This story is about me, God… and Gary V.

Sometime in the late ’80s…

There we were, my friend and I, two teenage girls pulling an all-nighter. No, we were not finishing a paper or a project, or anything close to that…

We were doing what normal teenagers do on sleepovers — chat the whole night. We were listening to our favorite songs and we chatted. At times we giggled a lot… certain moments, we whispered to each other about our secrets, fears and dreams. 

It was a long night.  At some point, we decided to pretend that we were making a music video of a favorite Filipino song. The artist: this singer popularly known as Mr. Pure Energy, Gary Valenciano. The song: Di Bale Nalang.

Di Bale Nalang. Still the best dance song in my book up to today. Best dance song ever. (Insert Gary V. dance moves here…)

***

I was  am a huge Gary V. fan. The very first live concert that I watched was Gary V’s. I was in sixth grade then.

Hmm, now that I am thinking about it, I think I watched an Air Supply concert prior to that… but that doesn’t count because I never really liked them (I can belt out most of their mushy songs, though. But, duh!). So yeah, I will stick to my story — The first concert that I watched live was Gary V’s. And I have been a fan ever since. 

You know how teenagers can memorize the lyrics of the songs they liked? Well, I was once a teenager, too… And I practically memorized most, if not, all of Gary V’s songs then. Yes, even the ones which were not that popular, both fast and slow. 

I can proudly say that I still remember most of them up to now… Insert Gary V. moves here again... 🙂  

***

Was there ever a time in your life when everything seems to be going right, yet you know that there is still something missing? Or how about that time when nothing is going right and you don’t know where to look for that one thing that can or will sustain you? 

The year was 2006. On the outside I seemed to have everything I needed in life. I had a family, I was raising a wonderfully gifted child, and we were living comfortably. Things seemed perfect. But they were not.

I was not happy. There were times when I felt dead inside. My relationship with my husband was in shambles. I was exhausted. I felt I deserved more from life. I didn’t know if I wanted to be where I was.

I had everything and I had nothing.

One evening over dinner, my husband told me that his friend, an old schoolmate, invited us to his Church. I remember my husband saying, Let’s try something new… It won’t hurt. 

I just shrugged and said okay. Whatever.

His friend’s name? Gary Valenciano.

***

That following Sunday, we attended Church service at New Life Christian Center for the first time. 

And there he was — Gary V., in the flesh. So while everybody was singing, worshiping, I was there watching him.

gary v

One Big Fan

I think a Gary V. album was playing in my head the whole time. I didn’t know any of the worship songs, anyway. 

Besides, I also didn’t really know what I was doing in that Church — or what was expected of me.  I was happy enough to see my idol.

I was fangirling quietly.

After service, my husband introduced me to Gary. We talked a bit. Actually, he talked more because I was so starstruck that I couldn’t think of anything smart to say. I just mostly smiled.  

I was a totally different person the weekend after that. We went back to Church the Sunday after, and I came prepared. I told myself that if Gary was there and I’ll be introduced again, I will be friendlier. 

He was there again. And this conversation transpired right after service:

  • Gary: Hi! Good to see you guys again here in Church! (Or something like that)
  • Me: *while fanning my face with my hands*  Hi Gary! Oh gosh, I am a big fan!!!!
  • Gary : *Smiles and turns red*
  • Me: *still fanning my face* No, really. Bata palang ako, Gary Valenciano ka na!!! (You were already Gary Valenciano even when I was still very young). I know the lyrics of ALL your songs!
  • Gary: *still blushing, and probably thinking, How old are you, anyway??* But now you’re not a fan anymore, we’re now friends!
  • Me: No, I’m still a fan!! I will always be a fan!!!
  • Husband: *practically pushed me away before I embarrassed myself — and Gary– more* Bye Gary! See you next week. (Or something like that. I really don’t remember because I was still reeling from excitement.)

My husband apparently never took me seriously when I mentioned before that I was a big fan. He only realized it that day.

But God knew. And God also knew how He can get my attention. 

***

We have been going to the same Church — from that Sunday up to today, for almost eleven (11) years now. 

We rarely saw Gary V. after that because he is, after all, a celebrity and a busy guy. But we met a lot of people and made new friends. We grew spiritually as a family. The Church became our second home — the Church people, our second family. 

In that Church, I found what my spirit was searching for. I found the relationship that was lacking in my life. I found the God Who provides me with strength and sustenance during trying times. The same God who gives me peace and joy, whatever season in life I may be in.

We often mistakenly see God as this Almighty Being, Someone Who is way up there… Some Authority Who will judge or punish us for every wrongdoing. Someone unreachable.

But God is a Father. And like any father, He wants a relationship with us. He knows what we need and He wants to give us every good thing. Yet we have to heed His call. 

We have to want to know more of Him.

God knew how to get my attention… He used a Gary Valenciano.

Gary v NL

        Finally, a picture in Church!!           (taken just a couple of years ago)

God also made me realize that yes, He has been watching me all these years. He knew what makes me smile, what makes me listen and pay attention. 

God saw where I was and He called me to lead me somewhere better.

Gary V concert

See? Gary and I are friends now! 

