Tuesday, December 31, 2013

After the Rush

It was like hitting the highway. Stepping on the gas pedal so hard as if I were on a drag race. Beating the red light. Relentless overtaking. Mumbling words of disappointment over drivers who seemed like taking the ride a leisure walk in the park. Didn’t care if it rained or if the sun set. Didn’t matter if the music were in the 80s or Katy Perry. I was focused.

That’s 2013 for me. Fast. Although one of my strong points is context and that I could pull everything together, it’s surprising that this year seemed like a blur. There was no stopping. No vacation trips. No leisure. My mind was unstoppable in producing ideas and questions. Man, how hungry was I!

Last year was like a slow motion, though. I tasted God’s love in ways I have never experienced before. Like I was a little child being watched with my every move. I was cradled and adored. It was like an assurance of his presence when some hard stuff happen.

The hard stuff was 2013. Marched on as long as I could. Conquered as long as there were walls to be torn. God was with me. And we were unstoppable.

I drove all the way to the end, and when I hit December 31, I suddenly stopped. Looking through the windows, I only watched people laugh and live. It’s almost as if being with myself was a whole new strange thing after one whole year of chasing. So here I am, finding solace in isolation from the noise of the world. It’s strangely silent.

After the rush of 2013, sitting here and being acquainted with myself again, I find peace in a pause.

In the bible, when the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt, they went through a long process of preparation. A long, agonizing 40 years of disobedience in wilderness. The law was given. Offerings were made. They fasted and prayed. God forgave. And there were moments that I was like, ‘Come on now! let’s go to Canaan and conquer it now!’

But then, as Ecclesiastes says, there is a time for everything. No shortcuts. And while I feel like I was in an extreme pursuit this year, God never ceases to invite me to rest in his presence. To be still and hear from Him. It’s amazing how after a long drive, I am reminded that I was never alone.

It’s not all about conquering. For what is the fight for if it were not done for love? Why else should the promised land be seized if it were done for selfish gain? Everything is meaningless if God’s not there. Whether in a battle or in a pause.

It’s always amazing how the God who made the entire universe would desire to be with me. It’s mind-blowing how I am the reason his Son would die for. It’s not all about conquering. It is experiencing the magnitude of his love. It’s breathing his existence in my life. It’s surrendering all of me.

Yes there are promises yet to be fulfilled. Seas yet to be crossed. But in the most intimate moments with God, my arms are strengthened. I am filled. And tomorrow is another fight.

Monday, June 24, 2013


Reading a good book in a coffee shop on a fine day when the sky is covered with clouds and the sun barely peeks through seems to compel me to write. I have finally finished a book I have started reading months ago. This kind of book is not meant to be just read. So I had to take notes every time leaving me a summarized version.

I don't consider myself futuristic, much more a visionary. The longest I could plan is my next week's activities. That's apart from vacation trips that need to be planned way ahead due to promo airfares. There are a lot of things going through my mind and sorting them out has always been a struggle. I was struck when Andy Stanley said,

Dreamers dream about things being different. Visionaries envision themselves making a difference. Dreamers think about how nice it would be for something to be done. Visionaries look for an opportunity to do something. (Visioneering)

I have to admit I always catch myself thinking about making the world a better place to live. I see people throwing their candy wrappers outside the window of their cars and I am disgusted to my very core. I look at my niece throwing tantrums everyday and I already wonder what does it really take to raise a kid. The question that keeps popping in my head is "What is the right way of doing this?" There I get stuck.

I'm not a visionary, but for the past months I am consumed by the tension of what is and what could be. Before I sleep, I find myself thinking about some women under my leadership and I am emotionally involved. I wake up some mornings and their faces pop in my mind. The question remains, What is the right way of doing this?

Is there really one formula in pursuing something that God has birthed in your heart?

I can't function when things are a mess. I am discouraged when I can't see results. I can't continue when it becomes uncertain. But then God has revealed himself to me as the God of hows. Visions birthed by God in our hearts shall be orchestrated by Him. He only requires faithfulness on our part. And the rest, He would have to fill in the blanks.

