue you does not change the fact that he’s not a follower of Christ. You being convinced that it’s your season to be in a relationship does not mean that you’re right.

If God wanted you married by now, then He would have found a way to bring a man into your life by now. It would certainly entail obedience from both sides, but He is more than capable of using the most unlikely of circumstances to, at the very least, get things moving. He managed to bring Eve to Adam when Adam didn’t even know someone like her existed after all.

The thing about the book of Ruth was that there was no angel visitation or apparent supernatural manifestation but her seemingly ordinary life was marked with divine orchestration – all started by her humble act of submission and catapulted by her obedience. Ruth did not just happen to end up in Boaz’s field, where he took notice of her, and it was no coincidence that he was her kinsman redeemer. It was all God, moving behind the scenes all along.

God writes the best stories, but only if you allow Him to hold the pen.

So if you really want to pattern out the way you approach your love life according to Ruth, then here’s how you can start:

Yield. Surrender. Obey.

Men, You Are God’s Gift to Women.

I’m not talking about the guy who arrogantly flaunts and flirts and personally tags himself as God’s gift to women.

(Hi. If that’s you, I’m telling you straight up: you’re probably not, actually. Sorry).

I’m talking about you who care so much about Biblical manhood that you’d invest time and money into learning how you can better serve others by being the best you could be. I’m talking to you who wouldn’t subscribe to the stereotypical basis of what a man looks like and would rather break the standards by following His standard.

I’ve told you before how much we needed more men like you, but have I ever mentioned how much we appreciated you?

When you lead and not dictate,
When you are tested yet stay committed,
When you graciously listen and communicate,
When you have vision and take action,
When you pray and obey,
When you take responsibility and not make excuses,
When you rise up and take initiative,
When you give and don’t require,
When you respect and don’t expect,
When you are passionate and compassionate,
When you affirm and correct,
When you protect and pursue,
When you fight for the wronged,
When you forgive what is wrong,

When you refuse to be passive and jump right in,
When you step back and choose to be patient,
When you go out of your way,
When you show up,
When you don’t leave,

You are God’s gift to women.

When your heart is in the right place,
When your eyes are fixed on His face,
When you seek Him always,

You are God’s gift to women.

Please, never, ever stop making an effort. Never, ever stop stepping into all that He has for you. Never, ever stop fighting for the calling He has placed upon you.

Even when it’s difficult, even when it’s tiring, even when it takes so much of you: keep at it. Never, ever stop using the gifts He has given you. Never, ever stop being the gift He has called you to become.

For when you humbly admit that you aren’t there yet, but you want to be,
When you deliberately take steps, no matter how slowly,

You already are God’s gift to women.

Thank you for all that you are,
And thank you for all that you will be.

Dear Future Daughter: “Am I Pretty?”

I can already picture it.

You at 3, in your favorite white dress all sparkly and poofy, coming up to me with eyes wide open with curiosity. A flick of hair here, a twirl there, and your heart begging to be delighted in.

"Mommy, mommy, am I pretty?"

I'm going to look you straight in the eyes and tell you the truth.

Yes, love, of course you are.

You might, at 5, walk up to me in jean shorts and your now-favorite "I love daddy" tee. You ask me if it's okay that you chose your own clothes, that you're not wearing the pinks I like dressing you in. You ask me if you're still pretty.

Of course you are, baby.

(And I might inwardly laugh at my failure to impart all my girly).

Then, at 13, you might run crying home from school. The boy you liked didn't like you back,
"Am I not pretty enough?"

I would look into your eyes stained with insecurity, see straight into your heart, and know now you're capable to receive the whole truth.

It's not that you're not pretty enough, maybe he can't handle all the pretty you have.

I'm not saying it to say it, I'm saying it because it's true.

This 5-letter word will never encompass all there is to you and it is even unworthy to hold all that you are. You are not "merely pretty", and you will never be.

