Just My Thoughts

Just Be Faithful 2

King taught a class I was in last week, and one of the topics he discussed was the Christian character of faithfulness. At the end of that session, each group answered a question:

Why is faithfulness a critical component of the character of a leader? Describe a leader in your life who has been faithful and explain the impact of that in your own life.

I raised my hand and said something, but it was incomplete. As usual, I think I’m a better writer than I am a speaker. Anyway, what I really wanted to say was that in those times that we leaders feel ineffective, useless, unappreciated, offended or tired, we must remain faithful. Just as Dory sings “just keep swimming, just keep swimming,” we must remind ourselves to just be faithful. By the enabling grace of God, we keep going. We don’t give up. Why? Because God sees. God sees you and me. God sees our heart. He sees our effort to reach out to people and to love them. He sees our obedience. He sees our willingness to be inconvenienced, to step out of our comfort zone. He sees our servant leadership and selflessness. He sees our faith. HE SEES. And His pleasure is enough reason for us to be faithful. His honor ought to be the ultimate reason we keep going.

Being faithful is a critical component of a leader’s character because while it is easy to lead when you have a title or position, things are going great and everyone is on board, united and all, it is difficult when things go the opposite direction. Problems arise (theirs or your own), people disconnect, people get offended and discouraged (including you), people and situations change. A leader must not walk away from what God has called him to do.

No question, the leader who has been faithful and has made an impact in my life is King. His faith and his relationship with the Lord is something that I have admired since the year I met him. The day I found out that he was on a mission trip, after weeks of preparing a video and a dance presentation for the opening of our center in Festival mall, was the day I saw him with a new level of respect. I mean come on, I married the guy a year later! Haha. He is by no means perfect. Our life is not perfect. But we have been married for nearly 13 years. He has been a faithful husband, despite my oh so many flaws. He has been a faithful father to our three girls. He chooses to love us and take care of us. I see it in the small things and in the big things — his time, his availability, his presence, his words, his prayers, his resources. He chooses to honor his vow before God and his vow to me.

He has been a church volunteer since the 90s. Name it, he has volunteered for it. He has been in full time ministry for more than a decade. He has worn different hats as well. He’s the kind of man who will do what needs to be done, no matter his title or position. No VIP treatment just because he’s a pastor. He is always ready to serve. I’ve seen that character in him all these years. He is faithful. Even when he has taken hits. Even when he is discouraged. He remains faithful. I believe it’s because he knows to Whom he is being faithful. It’s because he has no illusions Whom all this is about and Whose grace makes it all possible. And that’s more than enough for him. 🙂

“Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments; Deuteronomy 7:9

 

You may also want to read part 1 here — Just Be Faithful.  

Just My Thoughts

The Comfort of Sin

King’s preaching about the tower of Babel the other day got me thinking about sin and comfort zones. Do we realize that sin can be comfortable?

Do it long enough, consistently enough, and SIN BECOMES OUR COMFORT ZONE. At first we feel guilty. We are aware it is wrong. We struggle to stay away from the wrong thing. We struggle to do the right thing. We hear the Holy Spirit. There is no peace in our hearts. We repent. We ask for more grace.

If we don’t make the necessary changes and we let it keep going, after a while, we become used to the sin. We become desensitized. We feel no remorse. Sin becomes normal. Sin becomes comfortable. AND SO WE SETTLE. We stick to what has become familiar and “safe.”

“It feels good. It feels right.”

“I’m happy.”

“We’re in love.”

“The money is good.”

“I’m okay being the other man/woman. I get what I want anyway.”

“It’s been this way for so long. Change will be so difficult.”

“I’ve given everything to God, but this one, I want for me.”

“I repent naman and God forgives me.”

“It was just a fib.”

“It’s just 2 pesos (kickback). It’s okay.”

“We don’t go all the way. ”

“It’s okay. We’re married and we watch it together.”

