Digging Deep on My 28th Birthday

Last Sunday, I celebrated my 28th year on Earth. Twenty-eight years. I still can’t believe it. Growing up, I used to imagine huge milestones happening in my life past 25 years old. But here I am, pretty much the same younger me, with more responsibilities, new found friends, and broken and grace-filled moments to reminisce on. A colleague asked me how I wanted to celebrate my birthday this year and two things immediately popped in my mind: Time and Words. These are the top two love languages that I treasure the most and I desired to feel God’s love through them on my birthday.

I have this natural desire to help others feel special on their birthdays or on any occasion. I still don’t know why the Lord allowed me to have this trait and yearning in me, but every time it happens, I get fired up! My mind begins to spark with creative ideas. I end up coordinating with people and going the extra mile (sometimes, even literally) to get materials or even cakes and gifts. And on some occasions, by God’s grace, I effortlessly am able to produce songs or poems for family or friends. Just two nights ago, when one of my close friends celebrated her birthday, instead of sending her the usual greeting, I ended up composing a short, three-stanza poem for her which made her cry. Hahaha!

I really don’t know. Sometimes, I do feel that it comes off as being extra, which unintentionally puts pressure on others around me. But another part of me wonders why I become conscious about it, when it honestly just feels like something I was made to do. Whatever this is, I know that it is only by the grace of God that I am able to do this and if it does allow others to feel the love of God, then maybe I shouldn’t overthink. But, if it doesn’t, then, I pray that the Lord would give me wisdom.

The downside, however, of doing and being what I just shared is that, at times, I sincerely wish I would someday get to experience it too. Not on the giver’s side, but on the receiving end. Sometimes, I hope others would also go the extra mile, buy me flowers or a cake, gather family or friends and throw a surprise birthday for me, or intentionally spend time and talk with me over my favorite Frappuccino, without feeling any pressure to do so. It’s not something that I often think about, but it does cross my mind every time I celebrate my birthday. This year, it was a humbling moment for me to realize that because I decided to stay offline (away from Facebook and other social media apps), more people WILL NOT remember my birthday. As I mentioned in the first paragraph, I do cherish moments when people would spend time with me or say words of encouragement to me. So, I thought that less people remembering it meant having less chances of experiencing these two love languages.

As expected, on my birthday, only a few family and friends greeted me. I did feel mini heartbreaks when I realized that some close friends forgot about it. But, at the same time, God graciously humbled my heart and renewed my thoughts and emotions throughout that day. It started when I read Ephesians 6:10-20 in the morning and the Lord reminded me of the importance of putting on the full armor of God. What struck me in the passage was verse 17 which says: “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” It was crystal clear that God was showing me where I should place my security – not in the words of men; but in His words, promises, and truths which are found in the Bible. I also felt the love of the Lord when He reminded me of my worth and salvation in Him.

By God’s grace, starting the day with His word helped me kick off the lies and discouragements that tried to attack me that day. God even allowed me to enjoy spending the first few hours of my morning at one of my favorite places – Farmer’s Market, where I bought ingredients for our family’s dinner later that day. He also gave me the strength to go to church after, despite having a messed up body clock and sore muscles that week. Moreover, even though some of my family members were out of town that weekend, they all made it to my birthday dinner at home!

 

As I was driving from the grocery store to our house before my birthday dinner, I had a moment with the Lord, which went something like this:

“Lord, in a little while, I’ll be celebrating my gardening-themed birthday dinner at home. I don’t know if all my family members could make it, but it would be nice to spend time with them tonight. I humble myself before you and acknowledge that I have been selfish in my thoughts. I wanted others to remember my birthday. I wanted others to greet me with words of affirmation. I wanted everyone and anything else but You, Jesus. Still, You never gave up on me. It’s pretty cool that my birthday theme tonight will be about gardening, remembering some of the vegetables I grew, and digging deep, because that’s what you allowed me to experience all throughout the year! Both in the garden and in my heart!

Because I was offline, you helped me have more time to dig deep in your word while I was at home, in a coffee shop, or in the mountain. You helped me dig deep in my relationships with family members, friends, and colleagues. So, Lord, even though I may not receive the time and words that I originally longed for from others around me, I am reminded that YOU ARE ENOUGH. In fact, it says in Isaiah 40:8 and Matthew 24:35 that YOUR words will never fade away. So, why should I long for others? Lord, I hold on to Your words. Lord, I hold on to You today.”

