Battle Scars

If there’s one thing, Death is a reality. And Pain goes along with it. And man, this Life is going to hurt, it will really really hurt. And you’re not going to be okay. Because Death is not okay.

Lately there’s always been news about sickness and dying of sickness and funerals. To be honest, funeral is the last thing I ever wanted to go to in this lifetime. Well, no one ever wanted funerals. No one ever wanted to die or let someone they love so dearly be snatched away from their fingertips. No one ever wanted to experience loss because losing someone can be unbearable. I cannot imagine the pain it takes to realize that you cannot hold that one person you’ve been with your whole life anymore. The word painful cannot even delineate how death can leave a hole in someone’s heart. Any other word cannot even.

I’ve been in the sidelines of watching a friend after a friend sticking out the courage to fight with their parents who’s suffering from this villain called Cancer until it was proven – time and again – how human efforts can only do so much. Sometimes nothing’s ever gonna be enough to stop cancer from taking away someone precious. It breaks hearts and hearts that hope for healing. It shutters bones that stand strong amidst continued beating. It brings despondency to the eyes of someone who used to be only consumed by fire but not anymore because flame was put out because of tears.

Cancer has its ways to creep into your lungs until your gasping out of air even if you’re not the one caught by it, even if you’re just battling it with someone who you’re holding on to because you don’t ever wanna let go and give up on the people you love, right? But Cancer or any other disease can disregard all of your fighting fuel. Really, it will just give it a cruel go and let death happen. And then that’s it, it ended someone’s life. And you’ll feel as if you were taken along.

God is good. All the time.

We’ve been so used to this line. We know it is written in the Bible. We use this as an encouragement for every downcast soul we meet; believing that everything happens for a reason, knowing that the God we serve is a big God, much bigger than our circumstances. But there might come a time when we will be filled with doubt and our confidence to this truth will be shaken. And when it happens, I hope we pour out all our burdens, questions, longings and desperation in a To Be Honest, God barrel and hold on to it no longer. Carry it no longer.

Because that’s the beauty of Life. That though it hurts, we can call out for help. When we are in pain, when we are down and hopeless, when we are in fear and we feel too much, when we meet Death in the eye threatening to take anybody we love, we can cry out an honest cry to the Lord and He’ll hear our broken voices and wounded hearts.

And when time comes that we lose a battle with life, when death wins, be still and know that it’s not the end. That the moment we chose to surrender everything, the moment we chose to believe in our Savior Jesus Christ, the moment we chose to lay all our encumbrance at His feet, that’s also the very moment that we are carried and enveloped in His arms. The enemy may bring excessive pain or sickness or death in this life but our Savior cannot be held down by such things. It holds no power.

We may be lonely because we are the ones left. And we’ll probably miss them terribly everyday. And sometimes mornings may not seem like a good one because it’s not the same anymore. We cannot see them anymore, or smell them, or touch them, or tell them our usual banters, or feel them. We cannot spend any more time with them because time was already gone. It’s not the same. Someone we dearly love is gone. It’s never gonna be the same.

But the sun still rises. And the sun still sets. The moon still glows. And the stars still shine. Time will keep on running. And there’ll be a day like tomorrow. There’ll still be weeks. And months. And years. And sometimes it will still hurt. And it’s okay because we still have God. And our God understands.

To be the one who stays at the moment means we still have a lot to accomplish. We have a purpose. We still are to make a dent in this universe; leaving it like it was never left before. One day, we will unite in the heavens and our hearts will fill with joy as we revel in each other’s presence again. And there’ll be no pain, no sorrow, no tears.

Someday.

One day.

But for now, while we travel and feel the Earth with our hands, we go on. We move on. We get molded and strengthened and made new each day. We have battle scars to show up what’s having faith looks like.

