Without Saying a Word

For some reason, I was reminded today about the time I had to work on filing the claim for one of my dad’s life insurance policies.  It was one of those start-from-scratch moments where I didn’t know where to go, who to ask help from, or even where to begin.  The financial adviser in charge of my dad’s account had passed away years before he did, so I really had no clue and couldn’t make any sense of the folder of papers that I found in his filing cabinet.  I wasn’t even sure if there was anything left to claim, since the unopened letters from the company were mostly about unpaid principal amounts.  I’ve found that in such situations, the best place to start is good ol’ Google.

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(image from: @AG_US twitter page)

With a short prayer and a huge sigh, I Googled the nearest branch of the insurance policy where I could inquire.  Turns out, there was a branch in Libis and I decided to bring all the possibly relevant papers there to ask about the policy.  I went there on a weekday, a little before lunch time and I was surprised to find an empty office space.  Puzzled, I looked around for someone to ask directions from.  A janitor approached me, pointed to another office and said that someone was expecting me.  I was even more confused but I went to that office anyway.

A man was sitting alone, working on his computer.  He looked up and said, “Hi, what can I do for you?” I told him I was there to inquire about a policy.  And he said, “Oh…I’m the manager of this office and our branch is actually not yet operational… I only came in today because I was supposed to meet with an investor.  But you know what? I don’t believe in coincidences.  The fact that you came in today, the only day that I had to come here, I think I’m meant to help you and so I will.  Here, have a seat and tell me your concerns.”

In my head, I was thanking God over and over.  I was smiling and a little tearful (but exerted full effort in holding it in, haha) when I recounted what happened over the past months to explain why I knew so little about the policy.  He gave me his full attention and was very sympathetic.  He even asked the person he was supposed to meet to wait a little while (yikes!), as he was advising me on what to do.  At the end of our conversation, he gave me his personal number and his secretary’s number, and told menot to hesitate to contact either of them if I had any difficulties with the requirements that I needed to come up with to file the claim.

I found his humble and helpful attitude a little curious, and what he said about not believing in coincidences reminded me of something I heard in church service one time.  When I got home, I looked him up on Facebook (a.k.a. person Google) and his profile was full of Bible quotes and Christian messages.  Kaya naman pala.  For me, it was a solid lesson on what it’s like to be a true follower of Christ.  He didn’t have to say anything but his attitude and actions spoke volumes of his faith.

 

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(image from: standingbeside.com/meet-dan-and-tina)

More importantly, he didn’t know that I am a Christian too.  He didn’t help me out just because he felt some sort of obligation or kinship that some of us Christians might operate under.  His attitude and walk of faith is one that would draw in Christians and unbelievers alike.  I hope to grow more and be like him, choosing to serve everyone freely through Christ and maintaining the same humility that Jesus demonstrated. I want God’s love to be evident in how I relate to people without having to say a word.  I definitely have a LONG way to go, but everything starts with setting your heart on your goal.

 

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Working with Narcolepsy

In the Narcolepsy Network Facebook group, there are posts from different people echoing my thoughts and emotions when I was first diagnosed with narcolepsy and cataplexy – disbelief that there is an actual clinical condition that makes you want to sleep all the time; an ounce of validation in the yay-I’m-not-just-being-lazy-after-all sense; confusion over what cataplexy was; and mostly frustration over the assortment of medications I needed, and the lifestyle changes that it entailed.

I recently came across posts asking the members of the group if there are any “successful” narcoleptics out there.  I’m not sure how “success” is defined in this manner, whether it means just being able to carry out normal everyday tasks without difficulty or a more ambitious sense of flourishing in all aspects of life.  I personally think “success” is very relative, but in the hopes of encouraging someone else with unusual conditions, I felt like sharing my own story.

 

All things considered, I shouldn’t even have a job right now.

Back in September of 2014, I was working part-time as one of the company physicians of St. Luke’s Medical Center Global City (SLMC-GC).   Although the workload was heavy at 30-40 patients per shift, the salary was pretty good compared to what I usually earned as a freelance general practitioner.  Being a large tertiary hospital in an upscale area, the environment was a vast improvement from my previous workplaces.  Plus there were a lot of perks care of our hard-working clinic manager – free Vinyasa yoga and Zumba sessions every week, discounted membership at a nearby gym, etc.  A typical workday would usually end with a dinner date with my husband (Karlo) in one of the many interesting restaurants in GC.  I thought I had it pretty good.

