/OnThisDay

I have this habit of staying up until 12 midnight just so I can scroll through my Facebook memories. I like looking back and reading what I shared on my social media timeline— from the cringe-worthy and funny photos from high school and college to the random quotes and links I’d post. I like seeing who I spent my March 26 with 8 years ago, or what I was up to on the 22nd of February last 2017.

I’m a rememberer. I still remember my childhood friend’s birthday, even if it’s been years since we last talked. I remember the date of the first time I cried over a boy. I remember how Mommy reacted when I told her I’m graduating with honors. I remember how my first day at my first job went, even the color of the shirt I wore.

The very memories I attach to dates limits me from looking forward to the new that God can do, the new He is already doing.

Waves of nostalgia would come crashing on the shores of the present. Comparison starts to seep through my now, making me think that what happened before is way better than where I am today.

I’m letting the past block the potential of my present. I was the one setting the standard on the best that God can do, instead of fully trusting Him with my now, and with all my tomorrows.

I wonder if this is how Joshua felt when God was telling him to take the lead after the death of Moses. He has witnessed countless signs and wonders under the leadership of Moses. If I were Joshua, I’d ask God where my staff is, where’s my Aaron, where’s all these things that Moses had when he was being commissioned?

But Joshua never asked any of those questions. He had something better. He had a promise from God. The promise of His presence.

“I will be with you.”

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

What. A. Promise.

Looking back, I see how He kept that promise every single day.

He was there when I was curled up in bed, tired from crying.

He was there when I walked on Q. Pav’s stage to receive my diploma.

He was there when I was overwhelmed with all the deadlines I needed to meet.

He was with me in all those memories.

He never left.

He’s present through the people He’s put in my life.

He’s present in every circumstance.

And He is with me still. In this very moment. He is with us.

Memories fade. But His word will never change.

He will always be with us.

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

Prayer point: Lord, I pray that every time I look back at everything happened in my life, I will remember your faithfulness in keeping Your promise of presence. Thank You for every day I can be sure that You are with me. Thank You for working all things together, from the past up to now, for my good and for your purpose. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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2018 // relinquishing

The anniversary of this blog falls 2 days after (or before?) Christmas. I orignally started this as a plaform where I can encourage, and share stories of what God is doing in me and through me. 2 years in, and I’m so grateful I (re)started.
 
I already started writing this entry when I entered Ate Nica’s year-end blog giveaway. She asked us what’s our one word for 2018, and her question made way for introspection. What is my one word?

2018 has been a wild ride, and I say this in hindsight. If you’ll read my posts throughout the year, you’ll see how I struggled with what ifs, and interruptions, among others.

I prayed for a lot of things, and the manner with which I asked showed how unready my heart was to receive what I was praying for. My heart was like a clenched fist, challenging the One who supplies the very breath I breathe to give me my heart’s desires. Now, when I wanted it, and how I wanted it to look like. 
 
I wanted His promises to be fulfilled on my terms. I held my faith goals, and my dreams higher than His ways and His will. I forgot to pray the simplest prayer we can pray:
 
Your will be done.
 
 
I forgot that I’m not the One who calls the shots. I wanted to write my own story, so I stopped opening the pages of my heart before Him. I micromanaged every moment. Everything has to go as I imagined it.
 
I craved control.
I forgot that I’m not God.
 

I forgot to remember

What started as an initiative to encourage others, became God’s encouragement to me when I was doubting my place in His plans. Comfort came like a flood, rushing over my hardened heart. And He didn’t stop with my own words, He used everything, and everyone around me.
 
I’d get random texts, and messages from my friends from church, from the ladies in my Victory group, from my relatives. I’d walk past a guy with a statement shirt that read “Everything will be all light.” Even old songs I’d hear on the radio would trigger me to tears (*queue Indecent Obsession’s Fixing a Broken Heart*). I’d ugly-cry over the phone, and friends on the other end would quietly listen, then pray for me after.
 
Under His sovereign grace, I was never left alone. Wherever I tried to run (or fly via wake ramp) away, He surrounded me. He carried me. 
 
Every day, and every moment became a gentle reminder of His faithfulness.
 
Slowly and faithfully, all thanks to Him and His children I’m surrounded with, my tightly-closed fists started to open up in surrender. 
 

