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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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)…

selfie-9

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… 😉 

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!!

A day in the life…

 

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Selfie ready. Always

It normally takes me an hour to get ready when I have to go somewhere — be it running errands, going to school affairs, meeting friends for coffee, or simply going to the mall for some Me time.

I have an intensive beauty regimen. If I don’t get to put on moisturizer and lotion, apply make up (i.e, eyeliner, lipstick, concealer), powder my nose, and spray on perfume, I would feel totally incomplete.  I go through that every single day… even when I have to stay home. 

It takes me an hour or so to finish in front of the mirror. I always make sure I put my best face forward.

Yesterday was an exception, though… It was one of those off days.

I was supposed to accompany my dad to his doctor’s appointment. I also had to get some documents needed for my son’s college applications from several banks. I had quite a lot of things on my mind and was quite distracted. 

Not knowing what time exactly my dad needed me, I decided to do my bank transactions first, hoping that it wouldn’t take forever for me to finish. I was in such a hurry that I was only able to take a quick peek at the mirror, put eyeliner, reapply lipstick and dab a bit of powder on my face. I rode the car with disheveled hair and all. I prayed nobody I knew would see me. 

***

As expected, it took me a while to finish my transaction at the first bank that I went to. By that time, my dad has already texted three times — to ask where I was, to tell me the schedule and to ask again where I was. I was starting to feel stressed, I felt my straight hair starting to curl.

I told myself it shouldn’t be as bad in the second bank since I was simply going to pick up some documents.

The bank officer in the second bank was very accommodating. He looked for and handed me right away the documents I needed. Just as I was about to leave, though, he asked for an ID that they can photocopy and attach to the transmittal memo that went with the documents. I obliged.

As he was returning the ID, he read my birth year aloud. “19–.” He looked at me, then he looked at the ID  again and muttered, “You don’t look your age.

I smiled shyly and muttered, “I look older?” He replied, “Younger. Definitely younger. Wow.” 

I got my ID back, smiled a big smile, said thank you, and walked away. Felt like a Supermodel walking out of the bank.

The compliment made my afternoon… or at least a portion of it.

Yes, I’m shallow like that. 🙂

***

Going on a trip to my dad’s doctors is not something that I look forward to.  

In the last five years, my dad has had two surgeries, colon and then lung lobectomy, a series of chemotherapy sessions, and a knee fracture caused by an accident.  It was not an easy journey. Not for him and not for the family.  We have spent days going back and forth to the hospital. He has had a battery of tests.

But he is a fighter. He looked cancer in the eye and pretty much told the disease to take a hike. He has been cleared for almost three years now, though we still make regular visits to his doctors (all 5 or so of them) for monitoring.

He recently had his scheduled physical check up — CT scan, ultrasound, cardio test, and the works.  All tests he passed with flying colors.  I even kidded him the other day about his blood test results being more normal than mine.  

He is by all indication healthy and his vitals normal.

And then he started complaining about pain in the lower abs that radiates to the hips up to his back after sitting for a long time. No real reason for worry, we say. I keep telling him it’s just muscle pains and maybe nerves… maybe even rheumatism. 

As expected, his doctor said the same thing about his pain in the lower abs — it’s just muscle pains. But to address the back pains, the doctor ordered an MRI of the lumbar area. The pain, he said, can also be just muscle pains, or it could be a form of osteoporosis. Though because of my dad’s cancer history, they had to do an MRI. My mom and I exchanged looks. Here we go again…

From the moment we went out of the doctor’s clinic and all throughout the ride home, I have been praying silently that everything’s just muscle pains. 

When I don’t know the answer to my questions… When fear is beginning to creep in and I am starting to feel the anxiety building up… When I know that I cannot show how scared I am because I have to be strong for other people… Truly, prayer is my only refuge. 

***

After the doctor’s consult, we decided to go to a cafe and have snacks. We asked my sister to join so we can fill her in. 

So over three kinds of pasta (hospital news made us hungry), we talked about what lies ahead. It was just the four of us — My dad, mom, my sister and I. The original bunch. We provide each other with strength.

