No to Lukewarm

These are times that require a firm choosing of sides. As formerly taboo ideologies and concepts have shamelessly been trying to establish themselves as the norm, we find that the more wrong is being pushed as right, and right as wrong, we see that the line between them is becoming clearer than ever.

Now is not the time to be lukewarm. We cannot be neither hot or cold. Either we support or even just accept killing, abuse, misogyny, racism, white supremacist ideologies…or not. When we say yes to a leader who subscribes to even just one of these, but who also subscribes to a common value like for example, anti-abortion, we still yes to these other evils. Standing up for immigrants, the LGBT, abuse victims, or the poor does not mean you have to sacrifice your pro-life values. If anything, the disenfranchised needs those values at play.

Like it or not, we are at a monumental time in our history where we must take arms in protecting truth or it shall not prevail in the lives of many. Right now, truth needs our help in rising above the filth of lies that attempts to cover it.

With the staggering amount of absurdity and bold, audacious lies that come out of the mouths of our leaders daily, the citizenry has been conditioned to hear, and forced to accept, unbelievable realities. It’s called gaslighting.

The Philippines’ Duterte has sold his country to China and actually has the audacity to ask his predecessor how he managed to let go of his country’s disputed land in the South China Sea. Beyond that, he has murdered more than 20,000 Filipinos, has freed the most corrupt, has trashed the Constitution, and cursed God in a country with 70% Catholics. So far, he is still in power, with a good number of Christians lauding Romans 13:1-5 as a defense for him.

The United States’ Trump has just denied climate change as a fact, has launched a most brutal and merciless anti-immigration campaign, has thrown his seat’s power to the protection of the NRA and tax cuts to the wealthiest, all while having his background unveiled to the world to be riddled with illegal dealings and abusive, misogynistic patterns of behavior. He’s still pumping vitriol to Twitter-dom every few hours daily, and his followers still believe God sent him.

There are no accidents here. The spiritual battle is raging and we must choose where we stand.

I’m not what you would call a “political person”. I’m not usually heavily vested in the political issues of society. I usually busy myself with my responsibilities, pay my taxes and go my own way.

But what’s happening right now begs my conscience to speak up. We CANNOT possibly idly sit by as more and more people are being hurt, disenfranchised, abused, killed. That could easily be us, and I wouldn’t want our children to grow up with evil as the norm. Everyday, the temptation to just let this slide or to be apathetic about all these is real. But we cannot. We must not. For our children. For our souls.

For every Christian, there are different seasons. A season of planting, waiting, harvesting, etc. Now, I believe, is the season of separating the wheat from the chaff. We have to choose which of the two are we.

Are we for God or are we for evil? It cannot be both.

Choose, and speak up. Stand for it. It will be hard. It is hard.

I’ve lost friendships, I’ve lost my home. Fear creeps up every now and then for me and my children, and our future.

Yet, I fear staying silent more, for I know my God. His words are harsh to a lukewarm church, “The members of this church see themselves as “rich” and self-sufficient, but the Lord sees them as “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked”  

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

Again, these are troubling times. Yet, my hope is and always will be in the Lord. Not in some populist leader touted as some sort of “messiah” or “God-sent”. The only Lord I recognize is Jesus and this is His promise: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Another Story of Abuse

These days, either you’ll feel defeated as a woman, or you’ll feel empowered to be one. With the #metoo movement comes the uncovering of thousands of sexual abuse and sexual assault cases that would’ve been left under the rug if it were not for the courage of those who spoke up. And the men, for their part, have resisted, undermined, trivialized all these stories. Some have even done a classic “Adam” and blamed the ruin of their lives to these women.

And with the surfacing of a sexual assault accusation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, women from all over the country (the world!) are finding reason to fight harder, as the abuse of men have shown itself to know no bounds.

Perhaps it is too much to ask for understanding or empathy. For not many can relate to a sexual assault survivor, unless you were one yourself.

And that is why we tell our stories. If not to help you feel empathy, then to understand that this is real. Much too common in fact.

Too often, these stories spring alongside misogynistic behaviors, a sense of entitlement and a position of authority. While there may be exceptions, abusers do follow a pattern.

