Boyce Avenue Live in Manila 2018

Boyce Avenue’s concerts have always been inside jokes and cherished moments between me and God. You might be wondering, “What is the big deal with this lady and Boyce Avenue?” Well, they are my favorite band! I love three things about them: their acoustic music, exceptional vocal and instrumental skills, and culture as brothers. Also, by God’s grace, He has been allowing me to experience faith-stretching moments during their concerts in Manila since 2013.

I have been craving for their live music ever since their last concert here two years ago. So, when Wilbros Live announced that they were coming back this June 2018, I immediately bought my ticket. Ironically, I was not as happy as I would have expected myself to be after buying the ticket. It was because the production company that brought them back was different from the company that organized the concerts for Boyce Avenue in the past years. It was sad for me because family friends, who worked in that company, graciously helped me meet the band backstage after the concerts in 2013, 2015, and 2016. Now that Wilbros Live was bringing them to Manila, I absolutely did not have any chance of meeting the band. In their previous concerts, for some reason, they also did not sell Meet & Greet passes.

 

I was glad that I had the opportunity to watch their concert again. But at the same time, I felt sad that I wasn’t going to meet them in person. Despite this, I still thanked God as He encouraged me to still be content. I remember telling Him, “Lord, you allowed me to meet them when it seemed like an impossible situation. This happened three times before! You can allow it to happen again if You want to. So, who am I to demand from You or to not be grateful even when You take this away?”

Two months passed by and the concert day was fast approaching. By this time, my family and friends were already excited for me because they knew how much I loved Boyce Avenue and their music. After sharing my love for the band to one of my friends, I went home hoping that I could somehow still meet the band again. I told the Lord that He could easily allow it to happen if it was His will. But, if it was not His will, then I would still be thankful.

That same night, just three nights before the concert, I was scrolling through updates on Google about their concert. To my surprise, I stumbled upon the band’s announcement in their Twitter account about the Meet and Greet passes that they were selling since the start of May 2018. It was already May 29 at that time and I could not believe what I was reading! I was not able to closely monitor their updates before because I decided to log off from my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts earlier this year, as I have shared in a previous post HERE. Amusingly, I was both frustrated and extremely joyful that I saw the announcement that week! For the first time in the history of Boyce Avenue concerts that I have attended, I bought a Meet and Greet pass.

 

The night before the concert, Boyce Avenue’s management sent an email to those who purchased the Meet and Greet passes to inform us about instructions and its inclusions. Basically, the pass entitles us to have one photo with the band AND one personal item that we can ask them to sign. Even before the email was sent to us, I had already printed a collage of my previous photos with the band for them to sign. I just thought that it would be a cool idea to compile the Meet and Greet moments I have had with them in the past.

Fast forward to the night itself, we were all in line, waiting for the band to welcome us individually. As we patiently watched the time go by, the staff handed laminated IDs to us with the signatures of the band members. It was a pleasant surprise for us! Finally, they asked us to go inside the backstage area. There were about 25 people in front of me who went ahead with their Meet and Greet opportunities! As I was nearing the entrance door, I noticed that the people only had one photo with the band. They were not having their personal items signed by them! Literally, a minute before my turn, I quickly asked one of the staff members why the personal items were not being signed by Boyce Avenue. She responded by saying that it was because they already provided signed laminated IDs for us.

I felt my heart beat fast as I held on to my permanent marker and collage of photos printed on an A4 photo paper. I remember having a quick conversation with myself about “Seizing the opportunity vs. Shying away”. Each person literally had 8 seconds with the band and all I could think of was: “I know this seems impossible, Nicole, but you have nothing to lose if you try to ask the band. If it’s God’s will, He’ll allow it to happen.” When it was finally my turn, instead of giving them a hug during the first three seconds, I approached them by saying: “Hi! I know this isn’t allowed anymore, but is it okay if you still sign my photo?” Alejandro said: “Oh! You know what? We’ll just finish taking photos with everyone else and then we’ll get back to you.”

