Understanding a Young Professional

 

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Indeed, August is understanding – understanding the will of God, understanding yourself and others. 🙂

At my age of 31, I can say I have been through all seasons when it comes to job opportunities in search for the one that God says as “the right one.” These decisions aren’t easy to make because I also need to value what my spouse thinks on what is best for us both.

These seasons brought me to short term employments, some even lasted for just a week, some brought me to a standstill for a long while and some lasted for a couple of years. I always seek God’s counsel on these matters because let’s admit it, giving up a job and hopping on to the next is crucial.

We all need money to survive. Getting rich, however, is a different story and something I do not fully support. Money is the root of all evil if it becomes your god and your life revolves around it. This includes anything that makes you “great” as well. It will destroy this hierarchy of priorities mandated by God:

  1. GOD
  2. Spouse
  3. Children/Family
  4. Career
  5. Ministry

How? When we don’t find the right answers to these questions:

  • When was the last time you opened and read your bible consistently?
  • When was the last time you took a quiet time, prayed, and made it a habit?
  • Do you have enough time for your spouse on a regular basis?
  • How about for your children?
  • When did you last visit your parents or talked to them?
  • How about your siblings? When did you last check up on them?
  • When was the last time you attended church? 

We’ve always been reminded to never place any idols before God and that anyone who disobeys will face the consequences:

“You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,…” – Exodus 20:3-5

Are our possessions our god? Are our finances our god? Are our careers our god? Are our achievements our god? Are our children our god? Is our ministry our god?

If we fail in even one of the things I have mentioned above, we know that we are guilty. We always have to be on our guard because the enemy is always in the corner prowling around looking for that next victim to deceive. Everything may seem to be smooth sailing but little did we know that we are already heading towards destruction. If everything is going smoothly in our lives, we should already wonder.

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

There may not be any external atrocities happening on the outside but the enemy is already going for the most vulnerable spot inside you – your heart and your soul.

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” – Proverbs 4:23

As the adage goes, “A river that is quiet usually has looming falls at the end of it.”

Your heart and your soul may have remained placid but they were not given the opportunity to build a shield which is the armor of God and strengthen your faith.

The Whole Armor of God

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.

16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” – Ephesians 6:10-18

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:3-5

Don’t be tempted to get that next promotion or for that next “big thing” to add to your resume or attach at the end of your name right away. Don’t be tempted to sign that 6-digit salary or the millions that you’re being asked to take without confirming the responsibilities attached to it. Don’t be tempted to say “yes” to any promise of a better life other than the gift of salvation.

No, don’t be tempted with these things. That next promotion might be a temptation to spend less time with your spouse and family or a temptation to sacrifice your own health and wellness. That 6-digit salary might tempt you to drown yourself in the physical pleasures of this world which equate to even more worldly temptation. That promise of a better life might be masked in the form of easy money and the black market.

Review your priorities instead (single or married), ask for God’s leading, seek His counsel, and pray for discernment towards the right path.

If you will ask me why, then consider the following:

  1. Why is quality time with God important? The Scripture will guard your heart against any temptation. This will prepare you for any trial you’ll go through. Thus, it is the #1 priority.
  2. Why is quality time with the spouse important? Marriage is a holy matrimony, it is also a room for the enemy to attack you or your spouse with temptations. Communication is important between a married couple. If you are too tired to even ask what went on in your spouse’s day, it might be too late when you realize your spouse is drifting away from you and eventually leads to a divorce.
  3. Why is it important to spend time with your kids? Your kids will only be young once. They will appreciate the time you’ve spent with them more than the toys or gadgets you gifted them when they grow older. The percentage of depressed teens are getting higher every year. You don’t want them to end up growing up a teenage rebel or being with the wrong group of friends just because their parents are always “absent.” It is as important to your child that you become his/her first best friend other than just being a parent.
  4. Why should you not place money as the top priority? Money is the root of all evil. It sparks jealousy, greed, selfishness, death, among all other negative things.

I am not a licensed counselor but I have learned these nuggets of wisdom from mentors who went through the same thing and shared their experiences, combined with my own personal experience as well as knowledge lifted from my graduate study which is special education.

You might add that they are all a case-to-case basis but consider this verse:

“What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.” -Ecclesiastes 3:15

If you are to ask me why, this might suffice as an answer:

“And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear Him.” – Ecclesiastes 3:14

Going back to all those career shifts, I can say that I have met wonderful people who have touched my life. I’ve learned a great deal of wisdom from them and formed a special bond through the memories and experiences we’ve shared which I am forever grateful.

On the one hand, I have touched their lives as well one way or the other and continue to influence as they add me on social media, check out my profiles or read my blog articles (oh, it’s you). 😀

I never viewed it as a waste of time, this shifting of careers, though it brought me to a slight and temporary instability in my priorities, marriage, finances, etc. as seasons change.

But no, I remained steadfast because I am clinging to a Rock and I know I have a God who is forever faithful. I viewed these instead as a time of GREAT TESTING.

How? It is only in times of drought and famine that your faith in God is truly tested. It will answer the question “how far are you willing to trust God with your whole life?”

So much of this testing didn’t test my character alone but it also built the foundations of my marriage and refined the characters of the people around me too. They, too, have learned to rely on God along the way.

I have always relied in the TRUTH that God is the ONLY ONE who provides for all our needs from finances to material things; who gives us a career; who provides our salaries; who closes one door of opportunity and opens another; who keeps things steady though everything may be shaky; who keeps my marriage intact; who binds the relationships I have with others; and who reminds me of my priorities.

What matters is we stayed obedient to His instructions, obeyed His laws, and pursued His will and plans for our lives all throughout.