The victims, on the other hand, have sort of a pattern too. In the aftermath of the abuse, no matter the extent it reached, it is the same. The feelings of hurt, trauma, guilt…all the same, all terrible. Then, we jump to the next stage which is to try to deny it to ourselves or if it’s a loved one, justify it (“Maybe he didn’t mean to do it?”). Next, we grapple with the damage it left behind. Fears that lead to emotional, mental and physical dysfunctions that make simple things suddenly complicated, much too challenging.

Perhaps, if but just one of the thousands, you read one story and truly empathize with that, truly help bear the weight that an abused carries even for just a moment, that will help lessen the absurdity that is our world today.

My story began when I was about four years old. My abuser was a male teenage relative. We were swimming together in a pool when he sat himself by the pool stairs and called me to him. Then, he pulled me to him and started rubbing his penis on me. I was four but I knew he was doing something he wasn’t supposed to be doing. I tried to get away from him, but he pulled me closer. From then on, I tried to avoid being left alone with him. I never once mentioned this to him, or to anyone else in the family for I feared no one would believe me and as a four-year old, it wasn’t clear to me what just happened. All I know was that I felt violated, though I had no words to articulate that then.

The second abuse happened much later, when I was in my mid-twenties, in the hands of a close male relative. He would lay down next to me in my bed, hug me with his arm purposely on my breast. He embraced me so tight that I could not move much. I pretended to be asleep and was annoyed at being bothered from my slumber. This happened many times in the course of many years. I did not tell him until about a couple of years ago. I tried to be as direct and as straightforward as I could, and tried to communicate the abuse as I recognized it to be, as well as letting him know that I had forgiven him. Our relationship was spared.

Yet, I will never know if it ever registered in his mind that that was abuse. He was defensive, as expected, saying that he meant no malice. Yet, to a woman, an inappropriate touch is obvious and can never be excused. If it made me feel uncomfortable and violated, there’s not much else your intent or lack thereof can do anything to make me feel otherwise. It just has to stop.

I share my story not to “ruin” the lives of my abusers, but to pinpoint just how common it is, in fact even occurring the hands of a relative or someone the victim knows, and that sometimes, men do not know how to draw the line. Must women tell them? Well, then we are telling you now and you are not in a position to make excuses or to not listen.

I have children and everyday, I find myself distraught at how corrupted this world is, and how I’m ever going to let them go out in the world. Statistics show that 1 in 5 girls, and 1 in 20 boys are victims of sexual abuse. How can a parent possibly rest? Yet, I know that I cannot possibly shield them forever. So I educate them. As much as I can and as much as their young minds can comprehend. I’ve taught them that private parts remain private, and that nobody can touch them. If a stranger attempts to do so, he or she must swat their hand and immediately tell Mommy or Daddy. I have taught them that strangers will sometimes lie to them, telling them that they or Mommy or Daddy will be harmed if they do say anything, but I told them that they must not believe that. Of course, I teach them to not go with strangers, to always make sure bathroom doors are locked when they’re inside using it, and to always dress and undress in private.

This is a time when the predators have been unmasked and while it is a good thing, I also know that these are dangerous times.  As a woman once a victim of sexual abuse, and now a mother and a woman who believes in social justice, I will continue the fight in my own way. We get up, we learn, we try to protect what’s ours, and we continue to stand up for what is right and we will never allow the wrong to be normalized.

Going For It = Letting Go

Have you ever wanted to do something but put it off until “everything is in place”? You know, you want to smooth out everything first, make sure all responsibilities are done before you indulge in the one thing that you want, or feel must do? Well, I’m THAT type of person by default. I don’t know what you’d call it, but I say it’s nuts.

Since last year, God has been teaching me to “go for it”. Go for what my heart really desires NOW. Be bolder. Less fearful. Do this more: pray and be lead by grace. For my faith is in grace and its giver.

Well, I’m now 37 years old and I just gave birth to my third child. Life is too short to wait for the “perfect moment”. You make the moment perfect as you go along.

That’s been the theme of our lives lately and through those newfound lenses, I’m learning to navigate motherhood and homeschooling in a different way.

As a stay-at-home mother, I’m learning time and again that I cannot wait for the baby to finish feeding before I can stand up and start feeding our two other children. Now is the time to start relearning my one-handed tricks I learned back when we had our firstborn.

In the same vein, I’m also learning to eat cookies when I want to (even if it’s early in the morning), buy that leather sandals I’ve finally found after months of searching, and read to my child even if it’s not “yet time for it” according to our homeschool schedule. Live life according to what NOW call for.

