Frozen: An Alternative Look at “Let It Go”

The billboards went up in November 2012 here in Metro Manila, but I was only mildly interested. The only thing that seemed new to me was that it had two girls, two guys, and a reindeer. Then a nine-year old … Continue reading

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Jesus First: More in One Second

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Yeah, I know it’s three weeks into 2014 by now (and almost a year since my last blog here – so so sorry – somehow the WordPress app on my “old” Blackberry can’t post), and it’s not that big a deal anymore. Still, I want to milk that blessing for as long as I can:  Happy New Year!!

For almost two years now, our family has been planted in a church called New Life the Fort, a daughter church of New Life Christian Center based in Alabang, Metro Manila. So far, it has proven to be truly the Lord’s choice of the house we are to be planted in. Not saying it’s perfect, nor that the other churches we’ve been in are less, only that, as a friend once told me (about 25 years ago), it’s  GOD  who chooses where to plant you.

This year, NLTF’s theme is JESUS FIRST. And if you’ve been a Christian for any amount of time, you’d know this isn’t as simplistic as it seems. Because even for us Christians, it is not always easy to put Jesus first.

But we’re counting on His Spirit to help us do it even more proactively this year, for starters. :)

This past Sunday, our senior pastor, Jocel Evangelista (lookit! Even his name means “gospel”!), said something in his introduction that I believe was an answer to my heart’s prayer. He said, “God can do more in one second that we can in (he shrugs as he thinks) ten years.”

I knew God gave him that specific figure: ten years. I believe there may be others in the church with their own question, but that was assurance for me right there.

You see, 2014 is the tenth year since the fire that took my mother, and this loopy roller-coaster ride began. For almost ten years, I have been dealing with debts (tax debts, business debts, personal debts), and I know that in consequence, I have been living with constant stress. So to hear those words – that God can do more in ONE second than I can in TEN years – was like honey to my weakening body (anybody remember Jonathan’s power-surge during one of the battles in 1 Samuel?), or a taste of water in the wilderness. Although I must admit, it didn’t brighten my eyes or renew my strength like what happened to Jonathan.

Not at all.

It made me sigh, sit back, and relax. And when we got home from church, I fell asleep. Still wearing my church clothes. As in, I sat down on our bed, and next thing I knew, it was morning, I had a blanket on (Irl tucked me in) and Irl was snoring deeply beside me.

NLTF’s song for this time sings “We’re running, ’cause all that You are is all that we want now.” But non-conformist that I am, I am sensing a different leading.

You have been running for ten years now, and I’m delighted in how you’ve hung on to My promises. From now on, you just let Me carry you, and I’ll do the running.

Thank You, Lord Jesus.

I’ll do my best to keep you guys updated.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

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FB Letter: Praying for Healing

It’s Monday morning here in the Philippines. Being at least 12 hours ahead of the continental US, I catch the previous day’s last Joseph Prince webcast in the morning. It’s a great supplement to morning time with Jesus. :) This … Continue reading

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From Flare to Free

This gallery contains 6 photos.

After writing the previous blog, Irl and I had to get ready for our evening. As an accredited speaker for our MLM network, Irl had 2 invitations to the soft-launch of VMobile Technologies Inc’s latest program, mylife pro, and I was … Continue reading

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Leaning into the Dip

I heard these words last Monday from my beautiful friend, Ailene Ponce. We had met to supposedly discuss the assignment for a class we were both taking with Coursera, Grow to Greatness: Smart Growth for Private Businesses Part 1.

As with most friends, but maybe specially with girl friends, you end up talking about everything else but the kitchen sink…no wait…we also talked about the kitchen sink because we also talked about cooking and cleaning up the kitchen after….

Oops, sorry. Got carried away.

She was also taking a lot of classes along with the business class. It was talking about her finance class that she shared the lesson with me, a lesson that I have been going through since maybe the new year.

Lesson? Basically that growth is rarely, if ever, linear. Most of the time, there will be a dip in the process. Most people give up when they get to the dip, but those who succeed are those who lean into the dip and push against it until they get through.

A few weeks ago, I read the FB status of Jomar Hilario, a mentor that I respect. I can’t really call him my mentor, because I didn’t really pursue the field he’s teaching on, but I do love to read his stuff and receive the challenges he makes in them. He was quoting one of his mentors, Bo Sanchez, about what I will call here “the circle of life.” Here’s a loose translation of what he said:

Life is a circle. A circle is round. When it’s round, that means sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down. You can’t avoid going down because it’s a circle, and it goes round. So the secret is not avoiding going down, but being prepared for the times you will find yourself down.

