Through the Fire: 14 Years and Counting

Our family almost lost our lives when our house burned down fourteen years ago. I can still recall how the Lord graciously led all of us out of the house before the roof fell to the ground.

Sometimes, I still wonder what it would be like if we weren’t around anymore, after November 19, 2004. We wouldn’t have been able to: 1) develop the relationships that we have right now, 2) discover skills and desires that God has placed in our hearts, 3) invest in both material and eternal things, and 4) experience God’s faithfulness and goodness the way that we did in the past decade!

Although, I have to admit, there are times when I do long for the day when I finally get to meet God face-to-face and start spending eternity with Him in Heaven. However, only He knows when that would be and as long as He wakes me up each day, by God’s grace, I will choose to seek and serve Him — no matter how difficult the struggles in this life may be. God, being the sovereign God that He is, allows me and my family to continue living here on earth since the fire incident. Indeed, it is a humbling reality!

I’ll be sharing a part of Psalm 71 which reflects what is in my heart as I remember God’s faithfulness today. 

“As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long— though I know not how to relate them all.

I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord; I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone.

Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.

Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens, you who have done great things. Who is like you, God?

Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.”

Thank You, Lord, for waking me up today… and for the 14 years (and counting) of being able to know You and experience You in deep and new ways here on earth. 

 

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.

 

Dinner at 22 Prime Discovery Suites

“Roses are red, violets are blue. We’ll treat you to dinner tonight at Prime 22.”

Toblerone cheesecake from Coffee Bean + calligraphy (c/o my sister, Camille)
Toblerone cheesecake from Coffee Bean + calligraphy (c/o my sister, Camille)

Two weeks ago, our parents celebrated their 30th anniversary. Because it was a very special occasion for the family, my siblings and I prepared two surprises for them that day. The first one was an invitation for our parents to have dinner with us at 22 Prime (Discovery Suites), one of the best steak restaurants in Manila. While, the second surprise was an email account filled with greetings and messages from more than 100 people, including family and friends. Yay!

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By God’s grace, our parents enjoyed the surprise celebration! We spent the whole night talking about their marriage, what they have been learning from their experiences, and how God has been so gracious to them and to our family for the past 30 years. (You can read more about it here: http://encouragingtreats.com/secret-30-years-marriage/)

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We usually don’t eat at hotels because of our budget. But, every now and then, it’s fun to try something new with the family. When we arrived at Prime 22, the staff warmly welcomed us and guided us to our table. They even offered to pull and push our chairs as we sat down. Love it! The place had dim and soft lights all over the place which helped create a cozy and relaxing atmosphere. Throughout the whole night, the waiters also stood nearby and attended to our requests. Even without us asking, they re-filled our glasses with cold water – a simple and thoughtful act that I truly appreciate as a customer whenever I dine out.  Moreover, while waiting for our main dishes, we were given two, refillable baskets of complimentary bread with spreads. The spreads offered were: Herbed butter, Feta Cheese in Olive Oil, and Sun Dried Tomatoes.

For our main dishes, we had the ff.:

LOBSTER BISQUE (Php 395) – Fresh lobster, micro greens, and tomato herb croutons. Although this soup was a bit salty for me, it still had a rich seafood taste and was very smooth and creamy.

Lobster Bisque at 22 Prime
Lobster Bisque at 22 Prime

PRIME CEASAR SALAD (Php 360) – Fresh bacon, six minute egg, and shaved parmesean cheese. A simple and refreshing salad. It helped balance the strong flavors of the soup and steaks.

Prime Ceasar Salad at 22 Prime
Prime Ceasar Salad at 22 Prime

SURF N TURF (Php 1,450) – Grilled Angus ribeye steak, jumbo prawns, twice baked potato, and grilled asparagus, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes. The 200-gram Angus steak was perfectly tender and juicy. It had a tangy gravy on the side, but even without it, it was already full of flavor. I just hoped that the steak and prawns were bigger though. But overall, it was a delicious dish. You can never go wrong with ordering steak and seafood. Well, for me, at least. It’s one of my favorite combinations!

Surf n Turf at 22 Prime
Surf n Turf at 22 Prime

WAGYU HANGER STEAK (Php 950) – 200-gram grilled hanger steak, baked tomato, and herb mashed potatoes. I like how the steak was perfectly grilled without having any hint of bitterness. Even if it had charred marks, it was delicious, juicy, tender, and flavorful. How did they do it? Haha! The mashed potatoes also complemented the steak well. It had the right amount of salt, butter, cream, and herbs.

Wagyu Hanger Steak at 22 Prime
Wagyu Hanger Steak at 22 Prime

OYSTERS PLATEAU (Php 1,200) – A tower of oysters served with a cocktail sauce, mignonette, and horseradish cream. THIS DISH WAS THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT. We made sure to order oysters because we were celebrating the pearl anniversary of our parents. :) Aside from its lovely presentation, this tower had 3 kinds of oysters (broiled, baked, and Rockefeller) which was perfect for our family since we have different taste preferences. My personal favorite is the classic oysters Rockefeller (with lemon juice squeezed over them). My other siblings liked the cheesy baked and broiled oysters more.

Oysters Plateau at 22 Prime
Oysters Plateau at 22 Prime
Oysters Plateau at 22 Prime
Oysters Plateau at 22 Prime
Oysters Plateau at 22 Prime
Oysters Plateau at 22 Prime

CHOCOLATE GODDESS (Php 360) – Double chocolate mousse, melted dark chocolate, topped with candied pistachios. This dessert was amazing. Even after two weeks, I still remember how rich the chocolate flavor was. It also had a smooth texture which was very delectable. When I go back to Prime 22, I wouldn’t mind ordering this dessert again.

Chocolate Goddess at 22 Prime
Chocolate Goddess at 22 Prime

Before we left the place, the staff and waiters of Prime 22 were gracious enough to help us surprise our parents one last time that evening. Just before serving our dessert, they brought in a complimentary slice of chocolate cake with a dedication (made out of chocolate ganache) written on the plate. They also brought out the bouquet of flowers that we bought for mom earlier that day. Yay! Thank you, Prime 22, for the special treat!

22 Prime
22 Prime

As we were on our way out, our dad shared that his heart was so full and overwhelmed because of the love and grace they experienced that day through the surprise gifts and greetings. It was also a very encouraging experience for the whole family and we can only thank God for this privilege and for His grace.

This is the day which the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. –Psalm 118:24

 

Until our next special night out! :)

 

PRIME 22

22nd floor, Discovery Suites, 25 ADB Avenue, Ortigas Center Pasig City.

For reservations, call  7196822  or 7198888.

www.discoverysuites.com