A Triumphant Sunday (Literally and Figuratively)

 

Last week was a hectic one for me.

While majority of my friends went out of town for their much-awaited vacation and R&R, I was stuck in the city. (Okay maybe stuck is not the right word, since it connotes not having the choice to leave so let me rephrase).

I stayed in the city (Hello Gen SUN!) to attend and help out with our church’s Easter Cantata rehearsals. It was for Claire Cloninger and Robert Sterling’s “Who Do You Say I Am?”, which was shown last Resurrection Sunday in all of our three services.

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Victory General Santos’ Senior Pastor Nowell Evangelista giving an introduction about the Easter Cantata.

Admittedly, a small part of me wished that I had made plans instead of staying (since I figured I might not have another chance to get away from the hustle and bustle) but after the performances last Sunday, I knew it was worth missing a few days off for sure.

The morning services in Robinsons were packed. And when I say packed, it was STANDING ROOM only for our 10AM services. The 4PM schedule was also full the air conditioning unit can barely keep up with the heat). But more than the attendees, the reaction on their faces got me as I saw many wiping tears away when one of the soloists, Kuya Pops Evidente belted out his haunting rendition of “Father, Forgive Them.”

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Pops Evidente’s soulful singing as the apostle Peter.

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Three days after the performances, I am still singing and spouting lines fromthe songs (talk about major LSS) and I am already wondering how long the high would last.

But even if I forget the lines and the words from the songs, lessons were learned that I will forever take home with me.

TEAMWORK ALWAYS WORK. It is a known fact that projects succeed not only because of a solid plan behind it but the people that made it happen. Of course, the plan in place is very important but without the manpower to run it, even the best ideas will fail.

There is a reason that man has been made for relationships. And the production for this event only showed that we are all created to share not only our lives but the burden and work of what we do.

I am very grateful for the heart and commitment to serve of the Production Team last Sunday. I knew from the onset that the schedule of the rehearsals might cause a conflict but these people took it upon themselves to set aside time to attend the practices and be there on time.

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Technicals and Production Team

I’m sure the whole show would have still run even if the volunteers, instead, chose not to serve. God will see to that. But without them to help out, it might have been a very stressful event for everyone involved.

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Hooray! It is finished!

Special mention also goes to a very talented and creative lady who was not only hardworking but very generous with her skills and time as well.

Sharlaloo (as I fondly call her) donated her time and rest to ensure that the visuals and media for the production were all excellent and ready for Sunday. Never mind that she had other projects that have deadlines looming near. She worked on the videos and boy, did she work fast!

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Tataaa… We’re now off to be part of Taylor Swift’s Production Crew… We wish!

Perhaps, the other thing that I like about teamwork is that not only do you get to maximize one another’s talents for His glory, but that it also provides an opportunity for friendships to grow.

The team last Sunday might have been a one-day thing but I am pretty confident that the memories, challenges and moments we all shared has brought us closer to one another.

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We’ve been wanting to throw our tech scripts since Day 1. LOL.

REMEMBER WHO YOU WORK FOR. The days leading up to the event were more stressful than the others. It required sleepless nights and time spent away with family and friends that the tendency to grumble, feel the pressure and question why you’re doing those things in the first place became commonplace.

I knew I did. For a time, I did ask the question – “How did I get myself involved in this?”

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With Sharla Billena, Head of the Communications Ministry.

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Musical Director Ray Bonilla during rehearsals.

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Crunch time. Cheer up, singers!

But God is a gracious God. At times when I was feeling the pressure and I really thought about quitting (or pretending I was sick, errr), He reminded me that I was not doing it for the church nor was I doing it for the pastors. He showed me that whatever it is that I had set to do is for Him and Him ALONE.

That jolted me and pulled me back to reality. That reminded me that I had been looking inward and downward towards my situation when I should be looking up to Him – the source of Resurrection Sunday.

Which brought me to the last lesson I learned that week –REMEMBER YOUR REASON FOR DOING THINGS. It’s so easy to get caught up in the routine of things and just manage stuff mechanically (only because you have been so used to it). But God is not just about that. He looks at the heart and the motive of our actions.

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There was a time last week that I had to pause and really sit down and ask myself – “Am I doing this to bring honor to God or to glorify my name?” It was a tough question to ask, one that I didn’t want to but somehow my devotion that day led me to it.

How convenient to do things and mask it as a way to “exalt His name” and yet see it oozing with human selfishness and pride. It might not have been the case for me but I sure was pretty close. If I was honest with myself, I know that there were times last week that I subconsciously has been putting myself above things – when I did not seek God’s grace and strength to go through the rehearsals, when I made decisions on my own without consulting others.

