Friday, December 19, 2008

It's Him

Time is an interesting thing. It can pass by slowly, yet without changing anything. It could also flash by quickly, while turning one's whole world around.

For me, the past five months have been of the latter kind.

After a lengthy, eye-opening trip around North America with my parents, I went to college. The pastor's daughter who had been homeschooled all her life was left alone on a foreign land, in the midst of the bustle of college life. I went from study room to classrooms, I went from reading to note-taking, I went from my own room to a suite of eight girls, I went from being a spotlight girl in a four-hundred-people church congregation to a tiny face in a crowd of five thousand...

There were challenges perhaps, but altogether...I had the time of my life.

As I sit in front of my dear laptop thinking through my first semester of college, countless different scenes flood my mind. I feel a desire to blog. Yet what exactly do I blog about? Should I blog about academics, about making friends, about church ministries, about new endeavors? Or should I blog about the feeling of coming home?

I search through my memory logs for any common theme to summarize my life in the past five months...yet I seem to find none. None, that is, except for one.

"It's Him, silly girl, it's Him," my mind knocks on my skull.

Who was it that sustained me through academic challenges? Who was it that led wonderful Christian friends to my side? Who was it that reminded me to treat every individual in the dorm, classroom, and cafeteria as my neighbor?

It's Him. It's all Him.

Who was my Protector as I traveled 5,000 miles alone? Who was my Motivator to give my best in my studies? Who was my Comfort whenever I felt so alone?

It's Him. It's all Him.

I don't have much to say other than that. Yes, there are numerous manifestations of His hand in my life...and I could rant on forever about them. Yet what was my life most fundamentally about these past months? Him,'s all Him.

And that's why life's been wonderful.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

So Long, Farewell, and See You Soon

In the past two months, I have perhaps said more goodbyes in my life than I had ever before. Whether it be family, friends, relatives, or the dear people in UECM...I've had to give more farewell greetings than I had foreseen.

After I left Manila almost four weeks ago, I thought the farewells were over. I thought that the goodbye hugs, the final conversations, and the lingering handshakes were over...but I guess not.

In fact, these four weeks have added even more goodbyes. Reunions with old friends, be it weeks or days, had to come to an end. Fascinating new friends have to be stored in memory for now. Breathtaking new places were visited for perhaps the only times in my life. And as we changed locations week after week, sentimentality surged for me. There have simply been too many goodbyes.

Yet in the midst of it observation was impossible to neglect.

Farewells with dear people are always hard to say, but yet some goodbyes have been relatively easier, even if those were made towards people I love very much. The easier goodbyes...were with the people with whom I was certain to meet again very soon.

Be it hugs, handshakes, high-fives, warmgrasps, or intertwined fingers on the outside...inside, the emotions were most comforted when I could accompany my greetings with the words "See you."

For many people, it was "See you in December." For some others, it was "See you next year." For some, it was even "See you in Facebook." Yet whatever the form or time frame mentioned, those goodbyes were just somehow more dear, more hopeful, and less sad to say.

Saying goodbyes isn't exactly a happy thing to do, but I am thankful for the reflections it has evoked for me. For the same reason that some goodbyes are less depressing for me because I know I would meet the people again, the passing away of some loved ones are more hopeful than others because of a certainty of heavenly reunion.

Truly, God's gift of life everlasting is a gift of hope and love. I don't know what immediate application I can draw from all of this, but I guess I've just understood human life a little bit more...and appreciate His love a little bit more too.

Friday, July 18, 2008

To Be Forgotten


"To be forgotten is a thing most natural and certain."

The above words were said by Lynda Ye, the acclaimed lyricist of Taiwan's singing group Heavenly Melody. I heard her say it during an interview, and I have pondered upon the words ever since.

To be forgotten by people is firstly natural...people do not need to intentionally forget you. They just do. It is nothing offensive, because it is natural. And it is not surprising, because it is natural. As life moves on, people will find their own places and lifestyles...and some things or individuals simply will be forgotten...naturally...

Then to be forgotten is also certain...there is no escaping it. Some people might try hard to force the memory of themselves upon others. Some others might mourn the loss of attention. Yet it is all very matter-of-fact. It is only a matter of time...for to be forgotten is certain...

And as I stand at the threshhold of separation from all I have dearly loved in my well as the people who love me most, these thoughts impact me heavily.

In the weeks leading up to my departure from the Philippines almost one week ago (for the sake of academic pursuit here in the States), people have showered me with much love. I was too touched for words as I discovered how God has blessed me with love way beyond I could ever deserve. From church deacons, to distant relatives, to childhood bosom friends, to faithful ministry partners, and everything in between...I have been blessed with love...and I reciprocate the affections as much as I could.

Yet in the midst of the pleas that I should return to the Philippines, and that I shouldn't forget the people back home...Miss Ye's words echo in my mind..."To be forgotten is a thing most natural and certain."

I should not count upon much as I would like to think that my students would still adore me, that my best friends would still be intimate with me, that those who care for me would still be consistent in their affections when I return...I know it won't be the same.

