If I had it easy, how then would I be able to stand when life gets harder? 

Yesterday, I tried setting up a monthly budget so I could manage my finances better this year. The reason behind this is because I want to save up enough money so we could start the renovation of our house here in the province. 

It has always been my dream to have our house renovated ever since I started working. However, unexpected things that require more of our attention happen every year so we always need to bump off house renovation from the list of our priority expenses and I was sort of secretly complaining to God about this situation. I may not have said it out loud but deep in my heart, I have a lot of questions:

‘Lord, I know that my current salary is already enough to cover our house renovation but how come that we have to put it off because of my father’s medication?

‘Lord, our income is relatively higher than these so and so people yet they were able to build a more decent home, while you have brought sickness to our family that eats up much of our expenses?’ 

‘Lord, why does our life need to be harder than others especially those who are unbelivers?!Why are they seemingly more prosperous than us?!’ 

I don’t resent supporting my father’s medication so I myself can’t believe that I have these secret complaints to God. Since God knows my heart, He showed me this morning the kind of attitude I have inside through my quiet time on Jeremiah 12. 

Jeremiah’s Complaint
You are always righteous,Lord,
when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice:
Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
Why do all the faithless live at ease?
You have planted them, and they have taken root;they grow and bear fruit.
You are always on their lips but far from their hearts.
Yet you know me,Lord;
you see me and test my thoughts about you.
Drag them off like sheep to be butchered!
Set them apart for the day of slaughter!

How long will the land lie parched and the grass in every field be withered?
Because those who live in it are wicked, the animals and birds have perished.
Moreover, the people are saying, “He will not see what happens to us.” (Jeremiah 12:1-4)

The complaint of Jeremiah sounds very familiar to me as these are the same questions I have for God. 

Why do wicked peole prosper? Why do faithless people live at ease? Why is it easier for them to do whatever they want and do as they please without even considering what God wants for them? 

I found God’s answer to these questions in the following verses:

God’s Answer
“If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses?
If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?

Your relatives, members of your own family— even they have betrayed you; they have raised a loud cry against you. Do not trust them, though they speak well of you. 
(Jeremiah 12:4-‬6 NIV)

God’s answer was plain and simple

“My child, if you had it easy, how would you be able to stand up against the more challenging life in the future? How will you be able to stand against this cruel world?!”

I’ve always known that we live in a broken world and life was never meant to be fair and easy. That my present life is just a preparation for my life in the future. 

Yet, I always tend to forget so God has to remind me about this truth over and over again. I have to be reminded about the principle of faithfulness in small things. If I keep on complaining about the simple things that God has asked me to do, then I will not have the strenght to do the bigger things that He will entrust to me in the future. So for now, I need to overcome whatever life has thrown at me so I could prepare for more challenging yet abundant and fulfilling life in the future.

Going back to the budgeting I did yesterday, I want to share what I discovered while doing the exercise. As I try to make all ends meet with my income and fixed monthly expenses, I can’t help but feel amazed at how God has been faithful in providing for me and my family last year. Our expenses continue to grow but God’s provision was also always on time that I was still able to buy things for myself and spend on entertainment. Then I was reminded about this verse:

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
(Hebrews 13:5 NIV)

Dear Lord,

I repent for the kind of attitude I have about suffering and life’s challenges. I know that these sufferings are your way to help me grow in faith and to form Christ in me. Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you have warned us that in this life, we will have trouble. But you also promised that we will overcome because You overcomed the world. Thank you that in You, we have the victory and that by sharing with your suffering will also result in future glory with you. Amen. 

