Friday, January 18, 2013

Alone at Worship

I went to Worship service alone for the first time in many months. Waiting for the familiar strains of the guitar to start, I remembered those first few months You felt like a stranger.

Back then, I didn't know most of the lyrics of the songs. The melodies were strange, just as much as the dancing, closed eyes, and raising of hands of the other worshipers. All I knew was that the people around me were basking in a Presence that I longed for but Who seemed so far away. You knew every part of me, but I could only touch a part of You.

I loved losing myself to the voices, guitar rifts, and drumbeats though.  I tried imagining the keyboardist's fingers gliding over the ebony and ivory, marveling at how each note seemed to float straight to heaven. I once desired being on the piano myself, just so I could feel my own Spirit intertwining with their Spirit-filled music. So I stayed even when I didn't know what words to say during the prayers; and I went Worship Night after Worship Night, even if it meant that I had to be alone.

Last night, I was alone like before but not as I was before. I could sing most of the songs with my eyes closed. The lyrics float in my mind before they could even appear onscreen. I raise my hands and long to touch Your face. Your Presence has become like that of a Friend and Lover. I am getting to know You, loving what is revealed to me day by day.  I sometimes think it's hard to love you; You love me so much and I am not even worthy. But You always come through. You assure me with words and with promises fulfilled.

I have loved you with an everlasting love...

I'm humbled by the wonder of Your majesty...One thing I know I find all I need in Your unending love, in Your unending love.

I sometimes argue with You, questioning why and when and and how and why not now.  In the end though, I still find myself running to Your arms.

Last night, I was alone. But I had You.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Relationships are formed with trust

"The key to faith is knowing the person you want to trust. Faith only makes sense with a good God. Faith only works when you realize that God is good all the time.  Christianity is not a process of blessing. It is a relationship with Christ.  You cannot have a relationship with someone you do not trust.  You cannot trust someone you do not know."

These words from Bishop Juray Mora struck me last night. Why do we falter in relationships? It is because we do not trust, and we do not trust because we don't know the person enough.

Trusting involves time, choosing to be with a person when you could be with someone else or somewhere else.  When we want to form friendships or relationships with people, we take time with them. We try our hardest to be consistent, so that they would know that we value them and respect their time.

Sadly, we sometimes fail in this department. We take people for granted, we move on from one relationship to the next, we are not sincere in our yes and in our no, we are not transparent with our intentions...and sometimes, when we are the ones who are hurt, we fail to forgive.

I guess this is the essence of why Jesus told us to turn the other cheek. To give those who hurt us the chance to start anew, to emphasize how valuable relationships and people are, to teach us how to love so deeply that we are prepared to lay down our life for another.

Out there, many hearts need healing because trust has been broken. There is one Person who offers this healing. He is Someone you and I can trust. He will never fail.

Before He formed me, He knew me.

Before I was born, He had already set me apart.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
    before you were born I set you apart;..."

He knows every strand of hair on my head and values me more than anything in the world. 

"Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows..."

Even before I knew Him, He chose to love me.

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;..."

Even before I could say sorry for hurting Him, He already forgave me, because He wants me to be with Him forever. 

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us..."

 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life."

I pray that I would know Him more and more this year. I pray that I will spend time with Him. I pray that I will be filled with the assurance that whatever my situation is, my God is a good God.

 "I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance." Ephesians 1:16-22

Monday, January 7, 2013

Goodbye 2012 (plus a pic spam!)

I wrote this blog entry in January 2013 but never got around to posting it until now. I think this is the best period to be reminded :)

"A bride who is more interested in the gifts than the groom misses the point completely. I have missed the point repeatedly." 

This tweet from David Bonifacio sure woke me up today. Which bride is more excited about the wedding gifts than the groom himself? It only took me split-second to realize that I was that bride.

For the past days, I have been feeling a bit ungrateful because I had been feeling that I never really get what I desire the most.  I was pursuing the blessings from God,  forgetting that the biggest reward is God himself and that He is in control.    

So I thought about sharing the goodness of God first with this note of gratefulness. I want to honor God in my life, just to be reminded that He has been faithful since I came back here in Manila.

March-April 2011 -  So many changes I didn't expect. I was also going back to my family after 11 years of staying away. I didn't know where the road was taking me. I didn't even know if I really wanted to go.

May 2011 - Went on a retreat. Went running again, had "long dates" with God, had overnights at my Christian friends' house, listened to podcasts and worship music all day long.

 Unexpectedly, He gave me a disciple at the lowest point in my life.  He was pointing me in the right direction -- to the mountain top. It was an awesome spiritual revival, thanks to my supportive friends.

Ignite Youth Conference 2011

My Surprise Send-off Party -- also a time of prayer and believing God for disciples in my old job

June 2011 - Back home. Surprisingly, I got a freelance job as a contributor for a food mag. I was going to have pocket money -- yay. Best of all, I was finally going to fulfill my dream of writing about food and getting paid for it.

