When I was still a kid, one of the biggest insecurities that I had was how my thumbs looked like. For more than a decade, I disliked my thumbs and thumbnails, since they were smaller than the usual thumbs others have. As I am typing this, I am literally laughing out loud because it does sound funny to be insecure about such a small thing. But, I remember how badly affected I was before, especially when others teased me about it. I felt so conscious when others saw my hands and I rarely took photos of my hands through the years. But eventually, God helped me focus more on important things that helped me slowly accept how He made my hands.
As I was scrolling through photos on my phone this evening, I saw my thumb again and I remembered how insecure I was because of it. Then, I had a random thought that I whispered to God: “It’s so interesting how I struggled with my thumb before and how now, You’ve allowed it to become such a huge part of my life, especially when it comes to having a green thumb! You are funny, Lord!”
In that brief moment with the Lord, I felt His reassurance as He showed me what it would be like if I continue to let go of my insecurities and what others think of me. He then reminded me of sooo many other things that He has allowed me to do through the years because of my thumbs. By God’s grace, He has helped me easily bake, cook, play the guitar, do photography, play sports, drive, and hold things wherever I went. Also, He reminded me that whatever I have right now is really because of His grace, and that at any moment in my life, He can easily take them away, if He wants to.
If others didn’t tease me growing up, I wondered if I would still feel insecure about my thumbs. I probably wouldn’t have felt as bad as I did. But, looking back, I realized that the real issue wasn’t because others teased me. It was because I was finding my security and worth in how others viewed me, instead of finding them in Jesus and His love for me.
After that, there were more events in my life where I gave in to my insecurities. Also, even as I type these things now, I remember all the other insecurities that I’ve been holding dear to my heart. In any case, the Lord reminds me that as long as I am still breathing, it’s not too late to keep surrendering these to Him. It’s not too late to ask Him to continue changing my heart, as I go back to the truths in His Word and apply them in my life. Whatever the Lord allows me to have or experience is enough to fulfill the purposes that He has for my life… and this includes my lovely thumbs! Woohoo!
I thought of sharing this anecdote with you, in case you’re dealing with insecurities too. I pray that you will also choose to find your security in Jesus, even as you go through your own personal struggles. Even if the process of surrendering to Him takes a day or a decade, we can find comfort in His presence, sovereignty, and in knowing that His goodness and love for us will never change. :)
“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” – Psalm 139:16
A random moment happened this evening: I thanked the Lord for allowing me to experience spidermites in my recent gardening journey. In case you were wondering, spidermites in the garden can be likened to lice on ones hair. It is an incredibly annoying pest that can severely damage plants, if they aren’t removed immediately. Also, it doesn’t help that these tiny mites easily spread from one plant to another.
Earlier today, I was chatting with a stranger who follows my gardening blog on Facebook (Anyone Can Garden), and I was helping him deal with certain pest issues on his chili plant. After this, he mentioned how beautiful my chili plants were and how they didn’t seem to have pests. I replied by showing old posts on my chili plants being attacked by spidermites and aphids, and how I was able to treat my plants last year. He eventually thanked me and encouraged me to keep sharing helpful tips to others.
As I was preparing for bed, I recalled how disappointed and discouraged I was last year when I first encountered spidermites. Mainly because of the hassles involved and the fact that in the past 7 years of gardening in our balcony, I’ve never experienced severe problems with pests. But, then again, whatever good I have experienced really was because of God’s grace and not my own doing!
I then browsed through my old journals and found an entry last July 22, 2020, where I wrote this to God:
On July 26, 2020, four days after this journal entry, I encountered spidermites in our balcony garden. Talk about perfect timing! Haha.
I really wanted to grow in gardening and I prayed for this online space to be a blessing to others. God, in His sovereignty, knew that my plants experiencing pests would actually be an answer to my prayers! Even though I struggled so bad during those months of infestation, I saw how the Lord allowed this gardening struggle to happen, so I could grow more in knowledge and skills. And I did! By God’s grace, I learned so much about pest control, and I was able to help other gardeners (strangers and friends online) who struggled with the same experience too!
As I thanked the Lord this evening, He reminded me of how this is also applicable to other aspects of my life.
In the same way, He is working and He is in control, even if I go through unanswered prayers, delays, closed doors, or those on-going struggles that don’t seem to end.
He reminded me of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 where it says: “Rejoice always,pray continually,give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” — This is exactly what the Lord is teaching me right now. By His grace, I pray that I will continue to trust in His goodness and sovereignty moment by moment. Even if He allows me to go through struggles again and again.