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Praise Items for 2017

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It’s the time of the year again to sit down and think about how God has been faithful to me throughout the year. As you may recall, I was a little bit apprehensive to face the new year last January. I was afraid of the things that will unfold in 2017 because the previous year was generally difficult for me and my family. But then God assured me that I need not to be afraid because He is always in control. The word He gave to me as my guide for the whole year was Jeremiah 33. It was a promise of restoration. I particularly claimed His promise in Jeremiah 33:3: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and  unsearchable things you do not know.” Indeed, 2017 was a year when I get to know God at a different level. It’s a year of restoration, abundant peace and security. The year has been great for me not only in my personal ministry but also in my family and even in my work. Let me now share to you some the things that God has done for me in 2017:

  1. Birthday Celebration with my family. This year’s celebration  of my birthday was a little extra special because I celebrated it with my parents. I can’t even remember when was the last time I celebrated my birthday with my family. If I recall it right, I think  I was still in high school or even in elementary when we celebrated my birthday as a complete family.  But I don’t resent it because I understand that birthday celebrations  have to be  that way because of our circumstances. I got so used to celebrating my birthday either alone or with my friends that I’ve learned how to make my birthday celebrations more meaningful every year, with or without my family. So this year, God has given me the grace to celebrate it with them. 🙂 Plus, He answered my three specific birthday requests which I will share later.
  2. Free local and international travels. Two of the things I asked from God for  my birthday were free local and international travels. I wasn’t able to travel much in 2016 because I realized that travel isn’t everything. I came to a point where I thought the places I’ve been to looked all the same to me so it’s no longer exciting. Plus, our situation in 2016 would not allow me to stay out of town for a long time. But then I thought maybe I should try traveling again and see if I can look at it in a different perspective. So I ask God to allow me to go to different places in the country and  allow me to travel abroad again this year, and God was gracious to answer my prayer. I’ve been to at least four new provinces (Dipolog, Antique, Baler and Dinapigue, Isabela) and I was able to go back to two of my favorite places in the country (Palawan and Iloilo). God has also allowed me to travel to Thailand for the first time.  All of these travels are for free so I was spared from spending too much on experience. The places I’ve been to this year still all looked the same to me but what makes each place special are the people I get to spend time with during these travels. The journey going to these places are also notable so I praise God  for these experiences.
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    Thailand adventure with Jaki

  3. National Cell Leaders’ Summit (NCLS) 2017. The NCLS was one of the things I’ve been looking forward to in 2017.  Although I’m not sure at first if I will be able to meet the requirement for attending the summit, by faith, I claimed that I will be able to go and see my friends from other ministry areas. True enough God has arranged the circumstances so I would be able to meet the requirements and attend the summit. It was  indeed a refreshing and encouraging time with my brethren from all over the country.  During the summit, God has reminded me to take my commitment to Him seriously and realize the urgency of the Gospel.
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    Reunion with LDI batchmates during the NCLS

  4. New ministry areas and clearer ministry direction. One of the things I prayed to God at the start of the year was to grant me a clearer ministry direction. I was also challenged to ask God where He would want to use me in the advancement of His kingdom. So right after the  NCLS, I was instructed to stay at my place in  Quezon City because He is about to start a ministry in the area. Before the summit, I’ve already decided to move out and transfer to a place nearer to my work place. But few days before we transfer, God challenged me to abandon my plan and told me to stay. It was not an easy decision to stay, but for every argument I present to God, He always have an answer. So even if it’s hard, I have to obey God and chose to stay. Later, I realized it was not a bad decision after all. God has indeed made my personal ministry a little easier for me this year by opening up new ministry opportunities near my workplace.  I also now have an idea where God wants to use. As bonus, He also answered my prayer to open up ministry opportunity in one of the places I’m praying for after my LDI in 2013.
  5. New and Rekindled Friendships. If there’s one thing that made my 2017 a colorful year, it’s the time I spent with my friends  not only from the ministry but also from other circles. I used to complain a few years ago about how having so many circle of friends can also be disadvantageous. So I intentionally distanced myself from old friends and decided to focus in the ministry. I don’t know what happened but I got more social this year. Not the drink and be merry type of social, but more on hanging out with friends to catch up. I’m glad that after four years, I was able to go and hang out with my LDI batchmates from Metro Manila. I also enjoyed every conversation I had with my friends from work every lunch. The new prayer meeting group I joined this year also gave me new opportunities to meet new friends and know more people from church. Lastly, God has also provided me opportunities to spend more time with my old high school and college friends.

These are just some of the things that I want to praise God for.  I still don’t know what to look forward to in 2018 but I trust God that it will be another great year.

Day 22. What fictional character in a movie, TV show, or book do you identify with and why?