After this, the staff from the production company, including the bouncers, kept on re-directing me to go outside, farther from the backstage area. Every time they re-directed me, I tried to explain that my photo and ticket were still with the band – for their signature, but they kept leading me towards the exit. But, ten minutes later, all of the people got their photos taken with the band and they left the area one by one. I followed up with one of the bouncers and patiently waited at the exit gate. It did not take long until one bouncer walked towards me with an A4 photo paper in his hand and a brown envelope with my printed ticket on it. As soon as I got them, I saw the impossible happen right in front of my eyes. My collage was signed by the three Manzano brothers and I could not be more relieved. The band was so gracious and kind enough to grant my special request and I was so glad I took the risk of seizing the eight seconds that I had with the band.

Yes, this Meet and Greet experience was probably the most stressful I have had compared to the past three ones. But, God still allowed me to have a unique experience with Him and with the band this time. Meeting ones favorite band for the fourth time may seem like a trivial thing to some. But, it is certainly one of the languages that God uses to speak life into my heart, as He helps me exercise my faith in Him who is able to do anything. I was reminded of Philippians 4:6 where it says: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Thank You, Jesus, for always being so personal and intentional.

Thank you, Wilbros Live, for bringing Boyce back.

Thank you, Boyce Avenue, for being awesome as usual.

Special performances by Youtube stars: Moira dela Torre and AJ Rafael. :)

How Has God Been Faithful To You?

It has been a week since I last wrote my prayers and thoughts on my journal. Something happened recently which caused my heart to feel a number of emotions that I couldn’t easily process. Usually, when I am faced with concerns, I express myself through writing and I talk to God about them. But, this week, I just did not have the strength and motivation to do so.

Today, I had an extended time to rest because I wasn’t feeling well. My throat is getting sore and I can feel my immune system weaken even after indulging in Vitamin C. Aside from healing physically, I knew that I needed to intentionally take time to rest my heart and its concerns as I spend time with the Lord. It felt awkward and slow at first because a week already passed. But by God’s grace, He encouraged me to draw near to Him again and to remember His faithfulness in my life. With a weak heart and body, I opened my box of journals over the past years and took those from 2008 to the most recent journal this year. I then decided to read through all of my entries on March 5 from 2008 to 2017.

I had a few good laughs as I read through them because of the concerns and feelings that I shared. But, after reading, I appreciated how God was very personal and gracious to me during the different struggles and seasons in my life since 2008. Yesterday, at church, we were encouraged to recall God’s faithfulness through Lamentations 3:21-23.

So, I thought of sharing snippets from my journal since 10 years ago. May the Lord give our hearts the desire to spend time with Him and His Word each day, no matter how we feel; no matter what we’re going through.

How has God been faithful to you recently? :)

“If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” -2 Timothy‬ ‭2:13‬ 

(Photo c/o Hiroshi)

 

March 5, 2008

Hay. This week, I’ve been struggling with Person A (forgiveness) and Person B (patience). I hate this feeling. Here I go again, Lord. Please comfort me and give me wisdom. I want to hurt Person A badly. UGH. But, I know I can’t. PLEASE HELP ME TO FORGIVE. Later, I’ll be throwing water-filled plastic bags towards the wall, so I could release my stress. Well, that’s if mom will allow me to waste plastic bags. This is sad. I am sad.

March 5, 2009

Thank you for waking me up on time and for this time that I can talk to you. I pray thay I would honor you today and that I will be still and know that You are God. Please guide me as I answer my management science test later. I tried to study but I don’t know if it’s enough…

March 5, 2010

I am not good at this — managing my time and really understanding my lessons well. Lord, I pray that you would show me Your grace once again and give me wisdom so I can maximize every minute that I have today.

March 5, 2011

🎶If I lost it all, will my hands stay lifted to the God who gives and takes away?🎶

I’m still struggling with insecurities, pride, and jealousy in my heart. I’m still tempted to believe in the lies in my head. But, I know there is no reason for me to be insecure because I know that You’ve loved me and will always love me no matter what…

March 5, 2012

Today, I’ll continue job hunting and fixing my attempt to blog. In a few weeks, it’ll be my 5th month of being unemployed. In spite of the impossible events and discouragements I am seeing, I want to still trust in you that you know what you are doing.