Nowhere has this new mindset been more utilized and helpful than in our homeschool.

Probably not surprising but I’m a schedule-maker and I’m a schedule-follower. But while making schedules used to bring me delight and “comfort”, my rigidity in following it has robbed me of joy in my tasks. So I’ve finally decided to pin a “loose” schedule on the fridge, but hardly have been glancing towards it. Throughout the day, I go by what “feels right” in our daily ride with the kids.

Being a homeschooling mom and our kids’ primary caregiver, I’m part of the daily grind with the kids. We get up and establish our own rhythm as the day wears on, and I have to respect that. Sometimes, there are moments where it just calls for them to sit together and enjoy making clay figures. Then, my son gets up to finish making his hand-drawn books and my daughter is left alone and suddenly invites me to dance with her. I have learned to oblige, regardless if I’m carrying an infant or not. Soon after, it’s naptime for the girls and that’s when I take advantage of reading to our son. That is the perfect time to get into our homeschool schedule as planned. But I no longer stress over what is done when. What is important is we jump on learning opportunities with gusto and enjoy ourselves.

The main reason for this major change is the book, “Teaching From Rest” by Sarah Mackenzie, which I haven’t finished yet but have brought such profound insights and have helped catapult me onto some conviction-led changes in our life and home. I love this book and when I am done with it, I will write a more comprehensive review on it.

For now, I leave this space with the most important thing I’ve begun to see in motherhood and homeschooling—our children see when we are anxious, when we are stressed out, or when we are enjoying them. They see truth in an instant and they react accordingly. What a curse it would be if all they see in us is that they are mere “tasks” to be done, and part of a list that should just be checked. What a waste it would be if we are to parent them but find no joy in it, to have an opportunity to educate them but have made them into chores instead. Even the blessing of parenthood can be made into a burden…if we let our focus wander elsewhere. Like a shot in the arm, I feel thankful for the jolt that brings me back to reality—I do not need to be in control of them, I just need to be present with them and let myself enjoy them.

Going for it and choosing to live in the present has meant taking daily miniature leaps of faith for me, and I will admit, relinquishing control is liberating as it is scary. I love this journey 🙂

 

 

The Dark Side of Humanity

These days, to speak against extrajudicial killings is tantamount to speaking against the President and his 16 million supporters, which includes friends and some family members. This results in brothers and sisters thinking bad about, and speaking against us. To a considerable amount of people, we are just noisy, self-righteous brats who do nothing but complain. 

Meanwhile, last night, a brother of my friend just got murdered, “execution-style” outside his home.  The gravity of the situation is getting more and more undeniable and it’s getting closer to home. 

Though I ache for lost friendships, my heart is pained infinitely more by the evil that is being allowed to flourish. By people who continue to stand by it, even. 

Some may argue that not everyone is willing to fight for this, afraid to risk relationships or lives. 

Yet, as I read through the history of the Holocaust, where the mass murders were on a “systematic, industrial level”, thousands of ordinary people took part in the genocide. At first, the Jews were “just” discriminated against–non-Jew neighbors no longer saying hi, and their businesses being burned down. It took years, but we all knew the ending which they aptly called, “The Final Solution”. Six million Jews were killed, with the aid of ordinary citizens who believed that these people, including children, were sub-humans. 

These “ordinary people” were not forced into the mass murder program. In fact, there were recounts of groups of people being asked if they didn’t want to take part, and in one group, only 15 stepped up. More than 500 willingly joined that day to help the SS institute their “cleansing programs”. 

And here we are in the Philippines, propelled by the same anger the Germans were, and lead by the same rhetorically-charismatic leader who promises change, and who kills without reservation. People applauding Duterte’s admission of killing, even while he was Mayor, and promising to kill all the addicts were reminiscent of Germans waving the Swastika while cheering the Nazis. 

Truth is, were ALL subject to this temptation of thinking that we’re higher, better than others. Especially if were coming from an angry place. And I, too, was an angry and frustrated citizen and I had no faith in our judiciary system. There was so much wanting in our lives as Filipinos. Basic services did not work, corruption was rampant and politicians were blatant thieves. I wanted change as well. And I wanted to blame someone, and show some political will. I can completely understand why Duterte won. 

