Jimmy Needham Concert & A Lesson on Appetite

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Exactly a week ago, April 9, I attended the concert of one of my most favorite Christian artists (and since that day, speakers): Jimmy Needham. If his name doesn’t ring a bell,  go to the end of this post and watch him sing my favorite song of his, “Forgiven and Loved.” Seriously, stop.  However, if you do know him and have heard his music, you’ll know he’s really blessed and wonderfully gifted. I said gifted because not only is his music entertaining and pleasant to the ears, but it’s also very heart-stirring and mind-activating. Jimmy (yes close kami? Haha) is currently on his “Guy, Guitar + Gospel Tour,” and I was so thrilled he dropped by Manila. The fact that the venue of his concert was at our very own church, CCF, made the event even more thrilling (because I feel so at home at that place, even with its magnanimity). To say that I was blessed that evening would be an understatement. Convicted and pierced are the more appropriate terms.

Before I continue sharing my concert experience, I must confess something. Prior to the concert, my relationship with God was pretty lukewarm. Two weeks have already passed since my second semester ended, and yet I still carried with me the habits I formed during my stressful days: an ‘okay, not-so-on-fire’ quiet time, a lack of passion and interest to pray and study Scripture, and the obsession with my self and my thoughts and desires. I promised God and myself that I would make it up to Him (to us) for the lost time and revitalize our relationship. I made up a list of things to do and goals to accomplish to keep my life in check. “As long as I remain consistent in doing these things, I will be successful. God would be happy. I’ll be joyful again, just like before.” Yeah right. On the night of Jimmy Needham’s concert, I was, yet again, proven  wrong.

One of the things I appreciate about Jimmy Needham is his love for Scripture. Towards the latter part of his concert, he shared with us his testimony, his walk with the Lord, and a passage from the Old Testament that really struck him the most. He loves the Old Testament so much, calling it the book for train wrecks. :D I agree with that nickname, because that was what Israel and man in general was. Stubborn train wrecks always being rescued by a loving and faithful God. Jimmy also went on sharing that the problem of most people today, especially Christians, is not a problem of doing, but of being. Within the heart, not the hands, lies the issue. Man’s issue with the living God is more than just a mere judicial problem of doing or not doing, but that of desire. How did he come up with that conclusion? Jimmy quoted the verse from which he gathered this insight, in Jeremiah 2:13:

“For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me,
The fountain of living waters,
To hew for themselves cisterns,
Broken cisterns
That can hold no water.”

“Broken cisterns that can hold no water. The problem of Israel was not that they weren’t good enough. Israel’s greatest sin was that it did not desire the Living Water. They had no appetite for God.” (Needham, 2014)

When he said this, I was shocked. It was my first time to hear the verse, but already my heart connected with my mind. Our problem–our biggest problem–is a lack of appetite for all things Heavenly. This really struck me the most because…I have a huge appetite. Caveman’s, actually. Not for God, but for worldly things.

Sure, I love God. I do. Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” I show my love for Jesus by obeying Him. I don’t obey Him so that I would love Him, but the other way around. Obedience is an expression of love. I know this. By God’s grace and the power of His Holy Spirit I am applying this, albeit very imperfectly, and I am striving to love Jesus more and more each day.

However, to look at my love for Jesus from the “appetite perspective” was a totally different story. Do I desire Him? Do I crave Him like I would with bacon, peanuts, and a romantic relationship with a loving, Christian guy? (yes you read that last part right. I’m human, too,  you know. It so happened I was female.) Was I willing to go on a spiritual feast everyday just so I can savor the richness of God’s Word and the loveliness of His presence?

The answers to all my questions, sadly, was a big fat no.

I loved God and obeyed Him, but oftentimes my obedience was a mere routine, “because God says so.” Because I would be a bad leader if I didn’t. Because I would feel like a hypocrite. Because it won’t be worth it if I don’t obey Him. All these reasons are valid, helpful even. But after Jimmy Needham brought the appetite issue, I realized there was more to God than just obedience. He really, really, really wants a relationship with me. God did not create creatures that would just obey Him; He created rational and social creatures that would love Him back and enjoy Him for all eternity.

Satan knew that if he introduced something overtly evil to us we would have just laughed at him, so he used something we love the most, use the most, and crave the most: FOOD. I was talking with my discipleship group two weeks ago, and I told them of my observation, how the food industry has been so prevalent in our lives today compared to a few years ago. There are over 25 million posts for #foodporn and over 2 million for #foodstagram on Instagram (most likely that also means 25 + 2 million posts on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other social media sites). Food is a basic human need. God gave us food for our enjoyment. Solomon himself said that eating and drinking is a gift from God. However, we’re human, and we have a knack for messing things up. We make curses out of  gifts because we place them above the Giver. We are more than willing to sacrifice our appetite for a life of inexhaustible joy for that of a temporary life and depraved existence. No wonder a lot of us (myself included) do not get to experience the abundant life Jesus promised.

