It’s Not About Competition

Ping Pong games always remind me of childhood memories with my dad and siblings. More than fifteen years ago, our dad bought a net, a huge piece of plywood, Ping Pong rackets, and Ping Pong balls for the house. Even though it wasn’t the real Ping Pong table, we were still able to learn the sport thanks to Dad’s patience and skills.

Playing Ping Pong is similar to riding a bike. You still remember how to do it even after years of not playing the sport. So, although it has been a while since I last played, I said yes to the challenge of joining the tournament in our office this year.

By God’s grace, He allowed my Ping Pong partner and I to win two games and advance to the semi-finals! Honestly, this was something that I did not expect because the other participants are really good. Plus, most of them usually spend their lunch breaks playing in the office way before HR announced the tournament. During our first two games, I didn’t pressure myself to win. I did, however, practice as much as I could and have fun in the process. But, now that we’ll be competing again, I can feel the pressure!

While my partner and I were practicing against other opponents earlier today, I didn’t do very well. Almost every missed turn or mediocre service that I did, my partner corrected me. Haha! At first, I thought, “Boy, is he competitive!” But, what struck me about his comments was this statement: “Palu-in mo nang malakas para hindi ko na ibabalik sa kanila.” To my foreigner friends, he simply emphasized the need for me to hit a hard and fast ball so that our opponents wouldn’t be able to return it to our side.

It took a while before it sank in me. After practicing and playing during the first two games, I realized that I was just playing it safe. I didn’t risk by hitting the ball as hard as I could. My only goal was to bring it to the other side. But, what my partner said was exactly what I needed to hear. As a team, we need to help each other out and make things easier for each other. Oftentimes, I would return a high ball and our opponent would easily smash it towards our side, making it hard for my partner to return the ball.

Just before I went home today, I had a quick chat with another participant who was staying at the pantry. I joked about how intense the competition was especially for me since I was feeling the pressure from my competitive partner. But, once again, I was humbled by the response of another colleague. She said that my partner’s competitive spirit and comments during our practices are helpful in developing skills. She pointed out that I improved in returning long and low throws compared to how I played a year ago.

She also said that since every hit was 50/50 for me, why not hit it hard, especially if I receive high throws? She gently rebuked me and said that I needed to let go of pressure or hesitation and just practice hitting hard as I aim. She also ended by saying: “Even though I hit the ball hard and it goes outside, I still continue practicing hitting hard the next time. We don’t always get them inside the court, but this is how we’ll grow.”

Wow. All I could say was “Wow!”. As I drove home, it hit me. It isn’t about competition, it’s about constant growth.
It doesnt matter who’s ahead or who’s number one. What matters is that I’m maximizing what I have now in order for me to keep on growing and learning.

In less than two days, we’ll be competiting again. But, this time, I’ll be having a new perspective in my mind and heart. No matter what happens, I will still be very grateful, not only because of the victories we’ve experienced, by God’s grace. But also, because of my colleagues who selflessly coach and help me to grow.

Make Room for Growth

This morning, I harvested my second batch of pechay leaves, which are also known as Bok choy or Chinese cabbage in other countries. The leaves I got from this batch were much bigger than the first ones I had last August. The ironic thing about it? I didn’t even know that I had one pechay seed growing in the pot until I saw a seedling in it three months ago. Today, by God’s grace, I snipped off a lovely bundle of big pechay leaves here at home.

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I happily showed my family members the stalks of pechay in my hand while they were having brunch earlier today. I then shared the background of the story and emphasized how interesting the experience was. Even though I exerted so much effort in the first batch by regularly watering, adding organic fertilizer, and taking care of the plants, they weren’t able to reach their maximum size. Why? Because there wasn’t any room for growth.

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One major mistake that I made while I was growing the first batch was planting too many seeds in a small area. Because the seedlings were overcrowded, their roots could not expand and fully develop under the soil. This resulted to smaller leaves and thinner stalks.

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For the second batch of pechay leaves, however, since it was only one seedling growing in the pot, it had adequate space for its roots to expand.  Even though I wasn’t able to add fertilizer to it as often as I did to the first batch, it still grew and reached its maximum potential. There weren’t other pechay plants absorbing the nutrients in the soil.

