Thursday, July 31, 2014

{Truth Thursday} When in pain...

I am just like any human being—I get hurt, I feel the pain of acts done to me, words spoken against me in my face and even those whispered behind my back. I cry in pain when I learn that I am being condemned without the opportunity of having myself heard. I am hurt when people bully me with my mistakes or failures in the past.

When I feel the pain, I can’t breathe. The pain becomes too physical to bear. 

When I feel the pain, I cannot think. The pain becomes a mental blank where I just want to feel numb and dumb. 

When I feel the pain, my heart just could not take it. The pain becomes a paralysis to my body and soul.  

I can’t get over the pain because no one has ever asked forgiveness for it.

Does this make me less of a Christian? Does this make me a failure in my Christian walk?

I am just too glad I found this over at (in)courage today. This is just what I needed and I just feel like God is talking to me. The timing could not have been so perfect. 

And as I end this post, my prayer is that the Lord will equip and enable me to manage this particular pain in my heart in a healthy, Godly way. Because the truth is, He wants us to come to Him in our brokenness and weaknesses. He wants to refine us until we reflect His glory. 

I believe the Lord is molding me in this area of my life--handling pain. Will you say a prayer for me in this current struggle of mine?

How about you--have you felt too much pain that paralyzes you? How did you handle the situation? I would definitely love to hear your tips! :))

Sunday, July 27, 2014

An Open Letter to All Single Ladies

Dear Beautiful Child of God,

You are loved. You are beautiful.

You probably have never heard these two truths and that is why I am telling you now.

Or, maybe, you have heard these carelessly thrown at you as a flattery to manipulate you to give up your very being that the words have lost their meaning. 

And that is why I am telling you this again, straight from my heart: 

You are loved. You don't have to do anything or to be anyone in order to be loved. 

You are beautiful. You don't have to have porcelain skin and shiny hair in order to be considered a beauty. You don't have to stand 5'6" tall or to have perfectly-aligned teeth to be beautiful. 


It is unfortunate that the world has given you wrong concepts of love and an unattainable standard of beauty. 

Romance novels and movies have distorted your idea that love is all about grand surprises, walks in the park while holding hands, and passionate kisses that lead you to his bed and give up your purity. There is more to love than satisfying your needs or being the satisfaction of someone else's. 

Likewise sad is the world's portrayal of beauty as depicted in glossy magazines with waif-thin supermodels made up and styled for hours by make-up artists and professional stylists. There is more to beauty than the physical body. There is more to beauty than the stylish clothes and accessories you wear. 

Of course, it is quite easy to succumb to these lies the world has thrown at you. You might not even think that the world is capable of lying to you. But trust me, it does. And how do i know this?

Because I was once like you. 

In my not so distant past, I was more than preoccupied of making myself physically attractive than anything else. I lost my confidence in high school when I found out that to my classmates and to the rest of the world, my misaligned teeth spelled out u-g-l-i-n-e-s-s. I dreamt of being loved and swept off my feet by my knight in a shining car and of spending every hour with him, just like in the movies and novels. I had crushes and I "loved" and was "loved" back only to be crushed by pain and to be discarded like an old toy. So, I browsed some more magazines and the Internet to search for what's hot and what's not in fashion to make myself cool. I colored my nails and had hair treatments and wore clothes which were considered in style. I shifted my thought system and allowed the world to shape me. But I never felt enough. I was happy but I felt empty. I was going around but lost. 

And then, in the midst of everything, God found me. I was wretched when He found me. I was at my lowest when He found me. I was at my worst when He found me. 



I have found love, acceptance, and forgiveness in Christ. I have found the true value of love in His eyes. I have learned that beauty is not about what can be seen, but what He can see in my heart. 

So, I want to tell you today, beautiful child of God, stop looking for love in a man. Instead, take this invitation to be loved by the Perfect Lover of all times. And let your eyes be opened to a new definition of beauty as He designed it to be. 

And if you already have Him in your heart, remember that you are precious. You are already beautiful in His eyes. Do not give away your pearls to the pigs and dogs. Rest in His love alone and let Him write your perfect love story. 

Trust Him. I trusted Him and He was faithful to His promises. I trusted Him and I am now living His perfect love story. 

Love, 
Zu


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Danger of Christianity

The danger of Christianity is when we become lax to accommodate relationships and when we try to twist, re-arrange, and interpret God's word to suit what tickles our ears. In short, the danger of Christianity is compromise in the guise of a sacrifice. 
                                                                                                                                -www.renewedcreation.blogspot.com

Thursday, July 10, 2014

{Truth Thursday} Feeling small?



Assisting and partnering with my husband in the Youth Ministry of our church has allowed me to meet many amazing and inspiring and I dare say, great, Christians. I am always blessed with their testimonies on how God is working in their lives and how faithful they have been, despite the difficulties. 

At the same time, observing my husband tackle his role as a youth worker in church has allowed me to see the many big tasks and challenges the Lord has placed and  allowed to be conquered by His grace. 

Very recently, we had a Youth Retreat for all young people in church (and some of their invited friends) and I was just amazed at how the Lord equipped my husband to make everything possible. Being a government employee from 8am-5pm, the only thing that I could actually do was to prepare my lecture on Submission to Authorities and relevant laws for the youth of today and to show up at the venue. Even the packing of our things has to be done by my dear husband. 

Because of this, I sometimes would feel too small of myself when it comes to the ministry. Because I have a deceitful and sinful heart very much prone to the enticements of the enemy, there were times that I would feel discouraged and I would even question my worth as a worker in God's Kingdom. 

