Of Grace and Phone Giveaways

I find it ironic that I took up Entrepreneurship back in college because generally speaking, I was and still am not a risk-taker. I’m the type of person who always orders the same Java Chip Frappuccino at Starbucks since I first tasted it eight years ago. I don’t go out on the streets and eagerly persuade people to buy products from me nor do I naturally confront people whenever I have concerns. I guess it has something to do with my personality as an introvert. So, when random, crazy, and risky ideas pop in my mind, it’s very hard for me to ignore them.

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A few nights ago, while I was driving home, I felt a strong nudge on my heart to give away the phone that I no longer use because I recently upgraded to a new one. Selling the old phone wasn’t an option for me when I thought about it that night, even if it would have been very practical and helpful. Somehow, it was crystal clear that God wanted me to give it to someone who needs a phone soon.

I couldn’t stop thinking about it even after I arrived at home. So, I prayed about it and I was led to post a status online that same night about the phone giveaway. I gave my Facebook friends two nights to leave a comment if they needed a phone or if they knew someone who did. I also mentioned that I would be randomly picking a name to announce the winner. Honestly, I expected a few comments that had “Me!” or “Yes! I need one!” on my status. But, after two days, most of the 28 friends who left comments shared heartfelt stories about their desire to bless their family members, friends, and even strangers. Somehow, I got to know their hearts even more through what they shared online. It was encouraging.

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After the reading comments, I wanted to give each one of them a secondhand phone. But, for obvious reasons, I couldn’t. And so, I lifted them up in prayer instead because I knew that God was and is more than able to provide for their needs. The night before I announced the winner, I received a lot of comments from different people on how I should pick the winner for that phone. Some gave their votes for specific people who left comments, while others expressed their disappointment towards those who left “less meaningful” comments. However, God reminded me of the idea that He placed in my mind that night while I was driving home. He specifically impressed on my heart to RANDOMLY pick a winner for that phone. So, even if I wanted to give the phone to a certain person, I decided to draw lots the day after.

 

When the time came for me to announce the winner, I recorded a live video on Facebook to encourage the viewers and to show them the process of selecting the new owner of my pre-loved phone. Doing a live video is a nightmare for an introvert. Okay, maybe the other introverts wouldn’t mind it. But, it wasn’t natural for me. Hahaha. However, it was one of the most humbling experiences that I had this year because it was an opportunity for me to share God and His grace and provision to random viewers online. Sometimes, I’m learning that you just have to step out of your comfort zone, step out in faith, and believe that God is able to use ordinary people like you and me to be a blessing and to share Jesus to those around us.

Congratulations, Ode! You won the phone. :) Woohoo!

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The day after I chose the winner, I still kept thinking about those that left comments on my status. In particular, I had one friend (RJ) in mind who left a comment that deeply touched my heart. Because of this, even though I didn’t plan on giving away another secondhand phone that I had, God encouraged me to do so this week. I remembered that I still had a Nokia C7 (in good condition) inside my drawer. That phone has been inside my drawer for over a year now and immediately, I thought that it would be better if someone else will use it from now on. I sent a personal message to RJ on Facebook and shared to him about what God encouraged me to do.

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Today, I met up with the two friends that were chosen for the phone. Before I gave them the phones, we talked about God’s grace and how He is able to meet our needs. It was such a refreshing time to catch up with them and be encouraged by this experience. My friend, Ode, shared that this experience is helping her draw closer to the Lord. While, RJ shared that his friend (who was a student missionary) has been praying for a phone recently, so this secondhand phone would really help him a lot! He also shared that recently, he has been encouraging his friend to fully depend on the Lord’s provision. So, this experience was very timely.

