So what do you say when you need to end a series?
Cause I still can’t quite believe the last day has arrived!
I will never forget the time I sat down alone at a coffee shop a month ago with only my journal and pen in my hand, and I started to make a list of what I find in Him.
The list was long and I never felt that an empty page of a journal or a month of blogging will be enough to write it all down.
After all, He’s God – the One who made the earth and the skies. The King of all Kings. Lord of Lords. The One eternal.
And the One who made you and me – the One who, long before we came to a point of finding, first found us. First loved us.
The series will end here tonight but I pray that we will keep the habit of listing down until it brings change in us. Until it shifts our perspective. Until we fully grasp and breathe the truth that life is indeed broken and empty apart from Christ.
And that in Him, only in Him, everything we find.
Closing here tonight by sharing with you a special project my good friend, Emmanuelle Gomez, and I have been working on – an original song we (read: she) wrote based off the blog series (Em, thank you for making this a worthwhile project. You are AMAZING and thank you for putting so much heart into writing and singing this song. I’m so deeply honored to have worked with you in this project, more so to have you as one of my dearest friends. Love you!).
I do hope and pray that this song will minister to your heart as much as it did to me. :)
JESUS, YOU ARE OUR EVERYTHING!
In Him by Emmanuelle Gomez
Few weeks prior to starting this blog series, it was my colleagues who I first asked to complete the sentence we have been trying to complete for almost a month now.
“In Him I find _________.”
As each of them had their share of turns in filling in the blank, it moved me to simply witness how they said each word so resounding you know it was coming from something deep and personal.
At the end of it, it was noticeable how everyone of us said exactly different answers from each other and as we tried to process it, we’ve realized that the words we chose to say that day were those that to us are more than just mere words.
Rather it is a word that tells a lot about the story of the very state we were in when we first encountered God, that moment when we came to our senses and realized that what we’ve always been long searching in wrong places can only be found ultimately in Him – whether that be life, love, identity, purpose or meaning.
It is more than a word but a place. A place where God put an end to our struggling and closed the void we’ve been desperately trying to fill.
I bet if the prodigal son was in our discussion, he’d say forgiveness.
Or if we’ll ask the bleeding woman, she’d say healing. I’m sure she’d say healing.
And if you ask me, I’d say it’s peace.
It’s peace because I grew up having so many fears, worries and doubts. Life has always been full of different concerns that not only made me so feel insecure but also made me feel so weighed down. As a result of that, I’ve always felt so restless especially in my thoughts.
When I gave my life to Christ, that was the only time I’ve known true peace. I never had peace, really. It’s the reason why one of my favorite songs we sing in church is that with the line that says, “There is peace in Your name, peace in Your name, peace in Your name.” I could sing that over and over again and be wrecked in a good way all the same because it’s something that I found to be SOOO real to me.
It’s the kind of peace that even in the most difficult moments in my life it stays constant and present because it’s a peace that comes from knowing that God is always in control and that I can trust Him to be sovereign over any situations that I may face.
And you know, when I decided to follow Christ, it’s not as if challenges and problems stopped coming that’s why I started to have peace. Cause troubles will always come, we know that.
But what changed now that I have Jesus in my life is that whenever I face troubles, my eyes are now focused on Him, not anymore on whatever it is that gives me fears or worries. The Bible promises that God will keep in perfect peace all who trust in Him, all whose thoughts are fixed on Him (Isaiah 26:3).
I don’t know exactly what you are going through right now, what is it that keeps bothering your heart and mind or that keeps you awake at night. Please know that even in the midst of all that, you can have peace and claim peace.
Start by focusing your eyes on Jesus. Cause only in Him you will find peace. I am a witness to that.
Once a week, I like to get away from the busy and find my sanity alone at a coffee shop.
This week I felt like I’ve crawled my way to it because life has been pretty much sporadic and I haven’t really had a decent time to set aside to replenish and recharge. Lord knows how much I needed it.
I opened my journal and penned my thoughts while I listened to worship songs and it just flowed. And all that was heavy on my shoulder one by one I lifted up to the One who promised rest cause I know I cannot carry it any longer.
I knew I was tired. Soul tired. From performing. From striving. From thinking what people think of me. And so I took time to remember; no, asked Him to make me remember. Who I really am.
