I was in the middle of an emotional breakdown towards the end of 2016.

It took me about three tries before I got to an opening sentence that was real and authentic. For ten years, I have submerged myself in an industry that was trained to see and highlight only the good. It didn’t matter what the issue was as long as the “good angle” was exposed to the world. I have always loved the storytelling angle of Public Relations but just like all things, I felt extremely deflated.

If you were kind enough to read through my blog entries in the previous year, you could sense the tension in between the words and the slight cry for help. I was ultimately ALWAYS on the edge. I was on a schedule that was inhumane and I absolutely detested the commute home. My optimistic nature was long gone and my husband felt the brunt of my anger, my temper, and my frustration. It was the biggest transition of my life and for the longest time, I felt like I couldn’t adapt.

I just didn’t like where I was, what I was doing, and who I was becoming. 

And the worst thing about it was I was doing my best to hide my frustration because it was wrong to feel negative emotions because I was supposed to feel #blessed. I refused to rant about my job, the processes, and life in general because that wasn’t something that I was supposed to do. For years, I have been trapped into how I should be, what I should do, and where I should be without realizing that I was blessed with this wonderful gift called freedom which meant that anytime that I didn’t like where I was, I could easily move towards another season.

However, out of fear and complacency, I chose to stay where I was and in the process of it lost myself, my beliefs, and even did things that I would have not done if I was in another state of mind. My time in one of the country’s most prestigious public relations agencies didn’t better me, it made me bitter. I resented where I was, who I was working with, and just turned into someone I didn’t like to be.

Just like Moana, it was as if the entire world was teaching me to just step out and do something instead of constantly complaining. I thought I didn’t have that luxury but I did, it included sacrifices but those sacrifices amounted to a peace that I haven’t had in awhile. Having peace doesn’t mean that all is well all the time, in fact it has been more challenging than easy and sometimes I just want to run back home but this is the life I chose for now and just like Moana, I should go and ride the waves until I get to where I am supposed to be.

It’s comforting to know that no matter what seasons change and soon, the leaves will turn and spring will come.

 

 

“Love doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been hard or that it won’t be. It just means that I found a stillness and bravery in myself with you. You make me brave and I will love you always and forever.” – Haley James Scott, One Tree Hill.

One of my favorite things to check on a daily basis is the On This Day app on Facebook. It’s not the most productive use of my time but it’s entertaining to see how much life has changed in just a year, more so in five.

I adore seeing how idealistically optimistic and cheery I was. There are days when I root for my younger self as if admiring her for believing the best in people and the world, in general.

There were days when I was engulfed by darkness and those posts from my former self pushed me to keep going. There were also days when I felt guilty because the bright little miss sunshine no longer was.

But today, as I see the sun is slowly peeking through, I find a sense of calm within me. My bright and optimistic self is still within me but she was held by anchor that superseded the bad times. She still firmly believed that there was good in the world but she was held secure by the realization that no matter how challenging life was, God is still good.

She no longer waited for circumstances to change but instead she praised God right where she was and in this darkness, she found joy that could no longer be replaced.

 

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Of the many interesting and relatable stories in the Bible, a favorite of mine is the story of the woman by the well. It’s tucked away safely in the 4th chapter of John and in a few lines, the story exemplifies why Jesus came and who He came for: the messy, the distraught, the broken, and the hopeless.

When all things are well: when we are whole, without blemish (at least when we think we are), when our circumstances are neat and tidy, it is so easy to know and proclaim that truth of who Jesus is. However, it is when we are in the dark that we understand the depth of that love. In church today, Pastor Paul spoke about the definition of the word “save” in Greek, it is defined as the act of restoration, to be made whole, and to be made well.

Christmas is often a time of family gatherings, togetherness, and gift giving. In the Philippines especially, this season is regarded as sacred and is the best time to reconcile with loved ones. But just like the rest of the world, the season can be a reminder of what we don’t have, what we’ve lost, or what has not yet come. The season can either bring you great joy or despair depending on the current season of your life.

