Sunday, July 21, 2019

My Journey to Forgiveness.

This an unedited version of the sharing that was posted in the Feast Mall of Asia bulletin today, about my takeaways from last Sunday's formation session with Father Michael La Guardia.

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“I am sorry.”

How many times have we said those words with such remorse? And how many times have we said those same words and wishing that things will simply go back to normal?



When I decided to attend the formation session on forgiveness by Father Michael La Guardia, I knew what I was in for. I knew I needed this. But I guess I heard more than what I had expected.

Recently I am beginning to believe that I had lost a best friend because of a falling out. This person, my best friend, was my closest confidant. We became really close while we were in the community, that there were some people who were very intrigued about our closeness that they assumed that there was something between us. And even more so when for quite some time, we started living together because I needed a place to stay that was closer to work so I don’t have to stress myself out with commuting at 3 o’clock in the morning. I knew that with that living arrangement, we would be prone to rumors. What I also knew what that the same arrangement will either bring us closer together, or push us further apart.

Eventually, the latter happened. A string of certain events, from a simple fault that had both of us to blame, to things blowing out of proportion because I was not thinking of the repercussions that it would cause. Because of those issues, my friend treated me like a piece of furniture in the house. Then he had told me straight in the face that I will never be forgiven. Not that I am also blaming him, but I etched the thought in my mind that we were both at fault. For the past several weeks, I am still beating myself up for things that had happened between us. I was so messed up because I was so used to talking and seeing this person all the time, that I didn’t know what to do without that person’s presence.

Father Michael shared the three ways of handling conflict--flee, fight, and forgive. I first decided to fight and stand my ground, in hopes that my persistence in staying will help. I thought wrong, because things became worse. Eventually, I was suddenly put in a situation where I felt that I had no choice but to leave. I had to flee and avoid the stressful situation that was still eating me up from the inside. But for some reason, I still felt broken.

I had forgotten how to forgive, not just the other person, but most especially myself.

“Forgiveness is not just about forgiving the other person. Forgiveness is all about liberation. It is also about making that move on your own in order to free yourself.”

I was still too stubborn to make that move on my own, because for the longest time, I thought I could handle this conflict by fighting to keep our relationship together. I did not realize that there was a third option of forgiving.

“Forgiveness is setting a prisoner free, and discovering that the prisoner was you.”

I was so wrapped up in all the drama, that I never realized that I was also a prisoner. Just because that person had decided not to forgive me, I figured that I will also not forgive him for what he had contributed in the faults. But I guess that’s just my pride talking. And even more, I also couldn’t forgive myself. And I am still beating myself up for it.

“Forgiveness is choosing to let go and renewing that choice daily, hourly, or even more frequently.”

I had been so hung up on the things that had happened, that I didn’t realize that letting go of it was the healthy thing to do. Jesus already knew who would betray Him, who would deny Him, and who would abandon him in the most desperate hours of need, yet He still humbly washed their feet prior to the Last Supper. He knew what was going to happen, yet He forgave them even before they had done it.

“You begin to heal when you let go of past hurts, forgive those who have wronged you, and learn to forgive yourself from your mistakes.”

Father Michael led us into a very cathartic activity at the end of the session. We were given pieces of paper where we had to write the name of the person that we needed to forgive, then we were instructed to drop it into a bowl of water that was passed around. It was like a symbolic washing of the feet. I wrote his name in mine. And the moment the slip of paper touched the water, I actually felt peace.

I took several weeks to find that peace. Yes, one of the obstacles that I had been going through was that I expected things to get better quickly, hoping that things will go back to normal. I learned that I cannot rush this process just so I can get it over with. Journeying with the pain is just as important as the forgiveness itself.

I don’t believe that it’s an accident or mere coincidence that I had decided to attend the formation session this past Sunday. I do believe that it’s a divine appointment that I had found myself there, along with my brothers and sisters in service. The Lord knew what’s inside my heart and He found a way to help me with my healing in order to forgive myself.

“I forgive you.”
“Please forgive me. I am sorry.”



Wednesday, May 8, 2019

On Lent, changes, and challenges.

I can’t count how many times I’ve tried to write this, and then find myself staring into space. I still have no idea how to start this entry, let alone write it.

