Selfie? Not For Me

What is a Selfie? The Urban Dictionary defines Selfie as a picture taken of yourself that is planned to be uploaded to Facebook, Myspace or any other sort of social networking website. You can usually see the person’s arm holding out the camera in which case you can clearly tell that this person does not have any friends to take pictures of them so they resort to Myspace to find internet friends and post pictures of themselves, taken by themselves. A selfie is usually accompanied by a kissy face or the individual looking in a direction that is not towards the camera.

I just don’t get it, sorry. I wouldn’t want to break my neck, over stretch my arm muscles just to take a photo of myself and post it on Facebook. If I want a headshot, I would simply ask any person who is with me to take my camera or phone and take a picture.. This selfie-thingy is really not for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love pictures. I love taking photographs and being in them but to have a solo shot? Nada! I dare not be the center of attention.  I’m not comfortable with that. I would rather have a group shot than a photograph whose focus is me.

When I was younger, you would never see me smile in any of our family pictures or class pictures in school. You could recognize me as the one with the poker face. Honestly, I don’t know how to smile in front of the camera.

In dental school, whenever my friends and I would take pictures of ourselves, they would always tease me because I’m the only one whose teeth does not show.  Dental student? Not smiling? What’s up with that?

When my husband and I were planning our wedding, we had to search for a photographer. One of my mom’s friends recommended Jun Valbuena of Jun Valbuena Photography. We met him in his Manila studio back then and I noticed that he was not only very accommodating but was always smiling. As part of your package, Mr. Valbuena had to take a photo of us for our signature frame. This was super uncomfortable for me. I was so tense. I mean, this man is a professional photographer and I should give him the smile he needed. He kept on asking me to “smile” for the camera but I simply can’t. My nervousness was evident in  the photos that he had to do an intervention 🙂  I had to confess that I don’t know how to smile, I’m uneasy. Smiling was not my thing. Seriously?!  He just shrugged off what I said and coached me how to put on a perfects smile. After lots of practice shots, I got it!

During the wedding, every time photographers would take our pictures, I had to remember what Mr. Valbuena told me. When my friends saw our wedding photos, they were so surprised. For the first time, I was smiling in all of our photos. Come to think of it, I do look better when I smile. It’s nice to see myself looking happy on our wedding day.

Since then, you would rarely see me with that bearing that ol’ poker face on family photos. I would proudly show off my pearly whites in front of the camera. It’s normal for me now to take pictures with my husband, kids and friends but taking a selfie shot is still taboo for me and I don’t need a coach for that 🙂

a very shy little girl

a very shy little girl

photo booth at high school reunion

photo booth at high school reunion

yey! wedding day!

yey! wedding day!

 

wacky family photo

wacky family photo

aww sweet love :-)

aww sweet love 🙂

Are you a selfie kind of person? What do you think of selfies?

 

You Complete Me

These words became so eminent in the 90’s after Jerry Maguire, played by Tom Cruise confesses his true feelings to Dorothy Boyd, the character played by Renee Zellweger. During that time, single women  including myself shudder at the thought of having someone say the exact same words to us. I mean, who wouldn’t? “You complete me” is the ultimate pick-up line!

That line became so endearing to many hopeless romantics, who wished someday their prince would come. Some of these women admittedly believe finding their one true love would complete their being, their life. I also had the same belief, that only the one person can fill the void in my lonely heart.

I may have shared in a previous post that I grew up with parents who fought a lot. They would argue about almost anything and that left me feeling insecure about their love for me and for my brother. As I grew older, unconsciously I was looking for love all the time. I would seek out new friends and hold on to them for as long as I can. I also looked to boys to find the elusive love I was looking for. I had my list of 101 crushes then and had a boyfriend at age 12. I have kept this relationship from my mom because I knew she would not allow it but it made me feel good at that time.