I also believe that God has a sense of humor. 

❤ ❤ ❤

Where are you in life right now? Maybe you should allow God to surprise you, as well? 🙂 

***

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.” – Psalms 32:8 

*****

photos are all mine 🙂

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The Birthday Blog

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First of December 2016 selfie

Dear Diary,

So, I am turning 27 again in a couple of days.

I can imagine my friends shaking their heads no… but hey, it is my birthday. Indulge me.

For the past couple of weeks, I have been complaining that my back has been hurting and my neck and shoulder muscles have been pretty tight and stiff. I think it’s stress related. Now I am realizing that this normally happens to me whenever December comes and my birthday is nearing. Getting another year older stresses me out somewhat.

Getting older means having wrinkles, eyebags with baby bags and skin that won’t defy gravity. It is also about that extra five pounds that just won’t go away but easily manages to double after a drink of mocha or a bite of brownie. It’s about the body aches that you suddenly feel even after not really doing anything strenuous. Sometimes I am just sitting in the car and my neck will start hurting — and it’s not as if I craned it to take a selfie or something.  

Of course I don’t want to die young… but it’s the looking old, getting wrinkled and all part that bothers me. Maybe this is neurotic, but you know how vain I am, so the pain — and fear — are genuine.  

True beauty emanates from within. Maybe I should make that my mantra.

Excuse me as I get more expensive moisturizers and eye gels… Brb.

Love, Shallow Betsy ❤

❤ ❤ ❤

The Real Thing

So, I am celebrating my birthday in a couple of days. I think this is the perfect time to look back on the year that passed before I let it go and start another year…

As with the other years, this year I met new people, formed new friendships… only to see some friendships fizzle out even before the relationship can take off.

People really come and go. Some stay longer than others. Some stay as long as it’s convenient or you have something in common. Still there are others who just stay, regardless.  These are the ones you can call your real friends. 

I am thankful for my friends — whether old or new. They make life interesting and fun. The old ones keep me sane and grounded, while the new ones inspire me to be the best version of myself always (lest they change their minds and think that I am a flake, after all!). 

The past year was not devoid of challenges, frustrations and disappointments. And yet my God has always been faithful and He always came through for me.

I may not have had all the things that I wanted, but this year He gave me a desire of my heart. (Insert shameless plug of the book here: Twenty Years in Between, now available at Central Books AND Fully Booked!! Grab a copy now! 🙂 ) A childhood wish turned real. 

This year I learned that one is never too old to dream — or to go after a dream. Truly, the only one who can limit you is yourself. 

Indeed, I have so much to be thankful for. 

I thank God for my family and friends and for the love that they provide. I am thankful for good health — especially that of my parents’ and I pray that they will have many more years of being active and happy.

I am thankful for the opportunities thrown my way that allow me to grow as a person. I am thankful for the skills and talents that I possess (Here’s to more write ups, blogs and selfies…).

I am thankful that I look the way I do (Gorgeous, according to my brainwashed besties) … Though if God will make me miraculously lose several more pounds, I will be more thankful. 😉

I am thankful that every day I am protected and I have angels all around me.

I am thankful that God guards my heart and that though it sometimes breaks, experiences hurts and pains, it doesn’t remain broken and bitter because Someone up there keeps it whole and happy. 

Surely the blessings far outweigh the bad times. And I can’t help but be expectant of more good things in the year to come. 

Joy — like true beauty –emanates from within

Here’s to another joyous and beautiful year ahead. Happy 27th birthday to me… 🙂  

❤ ❤ ❤

photo credit: Selfie belongs to me!!

Reflections

anchor

God keeps me safe

Psalms 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

**ANCHOR. Picture a ship at a dock. It does not go anywhere, but it still moves. It follows the ebb and flow of the waves. It doesn’t stay still. The wind and the water move it. To and fro, side to side. Sometimes the current is smooth and the waves move slowly, softly. At times, the waters are rough.

Anchors are used to keep the ship in place. It is supposed to connect the ship to the seabed, to provide a firm hold so as to prevent the vessel from drifting.

Certain situations and circumstances in life make it difficult for us to stay still. Just like a sea vessel, we go where the wind and the current take us. It is easy to drift away, get lost in the storm, crash into big rocks… Not unless you have an anchor that will keep you in place. An anchor that will not let you drift away, despite the storm that is brewing around you.

Everyday I thank God for being my Anchor. I rest in the knowledge that no matter how hard the wind blows and how strong the currents are, He keeps me in place. I know that even when I get weary and just too exhausted, He will provide me with that firm hold so that I will not drift far away.

He will do the work that on my own I will not be able to do. 

What is your anchor? WHO is your anchor? Who keeps you in place and keeps you at peace? ❤

***

A couple of months ago, I decided that I will begin each week with a Bible verse and my reflections posted on my Facebook account. I tried to be consistent… unfortunately, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Mondays will pass without me being able to post anything… Sometimes one whole week passes — no Bible verse, no reflection.

Things happen. We don’t always get to do what we planned to do. We get preoccupied. We get so busy. We turn our attention elsewhere. Life happens.

