Friday, September 30, 2016

Relief - Falling into Place

Today is a good day although the weather seems contrary. I've finally submitted the last pieces of paperwork for the teaching job, and I had my first order for a Shaklee turnaround! Happy dance!

The walk toward my goal is long, but today is something to celebrate because God is good. I'm a firm believer that victories, no matter how small, should be acknowledged and celebrated. The adage 'fortune favors the bold' has been in mind lately, and I can't help but think that patience and prayers through the last few weeks have lead me here. Seemingly insignificant, but I cannot help but think of the Jesus and his parable of the mustard seed. 

A friend slept over last night, but before sleeping, we were talking (as I did the dishes). I was talking about my activities the last few weeks, and what I'm doing with the time I have for myself. I've also shared the renewed passion I have for mentoring, and how I'm finally working out my ministry.

She mentioned that couldn't help but smile as I recounted the last few weeks. And in addition, other close friends have noticed how 'chill' I am with all these changes. I always attribute the peace to the prayers.

A few posts below, I mentioned that I am interested in the slow living--living intently--and that the philosophy of one of my favorite chef's is "Time is an ingredient". I've been through circumstances that have stretched my faith these past few years. I'm just learning to rest and change my flow.

Things are settling down, and now the praying and the planning these few weeks can take effect. Soon more victories, in different forms, will come. I can't wait to celebrate those too.

Hebrews 12:2

Sunrise at Burj Khalifa observation deck

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Inspiration - Trip to Dubai and Being an Entrepreneur

November last year, a friend of mine came to visit NYC with a group of friends. I was so blessed to have dinner with them and to hear some great news. One such piece was of her engagement.

Fast forward a few months later, I find myself in Dubai, UAE. It was my first time traveling to a foreign country alone--although the previous year I went to Mexico (again, for another wedding), but met up and stayed with a group of people I knew. My cousin and her adorable son met me at the airport and helped me get settled in my AirBnB. There was an interesting circumstance here, but long story short, we saw each other one other time before I left, so I don't really count that as "staying in a foreign country with family" (more on this some other time).

As few days before the wedding, I was happy to join the festivities. I had my hands adorned with henna, and I was invited to tea at my friends home. Lovely all around. I loved the company and tea. 

Conversations and customary getting to know you's were had. I found that a few of her friends, professionals in their own right, had businesses. One has a jewelry line and another has a fashion line for bags. This intrigued me.

I found it odd that these lovely women who were established in their respective professions created their own businesses in their spare time. I mean, it's not unheard of, but I began to ponder 'why?'. However, after a while, I supposed that the 'why' didn't really matter. I supposed that they did it because they loved it. I wanted that, too.

In a succinct cultural commentary: being a first generation immigrant--coming to the US at a young age--I have observed that my parents (immigrants themselves) had this mindset, like many overseas workers. The mindset of "getting by". Granted, we came to the US legally because my mother is a professional--others are not as fortunate to have entered with the status and bearing (another topic for another time). 

I've heard other people make apt comments about the "getting by" mindset. Namely, someone mentioned that "Filipinos tell their children to 'study hard' so you can get a job, not 'study hard so you can have your own business'." I've had this in mind for a while, and seeing my friend's friends with their businesses, inspired me.

One of the conversation topics with the friend I visited yesterday was about my job--the job I've yet to actually begin (another story)--or the [current?] lack thereof. I stated that "I don't want to work for anyone else", and with this, she gave me a boggled look. 

Not for nothing, admittedly, I like to shock people. I don't like to be pegged by their preconceived notions. But those who really know me understand my quintessence.

Digressing, for the sake of my future family, my mindset has changed. I don't want to be a part of anyone else's rat-race. I've one life to live and all... 

I wish that my fellow Filipinos can have the confidence and courage to think outside of this 'getting by' mindset. I find it sad that they waste away in a foreign land not feeling the embrace of their loved ones, but especially, growing old without an enriched life. 

Apologies. I had meant for this post to be light and short. More pondering about all this on my end.

Proverbs 31: 24-25

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Slow Living - The Lie of the Rat-Race

Today, I was able to meet up with an old friend. I had not interacted with her for more than a decade. We enjoyed bunch at Qdoba, and talked about our respective businesses. I had a nice time.

Thus far in the recent re-direction of my life, I am enjoying the "free-er" time that I have. It is the opposite of when I worked for someone else, where I would be so tired I'd "nap" (ie sleep!) after I got home. However, I also attribute my increased energy to the shake and vitamins I've been taking for my turnaround. After the nap, I went to church. Happy times!

Digressing, I love the slower life style I have right now, and to be honest, I've always admired my friend Susie who runs the blog Oreeko (Oreeko on FB). She runs a blog and directory (!!!) on slow living. I always thought it was lovely to live that way.