Just so you know, I’m not planning to give up on this challenge so….

I’m back!

And because I’m  so excited to share my favorite fictional characters, let’s skip that long introduction and let’s get straight down to business.

I have several characters in mind when it comes to fictional characters that I can identify with. But because I want to make this post short and sweet, I’ll just mention my two most favorite characters. The first one is Stargirl Caraway from the book, Stargirl; and the second one is Anne Shirley of the Anne of Green Gables series.

Stargirl Caraway


She laughed when there was no joke. She danced when there was no music.She had no friends, yet she was the friendliest person in school. In her answers in class, she often spoke of sea horses and stars, but she did not know what a football was…

She was elusive. She was today. She was tomorrow. She was the faintest scent of a cactus flower, the flitting shadow of an elf owl. We did not know what to make of her. In our minds we tried to pin her to a corkboard like a butterfly, but the pin merely went through and away she flew.


I read the book a few years ago and I fell in love with Stargirl’s character right away.  As I’ve said in my book review, I like Stargirl because she’s weird, innocent and carefree.  I can easily relate with her because sometimes, I feel like I’m also living in my own world, and  I don’t care if people will find me weird. Just like her, I also try to act nonchalant but deep inside, I care a lot. She’s misunderstood by most people because she does not conform to the poplular opinion of  the around her.

Anne Shirley


Matthew was not looking at her and would not have seen what she was really like if he had been, but an ordinary observer would have seen this: A child of about eleven, garbed in a very short, very tight, very ugly dress of yellowish-gray wincey. She wore a faded brown sailor hat and beneath the hat, extending down her back, were two braids of very thick, decidedly red hair. Her face was small, white and thin, also much freckled; her mouth was large and so were her eyes, which looked green in some lights and moods and gray in others.

So far, the ordinary observer; an extraordinary observer might have seen that the chin was very pointed and pronounced; that the big eyes were full of spirit and vivacity; that the mouth was sweet-lipped and expressive; that the forehead was broad and full; in short, our discerning extraordinary observer might have concluded that no commonplace soul inhabited the body of this stray woman-child of whom shy Matthew Cuthbert was so ludicrously afraid.


The first time I met Anne Shirley through this description and her conversation with Matthew, I thought she’s amusing and a very talk4ative girl. As the story progress, I found out that she’s indeed amusing and there’s more to her than meets the eye. She’s also a kindred spirit who loves big words, ambitious, and is full of imagination. As you get to know her throughout the story, you’ll discover that she’s one of the fictional character with the most beautiful soul. Despite her sad family background and childhood, she still have this positive outlook in life and can even add life and joy to the people around her. Because of her beautiful character, her life also ended up very well in the end.

I said I can relate with Anne Shirley because I wanted to be like her. I also want to add joy to the people around me and bring positive influence to them.

That’s all for now. 😀

The Other Prodigal Son

​​11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:11-24)

Perhaps most of us are familiar with the story of the prodigal son. Some may even consider this passage as their favorite because the story of the prodigal son is something that we can easily relate to. Like the younger son, we are prone to  wander somewhere and squander our Father’s wealth in wild living. And of course, how could we not love God who, like the father, is willing to wait for us to come back to our senses and welcome us when we return, despite of what we have done?

I used to love this passage as well and lately, God has been reminding me about the story of the prodigal son. But this time, instead of the younger son, I can identify myself more with the older son.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on.27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” (Luke 11:25-31)

Just like the older son, I have been with God ever since I came to know Him. I’ve been slaving for Him and trying not to disobey His orders. But then recently, my heart is starting to argue with God about how come I cannot enjoy my life so much and celebrate it with my friends,  so now I’m on the verge of refusing to join the celebration for the return of my lost brothers and sisters? I am at a point of my faith life where I’m starting to question God’s promise on my personal ministry that better things are yet to come. And honestly, even praying is a struggle for me these days because I’m not even sure God will give me positive answer.

 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 

This answer of the Father to the older son’s argument also seems open-ended and vague to me. Just like the older son, I really don’t know how to respond to this.

Will you please pray for me again?

