Facing the Big U.

Fear creeps in when we face the unknown.

The unknown is inevitable. We cannot force it to reveal itself to us u til God says so.

We need to step in before knowing what is. We need to discover before we get amused.

How many of us are now in the middle of this journey? You’ve taken the first brave step and you’re pushing yourself further. Taking it one day at a time, living by the grace of God. Doing what you’re supposed to: walk by faith.

You keep moving forward, you face your fears each day, you live. But most of all, you find hope, refuge, and strength in God no matter what your circumstances are.

You face the unknown full of expectations of what a mighty God can do!

Sometimes when it gets really blurry, we tend to forget how God works in our lives. But fret not, because He will not let you stray away farther from His Words and His promises.

If you seek his face, you will find Him and hear His voice, and feel His heart.

You become brave.

You become certain.

You find your way.

Even in the midst of the big unknown.

Make Jesus the Lord of all things – including the uncertain and fleeting realities of your life. ❤️

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New Year, Good Old Lessons

The coming of a new year is as inevitable as the rising and setting of the sun. We wait for it in anticipation because it means many things for us.

We recall and we move on. We cry and we laugh. We hug and say goodbye. We make noise before we embrace the silence of a new beginning.

Sometimes, we also bring with us old lessons to a new year. Because let’s admit it: nobody’s an expert in living and we aren’t made up the moment we’ve learned. We will always be in need of grace, of constant reminders, and of a light to guide us through.

Here are three timeless life lessons that I intend to keep for 2019 and beyond:

1. “Be kind to time”

Time reveals so much about us. It tests our patience, it sharpens our ability to endure, and it teaches us to submit to the ultimate Timekeeper. Time also tells us what we value most in our lives.

“Where and how did I spend my 2018?” It is easy to conclude that I did everything I could to make every moment count. But I can also recall many times when I wanted things to happen real quick or I was too lazy to the point of wasting my own time. I was also not too generous of my time for others because I was too busy with myself. And yes, I was many many times impatient.

Lesson learned? Time isn’t supposed to be rushed nor should it be taken for granted. There is time for everything and one must be willing to wait. Waiting doesn’t have to be passive. We make precious use of time when we live as we wait. Help. Listen. Create. Serve. Do something meaningful as the clock ticks away.

Time doesn’t solely belong to us, either. It is supposed to be shared, to be given away, and to be used as a channel to reach out to others – not just our friends, our family, our boy/girlfriend, our wife/husband, but any anyone who needs our presence around them.

Finally (and the most important thing to my 2019), time isn’t in my hands. Yes, I can spend time my whole life but what actually transpires as I breathe and walk and live, is in the hands of the Timekeeper.

So Mel, “Give God your time, give the seasons of your life a time, give yourself and others time. You can trust God to make things happen when He says, “It’s time.”

2. “Don’t pretend you know it all”

One thing I discovered about myself when I entered adulthood is that I am fascinated about “organizing” my life. I am usually messy with other things, but when it comes to what I will do next year, what I want to happen tomorrow, or what I will do when I go to the mall, everything must be planned ahead. In most cases, I am the opposite of spontaneous. I want to be ready for everything (not anything).

There’s nothing wrong about planning. But sometimes, I find it suffocating. It also leads me into thinking that I am powerful when in fact I am stubborn; that I am the only one in control of the little details in my life when in fact anything can happen at any given time without my knowledge.

I am still learning to strike a balance between control and surrender. We can control how we react to people, to circumstances, and to life’s craziness. We cannot control the outcome of our decisions, how people would feel about us, or where our relationships are going. In both ends, we are given wisdom to discern what is right and what is wrong. Wisdom can also reveal to us what we cannot control in this life, and this is when we are taught to surrender.

So Mel, “Seek for wisdom to know when to exert your effort and when to let go. Don’t tire yourself with endless pursuits to perfection or happiness. You don’t know it all. You may know what’s good, but God knows what’s best.”