I feel too small. Unimportant. Very much disposable. Insignificant. 

There are times that I would secretly wish I had the humor and wit of another so it would be easier for me to share the Gospel. At times, too, I'd feel bad about myself not being capable of doing great things for the Lord, not being able to lead a large group Bible study, not being able to treat young people to more expensive cafes and restos, not being able to be fashionably updated so I can relate more with them, etc. In short, I hated myself, the one God created me to be.  

Of course, as I have stated in the earlier paragraph, this problem stems in my heart. 

And I am so thankful that the Lord always knows the depths of my heart and His Truth (the Bible) is always there to heal my insecurities. 

I am currently re-reading the Book of Acts in my morning devotional and sometime last month, I was in Chapter 6 where the story of Stephen starts. I have always been fascinated by the life of Stephen and how the Bible describes him: a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit. Later, he is then described to have the face that looked like an angel. 

But who is Stephen by the way?

In Chapter 6, his name is mentioned as one of the seven men chosen by the 12 disciples for the daily distribution of foods among the believers. Because this concern on daily food distribution was entrusted to them, the disciples were able to devote themselves to prayer and ministry of the word and the word of God spread that even the high priests believed in Jesus Christ.

In the next verses, we learned that Stephen did amazing wonders and miracles because he was full of God's grace and power. This made some men oppose him and when they could not outdo Stephen's wisdom from the Spirit, they planned to have Stephen eliminated. Chapter 7 and Chapter 8 narrate Stephen's speech before the Sanhedrin and his death by stoning. 

What the New Living Translation (NLT) Life Application Bible mentions about Stephen is quite enlightening. What was highlighted in the Commentary/Notes is the fact that I have (and I believe most of us have) neglected many times--Stephen started serving the Lord in the daily distribution of food for all of the believers!

Yes, he, along with the other six men, distributed food among the believers on a day to day basis. Sounds boring, right? Insignificant? Small? A task too negligible to be appreciated? Without batting an eyelash, I would probably say yes to all. 

But Stephen was not chosen to do this seemingly "small" task because he was less important. In fact, he was chosen because he met the criteria: full of the Spirit and wisdom. 

Another thing that struck me here is the fact that Stephen did not complain when he was given that "small" task of distributing food. For my very limited human view, I would have considered such task too menial and too un-spiritual. But hey, if we look closely to the verses, the Gospel spread rapidly because the 12 disciples were able to devote to the word and the ministry of the word and this was because Stephen and the six men were faithful to their seemingly "small" and menial task of food distribution. 

Later on, we see Stephen's life being used greatly by God. He was the first to die for Jesus Christ and because of his death, the believers were scattered; thus, the Gospel spread throughout Judea and Samaria and around the world. His death profoundly impacted Saul, a staunch persecutor of the Christians, who was later on converted to the faith and became the amazing Paul. 

Such is the dynamics of the early church. God has placed every single soul for a purpose. There was no superstar complex nor did the believers compete with each other neither did they compare themselves with one another. There was no small or big task.

They simply did their job with so much love and faithfulness for Jesus Christ. 

Because the truth is, the Lord does not look at how big our task is or how great our performance of our ministry is. More than anything else, He cares at our faithfulness, even on things that might come as "small" to our limited human standards. 

So, whether we only wash dishes in church, or we are assigned with the distribution of giveaways, or we are merely the LCD projector operator during Sundays, (or even if we are not yet involved in the ministry but we merely pray and study the Word)--let's do it with so much love and faithfulness to our King! 

No task is ever too small to Him. And He knows when and how to promote those who are faithful.

I pray that today, if you are reading this, you will be blessed by the Word of God through the life of Stephen and that the next time you feel small, you will think of this truth: God does not care at the size of our ministry; He cares at our faithfulness. 

Happy {Truth Thursday}!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

God's Perfect Timing

We are eight months married. Eight months and nine days, to be exact.

Marriage is a risk and we took that risk four days after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake rocked our province--proof that God's foundation standeth sure despite environmental unsureness. This is my first time to share a photo taken during our wedding day showing the Ring Ceremony with my fave nephew (then two years old) bringing our nest ring pillow. 
Since then, we've had our share of ups and downs, fights and challenges. We have known more of each other and most importantly, learned to bear with each other in God's love. Daily, we learn about God's amazing grace, love, and forgiveness.

We've shouted at each other, hurled insults, and made up. We learned to swallow our pride, by God's grace. I cried a whole lot. He cried a whole lot as well. And everyday, I see more and more glimpses of Jesus in my husband, and, hopefully, he sees Jesus in me as well. :))



I have a lot to share about our marriage and what the Lord has been teaching us both. Sadly though, most people are only concerned about one thing, commonly verbalized in these questions/statements: Are you pregnant yet? Are you not having a baby anytime soon? No baby yet? You should hurry up and double time! The best time to have a baby is now asap!

There are those who give pieces of their minds in the following manner: That's alright. Baby can come in later. You should save up first to better provide for a baby. Gotta build a house first before making babies. 

Please don't get me wrong. 

I do love babies and I love talking to these friends and hearing their advises. And I acknowledge the fact that all of them want the best for us as a couple. 

But, sometimes, it can get a whole lot stressful and confusing that I sometimes find myself wishing that they would talk to me about what God has been doing in our marriage, instead of pregnancy or baby-making. 