I believe we will all go through a season when our faith will be tested, stretched, and sometimes exhausted. While pursuing a vision from God, we will find ourselves having more questions than answers. But then again, it was never and will never be about us. When God gives us visions, the focal point would still be him.

There are times I am consumed by the little tasks- my to do list. How many meetings in a week. What topics to discuss. Evaluating performances. Troubleshooting mistakes. Yes, as Andy said, I catch myself working too hard as if it were my responsibility to maintain the vision. As if it were too great a task for God.

But what I loved the best about this book- more than embracing the vision God has placed in my heart- is actually having to experience Him in greater depth. That from the little tasks that I had been sweating for years now, I get to shift my focus to the One whose love and greatness I can never understand fully, yet be able to get a glimpse of in increasing measure.

Seven years ago, I was faced with my life's most mind-boggling question- What is my life all about? After some time, having found my place in the grand scheme of things where God has positioned me to be, I thought working out the divine-ordained task as best as I could is the ultimate answer. But then more than the vision is God's glory. At the end of the day, it's never about the task. It's still about God. And what a privilege it is for us to be given a vision, more so to get to experience the very person of God.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

15-Minute Walk on Valentine's Day

I have very few Valentine's day memories. Even when I was in a relationship, I can barely remember what really happened. For the longest time, Valentine's day meant nothing to me. Absolutely nothing. But for the first time in my 28 years, I think I am going to have something concrete to remember.

Like the previous years, I had no plans for today except that. I planned to cook for my dad but I didn't have the time to buy ingredients. So I just came home from a supposedly meeting which turned out to be nothing. I walked home trying to get myself together from what seemed to be a flooding of past emotions. And I told myself, I'm bigger than this. I'm better than this. This couldn't be happening again.

I found myself singing "You Are For Me" by Kari Jobe. And I was reminded of how strongly God met me at the lowest moments of my life. I tried to control my tears. I didn't want other people to think I was devastated from spending Valentine's alone.

While I was near home, out of nowhere, a thought just came to me: This will be the last time you are walking alone on Valentine's day. Then, even with the pain still trying to work its way through my system, I felt peace. I felt security. I felt love.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

When You Have to Wait

Waiting has almost lost its place in the dictionary these days. People no longer understand what it means to wait. Your pizza delivery is late for one minute and the pizza store promises it’s free. That may be the price for not being true to a commitment, but that can also be seen as a reward for being impatient.

Why marinate when you can microwave? Why prefer something that would take too long over something that can be yours in one click? Would the taste be different? Would the satisfaction be any better?

Waiting is hardly considered an art, but an agony. When things don’t go the way you want them to and when you want them to, how desperately you would try to turn things around just to have it your way. To fit it into your own timetable.

However, while there are things in life that can be yours without having to think about and mope around for before you get, there remains those that are uncertain and are just beyond your control. And screaming at the top of your lungs “RIGHT NOW!” doesn’t just get you anywhere.

Waiting is a test. A test of character. A test of faith. It brings us to a point of humility that not everything is under our control. It leads us to acceptance of the circumstances that are way beyond us. It tells us that the delay does not necessarily mean denial of whatever we are waiting for. It teaches us how not to settle for anything less and expect for the best. It gives us room to check our own hearts and motives. Is this really what I need, or do I deserve something better? Am I really ready for this or do I want it now just for my own self-centered desires?

You see, there is more than just getting what you want when you want it. There is a season and reason for everything. It may not be in sync with our own calendar and we may not understand the reasons, but in stillness and trust, we get to realize that indeed, good things come to those who wait.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Fairy Tale

The Beginning.

Once there was a warrior. He was a mercenary - a hired sword. He had no position or any title of respect, but the people looked up to him for his courage and success.

The Task.

The king of majesty called for the warrior. He hired him to slay a dragon. It was no ordinary enemy. The dragon was the size of 2 volcanoes... and as fierce and fiery as such.

"Count all that you have earned in your previous battles and you will receive a reward tenfold. And even own a land flowing with milk and honey and earn the title of a prince. This is your promised land."

Now the king knew the warrior was not ready. He gave his best soldiers to train with him in all aspects and styles of the bow and the sword. The king lent him machines of war. Ballistae, catapults and chariots. The warrior trained in the king's kingdom and courts.

The Princess.

