On Tuesday nights, we gear up for a 5K run – me and two of my lovely officemates. One of them runs with a diamond on her finger. Few months from now, she ties the knot. And that pretty much sums up the reason why we decided to spend our Tuesday nights that way. We help and support our friend get in better shape for the big day (which by the way, even if she doesn’t run I’m sure she will still make a stunning bride!). And the level of commitment we give here, if I may just say, is very high. So high we had to give it a hashtag: #deeweddingproject (her last name is “Dee,” pun intended).
I’ve never ran so frequent in my life and at this rate that I’m going, there’s a lot about running that I’ve been learning. Mostly for beginners and amateurs like me. You know, those little things about your lungs, your legs, your breathing, your pacing – those that you pay little attention to before because you do it just for the sake of fun but now that it’s becoming a part of your daily routine, you begin to make notice and take note of it. So the next time you run, you do better.
Last week I was able to break a barrier. I ran my first 10K. With a long distance run like that, I appreciated more the importance of keeping a certain pace so that I don’t get used up and lose all energy I have right away. I appreciated more the word endurance. That sometimes it’s not about how fast you finish but how long you can endure without giving away. It took me almost two hours to finish the 10K but more than wishing for a better time, for now I’m already happy to have endured running that long.
I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately, how to endure. Not just when you run. But when you live. Especially when you live. I hear it once more: not how fast, but how long.
To endure. To suffer patiently. To remain in existence. To last.
In life, we endure. Suffering. Hardship. Pain. We keep running. We don’t give away.
We endure long. Not because we can, I realize. But because Someone has already endured the worst for us – the Cross. So in life, by His love, we can endure whatever circumstance we go through.
As long as we are in Him, the Endurer.
He has already endured the worst. Where else can He not?
I consider myself more of a blog reader than a blogger. I don’t actually know when and how I started to love reading blogs but I’m heavy on them. While others could spend a day watching movies or browsing videos on YouTube, I could spend a day just reading blogs. I’m not exactly sure why I love it but I think it comes from the fact that I’ve always been drawn to real life stories, to the authenticity of life, to anything behind the scenes, to anything that’s basically a reality. I found that to be true in blogs. I love getting to know people’s lives as told by them. I love reading and noticing their writing styles. I love learning from them and being inspired by them. If there’s one thing I’m very much grateful for the internet, it’s being able to read blogs. Lots of them!
Here’s how my blogroll looked like at one point. It only kept getting longer and longer so I decided to cut it down to my top ten faves (and you could see that on the left side of my blogsite… okay fine, that’s twelve I left!).
My Journalism teacher once told us that the only way to grow as a writer is to read, read, read and write, write, write. I’ve been challenging myself to blog everyday. And with that challenge comes another one: read more everyday.
So here’s what I’m thinking… As I need a little accountability here, once a week, I’ll write about what I read (online stuff for now, we’ll get to books later on *wink*). Each week I’ll share with you some blog-worth goodness by writing about a blogsite or two that I read and why you would love to read them too. Or I’ll link you up with some good reads I’ve come across over the week. Sharing is caring! And I promise to share with you good ones!
Now that leaves me with some good pressure to really read more everyday, HA!
Last night, something unusual happened that changed a bit of our lives.
We were riding my friend’s car on the way home from a wake. My friends live somewhere in Congressional Ave so my other friend and I were dropped off in Katipunan by the Ateneo foot bridge since it was the nearest and safest point from our homes (I live just right across Ateneo).
It was late at night and crossing the foot bridge wouldn’t be a great idea. So from where we were dropped off, my friend and I hailed a cab to ride back home. We got one easily and we drove off.
And then not later than a minute on the road, we heard a violent loud thud hitting us from the back of the car followed by the sound of a shattered glass. In shock and clueless of how severe it could be, I closed my eyes, covered my head and ducked the lowest point before I could even shout. All of that for ten long seconds that seemed like a nightmare before our car came to a stop.