March 3, 2013 (closest journal entry)

Lord, I know that there are things I’ve done this week that did not honor you. I confess the trash in my heart and ask that you would help me control myself from engaging in sin. Thank you for new mercies each day. I may be weak but You are strong.

March 5, 2014

*sigh* I don’t know if I’m already giving up on myself because I’m tempted to believe in lies. I guess every time I make a mistake at work, I tend to have a hard time forgiving myself. I also try to be strong whenever that happens. But Lord, you know how weak my heart can get sometimes.

I know my relationship with you is worth it. It’s worth more than anything. So, I choose to honor You by not giving up even when I fall down.

March 4, 2015 (closest journal entry)

Day 2 of sick leave. Haaay. Is there any unconfessed sin in me? Is there something wrong with my heart and mind? Sometimes, I may not understand why You allow me to experience these hassles in life. But I know for sure, nothing goes to waste when they’re placed in Your hands. You will cause this unfortunate situation to work out for the good. I need to have faith in You, my Healer.

March 6, 2016 (closest journal entry)

It’s been two weeks and a day since I last wrote on my journal. I just feel so far from You. I’m sorry, Lord. I don’t feel like blogging, working, communicating, or even taking photographs for the upcoming contest. I feel so discouraged now. Please speak to me through the message at church today.

I hope it’s not too late for me to facilitate in the True Life retreat. It’s an opportunity that I want to take, if it’s Your will.

March 9, 2017 (closest journal entry)

I can’t wait for our date tomorrow. Huhu. I missed you, Jesus! I realized how badly I need to seek You and not the idols in my life. I’m sorry for having idols in my life — including myself.

 

Even When I Don’t See, I Still Believe

I only hear stories like this in testimonies shared at church. You know those types of stories where the people share about being miraculously healed by God? And how their cancer disappeared and the doctors couldn’t believe it?

Well, do you remember my most recent blog post about my cracked tooth? Miraculously, the crack on my tooth is gone. THE CRACK ON MY TOOTH DISAPPEARED. I couldn’t believe it. Doc Grace also couldn’t believe it.

On my way here earlier, I was semi-dreading my appointment with my dentist. A part of me wanted to get it over with. A part of me was also worried and very sad about the fact that I will be having a denture at a young age. But, another part of me accepted the fact that my tooth had already given up on me. As I parked and walked towards the clinic, I remember telling God, “Lord, if it is Your will, would you please make a miracle? Would you please heal my cracked tooth which honestly seems really impossible. But if not, Lord, I trust that You will still take care of me.”

I sat on the dental chair and kept repeating these words to myself “Bahala na si God sayo, Nicole. He’ll take care of you. You can have peace in your heart because of Him.” When doc Grace opened it up and did a few tests, we were both surprised that I didn’t feel any discomfort contrary to how I felt while I was chewing on that side this past week. She took an X-ray photo of my tooth just to double check the crack before finishing up the third session of my root canal. While waiting for the film to develop, I laid down on the dental chair and kept praying “Lord, I find my strength in You. May Your will be done. May Your will be done.”

A few minutes later, doc Grace said “I can’t seem to find the crack!”

With a confused look on my face, I stood up and went near her to take a look at the X-ray film myself. My eyes widened as I saw the miracle right in front of me. It really was gone! We got the X-ray photo taken last Feb. 3 and compared it against the one that was taken today.

DOC GRACE: That’s weird.
ME: It’s sooo weird.
DOC GRACE: It’s weeeird.
ME: I know. That’s suuuper weird! What happened??
DOC GRACE: It seems like your prayers were answered! Even I don’t understand what happened. I just know that last month, your tooth had a crack below the gums and now, the tooth under the gums is whole.
ME: Doc! Maybe there was a dirt when the first X-ray photo was taken?
DOC GRACE: The dark curve on the film wasn’t a dirt because artifacts (metal, dirt, etc.) will be colored white on the X-ray, not dark gray/black. Also, the curved crack last month was so defined. It wasn’t even a straight line which could have been mistaken as a reflection of a pattern of the X-ray machine.

