Come up for air, you’re not drowning

Exhaustion is unraveling me, and what I’m discovering is unhealthy.

I like my fully-checked off to-do lists. I like helping people. I like the feeling of accomplishing something. I like making people happy.

That doesn’t sound too bad, right? Not too bad until more to-do lists keep coming, people left and right start asking for this and that, and you still want to make them happy, only this time your heart is relying on its own strength now. The people around you are getting tired too, so asking for help isn’t an option.

So you keep on. Keep on keeping on. On and on and on and on, until burnout hits you, crashes over you, and you can’t see clearly anymore. What you started with isn’t here anymore.

Your week starts on Sunday. So much hope, so much light, so much grace, you say so many thanks.

Monday is fills you with so much to do, you’re left with so little time to eat, to rest—to breathe. You’ve started your week weak.

You go through the next day looking at story after story, you don’t notice your heart is starting to be envious of others.

The sun sets on your Wednesday, you endure work, relationships, and during the commute home, you exhale a sigh.

By Thursday, you’re too worn out, you don’t even utter a word of gratitude.

I don’t know how many times I’ve thought of this:

“God, can I just go away from everything”

But if He says yes, I’m not sure if I really can go.

All these things I’m carrying weren’t imposed by terrible, slave-driving bosses. No command to do more work came from my family. Neither are they from my church community trying to commission me, and hone my gifts.

No. It’s not the people around me. It was me. The burnout was the result of me trying to do all those things in a day, in a week.

Last year, God told me, “this is not for you.” Yes, I listened, but did I obey? Did I apply His Word in my life?

I took on more work, which only ended with other people doing more for me.

I kept giving more yeses to the point of having to say no to what really matters, to Who really matters.

I forgot how to take real rest, because I wasn’t dependent the Author of rest. I took my days off to work on more work. I became self-reliant, self-sufficient, self-absorbed. I locked myself in the prison of me, me, me.

I couldn’t stop working, because I thought that the world would stop turning if I did. I thought businesses would fail.

Control became my idol. I would hold my praise until I see the outcome of what I’m working on. I wouldn’t rest until I saw evidence of progress.

This is the tight space I’ve created. I clean my desk or my room every day before I begin working. No matter how spotless they are, there would still be so much clutter in my heart.

I was drowning. I was weary, tired, worried.

 

Come up for air.

 

I didn’t hear these words exactly, but I kept listening. I kept pressing in.

Slowly, he started revealing. That before we can come up from where we are, we need to let go of what we’re carrying. That we come up, when we kneel down before Him.

We grow higher in the deeper digging, and burying.

Come up for air, you’re not drowning.

His right hand reached in, holding my heart gently as I give it to Him, “This is what I wanted.”

He didn’t need my accomplishments, He didn’t want my list of done things.

He wanted my nothing. He wanted my heart.

He’s not after my consistent performance, financial success, or a well-curated social media feed.

He’s after my surrender.

Beloved, our sweet Jesus, God’s only begotten Son has already spoken, “it is done.”

It is done.

And you are still becoming.

Take one day. Take an afternoon. Take an hour each week.

Start stopping. Start stopping to enjoy the view. Start stopping to say thank you. Start stopping to smile at babies, to smell flowers. Start stopping to listen to the sound of winds, and rain. Start stopping to watch raindrops form veins on your windowpane. Start stopping your feelings from taking control of you. Start stopping your thoughts from blurring the beauty that’s within you.

Start stopping to look up to behold the One who loves you dearly. The One who died for you, the One who helps you, and comforts you.

Start stopping to read of redemption stories, in pages, and in faces.

One start, one stop at a time.

Start stopping.

Start with stillness.

You are still becoming.

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What if interruptions are divine appointments?

You’re watching your favorite team play on TV when the power goes out.

It’s raining outside. You chill and read a book as you snack on your favorite cookie. Then your mom asks you to go buy cooking oil, or else you won’t have food for lunch.

