Category Archives: in progress

August 18, 2014 Joy Dare: A gift in red, read and written

Ok, this is a tough one. Maybe it’s because I’m already half asleep as I write this, and man, what a tricky prompt this is!

A gift in RED: Red roses. I might have said (several times) that I prefer yellow roses over red ones, but I still love it when I get red roses, or any flowers, for that matter. From guys. Yes. Especially on Valentine’s Day. Yep, this strong, independent, single woman still appreciates those gestures. So far, I haven’t had a Valentine’s Day without roses… yet. Although there were a few close calls for the past couple of years.

A gift READ: I get books a lot, and I love it–even if I don’t necessarily read most of them. One time, a friend who I knew in real life, but got to know better on Facebook, just sent me a copy of C.S. Lewis’s Til We Have Faces just because she read that I had lost my first copy. That was an awesome and unexpected gift.

A gift WRITTEN1601017_10152597036221210_7323397567922395574_n

I got this yesterday from Sky. She always likes giving me these drawings and random notes that just say “I <3 U Ninang.” I post them on the cork board by my desk. These gifts are priceless.

Daring to Move

If/When I get a tattoo, I have decided that it’s going to be just one word, in English (no fancy Elvish/Chines/Hebrew/Whathaveyou script for me), and it would say:

FORWARD

But lately, as you can see from my intermittent blog posts here, it seems like I have been stuck in a rut where I have gotten comfortable in misery. And I notice that I have been scared to get out of it, no matter how miserable I am already. This is just plain stupid already.

And God’s calling me out of it, reaching out with his hand, but I have curled up in a ball, too inexplicably scared to even give Him my hand.

Deep breath. I need to do this. I’ve spent enough time stuck in the mire.

So here goes. This week, things will change.

They have to.

Wake up, sleeper. Get moving.

Breathing

I had a hard time breathing today… well, I still do. And it doesn’t have anything to do with being sick, well, not physically. But my chest felt tight all day, I had a hard time focusing on work and I was wound up so tight I was afraid other people could hear the twanging every time I moved.

And here I go again, writing another morose blog post, in Godspotted! I should have another blog for all my emo posts and just leave this blog for posts about sunshine and rainbows and happiness and dancing and singing Christian songs. This is Godspotted after all, it should be all positivity and stuff. I should be ashamed of myself. I guess this is why I haven’t written here for a long time, I just kept on waiting for something happy and light to write about. But whenever I do, I can’t sit still long enough to write about it.

But difficult times cause me to pause and check on my breathing. And that’s when I sit still long enough to write. (And it makes me feel better and more focused.)

Hence, I’m writing this now, at four in the morning.

I went to bed as soon as I got home to my parents’ in Cavite, desperate for the day to be over, but I woke up at around 1AM because I remembered I neglected something at work in my desperate bid to make it out of the day alive. But then, I’m getting ahead of myself.

I thought of writing this because I needed to remind myself why it was a better choice to stay alive than throw myself off a building last night. If I let myself, the reasons for leaving (though few) are getting themselves heard above the reasons why I should stay.

So, here goes. Here are my reasons to stay (by order of appearance)

My nieces: Sky, River, Casey and the incoming baby girl, my mom, my dad, my sisters and my brother. Actually, considering my family was enough, that’s why I ran straight home even if I still had obligations in the city until later. Then my friends—although at the height of my breakdown I couldn’t remember if I had any friends that would care if I was gone (of course I underestimate them, but forgive me, I was not in the right state of mind at that time). I wanted to ask for help, but how? I could only croak to my Bes “Help” when I called her and because she was in a crowded bus at that time she could only reply “Wuh?” before the call was dropped (thanks a bunch Globe) and that left me wondering if I just imagined the reality out there and if I’m really going crazy. And then there’s the future that there would be better days beyond this, and all I had to do was hang on until the fever to end it all was goneMy life is good despite what I’m being made to feel at this moment

I am loved.

God loves me.

