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(Almost) Three Months

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via 1000 Things to be Grateful for in Life (http://bit.ly/2A14YGP)

via 1000 Things to be Grateful for In Life (http://bit.ly/2A14YGP)

I just want to start this post with a greeting: Happy Thanksgiving Day! I didn’t realize it until I checked my phone calendar because it has US holidays saved. And the feature image is a coincidence as I only chanced to save it from Google images via 1000 Things to be Grateful for in Life, a blog, too. 😀 Now back to my original post…

The thought may be cliché but I really do not know how to start this blog post. After two years, I decided to post here again. I have been thinking what to post, but because I haven’t been online in my Facebook account for almost 3 months, I thought it would be good to post my thoughts here again. Being away for three months on Facebook is not a long time but when you get used to being online every day for hours, you know how long it feels.

Let me start with my apologies. I am sorry. If you are one of my friends reading this, and you felt I’ve abandoned you because I haven’t replied to you through Facebook as that is the only way to reach out to me, I’m sorry. I’m sorry if I also felt selfish for being away from Facebook, not even posting something at my wall, telling you that I will be away I do not know for how long. But know this: I have been itching to ask how you’re doing—if you’re well, if you’re having problems, if you’re having a good time with your life now. I couldn’t stand not asking my friends how they’re doing because I’m afraid to be forgotten. I’m afraid that they might think I do not care. I’m afraid that they might think I am such a bad friend. I am not even a good friend, I think. I have my own flaws, anyway. But thank you if you think otherwise.

I am sorry for feeling so afraid if I cannot reply to group chats right away. I sometimes feel unwanted in a group; as if my opinions won’t matter so I’d choose to keep myself away. And I am sorry for not responding quickly. Sometimes I’d get too anxious seeing who sent me a message, especially if it’s someone I haven’t talked to for a long time.

Being away from Facebook, I felt like I did not exist within those span of months. I felt like I did not exist in the “digital world” where everybody goes day in and day out. It felt like I have been left out of some people’s lives just being offline because Facebook equates their lives.

It’s also somehow sad to see how people depend on Facebook nowadays. It’s hard saying this as I am thinking on how to actually communicate to my relatives and friends abroad without Facebook (WE HAVE E-MAILS! But Facebook, of course, is easier and more accessible…?). I am also thinking on how to promote your businesses/projects without Facebook. So, really, being dependent on Facebook is not an issue, I guess. But what’s bad is that when it comes to social gatherings, when you are finally face to face with the people you’re socializing with online, it gets a bit awkward already. Maybe that’s the bad thing about being online all the time: you tend to lose the art of listening and/or oral communication because now, you’re the best in communicating through typewritten words, not to mention through emojis, too.

I know I still have tons of reasons to apologize for, but they seem to get lost somewhere in my brain when I start typing my thoughts for this post. So let me now start with my gratitude! For those who still send me texts messages and really make the effort to know my number, thank you. For those who send me messages on Twitter (because it’s my go-to social media account aside from Facebook wehehehe), thank you very much! Whenever a friend sends me a text message or a direct message in this time of being offline on Facebook, you don’t know how much it touches my heart that somebody is thoughtful enough to ask how I’m doing. I also feel so happy when you just simply tell me stories about your day! I’d sometimes cry (yep, I’m that sensitive) and say, “Hey! I’m okay!” because I’d realize that somebody cares. I’d feel okay just having someone to talk to.

Being offline on Facebook also made me focus to my family—nobody beats their love, care and understanding, really. Even if you’re the worst, you are loved. Being with them while I was offline made me feel so loved and complete. It made me realize that when you’re offline, cherish the people who are physically there for you, too.

Thank you also for those who strived to send me messages on Facebook even though I haven’t opened it yet (even now!). It makes me feel like you’re not giving up on me; you want me to stay in your life. It feels a bit lonely if someone wants you out of their life. It hurts, really, but moving on and letting go is part of life so you got to keep a hold of yourself! Though for me, letting go of someone is a hard part for me. I’d rather fight for the person to stay in my life than to let him/her go. Fight for your friendship if you still have the chance!!

And one thing that really made my life during my three months of being offline was this: God made me realize how important it is to need someone. This culture/society is always talking about independence, that we can do this alone, and that you have to be strong because in the end, the only one who can help you is yourself. It’s true; you should really be strong inside. You must take heart. But also, I think it’s grace when somebody needs you. The feeling of being needed is very important. “I need you in my life.” “I need you to do this.” “I need you to go here.” “I need you.” It suddenly struck me that being needed by/needing someone is important because it makes you feel that you exist in their world, or even in this world.