As I write this journal entry, all I can ever see are the lives of those great people recounted in the bible who withstood all trials because of their unwavering faith even to the point of death: Daniel; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; David; Joseph; Job; among many others.

They say it takes fire to yield a beautiful sword ready for battle. Without fire, the sword will be blunt – ineffective and of no use. Yet it also takes the time to forge a sword. It takes effort and a great force to yield it. On the other hand, too much heat will cause it to melt.

As a young professional, you’ll receive so much of this fire which could either destroy you or mold you. Choose, however, to consult God’s plans over your life more than being dissuaded by what this world expects and wants from you.

Do not break away from the vine, cling to it. Let God use the fire to mold you for a better purpose. But never let the enemy use it to consume you and head for destruction.

In the end, it is important to keep in mind that even when you have to close a hundred doors and open a thousand, it still is God who decides what is the best door to keep open. You’ll never really know in which seasons will God forge you to become one of His mightiest swords. But, learn to trust Him instead. 🙂

Each time He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

As my spiritual mentor and Victory group leader said with her life verse and God’s promise:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

For this article, here’s a video from Hillsong that’s one of my all-time favorite Christian songs:

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Year 2017: Everything Made New

Vindicated is the world’s term for it, redeemed is how faith coins it.

This article was sitting as a draft since November. But I only had the urge to finish writing it today because a lot more happened after November. So for the month of December I didn’t publish any article – a moment of solitude and immersion in faith. 🙂

There’s social unrest in the decision of current president of the Philippines, President Duterte, and the supreme court to allow the remains of a dictator and former President of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos to be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani or be given a hero’s burial. It was an unfair decision to most considering all the human rights violation committed, plunder and social injustice in all forms when the country was placed under martial law during the Marcos regime.

It doesn’t seem such a reasonable, sensitive and acceptable answer by comforting the victims of martial law and their families by the statement “forgive and move on.” If you are to ask my side, I chose to settle it with God instead – not my terms but His.

I went thru a similar situation myself about two months ago, so please bear with me if this part will be a bit sensitive and emotional. It was just one of those heated disagreements between me and hubby. Through this challenging situation, it was heartbreaking to hear your spouse renounce his faith and even curse God which made me speak against my faith too. Yes, it was a very sad moment between us which turned into something worse that our families needed to meddle to stop the damage from getting bigger. Hubby and I decided we live separately for the meantime for our own safety and for the sake of saving our marriage.

When I went to the province, I was given the wrong ticket for the first time in my entire 15 years of traveling back and forth going home. Can you guess what was the wrong ticket amount?  It’s 888. 😀 Yes, I interpreted it as an assurance that the Lord, our God, is indeed with us we need not worry.

20170131_214536.pngHow ironic it is though that my husband’s surname is Rome. Jesus’ number one persecutor is none other than the Romans. 🙂 They tried to gain control over Jesus but in the end they were the ones defeated when He overcame death. Jesus symbolizes the church, if not, He is the church. In a marriage, the wife is the church.

This clearly illustrates how man tried to separate from God/church/wife because of the sins and that only Jesus can bridge this gap so the relationship between man and God will be restored. This is just like when Israel rebelled against God and how God tried to make them turn to Him.

What happened was this, God made my relationship something to learn from and yet just like the martial law victims whose rights were violated, God will be the only one with the authority and the power to judge anyone.

They say that when you are deeply hurting, God is creating something wonderful in you and He is veering you away from possible destruction. Yet, it always starts with humility and forgiveness. Just like in this quote from my Our Daily Bread daily devotion, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you. – C.S. Lewis”

For the two months that we have been apart, I persevered in assuring my husband that tho I have agreed we live separately for the time being, it doesn’t mean I am giving up on him and our marriage. It is indeed true that for all that we have been through, not once did I give up on our relationship and our marriage and I never will. The first thing that came to my mind during this season was the “love dare” from one of the greatest Christian films I have watched about marriages which is Fireproof.

Just like in the movie, I too am extremely grateful right now that God gave me a family whom I deeply appreciate being mentors in this ordeal who lead me to God and towards the right path. It was difficult to hear and choose from a lot of different prespectives but they did help a lot in widening my mindset about a lot of things through the Spirit’s guidance.

It wasn’t God’s goal that He’ll give you the perfect spouse because your husband/wife will fail you in the entire course of your marriage. This is not because God wants to see us suffer but He wanted to see how we will honor our commitment to Him and to our spouse, how will we continue fighting for our faith towards the beautiful promises that He has and last but not the least, to love unconditionally in the same way that He has loved us. We were born sinners, we are imperfect and we have been saved only by GRACE – something that we did not deserve but was given as a gift out of His great love for us.

I remembered a few years back when a male colleague actually confronted me with a startling confession, “Tin, no guy will ever be a match for you. You are talented, beautiful, almost everything.” I couldn’t give him a fair answer except that I wasn’t created by God to be someone’s or anybody’s rival. I was made as a man’s partner, as equal and as unique as everyone else.  I, as a woman, do not have high standards or maybe I do but it doesn’t matter because what matters is that we have a God who has REALLY high standards and these are the standards that we ought to meet – not mine, not yours, but His.

So for two months I can say a lot have happened. But for the general feel of those two months, I can describe it as very painful and yet it was life-changing. As expected, I got a new Paulo Coehlo planner during the start of the year. This is my brother and sister-in-law’s consistent Christmas gift for me which, I must say, I appreciate a lot as my spiritual journey won’t be complete without it. This planner and I shared a lot of memories and it records all of my prayers, requests, letters of gratitude, revelations and daily bible verses from YouVersion and Our Daily Bread apps.