For some reason, that came in last. And it was only after Tita Sandy reminded me. I wish it had made me feel immediately better, but for some reason, it’s always something I’ve known, but I didn’t really think it mattered if I died today or later.

But I chose and I’m still choosing to stay. And live for another day. Even if that day means facing the fallout of the responsibilities I neglected because I just wanted to get away from high buildings. I still wish I had just gone back to the office like I said I would. But… yeah.

But I’m alive. The storm is almost through and I made it out. A little worse for wear, but I’m still here.

There’s a lot of cleaning up to do. But for now and, hopefully, always, my Father, my God, I’ll rest in You, and breathe.

+++

Something broke. I wish it didn’t have to take everything else with it. Tomorrow I have to face the fallout of my choice to save myself.

+++

I know that when You 
don’t calm the stormy weather
You hold me close
Until it blows over.

 

 

What I look for in a man

I have to admit that the thought that maybe I am meant to be single and unmarried for all my life does cross my mind once in a while. Once when the haze of meeting someone new clears and the reality that he is an actual person–both wonderful and flawed at the same time, working on an entirely different script that I didn’t write for him–has finally sunk in, I find myself fearfully stepping back. Heart carefully tucked just out of reach.

This does worry me a bit. But we’re working on it (God and I).

I was talking with a couple of girl friends over dinner this evening and I found myself rambling these thoughts aloud. And I stumbled into something that I didn’t really think of putting on any of my “must have” lists before. I’ve discovered my ultimate  non-negotiable when it comes to the man that I would want to marry and it’s all about:

Humility.

Not a humility that makes him shy and retiring, nor a humility that turns down recognition. I am still attracted to some measure of boldness, after all… I meant a humility that knows forgiveness because he asks and gives it.

I think I would need a man like that should I be married to one. I need him to place forgiveness above being right– which is different from speaking the truth, truth still needs to be said, just as forgiveness needs to be present because one must have love and truth at the same time. A man who knows when to ask for forgiveness even if he is the one wronged for the restoration of the relationship– I need that kind of man, just as much as I need a man who can forgive even when he’s angry.

I’m not saying that he needs to find forgiveness easy, no… I need him to understand the forgiveness given to him by our Father through His Son, and works it out in His life, even if and when it is hard.

I need him to be like that, because I need to be like that.

 

And that’s the kind of humility that makes me respect a man.

Truth Thursday: What’s in Your Hand?

“Scars are not injuries… A scar is a healing. After injury, a scar is what makes you whole.”
(China Miéville)

I have scars on my hand, one covers all the fingers on my right hand from a fire I started on purpose but did not mean to burn. I have stitches on my wrist that I don’t remember getting from my childhood. And I have scar tissue in my wrist, probably, where it broke in second grade. The cuts don’t show as much, I’m glad.

Then there are the scars I carry with me– like badges of honor of all those incidents in life that have made me strong. Not all of them are from sad or painful experiences. Most scars come from falling off great heights and the falls are always as exhilarating as the climbs, or from going too fast and taking a tumble, or from trying something new, or reaching out and sometimes being bitten.

These scars come with stories and words that I pluck out of air to tell them.

Scars are gifts, along with other gifts I have in my hands. The more I share, the more I have to give away.

For Truth Thursdays.

Tagged

Truth Thursday: In Time I Will Be

In time I will be. Perfect. Complete.

It is my Creator’s promise, after all. He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it in the end. For now though, I feel it. I feel unfinished. Like I’m always in the brink of something big and I’m not there yet.

But it’s exhilarating to keep on moving forward, constantly asking “What’s next? What’s next?” This promise of wholeness and completion gives me the joy and hope and strength to keep on moving. When I fall, I know I can get up. When I feel like a zombie for days, I know that it will come to an end. When I look at myself, I tend to cry in frustration, “What good is in this work in me, really?!” But all I have to do is look up and keep on moving forward again.

935472_10151650988186210_655875313_n

I know that in time I– a writer who can stitch together stories of other people and who churns out blog posts– will be better at this and maybe even write a book that would be a worthwhile read.
(In time I will be able to master my tenses.)