Still in shock, I looked at my friend first to see if she was okay and we were thankful to be still alive. I looked back to see what happened and saw the rear windshield of the cab broken. And then looking out the shattered rear windshield, we saw a motorcycle and an unconscious man lying on the road not too far from the cab. It was an accident.
All of that happened fast. Vehicles started to pull over to help. The cab driver went out to check on the guy. My friend and I were left inside the cab, shaking in shock. On a lighter note though, it was funny and interesting how even in shock, both of our first instinct was to take a photo of what happened. Then we checked on each other’s back to see if we were hurt but we weren’t. It could have been worse anytime but thank God for His divine protection. My defining moment was when I saw pieces of glass all over the car seat but couldn’t remember being hit by any of them. Amazingly, I actually didn’t feel anything hitting me during that ten-second ordeal. Some angels must have spread their wings over us.
Few minutes more inside the cab, we decided we had enough that night to still stay longer so I told my friend we should already go home and rest. Another cab pulled over. We drove home. The whole time I was praying in my head. I hugged my friend tight before we parted ways.
Thank God we’re safe.
THANK. GOD. WE’RE. SAFE.
Right when I reached home, I prayed some more. Thanked God for His protection. For keeping us from harm. When I finally shook off the adrenaline rush, I tried going to bed but I was still feeling a lot scared inside of me. Fear is not from God and I sensed it was not right to feel that way. The enemy has no power to slay me down with any of his works that are all just lies. I responded in the opposite spirit by remembering Scriptures in my head and writing the promises of God before going to bed. I put myself to sleep while listening to a bunch of worship songs. The enemy has no say. Not that night. Not ever.
So I slept last night with peace in my heart, knowing that God is good and sovereign. He watches over us.
“I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!
He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
never slumbers or sleeps.
The Lord himself watches over you!
The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night.
The Lord keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.”
Life is fleeting. Drive safely. Live well.
PS. I was really not hurt and 100% okay so no need to worry about me! :)
PSS. The motorcycle driver though, we never had the chance to know how bad it was for him. So I hope you could pray for him? And for the cab driver too. Thank you!
Lastly, can we end this post with some happy thoughts?
In our office, you know it’s an extra good day when we get a visit from my workmate’s three-year old daughter.
That spunky little kid. She has already become our friend. I hope one day when she’s old enough to go to her own work too, she will remember the times she visited her dad’s office as a little girl. I hope she gets a vivid recollection of how fun she had drawing and spelling her name and watching Peppa Pig with her dad’s officemates. I hope by that time, we’re still friends.
Yesterday after a hard day’s work in the office, she came in. It was an extra good day.
When she walked in, we welcomed her like how we have always welcomed her in the office – with delight, with joy, with fun. Though usually she likes to respond the same way towards us, yesterday she wasn’t in the mood to mingle and wanted mostly to be carried by his dad.
And since she didn’t want to be put down, her dad let her sit on top of his desk for a while. His dad walked away for a moment and when he came closer to the desk again just an inch away from her, the kid stood up on the desk and confidently took a little leap.
Her dad caught her.
As soon as she landed in her dad’s arms, she giggled away and laughed at the little adventure she found for herself.
One time, when she couldn’t wait to do it again, she called the attention of her dad and requested for him to come near the desk so she could leap once more.
This time, her dad stood on a spot considerably far away from the desk where she was standing on.
Then he invited her in, “Now, jump.”
“Come closer, dad! Stand here,” she negotiated, pointing her finger to the spot she wanted her dad to be.
Her dad did not move. I cheered her on and told her I’ll take a picture of her jump. She thought of it for a while, examining the distance in front of her. She knew it was a tough one.
“Daddy, closer!” she pleaded some more.
“Just jump! You trust daddy, right?”
You could notice in the way she looked that she had fears going on inside of her. But being the wonderful brave girl her equally wonderful parents raised her to be, there was no way she will let it pass.
So though unsure of the step she will make, she chose to take her dad’s word for it.
