Tahan Na. Tama Na.

Limutin mo na ang mapait na nakaraan.

Sakit ng puso ay damhin, yakapin, at iyakan,

Pagkatapos ay tigil na.

Tahan na. Tama na.

Pinili niyang alisin ka sa buhay niya,

Huwag mo nang habulin pa

at palalimin ang sugat na nagnanais nang maghilom.

Huwag ka nang lumakad pabalik sa kahapon

o di kaya’y tangkain pang lumingon.

Huwag mong hayaang lamunin ng kasinungalingan

ang katotohanan na hindi ka na niya mahal…

Na natuldukan na ang pagsasamang pinanghawakan

mo ng kaytagal.

Huwag mo nang igapos ang iyong sarili sa walang kasiguraduhan

at madilim na kawalan.

Bitaw na, ikaw na lang ang umaasa.

Huwag ka nang manirahan sa masasayang araw

ng nakalipas.

Ang mga pangakong hanggang wakas ay tuluyan

nang nagwakas.

Umiyak ka, pagkatapos, tahan na.

Lahat ay tapos na.

Kaya’t muli ay ihakbang mo ang iyong mga paa…

Simulan ang paglalakbay sa paglimot sa lahat ng ala-ala…

At alalahanin ang iyong mundong nawala mula noong umikot

ang buhay mo sa kanya.

Blessing Beyond Comfort Zone

[last updated September 29, 2016]

It’s been exactly a week. I still feel the same feeling I felt, holding back my tears as we were leaving Siem Reap. I still can’t find the words to explain everything that the Lord has done to me during and after that mission exposure trip but I would like to share a bit about my experience.

Our day consisted of teaching English, Math and lessons about Cambodia for two sessions: one in the morning for the first batch of students and another in the afternoon. After our morning class, we met some of those little Khmers’ families as we went to their houses.

Taken during our visitation to one of our students’ home by Jedi Manuel

We got the chance to hear about their stories— their living, the children’s progress and dreams, their hopes, and other things that were brought up in our simple conversations. In most houses we visited, there were health issues. Also, few of the students were not able to attend the class because they were sick. Their parents/ guardians shared sort of discouragements, but there are also positive and inspiring stories that drew smile on my face and touched my heart. We prayed for them before we left and one of the humbling things about it is that unlike in our culture where people has so many wants and extras to ask God for, all they needed is good health, stable income, and successful education for their little ones. To them it is enough. And from there we got a small picture about their lives, especially, the children’s outside the corners of the FEC. But there are still a lot to know and understand and I wish I didn’t have only two days.

Being an introvert who would most likely be found alone in my room or within my small circle of really close friends, talking with strangers— especially, those who speak different language and have different culture— is way beyond my comfort zone. But the moments are worth keeping. It was a heart-changing, mind-transforming experience I’ll never forget. It impacted me so much that I cry almost everyday since we left. My perspective in life changes slowly. Missions taught me to see and do things differently and meaningfully. It’s such a blessing to know that you are a glimmer of hope to others as you allow God to use you for His glory.

So, I yearn for my life to be used for this purpose even more than before and I pray that this desire will not die out until the day when God will allow me to go back. For I know now in my heart that I am blessed so others can be blessed through me. A vessel of love, hope, and grace… that is what I’m meant to be.

Sabrina’s Grief

I never knew this is how it feels losing someone I never had.
Do I have the right to cry, when the chance to be a father’s daughter was withheld from me?
Do I have the right to grieve, when his name is all that’s in my memory?
I lived my life with him being someone I’m always without.
But I have forgiven even though I never heard an apology.
I don’t know why, he already left me once, and now he left me forever.
All of a sudden I feel empty. 

Be Loving or Be Nothing?

“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, ‘Jump,’ and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 MSG)

I always jump to the “love is patient, love is kind…” part whenever I turn to 1 Corinthians 13. I must admit these were the verses I used to overlook before. Until something happened last year which has led me to these words… and I find them beautiful and so much on point. That was the time when I was hurt by people who are close to me with serious and below-the-belt offense.

Many times I asked, “of all the people, why them?” With the betrayal and stabs in my back, I didn’t want to see them. I felt so wounded, I didn’t want to talk to them. It cut deep. Questions ran through my mind about the things they did which I find hard to accept and understand, and though I tried not to pay back nor treat them bad whenever they were around, bitterness and resentment were already creeping in. I almost condemned them in my thoughts saying to myself, “Didn’t the Word told us to do this and not that?” That’s when God gave me those verses. I came to realize that I was also doing them the same because I allowed the negative emotions to enter and rule my heart instead of love. Thank God, He is always on the lookout to rescue me from sinning.

When we’re hurt it’s too easy to justify our thoughts and feelings with our knowledge of the Word that we forget God’s greatest commandment is LOVE.

My painful experience has taught me so much which serve as a reminder for me until now. I’m learning how to forgive, even if my offenders do not ask for forgiveness. I’m learning how to understand and still believe the good in other people, even though they do me wrong. I’m learning to set aside my proofs of being right— if proving myself right means winning in an unloving way. For what is my faith and everything good I gained if I’m not loving? Nothing.

Are we loving enough?

Loving others is never an easy thing, but at least, doing so sets us free. And we can be free to love them genuinely… seeing past their mistakes because after all, that’s how the Lord is to us.

No matter what ugly and hurtful thing the world brings, God called us to love. So, our response to anything life throws us should always be to love. No amount of pain nor gain can change the fact that since God loves us, we ought to love others as well.

We might find ourselves failing in that area as we try. But if we connect our hearts to God, who Himself is Love, there is nothing too hard for us to do. He is the one who will guide us and help us if we are willing to seek Him and obey His instructions. He is the perfect model of genuine and unconditional love. Other sources are just frail and finite imitations, therefore, we must look to Him if we want to be loving.

