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.

 

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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 for the impossible.

See Hebrews 10:23

This is not for you. 

Jesus has already won it for you.

#NotesToSelf

m i n i m a l i s m

I just finished watching a documentary by Matt D’Avella, Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Millburn. It’s about the non-stop consumption and materialism in western societies. We all want more, more, and more. We try to fill our lives with things, losing meaning and purpose along the way. It also magnified the need to clean my room and get rid of my hoarding tendencies. Like really clean it. Get rid of every thing that I’m not using anymore, anything that I’m never going to use. You see, I tend to hold on to a lot of stuff. I’m the type who keeps receipts and bus tickets thinking that I’ll make a collage out of it one day. I’m the kind of person who goes to an art store and thinks “hey, I’d like to do a rubbercut print one day, let me just buy everything I need for that right now.” Only to end up with those materials dusty on my shelf, because that one day never came.

I can also to be very sentimental. That’s why a lot of my drawings I made when I was young are still with me—kept in a bag under my bed. I still have my college plates, even the ones from group work. The documentary—the concept of minimalism is really inspiring a lot of people to move towards a simpler life. A life where you don’t need 5 different types of anything with a different type. I want to move towards that kind of life. I want to stick to the essentials.

I know this won’t be an easy journey. But I really really want to do this. I’ve been sorting all the papers on my shelf and I’ve been going through my stuff on and off for months now. Taking it slow and steady, because it really takes discipline and a lot of heart. A lot of heart to really let go and make space for new things.

I’m reminded of this verse from Isaiah 43:18,

Remember not the former things,
    nor consider the things of old.

But it’s the verse after that really encourages me,

Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.

God is doing a new thing! He is doing a new thing. But where’s our focus? What are we still carrying that’s meant to be forgotten? This process has crossed over from being about getting rid of stuff in my room to uprooting things in my heart. What thoughts am I keeping? What habits should be thrown out? Apart from the shelves and corners of my room, my heart and mind needs a lot of decluttering too. It’s time to clear out, make space for a fresh start.

Don’t we all need that every now and then? I’m so excited for the new things that will spring up, the new things that are springing up. I hope you are too.

But first, it’s time to forget the former. It’s time to stick to what’s who’s essential—God.

 

 

 

g r a n u l a r i t y #2

Sharing my photo set from an Independence Day spent traversing seas and chilling by the beach. Shot using Yashica FX-3 with an expired Superia X-tra 400.

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Daddy and Mommy
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A boat passing by

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Selfeet
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April

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This shot reminds me of the Philippine flag
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This boy was our guide at Mt. Gulugod Baby
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This is unfortunately as far as I can go. After I threw up on the trail, we had to go back down.
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This is what greeted us after a failed attempt at climbing the mountain.
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One last shot before we go back to the city.

 

As we celebrate this year’s Independence anniversary, let’s take the time to believe and pray that God will move mightily in our nation. May He do this through leaders, through ordinary people, and through me and you.

Maligayang araw ng kalayaan, mga kababayan!

Let’s also remember to be grateful that we live in a country get to worship Him freely. In other places, a mere mention of the name of Jesus can get you imprisoned or killed. May we never take this freedom for granted. Lift up a prayer for brothers and sisters who are being persecuted because of their faith in God.

Dadating din ang inyong kalayaan.

 

n e w

It’s been months since I last drew something that’s not work-related. I’m grateful to be sharing this artwork and the story behind it. It was a few nights ago… Right before I was about to sleep, I had a moment of “you know what, I don’t care if it’s already 1am, I miss drawing so I’m just going to draw to my heart’s content.”  It was a spur-of-the-moment grab-my-sketchpad-and-just-draw kinda thing.

artbreak0530

This was inspired by what my friend Bianca shared last Monday in her Victory group. This is the only line I wrote in my journal as she was preaching. Everything she shared felt so personal for me and my current situation. I thank God for the Word He spoke through her. It overflowed into an artwork and I plan on sharing her message to other women as well.

