Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. ~ Proverbs 16:3
When life gets too busy, things go uncontrolled, and a bunch of thoughts are running at the back of our minds, I honestly think there's one sure way to find that peace and break that we all yearn for, and that is to listen. Let Him speak. Sometimes we fill our minds with all the to-do-lists and the bucket lists that we don't get to stop for a moment and hear what God has to say.
In life we’re often placed in circumstances where the struggle to accept our defeat and move further becomes really hard. Even when all the facts are already lying right before our eyes, we can’t seem to let go of all the things, people or problems that’s hindering us from being okay. But that’s life, we’ve had to deal with the hard times, we’ve had to battle all those fears, we’ve had to keep on fighting. But there’s one begrudging truth amongst all of these though– that no matter how much we try to keep going, when we don’t learn how to let go of the relationships and the opportunities that could’ve been, I’m afraid to say but we might just be making ourselves a subject to not just pain but failure as well.
Christmas is just 2 days away! The days flew by so quickly that I haven't even noticed how fast December 2016 is coming to an end. Christmas is my favorite season as it is quickly associated with the winter season here in the UAE. And everyone loves winter. There's just something about this season that seems to wipe off everything— worries, heartaches and every negativity. In the Philippines, even the people living in the slums make sure that they'd feel the spirit of Christmas. They'd light their houses with Christmas lights that run through all over the towns (which I long to experience). They'd put up star lanterns hanging on their window sills. Surely, there's something with Christmas that light people's hearts with joy and perspective.
In the place where I currently stay, there's an Indian couple living just next to us. And even if they're muslims, they'd keep asking us about Christmas. These past few days, my dad has been working on crafting out huge star lanterns out of corrugated plastic material. Maybe because of our neighbors' curiosity, they'd often knock at our door and see the progress of the star. And guess what, they also tried to make one! It's just amazing to see how open they are about the thought of celebrating Christmas. These times remind of the reason behind Christmas. It's not about lights, the stars nor the pleasant weather that makes Christmas a season to rejoice. It's the hope that is associated with Jesus' birth that rekindles the fire inside the hearts of people. So this Christmas season, it's not bad to be happy about all the Christmas decorations you'll see. But stop a moment, and thank God for giving us the best reason to celebrate this Christmas.
Merry Christmas to y'all! I hope you enjoy it, keeping in mind the reason for this season.
Here I am once again, sitting in front of the laptop, hearing a children’s song playing faintly in the background.
“ Open, shut, open shut”. I guess it’s time for them to eat now and have some snacks. Some of them may be too excited for their parents to pick them up while some are just having the time of their lives. They don’t worry about the next minute or two but rather live in the moment with their friends and enjoy the time being. Times like these make me think of how much time we really have left in this earth. In this but temporary home that we live in. How long do we still have before our Father comes and picks us up? How long do we still have to wait? Should we be excited or should we just forget that there is an end to all of these and someday, we’ll soon be going home – to our real home. Last night, the topic I read from the daily bread was about making our days count here on earth. Making use of precious time to reconcile, to love, to appreciate, to treasure, to mold, to teach, to help. Really, what do we do when all these suddenly become over? Have I lived a sensible life that I will count as worth it or will I just be one of those people who did enjoy life on earth but haven’t passed on the truth to others. What is that truth? Maybe that truth is that happiness is temporary, it won’t last, and it will not necessarily be called yours but joy – joy is tangible, joy is reachable, joy is everywhere when you open your eyes to see it and your soul to feel it. For some, they only see the real meaning of joy when happiness is not within reach, when they have no choice but to live in the hope of the future. I’m grateful, however, that at a young age I began to recognize the difference between joy and happiness. Happiness – I’ve felt it, I’ve lived in it but it’s long far gone and sometimes i struggle to take a grasp of it. While joy, joy is around me, it surrounds me. The moment I witness the pure laughter of the children I get to be with every week, I try to stop from all the worries and laugh like a kid, live like a kid – full of hope, full of joy. I’m like living in a mini heaven here on earth so that I have a total clue on what heaven is going to be like – where the freedom to be like children on the playground becomes a reality. It’s times like these when I wish that everything would be as easy and hassle- free. It’s times like these when I all the more anticipate the coming of my Heavenly Dad.
