My Boss’ Wedding

My colleagues and I went on a roadtrip to Batangas yesterday for our boss’ wedding. It was a perfect day to relax, enjoy the company of friends, celebrate with the couple, and of course, take a lot of photos. Haha. While we were on the road, one of my colleagues mentioned that the sad thing about bringing a camera to any event is that the photographer is rarely included in the photos. I do agree that the person behind the camera usually ends up with a few photos of himself/herself at the end of the day. However, I do think that bringing a camera still makes it worth the effort as it depends on the photographer’s purpose and focus.

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As soon as we got to the venue and settled down on our seats, I got my camera and started capturing the moments I observed and the people I was with. As the hours passed by, I didn’t even notice that I didn’t have much photos until my other colleague (who is also into photography) offered to take my photo because he knew that I didn’t have a lot of photos yet. I guess it brings a certain joy to my heart whenever I get to look through the lens, see the beauty in the moment, and preserve the memory. Somehow, having few photos or feeling the heavy weight of the camera while I walk up and down stairs and slopes in my 4-inch heels didn’t seem to matter anymore. It just wasn’t my main focus that day.

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When I think about these things now, I can’t help but remember what I witnessed during my boss’ wedding. There was something about the ceremony, reception, and the hearts of the groom and bride that radiated peace and joy. Even though we can try to attribute it to the couple’s personalities, good weather, beautiful venue, or sincerity of their family members, I know that it was because of Jesus Christ – the focus of yesterday’s celebration.

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When the pastor led the ceremony, he emphasized the importance of two things: 1) Trusting in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, and 2) Loving like Him. Also, during the exchange of vows, the groom and bride mentioned this phrase “Now, I am excited to wake up each day…” Before they could finish the sentence, I was expecting them to say something cheesy like “…wake up each day and be beside you.” But, they didn’t. Instead, they said: “Now, I am excited to wake up each day and seek the Lord first, so I could know, love, and serve Him with you.”

That was just an amazing moment.

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In this day and age, whenever we hear the word “marriage”, people usually think that the main focus of it is the love between a husband and his wife. However, it was refreshing to see my boss and her husband publicly declare their commitment to God and to each other yesterday. They shared to their family and friends that their marriage is and will always be by God’s grace and for His glory. Clearly, it wasn’t about them. Even while they were exchanging their vows and honoring their parents, they gave the glory to God. It was encouraging to see them sincerely express their desire to know, love, and serve the Lord together as long as they live.

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One of the major highlights yesterday was the couple’s response to their “wedding bloopers”. There were quite a handful of bloopers in the speeches and technical difficulties. But, they didn’t let these little disappointments rob them of the joy that they had. Their wedding wasn’t about showcasing a perfect event or program. It was an opportunity and a privilege for them to give God the glory as they declare their love for Him and for each other. That was their main purpose and focus last night.

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On our way back to the parking lot, I whispered “Thank You!” to God as I looked to the dark blue sky full of twinkling stars. I didn’t have a tripod with me so I couldn’t take a photo of the breathtaking view. But, in that moment, I remembered what had transpired throughout the day and how God encouraged my heart to focus on Him alone. Not on myself, my limitations, disappointments, or the situations I’m in.

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To my boss and her husband (Woohoo!), I pray that you will grow even more in love with the Lord as you enjoy this new season in your lives. Continue to give him the glory in everything that you do. Thank you for sharing your hearts with us on your special day.

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

[Numbers 6:24-26]

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I want to leave you with a song that was played during the reception. It’s called “The Marriage Prayer” by John Waller.

3 Things I Learned from Ice Skating at SM Megamall

It has been more than two years since the last time I skated on ice. I’m not a professional skater, but by God’s grace, I can glide through ice. When my friends invited me to skate yesterday, I got excited because I knew that it would be a fun activity. When I arrived at the skating rink, it looked like it was closed because the lights were turned off. But, I noticed that a lot of people were still skating inside. So, I asked one of their staff members what was happening and she responded by saying: “Ma’am, we just experienced a power shutdown. It started 10 minutes ago and we’re not sure when we’ll have electricity again. You can still try to skate but it might be more slippery.”

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I just stared at her and said “Ohhh. Okay. Thank you!” I walked around the area with a puzzled look on my face. It just didn’t make sense: Brownout + Ice Skating in Manila. Of all the days. Haha. While waiting for my friends to arrive, I went to the comfort room to take a break. Inside, I told God that I knew that He could turn the power back on in a heartbeat if He wanted to. So, even if I was starting to feel a bit disappointed with the situation, somehow, God encouraged me not to fret about it. I also told Him that in case He really didn’t want us to skate that day, I prayed that He would help us choose our next activities wisely.

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After a few minutes, my friends arrived at the place and we decided to line up and buy tickets even if it the rink still didn’t have power. We looked at the rink and saw that the daylight shining through the huge windows provided enough light for the skaters. So, we gave it a try. You wouldn’t believe what happened next. As soon as we stepped on the rubber mat at the entrance of the rink, they turned on he lights! My friends and I looked at each other and shouted: “Whooooaaaa! Ang galing ni God. He really wanted us to skate today! Hahaha.”