We also have a prayer and fasting in church at the start of the year and I must say too it was during this time that I had the greatest revelation from yes, the book of Revelation itself. 🙂

At first I did find it funny. I mean, even before, God’s ways are always amazing. He is so full of surprises. Most often these surprises will make you cry in awe – I always do. But it also made me humble – humble enough to acknowledge how could I have questioned God’s plans. It’s as if I am hearing Jesus when He said to His disciples, “you who have such little faith.”   Well, when prayer time comes and I do get to talk with God, I feel all too guilty of this. However, His love and grace remain steadfast and true – it sets you free and it gives you a new chance in life always.

I shared this testimony exactly after the prayer and fasting ended. When I went home to my province last December, no one was left to tend my little garden. I just have faith that God will take good care of them for me in the same way He takes care of the wild forests. When I came back in January, true enough, my plants were flourishing except for one – the oldest plant I have since 2005 which is a calamansi plant. It doesn’t bear any fruit probably because there’s no other calamansi plant around that can pollinate it.

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All the leaves of my calamansi plant were curled and dried up. My sister was the one who noticed it first and asked me what happened. We both could not explain as the rest of my plants were thriving. So she said maybe a fungus attacked the roots and I thought that it could very well be the reason. She suggested I throw the plant away. I thought it best too as it’ll be absurd keeping a dead plant in your garden. 😀

But on second thoughts, I have decided to keep it. I did water it for a day or two after we got back but when I saw that the leaves are really all dried up and they were starting to fall off one by one, I stopped watering it for about 2 weeks except for the occasional rainshowers but still chose to keep it. I just don’t know why I still kept it. 🙂

Anyway, for the month of November the character trait in my planner was patience, December was determination and January 2017 is tolerance. Nope, it is not an irony these traits are exactly what I needed to learn in the season I was in but I believe they’re all part of His plans. I have remained hopeful and faithful for the time when my husband will be saved and for the time when we will be together again. Ah yes, those grueling two months of being apart and you felt that your life was in shambles and what you have with you is nothing else but faith.

I asked God for forgiveness, that He would change me and yet I asked Him for strength and courage too. I know God is changing my hubby too. It is always between God and the person and that the people around are used only as vessels for God to allow that change to take place. I was claiming that the year 2017 will be the start of a lot of positive changes for all even if we seem to have lost everything. I am believing too that more unbelieving spouses will rise in the calling that God has for them to be Godly husbands and wives and Godly parents to their children. I am praying that the generations to come will learn from the generational curses that have been set and passed on to them by their ancestors and they will break free from them through the Cross.

As much as I’d want to share every single detail of those two months that I can say God was purifying me thus made me choose a white dress for Christmas day (see photo below), I would like to share the following bible verses, quotations in my daily devotion, articles I came across and questions I have asked God wherein I have felt much of the Spirit’s presence in what I was and am going through until now. I hope you will be blessed by them too in whatever season you are in. These verses came one by one consistently everyday. 🙂

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P.S.

Don’t forget to read the last part – I have good news to tell. 😉

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding..” – Proverbs 3:5

“For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:9

“Give your burdens to the LORD, and He will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” – Psalm 55:2

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” – John 15:4

“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” – Hebrews 12:2

Lord, teach me how to carry my own cross and how to carry it well.

“This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They put their trust in God and accepted the authority of their husbands. For instance, Sarah obeyed her husband, Abraham, and called him her master. You are her daughters when you do what is right without fear of what your husbands might do.”- 1 Peter 3:3‭-‬6 

“God is at work to make us who He intends us to be.” – Our Daily Bread

“Hear the word of the Lord.” – Jeremiah 7: 2

“I am making everything new.” – Revelation 21:5

“The word of the Lord never fails.” – Luke 1:3

“But seek first the Kingdom of God and live righteously and He will give you everything you need.” – Matthew 6:33

“Only Jesus can give us new life.”  (John 14:19)

“Christ will never leave His wife. Ever. There may be times of painful distance and tragic backsliding on our part. But Christ keeps His covenant forever. Marriage is a display of that! That is the most ultimate thing we can say about it.”

– http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/staying-married-is-not-about-staying-in-love-part-1

A display of His greatness.

I often wonder if my life was patterned after every devotion I am using – every bible verse, every Godly wisdom shared, I felt applying them all for real for they were all timely in every event that I am going through.

“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor.” – 1 Peter 5:6

Why choose me, Lord?

Who am I to question God and His ways?

“Let others see your testimony as well as hear it.” – Our Daily Bread (2 Corinthians 4:7)

For I prefer Lord for my faith to be tested like iron is being forged in fire. For I do not intend to be lukewarm in my faith.

“There is no risk in abandoning ourselves to God.” (Romans 12:1)

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you. – C.S. Lewis”  (Romans 7:14)

“But the Lord is faithful; He will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:3

“Christ holds all things together.” (Colossians 1:17)

Now we’re on to the last part of this article which I was referring to previously. So what’s the good news? Well, God’s grace made it possible for our marriage to be restored and we are on to an absolutely new chapter of our lives as a married couple. A new chapter indeed because we are finally deciding to relocate to a place near his work, I am going back to the work force and I just felt real change within me and my spouse. At first I was apprehensive about this change but if God brought us here, then He will help us go through it all as well.

As my husband put it (yes, my husband. 😀 ), God is good. 🙂

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Oh and yes, remember the plant that died which I still kept? After 2 weeks, this is how it looks now – new leaves. It’s alive!  “The old is gone and the new has come and I am making everything new” indeed as what the Lord says. All it took was FAITH. 😀

To end this article, I’ll share this bible verse which was from my laptop’s screensaver yesterday (it displays a different bible verse everyday). Yet another revelation from the book of Revelation:

“Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world.” – Revelation 3:10

Oh how I love my God. ❤ *insert wide smile here* 

Continue fighting the good fight of faith my dear brothers and sisters. 🙂

Sweet Groanings of the Heart in The 4th Year Anniversary Special

Before anything else, I’d like to share this insightful article from Forbes especially for the young professionals:

“The Top 5 Regrets of Mid-Career Professionals”

So my Mom and I had a serious heart-to-heart talk about some things especially about my graduate study. It’s been taking far too long years are passing by fast and it seems I haven’t done anything productive at all nor made significant improvements not just in it but in my life in general.