“I only take a small percentage. Others take double or more.”

“That’s how it goes around here. We’re used to it.”

“I can do this on my own. I don’t need them.”

“People around me are used to my sharp tongue. It’s okay.”

“I really don’t care.”

Ungodly relationships. Infidelity. Greed. Addictions. Obsessions. Self-centeredness. Anger. Murder. Gossip. Lying. Cheating. Stealing. Fornication. Pornography. Corruption. Unforgiveness. Pride. Passivity. Indifference. And many more.

If we are not careful, our seemingly small acts of disobedience in the beginning, our small compromises will grow into greater acts of disobedience, coupled with and worsened by UNREPENTANT, HARD HEARTS.

Let’s pay attention to our actions. Question our own motives. Go back to our purpose. Go back to the basic questions. What does God want me to do? What does God’s Word say about this? Will this honor God?

I believe by the grace of God and by the help of the Holy Spirit, we can overcome. We don’t have to settle for a sinful life, with God on the side (or God out of the picture). We don’t have to settle for less than God’s best for us. We can GO! STEP OUT OF THE COMFORT OF SIN. Break free. In fact, we don’t have to wait till we are trapped. We can CHOOSE TO WALK AWAY NOW. Turn away from sin and turn towards Jesus. It will take a lot out of us. It will be extremely uncomfortable. It will cost us time, effort, maybe even money, and cause us pain.

But TO FOLLOW JESUS, though it costs us much, whether you believe me or not (yet), whether you realize it or not (yet), is ALWAYS WORTH IT.

Make that choice. Talk to someone you trust, someone you know can point you to Jesus and help you in your walk with Him. Message me privately. I would love to pray with you too.

 

You too have done evil, even more than your forefathers; for behold, you are each one walking according to the stubbornness of his own evil heart, without listening to Me. Jeremiah 16:12

For this people’s heart has become calloused;
    they hardly hear with their ears,
    and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
    hear with their ears,
    understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’ Matthew 13:15

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Cor 10:13

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. Luke 9:23

The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; Psalm 37:23

He replied, Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28

Just My Thoughts

Me or You?

Forgiveness is a matter of Lordship. You forgive not because your offender deserves it. You forgive not because what your offender did is okay. You forgive not because you are the bigger person. You forgive not because it’s easy or comfortable. You choose to forgive because, by the grace of God, you choose Jesus over yourself. You choose to obey Jesus, rather than to obey your emotions.

There’s a song I love by Group 1 Crew, called Wake Me Up (Amnesia). Listen to it. It’s a cool song. One of my favorite lines is:

“So who will I choose? Me or You?”

This is the choice we must face each time we are angry or hurt, needing to forgive another. Many times it’s not because we can’t, but because we don’t want to let go. We want to keep holding on to the anger, maybe because we don’t want our offender to get away with hurting us. We want justice. We want to be understood. We want to be proven right. (More on forgiveness here.)

But we must always go back to the question, Who is Lord of my life? Do I continue to sit on the throne of my heart, do what I want, when I want? Or do I rightfully give up the throne and let Jesus rule my heart? Who will I choose — ME and my emotions? or the HONOR of JESUS?

Most of the time difficult. But by the grace of God, never impossible.

 

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Eph 4:32

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

Just My Thoughts

What’s the goal?

Years ago, I was asked by some single ladies what they were supposed to do while they waited. Most singles hope to be married one day, let’s be real. I was the same. Since they were doing well in terms of their spiritual life, their careers and finances were in order, they served in church, their family life was healthy, what else should they do to prepare? What’s next? In other words, they were ready. Ready for the future. I don’t remember my exact answer but I guess I encouraged them to just be faithful in their season. To enjoy it. To learn and grow as they waited.

But maybe, just maybe, we had the wrong perception then. Including me. Maybe we were looking at marriage as a goal. Sure, we always said that every season is a gift. We said that being single is a blessing too. But, I think we also subconsciously believed that being married is better. And subconsciously sent the wrong message that marriage is the goal.