I flipped my Bible to Psalm 139. For the nth time.
And I drank from it until I’m parched no more.
O Lord, you have psearched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord,you know it altogether.
You them me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
Did I get that correctly? Darkness? Light with You?
I read it again. And again.
How come I didn’t see it this way before?
Even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.
The gloomy skies. Moments when it’s pitch black. Days that feel like night.
No matter how dark it may be, when God steps in, light shines – bright and blinding.
“In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” – John 1:5
In Him there is light.
In Him we find light.
My prayer when this year started and still my prayer today on my birthday. :)
Growing up, I’ve learned that in order for me to easily get over and move on from all the festivities of the holiday season, I need to look forward. I know sometimes we wish we can have more time celebrating but we know one way or another, we will and we have to go back to our everyday normal routine.
Planning for the new year and thinking of all that this year has in store for me excites me about leaving the holidays behind. One of the things that I really look forward to every start of the year (sometimes even more than the New Year celebration) is the annual five-day prayer and fasting we do as a church. I don’t think I could ever find a better way to start the year than to seek God and seek His will.
Today as we started the prayer and fasting, a good friend who has been one of my longest prayer partners asked me for the list of my faith goals (things I’m believing God for) so she can pray for them.
For the past years, I would always prepare a hard copy of my faith goals for my prayer partners. I would lay it out nicely, colored and all, and print it on a 3R photo paper (they say that’s me being “excellent,” I say that’s only me being a dork haha! There was even one time I made an acrostics of my faith goals. But forget about it, you don’t have to do that). So my prayer partner friend was expecting for that kind of hard copy from me this evening. I told her this year is a little different and I’m not even done writing my faith goals yet.
I say this year is a little different because I usually make sure to finish writing my faith goals before the prayer and fasting starts. This time I’m writing my faith goals while I pray and fast. In the beginning of the year, I asked God to put a specific verse in my heart that He wants me to hold on to for 2014. He gave me a verse in Isaiah 43:19, “See, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
So this year, I’m believing God for new things. But I don’t want it to be a list of “new things” I want. I want it to be a list of “new things” God wants for me.
Maybe that’s why I’ve never felt like my list of faith goals this year is finished. It will probably stay like that for a while. Isaiah 42:9 says “See the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.”
The new things. The very new things He will do. He actually announces them. I want that! I’m believing that as I seek God in the next five days, I will be deeper in my relationship with Him and whatever new things He will do in my life this year, He will reveal to me. Those new things, He will announce to me.
And as He does, I pray ultimately that my heart, mind and soul will only be focused on Him so that I’ll be able to hear. Clearly. Audibly.
Slumping lousily on our seats we were tonight after we’ve pretty much maximized every corner of our stomachs from a delish and overwhelmingly filling buffet dinner.
There was a whole variety of feast on the buffet table – everything from Filipino cuisine to Chinese to Korean to soups and desserts. Personally though, my eyes tonight were all focused on the sushi. Oh the amount of sushi I ate tonight. No regrets at all.
So yes, several of plates later, we were all in a state of food coma and we dwelled on it until someone pointed out: “It’s so interesting that no matter how much I eat today, tomorrow I will still go back to being hungry. And I will have to eat again. Why can’t the food I stock up on my stomach today be good for the rest of the week.”
We laughed with our full bellies because it’s true and somewhere in between my chuckles I had to stop and hold my finger up with eyes wide because something else had started to sink in me.
My friend noticed and he guessed it right. In his little funny but true observation, I found and realized a deeper truth. And we laughed again just because.
I’ll tell you what happened to me in there.
I was enamored by the fact that we, human beings, are created to be naturally hungry and to crave for food every single day. And that we need to eat on a daily basis. So it’s true that no matter how much sushi you eat today, whether you like it or not, your stomach will feel empty again at some point in the next 24 hours and you’re gonna end up needing to fill it again right next day.
It’s interesting how God designed us in a way that we need to get fed on a daily basis.
Not weekly. Not monthly. But every single day.
And how true is that even with our spirits, right?
It’s a daily sustenance we need. That’s how God created us.
We crave daily so we need to come to Him daily and so He can sustain us daily.
So come hungry. Everyday come hungry for more of Him.
And then find sustenance in Him.