In time I will be swimming with real live sharks. And I will be a certified scuba diver.

In time I will be eating bacon again. (But maybe for just one more time.)

In time I will be able to go to the places I never thought I’d go. And I will write postcards, take pictures of me jumping, eat the food, dance in the streets and smile at strangers who can’t understand what I’m saying.

In time I will be able to conquer this fear that keeps me from saying what I need to say to you.

In time I will be holding his hand.

In time I will be his wife.
In time I will be holding our children in my arms.
And we will raise them to know the God who completes us in time.

In time (just as in other times) I will be able to look back to all my years and see the path, that seemed to so long and winding at that time, is actually pretty straightforward. And I will sing His praises.

In time, I will be complete. But until then there is that hope of completion that won’t let me down. And I pray that when I’m finally finished, my Creator will look at me and say, “Well done, my child. Well done.”

 

For Truth Thursdays 04: In Time I will Be

 

 

Tagged

Tomorrow’s Freedom

Today’s surrender is tomorrow’s freedom. We come to you and lay our burdens down.
(All Sons and Daughters)

Last week came and went so fast and I was so tired through it all that I didn’t really feel or take note of what was happening, just finishing what was required. By the weekend, I was just wandering around in a daze. I couldn’t wait to get out of the city after work and I just stopped replying to messages, putting everything on hold until when I felt like it. (I still need to write my third Truth Thursday response…). I went through the motions for Sunday, setting up stuff that were needed for the service, just functioning to function. I couldn’t wait to get back home and sleep.

It’s already Monday and I’m still  feeling it, but the time is up for me to get my act together and come back to reality again. I know what I have to do, but like with everything else, it’s too much of an effort, I have to go to work early, I have so many things to do today…and… and blah.

Then I’m reminded that I need to soak in God’s presence for energy. To lighten my load, I need to transfer my burdens on His strong shoulders. My time alone with Him is not just something that I have to do as a spiritual discipline, but it’s something I need to unscramble my thoughts, to survive the days ahead of me.

I need to fight for this time, even if right now it feels like I’m moving neck-deep in molasses. There will be opposition, that’s for sure, but I realize that if I want to get out of this muck, this should be my all-or-nothing push out. And as I keep on pushing and fighting for God’s presence, I will gain the strength to resist these opponents dragging me down.

So I prayed. I prayed for this burden (whose name I don’t even know) weighing my heart down so much that it becomes difficult to breathe. I prayed for this season where everything is working but there’s no satisfaction or contentment in me. I prayed to get up. I prayed to breathe. I have had seasons like this before, just as there are seasons where everything seems so easy and every step is like a dance. I know that He is here even as I struggle in the mire, I need to keep my gaze on Him and see what He sees– not the gloom and heaviness around me, but the victory and freedom I have in Him.

But for today, there is surrender. Because this is all I can do.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.

(Psalm 62: 5-8)

The Ride of Your Life

I’ve been contemplating about the subject of truth and love all week. How, as followers of Christ, we can live in the tension between the two of them. If you haven’t felt the tension, or haven’t really thought about it, think of the last time you had to forgive a friend or a loved one over something BIG. There’s always that struggle in us to forgive because while we want to love and make our relationship right with that person again, we don’t want to dismiss or forget what had happened. TRUTH points out what’s wrong in us, in situations we find ourselves in, the sin that we’re hiding. LOVE is grace, forgiveness, redemption, acceptance. When we’re teaching or giving advice to others, all we want to teach is the TRUTH, not because we don’t think love is important. but because there’s already too much of it. But when it’s our turn to face it, all we want is LOVE, because we already know what we’ve done wrong.

In the Max Lucado devotional Bible (a quote I found in the Owl City blog), he wrote a preface to 2 John that addresses this subject matter, and I don’t think I can add much to what he said (but I did anyway. hehe. but here’s the quote):

The single most difficult pursuit is truth and love.