As life goes on for a particular degree...I will surely be forgotten...

So then, if that is the fact...what of it? How should I face this tragedy of natural and certain consequence? What should I do about being forgotten?

In her interview, Miss Ye made the quoted statement in reference to her departure from on-stage performance. Once she turned to serving backstage, she had to learn to be forgotten. Yet for her, she could still find joy in the midst of the process, because she knew she was serving God. And God knew all that was going on in her service and life...and even if people forget, God would be leased.

Her attitude gave me the courage to face this idea of losing the love formerly bestowed upon me.

It is the Lord Christ whom I serve. Even if people forget...I have not lost my direction in life.

Yes, students might grow independent of me, friends might continue life with their own pursuits, ministry roles might be filled with new people, admirers might easily change their fancies, and my family and church will continue to thrive in life without me...

It is all both humbling and comforting to know. Yes, life will move on without me, and I will eventually lose the significance that I had. Yet when it is Christ whom I am serving, then I don't need to worry.

I can still pray for people across the miles; God can answer.

I can still faithfully seek my Lord; He will listen.

I can still trust in His perfect plans for me...even when others have forgotten.

To be forgotten might seen a horrible thought at first...yet is natural and certain. And when we have our hopes upon Him who is even more certain, then life will go on for everyone in His perfect time, in His perfect ways. All I need to do is to remember what really matters.

What matters is my spiritual walk with my Lord. What matters is that I continue to grow in contentment within, in knowledge of, and in obedience to my God.

Yes, I will be forgotten...yet what of it? Perhaps, as someone with so much self-awareness, to be forgotten is actually a very, very good thing.

Life will go on, and I must find my place in it. Yet no matter what particulars that "place" might involve...I already have my most fundamental identity and duty as a child of God. That is what matters, and well...that's all that needs to be remembered. Everything else...might as well be forgotten...

Saturday, May 10, 2008


After wave after wave of events...after denials and tears and confusions...after confessions and discussions with my ever-so-loving and ever-so-firm parents...again and again and again...

After discovering flaws in me, terrifyingly one after another...after God hurled me question after question after question...questions I can never answer out of my human imperfection...

I am subdued.

I am struck, I am silenced. I am subdued.

There is a weight within me, a weight from God. There is a will bearing on me, the will of God.

His wisdom is terrifying, His love overwhelming. The former drives me to tears of submission; the latter throws me into shudders of incomprehension.

The pride, the rebellion, and all the rest of the ugliness seem to never cease surfacing, in different forms and different times, one after another. It makes me close my eyes, hold my tongue, and tremble. It makes me homesick for heaven.

Some matters appear to be big, and I turn to God for comfort. I cuddle in His embrace, too needy to even look up. Yet as I bury my face in His arms, I feel His heartbeat...then I realize, that I could never look up even if I wanted to, for the righteousness of His countenance would crush me.

Yet the problems my eyes perceive are only signs to lead me to His arms. Once there, His face shows me so much, so much more about the perverseness of my much more that I need to sort through with Him. So many faults and problems that I have neglected and denied for more than two years many excuses and rationalizations that led me to rebel against Him repeatedly, only in different forms and degrees of severity...

His heart is calling mine. I have to obey.

And as I take some time to quiet down my soul and seek God's teachings and timings...I need to take a break from many things, including this blog.

This blog has been an amazing ministry for me. I am a fallen human being who hasn’t written every single article with the purest intentions, though I meant the best in most. Yet even so, God has used these entries to touch different lives of different ages, sometimes even around the world. He has used the broken vessel that I am to impart lessons I myself have yet to fully learn. He sometimes even teaches me with my own writing. For all of that, may He be glorified.

Yet at this point, God has made it clear to me that I should stop. I, who had prided herself in being one of the blog pioneers of her circle…who had shared and loved the wonderful blog ministry of fellow rebelutionaries and friends…I, who was and still is in love with writing…has to stop.

Perhaps one day, by the mercy of God, I would pick up this task again, and continue ministering in this medium that has helped me reach people unlike any other medium ever did. It might be weeks, it might be months, it might be years. If that day comes, I will resume. It will not be because I have finally reached perfection, or that I finally have something exciting to write about again. No. It will be because God allows it.

If God does not allow it...then this site will remain intact as the one-year project that it's been...a year's worth of testimonies of His imprints in my life.

I will continue to update my other blog, for God has not asked me to cease that one. Yet this one--this one so close to my heart--has to stop. This vessel needs some time off to be molded by the Potter's masterful hands. The story of God's work isn't over in me, but this part of it shall be.

To all my dear readers, I thank you for your love and support these past months. You have encouraged me greatly. Yet may all the glory truly be to God...and if you could, I ask two things of you. Firstly, that you pray for me to be conformed even more to His will. Then secondly, that you take your own steps to echo His love in this world, be it in the form of family, friendship, blog, book, or anything God leads you to. Continue in your mission.