This entire Lent had been quite the trying time for me. There were quite a few changes, plus some challenges that sometimes left me in tears. Yet, I still tried to look for the little good things in everyday, no matter crummy most days were.

At the beginning of Lent, I was already facing certain changes along with challenges. There were some things that I didn’t expect, and some things that I had to face the consequences to.

The first major change that happened was at the very beginning of March, when I had to move from Las Pinas to Makati because of necessity. I work in Ortigas with a shift that begins at 5:00 in morning, and the commute can be quite a challenge. Fortunately, a close friend offered a house to share.

It was all different and new to me, learning how to live independently for the first time, along with a friend in close contact with all the time. It brought challenges outside our friendship, because I already knew from the beginning that people will talk. There were also challenges within our friendship, which I have been dealing with for quite some time now. We live, but we learn.

Speaking of learning, I learned that being a good leader has so many ups and downs. I love it when we share our successes. But it's still tough when you feel as if your leadership and your commitment is being questioned. I started asking myself if I was still effective as a leader. I somewhat crashed, because there were already a lot of challenges that were going on in my life that time, and this also came into the picture. But again, we learn to communicate, and more importantly, we still learn.

Another change this Lent was in terms of relationships. When a given circumstance changes, sure enough, a lot of things will change as well. When a close relationship gets distorted, it can lead to a lot of repercussions. Certain situations can either draw two people even closer together, or it may even push them further apart.

I just didn’t realize that it’s possible that both can happen in quite a short time.

Because of the new circumstances, we take necessary actions. And sometimes, or even usually, the actions leading to a brand new setup and situation is not in our favor.

I was assured that this would only be temporary. Because of that assurance, I ended up being more clingy, needy, and impatient, that sometimes I become less sensitive that the other party may also be going through other things apart from what had happened between us. I had learned that not everything is about me.

I know there are easy and quick ways around this, but being quite the persistent (or maybe stubborn) person, I am still determined to see this through. There had been a lot of setbacks and arguments along the way, but I am slowly adjusting, little by little.

There are days that I find myself quietly sitting in my room, mulling over things that had happened, and then I would end up in tears. But then I would also find myself scrambling for a journal that I had been keeping this entire Lent. Everyday, I scribble something good that had happened that day, no matter how major or little it was.

I was also reminded by a friend that this is not the time to overthink things. “Binigay sayo yung oras na yan para ayusin mo yung sa sarili mo. Hindi para ayusin yung sa inyo. Use it wisely."

The timing was perfect, because I got called to serve as an actor for the third year in a row at the Holy Week Retreat. I was given the role of Mary Magdalene, which was the same role I had when I first served in 2017. I was so surprised, that despite all of the challenges and changes that I had been going through since Lent began, God gave me this huge opportunity to serve Him again through my core gift. Upon receiving the monologue, I found myself in tears not just because of how much emotion the piece had, but because of the possible reasons why God had given me all this, both the opportunities and the challenges.

I was still so hung up on my personal concerns that sometimes, I didn’t focus much on service. It came to the point that I thought I had already memorized my monologue, but once I got up onstage on the day of rehearsal, no word would stick. Anxiety kicked in, especially because I had promised that I would have this memorized. So I ended up spending most of the night before my Easter performance memorizing and rehearsing. I had to stop overthinking and I had to focus. And trust in Him.

He never left my side. Even during the times when I was running the piece in my head and kept tearing up because of the extreme emotions, He was there.

On the day of the Grand Easter Feast, He left me with a message, through the Word that Bene had shared backstage before our prayer before service. It was exactly about the monologue I was about to perform, when Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and found that Jesus’ body had disappeared. Bene had described that Mary held the linen that was used to wrap Jesus’ body, and was clinging on to it. I felt goosebumps when he said the word “cling”, because that was my super objective (yes, I’m getting technical in terms of script analysis). Bene went on to say that Mary was clinging to the “fact” that someone might have took Jesus’ body. She was clinging on to that fact that Jesus was dead, that she didn’t recognize Jesus when He appeared to her, and mistook Him for the gardener.


