Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Posts tagged ‘refinement’

The Magic Of Dinner Over Movies (Fifth Bite): Faith and Courage For Food

It was a almost a month since I had my second meal with this wonderful woman who is an epitome of courage and strength. For me, this is one of the most unforgettable dinners I had. Her story is better than the burgers, fries, and sundae she blessed me. I guess I was more fed with encouragement with the testimony of this admirable woman of God.

I usually meet Dianne in Christian conferences like JRev (Jesus Revolution)

My good friend Dianne with tons of fries and burgers. Couldn't be any better than the dinners I've had.

My good friend Dianne with tons of fries and burgers. My past dinners couldn’t be any better than this! 🙂

Night. But I did not expect that on this last JRev night I’ve attended last February 17, she was there. I was comforted to see an old friend after thinking I would be going home alone. Like a feather in the breeze, her bright smile filled up my tired spirit. I find her like a lamplight energizing me in the night, even though the event was over.

If you think her positivity is overreacting, no. It’s something natural in her. Glad to see each other, we decided to have dinner together before going home.

I missed having large fries and burgers in the night. I know this would be a wreck in my diet, but I’d rather take this opportunity to bond with a friend. I took all the ketchup for my fries because she wanted her fries to be in her burger!

We called it a post-Valentine date which we really enjoyed. As a single lady, I’ve always enjoyed being with friends at dinner. But how much I’ve enjoyed this date as her testimony marked meaningfully in my life.

I am aware of the hardships she is facing in her life. She has been taking care of her mother, who has cancer. It’s not easy for her and her family. Not only financially, but physically and emotionally. I must admit I couldn’t bear the thought of seeing a loved-one in pain. But Dianne has to endure her mother’s screams of pain everyday. Add to that, she was juggling a lot of tasks like taking care of her little nephew.

As she shared to me her pain, she also shared to me the encouragements she has been receiving. Not only had she received kind words, but she and her family had been receiving financial and emotional support from different people. I was blessed when her church family had come together as a big group just to pray for her mother (and because of that, her pain lessened!).

But the battle she faces goes on. And she faces it everyday. She would be tired, I know, but she has this amazing strength that keeps her smiling. I was somehow ashamed, because I would be so tired at the pressure of my daily tasks. But Dianne has bigger and painful problems than mine. I could see how these refine her well: in spirit and in character.

In another rare moment, I was chewing my burger slowly. I almost gaped while listening to her story of faith and determination. I wondered how she kept on holding on to this thin wire hanging over the dark cliff. Deep in her heart, she knew that it’s not her mother’s time to go. Her faith kindled mine. I agreed with her — her mother will recover, indeed she will.

What amazed me more was how she keeps her eyes on the Lord. No blame-throwing at Him, she just clings to Him. Last hope you may say, but He’s more than that. He’s everything, a faithful Father and Friend from the first to the last. Dianne wouldn’t exchange Him for anything else. He’s the One strengthening her and sustaining her all along.

This post-Valentine date must be more remarkable than any romantic dates I never had. :)

This post-Valentine date must be more remarkable than any romantic dates I never had. 🙂

It’s an honor to have a friend a woman who stands strong in the midst of great testing. I believe that this season in her life is preparing her for something greater. At this point, I could say that she has blessed me more than I could have blessed her. Such people like her has received more than most of us have had, I guess. Despite of great pain, she receives great strength, courage, and faith. But the best of all is the great love of Jesus that had caused all the positive fruits in her life to bear. These fruits she shared to me as seeds waiting to sprout in the upcoming seasons in my life.

Truly, I was enlightened that night, sweeter than the sundae I’ve had as my finale in that dinner. Her testimony had nourished my tired body. Truly, it’s an amazing dinner with her, better than any romantic dates I’ve never had. 🙂

Reclaiming Destinies and Breaking the Waves

Twelve months. Twelve fruits. Twelve opportunities to undone me, mold me, and bring me closer to my real identity and destiny.

My 2012 was a year of shaking. The Lord was teaching me out of my stubborn self — to die from selfishness and to abide in Him fully. When my prophetic friend asked me what was the Lord’s promise for the past nine months, I was dumbfounded. All I could remember was the anguish and pain during those times. The emotional battles against the law and the lawmakers, the prayerful times shifted to complaints and mourning, my beauty nearly turning into ashes, my hope almost brought down to the cliff as I contemplated on resignation. I wanted to get out and give up. Yet, the Lord, who had other things in mind, held my sleeve as I let go of my grip. He had a promise, I’m sure He had — yet my ears were covered and my eyes blindfolded.

Yet, I faced 2013 with hope and expectation.

I still couldn’t remember what He was trying to say (and I haven’t even checked my old journal).  Yet, I clung on one word given to me almost two years ago: Romans 5:5, “…and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our heats through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

As I contemplating this verse a few months ago, the Lord led me to turn to verses 3 and 4. I never have this hope until: we rejoice in our sufferings, that it leads to perseverance (verse 3) and from perseverance, character, which leads into hope (verse 4)! I believe such is the word for me for this season. And such is the shaking I received.

