12 Highlights of My 2018

I almost forgot that I had an annual tradition of listing down twelve highlights of my year, which started last 2016. Hahaha. As long as I am alive, I plan to continue this simple way of remembering God’s faithfulness and grace every year. If I could summarize my 2018 in a few Bible verses, it would be Jeremiah 17:7-8, which says:

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

I chose these verses not because I was similar to the tree in the passage (believe me, I struggled with worries and insecurities big time last year!), but because of its humbling reminder that God IS all I need. He is THE ONE whom I should trust in both the highlights and hurdles of my life.

Here are the 12 Highlights of my 2018:

 

1. MEETING BOYCE AVENUE… AGAIN!

Boyce Avenue is my favorite acoustic band. By God’s grace, He has been allowing me to experience faith-stretching moments during their concerts in Manila since 2013. Last June 2018, I attended another concert and met the band for the fourth time! Yay! More details HERE.

2. NOVA

2017 was a challenging time for me because I saw my savings decrease more and more due to major car repairs. After much prayer and waiting, God provided a better, secondhand vehicle for me last 2018. Thanks to my dad and older brother, it was sold at a very reasonable price and with gracious terms of payment. I also had the privilege of dedicating my Innova (“Nova”) and myself (as the driver) to the Lord last year. It served as a reminder for me to use this blessing for His glory.

 

3. PROMOTION & LDP GRADUATION

By God’s grace, I graduated from our company’s Leadership Development Program and Toastmaster’s club last year. Also, He gave me the privilege of being promoted before the year ended — something that I did not expect!

 

4. MY 10,000TH DAY ON EARTH

A close friend of mine and I had a conversation last August 2017 and we ended up talking about reaching milestones, including the number of days we’ve been alive. When we computed mine, we realized that my 10,000th day on earth would be on the 3rd day of May 2018. I celebrated it with a cup of my favorite Frappuccino and a weekend getaway with the Lord!

 

5. ISLAND HOPPING & ROADTRIPS

Two travels last year that delighted my heart: 1) ISLAND HOPPING: Bacolod-Iloilo-Gigantes-Guimaras and 2) ROADTRIP: Pampanga-Dagupan-Bolinao-Bulacan. I went with my awesome former and current colleagues, respectively. It sparked my love for culture, nature, food, photography, and our Creator!

 

6. NEW DISCIPLESHIP GROUP & MENTORS

I ended my 2017 with a broken heart because my small group (discipleship group) of 15 years at church dissolved. Most of my dgroupmates already got married and my discipler moved to Davao for work. So, we only get to keep in touch online. However, in God’s perfect timing, He introduced me to a warm and fun new small group who loves Jesus! I praise God for my mentors, Tim & Kina, and for the blessing of being accountable to the rest of the group, as we encourage each other to grow in love and obedience to God and His word.

 

7. GARDENING MILESTONES

By God’s grace, He allowed me to grow the best bunch of cherry tomatoes I’ve grown since I started gardening a decade ago. He also helped me experience the struggles and joys of growing chili (siling labuyo), which I brought home from my Bacolod trip. This plant produced at least 800 pcs. of sili (and counting), which I shared to family and friends. Growing this plant was very timely too because of the unexpected price increase of sili last year (Php 1000/kilo). I also grew more sili seedlings and gave them to some friends. Last but not the least, I enjoyed growing stalks of pechay in our veranda.

 

8. MUSIC MILESTONES

When the Lord inspired my heart, He gave me the privilege of composing two full songs and a few more songs with pending stanzas. He also allowed me to busk (thanks to Jello!) and play/sing one of my original songs in public for the very first time in BGC. Lastly, God gave me the honor of singing at a bridal march of a colleague and a special number in a wedding of my close accountability partner. Both ladies are named Tin. Haha!

 

9. BIBLE STUDY GROUP IN THE OFFICE

By God’s grace, I took a leap of faith and started a Bible study small group in the office where I shared Jesus and His word to my colleagues. We met every Thursday night since April 2018 and it has been such a joy for me to get to know each of them more and to learn with them as we prayed and studied God’s word. More details HERE..