Hold On

How can you comprehend loss? How do you comfort someone who is currently holding on to tiny strings of Everything’s Going To Be Okay and yet people around them will keep on pushing the reality of pain, the reality of sickness, the reality of death, the reality of losing someone they cared for their whole lives? How will you be able to stare Loss in the face and never be bothered by his existence? How can you translate words of encouragement into comfort? How can you comfort someone with words when you believe words, sometimes, reach its limit?

H O P E
F A I T H
G O D

These words are bigger than Cancer, Pain, and most of all, Death. Our human minds, however, can be so weak that it can sunk us so low and will leave us without any idea how to bounce back from the negatives.

Cancer happened in our family twenty years ago and it took my dad. But I was young then, I never understood the pain of actually losing a father who’s been there the whole time. It was an event of loss, yes, but for me it was just something on the surface. That loss never got me. I’ve never felt Loss cut so deep that it drenched me helpless, hopeless and broken. So when my friend came face to face with the possibility of a loss, I don’t know the right words to say or offer that would make the pain go away.

However, even if I’m not so confident with my words versus the situation as of current, I think here’s where I’ll still stand. I wrote this in the first chapter of my (ongoing) novel a year ago:

To doubt was easy. To lose hope was easy. To question the circumstance was easy. But I believe, we humans are not created for easy or choosing easy. The virtue of a miracle is that it works when your heart is almost throwing out the white towel of Hope, almost at the edge of giving up, almost crying tears of I don’t wanna do this anymore. It’s when you surrender it all to Faith. It’s when you handed all the pain to that Someone who understands… the miracle is: it will all get better. And yes, in time. Just like what it said in a song.

What cancer taught us is that you can never box Encouragement, Huge Hugs, Kiss On The Forehead, Smiles, Laughter, and an Overflow Of Love. You can never box those things. You can never box Moments.

Loss can be this huge galaxy of uncertainty. Yet, one thing remains true above this all: with our good Lord, we are certain that we are always safe. That His arms are wide open to catch all the pain we can’t anymore carry and heal us where we are most broken. That in our weakness, He can shower us with strength — an inner invincibility. That alone is the last thing we will ever feel because He will bring us to people who can help, who can bring smiles and buckets full of genuine concerns and prayers. That whatever this world throws in front of our face, the reality that we have a God who saves will remain unshaken.

Death is just death. Sickness is just sickness. Cancer is just cancer. But God, He is our God, our Father, Savior, Healer, Comforter.

To my dear friend, you and I might never understand everything that’s going on but our Lord does. He will never forsake you. He will never forsake your family. Not now. Not ever.

Hold on. We’re holding on the strings with you.

***

Can you do me a favor? Can you please include prayers of comfort and strength for my friend Mayu and her family (most especially, her mom)? We need you to pray with us. Thank you for your good heart! :)

Little Kid With Big Emerald Eyes, Glowing Smile

So, there’s Doubt.

Again.

Now, even more hyped. Like he made two tablespoons of black coffee in three fourth’s cup of hot water and consume all of it in a minute. He is awake. He never gets tired of telling you how insanely wrong every decision you’ve made in the past four months or so.

At past 3:25 in the afternoon, he yells in your head of the many things you could’ve done if you didn’t jump into the cliff of your instinct. He gets a pen and a paper, he looks at you and with a wide smile on his face, he doodles a word in a Chalkduster font which read: Loser. He blabber an endless lists of You Could’ve, You Should’ve, You Would’ve. He sings you the song of I Told You, So’s.

He doesn’t stop. He never ought to. And slowly, you find yourself agreeing with all the things he’s been filling and molding your mind into. It breaks your heart. It crashes your soul. It pollutes your light with the kind of dark you’ve never seen before. His friends Frustration, Disappointment and Regret are cheering for him loudly, “Way to go Doubt! You got her good!”

And then, there’s a little kid who came out from nowhere and stood by your side as Mr. Giant Doubt and his Super Friends fills the air with roaring laughters, exchanging high five’s. This kid, she held your hands, touched your face and whispered in (what you thought) a non-whispering voice, “Hi, my name is Hope. It is so nice to see you again! Come with me!”