That’s why it made me feel so selfish being offline. What if there are people out there who need me? I’m no superhero, but being there for a person is really something. What if my friends whom I haven’t communicated with a long time need me at those moments when I was offline? I cried upon realizing this (this realization was back in September). But I still didn’t go online because I was scared at what I will see in my inbox and in my timeline. But what is there to be scared of when the fears inside me are only my thoughts and myself and not the people around me?

Okay, I think I’ll go online very soon.

After all, I am not forgotten.

I Made a Mistake

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A couple of years ago, I had a serious problem with my faith. I struggled about my beliefs towards God, thinking if He is really true. I thought, “Maybe He’s not true. Maybe we people made an imaginary perfect being just to cover our own imperfections. Maybe God is not really true, just someone or something existing within the minds of imperfect moral beings.” I came to the point of not attending church anymore because every service means nothing to me. I closed my heart and ears towards what God’s messages through the preaching of the pastor and through worship. Attending church means being with my family and friends ONLY. Attending church became an obligation to me.

Until I met my first leader in church again. It was a coincidence in a way because she rarely goes there. She attends to a different church (branch). I told her about what I was thinking. I told her about my beliefs. She told me that she also struggled about God’s existence. But it was God who led her out of her own doubts about Him. I forgot the revelation she got from God that made her believe again. It just took a bold step to have faith in Him again that took her back, at least that’s what I remembered.

When I doubt His existence, I always remember this quote (which I guess is from Philip Yancey or John Piper, my two favorite authors in theology), “…It is like being grateful with no one to thank.” It is true. Living without God is like being grateful with no one to thank. You can’t thank the flowers for suddenly popping out of the field. You can’t thank the mountains for being there. Or you can’t thank the giants who could have probably formed those mountains. Everything is not as they are without putting God into the context, without putting God into the center of the world. It just seems too wrong without God in it.

After doubting the existence of God, it was not long when I started thinking ill of our church. I thought randomly that time. While the people were praising God with all of their hearts, raising both of their hands high, I usually thought, “LORD, you see the hands of these people. They cry out to you and then turn their backs to you. They just need you for their happiness and satisfaction. They just praise you when they’re okay. They just praise you when they’re in church. But when they’re out in the real world, they are very very different people.” Honestly, I didn’t know those people I was talking about, They were all strangers to me, and I spoke and thought ill of them. I thought ill of the church, the imperfectly perfect church. I defined it as imperfectly perfect because the church is composed of imperfect people, but bonded together by a perfect God, the body of Christ. Going back, I opened this up to a concerned sister from the church. She told me that she also had thoughts about the church as “hypocrites.” But we both concluded, “Aren’t we the hypocrites when we judge others as such?”

Judging others won’t do anything good. They attend church because they are not okay. They attend church because they acknowledge their wrongdoings before God. They are honest about who they are. They don’t cover their dirt. They surrender who they really are to God. They attend church because they are in need of a friend. They attend church because their souls are so thirsty. They read their Bibles because they want to seek who God is. It is not about their imperfections anymore. It’s about who God is in their lives. This is how it should be. We need to focus on Who God really is. The problem with humanity is our tendency to be too selfish and close-minded, looking at then judging others before looking at their own wrongdoings. Thus, God led me to reading this passage in Matthew 7:3-5 (CEV):

You can see the speck in your friend’s eye, but you don’t notice the log in your own eye. How can you say, ‘My friend, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you don’t see the log in your own eye? You’re nothing but show-offs! First, take the log out of your own eye. Then you can see how to take the speck out of your friend’s eye.”

picture in this post is not mine.

2014’s First Day

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This picture is not mine!

This picture is not mine!

January 01, 2014 and I cried half the day.

Do you know that feeling when you can’t stop crying over something, then starts thinking over a lot of things and cries over everything without you knowing? That’s what I’m feeling now. I still can’t stop crying because of a mix of emotions within me.

I became too fed up with one aspect of people: being judgmental. I know that it is wrong to judge and that you won’t be judged unless you did something for people to judge what you did or said but in the first place, “IT IS WRONG TO JUDGE“. I myself isn’t excused. I also judge. I am not exempted. I admit it. Unconsciously, I judge people too. And I also make the excuse: “Well, he/she is doing/saying something for him/her to be judged.” We don’t have the right to judge, anyway. We also make mistakes in some other way. Only He Who’s perfect has the right to judge us.

I cried everything to God in the van as my family and I went home from our relative’s house. I vented my anger towards God. Of course, I cried because I couldn’t take it anymore. My heart’s full of rage and sadness towards the people I care about when suddenly, God taught me a lesson:

“Never play with people’s emotions.”