I learned two things today as I took photos of the larger pechay leaves at home.

 

FIRST: Hindrances to growth may also be the good things in life.

It is very easy to put the blame on the weeds and difficult moments in life whenever we experience delays in our growth. However, I am learning that even the good and seemingly harmless things may also hinder us from experiencing the best and becoming the best version that we can be. Of course, this still depends on how we respond. In gardening, I realized that fruit-bearing or leafy greens shouldn’t be overcrowded in a pot if we want them to grow and reach their full potential.

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In the same way, personally, I am reminded to be more wise and intentional in the way I manage my time, resources, and activities. For example, I’ve noticed how casually surfing the internet or social media applications take up a lot of hours in a day. Even though these aren’t bad tools, if I am not careful with how I use them, I may end up “overcrowding my soil” and not leaving enough space for more important things that can help me grow.

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Another example is being idle or enjoying too much rest or sleep. Yes, I do believe that rest is important. But, I also know that if I just sleep all day and not plan ahead on the activities that I can productively do in a day, then it would be a waste of time and resources.

What are the activities (both good and bad) that hinder me from reaching my full potential? In what areas do I need to improve on? (e.g. Physical fitness, communication skills, homemaking skills, preparation for exams or work, etc.)

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SECOND: God makes things grow.

This is my favorite part in this blog entry – the part where we talk about God’s grace. There’s something about the grace of God that strikes our hearts, humbles us, and inspires us to press on. In my case of growing pechay leaves, clearly, it was God who caused the growth of the second batch. Originally, I did not want to grow pechay during the months of September to December because I knew that we would be having rainy days in this tropical country. But, God allowed one pechay seed to be left behind and He helped it grow even without me attending to it daily. AMAZING.

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This experience encouraged me to depend on the Lord and not on my own strength and wisdom. He makes things grow. He can allow us to experience growth and reach our full potential in the different areas of our lives. We just have to trust in Him, do our part, and see Him work wonders in and through us. When I saw the lone pechay sprout in the pot, I had the choice to pluck it out. But somehow, even if it was just one seedling growing in the pot, I saw its potential and started to take care of it. I didn’t know that after three months, it would become a beautiful harvest, by God’s grace.

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Maybe there are areas in our lives right now that seem hopeless or seem to have no progress at all, just like the lone seedling in the pot. Maybe it’s a financial struggle or a heartbreak that we can’t seem to let go. Maybe it’s seeing little development from all of the hard work we’ve been doing or a blurry vision of our dreams and goals in life. Whatever it is, I hope that you will also be encouraged to surrender it to God, do your part, and trust that in His perfect timing, He will allow it and you to improve and grow.

“It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.” – 1 Corinthians 3:7

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Unshakable: Standing Firm in Changing Times

Last May 17, 2014, my family and I attended a one-day conference with Dr. Ravi Zacharias, Krish Dhanam and Dr. Nabeel Qureshi at the CCF Center. It was entitled “Unshakable: Standing Firm in Changing Times”. The humble speakers shared about the principles they have been learning from God’s word, their experiences in sharing God to others, and their testimonies and encounters with Him.

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with Dr. Ravi Zacharias

I have listed down some of the encouraging things they have shared at the conference. May these encourage you too. Have a blessed day! :)

KRISH DHANAM: 

Pray before making decisions.

Learn to shift through life and steer the things that do not matter.

You have to learn to start. Don’t just stand there. Do something.

A half-baked job is a no-no. Swerve. Do your best.

Outlove the people around you. Show them Jesus – who is most powerful in life.

Take one step at a time: Person to prepare, Passion to pursue, and Price to pay.

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DR. NABEEL QURESHI:

God intentionally created you. You are not a purposeless piece of carbon.

Ground yourself and know your Creator. Start fueling your life with what God has designed for you.

God has crafted you to be a world-changer. All things can be done for others. All things can be done through Jesus.

You’re here to produce, not just to consume.

Keep your eyes on the cross.

