When Nothing Else Works

I’ve been restless lately with my spiritual walk.  It feels like there’s so much background noise, so many thoughts about current events racing through my head, that I can’t process additional input from my usual reading plans anymore.  I have been through similar seasons before, and I found that 1 Peter 2:2-3 offered the best advice: Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

So today, I skipped the devotional readings and went straight to the Bible. With my present concerns, I thought the Book of Psalms might be a good place to start.  And thank God, my restless heart got the much-needed peace that I have been looking for. 🙂  Reading the Book of Psalms used to make me want to roll my eyes because King David just seemed too…dramatic (whiny?) for my taste.  But after going through some pretty tough times a few months back, I found that his words captured everything that I felt at the moment, and offered hope and strength when it felt like my willpower was about to give out.  In times of trouble, David’s definitely my go-to guy.

These were the passages that stood out so far (I’m going back to reading after posting this, I just can’t get enough of Psalms right now):

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psalm-14

 

Prayer for spiritual leaders

Apart from praying for our people, our country and our world, I am also fervently praying for our pastors, and all spiritual leaders from every denomination, from every religion; anyone with a voice who can influence others’ thoughts and actions.
It is no easy task to rally for hope against the tide of dismay and despair flooding the news and our minds. It is nothing short of daunting to stand your ground and uphold that flame of faith in a sovereign God, while being threatened by the surrounding dark sea of doubt. I thank God for the inspired words of John Piper and Ravi Zacharias that have reminded me of our unshakeable kingdom today. ❤️

 

Honoring My Parents

Today I woke up at 5:30 am, feeling very hungry yet oddly domestic.  I got up to find something to eat, but didn’t feel like reheating the usual pulled pork that I survived on while Ynna was away for her board exams.  I decided to break out the pita pockets that I’ve been meaning to use for making tuna pitawich that I always used to order from Oz Café (now called Art Circle Gallery Café) during my college days in UP.  It’s basically tuna salad + tomatoes + cheese in a pita pocket, toasted just enough to melt the cheese on top.  So yeah, essentially maarteng tuna sandwich lang made more toxic by trying to pry open a fragile pita pocket.

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One of my favorites among Daddy’s polo barongs. The color looked so nice on him & I isually chose light colored slacks to go with this. He had this thing for running his outfit choices by me before going to work. Stylist ang lola mo!

Putting away Daddy’s clothes so we can use his closet… I’m keeping his favorite hoodie though, it’s my favorite comfort thing on cold mornings 🙂


While I was making the tuna salad, I remembered my dad who used to keep a bowl of it in the ref for snack emergencies in the dead of the night.  I used to pilfer a lot from his emergency ration because for some unknown reason, his tuna salad always seemed to taste better than mine.  I watched him make the salad sometimes, to see if he added anything else other than tuna, mayo, salt and pepper… wala namanSiguro mas masarap lang talaga ang pagkain pag hindi ikaw ang gumawa. Or baka napatakan ng pawis niya. Or baka may gayuma. 🙂

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Yihee!

There I was, smiling to myself while thinking about Daddy’s tuna salad secret, with a wonderful mess of chopped tomatoes, grated cheese, pita pockets and a bowl of tuna on the kitchen island, when I started feeling really thirsty.  One of the side effects of taking corticosteroids is having an uncomfortably dry mouth and I’ve been craving for fruits for a while now.  I suddenly remembered that I bought a melon a few days ago and it’s still sitting in the ref, waiting for me to have the time to wolf it down.  I decided to make melon juice, just the way Mommy used to.

After putting my pitawich in the toaster, I got down to melon juice business.  While carving the meat of the fruit with a scraper, I had flashbacks of my childhood, watching my Mom do the same thing.  I remember watching her like a hawk, so I can do everything exactly the way she did when I’m older.  She had this habit of carving out the seeds then carefully placing them on a sieve and running some water over them while squeezing the remaining juice from the pulp.  Sayang daw kasi. ^_^

This afternoon, we’ll be visiting their graves to honor their memories.  Although it makes me sad that my daughters never met their Lola Ayen and only had two years with their Lolo Boy, my overall sentiment today is still happiness and gratitude.  I feel blessed to have had such awesome parents, who strived to teach us the things that we needed to know in life (apart from making maarte tuna sandwiches and yummy melon juice).  I want to honor my parents further by trying to be a good mom to my kids and letting them experience the things (and food!) that ingrained their grandparents in my memory.