She then finished the rest of the root canal procedure and I thanked her for it. I still couldn’t comprehend what happened. It wasn’t sinking in. For weeks, because of my cracked tooth, I struggled emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

There was a time last month when I even complained about my situation:

“I wouldn’t have this cracked tooth and root canal if it wasn’t for the huge pasta.
I wouldn’t have the huge pasta if it wasn’t for the deep cavity.
I wouldn’t have the deep cavity if it wasn’t for the molar jacket and lack of guidance of a previous dentist when I wore braces.
I wouldn’t have braces if it wasn’t for my crooked teeth.
I wouldn’t have crooked teeth IF IT WASN’T FOR YOU, LORD! This is your fault! Why did you have to make me this way? Why didn’t you just give me a straight set of teeth?”

But, after numerous times of struggling and surrendering these thoughts to Him, I was humbled by the Lord and reminded to still trust in His plan for me. He showed me that He made me the way I am for a special purpose and I just needed to trust that He is able to use me to be a blessing to others even through my weaknesses and flaws. He also helped me be grateful that I can still enjoy my favorite food and that I am not allergic to anything.

Honestly, I still am struggling with my worries about my teeth’s situation since it went through a lot already. But, the miracle that God showed me today moved my heart so much that I ended up crying in front of my eldest sister as soon as I arrived home. I felt this comfort and peace from the Lord as if He was telling me: “Nic, I see your heart. I see how much you are struggling. But, I know and can see that you want to honor me still. Because of My grace, I will make your cracked tooth whole and heal it miraculously today. Continue walking with Me. I am watching over you.”

Out of the overflowing grace and comfort in my heart, I cried to the Lord: “Most of the time, it really is difficult for me to trust in You and faithfully walk with You especially when I don’t understand why You allow things to happen or why You made me this way. But today, I was encouraged to surrender my 1% to you. Even if I feel like I’m stuck, at the bottom of the pit, or weak in my walk, if there is at least 1% in my heart to seek and follow You, Lord, I am humbled to do so. You are able to use even that 1% of faith in me, as small as a mustard seed, to show Your power, glory, and sovereignty in my life!”

“…Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” -Matthew‬ ‭17:20‬

Thank you to everyone who prayed with me! I pray that you would be encouraged to give even your 1% to the Lord, no matter how weak, disappointed, angry, confused, and indifferent you may feel at this moment. Whatever it is, our God remains to be the same faithful and gracious God that He is. He sees you. He knows your deepest hurts and needs. He will continue to take care of you. He just wants you to take that one step of faith!

I read my previous blog post and realized that the Lord already answered most of the prayer requests I listed! Thank You, Lord, for Your grace!

“The only place I can go is into your arms
Where I throw to you my feeble prayers
In brokenness I can see that this was Your will for me
Help me to know You are near
Even when I don’t see, I still believe…”
-Jeremy Camp

Smile, Though Your Tooth Is Aching

I just came from an appointment with my dentist. The right side of my mouth is still pretty swollen as I am typing this. But, by God’s grace, I had a smooth and painless root canal session this afternoon. This, by the way, was my second root canal and I honestly do not want more in the future. Huhu.

When 75% of the treatment was completed, Doctor Grace was observing the X-ray of my tooth that she took in the middle of the procedure. While I was waiting on the patient’s chair, I thought about how the anesthesia felt like grace. Throughout the procedure, she asked me this question a couple of times: “Does it hurt now?” and I responded with “No.” each time. It was amazing! Was it supposed to hurt? I did not notice because of the anesthesia’s effect on my mouth. Despite my shortcomings in taking care of my teeth, I was still able to go through a painless treatment to kill the nerves of my tooth. Because of the anesthesia, I was spared from feeling the intense pain. It reminded me very much of GRACE. I felt so comforted and encouraged as I waited for the doctor to do the final steps in the treatment.

But then, the unexpected happened.

Doctor Grace asked me to stand beside her so I could also have a careful look at the X-ray. At first, it seemed normal, until she said: “We will need to monitor your teeth in the coming days or weeks. I am not yet sure why, but there’s something unusual about your tooth. It looks like the bottom side of your tooth is cracked.” While she was explaining these to me, my surroundings started to become clouded and I remember trying to keep myself focused on what she was saying. I said some words such as, “Ohhh, yeah!”, “That’s weird.”, “There IS a crack!”, “What does it mean?”, and “What could have caused it?”. She answered my questions as she led me back to the dental chair and then she finished the rest of the treatment.