Mary was clinging on to past graces, not letting them go. Because of that, she couldn’t accept the new graces, one of which was the fact that Jesus had risen and is alive.

I was clinging on to a reality that I was so used to. I was used to this specific circumstance, that I didn’t know how to accept how things should be now.

At the end of the monologue, from mourning to joy, Mary shouts that Jesus is alive, throwing the linen up in the air, letting it go.

That is something that I still have yet to learn now, to let go of the past graces, and to restart.

Little by little, I’ll get there.

This entire Lenten season was a season of changes, challenges, and lessons.

I just need to see all of this through.

And in time, I will be okay.


Friday, February 15, 2019

My FISH story


Last Sunday, February 10th, Father Mike talked about conversion. With the Gospel being about the Apostles catching more fish than they had expected, he used the letters of the word “FISH” as a very suitable acronym for conversion, meaning Fascination, Invitation, Sense of Unworthiness, and Humble Submission.

My friend, JC, who is a fellow servant in the Feast Mall of Asia Music Ministry, recently shared his own FISH story and posted it online. His story inspired me to write my own.

FASCINATION

I first heard about the Feast from my mentor, whom I fondly call Mommy Val. She had mentioned it quite a few times that she attended the Feast on Sundays, saying once that when she brought her daughter (who was my age), the talk was very appropriate for her. I was intrigued, but back then I was more than content having my Sundays to myself. Yet, part of me was curious about the talks because Mommy Val mentioned Bro Bo Sanchez quite a few times during our training’s lecture time with my fellow dance scholars every Saturday.

INVITATION

I was all set to have an entire 4-day weekend to myself for Holy Week of 2014. Then a couple of weeks prior, Mommy Val invited us scholars to Bo Sanchez’s Holy Week Retreat. Only 5 of us showed interest. We spent the Holy Week like an actual retreat, with just 5 of us staying in one house, and then we joined Mommy Val and her family in PICC in the mornings for the retreat. My first Feast was huge, because it was the Grand Easter Feast. I was enamored by the talks and the worship. Watching the worship team sing with such passion, I was inspired, and I told myself that someday, I will be where they were standing.

SENSE OF UNWORTHINESS

Even after I left my position with the scholars, I continued going to the Feast. I didn’t care even if I went alone. I realized that the talks were things I needed to hear, when I was quite used to hearing only things I merely wanted to hear. I was helping myself by still bringing myself to the Feast every Sunday, even though I was at my low points. Ever since I changed paths in 2015, I felt as if I had no direction, so I kept going to the Feast and there I would feel refreshed and inspired. Whenever I felt lost, it seemed as if the talks pushed the right buttons.

HUMBLE SUBMISSION

After my somewhat random beginning as a servant-actor back in 2015, I am still serving, now as part of the music ministry, mostly with the Feast Mall of Asia Chorus. My growth in the ministry had been quite challenging, because looking back, I knew that one of my first objectives to serve in the music ministry was out of mere vanity when I was starting out. I gradually realized that everything happens in its own time, and things may not turn out as I had expected. I had not been elevated as expected when the opportunity came 2 years ago. He gave me an even bigger task--to learn how to lead, and to learn how to make new leaders as well within our ministry. And hey, as it turns out, God had a different reason to put me up on that huge stage that I was looking at during the Grand Easter Feast 2014. It had come full circle when it was also for the Holy Week Retreat, not only once, but twice (hello, Mary Magdalene 2017 and Mother Mary 2018).



So, what’s your FISH story?

Friday, January 18, 2019

2018 in retrospect.


I used to write annual retrospective blogs before. Until I stopped blogging. Now it’s high time to get my feet wet and start writing again.

I always think of a word as a theme to set the brand-new year on a very good note.

2016 was Courage.
2017 was Passion.

For 2018, I chose Excellence.

I remember when I was writing those 3 words using a cheap watercolor set at the beginning of 2017.


But for some reason, all three words were perfect for each year.

At the beginning of 2018, I instantly agreed with my 2017 self to go along and use “Excellence.” I had no idea back then how I was going to do it, but I decided I should just trust myself.

And of course, to trust God as well.