Because, honestly, because of what they say, I sometimes find myself wishing that I'd get pregnant as soon as possible or thinking about delaying the baby after everything is fine. 

But I am just thankful that every time I find myself wrestling with these thoughts, God would ever gently pull my focus back to Him and say: Don't listen to anyone but to Me alone. Look at me, alone! My timing is always perfect. 

So, the moment this pregnancy-having-a-baby concern comes to my mind, I find assurance that my God, my Lord and Savior is more than able to bring all things into our lives in His perfect timing. If He gives His only Son, Jesus Christ to save me from my sins, how can he not give us a child or children? 

If Jesus wills it, then if I'll ever get pregnant tomorrow or next week, He is more than enough to provide for our physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual needs. And if He decides to give us a baby or children later on, He is more than able to make it possible, despite our ages and physical limitations by then. 

And even if He does not, we will continue to praise Him, and love Him and call Him our Perfect Father.

As it is, it is all by God's grace and timing. :) 

All Photos are from our Engagement Session and Wedding Ceremony taken
from the amazing talents of Super Seven Studios.
There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every[a]event under heaven—
A time to give birth and a time to die;

...11 He has made everything [b]appropriate in its time. 
                     
                       ~Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, 11 (NASB)

Monday, July 7, 2014

{Marriage Monday} What I Learned About Forgiveness... (Part 3)


Before couples can "kiss and make up," they need to forgive. Before they can forgive, someone must be humble enough to ask for it. 

And this is where my finale post on forgiveness comes in. Part 1 and Part 2 may be helpful. And as I end this series of lessons learned, I pray that we will continue to grow in loving and forgiving our partners the way Jesus loves and forgives us. I am not perfect as I am still under construction by the wonderful pruning and perfecting hands of my Lord and Savior. (In fact, I find myself always being tested almost every time I finish my {Marriage Monday} posts!) And so is my husband dear. So really, Jesus Christ is the hand that holds all marriages together. Let's always be mindful of His presence and if you want Him to be in your marriage,you have to have Him in your heart because He alone is the Perfect Lover.  

3) FORGIVENESS STARTS WITH HUMILITY. 

I certainly cannot forgive if I feel so perfect. My husband cannot forgive either if he thinks that he is the most upright man in this whole wide world. 

So, in order to forgive, I must know that, just like my husband, I am also bound to sin. I am a sinner and it is only by God's grace that I am saved forever, that just like him, I may commit the same blunder, may say something offensive or may do something stupid. Even if I may not commit the same mistakes as his, the fact still remains that I will commit mistakes and some may even be worse than his. 

On the other side of forgiveness is the ability to ask for it. And it also starts with humility. Say, if I say something that offended my husband, I may find myself justifying my words or actions with any reason, whether it be logical or emotional, but the fact will always remain that I have hurt him. I may have the cleanest of all intentions but if by my tone or approach, my husband was hurt, then, I still have to say sorry and ask him to forgive me. And I need humility in order to do that. 

This lesson, by far, is the hardest pill to swallow. When one of my spiritual mentors told me this, my logically controlling mind was screaming: WHHHAATT? I still need to say sorry even if I am right? 

But later on I learned that, in relationships (friendships included), we should know our priorities. Is being right more important to me than the preservation of my relationship with my husband? Of course not! So, even if I am right, and even if my intentions are for his good, if he feels hurt with what I say, I always ask the Holy Spirit to give me humility to say sorry. 



Perhaps this is quite unpopular with the world today because as I see it, the world tries to portray humility as sooo un-cool and sooo not in. With the rise of social media where flaunting ourselves and what we have is glorified, humility has taken the back seat. In the cut-throat corporate world, we are made to believe that it is better to be powerful than to be weak. And humility is always associated with being weak. 

But the Bible says otherwise. In fact, the greatest thing that ever happened to the human race began with the humility of Jesus Christ. In chapter 2, verses 5-11 of Paul's letter to the Philippians, we are given the most vivid picture of humility as demonstrated by Jesus Christ. 

In his deity and power, He allowed himself to be subjected to human weaknesses so He can understand our sinfulness. Yet, He never sinned. And though He is God Himself, He suffered the Cross and died for us. But He did not remain dead for He was raised again on the third day.  

Us! Who are we to have God die for us? We are filthy and useless sinners, yes! But He chose to die for us and our sins so we can live eternal life with Him. 

This, to me, is mind-blowing! By Jesus' death and resurrection, all my sins are forgiven. Yes, ALL my sins--even those that I hide from anyone else--THESE.ARE.FORGIVEN. Blotted out. Washed clean. 

And it humbles me so much. Let's be honest, it is only ourselves who know the secret things we do in the dark and if we are just to be honest with God, we know how sinful we are. Yet, He forgives us freely and provided His only Son ahead of us.