I love you, Mommy & Daddy.  I’m glad that you’re together now because I know you both have waited for a long time to be reunited.  I’m happy for you. We’ll be okay. 🙂

 

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Together again.

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you. – Exodus 20:12 (NKJV)

2“Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”- Ephesians 6:2-3 (NIV)

Frustration Fix: Working with What You Have

 

I have always admired people with calligraphy skills.  I can watch doodling videos over and over again and not get bored, appreciating every perfect little stroke of the brush or nib.  It’s something that I’ve always wanted to learn but haven’t had the time to pursue.

Calligraphy is one of the items in my Things-to-Learn-in-My-Free-Time (what is ‘free time’?) and I originally planned on using this skill (which I currently lack…!) to make reminders for myself around the house using my favorite Bible verses.  I have this big notebook full of verses that have helped me cope with various life issues and I’m trying to make it a habit to transfer my highlights from the Bible app to this notebook for quick reference whenever I’m feeling unsettled about particular problems.  I’m sure you’ve encountered similar graphics or images on the internet (usually on Pinterest), but I get frustrated when I’m looking for a specific verse and I can’t find it, or I don’t like the font or the background, etc.

Yesterday, I was feeling particularly thirsty for God’s word and my usual daily dose of devotionals just couldn’t cut it.  I had a really long day with multiple out of the house errands, and I think I’ve gotten used to being a hermit that going out for an entire day really overloads my neurologic circuitry.  Yep, multiple cataplectic episodes capped off my day.

I felt overstimulated and wanted, nay, NEEDED to feel calm, preferably without meds.  But that’s just my personal thing because I know I can manage without them, having been able to do that for years without any problem.  It’s different for everyone though, so some may need medications for anxiety for a time or all the time, and I’m not judging anyone here. Just do what you can to make yourself functional and well, okay? Except illegal substances.  As for alcohol…it wouldn’t hurt to try and find healthier ways to cope. (#Anxiety #MentalHealthAwareness #ThatEscalatedQuickly)

ANYWAY. Home improvement and my lack of calligraphy skills.

While I was reading my recent verse highlights yesterday, I felt so moved that I wanted to MAKE something beautiful out of them.  But I didn’t have the calligraphy skills and that frustrated me.  I tried to get over it and kept reading my highlights, and I was reminded of Romans 12:6-8 (NIV):

6We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully

And that got me thinking, hey, I’m pretty good at finding things on the internet; I love pretty fonts and know where to get them for free; I have a knack for being creative with simple programs like MS Word, etc.  So I decided to work around my frustration of not having the manual artistic skills using my emerging techie (naks!) skills for my pet project.  Here’s my work so far:

 

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Amen and amen!

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One of my all-time personal favorite verses.

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I always read this verse whenever fear creeps up on me because of the current events in our country and around the world in general. #LordHealOurLand

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Here’s me being a little more adventurous with gradient colors 🙂 Ugh, colorful pretty things make me so happy!!!

I’m still in the process of selecting some nice frames, backgrounds and clip art and then I’ll be ready to print and post them around our home.  I’m so excited!  If anyone else wants to have a copy (of the end product, fonts, etc. whatever), just email me at iamjustasecretary@gmail.com and I will gladly forward them to you.  All the resources that I’ve used so far are freely available on the internet, no bootleg versions, I promise.  Thank God for generous and talented artists around the world!

Have a great Sunday!