Taking God’s name in vain: You carry the name of Christ. Live like Christ and don’t take His name in vain.

Bring your shame and your past to the light. And in the light, walk with Christ and He will use you to be a blessing to others.

You have eternity secured in Christ. How are you using your time here on earth if you’re too focused on youself?

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4) – Delighting in Him means loving Him with everything that you have, knowing Him, and studying His Word more. Then, God will craft the desires in our hearts.

with Dr. Nabeel Qureshi
with Dr. Nabeel Qureshi

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DR. RAVI ZACHARIAS:

A calling is that position in your life that brings and converges your disciplines, convictions, and desires in life.

Whatever you do, wherever you are, do it in the name of God and treat it with honor.

God is always within reach from wherever you are.

We see the awesome power of God when we understand and see His exactitude in all (our bodies, the earth, the universe).

You are building memories. Make good ones.

Take seriously what God can do through you.

How is your prayerlife?

The way back to any broken relationship is the communion with God.

It is vitally important to choose the right partner. Seek God’s wisdom and do the right thing with the partner you choose.

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Dad and Mom

 

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with tita Jean Geronimo and Ptr. JP & Tita Rochelle Masakayan.

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

 

Harvesting Broccoli

I miss the cold weather in Manila. I miss it terribly. Although we were already warned by many reports, it was still heartbreaking for me to experience the heat so soon, because I wanted the cold weather to last for a few more months. I was just getting used to wearing hoodies, not experiencing sweat that much and constantly feeling the cool breeze whenever I would take a quick walk outside. However, when I stay inside or go outside of our house nowadays, I’m not able to feel and appreciate the cold, fresh air anymore.

My first Broccoli. :)
My first Broccoli. :)

Just last week, I got so affected by the sudden change in the weather because I noticed how both my Broccoli and Cherry Tomato plants were having a difficult time surviving each day. Before, watering the plants twice a day (morning and evening) was already sufficient. But because of the extreme heat recently, the plants and soil dried up immediately after they were watered.

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Also, I noticed how weird my Broccoli eventually looked like. In my former posts, I showed photos of how the Broccoli plant was able to produce its first Broccoli, but when I had a closer look at it a few days ago, I saw little flower buds growing on it. The Broccoli certainly didn’t look like the ones being sold at the supermarket. It had puffy buds.

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After doing more research online, I found out that the heat and lack of water caused the Broccoli to grow prematurely, thus, allowing the flower buds to grow. And when we allow the yellow Broccoli flowers to grow on its head more, it would eventually develop a bitter taste. So, I inspected the head and saw that some of the flower buds already started to open up a bit. At first, I didn’t want to remove it from its stem since it was still a small head. But then, I also knew that I needed to harvest it soon because if I didn’t, it would end up as a ball of yellow, inedible Broccoli flowers. I prayed about it and decided to harvest the head the next day.

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Steamed Broccoli with Salt & Pepper. They were quite sweet! :)

When I was tempted to complain and grumble last week, God encouraged me to thank Him instead because He gave me the privilege of growing even just a small head of Broccoli. It reminded me of the verse in the Bible where it says:

“Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food…
yet I will rejoice in the Lord…”

[Habakkuk 3:17-18]

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Two days ago, I went online and browsed through one of my favorite gardening blogs, White On Rice Couple (http://whiteonricecouple.com/). To my surprise, the couple behind the blog shared about how they lost their 10-year old Blood Orange tree due to overwatering. Somehow, I sympathized with them because I felt like I lost my 9-month old Broccoli plant when it grew a head prematurely because of the heat and lack of water. But in their blog, they shared about how they decided to plant a new tree to replace the old one. And that simple act reminded me of hope. Hope not in ourselves or in the situations around us, but Hope that is found in God who causes things to grow.

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When I first planted the Broccoli seed, I remember placing a sign in the pot to encourage me. It said “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” [1 Corinthians 3:7]

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Thank You, Lord, for the past nine months of growing a Broccoli seed and learning more about You from it. Thank you for allowing it to grow. I look forward to growing more plants and trees with You in the near future. ‘Til our next harvest!

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)