You are curled down on the floor, you lifted your face, trying to recognize this brave kid you’d seen somewhere. She continued, her smile glowing like her big emerald eyes, “You’ve got great potential. You can do so many beautiful things you haven’t realized just yet. I like that you step out of your boat into the dry land of I Don’t Know What Lies Ahead But I’ll Press On, No Matter. That’s what I call Rock, you’re a Rockstar! I believe in you so, so, so much. That’s three so‘s, you know what it means? It means, I believe in you SO much!”

“Hope, what are you doing here? You are not invited in this conversation, go away!” Doubt said, not wanting to lose his hold of you. “Get her out of here.” he continued. Ever so quick of a back-up, Frustration, Disappointment and Regret took the little kid by both arms, trying to drag her away from you yet they can’t let her move, Hope is so sticky and surprisingly strong. And so she held your hands tighter, “We got this,” she said, “everything will be alright. Patience is a string but when you hold on it tighter, it’ll be worth it. Promise. Come with me.”

You wanted to believe the kid but Doubt was persistent. He never gives up a fight. “You are such a waste,” he said, “believing Hope like it can save you in your misery. Wake up! You are a loser. You are born to be one. What makes you think you are worth more than that?”

It echoes inside your head like a broken symphony. You looked at Hope, desperately.

“You are worth more than what you think,” she answered the question in your mind, “losing is a part of life, like chaos and mistakes and brokenness, they are always there. Like you know, a package. But you are made for conquer and create and wonder (and sometimes, wander) and patience and beauty and all the good things. Come with me?” Hope, you thought, got a knowing smile.

You closed your eyes. Took a deep breath. Trying to measure your courage.

“Wait, what’s happening?” Doubt panicks.

“Let’s dive until the end of this cliff, together.” you finally broke off your silence, “and I know things will be crazier than ever before but… I’ll choose and I’ll keep on choosing to believe you, Hope.”

You opened your eyes and everything is too bright. Doubt and friends are now gone, much to your relief. There’s just the little kid with big emerald eyes, glowing smile and whispering in a non-whispering voice (this is not her forte, you thought), “I’ll always choose you, too!!! You know what always means? It means always, always, ALWAYS!!!”

You smiled a bright smile and told yourself, “Good thing Hope never whispers.”

You Can’t Box It In

When events in our lives are unfolding the way it should, it’s so easy to praise God — feeling all His favors pouring on us like pixie dusts. But when events unravel the other way around a.k.a. the unexpected this-is-not-how-it-suppose-to-happen-ever way, do we still see God’s favor like rain — showering on us in the desert of chaos? Are we ever still grateful?

Last night in our DGroup, our discipleship leader asked us: what comes to your mind when you hear the word “favor?

I would want to formulate some smart answer as what I always intend to do to look smart in front of people (haha, and rarely succeeding at it ((read: never))) but she already called my attention to respond to the question (talk about, God doesn’t always want you to think that you should always be smart in answering questions — “It’s not a beauty pageant anyways; we’re just here spending Quality Time and it’s appreciated for you to answer truthfully.” — I can hear Him speak to my pride in my mind HAHA). So, what I told them was the first thing that I always feel with the word, and well yes, favor for me is like grace – something that is given to me which I really don’t deserve most of the time. Other words that came up in the discussion include favor being a blessing and a gift.

Then my DGroup leader gave some definitions of favor in reference to her notes, I was able to write some favorite points:

Favor is God’s goodness given to a person’s life, to which it’s only God who can get the credit.

Favor is a relationship with God of great confidence where no matter what, you know that with God, you will always end up on top.

Favor is the acceptance, approval and assistance of God awarded to us in the finish work of Jesus.