However, tonight, I was reminded by an old favorite Christmas carol of the truth of the season and what we are truly celebrating. In a note shared quickly with friends during the service, I was reminded that Jesus came into this dark world in order to bring light and to save us.

God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating.” – Colossians 1:13-14

“O, Holy Night” shared with us “the thrill of hope that came in the morning”. Morning doesn’t have to be literal, we can be in the darkest moment of our lives and the only way that we can witness the break of dawn is if Jesus comes to save us. This year could have brought you the darkest moments of your life but that doesn’t mean that all is without hope.

We know and it has been proven many times that God operates differently than the world. Joseph and Mary only expected a simple life, one without fuss or complications. I’m sure during their day they had plans of their own. And yet God interrupted their plans in the most insane way possible to bring forth the biggest responsibility of all: to raise the Messiah who will save the world.

We all had plans at the beginning of 2016 and I’m sure that right now, as we celebrate Christmas (or at least try to), we can see that life is nothing like what we expected and in this we find disappointment. We must always remember, however, that God works in ways we never quite expect. What may seem like a dead end situation could only be a gateway to the great life He has prepared and intended for us.

The woman by the well believed that she was hopeless so she settled for relationships that didn’t bring her satisfaction as the living water would. She thought she was broken beyond repair and yet the King of the world, the one who had every right to turn her away sought her out, sat down beside her, and uplifted her. The world was ashamed of that woman and yet in her darkest moment, Jesus came, touched her, and told her that she would never be the same again.

She was restored, healed, and made well all because of the Savior who chose to pick her up in the middle of her darkness. Jesus came into the world in a manger, the filthiest of all places, to remind us that He is not afraid of the messiest parts of our lives. In fact, this is what He came for and there’s nothing in our lives that He cannot touch including the messiest, darkest, and most hurtful places of our lives. Jesus meets us where we are, He meets us where we have tripped, scraped our knees, and hurt and in meeting us there, He picks us up again and reminds us that we were worth coming to Earth for. He reminds us that we are not rejected by Him and even if the ones closest to us have failed, He will never fail us.

That is the true meaning of Christmas: to know that we are loved, no matter what and situations are never hopeless. Sometimes in this dark and dreary world, the only hand we have is Jesus and ultimately, that is enough.

May your Christmas bring good cheer and love but most importantly, may it connect you to the One who loves you most and may you be reminded that no matter what happens externally, God loves you, He is with you, and the best is yet to come.

Where Feet May Fail

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.”

I have always been known as a young, independent woman who has always made decisions for myself and no one else. Because of this stubbornness, I have been known as selfish and impulsive but to me it’s always been me going after what I want because if I don’t, I won’t get there.

I am my own worst critic and from the moment I earned a scholarship in college, I’ve been my own version of supergirl. No matter what the cost, I aimed to become the best, have the best, and always be the one to win.

I made my own vision board at age 16 and didn’t look back since then. It’s true that I may have not won all specifically but I always had a plan. It was all going as planned up until this year.

This year, I got everything I wished for far earlier than expected and still I found myself in a huge, giant emotional mess. There was a void in my heart that could no longer be filled by achievements, applause, and being “the best.” I was miserable on a daily basis and always cried for a way out.

My life has always been carefully calculated with plans A to Z but then I realized that no matter how closely I stuck to the plan, God’s will for me will prevail.

I’ve never chosen anything uncomfortable for myself. It’s always been the easy way, having the best of both worlds, and instant gratification. I worked my butt off but I liked getting results immediately. I was a rat in the race and I wanted out.

In the deepest recesses of my heart, all I want is a quiet life where I can dedicate the best parts of myself to the ones I love the most. And sometimes, giving the best parts of myself means sacrificing for a future that I was ultimately dreamed of.

God is fine tuning my heart but taking away things that used to matter and stripping me of anything that doesn’t ultimately please him. My former self is being slowly stripped away and while the change is uncomfortable, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I see 2017 as a year of transition and as I step into the unknown, I trust God’a heart for He never has failed. My heart is alive with the possibilities and I seek Him above all, knowing that’s He’s already been in the future and all is well.