But after six months, when the most prominent feature of his administration is the snuffing out of more than 6,000 lives amidst cheering and applause, I do not understand why he is not being stopped. Worse yet, he is being supported and applauded. I am disturbingly alarmed. My heart has not stopped beating fast because I know, instinctively that there is something gravely wrong. This is something more than human error. This is pure, intentional, insidious evil. 

When his administration allowed the honoring of the late dictator in the place of heroes, it’s like he paid homage to an old evil, cementing its place in history with a lie. 

There is something sinister going on here. And evil, though it may deceive, will always be marked by telltale signs: Does it bring malice? Does it kill? Does it steal? Does it destroy? 

When one looks at the people who have staunchly opposed him, like De Lima, wasn’t Duterte the first one to mention that De Lima had an affair with her driver, thereby leading to the most malicious interrogation the public ever had to witness on live TV? They practically stripped her naked and humiliated her in front of thousands. 

VP Leni Robredo, a widow, also was a subject of pregnancy rumors and her legs, eyeballed by the President

Kill? We have thousands accounted for, including children. 

Steal? We have the office of the President allocated with 17 billion more than the previous administration’s. He has an account whose amount he refuses to disclose. He has allied himself with the country’s biggest thief family and has cleared GMA, one of his financiers, on all of her graft and corruption charges. 

Destroy? Hasn’t this been a recurrent theme in his speech? “I will destroy you!” And he has done so with thousands of lives, and with the truth. He is seeking an alliance with two countries renowned for destroying lives and environment for the sake of “nationalism” and financial gain–China and Russia. 

Is this the change that we signed up for?! 

This is more than just bitter complaints against the administration, or being paranoid. And this is most certainly NOT a write-up by a “yellowtard”. I couldn’t care less about the Aquinos or the Roxases right now. The Philippines is in jeopardy. The Filipinos are going down a path where it will be very hard to turn back. If history tells us anything, hundreds of thousands more lives will be lost, and our soul will be the biggest collateral damage in this whole crusade. 

We may have wanted change, and we may not have chosen evil. But in this pivotal moment in history, when we stand by and let others die, we are no different than the ones who pulled the trigger. When we stand by as he let others believe that killing others is NECESSARY, we are willingly revising truth to how it suits us. As we carry our children to bed tonight, sighing to ourselves just how “safe” we feel now because there are no more “salot ng lipunan”, try just for five seconds to put yourself in one of the 6,000 victims’ shoes. One mom or dad won’t be kissing his/her child ever again. Empathy–that’s a God-given trait to humans. If we have lost it too, then we can all but say goodbye to humanity. 

As there is a dark side to humanity, there is also a good side. There is that side that clings on to hope. Hope in truth that there is a higher one who is sovereign, and who will not let evil win. But, we must turn our back on despair, for that is the opposite of hope. Hope or despair will lead our thoughts and action. But we have to choose, for light cannot coexist with darkness. There can only be one reigning in our hearts, in our lives–good or evil, hope or despair. Our humanity depends on it.

Fighting the New Normal

What does the Philippines have in common with other parts of the world in this moment in history?

We, just as many other countries, are at the cusp of either unveiling a masked mindset, or turning into a new leaf altogether—a “new leaf” that promotes extreme intolerance, sees killings as a necessity, and deems sexual degradation of women as acceptable.

In the US, a video of Richard Spencer hailing Trump and white America amidst applause and Nazi salutes has been making the rounds in social media recently. While the comments section gave a little comfort with people reacting violently against it, the fact that many people in the video were applauding his otherwise-controversial statements like, “Many wonder if they (non-Whites) are people at all” were enough to send chills down my spine. In reality, this presents more than just rhetoric. This represents an angry working-class America that has finally made its voice heard—we feel we have been shortchanged, robbed of what’s rightfully ours and we want change right now. President-elect Trump is the embodiment of that entitled voice.

In France, they are also preparing for their National Elections and a Nationalist, Marine Le Pen has been increasingly gaining ground. She promotes an “updated politics” that supports ideas of protectionism, xenophobia and authoritarianism.

Here on the homefront, the nation has been shaken to division by the new administration’s campaign against drugs. While it sounds a noble cause to get behind, the problem has been the intolerant view that has propelled it, not to mention the recent contradictory events that cast a dark shadow on this government’s self-proclaimed crackdown on drugs. Suddenly, people are seen in either black or white—drug pusher/user or not. And those who belong to the latter are quick to justify that killing them is considerable, and sometimes, very necessary. After all, the President has named these lost souls “subhuman”.