I only needed to  r e l i n q u i s h    

I first heard that word from Ptr. Dennis Isleta’s sermon during Ayu (my leadership group leader), and Ryan’s wedding last August 12. Ptr. Dennis’s first point is that marriage is about relinquishing control. 
 
I heard the word again when my SoFA sists (short for sisters) were watching The Haunting of Hill House (S1.EP10) during lunch. The lines were:
 
Love is the relinquishment of logic, the willing relinquishing of reasonable patterns. We yield to it or we fight it, but we cannot meet it halfway. Without it, we cannot continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality.
 
When my heart started to let go, and let Him do His job; it’s only then that I started to see traces of His faithfulness all throughout my life (not just this past year).
 
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God is faithful
He let me stand on a stage to share my testimony when I felt unworthy.
 
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He let my immediate family witness stories of His faithfulness through the lives, and creativity of my Victory Makati family. (Ron took this photo!)
 
Processed with VSCO with g3 preset
He provided for an Asian cruise through my Ninang Cecil. And I danced, danced, and danced, and had Ron take my #ootd photos (I have videos, too! Please subscribe to my YT channel hahaha)
 
He gave me joy, and encouragement through my Victory group’s back-to-back birthday celebrations over karaoke and cake (may vlog din ‘to eh hahaha #throwvacklogs2019?)
 
He humbled me by letting me serve alongside excellent leaders in their respective fields. (shoutout to my Alab core team fam, and my SoFA mothers haha)
 
He gave me a new fam—Every Nation Campus youthz! (Anak ng toge?! Munggo, munggo, munggo)
 
I could go on and on, but I want you to start remembering too.
 
Your 2018 may not end the way you envisioned it, most of your goals may not be checked off, but I want to encourage you to zoom out, and see how far God has brought you. You—being alive, and having eyes to read this now. Isn’t that something to be grateful for already?

Onwards to 2019,

I’m ready to pray new prayers, to pray the way Jesus did:

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42, NIV)

Jesus, though He is God did not count Himself out of His Father’s will. He chose the cross. He chose me. He chose you. Wherever you are, whether you’re at your highest peak or the darkest of valleys, make room for His audacious love. Open the doors of your heart to receive Him.

He willingly relinquished His heavenly throne for a crown of thorns. 

He did that or you, for me, for us to have complete, unrestricted access to His grace. The cross didn’t end in suffering. His resurrection is just the beginning. 

His Spirit, our Wise Counsel is here. He is moving. Let’s move forward to this new year, eyes fixed on Him. Ready to obey, to go and carry His love wherever He leads us.

He is the same last year, today, tomorrow, forever

See Hebrews 13:8

R e d eemed t o g e ther

The word wonder is an understatement for what God did this past weekend. 📍2018 December 15-17, Every Nation Campus Makati’s Wonder Youth Camp, at Rizal Recreation Center, Laguna📍

I was brought to my knees; crying, humbled by His love for me. Questions would ring in my ears—lies that tell me I’m a failure, and hitting rock-bottom meant that’s where I ought to stay.

Why would a God–the Creator of the universe, the heavens, the planets, the galaxies, and all the species of flora, fauna, fruits, and fish–be mindful of me?

Why, God? Why? Why would You forgive this sinner? How could You still wake me up each morning with new mercies and grace? Why should I stay when all see is a world filled with pain? Why should my heart still beat when it’s overflowing with misery from all the wrong that’s happening in and around me?

All my questions sprang from a heart that’s prone to be self-centered.

But my God, in His unrelenting grace never stopped listening to my cries.

He never stopped pursuing me
He never stopped correcting me
He never stopped comforting me

He. Never. Stopped.

He answered my questions through His people—all imperfect sinners

He answered through His church—faithfully serving in the fields God placed them in

Even if they have their own share of battles

Even when it’s hard

God is faithful in answering all our prayers

Every tear is recorded in His book,

Every ache you feel He feels too,

Every sin you’ve done, and all the wrong done to you—all of it He sees too

And He is faithful to answer,

He is never late in responding,

All His answers point to the answer He already gave 2,000 years ago–Jesus

Remember this gift,

every day is wrapped with His new grace,

new mercies, new light, new hope

I pray that you will see that, as I did,

In the way the trees swayed with the wind,

In the cold spray of December rain,

In the light of constellations spread out in an expanse of black,

in the faces of the people He’s surrounding you with,

Unbox His Gift,

open your hands in surrender,

receive His gracious love,

and remember that His best is still ahead of you,

So we keep on,

keep worshipping,

keep thanking Him in everything,

keep reminding ourselves of His promises by reading His Word,

Let His love that never quits, be the source of the love we will share with our families—both natural, and spiritual.