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Today’s gem of a devo from Shine Like Stars: Devotions From a Time of Grace

Bible reading plan on Bible app by Youversion

I wanted to share this as soon as I read it because this is exactly how I feel right now. 😊 I’ve been awake since 11pm last night (it’s 6:50am now), trying to meet a deadline for work (I’m still on it) but for some reason, I don’t feel stressed or haggard or tired or anything. I actually like what I’m working on (perks of being a nerd I guess), so I can’t wait to get back to it after my coffee break. I usually read my devotionals in the morning with my coffee and all the stuff that I’ve been reading today have been extra encouraging like this one. Here’s to hoping it reaches someone who needs a boost 😇 Have a great day ahead! 😁

An Attitude That Shines: God’s stars are content 
Have you ever noticed how much of our life in Christ is a balancing act? God wants us to be self-confident and yet humble; self-reliant and yet dependent on him; working and building for the long-term future and yet ready to die this evening.

God wants us to work hard, be ambitious, and not to settle for second-rate. But he also says this (through the apostle Paul): “We brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” (1 Timothy 6:7,8).

Is there a spirit of contentment in your heart? God’s stars take inventory of their lives and feel rich. God’s stars don’t waste time comparing themselves with others or imagining that their lives are supposed to be trouble-free. God’s stars pay attention to their blessings and count them. God’s stars humbly expect only the basics in life and are surprised and grateful to receive so many treats.

Say it with me: I love my life.

Inspiration

As cliché as it sounds, parenthood really changes a person.  When I became a mom, that was when it really sank in that I had to get my act together because I suddenly felt like I had this huge responsibility of raising decent human beings.  I also remembered how my mom was the one who made us memorize prayers, nagged us out of bed on Sundays to attend church, and first taught me that God the Father of all.  I remember my tongue-in-cheek comment that if God was indeed the Father of all, then my parents weren’t really my parents and were in fact my spiritual siblings. I started calling them “Ate” and “Kuya” for a time until Mommy gave me THAT look that said I was being too smart for my own good. This list is the People counterpart of my literary influences – those who inspire and encourage me to pursue my walk with Christ, and those whom I consider as my personal accountability group.

Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” – Proverbs 13:20 (NIV)

  1. My daughters, Mikaela (Kakay) and Katie(pie)
    • The prime reason that made me feel like I had to take faith seriously 🙂
    • Child dedication process led us to joining a discipleship group in CCF Pasig.
    • They continue to influence my walk through constant feedback — they mirror everything I do and echo everything I say! Again, parenting is such a HUGE responsibility!
    • Every good quality that they have is a result of obedience – our (parents) obedience to God, and their (kids) obedience to us; a good way to model the phrase “you reap what you sow”
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Family milestone: We’re all smiling! (Mahirap yun ha)

  1. My husband, Karlo
    • My original partner-in-“crime”; such a huge influence…so much so, that I think at some point, my faith had to be tested separately to see if my personal faith was real or if it was just piggybacking on his.  I’m happy to report that, yes, it’s real.  I think I passed THAT test with flying colors. 🙂
    • My last “idol”…and I constantly have to surrender him on a daily basis (I know it sounds a little cryptic but just take my word for it, hehe)

 

  1. My father-in-law, Jack Du, and mother-in-law, Baby Du
    • So blessed to have Christian in-laws who I can talk to about anything. I truly appreciate the fact that I have in-laws who pray for and with us during the storms of life.  Their Scripture-based advice pulled us through several tough spots and guarded me from following worldly “wisdom” that would have made a catastrophic mess out of our family’s life.
    • My original source of good Christian reads 🙂

 

 

  1. Daddy Boygie
    • Unknowingly, he both inspired and challenged me to be a genuine follower of Christ, to try and convince him to start attending church with us.  We never did get the chance to attend church together… sinundo na siya eh.  But that’s okay because I know he’s happy where he is. 🙂
    • His stroke, hospitalization and death was my crucible of faith (more on that when I find the time to write about it).

 

  1. Pretty Sisters
    • Discipleship group a.k.a. CCF Family
    • My prayer warriors!
    • We are in constant communication via FB messenger and sometimes ang hirap mag backread! I ❤ them.