You’re in the zone, doing your thing at work when one of your bosses comes to you with new tasks labelled urgent with a red pen.

You need to pee so badly, but it’s okay, you’re already next in line. An elderly lady walks in.

I’m typing this and I hear a notification sound, alt tab.

Interruptions are a fixed part of our every day. You can’t ignore it. You can’t pray it away. It’s disruptive, and a lot of times annoying. You adjust.

I’m still learning how to respond well whenever I get interrupted. I’ve already exploded a couple of times, because of interruptions in the form of revisions (hi Kinah, and Ellice!). Reactions like that are toxic—to you and your relationships.

Walang tapon kay God.

God doesn’t waste anything that happens to you. I came to this realization after a week of scheduling dates with my ladies, where none pushed through. Deadlines, prior commitment, change of plans and non-stop rain made us cancel and postpone. I beat myself up the first time, because I was the one who had to apologize and move our catch up. The next one got me questioning my worth. The third made me wonder if I’m too much of a coward, because I refuse to brave a storm.

All my plans of sharing stories over dinner with friends I miss were interrupted. We could’ve shared good food together. I could’ve prayed for whatever they’re going through. We could’ve been a blessing to each other through stories of what God is doing in each of our lives.

It took effort, and it took time for me to realize that He had a plan for those interruptions. He made things happen that wouldn’t have happened if my original plan ensued. Peace rushed in when I understood that His purpose prevails no matter what happens.

Interruptions are redirections.

Internal (sometimes external) tantrums are my initial reaction to interruptions; this only magnifies the fact that things didn’t go my way.

But when I take hold of my thoughts (and my tongue), and I try to console myself despite being frustrated—I see anew. God gently leads my heart out of that pit of disappointment, into something beyond—gratitude.

So I start to thank Him for His planned interruptions.

Revisions aren’t roadblocks to productivity. Revisions are stepping stones to improving your skill.

Cancelled dates make way for you to be there for the ones who need you there, now.

Some plans don’t push through, because He’s got a better idea.

With new eyes, and a grateful heart, I recognize His hand, still holding my time—the yesterday, the now, and all my tomorrows are in His hands, whether interrupted or not.

Whenever and whatever disruption comes our way, may it give us bolder confidence in His reign. And may we always hear Him when He says, “this is the way, walk in it.”

Proverbs 19:21

 

 

 

Things I’m carrying unto my 25th

I was supposed to write 25 things I’ve learned before I turned 25…only to realize that 25 is a lot. So I’ve decided to share what I’ve written down so far. I hope that we will both go through this “list” grateful for what was, present for the now and excited for what will be.

Process

God does not demand perfection. He values process. Genesis 1 illustrates that He didn’t do everything at once. There was a process in everything He did. For the first five days, He spoke and what He spoke came to be. On the sixth day, He used His hands. And on the seventh, He rested. Day 1 – 7 involved process.

Words have power.

God created heavens, seas, and all living creatures with mere words. What we speak have power, too. Let’s use it well. Speak to encourage, not to damage. To build up, not to tear down. To comfort, not to gossip.

Speak life. Speak love. Speak the name of Jesus. Speak His word over your life, and the lives of others. Speak with grace, with compassion. Speak knowing that every word can reverberate through the hardest of hearts. Your word is powerful.

When you speak, you don’t need to shout.

Speak gently. Speak with your actions. No need to scream. A megaphone isn’t necessary. Speak softly and the hearts that are ready will receive what you share. You will be heard.

You are not for everybody.

And that’s okay. Be faithful in the field God put you in. He has entrusted you with a sphere of influence that is very, truly, yours. Love the people God placed close to you. Proximity provides priority.

Pray anyway.

Not everybody will listen, but there’s Someone who is always listening. Never underestimate the power of prayer. God sends His angels in heaven at the faintest sound of our hearts’ cry.

When you pray, you surrender.

You give it to God. You believe that even before you prayed, God is already moving. You trust that He is working. When you pray, you lay it down at the feet of Jesus. It’s not yours to accomplish. It is yours to give to the One who will surely do it.