In the king's courts lived the princess. She was the loveliest and the most adorable woman in her kingdom - a daughter of the most high King. She led the healers and the nurses of the kingdom, welcoming the sick, the needy, the oppressed and the poor into the kingdom courts. People looked up to her for her beauty and compassion.

She remained in their kingdom all her life. Although she was always summoned for service in most of the kingdom’s affairs, she still had a very few encounter with all the other dwellers of the kingdom.

She spent her early mornings up in the tallest tower of the castle, gazing at the perfect view far beyond the walls of the kingdom. There she began her days before she would do all her tasks.

The Meeting.

One morning the princess heard a disturbance going on inside their courts. Men, young and old, were training. They were preparing themselves for a huge battle, maybe something very critical. She learned about the dragon threatening their kingdom.

As the princess spent that particular morning up in the tower, she watched the men train. What could a sheltered, helpless princess do? If only she were strong enough to go against the dragon herself.

She noticed one particular warrior who stood out in the training. From afar, he seemed very stern and focused on what he was doing. She had never seen anyone in their kingdom who trained with his bow and sword with great fervor. The princess knew that the king’s choice was perfect and she gained confidence that their kingdom was in good hands. Maybe she would meet the warrior face to face someday.

The princess learned to like him. Only once did the prince lose in one of his sparring with his men - it was when he first looked up into the palace court windows and his eyes met hers. A soldier knocked him to his knees. The princess chuckled.

Day by day, she would watch the warrior train. Day by day he would look up the palace courts. The warrior could not help but admire her beauty and stature. She was the loveliest woman he has ever seen. But seeing the princess, he would immediately look away.

He knew he was just a mercenary - no position or any title of respect. Day by day, he dreamed of slaying the dragon, owning the promised land, and becoming a prince that he would someday come with confidence to the princess.

The Night.

That night while the princess was marveling the evening sky, she noticed how restless the mercenary was. The princess went to the royal kitchen and gathered all her servants.

"Come, cook with me. We will cook a most refreshing recipe that only I have known."

The princess walked across the kingdom into the warrior's chambers. Famished as he was, the princess was sure the mere scent of her food would wake the warrior up. She laughed at the thought of it. Little did she know, there was a trap in lay for her.

The Fire.

A big explosion was heard. Fire spread throughout the kingdom and the princess saw a gigantic reptile hand reaching for her. She tried to run, but it was too late. She was afraid.

In a blink of an eye, she found herself already off mid-air and before her was the most hideous face she had ever seen. She was taken captive by the dragon.

The princess heard everyone shouting, “The dragon is here! The dragon is here and it has captured the princess!” The princess was horrified that she didn’t have the strength to scream for help.

The Dilemma.

The warrior ran as fast as he could only to see the giant of a dragon miles away from the kingdom gates. As he gasped for air, a voice echoed across the walls: the voice of the dragon.

"I know your scent my warrior. I know your scent. And I know you are to become a prince and I envy you. Now, listen well my warrior. I will lock away your princess in the most complicated maze ever created. You have three choices."

The Choices.

number ONE: "Pursue her now in this maze. What is the probability that you will find her? What is the probability that you will not? Pursue her now and rescue her, but if you fail to find her in your first try, the princess will burn."

number TWO: "Or you can try to kill me now my warrior. Pursue me now and slay me. What is the probability that I will die? What is the probability that I will not? You have been training with an army, are you not? Slay me and the maze will disappear."

number THREE: "Lastly my dear warrior. You know the edict. It is in the law that whoever rescues a kidnapped princess will have her hand in marriage, is it not? If you wait and let anyone else pursue her, the princess will live and marry another. Princes from far away kingdoms will come, will they not? But the difference between you and them is this: they are not limited to their first chances. What is the probability that they will find her? What is the probability that they will not?"

"Oh, the look in your face my dear warrior. Vengeance is sweet, is it not? What will you choose my warrior?"

The Fear.

It all happened so fast. In just a moment, the princess was locked in a dark dungeon. She peeked through the small window and saw a maze in front of her. Fear was starting to wrap her in the darkness when she heard the echoing voice of the dragon.

The princess was deeply troubled. What did the warrior choose?