Thankfully, He reminded me of who He is and what He has accomplished on the cross two thousand years ago, the same reason we are celebrating Resurrection Sunday every year and why we had the Easter Cantata in the first place.

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Looking back, it might have been the busiest Holy Week for me and true, I might not have had the rest I was looking forward to – but I will never regret the memories we made, friendships forged and opportunities to witness God’s grace and mighty power once again.

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Jesus is alive! He is risen!

 

 

Problem – Solving Lessons from the Book of Job

I first encountered the Book of Job in the Old Testament around 8 years ago. My mom has recently passed away that time, I resigned from work with no new job offer, my brother and I were in debt due to our mom’s hospital bills and my then-relationship has just ended. In short, it was a very dark time for me and I felt that there was no hope anymore.

That time, I had already taken up the Christian faith seriously and was reading the Bible more often than before. But it was quite limited to Psalms. I was a bit hesitant to read the other books because it still has a “mystifying” effect on me and I thought it would take extra-ordinary faith and wisdom to understand those, not advisable for a “baby Christian” like me. But as I read it, I realized that there were a lot of things to learn from Job’s life, which are essential in my walk with God. True, he had it worse – all the trials in his life happened in just a span of two days! Not a day has he recovered from the loss of his properties and children, when the devil has targeted his attack on Job’s own health instead. And many times in our lives, we would undergo hardships, when it seems that God’s hand is upon us and there’s no stopping to the punches and knocks coming our way, that feel like we can’t go on anymore or wish there’s a “tap out” move we can do just to stop everything.

We question our circumstances. We question our actions and decisions. Sometimes, we even question ourselves and ask why it happened to us. Most, if not all of the time, we also question God. Why has He allowed bad things to happen, where was He when it was happening and why isn’t He doing something about it and so on and so forth.
Questioning our circumstances is not a sin in itself. It’s a normal reaction for the confused state we are in. It’s also not evil when we question God. Looking back at Job, there were many circumstances when he questioned God –

     “3 Does it please you to oppress me,
          to spurn the work of your hands,
          while you smile on the plans of the wicked?
       4 Do you have eyes of flesh?
          Do you see as a mortal sees?
       5 Are your days like those of a mortal
          or your years like those of a strong man,
       6 that you must search out my faults
          and probe after my sin—
       7 though you know that I am not guilty
         and that no one can rescue me from your hand?” (Job 10:3-7)

He questioned the God who created him. And that is what makes Job remarkable – that even during the toughest time in his life, he knew who he had to talk to. He knew that bringing his hurt, pain and anger to God is the best thing he could do in that situation. He was going through a challenging season but he still sought an encounter with God.

       “20 I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer;
              I stand up, but you merely look at me.
         21 You turn on me ruthlessly;
              with the might of your hand you attack me.
         22 You snatch me up and drive me before the wind;
              you toss me about in the storm.
         23 I know you will bring me down to death,
             to the place appointed for all the living” (Job 30:20-23)

He knew that only God could justify and vindicate him. Many times in our lives when we go through trials and pruning, we turn to things – alcohol, drugs, relationships, food, etc. to solve our problem. We put God as the last option. When everything else has failed, that’s the time we remember Him and His goodness. But Job, on the other hand, he knew that his fight was with God, the one who created him and he sought for an audience to the one who knows him inside and out, the one who created him. Job knew of God’s character – that He is merciful, that He is faithful, that He is just so it was not difficult for Job to approach the one who created him and this world.

Job eagerly sought the face of God because He wanted to bring up his case to the One he knew would be able to justify him.

          “But I desire to speak to the Almighty
            and to argue my case with God.” (Job 13:3)

While he listened to the counsel of his friends, he knew that only God can help him at that time. What’s more remarkable with Job was that more than his desire for his suffering to be taken away, he first and foremost, yearned for the presence of God. He knew that God’s mere presence is balm enough for the ache and anger in his soul. When God finally answered Job’s cries, he was repentant and his anger has dissipated.

          “1 Then Job replied to the Lord:
           2  “I know that you can do all things;
               no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
           3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
              Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
              things too wonderful for me to know.
            4 “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
               I will question you,
               and you shall answer me.’
            5 My ears had heard of you
               but now my eyes have seen you.
            6 Therefore I despise myself
               and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:1-6)

Job’s tone changed, his demeanor has shifted and faced with God’s majesty and greatness, he sought forgiveness in humility. That’s what an encounter with the Almighty can do. Though questions may be unanswered and suffering remain, God’s presence is enough to change us and our perspective. Even in the worst storms of our lives, we know that God is faithful when we humbly and earnestly seek Him.