Appetite for Jesus–wanting Him, craving for Him, desiring Him–was my greatest problem. Jimmy Needham helped me realize that. Thankfully, he didn’t just end with pointing out the problem. God is a restorer, not a demolisher. He breaks down for the intent of building up again. Trying harder, being good, coming up with a better plan were not plausible options. What then? Simple.

GRACE.

To be honest, I felt uncomfortable when Jimmy brought up the subject. That was what I least deserved. I’m like most people in that I find grace hard to accept because I feel strongly about the need for reparation of my sins. I fear falling on one end of the scale,  licentiousness, abusing grace, without realizing I fell on the other end: legalism, abhorring grace. Grace, if it is to be true, demands complete surrender and total acceptance and at the same time, realizes true life transformation. Actions are important, but only after the gift has been received. For a person who loves gifts and whose second first name is Grace, I found it surprising I was rejecting grace. It really is for the undeserved. God was handing out to me because HE LOVES ME. He loves you. When Jimmy Needham started singing “If I Ever Needed Grace,” I tried hard not to cry. I failed. Grace and my tear ducts made a contract I wasn’t aware of. On that evening, as I sat there and allowed God to work His magic, I felt at rest and at peace. I was home.

Our appetite for Jesus has to be constantly fed because the enemy competes for appetite for him. We must not surrender to the enemy. Trying hard to be goo or coming up with a “new and all-improved” program won’t do the trick. Coming to Jesus and feasting on His presence will. That’s what Jimmy Needham did, and that’s how God set him free from the bondage of pornography. I believe that’s how He’ll also set me (and you) free from a life of depravity, sin, loss, and just mere existence.

Truth be told, I still struggle with appetite–both physical and spiritual. Who doesn’t? God is good; He’s always willing to take me in when I humble myself before Him. I believe He’ll do the same for you. If you ever needed grace (and I bet you do), He will always be willing to give it to you.  All you need is a humble heart and a contrite spirit.:)

 

How’s your appetite for Jesus? Craving for Him lately? You don’t have to wait for the next sale or purchase a coupon online to avail of the buffet because He’s always available for the taking. 

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” – Jesus Christ (Revelation 3:20)

 

PS: Sharing with you guys photos to the concert. I went with my brothers, Josh and James, and my cousin, Jared. My other cousins and friends were there, too. Jimmy Needham you’re the best! :)

With camille

With Josh_Jimmy Needham

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Good Morning Garlichippy Pandesal!

Ever since I was a kid, I would always be excited to eat breakfast (not that I’m not ever excited to eat…just extra excited) when I would see a brown paper bag containing warm, soft pandesal on our dining table. Pandesal (Spanish pan de sal or “salt bread”) is not really salty at all (at least in the Philippines) and is a breakfast staple in many Filipino households. I love pandesal! This morning I started feeling like a kid again when I saw pandesal in our table. When I got back up to my room to have my quiet time, I began thinking about how I can make our pandesal extra special today because it was a bit stale. Also, I felt like cooking and inventing–and with a lot of pandesal and eggs (another breakfast staple and personal favorite) and CHEESE available from our cupboards, who wouldn’t wanna whip up something extra special?!

I forgot to mention: I also love garlic! Our entire family loves it. Thankfully the odor doesn’t stay on our breaths so we don’t worry about turning people off. :p So anyway, I thought about how I can marry  my favorite ingredients (eggs–scrambled–cheese, and garlic) with pandesal. And thus, Good Morning Garlichippy Pandesal was born!!! :) :D

It’s easy to make and requires no fancy ingredients. :)

Good morning garlichippy pandesal

Good Morning Garlichippy Pandesal

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes

Cooking Time: 10-15 minutes

Serves: 4-5

INGREDIENTS:

5 medium eggs

6 1/2 tsp low-fat milk

5 pandesal, each cut in half

10 slices of Quickmelt cheese (mozzarella)

5 tbsp grated cheddar cheese (you can add more if you like!)