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After we parted ways, my heart felt like it was going to burst because of the overflowing joy and peace in me. By God’s grace, He allowed me to have the privilege of sharing His blessings and being an encouragement to my friends this week. But, more than that, God reminded me of His unfailing love and grace for you and me. These are just material things that would soon fade away. But, many years ago, God showed us His grace by sending His son, Jesus, to die on the cross and to rise again just so we could spend eternity with Him in Heaven. We didn’t need to leave comments on God’s Facebook status. We didn’t have to explain our past, present struggles, and stories to Him. We didn’t even have to pay for the penalty of our wrongdoings. Even before we were born, He already chose to love, forgive, and give us  (sinners) His grace through Jesus! We just need to humble ourselves before Him, acknowledge our sinful ways, and receive Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” –Ephesians 2:8-9

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In the live video that I recorded on Facebook, I mentioned that God knows our hearts more than we do. It’s true. I may not know you personally or what your heart is going through right now. But, I want to encourage you as well to take some time today to get to know your Maker, our Father who loves us deeply. Did you know that you are dearly loved by Him? I hope you do.

Have a grace-filled week ahead! Keep on sharing His grace to others!

Going to a Concert Alone on Valentine’s Day

THE CRAZY IDEA

“Are you really going to the concert alone on Valentine’s day?? Hahahahaha.” I asked myself a couple of times before buying my ticket online. It seemed like a crazy idea because I felt that it would be very awkward for me to sit beside thousands of couples celebrating Valentine’s day at the concert of Boyce Avenue. During that time, I could already imagine Alejandro Manzano dedicating a song to all of the lovers in the coliseum while I would just sit there and be reminded me of alone-ness and singleness. Haha. It was a funny thought, really. But somehow, it still didn’t stop me from buying one ticket.

Photo c/o Ovation Productions' Mong Pintolo
Photo c/o Ovation Productions’ Mong Pintolo

I didn’t have close friends who also wanted to watch the concert and my family members already had plans that Valentine weekend, so I figured that watching the concert alone was really meant for me. A few weeks before the concert, I told God: “Okay, Lord. It’ll be just You and me on Valentine’s day. Even though I feel that it would probably be a bit awkward and lonely for me at the concert, I know that You will always be with me and that’s all that matters. I can’t wait for our date!”

Tweet last January 26, after I bought my ticket online.
Tweet last January 26, after I bought my ticket online.

When Valentine’s day came, I was nervous and excited at the same time because I was finally going to Boyce Avenue’s concert. All I wanted to do was to relax, get ready for the concert, listen to their songs, prepare my phone and camera, and try to look for ways to meet the band after the show (since they weren’t selling meet and greet passes). However, God encouraged me not to worry about these things and He helped me find rest in Him that day. Instead of worrying about the meet and greet dilemma, He gave me the desire to spend time with Him in the morning and He allowed me to have the privilege of studying His Word and having accountability with Arra (a friend I’ve been mentoring) in the afternoon.

One-on-one with Arra before the Boyce Avenue concert. :)
One-on-one with Arra before the Boyce Avenue concert. :)

The first half of my Valentine’s day was very encouraging for me because God used those hours to remind me of my security in Him. The idea of being alone on Valentine’s day may sound sad and funny, but by God’s grace, He gave me the strength that day to focus on who He is and who I am in Him instead of dwelling on the things that I didn’t have. Actually, He has been giving me the strength to do so ever since, but it was only until a couple of years ago that I truly embraced it in my heart.

Being in a committed relationship is a privilege and responsibility that God graciously gives to people and He may or may not allow me to experience such in the future. But whether or not He does, I am encouraged to continue seeking the Lord with all my heart and to serve Him faithfully.  This is exactly what God was telling me to do last February 14, 2015. Even if I was going to be alone at the concert of Boyce Avenue, even if I was going to be surrounded by thousands of couples, and even if I didn’t have the assurance of meeting the band after the show, He encouraged me to still be faithful in spending time with Him and serving Him that morning and afternoon.

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“You make my heart beat steady to the love song You’ve written for me. I don’t want anything but You, You’re all that I need.” –Royal Tailor’s “Love Song”

 

THE EYE GLASSES

Fast forward to 6:45pm that Valentine’s night, I was already seated inside the Smart Araneta Coliseum. I was an hour and fifteen minutes early, so I had the chance to settle down and observe my surroundings. True enough, there were couples everywhere! Hahaha. They were all paired up with buckets of popcorn, pizza slices, and drinks in their hands. I have to admit that at first, walking into the coliseum and sitting by myself felt a bit weird and funny. But, as the minutes passed by, more and more people filled the place and it didn’t really matter if I was alone or with a partner or with my whole family. We were all there to watch our favorite band perform and enjoy their beautiful music!