“I, the Lord, am your God, Who brought you up from the land of Egypt; Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.” – Psalms 81:10
“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” – Joshua 1:8
Today, I have something special I wanna share with you!
I’d like to introduce to you today the person who gave me the inspiration to do the “In Him I Find…” Blog Series, my blogger friend Chelsea Maxwell.
Chelsea has been one of those bloggers I follow who has been a source of encouragement to me. One day when I was reading her blogs, I chanced upon her 30 Days of “In Him We Find…” Blog Series that she did in 2012. I felt it was so timely that I read those blogs entries only that day because that was the same week that I was facing a circumstance in my life where God was teaching me to trust Him that everything will be alright because I have all that I need in Him. I was so ministered by the blog series so much so that I decided to scrap my idea of doing my originally planned 30 Days of Courage blog series and change it to this one.
I sent Chelsea an email that day to tell her how I felt reading her blogs and asked for permission if she will allow me to do a similar thing on here and I was happy she said yes!
Few weeks ago, I told her that I want to acknowledge her here on the blog and asked if she can do one of the days and write about something that I know is very close to her heart.
So here is the blog that Chelsea wrote for us today! Enjoy :)
Hey everyone! I’m Chelsea! I blog over at From Chrysalis to Butterfly, but today I’m here at Fiona’s sharing my story with all of you lovely people [Thanks Fiona for letting me visit!] I graduated from college in 2011 and shortly after, my life was put on hold. In the meantime, I didn’t want my time to go to waste so I started writing about my journey and all of the things that God has put on my heart, including encouragement and challenging ways to live outside of my own little box.
Since I was about 8 years old (or somewhere around there), I started experiencing strange symptoms for a kid. I would have chest pain, joint pain, lots of throat infections, extreme fatigue and many others. In fact, my friends called me the “old lady” of the group. I couldn’t really argue, because I felt like one. A few years later I was in an accident and all of my symptoms were worsened and new symptoms started.
Everything from severe neck pain, migraines, stomach problems, joint pain, face swelling, night sweats, ovarian cysts, bone growths, vision problems, depression, anxiety, food allergies and much, much more. I even had a benign tumor in my elbow show up, with a “strange bacteria” inside. I went to doctor after doctor, specialist after specialist. They’d tell me things like, “You have Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia,” but blood tests would never confirm. I became so frustrated and tired of not knowing what was causing all my pain. I felt like I was slowly fading away.
I had given up on the medical community until a coworker encouraged me to go seen an Internist one more time. Hesitantly, I made an appointment with a new doctor. She was from New Jersey and spent two hours with me learning about my lengthy symptom list and medical history. She asked me if I had been out of the state of Texas (which I hadn’t) and if I had ever been camping (which I had). She decided to do a full spectrum of blood tests including Lyme Disease.
A few days later, my thirteen years of unknown finally became known.
I had tested positive for Lyme Disease with the Western Blot blood test.
My world came crashing down.
The year before, I had met a sweet lady who shared the same food allergies with me and we bonded over our favorite gluten free foods. She was the first person I had ever met with Lyme Disease. She had a PICC Line in her arm for IV antibiotics and experienced seizures from her treatment. I learned from her that Lyme Disease is no easy ride.
Fast forward back to November of 2011, when all the puzzle pieces of my health came together.
When they told me I have Lyme Disease, I broke down. My mind went straight to my friend with Lyme and I immediately wanted to rewind, but I couldn’t. Many doctors told me, “Oh you’ll be better in no time,” but I knew from my friend that when you’ve been sick for a long time, treatment is no easy ride.
A month of oral antibiotics went by and I was feeling worse and worse. 5 months went by and I was still feeling worse. I was seeing a doctor from out of state and didn’t seem to be making progress, until I found a doctor about 5 hours away in TX. He started me on an aggressive treatment where I was taking over 20 pills a day. About 4 months into his treatment, I was starting to progress and two years later, with both oral and IV antibiotics, I can happily say that I’m 95% better. Praise God!
With all of that being said, I figured I’d share some facts about Lyme Disease.
– Caused by a tick bite.
– You don’t always see a bulls-eye rash (I didn’t).
– If caught within a month, it is easily treated with 4 weeks of antibiotics.
– The longer it goes untreated, the more unlikely a full cure is possible, but instead, remission is the goal.