8 cloves of garlic, finely chopped  (I used a lot because, as I mentioned earlier, we really loooove garlic)

15 tbsp cooking oil (3 for the egg; 12 for the garlic) or butter

parsley flakes for garnish

salt and white pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Beat the eggs in a bowl with a fork. Add in 2-3 pinches of salt, white pepper, cheddar cheese, and milk. All the recipes I found before stated that the amount of milk (in teaspoons) should be the same as the number of eggs you use. This time I want my eggs to be fluffy & creamy, so I added more milk. Whisk some more until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
  2. In a steel pan, put the 3 tbsp of oil (or butter) and heat enough before placing the eggs. Pour the egg batter to pan and after 10 seconds, do the Martha Stewart technique to achieve the creamy scrambled eggs texture: with your spatula, push the outer edges of the egg mixture to the center. Keep doing this until the eggs set and there are no more runny parts in the egg. This takes about 30 seconds. Add 2 more pinches of salt. Turn off the heat and transfer to a bowl. Set aside.
  3. Pour the remaining oil (or butter) over the pan and heat (or melt). When warm enough, place the garlic and fry until they are golden brown and really crispy. Just don’t burn them! Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  4. Top each pandesal with about a spoonful of eggs (depends on how big or small your pandesal is. Make sure the top is filled, but not overflowing). Place the slice of Quickmelt cheese on top of the eggs.
  5. Toast the bread for 1 minute & 30 seconds, or until cheese melts (since it’s quickmelt, 1.5 minutes works mighty fine).
  6. After toasting, place a teaspoon of the garlic chips on top of the egg & cheese. Garnish with parsley flakes. Serve warm and with the biggest, ear-to-ear smile on your face!!

CHEESY GARLICKY PANDESAL!!

I hope your morning will be good when you take that first bite of your “gourmetized” pandesal! :) You can also substitute the garlic chips for bacon, or use BOTH! I would love to try that sometime. Anyhow, if you do try this good morning bread, let me know how you find it! :)

Source: 

Photo of pandesal grabbed from pigpartsandbeer.com via Google Images

This 2014, I Will Be LAST

It’s only the second day of thew new year and already I can think tens of things to thank God for: good health of my family and friends. School resumes tomorrow (yes I’m thrilled). Allowance! (now you know why) My favorite sun-dried peanuts (sung song). The will to diet. Cool weather. Smell of roasted chicken. My happy, united family. Our family devotion earlier. My 1-hour nap earlier this afternoon. God’s assurance during our quiet time this morning: “You are safe in My arms. No matter what happens, you are safe.”

Those close to me know very well that I am a perfectionist (and if you’ve been following the blog you should have picked that up). In 2013, God demolished my wall of perfectionism. Part of it was my fault, part of it was His. At the start of last year, I already failed in my pursuit for discipline. In the two semesters that just passed I never made it to the dean’s list (even if I expected to make the cut). My idea of everyone in my family & extended families living to a old and gray age was dashed to the dust when my cousin, Trish, died at the age of 25, and a sister of one of my dear friends at 23. I was an erratic blogger, Gospel-sharer, and pseudo-discipler. The religious, philosophical, and ethical beliefs ingrained in my memory & heart have been challenged; some are still being tested, some were debunked, others were proven true. There’s the earthquake in Bohol and Yolanda’s unwelcome havoc in the Visayas. There’s also my hormones and romantic feels looking at the couples in school and telling me to join the bandwagon. The thing is, no one offered to ride the wagon with me. :( Chos! Hahahaha

2013 was the year where I learned a lot of things the hard way. I learned what grace truly means because I experienced being a wretch. I came to realize as I cried, searched for answers, groped in the dark, and shouted at God (He told me I could do that) that I have t truly experience my true state of wretchedness before I could fully enjoy grace. Everything I believed about God He shook, and when He did that I also realized that simply saying “may Your will be done, may Your kingdom come” does not suffice. Submission is key. Many times God showed me that I tried desperately and rather foolishly to control Him.

Lest I drown in pessimism, I must say that 2013 was also a year full of blessings not only for me, but also for my family, friends, and even for my country! Among the many blessings (both “good” and “bad”) I received last year were: our new house; new-found friends; tighter relationships with family and close friends; excellence in school requirements when I expected failures; 4-second appearance on a show on national TV (hahahaha); wonderful teaching experiences in Sunday school; my weight gain, this time NO LONGER accompanied by insecurity; real desire to help others; God’s looooooooooooooooooooonggggsuffering attitude towards me, and many, many more!

With my backpack full of lessons (and I have more empty backpacks to fill) and the very person of the God of Heaven and earth Himself, I am eager, excited, and encouraged to embark on a new, hopefully, more fruitful year. So here’s when the resolutions come in. For this year, I’m starting something new. I created a personal theme that would guide my actions and secondary goals for the year. Aside from grace, I crave for JOY. As I get to know my Lord and Savior, I learn that the key to His joy is to learn to be L.A.S.T.: Loving, Altruistic, Self-Controlled, and Thankful.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, all your strength. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” – Matthew 22:36-39

“Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:4

“For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control.” – 2 Timothy 1:7

“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

These were the verses the Holy Spirit used to convince me that indeed, I should aim to be LAST. Because, as the Savior Himself said, “… many who are first will be last; and the last, first.” (Matthew 19:30) Lasting joy belong to those who are willing to go last. I may never understand why or how that happens; I just know it does.

