Thursday Tune #29: You Are My Rescue by Royal Tailor

As I was crossing the street from our office around 3:30 pm today, I saw four fire trucks quickly driving by and heard their sirens ringing. My heart suddenly beat faster as I and the other people on the street watched them hurry to their destination. It reminded me of the time when our house in Kapitolyo, Pasig city burned down. It happened 10 years and a day ago.

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Our helper woke my parents up when she noticed that the house was burning. It was around 1:30 in the morning when it happened. Then, our parents rushed to our bedrooms and gathered us all in the master’s bedroom. At that time, dad tried to fill up large pails with water and he ran to the family den (where the huge fire was) and back to the master’s bedroom to get some more water. After a few seconds, I think he realized that the fire was getting worse so he instructed everyone to leave the house immediately.

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The smoke already filled the air by that time, so we couldn’t clearly see our way. My mom, siblings and I  lowered our bodies, held each other like we were one big caterpillar, and immediately walked towards the main gate. Dad stayed behind to get a few things and after a minute or two, he got in the car that was parked in the garage and he drove it out to the street.  I remember seeing the ceiling (that was covered with fire) collapse and fall to the ground a few seconds after dad got the blue car out. Whew! It took a while (maybe 20 to 30 minutes) before most of the fire trucks came, so the house was pretty much gone by the time they arrived. But, God still allowed this to happen because it was for the best.

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Despite the loss of most of our material things that day, one of the major highlights that our family experienced together was the peace that God placed in our hearts while we were watching the house burn and crumble into ashes. It was a different kind of peace. We didn’t cry nor worry. We were just amazed and hopeful at the same time. God was in control and He will always be in control no matter how terrible the situation is.

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When I saw the fire trucks drive by the street a while ago, I thought about how difficult it is for those who are experiencing a similar situation today. I still don’t know where the fire came from or what their situation is right now. But, seeing these things again reminds me of God’s love for us and how He graciously sent His son, Jesus, to save us from experiencing eternal death in the **fiery lake of burning sulfur. Jesus died and rose again to save us so we can spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

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**“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)

I learned about this many years ago, even before our house burned down. By His grace, I repented, acknowledged my sins before Him, and I asked Jesus to be my personal Lord and Savior. He has changed my life and heart ever since. It says in John 3:16:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

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Whenever our family would remember November 19, 2004, we would always thank God for his grace and faithfulness. We could have died 10 years ago, but God didn’t allow it to happen. And maybe one of the reasons why He added 10 more years to my life was because He wanted me to take this opportunity to share His love and grace to you, dear reader.

He loves you and I want you to know that.

He loves you more than you can imagine and wants you to have an intimate relationship and an abundant life with Him too.  Don’t wait for a ‘fire incident’ to happen before drawing near to God. Don’t wait for the next day. :)

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Before I go to bed tonight, I want to share a song that touched my heart recently. It’s called “You Are My Rescue” by Royal Tailor. :)

 

Encourage yourself one tune at a time. :)

A Month Without Our Parents

Dad and Mom are finally back! Woohoo! They spent the whole month of October attending conferences, touring, shopping, and visiting our relatives in the United States. It was the first time that we (children) experienced being separated thousands of miles away from our parents for a month, so it was very interesting for us. One of the things that I learned during that time was how valuable it was (and still is) to be intentional in spending time with the family — especially while we’re still single. ;)

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I’ll be sharing some of the moments we’ve had as a family throughout the month of October.

STAYING IN TOUCH

Usually, we would coordinate our schedules and tasks for the day with mom and she would help communicate with the rest of the family. But since mom wasn’t around, we needed to let everyone know (via SMS) what our schedule was and help each other out with the transportation, meals at home, etc. Because of this, my older sister volunteered to use her line to send group texts to me and our siblings. Instead of sending four text messages every time we have updates and concerns, we only needed to text her and she’d send it to everyone. Thanks, ate Michelle! Also, we were able to send updates to our parents and vise-versa thru Viber. Hooray for a user-friendly application and awesome technology that allows us to communicate instantly!

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Moreover, since we rarely get to spend time with our grandmother from mom’s side of the family, we reserved one Sunday afternoon just for her. It was supposed to be a surprise, but we ended up informing her in advance. Thank you, Nanay, for a lovely time with you and for your delicious food.

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SUPPORTING EACH OTHER

Last October 11, the youngest member of our family, Gabo, reached a new milestone in his life. He graduated from college! Way to go, bro! We (older siblings) celebrated with him by treating him out to lunch and dinner with some of our relatives that weekend. Also, even though our parents were still in the United States at that time, it didn’t stop them from celebrating with us too! They sent their video greetings thru Viber/email and we watched them at home after we gave our simple yet awesome graduation gift to our brother. *woofin*

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Graduation gift for Gabo. :)
Graduation gift for Gabo. :)

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Another milestone that our family celebrated last month was the talk that I had on Food Blogging. By God’s grace, He gave me the privilege of speaking to a classroom of students from the University of the Philippines during their Alternative Classroom Learning Experience. It was my first time to speak about blogging and I remember feeling inadequate and weak. But it was only because of God that I was able to do so. My parents and siblings were also very supportive. They prayed for me and sent messages to me on the day itself. It was really very encouraging. I also want to give a special shoutout to my older brother (kuya Michael), who took the day off and accompanied me to the event. He graciously carried most of my things, listened to me while I was getting really nervous in the morning, and assisted me during the talk. I thank God for an awesome support group at home!