What she shared was that sometimes, we get stuck and feel that nothing’s happening in our lives because we’re so fixated on a system instead of focusing on the Source. We’re so busy waiting for a series of events to play out that we miss what God is currently doing in us and around us. We become too focused on what we want to happen, instead of focusing on Him. We forget that every good thing we have is a gift from heaven (James 1:17). Our hearts can be so set on getting promoted at work or in the ministry. We forget that real promotion comes from the One who gives us the ability to produce wealth.

I was looking at the wrong direction. I was trying to force my way into a door that only He will open. I realized then that my heart had to turn from the “system” and go back to the One who holds all things together. After all, this isn’t about what I can do for Him or what He can do for me. This is about Him—His character, His love, His glory.  Draw near to The Source and you will just witness systems fall in to place.

Put your hope in Him who makes a way in the sea, a path through mighty waters. The Lord our God who said:

“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”

(Isaiah 43:18-19, NIV)

artbreak0531

w a v e s

Waves will come.

And come.

And come.

Storms will come.

And come. 

And come.

They come 

In different forms.

It splashes at your feet.

It swallows you whole.

It’s a breeze then a hurricane 

A trickle then a flood

Get a compass

Brave the waves

Sail the open sea

But anchor your soul.

Seek a captain you can trust.  

Let Jesus steer you through.

The waves will come 

Waves of disappointment, anxiety, and grief

The storms will come

Storms of heartbreak, insecurity, and unbelief

But you’re still 

You’re still

In an ocean of grace. 

Old artwork. New meaning.

g r o w t h

Before you get a full grown plant, you have to start with a seed. And that seed has to go through a step-by-step process in order to grow. This may sound simple but it’s not as easy. It can be slow, messy, and painful.

we are buried.jpg

When you are planted, you get buried. But you’re not buried like the dead is buried. When we bury the dead, we’re trying to get rid of the body. But when a seed is buried, there’s an expectation that it will come up, transformed, without the resemblance of how it came down.

That’s what happens when God plants us. He brings us down deep into the ground where it’s dark. We are concealed. Our calling isn’t in its fullest form. It’s still a seed. We need to embrace the soil we get planted in, the season we’re in, even the company or campus you’re currently in. We need to believe that though it may be dark or unclear where we are right now, God is nourishing us through that soil.

But how do we go up? How does a seed turn into a sprout?

we are watered.jpg

A seed needs nourishment in order to grow, and one of its most vital nourishment is water. We get watered through the people around us, through fellowship with other believers, discipleship, worship, and our Victory group. Our experiences water us as well. The blessings and the victories, even the trials and tears serve as water.

The amazing and beautiful truth is, no matter how low the seed will go… The water will always reach it. No matter how rocky, or weedy the surface of the soil, water always flows through.

There’s also the painful reality that a seed bursts when watered. It cannot transform if it doesn’t burst. That transformation can only come through Jesus—the Living Water. When we are soaked in the presence of Jesus, we’re like a plant that finally breaks out of a seed—our calling is revealed, our purpose springs.

What do we do when our calling is revealed?

we grow.jpg

We grow into our calling. We become who God planned us to be. We are God’s field and He wants us to grow. He wants to grow our faith and trust in Him. We go from being a seed buried underground to becoming a plant with a purpose. He wants us to outgrow our bad habits, our fears, our mistakes, our ego and self-sufficiency. He wants us to walk in His light. He wants us cleansed from our sins. But it won’t be easy. It will take time. It will be painful. Sometimes we’ll have to go through the process over and over. But in the end, it will be worth it.

No matter where we are right now, we can trust that He will bring the growth. But we need to go through the messiness and darkness of being buried and hidden, the sustenance from being watered, and the pain of growth so we can experience the fullness of joy when the time of harvest arrives.

He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

(Psalm 126:6)

f a i t h f u l n e s s

Last November, when Mommy found out that Tita Erly (her youngest sister) was 3-months pregnant, she immediately looked for dates she’d book for a trip to Singapore. She had to #BookIt because she wanted us to witness the breakthrough. You see, Tita Erly and Tito Aldrin (her husband) has been married for almost 8 years. They’ve also been trying to have a baby for almost 8 years. So when Mommy learned that they’re finally pregnant, she calculated which month the baby would be due, and then she booked our flight.