I hope you, too, will find a theme for yourself this year, or perhaps a renewed sense of vision, mission, or purpose. Forget what lies behind; reach forward to what lies ahead! :) Our life here on earth won’t last for long, but our training here will, so make sure we make the most out of it!

May we have a faith-stretching, heart-strengthening, mind-opening, and spirit-soaring 2014! :)

I Have Kwento: Train Memoirs

Hey everyone!!! :) :)

As I always say after a loooooooong absence, so I say again: I’M SO GLAD TO BE BACK!! :)

Right now I’m on Christmas break, which means I have more time (and no more excuse) to update GJ (Gracing Jenny haha) and share you some of my love. :D Today, I want to start with a story in Tagalog (sorry to my non-Tagalog speaking readers). Last Monday as I was cleaning my room (another long overdue task), I chanced upon my old journals. I opened one of them that dated 2 years ago, and I found this story written 2 years ago, March 16. I think this is inspired by true events, since the setting and possibility of this ever occurring can actually happen in my life. : I won’t say which of the events are “inspired” though. :D It’s supposed to be funny, so sana matawa kayo. (Pag hindi, edi sige fine, ako nalang tatawa mag-isa. HAHA #sadlife)

STORYTIME!! :)

7:00 A.M, Biyernes

“Mahal kita. As in. No joke.”

“Oo nga, naniniwala na ‘ko.”

Ang totoo niyan, matagal ko nang pinaniwalaan ang mga sinabi niya. Bago pa maging kami, nung taga-abot at taga-ayos lang ako ng lapel o mikropono niya sa mga dula namin sa aming pamantasan. Ito ang araw na pinakahihintay ko. Totoo nga ba ang lahat ng ito? Tunay nga ba na makapipiling ko na palagi ang aking giliw–ang marikit na Ingrid? Isa itong…

When I see your face…there’s not a thing that I would change….’cause you’re–

Ano ba Bruno Mars?! Kanina ka pa ume-epal eh. Pindot ako ng pindot, este, slide ako ng slide–ng iPhone ko para tumahimik ang alarm, sige pa rin sa pagkanta. Bakit, anong oras na ba?

Anak ng tokwa, alas siyete na!!! Teka, anong araw ba ngayon???

BIYERNES!!!!! SYETT!!! Alas siyete y medya nga pala klase ko ngayon! May quiz pa naman kami sa Math. Putek, si Ms. Tampil pa naman prof ko dun!

Syempre dali-dali akong tumalon, nakipagkarera sa oras at tumakbo papa-alis ng bahay. Nakakainis dahil hindi ako nakakain ng almusal, masarap pa naman din. Ininit ni Day (short for Inday) yung lechon kawali, salmon, at fried rice na inuwi nina Daddy at Mommy nung kinagabihan mula sa buffet. :(

7:17 AM

Paglabas ko ng bahay, nanalangin ako sa Diyos na paluwagin ang kalsada at ang mga jeep sa Guadalupe. Saktong pagkarating ko sa sakayan ng jeep, may nakaabang na sa aking jeep at isa nalang ang kasya! (rush hour na kasi) Pinasalamatan ko si Papa God.

Bigla kong naalala ang walang humpay kong pagmumura kanina nang ako’y gumising. Ang sama ko nga naman! Ako na nga ‘tong pinagkalooban ng pagsanggalang mula sa kapahamakan sa aking pagtulog, tapos pagmumura pa ang iginanti ko sa Diyos–Diyos pa sa lahat ng nilalang! “Panginoon, sorry po. Hindi ko po sinasadya. Malaki na po ang kasalanan ko sa Inyo ngayong umaga, pero kung maaari lang po, paluwagin Niyo po ang MRT mamaya pagdating ko para agad po akong makasakay. Salamat po, Lord.”

Matapos manalanggin, inabot ko ang bayad ko sa aking katabi at nakisuyong ipaabot sa drayber. Pagbalik sa akin ng sukli–grabe, nagmahal na; dalawang piso nalang ang bumalik sa akin–kaagad kong kinuha ang abaniko ko mula sa backpack. Isa kasi akong pawising nilalang. Ewan ko ba kung bakit, di naman ako mataba. Siguro dahil palainom ako ng tubig, mas maraming pawis ang lumalabas sa mga parte ng katawan ko–noo, braso, likod, dibdib, singit, kili-kili….