– If it becomes chronic (left untreated for a long period of time), multiple antibiotics are necessary in order to eliminate the 4 different forms of the bacteria (spirochete, L-form, cysts, biofilm). One antibiotic will only push one form into the next, making it harder to treat.
– Lyme Disease can affect all organs.
– It can become dormant and later awakened by stressful situations to the body including pregnancy and car accidents.
– It can cause neurological and cognitive symptoms, which IV antibiotics are more likely to eliminate.
– Often with Lyme Disease, coinfections are common. Bartonella (which I have), Babesia, Mycoplasma (I have), are the most common. These coinfections must be treated before Lyme.
– Not all blood testing is accurate. It is more important to treat according to symptoms and medical history. IGeneX blood testing is the most reliable.
– Just like chemo treatment, you have to get worse before you get better because when the bacteria is killed off, it releases toxins which in turn, worsens your symptoms (this is called the Herxheimer Reaction).
In the first five months after my diagnosis, I was angry with God. I couldn’t understand why I had to have such a serious diagnosis. I was only 21 and my life was put on hold. However, during this low time in my life, I felt God drawing nearer to me each day. He assured me that although my physical state was weak, my spiritual state didn’t have to be. My hope and strength became stronger. He showed me that although it felt like it, He hadn’t abandoned me and never will. He proved that He can transcend the lowest of lows. I was healed although my body didn’t feel like it. I was healed because He showed me that life is more than just feelings, but truth. I held onto the fact that my life wouldn’t be like this forever and that as long as I had God’s presence with me, I could be sick for the rest of my life and still find peace. I know that after my body passes away, all the struggle I’ve faced here on Earth was worth it because I get to spend eternity in Paradise with my Lord. My heart, mind, and soul was healed through all of this. Over and over again, He showed me that He really can bring good out of the bad.
I’m not sure what you may be facing, but always know that in Him we find healing in all different shapes and forms. Most importantly, we find healing in our heart because of what Jesus did on the cross for us. Praise God!
Ps- May is Lyme Disease Awareness. Would you use this picture on social media to bring awareness? I would be forever grateful!
On Monday morning last week, we started off our day in Singapore sitting in on the discipleship meeting of an organization called ROHEI.
ROHEI is a learning and development consultancy in Singapore that caters inspired learning experience to their clients who are mostly employees from top companies and industries in the country.
We had the privilege to hear from the chief executive of ROHEI herself, Ms. Rachel Ong, who rightfully so talked about the topic of humility that morning because I believe it’s something this woman truly exudes.
I experienced a little glimpse of that over lunch that same day, because where else can you find a chief executive of a major consultancy company sincerely serving dim sum on every plate of her visitors whenever they get empty?
And while the organization she leads continues to thread on greater heights, we found Ms. Rachel reminding her staff on Monday morning with this,
“It is only by the grace of God that we get to do these things.”
It was a great reminder to hold because the reality is that a lot of times it is so easy for us to reach the point where we think it’s because of our talents, our skills, our knowledge, our money or our hardwork that got us somewhere when it fact none of who we are or what we can offer really contributed to anything that we are experiencing today.
“Humilty is realizing that on our own we are nothing, but in Him we have everything.”
I keep thinking about that lately. I keep asking God, in line of this blog series, “Lord, teach me how to be humble. How can I find humility in You?”
He pointed me back to the cross where He demonstrated the most humble act of all.
We find humility in Him because once we come to the core of who we really are, we will realize that apart from Christ all we deserve is death. And the only reason why we have everything we have right now is because He loves us and He is good. I pray that we will allow this truth to constantly humble us.
“Humility is building your life around God.”
“Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” – 1 Peter 5:5
“Humble in sorrow, You gladly carried Your cross
Never refusing Your life to the weakest of us
Not too proud to bear our sin
To feel this brokenness we’re in
Humble, humble Jesus
We bow our knees
We must decrease
You must increase
We lift You high”
– Humbe, Audrey Assad
Are we there yet?!
This was the constant prodding question in our head when we decided to try out the Transformers ride at Universal Studios in Singapore few days ago.