She may burn any moment if the warrior chose to rescue her now and fail. If he decided to pursue the dragon, he may get killed. She had been watching him train every day and no matter how intense his training was, the dragon remained a huge opponent.

The Risk.

Now, the warrior knew the first choice will get the princess killed. Serendipity does not belong here. He contemplated on pursuing the dragon, but he knew he was not ready. His men were not ready. If he wanted the princess to live, the third choice will be the best option. He tried his best to stop himself from weeping. He tried to be calm, but he did not know what to do. So he went back to the palace and asked the King.

He came before the throne and knelt down.

The king spoke, "I know. What is the wisest thing to do? You choose. Remember your promised land."

After hours of thinking and kneeling down before his king, the warrior made his decision."

The Choice.

He went out of the palace to train with his men. He knew that the only choice was to defeat the dragon. It was his duty. It was his calling from His king. But the time was not now. He knew that training even more would be his way of slowly and surely defeating the dragon.

Everyday he shouted out battle commands. Everyday, he taught his men on how to handle the bow and the sword. Everyday was painful for him as he hears that thousands of princes went to the maze to rescue the princess. Everyday, he would wake up and sing hymns with the lute and the lyre at the King's courts before training with his men.

Everyday, he would hear the voice of the dragon. But everyday, he would also remind himself of the voice of the King, "Remember the promised land."

He listened to the voice of the King. He focused. That was his choice.

The Wait.

Inside the dungeon, the princess realized she was not the only princess kidnapped, and worse, the others have met an ill fate. Some princesses were burned. Their princes failed their first attempts to figure out the maze. While some princesses grew old in that dark dungeon. Their princes fought the dragon and had failed.

All the princess could do was wait… wait for her warrior to rescue her, or for some other prince bold enough to find her.

Day by day, a rescuer would come by the dungeon, shouting her name. But the princess realized she didn’t want any other prince to save her. So she hid. She would let the older ones be rescued, but she herself would not go. Day by day, she would hear a prince calling her name and she would hide. Day by day was painful for her for she would be tempted to come out of her hiding and earn her freedom. She remembered the edict. She did not want to marry another. She would hide until the maze disappears. She was not sure where he is now, but she waited for the warrior.

She spent every day weeping for the fate that was in front of her. The warrior must find her.

While the princess was mourning, the image of her king appeared before her. “Why are you downcast, my princess? You know I can set you free right here, right now. But I won’t do that. Be patient, for you will be rescued.”

“How long shall I wait my King?” She asked. Her eyes welling up with tears.

“Have faith on me, my princess. You will be rescued. I shall never leave you.”

Worry started to dissolve as the princess remembered her king’s promise. The king has sent someone to do the master plan: to slay the dragon. And she will be freed.

And while she waited, she remembered how the world looked from the tallest tower of the castle. There’s a lot of work to be done in their kingdom. She imagined herself fulfilling her call as the king’s princess. She needed to be still. She ought to have hope.

She made a decision. And again, she waited.

The Battle.

The time came for the warrior to face his dragon. The battle formations were perfect. His army surrounded the now awaken dragon.The dragon deflected arrows, missiles, and great boulders of fire - some sank deep into its scales, some would be deflected into the maze she was in. It would flap its left wing and send chariots flying, its right wing and send archers sprawling. The battle was fierce and the night was a hurricane.

The Stars.

While the dragon was diverted into deflecting attacks, there were ten men climbing off its back. When finally four of them were aligned at its spine, five at its neck and one at the back of its head, the soldiers stopped. From the small window of her dungeon the princess peeked and realized the one at the top was the warrior. The warrior drew his sword and motioned his men to do the same. They raised their blades and they deflected the light of the moonlight and the stars all across the battlefield. With a fierce battle cry, the warrior thrusts deep with all his strength against the dragon's scales. His men followed - into its spine, neck, and skull. The dragon was stunned and fell down. The ground shook with a final violent shake. Everyone shouted for victory.

The Taunt.

The dragon was paralyzed but his eyes were open and aware. He could see the warrior in front of him. The warrior said,

"Oh, the look in your face my dragon. Vengeance is bitter now, is it not? What will you do now,my dear dragon?"