Kili-kili. Teka. Nag-lagay ba ako ng ano….Pa-simple kong kinapa ang t-shirt ko sa bandang kili-kili, ayun pala, naunahan na ako ng katabi ko sa pagtuklas ng nakamamatay kong sikreto. Buti nalang pumara na siya at ang anim pang pasahero, kaya nung bumaba sila, lumipat ako sa dulo ng jeep (sa may labasan) at nilakasan ang aking pagpaypay.

Matapos ang ilang segundo, nagpatuloy sa pagbibiyahe ang jeep. May iba pa kayang naka-amoy? Ang eng-eng ko talaga!! Bakit sa lahat pa ng makakalimutan kong gawin, yun pang mag-deodorant? Ang masama pa dun, kalaban ko pa ang panahon dahil panahon na ng tag-init. Kasalanan ko bang may klase ako ng Abril? Hindi ito gaanong makatarungan, pero sa paningin (at pang-amoy) ng ibang tao (lalo na yung lalaki kanina) na mas hindi makatarungan ang anghit ko (buti nalang puti ang t-shirt ko kaya wala akong marka ng jabar).

7:40 A.M.

“Hay nako, late na talaga ako. Hindi ko na maaabutan ang quiz,” wika ko habang naglalakad papunta sa MRT Guadalupe station.  Pero ang totoo niyan, mas kinakabahan pa ako sa aking amoy lalo na sa harap ako ng klase uupo mamaya! Masyado kasing mahal ni Ginang Tampil ang kanyang mga mag-aaral kaya pinapaupo niya ang mga latecomers sa harapan kung saan sila’y nakararanas ng ikalawang pagligo. As in. Nakakalimang tabo siya ng laway. Daig pa yung talsik ng mga dolphins sa Ocean Park. Kulang nalang magdala ng sabon at shampoo kaming mga estudyante sa harapan. Nakakasampung tabo siya kapag maraming ‘F’ at ‘P’ ang mga salita at pangungusap niya; napagpapalit niya kasi ang mga ito. (“Okey wat’s the answer? Correct! Pour foint pive”)

Bahala na, sige na lang. buti nalang dala ko ang aking abaniko pangtakip.

Pagsakay ko sa escalator, tumatagak ako sa pawis–at amoy. Ako mismo nadidighay sa sarili kong amoy. Papasok pa ba ako? Parang nakakahiya na–teka, nakakahiya talaga! Kahit na hindi ko na pasukin ang Math class, hindi naman akong maaaring umabsent sa ibang subject. Ayyy….alam ko na!! Buti nalang sinunod ko ang aking Mommy nang sabihan niya akong mag-iwan ng ekstrang t-shirt, shampoo, sabon, TOWEL, at DEODORANT sa locker!!! Maliligo nalang muna ako. Pero pano yung…brief???

Na-excite akong makarating sa pamantasan pero may isa pa akong hamon na dapat harapin: ang pagsakay sa siksikang tren na may anghit.

Habang nakapila ako sa security check, bumilis ang tibok ng aking puso. Puno na ang tren kaya sardinas time na naman. Okay lang sana yun kung mabango at tuyo pa ako. (may higit-kumulang isang paang layo sa pagitan namin ng babaeng nakapila sa likod ko sa linya dahil sa aking weapon of mass destruction)

Weapon. Sandata. Oo nga noh!! Isang henyong kaisipan ang pumasok sa aking kaisipan. Binuksan ko ang zipper ng aking bag at hinayaang tusukin ng guard, na nagtakip ng kaniyang ilong. Agad akong pumasok ng stasyon at hinabol ang paparating na tren.

“Gagawin ko na ba ‘to?” Paulit-ulit kong tinatanong ang aking sarili…at ang Diyos. Baka iton na yung sagot sa panalangin ko kanina. Di hamak na luluwag ang daan ko kapag ginawa ko ‘yon! :) Nagpasiya ako: gagawin ko na ang aking mahusay na plano.

ETO NAAAAA!! RELEASE THE KRAKEN!!!!!

Pagbukas ng mga pintuan ng tren, sabay kong inangat ang aking mga braso’t kamay at nagsabi ng “excuse me.” Ang mga sumunod na pangyayari ay aking inasahan ngunit para sa akin ay isang milagro parang ng nangyari kay Moises nang hiwain niya ang Pulang Dagat.

