Thanks for Putting Your Phone Down, Dad!

At around 9:45 pm, I came home from a long, tiring, and interesting day. To be more specific, something happened between 7:30-9:30 pm tonight that was special to me. I’ll probably share it in a different post. But, those two hours had a huge impact on my heart and I couldn’t contain the joy and peace that I was feeling.

I entered the Master’s bedroom to greet my parents, but my mom was already asleep. My Dad, however, was still awake and was using his cellphone (I think he was playing a game). When I kissed dad, he asked me how I was and where I came from and I decided to take a deep breath as I said: “Dad, I just had a crazy and interesting night. I still can’t believe it happened.”

Sometimes, before, whenever we had the chance to talk in their room at night, he would continue to use his phone while I greeted him or while we exchanged stories. But tonight, he did something that I deeply appreciated. Dad put his phone down a few seconds after I started to share what happened to me tonight.

For the next fifteen minutes, I relayed to him the details of my night as my eyes watered. I got teary eyed not because of pain but because my heart was overwhelmed with joy and amazement at how God personally touched me in my fresh experience. As I shared, Dad eagerly listened and even affirmed what I was sharing. He continued to rejoice with me when I rejoiced and he praised God with me when I acknowledged His goodness and perfect timing. He even gave me a sincere advice to support what I just learned and shared to him.

After our talk, I walked out of the room and shouted “Thanks, Dad, for listening! Oh, and thanks for walking and feeding the dogs earlier too!”. Not only did he do the chore that I was assigned to do tonight, he also made sure to give his full attention to me, his daughter, while I shared my heart to him.

I am guilty when it comes to using my phone while I talk to other people. Sometimes, I even prefer to use my phone instead of starting conversations with friends or family members. But, tonight, I realized and saw how nice it was for my dad to be so interested in what I was sharing. He postponed what he was doing on his mobile phone, put it down on the bed, and engaged in conversation with me.

Tonight, I just want to appreciate my dad for this seemingly simple yet very impactful act of his. From a daughter’s point of view, I know that parents do have a great influence on their children. Their words, actions, thoughts, and even body language can either build them up or discourage them. This is also the same for children towards our parents.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” -Philippians‬ ‭2:3-4‬

Although I know that we are not perfect, I believe that by God’s grace, we can continue to grow in our relationships with each other. Even through the simplest ways, we can show sincere love and care for each other. By God’s grace, Dad continues to grow and improve as an intentional dad at home and I really praise the Lord for this.

Thanks again, Dad, for our quick magic moment tonight! You were the first one to know about my special experience! :)

Cafe Seolhwa: Bingsu Date with my Sister

My sisters and I have been roommates ever since I can remember. Whenever I’m with them, I can honestly say that I feel very much at home. I guess it’s because I’ve spent more than two decades making good and crazy memories with them, having pillow talks, playing imaginary drums on our bellies before going to bed, and sharing our clothes, shoes, accessories, and bags with each other. However, ever since we started working, we somehow slowly drifted apart. It was ironic because even though we saw each other every morning and evening, we didn’t have the same closeness and bond that we had before. But, by God’s grace, He still gives us opportunities to develop our relationships at home. One of the major highlights that I experienced recently was the 9-month bonding that my eldest sister (Camille) and I had since last August. Looking back, I realized that it was one of God’s opportunities for us to get to know each other’s hearts more.

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It started when our company transferred to another city last Summer. My sister graciously offered to bring me closer to work and to wait for me everyday since her workplace was also in the same area. I was hesitant at first because I knew that it would be a hassle for her. Picking me up from work everyday meant that she would wait for 2 hours in the afternoon and patiently go through the heavy traffic during rush hour. I was also hesitant because I was used to having my alone time (which my introverted self sincerely enjoyed) to and from work since I was employed almost four years ago. However, because commuting to and from our new office would cost more (considering the time and effort), I agreed to our carpool arrangement.

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This went on for months and even though we didn’t know how long we would be doing it, my sister continued to help me in this aspect. (Thank you, ate!) A few weeks ago, we had some changes in our transportation and schedule and we eventually decided to end our daily carpooling adventures. When it was finally sinking in that we weren’t going to work together and that she wouldn’t be waiting for me anymore, I suddenly had a separation anxiety. We had nine months of driving along C5, watching sunsets together, spotting stray cats and dogs on the streets, talking about the blessings and victories after a long day at work, ranting about stressful and discouraging situations, enjoying the sights of rainstorms and lightnings, taking turns in driving the car home, being silent when we weren’t in the mood to talk, sharing our hearts’ dreams and goals, treating ourselves to fastfood, and playing new songs in the car.