But then despite the chaos, the busyness, all of a sudden we find ourselves with extra time in our hands. Time we can use to think, to reflect… to pray.

This is one of those times. Today was one of those days. I was able to post my reflections on Facebook… And then I told myself, why not share it in my blog, as well?

I may not be able to do this consistently every Monday, but I will try. Sometimes, an encouraging word is all we need to get us through the day — or week.

Have a blessed week! 🙂

*****

photo via google images

Me, Myself and I

selfie

sheer talent

Everyone who knows me — and I mean, who TRULY knows me — would also know what a selfie-freak I am.  Oh yes, I have that Kim Kardashian blood running through my veins.  I have so mastered the the art of taking selfies that most of my photos look like they were taken by someone else.  I’m that good! (Or maybe, I also just have long arms…)

I love making photo books, too.  I have already made several photo books of our family trips and vacations… birthday parties — of my son and my nephews… just recently I made a photo book of my sister’s family’s vacation.  The whole process of picking what pictures to put and decorating the album with various frames and art work, plus choosing the background color or theme of each page, all these somehow destress me.  And it’s nice to look at the finished product.  

It is always nice to look at pictures that capture special moments in time.

Sometime late last year, I was able to purchase a voucher for a 40-paged 6×6 photo book at such a low price. Believe me, the amount was insanely low that I couldn’t pass up the chance of getting one. Recently, though, I was notified that said voucher was expiring. Oh no!!  I didn’t want it to go to waste… But I didn’t have any project in line, as well.

And then the bright idea… Since I have already made gazillion photo books for the family, I thought to myself, why not make one for, uhm, myself, this time?  Besides, I had loads of selfies to choose from — saved in whatever gadget I have (two cellphones and an iPad, to be more precise… plus the desktop files…). This should be interesting.

let me take a selfie

say “selfie!”

So I gifted myself with a photo book of MY selfies. A 40-paged album filled with photos of no one but myself.  Photos I took of myself at different places, different times of the day, from the past 5 or so years to the present.  All solo shots. All me.

Me, myself and I.    It was narcissism at the highest level. 

I had a blast making it… Though I don’t know if I can say the same about the guy who had to print the album. My face probably haunted him in his dreams afterwards. 😉

***

I have always been vain.  My childhood and high school friends can attest to that. I always make sure that I look my best every time, everywhere. My pocket mirror, hair brush and lipstick are — and will always be — my bestest friends.  I can stare at myself in the mirror for half an hour and not get tired. I guess it just follows that for me, taking selfies is not just a skill, it’s a talent.

But truth be told, these narcissistic tendencies of mine don’t stem from having that feeling of being superior. It’s also not because I admire myself so much. On the contrary, most of the time, I have self esteem issues.  I lack the confidence. There’s this fear of being not good enough and of being judged by other people.

When I was much younger, my belief was if I don’t look good, then there is nothing about me that people will like.  People will think I am not good enough.  My self-image was hinged on my looks. My self confidence was dependent on my physical appearance. Thus, I took pains in making sure that I always looked my best.

In time I realized that true beauty emanates from inside. Inner peace, love and joy can give one the natural glow that no make up brand, no matter how expensive, can match. 

I still struggle, every now and then. Whenever I gain a few pounds… or I see a wrinkle here and there, or a line under my eyes… or I feel my cheeks starting to sag… I do feel bad.  It still gets to me. 

I am still vain. I still enjoy staring at myself in the mirror — and yes, taking selfies. Taking selfies is my way of capturing and preserving my moments. It is my way of celebrating myself.

Yet I have learned to accept that though I am not the best, I know that I am beautiful. I am beautiful because I am a child of God… His grace sustains me.

Besides, I also rest in the knowledge that people who truly love me will love and accept me, wrinkles and all.

***

We were all young once…

Two year old Me.

Betsy 001

pure, wide-eyed and innocent

“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;” – Psalms 139:14

 *****

photo credits : via google images; black & white pic of the cute little girl was from my mom. 

#Thankful

rainbow

Life is beautiful

Truly there are so many things to be grateful for.  Sometimes, though, certain situations wear us down.

I have those moments, too.  Moments when life’s uncertainties just sow fear in me, enough to make me feel sick with worry. Sometimes I end up feeling sorry for myself.

When I go through challenges, no matter how trivial they may be, sometimes I find myself asking, “Why this? Why me? ”

But then, when I stop focusing on myself and my woes… When I stop and look around me, these are what I see–

  • I see people carrying their own share of burdens.  Sometimes lighter, oftentimes heavier than mine.
  • I see people who may have less in life yet who also have bigger smiles. 
  • I may see people who are proud, yet I also see selfless and loving ones. 
  • I see the opportunities that have been laid down in front of me.  Opportunity to help a brother in need… opportunity to showcase talent… opportunity to be the best Me that I can be.
  • I see all those times I surpassed a challenge — and came out stronger, better, wiser. 
  • I see all the answered prayers.
  • I also see the innumerable blessings that I have been showered with all these years.
  • I see all those times that my God pulled through for me.

And I go back to being thankful.

***

Be still and know that I am God. – Ps. 46:10

*****

photo via google image