Then came February.  What an, um, eventful month.  I was set to go on leave for 2 weeks to be able to spend time with my in-laws who were visiting from the US.  I had arranged for a reliever and meticulously went over my endorsements, to make sure that things would go smoothly while I was away.  On my last day, I carefully packed away my things and made some space in the cabinet so my reliever will have a place for her things during clinic hours.

Day 1 of my leave consisted mostly of airport pickups.  Day 2 was our errands day, spent on buying stuff we needed from the grocery store, people getting haircuts, mani pedis and other pampering treatments, etc.  At the end of the day, I was cranky-tired from walking around with my two kids, because my younger daughter was still in the stage where she preferred being carried around even though she can walk already.  Then came that call from Karlo.

At first I thought he was just checking in to let me know what time he’d be able to join us, because his case extended unexpectedly (he’s an anesthesiologist in SLMC Quezon City), but from the tone of his voice, I immediately knew something was wrong.  With a shaky voice, he told me that my youngest sister had just called him to say that my dad collapsed at home and that his words were slurred when he told her to call Karlo.  I cried and panicked and couldn’t sort my thoughts.  Thankfully, my mother-in-law swooped in and started praying while hugging me tightly, and my father-in-law immediately made plans to drop everyone else off and drive me to QC.  After the nerve-wracking 3-hour drive to QC, my worst thoughts were confirmed – Daddy had a stroke.  He was in critical condition for 3 weeks before he passed away at the end of February.

While my dad was still in the hospital, I faced some pretty tough decisions.  I had to extend my leave from the clinic for two main reasons – 1) my kids’ nannies took the weekend off as we have previously agreed on, but did not come back without any word;  2) my 3 other sisters were still in school and had classes every day so no one else can stay with my dad  (Mommy passed away 16 years ago).

The first thought of resigning from work came when I had difficulties looking for another reliever because truth be told, a lot of freelancing GPs are really just after the money and will bolt at the first sign that the offered work was tougher than it looked.  But every time I thought about drafting my resignation letter, I kept worrying about my dad’s growing hospital bill which was already past the P 1M mark at the time.  Every time I posted job details in a freelance GP page, I limited the duration to 2 weeks at a time, hoping that I would somehow find a way to go back to work and earn a little to be able to start paying off the debt.

Our situation seemed so hopeless back then though because as long as I hired a reliever, my entire salary went to that doctor.  So I was essentially just stressing myself out with looking for a reliever every 2 weeks and still had nothing to contribute to our family’s expenses.  I ended up asking for financial assistance in every way I could think of, including reaching out to family and my dad’s friends for help.  Every morning started with hopeful prayers for provision and every night ended in physical and emotional exhaustion, asking God for guidance and tearful pleas to move people’s hearts to share the financial burden that had already ballooned to P3M in 3 weeks’ time.

It was so easy to panic and worry and give in to despairing thoughts, but God was gracious enough to send reassuring words through Bible study, Bible reading plans/ devotionals, Sunday services, and other means.  These were the verses that were always ran through my mind whenever I was tempted to feel overwhelmed:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still. – Exodus 14:14

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9

This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. – 2 Chronicles 20:15

They were comforting, but I knew that these words would only hold true under one condition – that I was obeying and surrendering to my Lord’s will.  Should I resign? If this is God’s plan for me, is it according to His timeline?

The answer came a few weeks later, when I was contacted by our clinic manager, asking for updates because my contract was due for renewal.  I was still on the fence about it, so I asked her to give me a day to decide.  Thankfully, she is a fellow Christian, so she didn’t pressure me when I asked for time to pray about it. In the end, I did resign after realizing that I needed to make myself available to take care of my kids, sort out the paperwork concerning my dad’s recent passing, and generally taking over the responsibilities of running our large, blended household.  Even though I had several misgivings about our financial situation, I continued to hold on to God’s promise of provision.