So questions like what are your plans, what do you want to do now, where do you want to be when you get older, etc. came popping up.

Truth is, I wasn’t totally pleased with how my life has faired throughout these years. To most people it seems like I have wasted 6 years to nothing. But I think I am going to take back that word “displeased”  because doing a self-assessment, I am happier in those 6 years wherein I am in a limbo and in shambles or I thought I was.

First and most importantly, I found God along the way – I was born again. Second, I found love in this world and my better half unexpectedly – I got married. Lastly, a lot of changes happened internally – major heart reconstruction. These 3 are now my priorities which I was called to serve first.

So my Mom went on, “As parents we only wanted what is best for all of you and your siblings, a better and more successful life.”

I do appreciate this kind of love from my parents. I know when I become a parent I wanted what is best for my kids too.

She continued, “If you wanted to have a simple life though, nothing is wrong with that.”

Now this I loved from her even more. So I smiled and agreed:

“Yes Mommy, that is all I ever wanted in this life. I actually wanted to go back home in our province and raise my family there if God wills it. We wouldn’t have these ideals and values in life if it wasn’t for the humble beginnings of you and Dad in which you have raised us all. City life has far too much temptations and is way complicated.

I want my kids to have the same values and ideals in life too and I think I won’t be able to do that if they will grow up seeing that Brian and I pursue what this world offers as the meaning of success like wealth, possessions, achievements and titles.”

A “higher”  and more successful position/career requires more time at work and more work load. This is practically what graduate studies are for – promotion at work and/or career advancement. I may be earning much and I now have a title that society declares as prestigious but I have less time with my family because either I am too tired when I get home, I am bringing work at home or I have longer working hours in the office. My kids will only be young once and my husband is my top priority next to God.

Then memories of the day I had my altar call which was during the Singles’ Getaway in church back in year 2012 reminded me once again about what Pastor Dennis Sy discussed regarding priorities. He shared an experience between him and his wife who wanted to pursue her dream to become a medical doctor.

What he said made a mark in me as well (paraphrased already),

“Your degree/profession won’t be able to hug you in times that you are sad nor will it be beside you in times of trouble. But I can.”

She chose to let go. Priorities-wise, when we are called to be married and have families, they are to be on top. Indeed, these are the sacrifices that born-again spouses and parents have to make when it comes to priorities. I have read an article (I couldn’t exactly remember the title) by Mrs. Marie Bonifacio, wife of Pastor Joey, regarding the hierarchy of priorities: God, spouse, family, career and ministry.

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A great reminder. ❤

I love God, I love my spouse and I love my family – these are what matters in my case now. My career will have to come next and maybe my other ambitions will have to fade away. I am still seeking for God’s direction in this area though, a period of patiently waiting and enduring.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” – Matthew 6:34

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

There are those who were called to a life of leadership and excellence in the corporate world and professional industry among men and women alike. There are also those who were called to serve the ministry. There are those too who were called to serve their families. These are just some of the areas we were called to serve and we all fall in either of those categories one way or the other.

I believe this is the season that God is slowly clearing the view from obstacles so I could walk the path straight and yet asking me to get even closer and more in tune with Him. I trust God that He will guide me and my future family according to His plans. It may mean denying myself what this world offers at this point going against the norm and maybe going against the wishes of many which can be heartbreaking but I know in the end it will all glorify God.

I am, in fact, happier where God has put me now as long as it gives Him all the Glory and Honor He deserves. 🙂

“Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.” – Proverbs 3:6

P.S.

This might be my last post for this year or for a couple more years even (only God knows) because I am planning to do a social media hibernation in most of my social media accounts for I don’t know how long as part of my personal prayer and fasting. There is so much I need to pray for in my life including my current health condition, my family, my country and this world and I need to seek for God’s will and instructions without distractions and temptations just like what Jesus did.

So I am temporarily ending my 4-year activity in blogosphere and passing on the baton to the new generation of faith-based bloggers. Today’s the 4th year anniversary of this blog too and I got this notification the other day about reaching 500 readers who stayed patient enough in reading this faith-based blog. Kind of a great way to end a season, eh? *wink*  I believe this particular season has come to a temporary halt and God is calling me to a new season, a new task. Who knows, I might be back in just a week. lol 😀

( To God be all the Glory!)

But I am definitely sure I will be reconnected with you all again in God’s perfect time. So ciao for now my dear readers. Keep praying, keep on blogging and keep the faith always! ❤ 🙂

A Marriage vs. A Wedding

“A God-centered marriage matters more to God than a grand wedding.”

This was a reminder to me even before Brian and I chose to have our civil wedding first. We were both aware that when we signed our marriage contracts, a marriage  is not just a piece of paper that you sign on – it is a Holy Matrimony, a sacred covenant. It just makes me sad when I see marriages that failed. I know I have no right to meddle in what a couple went through in their marriages and assume what decision is best for them except to pray about it and yet it was one of my goals to somehow enlighten them in keeping one of God’s greatest blessings which is the marriage – the foundation of every family where children are born and raised as future citizens, successors and disciples in our society.