I experienced it. It’s as if people were playing with what I really feel. We really have to be careful and think before speaking or doing something; whether it may be online or in real-life situations. I felt like you’d simply laugh over what you really feel yet deep inside, you’re screaming, “Please stop it. It’s getting too offensive.” I must admit that I take a lot of jokes very seriously. I even cry over some of those. I am aware that it’s a joke but most of the times, it gives a pang of hurt and offense in my heart.

Emotions are very dangerous. They can control you as a person. That’s why we need to have self-control to be able to control it; not overcoming us. About emotions, it’s cool that a lot of people have been opening up to me lately (5 people to be exact, and yes, they’re many for me). They’re not much of a close friend of mine but they chose to open up to me. I thank God for that. I realized that behind people’s courage, boldness, strength, happiness, joy, and laughter is a broken, sad, lonely, depressed and lost soul. I saw how people really need God in their lives.

As I cried to God, I noticed that it was my first cry over Him. Faith really helps us see the invisible (Heb. 11:1). I was comforted. I believe that He’s listening to me. I’m not crazy. Well, maybe yes because “Love makes us do crazy things”. Haha. God also taught me another thing, similar with what I typed in my post, “2013” (https://whoismaria.wordpress.com/2013/12/27/2013/):

“You need to understand people no matter what, even if they’re too annoying for you. Love is unfair. Learn “empathy”.”

God has been so patient with us. God has been so gracious towards us. He may know everything about us, from our deepest hidden sin in our hearts to our craziness but He loves us anyway. We may look very dirty as how we view ourselves but God views us differently; God views us “through a lens of mercy, love and compassion” (I forgot where I read this). And He keeps whispering, “You are loved, *insert your name here!”

Cheer up! Focus on God. Our identity is found only in Him.

P.S.: Sorry if this blog post became too random (?). It became a bit random for me because of a petty mix of ideas as I cried to God earlier.

It’s October Now

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credits to the photo booth at Sheela's debut celebration

(credits to the photo booth at Sheela’s debut celebration) HERE’S THE PICTURE OF MY HIGH SCHOOL BFFs! 😀

It’s not that I can’t think of a title for this blog post, but I kept thinking when should I post something in my blog again. It’s been VERY long since I posted here. It’s because of some personal reasons and issues. I was really looking forward to this day that I’d be posting something in my blog again! Hooray~

For the past month(s) and weeks that I wasn’t updating my blog, I had difficulties going back to sharing my insights about God and my experiences in life. I can say I experienced backsliding  though I attended services. My heart for Him went away, along with my passion for Him. I became drained spiritually, followed by my emotional, physical, and mental aspects. I was used to living in Him that’s why I felt so burned out when I left Him. That’s a brief summary of what really happened to me.

This post will be about how I feel these past few days, and what’s been happening in my life. You may not care about this, but I still thank you for reading my post up to this point.

I continued to read Erwin Lutzer’s “Matters of Life and Death”. I’m still at Chapter 3, and I know I really am a slow reader because I sink in my thoughts about what I read for long… Of course I’m kidding. I also continued to pray and talk to God wherever I was (just like the old times). But what I really stopped doing was to read His Word. I’m still praying that I may go back to reading His Word (of course, I’m doing something about it also.. because faith without deeds is dead).

I also wanted to share how I felt last Saturday night. It was my HS best friend’s debut celebrated at a Japanese buffet restaurant, Sambo Kojin. It’s one of the best debut celebration of my HS barkada because for the first time, we were all complete. Our other HS batch mates were also present in the said celebration. It was so fun, and I honestly enjoyed it. I was able to talk to a close friend of mine during 4th year High School, and I was able to enjoy the moments that I had with my group of HS best friends. The food was nice, though I wasn’t really satisfied because I wasn’t able to eat all I could. Our barkada performed for the birthday celebrant, so we sang the first line of the song, “Say Hey!” by HSJ (?) and “Thousand Years” by Christina Perri for her, then danced One Direction’s “Best Song Ever”. Yes, we enjoyed and had fun together.

The next morning, my Mom and Dad decided to have a family devotion every Sunday again. I felt refreshed because each of us shared what we went through, and we also shared insights from God’s Words. God really moved within our hearts and in our lives personally. I CAN REALLY FEEL THAT THE BREAKTHROUGH IN OUR FAMILY IS COMING REALLY SOON.  I’ll hold on to that.

If you read this until the end, thank you! Please do pray for me that I may continue to seek Him with all my heart, and to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. I really am in dire need of God for now because I know that going back to Him again is hard on my own. 🙂 You matter. Thank you so much!