Don’t get me wrong. I love being married. I love hearing love stories. I love seeing couples getting married. There is rejoicing when God brings two people together for His glory and His purpose. BUT EXACTLY. It’s for God’s glory. It’s for God’s purpose. Being single is also for God’s glory, His purpose. The same goes for being a child, being a sibling, being a student. It’s not for our happiness or our enjoyment, though that is a huge bonus coming from a generous and loving God.

Marriage is the means. Christ is the goal. Singleness is the means. Christ is still the goal. Every season in our life is the means. CHRIST IS FOREVER THE GOAL. An intimate relationship with Christ, us growing in Christlikeness, us honoring Christ in everything we do, and us bringing people to Christ.

 

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. 2 Peter 3:18

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowingChrist Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:7-11

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

 

Just My Thoughts

40 things in 40 years

So I turned 40 last week. Here are 40 things I’ve learned so far.

  1. I am called to live a life of PURPOSE, a life to the full. Not just to merely exist, to just get by. Not just for me, myself, and I.
  2. I am a woman, a wife, a queen, a mom, a Torres, a Lucero, a daughter, an in-law, a friend, a sister, a relative, a minister, a disciple, a leader, a follower, a speaker, a writer, a teacher, a host, a volunteer, a Filipino. I am many things, but I am first a CHILD OF GOD. I am loved. I am His.
  3. WITHOUT JESUS, I can do NOTHING. Without Jesus, I am nothing. John 15:5 is my life verse.
  4. Be IN AWE OF JESUS. Never get over how much He loves you and I. That He suffered and died on the cross to pay for your sins and mine. Something you and I totally do not deserve. Something you and I can’t do for ourselves. Something only He was qualified to do. So that you and I can be reconciled with the Father. So that you and I can be forgiven. So that you and I can be free to go back to our original design, which is to love, honor, and commune with God. So that you and I can spend eternity with God in heaven. I am forever grateful.
  5. GOD’S TIMING is PERFECT. He has shown me time and time again that there is a need to pray and believe, but there is no need to rush. Cases in point — my husband, each of my children’s conception and birth, restoration of relationships, our home, provision, etc.
  6. Choosing who to marry is one of the most CRUCIAL CHOICES a person can make. It has an impact on one’s entire lifetime and on the generations that follow them. I thank God for the grace in helping me to wait and to choose King.
  7. My grandparents on both sides were Christians who were actively involved in their church communities, and I am a product (a pleasant shock to everybody, including me haha) of their prayers and their decision to follow Jesus. Our life choices today affect our children and the generations after them. We continue the LEGACY of loving and serving the Lord, and we leave the same legacy to our children, who will do the same with theirs, and so on.
  8. Having a husband pushes me to grow. It teaches me to serve, to love, to be humble, to be patient, to be gentle, to pursue peace, to be generous. Marriage is the means. CHRIST IS THE GOAL.
  9. Care to communicate. If you CARE, you will make the effort to COMMUNICATE. If you don’t communicate, you will seem like you don’t care.
  10. Purity and holiness is not only applicable to singles. Married couples all the more need to stay strong in their conviction to remain PURE AND HOLY. Guard the heart, the eyes, the ears, the tongue, the mind, the body. We are not immune to temptations, and there is more at stake if we fall.
  11. To VOLUNTEER, to SERVE is always worthwhile and fulfilling. When I was single, I thought I would be married to someone rich who would allow me to not work and let me volunteer in church full time. Haha. God did give me a King to marry, I’m a stay-at-home mom, and I volunteer as much as I can!
  12. Women are wonderful beings. I used to be more comfortable making guy friends because I thought girls were just too complicated, or that I was just different from most of them. But I found treasure in talking to and learning from them. God gave me an opportunity to build new, true FRIENDSHIPS WITH WOMEN in church.
  13. Children are BLESSINGS from the Lord! They have a way of warming a person’s heart, adding joy to a home, making adults child-like again. I praise God I have my own and am surrounded by many others. 