When one of my mentors talked with me the other day, she reminded me of that one line from a beloved hymn..."May Thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wand'ring heart to Thee."

Indeed, that is the cry of my heart. Fetter me, Lord, bind me. Let me not wander, lest more mistakes deeply hurt those who are closest to me, and grieve Your heart. Your goodness sweeps over me, and I lie subdued in Your hands...

Subdued by Your wisdom, subdued by Your grace, subdued by Your firmness...

Subdued by the thundering echoes of Your love.

I love You.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Making the Given Fit for the Gift

Yesterday, my US student visa was approved. Lord willing, I will be studying in Pensacola Christian College (PCC) starting this September.

Many people know that I had applied to universities in Hong Kong and Singapore before, all in vain. Many know I’ve been preparing to go to the States for a while already. Yet there’s a story behind my journey to PCC, an invisible story written inside of me.

PCC is known for accepting and training homeschool graduates well, and I had long wished to study there ever since the fliers and catalogs began to arrive many years ago. Yet back then, my dad could not fund a North American education, and nor would he leave his only daughter alone in Florida.

Therefore, when the time came for me to start college applications, my parents disregarded PCC and applied me in Asia. I obeyed. After all, those were good universities they chose. Yet inside of me there was a twang...there was an idea tugging at my brain of how much more I'd experience freedom and independence if I were on the other side of the planet, away from parental supervision. I liked Asia, but it wasn't far away enough for me. I wanted independence, or so I said.

It’s true that I love independence; it's in my personality, upbringing, and pride. Yet as with all things, sinful nature attacks. That love for independence often turns to longing for self-sufficiency and autonomy. During that period of time back then, it turned even to rebellion.

I wanted to be away and "free." I wanted to exercise control over my life, free from submission to my parents’ god-given authority. I held secret hopes that studying abroad would be my chance to break free from expectations, all without rebelling outright.

In my heart, I harbored hidden fantasies. I dreamed of being so distinguished in my field that people would beg me to work for them after graduation, against my parents’ wish for me to return. I imagined meeting someone who would win my heart, convince my parents, and marry me away from my life here. Sometimes, to sound more spiritual, I would envision a call to a far, unreached land...and my parents would certainly be unable to argue against the calling of God Himself.

There have been even sillier fantasies than these, yet all with one similarity: I was thankful for the life God had given me, but discontent with containing myself within that life. I wanted to break free. I wanted to study abroad for wrong and selfish reasons.

After my denial from the Asian colleges last year, my dad told me to apply to PCC. It seems stupid that I should apply to this school only now, when I had known it for years. It seemed crazy that the Asian universities wouldn't give me a final word of rejection until it was already late August, way too late to apply for PCC's 2007 schoolyear. Yet God has His plans. Dad has oft repeated that this is apparently the way God has led him, and led me.

And as I look at myself now, I realize why God would not have me leave any earlier…

I have changed. Somehow, through direct teachings, prayers, and so countless occurrences in the past year, God has changed me.

When the lady at the embassy asked me if I intend to return home after studies, I answered yes wholeheartedly. It's not because of sentimental ties or legalistic requirements. It's because of the change inside of me.

I want to study abroad to learn, to grow...for His glory. I want to concentrate on studying, not on having fun with my independence. Growth and independence are no longer goals in themselves, but parts of a process of preparing myself to serve Him better. And at the end of the day, Lord willing, I will return to my Asian roots...for the harvestfield of souls is most abundant here. My heart has been severely humbled.

I cannot conclude God’s purposes in the past and coming years. I just know that at every moment, He has His perfect timing.

I've long wanted to study in PCC, and God has granted me the gift I had asked for. Yet He had withheld it firmly from me, until I was ready for it. It is the same gift, this gift He has prepared...but I, the one to whom the gift is given, had to be made ready for it first.

I am thankful that God had not let things transpired earlier than this. If I had, I would have left Manila with a proud, rebellious heart and a discontent attitude. I was not ready for the gift, and God knew that. And even today, I am discovering with fear and amazement how much He knew that I did not.

I am not perfect, but I guess I am ready for this particular gift now. And as I look ahead in life to all the things I still want--in ministry, family, life, love, and achievement...I try to remember this lesson.

Some of those gifts might not be for me, and God will surely withhold them;
Some of those gifts might be perfect for me, but I am still unready, perhaps severely unready.

A gift cannot be a perfect gift unless the given is fit to receive it. There's nothing wrong with the gift, and definitely not the Giver, but there might be something wrong with the given. God still has an incredible amount of work to do on me before these things come.

Making the given fit for the gift...God has taught me with more than a few big things in my life. I pray hard that I remember, lest the pain has to come again, and perhaps with wider and direr consequences. And may He continue to mold me still...for the perfect tasks, and the perfect gifts, in His sovereign plan.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Camp Testimonial (YGC summer camp, April 7-12, 2008)

"Every single time I attend a YGC (Youth Gospel Center) summer camp, things manage to turn out far different from my expectations, and this camp was no exception to that rule.