But quite frankly, I wasn’t feeling very optimistic at all in the beginning. I was only a little over 2 months into my new job as a research officer in a background checking company, but I was not really that happy with my work. I felt that my performance was always mediocre, or even a bit lower than that. It was obvious that the job was not for me, but I was too stubborn to see it back then because I had resigned from a very cushy part-time job where I had stayed for 7 years.

I was feeling very complacent with everything for the first couple of months of the year, just waiting for things to happen.


A Mother Mary monologue.

By March, like the year before, I was being called to serve again as an actor for the Holy Week retreat. If in 2017, I performed a monologue as Mary Magdalene, for that year, I had to perform a brand new monologue, this time as Mother Mary. In Filipino. Apparently, since the talk for Good Friday was about prayer languages, we had to perform in different languages. One actor had to perform in English, I got the Filipino piece, and another had to do it in sign language.


It was a more challenging performance compared to the year before in so many levels. First, the whole stage setup was facing the entire audience of SM MOA Arena, while the year before was a theater-in-the-round where I was only facing one side. Second, the character was more emotionally challenging. Every time I read the piece, I couldn’t help but burst out crying. Thanks to the guidance of Kuya Paolo as our director and the support of my fellow servant-actors, I managed to control myself. And again, just like the year before, I requested to have the teleprompter turned off because seeing the script always makes me nervous. I was nervous enough already standing on my own in front of the enormous crowd. But I knew that I wasn’t really alone onstage. I knew the Holy Spirit was there with me.





As I always do for every performance, I offered that piece to the late Bro. Ceci Hojilla, a La Salle brother who asked me many years ago as to when he would see me onstage.

I thought there was nothing that could top the Mary Magdalene performance. But Someone knew I could do better. The Mother Mary performance proved it to me.


Teaching English.

In the meantime, my performance at work was quite the opposite. I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing, and I even dreaded sleeping early on Sunday nights, because it would make Monday come sooner. It came to the point that I wanted to contract a really serious illness, or run into an accident, because I wanted to have a valid excuse to not go to work. Yes, it was that bad.

I had confided in a few select people about how I felt, and they agreed that the job was not aligned with my strengths. I already knew it when it was only my third month with them and I was already searching for a new job online.

After 8 months into my job at that time, I attempted to talk to my superior, and it took a week of convincing, but I was already rendering for my final month, as I found another line of work that I thought I could enjoy.


At the beginning of the second half of 2018, I resigned from a job that I realized I could not handle, and found myself in an ESL (English as a Second Language) company. And right from the beginning, I already knew that I was going to enjoy myself in something I love doing. I love the English language, and I love communicating and connecting with people. Yes, I finally found something I really love.


A couple of changes came along at that very same time.


Chorus head.

First, because our chorus head, Zach, got promoted to music ministry head alongside the existing head, Rex, he needed to appoint a new chorus head or two. And I was one of the people he chose. I was content with being a service coordinator all this time, probably because I was used to the same tasks when I had the same coordinator position in the Gateway program of Feast Bay Area’s Music Ministry. He first appointed Dennis and me as co-heads of the chorus, and by then I was already questioning myself if I really do have the capacity of being a leader.



What’s more, a month after being appointed, Dennis had decided to look for work in the Middle East, leaving me to find someone to replace him. It was quite a challenge, but after some careful selection and discernment, I finally found a co-head in Nat, who really proved himself when he least expected it.



I had some very big shoes to fill, becoming Zach’s successor. He had instilled a culture of family in the chorus, and he was a very kind and lenient leader. Being raised to be a stickler for rules, I had a different attitude. When he was still the chorus head and I was the active service coordinator, we played good cop, bad cop. Obviously, he was the good cop, and I was the bad cop. I was the one who pointed out certain things, and he had to cascade it to everyone in a kinder way. I was always the discipline officer to Zach’s guidance counselor. I didn’t know what to do with the herd he just handed down to me. I never saw myself as a leader, and there I was, being called to lead a big group of people who wanted to sing and worship the Lord in the way they knew how. Even until now, I have so many shortcomings as a co-head. I had to ask for prayers, but I knew I already had the answer in the core team where we were raising our leaders.


A mass singer.