The main reason we traveled to Singapore isn’t to see tourist spots or landmarks. Those were just bonuses. It was really Mason Lucas, born on April 7, 2017, evidence of God’s faithfulness in the lives of Tita Erly and Tito Aldrin. It was also our Inapo’s first time to ride a plane and go on an out-of-the-country trip. This trip is definitely worth the gastos and the pagod. Thank you God for providing! From the strength to walk around even if I had back pain to the financial provision all throughout! 

Here are photos of some the things we did while we were there.

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3 sisters and Inapo in front of the Universal Studios
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The San Jose family (our neighbors) welcomes us to their Singapore home
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Chili crab, cereal prawns, and bakut teh made by Tita Grace
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LRT on the way to Tita Erly’s home where we stayed. Their transportation system made it easy to go around, even when I was alone.
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Mirrorfie with the big spheres in front of the Asian Civilisations Museum
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Solo museum run at the Asian Civilisations Museum
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$1 ice cream sandwich by the river
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People-watching by the river
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Listened to rehearsals for a cultural night at the Esplanade
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I attended a poetry event at the Arts House (Singapore’s first Parliament House that was repurposed)
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Mirrorfie at The Arthouse’s restroom
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Went shopping at Chinatown
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Seafood kway teow and oyster omelette at Chinatown’s Food Street
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Hahaha Daddy doing the usual tourist-y thing
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Family photo at Gardens by the bay
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Being millenial at the Parkview Museum
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Dinner with the Nitros
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Last-day lunch at Din Tai Fung
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The main attraction: baby Mason Lucas! Isn’t he the cutest??

I listed about 15+ places I wanted to visit there but I only checked off around 4 or 5. But it was really a time well spent with my family. I instantly felt at home because of the people who welcomed us. I’m very thankful for Tita Erly and Tito Aldrin, Tita Grace and Tito Jhune, and Tito Ine and family. I’ll definitely go back!

 

u p l i f t #1

April 4, 2017. The start date of Elle Luna’s 100-day project initiative across the worldwide web.

Last 2015, #100DaysofFindingMagicInTheMundane was my project. I trained my eyes to see more than what meets the eye. It opened my heart to always expect the miraculous even in the mundane. This year, I thought that I should do something that’s not just for me, but for the people around me as well.

So #100DaysOfUpliftingOthers was born.

April 4, 2017 came. The first day for this initiative. I was excited to go to work, thinking who would be on the receiving end of my encouragement. Only to end up doing the exact opposite. 😦 😦 😦 I failed to do the one thing I wanted to start by snapping and shouting at my officemate for not listening to my suggestion. Day 1. Uplift = 0.  Or should I say -1?

I felt like a failure and beat myself up for losing my cool. I apologized to my officemate shortly after my fit. But the damage has been inflicted. You cannot undo the wounds your words are capable of. But before I got home that night, God turned things around… The very thing I wanted to be doing for someone else, a very kind stranger did for me.

My #100DaysOfUpliftingOthers Day 1 ended with someone praying for me. With her prayer, God reminded me that I needed to just let humility flow through me. And isn’t that what we really need in order to uplift others? We need to be willing to step down from feeding our ego, so we can start lifting other people up.

After Day 1, it became clear that encouraging others is easier said than done. It has to be intentional. You can’t just wait for the right moment. It’s not so much a waiting game, but more of a pursuit. I need to be willing to step out of the familiar small talk, and inject encouragements and praises in my conversations. Every day, I need to make time and find a person I can encourage, honor, and pray for.

 

The world is already filled with so much pride. It’s time we rise above self-love.


I feel like this project is still on beta-stage. I have to figure out a way to make my entries tangible, instead of just stories. Your ideas are very much welcome!