 

  1. Fitas of Manila [Fitas = (wannabe) Fit + Titas]
    • My closest girl friends from college, Lulu and Chappy.
    • Other people who knew us in college would remember us as mataray, type A, Mean girls na medyo scary, I think.
    • In the span of roughly a year (we started our Viber group when Chappy got married in December 2015), we have evolved from Burn sessions to Bible verses 🙂 By God’s grace, we have truly matured. 🙂
  1. Other relatives and friends who walk the Christian talk – Kuya Abel, Ate Maila, Tito Art, Tita Diame, Tita Roma (and her “downlines” Cedz, Len, Jake and David), Tita Rosa, Tita Pinky, Tita Maris, Tita Mita, Tita Yeyeng and the long list of Sorredas :D…. Dra. Chit, Jun, Doctors in Touch/ Adrenaline (SLMC)

 

1Blessed is the one  who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,  and who meditates on his law day and night.That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,  which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither —  whatever they do prospers. Psalms 1:1-3 (NIV)

 

 

Good reads

Confession: I am a bookworm and I admittedly have a voracious appetite for literature.  Reading is as natural as breathing and speaking, and is my means to keep myself both informed and entertained in any situation.  Growing up, my parents discouraged TV time by allowing us to watch TV only on Saturdays and one weekday that my sister and I had to agree on.  Instead of cartoons, they filled our little apartment with books and kept a Reader’s Digest subscription from our early childhood until our teenage years.  If my parents were still alive, I think they’d be mortified with how much time my kids spend watching cartoons.  Sorry Mommy and Daddy, mahirap ang walang yaya 😀

My parents’ efforts to ignite a love for reading directly impacted how I acquire, process and use information on any topic, including my spiritual life.  I made this list to give due credit to the authors (all of them are exceptionally gifted with words! Minsan napapasigaw ako ng TUMPAK! Pero sa isip ko lang, hehe.) especially when I echo some of their thoughts and sentiments (and re-quote relevant Bible verses).  Also, it’s a good way to reach out to others who might be interested to personally get to know who God is and why everyone needs Him in his or her life.

I know it looks pretty long, but to start anywhere is better than to get discouraged and not bother at all.  Personally, it’s not a humblebrag thing and I didn’t force myself to read any of these – I just really love to read and on some days, my cataplexy/ adrenal insufficiency combo keeps me in bed (or in the hospital), and it’s all I can do to keep myself from being bored out of my mind.

This is a rough list of past, present, and future reading resources that continue to shape my Christian views, writing style and post content.  I’ll probably need to update it once in a while.

 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8

  1. The Bible
    • Bible app by Youversion: New International Version (NIV), Easy to Read Version (ERV), New Living Translation (NLT)
    • “Jesus Calling” New King James Version devotional Bible – Sarah Young
      • The only dynamic book I have ever come across (and I haven’t even read the whole thing yet). Applicable across the years, covers all topics and situations. Try it.
      • Personal life manual applicable to EVERYone.
      • If you’ve ever struggled with your emotions and behaviors and have never tried reading the Bible, you’re missing out on a lot. Life made a whole lot more sense when I started reading the Bible and practicing what I’ve learned, even when it was uncomfortable – or rather, ESPECIALLY when it was uncomfortable.  Obedience opens the floodgates to God’s blessings.  A considerable number of Christians can testify to this fact.
  1. CCF Sunday Service Messages and evangelical events – CCF is my home church; personal favorites:
    • Only Jesus Can Change Hearts
    • Solitude (Midyear Prayer and Fasting Week 2016)
    • Jesus Unboxed series (May? 2016 to present)
    • Pray Care Share – ministry material
    • GLC work books
  1. Our Daily Bread – a good jump off point for baby Christians (I think I still am a baby Christian…there’s always more to practice and learn! And I mean that in a good way 🙂
  1. Devotionals = Bible-based Reading Plans on Youversion Bible app
    • Reading plans of varying lengths (from 3 days, 7 days, 2 weeks, to a whole year) that make the Big Book more digestable and compatible with every day life.
    • My favorites (so far) in no particular order:
  • Outlaw Christian: Finding Authentic Faith
  • Finding Comfort in Pain*
  • God is With You Every Day*
  • When God Doesn’t Make Sense*
  • Leaving a Lasting Legacy
  • Chase the Lion
  • Never Say No: Raising Big Picture Kids
  • A Daily Word for Parents with Ron Hutchcraft
  • 10 Things to Abandon for Spiritual Growth
  • Move Towards the Mess
  • Addicted to Busy: Recovery for the Rushed Soul
  • Identity in Christ
  • Peace that God Promises
  • Discovering and Enjoying Your Purpose
  • Visioneering
  • How is Your Heart Today?
  • Stop it! No More Worry
  • Lifehacks: Practical Tips for Godly Habits
  • Watch Your Mouth
  • Fully Satisfied in His Love
  • Living in the Light: Money, Sex and Power (John Piper is always on point!)
  • How to Live with Your Family
  • Open in Case of Emergency – it was in my “Saved for Later” list and I opened it when our house helpers suddenly left one by one in a span of 4 weeks and my workload at home ballooned exponentially. (I eventually had to resign from work.)
  • The Comeback: It’s Never Too Late and You’re Never Too Far
  • #Struggles – very millenial friendly 🙂 #relate
  • Proverbial Girl: Wisdom, Values, and Being Fabulous
  • Finding Hope at Home

