Blind Spots and Brake Lights

*Dad drove beside my car earlier today*

Dad: Anak, sira yung isang brake light mo. Parang yung akin din.

Me: oohh okay po!

*We went our separate ways*

I was supposed to have my gas tank filled after, but I found myself driving towards the opposite direction. Eventually, I stopped at the car shop where my dad usually goes to for repairs. Guess what? He was there too!😅 Just as I was about to park, he was about to get in his car and drive off. The timing was a funny moment for me because I didn’t know that Dad was on his way there too! Also, because I didn’t want to prioritize the brake light at first, but I knew that it was God prompting me to do so instead.

It was supposed to be a quick procedure of changing a bulb, but the mechanic found out that the bulb was attached to a BURNT socket! So he had to replace it as well. I realized that if I did not prioritize fixing this, the busted brake light can cause accidents along the road. Most likely too, I would also be pulled over by an officer if they notice it soon.

We can’t easily know that our brake lights are busted, unless someone else tells us. Why? Because we can’t see it when we drive. It’s a blind spot! What a blessing it is to be surrounded by others who can gently and willingly show us blind spots, not only in our material things, but even in our character and walk.

Some questions I asked myself after this incident:

Do I acknowledge it and work on improving, when others show me my blind spots? Or do I become defensive and proud?

Am I willing to help others see their blind spots too, even if it means feeling uncomfortable at first?

It really is and will be by the power of the Holy Spirit. I am learning to have my mind and heart checked and renewed by Him moment by moment, because I won’t always know my faults, weaknesses, and points for improvement. I remember the importance of abiding in Him and His Word, as I say these things.

Psalm 19:11-14 says:

“By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

Compared to the previous car mishaps, this incident was easier to take in. Haha! Thank You, Lord, for Your grace and constant reminders.

God’s Faithfulness in Our Brokenness

In my previous blog post, I mentioned how I have been experiencing struggles with my health and car this month. It has not been easy especially because of the physical pain and the increase in my expenses. But, God has been faithful in reminding me of who He is. By His grace, He even allowed me to write a new song about it a few days ago. My weary heart eventually found strength in Him as I accepted His will and purpose for me to go through those hurdles. However, this morning, I found myself blurting out “Aww maaan! Not again, Lord!” as I stared at one of my car’s wheels which had a flat tire.

Last Friday night, before leaving the office, I noticed that one of my tires needed more air. At first, I didn’t want to pass by a gas station because it was out of the way and I really wanted to go home immediately. But I thank the Lord for giving me wisdom to still have air pumped in the tires, because I found out later on that one of them only had 4 PSI! If I went home straight from the office, I would have gotten into an accident considering the traffic on a Friday night. I decided to observe it over the weekend and have it checked at S&R (where I have free services) today since it was near my office. It seemed okay even until last night, but when I woke up this morning, the tire had already given up.

My parents were on a plane from another country, my brother was doing errands in the morning, and my sister needed to go to work already (but she did help me try pumping air and looking for help in the village). Unfortunately, the electric pump didn’t help and my car was parked at a slope, so it probably wasn’t a good idea to keep working on it at that angle. I felt so exhausted at that time, so I decided to breathe and eat back at our place. Also, it was because I needed to drink my antibiotics in the morning (another hurdle I’m going through).

As soon as I was able to settle down, I told God how hurt I felt again that He continues to allow the hurdles to happen. I battled hearing lies from the enemy and truths from the Holy Spirit. I dramatically said to Him, “Is this a consequence of my sins, Lord? Is my heart still not surrendered to you? Is it because I wasn’t able to dig deep in your word last night and only poured my heart out on my journal?” I was so overwhelmed that I began to cry. While I was crying, I began to sing the song that He recently impressed on my heart:

“You’re the same today and yesterday, and You will be forevermore (Hebrews 13:8). You’re my Lord and Savior. You are Hope and Healer. You’re the sovereign Lord who holds all things. (Colossians 1:16-17)”.

I then said to myself, “Nic, God is good and He always will be good, even when He continues to allow you to go through these struggles.” I wanted to update some of my accountability partners, but I hesitated to share how my heart was struggling and decided that I would just update them later. But God, in His perfect timing, allowed one of them to send me a chat at that same minute. She said “Nicole! Prayed for you! How have you been?” It was as if God was speaking to me and making me realize that He was with me while I was struggling; that He sees my hurt and knows exactly how to comfort me.

It was such a reassuring moment for me, as the Lord reminded me of what I learned at church yesterday. How I am usually just after His solution and not His presence.

His faithfulness is still written all over my brokenness. I just need to look at the situation through His eyes.

By God’s grace, two men in the village helped change my tire and I was able to safely drive to S&R to have the tire checked and fixed. We eventually saw that a large nail was the culprit as it punctured the middle part of the tire. I praise God for this because if it punctured the side of the tire, I would need to buy a new one, which costs a whole lot more!

It has been a running joke for me and some of my friends about how colorful my life has been in the past weeks because of the health and car issues I have been having. Even though today was another tough moment for my heart, I still praise God for His grace and faithfulness that sustains and strengthens me. If you remember me, please pray that I would not lose sight of Jesus, whatever He allows me to go through in the coming days, weeks, and years.