And yes, I finally got rid of the vision board.

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Yes Man (Or Woman).

“Many are the plans of a man’s heart but God’s purpose prevails.” – Proverbs 19:21

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As of today, there are only roughly two weeks of work left and about three weeks left until we finally say goodbye to 2016. For a lot of people (based on my social media timeline, which may not be as accurate), it has been a year to forget. So many of my friends cannot wait for the weirdest year ever to just end already.

Personally it has been a year of heartbreak, triumphs, and could possibly my best / worst year all rolled into one. This year alone, I have experienced the following things:

  • Experienced my first and worst heartbreak.
  • Fell in love with the person God intended for me.
  • Got married.
  • Left a job I loved more than anything.
  • Thrown into the furnace of a new job with greater responsibilities, tougher people, and more stress.
  • Met Biankita, the worst version of myself.

My social media feed, pretty much just like yours, is curated into squares that I choose to show the world and to the outside world, the feed looked incredibly beautiful, perfect, and without flaws. As the likes began piling up, I felt my inside world begin to crumble. Judah Smith in his new book called How Well Is Your Soul? spoke about two tragedies in life (pretty much like what my man George Bernard Shaw said): never getting what you worked hard for and getting everything you wanted and more.

In between getting over an intense heartbreak at the beginning of the year, experiencing failure at work after my lateral transfer, falling in love, experiencing betrayal, getting married, and fighting my own demons, I’ve realized that getting what you want can be the soul’s biggest culprit.

(A quick random thought however that I just had to include: this has been a year of simply saying yes and going for it. This year, I thought less with my brain and more with my heart. I just went after it this year: quit a job I was comfortable in, married the man of my dreams in less than a year of dating exclusively, and just saying yes, yes, yes, and yes. It wasn’t always perfect but for the first time in 28 years, I truly lived.)

Getting everything you’ve prayed for can be quite the challenge because once you fulfill all these dreams, what’s next? Without Jesus (and yes, I lost my footing for awhile there), you would still be empty on the inside. I discovered this the hard way as I tried so hard to prove myself to the world completely forgetting that God is the ultimate author of my story. From the moment my prayers got answered, I waved a see ya later, I can take it from here God without realizing that my answered prayers were just the beginning.

Since then, my life just went into a whirlwind spin. It became a complete mess that I was often left in the middle of situations that has caused me to break down. I was also consumed with so much hate that I begged God to return me to the woman I once was, if not better. The journey was incredibly challenging but today after pouring my entire heart out to God at my home church, I suddenly felt a peace that has not been there for an incredibly incredibly long time and these lessons (in line with my December tradition) are the ones that I share with you today.

Say yes, make mistakes, and be messy.

It is safe to say that this has been my messiest year to date. This messiest year was brought to you by my own impulsive decisions, not following the rules I set out for myself, and going against expectations I have set out for myself as a thirteen year old. As I was saying earlier, it has been a year of saying yes. It has been a year of going after what I wanted and seeing for myself the consequences of just going after what I felt like doing. I abandoned my thought patterns, wise counsel from people who cared, and what was expected of me and just went for it. It was exhilirating but it was also messy.

Saying yes to life is wonderful but let me warn you: it is not without consequences. When you choose to go after life you want (or think you want) and when you choose to do a 360 on everything you believed in, you have to be prepared to face whatever comes after saying yes. Often the end results will shake your foundation, make you question who you are, and challenge the essence of who you are. It will stretch you, make you cry, but hey, it also toughens you. When the storm is over, it will all be worth it.

It’s okay, you’re okay, life is okay.

More often than not, experiencing the life you wanted often starts out by being really messy at first. It’s like God dismantles this perfect life you’ve envisoned for yourself and leaves you with the broken pieces for awhile. Before you know it, you are disconnected from your family, without your trusted group of friends, in financial debt, and working so many hours you barely see your husband. You are also filled with so many thoughts that may or may not include regrets or at least questions as to why you said yes to many things. And yet you realize that despite your own speck of the universe being in disarray, you realize that you’re okay, life is okay, and soon, it will be over.