What happened alongside stepping up as the chorus head was stepping up as well in service. I experienced immersion as a mass singer once back in late 2017, and by the middle of 2018, we were finally assigned to respective teams as their designated mass singers. I got assigned to Kuya Mond’s team, the same team I had my immersion with. Right from the start of service with them, they were the most welcoming and supportive group, and they treated us newbies like family. I felt so blessed to serve with them every month. I know I still have a long way to go when it comes to my singing, but I know I will grow even more in service because of them.




Retreat, reconvene, reset.

Just when I thought things were pretty smooth sailing, I had challenges with certain relationships. And one of them happened to be a good confidant, one of my closest, if not the best, friends in our ministry. I honestly didn’t know how to deal with my own emotions, and there were times when I would be either out of control, or I would just burst into tears. I always find it difficult when a very close friendship gets strained.

But I guess one of the best things that helped us was honesty, clarity, and honesty. It took some time to retreat, then after a little more time, we reconvened, and after talking, we did a complete reset. Hey, I like that. Retreat, reconvene, and reset. But anyway, I was glad we were pretty honest with each other. I can pretty much say that what happened was one of my biggest lessons of 2018, because there are some things I cannot control, but only learn how to deal with. And that helps you to grow as a person.



Spending my birthday in service.

Fast forward to the last quarter of the year. I had previously mentioned that there are things that I cannot control, and once I heard the lyrics of “Have Your Way”, a new song by Feast Worship that came out last year, I knew that that song was speaking to me in more ways than one. In fact, the song also summed up what I went through in terms of the relationship with the aforementioned confidante.

"Take away what’s not from You
Empty my heart and make it new
When there are things I can’t control
Help me trust in the unknown

Take what’s not for me to hold
Empty my heart and make it whole
Lead me to where I should be
Show me things that I can’t see

Oh my King whose voice the stars obey
Let Your will be done, Lord, have your way..."

Feast Worship songs were being used constantly ever since the album came out. One birthday wish I had was for that particular song to be included in the mass lineup during my service in December, my birthday month. Wish granted, it really was included. And to think that it was my actual birthday on the Sunday of my service as mass singer. But rehearsal day came, and I was afraid that if I was given a solo for the song, I might not be able to give it justice. I cracked under the pressure I gave myself. But I was still happy enough to get to sing part of the song that I wanted to sing on my birthday.


So I celebrated my 37th birthday by serving with the music ministry at the Feast. It was really a birthday to remember. Again, I still have a long way to go in terms of my singing ability. But it was truly a birthday blessing for me to listen and sing a song that spoke to me so much, alongside a very talented and supportive worship team and chorus team, regardless of how scared and insecure I was about my singing. They all inspire me to do my best in all that I do in service.

After the Feast, there was a Christmas party for the Feast Mall of Asia servants. There was a part in the program when Bro Didoy had us choose a partner and share our answer to one question.

“When was the time that you felt loved at the Feast?”

I couldn’t help but feel emotional because that day was pretty appropriate for that question. Maybe it was just because it was my birthday, but I felt really loved that day. I felt the warmth and support of the music ministry, from the chorus up to the worship team. I felt very self-conscious every time they would start up a round of the “Happy Birthday” song, though.


What more, a couple of groups of friends threw their own little birthday surprises for me. These groups are very close to my heart, and they made the efforts to make my day a little extra.



During a fellowship with my best confidants at the end of the year, we talked about what were our biggest lessons and blessings of 2018. I can honestly say that everything I wrote here are the biggest lessons and blessings that I received in my year of excellence.

2018 wasn’t a year of excellence entirely. Not all my actions to excel were deliberate, almost always hesitant. But I guess what made it excellent was that every little thing that happened all throughout the year were all stepping stones to that excellence.



This 2019, I welcome a brand new year of opportunities, blessings, and everything else that is yet to come my way. With a passionate heart, I enter 2019 with tenacity.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Interact. On my first inspirational talk.


I was invited by my LoveLife batchmate, Ree, to come as a speaker to her event last January 7th. Her event was called "How To Be a Better Single Woman for 2017." She wanted me to speak about how meeting and interacting with people helped in pursuing my dreams. Without any hesitation, I said yes. Then after a day, I suddenly realized what I had gotten myself into.