He is involved.

He is engaged in our lives. He knows every detail. The world says, “seeing is believing.” But God takes our faith deeper when asks us to believe what we don’t see. Especially His involvement.

We don’t just believe in His involvement in our lives. We believe it for and with His people. We look at others the way God sees them. We see them not as they are, but as what God is leading them to become.

There’s more to you than meets the eye.

You will never see the oak tree looking at an acorn. Train your eyes to see and believe that forests begin with a seed. Your life is brimming with miracles, filled with grace, and love. Some days it’s obvious. Other days you have to seek hard. On those days, look longer; seek harder.

Some days you won’t see your worth.

Some days, you will not be okay. Yes, you may be the girl that jokes all the time. Always the one cheering on your friends when they’re going through a hard time. They say you are sunshine on cloudy days, so you maybe you didn’t have the right to be gloomy. It’s okay to be the cloud. But please release what’s weighing you down. Cry, shout, or run if you have to. Clouds aren’t meant to carry that much water for so long. Release the rain. Let the tears fall.

You have a family.

You have your natural family: Mommy, Daddy and Ron. You have your spiritual family: Ates, and Kuyas, Victory group members, sisters, confidantes, listeners. God has surrounded you with people who will remind you of who you are in Him. People who will rebuke you, correct you, and forgive you. They will reflect God’s love even you can’t look at yourself because of shame. You have a family.

Make gratitude your lifestyle.

Gratitude looks at what you already have instead of what’s missing. A grateful heart is a full heart. Never forget to start your prayers with “Thank You, God…”

Thank you for making it to the end of my list! May you carry something from this that will help you today or some day.

#Artbreaks are important.

We live in a world that glorifies the grind. We we’re led to believe that you either live hustling or die unfulfilled. We are all rushing to achieve based on what others think of us. We set goals that we think define our worth.

We work at a breakneck pace just so we’ll have something to show on our timelines and feeds. Productivity has become our identity. And I’ve been in that world for a while. A world where I compare my progress to my peers’ highlight reels. A place where everything is up to me to finish. It’s exhausting. I will never be good enough in that place.

That’s why I’m so thankful for God’s gift of creativity. Art, for me, has been an escape from that world. Last 2017, I started having “art breaks” at work. I’d take my sketchpad, watercolor, and pencil to a quiet place (most times the library), and draw to my hearts content. Sometimes it takes 5 minutes, others more. It doesn’t matter how long. My soul just needs that space to breathe, forget about deadlines for a moment, and reflect my Father in heaven.

My God is a creative God, and in the beginning, He rested after 6 days of creation, declaring it was good, very good. Why don’t we reflect that? Why do we live in a hurried way, refusing to take any pause or breaks? I ask that like it’s a question about your work ethic, but it’s really for the heart. How’s your heart? Is it reliant on accomplishing things by your own might? Does it believe that when we do nothing, we won’t receive grace? Do I trust the God that works all things, even my workload?

My response to those questions has evolved from rushing to find answers to resting. I’ve learned that the world doesn’t revolve around me or what I do. The world rests in His hands. It’s about time we rest in Him, too. He is sovereign in our world. Our works are filthy rags. We need to trust our God more. He delights when we rest at His feet. He delights in seeing us play, and in wisely stewarding our time and gifts.

We also have an example in Jesus. Our Redeemer who would always take His time to go away; to a faraway place, to the mountains. And He did that regularly! He didn’t run to calvary either. His humble pace is a demonstration of how He trusts in His heavenly Father.

Slow is beautiful, dear ones. Breaks are important. It’s in the surrender of what he have. It’s in the breaking that we get multiplied. (Matthew 14:13-21)

Prayer: Lord, you are the author of my time. Lead me to trust only you. May your faithfulness and love take the spotlight in everything I do. Make my life an illustration of your sufficient grace as I rest when it’s time to rest.

Thank You, thank You, thank You.