We assured each other that there’s nothing to worry about. That the pain may be just because of the usual wear and tear of the body. My sister even suggested that my dad does yoga. I told him to go to an orthopedic doctor and ask for therapy.

And so we wait for Monday’s MRI session and Thursday’s doctor’s verdict. As we wait, we pray. We pray for courage and strength. We pray for inner peace.

Funny how earlier in the day my main concern was just about looking good. Yes, I can be shallow like that 🙂 

*****

Photos are mine. Hover over the photos to see the caption. ❤

 

What matters most

red-rose

A rose for my friend…

The thing about Facebook is sometimes you find yourself friends with people you don’t really personally know so well.  They may be mere acquaintances… people you met at work yet you never really talked to much… or they are parents of your child’s friends… or your friends’ friends… or people you went to school with many moons ago.

Facebook reconnects people.  Facebook allows you to be privy to someone’s life events. You know of them based on their status posts and the pictures they share. Sometimes you don’t really talk to a person yet you feel you know so much about her because of what you see online. You feel you know the person’s family even.

Over the weekend, I came across a Facebook post that made me literally stop and stare at the screen of my iPad for a good ten minutes.  I had to make sure I read the post correctly.

It was a notice of someone’s passing.  It was a message from a mother, bidding her 20-year old daughter farewell for the moment, with the promise that they will see other again soon.

My heart bled.

***

I met the mom in my son’s elementary school. She was a teacher.  During one of our Parent-Teacher conferences some ten years ago, we got to talk and we found out that we came from the same high school. She was a year younger, but we had friends in common. I think she even dated one of my guy friends back in high school.  We instantly became Facebook friends after that meeting.

Over the years, I learned more about her not because we talked to each other but because I see her FB posts on my newsfeed. Though I hardly saw her in person and my son has already moved schools, I still knew what goes on in her life because of the posts she shares. And I am pretty sure that she is updated with mine, as well.

She shares photos of her girls — two young adults… She has photos of her adorable students and their school activities… she shares shots of her dog…

Mostly she posts her adventures and travels with her two girls. I haven’t personally met them but I know their names and I feel like part of their family. 

Three of them together, always with big smiles. Always happy, carefree.  Living life. Enjoying moments. Being together. 

Until the notice last weekend. Her youngest, gone too soon.

***

heart

... and the greatest of all is love

If you read a post like that and not get a jolt, I don’t know what will.

I can only imagine how she is feeling. No, I won’t even try to imagine it. Heartbroken would be an understatement. Maybe it’s more like experiencing the world crumbling down on you, both literally and figuratively.

Parents should not be burying their children. It should be the other way around. Our children should live long, full lives. We should be the ones to go first, prepare the way for them in heaven as we do on earth.

I don’t really know the circumstances that led to the young girl’s demise. I only heard bits and pieces. The girl got ill, there were complications, she didn’t survive.

It was every mother’s nightmare. My heart goes out to my friend.

***

ireland-2

Find your peace… Love what matters

 

Life is short. A lot of times we bother ourselves with the mundane that we forget to appreciate the important stuff.  We obsess about things we don’t have, people we don’t like… We get petty, we waste our time and energy on things that won’t do us any good, people who bring out the worst in us.

When you hear about someone you know losing a person really important to her, you get jolted awake. It hits close to home.  Somehow you realize that you want to make the most of whatever time you have on earth with the people you love… You realize that you want to get the most out of life. 

As we get older, the days seem to move much faster. And we find ourselves questioning — are we living the life we want to live?

So, go — Spend time with your friends… Reach out… Make time for people… Show people you love that you love them… Hug someone… Laugh…. Laugh hard…. Take selfies… Capture the moments… Don’t just connect on Facebook, connect in real life…

Love your pets… Experience how it feels to be loved unconditionally… Put a smile on someone’s face… Allow someone to make you smile… Have a purpose… Be someone’s sunshine… Feel…

Live each day knowing that time is fleeting. Because only then will you value that which is truly important.

Live with no regrets.

*****

photos via google images