The President’s tough stance has earned him loyal fans, and harsh critics. So it’s either you’re on one side or the other. And each side is quick to offer rebuttals, and arguments and insults on the other for each one’s opinions. It’s brutal, and it’s ugly.

Our family has been very vocal about standing against this administration’s ways. We don’t believe in extrajudicial killings, classifying people as subhumans as based on their actions, and giving different names for what is clearly wrong as stated in the Bible.

It’s earned us more than angry friends. It’s also gotten us death threats and a continuous heartbreak that I cannot explain.

My husband’s family were political activists during the Martial Law regime , and I completely understand where they stand on any threat to human rights, and human life.

I, on the other hand, can’t say I’m the most politically involved citizen. Yet, I’ve felt a relentless burden since the campaign period last year. I thought I was just heavily pregnant and the stress was getting to me. But, now, even after-birth, I couldn’t help but feel a gnawing sorrow for our nation, and for people whom I thought we shared common values with, but now openly supports this administration, and by extension, its crusade against crime and drugs even at the expense of human life.

Yes, it hurts because it’s personal to me, to us. But, what really, truly breaks my heart is that people in the country are quick to defend what’s wrong. In fact, to them, people fighting for human rights are the ones in the wrong. They say we’re making noise out of sheer pride or self-righteousness. This is not about us! This is about the truth that our God taught us all!

His truth is clear: Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself.

And yes, that includes the drug users and pushers. Jesus died for them too.

Make no mistake. We believe in justice (which is why we cry out against the burial of Marcos in LNMB), and whatever drug-related crimes there are must be put to trial, and put to justice. We also put a lot of weight on our leaders’ transparency, which is why we want to find out the truth on De Lima’s case, too, as much as we want to find out about drug lord Peter Lim. The energy of the administration must be put towards there, and to the rebuilding and strengthening of the family unit (more on that on another blog post). But the drug dependents are NOT subhumans, and who are we to say that they don’t deserve to live?

If God dealt with us the same way, we would have been all dead. Yet, His compassion and mercy reign everyday.

But what’s most disturbing, and why I’ve been pushed to write this with the hopes that I can somehow warn a brother or sister, is because of the insidious campaign based on (Oxford dictionary’s international word of the year) “post-truth“. Defined as, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”, post-truth rides on a public personality’s rhetoric and campaign that is not hinged on facts or truth, rather taps on the more powerful emotions such as hate, anger, entitlement. That got Trump in the White House. That got Duterte in Malacañang.

It all began in the campaign period—pushing Duterte’s macho, unconventional, no-holds-barred, unapologetic persona as stark contrast to TRAPOs, starting off with that expletive-laden remark towards the Pope. It shocked the people, but it also showed the powers that be that the people can take it. They pushed some more, and let the rape joke roll out to the masses. More expletives, more crass jokes, as the body count continues to rise. Until finally, not even the last one shocks us anymore. In fact, it became acceptable. It is now normal, and we can expect it, and we can take it. The conditioning worked.

Truth, suddenly, is relative.

It starts out simple—renaming an already-established evil practice such as murder (“collateral damage”) or white supremacy (“alt-right”), then reintroducing it over and over through media until it becomes “normal”, until its manifestations become acceptable.

From a seed rooted in a strong desire for change that suddenly reignites feelings of discontent, of anger at being unpacified by our government, and of rage that all our needs are not being met. Suddenly, we lash out at the establishment for not giving all that we think we deserve. And in our nation’s case, one candidate has pinpointed just the perfect culprit—the drug users and pushers in this country. And not only has he given the perfect scapegoat, he also promised to do the cleaning up for us. He will eradicate and he will instill change by ANY MEANS NECESSARY.

Who doesn’t love a quick fix, right?

And who can deny the appeal of someone who gives us license to act out our innermost impulses. Almost like that bad boy who lives on the edge, and who’s not afraid to be different and to live dangerously. Who can resist that?

Well, sure the appeal may be explainable, but when we’re talking about lives being taken away without so much as batting an eyelash, and people agreeing that it’s really necessary, and justifying it’s for the greater good, everyone will come to a crossroads. Either you do a double-take and re-examine, or you inhale deeply and decide you can accept this. For any of the two, it’s certain that one will never be the same again after making a decision.