Slow living, I think is great because one lives intentionally. Time is yours. The lie of the rat race is that the things on your list must be accomplished, but really, things take time!

Another tangent: that's why I love Dominique Ansel so much. I love the concept of the Dominique Ansel Kitchen [where] "Time is an ingredient"

Here's a few things I've learned: There are things one should not force. (Certain) Big decisions take time. Life is to be enjoyed. There's no point to being miserable with something you can change. Living the life you want takes courage and sacrifices.

I hope that from here on out, I live intentionally. That I use my time wisely. I am accountable, right?

Psalm 90:12

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

On Healing - A Journey & Encouragement

Last year, about this time, I was hired full-time by my previous job. However, two weeks into training, I hurt my foot, specifically my toe, and couldn't walk. I was embarrassed and angry with myself.

While on medical leave, I was just angry and terrible to myself. I felt stupid, and frustrated that something so silly kept me from working. I was embarrassed because I had just started in that department. I kept praying for healing and was frustrated that it didn't happen instantaneously.

However, one evening, as I lounged with my foot propped up, I felt something inside. I heard the Holy Spirit speaking to me. I felt my heart changing.

See, our body is the Temple of God; He resides within us, ready to commune with Him and do His work. However, we often neglect it too. I, in my frustration, was cursing my own body for not healing quickly. I was harboring negativity about the situation. The nudge of the Spirit caused me to see this.

If we are to speak life to others, we should speak life to ourselves. "Death and life is in the power of the tongue," Proverbs 18:21, so calling ourselves ugly, fat, worthless, and broken, is profaning the Temple of God. It is contrary to everything He has made us to be. 

So, at that point, I repented for the awful way I spoke to myself. I renounced all the anger inside. I renounced insecurity for good measure. Then, I spoke the promises of God. I am His righteousness. I am free. I am redeemed. I am healed. I am loved. I am accepted.

To this, I have learned to treat my body right. I try to get good quality sleep. I try to eat healthy. I try to exercise. I try to stay away from habits or actions that may cause old injuries to get agitated. However, I've got to move away from 'try' to 'do'. 

I challenge anyone reading: Repent for seemingly innocuous words/descriptions--"I'm fat", "I'm ugly", "I'm stupid", "I'm bad at...", "I don't know any better..." This is not who you are or who you're meant to be. You're meant to have an abundant life--and fat means you're abundantly blessed with food! Working out may be necessary, but you're blessed with sneakers to run, or money for a gym membership! Accept the fullness of His Grace in Jesus--accept that yes, we're not perfect, but we are unique for a purpose. Our experiences and lessons are nuggets of heaven to share with others.

God gives (multiple) second chances. He allows us to live life, and when we focus on this blessing; we see His goodness. We start seeing the grander plan. We see order from all the chaos of the past and present. We see a clearer vision of a better future.

James 1:17

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Dreamer - Keeping the indomitable spirit

In Middle School, my best friend once told me that her dad gave insight about her friends. He had mentioned specific characteristics about each one of us, there was five of us that (often) hung out together, but three were tight knit. I often revisit this insight.

He had said, "[J] is a dreamer. She has her head in the clouds, and sometimes she may need someone to keep her grounded." I remember receiving that insight negatively. Was it bad to have my head in the clouds? Was it bad that I'd need someone to bring me back to the ground? In hindsight, it was my insecurities as a tween that shaded this lovely insight negatively.

In reaction to that, I closed my heart up. I focused on being "logical", "linear", "intelligent"--thinking that being a "dreamer" wasn't intelligent! I would only focus my whimsical attributes in art or writing. I grew mean spirited because I thought I'd need to be acerbic and witty. It wasn't my best friend's dad's fault, it was my own--I'd made myself miserable by denying a part of me.

Fast forward to my young adult development: I did away with all that heaviness and darkness. Thank God. It was a process unfurling the negativity; stripping away the heaviness, and being true. I mean, I'm still sarcastic, and of course witty, but that's part of my winsome personality.

More recently, while working at my previous job, I felt all the more convicted to not let anyone else take my joy away. As part of my personal testimony, I must spread the joy and peace inside. I was saved from my own dark soul and mind, and replacing that was Grace from Jesus. 

Tangent: my salvation prayer was simple--"God, take away the darkness in my soul."

Digressing, at work, I loved to talk with people, and one coworker, specifically, enjoyed our talks. We were of like mind, academics stuck in corporate. We would banter; ponder statements, and talk about art and literature. One of the nicest things he said about me was, "...I like you, 'ya know? You've a touch of whimsy. We need that in this place." 

I've learned that this whimsy; that I, as a dreamer, need not keep it bottled up. Yes, it takes more energy to be ernest, honest, and happy. And yes, people can take that transparency as vulnerability--weakness, but it's not. It takes far greater courage to love forthrightly. It takes more courage to keep on dreaming. It takes creativity to learn how to navigate the broken world. 