 

s e a

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1:9-10, ESV

Last March 12, my family and I got to enjoy the refreshing hues of the sea in Tingloy, Batangas. We drove from Laguna at 5am and arrived at Philpan Dive Resort in Anilao at around 7am. From the resort, we took a 30-minute boat ride to Portaleza Island. Before boarding the boat, my brother and cousins got to see a lovely surprise—dolphins jumping out of the water! (I missed it but that’s okay, I’ll see them in the right time haha) Locals call them “lumba-lumba” and they mentioned that the dolphins have been playing around the area all morning.

The sea will always have a special place in my heart because it’s where we had our first family trips when I was little. We would ride the bus to Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte, Daddy’s hometown, where their house is just a 3-minute walk away from the sea. Back then, I would pick seashells to add to my collection of kuringkudings, as my Lola would put it. But through the years, I realized that those shells, however beautiful they were, belong on the shores, not in a box in my room. They serve a purpose for tiny creatures who need homes. I even took sand and a starfish home before. Now, I’ve learned to enjoy things without the need to possess it. I’ve learned to take nothing but pictures and memories with me. Here are some of them:

This was taken in front of Philpan Dive Resort. The resort is right across the jumpoff point of Mt. Gulugod-Baboy otherwise known as Mt. Pinagbanderahan.
My cousins from my mother’s side, Anya and Tin-tin.
Crystal clear waters and lush corals
I forgot to bring my snorkel with me so I just posed for a photo on the rocks 😦
Rocky trek with JP, Anya, and Tin-tin
There a lot of beautiful rock formations around the island.
“See the line where the sky meets the sea? It calls me.”
Shore picks: broken but beautiful. Don’t worry I just took a photo and left them.
Sealfie. I love the glow of my skin after swimming in the sea.

The seas have so much to offer from the surface down to its depths. (I wish I had photos of what it looks like under, but you’ll have to see its majesty yourself.) So please, please, let’s protect our seas. Let’s keep them pristine. Here are some of the ways you can help conserve our seas:

Pick don’t drop your trash. Let’s keep our beaches and seas trash-free. Always bring a garbage bag with you when you know you’re going to stay for a while.

Support and volunteer with local NGOs that advocates marine life conservation like Save Philippine Seas, and Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines. You can also learn more about the sea through their programs and educational efforts.

You can also sign this online petition against the underwater theme park that’s set to be built in Palawan. The construction of this park can significantly damage Palawan’s marine ecosystems. We don’t need a park to enjoy the world underwater. We cannot add to what God has already created so beautifully. It’s already wonderful as it is.

I believe we can all contribute to the protection and preservation of that big blue world. What we do, however small, can make an impact when we do them together.


Let’s also take the time to pray for the people in Batangas. It was hit by 4 earthquakes in just a week. Houses, establishments, and infrastructures, even mountains were damaged. We cannot prevent earthquakes but we can prevent disasters if we prepare well. Check out this article for more information on earthquake preparedness.

s e e d

Ponder this: what are the prayers God has already answered for you this 2017?

I’ve learned that looking back always, always helps us put things in perspective.

It’s so easy to miss the prayers He’s answering right now if we’re busy looking forward to the promises we want to claim. It’s easy to ignore the tiny progresses we’re making if we’re waiting for a dramatic miracle moment.

I’m really preaching this to myself because I’m the type who wants to see results immediately. I think that my profession as a creative designer contributes to this. Every time I need to design something, I do it and see the layout or artwork right away. I don’t have to wait, the moment I click, drag, click or the time I put my pencil on paper, I see the output, I see changes. So when it comes to breakthroughs, I want it to be that way, too. I want to see it happen the moment I say amen. Yes, God can make it happen that way, but most of the time… we’re told to wait, to keep praying, to stay in faith.

I remember a time when I planted seeds and according to the instructions that go along with it, it will take 3-7 days for it to sprout. But 2 weeks went by and there was still no sign of greenery in my pot of brown soil. That made me sad and disappointed I wanted to throw the pot away. I forgot that it takes time to grow.

So what do we do in the waiting?

