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. 

 

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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