*Reading plans that I started when Daddy had a stroke and was in the ICU for 3 weeks

  1. Youversion Bible App
    • Verse of the day
    • Verse highlights from family and friends
    • Sagap ng chismis on personal issues based on the current reading plans, haha! Hi, Fitas!
  1. Don’t Follow Your Heart (book) – John Bloom
  1. My First, Second and Third Attempts at Parenting (book) – Steve Murrell
  1. Desiring God articles (website: desiringgod.org) – John Piper
  1. The Insight for Living Ministries by Chuck Swindoll (e-mail subscription) – Favorites:
    • Crucible for Christ
    • Our Obstacle Course
    • The Battle is Mine
    • God vs. Our Giants
  1. Faith Gateway/ Devotionals Daily (e-mail subscription) – Favorites:
    • Run Toward the Fear: Run Toward the Roar – Levi Lusko
    • Pain is a Microphone – Levi Lusko
    • Joy in the Stillness – Emily Ley
    • God’s Peace for When You Can’t Sleep (excerpts)
    • Start Your Day with the Lord – Shiela Walsh
    • Stargazing: Who’s in Control (excerpt from Devotions from the Front Porch)
    • The Strength You Need: A Very Present Help in Trouble – Robert Morgan
    • Get Back to Your Heart and the Heart of God – John Eldrege
    • God of the Present Tense – Laurie Short
    • Fix Your Eyes on Jesus – Christine Caine
    • The Fruit of the Spirit – Dr. O.S. Hawkins (The Joshua Code)
    • In Touch with a World of Hurt – Dr. O.S. Hawkins (The James Code)
    • Saving Grace – Max Lucado
    • God Will Never Leave You Alone – Max Lucado
    • Satan Stalked Him – Max Lucado
    • One Day at a Time – Jeff Schreve
    • The New Math of Grace – Philip Yancey
    • Unanswered Prayers: What’s Going on, God? – Mark Batterson
    • Pray Hard… God Shows Up in Unexpected Ways at Unexpected Times – Mark Batterson
    • Spiritual Warfare: Behind Enemy Lines – David Jeremiah
    • Losing Your Ship Without Losing Your Soul – Jonathan Martin

 

Current Reading List:

  1. The Purpose-Driven Life – Rick Warren
  2. Effective Parenting in a Defective World – Chip Ingram

 

On My To-Read List:

  1. Raising Up Girls – James Dobson
  2. Holy Ambition – Chip Ingram
  3. Tough Guys and Drama Queens: How to not get blindsided by your child’s teenage years – Mark Gregston
  4. Life Unboxed – ministry material from CCF
  5. Doubting Toward Faith: The Journey to Confident Christianity – Bobby Conway
  6. What’s So Amazing About Grace – Philip Yancey*
  7. Hope Again – Chuck Swindoll*
  8. The Debt-Free Lifestyle – Andrew I. Luison

*these are actually my Dad’s books, which I was really surprised to find among his favorite books [Asimov, Ludlum, Barney Stintson (!), Sh*t My Dad Says (I gave it to him as a present; it’s pretty funny)] while I was cleaning out his home office; Based on the notes on the first pages of each book, they were given to him by friends during the time that my Mommy died. I recognized the authors and my interest was piqued.]