The past few days have been pretty awful for me. I had sleepless nights thinking of nothing but the problems I've been facing. Sometimes, even when I am not directly involved in one, I still find myself wallowing in self pity that I begin to feel miserable; and I suddenly hate myself for being worthless — living such a complicated and complex kind of life. No matter how I try to pacify myself, sometimes the need to "shed tears in sorrow" until I fall asleep is just inevitable. I feel like I did all that I could do: Pray and meditate, think positively etc, but sadly none has helped me. I end up playing the blaming game and blame all the surrounding sadness on me, because of me. I know some of you might think that I'm just plain depressed and merely over-acting. But all these feelings come from the need of something. The need of God, most probably.
So even if I'm struggling every single day, I still find myself relying on God's strength alone to continue the race set before me.
And just in time, God spoke to me through His word at church earlier. I could've been something else, even worse but God's grace changed all of it. I think, I just need some time to be relieved from the thick clouds of despair that keeps on blinding me from the truth that God loves me and He is better.
Here's the song our Pastor shared earlier.. It will explain God's grace in a clearer way. Enjoy!
At church this morning, the topic shared by our pastor was about second chances. Our pastor cited different characters from the Bible; those who sinned big time yet were given second chances by God. This topic is one of my favorite knowing that I, a sinner myself, experienced the beauty of God's free gift which I never really deserved in the first place. Nowadays it's quite easy to let our anger or hatred towards someone get the better of us. To be honest, we're horrendously quick in making judgments. We're terrible at controlling ourselves, whether it be towards temptation, hatred, greed, gluttony — name it! What we have to be reminded of however, is the fact that we totally have no right to feel good about ourselves when we know that someone out there deserves or is waiting for a second chance from us.
During the talk, a short clip on Les Miserables was also shown. A scene where the bishop, being betrayed and cheated, still refused to have the man (Jean Valjean) jailed or punished because of obnoxiously stealing his precious silverware. The scene further explicates God's grace to us. That despite of being rejected, mocked and abused still came down and offered us what we ARE NOT, AT ALL, WORTHY OF. I just love how a simple musical show can illustrate what it means to be justified from sin, rescued from the pit of darkness and loved beyond what words can say. So today, the lesson I learned is. . . that however mad or hurt I felt/feel because of someone, I should always give them the benefit of the doubt. If God, in all His splendor chose to forgive us and make things right, who am I not to do the same?
Given the idea of the perfect life, the world spontaneously sheds light on how we should live our lives. It is often held in a perspective that is quite far from what the Bible holds as upright. As I'm in the last month of holding on to the word "teen" whenever I mention my age, I can only look back and thank God for being pretty hands-on in what I considered the most critical stage of my life.
About four months ago, we shifted to another house. It is not much different from our previous house and it is still in Sharjah. When we moved to this house, I wasn’t so sure about what was going to happen. We had issues in our previous house that sadly, all the tenants had to move – including us. To make the long story short, we were in a panic mode – where to find a house, how to pack all things in just a week and of course, how to get the financial help that we needed. Money after money. If I could just put to words everything that I felt during those days, I really wouldn’t be able to write anything at all. I had mixed emotions and all the more I thought about how quickly we had to do all things, I was all the more falling to depression. I mean, I had other things to do and this. How on earth am I even supposed to think about all things together and find a solution to all of it? I know that I was not alone for my family was also worried about what was happening, but I can’t erase the fact that I wish I could’ve done something to make things lighter and easier not just for myself – but for my family. It’s just that a lot of times, I hoped that I could be of better use.
Okay, enough drama.