A Note To Self: On Writing

For someone who claims to “love” writing, I can’t write much. Or I don’t write much. I’m serious. I can probably come up with two brilliant sentences that I would want to expand on a blog but that’s it. When it comes to the actual dirty task of thinking and stringing together my thoughts and words, I come up short. Literally.

I used to write paragraphs, 5-10 long and jargon-filled paragraphs. Sometimes, whenever I’d try to review what I wrote, I end up quitting after the fourth sentence. So maybe it wasn’t just that I couldn’t come up with the words to put together. Maybe it’s because I’m lazy. A major procrastinator. As if having levels of procrastination makes things less or more delayed. Which we all know isn’t the case.  Or maybe I just happen to have so many things running in my mind that whenever I’d commit to actually putting one on paper, it slips away and gets replaced by another before I could even form a coherent sentence. Maybe. Maybe not.

You see, writing is not just an art form. It’s a discipline. A routine that needs to be done over and over (DUH. Isn’t that what routine actually is?). And over. So that you can construct sentences that makes sense. Write stories that comes alive. Report on everyday mundane things and make them extraordinary. Writing forces you to express. Express yourself – your thoughts, opinions, views, wants, needs – anything you want to. You can’t just write one blog post or an article (rehashed from a website that you think no one visits) and call yourself a writer. No, it doesn’t work that way. I don’t think Neil Gaiman sat on his writing chair (um, i’m not sure if he has one but if ever an author would think of using a writing chair, he’d be the one) for one single moment and came out with Coraline and American Gods in one sitting. I’m pretty sure he sat on that “writing chair” for hundreds of times before coming up with the final manuscript for his work. And even after he’s done, I’m certain he still continued to write just because he’s used to doing it and it has become second (or probably first) nature for him to do so.

So write. Whether you want to be a published author or a closet blogger. Just. WRITE. You want to be a writer? Write. You want to expand your vocabulary? Write. (Or maybe, for this, just at least READ.) You want to be good in whatever language you employ? Write. JUST WRITE. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be catchy (at least not immediately). It doesn’t have to be long. Or complete. It doesn’t even have to make perfect sense to others. Just write.

Write for all the good it will do you. And maybe, just maybe, whatever you churn out will have an influence, will inspire others. Will make sense. Or maybe not. Nevertheless, write. Who knows, the world will be a better place when you do.

Stop it with the Christmas Countdown

I’ve been seeing Christmas countdowns on my Facebook and Twitter Feed and it’s driving me nuts. I know it’s a hundred days before Christmas but can we please slow it down a bit? I’m not even done planning for my wedding and it’s stressing me out!

(Please Lord, please come through for us on this one. You know what we need and when we need it. Please, please, PLEASE.)

Because Household Help Are Career People Too

Now I understand why most houses with a fulltime homemaker are more clean that the average one. Spending all that time at home can drive you nuts and force you to clean things that are not even dirty in the first place!

Okay, okay. I am not a housewife so definitely the hypothesis is lame but it sure does feel like I am considering the amount of time I’ve spent at home the past week and I’ve cleaned things that you wouldn’t even dream of putting in one sentence together – and at the same time! Last night, I was attacked by this OC tendency and cleaned the three electric fans I have at home. Three. And right after, I proceeded to clean my makeup brushes. MAKEUP BRUSHES. How about that. Good thing I didn’t use the soap cleaner I used for the fans on my brushes cause that would be totally disgusting.

But being stuck at home the past week has really taught me to appreciate the household help I grew up with. First of all, it’s been yearsssss since I last employed a household help considering that I have been living independently for around 6 years now. Second, do you know how tugh it is to do the laundry?! Those jeans that look oh-so sexy when you were them weighs a ton when soaked on water! Crazy! No wonder my former yaya had those cuts on her arms. I have now discovered the secret to those Jessica Alba-esque triceps. But seriously, chores are tough work. And I haven’t mentioned cleaning the house yet. Ugh, the dust. It’s giving me asthma attacks and making me itch all over. And if that happens to me, im sure our household help experience those too, they just put up with it as a shallow hazard of the work they have.