In different stories from the Bible, we’ll see how our Lord favors His people — there’s Abraham who became the father of all nations; Sarah who bore a child at a tender age and despite the fact that she’s barren (imagine that!); Jonah who was eventually thrown out from the insides of a whale; Daniel who was spared in the lion’s den; Joseph who was once a slave and became a king; David who battled Goliath (we all know this story); Gideon who was the timid and shy and yet considered a warrior in God’s sight; Paul who once a persecutor of Christians then became a servant of Jesus, reaching out to so many people and building so many ministries; etcetera etcetera. Then there was our dear friend, Mary, the virgin who gave birth to Jesus. Then there was Jesus who chose to suffer death on the cross for all of us. Amazing these favors from God are!

Every so often, though, our visions of these favors are limited when it comes to facing unbearable circumstances in our lives. When trials come gate crashing our mini-parties of happiness and just drenching every positive molecule of our being, sometimes we think the favors of God are nowhere. Have we ever learned to thank God when everything’s going great and when everything’s going not so?

You see, trials are also God’s way in wrapping up our favors for us. The problem is, we never really wanted to take those final exams even when we were in school – afraid of stress and failure. We always wanted a carefree life where we can chill to the max with good friends and good music as company. But we need those trials – our character is being molded and the power of God in our lives is revealed through it. More so, when we surpass it, it’s incredible how God polished us all throughout. We just need to persevere, after when the finals are done, here comes the summer break, or even, the graduation – where we can get enough time to bum before proceeding to our next stage in life a.k.a when trials will come pouring in again in metric tons.

As we continued to discuss favor, we were asked to examine our lives and share the most wonderful favor God has given us. The seven of us in the group, who were present that night, impart each one’s “favor story”. It sounded different from time to time but all of it were like bead strings attached to each one – like our story could be presented like a bead work; our stories interconnect. And I believe it’s the same in everyone of us when we all tell our “favor story”, it’ll always boil down to one: unimaginable. I can’t imagine going through life without God in it. I mean, you cannot express in words how God just do things in your life and place you wherever you are right now because His favor has always been on you. Oh, salvation is sweet!

“I’ll be good to you because I wanted to be good to you.” -God

It’s His attribute: He is Love and He is Good. He is our Father who always wanted to shower favors upon favors on us. Have you ever thought of that? Or do you always think that wherever you are right now, it is because of all you’ve done to make the most out of life; and the universe, somehow, is indebted to you that’s why it’s giving you what you are due?

When I heard the favor stories of the other girls in the group and what I’ve witnessed personally in my own life, I cannot help but be humbled by just about everything. And I can’t think of any other way but to be grateful for all of it. You can’t box favor. You can’t box what the Lord wants to give you – it will always fill your cup, it will always have an overflow in your heart. You can’t box God in all His great might! Once we do realize how God sees us and just gives generously in this life for us, we can never be the same. I can only live to give Him the praise everyday of my life. It’s just wonderful. It’s undeserved. It’s overwhelming. It’s all God’s favor!

Blessed be the name of the Lord, from this time forth and forever. (Psalm 113:2)

Live High

Lately, things keep blowing in front of our face. Reality is stinging every corner of our minds. We thought we know how the world works like the back of our hands, but, do we really?

Everything is fast-phased. It’s like we’re all in a bullet train. All we know is evolving in a snap — technology, communication, relationships, culture, faith. How do we define choices? What constitutes our beliefs? What do freedom and equality really mean? Why are we keep on accepting the behavior that this world keeps on imposing unto us? Is it absolutely okay to tolerate ideologies just so we can say we are accommodating to everyone’s perspectives? Who’s to say who’s right and who’s wrong? Why are there so many questions and why can’t we find an answer?

There’s something wrong in our world today; there’s something terribly wrong that’s happening. And I cannot, for the life of me, understand how will I properly respond to this. I never wanted to cast judgment on the way people deal with their life choices because I am never worthy to do so; I am a messed-up person myself. But it seems like this world is telling us that everything is okay as long as you’re happy and you’re true to yourself. What kinds of standard are we living in today? It pains me to see the picture that we are all living for the sake of ourselves — for our own rights, for our own happiness. We are nearly living in a Love-Only-Yourself kind of World, a Selfie (selfish) Generation. It’s all about us now, isn’t it — what we want, we should get.