The most dangerous part about this line of thinking is that it’s a slippery slope. From indulging the feeling of entitlement, to self-righteous anger, and tolerating an underlying culture that excuses, even encourages killing, pretty soon, we can just get pissed at anyone on the street and go on an all-out rampage.

As our feelings of entitlement gets bigger and bigger, we see the line of morality blurring, and is instead replaced with personal boundaries that when crossed, must be avenged with blood. If the anger in social media is any indication, the scenario in real life is hardly comforting. We are all subject to this kind of temptation, all of us. That is why we must guard against it, NOT embrace it.

Why? Because we have children, and they are Filipinos. Fight for the values that we MUST cultivate–not with lies, or “necessary evil”. God is bigger than that, and He has promised victory.

What I can do is this: Show compassion. Propagate truth. Never bend it, never twist it, never cover it, even if it is inconvenient, even if it is painful. It is a light that must not be covered.

And what is that truth? And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

Change starts, and ends, there.

 

 

God Doesn’t Meet Us Halfway

Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit out of my element. My son continuously asks for some time with me, I’m behind in our homeschool planning and implementation, I’m struggling with this new nutritional plan my husband and I are trying out, I’m feeling unattractive with my new post-partum body and I can’t seem to get into a routine with all my to-do’s. Yes, yes I know we just had a baby and all these are normal. But, being me, I feel like all my shortcomings would somehow lead to even more disasters.

If I don’t spend time with our son, our relationship might suffer. If I don’t homeschool, my son would fall behind. If I don’t make good dishes, my husband won’t eat it and be healthy. If I don’t get back my body, I’d be fat and losyang forever.

Oh no. My baby is eating her arm and I just sprayed bug repellent on her, my son is waiting for me by the door to do homeschool, and my arms are too meaty! Not seen in photo: the mountain of company receipts for tax computations, lesson planning materials and unfinished menus. WAAAH!

Oh no. My baby is eating her arm and I just sprayed bug repellent on her, my son is waiting for me by the door to do homeschool, and my arms are too meaty! Not seen in photo: the mountain of company receipts for tax computations, lesson planning materials and unfinished menus. WAAAH!

Okay, I’m going way over the top but it’s not uncommon for a mom to feel like so much depends on her, right?

It’s telling of how I take things from a short-term perspective. I see only as far as my eyes can see. What’s more, I seem to have this big idea that I am in so much more control than I truly am. As if the whole world rests on my shoulders. And my success, and my failure, would mean the success or failure for the rest of my family. Truthfully, this is where I’ve gone into troublesome quarrels with my husband especially during the first years of our marriage. Because of the mistaken “scope” of my control and fear at the heart of it,  I’ve tried to tell him what to do far too often with so many things.

Yet, countless times as a wife, mom, woman, I felt confronted by my own set of limitations. I make too many mistakes, and I am stubborn in making them again and again. On top of that, my own emotions can sometimes still the best of me. These are the moments that I kneel to the Lord and ask for help.

“Forgive me, Lord for my shortcomings.”

“I’m sorry, Lord for the hurt I have caused.”

“I need your help in changing myself because it’s too hard to do it alone.”

As Christians, we are called to move from glory to glory. To move forward from craving “infant milk” to “solid food”. Yet, time and again, I realized just how quickly I can go back to square one as if I had not learned anything at all. And how can I teach, how can I influence when I see all my imperfections before me?

And this is where my prayer takes a turn. “Lord, amidst the mountain of failures and shortcomings, if you see a small part of goodness and righteousness in my heart, even if it’s as small as a mustard seed, please acknowledge, bless it and make it grow.”

As I prayed, I realized that in my life, in my struggle with my own mistakes, miscalculated judgment calls, and wrong mindsets, God did not even meet me halfway. He met me where I can…even if it meant I was only at the starting line AGAIN, and again.

Of course I am grateful. But more than that, I am encouraged.

I love yesterday’s devotional, “Working Through Failure” from Theology of Work. It cited the passage where Peter boldly declares that he will go where Jesus will. And Jesus gives him the chilling prediction: “Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” Then, the passage continues to say that Jesus added, “And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Jesus knows Peter will fail him, yet it doesn’t deter him from assigning an important task to him. How encouraging it is for me to know that our God chooses to see beyond our failures, and continues to make His purpose for us come to pass. The devotional goes on to say, “It’s important to learn from our mistakes, but we can’t let them become obstacles. We have to move forward, trust God for both forgiveness and guidance, and prepare for what’s next.”