You are pretty wonderful, pretty amazing, pretty intelligent, pretty artistic, pretty stunning, pretty mind-blowing.

I'll hand you a pint of ice cream, and I'll give you first-hand info:a guy who can't see beyond "pretty" will never be worthy of you.

I feel sorry for the lad who can't see past pretty – he who will never have the opportunity to see beyond the way you look to discover the way your mind thinks and your heart beats. He will never see the depths of your soul and the intricacies of your spirit.

So you will be the lady, at 15, flitting from store to store looking for the perfect prom dress, not so you could catch his eye but so you can celebrate and enjoy the beauty that you have in greater measure.

You will be the lady, at 18, reading books on femininity. And you might come across the ones that tell you that you have to be wearing dresses and skirts because it's the best way you can honor God with your beauty, but you would by then have already known the truth:

Femininity hasn't to do with dressing pretty; it has to do with becoming the woman who God created you to do be – stepping into your destiny.

You will never sit at a bar stool half clothed, desperate for a stranger to think your face is pretty enough.

You will never compete with women, pointed eyes looking up and down and trying to look for something to criticize in one seemingly too pretty.

You will never have to go lengths just to catch a man's eye, longing for affirmation that you're worth a glance.

For you know that there's One who has had eyes for you since the beginning of time; who, not for a single second, didn't love you. You no longer seek to be told pretty, you seek to reflect His beauty.

You risk every day to unveil this beauty to the world, bravely putting your heart on the line, refusing to allow the world and its cynicism to put a damper on your heart so filled with love, on your eyes always filled with wonder. And when it gets too much and when you get broken, you are the perfume bottle spilled at His feet.

Your life is the fragrance – enchanting, worship.

You will be the woman clothed with dignity, humility, joy, and fulfillment.

Pretty and so, so much more.

Dear Ladies: Guard His Heart

We hear a lot about how we ladies should guard our hearts and we tell men a lot to guard women, but how often do we think about guarding the hearts of guys?

I know we tend to have general boundaries, yet I think now would be a good time to remember to set our boundaries not just according to our weaknesses but also according to theirs. It helps to know that these men are wired differently as individuals and have different triggers, and I believe it is always good to gauge where a man stands in his emotions and vulnerabilities even as you examine yours.

I’ve said this before in a previous post, but it’s worth repeating. When Solomon wrote that one should guard the heart, he was speaking about having wisdom in his heart and protecting it. And so this is a lesson that we should probably never outgrow, keeping this wisdom and guarding it.

Ladies, we’ve all probably heard of the people around us warning us about guys, how they’re only “after one thing” and how they can play around with emotions of girls. And while it is true that some certain guys do that, isn’t it also true that we can be considered just as “dangerous” to them? There is a reason that Proverbs is full of warnings against “the vixen.” We may be aware or unaware of our charms, but trust me when I say that men notice and it is because of such that we ought to be careful. I'm not saying don't be friendly. I'm not saying don't care. I'm simply saying that we have femininity that is considered alluring, and we can choose to use it either as a Delilah or as an Esther.

I want to tell you not to “casually” bump into him on the street. I want to tell you not to do things and even post things on Facebook in attempts to subtly catch his attention when you know he’s not yours to keep. I want to speak about how it’s possible for a girl to play so closely near the line, for no other reason than to see if he’ll show any sign of attraction. I want to go on and on about flirting and leading guys on and body language and a million specific things, but I won’t. I won’t give you a list of dos and how tos. I don’t need to. The only thing I need to tell you is to love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself; to love the men in your life with purity and wish no harm – emotionally or otherwise – upon them.

Women, we have a part in inspiring, encouraging, and protecting the men in our lives, no matter how “big, strong, and capable” they already appear. They long for affection and love just as much as we do – and we may be unknowingly filling their tanks when we shouldn’t be. We have just as much power over their hearts as they have over ours.