Really?

Is that all there is to live? For people to know how great we are? How amazing our talents are and the things we do? How we can bend the rules and break them just for us to do the things we want to do?

Really? That’s life? That’s what we call living to the fullest?

NO. There’s more to life than just us. There’s more to life than all these — pleasures of the world we believe we must possess.

I want you to know that Happiness is different from Joy. Doing what we are ought to do will always be worthy than doing what we want to do. And that our choice is always important. Please don’t be deceived that you don’t have any control as to what and how you are going to feel; it’s not true. Saying that you don’t have a choice is like you not owning up to any consequences of your actions. Be man enough! Stand by your choices! I can only hope that you are choosing the right ones. But if you find yourself stuck in a mistake, you can always get out. Please choose to get out.

This world is ever-changing. This world could easily die to the standards that we people regard as virtue back then. But that doesn’t mean we should die with the world. We believe in God, right? He gave us an example to follow. And yet the freedom to choose what we do with our lives is in our hands.

Live high. Live mighty. Live righteously.

 

Unstoppable Faith

Last Saturday, I was able to witness a living miracle inspiring hundreds of thousands of people all over the world and it was just so amazing to hear him speak live before my eyes.

A man of faith, Nick Vujicic, was born with no arms and no legs but that “limitation” did not stop him from being unstoppable for God.

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Nick Vujicic | photo via Google

At age eight, Nick shared, it was very difficult for him to understand why God did not give him what every other people has. He was so confused and devastated, asking God that if He truly loves him then why did He made him with no arms and no legs while every other kid in their school has their arms and legs.

“My question to God is ‘why me?’”

There were lies, he said, that crawled at the back of his mind. Lies like: he will never ever walk or run, he will never have a family of his own, he will always be alone, he will never hold someone’s hands or carry his own son. At age ten, he wanted to end his life and all his sufferings but one thing had stopped him – his parents. All his life he only felt love and support from his parents and siblings that he couldn’t bear to see them crying on his grave, hurting, just because he gave up.

“Whatever broken pieces you have, whatever the enemy uses for bad; if you offer it to the Lord, Jesus will set it to something beautiful.”

Nick chose to believe the Truth. He chose to believe the Word of God. And God gave him peace. At age fifteen, he encountered a story in the Bible where Jesus was asked by this person why injustices, sickness, bad things are happening in his life; that’s when Jesus answered that those things are happening so that the world will know how God will work on his life.

See, Jesus don’t give us bad things; that’s Satan. But our Lord won the battle, He won the war. He met Satan face to face and Satan has nothing on Him. Satan may come to steal and destroy but Jesus comes to heal and restore. If we only give our lives to the Lord, He will always be there for us every step of the way. There may be circumstances that would make it hard for us to understand yet our focus, our Hope, should be in God.

Nick kept praying for arms and legs but he came to the understanding that God has the best plan for his life. Who needs arms and legs, he said, when he is flying with the wings of the Spirit.

Be the Miracle

“It’s very tempting to be jealous; it’s very tempting to see what everyone else has. Did my circumstances change? No. What changed is my heart. Arms and legs are not happiness. The greatest things in life are not things; any pleasure you can see, touch or hold is only temporary.

Can I smile? Yes. But does that mean that I don’t cry? No. But even though I walk through the valley of shadow and death, I can smile.

Brokenness is brokenness; but, don’t let brokenness define your future. Don’t let your circumstances define your joy.

I stand in front of you as a miracle of God that world cannot argue with.”

What are we waiting for? Let’s put our faith in action. Should bad things happen to us, it is never the end. Our faith is unstoppable because we have an unstoppable God.