3. “Stay out there”

I used to think that being quiet and shy are negative traits. When I grew older, I realized that it’s not really my shyness that I must change, but the way I think about interactions. Interactions are not for mere socialization. We interact to know people, to understand them, to feel how they feel, and to journey with them. Not everyone will have the same interests, beliefs, and ideas like yours, but it doesn’t make them unworthy of your time.

I was afraid then of rejections. “What if people think that I am not good enough?” I think this was one of the reasons why I resorted to books, writing, and activities that do not involve human interaction. I still do these things upto now but I am trying not to do them just so to avoid people.

I am starting to learn that people need each other. I’ve spent enough time doing things by myself. Now it’s time that I do more things for and with others. Talk with and get to know people, discover each other’s differences, celebrate life with them, and serve with a sense of togetherness and community. Being part of a church and teaching diverse people (from kids, to the underprivileged, to foreign students) opened my heart to intentional interactions.

I realize, I do not need to be outgoing and talkative to reach out to people. I can be a quiet person with an open heart. I can be a shy girl and yet have ears that are willing to listen and hands that are willing to help.

So Mel, “Continue reaching out to others. Stay out there. You have many stories to tell and there are billions of people around you. Connect, listen, and leave something worthwhile in every human being you meet.”

How an Unfamiliar Door Shookt Me (In A Very Good Way)

In one of my previous blogs, I talked about the doors of life.

There are doors that we want to open but are kept closed. Doors that we force ourselves into, and doors that open up whether we like it or not.

Roughly 3 months ago, I took an unfamiliar door by teaching English to foreign university students.

There were questions, as always. Would I be effective? Do I really have what it takes?

But I took it as a challenge. An answered prayer. God wouldn’t give this – at such a perfect time – if it wasn’t for my good. So I said yes.

I wouldn’t get into details about my first day or the days that followed. But I would like to describe the whole experience using these words.

1. A scary yet fulfilling adventure

I’ve never been immersed to any other culture aside from my own. I am no K-Pop fan nor a J-Pop fanatic. I’ve never tried learning another language except some Spanish lessons back in college. But it’s true when they say that when you take a leap of faith into the unknown, the result can be rewarding. After eight weeks of being around and teaching Koreans and Japanese, talking to them, learning their culture, understanding how they think, how they feel, and how they interact, I started seeing each day as an adventure. Everyday, I go to school not knowing what to expect but I was excited. And tell you, it was the first time I felt good about Mondays. (!!) I looked forward to teaching even if I know it would be difficult. Cause the truth is, I was looking forward seeing my eager students learn even if it was difficult for them.

2. An eye opener

This is my favorite part. The part when teaching foreigners opened my eyes to many realities about this world. I had many discoveries about Korea and Japan, mostly about what the situation is in their countries when it comes to studying, getting a job, achieving their dreams, and so on. I saw many differences and similarities between them and Filipinos. But what amused me is that while I was teaching, I was also learning – not really about history but about thinking beyond. The question “why?” started to linger. There must be a good reason why everyone – Filipinos, Koreans, Japanese, (etc) – despite all obvious and subtle differences, are sharing the same planet, breathing the same air, and crossing paths with each other. There must be a reason why we have similarities and differences. On the other hand, I would like to think that no matter how diverse, people can agree on one thing and meet at one point..

3. Life-changing

And so I asked myself, “What could be that common point?” I remember seeing a cross tattoo on one of my students and while looking at it, the student immediately said the tattoo didn’t mean anything. I kept quiet and respected such remark. I don’t know, but at that moment, I felt something heavy in my heart. Was it sadness? Perhaps. As days passed, I wondered, “How many more?” And then it dawned on me: There was A LOT. So yes, it was life changing because it’s the first time I felt burdened about something.

4. A door that leads to another

Eight incredible weeks. Many learnings. New friends. Major realizations. One burden. All because of one door. So what’s next? I resolve to continue this path as far as teaching goes. I enjoyed every aspect of being an ESL teacher – facing the unknown, the diversity, and the respect that I received and developed towards the people I’ve met.