"I had been looking forward towards this camp for many months already, and about a week ago, I declared myself to be fully prepared for it in strength, in mind, in heart. However, three days before camp began, God struck me on a very sensitive area within me...a wound I thought had already healed suddenly had salt sprinkled on it, almost as if just to remind me that the wound is still vulnerably there. I broke down in tears; my tower of confidence toppled, and I suddenly dreaded camp with all my heart.

"Yet God is sovereign. The events that led up to camp were the very things needed to make me appreciate all the more what God has done for me here, both in reaching out to me and in reaching others through me.

"Here, God strengthened me to translate, to pray, and to minister to campers new and old. Though not an official officer, I got to help out with many activities; even while I translated, I got to learn from the messages. God gave me many perfect little things, be it counseling group assignments, reunions with old friends, topics that pierced my heart, or just the chance to lend a shoulder to cry on. I had the opportunity to interact with and learn from many counselors, including brothers and sisters who cared far more than I ever thought they would. I haven't found all of the answers I've been looking for, but I was made to more deeply love and trustingly rely upon God, who is the only and ultimate source of all the answers I could ever need.

"I thought I knew what to expect, but I guess I didn't. Yet God did.

"If not for the factors in other areas of my life, I wouldn't have been so sensitive to His voice or so thankful for His love in this camp. It wasn't the perfect camp for me personally, but it is exactly that imperfection that turned me to God all the more. For that I am thankful...and at this moment, that is all I can say."

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Power of (Im)modesty

It had never been a struggle until the past couple of years. It might be due to increased interactions with guys, or the fact that I’ve grown nearer adulthood than adolescence. It might be because of worldly influences. Whatever the reason, I just know…that the recent years have brought to me a growing consciousness of the power, and thus temptation, of immodesty.

I don’t have a 5’8” frame, and I don’t have the prettiest face around. I’m not known for striking appearances. Yet like most girls, I do have characteristics comparable with those beauty queens. Be it a matter of proportion, nice skin, mannerisms, or other physical features, there is always something to show off in every girl.

The problem is…is it supposed to be shown?

I’ve always observed two factors that affect girls most. One is admiration, the other jealousy. And I’m definitely not immune to both of them.

Over the years, those two factors have preyed on me and drawn me away from the formerly chubbier, purer me. The envious admiration of girls and magnetic admiration of guys have led me to greater and greater vanity; the knowledge that I could “pull off” even more immodest outfits than what some ladies wear propelled me with jealousy’s fuel.

I started to spend more time and efforts on appearances, yet I didn’t notice my heart’s wrong…until two days ago.

When I pulled on a clingy shirt in the mall fitting room, my mom exclaimed, “Wen, it’s gross! You look like a manikin!”

I didn’t expect that…”Mom, isn’t that the point?” I stammered, “Manikins are supposed to show what’s beautiful. If I have a figure that’s good, I’ll look like a manikin.”

My mom’s expression indicated disapproval still, “Wen, it looks artificial. It’s too tight, too pronounced.”

I retorted; she retorted. We dropped the issue and continued shopping, yet the idea haunted me.

True, I looked like a model on a runway, minus some inches. The color of the shirt brought out the whiteness of my skin. The fabric wrapped my figure perfectly. The right hair and pants would make me look fabulous…like a model, like a manikin.

Yes, I looked as good as a manikin on display. It was the world’s definition of beauty…but was it God’s?

My conscience weighed on me. At that point, I realized that I had crossed the line. There’s a difference between dressing attractively and dressing to attract, Shannon Harris says. I was trying to do the wrong one. As my eyes scanned the store, I was searching for clothes that would help me gain admiration or arouse jealousy, not for something that would glorify God.

God desires modesty. I had to submit.

Modesty means not trying to show off what should be concealed. Modesty means seeking His honor first. Modesty means guarding people’s hearts over exalting my own pride. And, modesty means seeking a quiet and gentle spirit more than the power of feminine physical appeal.

It’s not easy, especially when I can see the effects of immodesty upon others, including Christian male friends. It’s not easy to hand in a piece of clothing and ask for a larger size, when I would’ve looked “great” in a tighter one. It’s not easy to see attention going to those who succumb to the lure of immodesty. It’s not easy to subscribe to a values system opposite the world’s.

Yet I’ve heard enough times that modesty is the way to honor God and to help my brothers in Christ. It doesn’t seem logical, but it is what I must do.

So I handed in those pants for a looser pair; I replaced the shirt that was too transparent. There may be power in immodesty, but God’s favor rests with the obedient. It wasn’t easy, but I knew I had to do the right thing.

Ladies, let us trust God and encourage one another. Let us prioritize His approval over others’, and let us value His standards more than ours. Then guys…more than once has encouragement from a Christian brother strengthened me to pursue modesty. Please do continue. You have no idea how much your attentions influence us. Your compliment for a modest but pretty outfit does much good; your attraction to the immodest does much harm. Help us to help you, if I may say so.