Being back at home was also an unexpected comfort (read: Going Home).

July 2011 - Decided to take on a new job (Read: My New Job).  Grateful for less stress at work. More time to do the things I want to do!

My new workmates who just love eating!
Started bible study sessions again, started meeting my high school and MA friends again.  My world expanded. Wrote a long blog entry about healing: When People We Love Hurt Us.

August 2011Renamed my blog Divine Amnesia.

October 2011 - I don't remember September much. But I do remember October.  I loved my birthday (read my birthday entry).

November 2011 - my first Christian concert! I blogged about it on Saved Festival 2011.

December 2011 - December was an exciting period for our Victory group! We launched our first VG outreach. It was also a time of bonding with new friends.

VG Pangarap, so named for our outreach in Pangarap Village
New year date with mom and a New Year card for my sister...who will also later on get to know Jesus :) 
2012 was a time for building and strengthening relationships, making disciples, and just enjoying the day-to-day blessings.

January 2012

Prayer and Fasting 2012 with Ching and Ting!

Prayer and Fasting 2012 day 3 with Ting and family
February 2012

We had to split the big VG for bible's our small VG called Hardcore with Ate Vivian. 

March 2012

Zambales trip with Tere and Shen...also met some nice new people!

VG Los Banos Valentine's Outreach activity

Meeting Early, a dormmate from college!

Growing VG Pangarap! 

Ang dami namin!!!

eating out with some VGmates, including my new 121 partner CHEEK! I love her!
more good times with high school friends

April 2012
Marianne's Wedding - meeting God's best is worth the wait!

More VG bonding nights!
Our VG watching Phoebe. First time I watched her perform. She's a jazz/wedding singer :)
Planetshakers and Israel Houghton concert with VG LB :)

with VG Pangarap

May 2012
basic photography lessons with Gail from Foreverday Photography

Month of the Oceans 2012...

...where we helped paint the longest dolphin mural :)
June 2012
VG Pangarap Outing
date with Ting and my inaanak Juju

High school barkada
July 2012

More outreach activities! This time, with my workmates!

painting a school in Payatas
The whole team :)

VG Maginhawa: The group that is really special to me this year. Before I left LB, someone prophesized that I would disciple 2-3 students. I wondered how that could be, when I was already leaving! Well, guess what. When God wills it, it will happen! My VG of UP students with some of my friends:

How it all started...a date with Ching and the three girls below :)

VG Maginhawa with my bestfriend Ting
At Burger Project with their Kuya Ian
I love these girls!
And of course, I had more fun times with my HS friends...if our VG is growing, so is our barkada!

our growing group
Mid-year fast with VG mates
 A time to recharge

August 2012

Started my capoeira lessons this month (read: Kicked in Capoeira class). I'm struggling, but I love them.  They help me develop patience and discipline.

With capoeira buddy Stella :)

VG relief operations for Typhoon Sendong victims

September 2012

Outing at Hidden Valley with office mates

assignment from VG maginhawa

first time to watch a play at CCP

Mom's 56th birthday

October 2012

Beyond Borders projects (now called The Isaiah 41 Project) brainstorming starts with Ian, Jho, and Kate. This outreach project in Sibuyan Island, Romblon was proposed to us by Kate. We're off to help an IP community with their classroom materials! Pray for us!

My first 3k run...
with Sorority sisters and...

officemates :)

Cheek's Victory Weekend! woohoo!
Cheek's water baptism
with VG during my birthday and other VGmates' birthdays! 
birthday date with my very good friend Leo

November 2012

My first 5k run...

haggard but happy!

with buddy  Raiza :)
December 2012

A VG wedding - Joc and Oliver's
VG Christmas Outreach 2012 -- the second year!
SPIN Collaborative Cascade with my sister - a gathering of individuals and social entrepreneurs who are changing the world!
Christmas Day with my family
This was also the month that I got promoted in my job. So yay for that :)

To end my uber long pic spam, I just realized that I have a lot to be grateful for.  God replaced my sadness with all of these meaningful activities and more importantly, these wonderful, beautiful people. My life wouldn't have been this awesome without them.

Thank you to all of you who were part of my 2012 :)

More than all of these people and things though, I learned or was reminded of four very important things:

1) God is my Provider - I was never in lack!
2) God is my Comforter - I am always at peace when I give up everything to God
3) God is my Strength -  I can always depend on him!
4) God is Faithful - even when I am not!

Thank you God for loving me this much.

I now empty myself of everything that happened in 2012 to make way for newer, greater, and better things.  There is only one Person I want to be expectant about, and that is God.

Here's to 2013 :)

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy... -  Psalms 30:11