I like art and literature. I like to listen to sad songs. I like to look at real estate postings for magnificent houses. I like to peruse the internet for First Class tickets to wherever. I like pretty things.

I love broken people. Broken people have such great potential. That's how God sees them, and that's how I choose to see them, too.

Hebrews 4:12

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Countdown - Philippines, Shaklee, Weight-loss

Health is wealth--how can I possibly do the work of God set before me if I'm schlubbing around?

A few weeks ago someone asked be about the numbers on the home screen of my phone. The numbers are actually countdown widgets for several dates. The largest number is a countdown for my solo trip to the Philippines. The next is for the days I have left to qualify for a Shaklee incentive trip. Finally, the number to a weight loss goal--not my over all weight loss goal, but an attainable one.

In 37 days I plan to be back to my weight post-graduation. Summer 2014 was the lowest I've weighed since Sophomore year in High School and I want to get back to that. I had ballooned Junior year because there were some personal issues, and that led to an eating disorder. It took me a few years to get out of that, and almost a decade to have a better relationship with food.

Digressing, in 37 days I should fit size 6 jeans again. I just need to focus on sleeping correctly--which I have not in the last two weeks. I need to drink more water; I've not been drinking 4 liters of H2O daily. I need to work out, that's proving hard because I'm not sleeping well. These last few weeks I haven't had a regime to follow and that's bad because I need to be accountable with my time.

My business partner called me up yesterday asking how my Shaklee turn around is going--and while I'm doing what I need to, the last week I didn't have my heart in it. Now, as I write, this is my accountability: I will commit to my turn around. I will commit to my business. I will commit to my teaching. I will commit to being the most kick-butt I can be. I will commit to discipline.

A little tangent: mother and I were doing laundry late last night/this morning and we were talking about how people were getting dreams/visions/encouragements about significant others. I told her, "All I'm getting from God is 'focus on your business'." She agrees, obviously. But out of my mouth comes, "I've got to ascend to a position because if I'm going to marry some powerful, influential guy, I'll have to be influential as well."

Proverbs 31:16-18

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Love Songs

I wanted to post earlier but today was all over the place. My "day" hasn't ended yet, as I am doing laundry at this unforgiving hour. Nevertheless, here's a short post on several of my favorite love songs.

"Head Over Heels" by April McLean is such a sugary, lovey, yet straightforwardly earnest love song. I believe I first heard it as a sound track from Amanda Bynes' show--"What I Like About You", with Jennie Garth. Anyway, it's about a woman resignly admitting she's fallen in love, and in the last line of the song affirms it. It's an easy song to listen to. I hope to make it part of my Wedding Playlist... I had suggested it for Dave and Pre's wedding last May!

The complete opposite of this song--also an easy listen, is "Pills" by the Perishers. I am still distraught that the band broke up after two great albums, but what am I going to do. Sigh. It talks about a dysfunctional couple who cannot admit to each other they've fallen out of love. Awefully depressing, but it's got such a glass menagerie twinkle and sound--its nuts. I listen to this song (and recommend it often) when I'm thinking of certain people... Leaving that there.

Finally, I love "Truly, Madly, Deeply" by Savage Garden. What can I say, 80/90's kid. As cliche as it is, I thought (and still think) that the lyrics evoke such imagery. As I listened to it in my tweens I thought about traveling with a significant other. Probably why that is a non-negotiable in my relarionships. Okay, wow, just found the root of that intrinsic need in my life. Yay for blogging.

I've other songs, perhaps next time.

Proverbs 4:23

Friday, September 23, 2016

Conversations with God

One of my favourite sermons is about prayer. I believe that prayer is essential in spiritual growth and personal growth. Deep prayer is having deep conversations with God, and I love it.

When I was a child I thought it was something formal. That I first had to 'clean' my mind of thoughts so that God wouldn't hear them before I started. But that's the thing about an omnipotent-omniscient God--moot point in cleaning your mind before prayer 'cause He already knows!

Anyway, the sermon of the Tabernacle Prayer (taught by Paul Yonggi Cho) is a go to, especially when I want to 'soul detox'. Its not meant to be formal... it's meant to be real. I'll be re-iterating and exhorting on it at Church, so I might as well give snippets.

Premise: The Tabernacle/Temple prayer is a method of praying so as to engage God in deeper conversation. It also helps pace one's self in prayer time.

There are three stages and seven areas of concentration. The three stages are the outer court, inner court, and the Holy of Holies. The seven concentrations are: the Brazen Altar and the Cross, Laver, Lamp Stand (Menorah), Table of Show Bread, the Altar of Incense, and the Mercy Seat.