Something like that. At least, that’s how it was impressed on me.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that from last year, we started our trip down into the dip. Irl’s extreme laryngitis that eventually led him to resign from his voice-intensive job, my pregnancy and subsequent miscarriage, then a bout with urinary tract infection that was traced all the way to my kidneys which sapped my energy and stamina for about a month, entering a network around the time a major upheaval happened in the management, a monsoon flood that marooned us for several days (but thankfully, it was not as bad as Ondoy was here), discovering unreliability in some business partners, The Dude breaking down just before Christmas, my brother spending Christmas at the hospital and I didn’t know until after they came out…

And I know that we haven’t reached bottom yet.

When I first read Jomar Hilario’s status, I had been thinking: maybe I should have been more prudent. Maybe I shouldn’t have spent on all these stuff that I had planned for a possible business in photography (my Pentax Kx DSLR 2-lens kit, a Benro tripod, a Black Rapids dual strap, remote control), online work (laptop and a 3Mbps internet connection), training for my dream to follow in the steps of the Iron Nun (Skechers Shape Ups), and of course, our beloved truck, The Dude. Not to mention getting braces…

And yet, every time I seriously consider selling some of my stuff so we can have extra grocery or travel or bill-payment (and tax debt) money, I seriously feel like a horse getting reined in. Then the gentlest of voices speaks to my troubled heart: “Those are My gifts to you. Don’t panic, I’ve got you covered.

And He really does. I will never forget June 24, 2012. And if you haven’t read about it, you can read the story here. Six months later, December 24, as I stared in dumbfounded shock as The Dude’s waterpump jumped out of its casing and the fan broke off and hit the radiator, while one blade flew off, hit the raised roof of the hood before ricocheting and hitting a 7-year old bystander (who was among the several kids we had been shooing away as the mechanics observed The Dude’s engine), His voice was quick: REST. I was quick to decide to spend on the little girl’s hospital treatment (3 stitches plus shots), but it depleted our account…

Still, everywhere I look, whatever I read, whichever preacher I listen to (my church pastors, Joseph Prince, Tim Keller), always, ALWAYS, the word REST will be mentioned.

I can take a hint.

Still, I can’t help feeling I could have been readier for this dip…

A few days ago, I finally asked for prayers from a missionary friend. I knew she would understand my prayer request without me having to elaborate on details. What I didn’t know or could have ever been prepared for was how her family would respond.

They gave.

Exceedingly, abundantly, above all I could ask or think or imagine. Relatively speaking, okay, lest you think they had hit some sort of lotto jackpot and showered us with millions…

Here’s what I wrote to her:

At first, I thought, “I should have budgeted more wisely”, so that when we get to the down times, it wouldn’t be as difficult. Now I see that that’s not the kind of preparation the Lord wanted from me. I realize now that the preparation He is after is my humility: that I will be willing to receive help in whatever form, through whomever He chooses, trusting Him to return the blessing to the people Himself, just as He promised.

In business, as in life, the dip will always come. We have to lean into the dip and push on until we can get through.

But there’s a sweeter way. The Psalmist said

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where could I flee from Your presence? If I ascend up into heaven, You are there. If I make my bed in Sheol (the place of the dead), behold, You are there.” (Psalm 139:7,8 Amplified Bible)

Did you see that? If I make my bed (lie down: can you make yourself lower than lying down?) in Sheol, the place of the dead (that place is not just six feet below the ground, you know), BEHOLD, YOU ARE THERE.

BEHOLD. You get to the lowest of the lows, and you look, and – HE IS THERE. He has not let us slide into the pit by ourselves only to hold out His hand from the mouth of the hole to hoist us up. No. He is there, THERE, right there, in the pit, in the dip, with us, with ME in this down time.

He is HERE with me. And as I lean into this dip in the graph of my progress in life, I find that I am leaning on Him. And I learn now that He wants me to keep leaning into Him, pushing against Him, putting all my weight onto Him, until HE carries me through.

I don’t know how deep this dip is going to be, or how long before I hit the upward curve on the circle of life. But I know and am certain of one thing:

JESUS IS WITH ME, and HE WILL NEVER LET ME GO.

Praised be the Name of Jesus!

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Determined to Bless Me

Yesterday afternoon, my phone was stolen from me.

It was a determined effort to steal. Once I had sensed them trying, I had moved my bag out of reach, and the designated snatcher already moved away. But another member of the gang would not let him give up, and finally resorted to actually grabbing my arm and twisting me almost 180degrees.

I had not encountered such determination to do wrong before.

Or maybe I have.

I have seen a beautiful woman betrayed by a friend of 18 years — a friend whom she had tried to protect and help, but then she was beginning to get in trouble for his sake, and tried to call him to account. And in an effort to protect himself, the friend began spreading damaging stories. But for some reason, most of the people he called refused to take sides. But again, he was determined to do harm. And while he succeeded up to a certain degree, the truth has begun to trickle out from other sources.