And she took the leap.
Gorgeous flying girl she was.
She landed in her dad’s arms. We giggled away.
And then that afternoon, as I watched the kid take the leap, it became clear to me so profoundly who I want to be like this year.
I want to be like my spunky little friend.
I want to be brave enough like her and take unsure leaps. Those that look so far away yet when I hear my Dad say “Just jump. Trust me,” I will not hesitate to take His word for it.
You know what else I realized? That sometimes it’s easy for us to take some leaps not because we fully trust God but because partially, we know we can do it. Maybe that’s why my little friend was a lot more confident to leap during the time when her dad was near her. Though she trusts her dad to catch her, she did not hesitate to do it at all because she was also sure of the distance and she knew it was a no biggie.
No room for that kind of leap this year.
But when her dad stood far and she needed to leap, she was left with nothing else to do but to trust.
I want that this year. I want to find myself standing only on edges high where He calls me to be, with sudden drop far wide and dark deep in front of me, and be unsure of the step that I will make. Be so much unsure of it that the only reason left of me to take a leap is His voice reminding me.
“Jump. Trust Me.”
And oh by the way, I might say that standing on desks and flying people are not normal scenes in our office. HA!
Last night, two of my friends and I went out to see a movie. Our pick: Bride for Rent.
Now, you have to understand that I’m not a movie enthusiast. I rarely go to the cinema and my movie exposure is sure thin. I know some of you now are wanting to take me aside for a serious one-on-one conversation to tell me to consider taking a moviecation. It really isn’t just my turf.
So this isn’t a review.
But anyway, Bride for Rent is one of those feel good, romantic comedy movies by Star Cinema. You get the idea. I’m sure most if not all of us Filipinos have one way or another seen a Star Cinema film so it’s not like we’re starting from scratch here. To take you a little further, the movie is basically about a rich young lad who is looking for a girl who he can “rent” to act as his wife.
Even just from the title of the movie itself, you would already expect that the movie would touch on the topic of a wedding. What I did not expect, however, is how they tried to go deep and actually touch on the topic of marriage.
Not just any kind of marriage, per se. But a marriage that is enduring, that is lasting, that believes in forever, that keeps the vow of “Til death do us part.”
And though I don’t believe in all of the values shown in the movie (it’s relatively clean), I liked it for the over-arching message of a lasting marriage. I’m totally pointing that out not as someone who has an experience or say on marriage (I’m not worthy) but as a 22-year old single lady who is part of a generation where movies with stories of adultery are starting to become quite a trend, who is part of a generation with a distorted view of marriage. I’m tired of that.
I’m glad Star Cinema chose to break the mold this time. It’s about time we break the mold.
There are very few outdoor activities that I’ve grown to love over the past years more than running. On the first time I decided to put my running shoes on and head my way out, I took it as a form of a miracle. I’m definitely no sporty type of a person but I figured at some point in my life that I have to at least make an effort to invest in my fitness and health. I chose running for that.
That day I first set my foot on UP Acad Oval to run, my motives were purely for the benefit of my health. After I barely finished a five-kilometer round, I decided I liked running more for my sanity than for my health. I figured running doesn’t only make you physically fit but it is also a good avenue to release your thoughts where you give a chance to free the always weary mind.
In fact, to be honest, many moments in my life when things were rough I got through because I ran. It gives you perspective somehow. The next few times I ran following my miracle day, I ran mostly for my soul than for my body. Because I needed perspective. Then my body eventually got it and kind of just followed that I started to love running too for the physical aspect of it.
Yesterday I ran because my physical body was looking for it. I headed out and circled the Acad Oval twice and a half like the usual amount of run that I do (or that I can only do for now).
Under the fullness of the moon and in the cool January air, I ran. There were times last night when the winds were strong and I came up with a conclusion. I noticed that when I was running towards the direction which the wind was blowing, I ran straight and swiftly with less struggle. And when I was running westward against the gust of the wind, I ran slower and struggled much more. Like I couldn’t keep up I had to walk most of those parts. So my conclusion was this: it’s a lot easier to run towards the direction which the wind is blowing than to run against it.