  14. Seek WISDOM, listen and heed wise counsel. Learn from those who have gone ahead of us. 
  15. It’s easier to make decisions when you know your PRIORITIES. Sometimes it’s sad to miss out on some things, but it’s almost always worth it.
  16. Give HONOR to whom honor is due. Do not withhold words of encouragement and praise. 
  17. It is possible to agree to disagree, and maintain MUTUAL RESPECT towards one another.
  18. PICK YOUR BATTLES. Not everything needs to be dealt with a long, serious discussion. Not everything has to be a big deal. There are things we fight for, some things we can drop. There are things we cannot compromise, but some things we can give an easy yes to. Lighten up. Let go of the little things.
  19. I appreciate HONESTY WITH LOVE. I don’t like general statements that are meant for me to “get.” If there is an issue that needs to be addressed with me, I prefer that it be said to me directly. One, because I am not a Jedi and I actually may not “get” it. Two, because I think it’s cruel to leave a person guessing, wondering, assuming, and never being certain of what the message is. 
  20. Instead of assuming and therefore incorrectly reacting, communicate. LISTEN first. Ask. Clarify. Then work out the proper response. 
  21. ACKNOWLEDGE. When someone is speaking to you. When someone says hello. When someone asks you a question. When someone messages you. When someone invites you. Don’t leave them hanging. Give them due respect by acknowledging and responding. 
  22. I can deliberately CHANGE THE ATMOSPHERE in my home. A little encouragement, a few laughs, some hugs and kisses go a long way, especially for my kids. 
  23. My children are my MIRRORS. More is caught than taught. *cringe
  24. It’s easier to teach than to set the right example. But teaching my kids pushes me to be a good example. It shouldn’t just be practice what we preach, but PREACH what we PRACTICE. 
  25. Parenting is not easy. Husband and wife having the same values and goals, and being on the SAME PAGE, is key. 
  26. My ability as a parent will always fall short, therefore I must not rely on it. Only God can transform my children’s hearts. Sometimes less talk and MORE PRAYER is what is needed. Get out of the way. We need to let the Lord speak to our kids.
  27. Parenting is easier when you are in a COMMUNITY that cares about your children. Friends who love, not judge. Friends who are watchmen and prayer warriors, not gossips. Thankful for dear friends and my spiritual family.
  28. Forgiveness is FREEDOM! To forgive and be forgiven.  
  29. I can only HELP those who want to be helped. 
  30. Sometimes it’s not a question of ability or availability, but of WILLINGNESS. You can’t force somebody to do what they don’t want to do. 
  31. The lie of the enemy holds no power when we do not believe it. Cling to the TRUTH. Cling to God’s word.
  32. Not everybody (not even in church) will want to be our friend, and that’s okay. We can’t please everybody. We don’t need to be friends with everybody. But BE KIND anyway.
  33. IT’S OKAY not to be invited. It might sting at times, but I’ve learned that it does not always mean rejection. It does not always mean we are not valued or loved. But even if it does, it’s still okay. We get love, our value, our validation from God, not from people.
  34. Those you care about don’t always care as much about you. Those you have invested time, energy and love in, don’t always appreciate you. It’s a SAD REALITY, but God sees our heart. Again, we get our security and validation from Him.
  35. There are FRIENDS who stick closer than a brother. Those that remember my birthday without facebook, hahaha (though I must admit, I need facebook to remind me also). Those that are there for me, will be there for me without hesitation when I need them, even though we don’t see each other often. Those that love and accept me despite my flaws. Those who hope for the best for me and believe in me. Those that will cry and care about what happens to my family when I die. Thank you, friends. You know who you are.  
  36. First impressions should not last. Give people a CHANCE. I did, and I found sisters in a few who were then “unlovable” in my judgmental eyes.
  37. GOD’S GRACE is sufficient and it is evident — in the day to day, in the milestones, in loss, in gain, in life, in death, in the highs and in the lows. We just need to see with eyes of faith and gratitude.
  38. GOD’S WORD is living and active. It will not return to Him empty, but will accomplish what He has set for it to accomplish. 
  39. God TRANSFORMS, and He is not finished with me yet. 
  40. TRUTH. REPENTANCE. FAITH. Everyday.
Just My Thoughts, Parenting