That relationship did not last long as my family moved to another city. In high school, I also sought other relationships until I met my first serious boyfriend during my senior year. The relationship lasted for almost three years and when it ended I was so devastated. I thought of ways of bringing him back but to no avail.  Just a few months after the break-up, he told me he already had a new girlfriend. That was a slap on my face. There was I was trying to win him back but he was so busy “getting to know” someone else already. It took a long time to finally get over this boy. I seriously thought we were going to end up together. I would picture him asking me to marry him and we will live happily ever after. He would be the one to complete me. Sadly, when the relationship ended, I felt incomplete again.

In each relationship that I had after that made me believe that the guy I was with was “the one”. Unfortunately, they were not. Many years had passed before I met “the one” for me. I met my husband in 2001 and got married the following year. It was a sweet and intimate wedding with family and friends to witness us exchange vows to each other. But soon after the wedding, I still felt incomplete. I began to doubt our relationship and thought that I married the wrong person. When our firs child was about 1-2 years of age, that discontent lingered. I asked myself why is there still that hole in my heart. I thought getting married would solve this predicament but I ended up being unhappy still.

I got reconnected with old friends from high school. They had invited me to join them in their game of badminton. Because I was out of shape that time, I excitedly joined them. We played Wednesday nights and after each game we would catch up on things over coffee. One of the persons in the group was an old flame. Little did I know that my old feelings for this person were coming back. That person was still single at that time and we just connected right away. We would exchange text messages or calls daily and that felt good. I knew the relationship was wrong but I thought, “Isn’t my happiness more important than right or wrong?”

I was talking about it to another friend in the group and I was sharing that I would be willing to leave my husband and go with this person. I also mentioned I didn’t care anymore if my parents or the people around me would hate me for it but I was willing to take the risk because being with this person makes me happy. I was surprised to hear her response, “Fix your marriage first”. I didn’t expect that from her since she was also in the same kind of relationship as I was. Not very long after that conversation, the person I was having an emotional relationship with told me that causing problems in  our marriage was not the intention and that I had be let go if it would ruin the marriage. We ended the relationship. I was rejected.

There I was unhappy with my life. Finding wholeness in other people. Finding completeness in being a mom yet none of them did it for me. I felt lonely, desperate and angry. Until a new couple friend of ours invited my husband and I for a bible study in their home. We agreed to join them every Friday and we went through the Purpose Driven Life. My eyes were opened to the reality that I exist in this world not for myself but for a purpose and that is to glorify God in all I do. I exist for his pleasure not mine and that it’s not all about me but about Him alone. We are recipients of His grace and mercy and instruments of his love.

I realized that the void I had in my  heart for a very long time could only be filled by the love of God. No person, position in life, riches or other tangible things can complete me. Only the Creator, the God of the heavens and the earth can do that. Because it was He who created that void in the first place. He put that there so that in His perfect timing, our longing to be reunited with Him goes hand in hand with His call to repentance.  I surrendered my life to Christ in 2004.

It has been 10 years since that couples’ bible study and my husband and I are continuously seeking the Lord in our lives. We don’t have a perfect marriage but God is fixing it supernaturally. I am still a work in progress but I am stepping out in faith to share what Christ has done in my life and my family. Now I can confidently utter the same words by Jerry Maguire to my God… Lord, you complete me!

16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 2 Corinthians 5:16-18

A Forty-fied Woman

There was no fancy party. Nothing extravagant or out of this world themed celebration for my 40th year on this earth. It was like any other birthday. It was simple day of thanksgiving to God for capping the first 39 of my life with his love and mercy.  Family and best friends remembering my day is something to be thankful for.

Prior to celebrating D-Day,  I was sharing with my husband, Peewee, my thoughts about me turning 40. I was sharing with him some of 40th birthday questions: What will I do the rest of my life? Will I pursue the profession my parents want for me and the one I studied long and hard for? Will I take a different path and follow my passion and hopefully achieve the dream I wanted ever since the writing bug bit me. Or will I venture a different route with my husband and start a small family food business? Unfortunately, we were not able to continue our introspective discussion because we were just to sleepy and tired 🙂 Signs of old age haha

That weekend we had our regularly scheduled Discipleship group (D-group) in church. While doing our regular devotion, our leader asked us what our purpose in life was? Do we have life plan? I was fighting back the tears as he was asking away because I could sense God was impressing something in my heart that I really need to look at. He was using our D-group leaders to initiate a mini retreat for our group where our focus would be on planning our lives.