Oh! And a sweet bonus from the Lord! The same chili plants, that struggled with spidermites and aphids, recently produced this beautiful bunch of chilis! What an amazing God!
Do you have disappointments or struggles right now? Whatever it is that you’re going through, I pray that your heart would also find comfort in knowing that our good God, who sees and knows everything, loves us always. Draw near to Jesus! Even in the midst of struggles.
The year when I was able to see things more clearly.
How broken the world is. How messed up my heart can get. How tremendously gracious God is. How I desperately need to abide in Jesus each day… and so many other things.
Since 2016, I have been summarizing 12 highlights of my year, as I remember God’s goodness and faithfulness. However, if I were to be honest, I think it would be more accurate to change this blog post’s title to “12 Highlights and Hurdles of My 2020”. This is because of the many events that happened last year, which shook the world (and my heart), in the process.
But, I’ve come to realize that because of Jesus, I CAN choose to look back with gratitude and look forward with hope. As you read through the list, I pray that you would also be encouraged to see how the Lord has been faithful to you last year, both in the highs and lows. :)
12 Highlights of My 2020
1 – BOYCE AVENUE
Last February 16, I went to my favorite band’s concert for the 6th time in my life. Haha. My sister joined me too! However, I wasn’t able to see the band after the show, because of safety reasons. There weren’t confirmed cases of COVID-19 yet in the Philippines at that time, but I do understand why they had to cancel the Meet & Greet. I’m still so grateful that we got to go, especially since we’re not sure when we can attend a concert like this again.
2 – RESIGNATION
After 7 1/2 years of working at my first job, I took one of the biggest leaps of faith in my life, by resigning in the middle of a pandemic. Back in 2019, the Lord made it clear to me that it was time for me to close that chapter, so I can pursue another calling. Thank you, FGI, for the many memories, lessons learned, and opportunities to grow!
3 – COVID-19 / QUARANTINE
People from all over the world experienced different kinds of suffering because of COVID-19 last year. My heart breaks, but also chooses to find hope, not because of the vaccines that are being developed. But, because I believe that Jesus is still good and is in control, in spite of what we know and see. Also, because I know that this world isn’t our home forever; we were made for eternity in Heaven with Jesus!
4 – EAR SITUATIONS
Last April 24, our pomeranian bit my ear and I had to undergo careful treatment for months. Also, during the second week of December, that same ear had a painful infection. As of this moment, it is still recovering. In both cases, it was clear that the Lord was disciplining me. Before these happened, I was struggling with certain sins in my heart. But by God’s grace, more than Him healing my ear, I am grateful that He has been helping me flee from sin and continue running towards Him.
5 – HAIR INSECURITIES
I shared in this post how I have always had insecurities with the way I look. But, last 2020, the Lord has been helping me slowly overcome this. For the first time in my life, I cut my own hair during quarantine. Also, after two decades, I am now more comfortable posting photos and videos of myself, even if my hair isn’t styled or my face has no make-up. These seemingly small things are actually huge milestones for me. :)
6 – SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS
By God’s grace, I had the privilege of speaking in two conferences this year. The first one was held last January 22, where I shared about practicing spiritual disciplines, in front of women leaders in various church satellites. The second one was done over a Zoom call with young singles and college students last November 17. I shared about my journey in battling with lust and pornography, and in pursuing purity.
7 – DISCIPLESHIP GROUP
I praise God for these ladies who have walked alongside me in both the good and painful times last year. By God’s grace, they have been a constant source of encouragement as they prayed for me, gave me Biblical counsel, rebuked me in love, listened to me, and cheered me on to keep walking with Jesus. I also had the privilege of walking with them and witnessing how God moved in each of their lives last year.
(Some of the ladies aren’t in the photos below.)
8 – FAMILY BREAKTHROUGHS
God allowed our family to experience many faith-stretching and humbling moments last year. From having conflicts almost every day to getting to know each other deeper, being a blessing to each other, and seeing God’s faithfulness in the lives of each member. Also, we welcomed our newest baby in the family: Lucas Kai, who is currently in Hawaii with my sister and brother-in-law.
9 – ANYONE CAN GARDEN
God has graciously allowed me to grow in knowledge and skill in gardening! I became more intentional in sharing gardening updates on Facebook and Instagram. I met new friends and we got to exchange stories and tips. I won a gardening contest with a prize of Php 8,000. Also, Manila Bulletin and Agriculture Monthly published two articles about my gardening journey online!
It has been such a pleasure to eat and share the literal fruits of my labor. Really, these things are only by the grace of God!