As a girl, I can say that I find little pleasure in immodesty, yet much power in it. That power is what makes it desirable. Yet God help me. His standards, not mine, should be pursued. I was not nice to discover immodesty in my heart, yet it was also a test of my obedience. May God help prove me true.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Today marks the completion of our family's second year in our "new house," the spacious parsonage within our church's new building. We moved in with all our boxes and books exactly two years ago, and this place has been our home since then.

It's been two memorable years, two years that have changed so much about me.

Today is also the first anniversary of this blog...a year of heralding echoes of His love. It's been one year I won't easily forget.

From the introduction of high-speed internet to the possession of my own room at last, so many things in this apartment have changed my lifestyle. It gave me many new challenges, such as hosting church activities or keeping house in my parents' absence. It witnessed many material additions, such as my beloved laptop, or a foosball set in the middle of the living room.

It's been a churchful of memories, from dedication to demographics to discipline. There was the first time I sang at a wedding. There was the production of an all-original musical. There was the cocktail birthday party we made for my grandfather.

It's been a houseful of memories too, with so many firsts. There was the first time we siblings were left all alone for a week. There was the first time a guy intentionally "visited" me (against my permission, at that). There was the first time I coordinated an online camp meeting. There was the first time I took my SAT exams. There was the first time I converted my room to an all-girls' dressing room. There was the first time I literally cried myself to sleep over heartaches.

Then there is also this blog.

It's been a year of varying encounters and emotions. Rejection from the university of my choice, my brother's hospitalization, the dramatic growth of our church, the heart-rending incidents of church well as various reflections and piercing personal lessons on ministry, friendship, faith, and humility.

This blog has recorded them all.

I began this blog one year ago, under the influence of a friend. Yet today, this blog has proved to be far more than just a spur of the moment idea, but a committed ministry and personal desire. I don't know how much longer I'll be able to maintain this blog, given the changes looming ahead and transpiring today. Yet I do know that every day, every smile and tear is an echo of His love.

Some echoes sound hollow and cold; some sound familiar and warm. They're all echoes nonetheless. God speaks first, then there are echoes. God is the one who walks upon my life to leave His imprints.

Today was an anniversary of two things, two years which feel as if they included almost half of everything significant in my life so far. This post is nothing more than a memorandum for remembering the occasion. Yet even that does not lessen the work He has done, or is doing.

May He mold me even further, one year upon another.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

When God Whispers

God sometimes speaks directly through His inspired Word, sometimes through the lips or writings of others. I've been taught by wonderful people throughout my life, and I've also been told before that God encouraged or reprimanded others through me. I guess it's always been happening. Yet some things have gotten particularly poignant for me in the last two weeks.

God speaks when He chooses to speak, often using people to do so. It may be a harsh word, or it may be a gentle whisper. It often comes from people as imperfect as could be, yet still, He speaks.

He's been whispering so much to me, and unexpectedly, through me.

When I was beginning to wonder if my poems and compositions were becoming merely rhythmic rantings of personal frustrations, several readers were humble enough to tell me that those heartfelt utters were just what they needed to hear.

Just when I felt I had no right to guide other Christians any more, after messing up myself so, God gave me opportunities to encourage younger friends to avoid the pitfalls I have seen or experienced. Just when obeying God in interpersonal matters seems like the hardest thing in the world, He opened my eyes to see so many faithful friends around me still, caring and praying for me every single day.

And when, for one reason or another, I became more discouraged than I had ever been about preserving my heart until the right time for one who would desire it, deserve it, and earn it with a pure and undivided heart of his own...I received an e-mail from someone I have never met, an e-mail which tearily put me on the right track once more, reminding me that my heart is in His hands.

Some whispers were not as pleasant.

When I met a church member that I haven't seen for years, he told me he had been reading my blog...only to add in an unsympathetic tone, "You are just too melodramatic. It's not that bad."

That hurt, but it was the truth. God does not want me to wallow in self-pity. Seeing His imprints in my life was one thing, indulging in sentimentality was another. He wants me to do more than just dramatize my life. He calls me to shine for Him.

So many whispers in so little time...

And when I began my personal study on II Corinthians, He whispered: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God...(for all that) was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God."

He whispers love, He whispers discipline, He whispers grace.
He whispers so much, when we are sensitive, weak, and obedient enough to hear him.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Idolatrous I

In a blog, there are easy posts to write, posts written during moments of exuberance. There are difficult posts, posts that reveal my weaknesses. Yet the most challenging posts, are those written in the midst of struggles, pouring from sane mind battling with hurting heart and confused soul.

During such times, it seems natural to blame external factors for the heaviness within. Yet I know that's not what God wants from me. This might just be one of those most challenging posts, a post without answers. Yet we'll see what God does with it.

As the title suggests, I've been having private battles with idolatry. People wonder when I say that. Aren’t I one of the most blessed Christians they know? Granted the fact that idols may not always be material ones, isn't my life filled only with good things? From whence come the struggles?