 

10. DIGGING DEEP AT THE PRAYER MOUNTAIN

My not-so-secret getaway is definitely a highlight for my 2018. If it wasn’t for this venue where I could be alone with God and nature, I probably would not have had the opportunities to quiet myself, find rest in Him, pray for my concerns, listen to Him without being distracted, and see the areas in my life that I needed to surrender completely. I went to the prayer mountain at least 10 times last year and slept for a night or two each time. More details HERE..

 

11. FAMILY MILESTONES

It was a colorful year for our family and I can only thank the Lord for His faithfulness and grace in each milestone that we had. 1) My older brother’s marriage, 2) My eldest sister’s engagement, 3) Our whole family’s US Visas getting approved, 4) My first niece / our parent’s first grandchild, 5) Our first time to wear costumes as a family on my 28th, and 6) My older sister’s 30th!

 

12. A YEAR WITHOUT SOCIAL MEDIA

It was only by the grace of God that I, a former addict of social media, survived the year without it! I learned so much through this humbling experience and I would highly recommend it to anyone who’s struggling as well. More details HERE..

 

By God’s grace, I have survived another year and I look forward to seeing Him move beautifully and mightily again this 2019. :)

12 Highlights of My 2017

Day 365 of 2017. I still can’t believe it. I am excited, nervous, determined, encouraged, pressured (haha!), and hopeful as I welcome the new year! But, before anything else, I would like to take this time to share the highlights (and hurdles) of my 2017 with you.

 

1. FINISHED TWO 10K RUNS

Last February and July, by God’s grace, I was able to finish two 10K runs near SM Mall of Asia. It was my first time to participate in a run. I shared more about both experiences HERE and HERE.

 

2. GREW PECHAY AND CORN

Compared to last year’s harvest, I was only able to grow two vegetables this year. I was preoccupied with numerous things which hindered me from being intentional in gardening. But, at the latter part of the year, God still allowed me to initiate and experience once again the joys of growing vegetables at home. Oh, the beauty of seeing things grow!

 

3. COMPOSED THREE SONGS

All three songs were spontaneous and were from my heart. By God’s grace, He has been encouraging me to express myself more through music this year and it has been a wonderful instrument to share about who God is and what He has been doing. The last time I composed a song was when I was still in college (around 9 years ago). So, these three songs were a delightful and encouraging highlight for me this year!

 

“Burn Away the Pride”

(I shared it on Facebook, but I haven’t uploaded a video on Youtube yet.)

 

“A Nice Surprise”

 

“Heto na Naman Ako”

 

4. TRAVELLED MORE (2 countries and 7 provinces)

Bulacan, Pampanga, Cebu, Batangas, Bohol, Tagaytay, Baguio, Bangkok, and Hong Kong. All of these were vacation trips. Woohoo! By God’s grace, He gave me the privilege of meeting new people, spending within or less than my budget, getting lost in a different country, and exploring new sights and food. Traveling this year taught me a lot about being selfless, lifting things up in prayer, and knowing God more through His creations. Hopefully, I can travel more this 2018.

 

5. BLESSED WITH DEEPER CHRIST-CENTERED FRIENDSHIPS

I specifically praise God for two pals who became my closest accountability partners and dearest friends this 2017. (H and Z. You know who you are. Hahaha!) They’ve seen me rise and fall countless times this year. They’ve also been cheering me on to persevere for Jesus and to grow in my walk with Him. I really appreciate you, guys! Thank you for being a huge part of my 2017.

 

6. FAMILY BREAKTHROUGHS

From breaking walls within our family at a weekend retreat to sharing God’s faithfulness in our family’s testimony at church. From siblings serving as a panel at a youth leaders’ retreat to meeting almost every Saturday for a devotion or bonding time at home. Only by the grace of God! I am grateful for the many breakthroughs we’ve been experiencing at home and I am excited to see more of God’s work in the coming year. Please pray for us!

 

7. SURVIVED TEETH AND CAR PROBLEMS

This year, I’ve experienced so many problems with my teeth and car in a span of two months. Aside from dealing with the pain and hassles, I had to go through the struggle of trusting God with his provisions for the expenses. It was a very challenging and humbling time for me. But, God was, is, and will continue to be faithful.