When I first visited Universal Studios in Los Angeles last year, I was not able to try this ride because the line was impossibly long. I never felt bad about it until later on when some friends told me I just missed one of the best rides ever. So last Thursday, when I had the chance to visit Universal Studios again, this time the one in Sentosa, my only goal was to make sure to not leave the park without doing the Transformers ride.
At the onset, when we first passed by the ride to check if we can do it, the line seemed to look bearable so we decided right on we’d give it a go. We were standing on the line few meters away from the entrance door, taking few steps closer to it every once in a while.
When we finally made it to the entrance door, that was the only time we realized what we really got ourselves into.
The entrance door of the building that we thought to be the end of the line was just a passage to a whole crazy maze of lines inside the building leading to the ride. The mazes inside were separated by walls so you wouldn’t have an idea how far you still are from the finish line.
The only gage we had of how bad it was was the few times we encountered groups of people walking back to the exit door mumbling, “The line is too long. We’re not going anymore.”
Don’t tell my friend who I was with that day but I was actually almost in the brink of exiting too. Except that when we saw the first group of people who surrendered, I was proud enough to say they were quitters and we will not be like them. So when I was already feeling all claustrophobic for standing inside the maze for too long, I still decided to stay put mainly because I didn’t want to swallow my statement (sometimes I’m not really a good example to follow).
So half because of pride and half because my friend was patient enough, we decided we’d continue on with the journey.
Sometimes to compensate for the long line, I’d think to myself, “It will come. It will come.” No matter how long we wait here or how slow we move, I know it will come. We will reach the finish line and experience the ride.
Psyching myself up for that (and maybe also for the lack of things to do while on the line), I could not help but think deeper than the Transformers line and begin to consider too some things in life that I feel the same way about.
It’s mainly those that I am believing God for and I am still waiting to happen. You have any of those?
Those that we have been praying to God for ever since. Those things that keep showing up in our faith goals list year after year. Those that we have no idea when it will happen but we just know it will come because God promised it will.
And I wondered. Where am I exactly at right now, God? Am I still at the back end? Or am I just a few steps away from Your promise? Are we there yet?
I didn’t get any answers to that. But in my wondering, there was a word that I felt to be swelling heavy on my heart that day. A word that I thought to be appropriate to where I was that day standing in the line for the Transformers ride and really mostly where I am in life.
The word was persistence.
The dictionary defines persistence as “continuing to exist or endure over prolonged period of time.”
Being persistent, I realize, is basically keeping on. So if you are believing God for something and the waiting gets too long and painful to endure, KEEP ON. DON’T QUIT JUST YET.
Remember that the promises of God is never a question of if it will happen. Because it will. It’s only a question of when. But even in the uncertainty of when, rest assured that in God’s perfect time, it will all come to pass. God is faithful, my friend. All His promises are Yes and Amen in Christ.
So be persistent in believing. The Bible says in Matthew 7:7, “ASK, and it will be given to you; SEEK, and you will find it; KNOCK, and t will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knows it will be open.”
Don’t stop praying. Don’t quit believing God for it.
Sometimes too, I realize, the problem about us when it comes to believing the promises of God in our lives aside from not having faith for it is that we are also not willing to be molded by God for the promise He has for us. We want to get our dreams to come to pass right away. So we don’t want to endure the process. We walk away when the waiting gets too long.
I was reminded by the Transformers ride that the only way for me to get to experience the ride is by being persistent in staying in the line. We don’t realize sometimes that most of what we are believing God for, the path that leads us to that is actually the same path we’re walking into right now.
It’s coming to work 9-5.
It’s staying in school no matter how you hate it.
It’s obeying your parents.
It’s learning to the love people you least like.
It’s taking on the challenge there is in front of you.
It’s seeking God and inquiring of the Lord everyday.
It’s doing whatever it is that God calls you to do right now.
Be persistent too in that. Just stay in the line.
While we wait for His promise to come to pass – while we wait for healing, for promotion, for breakthrough, keep doing what God is calling you to do right now. Galatians 6:9 says “Do not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Someday, it will come. We will get to the end line of all the waiting and we will say it’s all worth it.
But right here right now, if you are in that situation where you feel like you are in the brink of giving up, I pray that you find persistence in Him – in knowing that as you decide to keep on, He will be the one to hold you through it all. And in ultimately knowing no matter how long it gets or how slow it moves, that will never change the fact that He is faithful to keep His promises.