In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

 

Skincare (Almost) Empties from 2017

It’s been more than a year since I got acquainted with the 10-step craze in skin care. It started last December 2016 when a saleslady encouraged me to buy a foam wash and a mud pack from Nature Republic. Since then, I’ve researched, read reviews, watched vlogs, and helped friends build their own regimen.

In this post, I will share with you the products I’ve been using in the past year and how it worked (or didn’t work) for me.

Banila Co Clean it Zero 

This is one of the first product I got when I found out that “double-cleansing” is the heart of Korean skincare. I even demoed it via vlog. I’m using a new oil cleanser now and I can say that I still like this one better. I like how the sherbet can easily be washed off, taking with it makeup and dirt. It truly deserves all the accolade. If you’re ready to spend more, and try a new oil-based cleanser, I recommend this one. Tip: use it even if you didn’t wear makeup.

Benton Aloe BHA skin toner

I bought this toner because of its key ingredients–aloe and snail mucin. Both have hydrating properties which I was excited to feel and see on my skin. There’s a slight astringent scent to it, but it really does moisturize! I pump 4 times unto my palms to apply on my face and neck. Instead of making my skin absorb serum better, this prep step feels like an added moisturizing effect.

Innisfree Green Tea Seed serum

I got this one during a promo sale at an Innisfree branch in Singapore. The mystery box included a foam wash, and sample-sized sleeping packs. I even got a balancing kit and a free mask sheet because of their promos! I’m considering to buy this one again because I love how my skin now feels plumper and healthier. Though other products may have contributed, I think this serum has a major effect.

Innisfree Green Tea cleansing foam

This is one of the freebies that I got to consistently use. There’s a slight squeaky clean feel after I use this…which is bad because that means so much has been stripped from my face, including the natural protective oil it produces. Or maybe I’m using too much? Still not repurchasing though.

Nature Republic Bamboo & Charcoal mud pack

I love the tightening and cool sensation whenever I use this. It makes my skin feel smoother after washing. This mud pack perfect for nights you just want to relax and watch a movie at home. It dries like a cement, but don’t wait too long to wash it off so it won’t completely suck the moisture out of your skin.

QuickFX Eyelift Cream

I’ve tried QuickFX’s pimple eraser before which worked on every zit I had then. When another skincare advocate, Ate Maika, shared that she uses this eye cream, I had to try it. It’s also good that it costs less than P100. This is the second pack I’ve used since. Lines under my eyes have faded after consistent use day and night. Might repurchase if I don’t find any another eye cream with better reviews.

Bioré UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence

This one is a gamechanger! My skins feels hydrated after applying, and it doesn’t leave a white cast that sunscreens usually do! I reapply during lunch time not just to protect my face from the harsh heat, but also to feel that deep cool on my skin. I’ve bought another tube and it’s almost empty as well!

With all that product for a year… This is how my skin is now:

skincarePortrait

Big pores, pimple marks, slight bumps on forehead and chin–so many skin issues to target.

A year ago, (see how my skin looked last year). I expected my skin to look waaaay better than how it looks today. Way, way better. I’ve spent so much on skincare that sometimes I wish I spent more on travel instead. I’m still waiting for the ROI. But looking back, I realize that the process of it all–the research, the use, and the wait (for results)–is teaching me something more.

I am learning that what you do now, however small, has an impact in the longterm. My tiny habits like double-cleansing, and exfoliating has evolved into having and making space to take care of myself. When I started, I didn’t know the difference of using oil-based cleansers vs. the water-based ones. Now, ladies would ask me what products I recommend for specific skin problems.

We live in a world that values results. Yes, it’s important. Most of the time, that’s our main goal. But when your heart is set on seeing results, you may overlook the value of the process. Don’t go after perfect results. That’s a never-ending pursuit that will only end with restlessness. Learn to enjoy the process and celebrate progress. Get others to take the journey with you. And help them find their way.

