It’s the first day of our summer break and the second summer break I will have during this pandemic. We had a lot of challenges having the school year fully online, but we finished strong! I also know there are times when I wonder if I could still go on in this kind of work setup but looking back on my experience, it’s still something I am thankful for.
Not everyone is blessed with a caring and thoughtful supervisor who often checks on our team (with 32 members) to make sure we are okay. My teammates are also kind and understanding. We spend our weekday mornings with team devotions, and we get to learn together and pray for one another. I think it’s one of the things that keep all of us going, despite the stresses that the new normal brings.
I still wish we’re working offline, though. As someone new to the team and only had three weeks spent with them face-to-face, I struggled to connect with them. I know it’s not too hard online because I still made friends with some. But I also know that most of them are already close, so they probably approach one another and talk more often. Also, my job doesn’t require too much communication with them as I work mainly with the Vice Principal, the AVPs, and my co-FA. Even so, we have a good work relationship.
Like last year, we ended this school year with our Year-End parties, both staff-wide and department-wide. I received a few awards during our Padayon (Move Forward) staff-wide party. I still think I don’t deserve them, but I appreciate the recognition.
Everyone gets an award at our team’s year-end party, and I got the BTS (Behind-the-Scenes) Award. I thought this award they gave me suits me well. Apart from my daily attendance on our devotions, occasional team meetings, and my assignment on events such as quarterly recognitions and assessments, the teachers rarely notice my online presence. Also, I don’t turn on my camera very often.
When it was my turn to be awarded on our GS team awarding proper, I was thinking about whether I’d turn on my camera or not. One of the teacher-hosts asked, “Where are you, Ms. Maria? Please turn on your camera so we can take a photo of you.” Then another teacher said, “Ayan, pinanindigan ‘yung Behind-the-Scenes award.” I was laughing out loud when I showed up, that’s why I looked that way in the screenshot.
My colleagues call me Ms. Maria as insisted by our VP. In our team alone, there are already four Kat(h)s (Katherine, Kathrina, Katrina), and we don’t want the students confused. Hence, we had to use different nicknames. I remember the many times I almost looked or responded whenever someone calls Ms. Kat (another teacher). Haha!
Anyway, I am blessed to have thirty days of summer break to spend however I want to, and most importantly, it’s a paid break. I wish the pandemic is already over, so I could go somewhere. I was hoping to visit my cousin (who is like my big sister) in Singapore, and I probably would have spent a week there if we’re not on a community quarantine.
I guess I’ll stay at home (as I have no choice) and just work on my small business. Hopefully, my friends from my old church (yep, I moved to another already and will talk about it in another post) and I could push through with our plan to go camping or at least meet again to exercise together. We were restricted for a while because of the rising number of COVID cases the past months. I can’t wait until this pandemic is over and we can live normal lives again.
I’m not forgetting to share a song at the end of this post. Haha! Here’s an encouraging song by Keiko Necesario and BGYO (the new P-Pop group I enjoy watching recently). I’m still not into K-Pop and P-pop groups. I just thought these young boys are so talented and funny. And they’re like the baby brothers I never had. Hehe. 😛
Whenever I see the sufferings in this world, especially during this time of pandemic, God reminds me about Job. Despite being a blameless and upright man, he faced trials that are too hard to bear.
In the Bible we read that Job lost his sons and daughters and all his property. “Struck with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head”, he suffered physically. And in the extremity of his afflictions, his wife was short of encouragement as she told him to “curse God and die”. Even his friends who came to comfort him, ended up judging him guilty of sins he did not commit.
We may not have gone through the same experiences as Job, but in some ways all of us have experienced sufferings already—those that make sense and those that don’t.
According to Paul David Tripp,
“You can’t escape the reality that the Bible teaches that suffering is not a unique experience. It’s not a strange experience. It’s not a surprising experience. It’s not an episodic experience. Suffering is a universal human experience. Starting in Romans 8:18, Paul discusses suffering, and he assumes the universality of suffering. He assumes that somehow, someway, all of us will suffer… This may not be a happy thing to hear. But if you’re not suffering now, you’re near someone who is. And if you’re not suffering now, fasten your seat belt. You will, someday.”
Most of us see that reality, especially now in this crazy time we live. And there is no guarantee that we will be spared from sufferings—from health issues, emotional distress, financial struggles, failures, betrayals, or loss of a loved one,—because we live in a fallen world and are even affected by the consequences of our own, and other’s sins. But what should our response be when faced with trials or sufferings?
Romans 12:12 says, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
Rejoice in Hope
“Rejoice in hope” was written along with the marks of the true Christian in Romans 12. That means a true Christian rejoices in hope.
We can see Job’s hope in God despite his affliction when he said, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.”
Rejoicing in hope, doesn’t mean that we deny the presence of our trials or the painful realities of life, but we rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Many of our sufferings may not only bring us pain but also shame as these sufferings often expose our weaknesses, limitations, and even our remaining sins as well. This is why when we look to ourselves, we often find nothing but hopelessness. What we must do is repent and set our hope in the Lord.
For what better hope do we have apart from what our Lord Jesus Christ has done? That the glorious Son of God came to the earth, walked the path of suffering, died the death we deserve on the cross, and rose from the dead… to reconcile us to God, so we will never have to suffer from His wrath, the worst of all sufferings that could befall us.
As God’s people, we have a living hope, not a mere expression of uncertainty or wishful thinking. It is our future resurrection through Christ’s resurrection from the dead, “to an inheritance—that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for us.” When we rejoice in that hope, we would realize that the things we suffer here are light and momentary in comparison to the glory that is to be revealed to us at our Lord’s return. What God has promised for us through Jesus is eternal.