How do we prepare ourselves to love others? We must love ourselves the way God loves us as we cannot do something for others what we are unable to do for ourselves. Then, ask God to give us the strength to demonstrate the same kind of love towards the people around us— no matter how unlovable they are.  Pray that He grant us the desire to have a heart like His… giving others love more than anything.

For what would we rather choose? To be loving or be completely nothing?

The Place of Glorious Freedom

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17 ESV)

God’s presence offers freedom. It is a place where we can enjoy His grace, mercy, justice, love, and all that He is. He is in the business of breaking the chains— of sins, hurts, doubts, selfishness, guilt, unforgivingness, bitterness, anger, insecurities, and fear, to name a few—, that hinder us from living the free life which He has planned. All it takes is for us to believe and live within that freedom which the Lord is eager to give us. But oftentimes, we are distrustful and unbelieving.

I remember how passionate God was to save the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and take them to the promised land as it is written in the Old Testament. However, the stubborn, impatient, and ungrateful attitude of these people always put them to wanting to go back into the hands of Pharaoh whenever they face uncomfortable situations on their journey— as if life as his slaves is better than life under God’s power, provision, and protection. Seems familiar, right? They are so much like us.

We always tend to go back to the place God has already delivered us from.

There was a certain area of my life which the Lord has already set free, but I was always looking back to my past situation. To tell you honestly, the hurts and pains I lived in for years seemed to be my comfort zone and my heart was so used to it that I oftentimes yearn to go back… despite the fact that I know joy and peace awaits me on the other side. There were moments I missed the feeling of brokenness or the sighs and weepings— even worse, the distress. I forgot that God took me out of that pathetic situation because I wasn’t meant for it.

I was distracted and had a hard time worshiping God with all that I am. It blocked the blessing of growing deeper in faith and in the knowledge of Christ because I was not willing to surrender everything completely to Him. Another thing is that I hold out on the chance for others to be free as well. Yep. I realized that people who are unfree also imprison others to themselves. Thankfully, He didn’t leave me until I go back to my senses and remember that nothing compares to what He has in store for me if I just wholeheartedly let Him lead me away from the bondage I was in.

Are we living the true freedom in Christ?

When getting that freedom means stepping out of our comfort zones and letting go of things and people we held onto for so long, we tend to hold back. Perhaps, because we don’t know what the process will bring and  how much we are required to give up. It scares us to choose what He has to offer. But can there be any better place than where the Lord’s Spirit is? The place of abundant freedom… to run, to dance, to sing, to laugh, to serve, to love, to live, to breathe, to dream, to fly. It’s such a glorious place. No matter what comes our way, still there is nothing more beautiful than the life within God’s presence, promise, and will.

How do we enter that place? It’s time we get down on our knees and ask God to come break the chains that rob us of the life He meant to give and grant us the desire to live in His glorious freedom.

And may the Lord give us the heart to share that freedom to the world around us.

Walking in the Light

“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

I did not grow up on a Christian family. All I knew about God was hearsay and tradition. Our faith never required us to open our Bible, so, I never read through its pages when I was young. I thought it was just meant for the church leaders and sinless people that if I touch it, I’ll get my hands burned.

Hence, I wasn’t aware that I live in the false doctrine of salvation until a good friend in college has shared her faith and let me read a certain book in the Bible. I remember, it was during the first time I experienced depression. It was crazy how distressed I was over the thought that I will be spending my eternal life in hell because my religion taught us that we can be saved through good works— and honestly those times, I saw myself as a sinful, filthy rag with nothing good in me. And while the latter was true, the teaching that we will be saved through faith and good works isn’t.

I started to read the Bible ever since and slowly the truth was revealed to me and that’s even how I’ve met the real and living Jesus (not the carved one hanging above the pulpit) who is the true source of salvation. I still went to the same church for a few years until the Lord lead me to a Christian church where I’ve been surrounded by people who helped me understand God’s Word more and realize its importance. And my life was never the same again.

Had I not paid attention to what the Bible says, I might still be lost now or worse, have drowned in severe anxiety and depression. The Word is truly a lamp and light which leads us to the truth of God. Anywhere without it is a place abundant of darkness.

Are you walking in the light?

Walking in it means devoting our time to read the Bible daily. This generation has too much distractions that even us, Christians, tend to neglect it at times. We might often have more time on our smart phones— playing game apps, posting statuses on FB, checking out the likes on our Instagram or waiting on a text or chat from our friends—, than spending our quiet time with the Lord.

We often ask God for guidance but we rarely or never open the Bible. When we have questions or prayers, we expect answers through signs we or other people made up and believe it, instead of listening to His Word and following what it says. When we need wisdom or advice, we turn to social media quotes even more earnestly than to the scriptures. Our hearts are drawn so much to what the world tells us or what it shows us— which is more often a lie.

What do we get in return? Vain insights and dry spirit, instead.

God instructs us to take heed on His Word… to meditate on it day and night. Our desire to know God more and walk in His light shouldn’t end when we got saved. In fact, it only starts there. We cannot live a successful Christian life if we don’t know the God who the Scriptures tell about. And we cannot even live a Spirit-filled life with a darkness-filled heart. We need to turn to His Word to guide us in our journey on this earth until He comes again and take us to the place which He has promised to those who love Him and remained faithful in obeying His instructions.

How can we continue to walk in the light? Ask God to give us the desire to listen to His Word more than social media and other addictions. Start reading the Bible daily and spend quiet time with the Lord. Take delight in the Scriptures and let His light fill our hearts and brighten our spirits.