Practical Application: So, how do I apply this precious truth in my marriage? In conflicts, whether I am the one who needs to say sorry or the one who should forgive, I always look at Jesus, remember who HE is, remember who I was and still am, and remember how much He has forgiven me. It certainly not easy and there were many times that I looked at myself instead of Him, but I praise and thank God for His grace that continually convicts me and changes me to be more like Him! :)





Monday, June 30, 2014

{Marriage Monday} What I Learned About Forgiveness... (Part 2)

Last week, I was down with colds and a very high fever and I had to take a leave of absence for two days. That was my season of rest. Today, aside from my weird voice due to colds, I am fairly okay by God's amazing grace and faithfulness. And I praise my Lord and Savior for finally allowing me to break free from my Monday sickness! Yes, that's my new term for it since I have been weak and sickly almost every Monday. Perhaps, my body longs to have longer weekends? You bet! :)

Anyhow, I am writing this with a very overused brain as I have just finished making a pleading (Demurrer to Evidence, specifically) and entertaining clients, making Counter-Affidavits, etc. As to what are these terms, I hope and pray that I find time to be able to write about what I do and perhaps share some of the vital information in my profession. I am initially planning to call it Legally Aware and Simplified Saturdays. LASS, for short. Hahahaha. But I am not yet sure. I find LASS a bit much trying hard. :D

So, for today, here's Part 2 on What I Learned About Forgiveness. You can read Part 1 first or later. ;)



2) FORGIVENESS MUST BE A WAY OF LIFE FOR BOTH HUSBAND AND WIFE. 

This is not something that is usually taught in psychology or guidance counselling but is always reiterated in the Bible. The Word of God repeats the same lesson/principle (not just for couples but for all of us)--Forgive just as I have forgiven you--and this only means one thing: Forgiveness must be so ingrained in our hearts and minds that it becomes innate in us. It becomes a way of life because that's how the Lord designed us to be--Christ-like. If He, the King of all kings and God of all gods, keeps on forgiving us of our sins, how can we not forgive the sins of others? 

This parable shared by Jesus Christ comes to mind and I am always overwhelmed at how the Lord values the true motives of our hearts than anything else. He wants us to be a revelation of who He is, specifically, His forgiving nature. He wants us to live forgiveness, not because we are good, but because He is good in our lives. Then, in another Gospel book, Jesus reiterates forgiveness and reconciliation.

Practical Application: So, how do we practice forgiveness as a way of life? In our relationship as husband and wife, we must be humble enough to ask for forgiveness once we sense we have hurt or offended the other and be able to give forgiveness when our partners ask us for one. It is inevitable that in our lifetime commitment to stay together that trials and misunderstandings will arise as we are two different individuals. But if we practice forgiveness as a way of life, there will still be misunderstandings and conflicts, but the load will be a whole lot easier. 

A concrete example will be this: If my husband hurts me (intentionally or unintentionally) and he later asks for forgiveness, we immediately tackle the issue. We do not let work or entertainment get in the way. We face the issue and be gracious with forgiveness. 

On my part, if I offend my husband, intentionally or unintentionally, and I sense that he is offended or when he tells me that he is, I might find a thousand reasons not to ask for forgiveness but I choose to eat my pride, acknowledge that I am wrong and that he is hurt and be humble to ask for forgiveness.. 

It is not easy but by the grace of God, this is very much doable. :))

Thursday, June 19, 2014

On why I make a big deal out of unequal yoking with unbelievers...



Recently, I have been asked straight to my face this question, and I paraphrase: Why is it a big deal for you and your hubby that believers should not be involved in relationships with unbelievers?

To be honest, I was taken aback by it. I was not expecting a Christian girl to ask me that way. Though I knew she meant it in a sincere and straightforward manner, I can also sense the resentment in her tone. My husband and I have been heavily advocating and warning young Christians to avoid unequal yoking. Sadly and regrettably though, I have received such a flak, even from fellow believers. :( Lest I be misinterpreted here, let me just be honest that I have own up to my mistakes (in the approach, in my tone of voice, in my avenues). And yes, though I do not sin in this unequal yoking part but I still sin (because none of us is perfect) but it does not necessarily mean that just because I am a sinner, I am no longer allowed to take my conviction on this matter. Right? 

Anyhow, my answer to that question was simple: 

"I am not the one making a big deal out of it. Neither is it my husband. It is God's word [the Bible] which says so. And no matter how imperfect we are, it should be our highest desire and pleasure in life to obey what our Lord and Master says. If we are on the same faith, then, we should be serious in doing what the Lord says." 

Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio wrote a very compelling and clarifying piece on her thoughts about believers dating unbelievers. If you find yourself reading this and would like to know more, I recommend that you read it by clicking here. She has eloquently stated what the Bible says and has untangled the complexity of the principle by boiling it down to one important choice: trusting the Lord or holding on to your non-believing date.

There is also an interesting article about the same principle and I recommend that you click and read just the same. It is important to be well-informed, whether you are a believer contemplating to enter into a relationship, one who is already in an unequally yoked relationship and seeking God's will, or a Christian desiring to grow in faith. 

And as you learn and discover on this principle, I pray that the Lord will lead you to His truth and by His enabling grace through the Holy Spirit, may you be strengthened to do what He says. 

Obey God, not man. 

This is it for Truth Thursday :)) Enjoy the rest of the week. 

*Photo does not belong to me; it was taken from here.

Monday, June 16, 2014

{Marriage Monday} What I Learned About Forgiveness... (Part 1)

I missed two {Marriage Monday} series because I was unexpectedly extremely sick for the last two Mondays, which led to a half-meant joke between me and hubby dear about me being pregnant. But I am now in my menstrual period and as hubby dear and I say, we rely in God's perfect timing. :)

Still, I know not why I have been feeling sluggish lately but my self-explanation is that I have been mindlessly eating junk food or food with less or no nutritional value at all. But, that deserves another blog entry, really. 

For now, let me focus on what I have promised to deliver during my last post: several lessons the Lord has taught me when it comes to forgiveness. Please bear in mind that I am still a work in progress in all aspects of my life so it does not necessarily mean I have learned all these by heart. Sometimes, I had to learn, un-learn, and re-learn several of these and it is only by God's grace that I was able to do so. Also, some of these lessons I have learned first-hand while the others I have learned through the more mature Godly women the Lord has placed in my life. 