“Paul distills the essence of the Christian life when he says, ‘Rejoice in your hope,’ since our joy is vested in the future that God promises for His people. Our joy as strangers and sojourners in this valley of tears is that God has prepared a place for us—a better world that will be consummated at Christ’s return.”
— R.C. Sproul
Be Patient in Tribulation
Our hope counters the pain and the shame that entails our sufferings. It is written in Romans 5:3-5 (ESV):
“We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Consider Job’s response when met with difficult trials. “Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’ In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” (Job 1:20-22 ESV)
In his grief and misery, he was patient. Despite challenging God and asking him questions, God deemed Job as one who had spoken of him what is right.
God permitted Satan to afflict Job, despite being a blameless and upright man. Why would a loving God do that to His faithful servant? It is not only to prove the genuineness of Job’s faith and strengthen his character, but more importantly, to display His glory and sovereignty over all creation.
We can be patient in tribulation because we have hope, and sufferings are not meant to break or punish His children but to sanctify us by the power of the Holy Spirit and to make us more like Christ.
Be Constant in Prayer
Aside from spending time in God’s Word, there is no other way we can commune with God but through prayer. It is an act of humility to come to our heavenly Father who cares for us. To pray in times of plenty is to acknowledge that everything we have, we received from God. And to pray in times of suffering is to trust God’s purpose for us and submit to Him, knowing that He works all things according to the counsel of His will, to the praise of His glory.
When our life’s abundance is replaced with sufferings, do we come boldly to the throne of grace or do we wander away from God?
We must be constant in prayer regardless of our circumstances, for we are in constant need of Him in whom we live and breathe and have our being. He is our help and our refuge. And apart from Him, we can do nothing.
There are many trials and sufferings in this dying world that don’t make sense, and there are still more to come that will never make sense or might only make sense when eternity is finally before our faces. But the faith which the Spirit of God has granted us is not blind faith. We have the assurance past this side of heaven, a sure and steadfast anchor of our soul: this hope that we have in Christ. Therefore, we have a reason to rejoice. And when sufferings bring you to your knees… kneel and pray, and like Job say, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him.” (Job 13:15). Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13)
And “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13)
To God be the glory!
Call to Action
Memorize Romans 12:12, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”, ask the Holy Spirit to help you live it out. AND share the hope of the gospel of Christ to others.
Questions to Ponder
1. What truth about God have you learned through trials and sufferings?
2. How does this truth change the way you respond to trials and sufferings that you are facing/ may face?
This is the expanded version of the message I wrote and shared along with a coworker and sister in Christ in our staff-wide devotion yesterday. We had a very limited time, so we had to shorten it and deliver it in a conversational approach as well. It took me a few days to finish and I almost cried in the process, but the grace of God held and helped me through it. I pray that this may serve as an encouragement for you to set your hope in Christ. God bless! Soli Deo Gloria!
There are so many things I’m still dying to tell you, aside from those I already told you about. But there are so many moments when I can’t find the words or, I just find my heart holding back.
Your face, when I stare at it, I feel at ease. Your voice, when I hear it, I think I could rest on it. There isn’t any sound better than your laughter or the way you breathe. There isn’t any encouragement better than the way you lead me closer to the One my soul yearns for and needs.
Are you okay? Is there something that hurts? Do you still feel alone or losing heart? You know you have someone, and even with those long little letters, I’m afraid you don’t see. In the saddest of your days, I’m crying and praying. Even though you’ve lost everything you held so tightly… On this side of the earth, you have me.
Thank you, my sweet tranquility.
One or two days after I drew the doodle above, I wrote this (on Jan 18, 2018, three years ago today), then posted it on my now deactivated personal IG account. Before this, I told myself that I wasn’t going to write anything for anyone else but my future husband. I’m not yet married nor do I know who he is yet, so basically, this was a “compromise”.
I’m not one who talks a lot about this area of my life. But the person I wrote this for is the first person I truly loved. And what I wrote was how I exactly felt when he was around, and even more that I couldn’t find words for. He never read it as I never sent it. I was scared to let him know, although perhaps, my actions told him so. Anyway, it wouldn’t matter to him now.
He had me, and I lost him. We were an untold story, and he probably has forgotten about me… but to me, this remains a bittersweet memory.
The sound of his voice and his laughter gave me that sense of calmness. I didn’t get butterflies whenever he smiled at me, instead, I felt at ease. It’s crazy, I know. He was the one who helped me get back on my feet and encouraged me when I was so down. I’ve never had anyone support me, put up with my weaknesses and pray for me the way he did.
But I didn’t love him because of all the things he did for me, although there’s a lot. No… I loved him for who he is. I cried and prayed for him. And I found myself more than willing to put his needs above my own. If I could, I would give anything just to put a smile on his face or silence whatever thoughts that went through his mind.
I didn’t get the chance to do all that and everything I hoped to do for him that I kept to myself.
It’s been two years since he stepped out of my life, and more often than not, he still crosses my mind. There are times when it’s okay, and there are also times when I would cry. I wish our story didn’t end the way it did. But acceptance was my only resolve. I mean, I was left with no other choice. I would’ve kept fighting for him, if only he fought for me. We could’ve faced battles together, except I was left alone.
I often wondered how he’s doing and what could’ve been if things between us remained the same. But living separate lives has become our reality. I pray he’s alright and finding his joy in the Lord. I don’t have to know the answers. My hope for him is in Christ.
Many people grow hatred and bitterness for those that broke their hearts and caused them pain. But as time goes by, I realized that it’s not the same with me. He is flawed and imperfect like I am, and I have forgiven him. All the hurt was even less than everything I’m thankful for, for having him in my life. The way he always pointed me to Christ meant a lot.