This is probably the reason why I took the risk of sharing sensitive situations regarding conflicts that my husband and I go through hoping that many will be able to appreciate that they are not alone in what they are going through as a couple. That they, too, might realize marriages are sometimes painful and yet sometimes it is joyful too. I was hoping that realizations such as putting God at the center of the marriage along with prayers make all the difference for as long as not one of the couple gives up. Or if even one gives up, then the other should do the effort to save it regardless who is at fault or if he/she will be making most of the sacrifices.

The goal should always be to keep the covenant intact and always look at the finish line of every marriage which is “until death do us part.” Never give up and give one another a room for mistakes and a chance to grow. It is also best to always remember to keep the faith no matter what and that there is no perfect couple, no perfect marriage but one perfect God who makes all things possible.

Honestly, there was one time a couple of months back wherein my husband and I had this very huge fight that ended in us giving in to weaknesses and anger ruled the most part of that fight resulting to me asking him to pack his things up and leave me. I went upstairs and left him packing his stuff.

God intervened – my husband can’t find his passport. He came up to me twice asking about it and I saw in his eyes how hurt he was and pleading silently that I let him stay. But pride took over me and pride took over him as well – no apologies took place from either of us. That missing passport moment was the Spirit’s way of stalling him from storming out of the house and the opportunity for me to apologize and let things go back to normal.

Yes, we regret that we allowed sin to rule our hearts that night. I took my headphones and listened to the radio. Yet another divine intervention took place as I ended up listening to a Christian radio station. Now this gave me peace and an urge to apologize right away and stop him from leaving but I shrugged it off and decided to sleep my exhaustion off.

A good and a bad thing – good, the Spirit was there all along; bad, my husband took off in the middle of the night taking a bus going to their house in the province. I woke up 3hours after with this scenario and I was aghast when I found out he really did take me seriously when I asked him to leave the house. I was confident he wouldn’t do it.

So my wifey instinct came all rushing in and I began to worry BIG time. What if something happened on his way home, he got mugged or stabbed or got beaten up by drunkards. YES, I panicked and I can never forgive myself when that happened. So I called him even if it is 3 am already. I know I had to because that is the right thing to do.

He answered my call. WHEW! Big sigh of relief there. The first thing I asked was if he was home and what followed was my apology. Told me he was about to sleep as he and his mom were talking. He told me we will talk things out in the morning.

When he got back home the next day, he told me that when he was already at the bus with all his stuff, something in him says that what he is doing is wrong and he should turn back. But part of him says that he’s already in the bus anyway so he might as well push through in going to his Mom’s place.

I told my husband that the one part that tells you what you are doing is bad and urges you to do it the right way, that is the Spirit living inside you whilst the one that says continue sinning, that is the work of the enemy.

We were already advised in the Marriage Preparation seminar in church to never leave when tough times hit home. His mom advised him the same thing saying both of us will be more vulnerable to temptations and attacks of the enemy if we choose to separate than talk the problem out. We learned our lesson quite the hard way there but as what his mom told us, it is a good thing forgiveness of each other’s faults and reconciliation took place within just a matter of hours. She continued that we might never know what greater damage we could have brought upon our marriage if we held on to anger, pride and more sins.

We vowed to never again let the same incident happen. Anger is really one of the enemy’s ways to steal, kill and destroy. Don’t give him the advantage. EVER. We are well aware though that this is only the beginning of even greater battles with the enemy.

Back to weddings and marriages, if time comes I’ll end up like my Mom who chose to be married through a civil wedding only, then I’ll accept it as God’s will but I will choose to honor God instead on how I deal with my spouse and how I handle issues in our marriage obeying God’s commands and laws. Just a little trivia on me: I hate being on the spotlight (the introverted me). I ended up asking my eldest sister to assign me with the very least spotted role during her wedding 14 years ago and it took months before my brother was able to convince me to be one of the bridesmaids on his wedding day last year. 😀 So having a civil wedding was already perfectly fine with me. But I just felt I still need to have a church wedding, in God’s perfect time.

My husband and I have already made plans that if circumstances and God’s plans will not allow the church wedding to take place sooner, we will have it in our 50th Golden Wedding Anniversary. Well, that’s for me. Unfortunately my husband thinks we’ll be too old by then and told me he’d love to have it on our Silver Wedding Anniversary instead. I asked him if he is worried about the idea that one of us will have amnesia we wouldn’t remember who we got wed to or what the celebration is for, he just laughed. Okay, I guess I nailed the truth as for his reason why. 😀

Even before I got into a relationship I have already set my mind to have a small, intimate wedding. Intimate in a way that I intend my dream church wedding be held on top of a high mountain with clouds surrounding everywhere and only the officiating Pastor, me and my groom will be present. The spectacular view to me is just so surreal and it portrays how magnificent our God is and His creations. I was able to experience it first during my community outreach/field work in one of my classes in my graduate study and I was overwhelmed by the experience which made me decide that this is the perfect wedding scenario for me. You can read more of it here: https://chinginete.wordpress.com/2012/11/23/benguet-the-trip-up-north/

If you have read the article, I mentioned that awesome moment as “Heaven here on Earth…”

Yes, that is exactly the reason why I wanted my church wedding to be where I am closest to God. The clouds reminded me of God, I just feel His strong presence when I see the clouds. One of the biggest oaths I have made for the rest of my life was during my wedding day which is an oath of commitment with my spouse in front of God. A wedding is all about God and the Holy Matrimony. I thought it better if the general feel of my dream church wedding would be something really solemn – a moment wherein me and my husband will be able to connect with God deeply, sincerely and with less distractions as possible.

We do plan to invite our parents as a way of honoring them as well as the rest of our friends and families. I know that they will be part of our lives forever and will be witnesses how our relationship as a married couple has grown throughout the years thus they will be an essential part of our church wedding. I know that they, too, will honor the special moment that my husband and I will be making.