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It was definitely a wonderful set of experiences that my heart will treasure forever. Even though I was hesitant at first, I saw God’s grace at work in our hearts and in my relationship with my older sister. During the past months, we not only had our ultimate bonding experience but she was also able to make good use of her daily waiting time by developing her skills and craft in calligraphy and painting. Also, because of our carpooling adventures, I was able to experience the wonders of walking around the city where our office is and discovering interesting finds like free Krispy Kreme donuts in the morning, new photography sights, and making friends with strangers (e.g. Sweepers, policemen, etc. in Bonifacio Global City) on my way to work. It was also a good cardio workout for me as I enjoyed a 30-minute walk to the office while listening to my favorite songs. Somehow, God still allowed me to have my alone time which filled my heart.

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I know that sometimes we may not fully understand why God allows things to happen in our lives. But, through this experience, I am reminded and encouraged to trust in Him as I welcome changes. From the start, God knew that this would be good for my heart and I’m glad that He allowed my sister and I to share special moments together on the road.

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To celebrate our 9-month adventure, I treated my sister to one of my favorite dessert places in town. This is one of the few and quite expensive treats that I sincerely want my family members to try. I fell in love with Café Seolhwa’s bingsu when I first tasted its soft and sweet shaved and milky ice that melts in the mouth. The flavors that I’ve tried so far are the Mango Cheese bingsu and the Berry Cheese bingsu. I wouldn’t mind ordering them again and again. The only branch I’ve tried so far is the one located inside Bonifacio Global City. I love the artworks inside the store, the Korean music playing in the background, and the awesome presentation of bingsu desserts. One regular size of bingsu costs around Php 240, but it is already good for sharing (2-3 persons). For more details, you can click on the link at the end of this post.

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In the near future, I hope that I can bring the rest of my family there too. But, for this month, I had the privilege of enjoying both flavors with my eldest sister. Hooray! Sometimes, it still feels a bit weird not travelling home with my sister. But, I guess it’s time for me to move on (haha!) and welcome new changes in my life.

Maybe, it’s time for me to have new adventures with my other siblings as well. :)

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To my eldest roomie at home, thank you for graciously, unconditionally, and patiently driving for me and waiting for me for the past nine months. Like what Justin Bieber said in one of his songs: “You know I love you. You know I care. Just shout whenever and I’ll be there!” HAHAHA. See ya later, alligator!

CAFÉ SEOLHWA

https://www.facebook.com/seolhwabingsu/

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To My Polar Bear Dad

“Nicolas, I have a gift for you!” My dad randomly gave me a yellow microfiber cloth for my camera’ lens before we left for our family’s dinner last night. Yay! It was such a simple gift, but it reminded me of how God provides and how He knows what I need, even without me asking for it. You see, yesterday morning, for some reason, I remembered how dad would graciously lend me his microfiber cloth (the one he uses for his eyeglasses) whenever I forget to bring mine. This usually happens when we eat out as a family. Having that cloth is very important to me because I sometimes accidentally touch the lens of my camera. It was just amazing that without me saying anything to anyone, he surprised me and gave me a lens cloth last night! Awesome! Thank you, dad!

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Just this morning, God reminded me once again of his provision while I was looking for a parking space in our church’s building. I left the house late so I arrived at the lobby area a few minutes before the worship started. It was almost impossible for me to find a slot in the basement parking. But, by God’s grace, he allowed me to park at one of the last few available slots just in time for the worship service. After attending the service, I went to the supermarket nearby to do some errands. Again, because I knew that a lot of people would be eating lunch at the supermarket, I knew that I would most likely have to wait for a parking slot. I whispered a prayer to God and told Him that if it was His will for me to save more time and park immediately, I prayed for a slot to free up. A few seconds later, one of the cars near me left!

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Aaaahhh! I just love those kinds of moments. Sometimes, it’s the little things that speak volumes to our hearts. God has so many attributes that I am thankful for. But today, I want to honor Him by being my ultimate provider. Before I could even pray for or have the desire for something, He already knows it! He knows what I need and He provides for me. But, more than receiving the material things in life, He gave me the greatest gift we can have and that is eternal life with Him through his son, Jesus. Because of His love and His gift (that we do not deserve), we are able to live life abundantly.

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This Father’s day, I want to honor the fathers in my life. :)

To my dearest dad, thank you for encouraging me to know Jesus and to grow in my walk with Him. Thank you for working hard and for providing for the family. You have always been thoughtful and I appreciate you for that. Thank you for giving us the most random things like our stock of green mangoes, my worm fertilizer for the plants, chicken mami soup for dinner whenever mom’s not around, and for the polar bear hugs every time you go home. Thank you for encouraging us to be good stewards of the things that God has graciously blessed us with. From taking care of the vehicles to budgeting and saving wisely to not excessively consuming electricity at home, and many more.