You know the paradox of a Christian life? You give and it will come back to you. You surrender so that you may have. You die so you live. It will never be an easy life but I loved that no matter what we’re going through, somewhere along the line, if we truly lay it down at the foot of the cross, it could be used by God so that others may know His goodness and mercy? Amazing, right?

If God can use someone with no arms and no legs, I’m sure God will use us too, God will use you. Are we willing to be used by God?

Grow deep in the faith.

Be of Faith

“There is no recession of the peace of God. There is no recession of the grace of God.”

I Kissed Dating Goodbye: A Review of Some Sort

Today, we will talk about Love. Yes, I’ll go straight to the point. This is what happens when children grow up, they talk about love and stuff. Haha. Anyways…

Few weeks back, I finally read Joshua Harris’ I Kissed Dating Goodbye.

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I’ve seen this book being read by my blockmates back in College; I knew then that it would be something worth reading. But at that time, I got this very little patience when it comes to “practical” books (those that give suggestions on what to do with your life and all that), I’m only fond of reading fiction novels ergo I read no Joshua in College Days. September last year however, when I went to a book fair, I finally decided to buy the book. Oh, please don’t judge if I just read it three weeks ago. ;)

The book got my attention in the first few chapters. A lightning struck; I got hooked. Joshua shared his convictions with regards to dating – if he is not ready for intimacy, for marriage, he will not commit to be in a relationship with someone (even giving hints when there are times that he already got a prospect in mind). He is very ideal. The reason why he decided to choose this path is that he believes that this is what The Lord wanted him to do: to develop intimacy with God and to value relationships with the people surrounding him (not leading them to something that will become confusing and messy, but taking care of them like brothers and sisters).

Joshua considers the plans of The Lord in stored for him and he is willing to wait while he is in the season of singleness in his life. He’s willing to sacrifice the good now in order to get the best later. While in his current season, he wanted to grow deeper in his relationship with God; exploring and obeying where The Lord has placed him to go, to reach out, to serve.

When I was eleven years old, even when I got silly crushes, I was ideal as Joshua’s. While in the middle of reading his book, I found out, ten years after that I made myself vulnerable to compromise. I haven’t been in any relationships ever since although I got this certain person that I really really like and I always thought that if this guy will pursue me, I might say yes. As Joshua says, God placed in our hearts the desire to be in a relationship, to be in a commitment, but we should only do so at the right time, at the right place, with the right person.

I always thank God that He never made this guy that I like pursue me. For one, thank God that the guy doesn’t like me the way I did for him; second, The Lord knows how deceiving my heart can be and I know that He’s protecting me. God will grant my desire of being in a relationship when he knows that I am ready. He doesn’t want me to settle. And I also know that I shouldn’t be equally yoke with an unbeliever. It is hard, yes, but focusing on God will make it easier for us. And I need, like Joshua and all of us Christians, to grow deeper in love with The Lord first and everything will just fall in its right pieces of the puzzle.

I hated that the book revealed my petty desires for the things and persons that I wanted now. Dyahe. Haha. It is also the same reason, however, that I loved it because it speaks of the truth, of what we all should pursue of if we wanted to honor God in our relationships.

I liked that Joshua pointed out our selfish tendencies when we like a person; how we always wanted to know if our feelings are reciprocated and if it were, we feel good. Most times, we only think about what good we can get and love is not like that. Love is thinking of what is best for the other person, it involves wisdom when to know the right timing to be with each other. Of course, it is easier said than done. But we always have to start with our choices. As the old saying goes, nothing worth-having comes out easy.

Hustle while we wait! Lets not just stand here and do nothing. Lets serve God with all our might, focusing our undivided attention to him, seeking to pursue the joy of obeying our Master. Ladies, lets behave like a queen to attract a king. Don’t ever settle. And while we’re here, lets make the most of our time!

As for me, I’m renewing my vows to relationships and commitment, bringing back my eleven to my twenty-one year old self. ;)

Bookmarked!

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