Basically this is a deviation – a form of going against the norms when it comes to weddings. In the same way that having a civil wedding doesn’t make your marriage less holy as compared to a church wedding – it still is the union of a husband and a wife, God’s commands. Do allow me to delve deeper as to my own personal reasons why the kind of wedding that you have, civil or church, simple or grand doesn’t matter but on how you handle your marriage. But of course, in the end, we all have our own ways how to have our own weddings.

It doesn’t matter for me what gown I will be wearing, what we will be serving our guests, where we will be married and who will be our guests because a wedding for me takes place every single day. In every single day that you wake up, you affirm the vow that you made with your spouse. More so when both you and your spouse are being tested by the enemy to break and destroy God’s beautiful promises for you both. I cannot let that happen. There may be a little pride somewhere deep down of me still, but I can’t let the enemy win. I guess I’ll be rooting all my pride there – never let the enemy win.

God will appreciate a marriage centered on Him than a church wedding but without Him in the couple’s lives. For without God in the marriage, the marriage will surely fail and it’ll crumble. This leads to divorce which, as we all know, is strictly not allowed in the bible.

The bible has this to say about it:

“But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.” – Mark 10:6-12

My only challenge to every couple like what my brother would always tell me every time I am on the verge of giving up on my husband and my marriage is that always look at the end goal and always keep in mind the vows that you have made before each other in the presence of the Lord as our way of honoring Him and the gift that He gave us which is our free will – our choice to marry this person and the choice to be with him/her forever.

For church weddings, these are examples of the vows exchanged between the groom and the bride:

Groom:
“Bride, knowing that it is God’s will for me to marry you, I make a commitment to you today, in the presence of our Lord, and before all these witnesses, to love you with an unconditional love. I will be faithful to you always, never leaving you nor forsaking you. I will lead, guide, protect, and provide. I will live with you in an understanding way, being thoughtful of your needs. I will honor you as a fellow heir of God’s grace. I commit myself to fulfill God’s plan for my life – to provide loving leadership and spiritual covering for you and our children. I commit to co-labor with you in the building of the Church and the advancement of God’s Kingdom, until the day Jesus returns in all His glory.”
Bride:
“Groom, knowing that it is God’s will for me to marry you, I make a commitment to you today, before God Almighty and before all these people to become your wife and helpmate. I commit to love you and submit to you as my spiritual covering. I will not hinder you but will inspire and encourage you as the head of our household. I commit to co-labor with you in the building of the Church and the advancement of God’s Kingdom until Jesus returns in all His glory.”

These vows were not made by men but instructed by God. Basically if we choose to not obey these, then we are disobeying God and we are breaking the covenant with Him. Yet for circumstances wherein divorce is really necessary, the bible also has this to say:

“But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.” – 1 Corinthians 7:10-11

Trials and challenges are part of love. Love is part of every couple. Every couple comprises a marriage. A marriage is the foundation of a family. A family is where children are born. Children are the next citizens that will comprise the society and more than that, they will be the future disciples of God. We are honoring God if we are bringing up our children in a Godly home.

The trials that we encounter in our marriages are God’s way of preparing us so we can be strong spiritual mentors, rooted in our faith and will become good examples to our children who will certainly follow our steps when they grow older, one way or the other.

We will never appreciate the beauty of salvation through the Cross if there is no circumstance that brought us to our knees.

We can never teach our kids this if we, ourselves, didn’t go through it.

I am supposed to research if there has been standards on what a church wedding should be like in the bible or what we are doing now is purely traditional and cultural but not biblical. As far as I know the bible cites many instances about marriages but not on weddings per se i.e. there should be a long line of entourage, a whole week of wedding celebration, etc.

Do enlighten me though on this so I could write it on another blog post. This one’s already too long. *wink* But just a couple more ideas before I wrap this up so please bear with me my dear readers. *smiles*

I have two memorabilia that I believe are the only things that are important in every marriage – the engagement ring which symbolizes my husband’s promise to commit to an even bigger promise and the wedding ring which symbolizes the fulfillment of that bigger promise. That BIG promise is to be together until death do us part.

WE

This is the challenge I have for myself as a wife every single day: fight for your spouse, fight for God in your marriage and save your marriage from anything and anyone who wants to ruin it by means of prayers. More importantly, seek for God’s protection, healing and guidance ALL the time.

Will share these two bible verses that might help when trouble comes in your marriage (or future marriage). The first is my brother’s key verse in his wedding followed by my key verse in our wedding:

“We love because He first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19

“There is no fear in love but perfect love drives out fear…” – 1 John 4:18

Do not fear anyone, do not fear the problem nor the enemy BUT have faith that we have a God who makes the impossible possible.

I also would like to honor my parents in this article as they celebrated last June 1st their 43rd Wedding Anniversary. Hooray! Praise be to God for this. 🙂

I am just grateful to God for giving me parents who are exemplars on how it is to keep a marriage intact through God’s love and His guidance. I look up to the marriage of my Dad and Mom, along with the marriages of my eldest sister and my brother, as examples of couples who continuously persevere in living out 1 Corinthians 13 and remain constant in putting God at the center of their marriages through the good and the bad.

My prayers are with you that regardless if you got married through a civil or a church wedding, in any battle that you and your spouse will go through, both of you will overcome it by God’s grace. Invite Him in your marriages and include Him in every day of your lives together.

If they can do it, then we also can for we all have God with us. 🙂 ❤

“It takes a risk to get involved, but how many marriages could have been salvaged, how many relationships healed, how many bad decisions averted, if someone had loved enough to warn?” – Pastor Rick Warren

The Christian From Bicol

(This is an excerpt from this post I have written back in November 2013 during the Typhoon Yolanda. I thought this particular content deserves to have it’s own separate article with a different title this time.)