Honestly, if only the circumstances between us right now are different, if there’s still a possibility for us to continue what we had or start over again, to change how our story goes and ends, to do and be for him what I longed for… If only he will come back, I’d risk again if it means I could love him again and love him still. If only there is still a chance, I’d gladly take the risk with and for him, according to our Lord’s will.
Considering the last thing I heard from him, he might be happily married by now and living the life he dreamed of with someone else. So, I always struggle and strive to do the right thing no matter how hard it is. I ask the Lord that I may not fall into the sin of still wanting an already married man, that I would be free from its shame and guilt.
I trust in God’s plans and His faithfulness in guiding my path and my every decision… His grace is sufficient and He will preserve me. He is the only One who knows, because He’s the One who holds my life and who chose someone for me (if marriage is His will for me)… and nothing will hinder Him from pulling us closer until we’re together, for His good and perfect plan will always prevail. I’m grateful that my hope is in Him and that hope will never be failed.
Thanks for enduring and putting up with this very personal and heartfelt post that I had second thoughts publishing. And since I don’t know when I’ll post this kind of stuff about love or relationship again, I’d take the chance to share one of the many songs I hope I could sing to the future love of my life whom I’ve been waiting and praying for for a long time. This would be similar to my story, especially when I finally meet him, and *spoiler alert* I would love this to be the song to our first dance on our wedding day. We have to agree on this first though. Enjoy! God bless you.
It’s been crazy busy recently. Aside from work, there were a lot of things that I needed to accomplish. I have no one to talk with, so here I am, writing my thoughts again.
I was a substitute PE teacher in 4 different grade levels last week. Never in my life have I imagined myself being a PE teacher (except in my dream as a homeschool mom, maybe). It was fun, but I don’t think I’d ever want to do it in classes with the number of students ranging from 9-20. I don’t know if it was better online or not. It’s hard to teach PE and make them do physical activities in front of a camera, but I also remember the times I worked as a substitute teacher on campus. Some of them were running, jumping, and lying on the floor during school presentations practice and at Math time. They were cute, but it was almost chaotic. Haha! Let’s move on to my main topic.
About Life/ Career Plans
During our one on one meeting, my supervisor asked me about my career plans. I think it was the hardest thing for me to answer. In the past few years, I was considering enrolling in a diploma course to earn a professional teaching certificate and license. But things aren’t the same anymore. In this season of my life, I am certain that I don’t want to be a career woman. I had to be honest that at this time, I am content with the job that I have. I enjoy learning and serving teachers and students. Also, I was a bit shy, but I told her that I am thinking of the possibility of having my own family (Lord willing). If God would bless me with a husband, I will serve him and be a homemaker. I also want to homeschool our future kids (it has always been my dream since I was in high school and wasn’t a believer yet). These were major considerations in my decision-making. I don’t want to end up using my time and resources on something that I will not put to use long term. So, I’d rather prepare for that future while also keeping in mind to trust God’s plans over my own.
In less than eight months, I’ll be thirty. Sometimes, I’m wondering if God will give me a husband considering there isn’t any man in my life right now. But the desire to have my own family is still there. In fact, Being surrounded by children in my current job made that desire stronger. You wouldn’t guess how much I even cried over adoption stories that I stopped watching them altogether. Aside from carrying kids in my womb, adopting kids is also another thing I pray for in the future. But this is something to discuss with my future husband should there be one.
Sharing My Learning Journey
My learnings for the past two years have been different. I’ve been listening to podcasts and sermons with solid biblical truth more than before. I also enrolled to free theological studies and read theology resources. Ligonier.org and renewingyourmind.org are among my favorite online ministries. I’d be posting a complete list of resources in my Wilting Wildflower blog, hopefully soon. Anyway, these studies and actions lead me to treasure the Gospel and God’s Word even more. I come to understand more what Sola Scriptura means and why women shouldn’t settle with shallow teachings of the Word. By God’s grace, I started following an in-depth? personal Bible study method as I have learned from a book I read and the Biblical Hermeneutics seminar I attended. I thank God because He is always teaching me about rightly handling the word of truth, and helping me grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
We have always been encouraged to study God’s Word in the church where I attend. I was also taught to take the Word in the proper context. But doctrine and theology isn’t something you would hear from people. Many of them think it will only cause division. I agree with some theologians I follow and faithful Christians I’ve met, though. It separates truth from error.
I am grateful for this pursuit as I become more capable of discerning false teachings through continuous study. I have been taught false narratives and hurt by false theology, that’s why it matters to me. (With this, I decided to take down some of my old posts here and review if they are aligned with the truth in the Bible, so, in case someone reads this blog, I wouldn’t teach them wrong things.) The lies I learned from the past that I didn’t know were lies were slowly unveiled and I am freed from them.
Aside from that, I come to see the glory of God more and learn how I can worship and glorify Him as He is according to the Scriptures. As Christians, we are commanded to study and meditate on God’s Word day and night. Psalm 119 always reminds me of the importance of the Scriptures as it is a lamp unto our feet.
Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments. I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules. I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me!
How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rulesof your mouth. In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.
(Psalm 119:1-16 ESV)
I have read somewhere that mothers are the first theology teachers their children will have. So, I’m also seeing this as an opportunity, not just to grow spiritually and to serve others in the ministry, but also to care for and disciple my future children that they may know the Lord as He is revealed in the Bible. I couldn’t imagine how much I would harm my future kids if I pass on false theology to them. I wouldn’t even serve as a good example if I’m not sure why I believe what I believe and I am not diligent in Bible study. My prayer is that as my mind grow in knowledge, my heart would also grow in love and humility. Soli Deo gloria!
Sharing with you this song I often listen to that is based on Psalm 119. God bless you!