Nahati ang mga papasok na pasahero sa kanan at kaliwa hanbang nakatakip sa kanilang mga ilong at bibig–at siyaka ako pumasok papaloob ng tren. Bagama’t marami nang kalalakihang ang nagsasabing, “Anghit naman niyan grabe!”, wala silang magagawa kung hindi tiisin ang aking handog na regalo at sandata. ;)

Pagbaba ko sa Shaw Boulevard, taas-noo akong lumabas ng tren. Nakakatakot lumingon dahil sa mga mala-kontrabidang titig ng mga tao (lalo na nung may narinig akong naghihinalo sa likod ko na babae–galit na galit ang jologs niyang nobyo). Ang hindi alam ng feeling Andrew E, may bakas ng jabar nag t-shirt niya.

12:30 PM

Naging maganda ang takbo nang araw ko matapos kong pinasabog an mabagsik kong dinamito. Nalaman ko sa aking mga kaklase na nagpa-free cut si Ms. Tampil. At eto pa: pagkatapos kong maligo, magdeodorant (naka sampung pahid ata ako sa bawat kili-kili) at kumain ng taho, nagtungo ako sa photocopying area. Hulaan mo kung sinong nandun.

Si Ingrid. Ang aking giliw!

Pagdating ko, napansin niya ako kaagad. Sabay ngiti. Sabay bati. (at nasabi ko ba na kami lang dalawa yung tao sa loob ng photocopying area? Di ko na sinama si Manong Xerox dahil walang pake yun sa mga estudyante)

“Hi Evan! Ba’t wala ka nung math?”

“Hi Ingrid! Math? Diba free cut?”

“Ah oo. I mean, before the class started. Hinanap kita, wala ka eh.”

Hinanap niya ako?!?! Kung pwede lang sumayaw! Pero hindi, nagtimpi ako at kalmadong sumagot, “Traffic kasi sa MRT.” At dahil makapal ang mukha ko dahil nag-deodorant na ako, hinabol ko ang tanong: “Ba’t mo ako…hinanap?”

“Napaniginipan kasi kit!”

“Ah…ah….ta-….talaga?” TALAGA?! AKO DIN!!

“Oo, sobrang natuwa nga ako eh. Jinajabar ka saw sa isang kwarto tapos awyaw ma-alis kahit na nakailang ligo ka na. Hahaha! Sorry ah, pero sobrang natawa lang talaga ako.”

Gusto ko rin sana tumawa, kaso pilit yung lumabas. Hindi nalang ako nagpahalata, total si Ingrid ‘to!! Okay na ‘to kaysa yung mga paisa-isang tanong sa Math.

“Haha, talaga ah? Ako din, napaniginipan ka–”

When I see your face…there’s not a thing that I would change….’cause you’re amazing–

Syyeee…ano ba yan!! Bruno Mars! Panira ka ng moment!! Bakit nag-alarm phone ko?? Di ko naman sinet….

“–Just the way you are! I like that song, too!”

Nagtagpo ang mga mata namin ni Ingrid ng mga two seconds at sa pakiramdam ko, pati ang aming mga puso. Agad kong pinasalamatan si Bruno Mars sa aking loob hangga’t sinabi ni Ingrid–

“Favorite song ko yan lalo na nung hinarana ako ng boyfriend ko nung isang gabi. Sobrang kilig!”

Bo…boy…boyfriend? Akala ko single siya?!

“May…bo…boyfriend ka na? Sino? Kailan?”

“Last week lang! Si Santi Delias. Shucks Evan, sorry to cut this conversation short, ah. Kailangan ko nang mauna. I’ll meet Santi in McDo. See you around!”

At sa isang iglap, naglaho ang aking mga magagandang pangarap. Kung pwede lang gamitin ang weapon of mass destruction ko kay Santi.  May panibago nanaman akong hamon. :)

Photo source: Inquirer News via Google Images 

Ms. Right

On our way home tonight, my brothers and I were having a conversation. James, our youngest, out of the blue, told us he hasn’t tasted or seen unleavened bread, and then he asked me why it was so flat.

“Well because it doesn’t have yeast, so it’s flat. It doesn’t rise like normal bread.”

Hearing this, my other brother, Josh, interjected with a “fun fact” on unleavened bread:

Sabi ni Sir RC mas makunat pa ang unleavened bread sa SkyFlakes.” (“Sir RC told us that unleavened bread is chewier than SkyFlakes.”)

Wait, what? “SkyFlakes is not chewy at all! It’s crispy!” I told this rather defensively to my brother, as if I was debating which superhero is better, Captain America or Iron Man, to their die-hard fans.

But Joshua insisted. “No, it’s makunat daw. He said.”