This is my NIV Study Bible which I covered with artpaper and prettified with fabric flowers, serving as our Bible during our wedding ceremony. My hubby has a bigger one in the same version and this has helped us in our daily devotionals. One of my favorite parts during our wedding was the Symbols Ceremony where Pastor Joe reminded us that the Bible should always remain our guide and standard in living our lives. Indeed, the Bible--God's Word--has a lot to say about forgiveness and we could very well take advantage of it by applying His principles in our lives as husband and wife! 

1) FORGIVENESS IS CHRIST-LIKE. 

More often than not, I am always lost on how to forgive. Most of the time (back then and until now), I have this tendency to hold on to my emotions, thinking that I have the right and privilege to do so. Then, I learned that holding on to my emotions is like putting myself on the throne of my heart, instead of Christ sitting there because I already have accepted Him as my personal Lord and Savior. I felt like that I have unceremoniously and disrespectfully executed power-grabbing against my King. So, I started to let go of my emotions, telling myself that the throne of my heart rightfully belongs to Jesus. This has made "emotional letting go" so much easier. 

So, how do we forgive like Christ? We forgive based on His truth (the Bible), not on our emotions and standards. The Bible says that we must love and forgive each other just as Christ loves and forgives us.  

How does Christ love me? He loves me by dying for and in my behalf while I am still a sinner. How does He forgive me? He does so by forgiving me always, not by my own righteousness but by His own righteousness which He freely gives to me once I truly accepted Him in my heart. 

Meditating and fully grasping this perfect love and faithful forgiveness of my Lord and Savior allows me to fully appreciate what He did and continues to do in me and in my husband. Knowing how he loves and forgives me provides my guide or standard on how I should forgive my husband (or anyone else who offends me). If I am loved and forgiven by Christ, then, I know that I should also love and forgive the same way he does love and forgive me. 

A flower will not bloom without water and sunlight. So it is with our marriages.
It will not bloom without love and forgiveness. 

Practical Application: How do I love my husband just as Christ loves me? I love him not just for his good qualities but also for his shortcomings and weaknesses (no one is perfect). I love him even if I don't feel like loving him at times. I love him even if he is unlovable at times. 

This is actually easier said than done but it is worth the intentional practice. During times of misunderstanding and conflicts, when my hubby dear offends me with his words or actions, it is quite tempting to sulk in hatred and misery. But I found out that the best way to love him is to hug him or hold his hand and communicate love through the sense of touch. But of course, as I have earlier pointed out, I have not mastered this art and all I can say is that it is all by God's grace that we have emerged victorious in our conflicts. 

One way that my husband communicates love even if I am unlovable is by reminding me with Biblical verses, fitting for my situation. I find it irritating at times (read: pride) but I have come to appreciate this trait of him--always leading me to Christ. 

How do I forgive like Christ? I forgive my husband because it is what God commands me to do. I should not base my forgiveness on whether I feel like forgiving him or not. I should not forgive with conditions. I should not forgive with reservations. I should not forgive with threats. Most of all, I should not delay forgiveness. 

Still a few months into our marriage, we had a big fight. My hubby dear said sorry but I did not want to forgive. I wanted him to learn his lesson the hard way, to make him know how offended I was. But the bitterness in my heart grew and took hold of me. I became prideful and irrational. I walked out of our rented place late at night in a place where both of us were not familiar. And it further complicated things. 

I've learned my lesson since then. The Bible says that as Christians, we must be quick to forgive. Forgiveness must be complete and quick as the Lord has forgiven me. Besides, it is also written that we sin if we do not do the good we know we should do. :) 

Next week, I will be blogging about more lessons I have learned through God's amazing ways :)

*Photos in this post are parts of our Pre-Nup session with Super Seven Studios

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Letter to Myself

Dear Beautiful and Cherished One,

I know what you are going through right now. The physical fatigue, the emotional stress, and the mental challenges--these are enough to send someone to the lowest pit. Throw in your need and desire to have deep friends where you are now and the desire to please and buy peace with the family you are living with and you have the perfect recipe for depression and self-pity. 

But I delight in you as you hold on and fight. I delight in seeing you bit your lip instead of talking back. I delight in seeing you get up and do something even if your body disagrees. I delight in you being joyful despite the circumstances you are in. I take delight in you as you choose to forgive, decide to be honest and make self-sacrifices.

You are altogether different from the one I used to know, the one who delight in pitying herself, the one who has had morbid thoughts, the one who contemplated suicide. The one who shies away from problems and hides in the dark world of computer games, bar hoppings, discos and cocktail shots--she has completely vanished. The old has been peeled away. 

You are brave and confident now though I know that you still have a long way to go. There will be changes in your body, changes in your character, changes in your surroundings--but you, with the saved and loved heart, will continue to soar high as you believe and continue to trust the One who saved and Loved you

He changed you. And He alone is the one capable of giving you that eternal joy that smiles despite the pain, forgives despite the offense, and keeps silent despite the accusations. Keep on trusting Him and loving Him. Allow Him to mold you and your character. 

Don't be afraid to be radical for Him. 

Go deeper to Him because He loves you more than anybody in this world can. 

XOXO...

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Rest: A Prayer Request

If there is one thing my body needs right now, it is this.

I need physical and spiritual rest.