Week 2. A song that reminds you of your most recent ex-boyfriend/girlfriend

It’s week 2 of our weekly challenge and I must admit that I’m quite excited to share the song I’m thinking about for this topic.

Well…. Since I never had an ex-bf, I’ll just share the song that reminds me of ex-office crush, haha!

I used to sing this song in my head whenever I see him pass by in front of me (literally) to buy something from my officemate’s store.

Just listen to the lyrics and you will understand why. ?

The good news is, we’re sort of talking now. Through online interactions only, though. But I want to keep it that way. Just some online friends.(And I hope he doesn’t get to read this.??)

Here’s Lynai’s entry.

P.S.

Good news! We have a new recruit, yay! Check out Anna’s entries for week 1 and week 2

Day 21. How would you pitch a reality show about yourself? To what network?

 

I’m not sure if I get this question right so I’ll just try to answer this question from the top of my mind.

There’s this reality show that I used to watch back in my childhood days. It’s called Extra Challenge, a local TV program in our country, and was hosted by news anchor Paolo Bediones and former Ms. Universe Runner-Up Miriam Quiambao. The show was a reality competition that features local celebrities who were tasked to complete a certain extreme challenge such as jumping on the river from a bridge, eating exotic food like roasted beetles, among others. I used to love that show because I find it amusing to see the different reactions of the participants before and after completing a cerain task.

If I were to pitch a reality show about myself, I think I would choose something similar to this debunked TV program. I want to try doing things that I would never dare to do so this program is a good venue for that. As to what network, I would choose the local network with least number of viewers so that only few people will watch it. ?

Week 1: A song from Your Childhood

Welcome to our first week of the challenge!

I got pressured by Lynai’s Week 1 post so here’s mine (haha!). I don’t know why but I remember this is one of my favorite songs back in my elementary days. My older relative introduced it to me and taught me the lyrics and I’ve never forgotten this song up until now.

Yesterday’s Dream

We are the children of yesterday’s dream
We are the promise of the future we bring
Waving the banners of love to all
To every nation, the rich and the poor

Refrain:

We are the world of the restless and young
And we need a hand to guide us
Helping each other
Build each other
As long as we’re together you and me

Chorus:
For together we stand, divided we fall
Together we climb to the top of the world
We can be what we what for the world to see
That we are the children of yesterday’s dream

We have the yearning to do what is best
Be someone special from all the rest
Nation and brothers in unity
Building tomorrow for you and for me

Why I No Longer Consider Myself a Hardcore Environmentalist

Okay, before you make any violent reaction, let me tell you first that I still do believe that we should take care of the environment. First, because it is a God-given mandate to all human beings to be stewards of God’s creation. And second, because the state of our environment can really affect the state of our well-being.

Last Friday, I attended a meeting and was glad to see my former officemate there. We used to work together in an environmental NGO and we’re still both working in the field of environmental conservation and sustainable development. After our usual ‘catching up’ conversation, our topic went back to work-related stuff. Then we suddenly shifted to talking about our future plans and my friend expressed his frustrations and disappointments about development work and the quality of life here in Manila. He confessed that what he really wants is just to stay in the province and live a simple and stress-free life. He also shared that sometimes, he can’t help but wonder what’s the point of doing all these environment-related work when we know that God will destroy this planet in the end? This friend of mine is also a Christian so I said I agree with him and share the same sentiment. I told him that sometimes, I also ask God if what we are doing are really worth the effort since this world is not really meant to stay forever.

My friend further shared that out of frustration, he even asks God when will the rapture be, just so because we all wanted these frustrating things in the world to end. The meeting was about to start so we ended our conversation there.

Our discussion was actually short but for me, it was meaningful and comforting because it was really nice to know that there are still people out there who share my views about environment and development work. As a Christian who is working in the development sector, it is really a struggle for me to stay passionate about my work because I know that no matter what I do, my output will never have a lasting value. Yes, it can contribute in making the lives of the people comfortable for a while, but later on, seemingly new problems and issues will arise. I said seemingly new because, the emerging issues are not actually new as the root of most problems is the same ~~ SIN. As what the teacher in Ecclesiastes says,

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.
(Ecclesiastes 1:9‭-‬10 NIV)

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”
(Ecclesiastes 1:2 NIV)

Unless we address the cause of the problem of this world, everything will be meaningless.