Usually, when I encounter concerns or problems in my life, I quickly whisper a sincere prayer to the Lord saying “Lord, please help me.” Or “Please guide me. What should I do?”. But, at that moment, I couldn’t even muster a word to the Lord. I responded with a blank stare and with silence in my heart. Before leaving the clinic, I did my best to ask as much questions as I could about the options that I have, things I should expect and watch out for, and the possible worst scenarios that could happen. My dentist eventually told me to go back after a week or two, so I could have it checked again. She also said: “Let’s pray that it won’t be something serious and that it would not worsen.” I said “Okay, doc!” and went straight to the car.

“Let’s pray… let’s pray about it. Pray? Really, Lord? Do You really answer prayers? Why do problems in this life never end? In my life?! I just came from a root canal treatment and You know how huge this leap was for me. But, after making that leap, You still allow me to face another hurdle with my teeth? I bet other people don’t have problems like this. Lord, I am honestly so disappointed with this situation.”

I think I spent the next five minutes withdrawing from the Lord and drawing near to Him again with a heavy heart and with a few tears in my eyes. In Tagalog, I said to Him: “Lord, nagtatampo ako sa Inyo. Bakit ako? Bakit ngipin ko na naman?” However, despite the hurt and numbness in both my tooth and heart, I somehow kept repeating these lines in my mind:

“God answered your prayer for a successful root canal session! Praise God! Thank Him!”

“Grabe, Nic. Remember grace. Even your doctor’s name is Grace! God is encouraging you to remember that His grace is sufficient in your weakness.”

“Just like any other test or challenge in the past, this is an opportunity to strengthen your faith as you trust in the Lord, Nic.”

“You have two options now. You can either COMPLAIN or TRUST that God is in control.”

…and then, I started to sing the lyrics “He is high and exalted and worthy of praise. With our hearts, we will love and adore. He is high and exalted and worthy of praise. Holy is the Lord.”

Honestly, a part of me was discouraged to pray for blessing, prevention of worse situations, provision, and protection because I felt that these were beyond God’s control. But, clearly, this was a lie in my head. By the grace of God, another side of me continued to remind me of verses in the Bible which talk about who God is:

ISAIAH 55:8 – GOD IS SOVEREIGN

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.”

MATTHEW 17:20 – GOD IS FAITHFUL AND ABLE

“…If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’, and it will move. Nothing is impossible.”

PSALM 84:11 – GOD IS GOOD

“For the Lord is a sun and shield… No good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.”

A few minutes before I typed this blog post, God encouraged me to humble myself before Him and ask for Him to remove every hint of bitterness, disappointment, anger, and doubt towards Him in me. Even if it is currently very difficult for me to swallow problem after problem when it comes to my aching teeth, by God’s grace, I will keep on trusting in the Lord’s sovereignty, faithfulness, power, and goodness.

With this, I humbly ask that you would pray for me as well as I go through the next few days and weeks. Here are some of my specific prayer requests for my teeth:

  1. The “crack” on my tooth – We’re not yet sure if it is a crack. But, if it is, please pray that it would not cause any pain or swelling at its area or around it. That it would miraculously heal and be attached to the tooth.
  2. That I would not have to get that tooth extracted, so that it would not require me to have retainers or dentures and more expenses in the future.
  3. That the tooth that went through a root canal would completely heal in the next two weeks.
  4. That the weak molar beside that tooth would not be sensitive and would not need to go through a root canal too.
  5. That I would not have infections in my teeth, gums, bones, nerves, etc.
  6. That I would be intentional in taking care of what’s left in my set of teeth.
  7. That I would still faithfully walk in obedience to the Lord and have the desire to spend time with Him and His word. More than experiencing the pain in my teeth, I know that it would be more costly and painful for me to NOT walk with the Lord. May You be glorified in this situation; in my heart.

All of these things I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen!

Thank You, Lord, for answering these prayers, in advance! Because of who You are, I can smile even though my tooth is aching. :)