I never mentioned to our D-group leader nor his wife about my mid-life predicament. But hearing their planned retreat got me excited. I am praying that at the end of this sojourn I would be able to discern what direction the Lord wants me to take. Although, God will not be as specific as I want Him to be by telling me exactly, “You go back to being a dentist” or “Pursue a writing career.” What I know is that He has a wonderful plan for me and a purpose for my existence. I just need to be aware of his leading and follow the path He wants me to take.

I have blogged about my love for writing and sharing my thoughts on paper even at a young age. This is the path I wanted to take when I was younger but I did not get the necessary support I needed then. I was not also given sufficient advice from career counselors who could have suggested other alternatives for me and to top all that, I was only 16 deciding on my future.  And besides, I was too ashamed to show my writings to other people especially my mom, because I was afraid I would be scolded for creating teen love stories at the age of 11.  It was also during this age that my parents were having problems in their marriage, I didn’t want to add to their issues at that time.  So I shelved my writing pen and paper and pursued other things.

But then again, the Lord allowed me to shift to a different course and transfer to another school after a year in college. This time, I just obeyed my mother and followed the direction she wanted for me. I took the course, completed it, took the board exam, passed it and practiced my profession. Since 1998, I was doing the work assigned to me. I was treating patients at my clinic the best way I know how. Through the  years I have received positive feedback from patients but there were also occasions were I knew I was wearing the wrong hat. Overall, I continuously do it because I have to not because I love to do it. I wish I could have the same gusto and passion as my other colleagues have. Unfortunately, I can’t fake passion.

On the other hand, writing brings joy to my soul. Knowing that readers get to hear my story and be blessed by it is enough compensation for this wanna-be-writer-mom. Whether I’m blogging about homeschooling, my kitchen adventures or simply letting others see my life as a mom and a follower of Christ is already a blessing in itself because I know there is one soul that I get to encourage to be the best person they can be for themselves and for God. I am also hoping also that whatever they season in life they are going through, they can always find joy knowing that the God of heaven, the Creator of all things is willing to have an intimate relationship with them.  And that as a mom, a professional, a woman, we all need God. We all need a higher being who is wiser than us to guide us every day of our lives.

I am a fortified woman not because of what I did in my life but because of what the Lord has done in and through me. My mistakes made me wiser and more discerning while the hurts made me stronger and more forgiving. I am still imperfect, a sinner in this body but the love of Christ made me who I am today. I am forgiven and being transformed daily when I obey Him and His Word.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:10-17

with Maida my college friend and her kids Bettina and Bea

with Maida my college friend and her kids Bettina and Bea

Our kids: Coby, Jianne, Bea and Bettina

Our kids: Coby, Jianne, Bea and Bettina

How do become a fortified woman? How does the Lord help you to become one? I’d love to hear from you 🙂

Love for Vintage

I used to believe that I was an old soul because of my fondness for everything old, classical or vintage. As a teenager, I don’t mind listening to the tunes of Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole and other Motown Artists. Somehow I was drawn to this soothing and nostalgic genre.

In the recent years, my love for the old intensified with the advent of vintage photography. I particularly like themes that include nature, women, dresses, writing and food. Staring at these photos literally take me back in time, the simplicity of life then. The faint colors really appeal to my eyes as dainty and delicate.

I’d like to share some of my favorite vintage photos to include typewriters which I found on the net.

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But one of my favorite vintage things are typewriters. We had an old typewriter when I was in high school and that was my favorite “gadget” back in the 80’s.  I love hearing the sound of the keys being tapped and that familiar *ting* when you’ve reached the end of the page.  If I could only see, touch and use one now, that would totally take me back to when I first began writing 🙂

Are there any obsolete tool or old gadget you would like to use again today?