Quoting C.S. Lewis, "There is but one good; that is God. Everything else is good when it looks to Him and bad when it turns from Him. And the higher and mightier it is in the natural order, the more demoniac it will be if it rebels...the false religion of lust is baser than the false religion of mother-love or patriotism or art; but lust is less likely to be made into a religion."

Maybe my life isn’t beset by desires and practices clearly contrary to God's Word, but there are plenty of "good things" that are harmful in their rebellion. This family, these ministries, these wonderful friends...all these things that are "higher and mightier in the natural order"...they might just make my downfall.

For the past few months, I've been pretentious to almost everyone. I pretended to be just moody to my family, feigned strength to my friends, and exhibited unusually gleeful appearances at church. Yet inside of me, there was pain, confusion, and remoteness from God.

I appeared okay, but I was far from okay. No longer was God the determinant in my life. Although I obeyed Him and sought His will, although I remained faithful in my ministries, my life and heart were not under His control. The measure of my well-being was dependent upon other factors, not upon Him.

I was in idolatry. I was idolizing my ministerial accomplishments, I was idolizing "harmless" pleasures, and most of all, I was idolizing what position I held in others' hearts.

God called me back, with pain, and with things that offended my pride unlike others ever did. God called me back by showing how those “good things” had gone bad.

I did try to return to God, theoretically. Yet all the while, I was obstinately clinging on to the things that I wanted, the way I wanted them to be...I didn't want to let go of the "good things” that had come between me and God, since I denied that they did.

Last week, I gave it up. I don’t want to wait until God destroys those things altogether. I want to be near His heart again now.

I gave it up, I let go. It hurts, and it requires discipline daily. Yet I know it’s for the better. I don’t want further harm done. I want freedom to live my life the way God wants it…and He’ll decide whether those “good things” would return, and when they return.

There is an undeniable sting. It’s never easy to live without “good things” that have become part of my life. Yet at the same time, there is a peace within me. It’s the knowledge that I’m at peace with God. It’s the overwhelming comfort that I am once again an unarmed child in His hands, praying, “Lord, into Your hands I commit my heart.”

I know this post will betray me to many people. There are different readers… those who will think if I’ve been hiding anything from them, those who will be disturbed that there’s something wrong with the sweet wenslyn picture in their minds, those who will wonder if it had anything to do with them, those who will think less of me because of this.

I don’t want to think about that now. My pride shouldn’t matter.

Friends, please look around you. Be thankful for the good things in your life, yet never let them shatter your other priorities and callings. These things may be undeniably good and noble, but they might still hold misplaced value in your life, or the way you treat them might be wrong. I speak, I write, I weep from experience.

Now, I don’t have answers. I’m still slowly returning to Him. I just hope that this lesson stays with me better after this…and perhaps with those around me.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

"Princess Wenslyn"--Part II

In my former entry, I briefly mentioned many facets of life as an "heiress" of Filipino-Chinese ministry. Yet there is one facet that often encompasses the rest.

I know I am blessed, and I often use this blog to remind myself of that fact. I am privileged to receive the training, the love, the direction, and the provision that came with my position. However, there is one problem. The problem with being treated like "Princess Wenslyn," is that I often fool myself into believing that I really am royalty.

Of the several hundreds people I know, 95 percent do not have consistent contact with me outside of churches or religious organizations. Therefore, these are people who see my angelic side, and that side only. How hard is it to be kind at church? It is relatively easy, and people are usually amicable at church.

What I hear 95 percent of the time, therefore, are praises.

It really gets to the head.

It is usually unnoticeable to the common observer, but even in ministry, there is popularity. When I search my motives for ministry, I often have to confront the ugly polutant of church popularity in my heart. I want to be people's favorite translator, pianist, assistant, BS leader, and the like. It makes me glad to hear people calling my name, asking for my attention.

It really gets to the mind.

Then interpersonally, it gets uglier. When a person thinks of herself as a princess, how would she treat her friends? I know my true self is a pain to be with, and only a few, if any, know those true colors. A princess thinks she deserves admiration from her peers, a princess thinks she is to be ranked as "better" than others her age, a princess believes her charm would enchant any guy, a princess believes she deserves more praises, more attention, more gifts, more friends, more admirers, more esteem than if she had earned any of that at all. A princess believes she is more important than everyone else.

It really gets to the heart. Or no, it really is from the heart.

Recently, God has been showing me the imperfections of Christian leaders, be they my seniors or my peers. That includes, of course, myself. And as I survey the different cases, I find the one common pitfall--pride.

In my case, pride is what fools me into believing I am better than others. Perhaps I may be blessed uniquely. Perhaps I do have certain skills or knowledge that are unusual for my age. Yet those do not make me deserve anything more. In the kingdom of God, a princess is a servant, and His kingdom comes first.

It is a hard truth to chew, and even harder to apply. Yet I know most of my struggles can be lessened in intensity, if I were only willing to listen to God in this one.