For reasons unknown, my body suddenly took a U-turn this week, starting with an irregularity in my tummy last Monday. Until now, I am feeling unexpectedly extremely weak and easily tired and I do not know why.

My usual self wants to freak out but my renewed heart and mind want to rest in Christ.

So, please say a prayer for me that I will feel better and that whatever this is, everything will be alright by His awesome and perfect grace.

Thank you very much.

Monday, May 26, 2014

{Marriage Monday} Marriage's Top Secret

This is my second {Marriage Monday} post. To know more about this series, please read my first post here.

One of our pre-nup photos, taken by the amazing talents of Super Seven Studio. 


Today, I am quite excited to share the top secret for fulfilling and thriving marriages! :)

But let me digress for a while and tell you about myself and my awesome hubby. We have been married for, hold your breath...seven...months, that is. And  I am telling this fact to make a point here. Since, I published my first post  a week ago, I felt inadequate for doing so. Why, everybody would probably question my credibility on writing a marriage series when I have been married for only seven months!

But that is just basically what I wanted to do here. Marriage is crazy-beautiful but it takes a lot of hard work for it to become well, crazy-beautiful. For the seven months that I have been married to the love of my life, I can say that the quality of our marriage totally depends on our attitude and hard work. If we want a thriving and loving relationship, then, we have to work at it. It is the same as our desire to have healthy bodies--we have to work for it, make sacrifices, eat healthy choices, and say no to a lot of junk food that has, unfortunately, become mainstream staples in our tables today. 

So, this series every Monday is part of my "working hard" efforts for a thriving and loving marriage. I am not saying that I have perfectly applied everything I have written here nor have my husband and I attained the perfect state for our relationship. No, we're quite far from that! 

These posts are here to remind me what I am working hard for and why I am doing it. I will not only post tips and lessons that I learned but my struggles and failures as well, with the permission of my beloved husband, of course! ;)

I also hope that the Lord will use this {Marriage Monday} series to encourage and minister to other women, whether they be single, recently married, enjoying marriage or struggling with marriage. This is the place where we can encourage each other, laugh at each other's mistakes, cry with our struggles, and pray with and for each other. :) 

Basically, this {Marriage Monday} series has a two-pronged purpose: one for myself and my hubby, and two, for everybody! 



Last week, I wrote about the real and ultimate purpose of getting married and that is, to reflect Christ. I honestly believe that it is only when we know our exact purpose that we can actually function well, thrive, and be fulfilled. Knowing our real purpose is the basic foundation. If we know our correct purpose, then, we know our right destination and the proper way of getting there. 

Today, let me share to you the TOP SECRET of a loving and thriving marriage, which is also very much related to the real purpose of matrimony. I am no marriage expert but by the way I see it, this is the most important secret and the good thing is, it is not actually a secret. Everybody knows about it; it is very basic. Yet, it is too basic for us to neglect it at times. 

So, the top secret for marriage to be successful is actually one word: FORGIVENESS. 

Yes, that is right. CAPSLOCK that, highlight, and underline because it needs all the emphasis to make a mark in our minds and hearts. 

You see, if our real purpose in marriage (and in life, actually) is to reflect Christ, then we must know and live forgiveness. 

For Christ came to this world while we're still sinners and demonstrated His great love for us by dying a shameful and painful death on the Cross so that our sins will be forgiven. God initiated forgiveness. And He keeps on forgiving us every time our heart truly repents.

Since the purpose of every marriage is to mirror Christ in this dark and horrible world, then our marriages should show His forgiveness--unconditional, faithful, true, complete, abounding, inexhaustible. 

And I don't want to be a hypocrite in writing this. Before I had a personal relationship with Christ, I used to claim that forgiveness is not in my vocabulary. Once one of my friends or acquaintances offend me, then, that person is automatically flushed out of my heart and mind. That's how callous I was, dear friends, and I do hope that you will not judge me by my past. ;)


So, just imagine how hard it is for me to transition as I live and build relationships with Christ as the basis! And how harder it is now for me to live under one roof, one room, and share one bed with my husband who has quite a different background/stand/opinion/habit from me? 

Too many times I have fallen for the trap of conditional forgiveness. "I will forgive you if...." "I will forgive you but..." "I will forgive you when..." The list can go on and on. 

But I always remember how the Father has forgiven me. He never negotiated with me like this. He never said "I will send Jesus Christ to die for you if you change your ways" or "I will forgive you if you promise never to sin again." No, He sent His only begotten Son to die for me even though He knows that I will offend him countless of times. He sent Jesus anyway. 

Too many times too I have fallen for the trap of pride. More often than not, I know I have offended my hubby dear but I was too arrogant to ask for forgiveness. "I'm his wife so I am entitled to royal treatment"--this is what would often cross my mind. 

There are also times that it would be my hubby's fault so I'd tell myself that he should say sorry first. 

But by the Spirit's nudging, I'd realize that humility is essential. If Christ, Himself God in His own right, was humble enough to leave his Heavenly Throne to be among us so that He could die for us, then, what right/entitlement do I have not to ask for forgiveness? 

Often, I would be too hard-headed to feel or obey the Holy Spirit's nudging. And often, I would usually realize late and feel so embarrassed of myself before I can actually confess my sins and ask for forgiveness. 

Next week, I am going to share to you several lessons/advice I got when it comes to forgiveness. 

For now, I am going to end this post with two practical steps in forgiving and asking for forgiveness:

1) Think of JESUS on the Cross; and
2) Swallow your pride. 