Here’s my latest original song called “You’re Amazing”. May it encourage you today!

What If God Doesn’t Take The Pain Away?

Will you still praise Him?

I asked myself this question when I got stranded at a coffee shop yesterday. I was supposed to go home, but since the engine of my car did not start, I had no choice but to stay and wait for help. “No way, Lord. Not again! Another hurdle this month?” I felt annoyed and ashamed at the same time. But, God has always been patient in revealing impurities like this in me. As He is allowing me to go through these moments of brokenness, I see how He is also graciously sustaining me.

In the past month, I have struggled with two unexpected hurdles. I will be sharing more about them and what the Lord has been teaching me through them.

 

HURDLE #1: HEALTH

There is an infection (not contagious) in my body and it has been here for more than three weeks now. Despite me taking antibiotics, praying, and going through treatments, it still won’t go away! Aside from causing me pain, it also affected my usual activities. I needed to take a few leaves at work, postpone my exercise routine at the gym (Hello, monthly gym fee!) and my participation at a table tennis tournament. Managing my time, energy, and money as I recover from it has also been challenging for me. Each day, I hoped and prayed for the Lord to finally heal me. But for some reason, He still is letting me experience it, even as I am typing these words.

Through this, the Lord continues to remind me to trust in His character.

He is GOOD and He will always be good in every situation we’re in. By His grace, I started seeing His goodness through His provision. I realized that I didn’t need to spend for consultation fees or treatments outside because my parents (who are also doctors) can check up on me anytime at home. Also, I could have my medicines reimbursed at work, as part of the benefits for the employees. But, more than the physical aspect of this situation, each time my heart gets discouraged, the Lord continues to comfort me with His presence. He is with me. Through this weakness, by God’s grace, I find myself drawing closer to Him and Him drawing closer to me.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.” –Isaiah 41:10

 

HURDLE #2: CAR TROUBLE

In my 11 years of driving, I have not experienced bumping another vehicle until last week. My stubborn self has always been distracted whenever I drive around, and this time, the Lord did not want me to escape the consequences of my actions. Unfortunately, I have learned the skill of putting on make-up, navigating through my phone, and organizing my bag WHILE driving. I can try to blame the luxury of time I have as I am usually stuck in traffic, but I can really only blame myself.

On my way to work last Monday, I was getting something from my bag on the passenger’s seat when I suddenly felt a loud bang in front of me. I bumped the back of a white van and I immediately felt a cold shiver in my body. The driver of the van went down and asked for my license as I sincerely apologized to him. He told me to meet him inside BGC so that we would not cause traffic along C5. As soon as we got to an emergency bay, he approached me and asked for a specific amount to pay for the damages I caused as he was already running late for work. I only had HALF of the amount with me at that time, so I asked if he could accept it instead. By God’s grace, the driver agreed to let me go, gave my license back, and received my cash payment. You could just imagine how embarrassed and humbled I was before God as I continued driving to our office.

Later that day, my manager and supervisor called me for a lunch meeting and the first thing they mentioned to me was: “Congratulations! We are promoting you! Yaaay!” The crazy thing about it was the amount of salary increase was the exact amount the driver was asking me to pay him earlier. Also, half of the salary increase was already credited to my account three days before the incident! God, in His perfect timing and sovereignty, graciously provided for me even before I got into an accident!

In this situation, I felt the Lord break me as He convicted me of the importance of obeying Him in the smallest things, even when no one is looking. The grace He showed me that day broke my heart even more and moved me to not only remove the distractions while I am driving, but also, to let go of the distractions that hinder me from honoring Him and seeking Him in my heart.

God used these two hurdles to speak to me in the recent weeks and I thought I had learned my lesson. But when I had another hurdle yesterday, the pride in my heart overflowed as I blurted out my frustration. “Lord, why do I feel like, even as I obey You, You still continue to break me? Is this how it’s supposed to be?” I went out of my car, walked back to the coffee shop, grumbled in my heart, and started worrying about the additional expenses for the car again. That was when I felt the Lord speak to me: “Nic, what if I don’t take the pain away? What if I keep letting you experience more hurdles? Will you still find it in your heart to praise Me?”

He then reminded me of Joseph’s testimony in the Bible and how he continued to seek and honor God in the highlights and hurdles of his life. He also reminded me of Jesus’ example and how He humbly surrendered His life to God, even though He is also Lord and King. My desire and ability to seek and obey the Lord comes from Him. It isn’t about me and it never will be. I asked for forgiveness from the Lord as I acknowledged the pride in my heart. The same God who was with Joseph then is still the same God today. What a comfort it is to know that He is good, Holy, faithful, sovereign, loving, and gracious. That He loves His children enough to discipline us, even if it means letting us experience brokenness again and again.

By God’s grace, my dad came to the rescue and helped me jumpstart the car. As soon as we got home, he also assisted me in having my car’s battery replaced that same day.

I share these things not to boast about anything except for His power and grace in my weaknesses. In whatever struggle we may go through, no matter how big or small, I pray that these verses would be real in our hearts and in our lives, for the glory of God.

“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” –Psalm 34:1

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Sharing with you a song I wrote recently, inspired by being broken before the Lord. I hope it encourages your heart to keep your eyes on Him!

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. :)