I ended my birthday singing praises to the Lord, as He filled my heart with joy and thanksgiving. It has been twenty-eight years of brokenness and grace. As long as I am still breathing here on Earth, I pray that the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart will be pleasing to the Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)

Here are some more photos from my birthday celebration at home. I asked my family to dress up as the vegetables I planted and organic fertilizer I used through the years. I have to say, they did a pretty amazing job! Hahaha. Thanks, family, for being intentional in preparing for and celebrating my birthday with me. Introducing: The Corn family, Hot Chili, Gardener, Eggplant, Broccoli, Carrot, and Chicken poop fertilizer.

Oh, and did you notice my healthy Carrot “cake”? :D

(Special thanks to my sister, Camille, for her calligraphy skills and for helping me set-up; Gabo & Monica, for the free Milk tea & for helping me prepare the fruit kebabs; my parents, for sponsoring our main course; and our help Pajean, for taking our photo!)

My First OPM Song

Exactly a week ago, on my birthday, I shared my very first OPM (Original Pilipino Music) song to the public.

Originally, I wrote a verse and chorus in English. But after struggling to finish the rest of the song, I was inspired to translate it to Tagalog instead. In less than 10 minutes, by God’s grace, He helped me finish the song.

It’s entitled “Heto na Naman Ako”.

 

You know how it is very burdensome to go through a struggle day after day, year after year, where you just feel defeated and hopeless each time? I felt that when I struggled with insecurities about being single recently (which I wrote about HERE.)  But, God encouraged me through John 16:33. Because of this, I was inspired to share what is in my heart through this song.

To anyone who is struggling with something that doesn’t seem to end,
To anyone who feels that God doesn’t care,
To anyone who sincerely wants to draw near to God but feels weak…

May this song encourage your heart to remember that we can trust in Jesus — who is always with us; who knows exactly what is going on in our hearts; and who has already won the victory.

Showing Love through Larcy’s Cupcakes

A few days ago, our parents informed us that they were having a double date with our former neighbors, Tito P. and Tita A. When we were still living in the same village, this couple graciously shared their food and gifts to our family. They even let us try their new products before releasing them in the market. What a privilege! Years later, we eventually moved to another village, but, we still get to experience God’s grace and goodness through them.

 

Larcy's Cupcakes
Larcy’s Cupcakes

When they invited our parents for a double date to celebrate dad’s birthday last week, I remember how my dad was so encouraged by their thoughtful gesture. One of our parents’ good, couple friends remembered his birthday and sincerely wanted to enjoy it with them. It was definitely encouraging! But, it didn’t end there. Surprisingly, when our parents came home from their double date that night, they also had a box of Larcy’s cupcakes with them. Tito P. and Tita A. also thought about us (children) and treated us with six, beautiful and delicious Larcy’s cupcakes!!!

Larcy's Cupcakes
Larcy’s Cupcakes

When I found out about it, my heart was so blessed. They even went the extra mile! It was so inspiring to see others share God’s blessings and goodness to the people around them. But, it also made me check my heart. Do I also have a sincere heart for others? Or am I stingy when it comes to sharing the resources that I have, time, or even words of encouragement?

Banana Cupcake
Banana Cupcake

Pastor Peter Tan-Chi once said: “Why are we still selfish sometimes? Maybe it’s because we forget how much our Father God loves us.”

Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcake
Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcake

By God’s grace, I hope that I can also sincerely share God’s goodness and love to others, just like our former neighbors. If you’re reading this, Tito P. and Tita A., thank you very much for your kind hearts! May God continue to bless you even more as you walk with Him and share Him to others. :)

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” –John 15:12

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LARCY’S CUPCAKES

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LarcysCupcakerycafe

Twitter: http://twitter.com/LarcysCupcakery

Phone: 4782849

 

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

Making S’more Memories with the Family

Our family has this tradition where we celebrate birthdays in the middle of the night. But, when it comes to celebrating the birthdays of our two dogs, we usually do it over dinner. Two days ago, I sent a message to my siblings and invited them to join me after dinner to have a mini-bonfire and s’mores birthday party for Clue (our schnauzer) at the clubhouse. Originally, my two sisters and I wanted to start early so that we wouldn’t sleep late, but since my older sister and I suddenly needed to work overtime, we had to postpone the party.