The good news is, God has already addressed the problem of SIN by sending His Son, Jesus. And with Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection, we can now overcome the world by His power, if we will also allow Him to rule our life. So as Christians, we can always escape the corruption of this world by holding on to God’s promises.

Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (2 Peter 1:4 NIV)

Just to make sure that I get the point, God gave me this Word the following day:

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;(Psalm 24:1 NIV)

The commentary in the Bible I am using for my quiet time said that because “the earth is the Lord’s”, we are all stewards or caretakers. We should be committed to the proper management of this world and its resources. However, we are not to become devoted to anything created or act as sole proprietor because this world will pass away.

In conclusion, the environment and its resources were given to us by God for our own use and enjoyment. As stewards, we are expected to use these resources wisely. However, we should not also hold on to these resources too tightly, as if it is more important than humanity itself, because God will someday make this world disappear. My earthly work is important, but winning souls is far more important and more fulfilling because it has eternal value.

{Book Review}: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (Gail Honeyman)

 

Title: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Author: Gail Honeyman
Date Read: August 3-19, 2017
Rating: ★★★★

SUMMARY:


Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.

Then everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living–and it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.


MY THOUGHTS:

I have always enjoyed reading, but I’ve never been sure how to select appropriate material. There are so many books in the world—how do you tell them all apart? How do you know which one will match your tastes and interests? That’s why I just pick the first book I see. There’s no point in trying to choose. The covers are of very little help, because they always say only good things, and I’ve found out to my cost that they’re rarely accurateI have always enjoyed reading, but I’ve never been sure how to select appropriate material. There are so many books in the world—how do you tell them all apart? How do you know which one will match your tastes and interests? That’s why I just pick the first book I see. There’s no point in trying to choose. The covers are of very little help, because they always say only good things, and I’ve found out to my cost that they’re rarely accurate.

These words of Eleanor Oliphant pretty sum up how I came across to this book. For the past few months, I’ve been disappointed with myself for not reading enough as I have promised earlier this year (simply because too much Kdrama, haha!). And then 2 weeks ago, this book popped up in my recommended reading list in goodreads and the summary piqued my interest. I’ve always been a fan of stories with introverted and eccentric characters and I have a feeling that Eleanor Oliphant is one of them. So I decided to try this one. True enough, Eleanor is truly an interesting and relatable character.

At first I thought this is a funny book, but as I follow Eleanor’s routine as described in the story, I realized that her life is far from funny. While I understand why she thinks that she is completely fine from her perspective, I can’t also help but feel sad for her for having that kind of lifestyle. I know very well how does it feel living alone, and it’s true that it can get lonely sometimes even if I don’t admit it. Though unlike Eleanor, I have life outside my work and my home, and I have a lot of friends and people to whom I can talk to, so being lonely is not a perpetual thing for me. That is why I can only imagine how hard it is for Eleanor to bear all that emotions she had been bottling up for years.

Overall, I really liked reading this book because it has provided a balanced combination of wit, humor and drama. I also liked how the author pulled the story together in such a way that I did not get disappointed in the end. After all, I’m still a fan of redemptive ending. As what Eleanor has said, “In the end, what matters is this: I survived.”

P.S. Special thanks to Lynai for agreeing to buddy-read this book with me. Indeed, reading is more fun when you’re doing it with someone else. ?

I’m Keeping You at Arm’s Length

Photo courtesy of weheartit

I’m keeping you at arm’s length
Because it’s the right thing to do,
Because I believe it’s not yet the appointed time.
I’m not even sure if I’m making the right judgment.
I’m keeping you at arm’s length
Because I don’t want things to get messy.
Closer means risky and risk unguarded can lead to disaster.
I’m keeping you at arm’s length
Because I’m busy,
I’m busy trying to get my life together
And keep it from falling apart.
I’m keeping you at arm’s length
Because I’m not bold enough
And I don’t want to get vulnerable.
I’m afraid that by holding you close,
I might end up pushing you away.
I’m keeping you at arm’s length
Because that’s the only way I can keep you.