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LEARNING TOGETHER

Just to give you a background, we don’t have household help. And because mom usually has a more flexible schedule compared to the rest of the family, she does a huge bulk of the chores at home (e.g. doing the laundry, sweeping, mopping, dishes). Sometimes, we get to help out, especially during the weekends. But, when Dad and Mom were in the states, my siblings and I needed to seriously fix our schedules, go home earlier, and help each other with cooking, cleaning, taking out the trash, walking the dogs, doing the laundry, gardening, cleaning the tables and floor, etc.

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During one weekend, my siblings and I helped each other do the laundry. After finishing two batches of colored clothes and one batch of black/dark clothes, we started to soak the white ones. We were supposed to soak them in the soapy water overnight. But we accidentally left them in the washing machine for four days. It was a disaster! We were so caught up with work and our activities that we forgot about it. Haha. When we opened the machine days later, we saw that the water was dirty and the clothes smelled so bad – like rotten food/waste. We certainly learned our lesson. Yikes! Next time, it would really help us if we set alarms on our phones to remind us of the laundry. Speaking of lessons learned, we also almost burned the place down while my parents were gone, you can read about it HERE.

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Another moment that we had at home was during one Sunday afternoon. My younger brother willingly helped me prepare Sinigang for dinner. He chopped the vegetables, cleaned the fish and shrimps, and cooked the dish. While I was assisting him with cleaning the fish and shrimps, he said something like: “Heeey, cool. You’re teaching me something.” Haha. I think I was showing him how to remove the shell of the shrimp easily. I don’t remember anymore, but I remember appreciating the time that we had learning together through cooking.

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When our parents flew to the states, I had questions in my mind. “What if something happens to them and they never return? What if bringing them to the airport was our last moment with them?” But as I went through the weeks without our parents at home, God used numerous moments and His Word to speak to me. He encouraged me to trust in Him as I make the most out of every situation. It helped me appreciate my family even more. Also, it helped me brush off negative vibes at home because I knew that loving God and loving my family would be pleasing to Him – even in the midst of conflicts and misunderstandings with my siblings.

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“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” [1 Corinthians 13:4-7]

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today”… [Hebrews 3:13]

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

Thursday Tune #25: Heart Like You

When I was in gradeschool, an elderly man would drop by our house in Kapitolyo almost every week with a few baskets or boxes. He was one of the faithful vendors who sold fresh fruits to us and to our neighbors. It was during those times that I learned how to tell if a ripe mango was sweet (just by smelling its top part). Also, at an early age, I was fascinated by how my mom bargained when she bought fruits from the man and how the man used his handy and unique weighing scale to measure them.

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After a few years, our family needed to transfer to a different house (and neighborhood) which was mainly the reason why we weren’t able to see the vendor anymore. Fast forward to end of July 2014 — my younger brother was buying bread from one of our favorite bakeries in Kapitolyo and I was waiting in the car when I noticed a very familiar face. It was raining at that time, so I couldn’t clearly recognize his face. But, when I saw him drag a box of fruits along the sidewalk, somehow I knew that it was the same man who sold mangoes to us when I was still a kid. Because it was raining, he sat down outside a salon and started to segregate the fruits in his box.

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A few minutes later, my brother went back to the car and I told him about it. He squinted his eyes, checked the old man’s things from a far, and he confirmed to me that it really was him! We couldn’t believe it! He was still selling fruits in Kapitolyo – our hometown! Haha.

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I opened the window of the car and called the old man. I briefly shared to him that I remembered who he was since we grew up seeing him sell his fruits in our village. Eventually, I bought a kilo of the mangosteen from him and we gave him some of the freshly baked bread we got from the nearby bakery.

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It was a warm experience for me that rainy day when I saw him again. I very much appreciated how he still continues to be responsible and hardworking in his job. But, what blessed me more was seeing how this elderly man showed integrity even in the smallest things. Before we got to talk to the man, I already noticed him segregating the mangosteen that he had while he was waiting for the rain to stop. Without anyone telling him to do so or without him knowing that someone was watching him, he removed those that were rock-hard/dry and made sure to sell only the good ones to his customers that day.

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This observation was actually one of the reasons why I wanted to share our bread with him that day. It was a blessing to see a Christ-like heart out on the street. Also, he was wearing a shirt with these words printed on the back: “Mahal tayo ni Hesus.” Or in English: “Jesus loves us.” — So cool!

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The elderly man reminded me of a song I’ve been listening to recently. It’s called “Heart Like You” by Love and the Outcome. I hope that this tune will be an encouragement to you too. :)

 

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” [Philippians 4:8]

Encourage yourself one tune at a time. :)