In February 2018, I bought a ukulele, which I named Hana (meaning flower in Japanese, or grace in Hebrew, and bliss in Arabic). Soon as I learned a few basic chords, I was able to play a lot of songs that I love. Since then, it has been my sort of companion in worship, leisure, and teaching.
I found myself struggling with new chords, having small hands. My fingers are short that I often couldn’t reach the strings on frets that are apart at the same time. So, I look for alternatives, or if there’s none easy, I don’t play the song anymore. One of those chords that intimidated me was B minor. I tried it so many times, but I couldn’t get it right. It was also painful that I feel like I’ll end up with a twisted arm (an exaggeration but you get the idea). You already know what I do next: I stop.
Yesterday, I thought of playing the song, Only A Holy God by CityAlight, then I saw the Bm chord. Initially, what came to my mind was the acceptance that I cannot play it. But I really wanted to. I had to tell myself that it has been a long time that I’m avoiding this chord. And if I deal with it the same way every time, I’m never going to learn how to play it. What a shame for a ukulele owner who’s been playing for over two years now! So, I gave the Bm chord another chance and practiced it along with the other chords from the song, and after about half an hour, I finally learned it! With a few more time practicing today, I’m slowly getting it right–though imperfectly.
God has been teaching me about second+ chances recently. Also, the message in our online Sunday service was Second Chances, and that is what we discussed in our small group on Monday. The topic covered offense by a brethren, responsibilities it affected, your manner of resolution, dealing with those people, and how you can bring Glory to God in those situations. I was taken back to a year ago the same time I was listening to other sisters share their thoughts. I found myself holding back the tears during our discussion, but I failed as soon as I gave the answers required of me (thankfully, there was an option to turn off your camera on Google Meet).
It was almost two hours of remembering the pain people caused me and their consequences. It happened the time I was ready to leave ministerial responsibilities and had no plans delaying it anymore. That decision put me into the risk of judgment that being offended was the reason. All the betrayals were painful, but they weren’t the reason. Most people didn’t know that I already decided long before any of the conflicts happened. But I have learned that I don’t always have to explain myself.
I faced people with a mask. I couldn’t speak to others about it. I downplayed the pain and acted like I was okay when I really wasn’t. I have somehow failed in my part. Perhaps, that was enough for me to deserve all the hurt that I had to silently carry in the presence of those people who hurt me and around those who might have heard what happened (if the matter didn’t remain confidential to others).
Honestly, for quite some time, I was desperate to defend myself, or for someone to defend me, but the people I trusted and who know the truth held their peace. It seemed unfair that only one side was heard and favored. I felt belittled, betrayed, and alone. I never received an apology, but it only makes sense because they didn’t know the truth.
Anyway, as I shared my thoughts with the sisters, I was careful not to give the details and just focused on the topic. With that painful experience in mind, these were some of the things I remembered saying during our discussion:
It doesn’t matter who hurt more. It doesn’t matter if they hurt me more. Yes, they have sinned against me, but then, I think that in some ways, maybe I have sinned against them as well.
That’s what I’ve been thinking of. Not just for those people, but for all the others in the past who wronged me. Their sins are in no way acceptable, but my personal sins aren’t as well. I feel ashamed for mine. If I stand before God, I would be as guilty as they are.
Yet this was the reason Christ came: to save sinners. If I think of it, none of us deserve forgiveness. All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. But even when we were dead in our transgressions, Jesus died for us. I look at this truth in my life.
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
(Romans 5:6-8 ESV)
Also, as the song, Only a Holy God goes in verse 4:
Who else could rescue me from my failing Who else would offer His only Son Who else invites me to call Him Father Only a Holy God, Only my Holy God
If God has rescued me from my failing, if I have been reconciled to God through Christ, I must obey His command to forgive the people who hurt me and give them another chance (Lord willing), regardless of what they did because God gave me infinite chances when He chose to save me.
It will not be easy. It’s like the B-minor chord that I tried to avoid ever since I started playing the ukulele. Once I gave it another chance to be played, I ended up with my arm and wrist feeling twisted and my fingertips sore (besides the fact that I’m already suffering from skin allergy on my hands and palms). But now I know how to play the chord, and I’m able to play more songs than I could imagine! Similarly, forgiving people who wronged me and giving them another chance doesn’t guarantee that it will be free from pain, it would even probably hurt more than what learning the Bm chord costs. But who knows the peaceful music of restored relationships? I stretch and open my heart to see and I pray God will grant me the grace not to keep a record of wrongs.
Below is the song that helped me learn the B-minor chord. Soli Deo Gloria! God bless you!
Three weeks ago, I’ve seen a folded note lying on the floor in my apartment’s laundry area. I couldn’t remember the exact date and time since I didn’t think it was important. The only thing I could recall was it was on a weekend and I was about to take a shower. I was either preparing to go to the outreach on Saturday afternoon or attend the service on Sunday morning.
I honestly found it weird how a torn page of a notebook would get there. All my neighbors moved out in September. And although it was a bit illogical given the structure of the apartment, I just suspected the strong wind the night before I saw it as I didn’t want to scare myself.
When I was cleaning the apartment at around 8:30 in the morning on October 24, 2019, I picked up the note to throw it to the trash bin. However, when I unfolded it, I read that a perverted coward human being was asking me if I can sleep with him. He told me he will be back at 4:30 AM and asked me to open the door if I agree.
Upon reading it, I felt so scared. It felt like someone has been watching me all those times, and one of the voices I heard from some people talking at the grassy vacant lot across my back door one evening might be from him.
My fear heightened when on the night of the 24th at around 7 PM, I heard someone knocking on the door, just a few minutes after I finished a lesson. I didn’t know what to do. I called my mentor and asked her to stay on the line with me.