It is all these things that also made me realize that at at the end of the day, not having it all together isn’t life’s biggest sin. It simply means it’s being molded into something greater but for the meantime, I am left with the mess and slowly (out of maturity, I hope), it doesn’t matter as much and you begin to be a kinder, more authentic version of who you once were.

Return to the light.

Okay, so we’re in the middle of a mess and it hurts but does that give you the license to inflict that hurt upon others whether intentional or not? The logical answer is no but the emotional, wrecked answer is yes, yes, and even a more resounding YES. When we’re in a place of hurt, anger, and disappointment, we don’t realize that the anger consumes us so much that we become a toxic person of who we once were.

This was the most difficult one for me to accept, being the little sunshine that I am. I was so angry, mad, and just little miss sourpuss that nobody wanted to be around me. The hurt that was in my heart and in my thoughts seeped through the outer, no matter how much I tried.

My advice is to simply cry it all out, be as mean as you can be (but remember again, it is not without consequences), and then return to the light. Return to who you once were or at the very least, revist the people who love you. Be open, be humble, and soon, the hurt will melt away and slowly, you will be healed.

Master the art of deadma.

I would be the first to admit that I am a HUGE people pleaser. Making people like me could be my life’s biggest mission and this year, I have had so many closed doors and my ego has been bruised by so many rejections that it has led me to master the art of deadma. I’ve had meaningful relationships fall apart, I’ve had friends betray me, and workmates just say vicious things and while they sting for awhile, you learn to just hold your head up high, shrug your shoulders, and realize that while they can’t be kind, you can and that is the biggest superpower of all.

God is still God so calm down.

A good reminder to self: STOP PANICKING. Nothing ever rattles God because He has been in our tomorrows so during the biggest challenges of our lives and as difficult as it may seem,  it helps to simply learn to give it all to God because even if I admit it or not, He is control and as long as He is, then I am all good and my worries doesn’t affect me as much as I think they would. That is probably the greatest gift I gave myself this year. It’s a process but I am getting there.

Be brave enough to choose a different path.

The verse at the beginning of this nobela blog entry rings true, we can create so many plans for our lives but at the end of the day, it is God who ultimately makes things happen. And sometimes, it takes awhile for His plans to manifest (mainly because of our own stubborness or because of our fears) but once you simply heed to His call by following His peace, all of these things will melt away and despite the crazy adventure God has planned for you, you will feel excited about what’s to come.

This year, I have truly witnessed the truth of Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28 in my life. My life looks nothing like what I expected it to be at the beginning of the year but despite the many heartaches, an empty wallet, and a very different looking 2017, I thank God for this year because it led me to where I am now: someone who is well aware of His goodness and grace. I thank God for seeing me at my worst and still loving me. To experience His goodness is this year’s greatest blessing and with that in my heart, I look forward with joy for my heart is secured in Him.

 

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Rory Rut

Today was a day that my soul needed. It was a day of peace and quiet spent folding laundry while devouring Gilmore Girls. It felt like I was 13 again and there were no deadlines, no pressure, and no decisions that meant major life changes. It was just quiet, exactly what I needed.

There have been so many thoughts in my life lately that I don’t process enough to actually be at peace with them. I’d like to believe that this is the reason behind many mini meltdowns. I’ve been trying to process them for days, for months, for weeks and who would have thought that a visit to a town from my adolescent years would bring me back to life.

It was in the middle of summer and Rory simply plopped down to bed beside her mother declaring that she felt lost and felt like she no longer recognized who she was. As weird as it may sound, I once again found solace in the arms of a beloved fictional character, like it has so many years ago. I have my beliefs, my values, and all those adult things and yet at the end of the day, I still find comfort in relating to characters on screen.

Across four hours, I felt calmer than I have in months and suddenly this awful burden of having to know all of it all at once was lifted from me. It was just like another Saturday night in 1999 where it was just me in a dark room and a TV show with fake characters were enough to make me happy.