May I first share that even after so many years of working in theatre, I actually have stage fright? Well, I have no problem performing in front of an audience as a character from a play. But when it comes to speaking in front of a group people as myself, that's what scares me. That's why it seems so ironic that I had been asked to speak at an event about interacting with people.

Then I got this Bible verse from my phone's daily devotional app. 

Exodus 4:1 says, "But Moses protested again, "What if they won't believe me or listen to me? What if they say, 'The Lord never appeared to you'?"

Moses was stressed about speaking about God to the Israelites. And hey, a little trivia about Moses was that he had a stutter, which could be another reason to doubt himself. But he had faith.

And with that same faith, I realized that God does not ask us to do things we cannot handle. He will go before us and make way for courage, confidence, and peace if we trust Him. So I brought all that with me as I spoke in front of the number of attendees.



One more irony about my talk that day, given the topic of my experiences in pushing my dreams, is that sometimes, or even most of the time, I feel as if I haven't accomplished much in my life.

I turned 35 in December of 2016.

Half the women my age are ideally married with children, and possibly have their dream jobs as well. I, on the other hand, am still single and living with my parents.

And still finding that one big thing that I can say I am proud to have done.

Maybe because I keep changing my path. Still finding that core gift, and that one big major dream.

But upon certain realizations that this past year and a half had showed me, I noticed that I don't really mind that it's still taking me this long.

"It's not the destination that's important. It's the journey that matters."

Cliche, but true.

While still looking for that one big thing, I noticed that I've been enjoying the journey much more because I keep growing. The learning never stops.

Growing up, I was a very shy kid. I was afraid to talk to people. But because of that, I tend to get pushed around. No one knew what I had to say. So I had to learn to speak up. And I'm so glad I did.

I'm what some people call a "jack of all trades, master of none." I realized that I've done so many things since college, and it has been quite the adventure.

I've been a blogger since 2001.

I was a technical theater major in college, and I've become a stage manager, production assistant, usher, and front-of-house head in different theater companies.

Okay, I also did a bit of acting every once in a while. But mostly just in thesis productions and workshop recitals.

I then needed a consistent source of income, so I became a call center agent. (I still work as one part-time.)

After years of fascination and one summer class, I took a leap of faith, resigned from 2 theater projects, and decided to become a ballroom dancer.

Upon becoming a dance scholar, I then trained to become a dance fitness teacher.

When my mentor noticed I had good command of the English language, she made me our dance fitness company's corporate communications specialist.

When I stopped dancing, a friend encouraged me to join her company's roster of talents, and so I learned how to be a children's storyteller and party host.

Looking at all these things that I had become, I noticed that all of these had something in common. As it turned out, one of my core gifts was somewhere along the lines of communication. It never occurred to me that interacting with people would be something I'd be actually be good at.

With all those experiences, I'd like to share with you 5 things I've learned on interacting that helped me pursue whatever dreams I had, or will still have.

1. STEP OUT

Step out of your comfort zone. Try a little, or a lot. It's up to you. What matters is that you have to try.

I mentioned that I was a shy kid before. Back then, it was my best friend who was in the Dramatics club in our school. I was in the Library club. Yes, I'm serious. I can be such a geek. Anyway, in 7th grade, this best friend of mine literally pushed and pulled me into the music room for my very first audition for our school's musical production. She ended up quitting by sneaking out of the first rehearsal, and I stayed. And I actually enjoyed it. I had no choice but to interact with all the kids in the play, from the ones in junior prep to the high school seniors.

I was afraid of choreography when I was already in theater, but out of sheer fascination about ballroom dancing, I tried it. It became the foundation of how I became a one-time dance fitness teacher. I was afraid to teach, but with encouragement, I was able to pass our certification exam. In time, I was able to face my students with confidence and talk to them with ease.

When my mentor put me in charge of communications and discovered my weird case of stage fright, she made me practice speaking to different clients so that I could overcome it.

If you go into your courage zone, that's already one big step.