At each concentration, we engage God differently. At the Brazen Altar, we come to magnify the work of Jesus on the cross. To affirm His death, and His triumph. We renew our minds with the benefits of the cross: forgiveness of sin, righteousness, healing, conquered the world, fulness of the Holy Spirit, sanctification, redemption from the curse, etc; We get to clarify the vision of our identity in Him.

The Laver is where we look within ourselves using the 10 Commandments as our mirror. It is no longer a curse (Galatians 3:10 NLT preferred). A lot of repenting and renouncing here. Got other gods and idols? Got a problem with taking the Lord's name in vain? Am I keeping the commandment of the Sabbath? Do I respect my parents? Honestly, when you ponder upon these, you'll be humbled and see that we needed a lot of fixing. It's great! Its a recalibration. This is where I'm usually a sopping mess.

The Menorah represents the Holy Spirit and His seven attributes. He illuminates our spirit and soul with His: wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge; fear of the Lord, and holiness. This is that part where the 'oil' or 'anointing' comes. Here I'm humbled by His abilities and realize what it means to function in and through Him. And, obviously, I engage Him and adore Him and take this time to fellowship with Him.

The Table of Show Bread is the word of God. The 'logos' - the written word, and the 'rhema' - God's spoken word. I like to think of it as the Doctrine within the Bible and the inspiration impressed by God through the Holy Spirit that brings these doctrines to life, able to apply divinely inspired Word to our lives. I thank God for the Word and the promises of the Word that has come to life within me for my wellbeing. Super powerful to know that God's Word does not return void (Isa. 55:11) and alive (Heb. 4:12).

Finally (for my snippet, rather), the Altar of Incense. Here, we are directly in front of God's glory. Our prayer is a sweet incense to Him (Ps. 141:2 & Rev. 8:4). Here we are able to offer petitions for ourselves and others, pray for blessings, protection; lay down plans and projects, etc; You've got this time, place, and space in front of the King of Kings and He's listening. Say, 'Hi' or just be still to listen to Him. 

I encourage you to make it real 'cause either way He's listening. Also, going through these points, I assure you, you'll have a long and very deep conversation with God. 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

(Yes, I realize I may have blogged about this a while back. Always a good topic!)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Time Management and the Curse of Flexibility

Time management: this is one of my many failings. I add that flexibility is a curse because, too often, it goes hand-in-hand with poor time management. And no, I don't believe there is such thing as a "work-life balance", but more on that in a bit.

It is ingrained in me to be 'flexible'. Whether it is a facet of the Filipino culture, or that it is heavily prized in my family culture, I am not certain. Personally, I treat it as a bad habit.

I have tried schedulers and calendars--not the same thing!--I'm a 'lister' so lists are good for me. But try as I might, I do not get to cross off everything on that list. It annoys me.

Case in point, yesterday evening (early this morning, rather) I was listing down what I needed to do for today. However, something happened when I woke up that needed attention. While that matter was important, I am now looking at my list. The will to accomplish it diminishes. 

However, I've got to learn to manage my 'work-life', seeing that I'm part-timing as a tutor/teacher, and I've a business to run. I've to learn to focus, prepare, and make contingencies. Honestly, I can plan but my intentions may not be right, therefore, what looks good on my list, I may not follow through. That statement makes little sense, but it does to me. 

Anyway, affirmations:  I will focus. I will do what is on my list. I want to do this.

As I wrote yesterday, Proverbs 16:9, I plan, but God fulfills. I'll just do my work and thank Him for the energy.

Psalms 103:1

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

"Excelsior!" A life change.

The word "excelsior" is Latin for "ever upward" and "still higher". It's on the state seal of New York--completely apropos. It also happens to be Stan Lee's catchphrase. To me, it's a dare.

Can I push myself to be better spiritually, mentally, and physically? Can I learn to face my battles efficiently, head-on, with a victorious mindset? Can I worry less about people's preconceived notions? The answer is, obviously, 'yes'. However, 'when?' is the more vexing question.

Some weeks ago, someone inspired me with a 'divine' word. That's nothing new since I'm always receiving or being told great words of wisdom and affirmations (prophetic words, so to speak). But the succeeding days, I couldn't get it out of my mind.

I sat under a pine tree at work, and instead of eating lunch, I was praying. I was faced with a conundrum. Who I want to be is far grander than what my current position could give me. It wasn't out of ambition or entitlement, but rather, an illumination within. It asked a serious question--which had been asked before, but this time, instead of brushing it aside, I had the courage to answer it.

It leads me here. A new career path, a budding business, out of my depth (for the moment! Optimistically, obviously), and committing.

The committing is the hardest thing yet, to be frank. But that's part desperation, part hope, and wholly faith.

I hope to write blogs regularly again. Perhaps it would help others understand the journey I'm on now, and for me to externalize whatever it is I'm going through.

God's grace is suffice.
Proverbs 16:9