That sentence is grammatically correct. I know every English teacher wanted to pluralize it to read: The most difficult pursuits are those of truth and love but that’s not what I meant to say.

True, love is a difficult pursuit. Correct, truth is a tough one, too.

But put them together, pursue truth and love at the same time, and hang on, baby, you’re in for the ride of your life.

But that’s the task of the Christian. Love in truth. Truth in love. Never one at the expense of the other. Never the embrace of love without the torch of truth. Never the heat of truth without the warmth of love.

Never would be easier if we could choose between the two, but we can’t. So John, in this second letter, calls for a hybrid.

“I love all of you in the truth, and all those who know the truth love you. We love you because of the truth that lives in us and will be with us forever. Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, will be with us in truth and love.” (2 John 2-3)

Truth and love. Love and truth. Never one without the other. To pursue both is our singular task.

Truth and love in the flesh is messy. It’s Jesus telling the adulterous woman whom he had just saved from stoning, “Neither do I condemn you, now go and sin no more.” No condemnation, but an acknowledgement that there is sin that had to be forgiven. Jesus lived in the tension between truth and love the whole time he was on earth and he hung out with the sinners and tax collectors– he loved them and he forgave them and accepted them. Jesus is the embodiment of truth and love. That’s why He died on the cross! God wants to save us, but there is sin that needed to be paid in full.
So, how do we live in this tension? We don’t want to dole out just truth because truth without love drives people away. They leave feeling rejected and even more condemned. If we’re all about just love– sin will just be overlooked and there would be tolerance but no change for the good will happen.
One day at a time, I’m trying to live this in my life by never giving up on people, even the difficult ones. To speak the truth in love (it’s hard!) or just thinking before I speak; avoiding quick judgments or arguments for argument’s sake; giving second and third to the nth chances; holding back “I told you so;” easing it up on tough love; and giving up my right to be right whenever I am and I have to.
I’m not always successful– the big sister in me always wants to fix things and boss people around. But if we need want to reach out to the people who don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ yet– the seeking, the lost and those who don’t want to be found, the self-confessed sinners, the bad boys, the bad girls, gay people, the broken, the modern day “tax collectors”–we have to be willing to give ourselves to this tension between truth and love.
We need to learn how Jesus loves by going out there in the world and doing it.
This was a repost from the Daily Pandesal at Winmakati.com. 

God of power outages

Godspotted: when the power went out right when our worship service was about to start today.

 

 

FIRST, A LONG-ISH BACK STORY:

 

Sunday mornings are usually busy times for me. Being part of the media ministry, our team works behind the scenes before and during the service (with very visible results–good or bad). Our system hasn’t been exactly all that smooth yet, but we’re getting there. The majority of our job for Sundays had to do with the projector (yes, we’re the projector geeks)– praise and worship lyrics, announcements and the sermon slides. Pretty simple, but an (we’d like to think so) important part of our church’s worship service.

 

Anyway… this morning had so many delays for me on my way to church–more than usual. I didn’t worry so much since I had prepared everything that we needed for the morning (except for the notes for the sermon slides, because there was a mixup with our guest pastor) the night before, all I needed was to plug in the laptop, fix the last minutes stuff and we were good to go.

 

I made it to church 20 minutes before the service (when I should’ve been there at least an hour before), but there was still no word from our speaker if the notes he had sent us were the right ones. Five minutes before the time, I got call from our pastor confirming that yes, the notes he had sent us in the email where indeed the ones that were supposed to be on the slides.

 

Again, no panic. I had fixed the template the night before (this series’ slide templates take extra work because we would plug in different pictures of families from our congregation on the slides– yep, our sermon series this month is about the family), all I had to do was copy and paste the text, tweak the fonts and we should be good. But I couldn’t finish it in 5 minutes. The notes were on a Word document format and they were as confusing as the first time I had read through them. I had no idea how to fix them on the slides. Still, I did my best, and panic started to build when the pastor began the service and I was still not done! Once the singing started, I wouldn’t be able to work on the slides anymore since I would have to project the lyrics to the songs. My team at the tech booth were laughing nervously while I was pleading, “Not yet! Not yet!”