2. MENTOR

Find a mentor. Sure, you may see a mentor in people such as John Maxwell or Bo Sanchez, especially through their books, but I definitely recommend that you get a mentor that you can actually talk to in person. Don't be afraid to ask for advice from your mentor, because they may have already gone through what you are going through right now. Also, be teachable and always be open to constructive criticism. Your mentor may tell you certain things that you need to hear other than the things you just want to hear.

I have a mentor in theater, a mentor in dance, and a mentor in character development. All of them keep encouraging what is best for me, and tell me bluntly about the things I need to improve on. There are times when my mentors may be a little tough on me, but I'm actually grateful that they were because that's how I was able to grow.

3. INTERACT

Yes, you actually interact. Spend time with people. Make friends.

Spend time with people who have the same interests you do. They'll be the ones who will encourage you no matter how crazy your dream may be. They'll support you, and the ones who are more experienced may help and guide you.

Also spend time with people who have different interests from you. Who knows, if you haven't found that one big thing, they'll actually be the ones who will lead you to it.

4. LEARN

As I had said earlier, the learning never stops. Keep trying, even if you're not good at it. If you come to realize that that thing isn't really your core gift, at least you've learned something new.

When I was acting in workshops years ago, I thought I would never be as good as the ones I was taking the classes with. So I tried another path and pursued dancing. I found myself among people who learned how to dance as soon as they had learned to walk, and there I was, at age 30, and a big standout as a novice. There were some hip movements in Latin ballroom that I cannot execute as gracefully as they could because they had been doing it for years, and my body was still trying to adjust to all those new movements. I may not be as good as they are (despite all their coaching and possible frustration in me), but the things I can be proud of from that experience was that I finally learned how to dance, and teach dance fitness as well.

When I decided to take another acting workshop after that, I simply said I just wanted to see if I can still act. And hey, I can still do it, and maybe a little better now than before.

I realized that there were some things then that I was taught but I couldn't really understand yet due to experience. When I left and came back, I had a better view of things with a more open mind, and finally understood what those lessons were trying to teach me.

Another piece of advice. Don't be afraid of any rejections that you may get along the way. It may actually just be God's redirections. I had taken so many detours, but it's all part of the learning.

5. ENGAGE

This is the best part of today's generation. There's easy access of social media. Use it to your advantage. Find groups online that may help you support your interests. Millennials have it so easy because of Facebook. Maximize it to your potential.

Instead of posting rants and unnecessary viral stuff, why not post and share inspiring messages? People may read it while randomly scrolling through, take it to heart, and thank you. You may actually be blessing others with that simple online gesture.

You can also promote yourself online. If you enjoy writing and own a blog, write passionately and share your posts. An aspiring photographer? Post your best photos on Facebook and Instagram. It's possible that you may the one people are looking for.

With these 5 things I had just shared, here's one more important thing.

S-tep out
M-entor
I-nteract
L-earn
E-ngage

S-M-I-L-E.

Yes. Smile. It's very simple but important about interacting. Because as some people have said, "The first connection between two strangers is a smile." Brighten someone's day with a simple smile.

Shortly after my birthday, someone had asked me, "How does it feel to be 35? What have you accomplished that you're proud of?"

I honestly don't know.

Do you have to feel a particular way when you're a certain age?

But what I am most proud of about myself is that I keep trying and learning no matter how old I get.

If you still haven't found your purpose at a certain age, don't rush it. Hey, when I turned 30 years old, I went back to square one and started over. I took a big leap.

God's timing is always perfect, so don't worry. And He'll bring you to the right people who will help you push through with your dreams.



Thank you so much to my amazing sister in Christ, Ree Bringuelo, for inviting me as a speaker at your event. I cannot thank you enough for being so encouraging, as it was my first time to give a talk. It was a very empowering experience for me.



Friday, September 30, 2016

A third quarter update. Blessings of victory.

I currently subscribe to this site called The Universe Talks, and every weekday I get inspirational emails from them. One of my favorite messages was:

"One of my favorite things about time and space, Christine, is that absolutely NOTHING can ever happen there that can't be seen as a blessing in some wonderful way."

Once, over dinner with a good friend, we realized that ever since we started serving in the ministry, we grow to have a deeper and broader outlook on life. I myself was surprised to see this realization, as I now view setbacks as mere re-directions instead of the usual rejections.