Happy Monday! I pray that we will continue to show forgiveness to everybody and be quick to ask for forgiveness should we offend someone... Enjoy the rest of the week!


*All photos are from our pre-nup session with Super Seven Studios

Monday, May 19, 2014

{Marriage Monday} Reflecting Christ

This is one of my favorite shots of my made-to-order gown. Before getting married, I wanted to have those expensive designer gowns but by God's grace and the few women whom He used to speak to me, I realized that my wedding need not be grand and expensive. The most important thing, I realized, is our MARRIAGE. And my prayer since then is that God's glory and story will be the canopy of our life together as husband and wife.
Seven months ago, I took the plunge to give up my self to be united with the man I love--the man I have always considered as God's sweet surprise and wonderful blessing, the man the Lord has lovingly chosen for me, the man who has continuously shown me short glimpses of His glory. 

A year ago, I released all fears and placed them at the feet of the Lord as my sweet surprise and wonderful blessing formally asked my hand in marriage from my parents {and a fleet of my relatives! :)}, fulfilling all customs and traditions, which event ultimately showed God's glory and favor. 

And so, today, as we celebrate these beautiful manifestations of God's love and favor, I am taking the plunge, saying goodbye to my comfort zone, and reluctantly but excitedly obeying God's nudge--I am starting this {Marriage Monday} series to show my thoughts on this crazy-beautiful thing we call marriage and to share lessons I learned from the Bible and from the Godly women I look up to. 

One of the things I loved about our wedding is that we got to incorporate a lot of handmade elements! ;) Shown here is our handmade ring and arrhae pillow-nests. We decided to veer away with the traditional ring and arrhae pillows and instead, chose a nest to go with our theme. Because we are a bit needy when it comes to arts and crafts, the Lord blessed us with the awesome Veronica Vallente-Vicuna of The Purple Parasol to create these lovely nests!
To start this {Marriage Monday} series, let me share to you what I have learned about the ultimate purpose of matrimony. 

When I was younger, I have always thought that you get married to start a family and by starting a family, I can somehow contribute something to the world and perhaps make the future brighter by raising smart, good, law-abiding kids.

Life happened and I realized that I only love kids when they are not mine and so my mind trail took a different turn and my naivety dictated that I should get married for companionship. 

As I grew older, I became more selfish and I concluded that marriage was invented to satisfy the different physical, emotional, and financial needs of the husband and the wife. 

Somewhere along this journey, I bumped into the beautiful and awesome Lord and Savior who loved me first, gave His life to purchase me from the bondage of sins, and gave me a new life through His resurrection. I read and learned and experienced first hand how important it is to be satisfied in Him first and foremost before ever longing to have a husband and a lifetime partner. I learned more things about love and relationships in His way, which were usually way too different from the ways of the world. 

Our wedding was held four days after a 7.2 magnitured earthquake hit our province. Bridges were cut in half, buildings were destroyed, even old churches collapsed in rubbles. But the Lord is still so faithful in His promise, He even made a way that we can still have beautiful flowers on our special day :)

And then He gave these beautiful verses in Ephesians and through a Saturday Bible class and a Friday Homebuilders Fellowship, He made it clear: He created marriage to mirror Jesus Christ. 

Marriage is not about satisfying each other (although that is an integral part of the husband-wife relationship) nor is it about having beautiful children (though it will make it more fun but we should always remember that it is God who gives and takes away). 

Marriage is reflecting Christ in ourselves and seeing glimpses of Him from our spouses.  

As a couple united in the Lord, it is our duty to safeguard this high purpose. It is our duty to actively pursue this purpose so that we may show to the whole world Christ and His love, faithfulness, goodness, kindness, mercy, forgiveness. 

While preparing for our wedding, there were things that I really wanted which would not fit into our budget. While I could have used my debating skills or dramatic prowess to convince my then hubby-to-be to increase the budget, God used several persons to tell me and constantly remind me that the ultimate goal of getting married is not to have a grand wedding ceremony and reception but to reflect Christ in ourselves and to the world. 

This gave me so much peace in the preparation and anticipation that I freely threw away my dream of preparing for a grand wedding. This allowed me to focus on the essentials--instead of being busy of preparing for a wedding, God gave us so much time to prepare our hearts and lives for our marriage.

How do we live out God's purpose for marriage? The best answer that I learned is to simply live by His Word, the Bible. 


Now that we are seven months into our marriage, I can honestly tell you in the eye that it is really hard to reflect Christ all the time. 

As the verses proclaim, my role as a wife is to joyfully submit to my husband just as the church submits to Christ. And I tell you this, for a strong-willed woman like me who basically lives my growing up years in the women power era, it is really HARD to submit. There are times that my selfishness creeps in and all I wanted to do is to allow my sinful self to reign.  

But as I ponder on God's word more and more, the more I realized that it is the only way to have a satisfying and lasting marriage. God created marriage to mirror Christ and it is through reflecting Christ-likeness to our spouse and the people around us that we can find true joy and fulfillment in our marriages. 

It may be hard but the One who called us to do this will enable us. From our text in Ephesians 5, God's words tell us that we should follow Christ in living out our lives. And if we go backwards to Ephesians 4, we have the assurance that God is for all, over all, through all and in all. If He is for us, over us and works through us and in us, there is no reason that we cannot reflect His glory in our marriages. 

