“Sometimes, you will not know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” –Dr. Seuss
In the recent years, I have learned to appreciate both the little and big things more. By God’s grace, I noticed how I do not hesitate to say a word of encouragement or give others a pat on the back whenever I appreciate them. One of the major reasons why I do these is because I know that I will not live forever here on earth. In the same way, the people around me will eventually pass away. So, while I still have the opportunity to do so, I do my best to encourage and share God’s love and grace to others.
The past year (2016) has been a crazy experience for me. It was the most liberating and humbling year I have had so far and I can only thank the Lord for watching over and working in and through me these past twelve months. I usually write down the highlights of my year in my journal. But today, I decided to share the highlights with you as well. I hope that through these memories (documented in photos), you would be encouraged to remember the goodness and grace of Jesus.
The twelve highlights of my 2016 that I am grateful for:
1. PHOTOGRAPHY CLASSES
I had my first DSLR camera last September 2015, but I honestly did not know how to use the settings wisely. By God’s grace, He allowed me to enroll in a 5-day workshop (whole day workshop every Saturday) which helped me understand principles and various applications in photography. Commuting to Intramuros and attending classes in a room full of strangers was not a walk in the park for me. But, through this experience, I grew in my knowledge and skills in taking photos. Also, it was very humbling to be corrected by our professors and fellow classmates. I look forward to developing my skills and exploring photography more this 2017.
2. PASTRY ARTS CLASSES
After stalling for many years, I finally invested in a short course on pastry arts. It consumed my Saturdays for three months last year, but it was worth the time, money, and effort. I saw what my strong and weak spots were in baking and I had the opportunities to develop and improve on them throughout the duration of the course.
3. PRAYER MOUNTAIN WITH DGROUP
Last March 2016, I spent two days on a prayer mountain with my discipler and accountability partner, Ate Kriszel and Christine. If I could choose only one highlight for 2016, it would be that afternoon under a huge mango tree where I poured out my heart to those ladies. It was my first time to share my complete testimony to them (which encouraged me to share it to my family as well, a few days later). The testimony of how sinful I was before, how God’s grace worked in my heart and changed my life, and how He continues to prune me so I could grow even more. If you’re reading this, Ate K and Tin, I just want you to know that I really appreciate you both.
4. BIBLE STUDIES WITH COLLEAGUES
We were not able to meet up weekly for the whole year of 2016. But, for the months that we had bible studies and small group accountability sessions with each other, we did experience God’s grace. Having a small group in the office not only encouraged me to be more intentional in my walk with God, but it also served as a constant reminder for me to pursue excellence for Him in the workplace.
5. WORKSHOP ON WRITING YOUR STORY
My friend and I had the privilege of attending a workshop by Joy Tan-Chi Mendoza (author of “When a Good God Allows Rape”) last August 2016. It was entitled “Writing Your Story”. This is one highlight for me because it helped me process the experiences I have had since I was young and see how God can use my testimony or story to encourage others as well. That night also sparked a desire in my heart to be more intentional in praying for others.
6. COURAGEOUS LIGHT POSTCARDS
I rarely join contests online. But, last year, I was encouraged to submit original artworks to Courageous Caitie for their new project: Courageous Light postcards. I was not able to help Caitie financially while she was still in the hospital, so when they shared their concept for the postcards that will be used to share God’s word and encouragement to others, I did not hesitate to join. By God’s grace, two of my photos were selected and are now part of the merchandise being sold to help raise funds for other children with illness who need financial support. This experience helped me realize that even in our weakness, God can use us and the skills that He has blessed us with for His glory.
7. GARDENING FIRSTS
It was my first time to plant and grow the ff. vegetables last 2016: Melon, Okra, Pechay, Lettuce, and Eggplant. Hooray for veggie milestones and organic urban gardening!
8. SINGAPORE TRIP
This was my first out-of-the-country trip without my family. If I could summarize my trip in Singapore with some of my college friends, it would be like riding a rollercoaster. Hahaha. We experienced going through really good, crazy, and fun times and difficult and emotional ones as well. But, looking back, we saw how the trip helped us get to know each other more and see our own blind spots too.
9. CLIMBING MT. MACULOT
During the first 30 minutes of the climb, I was starting to give up. Haha! But, by God’s grace, He gave me and my friends the strength to press on and finish the climb. This was the first mountain I climbed and although it had a rocky trail, the experience we had and the views we witnessed were breathtaking. It was such a good and thrilling moment to see God’s wonders 706 meters above sea level. I will definitely climb more in the near future.
10. QUALITY FAMILY TIMES
Our family made a commitment this year to be more intentional in the way we spend time with each other and with God’s word. By God’s grace, we have been doing our best to meet up every Saturday night to study the Bible together and update each other with our current struggles and victories. We are also trying out a new action step to have dates with each other (e.g. Parents with one child; one sibling with another sibling; all girls; all boys, etc.). Please do pray for us, if you remember? It is our family’s desire to continue growing in love with the Lord and with each other.
11. BOLD ACTS FOR AN INTROVERT
Some of my friends may not agree with this statement, but I really am an introvert. Hahaha. I do not need to be surrounded by a lot of people or activities for my heart to be filled or energized. I am very happy even in my alone times doing some of my favorite things such as photography, culinary-related tasks, small group or one-on-one conversations, etc. But, this year, I saw how God helped me get out of my comfort zone and initiate and participate in doing activities that an introvert does not usually do or enjoy doing. Haha. Some examples that I can think of: Spearheading a chorale group and rapping in front of the whole company during our Christmas party; recording my first original composition and publishing it on Youtube; being more friendly to others by initiating conversations in person; and a lot more.
Yes, these kinds of activities may not always fill my introverted heart. But through these, God encourages me to enjoy the moments and trust that He can use it for the good and for His glory.
12. REDISCOVERING COURTSHIP
For four years (2011-2015), I have not considered or entertained the idea of dating and courtship for a number of reasons. It was during those years that God worked in my heart and helped me see my security and value in Him and not in a relationship. It was also during that time that God impressed on my heart to start this blog, flourish at work, and grow in my walk with Him. So, really, I did not see the need or desire for courtship. However, last 2016, God started to work in my heart and He encouraged me to start considering it again. As I welcome 2017, I am encouraged to continue trusting and surrendering this to the Lord and to do my part as I grow in knowledge, wisdom, skills, character, and obedience to His Word.
Thank You, Lord, for the memories we have had in 2016. I cannot wait to grow even more in my walk with You this 2017.
“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” –Lamentations 3:22-23
Hello, 2017! :)