T.R.E.N.D.S.

I’m not one who is easily influenced by today’s trends. I like what I like, and they may not necessarily be what’s cool at the moment. Actually, sometimes I only have cool (but very useful) stuff because my husband or mom or friends give them to me as gifts haha. Anyway, this is something we want our kids to learn. To be wise and discerning, and not easily be drawn to the world’s trends.

T.EMPORARY. Trends are temporary. Styles of clothes, shoes, bags, gadgets, homes, even diets and workouts change so quickly. One day it’s in, and the next day, it’s out. All sorts of lists of new establishments and food to try. Vacation spots and unique experiences to put on the bucket list (and hopefully not the “bakit?! list”). The newest movies, shows, bands and artists to check out. The latest toys and apps to play. I’m sure most of us want to be updated and relevant. But why chase the coolest and the latest? Why put a premium on commodities that are so fleeting? When we purchase, or dive into, or buy into something, it shouldn’t be just because it’s cool (or hot or lit — depending on which generation you belong to — I myself can’t seem to bring myself to say hot or lit, haha), or because it’s new. Let’s please have a more sane, better, bigger reason than that. Let’s ask ourselves if they are useful and helpful, if they add value to our life or other people’s.

R.ECKLESS. Following trends may cause us to make reckless, rash decisions. Things change so fast, and trying to keep up with them produces impulsive actions. I believe there is much wisdom in delayed gratification. We get to think, to mull it over, to give it some time. Usually, when the motivation is just the trend’s novelty, the interest quickly wanes. This happens to our kids often. They tell us about a new toy that their friends have, a cool but expensive brand of clothes, a new diy idea (yeah, like allergy-causing slime), a pet, an event they want to join or watch, a place they want to visit. We don’t readily say yes because we want to know first what we’ll be getting ourselves into. We want to figure out what it will entail (for us and for them), and if we are willing AND able to do it. It teaches our kids to wait, to pray, to think, to weigh what’s important to them and what’s really not, and then to either let go or persevere. Trust me, as a parent, there have been times that I’ve kicked myself in the head, so to speak, for saying yes to something that they wanted but was not the best idea. There are still moments that I’m torn between giving them what they want and being wise, and I end up telling them that I can feel that this is one of those times that I’ll be kicking myself in the head if I say yes. I already see the results, and so wisdom wins and I say no. As adults, we know what it’s like to make reckless decisions that leave us with consequences and with regret. We realize later on that we shouldn’t have jumped the gun, or that we shouldn’t have jumped at all.

E.XCESS. Trends are exciting and fun, but they potentially lead to excess. Trends cost money. Chasing fads leaves us with a lot of waste — items that are still good, but are no longer used because we’ve moved on to the latest model. Chasing trends may cost us more money than we actually have. Let’s not get into debt just so we can be like the cool kids (like the cool kids). Have money? Let’s not spend it all. My kids sometimes come to me and tell me that they want to purchase something, and that they have the money for it. They’re willing to blow their savings for 1 concert ticket or 1 expensive pair of shoes. I ask them, then what? Of course they say it’s okay because they think money grows on trees (or more aptly, the bank gives us endless supply of cash), but when they actually need the money for something important, they’ll no longer have the means. It’s wise to have savings, especially for a rainy day. Have money to spare? Okay. Occasional splurging is okay. Bless someone, treat yourself, do something nice with or for the family. I’m all for that, especially when, for me personally, it’s travel.