My prayer today is that all of us who are married and all those who are planning to get married will discover God's ultimate purpose for this beautiful thing we call "marriage" and may we call on the one true God to equip us and enable us to fulfill this purpose that more and more people will see Christ in ourselves, in our marriages, and in our families. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Extravagant Love

I have a huge confession to make. And I am going to write it because I want to be reminded of this every time I slip.

You see, I have been a slack in my devotional time (my husband and I call it QT for quality time with the Lord) the past two or three weeks. Before, I used to wake up really early but now my body clock refuses to go alert unless and until it is six o'clock in the morning. And when I do not start my day with a quality time with the Lord, I usually mess up--when I have problems, I resort to talking with my sister or friends or my husband before even praying or talking to God and this would normally lead to more chaos. I can pinpoint many other illustrations but I would limit to just this one to save on time and space. But the end point is this: If I don't spend time with the Lord in a day, I usually make stupid and unGodly decisions.

But you might ask, "Hey, this post is about extravagant love. What's your point in sharing you slacking in your quality time with the Lord?"


Photo Source: darrellcreswell.wordpress.com 
 Well, my friends...That exactly is my point here--the extravagant love of God. That no matter how many times I have fallen in this area, He still continue to shower me with unending grace and unconditional love.

But of course, this is not my license to slack or to sin.

My point here is this: I am extremely dumbfounded to wake up every morning and still feel myself breathing, still see and eat tasty meals, and still get to be able to dress nicely (ahem! I am claiming it! haha) and still think properly in the office and in my cases, despite my inadequacies and weaknesses! It is just so amazing to know how great, how deep, how expansive, and how perfect is God's love for me and I am just so thankful that I am not in control of my life.

Photo Source: darrellcreswell.wordpress.com 


And I am so thankful that God is perfect and that He is not like me 'coz I would have given up on myself a long time ago. Really. If I were God (which, thankfully I am not and will never be and let me just put it on record that I neither have any desire), I would have punished myself severely for the sloth and all kinds of sin I do everyday. Every time I would sin or fall short, I would have my "payback time," so to speak.

That is, if I am God. Fortunately, I am not. And I am so much fortunate that my God is a perfect, holy, and faithful God. :))

Which brings to mind the need to deny the false belief some people hold on today that God operates the way we, humans, do--that for every sin we do against him, He will retaliate and cause us so much misfortune. While it is true that bad things happen when we sin, it is also equally important to stress that these supposedly bad things are just consequences of our bad decisions, actions, reactions, etc. In short, bad things happen as natural consequences of our sins.

But no matter how bad our situation may look to us, God's love for us never changes. The consequences of our sins may look bad to us but if we put our trust to the Lord Jesus, then He will make things turn out for our own good. Once we have accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, His love will never let us go until the end, even if we sin or are in trouble. For it is written in the book of Romans, Chapter 8 therein:

 35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”[a]) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Once we have Christ as Savior and Lord in our hearts, our salvation is complete. No one can no longer take that away from us. :)

This is the truth from the words of God, Himself.

And let me end with this picture that says it all:

navaljournalofchristianfellowship.wordpress.com


Happy Truth Thursday, everyone! :)))

Thursday, March 6, 2014

An Answered Prayer: The Amazing Love

Last February 15, the Youth Group and Young Adults Fellowship in church co-sponsored a Post-"Valentine's" Activity dubbed as Amazing Love: The Truth About Dating, Courtship, and Marriage. It was a dinner-talk-show tackling the most discussed and sought-after topic among the youngsters today: love. Pastor Ianderson Balandang and his beautiful (inside and out) wife, Joan, were the guest speakers. They shared their so inspiring and so amazing love story, gave advice and tips founded on Biblical Truth and most of all, illustrated the true amazing love of Jesus Christ through their love story
Pastor Ian and Joan with the night's host, Irish Tan-Llorente, sharing that it is only by
knowing the love of Jesus Christ that we can truly enjoy a fulfilling earthly love story. 

The beautiful stage set-up collaborated by the Youth and the Young Adults. 

The Ates from the YAs making sure everyone has his/her sumptuous meal
of Payag's Chicken Inato or Pork Barbeque Meal. 
You know, looking at all these pictures makes me teary-eyed. You see, I have been praying for this event to materialize since 2012 and when it did not happen last year, I thought to myself that perhaps God's way of answering it was through the informal event we had at McDonald's during Valentine's of last year wherein we shared burgers, fries, and sundaes and talked about C and I's love story and ultimately, God's perfect love for all of us. I was not really expecting that the Lord will give me a very definite answer (actually more-than-I-can-ask-for) this year so this really shows what a sweet, sweet, Lord we serve! :)

For this year, the youth and the young adults joined forces together in prepping the stage, serving the meals, and in staging a contemporary praise and worship music. Each member was encouraged to invite at least one friend and to actually pay for the friend's meal to show illustrate to them the cost of discipleship. Imagine, there were 50++ youth who attended and heard the Gospel! We were not expecting that! One of the young adults hosted the show, someone from the women's group volunteered to train the youth for a dance-drama--and all these really show how amazing things work for His glory if His body will cooperate with each other and heed His will.
Some of the youth members doing a dance-drama of the woman who wept Jesus' feet with her tears,
used her hair to wipe it, and poured an expensive alabaster jar of perfume. 

The invited friends hearing the Gospel and being led to pray for Jesus to come into their hearts. 

The Youth and YA Worship Team

And I am sharing this because I want everyone to know that 1) God does answer our prayers and 2) His answers are always perfect in timing and in abundance! :)