10 – 30TH BIRTHDAY
This is definitely one of the best and most humbling moments in my life. You can read more about this in the links below. :)
Last 2020, I was able to write seven new songs about different struggles and lessons learned from the Lord. God has been using His Word and music to speak to my heart. I really am grateful for the privilege of making music about Him and for Him!
12 – WALK WITH JESUS
I started this year with a heart full of hope, as I took a huge leap of faith. But, this quickly turned sour, as I encountered one closed door after another. This affected how I viewed and approached God, and it even caused me to think of wanting to end my life one morning at our balcony.
But, the Lord has always been faithful and by His grace, He has turned my mourning into joy, especially in the last few weeks of 2020. Looking back, I can clearly see why the Lord allowed those things to happen. He wanted my heart to draw closer to Him, to want Him, and love Him more than anything or anyone else in this world. Oh, to be fully known and loved by the King of Kings!#grace Thank You, Jesus, for helping me walk with You again. :)
(Screenshots below were taken on the last day of 2020 and on the first day of 2021.)
Here are some of the verses that I held on to last 2020. May these encourage your heart as well!
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9
“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – John 10:10
“Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” – Psalm 73:25-26
I started this year with so many anxious thoughts about the future, and doubts on God’s ability and character. This was mainly triggered by how I found my security and joy in the world and in my selfish desires. I wanted to take control of my plans this year. So, when they got cancelled, my heart turned sour. I wanted to be accepted according to the standards of society. So, when there was no progress in my status or career, my world crumbled. But, all throughout this year, despite my stubbornness and unfaithfulness to the Lord, He has remained to be good, faithful, loving, merciful, holy, and gracious still.
I recorded a draft version of a song I wrote, which shows the reality of my constant struggles and how the Lord has helped me believe in Him again. But before I share the song, I do want to give you a glimpse of the many thoughts and emotions that I’ve encountered this year. The statements you see below were taken from my journal entries from January to December 2020. It hasn’t always been easy. But, looking back, I saw how the Lord has carried me through the valleys, with his grace and truths in my heart.
I pray that as you read through these lines and listen to the song, your heart would also be encouraged to remember God’s faithfulness in your life. Especially during this difficult year! During the past 11.5 months, I’ve had an on and off struggle with believing in God’s goodness and power. But, this past week, He has radically changed my perspective and my heart! Through this, I am reminded that no heart is too messed up for him; no one is greater than Him; and NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH HIM!
TAKEN FROM MY JOURNAL…
SOME DISCOURAGEMENTS THIS 2020:
I get annoyed, cold, and distant when others share Bible verses to me.
I don’t have the desire to pray for others anymore.
I’m easily triggered and angered by others.
I wanted to jump off the balcony this week. But, you stopped me, Lord!
I stumbled many times this week — in purity, anger, and other emotional outbursts.
Today was difficult because of all the emotions our family faced yesterday.
It does rob me of the joy I have in you, whenever I compare myself to others.
I’ve been having a difficult time sleeping well this week because of my anxieties.
It’s been a few weeks of dry days with you, Lord; of me not spending time with you.
Each time I take one step forward, I take 10 steps back, and this discourages me.
Honestly, I still feel stuck in life. I still have trust issues with you, Lord.
Loneliness has been bothering me for a few weeks now.
TRUTHS & ENCOURAGEMENT FROM THE LORD:
When I draw near to you, you will draw near to me too. I want to desire You, Jesus, and Your word again! (James 4:8)
Thank you for your forgiveness! (1 John 1:9)
You reminded me of Psalm 51:17. Thank you for your reassuring love, despite my heart’s condition.
In 1 Peter 5:6-7, I’ve been focusing on the casting part, that I forgot to apply v.6 and humble myself under your mighty hand.
I am not of this world. You have set eternity in my heart. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
I recalled Psalm 139 and remembered that you know all the days of my life.
I know you’re with me, Lord, even if I feel your silence sometimes. (Matthew 28:20)
God has been, is, and will always be faithful… even if I am unfaithful. (2 Timothy 2:13)
Yesterday, you spoke to me through John 16:33. Thank you that I have you in my heart!
I’ll keep fixing my eyes on you, Jesus! More of You, less of me. (John 3:30)
Thank you for reminding me that I am yours and that nothing can separate me from your love! (Romans 8:38-39)
You have been so personal to me, Lord. Thank you for reviving my mind and heart again! You have emptied my heart, only to fill it up again and let your love and grace overflow from it! Let not this overflow be wasted. Please help me keep seeking you and sharing you to others! (Psalm 8:4)
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26