Redemption is best experienced together

Read: Romans 11:33-36, Psalm 139

Pray:
Lord, thank You for reminding me that You are sovereign in my life. I will always fail, I will always make mistakes. I am never going to be perfect. I’m sorry for trying to be. I’m sorry for trying to lead my life on my own. Thank You for leading me back to You. Thank You for loving me during my darkest days. Thank You for my new heart. Thank You, Jesus, for being the way for this new life. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for the strength, encouragement, and comfort You speak through Your people.

In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Starting over;

What does a new start look like to you?

A clear desk?

An empty room?

A blank canvas?

A book that still smells of fresh ink from the press?

Starting over sounds so grim because of the word, “over”

Wanting a new beginning almost always means that you failed, you crashed, or you didn’t play the game right. You messed up, you got burnt out, you stopped doing the things you love, and you stopped looking forward

Every time you browse through your past memories (whether through your journals, Timehop, or Facebook’s “on this day” feature); all the memories seem to look a lot more beautiful, like-worthy, sweeter—

so you stop looking forward to the new

you can’t find the gift in the present

the way you see your now is tainted, because your focus is on how tomorrow surely won’t be any better than how 1 year ago you still had a complete family home with you, or how 4 years ago this guy you liked still kept asking you out,

you forgot

you forget

that the One writing your story isn’t done yet,

every flyleaf, every blank canvas, every breaking dawn, every single second in each day

is evidence of His faithfulness,

you are still here,

you are breathing in His grace, so don’t forget to let out a sigh of release

you are not stuck,

you will grow through this,

It’s okay to start over

It’s okay to not have it all together

It’s okay to mess up,

to fail,

to spill milk, or ink, or coffee on your new red dress, on your blank notebook, on your clean desk

It’s okay not to be okay with all the bad that’s happening around you

It’s okay

What’s not okay is staying that way

Don’t stay

Don’t linger

in that place

where all you believe is you’re a hopeless case

Don’t wallow in your misery

Don’t swallow the lies of the enemy

don’t let him steal your joy

don’t let him destroy your identity

don’t let him kill your dreams

When the devil whispers so closely in your ear

when these lies get louder

you’re a mistake

you are dirty

you are beyond redemption

you’re not

you’re not

you are not

Get behind Jesus

Run to the cross

where His blood flowed

where He died

where He spoke,

“Father forgive them for they know not what they do”

Run to the King who paid a f u l l price for you

Run to the Messiah who made sure

He would go through all that for you

betrayal, rejection, a crown of thornes

He went through all that

so that you’ll know,

you’ll believe

you’ll taste

and see

That the darkness where you are now

The brokenness, hopelessness

is nothing

compared to His future glory

that will be revealed in you

nothing

And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.

Romans 8:17-18 NLT

So, friends, take a firm stand, feet on the ground and head high. Keep a tight grip on what you were taught, whether in personal conversation or by our letter. May Jesus himself and God our Father, who reached out in love and surprised you with gifts of unending help and confidence, put a fresh heart in you, invigorate your work, enliven your speech. (2 Thessalonians 2:15‭-‬17, MSG)

Dear woman, you are precious not

you are precious

not because of the clothes you wear,

the adorning of your hair, the lashes you bat,

nor are you precious because of the clothes you don, or the makeup you put on

You are not precious

because men say you are,

nor are you precious because of the likes, taps, or swipes you get,

Dear woman,

you are precious because a King bore stripes that was meant for your scarlet sins

you are precious because blood,

precious blood was shed to clothe you in white,

Dear woman,

stop trying so hard to look precious,

to look happy,

to look well put together so that that person you have a crush on will like you;

stop

trying

so h a r d

to be a woman of beauty

to be a woman worthy of love

to be a women worth pursuing

Dear woman, you are precious because the One who made you,

the One who knew you before you were formed in your mother’s womb

the One you think is far from you

He knew He would send His own Son for you

Dear woman,

You don’t need a date

You don’t need roses

You just need to see, to know, and to believe

that you are worth pursuing

In truth,

He always has,

He always will

He is

pursuing you

s t i l l

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.

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:

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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)