 

That’s when the power went out in the entire movie theater.

 

“Did you do this?!” I demanded, half-jokingly, to my team.

 

Ate, I think God answered your prayer!” one of them retorted. “The prayers of the righteous are powerful, diba?” And we all had a good laugh.

 

I kept on working by my laptop’s battery until the presentation was done before I went down to the cinema to find out what happened. Again, I shared to the pastor that I was rather thankful that the power went out because it gave me time to finish the slides. Then I introduced myself to the guest speaker and, out of curiosity, asked him something that I couldn’t understand on the notes he sent us.

 

“What? I took them out already,” he replied. “Anyway, those are my personal notes… these are the slides.” Then he showed me the presentation he made.

 

Uh oh. He didn’t send us that.

 

So I got the file of his presentation, kicked off the 5-inch high heels I was wearing and ran back to the tech booth to reformat his presentation to fit our screen and our template. Downstairs, I heard our pastor call out to everyone that even with the lights out, it’s not going to stop us from worshipping the Lord. And everyone started singing.

 

I worked on the slides, knowing that we were given this time to finish this, and my gut told me that the power will go back on at the perfect moment. We had to be ready for it. I told my team to go downstairs and join the singing (because they looked like they wanted to go), and as I feverishly worked, I sang along at the top of my lungs, not worrying at all.

 

And what do you know? The lights turned on just as I was putting the finishing touches on the last slide. And there was a different charge in the air, a bit of breathlessness at witnessing something that we know came from God, but couldn’t recognize it at that time when we were in the middle of it. And it was pretty awesome.

 

Our pastor posted something on the ministry heads’ page on Facebook just now, asking our takeaway from this experience, and they are good questions that I shall answer here (don’t want to waste a blogging opportunity. hehe)

 

WHAT DID GOD TEACH YOU IN THE MIDDLE OF TODAY’S POWER OUTAGE?

He taught me not to panic, but not to slack off at the same time. To see even detours/delays/brownouts (both literal and metaphorical) as opportunities to seize to keep on going– to finish or bring to closure things that need to be perfected. Being taken out of our comfort zones–even for just a few minutes– can be an opportunity to witness God’s extraordinary ways of meeting us and our needs.

That every moment is an opportunity for worship. Even without the microphones, the electric guitars, the speakers, the lights, the lyrics, the electricity that we use every Sunday, we can still worship God to our hearts’ limits–even beyond. We just needed reminding that we don’t need all those to come to Him, to enjoy His presence as a church.

 

HOW DOES SUCH CIRCUMSTANCE STRENGTHEN YOUR FAITH AND CALLING?

I think it was in the aftermath that I saw my faith strengthened, when I saw that everything worked out just right in the end. When it was happening, my strength was the last thing on my mind as I just did what I know what I was supposed to do and assumed that this was God’s doing. It wasn’t my strength or wisdom that carried me through the task, it was God’s–no matter how simple or brainless the task seemed. This has always been the case in my life and work anyway– it’s when everything was over that I finally had the time to look back and see how much God has done with what little I had. That’s when my faith and calling is strengthened.

 

WHO IS GOD TO OUR CHURCH?

God is God. He does as He pleases with us. Blessed be the name of our Lord.

 

Time for a change

I think I’ve complained enough to last me the rest of my life. I think I should just find things to be grateful about whenever I get the urge to whine and grumble.

So here goes.

To the people who work behind the scenes
Who stay up all night to finish the paperwork
Who come up with ideas for other people
Who makes us look good
Who miss time with their families
Who work sick
Who get yelled at
Who take the blame, but never get the credit

You guys who get your hands dirty so our feet wouldn’t
For those who wash the dishes.
Who clean up after us
Who work holidays
Who are there early to open and stay until the last person leaves to close up shop

Who don’t get paid enough.

THANK YOU.

20121116-002304.jpg