On Thanksgiving: Counting My Blessings

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Thanksgiving is a tradition I was not familiar with while growing up. It’s not celebrated in the Philippines as an official holiday like it is in the States. While Filipino Christians may be familiar with this practice, the average Filipino is not aware of such occasion.

And so, it is a fairly new tradition for me but I have come to really love and enjoy observing it.

I still clearly remember my first Thanksgiving celebration. It was during my first year in the States while living with six other girls, fondly called the Taylor girls by everyone in our community, in one house. We all decided to rough it up and drive to Maryland, to one of the girls’ aunt’s home. Continue reading “On Thanksgiving: Counting My Blessings”

A Humbling Lesson and A Note of Thanksgiving

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Being in ministry is tough. It has its own form of challenges unique from what I have gone through as a fulltime classroom teacher.

A friend once asked me the struggles I have with being in fulltime ministry, the major things I have a hard time adjusting to. I have thought of these struggles, but I have never really opened up much on this subject or carefully reflected on it. Her question made me uncomfortable but it allowed me to be honest to myself.

It set in motion a necessary introspection. Continue reading “A Humbling Lesson and A Note of Thanksgiving”

At 33

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Today I turned thirty-three.

I felt a soft tugging in my heart to spend the morning of my birthday with the Lord. So I woke up early this morning, went straight to the beach by myself, and spent all morning with God.

Today I turned thirty-three. And I am dumbfounded with gratitude for how God swept me away with His raging love.

His. Insane. Grace.

Staring into the beauty I beheld this morning, God broke the silence. As He softly spoke, I saw the last ten years of my life unfold before me. I furiously wrote what He reminded me with. Continue reading “At 33”

On Gratitude

by vol25 on www.etsy.com (Click on the image to go to vol25's page.)
by vol25 on http://www.etsy.com (Click on the image to go to vol25’s page.)

I have been thinking. A lot lately.

I have been restless and unable to put pen to paper. For weeks now, enduring this inexplicable burden I feel, I have tried to write to release me from my thoughts. Yet I can’t seem to construct a sentence I didn’t want to throw out the window. It all seems off. I kept waking up in the middle of the night with incoherent thoughts running wild and in all places.

With rain that seems to always find its way to Krabi more often than not these days, I contemplate even more. It gives me this calmness that allows me to gather my thoughts. I love rain. I am thankful for it. With it, I feel God’s embrace; I sense the familiar surge of gratitude rise up in my soul reminded of His unending grace. But something appears conflicting even as I whisper a prayer of thanks for it. Continue reading “On Gratitude”

Scandalous Grace (Jesus>Religion)

When I first heard Jefferson Bethke’s spoken word, “Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus,” on YouTube about a year ago, I was truly stunned by it. He was the first person I have ever heard speak in a contemporary voice that clearly defined the stark contrast between Jesus and religion. He spoke in a language that quickly connected not only with me but with millions of others.

Jesus > Religion is the book he recently wrote, which will be released on October 7, expanding on the poem that rocked the internet world and drew people back to Jesus. Needless to say, I was extremely excited to buy his book. (So imagine how stoked I was when I received an advance free copy before its release date! Thank You, Thomas Nelson.)

Continue reading “Scandalous Grace (Jesus>Religion)”

When Death Seems the Only Option

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Hungry and talking about what food to eat, Jason and I were oblivious to what was awaiting us just a few minutes later.

Laughing gaily in our car on our way to one of our favorite restaurants from our prayer meeting at church, we were both in a very light mood totally refreshed from the time of prayer we spent together with fellow Christians. We were on a quite familiar road that we’ve passed through more than a hundred times since we came here in Krabi. It is a narrow, utterly dark two-way street that is littered with fast-moving cars, motorcycles with broken taillights, and tuk-tuks (a three-wheeled motorcycle that is commonly used as transportation means by many Thais and tourists alike in the area.) We have become well-acquainted to this labyrinth on the road and have learned to navigate around it. We were not expecting anything more unusual than it already is from what we are used to, not expecting more than blinding headlights coming right at you or motorcycles driving on the wrong side of the road. These are ordinary occurrences here. Continue reading “When Death Seems the Only Option”

He Is Jealous For Them

She is not for sale.  She is a child of God.
She is not for sale. She is a child of God.

Gently, yet uncontrollably, tears started to fall from my eyes as the words, “He is jealous for me,” began at the background while I was watching the documentary, Nefarious: Merchant of Souls. The acute pain and the overwhelming weight of evil I felt in the stories of women sold and sexually violated reverberate in my ears. Words flee me in attempting to paint the affliction that these women bear everyday in their lives. I choke with fear and anger for how this could be present today, and yet it is. The reality of being treated like animals daily endured by thousands, maybe even millions, of women in the world is incomprehensible.

Wounded to the very core, I cannot look the other way. I needed to do something. I must do something. Praying is what seems to be the first thing I can do. Then, writing about it to declare war against this brutal assault on God’s children. Continue reading “He Is Jealous For Them”

In Running After My American Dream

A few weeks ago, a friend left for the States on a new teaching opportunity. She is not the first one of my friends to leave for the US after I myself left my hometown for Windsor, North Carolina. Yet for some reason I seem to be re-living that episode in my life when I found out about her trip. I began retracing my steps from where I am now to my journey not too long ago.

My father was the one who sowed the seed of the American dream in me. I was in high school when he showed me a newspaper article about how American schools would need foreign teachers to come and teach in the next few years. He said if I decide to be a teacher, this can be my chance to go and have a better life.

I came from a financially struggling family. So I wanted that better life, the American dream, but I wasn’t sure about the teaching part.
Continue reading “In Running After My American Dream”

The God Choice

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Yes, that familiar fork in the road where you have to choose only one path.

The dilemma is never choosing between a good choice and a bad choice. Whenever faced with that question, we can easily pick one. The dilemma lies when you have to choose between two good options, two sound choices.

So, which one?

I make plans. That’s what I do. As a teacher, planning is a skill I have mastered so well I use it in every aspect of my life — including my relationship with Jesus. I had lofty dreams for Him; big plans of what I can accomplish for Him. Continue reading “The God Choice”

Staying

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“Yes, I am staying.”

After watching a video, I found myself uttering these very words to myself fully convinced that I am called to stay — in church.

I am not foreign to the cycle of excuses we often throw people or ourselves about leaving church. These excuses span from petty grievances on what carpet color to use or justified cries on the hypocrisy that exists in a group of imperfect people gathering together.

Church is boring. Church music is not modern enough. Church is so uptight.

Or, me and God, we have our own thing. I can pray and worship God at home. I can do church with my TV. Continue reading “Staying”