In the same way, guard his heart from your tongue. Let’s admit it. We can be nagging and condescending and criticizing. We are able to build them up and tear them down with our mere words. Don’t use the power you have to demean, manipulate, or bash. Use your words to challenge, motivate, and set them free to become who they were called to be.

It’s so easy to say that it’s not our obligation and that it’s all up to them to fix their responses to what we do, but isn’t that extremely selfish? It may take a little more effort on our part to be aware of us and of others, but isn’t that what relationships are about? Isn’t that what loving is about?

Doesn't the fact that we're created from man's rib imply how we have a role in  guarding his heart?

It’s amazing to think that the Greek word kosmos translates to adornment in English. As a woman, your source of adornment comes from the source of the cosmos. You are most beautiful when you are immersed in His universe, filled to the brim with His love, grace, and joy, leaving a trail of stars wherever you go. And in the same way that people can feel either belongingness or loneliness as they stare off into the sky, you have the same ability to uplift and to bring down.

You can either pull people into your orbit and get them lost in sheer darkness, or you can show them galaxies of dazzling wonder and inspire them to get launched into worlds of possibilities.

Would you rather use your gravity to make them crash or to make them fly?

I Want To Get Engaged Too

You guys, I’m not kidding.

Two men got down on one knee to propose to two of my friends last week and while I deeply rejoice with them, I can’t get out of my head the fact that life is quickly passing me by. It’s surreal to think that we went from talking about wedding plans to them actually already planning their weddings and here I am, still unengaged. The days have blended into each other, minutes and hours quickly whir past, and I’m left there standing, wondering, where did all the time go?

I don’t want to get left behind and so here I declare that even though I’m single, I will get engaged. I know, I know. Getting engaged is a commitment and it can be extremely difficult, but it’s something I want for my life.

I think it’s something you should desire too.

But first, I have to clarify. By engaged, I don’t mean someone putting a ring on my finger.

Engaged (adj.)
: to participate; to be fully involved in activity
: to be greatly committed and interested

Through all these years, I’ve tried. I force myself to pay attention and to fully be in a moment, but at the end of it, I revert back to my usual pacing – a little detached from reality. I don’t know about all of you, but I’m always charging full speed ahead. My brother points out to me that whenever God gives me a vision, I’d drop everything in the now and eagerly fixate on getting there, always one foot out the door. And that’s not bad, but maybe it’s not entirely good either.

Because how many of us can attest to the fact that God’s visions don’t immediately materialize in one night or one year or even one decade, for that matter?

You see, in attempts to live fully, I want to quickly get on to the next thing. I work and hurry thinking that I need to make up more time, that I’m making the most out of my time, but maybe all I’m doing is throw time away. Because it makes one ask, am I ever really present?

My friends and I would watch travel and adventure videos, and all we could think is: we want to be there, where they are, because here just seems so mediocre in comparison. There is adrenaline and exhilirating and here is… ordinary. However, I can’t help but wonder, what happens after all the rush goes away? They can’t exactly jump from a plane every day, can they? Then their there becomes our here and everything seems mundane again.

But is it really true? Does awe and wonder always have to be there, never here? In always aching to be there, am I ever really here?

Have I ever lived life fully and made the most out of every moment, moment-by-moment? Have you?

The clouds peeking through the buildings and billboards as the MRT speeds through, the extra time to undividedly speak with God when stuck in traffic, the friendly smile of your officemate as she walks past your area, the chocolate swirls that are your mother’s eyes, the iridescent colors of the sun appearing in the suds as you wash your dishes, the smell of flowers seeping through the whirl of the washing machine – it’s all there, but does anyone still notice?

It’s not as if I plan to do some rehabilitation and unplug from electronics. I’m not trying to say we all stop doing anything seemingly apart from nature. This is not a call to scale the Grand Canyon and to dive the Great Barrier Reef. Maybe what we lack is not more weekend getaways; maybe what we lack is a fresh perspective, a look through the eyes of wonder that see His hand in every detail.