N.ECESSARY. The next question we ought to ask ourselves is “Is this necessary?” “Is it necessary for me to have or do this?” “Do I need this?” “Do I need it now?” If the answer is yes and you have the resources to purchase and/or commit to it, then by all means, go for it. But more often than not, we don’t really need it. We can live without it. Or we can do it another time, catch the next opportunity. We ask our kids this all the time. If it’s necessary for school, of course we do our best to get it for them. But again, it teaches them to think, to work within a budget, and to think outside of themselves. We have three children, and we need to think of all three of them, not just the one (or two) who wants something. So they have to think of their siblings as well. They have to think about what works for our family, and not just for themselves. We also remind them that even though we do have the budget for something, we still need to make wise choices with our finances. There are better, more important, more worthwhile things to spend on than the latest trend. Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial (1 Cor 10:23). And there is a right time for everything.

D.ISTRACTING. Trends tend to distract us from our goals. From our priorities. They keep our time, focus, energy, and resources from going where they should. There are trends that do help us pursue our goal, that add to our skill and knowledge, that are useful in our profession, that are fun for bonding and de-stressing, that promote family togetherness, make us grow and all that — good things to invest in. And there are those that don’t. Those that are useless and fruitless. We need to sift through these fads with wisdom. It may be a need, but not the priority. It may be affordable, but not necessary. It may be a good opportunity, but the timing is off. It may be fun, but too pricey. It may sound good, but it would tear you away from your family. We need wisdom, prayer, and at times godly counsel. It’s quite easy to be influenced by ads, commercials, and friends. Our kids are especially prone to this. Even though some seem harmless, we like to research, ask around first. We remind them that not everything good, is necessarily good or right for us. Not everything available, we must avail. Not everything advertised, suggested or offered, we must take. It teaches them to think, determine their priorities, and to be responsible with those priorities.

S.ATISFYING. I always hear this from my girls, though not necessarily about trends – it’s so satisfying! Following trends and accumulating stuff can be satisfying! We feel happy, giddy even. To own the cool thing. To experience the latest craze. To belong to the in crowd. It gives us some satisfaction. Sadly, it’s a false sense of satisfaction. It’s satisfaction that does not last, so we end up wanting more and more because we chase that feeling of pleasure. This is the time we must dig into our hearts. The time to pray. We might be trying to fill a void, striving to make ourselves happy. None of these, however, will ever fill the emptiness. Material things, experiences, people – they’re all temporary, all inconstant, all limited. We need the eternal, the unchanging, the unlimited source of satisfaction, and that is only God Himself. With God, there is true joy and contentment. No more striving, no more chasing useless and fruitless things. We gain the ability to see God’s goodness and be grateful for every blessing. Because God, if He really is our source, is more than enough.

Blessed are those who find wisdom,
    those who gain understanding,
for she is more profitable than silver
    and yields better returns than gold.
She is more precious than rubies;
    nothing you desire can compare with her.
Long life is in her right hand;
    in her left hand are riches and honor.
Her ways are pleasant ways,
    and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;
    those who hold her fast will be blessed. Proverbs 3:13-18

 

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:1-5

Just My Thoughts

Out of sight, out of mind?

When she’s in the mood to stay put and when she likes her food, Gianna pretty much feeds herself. Obviously, there are spills and messes here and there. When that happens, she calls me to clean it up, or she asks for tissue so she could wipe it. If it’s on the chair (she doesn’t sit on a high chair anymore), she usually waits for me to finish picking up the mess before she sits back down. I noticed that she doesn’t like to SEE the mess in her area. Sometimes she moves her plate or bowl over the spilled rice or what have you, to cover it up.

This happened again recently when some of her milk spilled onto the counter. She called me, but before I wiped it, she was already putting her cup over the spill. I told her that I needed to clean it, because even though she covers it, it’s still messy under there.