That conclusion is of course based only on my experience and I have no scientific explanation to prove that so don’t quote me. Before I wrote this blog I actually asked my friend Poll Castro (really good man who loves God and all things fitness, good food, music and photography) if my conclusion was right though he didn’t agree (or disagree) at all cost. So I googled it and somehow ended up finding myself listening to a Bob Seger song going all “Against the wind, we were running against the wind.” I decided it wasn’t helpful to research so for now I’m keeping my conclusion until someone debunks it (maybe I should ask the Running Pastor or something).
But last night while I was evidently experiencing that in my running, something clicked in me. And in my heart God spoke, like a dad trying to help a child make a better sense of her little conclusion about running towards the direction of the wind and against it, “You know Fiona, that feeling you get whenever you run towards where the wind blows, that’s how it looks like when you walk in My path and in the calling I have for you. It doesn’t get any less difficult. But you have My grace. So you don’t have to struggle your way through. You can abide in My grace. Abide in Me.”
Like I don’t need to find anymore explanation to believe that. My full sixteen years of running in the wrong path – against the wind, towards the opposite direction, away from God – and the many times in my Christian life where I chose to run away from the calling He has for me were enough experience and proof to that, struggling all throughout.
But run towards the cross of Christ. Yes, that one. It makes all the difference. And by the way, once you get there and you witness for yourself how much He loves you even to the point of death, let it break you. Consume you.
And then from its foot where sin and death are no more, start to run the race He has marked out for you. It’s not less than difficult for sure. But remember you are sustained by His grace. And no need for struggling. Grace. Abide.
“And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” – Hebrews 12:1-2″
“Abide in me, and I in you.” – John 15:4
In between bites of pancakes this morning, I read up on one of the most dramatic sibling scenes in the Bible. Remember the twin brother, Esau and Jacob?
Jacob had his homecoming this morning (as I have read it this morning) after more than twenty years of fleeing from home. Why did he leave home? He wanted to escape the fury of his brother, Esau, whose birthright and blessing he stole from. Esau was so furious of what he did he planned to kill Jacob.
And now Jacob comes back home to his brother after many years. He knew it’s possible for Esau to still be angry of him after all these years so he sent an abundant number of gifts ahead of him for his brother, much like a peace offering maybe, before he shows himself up at the door.
Now Esau, knowing about his brother’s return, planned it would be good to meet Jacob on the road, and bring four hundred men with him. That news reached Jacob and caused him to fear all the more. Dead meat!
Or so he thought. When they finally met — hep, hold that pancake bite first!… Esau ran to Jacob and embraced him; threw his hands around his neck and kissed him. And they wept.
After all the crying (I suppose), Esau asked Jacob why he had to send so much gifts for him. He refused to accept them. But Jacob insisted, “No, if I have found favor with you, please accept this gift from me. And what a relief to see your friendly smile. It is like seeing the face of God!” (Genesis 33:10)
I munched on the last of my pancakes and inked that part of my Bible.
I went on my day with that last verse hanging in my thoughts I carried it around. Like seeing the face of God. In Esau’s smile, Jacob saw the face of God?
Today I opened up my eyes to that idea. Is it also possible for me to see the face of God in the lives of people around me, if only I begin to make notice? Much like the practice of counting blessings or making a gratitude list, my eyes were especially keen today observing and pondering on people around me, anyone – or anything – that when I see, is like seeing the face of God.
My officemates who, whenever I make mistakes, would selflessly cover up for me. Who, during times when I have my days in the office and I start becoming all snobbish and anti-social, would be so considerate for me. Who, cliche it might be, believes in me more than I do myself. I see the face of God in them.
The land lady in my apartment who, whenever we miss the deadline of paying our bills or even in days when we just plainly forget and she extends so much grace period, would still be all smiling when she receives our very late payment. I see the face of God in her.