Two months later, a friend asked me if I was interested in a home-based work.  The company that her sister works for was expanding their Manila office and was looking for more doctors to be part of their growing team.  I asked for the details but couldn’t commit outright because I wasn’t sure if I was ready to take on a real job since I still had a lot of responsibilities at home.  After praying about it, I decided to give it a try  since there was a trial freelance period anyway.  I was given two projects to work on which I carried out as best as I can, but admittedly I wasn’t sure if I did it well enough.  Afterwards, I was offered a regular contract much sooner than I expected and I was thrilled beyond words!  I was going through a really rough situation at that time and I needed something good to keep me busy…but apparently, I had a surprise waiting for me.

A week after signing my contract, I was hospitalized and was later on diagnosed to have narcolepsy with cataplexy and adrenal insufficiency.  The timing was so inconvenient as I had just been assigned to a new project and I really thought that I’d lose the job that I had just signed on for.  Thankfully, my superiors were very understanding about the whole matter and made adjustments to my workload until I was able to recover and really start working.

The first few months were very unpredictable because I was in and out of the hospital while my doctors and I were trying to figure out the right combination of medications that would allow me to function well.  During the next few hospital admissions, I brought my work computer with me and insisted on continuing my projects since I was bored to death in the hospital, having nothing else to do while waiting for lab results and doctors’ rounds.  I think it sort of paid off, since I became more familiar with this new type of work that I never knew existed while I was in med school.

In hindsight, I really felt Abba’s hand in providing this opportunity because of how perfectly it fit my situation – it’s such a big deal to have a medically related home-based job because given my health conditions, residency training and clinical practice were no longer feasible options for me.  Right now I’m on my 6th month as a medical writer and I’m enjoying every minute of it! The topics are all so very interesting and waaaaaay beyond what I’ve learned in med school.   Sometimes I get so excited about my given topic that I end up having a cataplectic episode.  :)) Seriously. :))

With all that has happened, I can truly attest that there is a loving, sovereign God who cares deeply enough to pay attention to the little quirky details of my life and sets up beautiful plans to take care of His children and for that, I am simply overwhelmed with gratitude. 🙂

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)

 

Plus a recent bonus ^_^ :

yehey

 

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

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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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. ❤️

 

Choose Your Side and Know Your Enemy

In John  10:10, Jesus said,The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

 Who is this “thief”? And what the heck is his problem?  This passage from Ephesians 6:10-13 is the best reminder of what everyone is up against on a daily basis.  And I mean EVERYONE – Christians, unbelievers, adults, children, those who know they are saved, those who think they are saved… basically anyone who gets to interact with another person in the course of their day.  If you live by yourself on an island with no one else, as in not a living soul (but maybe with an exotic pet) then okay fine, you’re exempted.  Skip this post and go back to your relaxing spot on the beach (darn it, I envy you).

 10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. – Ephesians 6:10-13 (NIV)

 Like I said, it’s a good reminder but it may sound a little vague, bordering on mystical and indigestible for common folks like us.  I admit I had a hard time grasping the essence of it when I was starting out as a Christian… my brain processed the words just fine, but I just couldn’t get it enough to apply it in life, you know?  And then there’s this more direct line in the Bible about who the enemy is:

 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.1 Peter 5:8 (NKJV)

Ayun naman pala. The devil is the enemy.  It can’t be any clearer than that.  “It can’t be any clearer than that” is not the same as saying that it’s instantly acceptable, though.  When I first read that verse, I did a mental brake-and-backpedal of sorts like, “Wait a minute, are we seriously talking about the devil now? What makes this different from pop culture scare tactics or old wives tales that were invented to scare children into parental submission?”  I knew some parts of the Bible mentioned the devil, like when Jesus was tempted in the dessert (Matthew 4:1, Luke 4:2), the serpent in Eden (Genesis 3:1), the time when he entered Judas Escariot (John 13:27, Luke 22:3), but a part of me didn’t want to acknowledge the reality of his existence in modern times for reasons that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

Maybe part of it was some remaining ounce of superstition from my childhood days when I was told not to acknowledge evil supernatural things because it calls their attention to you and gives them power.  And by that I mean the devil plus a host of other things like the aswang, manananggal, mangkukulam (aren’t they the same things, though?), tikbalang, kapre and other things in Philippine folklore that I loved reading about as a child.  I spent lot of sleepless nights trembling and huddled under a blanket, jumping with every sudden noise, especially in our grandparents’ farm in a small, faraway, and very provincial barrio of Cebu.  Hay, memories. 🙂

Maybe part of it was also because I felt like I didn’t know enough to make an informed decision as to whether to believe the devil’s existence.  Suspended judgement, if you will.  Doubt can be healthy if it moves you to investigate further and move forward with a solid decision.  But if doubt only freezes you and keeps you in limbo, well, you’re in deep trouble my friend.