While waiting for the concert to start, I did something that I rarely do. I wore my reading glasses. I never really liked wearing my glasses because I felt that it didn’t suit me since I also wore braces before. Eventually, I disregarded my glasses for two years. It was only until a couple of months ago that I saw them again while I was cleaning my room. Somehow, I felt that I would need them during the concert because I wasn’t sure if my seat was near enough for me to see the band members’ faces. Thankfully, I brought them with me and I ended up wearing my eyeglasses during the concert which helped me see things clearly.

Photo of my glasses while I was watching Boyce Avenue perform.
Photo of my glasses while I was watching Boyce Avenue perform.

While the band was playing, I would slightly move my glasses up and down to compare what I see with and without them. It was during this time that God spoke to my heart and encouraged me to look at the situation I’m in through His eyes. Looking through my eyeglasses made a huge difference that night because not only was I able to see the band clearly, I was also able to see my dad’s friend (who helped me in meeting the band after the show) while he was more than 50 meters away from me.

In the same way, God reminded me of the huge difference it makes when I choose to look at myself or at my circumstances through His eyes. I was alone at the concert on Valentine’s day, but I had so many things to be grateful for too. Because I was alone that day, I was able to experience the ff.:

1. Focused on the music and the band. – Because I didn’t have anyone to talk to, I had the privilege of really listening to the music, singing along, and observing the band while they played and sing. I noticed little things that happened on stage, like how Alejandro tiptoes while he sings or how Fabian strums his guitar while he raises it high in the air or how Daniel smoothly goes on top of the bass drum while he bobs his head and plays his guitar. I also appreciated how the Manzano brothers interacted with each other (by smiling or making fierce facial expressions) while playing their guitars. Moreover, it was cool to see their crew discreetly and quickly change the guitars lined up at both sides of the stage which helped the band get the right guitars on time.

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Alejandro Manzano. Photo c/o Ovation Productions’ Mong Pintolo.
Fabian Manzano strumming his guitar!
Fabian Manzano strumming his guitar!
Daniel Manzano standing on top of the bass drum while playing his guitar.
Daniel Manzano standing on top of the bass drum while playing his guitar.

2. Stepped out of my comfort zone. It was my first time to drive to Smart Araneta Coliseum and I honestly wasn’t sure which roads or turns I should take. My dad helped me by giving instructions and I did check Google Maps, but once I was on the road by myself, it was pretty intimidating. But by God’s grace, I safely and smoothly got to the venue. Woohoo! Oh, and there were numerous times during the event when I needed to leave my shy self behind and muster up courage so I could talk to certain people (bouncer friend, dad’s friend, etc.).

3. Learned to listen more. Because I wasn’t speaking much that night, I literally listened more. It helped me understand what was going in my heart and helped me listen to God’s voice more.

4. Had the Luxury of Time. I had the privilege of leaving the house and leaving the concert anytime I wanted to. I also walked at my own pace and didn’t need to rush or slow down while I was on my way to the venue.

5. Free to be Me. My introverted self actually enjoyed my alone time. Although I did feel awkward at first, being alone eventually helped me feel more confident after a while. In fact, a man beside me was also alone, but he didn’t care too. He also got his phone, recorded the band throughout the show, and enjoyed listening to the songs just like the rest of the crowd.

Photo c/o Fabian Manzano
Boyce Avenue. Photo c/o Fabian Manzano

 

THE BEST VALENTINE’S DAY EVER

Before going to the concert, I already expected the band to say something about the lovers out there. But, surprisingly, they gave a shoutout to all the singles at the concert instead. Hahaha. The band even dedicated their song “On My Way” to all of the single men and women and encouraged us not to settle for anyone who’s less than the best for us.

Even if I was alone, I didn’t feel lonely on Valentine’s day because I felt God’s presence with me. He also helped me appreciate so many things around me. E.g. I had two hands which were very helpful in taking photos and videos at the same time using the gadgets that I had. I had everything I needed that day: transportation, access to water and food, extra cash, a really good seat, eyeglasses, etc. I had the privilege of enjoying the concert of Boyce Avenue, meeting them after the show, and sharing God’s love to the band on Valentine’s day through John 3:16! (Aaaahhhh!!!) But most importantly, I had the honor of enjoying a crazy, amazing, faith-stretching date night with God and experiencing Him in a much deeper way this time.

