Slow down, take time, breathe in…

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This book just turned 1!! 

Over the weekend we were at this popular bookstore near our place to look for my son’s assigned books/textbooks for college. I knew that the said bookstore carries my book (uhm, my published novella) —   I personally delivered their copies sometime in January of this year. Out of curiosity, I tried to check where my book was displayed and yes, I wanted to know how many copies were left on the rack.

I walked around the store but couldn’t find one copy, so I went and asked Customer Service. So the staff checked their computer, then asked me to follow her… and led me to a pushcart, not so far from the counter. When I asked where they were supposed to move or display the books, I was told, “Oh, these are for pull out.”

Okay, so my eyes opened wide, my jaw dropped (and yeah, my heart pretty much broke). Casually I asked the salesgirl, Who ordered the books to be pulled out – and why? Basically she couldn’t answer. She looked at the other clerks who at that time were all listening in and staring at us. Nobody could offer an explanation. They just said the books are to be returned to the supplier. When I told them I am the supplier and I was not told about the pullout, they just all gave me a blank stare.

Calmly I told the salesgirl that I will just get in touch with Purchasing department. Hopefully they have the answers. I turned to leave before I ended up saying something mean – or throw a fit, or have a meltdown.

A LOT of things ran in my mind… Only a few people bought my book… Maybe it was too expensive?… My fault for not really marketing it…  Maybe I suck as a writer?!… Why do I even write when no one reads me anyway?! … What a loser… And so on, and so forth.

On my way out of the bookstore, I told my son, “Now I feel bad.”

At that time, I pretty much allowed eight unsold books to define me… and to ruin my evening.

Don’t we all experience those days?

Nothing seems to be going your way… Expectations are not met… Prayers are left unanswered… People disappoint… You feel lost… You don’t know your purpose… People do or say things that mess up your psyche… Circumstances strip you of your confidence, make you question your worth… People are hurtful and insensitive… We don’t know the answer to our many why’s.

The world can be cruel. It can weigh you down.

That is if you will allow it to.

For the past several weekends, our Worship Team in Church had been singing the song “Take Courage” by Bethel Music.  Over and over.

It’s about taking courage, holding steadfast, holding on to hope. It’s about waiting and watching for your triumph to unfold.

I kept hearing the song in Church. Over and over.

It was when I started having those days — Those seemingly bad days… Those I feel like such a loser kind of days… It was then that I realized that the song was being played for me. Over and over.

My God’s reminder that something good is about to come. Just wait.

When I got home from the bookstore that evening, I found a message waiting in my social media account. From halfway around the world, someone was telling me how excited she was that she finally got hold of a copy of my book. I believe God sent this angel to cheer me up. I hope she knows she was my angel that evening.

And to further make me feel better, a few minutes later, I received another message from another time zone — from someone I hardly talked to — telling me how much my blogs inspire her and that she enjoyed reading them. Totally unexpected.

Right when my self confidence was starting to spiral down, it was like I was reminded to just chill.

It happens. We get tired and weary. The world can be mean. 

But as the song goes, Slow down, take time, breathe in… He’d reveal what’s to come.  

In the meantime, God sends angels to comfort us, remind us that everything will be well.

Sharing with you the link to the song ‘Take Courage’… Because someone might be needing it right now.

 

Girl friends make the world go round

It was one fine Monday evening. My best friend and I were at Cafe Mary Grace having early dinner, sipping our Sangrias, and chatting to our hearts’ extent.

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April 3, 2017

We were exchanging stories – catching up on the things we haven’t talked about and rehashing the ones we already have.

We recalled being at the same restaurant some 6 months back, talking about going on a trip to Europe together. We talked then about London, Paris and Dublin. When we felt the idea was quite far-fetched, we settled with just going on a shopping spree somewhere in Asia – like Hongkong or Singapore.

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Dreamin’ of Dublin… October 2016

That was six months ago. It’s now early April and the farthest we have been to together this year so far is, well, this mall.  We laughed at the realization.

We laughed and giggled a lot over dinner. It was a light evening spent with a friend.

Everything was all good.

