My friend Ailene tweeted some time ago that all these challenges and lists coming out on FB just shows that Friendster never really died.
Or something to that effect.
At the end of my cycle of the Gratitude Chain, another friend tagged me for the Bible Nomination Challenge. But before I could post my favorite verse, another friend tagged me as well.
And what I noticed was, the verses they posted when they tagged me were perfect for me at that moment. So I decided to take up the challenge, and tagged some friends (which I don’t usually like to do), just to see if there was more “word for me” coming.
I wasn’t disappointed. :)
I decided it would make a great blog series again, but it was only today that I figured out how to go about it. I’m not quite ready to write about why these verses were perfect for me at that point in my life, but I still wanted to share them. The idea that came to me — or should I say, I am being lead to try — was to post as many English versions of these verses that I could find.
I’m in a bit of a rush this morning, so I’ll just post the references for the verses that came out. Feel free to look them up yourself. In the next few days, I’ll simply be posting the actual verses, but featuring one English translation each day.
My unofficial partners for this will be my two favorite sites for bible cross-references (comparing different bible versions): biblegateway.com and bible.com (home of the youversion app).
Here are the verses (and the friends who posted them) in order of appearance on my wall:
Romans 8:39 (from Aia)
John 10:10 (from Leo)
Isaiah 41:9 (mine)
Proverbs 10:22 (from Susan)
Isaiah 30:21 (from Donna)
John 10:2 (John said this is from his wife)
John 3:16 (from Sherry)
John 1:17 (from John)
Three of us specified the versions we preferred (Leo, Susan, and me). I’m looking forward to seeing how the different English translations rendered them.
Late by two days, but here it is, first from my FB status:
My late Day 7 of the Gratitude Chain post:
I thank God for new beginnings.
Yesterday, I “reported” to the beautiful lady under whom I will be training as I go through the Volunteer process of New Life the Fort. And she was willing to give me the orientation on Thursday next week (before the midweek service), instead of this Saturday. I consider that grace and favor.
A friend had a quietly puzzled look on his face when I told him that in New Life The Fort, the “Volunteer Process” takes a total of at least one year: attending the church regularly for at least 6 months, followed by around 6 more months of “training” in all the ministries before finally “graduating” into the ministry of choice — God’s choice for you, which may not be what you had originally planned when you started.
The trend, I believe, in some churches, is: get them in, then get them working. We need people for the ministries ASAP!!
After hearing, from at least 3 churches, the words (or variations thereof): “Oh, you’re a musician? You should join the music ministry!”, in one case being told to LEAD WORSHIP on my third week of joining the ministry (good thing I had a great reason to say no: my mother was going on an out-of-town conference in Palawan \o/, and she required me to be her personal assistant/photographer), it was a welcome relief to NOT be rushed into the ministry.
I think I’m even seeing a Levitical parallel in my own life…
In the bible, active national service for Israelites begin at 20. In 2 Chronicles, there’s a more detailed schedule given to the Levites: enter the temple at 20, start “specialized” training at 25, begin active service at 30, retire at 50.
Okay, smartypants, where’s the parallel? You’re 46! That means you only have 4 years active duty left!
Maybe…but that’s not my concern right now. For now, let’s go by “spiritual” birthday — mine was September 3, 1984. Which makes me 30.
Ten years ago, after Jesus took my mother home to be with Him, and our daughters turned 4, I was finally able to join the music ministry. We had been attending another church at that time, and we’d been there 2 years before family duties progressed to the place where I could now also give “time and talent” to the local church. (2004)
But the activities weren’t just in church. Whenever and wherever we could, we gave what we could.I gave what I could: I sang, I trained, I taught, I led bible studies, I wrote, I took pictures, I blogged, I hosted, I stage-managed, I sound-teched, I assisted, I chauffeured, I…
Oh, My. Gosh. Reading what I just typed just dilated my pupils. All these, while being a wife to Irl, a mom to Jodie and Roni, taking over my father’s business, and trying to help out my sister-in-law take care of my brother who had had his third stroke.
So that’s why, I guess, about 5 years ago, I began to feel this tugging in my heart — and these were the words that came with that tug:
Stop giving away what I have not told you to give away. (2009)
For a year, each of the involvements (except family, of course) got stripped away, one by one. The last one was removed literally on the week of my 42nd birthday. I thought it was just going to be a “Sabbath” year. Looking back now, I realize God had moved me into “specialized” training. (2010)
The next year, I just focused on getting my physical strength back, and even finally got myself down to 120 pounds, which was my personal target. A month before my 43rd birthday (2011), I started asking God when and to what I’d be going back — and I was made to realize, quite definitely, that I wouldn’t be going back.
Tim Keller’s sermon, Everyone With A Gift, was a painfully devastating but ultimately liberating confrontation (it’s a free download. I hope you can take the time to listen to it). In it, he shares a story shared by Dr. John Gerstner:
She had an idea of a noble, heroic life, and she was telling God, “that’s the life You’ve got to give me…and here’s how You’ve got to get it for me.” And she was doing everything she could to basically put God in her debt so He’d HAVE TO do it! And she began to realize: “I’ve never taken my hands of my life…I’ve been using God! I wasn’t serving God, I was telling Him what He had to do!” And then she says, “that night, for the first time, I took my hands off my life. I said, “You know where I should go, You know what I should do…You know best.”