But no! He was wrong, and I was right. I defended my position again, this time, with more passion in my voice: “Ano kang makunat?! Ang lutong kaya ng SkyFlakes! Hindi siya makunat! Pag hinati mo ang dali-daling baliin, ano ka ba–-”

“JENNY!! JENNY! SSHHHH! SSSSSHH!!”

Mom. She cut off my argumentative monologue and aired hers. “Why are you so defensive? Huh? Why do you speak like that?”

“No, I’m not.” (Yes, I was. And  I knew it.)

“Why do you talk like that? You know what, you’re a bully. You sound like a know-it-all, like Ms. Righteous. You don’t always have to prove you’re right!”

That shut me up alright.

My ego was attacked head on, but my heart responded in a rather positive way. Sort of.  I didn’t react or defend myself again (because that would have been really stupid). When I looked at James he smiled at me and stuck out his tongue, and I also returned the favor by smiling and sticking out my tongue as if to surrender my right to be right. And for the rest of the ride (which was only a few minutes away after that “heated” argument), I kept all my rights to myself.

Being the perfectionist that I am, I always want things right, as much as possible. In a world where everything that’s right goes wrong, the way I’m thinking is a tad fantastic. Lately, God has been teaching me that my notion of being right all the time is not the same as Him being right all the time. Mine may be tainted with ill intentions or lead to negative consequences (as proven by my unleavened bread experience); God’s righteousness is always based on good intentions and always results in positive consequences. Christianity is not all about getting things right, about following rules to “avoid God’s wrath.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Christians should be loose and not totally do what’s right; I’m saying we shouldn’t be legalistic. I’m saying that as human beings, we have to deal with the reality that everything we do, say, and think can be wrong because imperfection is in our nature. I realized there are only two things you can be sure about the human race: mistakes and death.

Anyway, back to being right. When I got home and thought about my being Ms. Right, I thought about parts of my life that I always want to be right. The first thing that came into my head was Mr. Right, also known as GB (God’s Best), “the one,” soulmate or whatever way you want to call it. Hollywood has philosophized a lot of times on the subject of finding Mr. Right–how he seems to have all or almost all the characteristics you’ve been looking for in a husband, how he’s got you checking one item after another on your checklist. In church and retreats I’ve attended that talked about waiting and preparing for your lifetime partner, I’ve heard speakers suggest that we make a checklist on the qualities that we look for in our future husband. This suggestion fit my “right theology.” So I made my list. (But that’s another story of its own) Tonight, I rethought about that list and about Mr. Right, especially after what our pastor said earlier this evening in the worship service:

“What many people don’t realize is that marriage is a lifetime commitment to a defective individual.”

Let’s face it: there really is no Mr. Right or Ms. Right. I realized that when dealing with the human race, mistakes are more common and more predictable than successes. I also realized that looking for a suitable helpmate (in the future, for me) involves more than just looking for someone with desirable qualities; it is also figuring out what specific flaws and “defects” a person has that you can deal with…for the rest of your life. Waiting for people to change is futile. As has been said many times in different ways in so many movies, books, and whatnot on love: “You love a person for who they are, not for what they will become.”

So….what does that have to do with me being Ms. Right? A lot. Tonight, I had a mini-eureka moment. The SkyFlakes argument triggered that. If it weren’t for the question on the unleavened bread, my brother’s interjection, and my sudden outburst, I wouldn’t have realized how much time I’ve wasted displacing my anger and right to be right on things that shouldn’t be fought over, more so, debated on. I don’t always have to prove I’m right. Heck, I’ve never been consistently right! I’ve flunked almost everything, even the things I’ve been doing for so long–school, diet, sleep (by sleeping late…just like tonight), blog entries (I’ve revised this entry about three times), relationships (i.e., friendships), and all my other responsibilities. The Bible already said it: “There is no righteous, no not one.” Me proving myself to be right when I’m not supposed to just proves how wrong I am! The real righteous and good people do not have to prove themselves, just as a cheetah does not need to prove himself to a puppy that he can outrun him. Ms. Right sometimes needs to learn to take a backseat, let things “go wrong,” and laugh. Chill. Keep calm. As for looking for Mr. Right, she should be looking both at his sweet and sour parts, and see if she can deal with both.

Before she even searches for her Mr. Right, Ms. Right must first learn to accept her sweet parts and sour parts, and the fact that she doesn’t always have to be right. She doesn’t always have to win an argument. Or else, she would be no different than a bully.