Well now I think I know enough to say with conviction, despite the risk of sounding weird or superstitious (which I’m not… sige weird, pwede… subjective naman yun 😛 ), that the devil is real.  Not only that, but he is cunning, crafty and insidious.  He diligently studies each one of us, looking for our weaknesses, for anything that he can use to erode our relationship with God.  From my personal experiences, I can say that he does his homework well.  That is the importance of recognizing and surrendering your modern day idols (more on idols on a separate post).  Surrendering your idols is equivalent to protecting your relationship with the Lord; it’s a promise to God that NO ONE and NOTHING is more important to you than Him.   It’s the most important promise you can ever make, and you have to mean it like your life depended on it, because your eternal life DOES depend on it.

The tedious part is this: idols have a way of sneaking back into your life because the devil tries to make sure that he’d have something to use against you.  If that sounded a little too sinister, here’s a comforting thought: I said “TRIES” to make sure because there’s a way around it.  I can personally testify to that.  In the several times that the devil has tried to snuff out my growing faith, I kept a few Bible-based truths in mind:

  1. Jesus already won the battle for us.
    • I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. – John 16:33
  2. Abba is with me through thick and thin, He always wants what is good for me, and He has the best plans for achieving the highest good not just for me, but for everyone else who will be affected by my decisions and circumstances.
    • Be strong and courageous! Do not fear or tremble before them, for the LORD your God is the one who is going with you. He will not fail you or abandon you! – Deuteronomy 31:6
    • “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.Jeremiah 29:11
    • 8For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. 9“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9 (Isaiah is one of my favorite prophets to quote from… I should read his entire book – I’ll get around to that one of these days…)
    • Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.Proverbs 3:5-6
  3. I have 24/7 access to the Holy Spirit and can ask for strength, courage, wisdom and guidance in any situation. I can count on the Holy Spirit to guard my heart and my tongue at all times.  All I need to do is to pause and feel for His presence through prayer before responding, instead of instantly reacting like I used to.
    • 19Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own, 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
    • For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. – 2 Timothy 1:7 [ESV] – my all-time favorite mantra-slash-note-to-self
    • But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23

And above all – I keep in mind that God is in absolute control every single second of every single day.  He is sovereign.  It sounds like a Christian cliché but Christians say this with the strongest conviction because it’s the most powerful truth that we believe in.  The verses I quoted in #2 reassure me that not only is God in absolute control, but that He is good and He loves me.

Sure, He allows the devil to have some wiggle room in my life, but only when whatever trick the devil has up his sleeve can be turned into something that will ultimately be good for me.

Yeah, bad things happen, but that’s just proof that I am still alive and human and have another chance to make things right with His help.

Ganyan talaga ang buhay, but I don’t have to live a discouraged life.  I choose a life of victory over the enemy.

I already chose sides when I surrendered my life to Jesus.  I already chose sides when I decided to be vocal about that choice.  I made that choice again today when I decided to reflect, surrender, and obey God by writing this post despite my pounding headache and muscle spasms (my left calf and shoulder are now also involved, grr), instead of resurrecting one of my recurring idols.

Yep, God allowed the devil to throw me another curve ball but prayer and reading the Scripture gave me a spine stronger than steel.  This is me, fighting back.  By God’s grace, my fire will not be snuffed out.

I have decided that the devil is real and defiantly whispered to him in the dark, “Bring it on, because you have nothing against my Father.” 

 

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.1 John 4:4

No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the LORD.Isaiah 54:17

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. – Romans 8:37

God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.Psalm 46:5

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. 🙂

 

together-again

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)

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.]