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It was just so cool (literally too). When I found out about the brownout, God used that moment to challenge and encourage me to be grateful and content in Him even if our plan to skate would be cancelled or if we would skate without lights. Yesterday’s skating activity was a fun, fun way to cool down on a hot and humid summer day and I thank God for the experience. Here are some of the things I learned from our ice skating activity:

 

1. Be Confident

“Confidence is key.” We said this line over and over throughout our skating experience. It was tough to skate especially since our feet and legs were aching and we sometimes were fearful of losing our balance or falling. But, when we condition our minds to believe that we can do it by God’s grace, wonderful things can happen! It’s not about being confident because of our capabilities. It’s about stepping out in faith and finding confidence in God who is more than able to help us accomplish things. Also, there were times when my friends and I watched other professional skaters casually and beautifully display their skills and tricks on ice. Every single time, our jaws dropped. I couldn’t help but notice and be inspired by their confidence. They knew what they were doing and they weren’t afraid to fall.

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2. Put Your Hands Up

We skated for four hours yesterday and brought home a lot of bruises and body pains. But, it was all worth it. Hahaha. One of the tips that I learned a few years ago when skating with a lot of people is putting my hands up immediately after I fall down. The main reason for this is to avoid getting cut by the blades of the other skaters nearby. Interestingly, yesterday, I fell down at least three times and they were major falls: Twice on my butt and once facing forward. The first few seconds after the fall was quite challenging because I felt dizzy and my hands were sore and red because of the impact on the ice. But, as soon as I became aware of my fall, I laughed and raised my hands up quickly. Thankfully, I had friends beside me who also laughed with me and helped me get back up again. I realized that this tip is applicable not only to ice skating, but to life as well. It reminded me of the importance of learning to immediately surrender to God and ask help when we fall down, make mistakes, or feel like we’ve hit rock bottom. Or ice bottom, in this case. :)

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3. Grow Together

Before yesterday’s activity, we already had a few experiences with ice skating. The common skill that my friends and I had was being able to skate forward without the help of railings. After an hour of skating, we wanted to try out new skills and so, we challenged ourselves to unlock a new achievement together: To skate backwards. By God’s grace, after numerous attempts and falls, we were able to do it by the end of four hours on ice. It was encouraging to learn this new skill because we got to share do’s and don’t’s to each other while we were practicing. It was also fun to laugh with each other whenever we did funny facial expressions and body movements while we were skating backwards. Although we can’t do what the advanced skaters do, we were very much satisfied with seeing our progress on ice. Thankfully, with the electricity back on, we were able to document these things with good lighting. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to take videos of the times we fell. That would have been funny and nice. Haha.

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When it was time for us to go, we felt relieved and refreshed to finally remove the shoes off of our feet. We couldn’t stand and walk easily at first. But, just like what one of my friends said yesterday: “I love this paaaain.” I guess he was right. It really was a good experience to feel this kind of pain, to see weaknesses exposed, and to improve even more through the ice skating activity. As I write this post, I still feel certain parts of my body ache. One of my hands is sore, my neck is really stiff, and my lower back is just… sad. Hahahaha. Nonetheless, I thank the Lord for the cool experience. It definitely wouldn’t be my last ice skating adventure.

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When Millionaires Walk Home

I was writing on my journal inside a coffee shop this afternoon when I noticed familiar faces. I saw our family friends: an uncle and his son who were our former neighbors. Even though we transferred to another village, they still occasionally catch up with our parents whenever they have free time. I wasn’t able to say hi, but, I saw them walk out of the store 10 minutes after I sat down.

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From my seat, I observed them walk towards the parking area. I was expecting a driver waiting for them or a fancy car parked nearby. But, to my surprise, they didn’t stop at the parking area. They just continued to walk towards the back gate of the village (where they lived) beside the coffee shop. You might be thinking, “So what if they walked?” Well, it was something that I did not expect because I knew that they were millionaires (Side note: They have a flourishing business that God uses to bless others too). I just assumed that their bodyguard or driver would just be on standby 24/7, but, it was just them. When they were out of sight, I smiled and told God: “Wow, Lord. What a humbling moment.”

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Before I went to the coffee shop today, I asked God to bless my alone time with Him. I also wanted to set aside time today to thank Him for certain blessings and privileges recently. After I saw our former neighbors, I knew that God wanted to teach my heart a lesson. Even though they were millionaires, they didn’t make a fuss about walking back home while carrying their bags. They just enjoyed the time they spent with each other as they sipped their coffee and engaged in conversation.

I realized that if I’m not careful, I can easily be deceived by my own selfish ambitions. But, by God’s grace, He continues to keep my heart focused on Him. Today, he reminded me of a few things:

1) Even though I sometimes have extra money to spare, I need to be wise in the way I spend it. Not excessively and unnecessarily. As much as possible, I need to lessen my expenses and be more creative and resourceful in budgeting and handling my finances.

2) He also encouraged me not to be proud or to find my security and identity in earthly things, in relationships, and in my “status” in society.

3) He reminded me that everything I have and everything about me is only by His grace. Because of this, there really is no reason for me to have a sense of entitlement in any situation.