Wherever God would take me, whatever God would give me, I will bring with me two identities: first, I am a Christian and second, I am a Bicolana.

I can never be more proud of anything I have and whoever I have become other than those two I have mentioned above.

Why a Christian? I am nothing and nobody without my God, first and foremost. My identity is in Him and I believe I need not say more as it is what it already is. 🙂

Why a Bicolana then? Ahh, this is most likely where I’ll be explaining more.

I grew up in the province. I spent more than half of my life there. As of writing, that is. There’s no other place that I could ever call ‘home’ except Bulan. Yes, that is my hometown, a small town in the city of Sorsogon somewhere in the southernmost part of Luzon.

Sorsogon City is a coastal area surrounded by beaches of all sand color from white, pink, to black –  you name it, we have it. Rich of natural resources, fishing and farming have been the sources of livelihood with almost all the Bulanons (that’s how we generally call ourselves).

Fishing

Fishing

If there is one value that being a Bicolana has taught me, it would be this – knowing your roots. In other words, learn to look back from your humble beginnings. Bulan is the one thing that has taught me how it is to be humble and to be grateful. Humility bespeaks when the heart is in awe of the mediocre. I know you are going to agree with me right there.

I came from a family of farmers. My parents, my grandparents and the parents before them all came from humble beginnings. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them. Gratitude is what I could offer to my ancestors for the sacrifices and hard work that they have invested in providing the best for their families.

I came from a generation wherein I don’t have to go to the fields and do the farming myself and go home with sweaty clothes covered in mud just to pay for all of my expenses and supply my needs. An experience I never had to go through and yet something that I would want to go through.

CIRCA 1980s: My mom, aunts, uncles along with my grandparents.

CIRCA 1980s: My mom, aunts, uncles along with my grandparents.

They say that for someone to appreciate the value of something less than its market value and more of its sentimental value, you have to work hard for it and have it like how it is usually done and achieved. You have to sweat it out, so to speak.

I was listening to the podcast of Pastor Christian Flores regarding Victory’s new series entitled “It’s Not About The Money” two Sundays ago and he mentioned about the story of a farmer and how this farmer has invested his earnings in acquiring an even bigger barn where he could store more which actually resulted to his own destruction.

That made me thought about our farm, our farmers and what do we really get from it. For starters, our farm house did not change though how many years and decades have passed. We are earning just enough and we are still living frugal lives though we have acquired some possessions through time – still, I think it is not about the money. Money, for us, is something that has to do with survival but never to accumulate great wealth and live grandiose, rich lives.

I might be speaking out of righteousness here but if you will personally ask me, that is how I think it should be. I do not wish to dwell on this matter then and will just leave all the explaining to our Pastors as they lead us on with the series – a reason for you to stay tuned for our upcoming podcasts or better yet visit a nearby Victory church: http://victory.org.ph/. (Sorry for the shameless plugging, but I felt you would understand it better if the explaining would come from our church leaders).

victoryqc.org

victoryqc.org

This is the season of harvesting and when I went home during the holidays last November 1 and 2, I chanced upon the last harvest in our farm. I have skin asthma and as much as I should be staying away from hay, I know it would not stop me from going along with my Dad. I suffered the consequences later on – cough got worse and itchy rashes came out that last for usually a week leaving black spots on my skin which then stay on for about how many months.

The last time I have been with my Dad during harvesting was when I was around 6 or 7 years old. I could still remember how our parents would ask us (not really me as I was way too young, but my sisters and brother) to help in drying the “palay”  we have harvested so they could be sold to the millers for a good price before they then sell it to the market.

Yes, how could I really forget all the scurrying here and there, to and fro when dark clouds come and heavy rains start to pour. It only means sweeping the grains, piling and covering them up as FAST as you can to prevent them from getting wet, thus lowering the chances of getting a low price as “palay”  buyers measure the moisture content of the rice grains. The drier the grain is, the higher its market value.

Palay

Threshing of palay.

My Dad is not a farmer per se. He is a civil engineer who juggled two occupations at the same time – that of a farmer and a superintendent at the National Irrigation Administration in the Bicol region (officially at San Ramon, OIC in Masbate and Sorsogon City). He is now 74 years old, retired from his engineering career and yet a continuing farmer. I have always admired my Dad how at his age still manages to do what he would always do at the farm despite his arthritis, gout attacks, hypertension, cataract and other illnesses of the aged. Although we don’t dry the harvested rice grains anymore to lessen the stress level of all the scurrying and hurrying, tending the farm is still a busy and a lot of work to do.

I went to the farm with my Dad not to harvest the grains myself and have them threshed out but witness how it is usually done. I have to get into the particulars as to how to do this and that. Well, I might consider farming as my job someday. Yes, “Tin”  the farm girl. *wink*  I think I heard my Kuya’s sarcastic chuckle back there again. Haha Yeah, right. And yes, I wanted to observe how our farmers do it – our trusted and loyal workers. I admired them more than I have admired an office employee (no offense to office-based workers). But hard labor is no easy job. Exposed in the heat of the sun, bending over for hours either planting rice seedlings or harvesting them, soaked in mud or inhaling the itchy hay dust when threshing are, for me, among the most challenging tasks.

I closely looked at all of them. I saw Tio Digoy and Tio Kadog – they are the oldest among all of them. They have been working for my Dad since I was a kid. Now, their sons are working for us as well. I have learned to love them for all that they have put up for me and my family. I am praying that through us, their sons, daughters and grandchildren will one day have a better future because of their parents and grandparents’ hard work. Though that means we might lose workers in our farms, it would also be equivalent to giving everyone the chance to have better lives than what they have now.