And Dr. Gerstner closes that part of the sermon by looking at all those young people, and saying, “If that girl, who spent a third of her life being ready for missionary service, saying goodbye to everything – saying goodbye to fun, to safety, to comfort, to EVERYTHING! – and thought she had taken her hands off her life, and that night she realized she never had done it, do you think YOU have, then? I doubt it.”
I remember my knees giving way when the realization hit me…I had been living in exactly the same way. I also remember being able to quip, “Ten years? A third of her life? Try 22 years, and half of her life!” before I finally gave in to the anguish I felt. “Twenty-two years, Lord! WHY DIDN’T YOU STOP ME BEFORE NOW?!?!”
But He is faithful to His word. There was no condemnation. I thought I had been broken before, but this breaking had sapped even my physical strength. It took effort to haul myself up from the bathroom floor and finish my bath so I could go on with the day. In that anguished grieving, I could almost feel an actual embrace, gentle hands wiping my tears, a quiet voice shushing my sobs. Because I’m a writer, one of the verses that has always challenged me was “All the days of my life were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16 NIV, I think)
Every millisecond of those 22 years, somehow, were never beyond His control. He knew before I was born the choices I would make, and He let me make them, anyway, because He knew, as any author knows, how the end will be.
I’m still learning to trust that.
So – specialized training, huh? In what, exactly?
In resting, and trusting, and just following His lead. It took another two years before we made the move to finally settle down in New Life The Fort (2012). But even then, all we did was listen, meet people, listen, make friends, listen…
Sit and receive. Stay, let yourself heal, then go where the Lord leads you.
From December 2013 to August 2014, we simply let ourselves be led. Sure, we made plans, but I began to recognize God’s sovereignty, not just in the things that went smoothly, but more so, in the things that didn’t push through. He seems to have taken a bit of a roundabout way, but basically, the step we started in December 2013 finally got completed in August 2014.
Wow — that’s seven months of my “spiritual foot” hanging in mid-air before I got to put it down…hehehe ^_^
And now, at the beginning of my 31st year since Jesus took hold of me, I think He’s calling me to begin my active service.
AND it just occurred to me: my first venture into the music ministry was an audition for Windsong in August 1992. In August 2014, I auditioned for the music ministry. Can you believe it? I was asked to audition! I wasn’t just thrown into the ministry on the basis of my credentials, I had to audition!
I still had my eyes closed, but at least, I was able to stand this time. :D
Talk about a do-over! New beginnings are COOL!!!
Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of voluntary submission when He says in John 10, “No one takes My life from Me, I lay it down of My own accord.”…Why did He offer Himself, as not a living sacrifice, but a destroyed sacrifice? Why did He do that?! Why did He take his Hands off His life?!
Thankful for our little “Jafila”, who is my new teaching partner (my Blackberry just doesn’t have a big enough screen for my students to see videos of the songs they’re learning).
It seems to hold their attention better, and they’re tech-savvy enough to know how to repeat the video so they can hear the song again, and we just start singing along. I mostly just need to correct lyrics for now; vocally, they’re all doing good.
Jafila is primarily Jodie’s & Roni’s laptop, where they do a lot of research and reading, then take fun breaks by reading Japanese manga, like the latest chapter of Fairy Tail…
We bought this little trooper from Irl’s former co-worker, Jandy (hence, Jandy’s First Love, Jafila for short). Irl thought it would be a good size for bringing around, which I do now that I’m back to teaching Voice, and am being given rather young kids. It still runs Windows XP (thanks for our computer genius friend), but it definitely gets the job done. I just need to constantly remind myself not to “overwork” it by doing too much multi-tasking.
Today, I celebrate the old and new, and combinations. :) There’s a recipe hidden somewhere here, too…
The old: Psyllium husk – it’s been years since my friend Carolyn shared about how psyllium fiber has been one of the blessings of her busy life as a dancer. I eventually bought a bag (about 500 grams), but I confess I haven’t really used it as regularly or faithfully as she did. I didn’t quite appreciate how they felt in my mouth, and as I wasn’t as busy a person as Carolyn, I could get my fiber from veggies anyway. So my psyllium fiber just sat on my kitchen shelf, finally down to about half by now.
The new: Chia seeds – I’ve been hearing about it (but can’t afford it) and have lots of friends who seem ready to swear by it, among them the lovely couple, Jojo and Tina, who gave me, oh, maybe about one whole cup to try. I told them I’d seen people making pudding with chia seeds and coconut milk, and that I’d be trying it.
So this morning, I wake up my trusty laptop and asked Mr. Google for chia seed pudding recipes. The most basic proportion is about 1 cup milk, 1/4 cup chia seeds, and 2 tablespoons sweetener. Go dairy, or go non-dairy, sugar or honey/maple/agave. For today, I had no choice but to go with powdered milk mix and brown sugar. And 1 tablespoon of really dark cocoa (brand: Boston).