I’m excited for the next season. I’m excited for all His promises to come to pass and I’m looking forward to experiencing Him in different ways.

But I also know that He’s just as here as He is there. His very name says it – I Am.  In the present is the presence of a very present God. 

I’m not there yet but I am here and I Am is here.

And I don’t have to wait until that special someone comes to get engaged with a person. Here, now, I can find a good number of people whose lives can fully intersect mine. Here, now, I can be truly, deeply aware of their lives and their situations. Here, now, I can stand with them in their battles and struggles.

Isn’t it time to stop knowing people through stalking their Facebook accounts and start knowing them by actually talking to them?

Don’t just behold life. Take part in life. Fully be where you are. Fully be, right where you are.

I don’t want to wake up one day and cry out, like Jacob, “Surely the Lord is in this place and I didn’t know it!”

For He is in air and space and time, and He is in the in betweens and the plot twists and the situations unwanted and the tough moments and the seeming delays. In Him, all things were created and in Him, all things hold together. His fullness is already here, not just there.

Grace is here. Joy is here. Glory is here. The full life is here, because God is here.

It’s that “yes” to God and the invitation to become His Bride. It’s that “yes” to life.

Here, now, we find the Perfect Lover whose love knows no end.

Doesn’t that make you want to get engaged too?

Dear Mr. Right: I Can’t Love You That Way Anymore

Dear Mr. Right,

Just a heads up: this might not make you feel butterflies or see hearts.

I’m assuming you’ve read the thousand of books and posts out there on the qualities “God’s Perfect Choice” should have. Of course you have, you’re a godly man. The truth is, I have always wanted you to be the epitome of what everyone would call “The One”. You know how some people say that from the very first time you lay your eyes on that one person, you just know? Well, I have a type. And this entire time, I have waited for that leap of recognition when I look at faces that pass this physical standard. I have held a list up to every guy who dares to get close to me, trying to see how many qualities on my list he lives up to, trying to rate and trying to see if he is you.

But maybe it won’t be that way for us. Maybe you look nothing like how I want you to. And so let me look for you not through the lens of this world and its superficial standards. Let me recognize you through your bubbling laughter and sparkling eyes, through your kind soul and compassionate smile. Let me see not how many barbells you lift at the gym, but how you arms are outstretched to those in need. Let me see not the brand of shoes you wear, but how your feet are willing to go wherever the Lord says so. Let me hear not how deep and melodic your voice is, but how you speak life, grace, and truth. Let me notice not how high you hold your head up, but how low you kneel before His Throne.

One of the main reasons I will love you so much is because you look like Christ. 

Yet amidst all these expectations and requirements, I realized that while having standards is most certainly not wrong, I was teaching myself to only love good people. I was conditioning myself to love you conditionally, and that the moment you start messing up, I can no longer consider you as God’s best. And I can’t love you that way anymore. I’m done claiming to be ready to love you when it’s actually on the basis of my preferences and comforts and pretensions. 

How can I expect you to never make a mistake when I constantly make mistakes too? How can I expect you to be forgiving and understanding of my issues when I refuse to even give any guy the time of the day because he has struggles? How can I say that I love you when it has become all about my standards and my happiness? 

I sincerely apologize for having diminished your worth to a formula; for thinking that your value is rooted in how convenient it would be to love you. I don’t want you to be a checklist I get to tick off. I want you to be real.

So know that I will also love you in the moments that you fall short.

I never want you to feel as if I would judge you just because you lost control over your anger or had a murky past. I never want you to think that you have to be the poster boy for Prince Charming to gain my affection. All I expect of you is that you love God above everything and anything else; I expect you to revere Him and adore Him and live out your life in light of who He is.

Still even then, I know there will still be mess-ups. You’re going to make mistakes and so am I. We’re going to hurt and we’re going to fight because fairy tales and chick flicks are just that – fiction. But what we have is better. What we have is not a story of pretend written by human hands, we have one written by the Author of the Universe – full of plot twists and conflicts for we are to be refined all through out this journey called life. I doubt that it’s going to be easy, walking on this path together, but there will be no balking the moment things get tough and there will be no running away. There will be love, there will be understanding, and there will be repentance and forgiveness.