The dragon laughed hysterically and looked into the warrior's face. But the warrior looked back at him and smirked. Behind him was the King laughing even more menacingly - with a laugh of derision. The warrior looked at his King as he gives his approval and with one final slash sent the dragon to the pits.

The warrior then looked at his men and shouted,
"For the King!"

The ground shook with so much violence. Arrows, missiles, and burning catapult bullets filled the air like a looming cloud. It is said that even stars fell out of the sky.

Finally, blood filled the field like flood.

The Promise.

Then it was all quiet.

The princess waited.

The door was opened. She was blinded by the light that penetrated the dungeon.

Finally, she saw her King. And with him was her warrior. For the first time he looked directly at her eyes without ever looking away. He was the prince after all.

The End.

Written by rjs with insights from peb

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Other Side


Inside is nothing but total darkness. You see nothing but fear enclosing you in. You feel nothing but sorrow and pain. You sense nothing but defeat.

You remain motionless. Seeking. Yet frightened.

You open your eyes wide. And you see that tiny spark you have never seen before. As you move closer, you begin to sense comfort. You begin to see freedom. You sense hope.

Then you realize you’ve been trapped all your life. You realize you’ve never seen light before because you’ve been well acquainted with darkness. But from where you are, it is leading you.

The question is… are you allowing it to take you to the other side?

Under the Scorching Heat

Couldn’t open my eyes. Couldn’t get off the bed. Still I was able to text my boss: Ma’am, can I go half day? My body’s sore. As soon as I read ok, I was dead. Came back to life at around 9:30. In between, I woke twice. One in my dream where I thought I was already prepping for work. Next was the real one where I was surprised that I was still asleep the whole time! Talk about dreaming in your dream. Weird.


Gotta go to work! So I hurried.

Turned my IPod on, singing praise songs in my head. Sometimes I do get strong urge to sing out loud and lift my hands. Phew! Grateful I still get some form of restraint.

Nearing my drop-off point.

Saw the scorching heat even with my shades on. I simply said… “Lord, it's hot…” By the time I got off the jeep, the sky was already covered with clouds.

I smiled at the extreme sweetness of God.

I don’t want to be overly spiritual on stuffs, but as I walked, technically covered from the heat of the sun, I felt like God is telling me that…

under intense circumstances in life, He will cover me…

under extreme troubles trapping me in, He will protect me…

under impossibilities, he will wrap me with his love…

under all difficulties, he will hide me under his wings.

Ah, how sweet it is to be loved like that!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thursdays Were Never the Same Again

I cannot say I’ve shared my entire life with him. We’ve been together for only 2 years. As reserved and guarded as I am, I opened up to him very seldom. If I remember it right, I didn’t even like him that much when I first saw him.

I can no longer recall how I started to warm up with him. Maybe because we spent too many Thursdays together in Starbucks or Hungry Hippo or Mister Donut. Um, well, not really in Starbucks. We’re kuripot.

Then I just found myself always looking forward to those Thursdays. Maybe we always ended up laughing our hearts out, but mind you, we still got things done! And it was when I realized that sharing the same vision with the same passion with the same people makes the bond much stronger than I expected.

That was the beginning… And the little child in me thought it would always be that way. Thursdays spent together. Working plans out together. Sharing joy and victory together. I was not prepared for sudden shift on things.

True, plans were accomplished. And along with it new people were met. New tasks needed to be worked on. Our little world suddenly became wide. And of course it was a thrill. We’ve always wanted that.

Except for the fact that Thursdays were never the same again.

When I learned that he was getting married, I cried. I, myself, couldn’t believe that. I felt like I was losing a dear brother. And I thought: Is it going to be like this with all the people I love? Man, was that heartbreakingly scary!
But after some time inside that shell, I realized some things are not meant to stay the same forever. Okay, it’s not like a new concept. I’ve known of that before and have heard of it countless times, alright? But sometimes, things just make sense to you for the first time and you appreciate it in a unique way.

And with that, perspective changed. Thursdays may still never be the same, but changed Thursdays is actually a lovely thing. More room to grow. More people to share them with. More laughter. More life. More love.

And did I just say I felt like losing a brother? Nah. Now, I am just thrilled to have gained a new sister.