God has always dealt with me in such a way that surprises me. Coming from an unhappy home, I never really dreamt of having a family of my own. Yet, He gave me a loving husband and two beautiful children–gifts I had never even thought of having, so I never even prayed for such. But that’s how a gift is–you just accept it and enjoy it.

In my heart, I’ve always been a writer. Yet, I didn’t pursue that path in my career right away, as my own passion daunted me. So I taught preschool in an international school for awhile. Then, I went into Publishing where I enjoyed many years producing magazines. After that, the lure of a higher position as a Marketing Manager got me to leave the job that I loved. Then, I went to Public Relations. There I truly felt that work was work. I did it, but always wondered why I was doing what I did. I didn’t last very long with the last two jobs. Too often, I wondered why I had even accepted the preschool, marketing and PR jobs. Though I didn’t regret the experience, I felt that those were precious years I could’ve spent doing what I really wanted to do–which was to write, edit and produce publications.

Years later, I found myself homeschooling our son and utilizing skills I had learned in that preschool stint. It taught me how to teach and to break lessons down to a small child’s level. The marketing position opened the door for me to another industry and I got into PR, where I met some of my much-loved friends, one of them even becoming the ninang (godmother) of my son! It also paved the way for us to meet one of our most treasured clients now in our video production company. And that editorial job I loved in a publishing company? That’s where I met my husband! Put together, all those jobs I did taught me skills I need now in being partner to my filmmaker husband in our company, and a homeschooling Momma. Who would’ve thought?

My point is: I didn’t make those career choices in wisdom or careful discernment of my future. My reasons varied but they were mostly focused on the short-term returns and for some of them, I truly believed I was making a mistake. Perhaps I was, but what’s more important is what God has done with those choices.

These days, I spend 80% of my day breastfeeding my three-month old Emma.

These days, I spend 80% of my day breastfeeding my three-month old Emma.

All these I am reminded of as I was busy reveling in all my shortcomings lately…that there is a God who makes sense of the mistakes, who weaves together seemingly insignificant details to make one beautiful piece, who meets me where I can and pours out His grace on me. Of course I am grateful. Of course I am encouraged. But more than that, I am inspired. To try again, to do better, to be better. And perhaps face tomorrow, with all my strengths and imperfections, bravely and joyfully, fully expectant of God’s glorious purpose.

We Are What We Consume

I read this post on the influence of consumption by Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio and it reminded me of my own experience when I was still single.

I had just moved out of my parents’ home after a painful disagreement with my father that left us estranged. I was 27 then, and I was going to find my own place for the very first time. Though the circumstances were unpleasant, I was nonetheless excited at the new prospect of freedom.

I found a place–a good friend of my husband’s is renting out a room in her three-bedroom condo (which eventually became our home as a family) and I wasted no time making that room my own.

However, the excitement soon faded and I found myself getting scared and anxious when I was by myself at night. I was getting all sorts of paranoid thoughts that I wasn’t alone and something or someone was out to get me. I couldn’t sleep til the wee hours, and I had work early the next day.

I was also a new Christian and I knew then that Christ was Someone I could ask for help and so I did. Each night I lay scared to death, I opened my Bible and prayed until early morning. I prayed for protection and for the fear to go away. It was exhausting to be scared all the time.

I also asked for the cause of my fears to be revealed. I thought it was the strife I had with my father, which probably contributed as well. But something was revealed to me that truly hit home.

Memories of my most favorite ghost stories that I loved telling anyone who cared to listen suddenly came back to me. My inclination towards watching horror and suspense films were suddenly pinpointed in my head. I loved a good fright much like any horror fan, but being a Christian, I suddenly realized–they simply don’t match. Fear of any kind, even for entertainment, simply doesn’t go with faith. What I had opened myself to, what I had devoured and consumed took its toll. Fear had taken root and anxiety took over my nights.

It took months but I had to deal with the unearthed cause. I prayed, repented and confessed to my husband too. He helped me pray against my fears.

Now, God had weeded out the propensity towards fear-inducing materials like horror movies and stories and saved me from my fear. Thank God! Sometimes, it’s still tempting to watch the latest horror fads like The Conjuring, The Walking Dead, etc. but really, it’s not worth investing in fear anymore. Thankfully, my husband doesn’t enjoy those kinds of entertainment too and would rather watch wholesome movies together.