Doesn’t that sound so familiar? Out of sight, out of mind? We don’t want to be reminded of our mistakes, our problems, our flaws. And we try so hard to cover it up. We bury ourselves in work, keep ourselves busy. We party to forget. We go on trips to escape. We avoid people who we know are not afraid to ask us how we are. We project a happy front on our social media accounts. Sometimes, we even hide behind ministry or volunteer work. But no matter how hard we try, our issues don’t magically disappear. They’re still there.

I cleaned the countertop and the bottom of Gianna’s cup. Just as she needed me to help her, we need Jesus to help us with our messes. We could go on hiding and covering up our issues, just let it fester deep in our hearts, but is that how we really want to live? We compound our problem, make it harder to get to a solution, and perpetuate more covering up. Not only that, we miss out. We miss out on the beauty of Jesus. He starts with that which no one sees — our heart. He cleans from the inside out. He HEALS from the inside out. With Jesus, we encounter the truth. The truth that we are sinners and that we need Him as our LORD and Savior. That apart from Him, we can do nothing. We learn to surrender to Him. We learn humility. We learn repentance. We seek and receive forgiveness. We experience freedom. We learn obedience and faith. With Jesus we get a new, clean heart. We get a fresh start. We live a FULL life.

Now to be clear, we will still make mistakes. Gianna is a toddler. She will still have accidents. WE are human. We’re still flawed. We still sin. We will have problems. And that is precisely why we need Jesus, not just in the beginning, but every single day of our lives. With Jesus, there’s no more need for hiding or covering up. We just run back to Him each time. TRUTH, REPENTANCE, FAITH. Repeat. With Jesus, we grow with ever-increasing glory. With Jesus, we can face our problems with confidence because we are secure in His love and our hope is in Him.

 

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:7-9

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

28 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:28-31

 

Just My Thoughts

My DIY stars and Jesus

I am super happy with my DIY stars! I used the thin wires I have at home and doubled it up so that I could get the sturdiness of a thicker wire. I realized later that I’m supposed to use a board and nails to perfectly shape the star, but I’d already winged it. I like the imperfection anyway.

I decided to make 2 more and hang them with red ribbon, on our curtain rod against the white curtain, along with medium silver balls as well. I love silver/gray and red. It’s a super simple but pretty way to decorate a portion of your home.


I like the significance of stars. It reminds me of the star on the first Christmas, guiding the wise men to Jesus. It reminds me that Jesus is the light of the world, and we are children of the light. It reminds me to seek the light, to follow the light, to remain in the light. It reminds me that Jesus is the reason not only for the season, but for everything. Me minus Jesus equals nothing. Me plus Jesus equals everything.

Thank You Jesus for allowing yourself to be born into the world, to be God, powerful and infinite, and yet be confined in the body of a helpless baby. To be God, glorious and great, and yet be a servant to your people. To be God, whole and lacking nothing, and yet be broken, sacrificing yourself to pay for our sins and be our bridge back to the Father. Your humility and love always blows me away. Thank you Lord, and happy birthday! ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Just My Thoughts

Finding Dory. Finding Me.

Finding Nemo is one of my all-time favorite Pixar movies. It was also Danae’s favorite when she was around 2 years old. She would ask to watch it again and again. Needless to say, we were excited to learn that they were making another about the most beloved character, Dory.

Ever since we watched Kung Fu Panda 3, I decided that there was no more going to the movies with Gianna. Not til she’s 3 maybe. She’s really active and loud haha. I used to be able to just breastfeed and put her to sleep, but that’s a thing of the past now. Snacks kept her busy for a short while during Kung Fu Panda, but after that, I could not concentrate on the movie anymore. On and off her seat, up and down the stairs, in and out of the theater! But for Finding Dory, I was in faith that we would both enjoy the movie. There have been other movies but I let King, Danae and Noelle enjoy those without us. I just had to with Finding Dory. And despite some movement and some noise (waving and saying “Hi Vuwan” to everyone), we did it! Gianna now recognizes “Meemo” and “Find Doyee” when she sees them on pictures, posters, videos.