Who knew something that seemed superficial to me before would teach me so much in the long run? How about you? What are the things you didn’t expect to learn from? What can you glean from your current situation?

Surrender precedes the beautiful.

Whenever February draws near, idle times would lead my mind to recalling scenes from romantic-comedy movies, Korean dramas, and viral proposal videos. And my brain has been wired to do that since the February 14 I got roses, teddy bears, and a necklace from boys in high school. Receiving those gifts only got my hopes up that there’d be something special for me every February. But since then, not a flower or any gift came. There would be chocolates from my mom or from officemates, but that doesn’t count. So my stubborn heart kept hoping, expecting a surprise, assuming there’d be someone, something, anything, for me. I would even speak “secret” prayers to God about what I wanted to receive. Specific prayers that even my closest friends will never hear of.

Even if I almost always end up with nothing, I was consistent in waiting for something special on Valentines. What if those boys from high school sends me something. Maybe this guy who used to court me will try pursuing me again. Maybes, what ifs, perhapses, nothing. No package was delivered to me. No message. No call. I’d get disappointed. Every single time.

In my disappointment and stubbornness, God spoke. He is in the business of making all things new. Just a few days before Valentines, something shifted in my heart. His Word reverberated in me. My unhealthy expectations ceased when I heard Him in Isaiah 55. All this time, my hope was in the temporal and the material. I was relying on objects to feel loved when I am the object of His love.

My weary was heart stilled. His ways are not my ways, His thoughts not my thoughts. I pray a prayer of surrender. I release my expectations. I declare His promise of sufficiency over my desires, and my emotions.

Days later, about midnight after February 14, His answer came. He answered my specific prayer in the most unexpected, beautiful way.

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God was really just waiting for me to give that desire up to Him. He was waiting for me to finally trust Him. He was waiting for me to realize that I didn’t need special gifts to know that I am worthy to be pursued. Because He already did. The cross is my proof of Jesus’s pursuit of my heart. He gave up heaven to be human, to suffer as we suffer, to go through whatever we’re going through, to die the death that was meant for me, for me. He listens to every cry, and hears every prayer. And He answers the ones that He knows you’re ready for. He answers in the way that will make you know Him more intimately.

His answer will be greater any movie plot twist or any viral love story post you’ll see on social media. His answer will surpass any of your daydreams. His answer for you will be for you, and His faithfulness will be written all over it.

His answer came through a bouquet from my little brother, Ron. I wasn’t expecting anything, and yet God knew what was really in my heart. You see, Ron has never been the type to show affection. He rejects my hugs. He rarely says “I love you,” I don’t remember receiving anything from him for my birthday. That night, I came home tired from work and the commute. He opened the door to hand the flowers to me, and I thought it was a joke.

“For you.” And I still couldn’t believe it. It suddenly became more than a gift to celebrate Valentines Day. The morning after, I saw it for what it really is—a love letter straight from my Heavenly Father. It was really God reminding me that He is faithful. By His grace, restoration is possible, healing is at hand, transformation is happening. He can and He will use the unlikeliest of people to surprise you, to make you feel His love.

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Me after crying on Mommy’s shoulder the next morning. My expectations melting away, my gratitude overflowing. 

Great is His faithfulness. Trust Him. Surrender.

If.

“His speaking is His doing.” (Art Azurdia)

He said He’d do it, didn’t He?

He didn’t just speak of it. He promised it. And the bible is filled with reminders that He is a promise-keeping God.

If He said it and if He promised it, it’s a sure thing.

Simple, right? Oh, but, oh how I falter when things started to make a turn for the worst. Simple, but not always easy. I wanted the promise and I wanted it now as if my life depended on it. I started twisting God’s arm. And If He didn’t give it, I’m done. I’m done with church. I’m done with ministry. I’m done with Him.

You see, when I first heard the promise, I was so excited. I was looking forward to seeing it happen. I know He’ll do it, and I thought maybe He’ll do it sooner, rather than later. So when it didn’t come at my appointed time, my initial response of awe and anticipation started evaporating.