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How ironic it was for me to be reminded of these things while I was drinking an expensive cup of coffee. *sigh* Nonetheless, I thank God for random moments like this. I guess He really wanted me to be inside that coffee shop this afternoon. :)

To an amazing example of humility, tito P and tita A, may the Lord continue to bless your hearts and the work of your hands! Thank you.

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” –James 3:13

A Gift from Boyce Avenue

The craziest thing happened last night. I received a surprise gift from my favorite band, Boyce Avenue. Whaaaaaaat?!!! It all started when my parents came home from their small group meeting at church. As soon as they entered the front door, my dad said “Nicolas! We have a surprise for you!” I greeted both my parents and gave them a weird stare because we weren’t celebrating anything and surprises in the family usually happen during special occasions.

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Nonetheless, I eagerly asked my dad if they got me a plant! Hahaha. I love plants or anything connected to gardening, so it was the first thing that popped in my mind. However, dad asked me to look inside the paper bag instead. To my surprise, I saw two drumsticks in it! I shrieked because they were giving me my very first pair of drumsticks! For the longest time, I have been playing beats using chopsticks or my imaginary drumsticks on my imaginary set of drums. Haha. So, seeing the pair of sticks made my heart skip a beat!

Before I could further express my happiness, my dad added “Anak, it’s not just a pair of drumsticks. It has something written on it.” I couldn’t believe what I saw as I pulled out the sticks from the bag. There was a dedication written on it which says: “Nicole. Thanks for the support. –Jason”. By this time, my eyes grew bigger and I shouted “WHAAAAAAAT!!!! HOW??? WOOOOOW!!! This is from the official drummer of Boyce Avenue, Jason Burrows! Oh myyyyyyyyyy!!!!”

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My parents and siblings who were also in the living room started to laugh because it really was a crazy moment for me. They knew how much I love Boyce Avenue, so having this privilege of receiving a gift from them was such a huge moment for me! I started to tear up and shake because I still couldn’t believe that Jason gave me a pair of drumsticks that he used during the Be Somebody Tour in the Philippines about a month ago.

After a few minutes of laughing, shouting, and dancing in the living, I noticed a laminated I.D. with a strap in the same paper bag. As I looked closely, I saw three familiar signatures and my name written on it. In addition to the signed pair of drumsticks, Boyce Avenue also signed an ID with my name written on it. CRAZY. It was so crazy! Hahaha. I was jumping up and down, hugging our dogs, happily sobbing, and shouting for joy when I realized what was happening.

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My parents then shared that the gifts sent to me were graciously prepared by one of our longtime family friends who had the opportunity to closely work with Boyce Avenue during their tour this year. THANK YOU, TITA W!!! As soon as I could, I expressed my gratitude to her by sending her a text message and I thanked my parents for delivering the gift to me. Before we went to our bedrooms, I told my family “Now, tell me. How will I be able to sleep tonight? Hahahaha! Grabe si God!”

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I only had 5 hours of sleep last night, but it didn’t matter because of the grace that I experienced through my family and our family’s friends. Through this, God allowed me to experience His grace and remember that He is our God who can do impossible things. I never imagined this to happen in my life. I am in awe of how God continues to reveal Himself to me and pursue my heart even through my favorite band.

I am reminded of Ephesians 3:20-21 where it says:

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.”

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Yesterday morning, while I was walking to work, I had a refreshing conversation with the Lord. Recently, I’ve been thinking about my personal goals and dreams in life which somehow caused my heart to get discouraged. Instead of praying about them this week, I got distracted by how the people around me seemed to reach their own goals and dreams easily. I knew that it wasn’t healthy for me to continue comparing myself with others, so I confessed it to God and I asked Him yesterday to help my heart find contentment in Him.

He then encouraged my heart to let go of being stressed and pressured by the standards of the society and to draw closer to Him, His Word, and His promises for me. I also remembered John 10:10 and was reminded of God’s desire for me to live an abundant life with Him. Sometimes, it’s so easy for me to want recognition, financial blessings, or to quickly achieve and become successful in my personal goals. But, I am humbled and inspired by God to pursue Him instead, because the things I previously mentioned are temporary. His Word and His love for you and me, however, will be for eternity.

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As soon as I got to the office, I mustered a quick prayer to God and asked Him to help me find contentment in Him and to live the life that He has blessed me with in a way that is pleasing to Him. I didn’t know that He was already preparing my heart for the surprise that I received last night.

I told God that last night’s experience was a funny and humbling moment for me. I really was happy with the idea of receiving a plant. But, He gave me more than what I expected! When I was sincerely overjoyed with the pair of drumsticks, He added a cherry on top by showing me that it wasn’t just an ordinary pair. And when I was already extremely grateful for the signed drumsticks, He let me see the laminated ID with the band’s autographs (which I wasn’t able to get when I met them a month ago because the band only had a few minutes to spare).

Only He can do such amazing things. Wow, Lord. Even though I know that You know the deepest desires and struggles of my heart, You still leave me speechless. :’)

P.S. Dear Boyce Avenue and Jason Burrows, thank you soooooo much! :)