Photo c/o Ovation Productions' Mong Pintolo
Boyce Avenue. Photo c/o Ovation Productions’ Mong Pintolo

Just so you know, I ended up crying while I was on my way home from the concert. I couldn’t explain or contain the joy and awe in me after my Valentine’s day experience because I saw how God graciously allowed things to fall into place. He definitely knows our hearts’ desires more than we do.

“’You could have been anywhere else,’ Alejandro Manzano said, ‘but you chose to be here.’” :)

Screenshot from a video I took during the concert.
Screenshot from a video I took during the concert.

I do enjoy spending time with family and friends, but every now and then, it’s nice to do something new and spend some quality time alone. Going to Boyce Avenue’s concert alone on Valentine’s day was a blessing after all. In fact, for me, it was certainly the best Valentine’s day ever!

Tweet after the concert of Boyce Avenue.
Tweet after the concert of Boyce Avenue.

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

 

BLOGGED: Boyce Avenue in Manila 2015: Meeting Them Again

At Smart Araneta Coliseum with Fabian Manzano, Alejandro Manzano, and Daniel Manzano. Boyce Avenue!
At Smart Araneta Coliseum with Fabian Manzano, Alejandro Manzano, and Daniel Manzano. Boyce Avenue!

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

25 Things About My Dad

Dear Dad,

Today is the day! Happy 25th! I mean, 55th birthday! HAHA. I hope you’re enjoying your special day despite the rainy weather. I thank God because we get to have an extended rest time at home with you today. I pray that God would bless your heart even more as you walk closely with Him each day! We love you! :)

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” [Joshua 1:9]

Oh, and because 55 is quite a special number, I wanted to document 55 facts about you! But, I guess for now, 25 na lang muna. Hahaha.

Here goes!

25 Things About My Dad

1. Dad is an Ophthalmologist, an EENT (Eyes-Ears-Nose-Throat) doctor, a Pastor, and a Christ-committed follower.

Dad's free mug from Discovery Hotel, Ortigas.
Dad’s free mug from Discovery Hotel, Ortigas.
Dad - second row from the bottom, third guy from the left side.
Dad – second row from the bottom, third guy from the left side.

2. Some of his favorite food are kimchi, durian, buko sorbet/macapuno ice cream, potato salad, and sansrival cake.

3. He was part of Kundirana (High school music group) when he was still studying in La Salle.

He's the one wearing the white outfit in the middle.
He’s the one wearing the white outfit in the middle.

4. When we call his name at home, he usually responds with a high-pitched voice saying “yeah?” and then clears his throat and says “yeah?” using his normal, low voice. Haha

5. Dad and Mom have a special whistle. They whistle whenever they call each other from afar.

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6. Dad loves music. While we were growing up, He let us listen to songs sung by Frank Sinatra, Natalie Cole, Don Moen, Papuri, Windsong, and a lot more bands, artists, and musicals. He also taught my older sister (Michelle) how to play the guitar and sometime later, my sister taught me how to play the guitar. Yay! Haha.

7. Dad lost 25 pounds (I think) two years ago and he is still able to maintain his weight.

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8. He always likes to tell corny jokes. -__- Okay, sometimes, they’re funny. Haha.

My dad's conversation with my sister, Michelle, via SMS.
My dad’s conversation with my sister, Michelle, via SMS.

9. When I was in the second or third grade, I drew a parrot and he posted the drawing in his private clinic. Love it. It looked something like this. Hahaha. Thanks, Dad!

I drew this just now using Paint. hahaha.
I drew this just now using Paint. hahaha.

10. Dad’s a good sport. Sometimes, he lets the dogs stay on their bed and he lets us take photos of him wearing silly hats and Krispy Kreme donut masks.

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11. He loves animals. No wonder we love them too!

Dad and our pomeranian, Copper.
Dad and our pomeranian, Copper.

12. He encourages us to sing as a family during Christmas, even if we usually don’t feel like doing so. Dududu. HAHA. Peace, Dad!