After a few minutes, I heard someone knock on the door again. This time it was a bit louder, and I heard a man’s voice. It sounded like my brother, but I knew it wasn’t him because I am familiar with how he knocks and what he says whenever. Also, there wasn’t that annoying sound of his motorcycle.
I didn’t dare to look through my window to check who it was. No one visits me late at night except for my brother and my mom. And my friend who was supposed to come over messaged me to postpone her plan. Perhaps, he noticed that the note isn’t where he left it anymore and knew that I read it already, that’s why he acted on it.
After I told my brother, they checked on me. But I was still left alone at home. My mentor is pregnant and she had to go to bed early. Another friend who was aware of it has a newborn and I didn’t want to bother her. Others who had no idea about it were already asleep. It was almost midnight and I was desperate for someone to talk to as I couldn’t sleep. I was scared he would come back, at the same time I was ill. Good thing a colleague was awake and was waiting for her lesson at 1 AM.
I went to bed after our conversation. I didn’t know my colleague would call 911. An agent reached me and connected me to our local police department. I felt a bit relieved knowing that they would patrol around the area.
But the heaviness in my heart stayed. I’m in emotional distress until now. No one knew who the person was. My heart pounded every time I’d open my door even in the light of the day. I was scared to go out, or even just check and water my plants. I was scared to use the bathroom, knowing it’s across the area where he walked and left the note.
For more than a week, nothing else happened. Until in the afternoon of November 4, I found that my undergarments hanging on the clothesline were gone. Creepy, I know.
I reported it again but no action from the authorities seemed to take place. Another week passed. I saw that my underwear was back (and disgustingly soiled), and the lightbulb near the backdoor was stolen. It was around 8 PM on November 9. I didn’t think of sleeping in that place anymore. So, I asked a sister if I could stay over for the night.
I reported it to the watchmen in our barangay the same night and went to the police station for a blotter the next day.
He’s probably watching me for a long time. The policemen told me of the things that could possibly happen if I stay in that place longer (which I didn’t intend to do anymore). He could do worse in the next days. And considering the stalker might have seen men in police uniform visited the house, he’d either get scared to come back or would find an opportunity to kill me.
Some grills at the back that were supposed to serve as protection were weak and broken.
Now I’m here in another person’s house as I fled from the place I once called home―the home where I once felt safe and secure. I’m trying to fight my fears and doubt, and find another place where I could live my normal life. I’m hoping the Lord would keep me, and give me the strength not to question the things He allowed to happen, including this scary threat from an unknown perpetrator.
“The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalms 118:6 ESV)
The Lord is good, despite all these. The Lord is on my side. With human beings’ total depravity, there’s nowhere on earth that seems safe anymore. And in the midst of my situation, I wished He would take me home. But even this threat can never separate me from His love. Help me remember always, Lord.
I have been lifting this up to God in prayer and thanksgiving since day one, and I know this day will come… That He is going to take something away from my life again. But this is not like those in the past that I’ve lost, except the unfulfilled statements I’ve wanted to believe and hold on to that I have to dig from my mind and try to forget.
This time, it’s something “good”. Something that has done “good” in my life… A “good gift”. A resemblance of the prayers I’ve mentioned to God since years ago.
I’ve realized, it takes a shorter time to accept losing things that are bad for you. It’s much harder to let go of things that has made a great impact to your life… A great impact that it affected not just you but even those that surround you.
But that’s just how it is. God is in the business of giving and taking away. For what reasons? I can’t fully understand and explain. But these days, He has been taking and taking and taking away from me. I’ve lost the will to chase. I shouldn’t anyway. I no longer want to go back to those pathetic situations I put myself into. I cannot even fight. And I’m already tired of asking questions like “Why have You given me this when You’re just going to take it back?” I need to just trust Him. He is Sovereign. He knows best for my life.
Despite the fact that I anticipated that this is going to happen, it still hurts. Yes. I feel sad. I’m human. I’m capable to feel all sorts of emotions. I have whispered little warnings to my heart a thousand times before this happened: Hey, it might still end the same way as it did with others. Don’t forget…
I did not forget. And. . .
I feel torn. But when wasn’t I?
I feel empty. But when wasn’t I?
I feel scared. But when wasn’t I?
Those have always been my condition all my life.
But God is with me through all of it. . . Has He ever forsaken me? No. There was never a day He left my side.
Every person and things I have in this world are His and not mine. I’m not entitled to anything. Even I. . . I am His. So, I just ask Him to teach my heart not to want anything more when I’m tempted to and just thank Him for what He gives and thank Him for what He takes away and praise Him… Whether my hands are full or empty. I have been mentioning that often lately and I was blessed when I read this which Elisabeth Elliot wrote on Passion & Purity:
“There is no ongoing spiritual life without this process of letting go. At the precise point where we refuse, growth stops. If we hold tightly to anything given to us, unwilling to let it go when the time comes to let it go or unwilling to allow it to be used as the Giver means it to be used, we stunt the growth of the soul.
It is easy to make a mistake here. ‘If God gave it to me,’ we say, ‘it’s mine. I can do what I want with it.’ No. The truth is that it is ours to thank Him for and ours to offer back to Him, ours to relinquish, ours to lose, ours to let go of– if we want to find our true selves, if we want real Life, if our hearts are set on glory. . .
The more you perceive God’s purpose in your life, the less terrible will the losses seem.”
It’s never easy to let go. Why should we? But God knows exactly what it is for. We say, “If only I have a view of the future. If only I have been shown the bigger picture, then. . .” But the secret things belong to Him and it is up to Him whether He would want to reveal it or not. What is hope if what we hope for is seen?