I felt bad about the long wait (at least 4 hours), and had conditioned my mind to look forward to chocolate chia seed pudding tomorrow morning. Until I decided to ask Mr. Google if there was someone who had made psyllium husk pudding. My original intent was to compare. But when I found the blog of the person who made it “by mistake” (she was going for chia, but had grabbed psyllium and spooned it in before she discovered her error), I decided…what the heck — let’s try combining it!
So here is the combination: add about 1 Tablespoon of Psyllium fiber to the Chia seed pudding waiting to set (it had been in the fridge for over 30mins), and stir briskly. Result?
I think most people normally do “this gratitude thing” at the end of their day. But because I saw the post where my friend tagged me in the morning, I decided to do it asap. And I think there’s a big difference. It reminds me of one of the Hebrew words for praise, todah, which I believe has something to do with gratitude or thankfulness, but with the added implication of being grateful even if nothing has happened yet. At least, that’s how I understand Carman’s explanation of it.
Today I am grateful for the big and little things that God uses to tweak my life’s little moments to be just right for me:
The big things:
I thank God for Cornerstone Academy and Trumpets Musicademy, specifically, my friends Lissa and Lani, who, in spite of seeing my feelings of inadequacy as a Voice teacher, choose to continue to have me work in their schools.
I thank God for my laptop and its genius doctor JAsis, because I am able to keep learning and growing because of this wonderful tool — I write, study (thanks, Coursera and edX), read to my heart’s greed (thanks, Kindle), get inexpensive family entertainment (thanks, youtube), help my home-schooled learn to research and find additional resources for learning (thanks, Khan Academy), and most precious to me, perhaps, connect with friends, old and new, virtual and real (FB says I’ve accrued more than 2500 of you, thanks to the Blood games, Castle Age, and the group Grace Folks, but of course, some of you I’ve gotten to interact with more than others — forgive me for not listing you all down hehehe)
And the little things:
I thank God for my Stitch mugs — stainless-steel 14-ounce mug I got on sale, buy-1-take-1 which I use for things like mixing my morning caffeine-eggnog fix, frothy tea (teh tarik and teh halia), steam inhalation with Pei Pa Koa when I have colds, sometimes even overnight oatmeal. I will be passing them on today to my daughters, primarily to help them with steam inhalation. I hope a store goes on sale with something similar to them soon… :)
And I thank God for my Blackberry 8520 — Irl had won it in a party raffle, and it replaced my stolen Android. It’s old now, and it’s getting some problematic keys (from overuse, no doubt), but it works hard for me, from basic communication, to my Bible and Kindle apps, to Viber, to social networking and work emails, and even as my business and teaching tool (I have my students’ music there, and my loading sideline). I do want to upgrade, yes, but only so that I can get a free pdf reader (and read more books on it) and get better resolution for my pictures, but as it is now, it’s what I need.
The Bible speaks of not despising the day of little things, and Jesus said something to the effect of “he who is faithful in little will be faithful in much”. I hope that in learning to be grateful for these little things God gives to tickle my heart, I will also be grateful for the big things He brings to complete my life on earth.
I’ve been thinking of a way to get back to blogging. This week in particular is special to me, because 30 years ago this week, specifically last September 3, I was told: “Remember today’s date: it’s the date you prayed to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior.”
Today, on Facebook, I found myself tagged on two statuses. One was about the 10 books that has stayed with you. Among the comments was “Harry Potter series, 7 books, LOTR, 3 books: 10!” So I decided to reply in the same way: via the comments, but with authors and their series…cheating, I know, hehehe…still, I came up with at least 10 authors.
Not bad, I think :)
The second tag was for the Gratitude Chain. And as I was writing down my first entry, I thought: “hey, I can put this in my blog!”
So from my Facebook status, I copy and paste here:
Just got tagged to join the gratitude chain. One week, I think? Here goes day 1:
Grateful to God for the sun today — after several days of waking up to grey skies, it was a sweet blessing to wake up to a bright day with a view of the blue sky peeping through white albeit thick clouds.
Grateful for Irl — he found a way to turn down our old fan (buttons got buried) so it gave just enough breeze to shoo away mosquitoes, but didn’t freeze my toes off; grateful also for the sheet I found in an ukay-ukay years ago, made from t-shirt material, as recommended by Oprah, who said they’d be cool when it’s warm, and warm when it’s cold – she was right!
Grateful for Jodie and Roni — unbelievably responsible young ladies who love to laugh, read, sing, share, prefer to stay at home (who needs the mall, when there are so many stuff to read around the house?) with the dog and cat; they’ve learned a bit of cooking, and prepare their snacks themselves, unless Mommy decides to make pancakes or champorado.
Grateful for New Life The Fort — I believe I’ve finally been brought home, after decades of searching. I love my church, I’m grateful for my pastors, my LifeGroup leaders, Jojo and Tina, all the people who welcomed us (One Flesh Couples Ministry and Music Team members) even before we got involved in the ministry. Looking forward to finally giving back time and talent, in addition to the tithes and treasures we have been so privileged to offer in this church. Thank you for bringing me home, Dad.
And I have to remember to post everyday for at least 1 week. I hope I can do it. :)