Ms. Right and her minions a few months back

Ms. Right and her minions a few months back

Craving Grace: A Book Review

Craving Grace by Lisa

For Lisa Velthouse’s whole life, Christianity had been about getting things right. Obeying her parents. Not drinking. Not cursing. Not having premarital sex…..But after two decades of trying to earn God’s favor, she found her faith was lonely, empty, and unsatisfying. So where does a “good Christian girl” turn when she needs answers? More discipline, of course: fasting! For months Lisa managed to fast, but the result seemed to be that suddenly she was falling short in everything else. Then, one night at a wedding, she denied herself the cake but broke an even bigger promise she’d made years before–falling in such an unexpected and world-rocking way that it challenged everything she thought she knew about God and herself.

Have you ever encountered a book that almost perfectly described your current situation and feeelings? Your awkward, humorously stupid, and at times, downright sinful moments and emotions? I have. And it’s called Craving Grace.

I first read a Lisa Velthouse creation seven years ago when my cousin lent me her copy of Saving My First Kiss. At that time I was a tween, awkward, innocent, and relatively simply in every way possible, and I honestly did not understand a big part of the book, except for the fact that the author (who was the same age as I am now) made a vow to God to safeguard her purity, especially that of her lips.

In this not-so-tell-all but completely honest memoir, Lisa Velthouse described her struggle with a seeming lack of romantic activity in her life, understanding God’s grace, keeping her hands off chocolate sundaes and brownies, and dealing with failure. A whole smack of heart-crushing failure, especially for a woman who seeks to have everything in place so that she would not make God sad. While reading this, I felt joy in knowing that someone else’s reality and struggles are similar to mine, and even more joy in confirming that everything I’m experiencing now is part of God’s great, big, and strange plan.

Objectively, I thought Craving Grace was mature, intelligent, funny, and heart-tugging. Although there was no particular or singular story that was supposed to be follow throughout the book, I always found myself wanting to turn over the next page and read on (and I read even if I had a thick-load of other school readings, which were mostly boring. HAHA)  I also liked the fact that the arrangement of the stories and events was not chronological, but thematic, and the theme was, the ever-deepening understanding of a child of her Father’s amazing grace. I also appreciated Ms. Velthouse’s choice of words and use of language because it entailed going to the dictionary to search for literal meanings and looking into my heart and mind for deeper ones (which is why I thought it was intelligent). Lisa Velthouse didn’t just write her story for the sake of writing it (a mistake a lot of memoirs unfortunately commit); she wrote for the sake of change–for herself and her readers.

So why did I say I identify with this book so, so much? Because while I was reading it, I was at the point of my life where I struggled with God’s grace, love, Word, truth…and just God Himself. I also struggled with fasting (I am eating my 5th or 6th serving of peanuts for the day. :O)  I couldn’t understand how I, the professing smart, intelligent, organized, and “I-have-it-all-together” girl, could eat too much food, watch too much TV, think vain thoughts, become so utterly selfish, fail academic requirements, and hurt the people I love the most (and who love me even more). In some parts of the book, Lisa Velthouse told stories about her experiences with sheep and how much she wished God didn’t compare her with sheep, which are downright stupid, helpless, and stubborn animals. She really got me when she wrote the following lines on page 145:

My preference–and my default mode–is to go on believing I am mostly good, just occasionally misguided. It is soothing to me, this illusion that I am not small and insignificant…that I am not undisciplined and unprincipled….that the core of my character is not at all ugly or awkward or unseemly….

She helped me accept the fact that I am an awkward, stubborn, and helpless sheep that is loved, cared for, and protected by a good and gracious Shepherd. She helped me understand even better that, while God hates sin to the core, He loves the sinner, and more importantly, to those He calls His children, He does not rest nor does He get fazed by failure and trials until His kids are perfectly aligned to His will for them.  She made me crave grace and search for God’s sweetness without shoving it at my face. Grace, indeed, is beautiful. :)

Ms. Velthouse, thank you for sticking to God in spite of the struggle, and living on to write your story about His grace. :)

As for YOU reading this right now, go grab a copy of Craving Grace: the book every person who ever failed in life and searched for God and continues to seek revival and hope should read. :)

Special thanks to OMF Literature for publishing her book here in the Philippines! :) Our God is indeed Jehovah Jireh! :D

 

I’m Back!

In case you haven’t heard (or read, rather), I’m back!!! :) :)

To answer the “why” question, go here. :)

To answer the “what’s next” question, keep reading. :)

So what’s next?

Gradual, sometimes enjoyable mostly painful, and fruitful growth is what’s next.

Real-time, crazy and fun adventures from an ordinary but special girl living in one of the 7,107 islands of the Pearl of the Orient is what’s next.

New friendships, challenges, relationships, and non-regretful failures;

God’s grace, mighty working, and awesomeness.

That’s what’s next.

Stay tuned. :)