 

Coffee with God

coffeebible

My husband went back to school last week after a two-month vacation. I must admit that during these months, my regular quiet time has been erratic. It’s because I don’t have to wake up very early, 4:30 AM, to prepare for his breakfast and his lunch pack. I get a chance to stay in bed a little late than my usual and start my day at around 6:30 AM. At times, I wake up late that I neglect to prioritize my quiet time.  As soon as I’m up, I’m already thinking of my to-do-list for the day. I’ll do the laundry and at the same time prepare breakfast. Soon, hubby and the kids wake up  and the usual craziness commences. Time spent with God would either be shortened or rushed.

Now that hubby is out of the house again (to work), I can have all the time I want for my quiet time. I got the room all to myself again. The kids are fast asleep. There’s that cool early morning breeze that perks me up.  I make my coffee and settle on my favorite desk. With that warm mug in hand I sit at the Master’s feet and listen to Him speaking to me through his Word.  Somehow the warmth of my morning drink calms my heart and soothes my soul as seek to know His message to me that day.

In the quietness of my heart, He reveals to me a sin I have intentionally or unintentionally committed the past days. After admitting the sin, I confess and He forgives, just like what he always says. 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Whenever I’m going through a difficult time or a stressful week, I could hear him whispering in my soul beautiful promises…

Though the mountains be shaken
    and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
    nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
    says the Lord, who has compassion on you. Isaiah 54:10

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

When I am in doubt or about to make very tough decision, I search for his Word to guide me always. I am always in need of wisdom from the loving Father and the book of James reminds me where to find it. “if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

In Jeremiah 6:16 this is what the Lord says, “Stand at the crossroads, and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” It’s a comfort to know that whatever it is I’m dealing with presently, there are other Christians who also stood at the same crossroad. In everything that they went through, seasons of triumph or defeat, God was present in their lives and led them to a victory. I could also look at the lives of ordinary people in the Bible and how God has impacted their lives tremendously.

Time alone with God is an opportunity to ask Him anything, anything I need or want. He will never abandon us in our need, even if at times we doubt his faithfulness.

He provides food for those who fear him;
   he remembers his covenant forever. Psalm 111:5

Most of the time, I ask him for this or that and he responds with a “No.” Why is that? Jesus tells us clearly in Matthew 7:9-11 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

His Word is true. I have proven them in my life and in the lives of my inner circle. How can we know and trust His promises if we do not make time for Him. Even if the CEO of the entire universe, He will always have time for you and me because He wants us to know how much He loves us and to show us great and mighty things!

How about you? How has God spoken to you in your quiet time? What bible verses are you holding on to as you continue to know Him more?

Now What?

Ephesians 4:29 says, Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Has anybody said anything hurtful to you? Are you a victim of people who are just irresponsible with their words that they have scarred you for life? How about receiving comments that made you doubt your worth, your abilities even your character?

My answer would be YES to all.  I was at the receiving end of nasty comments, criticisms and gossip in the past. Some comments affected me too much that a sense of insecurity enveloped my personality as a teenager. The comments made me believe I was not good enough, I was not pretty enough. Then, as an adult I experienced being accused for things I didn’t do. It hurts. It hurts really bad.

Recently, I received a comment which did not bother me at all. But after contemplating on that specific comment, it started to hit me.  The insecure part of me was all set to have a pity party. Unfortunately, the comment came at a time when I was seriously contemplating on what I want to do for the next 40 years of my life (if God permits me to live till 80). I’ll be turning 40 in a few days and I’m seriously planning the rest of my life 😉 Should I pursue my profession and really take it to the next level? Or chase after the dream I wanted for a very long time and at the same timed doing  what I really love doing?

The person’s comment made me doubt myself, my capabilities. It made want to turn the other way and just move on. Now, I am all the more confused! But then I thought that that’s her personal opinion, that’s how she sees things or how she sees me. I know who I am. I know what I can do. But what if what she said was true. What if I’m not really good enough? Am I living in mediocrity?

The way people see me is different from the way I see myself. More so does my Creator, my God. In times of doubt, I only see the ugly, rotten and wretched parts of my being but the Lord has a different view of me.  First of all, all  of God’s creation are beautiful. Everything he created has a purpose and a specific design. The Psalmist says this well in Psalm 139:14 I will praise thee for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful I know them full well.