Our situation was horribly difficult at that time. Because our water was cut down, my sisters and I lived in the guest room of a church friend which we were more than thankful for. (Imagine life without water!) While we had a decent place to stay, my parents had to go out and about looking for a place and saving water. We had slept for 10 days apart from each other. Although sleeping-over can be good, sometimes separation anxiety can just kick in. I’ve been given the responsibility to take care of my sisters and be very watchful in the place we were staying in, because our friends weren’t there as they were in vacation. Those times, I felt like I had to stay awake every time. I have this tendency to just look at the windows, “is the coast clear?” I was happy that I get to sleep well, but I’m sad too given the fact that I miss my bed and everything – I missed home. All those were very challenging to me. Never have I been in a situation where I had to do things alone and yet try to feel good. I think I’ve gotten used to being with people to guide me and help me out, but that time, it was different. Yet, in a finger’s snap, things changed.
After the storm there was a sense of calmness.
Prayers – Never ever think that prayer is our last resort when things go out of plan for prayer is the best thing we can ever do when in the midst of doubt, anxiety and depression. I’m just thankful that God never let us go. I was beginning to doubt everything and everyone to the point that I asked whether God still heard my prayers. To be honest, I felt like letting go – of hope, of faith and of every good thing that I was supposed to think about. And I made a mistake. I made a very huge mistake of losing my trust in God. Within the week, He provided people to help us financially, He gave us a pretty good place to stay – probably much better than where we came from. It was as if I was floating. Tears were flowing.
If there’s one lesson I learned, it would be to wait. How long it would take is completely none of our business. It’s God’s. So if you ever get stuck on the negativity around you, don’t strive looking for the positive because it will be so hard to find some. Instead, find peace in Jesus. Look up to the One who watches over us all, to the One who’s sure about what He’s doing. Never look down, you’ll get depressed even before you know it. Look up and place everything in His hands.
THE LORD IS NOT SLOW CONCERNING HIS PROMISE, AS SOME COUNT SLOWNESS; BUT IS PATIENT TOWARD YOU, NOT WISHING THAT ANY SHOULD PERISH, BUT THAT ALL SHOULD COME TO REPENTANCE. - 2 PETER 3:9
BUT WHEN YOU ASK, YOU MUST BELIEVE AND NOT DOUBT, BECAUSE THE ONE WHO DOUBTS IS LIKE A WAVE OF THE SEA, BLOWN AND TOSSED BY THE WIND. - JAMES 1: 6
Update: We may have had a little bit of misunderstanding with our neighbors, or shall I say – housemates at first, but things are brightening up now. We have always asked God to give us a “harmonious relationship” with everyone we encounter. We're also thankful that we came across the movie Prayer Room – which has inspired us as a family to pray over for our house
When we thought God wasn’t doing anything, oh well, He has always been working behind-the-scenes. And for that, I – we are more than grateful.
Keep the Faith!
Among all the characters or attitudes that a Christian must have, I must admit that contentment is one of those things I find hard to grasp and take a full scope of. It's just that I'm not convinced things will get better if I get contented with everything that I have in life. I mean, will things actually change if I start being content?
Yesterday at church, we got to listen to Pastor Jim as He spoke about the importance of contentment and how King Solomon disregarded it to the point of losing His relationship with God. Knowing the vast wealth and riches of King Solomon, it is truly hard to understand how he couldn't be content with all that he had. Materialism kept him apart from the nation he ruled, for instead of thinking about his nation's welfare, he focused more on executing his power and lived a lavishly good life! The thing is – he may gained the whole world, but in the end, he lost his soul. In short, he lost all of which are the most meaningful things in life – things which were obviously worth more than his money, fame, riches and possessions.
After hearing yesterday's teaching, based on some of the statistics that Pastor Jim had shown on his slides, I realized that making the most out of life and living a meaningful life is more significant than just owning several mansions in the world, having the most majestic cars in town and being a billionaire – or even a thrillionaire!
Living a life of contentment may be hard, but one thing's for sure: that is the ability to enjoy whatever life throws at you and in the end, experiencing the authentic riches we all have in Christ Jesus.
The question for you and me is.... where are our hearts? Where are our eyes set?
Our life revolves in the present and that is for sure. Although we don't have a time machine on sale to bring back our past, there is always a chance to build something and dream for the future. While dreaming may often be perceived as an "illusion" or something that is beyond man's reach, I still believe that we always have a role to play in the steps we take, and the ability to make decisions that will either benefit us or harm us.