I am and I am not "Princess Wenslyn." I am a princess in that I have a portion in my Father's kingdom, but I am not a princess in everything else. I must not dwell upon the praises, I must not "serve" in order to win people's favor, and I must never contend that I deserve more esteem or more care than others do. Then most of all, I must let those principles reign in my heart, beyond pretentious rules of etiquette.

If only I would listen to this lesson, life would be easier. Father, let me learn.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Lucky in Love

Well, I'm not exactly lucky, I'm actually blessed. And I'm not in love, at least not in the world's terms. I know people mostly wouldn't dream of calling me lucky at this hour--a 19-year-old girl blogging alone on Valentine's Eve. Yet, I guess, I've always refused to see things two-dimensionally.

In matters of romance...

I am blessed, because I do not have materialistic parents. Although they want the best for their children, my parents do not over-value wealth. They have never tried to matchmake me with any rich guy, and they have never favored one admirer over another by materialistic standards. I am never pressured to marry for money, nor for all of the earthly comforts money could bring.

Then I am blessed because I have a loving family. Even if I am single, I'm still secure and loved. I do not need to use romance as an escape or relief from domestic woes.

I am blessed because I've always been taught to prepare for a husband, rather than long for a boyfriend. I am blessed because I was taught to save my first kiss, perhaps my first love, and all the rest while I still hadn't given them away.

And I've never noted this until some friends called it a blessing...since I'm brought up and prominent within a Christian circle, the guys who actually notice me are mostly Christians. I am not tempted to lower my religious beliefs because of non-Christians' romantic attention.

And most of all, I am blessed...for I have already found the love of my life. What romance do I need to long for, when I already have God's love in me? Anything else would merely be bonus. I only need His love.

Now, it would be wonderful to end my post here, in the spirit of a thankful and selfless Christian girl. Yet that's not the only side of me.

I'll be honest. I don't think like this all of the time. I'm human, I'm selfish, and I'm childish. There are still times, and quite often I'm afraid, when I'm overrun by discontentment, impatience, or jealousy.

Sometimes, I feel rebellious over my parents' principles. Sometimes, I get upset that godly matters (such as walking the path of ministry) would turn away a handsome and charming admirer or two. My heart often taunts my mind with many questions...

Howcome my best friends are of marriageable age, while I'm left behind? Howcome I can't have the gratification of romance now? Howcome people who are less prepared than I am for relationships actually have them...but I don't?

I know I can keep sane from these emotional self-inquisitions only by His grace and wisdom. I know that I am blessed. After all, I've stated so many reasons why I am. I also know that the best chapters of my lovelife, be it spent in falling in love with my future husband or in learning to serve Him as a single, are still yet to come.

I write this post as an offering of thanksgiving, and as a reaction to what people might say of my current position. Yet more than that, I write this also to remind myself, and maybe others like me, that we are already blessed.

We are nothing, yet He loves us. Even now, we are blessed. May I, may we all, always remain thankful, content, and faithful to Him.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

As Faithful As He

As children of God, we're called to imitate Christ, His qualities, thoughts, and deeds. We're commanded to love as He does, to preach as He did, to pursue His standards of holiness, to serve as He serves. Yet we all know, it's easier said than done.

I've always been conscious of some character struggles. I battle with pride, discipline, and temperance. I need to strive for humility, wisdom, submission, and selflessness. I've always known these problems. I know I have to imitate Christ in these.

Yet recently, God gave me a greater understanding of His one quality that I never did, and probably never will, fully comprehend--yes, faithfulness.

It's easy to tolerate a church co-worker's one offensive statement; after all, everyone's human. It's part of Christian life to practice compassion and patience, knowing God does the work in people's hearts. It isn't hard to declare that one would support one's friends always, with unconditional Christlike love. That's easy to say.

Forgiveness, compassion, patience, love...they're easy to have, one at a time. Yet I seem to fail in them all, when comes the test of faithfulness, the test of time and heart.

What happens when a ministry leader offends and commits mistakes repeatedly, unapologetically? What do I do when I find frustration in ministry...not because of the ministries, but because of the people? God calls me to focus on Him. He calls me to keep on with a pure heart of service. He calls me to be faithful.

What happens when all the care and compassion I give go thankless or seemingly fruitless? What when my heartfelt, painstaking advice to people's questions goes unheeded and ignored? God calls me to continue working, continue praying. It's all in His hands. I must continue to reach out to everyone around me. He calls me to be faithful.

I've struggled with self-righteousness. I complain in my heart that I do not deserve such treatment. Why should I sacrifice time and heart to care for people who wouldn't appreciate it, to guide people who wouldn't heed, and to support people who wouldn't treasure my help? When a ministry goes wrong because of others' mistakes, I'm tempted to give it up. When multiple people come complaining over the results of their own folly, asking for my comfort and concern, I'm tempted to bark "I told you so" and give them up. After all...I have every right to do so, don't I? I've already done my best, haven't I?

Yet when I turn to God to complain, eight words silence me.

"How often do you do that to ME?"