It’s not easy and at times, it feels a little demeaning even (though why it feels that way is probably our society’s fault) especially when scrubbing toilet bowls and throwing the trash that stinks so bad you can barely carry it outside your kitchen. But it’s honest living  Being a household help is also work. Just like the same careers found on those glass-walled buildings in Ayala or Ortigas, the responsibilities and environment is just different.

I, for one, used to be one of those spoiled brats who would shout  at the maids and tease them because I thought that since my mom’s paying them to serve my every whim, I am their master, they should obey me. But we all have only one Master and that is the one in heaven, God. Who was I to think I can boss another person around just because I was “paying” them (it’s not even my own money)? I had a lot to learn.

They say that it’s a tough job but someone has to do it. Yes, it’s true. Otherwise, we would all have dusty living rooms, kitchens strewn with rotting fruit peels for the cockroaches to crawl over, mothers unable to go to work because they need to stay home and take care of the kids. I sometimes think it may even be tougher to do all these than the work that I have. Im sure if you ask the help staff you have at home, waiting on someone isn’t exactly what they dreamed up to be when growing up. It’s not like as if they suddenly woke up and realized they wanted to be a yaya when they grow up, right? Most often than not, circumstances have forced them to be where they are now. And it may not change overnight, they may not reach their dreams immediately, but we, who employ them (or even those who doesn’t but interact with them at one time or another) should make things a lot easier, bearable, dignified even because they are willing to do the things we cannot imagine doing,  things we ridiculously think are beneath us. And because they are people just like us. Our Savior died for them too.

And unless you’re willing to die on the cross for the household help you employ, then you have absolutely no right treating them as secondary citizens. After all, they’re people and what they’re doing is just another career too.

How To Waste Your Time While Waiting For A Job Interview

Applying for a job nowadays is a lot easier. Thanks to the Internet, one can just go to a job portal, click an advertisement and voila! – your resume gets sent quickly. No more classified ads cut-outs from the previous Sunday, no walking to different companies with a dozen copies of your resume at hand, peddling it to whoever will accommodate you without any prior appointment or schedule. Job application is now a breeze.

Okay, that may be an exaggeration. There are still people who check the classifieds and still walk in hoping to be entertained even by the receptionist just to be able to send their bio-data out. But still, things are relatively easier and companies, along with the applicants, have now gone mobile.

After submitting your resume, now what? While you’re waiting for that call that may (or may never) come, here are some things you can do with your time:

1) Take note of the companies you have applied for. There was one time I called an applicant to invite him for an interview and he asked me two times which company I represent. After telling him our company name, he said that he didn’t remember applying because he just clicked the advertisements he saw randomly.

2) Research on the companies you have applied for. Never heard of ProBusinessDeals.com? Don’t know who or what Magellan Solutions is? Search the Internet! A lot of companies appreciate and take note when an applicant does his research. It shows how serious he is in his career development. Besides, wouldn’t you want to know what you’re getting yourself into?

3) Keep your mobile phone battery full. So this may sound weird, I know but hear me out. A lot of the companies nowadays contact their applicants via mobile phones more than through email because it’s quicker and the replies you get are real time. It’s important that you can be reached anytime because if not and you miss their call, chances of you being called again may be slim the second time.

4) Prepare your pre-employment requirements and government-given documents. Haven’t updated your status with the Social Security System? NBI Clearance expired? Then what better time than this to update everything! Some companies have a one-day hiring process – you get interviewed this morning and at the end of the day (or night) you already have a job offer and will start the following day which gives you absolutely no time to fix your documents. So while waiting for that call, have all these government documentation ready so that when a probable employer calls you for a job interview, you have it ready and they’ll see a proactive potential employee!

5) Be ready and flexible with your time. Today you get a call, tomorrow an interview, the next day is your first day at work. Sounds familiar? A lot of companies now are looking for potential employees who are available to start IMMEDIATELY so when they invite applicants for interview and you’re not available on the said date because, well, you have a beach trip with your buddies, then that sends out a negative impression that you don’t want the job as badly as the others who may be literally waiting outside their office doors. I’m not saying you don’t go on a vacation but probably schedule it on a weekend when offices are most likely to be closed as well.

There are a lot of other things that you can do while waiting for that job interview call. Spend time with your family, take up extra lessons to enhance your skills, go for a long drive to the country. No matter what you decide to “waste” your time on, make sure you do it productively.

Because.

Because I realized that it’s better to write about something relevant and something that is beneficial, I have made the commitment to myself that apart from posting photos from my random walks and travels, I will blog about issues, concerns and topics that a lot of people could relate to and use in their everyday life.

As for the topics to cover? I have yet o figure that out.