Every day, no matter how crappy that day may be, I always try to find something good in it. One of my favorite quotes is "Every day may not be good, but there's something good in every day."

So let me share some exceptional blessings that came during this quarter of the year.

Livelife retreat.

One blessing would be attending another retreat. Late last month, I attended the Livelife retreat, which was this year's reunion of all Lovelife graduates of the Feast Bay Area. If I had said that the Lovelife retreat was the best weekend I had so far this year, the Livelife ranks a close second. It was great to see my batchmates, both the ones I see often and even some of the ones that I hardly even get to see.




If I could sum up that retreat in one word, it would be INTENSE. Everything defined that, from the worship, to the talks, to the sharing. And it was a great opportunity as well to mingle with people from other batches. I get to see so many of these random faces at the Feast, especially during the SYNC sessions, but I only got to interact with them then. It's nice to finally put names to these faces, and to at least get to say hi to them.

I have to say, other than being intense, that weekend was very refreshing, and recharged me for the days to come. So much good came out of that retreat, and I just didn't realize it until later.

Yes to service.

Last year, I remember something that Brother George said in prayer before our rehearsal for the Kerygma Conference's opening production number. We were called to serve, not because we are the best, but we may be the best choice to help deliver God's message. I was really struck by what he said. There are some instances before that I may question what He wants for me, but this year, I've learned that once you've been called, just saying yes would open up so much blessings than you've ever expected.




So imagine my surprise when I got called to be one of the new service coordinators for FBA music ministry's Gateway program. In all honesty, I didn't expect to be considered. I just wanted to sing as my service to the Audience of One. Alright, I have to admit, I was actually afraid of the responsibility. It was something similar to work I had left last year, which caused my burnout. I was actually all set to say no, but then during a nap, I could hear someone (or Someone) in my head saying "You're not alone." I shrugged it off until I got to listen to an old worship song I last heard 15 years ago. The lyrics of "For The Sake of The Call" struck me so much, I suddenly started crying by the time I had reached the first chorus. After the song, I immediately sent a message and said yes to serving as a coordinator.

The words "reckless abandon" actually struck me the most in the song. I guess this is what this is.

"Nobody stood and applauded them,
So they knew from the start
This road would not lead to fame..."

"Not for the sake of a creed or a cause,
Not for a dream or a promise,
Simple because it is Jesus who called
And if we believe, we'll obey..."

("For The Sake of The Call" by Steven Curtis Chapman)

History repeats itself, for good reasons.

Ever since last year, I always believe that God always brings back similar situations that I had already encountered before. I realized that this usually happens when I never learned the lessons from that certain situation, and God has presented these again to test me.

Sure, the people involved may be different, certain circumstances may have changed, but the actual situation is still there. It's like He's challenging me again, telling me, "You haven't learned the last time. Maybe this time, you'll do the right thing."

If I were the same person as I was before, without a strong faith, I would've been the same psycho and do the same as I had done the last time. In hindsight, I was a stubborn control freak. I wanted things done a certain way because that's what I really wanted to happen, with no consideration or adjustment.

For almost 2 years now, I now noticed how much I've changed and grown, and learned how to deal with these things more differently. If I was a control freak back then, I now let God take control. It's like my go-with-the-flow nature, but only with stronger trust and faith. So even with these hurdles, I still see these challenges as blessings.

"I know I've found the way,
I've finally found the way to let things go,
The past is there to teach you,
Mistakes provide the pain that helps you grow.
So I have healed and I have grown,
At some point I guess you have to
But I don't want to face the world on my own..."

("Ready To Be Loved" from Edges: A Song Cycle, by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul)



These are only a few of the blessings that have come my way these past few months. I know a lot of people say that I'm a very optimistic person, and yes, I do believe I am, because there's really nothing to lose if you look at the positive side of things.

So what if something goes wrong? Look at it another way, and you'll find a solution. It's like those repeat challenges that God keeps on giving me. If I had handled it the same way when I was still a control freak, would that be an improvement? I don't think so.

Looking at it from another angle, by being a little more patient, and by letting God take control, that's what helped me grow.

And that change is what I call a blessing of victory.