See, I don’t want us to be like couples who claim to have missed out on “The One” and that they married the wrong person. My love, to me, you don’t become “The One” when you have fulfilled my preferences; you become The One the moment we say, “I do” – that’s why the path to you must be filled with reason and guidance. You remain to be The One even when you fail and even when times get rough. And though you will change through the years, that wouldn’t change a thing because I know that I would have married a person, dynamic and changing, not a list.

To be honest, I’m writing this more for my sake than yours. I have always been obsessed with getting things right, but I am done having criteria that are selfish and are driven by my individual desires. I’m doing this to remind myself that The One I’m waiting for is also a human being – and I wouldn’t have him any other way.

And so tell me, tell me about the universe hidden inside of you, show me the darkness, and let me point out all the stars I see. Let me commit to you not with knowledge of my ideals, but with knowledge of your faults and your weaknesses. Let me love you not only because, let me love you in spite of.

For while the process of choosing you would mean the need for wisdom on the basis of clear thinking, being in a relationship with you would be driven by wisdom on the basis of God’s unconditional love. And so when I dive into this adventure with you, it means witnessing both wonders and horrors; it means embracing the beauty of mystery and uncertainty.

When I love you, I love you completely – past, present, and future; mess and all. When I choose you, I don’t choose by formula, I choose by faith.

And it is with faith that is neither blind nor naïve, with eyes fixed on The One who first loved, that we’ll get this right.

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 ‭

  

Dear Pretty Lady: You Are Not Cheap

Dear Pretty Lady,

I know there’s so much more to you than a pretty face and an attractive body.

So let me say this: you are worth far more than a booty call or a flirty text. You deserve more than mixed signals and promises unfulfilled. You cannot be demeaned by catcalls and lingering gazes.

You do not have to reveal your body to get men to like you. You do not have to distinguish your value based on the number of likes you get on social media. You do not have to post an album of selfies and bikini shots just to show everyone how pretty you are. You do not have to have a new boyfriend every time a relationship fails because it makes you feel secure. You do not have to starve yourself thin just so you can be as physically attractive as the photoshopped women on magazines. You do not have to change your values so that your peers would like you.

Just because everyone else is lowering their standards and values doesn’t mean that you should too. You were made to stand out. You may have had a messy past, but who doesn’t? You don’t have to doubt your worth, and you don’t have to prove it to other people.

Therefore I plead you, do not give in to someone just because he gives you the butterflies, because emotions are easily manipulated. Wait for the one who will pursue you like a dying man in the desert would pursue water, wait for the man who knows your true value – the way God sees you. Do not expose your precious body and soul to a man who does not understand that such a treasure is worth waiting and working for. Do not succumb to the pressures of this culture and cover yourself in piles of makeup and facades of personality just to be “cool” and accepted. You are beautiful just as you are, and friends who do not see that might not be real friends at all.

You are not defined by how many men court you, by how many followers you have, nor by how pretty everyone else says you are.

Your value was declared and decided when the One who is love gave up His life for you. Know who He says you are, His beloved, His princess. You are worth pursuing, you are worth waiting for, you are worth dying for.

You are worth so much more.

You are a series of complexities, layering upon the other, an endless adventure to the people who are privileged enough to be let in on your journey. You are every possible color slammed together in one canvas, an abstract appreciated by those who are educated enough to know that art encompasses a broad range of wonder, and induces a wide range of emotions.

There may be times you feel so filled by darkness that you cannot see beyond yourself, but trust me, you are the universe. And there are so many stars and galaxies living inside of you, waiting to burst and show true stellar potential.

You are gold, constantly being refined. You are a precious jewel, rare and hard to find.

You are a pearl, and you do not throw pearls to pigs.