Through these shakings, I realized a few more things at the beginning of this year, even though the nine months has been ended. Despite character flaws, I’m taught how to react in grace and love and confront with wisdom during dire situations. From my silent struggle against insecurities, I’m taught to reclaim the authority vested upon me as a co-heir in Christ. The most striking lesson that I’ve realized and am still learning (though it was said to me a number of times) is to worship him despite of the fire and testing that I pass through.

My friend told me that the shaking I’ve received (and will receive) are just part of His refinement. This is the time that I have to open my eyes and ears and recognize the Lord in ways I’m not used to. I don’t know what would that be. All I have to do is to ask Him. And see Him move in ways I won’t expect. I just need to open my eyes and my ears to recognize what He’s doing.

There are three kinds of people in the midst of struggles: one who gives up, one who shrugs his shoulder and get into that routinary “survival mode”, and one who wants to learn out of that struggle. The third one is the kind that grows. At this season, the nine month conception should be over. So, what I’ve experienced were just birth pangs. The full birth of one’s destiny is after the nine month period. But if not, that means I haven’t learned my lesson.

I just realized I’m just at the beginning of what He’s teaching me.

Get out of the boat and walk on water, he said. Goodness, that quite scared me. But should I be scared when I’m with the Silencer of the Waves? It’s a step towards acceleration. I need to get out of the box. And I need to ask the Lord ways on how to do that.

To ask the Lord on a daily basis is a way to die to myself. It will keep me from storing up pride as He breaks me with His tender love and awesome glory.

Then my friend gave me the a word that this year is the year of bearing fruit. Seeing in a vision a clock with twelve hours, it indicated that in every month I will bear fruit. But in order to bear fruit, I must learn a lesson. I must ask what the Lord is teaching me at this point of time. When the pruning and honing is over, a fruit will grow…but not only in one month. That means, I will undergo even more fire and testing twelve times!

I need to ask. I need to see. I need to know. Such are the things that I must learn. But most of all, I need to seek the Lord more. Only in Him I will find the answers I need. For He knows the plans for me. And I am claiming His perfect will and His best for my life.

I’m almost 28 years old. But this is not the end of my dreams. Who says life ends at 30? I believe I’m still a little child being disciplined and taught by the Great Father. Why should I copy to the normal trend of human life? The Lord has plans that are way out of my normal blueprint. All I have to do is just step out, walk on the waves, and hold the hand of the One who called my name. What are twelve months of pruning when I got One Great Dad to back me up! 🙂

Full Trust in the State of Massive Loss

“And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the Name of the Lord.”
Job 2:21

This verse has been ringing in my head over and over for a few weeks. I just can’t imagine how somebody like Job can still praise God despite of his sudden tragedies in life. Just like the song, he was able to bless the Name of the Lord, for he knew that everything came from him.

When I passed through the book of Job, I was quite surprised to see how this man had already died to himself. He’s not totally blameless, you see, for he still had small flaws in his being. Yet, his viewpoint of God is so different from his contemporaries even from most of us. He knew that because of God’s infinity and greatness, he knew he had no right to rant and complain, but he wanted to plead his cause before the Lord. I felt quite guilty when he told his wife “…shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10). I was even more shocked because his trust was not rattled when he said “Though He slay me, I will hope in him…” (Job 13:15). Talk about a person dead to himself!

It’s hard to die to oneself, I know. Although I have received the Lord Jesus and surrendered my life to Him, I must admit I’m not yet 100% submitted to Him. There are many things and aspects in my life that are hard to let go (on my part). Selfishness is a natural part of me. I have this short-term memory to forget that everything I have are just lent.

“The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein…” Psalm 24:1 says. Indeed, everything is His and yet he gave dominion to man (Psalm 8:6). And because we have sold ourselves to the enemy, we began to dwell in selfishness, forgetting that what we have are just lent so that we are taught to be good stewards.

The Lord gives us blessings but He does not ask for a price. It’s just, we have to remember that He has the right to take something from us for our own good. To learn not to whine when something is taken away is hard, especially when it’s close to our heart. He do blesses, but He wants us to become fully close to His heart and fully trust in Him. When we don’t receive a good salary though we have worked very well, shall we praise Him? When the car dies down while we are rushing to the office, can we still lift our hands in adoration? When we missed an opportunity to bring us to greener pastures, can we still say glory be to God? When the most beloved person died in a tragic way, can we still say blessed be Your Name?

Job had lost hundreds of camels, sheep, oxen, and donkeys. But I believe that most tragic was the loss of his ten children. In the end, he was able to worship as he mourned (Job 2:20). To worship God is to show we still trust Him, despite of tragedy. To worship at such a moment is a sign that we have died to self. It just takes much more of me to be just like Job.