Hooray, October is a new start.

What’s With July?

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this picture is not MINE

Now that I am back with my head up, I am being active in my social network accounts again (Facebook and Twitter to be specific… is WordPress counted?). What happened last July? Why wasn’t I active? I said it in my recent post https://whoismaria.wordpress.com/2013/06/30/adios/.

How did I seek Him? I actually forgot HOW to seek Him. I started again like what I did before. I read books about Him. I read a book entitled “It’s OK To Be Not OK” by Rev. Rico Villanueva. I committed to read that book for the whole month of July, but gladly finished it before the end of July so I started reading another book (but it took me days to get over thinking about my insights from “It’s OK To Be Not OK”). Reading that book made me realize that what I feel (worried, down, sad, almost depressed and depressed) is OK because I am not alone. It is not okay when those “negative” emotions would really BE negative. God uses our emotions as human beings to glorify Him too.

How can He be glorified when we doubt and be sad? We get closer to Him by praying. I actually realized that if we feel like He’s not there, CONGRATULATIONS. It means that we really felt His presence and believed that He’s there even for a little while. We will never recognize nor appreciate His presence if we never felt His absence. We won’t be sad over the absence of something if we do not need it, anyway.

I spent my July with sadness and gladness, with confidence and pity, with hope and grace, and with faith and doubt. I became inactive in my congregation. When I attended services, I didn’t sing praises to Him because I doubted Him. I kept questioning His existence. I prayed without my personal self indulging in it. I forgot how to be passionate in Him, believing that everything I did to Him were all lies. I thought that what I did before, spending time with Him, reading my Bible alone in my room, etc. is all because I was told to do so. I thought that my heart wasn’t really in accord with my actions. I didn’t know what to believe anymore.

What I learned is that He’s always there. Like what I realized while having a good conversation with a friend, God lets us go through certain situations in life, may it be good or bad in our own opinion, for US to change and not for HIM to change. He never changes, anyway. He wants us to be open to Him, to let us go to Him in our worst state, to be US. He understands. I suddenly remembered a certain scene in the Bible (Old Testament) when God changed His mind in destroying Israel because of Moses. I believe that He’s always moved with our faith. I don’t want to state things that may be a lie but I think (this is only FOR ME) God’s blind spot is a person’s faith. I can’t explain it, but it seems like it.

Anyway, God molds us for a new level of faith. I had gone through such a tough season in my life, and I thank God because He promised victory for me. He promised that I will not always be in the deep because He wants me to go up again, to climb again to where the broken and hurt people are to testify how good He has been to me. He let me experience hurt and pain to connect with the same people who got hurt. He let me experience situations in my life so that I could relate myself with those people who are undergoing what I went through.

Like what a friend of mine prayed for me, “She will get back up stronger, God.” I’m still that girl who kept wearing a smile even when the days are dark. I felt that I wasn’t that girl anymore, but God helped me to get back up on my feet again to encourage people. I am going back to the battlefield, preparing to respond differently in life’s challenges. Surely, I cannot do this alone. I need His grace to conquer the battle within me. Now, I’m starting again. He gave me another day to experience His love and grace in my life. He gave me another day as another chance to change for the better.

Hello, August!

Ignite 2013 Day 2 (part 2)

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I almost forgot to include this statement from Ignite 2013 Day 2 Part 1: “Resolve rather than dissolve”. It’s better to stand in righteousness than to dissolve in a culture wherein everything already seems to be OKAY when it should not be. Let us be reminded that our most valued treasure (yes, I need to exaggerate this) is our relationship with God. Don’t let the temporary pleasures offered by the world lead you astray from God because without Him, we can do nothing.

Only one session left yet I separated my post for this last session for Day 2 because this session really struck me. I was moved by Pastor CJ Nunag’s preaching about purity and holiness through Samson’s life. What I remembered when I heard about Samson was “Love at First Sight” because during the Love Series before, he was the topic. This time, the preaching was about the same person, but a different perspective about him.

True, Samson was so special and gifted. It’s like he has everything (too exaggerated). Plus, he’s a Nazarite (Google Search!). I could remember the term the pastor told us, “gifted since birth”. But even though he’s gifted and it seemed like he has everything (plus the unbelievable strength), due to the wrong decisions he made (I may say that one would say that a decision is wrong when it’s against his belief of what is right), he was put into the wrong track. It’s a matter of DECISIONS. But gladly, before he died, he was able to do his purpose in life (I need to study his life through the Word to explain this sentence). It’s really weird when he went to the territory of the enemy (if I’m not mistaken), and found the “girl of her dreams” where he shouldn’t find one (Judges 14:3).