13. Whenever we would eat fish and have fish bones stuck in our throats, he’d gladly take them out using his special scissor/tweezer-like tools. Yay for our throat doctor!

14. He initiates bible studies at home and conversations over dinner.

15. He sincerely loves his parents and my mom’s parents. And of course, the rest of both families.

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16. Dad taught us how to do the L.A. walk.

17. Sometimes, he randomly makes animal sounds/sounds you here in the jungle when we’re at home. (e.g. eerie sounds; sounds of exotic birds, vultures, etc.)

18. He gives random words of wisdom.

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19. When our house was burning down last 2004, he instructed us all to go out of the house while he stayed a bit and tried to extinguish the fire using buckets of water. But because the fire was quickly spreading, he decided to leave and get the car out of the garage too, just before the roof fell on the floor. Hooray for our brave Daddy-O! #grace

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20. He personally taught me how to save money and be content with what I have. I wrote more about these values HERE.

21. His favorite duet song with his brother is “The Way You Look Tonight”. They sing this song every time we have a family event.

22. Dad is always to the rescue! (e.g. when the car breaks down, when we suddenly need a ride home from a party, when our house in Cainta got flooded during Ondoy, etc.)

Car 101! Photo c/o my sister, Michelle.
Car 101! Photo c/o my sister, Michelle.

23. He loves spending time with Jesus and sharing Him to the people around him.

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24. When he plays with our two dogs, he sometimes says “Moo” to them with a deep voice. Because he actually sounds like a cow when he does this, our dogs usually tilt their heads and end up getting confused.

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25. He gave us (kids) unique nicknames:

Camille – Camiling

Glenn Michael – Miguelito

Michelle – Mishow

Nicole – Nicholas

Gabriel – Gambrelli.

Haha. He calls mom “Darl”, which is short for Darling. And we, kids, refer to him as The Polar Bear.

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Photo c/o my sister, Michelle.

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

Be a Blessing in the Workplace

Every morning, my dad and mom would listen to the radio and tune in to 702 DZAS. This radio station has been a great source of encouragement and inspiration to our family. One of their segments, “Pro Tips”, which is hosted by Maloi Malibiran Salumbides, talks about action steps and biblical principles on being a blessing in the workplace.

Photo taken from her Facebook account. :)
Photo taken from her Facebook account. :)

Last February 18, 2014, I passed by the kitchen (where the radio was) and I heard the host talk about the Pro Tips for the day. I don’t remember her exact words, but I remembered some of the principles she said:

1. Be content with your work, but don’t be lazy. She encouraged the listeners to find contentment in God as we work for Him and not compare our work, tasks, and situations to others. Also, she emphasized that being content is different from being lazy. We must also learn how to strive and excel continuously at work because it is God’s blessing to us.

2. Continue to aspire and dream big. She also talked about how our God is able to do so much more than we can ever imagine or think of and because of this, we can hope and desire for bigger things in the workplace. (Eph. 3:20)

3. Be open to the things that God wants us to do. There would be times when God would speak to us about certain decisions at work (e.g. moving to a different department, looking for another job, starting our own business, training others, etc.) and it’s important that we open our hearts to these and obey Him when He tells us to do something. God can definitely use these faith steps and new opportunities to develop our character and skills. Most importantly, it’ll help us grow in our relationship with Him as we choose to honor Him in our career.

These are just some of the Pro Tips shared on the radio station and by God’s grace, they will continue to encourage us with more. :)

Surprise encouragement from my officemate who dropped by my area. :P
Surprise encouragement from my officemate who dropped by my area. :P

Sometimes, our work can get toxic and discouraging. But, whenever we focus on who God is, thank Him for the blessing of work, and choose to be a blessing to others in the workplace, He changes the way we view our work. And as a result, it positively affects our behavior and our influence to the people around us.

Surprise gift from my seatmate at work! She (Iza) made this, by the way. :)
Surprise gift from my seatmate at work! She (Iza) made this, by the way. :)

“Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and the Master you are serving is Christ.” -Colossians 3:23-24

Encouraging time with my officemate (Shermaine) after work. :)
Encouraging time at Hanako with my officemate (Shermaine) after work. :)

Looking forward to a great week ahead! Thank You, Lord, for the workplace. :)

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)