Soon, a cloud formed over my soul. I let disappointment take root in my heart which eventually surfaced as impatience and unbelief. My vision of who I am and whose I am got clouded. I started losing hope. The promise is not going to happen. At least, not in my lifetime.. so why do I need to be here? Why should I even bother? Maybe disappearing would be a better option?

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See how everything escalated quickly? When things didn’t look like what I wanted it to look like, I prayed hard. I went to church.  I lead small groups. I cried almost every time. God reminded me through songs. God reminded me of the Cross. Yet despite all of that my heart’s still heavy with the weight of waiting for His promise.

I didn’t declare the words He spoke. I didn’t own the promises He spoke of. Yes, I heard it but instead of meditating on it and applying it in my life, I let myself be swallowed by a thick cloud that is depression.

I sank deeper. It became darker. I doubted more, I lost faith, I hurt the people I love. My work got affected. I lost sleep, anxious. I got overwhelmed the point that leaving everything behind seemed like the only solution.

If His promises aren’t true. If He isn’t really moving. If He doesn’t love me.
If He’s not. If He won’t…

If.

That if made all the difference.

Because He is, and He will. I may have lost a lot of things during that dark time. But in the losing, He became my gain. He used so many people to pull me away from darkness, back into His presence. My own family started praying for me when I was usually the one doing it for them. Women from church prayed for me and ministered to me. Through them, He proved that He is still God, He is still faithful, and He will keep extending grace. He will, He will. He. Will.

He will keep loving us.
Even if we sin, even if we make mistakes.
Even if we’re sad, even if we stray.

He is working. He will fulfill it at the right time. His appointed time, not yours, not mine.

The next ifs are on us. On you. On me.
If I will believe, if I will trust.
If I will yield, and if I will obey.

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He has given us the grace to turn the what ifs into surrender, the if onlys into obedience. And if ever you feel like you’re sinking into the dark pit of depression and anxiety, let me remind you that His grace is an ocean, that you, too, can sink deep into. Remember the cross. Remember the cross where He bought you. Remember the folded linen inside an empty grave. Remember resurrection. Remember Jesus who gave His life for me and you.

Because if it wasn’t for Him, I wouldn’t be writing this post to encourage you.

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What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against
us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he
not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:31-32)

2017: from knowing to trusting.

I love how transitions (esp. the week before we usher in a new year) gets us into a time of reflection. My chance to look back came earlier though. Just a few weeks ago, when we had our leadership group’s year-end dinner wherein our coach Ayu had us recall highlights throughout the year. As we started looking back, some months immediately had its share of memorable moments, while some seemed as if there’s nothing much to talk about. (Thank God for social media and smartphones that allow us to document what happens in our lives, in real time!)

We look back not to relive what’s past, but to take a step back and see how much we’ve grown, how God shows up whether it’s up in the hills or through the darkest of valleys. He was there, in the heartbreaking and in the breakthroughs. He is here, in the now, wherever you are, whatever season you’re in. And He will be with us, even to the end of the age.

2017 has been a full year. Full of twists and turns, highs and lows, tears and laughter (sometimes both in a minute), nights of crying for answers, and mornings filled with so much light and gratitude. There were weeks brimming with workload, yet grace overflowed too. Some weekends were spent restless, and other weekdays had more stillness. All  those lead to more—more memories to cherish and to forget, more writings in my journal, more tears, more loss, more gain.

But what I’m most grateful for for 2017 is His presence in my life. This is the year I learned to value His presence and our relationship above everything else.

I remember starting the year with our church‘s annual corporate prayer and fasting. We had our prayer meetings last January and July—we took the time to consecrate ourselves, our family, and our ministries to know God deeper.

Nothing short of amazing how I began 2017 wanting to know Him more, but He’s ending it with an invitation to give Him my full trust.

To trust the God who gave so much for us in the person of His Son Jesus.