I got a lot of pains and complaints and yet I want to just like Job’s character. I still have a lot of refinement to go through. I’m no holy person, but I’m just God’s work in progress. May I learn and know more, and let me become like Jesus. I pray, let me say despite of life’s pains, blessed be Your Name…

Looking Back at my 2011

Before the year ends, I want to have a glimpse on the significant events that I’ve been through this 2011. Summing up all the joys and the pains, I can see how the Lord has been faithful to me. Before every firecrackers in Bocaue has exploded, before every pasta and round fruits on our media noche dish is consumed, perhaps I would be given the right to take a review on how my life was this year…with the expectation of getting on deeper waters with Him in the coming year.

At JIL Calamba for the Laguna JRev Night. Before I got into full-time media work, I would tag along JRev ministry work for God's glory. Photo courtesy of Riz Olaguer

With tons of what I’ve gone through in the past 365 days, I never thought only a year has passed. I’ve experienced great shifts at the first part of 2011. With almost a year of being jobless, I only understood the word that the Lord has been telling me on Matthew 6:33, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” The moment I learned how to trust the Father regardless of my situation then, the moment He opened new doors. From February to the first half of March, I became a part-time Korean English teacher and then on April, I took the reporter’s job in a Christian station.

At the TESDA MOA signing at Makati on Oct. 2011

With an overly bubbly but shy personality, I would never expect to land in such a job. I was a masscomm student, I love the mass media, but I only thought that I was fit for a quiet office job. But I have this free-spirited character deep within that gets easily bored on the same-old routines and locations – just as I had in my first job in the BPO industry. What’s more shocking was my beat: although a cub reporter, I was assigned as a presidential reporter.

So everywhere the president goes, I would tag along (expect for far-off locations). It’s an exciting and yet a stressful beat. I hated politics, but soon enough, it was slowly being instilled in me. I began to understand the technicalities of the law a bit…but I know I have still a long way to go.

It’s been an exciting year for me. Somehow, I was becoming a part of my country’s history as I witness some of the biggest events in the nation: Perhaps the most significant ones for me would be:

  • Pres. Aquino’s visit to the flooded areas of Calumpit, Bulacan
  • State visit of foreign dignitaries like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak
  • Courtesy Call of the Phil. Dragon Boat Team (as the president fearlessly announced not to mix politics into sports anymore)
  • First out-of-town coverage at Albay, Bicol for the President’s visit at the 1st Climate Change Media Conference
  • Former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Arroyo’s transfer from St. Luke’s to VMMC (although we were not able to get a shot of her leaving the hospital and were late to catch up her convoy)
  • And my favorite: the clash between the President and the Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona. Twice, I’ve witnessed how the president criticized the chief justice. It is my fellow reporter who witnessed Corona’s speech against the executive head of the nation. Also, I was in the Senate to witness the senator’s oathtaking on the impeachment trial.

Being a reporter is very exciting. But these events are not something to brag about. I would love to share the stories and even the bloopers in our news team. The one thing I love and have been learning on being a reporter is the importance of communication and connection. I have not mastered this yet, but I can see how the Lord is breaking me out of my shell to reach out, not only make friends, but for territories to be enlarged for His glory!

Waiting for President Aquino at Calumpit, Bulacan for his visit to the flood victims on Oct. 5, 2011. Behind me was the truck that he rode to inspect a small piece of the flooded area.

But I also have a lot of failures and refining sessions on-going in my life. I need to value authorities in my life. I need to lessen my happy-go-lucky attitude and my complacency that hinders me from growing in skill and in my prayer times. I need to accelerate in my writing skills (as I always have a hard time in Filipino news writing – ack! The irony of living in my own language!), my communication skills, and my competency as a media person. I want to learn more and I want to be trained more. Enough is not enough.

But the thing I’m after for is my intimacy with the Lord. I want to have a deeper relationship with Him. It’s not enough that I pray, read the Bible, go to church like tradition. Living in and with Christ is no tradition! It’s a lifestyle! I want to hear His voice, see His face, and know His heart. What is a life without Him? One day, my career in media will be gone, but let my love for my Beloved remain in eternity!

I’ve received a lot of material blessings. I’ve gained favor. My family experienced open heaven – not only because our home’s storehouse was filled with sacks of rice – but we let the blessings flow to others. I was touched on how my mother’s prayers were answered.

Photo ops with the Philippine Dragon Boat Team! Taken on Aug. 12, 2011

What do I expect in this coming year? I believe there will be a new shift in 2012. My prayer is that I will be more refined than now, braver and bolder than I’ve ever been and will be a Daniel for His glory. I pray it is Jesus who will be seen in my life and I ask nothing else but to see His Kingdom come in my beat, in my church, in my nation, and in my life.

A few hours to go! I believe I will be going into unknown waters. Am I ready? I will only be ready if the Lord holds me close. One thing I am always reminded: It’s not by might, nor by power, but only by His Spirit that I can face the future with Christ who strengthens me.

May the heavens open over all of us! God bless everyone. Let His Spirit flow to us this 2012. Happy New Year! 😀

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