I do not think it was as special as Finding Nemo was, but I still loved it. My favorite part was when Dory discovered that her parents had been waiting for her to find the shells they had been continually setting up, so that she could come home. That just really reminded me of God’s love for me. Dory’s parents never gave up. Despite their daughter’s difficulty in remembering, they still believed that she would be able to find her way home in case she got lost. They loved her, taught her, and took care of her well while she was with them. They encouraged her and believed in her. And when they had lost her, they continued to hope. They made sure they did their part so that Dory could find them again.

I have short term memory loss too. Sometimes it’s so easy for me to forget the goodness of God. When I am faced with a difficult or painful situation, doubts and complaints set in. But God never gives up on me. He continues to draw me to Himself. He tests me, He disciplines me, He teaches me. Sometimes in the process, I get lost. But God is faithful. He always gives me nudges, reminders, revelations to lead me back to Him. He lays out all kinds of shells for me so that I can find my way back home. What a beautiful picture of the Father’s love, faithfully waiting for the return of His child.

Though Dory’s parents did not go and look for her, our Father seeks us when we are lost. God is a gentleman and would never force Himself on us. But He is the one who pursues us and reminds us of His love because He wants to be with us. He wants us to be with Him. He waits until we remember that life is empty apart from Him. He waits until we remember His love, what it is like to be without it and to come to a place of not wanting to be without Him. He waits until we remember that He is home. Dory started remembering that love and she just had to find her parents because she did not want to be away from them a second longer. Even though she already belonged to a new family with Nemo and Marlin, she still was compelled to find her original family, her original home. When we realize that we belong to God and there is no other person we would rather have with us as we go through the ups and downs of life, we come running back. When we do, we are humbled, forgiven, reunited, restored, reignited, faith-filled and complete again. Oh the patience, perseverance, and great love of God! It happens over and over and over, our unfaithfulness and faithlessness — unbelievable. But He remains forever and ever and ever faithful.

I love Finding Dory because the heart of the story is very much like Finding Me.

 

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

 

 

Just My Thoughts

I am Martha

I don’t think I ever appreciated my second name. Yes, I have a second name. My real name is actually Phoebe Martha. I know my parents gave me my second name after this American lady in the newspaper the day I was born. I don’t know if growing up I knew that my name is in the Bible. I do know that when I discovered what the name Martha meant, I did not like it. Martha means bitter. Who wants to be bitter? Certainly not me. I want to be free from unforgiveness, anger, and bitterness. It didn’t compare well to what my first name means — radiant, shining. Phoebe is my mom’s name as well and it is written in Romans.

And then of course there’s the character that Martha is known for. She’s always busy doing things serving the Lord, that she forgets that being in the Lord’s presence, spending time with Him, listening to Him and enjoying Him, is most important. I am many times very much like her. Who wants to be reminded that she often misses the mark? Well, yeah, me. I need to be reminded. But I really do not want to relate so much to her. I want to be like Mary!

Until I read John 11 again a few days ago. I am sure I’ve read these verses many times. It’s the story of Lazarus. But for some reason these four words just jumped out at me and I felt so wonderfully loved.


Wow. It doesn’t matter what my name stands for. Doesn’t matter that I make mistakes constantly. Doesn’t matter that I sometimes make other things more important than Him. Doesn’t matter that I sometimes make myself out to be greater than others. Doesn’t matter who I am or am not connected to. Jesus loves me. Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, loves me. That’s just who He is. His love does not depend on who I am or on what I do, but on who He is. He loves me. No conditions. Completely. Perfectly.

 
I am Phoebe Martha. And I am loved.

 

How about you? What is your name? Jesus loves you too. ❤️