To trust Jesus—the Majestic King who humbled Himself, became man, lived the life we should’ve lived and died the death we should’ve died.

To know that He didn’t stay in the manger, He grew up to do what only He could do on that cross.

To believe that death has no hold when the tomb was found empty three days later.

To trust that though He ascended to heaven, we can still walk in His fullness, and Help is here in the Holy Spirit.

To trust Him enough to stay still in the midst of storms that uncertainty brings. To trust and still keep your faith despite all the doubts. To trust Him with the impossible.

To trust that He is still God, and He is still good.

I know trusting isn’t and will never be easy, but let me encourage you that with Him—it is and will always be worth it.

It has been testified somewhere,

“What is man, that you are mindful of him,
    or the son of man, that you care for him?
 You made him for a little while lower than the angels;
    you have crowned him with glory and honor,
     putting everything in subjection under his feet.”

Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.

Hebrews 2:6-8 (ESV)

 

WIP: Woman in Process

Process.

Phases, stages, levels, ideation to execution, revisions to approval. These are just some of the things that come to mind when I hear that word.

Whether you’re a student, a working professional, or someone about to start something new —we are going through it.

And I hated it. I dreaded process. I wanted to get to the destination without the journey—the working and saving for the ticket, the packing and going on the road or plane, just to spend hours waiting. And who likes waiting? I want what I want, and I wanted it right then and there. I didn’t want to go through steps, detours or stopovers. I wanted to just teleport—the superpower that I wished wasn’t just fictional.

I wanted promotion without taking on new responsibilities. I believed that I’ve worked hard enough, that I’ve done everything I can to get recognition I deserved.

Along that road of self-sufficiency and striving to get to where I wanted to be, I realized that my ego was overtaking. I was getting ahead of God in my own strength. I was rushing “requirements” so I can receive what He promised. I took on more than I can handle—spreading myself thin in the process. I was working so hard to deserve what He was freely giving. I performed, trying to do what He already said He’ll do.

I was struggling to fight a battle He’s already won. 

And that’s how His process works. I had to struggle. I had to try so hard just to fail and realize His grace is still greater. My heart needed to be broken, and be humbled to stillness. I had to strive on my own before I can discover that He didn’t let me go through this alone. I needed to go through exhaustion, trying to earn His salvation, to truly know that He has given His all for me in Jesus. I had to hit rock bottom so I can finally look up and see Him looking at me with delight.

The parts I didn’t like the most ended up being the most important in the process—His process of molding me into the woman I needed to become.

Whatever season, whether we’re thriving or flourishing, may we always see that our God is involved in the process. Trust Him.

For I, the Lord your God,
    hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Fear not,
    I am the one who helps you.”

(Isaiah 41:13)

 

v i s i o n

Back in college, my answer to “what’s your biggest fear” was blurred vision. At first, I was just being literal about it, because I valued my 20-20 eyesight. And my passion for art and nature fed the desire to always see everything clearly.

Fast forward to today, I still fear having blurred vision. But this time, it’s having a blurred vision of the future.

You see, I’ve never been the type to think about the future. I’ve never had a confident answer for the “where do you see yourself 5, 10, 20 years from now” questions. I enjoy living in the moment. But God is just really stirring my heart to believe for a bigger vision for my life.

And it’s so hard. It’s so hard to look beyond the horizon when you’ve been so content with what’s in front of you, with what’s always been “there.”

It’s also uncomfortable. It goes against everything we’re used to. But He is calling. He is calling us to go beyond what we see. To trust Him in the uncertainty, in the vastness of what’s before us. It’s an open invitation. But are we going to take that step of trust, or are we going to settle?

Whether that’s a long-time childhood dream or a goal you’re just now considering, I want to encourage you to pray about it. Ask God. He is the God of the impossible (Mark 10:27). Don’t limit the God who already gave His only Son to die for our sins so we can live in freedom. Don’t underestimate our Father who’s willing to forgive us and redeem us despite our shortcomings, so we can spend eternity with Him. He is not intimidated by our prayers.