Roasting marshmallows for s'mores
Roasting marshmallows for s’mores

I got out of the office at 8 pm and rushed to the nearest grocery store to buy a portable and affordable grilling pot and charcoal. However, it was only until an hour later that I was able to buy the ingredients and materials I needed. Before leaving the grocery store, I sent a message to my siblings and informed that the mini-bonfire will push through and will start at 9:30 pm. I honestly didn’t think that they would make it because we were already three hours late. But, some of them replied and confirmed that they would be joining me, so I hurried home.

with my sisters and our two dogs
with my sisters and our two dogs
with our schnauzer, Clue. :)
with our schnauzer, Clue. :)

As soon as I got to our house, we prepared the ingredients and things we needed for our midnight “bonfire” party and we left a note (“Bonfire near the pool”) on our front door for my dad and older brother who were still out for a meeting/work. We then went to the clubhouse and started our attempt to make fire. It wasn’t as easy as we thought it would be. We tried to burn coals for an hour, but most of our methods didn’t work. Haha. Thankfully, dad arrived and joined us in our next few attempts and after ten to fifteen minutes, more coals were burning.

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While some of my siblings continued to help dad with the fire, my older sister and I played with our two dogs, Copper and Clue, on the grass. Our fluffy dogs really enjoyed their night out with us and we had fun hanging out with the family too! We took turns fanning the burning coals, playing with the dogs, and stargazing while enjoying the cool breeze. When the burning coals were ready, we started arranging the graham crackers and chocolate chips on a plate and roasted our own marshmallows on the sticks. After a while, I heard my dad shout “Hey, kuya!” (referring to my older brother). I think it was already past 12 midnight at that time and my older brother just arrived from work. Woohoo! We were finally complete!

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Dad helping us out with the fire.
Dad helping us out with the fire.

While my dad and younger brother were helping us with the fire, I remember them giving us a tip: “We have to start with one coal first. Once that coal is burning, that’s when we add more coals beside it to help spread the heat.” I’ve only tried to make fire with coals twice or thrice in my life. So, it was really interesting for me to try it again and learn from the experience with my family. The tip my dad and brother gave us reminded me of the similarity it has with developing the relationships we have in the family. Just like heating up the coals, we don’t always have to start big, we don’t always have to come up with extravagant plans or spend time together only when there are birthdays or special events. Sometimes, all it takes to maintain good relationships within the family is to heat up one coal at a time, to regularly do small things with and for the family.

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“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:3-4

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Doing small things like, sharing what’s in our hearts after a long day at work or giving each other a hug or a pat on the back every now and then or planting more vegetables in the garden with your mom or discovering how to make origami schnauzers with your older brother or picking mangoes with the siblings while walking the dogs or sending encouraging words to each other via SMS or patiently listening to and sharing with the joy of your sister who can’t get enough of her favorite band and music (HAHA. Thank you, dear family. You know I love you.), etc. Sometimes, the smallest things we do with and for the family make the biggest impact.

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During Clue’s birthday, I knew that my dad already had a previous commitment for dinner that night and that my older brother would be working late at the office, so I didn’t really expect them to make it to our family’s mini-bonfire party. However, it was encouraging to see God use certain delays that evening (e.g. when I experienced delays in the grocery store, when my older sister and I suddenly worked overtime, when we struggled with starting the fire) to allow our family to be complete at the party. If there weren’t delays, we would have started and finished the bonfire party earlier, without the company of my older brother and our dad.

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That mini-bonfire party was a reminder for me to always find joy and have hope in Him who loves families, who desires for families to stay together. Sometimes, it can be quite disheartening to feel hurt or witness unresolved issues within the family. Sometimes, there may also be delays in extending forgiveness, grace, and unconditional love towards each other. But, God is able to help us burn one coal at a time. He is able to encourage families to spend time together. And more importantly, He is able to change hearts and help families become more like Christ.

We ended up sleeping at 1:30 in the morning after the mini-bonfire, but the late night hangout with the family was definitely worth it. Here’s to making some more memories with the family. Happy birthday, dear Clue!:)

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Encourage yourself one treat at a time.