And this is the Word that I preach to myself right now, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV:
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
It’s so easy to question, to get distracted or sidetracked. The flesh wants what it wants. But we have to set our minds on the things of the spirit. Look forward to His perfect time. Wait upon the Lord. Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in all circumstances… These will help us focus on the Giver and His goodness rather than on the gift. AND isn’t the Lord even more precious than the good things He gives?
The long weekend is over, and looking back, I seemed so unproductive. I was so tired and distracted that I rarely sat on my desk to do any of the tasks I thought of accomplishing. But I spent my Saturday in the city to settle some personal matters. I have to admit that many days this November, I have been so emotional. I cried this month more than the first ten months that passed.
I remembered people, places, and memories. I felt sadness as I recalled things, beautiful and painful alike. Aside from that, I was so overwhelmed by all the things I needed to do.
I almost cried as I struggled to find a decent and less expensive bridesmaid dress to wear at my friend’s wedding. I was close to purchasing one that costs Php 1700.00-ish ($36) online, but after a few weeks of searching, I ended up buying from a thrift shop for Php 35.00 ($0.73) only! I remember praying to God to help me because it was really hard to find a dress. Even the design of the bottom part is almost the same as what I hoped for! I will just have it repaired since it’s kinda loose. ❤ I’ll write about this in a separate post.
My Small Business
I think I haven’t mentioned that I am an official dealer of natural products since last year, although it isn’t something that I was able to focus on because of my job. My customers are mainly my friends, but I earn enough amount that covers the expenses for my toiletries, personal care, and housekeeping. I’ve been using the same products I sell, so I also get discounts, which meant a little more savings with those essentials. I am always happy and thankful, just thinking about that fact! You can shop with me here: Kath@HHN
Aside from that, I’ll be putting up a small stationery (and 100% natural hand-poured candle) shop online if the Lord wills. I only needed to restock some materials for the candle, like the natural wax and essential oils. I think the stationery stuff is the one that requires more effort, from decision-making to design and creation. Purchasing a bit pricey machines and other materials is a risk that I have to take with the small savings that I have from my earnings. I’ve been planning things out for a while now, and I know this is something that I’ve wanted to do. Although, my head ached looking for a printer that has good print quality because I couldn’t afford to get the wrong one. I researched, analyzed the specifications, and read reviews of particular models and different brands until I was able to decide what to get. BUT it’s out of stock, and most of the models that I considered are not available as well! So I might wait for my cutter plotter to arrive first. 。：゜(；´∩｀；)゜：。
I haven’t started yet, but I already missed an opportunity–or turned it down. It was making wedding invitations for a brother and his fiance who are getting married this month. My supplies and machine weren’t here yet, and I wasn’t as confident doing things manually, at least for a special event like that. Therefore, I said no and just gave options. One sister considered gifting my scented candles to her friends. Another sister, the one who gave me the honor to be one of her bridesmaids, also thought of them as their wedding souvenirs. However, someone sponsored for them, and they get to decide. Didn’t regret that much because I need to work on my design and concept at the moment. I’m still putting ideas together, but I’m excited for when I can finally offer them.
Before I desired to teach, I was an aspiring artist first, and some time ago, I felt like I wasn’t a good steward of this gift that God has given me because I rarely use or enrich it. So I thought of ways that I can make use of it. I can’t wait for our two-week Christmas break so I can work on my pending art projects somehow.
Another thing that I have on the list is to design and print gospel tracts that I can give away if someone orders my product and also when I am outside. We need to spread the good news as much as we can. The papers are ready!
Social Media Update
I deactivated my Twitter beginning this month but reopened it again. Since I’m not using Facebook and watching TV, it is what I often use for reference to article links about current events. I think someone tried to hack it as I received a password reset email. I was also planning to deactivate my IG, but I use that platform to share the Gospel, help some of the sisters out, learn from brothers and sisters, and encourage others in Christ. One sister that I met there was the one who invited me to the Bible Hermeneutics seminar. It’s really a blessing to me.
Facebook is still overwhelming for me, so I can’t decide whether I’d use it again or not–I mean the personal account that I have. The thing about it is no matter how much you fill your profile of godly posts, you can’t avoid seeing posts with toxic comments or even worthless things because of what your friends like and share. You can only do so much to filter what shows up in your news feed. I do have one without friends that I don’t use for anything other than watch our online worship service, look for supplies online, and to keep my Wilting Wildflower page running. It’s been two years of not using my personal account, and I can say I’m enjoying the peace and the extra time for more important things that I have now.
And per usual, to end this post, here’s a theologically sound Christmas song from Sovereign Grace Music. So far, I think this is the one of the best Christmas songs I have listened to. Happy December! Soli Deo Gloria!
The weather started changing a few weeks ago. It’s often raining in my hometown lately. Also, the colder months are approaching. Don’t get confused. We do not have fall nor winter (it has always been my dream to experience both, especially fall. Huhu). But by colder months, I mean the months less hot than summer and the regular sunny days. Those are usually in November-February. It’s still hot in the afternoon, but I started turning into a blanket burrito in the mornings and the evenings this October. The breeze is a little cold, and I’m not complaining.
I honestly couldn’t think of an intro to this post, so I just wrote about the weather. This is a cool way to start a conversation with others, don’t you think so? Haha! So yeah.
Recently, I tried carving stamps. It was so relaxing and fun. I tend to get distracted easily, and since my last depression and anxiety situation, I’ve noticed that there were many times when I got a bit disoriented. It also seems that I am no longer as careful and attentive as I used to be. In learning this new skill, I could practice focusing for a long time. I find that it’s necessary to concentrate since you often cannot undo a mistake. I’m also not good at handling sharp objects except the scissors so, I have to be careful. I cut my finger twice (and I felt like fainting seeing the blood. Haha), but I enjoyed the activity that I did that for most of my weekend before the last. I’m planning to make more for big projects, and I finished about 35% of the design the other night.