I pray that this year, we (my siblings and I) will get to know your heart even more. I pray that you will continue to love and serve the Lord and love mom. Even after almost a decade, the attitude of gratitude that you’ve taught me still remains in my heart. (If you can still remember, it started many years ago, when you gave me money for the electric guitar that I wanted to buy! Haha). Thank you, Dad! Happy Father’s Day!

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And of course, to my heavenly Father, you know the deepest desires and struggles of my heart and yet You still love me the same. Words can never express how grateful I am to have a personal relationship with You. Thank You for constantly speaking to me, picking me up when I fall down, for making me the way I am, and for loving me unconditionally. You deserve more than my best praises and I look forward to having and documenting more memories with You.

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”  –1 John 3:1

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Five Highlights of our Family’s Trip to Baguio

I still can’t believe it is almost 2016. What a year it has been! While I was reminiscing on my experiences this year, I realized that I did spend most of my days working in the office. Somehow, it felt like the months just flew by without me noticing. By God’s grace, He has given me the privilege of work and I am very grateful for it. But, at the same time, being more aware of how I spend most of my days helps me to appreciate the time that I have with my loved ones as well. Just a few days ago, our family (mother’s side) celebrated our grandmother’s 80th birthday in Baguio and it was one of the best times we’ve had.

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Some of the highlights of our trip to Baguio:

1. Getting to Know our Relatives

Most of our relatives live near each other so they usually have more opportunities to bond together. Since we live a few cities away from them, we rarely get to spend time with the clan. But, by God’s grace, He made a way for almost all of us to be there in Baguio. Even though we missed some of our cousins, it was a blessing to see all of the brothers and sisters of my mom in the trip. We spent three days with the Palma family in Baguio where we exchanged stories, shared our skills and resources, and experienced funny moments during meal times, stopovers, and road trips.

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2. Light Show and Dinner Buffet at The Manor

It was a lovely night. While we were waiting for our dinner at the hotel, we were serenaded by a choir. Some of the guests placed their mats on the grass as they listened to harmonies and familiar tunes. After their performance, we were entertained by a group of fire dancers and gymnasts. They were amazing! Lastly, they ended the short program with a lightshow where Christmas lights all over the hotel’s garden lit up while Christmas songs played in the background. Kudos to the staff of The Manor at Camp John Hay.

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After the show, we had our delicious dinner buffet. Sharing a meal with our clan at the hotel that night was a superb experience. The food and service were great! My eldest sister shared to us that the cook politely insisted to serve her freshly cooked pasta even though she requested for a few pieces only. There were also times when my siblings and I were talking while we were having dinner and the server near our area would fold our crumpled table napkins every now and then. These simple gestures showed how much they valued their customers. Thank you, The Manor, for your excellence that evening.

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3. Honoring of Mother/Grandmother

After our lovely dinner at The Manor, we went back to our cottage and spent a few more hours with each other just before midnight. Since our grandmother (Inapo) was celebrating her 80th birthday, our mom encouraged the clan to say a few words of encouragement to her. My mom started by sharing a verse in the Bible where it says: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” (Ephesians 6:1-2).

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Then, one by one, our uncles, aunts, in-laws, and some of the grandchildren gave their heartfelt messages for our grandmother. It was such an encouraging moment because it was our first time to do it together. Because of the things they shared, we learned more about the hearts of our relatives and how much our family members sincerely love each other. Our hearts’ tanks were definitely full that night as we cried and laughed together. I really thank God for the experience. Thank you, Mom, for initiating this. :)

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4. Teamwork

During our stay in Baguio, we also saw how our relatives showed teamwork. From cooking breakfast at 4 am, to taking turns in driving the vehicles to making a bonfire for our s’mores night, to playing games (bowling and billiards), and offering to pay for expenses.

 

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(Photographed by Gabo)

 

5. Enjoying Photography and Nature

We have an amazing God who creates crazy, amazing things. One of the best parts of travelling is being able to see first-hand and to document the beauty of nature. There were moments during the trip when I would sneak out at night just to take photos of the stars or climb a hill again just to see and take photos of the sunset. And in those moments, I remember how much in awe I was because I couldn’t understand how God is able to make such beautiful things.

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Thank You, Lord, for the wonderful Baguio trip with the Palma family. Looking forward to more adventures with them this 2016! :)

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(Photographed by Gabo)