And this morning I find myself asking the question: what am I to do against such determined evil?

I can live in fear. On our way home last night, I was in fear, clinging to Irl, finding a way to hold my bag so that I could protect it better, starting to shiver. I was thinking: “I have to get my truck fixed so I never have to ride public transport again!”

I can also live in anger and suspicion. But I’ve been there (for different reasons) and I hated it. And I have people around me now who live like this. I don’t like it at all.

Right now, as I process this, the nervous, fearful energy is finally dying down. My heart is slowing down, and part of me now wants to grieve. That phone was something I had prayed for, something we had invested in for the network business we had joined, which is starting to pick up, slowly, but surely.

But I also cannot deny the protective presence I was sensing all throughout. Yes, something got stolen from me. But we actually had much more with us yesterday, and all they made off with was a China-made android phone. Yes it’s a good phone — a great tool! But in the end, that was all they took. And it wasn’t like we were stupid. We fought. Maybe we could have done more — but I will not waste my time regretting what I could have or should have done.

I choose a different response. I choose to believe that God IS for me, and He is still in control. And no matter how determined evil is to harm, my heavenly Father is even more determined to bless and do good to me! Here’s what I wrote to my dear Christian friends on FB:

Hello princesses!!

My android phone, which was our heavenly Daddy’s gift to me, was stolen yesterday. It had my Smart number, and all your numbers. But Daddy protected my more precious phone, my old myphone, which had my Sun number (for family purposes).

I am just waiting for my load wallet to get credited so I can load up my new Smart number and text you all. Naka-save pa rin kayo sa myphone ko. : )

Please pray for me. Part of me feels shy about asking for prayers, in the light of the requests that we have here. I mean, what’s a phone compared to cancer, di ba? But I know that Daddy doesn’t think the sudden fearfulness I am battling now is a trivial thing compared to Diane’s and Joanne’s situations. And I know we have all been learning that if it matters to us, it matters to Him. So I’m asking that you pray for my peace of mind, that I will not give in to paranoia in public transpo, that I will not look for loopholes to blame and condemn myself for what happened to me.

Throughout the whole ordeal, I was sensing God’s protection. It was only when I felt that one of the gangmembers – maybe he was the leader – was really determined to steal what he probably thought was an iPhone did I sense God say “Let it go.” And that moment was when they also let me go and got down, with only the Flare. Considering that I had another phone in that bag, and I also had my DSLR with me, and Irl had his laptop, because we were on our way first to Diane’s house, then to our network’s webcast (we stayed with Diane and Norman na lang. They really ministered rest to us. And Noah is a fantastic cook! SOOOO GRATEFUL FOR THEM!).

I thank the Lord He kept the girls safe at home, and even that it was me and not Irl, that I was between them and Irl, because I know Irl was also protecting me, and I’ve heard of how when it’s a man who struggles, they can go as far as stabbing him before running off. I know we were under His protection, and as with Job, He limited the harm that was meant for us to just one little item that He Himself had provided for before, and He can provide for again.

Thank you for your prayers. I thank God for you!

And to you who read this, I thank God for you as well. Thank you for letting me share.

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God Still Loves Me Anyway!

Dee Pangilinan:

I’d been thinking of giving up this blog. I feel that it’s gone the wrong way…that most of the things I’ve ended up posting reeked of my pride more than of Jesus. And I’m not sure I wanna go and check.

But when I checked in today, I found a pending comment from 30 days ago, so I went to look at the blog where the comment was. It was a great answer to my conundrum. So yes, while I have started a lighter-hearted blog (deescoveringlife.wordpress,com), I think Jesus wants me to keep Eyes on the Cross. Let me start 2013 with His reminder to me from way back June 1 2010. To commenter Nathan Christensen (you have a wonderful name, did you know that? Gift of God…son of Christ’s disciple), God didn’t just lead you to that 2 year old blog for your question, but also for my sake. I thank God for you.

Have a great 2013 with Jesus, everybody!

Originally posted on Eyes on The Cross:

I just read something that I have to react to. But I need to give a bit of background about me first.

I became a Christian in 1984, and it has not been an easy ride. I sometimes envy others who tell of how they were social problems before they heard about Jesus, and how His love turned them around.

I don’t have that kind of story.

I was the favored child, the smarter one. I was sent to exclusive schools, given the best opportunity to hone my music skills, allowed to go to any university I wanted. But when I chose to trust Jesus to save me and lead me (what Christians would call “receiving Jesus as Savior and Lord”), things went downhill.

I lost favor with my family. When I discovered that I really wanted to be a musician for Jesus more than a filmmaker (my original college…

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