Ask yourself, too. What do you really want to pursue? Where is He calling you? What vision has He been building up in your heart? ASK. Ask, seek, knock. (Matthew 7:7)

But we don’t stop at asking. We need to get out of the boat and walk with Him on water (Read Matthew 14:28-33). When we fix our eyes on the One who has gone ahead of us, we’ll look at the future as beautiful as it is uncertain.

And the best is always, always yet to come.

s p a c e

I’ve been trying to redesign my room since I watched a documentary on minimalism. I just finished reading a book about tidying, and I even enrolled in a basic interior styling class. This has been going on for a few months now. All of them pointing to a craving for a space where I can grow, to a place where I can breathe and move freely. A room where I can be myself, and keep only the things that spark joy in my heart. Don’t we all want a space like that?

Space
Things in my room that spark joy

Don’t you want a space where we feel at peace—where you can truly rest? But can we really just work our way to create that? Do I need to hire or to be an interior designer? Do I need a lot of money so I can buy the nicest most minimalist furniture or organizers for my room?

Or maybe…

I should start with the heart. If our hearts were a room, what would it look like? Every day, I need to check if I’m keeping any unnecessary clutter. Are there envious thoughts and feelings of unworthiness piling up in the closet? Have I hidden scraps of unhealthy habits and shameful memories in a box labelled “positive-thinking”? Maybe there’s still a stash of bad temper gathering dust on the shelf?

Our hearts are the hardest working muscle in our body. And yet we won’t give it the space it needs to grow. We won’t give ourselves the time to really release what needs to be released. We let pride build a wall. We start to lock people out so that we’ll save ourselves from the discomfort of vulnerability.

We don’t see the need of opening it up to Someone who can make it new. But that’s what the Lord our God wants for us. He wants to make us new. He’s shown how much He means that through His Son, Jesus—the One whose blood makes us white as snow. He wants our hearts to be cleaned out so that His wonderful grace can make its way in. There’s a space in our hearts that only He can fill.

But will you let Him in?

Let’s pray: Lord, I’m a mess. My heart is filled with junk. I admit that I can’t do everything by myself. I’m sorry for trying to do it all on my own. I repent of my sins, my unbelief and distrust towards You. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Clean house, my Lord. Clear out the unnecessary, so I can receive what You’ve been wanting to give. I’m making room for you this time.

In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

h u m i l i t y

This is not for you.

This is the dedication page in a novel I was reading. Even after I turned the pages, the line was still stuck in my head. It started impressing something in my heart.

this is not for you

 

This is not for you.

Each of us will have a different reaction to this line. And mine was refusal. I refuse to believe that this is not for me. I’ve claimed it. I’ve already prayed and believed for it. I wanted it to be for me. For me to start. Mine to fight. For me to finish. I was defiant. I wanted it to be for me, by me, and through me.

This is not for you.

This is the promise. This is for me. The achiever in me is restless. I can’t just watch and do nothing. I needed to take action. After all, faith without action is dead, right?

Still, He says, this is not for you.

Those five words stung like rejection, like the promise isn’t going to come anymore. Five words piercing through my heart that longs for control.

This is not for you.

I keep asking God. Why should I just stand here and wait? Why won’t He let me do anything about the promises He gave?

Then He calms my stubborn heart and tells me,

This is not for you. You only need to be still. Let Me fight this for you. Let Me complete what I started in you. This is not for you. This is for my glory. This is so that others will see how I write stories out of lives yielded to Me.

This is not for you.

5 words God used to humble me, to quiet my anxiety, to lead me to trust Him more.

But this doesn’t mean I won’t do anything at all. I will keep praying, I will keep serving, I will keep trusting. I put my hope not on what I will do, but on what He said He’ll do.

I remember what my dear friend and leader, Ayu told us during our Victory group:

God is glorified when we trust Him with the impossible.

See Hebrews 10:23

This is not for you. 

Jesus has already won it for you.

#NotesToSelf