It couldn’t be any clearer: Each of us – regardless of race, achievement, language, faith, belief (or the lack of it) – need God’s saving grace through Jesus Christ.

And that is the only point where all of us could safely meet.

Where, when, and how? I don’t know.

But I’m sure the One who built the door and had let me in would take care of the little details..as always.

This door ain’t closing yet. It’s just leading me to the next.

If am to be honest, my heart is telling me to go forth and share the Good News to many nations, one student at a time.

Shookt! (Exactly.)

May God give me the courage to do so if this is His will.

Are you Tired of the Morning Rush?

As I take the same route going to work everyday, I realize how mundane life can get.

People rush in the morning so they can reach their offices on time. Eight hours later, they go home, rushing still, eager to rest their tired bodies from a day’s work.

Sometimes I wonder how life would look like if we are doing random things instead of working.

What if instead of gaining, our focus is nailed on giving away?

What if instead of rushing, we take our time and feel every beat of our heart?

What if instead of taking the same route everyday, we wander and explore.. and share our whole being to the person we meet? We don’t search the internet to go to a place but instead we interact, ask questions, and connect face-to-face until we get to our destination.

What if this world knows no rush and we stand witness to the rising and setting of the sun every single day?

What if this world is different, much different from what we woke up to this morning?

To be honest, I don’t think any change that happens around us will make much difference. The world may look good the way we envision it to be..

But how about instead of hoping for a new world, we change how we think about the things we see?

In the midst of a morning rush, people strive to make a living. Some sell stuff on the streets and others find themselves waking up along the road, no roof under their heads. They make a living out of nothing. They wait for people to pass by so their stomachs can be fed. For them, the morning rush is a chance to survive.

As the sun sets, people go home to rest. But some are struggling to sleep, their stomachs aching, filled with air, and their mind wandering. We complain about a day of work, while they don’t even have enough energy to complain about their lives.

Is life mundane, after all?

Perhaps, if we keep on living inside our world.

There is so much to see. There is so much to thank for. There is so much to do.

There is more than just you.

It’s time to step outside our tiny little speck of a space and truly, madly, deeply live.

The world is vast. And the best thing about it? It will soon forget about us. So might as well live one heck of a life for others.

Who doesn’t know failure?

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. 1 John 5:4

Failures comes in many sizes. There are failures we faced that almost took away everything from us: our reputation, our confidence, our self-worth, and perhaps even the people who mattered in our lives.

And then there are defeats that continue to haunt us and pin us down until today.

Insecurities, pains of the past, every day frustrations, unmet expectations. Dreams that do not materialize, prayers left unanswered that lead us to many questions.

We feel defeated for many reasons. We deal with failures more than once in this life. There is no way to prevent them, I must say.

But one thing that was promised to us is that these failures, no matter how real and pentetrating they are in our lives, have been overcome.

So what does overcome exactly mean if we are still going through it?

Defeats have no power over us.

Ever since we put our faith in Jesus the Son of God, the pangs of failure – and even death itself, have been removed.

Thus we can face our every day trials and failures with HOPE. Because we know that these troubles are but temporary and the eternal life promised to us when we believed in Christ far outweighs them all.

We are already conquerors, because the God we believe in has overcome the world.

I was a victim of bullying when I was in highschool. I exeperienced a lot of rejections – both genders, and many hurtful words have been thrown at me. Most of the attacks have something to do with my physical traits. I wasn’t beautiful in their eyes and they wanted to insist that to me.

Every now and then, the shadow of these bullies creep in. It is hard for me to trust people at times. I feel that people always judge based on looks.

I may not have totally moved on from these insecurities.. but one thing I know, these attacks will not stop me from living a life for God.

I am willing to be brave knowing that God has won the fight for me.

Yes, we still feel the pain, the trials, the failures.

But the good news is, there’s more to this world. There is more for us when we put our confidence in Christ.

Failures don’t have power over us.