 

8. WITNESSED MY DGROUPMATES GETTING MARRIED

It happened so fast! It seemed like it was just last year when our highschool selves would spend Saturday afternoons together at our church’s youth services. Now, two of the ladies in our discipleship group got married this year, by God’s grace. Oh, and one was recently engaged too! Haha. I was deeply blessed to witness the humble and obedient hearts of my friends as they surrendered their marriages to the Lord. They also shared the gospel and love of Christ at their weddings, which was the best part for me.

(Photo taken by Zeus Martinez)

 

9. ENJOYED DEVELOPING SKILLS IN PHOTOGRAPHY

Taking photographs is still part of my top favorite things to do. This 2017, by God’s grace, He has helped me improve in this aspect and has even given me the privilege of winning a simple food photography contest online. But, more than the rewards, it’s being able to document fleeting moments and memorable things and people in my life that I appreciate most. Thank You, Lord, for technology!

 

10. INVESTED IN LIFE INSURANCE & STOCKS

After years of delaying and praying, I finally stepped up and invested in these two financial milestones in my life. Whew. Here’s to being more intentional in wisely managing the finances and savings that God graciously gives me because it is His.

 

 

11. BOUGHT MY 30TH JOURNAL

30th since 2007. This is a reminder for me to continuously walk with the Lord as I spend time in prayer and in my personal Bible studies. Having a journal has been very helpful for me, especially since I am able to express myself more through writing than speaking in public.

 

12. LEARNED THAT CHRIST IS ENOUGH

I ended my post last year about my 2016’s highlights with “Entertaining the idea of courtship in my life”. At the start of 2017, God allowed me to experience it. But, as the months passed by, He led me to a different direction. At first, it was heartbreaking. However, God has been faithful in reminding me since then, that He was, is, and will always be more than enough for me. As I’ve mentioned in a recent post, believing that God is enough has been a struggle for me this year, in different aspects. But, by God’s grace, I found comfort in His sovereignty and love for us. I sealed this with an actual ring to serve as a constant reminder for me.

I’ve made so many mistakes and believed in so many lies that hindered my growth this year. But, there is so much to be grateful for. Tomorrow is a new day and God’s mercies are new each morning. So, I am encouraged to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus as I surrender my past victories and failures, present condition, and future dreams and plans to the King of my heart.

Thank You, Lord, for 2017! What a year it has been!

“Because of the Lord ʼs 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, 2016!

It’s the first day of 2016 and I couldn’t be more excited! Woohoo! There’s always that wonderful feeling whenever I am reminded of a brand new start. Because of the New Year, I’ve been seeing quite a lot of resolutions in my news feed. Some of my friends plan to avoid eating junk food this 2016, while, others will do their best to refrain from shopping for a year.

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I’m still working on my action steps and resolutions. But, more than these things, I find delight in knowing that we can place our hope in God, whose mercies are new every morning. It is because of Him and through Him that we can experience breakthroughs, miracles, and personal transformations this 2016. Yes, regardless of our past, weaknesses, and fears.

“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: 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 3:21-23

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As we welcome another year, I would like to share one of the treats that remind me of having and enjoying a fresh start. It has been two years since I last prepared Jell-O. So, recently, I tried to make a batch again. This time, I used oranges and watermelon as my base. If you have the time, I encourage you to give it a try as well! For starters, I recommended making the orange wedges first, since the watermelon is a lot more tricky to handle.

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Here’s to enjoying a brand new start and to having a hopeful and fruitful year ahead! God bless you!

“You’re making me stronger. You’re healing my heart.
With Your hands You hold me and You set me apart.

Now I’m made new because of You.

You hold my head up. You remind me who I am.
You hold my head up, I’m alive in You again.
I’m made new.”

-Lincoln Brewster’s “Made New”

(Special thanks to Mom and ate Camille for lending a helping hand. :P )

ORANGE JELL-O WEDGES

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WATERMELON JELL-O SLICES

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