The little kids of my friends who, even after many weeks of not seeing each other and you’d expect them to forget your name by the time you see them again, would still call you by name and even give you a hug. I see the face of God in them.
My friends across the world who, even with opposite time zones, would be willing to find time to Skype with you so you could catch up on life. I see the face of God in them.
The campus missionaries who gave up their own dreams and careers to serve God in full time capacity of discipling the next generation. I see the face of God in them.
I could have my list going.
What good this has brought me I realize, the listing down of people whose lives I see a reflection of Jesus, is that I began to slowly discover and understand that I am more favored than I’ve ever known or imagined.
I want to continue living a life that acknowledges how favored I am in Christ. See every day how He extends His favor to me even though I’m undeserving of it. And make notice of how He uses people around me as an extension of it.
I hope and pray that as I continue to choose to understand and grasp His favor, He will begin to make me an extension too of His love and kindness to the people around me. And that by His grace, people will see Him in my life too.
So far, this year has been spelling out exactly like that.
I look at the little icon of iCal resting on my dock right now. A tiny “14” is waving back at me.
Fourteen days? It has been just fourteen days since the new year came in? Why does it seem like it’s been more than that? And why today feels especially exhausting?
Like what I said, I’ve been taking on new things lately. Few little but significant projects I carefully considered. I’ll tell you what. This whole blogging daily is one of them. Yesterday, I already blogged more this month than I did the whole of last year. I thought that was something else. But then I’m just barely scratching the surface here too.
Two friends already said it. No, actually three. “Are you really gonna blog everyday?”
Yes and No. Yes, I want to blog everyday (at least for now) because more than the blogging part, this is writing for me. And writing everyday is what I want to inculcate in my being until it becomes natural to me like breathing. So no, I’m not putting the pressure up myself to blog everyday (I missed three days of January already).
What I’m definite about though is that this year I want to take blogging to a new level. Like I’ve been considering to get a new place to nest. A Dot Com to own for myself. It’s been bugging me so strongly lately and I thought it’s time to take action of it. Finally take action of it. So today I’ve got all emotional and pissed off and exhausted when I was trying to get and fix my own domain and things seem to be going right the opposite and not cooperating with me. Error here, error there. Complications here. Complications there. Waste of money here, and money there. Why, world? I just want my own domain plain and simple. Why. Cant. We. Just.
Now I let it out. This is hard! Blogging is hard!
My ride way home tonight was a good way to clear up my exhausted mind. And once again sort things out. Is this even worth it? All the effort I’m putting in?
I remind myself.
Yes, it’s worth it. For those always first three people who are too kind to read my blogs even before I link it up.
Yes, it’s worth it. For my mom and my dad and my cousin and my family who have always been so appreciative and supportive of everything I write. For the times they tell me “I’m reading your blog.” For the times they ask me “When are you blogging again?” For the times they’ve confidently called me a “writer” more than I could ever call myself that.
Yes, it’s worth it. For the random people who tell me they’ve been encouraged by my blogs one way or another. Even if sometimes I wonder how.
Yes, it’s worth it. More than anyone, for myself. I write. To come alive.
Yes, it’s worth it. For Him. For Him who has called me to write.
I sleep tonight and I hope tomorrow is a better one.
Nine long minutes that seemed like forever. That’s what separates her story from ours. Just when you thought hers only happens in movies or books we read, she stood up right in front of us for our own eyes to see. Real.
I met Ms. Celine once a few years ago in a Bible study my friend invited me to. I’m sure we were introduced at one point but we really never had a real conversation or was there a chance that followed after that for us to really know each other. I just see her in church once in while like the usual.
Last Friday, as we capped off our prayer and fasting in church with our last prayer meeting, a testimony video of her and her husband was shown that not only brought tears to our eyes but also brought our faith notches higher.