The books I ordered from the US came last week. It’s honestly sad that there aren’t a lot of solid Christian books in my country, so I have no choice. Sometimes, it’s cheaper in the US, except for the shipping fee which, at times, costs more than the product itself. It was reasonable until I had to pay an additional tax to our local post office to claim my package. But I found out about a cheaper (safe and legal) way to buy products from the US that I can use in case there is anything I need that’s not available in the country. I wish I have figured that out earlier!
I was planning to buy The Valley of Vision. I have been interested in it since I listened to Sovereign Grace Music’s Valley of Vision album and some other posts I read on IG. But because of the additional amount in the shipping fee, I purchased Flourish: How the Love of Christ Frees Us from Self-Focus by Lydia Brownback instead as it wouldn’t exceed my budget. I think it’s a good read. I’m still in the 3rd chapter. Hence, there’s a lot left to read before I can say more about it. But here’s some of those written in the book that struck me:
Are we pursuing personal change in order to enrich our walk with God and to shine better light on the gospel, or are we basically just dissatisfied with ourselves? And a related question to ponder: Do we hate sin because it’s sin or because of the painful consequences it brings?
— Lydia Brownback
The other book in the picture, Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both our Hearts and our Minds, was the book I mentioned two posts ago that encouraged me to do a deeper study of the Bible, aside from the Bible Hermeneutics I attended. Both emphasized the central message of the Bible: the Redemption story of Christ, and discussed the exegetical method of studying the Bible. I’m planning to share my learnings with others through my blog once I finalized my initial draft. I have realized that you need to be extra careful in these things. That is why I’m taking my time and not rushing to publish it. I want to rightly handle the truth and point my readers to Christ.
In this book, the author discussed the wrong ways many Christians study and interpret the Bible (especially eisegesis), the case for Bible literacy, and taught her readers to study with purpose, with perspective, with patience, with process, and with prayer. I’m done reading the ebook that they offered for free for a time, but I wanted to have a copy of the physical book, so I can lend them to my friends who might be interested.
I’m currently using this material to discuss with a friend with who I shared the Gospel, and she appreciates its rich and helpful content. I recommended this to Ayel, and after reading, she started following it, too. She also recommended this to her friend, who ended up doing the method as well. I think if Christian women are taught about exegesis and its importance, then it would really make a difference. It really saddens me to see many professing believers who do not give time and effort in knowing God through the Scriptures. Many are led by their emotions and settle with what the false gospels in social media teach them.
“When women grow increasingly lax in their pursuit of Bible literacy, everyone in their circle of influence is affected. Rather than acting as salt and light, we become bland contributions to the environments we inhabit and shape, indistinguishable from those who have never been changed by the gospel. Home, church, community, and country desperately need the influence of women who know why they believe what they believe, grounded in the Word of God. They desperately need the influence of women who love deeply and actively the God proclaimed in the Bible.”
— Jen Wilkin, Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both our Hearts and our Minds
There are lot of learnings to share from this book, the Hermeneutics seminar, and even the series of seminars we had at work about the correct biblical worldview, Bible literacy, the status of many Christians today regarding these topics, and the importance of reading, studying and obeying God’s Word. But it would be too long if I include it in this post.
I use my two study Bibles (The Reformation Study Bible Condensed Edition and ESV Study Bible) to check for the author, genre, theme, background and to understand the confusing parts. But I no longer rely on the notes as much I did in the past. Reading them usually occurs in the last part of my study to confirm whether I understood the passages correctly or not. My current way of studying the Bible helps me grasp the truth of God’s Word better, and memorize the verses naturally since there are a lot of times when I have to read through the passages over again. All these wouldn’t be possible without the work of the Holy Spirit!
I have read the book of John many times, but God enables me to see things more clearly. It’s as though I’m reading it for the first time. I can say that it’s like digging treasures, but these treasures are ones of eternal worth and value. He is truly amazing! And it’s humbling.
We spend a lot of time learning different things that are finite. So, doesn’t it make more sense that we need to continually know our God through diligent study of His Word because He is infinite and eternal? There is so much to learn about Him that we will not fully learn in our lifetime, I know. But it shouldn’t keep us from learning and seeking God more through His very Word because Christians live by it. It’s foolishness to think or act as though we don’t need to behold the God we claim to worship through the Scriptures, knowing that the true worshippers worship Him in spirit and in truth, not emotions. Also, we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind. This is the greatest commandment. May we not forget.
To end this post, here’s a song from the Valley of Vision. On the 24th of this month, It’ll be a year since the scary threat happened, and this is one of those songs I listened to that encouraged me. I’ve been ending my posts with worship music, but why not? Hehe. I hope you are encouraged, but more than that, I hope you are encouraged in Christ. God bless you! Soli Deo gloria!
If you call brunch, brunch, what do you call a meal past dinner and midnight snack? Hehe. It’s 3 AM, and I wonder as I am eating my late dinner. I woke up an hour ago and felt so hungry. I have a messed up body clock. Work stops at 4 PM. After that, I’d do a few things, eat snacks, or rest. I usually get so tired that I fall asleep. Then in 5-7 hours, I’d wake up.
Yesterday was no different, except for one thing. After work and some other stuff, I went up to my bedroom with quite a heavy heart, and tears that were about to fall as I opened the door. I curled up in bed and cried for no reason, or perhaps, loneliness. I remember this feeling from 2016 when I would go home from work late at night, and I’d rush to my room and cry myself to sleep. It was worse back then.
I fell asleep last night, reminding myself of what it says in His Word: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5 ESV). This also brings to mind what Charles Spurgeon has said:
“Lo, I am with you alway,” is enough for my soul to live upon, let who will forsake me.