Second, He know who I really am because “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.” Psalm 139:15 He loves me for who I am and He is in the business in changing me and molding me to the woman of purpose. The woman He wants to use for His glory alone.

at_the_Crossroad_by_Hermanne_Allan_Poe

I am seriously in need of some soul-searching. I need to know where the Lord is taking me. What does he want me to do? What road does he want me to take? Regardless of how people see me or what people say about me, I should first and foremost focus on how God sees me. After all, whatever He wants me to do for the rest of my life, I am accountable to him. I am not answerable to my husband, my children, my parents, my mentor. Ultimately, I am answerable to my Creator.

I could never nor would I ever please everybody and that should not be my goal. Because no matter how hard I work, there will always be people who think I cannot measure up. I will fail them for sure and I would never achieve their expectations of me. All I need to do now  is to find what God really wants me to do. I need to focus on finding this path I have to take. I may be in the path already but have been distracted or delayed along the way. I pray that I be in that path He has set

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

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. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

I’ll Tape it Back

Our first-grader, Jianne and I were talking about parts of the plant this morning. We went outside to get samples of leaves and flowers. I just picked a random leaf from the garden and took it inside.

We talked about the leaf acting like the chef of the plant as it is in charge for making the food. Like the chef, the leaf needs important ingredients in order to make a perfect meal. Jianne enumerated the ingredients needed by Chef Leaf which includes light from the sun, air, water and nutrients from the soil.

Time will come when the leaf can no longer make food. That is the reason why their colors change from green to golden yellow, orange or brown. These beautiful change of color is evident in autumn especially in countries like the United States. We see the beauty of this natural phenomena covering the ground almost entirely during this season.

Then, Jianne had her aha moment. “So, does it mean that the leaves are dead when they change color?” she asked. “Ah, yes?” was my unsure answer because I didn’t want to disappoint her. Kids don’t like to talk about death. Then, I sensed panic in her actions as she held the leaf in her hand. “Does it mean this leaf would die too?” she asked. “Yes, because it’s no longer connected to the stem, it won’t have any food,” was my reply.

She stood up and hurried outside. When I asked her where she was going, she said she has to do something very important. After a few minutes, she came back with a smile on her face and blurted out, “The leaf will not die, Mama. I put it back to the stem.” This puzzled me so I dared ask her, “What do you mean ‘put it back’?” Then she pulled my arm and led me to the garden and to the plant where we got the leaf.

She pointed to the reattached leaf and said, “It’s okay to put tape on it, right?” Jianne taped back the leaf to the stem.  Awww. I thought it was cute and I didn’t know how to answer her. The truth hurts and I have to be honest with her. “I’m sorry but I don’t think the leaf is going to survive,” I told her.

The smile on her face disappeared then she looked down. She kept quiet. She looked upset. I tried to console her by saying that more leaves will grow. But she wouldn’t listen to me. She said she was still angry.

 

There's the tape!

There’s the tape!

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Aren’t we like my daughter sometimes? We try to fix things in our life by putting a tape around our problems or our circumstances. We use our own power, strength and intellect to make things work. We fail to acknowledge that that “tape” is not suffice. Eventually, through constant beating of the air, rain and other elements, that tape will eventually loose it’s stickiness and detach the leaf from the stem.  We need to remind ourselves that the “tapes” that we use in our lives will also fail us. Sometimes the temporary solution we create might even aggravate the problem or situation we are in.

I am reminded of this verse about the vine and it’s branches.

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.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. John 15:4-6

Unless we connect ourselves to Christ, our so-called solutions would always fail us. Because these solutions are concocted by the finite minds of man. Why rely on human power when in supernatural power is available to us. Why rely on our limited thinking when there is a God whose wisdom is limitless.  In fact, he says in his word that whoever lacks wisdom, we should ask of him who would supply us with abundantly (James 1:5)

Tomorrow is another day and I know Jianne would be checking the leaf when she wakes up. I hope she would remember that since God made those leaves, He can always make new ones. And this time, we will not detach them from the stem 🙂

What are “tapes” we fix our problems with? When did we realize we need someone wiser to fix it for us? Let’s talk 🙂