❤ ❤

I have recently been invited to join this discussion group for women on Facebook. It was a closed group and the members were strictly women only. The group was set-up to serve as an avenue where women can discuss motherhood and womenhood.   Members of the group can ask parenting questions on child rearing, kids’ education, health matters, you name it. Members may also advertise their businesses, ask for contacts or referrals.  

Women helping other women. Mothers reaching out to other mothers.

I joined the group mainly for the network. I felt it was a good place to get information on things I may need or stuff I am looking for. 

A member may also opt to post anonymously, meaning the group admin will be the one to upload the question or inquiry to hide the identity of the person involved.  Most of these Anonymous Posts pertain to Family Relationships, Issues or Problems.

I don’t always read the posts, especially the long ones, but there was this one post last week that somewhat struck me.  It was a desperate cry for help.

This female – a wife and a mother – was asking the group if she can be referred to a center which can help her fight her depression. She said she has been feeling very low for quite some time now and that no one, not even her husband nor her “friends” seem to understand nor take her seriously.

For her to reach out to a group of strangers, I could only surmise how lost and alone she must be feeling. I truly felt sorry for her.

And then I remembered my girl friends, and I can’t help but be thankful that I have them.

❤ ❤

No one should go through life alone. 

I believe that friendship is a product of shared time, experiences, trust and love. I also believe that not everybody can be your friend… But you know that they are real friends when they stick by you through thick or thin. They love you, they are loyal, and you are confident that they will have your back at all times.  

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I may not have a gazillion friends, but I know who I can share my laughter and heartaches with… who will listen as I rant about petty stuff and who will rant along with me…

I know who shares my “self-righteousness” and who won’t judge me when I judge others… I have friends I can dream of going to South of France with – the same ones who will don a Japanese schoolgirl outfit with me on a dare…

I know whom I can bare my heart and soul to… the ones who believe in me even more than I believe in myself – the same ones who will keep pushing me to go after a dream.

And these are the same people I know I will stick my neck out for when the need arises.

❤ ❤

If you are feeling lost and alone, reach out to a friend. It may be your sister, your mom, or, okay, even your spouse. A friend may be someone you have known all your life, like an old schoolmate or a cousin, or maybe someone you met in Church.

I believe we don’t need a hundred friends. A handful of loyal ones will do.

They are the ones who share your joy when good things happen. They are also the ones who will be with you, who will listen, hold your hand, and pray with you at your time of need.  

Because life is not always easy… and NO ONE should go through life alone.

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Laughing about anything and everything ❤

And good times get better when shared with people you love.

Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

photos are all mine 🙂

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.

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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.

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        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 🙂

Being a Better Me

The last two weeks of December pretty much breezed by. 

There were endless get-togethers, last-minute shopping sprees and gift wrappings, family reunions with overabundance of food (with everything seemingly delectable, yummy but utterly sinful, and totally irresistible)… And we wonder how we gained those unwanted pounds. 😦

I can personally say, though, that aside from the full stomach, December left me with a full heart, too.  A heart full of love and joy.

Spending time with family and friends reminded me what true joy is about… what love is about. It is about having a certain sense of belonging and acceptance. It is about knowing that you are with people you love and who also love you back, regardless of who you are, what you have been through… People who are ready and willing to accept your flaws and quirks.  

It is about feeling at home and armed with the knowledge that there are people who value you, who will stand by you and protect you when need be. 

When you have joy and love in your heart, you are somewhat braver to face whatever tomorrow brings.  It gives you courage to conquer the new year and whatever surprises it has in store.

❤ ❤ ❤

I am a “New Year’s Resolutions” person. It has been a childhood practice of mine to list down the things I ‘promise’  I will do (or in some cases, not do) in the coming year.  

Yes, I normally start with : Lose five pounds… And truth be told, I don’t think I ever lost those five pounds.  Maybe sometimes I do, but I most likely gain them back when December comes… plus a couple more. 😦 

When no one else knows about your resolutions, chances are you will end up ignoring them or forgetting them altogether. It is never easy to lose those five pounds, you know. It IS easier to forget that you even thought of wanting to lose weight.

And so, to challenge myself this year, let me share with you my 2017 resolutions. 