Life on earth is empty, right? Its loneliness stings. But what a great reminder of a better and lasting truth that I can find comfort in Jesus, not just as my Lord and Saviour but also my friend who sticks closer than a brother. He sees me. He’s with me. He dwells in me. And in those times, when it feels like my emotion doesn’t seem to make sense, I can cry and speak to Him even without words. He knows, and He intercedes for me.
Understanding who our God is and what He has promised to His own eases the painful stings brought by this fallen world. That while it abounds here, in eternity, it will be no more. And we are not left helpless as we eagerly await that future. All thanks and praises be to our good and faithful and unchanging God who gives us hope and rest through our Lord Jesus!
I woke up from my sleep comforted and encouraged. I saw desiringGod.org’s recommended video, For Christian Loners// Ask Pastor John, and watched it. Also, for the first time, I’ve listened to Abide with Me. So, I’ll end this post with this hymn. Good mornight! Soli Deo gloria!
The mid-third quarter is fast approaching, and this is only my first post in the historical 2020. I didn’t notice the days that passed. It’s sort of like a 4-hour journey to my hometown when I fall half-asleep on the bus or in the car and wake up to find that I’m almost home. I was not aware of what happened in between the moments I was awake on the trip. I often lost track of date and time. I had various seeds planted. Some have died, others have already grown and I don’t know how many weeks since they have been sown. One time, I was even living the day like it was a Friday then realized at dusk that it was already Saturday. I could list those important weekend tasks I missed back then.
Everything went by too fast; the whole earth was caught off guard. I couldn’t remember most of what happened in the past seven months except for the two major plot twists in the life I imagine for this year: First is getting a full-time job that wasn’t in my original plans and second is the current pandemic that’s ruining most, if not all, of the plans of the rest of the world.
#1: Getting Hired in an International Christian School
At the beginning of this year, I tried somehow to write down the things I thought of doing or accomplishing. Some were to fill in the “unproductive” time outside my late afternoon and evening part-time job. Others were to try achieving the little dreams I had a long time ago, Lord willing.
Things were going quite well until certain factors made me consider living far away from my hometown, such as the desire to move somehow a bit freely, and with less fear that the perpetrator I told about in my previous post would find where I live. So I ended up applying to the school where a close sister works, and I got hired after about three weeks. At times I look back and ask myself if I made the right decision. The changes and transitions that took place were too scary; I felt like holding back or wanting to live in a bubble again. But seeing the students and being able to spend time with them made me realize how much I enjoy the job, however short the time I have spent with them was.
#2: The 2020 Pandemic
The school announced a supposedly temporary work from home set up just when I was already enjoying my new life outside my comfort zone. Shortly after, the government declared the first 14-day community quarantine, and it’s already 150+ days since. We ended up canceling our plan to rent an apartment close to the campus, and I went back to my hometown. We’ll be working at home until it’s safe on campus again.
I often enjoyed spending time alone. But honestly, too much time alone can also be suffocating. I know, I’m used to meeting people online and I am thankful for the gift of technology. But being deprived of meeting people who are dear to me, face-to-face, adds a lonely feeling to the struggles COVID-19 has brought us. There have been no sleepovers and swimming sessions with my dear sisters in Christ since the quarantine. We are restricted to travel, even to gather together.
Nothing went according to my plans again. But if I look at it, God has prepared me for this. Many people have lost their jobs and struggled to keep their businesses running. It’s really sad! Yet, I’m here, receiving a fixed salary every after 15 days when I originally planned to stick with working part-time. I was still able to keep my two part-time jobs. But guess what? I’ve been on an indefinite leave since the start of the community quarantine because my internet connection has been too slow! Had I not gotten a full-time job, I would probably be struggling to make ends meet.
I am spending most of my time at home just like the past two years of my fully independent life. I work and study at my little table. I try and cook different food. I grow herbs and some veggies in my pot garden. I’m living a simple life sustained by my heavenly Father. I’ve got nothing to complain about, but a lot to be thankful for! There are many times I hope I already have my own family. Sometimes, I think of what might be different if I already have them during this quarantine. But I remind myself that if the Lord wants me to get married, it will happen at the time He has appointed. I pray that my future husband (if there is one) and his family are doing well right now and are finding encouragement in Christ.
It’s the same desire I have for everyone else, that we may find hope and encouragement in Christ because it is all in Him! All these shifts in our plans and sudden changes in our lives might have taken a toll on you. And as someone who has experienced those before 2020, I understand how it feels. It might have been painful or perhaps, depressing and paralyzing. Maybe you fear sickness or death, and the threat of COVID-19 heightened it. Perhaps, you’re scared about your future. But we have a sovereign God, and we can find comfort in that, especially if you are in Christ! Matthew 10:29-31 (ESV) says,
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
“God is in control of anything and everything– including the smallest things we consider insignificant. This must bring us hope and comfort even in the days when we are most anxious and frail. Fear not, dear Christian! We can rest in the saving truth of the Gospel which surpasses the worst of worsts that could befall those whom He called His own.”
I have written that back in April. And in this constantly changing life, it’s the unchanging truth of the Gospel that keeps me going, however tough and scary each day seems. I am reminded that even as I stay at home, this world is just my temporary home. Nothing happened according to my plans (and this is isn’t new), but by God’s grace and mercy, I am certain about my future. That is a life with Christ, which no earthly life can compare. And the cry of my heart is, Maranatha!
I’d like to share a resource that gave me a better perspective on the pandemic. Here is a link to a free pdf of John Piper’s Coronavirus and Christ booklet: CLICK HERE. Also, if you haven’t heard the Gospel: CLICK HERE. And to end this post, I’m leaving this song, which I’m playing on repeat as I write this. God bless you!