The Enemy uses seemingly inconsequential things to lure us in, then were left to deal with the consequences and that’s usually FEAR. When you feel yourself fearful and anxious, pray for freedom and discernment of the cause then repent and pray for it specifically.

The grace of God frees us from ALL kinds of bondages, even those that modern society says is acceptable. Bottomline: If it causes fear or torment of any kind (even if it’s “just not being able to go to the bathroom alone”), kick it out of your life!

When A Good God Allows Rape – A Review

This Holy Week, I read the book of one of the Momma bloggers that I’ve been following, Joy Mendoza of www.teachwithjoy.com, When A Good God Allows Rape.

IMG_6237-croppedI had been wanting to read this book for quite some time because while I was blown away by her testimony, there’s a question I’ve long been asking God.

As Christians, we are taught that we will experience adversity, trials, challenges. Jesus Himself said it, “In this world, you will have trouble…”. In reading the book of Job where God allowed His faithful follower to experience trials from Satan himself, I couldn’t help but feel fear. Why would He allow such horrible things to happen to one of His own? This is a common question of both believers and unbelievers. And in my journey with God, I have asked Him this many times.

As I came to terms with the reality of sin existing in this world, how man’s own freewill have allowed for both love willfully given, and evil willfully chosen, I find myself needing to trust someone higher than me for the welfare of my family. The verses that became my weapon were:

If He gave His own son for us, won’t he also give us everything else?

Take heart! For I have overcome the world.

Nothing can separate us from God’s love.

Now, my next question and which lead to me to read this book: In the face of adversity, do we have the grace to face it? Or will we be broken completely?

Joy’s recount of her life’s journey, beginning with her “insulated” childhood of sweet innocence, and then the horrifying experience of her own home being broken into and she, at 15 years old, experiencing rape seven times by seven different men, scared me to my knees. As a woman and as a mother, I truly felt fear creep up inside.

Which is why I decided to continue reading. I wanted to know how this story ends, how she can possibly say, “What Satan meant for harm, God meant for good.”

And as I read through her story, I experienced a familiar sense of peace. That thankfully, our journey, no matter how painful the stumbling blocks, doesn’t in pain. God has said this to me several times: Hope in ME for I am sovereign, and I love you.

Joy’s story tells of God’s grace that began from her family being Christian ministers, that was palpable even during the rape (“Somehow, amidst the repulsive acts he committed against me, I was able to separate myself from my physical body. In the depths of my soul–as though embraced by an inexplicable calm–my one comforting thought was that Jesus was with me.”), and followed her through all the days and years after.

Now, Joy is happily married to a God-fearing man with five children, and she ministers to abused women, as well as wives and moms. Her blog is widely followed due to her honest voice in it. The effect of the rape, intended to be most damaging turned for good and went beyond the victims’ lives. As their family decided to forgive and pray together, their faith in the Lord renewed, their community of believers stood behind them, and they were able to empathize and minister to even more people within and beyond their sphere of influence.

This book helped me validate some answers that I found in my talks with God. It helped me put my own tragedies into perspective as well. When I was turned away by my own family, when our son was born prematurely, when my husband and I go through marital conflicts, a ray of hope shines through knowing full well that God is with me, with us. And what worse thing can we possibly fear than NOT having God with us at all?

Fact is, sin remains to be a part of this world we are a part of. It’s a part of it because free will can allow for it to be chosen. While sin can hurt even “good” people, it doesn’t mean these people will be forever bound by it, because we have Someone who can lift us up and help us rise above victoriously. Choosing to forgive, to surrender to God’s healing, to hope again…God will find many ways for life for life to be rebuilt, renewed, restored to brand-new.

There is a bigger picture to consider and hope lies in the fact that God sent His only son to die for us–isn’t that enough evidence that there is a bigger, higher, more important purpose for us than just being trampled by our pain and hurts?

Healing, redemption, victory–all miracles that a good God will ensure for His own. Consider what Paul said, No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I highly recommend this book for those questioning God, and for those who know Him. Take your questions to Him and allow Him to answer. Our journey with God is worth every question, every honest conversation, every effort to know Him more.

I praise You God for Joy, her testimony and her family. May You be glorified always!

When A Good God Allows Rape can be bought at OMF Literature. 

This is not a paid solicited post. Just a book review bought about curiosity by and the author’s personal faith journey 🙂