Looking back to a few weeks ago, I can only be grateful that there are things that opened my eyes to all the wide -range of possibilities. Things that I expect to happen and things that I don't. When last month started, I am very privileged to be able to do the 'dream mapping' with the people I know from homeschooling. It was indeed a good experience. It's a type of program or shall I say "strategic planning" mainly for teenagers who aim for that "wow" thing to happen in their lives someday. It started off with a reflection of how we were in our relationship with God and how we were doing with our lives. It then moved on to opening our imaginations and forgetting all the things that were holding us back from dreaming. Moving on, there's this thing that the initiator said that made me realize few things: " God is the supreme dreamer who dreams His dreams through us." I can assure you that those words are still in my heart until today for I used to believe that based on certain situations, those life-long dreams become limited and eventually forgotten, but I was completely wrong. If God is that "Dreamer" who dreams His dreams through us, then I think there is no way for us to ever stop that. There will definitely be no end to those – no limits or hesitations.
I honestly don't want to spoil the whole thing as I want everyone to have the chance to somehow do it or experience it first- hand, but I just want to share all those realizations, misconceptions and lessons that I learned from it.
1. Not all dreams are God-breathed dreams
As I've mentioned above that God is the Supreme dreamer, there are some twists to that. Yes, we may want to dream without limits and be who we want to be. Even then, it's important to remember that everything is still in God's hands. Every dream in the map, every detail, every imagination must be entrusted in God's hands. Sometimes, our dreams don't align with God's plan for us and that's where intimate prayer comes in. There are dreams centered on ourselves and there are also Kingdom dreams. While dreaming for ourselves is not a bad thing, prayer and communication with God is that one thing that will help us stick to God's plan and keep it the main thing.
" The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing."
2. Sticking to the reality is not an option
I admit that I am guilty for this. I have been told many times to expand my thoughts and forget the reality because everything, eventually will end up there. The result for this perception is indeed the limitation to the imagination. When we withhold our abilities to dream big, our view becomes so narrow that we often miss out on the multitude of opportunities coming our way. It's definitely not a mistake to appreciate what's in front of us. Nonetheless, it's always part of the plan to dream big!
3. It requires an open mind
Dream mapping does require an open mind. It takes the courage to step up and plan on taking whatever risks are on the way. It is not just on paper – it takes a whole lot of dedication, effort and the will to do it which are all outside the areas of our comfort zones. Nothing does come in handy at first, but it takes the mind of an adventure -seeker, the strength of a bull and the determination that comes from God to act on the plan and step up whatever the cost.
4. Fix your mind and focus
Dream mapping also requires another thing – focus. Having the focus to do all the things written in the paper is a big must. No matter how many goals you want to achieve in life if you don't know where the priorities come in, everything will just be messed up. No one, at one time, can do all singing, studying, and traveling and more at the same time. Focus is another significant principle that comes with dream mapping. Setting each priority will also help in determining what you really desire to happen.
5. Don't do it just for yourself, do it also for others
Most of the time, we tend to plan about events that we want to take place in our lives. In this case, we often forget that there is more to it than just ourselves. We have our families, friends, acquaintances, and most importantly the world that needs someone like you and me to help change it and make a great impact in the society. I guess, if we try to put ourselves the least and give thought to others more, it's where we can truly experience the best that life can offer us.
Dream mapping is basically created for high school students who want to build a better future. In my opinion, it is better and much more helpful when teenagers around the ages of 14-18 try to do it because it's usually where the crisis come in and the years where teenage life becomes, well – a bit critical.
Dream mapping helped me to focus on things that I didn't think were that important to me prior to doing it. It's a great way to get minds together and weigh stuff down. Most importantly, it challenged me to stick on a planned schedule. Spiritually speaking, it's a great guide to help me draw not only closer to my dreams, but also closer to God. I knew and still know that without Him, none of what is written on paper will eventually become reality unless I entrust it to His care.
Thanks to Armandee, Jolene and family for accommodating us and imparting to us new ways to become effective in our youths and beyond.
A mixture of life, love, faith, and everything in between. Welcome to my space!
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