Pastor CJ stressed the words “for me”.  Samson said in Judges 14:3, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.” “Do not trade your birthright for what feels right.” is what Pastor CJ said (maybe not the exact words but hope you got the idea) about it. He focused on sexual sins. Since the youth today seems to be so open about sex as if virginity is not a big deal these days, and the youth engage into relationships after relationships, this preaching really is suitable for each and every one of us in the conference.

He said that the people he talked with about premarital sex gave him same reasons and comments, “It seems right. It feels right.” but the Word of God says do not engage into sexual immorality (1 Cor. 6:18, and a lot more verses). I was also reminded about the illustration of a speaker I heard before in a retreat. It was about how hunters trap wolves by using a bloodsicle. In that bloodsicle lies a dagger after they lick it. They will be so focused on the blood they were licking without noticing that their tongues are already wounded because of the dagger, and it will slowly kill them. Like sexual sin, it may be pleasurable and enticing, but in the end, it will leave us helpless, broken, and dirty. Sin is always like that.

We should not trade our relationship with God with the temporary pleasures the world has to offer. That’s what I learned. I am grateful that God’s grace is sufficient for us (and even more than enough for us). I am grateful that God is so generous and merciful that whatever we did in the past, how stupid we may be for doing such things, He still loved us from the beginning, and continues to do so until now.

Credits to Ignite. I don't own this picture.

Credits to Ignite. I don’t own this picture.

I don't own this picture.

I don’t own this picture.

Good thing I’m continuing to learn how to value God as my supreme treasure. 🙂 Learning is a process, indeed. Undergoing that process, there may be pain and trials, but be reminded that He’s there with us… All the time.

 

Ignite 2013 Day 2 (Part 1)

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My blog posts about Ignite are in accordance with the ignite.ph blogs. The blogs from the said website serve as my guide in making my posts.

I was not late at the second day of the conference! Hahaha (proud laugh)! I was with my church buddies, gladly, and got an unpleasant view from where we were seated because we couldn’t see the screen so we couldn’t sing with the lyrics shown. But when a video was shown on the screen, the four of us would go near the exit since the screen could be seen on that spot.

Ignite 2013 Day 2 started with a message from Pastor (?) Edrei Canda about going back to school, knowing that there will be your peers who will tempt you from doing what is opposing to God’s Word. He mainly talked about Daniel who took a stand for what he believed is right. A freshman student from Ateneo de Manila University was called on stage to share his testimony to his co-students present in the conference. It was so cool to know that he’s a mere freshman student used by God mightily in his campus. I was reminded that we should learn how to stand on what we believe is right. Our beliefs should be in harmony with God’s Word. We really need to know when to say “NO”.

After that, we were asked to take a picture of our friends and leaders with a caption or hashtag, “Don’t Stand Alone”. We’re not alone in this battle of temptation. God has given us someone who will be there for us: to pray with us, and to help us in our walk with Him. Oh, I almost forgot that we were also asked to grab a partner to pray with us about our struggles for sin in the present.

 

Don't Stand Alone!

Don’t Stand Alone!

At last!! A lady speaker shared after all those~ Whenever I’d see a lady speaking on stage, I’d be so inspired to study God’s Word more to share Him to the people on stage too. I’d like to speak in front of people, but I’m too shy. Anyway, she shared the life of Esther. Until now, I could still apply what she said that we should not think that where we are now is only a coincidence. We should view our situation as an opportunity from God. If God placed you in a situation wherein you’re the only believer in your family, God has a reason. It’s an opportunity for you.

There was a break in between sessions 3 and 4 for a Half-time show. I never expected for Christian Bautista to be there! He’s my brother’s favorite, and I find him so handsome that’s why I squealed so loud when he was on stage. Their testimonies were so encouraging, and Rachelle’s testimony was the one that’s imprinted on my mind because of what she said that she wanted to become a professional and famous singer in the future when she was still a child. Dreams do come true. And also on what she said about performing and achieving accomplishments as a singer yet she felt empty. I realized that it’s really not about feeling empty when one already achieved one’s dream. Yes, there may be a feeling of emptiness, but it’s actually about your reason and motivation for doing what you were already doing. For her, it’s singing, but after achieving her dream of becoming a singer, what’s her reason for wanting it? After that, now what? Then she met God, and He became the reason for her everything. ❤ There were four local artists who performed during the Half-time show: Rachelle Ann Go, Quest, Yeng Constantino, and Christian Bautista.

Thank you for Ate Erica (Security) for volunteering to take a picture of him near the stage

Thank you for Ate Erica (Security) for volunteering to take a picture of him near the stage