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)

Dear Abby

If Isa Garcia has Dear Patty, I got something for you Abby! Haha!

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Hence the title. :)

It’s hard to say goodbye to someone you barely even had a chance to be with (but you would love to bond with) for quite sometime. It’s like eating an 18-inch New York’s Finest pizza with only three minutes on your shot clock – as much as you wanted to enjoy very bite of it, you have to let go once the clock strikes three. It’s hard. It’s like you haven’t even said the how are you after the Hi and yet you are bound to say goodbye. Oh well, life gets unpredictable like that – the beauty, you see, is in the simplest things before the boat splashed onto the rocks of the high waters.

Dear (Ate) Abby, we don’t have a lot of memories but I do remember moments when your being genuine, sincere and dependent on God made me admire you on a high level (well, all the girls too at DGroup had a fair share of my admirations – you guys inspire me A LOT). That’s apart from your confidence and strong personality which I think, is just an overflow of your love for something, for Someone greater.

It is sweet of you when you asked me if I wanted to taste the Ginger Ale you bought on your way to our DGroup one Thursday night. When I said it’s okay, and you thought I don’t like to taste it, I really meant yes I wanted to taste. Haha! It’s just that sometimes I get dumbfounded and tongue-tied when talking to people who I only met for the first time. I’m not so good with that. But you, you effortlessly can ask a total stranger if she wanted a drink you bought. And I thought you are cool doing so. You see, people who do acts of random kindness to me, I make a big deal out of whatever small they did. That’s because, the simplest things are what can touch the beating human heart. And you touched mine since then.

And then couple of weeks later, you were chosen to host the Networking Event. You were not shy. You were confident being the Master of Ceremonies and Games. Yes, you were confident but definitely grounded. It’s not something you did to get praise from people. It’s something you did for God’s people to praise and fellowship together. That’s another point for admiration. When the time of worship came, I saw how you sing – it’s with heart, passion and fire. It’s your declaration of your love for our Father. I was blessed by that.

In a short span of knowing you, you modeled one thing to me: you are living and totally devoted to our good Lord. In fact, your life and actions carry out the gospel. It carries out Christ. It’s wonderful. It’s priceless.

You showed me (even the rest of the girls) how sweet it is to be in the presence of the Almighty – being succumbed with His great big plans, stepping out of your comfort zone to do His will, and sharing Him to others just because you are living for Him. It’s ohhh-some dearest Abby.

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You had been one fruitful branch among these. :)

Now that you’re off to somewhere where you’d be independent most of the time, I pray that you would continue to live in Christ and with Christ. Be that woman full of confidence, not on her own strength, but of her Father. Be hopeful and hold on to faith when you lose sight of the shore. Be not afraid to live and breathe and let go. Do things you never thought of doing and learn from them. Go play in the mud when it rains. There may be bruises and scars along the way but you’ll need them; they’re like weapons of how you were trained to be a fighter. Be that fighter of life, courageous and true.

Dear Abby, may favor be on you. May the angels protect you. Know that I, even when we haven’t had a lot of memories, and the rest of the girls in our DGroup will definitely miss you!

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I don’t know when you’d be able to read this (or maybe not), but we’ll pray for you. Have a safe trip Abby! :)

Jireh 101

Last Sunday, after almost one year of saving (talk about salaries and all that first-job-firsthand-money-and-budgeting experience), I was able to buy my own laptop!

Oh sweet niblets! The thought that you actually got something out of your blood, sweat and tears. Well, what this really is? A blessing. I won’t be able to afford this if not for the Big Guy up there who gave me a job and a mom who helps me (she’s firm) with the whole ‘saving’ thing. And look at what obedience brought–if only I had started and not get all too magastos, I would’ve had this since last year. But I didn’t. So this must be the right time.

I only got this laptop back from the technician today. Yesterday, actually, it’s already Saturday. I gave it to him Tuesday and got it back Friday. I am just starting to explore the gadget now–and this OneNote here is new to me. It’s can be your one stop, one notebook for all your agendas (what I love is that you can blog from here–wicked coolness!). I gotta say that it’s cool, though.

Here, look…

Anyhoooz, granny goose…

As you well know, if you are my friend, I love to name my things. For me, naming them gives more connection and ownership (plus the sentimental value). I made sure that the names that I give to my things have their meanings because their names define them. Or sometimes not. I’m crazy like that. For example, my phone’s name is Given–I didn’t buy it, it was ‘literally’ given by mother way back second year college. Hence, the name. Another is Viktor, my iPod, which was gifted by my aunt from Japan for graduation–it’s a victorious feeling to finish college and so does having a Steve Job work of art at your fingertips. I also got Selah, an mp3 which I’m not using anymore :(; Mini Cooper, my USB who seemed to broom away to the where-are-you-now land since I always forgetting it at the computer cafes until I finally had lost it; Jurassic, the I think oldest IBM laptop model given by my other aunt which crashed down just last month :(; and other things, like our neighbour’s cat which I changed the name from Tikyo to Snowball. Ha!

And so, what do you expect for me to think when I got this laptop? The name. :)

I don’t know what to name it at first. I got a couple of choices: Amal, Axel, Someday, Blessing, Favor (but I got to eliminate this because my aunt’s car was named such, so it’s a drop-off). One name did stand out, it’s from my friend Mari, and it’s Jireh.

Jireh is very common name in the Hebrew language which means ‘it is provided’. And our good Lord is named Jehovah Jireh, a provider. And I believe that He provided this for me, ergo, dear internet, meet Jireh! :P

Me and this guy will have one too many getting-to-know-you moments. Hihi.

For this, and all the undeserved blessings, thank You Big Guy! Fistbump.