It was in July last year when Ms. Celine suffered from aspiration pneumonia and went flat line for nine minutes before her doctor could revive her. She was dead and then came back to life. After that, she fell into a coma for what might have been the longest seven days in the life of her husband and loved ones. In those seven longest and darkest days of their lives, they faced the painful facts that loomed in front of them but they did not let that determine their faith. In those seven days of possible death, families and friends flocked to the hospital every night and held a prayer meeting. They prayed and worshipped and believed God for healing. For a miracle. For Ms. Celine to finally open her eyes and wake up despite what the doctors say.
For seven days, by faith, they did that. And she did wake up. Something that got her doctor running in glee when he reported to her husband that she finally opened her eyes as it was only by miracle it could ever happen.
That testimony video of her and her husband, it silenced us last Friday night. It floored us in amazement of how mighty and powerful and true our Jehovah Rapha is. When it reached to the end – and the lights were turned on again – no one was ashamed to wipe the tears. We were all a mess. In a good way, we were a mess – overwhelmed by the power of the blood of Jesus, encouraged by the kind of unwavering faith they have as a couple.
She and her husband were there too that evening. Right after the video was shown, they were introduced to us. She stood up on stage, her husband beside her. Grace and beauty. A miracle.
Ms. Celine is still on the way to full recovery but that night instead of us praying for her complete healing, she prayed for us and spoke God’s truth to those who, like her, need healing. I’ve never heard someone pray such a powerful prayer lately.
That night, as she led us in prayer, there was not a sickness too severe for us to believe God for healing because we know that through Jesus’ nail-pierced hands, the same power that healed Ms. Celine is the same power that is available for all of us who believe.
Jesus, You are our Healer!
You may read the full account of Ms. Celine’s journey here as written by her sister.
“Jesus turned and saw her. ‘Take heart, daughter,’ he said, ‘your faith has healed you.’ And the woman was healed at that moment.” – Matthew 9:22
Last Friday night, after going through five grace-filled days of prayer and fasting as a church, we finally broke it! Happy breaking the fast! Have you eaten your cravings yet? I hope it was delish!
If you have participated too in the prayer and fasting, I’m sure the last five days were life changing. We deprived ourselves of food and experienced just the grace and love and the nearness of God in our midst. We attended prayer meetings together, went through Ephesians 6 together and sought God together. We came out of the last five days only with a deeper relationship with God and a much clear direction for the year.
For some of us, we experienced this and more. Some of us received a breakthrough already in just a span of five days and stood in amazement of how faithful our God is.
For the rest of us, the answer came too but just in a different form.
I sat in the prayer meeting last Friday thinking of that while I watch some of the people around me raise their hands to the question of the pastor, “Who among you here have received an answer to their prayers already?”
I looked around and rejoiced with each of the hands raised, knowing how the breakthrough they received surely primed their faith.
But for those like me who did not, an honest and curious question in my head I released towards heaven, “What now, God? What about for the rest of us not raising our hands?”
I did not really need to ask actually. His answer came already like peace hovering over me few moments before this when we were worshiping Him. The answer was in a song and now we sing,
“I have decided
I have resolved
To wait upon you Lord”
I was quickened by that right away. So clear I felt like He cupped His hands in my ears like a close friend does and gently He whispered, “Just wait.”
I welled up in tears. Peace inside me.
Not that waiting in any form is comforting to do at all. But I learned over the years that waiting onGod is different. Because when you wait on Him, He never disappoints. And He comes through just as He promises.
Tomorrow, many of us who have joined the prayer and fasting will go back eating like we normally do, with no more prayer meetings to show up in or fasting devotionals to go over in our own personal times. But we continue to be in an attitude of fighting. All throughout the year, we fight the good fight of faith. And we wait.
For the breakthrough to come. For Him to come.
And while we do that, the Bible says that there are three things we can do. Three things to do while healing is still on it’s way, when provision is just yet to arrive or when the restoration we need is yet to take place. When breakthrough is yet to come: we trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)
I don’t like waiting. But I like it when I wait on God.