Trust God with the seed

We need to surrender. We need to be patient. When you know that you’ve planted a seed in faith (whether through prayer, time, an encouragement, or a gift), you need to trust God with it. Trust that that seed is going to sprout. Also pray for the soil of your heart, and the hearts of the people you’re praying for. (See the parable of the seeds and the sower, Luke 8:5-8, 11-15)

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:6, ESV

Abide in the True Vine

Abide. Abide in Jesus. Don’t be so busy trying to cultivate your garden, that you cut yourself off from the True Vine. We can get so caught up in doing the work we want done, we forget that apart from Him, we can do nothing.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

John 15:4, ESV

Keep sowing, keep watering

Keep on. Keep praying. Keep hoping. Keep loving. Even when you see no changes, even when it hurts. Even if you don’t feel like it. Keep on. And in God’s beautiful time, you will see a big, beautiful oak tree in the place where you planted a small acorn.

If it seems slow, wait for it;
    it will surely come; it will not delay.

Habakkuk 2:3, ESV

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:9, ESV

 

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.

1 Corinthians 3:6, ESV

 

seed

/sēd/
noun

  1. a flowering plant’s unit of reproduction, capable of developing into another such plant.
  2. any of a number of stronger competitors in a sports tournament who have been assigned a specified position in an ordered list with the aim of ensuring that they do not play each other in the early rounds.

verb

  1. sow (land) with seeds.
  2. (of a plant) produce or drop seeds.

 


Prayer point: Lord, thank You for the seeds you’ve planted through me and in me. I trust You, O God with them. I surrender the need to control what happens to those seeds. I surrender to You, because I know You make everything beautiful in Your own time. Help me trust in the unseen. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

s t e w a r d s h i p

It’s that time of the year for filing your taxes, performance evaluations, and appraisals. Some of you may be expecting a promotion or salary raise. We all want an increase. But sometimes before we can go up that career ladder or pay scale, we need to be wise in handling what is being entrusted to us right now.

Especially money. This is a topic I’ve never really taken as seriously as I needed to until recently. Until a few days ago… I was trying to withdraw from my payroll ATM when the machine said I have insufficient funds. 😱😱😱 This is the first time it happened in my 3 years of working and trying to budget. I’ve always tried to leave some money in my account even if it’s just a few days before payday. That moment made me realize that sometimes trying isn’t enough. You need to be intentional. You need to plan. You need discipline. After that I had to evaluate how I handle my resources…

Why didn’t I foresee that insufficiency?

Where did my last paycheck go?

How can I bless the people around me if I don’t wisely manage the blessings God gives?

I needed to reassess my habits, especially in my spending. I’m not even renting a place in Makati anymore, which means I should have more than my usual balance in the last year. (I just stopped renting a place last January.) So what really happened? First thing that came to mind is carelessness. My careless spending lead to that moment of disappointment. The thing is I’ve never really budgeted since I’ve never felt the need for it. Until *~insufficient funds~* happened. I didn’t have a discipline when it came to saving. I didn’t ask questions whenever I’m deciding if I should buy something. I would buy things out of impulse, instead of need.

Then God led me to the parable of the shrewd manager. (See Luke 16)

One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?

Luke 16:10-11, ESV

This verse hit me hard.

I have not been faithful in managing the blessings He is giving. Yes, I was using money for my welfare… but I wasn’t using it well. I wasn’t maximizing what He is giving. His Word cut through my heart. Then His grace, overflowing, tells us that it’s never too late to turn from what we’re doing wrong and start right. He gives us room to start better habits. And that’s what I did.

I started researching about budgeting and found this helpful course in kickstarting funds for your passion. I downloaded an app that helps me track my expenses. I made a list of freelance projects I can initiate in order to earn more. I’m also reading Chinkee Tan‘s book, Till Debt Do Us Part: Practical Steps to Financial Freedom.

These are just the first steps. The road to better stewardship of money won’t be easy. But with discipline, wise counsel of others, and by always looking to The Ultimate Source of everything good, we can move. Move towards better financial habits that can lead to a better standard of living and giving.


Prayer point: Lord, thank You for all the blessings You give. I want to honor You with the wealth You give me. Give me the wisdom in handling my money. Lord, ultimately, it’s You I depend on—not money. You are Jehovah Jireh. You will provide. Thank You!

In Jesus’ name, amen!