Through the lives of the Gilmore Girls, I realized that it was okay to not have my life together yet, to not be perfect, and to not be okay with everyone in your life. It was okay to sit back and relish in not knowing the future because life works out eventually, whether we try or not. There are seasons to life and each season has as a story to tell and while we wish there were seasons we can rush to, there’s a purpose for each one, and while the ones we don’t like seem to last forever, they don’t and soon enough, it rolls into a new one but until then you sit, buckle down, and see the good, no matter how hard you have to squint to see them.

Rory got out of her rut and soon enough, I will too, even better than ever.

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Airport 


As I write this, it’s 3:10 am and I am in the middle of NAIA Terminal 2. And as I always do when I enter airports, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of lightness. There’s just something about airports that remind me of my life’s most favorite memories. 

Terminal 2 is particularly special because this was where I was on that August day in 2015 right before my life took a turn for the better. Airports remind me that life can quickly change and it is always brimming with endless possibilities. 

Airports vibrate with stories that are waiting to be told and it always leaves my heart fluttering with excitement and curiosity. 

Today, of all days, my heart is at peace and looking for the many adventures that is to come.

When Trolls Tell The Story

 

Just like any human being on the planet, a lot of things have been said about me but the one that is repeatedly said by people around me is this, I am too happy. Yes, I repeat, that is what people fault me for: for being too nice and too happy. I recall a former boss writing that in my evaluation as if it was the most irksome thing to be one the planet.

This is the thought running in my mind when everyone’s beloved Franzea asked if she could spend Saturday night watching Trolls with her Baba, Nana, and Uncle Anthony. I happily obliged because I secretly wanted to watch it too. I heard that Trolls was about happiness and Anna Kendrick and after the few weeks I have had, I couldn’t help but dive into a world where happiness was a driving force.

Poppy brought my optimistic self to life with her hug time, scrap booking, singing, and her incessant need to remind everyone of the bright side of life. I cried buckets during a scene where she was drained of color and cried even harder when I realized that yes, even the happiest, poppiest seed could also lose her sparkle every once in awhile. And that was okay because after a few tears and a few songs, you’ll be okay again.

What drew me to the movie was the nemesis’ reason for eating the trolls: to find and secure happiness. All through out the movie, the Bergens were sullen, sad, depressed, and pessimistic. They only allowed themselves one day to feel happy and that was at the expense of the lives of the trolls.

As a child, the plot is quite simple, but as a grown up adult, you see the underlying metaphors in the story and bam, you end up crying loads in a movie house while your niece chomps on her popcorn happily. You see even if we are not in the world of trolls, Bergens exist everyday.

Likened to the dementors of Harry Potter, bergens are out to kill, steal, and destroy. They work hard to suck everyone out of life with the promise that this is what ultimately would lead to their happiness. They are so focused on capturing all the happy Trolls in the land that they forget that they can secure happiness on their own.

The world’s bergens constantly tells us to acquire more, buy more, be better than the next person, suck the life of another, tear down another to be superior all in the hopes of becoming happy. You see, I’d like to think that bergens aren’t necessarily people, just like the villains in are own lives are not. Instead, they are people who have become blinded to wanting so much to feel happiness that they do the exact opposite: ruin lives to get to that point.

We are constantly told that in order to find lasting joy, we have to have more than another. We begin to live in a world where there is lack instead of abundance, when in fact (and I’ve always believed this) that there is something for everyone and when we believe that, that’s when the doors of life open.

There was something that Poppy said that resounded with me the most, “Happiness isn’t what you don’t have, it is what is already inside of you.”

One of my favorite verses speak of losing one’s soul to profit the world but what happens when the world eats up your soul? You end up emptier than you have been. By gaining our happiness from external factors, we end up emptying ourselves, leading to a dark abyss of depression and discontent.

When it comes to life and happiness, one always has a choice. You can choose to be a bergen and expect others to make you happy or you can choose to be the good kind of Troll and choose to see the bright side no matter how tough life is.

One is heavy, the other is light. It’s up to you to decide which you decide to bear.

Happy Sunday. 

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” – Matthew 11:28-30