I am praying too that someday there will no longer be a need for manual labor and everything will be run by machines operated in a clean office from planting to harvesting rice. That goes as well for harvesting coconuts and converting them into copra. The team of Tio Digoy also does them for us. Skilled, they really are. My family and I will always be grateful to them. We will always be grateful to Him for any blessing that He has bestowed as well as for His guidance and protection not just to me and my family but to our skilled workers and their families as well.

Copra

Coconuts being made into copra.

So if most think this is what I do in Bicol:

Nope, that’s not it because this is what I usually do:

"Tin, The Farm Girl"

“Tin, The Farm Girl”

Quite the opposite, right? Well, aside from washing the dishes, cleaning the house, feeding the pets, etc. and having a little vacation time actually. We have no helpers or house maids back home and here in Manila, by the way. As it is written in the bible:

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” – Matthew 10:45

Let’s all live a life of servitude, shall we my dear brothers and sisters? 🙂

In Limbo

I have been warned. I was educated. I was trained.

Yet I found myself in an unfavorable situation that could have erupted from the missed warnings. Or it was meant to be.

I question. Would love to question. Yet I can only accept. But do what I have now meant to be mine in the first place? Or again, it was the outcome of my deaf ears and a stubborn heart?

I have been hearing it. I have been seeing it. I have been feeling it. Everywhere I go. The signs are there. I know people have been praying for me, they wanted to protect me.

Protect me from what?

From falling into that state of oblivion, of being in limbo – the battle between good and evil.

Devoted but unequally yoked – this, I know, could be my sweetest downfall. Those who have met me may have prophesied it already. They are the ones who keep me on the right track. They will pray until I will be brought out of the pit. They pray for a sacrifice of letting go.

And yet there are those who pray that I stay. For God never gives us more than what we can handle. They believe it is yet a period in my spiritual journey where God is in the process of changing me so He could complete me. They pray for endurance, love and courage that I may overcome it.

A crossroad is never a good spot to be in. It is prone to collisions. It sets you in a state of confusion. It either gives life or death. Just like being in limbo.

In faith, a wrong decision could lead to spiritual death or it leads to the dawn of a new you. But one thing’s for sure, it will change you.

For this season, I am basically learning a lot about love and relationships in general. I get to apply what I learned and it is only now that I can say that our spiritual journey indeed never starts and ends in reading the bible, going to church and having fellowship with your sisters in Christ.

In this season, God is teaching me how to love the most unlovable; to understand and to have self – control when you wanted to have your way; to be calm when all you wanted was to flare up; to forgive always though you have been hurt countless of times; to ask for forgiveness because you have sinned again and was tested to the limit; to force yourself to trust despite of the dark past; to believe though your mind tells you otherwise; to be patient when all you wanted was to leave; to accept things when all you wanted was to change them; to sacrifice and give without expecting anything in return.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Matthew 5: 1-8 NIV

Yes, what we all need in this world is love. A love like how our God loved us.

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” – 1 John 4:8

“Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love -and the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT

It was through my devotion that the Spirit convicts me every time I am on the verge of quitting and setting aside things once and for all. I wanted to go back to who I was – not distracted in serving the Lord. And yet, it is also the Spirit who would pacify me that I am where I am supposed to be. I needed to get through this in order to continue on in my spiritual journey. God placed them all in my hands not to see me fail but to see me triumph over them. I remembered my brother advising me that what I should focus on is not the tip of the iceberg but what’s at the bottom which is bigger than what I am seeing for now. He would always tell me to look at the bigger picture, do not focus on the problem but focus more on the goal, the mission which is honoring God.

Obedience by action is by far the hardest. Easier said than done as the saying goes. But it is how God wanted us to be sanctified each and every single day – forming a deeper relationship by becoming more and more like Him every single day in our thoughts, our words and our actions.

To be Christ-like is to slowly die to your old self every single day which means carrying your own “cross” and lift it until time comes that is finished, the mission is accomplished and you are completely changed.

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”

– PAULO COEHLO, The Devil and Miss Prym

God is telling me to obey and trust Him while waiting for His plans to unfold in His perfect time though at times I may fail. And this is what keeps me for now:

“My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever.” – Psalms 73:26 NLT

A Seasoned Life: My Past vs My Present

@ Dads (Kamayan)

@ Dads (Kamayan)

Life is like a drink.

Sometimes it is too sweet, but sometimes it becomes too sour. Sometimes it is bland and sometimes it just has the perfect blend.

I grew up with a lot of fears. I grew up knowing too well what my weaknesses are. I grew up with a lot of insecurities.

I got out of that world. A hunger crept within me. I explored, soared – I am enjoying every single bit of it. That was my notion of “freedom.”

Danger was lurking the moment I stepped out and spread my wings. I soared high unwary of failures. I held on to what this world offers. I made a lot of mistakes, far too many I lost track of what is good and what is right.

Then I fell.

I felt an excruciating pain. A pain from a wound that is nowhere visible. I sobbed, sprawled in the bathroom floor, on my bed, in a corner. Endless gruelling fits of flowing tears that continued for days, weeks, months and years.

Then I surrendered.

I surrendered to His love. It was because of His love that I was saved. I repented and I accepted – my faith as my fate. That I am His daughter and that He is my Father and my Master. Obedience and service to Him who made what I have now and where I am now possible.

Did I ever think that I would be where I am now? No. I had no idea. But I had felt it. It was far too strong to dismiss. To heed to the calling of being where I truly belong – in His refuge.

My drink now? I must say it’s the four seasons fruit drink – a combination of different flavors. Not too sweet nor too sour, just the right flavor. I am just happy I am ending this year with just the right attitude, the right faith and the right spirit.

Now, let’s drink to that and be merry, shall we? 😉