I cannot answer Him. How often do I treat God with ungratefulness and impatience? How often do I come crying to Him, asking Him to fix what He had told me not to do? How often do I treat Him a thousand times worse than others had treated me? Every day, I'm afraid...almost every single day.

Faithfulness is unlike any other quality, for it is the consistency of all of them together. At times, when I want to give up on anything, I remember Him. He is faithful, and so should I be. I deserve nothing; I am privileged to know Him, to reflect who He is.

May we learn to be faithful, as our Father is.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Daddy's Little Girl

People always feel that it takes maturity for a girl to outgrow her father's protection, yet today I realized that it's the opposite. It takes maturity to accept and appreciate one's position as daddy's little girl.

When it was decided that my dad would accompany me to have a skin test taken this morning, I wasn't enthusiastic. I wondered if it would be boring, or whether my dad would inquisition me during the trip. Yet as I woke up sleep-deprived to prepare for breakfast, the skin test, and some errands at the mall, reality proved me wrong. It was a beautiful morning.

Some people might think I enjoyed our activities because it was about me, or because there was expensive breakfast food or a nice ride. Yet that wasn't it. What made a simple morning of errands leave a deep impression on me...was the warmth of knowing I was loved.

Why would my dad drive me personally when the church driver was available? Why did he pay the expensive valet parking fee to accompany me when he could've waited at the parking lot and leave me to myself? Why would he do the waiting at the hospital payment counter, to let me relax in the lounge section?

The initial observer might think him rude to flip the newspaper while we were eating. My less mature self would feel cross that he wouldn't trust me to handle the small test alone. I would've felt ashamed that my dad couldn't muster the word "pulmonary" clearly enough to make himself understood at the reception counter, or that he tried to answer all the questions for me.

The pulmonary medicine section was filled with children, and if I'd been more childish, I would've squirmed in discomfort. It wasn't exactly nice to answer "19" when the nurse asked for my age...especially when others were answering "7" or "8." It sounded stupid to be asking my dad what to do at every stop we made.

Yet inside of me, there was an understanding I never had before.

This was a father's way of loving, and the times he could actually take me around as a little girl are growing fewer and fewer in number. I had the ability to handle things on my own, but he just wanted to do those things for me, with me. No matter his answers were "yes" or "no" to my requests, I knew, with teary eyes behind his back, that he was grasping for the fleeting chances of having his only daughter be his little girl.

A father was there to guarantee I didn't lack anything. A father was there to order me, yet to help me. And during a time of my life when even unacquainted cashiers or young doctors would cast side glances and ask for my name...a father was there for my security, to be someone to whom I could say, "Help me guard myself, until the right and real one comes along."

I'm thankful to God, very thankful, that He gave me the chance to see the beauty of the situation before I have outgrown it. There's nothing to be ashamed of if people laugh at him. There's nothing to complain about if I appear helpless (as long as I'm not). I know that each little action of self-sacrifice was motivated by a father's love grasping at the moments left in my girlhood.

And when I find myself hurt or disillusioned at the end of stubborn pursuits and empty hopes...there's is nothing better than a father's protective, unconditional love to remind me of the Father from above.

I'm daddy's little girl, not because I need it...but because he loves me that way, and because I've been blessed with the maturity to see the wonder of it all. I've actually grown into daddy's little girl. Imagine that.

Monday, January 7, 2008

New Year Reflections

It's my first post for the new year, and I write it with mixed feelings. My family spent the new year abroad this year, and I was given many opportunities to reflect upon the past and coming years. Yet in spite of that, it's been confusing.

The year 2007 was the most dramatic year in my life so far. There were many first-time experiences, many new observations, many awakening realizations, and many things that would leave permanent markings in my life's history.

Ministerially, I was pushed to my limits both in skills and in partnership. I grew through expectations and through friction. In terms of my family, I grew to realize how many things take effort. And in my widening and deepening social circle, I found new friends in numbers that overtook all the years before. I was put to the test in every area, in mind, in soul, in deed, in heart, and in spirit.

I coped with a changing identity as our church grew. I faced thrilling moments as well as times of depression. I learned to reach out to many young people dealing with questions in salvation, in friendship, and in love. I faced rejection from the university of my choice; I experienced the shattering of most of the "normalcy" in my life.

It was a year of pain and growth. It was a year of memories. Yet most of all, it was a year that made God all the more real to me. Never before had trust become more real than in those moments of pain and confusion. Never before had His faithfulness and love been more precious than in those times of uncertainty.

As I look to the year ahead, I can see no clear direction. It will probably be a year as dramatic, if not more dramatic than the year before. I feel unsettled, but I don't fear. The past year was a revelation of God's reality in my life, and the coming year would be the best chance for me to apply that knowledge into words and actions.

As a child, I used to long for drama, and I even complained that I did not have enough of it in my life. Yet now that life is starting to have irregularities for me, I'm experiencing how all the "dramatic elements" do not exist for their own sake, but to sharpen me for His glory.

I don't know what to expect from the year ahead. But God is real in my life, and that's all that matters.