If you are a friend and you see that I am getting off track, feel free to tap me on the shoulder — or send me a text message– and let me know. I will try not to feel bad nor get offended (…nor punch you on the face). Promise. 🙂 

Here goes — in no particular order of importance…

My 2017 ‘Be a Better Me’ list:

I will…

  • lose at least five (5) pounds. Yes, this still tops the list.
  • eat healthier.
  • walk more.
  • have regular spa treatments (facial, massage, etc.)
  • not scrimp on good moisturizers and body lotions.
  • wear more skirts and dresses.
  • be more positive; get rid of negativity and grudges.
  • leave hurtful events, people, memories behind.
  • do my best not to get easily offended by other people.
  • smile more; be friendlier.
  • learn how to take a compliment.
  • laugh at/make fun of myself more; learn how to loosen up.
  • be more patient with people, even the difficult ones — most especially, the difficult and overbearing ones. 
  • read my bible daily.
  • fill my head and my heart with worship and praise songs.
  • NOT listen to sad songs, especially when I am having an off day… they simply don’t help.
  • talk to my parents and spend time with them regularly.
  • make more time for my friends.
  • write more.
  • start writing my next book.
  • NOT be embarrassed to share my work, my talent and my thoughts.
  • still take selfies as much as I can, and enjoy every minute of it!
  • take photos to document my day.
  • make more picture books / photo albums.
  • read more books — one book a month, at the very least.
  • learn — really learn —  a new language.
  • travel to a country I have never been to.
  • always be grateful for the blessings, whether big or small.

Phew, that was quite a lot. I can still think of others, but this should do for now…

I know I will have hits and misses along the way… But aren’t we so blessed to have the chance to start on a clean slate? We have twelve new months ahead of us. 

Twelve months that we can spend trying to be a better version of what we already are. 

Twelve months of keeping the joy in our hearts… in our lives.

Because I said I’ll take more selfies (I guess I have this one covered)…

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And because I also said I will laugh at/make fun of myself more… 🙂 

Happy new year, everyone! Here’s to an exciting year.

********

photos are all mine, obviously… 😉 

Daybreak

sunrise

new every morning…

I am not a morning person.  I am used to staying up late at night — reading, watching TV or going online, googling stuff I want to learn more about. Sometimes I get the inspiration to write late at night when the whole house is quiet.  Midnight inspirations, that’s what I call them.

For the past month or so, however, I got into the habit of waking up at 5:00am, more than an hour earlier than my normal weekday wake up sked.  At times I find myself up even earlier than 5am. For some reason, my mind is just so alive and awake that there’s no point in trying to go back to sleep.

And so I get up, make my first cup of coffee for the day, I go to the living room and perch at one corner of the couch — my favorite corner. Every single morning for the past month.

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My early morning corner 

With the whole house very quiet, darkness still covers the sky outside, only a few vehicles can be heard traversing the street… everything seems peaceful early morning.  I am in my own quiet world.

So there in my little corner, I read my bible… I listen to worship songs… I ready myself for the day that is to come. I use this time to ponder on things, recall the previous day’s events and think about the future. Truly there are so many things one can think about when she is all alone at 5 in the morning.

And then it happens.

As I sit and stare out the living room window, I begin to see the sunlight slowly peeking out the morning sky.

Daybreak.

Little by little, the darkness disappears. I also begin to hear the chirping of the birds. I am enthralled. 

Not all mornings are the same. Sometimes I wake up giddy in anticipation for the day’s events. Sometimes I wake up with a heavy feeling. Sometimes I don’t feel fully awake — like I am just on auto-pilot. And yet every single time that I get to witness the breaking of the day, something stirs within me… it wakes me up, gives life to my senses.

Hope.

As I catch the light first appearing in the morning sky, I get reminded that a new day is waiting to unravel. I am reminded that I get to start again on a clean slate… that I am given another chance to try again and to do better.  I can be expectant of awesome things to happen. 

Daybreak also reminds me to leave yesterday’s hurts, heartaches, worries and fears behind.  As dark as the sky may have earlier been, the moment light appears, darkness begins to dissipate. Light wins. 

It is a brand new day.

And God’s mercy is fresh and new every morning.  Yes, every single morning.

*****

daybreak photo via google images; the couch is mine 🙂