My Manang

I have been going non-stop for the last 72 hours, surrounded by my favorite people on the planet. I haven’t seen my parents in over a year. They are here.

Dad and Manang
My Mom’s best friend and sister aka. Mama Linda.

Mama Linda and Mom
And my Dad’s older brother, Tito (Uncle) Resty and his wife, Tita (Aunt) Becky. My Dad’s younger sister, Tita (Aunt) Nene and her husband, Tito (Uncle) Armando.

Tita Nene and Tito Resty
My cousins, Kuya (denoting older male cousin) Rex, Rodney, Christian and Chaddy Boy. Sidenote: Kuya and Kuya Richie were missed.

Chad, Mindy, Rodney, Kuya Rex, Me and Christian
And my sisters, Manang and Pinzie (better known as Melissa and Mindy). And the latest and greatest addition to my family, my sister’s husband and my brother-in-law, Mark. (All truth be told, I’m really hoping he’s cool with being Marky to me from here on out!)

There is nothing like the comfort and familiarity of family. Sigh.

Before coming here, I asked for prayer. Prayers that this time would be peaceful, that we would enjoy this wonderful celebration of my sister’s marriage, that I would be especially loving and respectful to my parents. Because yes, I shamefully confess, I needed specific prayer for this.

And thank you, Jesus. Our time has been sweet. We celebrated Manang and Marky with all that we had. Lots and lots of time together. Lots of laughs. And LOTS of eating. Yep. That’s how we roll. And it was perfect.

AND, honoring the wishes of the most lovely and radiant bride and fine-looking groom, there were no speeches made during their wedding reception.

I was both happy and bummed. Happy to avert the public speaking pressure. Bummed to not be able to share my heart about my Manang with the world. So, here is what I wanted to share:

My Manang

Truly, God knew just what I needed when He made Melissa my sister. And most of you know this, but for those who don’t, she is Manang to me. Manang is a term of endearment signifying respect for an older sister in my parent’s Filipino dialect. So she is my Manang. And the first thing that comes to mind is I always say, “We are sooooo different… She’s more liberal. She’s not a people pleaser, like me. She just is who she is and confident in that. She’s super independent…”

I love that when she goes on business trips around the world, she adds on some extra days so she can explore – all by herself, whether it’s to rent a bike and ride around Amsterdam or visit the Mayan ruins outside Mexico City, she does it! She’s truly the coolest!!

And when she travels the world, in some way, I do too, because I can count on her returning with something for me. I have a beautiful scarf I cherish from Italy and a most functional one from Machu Picchu in Peru… a unique salve directly from New Zealand and the list goes on…

And I love that while I don’t remember this, my Mom confirms that when we were younger, Manang was always so thoughtful. When she would go on field trips, she would always come home with something for Mindy and me!

But what I love the most about my Manang is that she has always protected me. I know, I KNOW in my heart that she would jump in front of a bullet for me.

Her love is fierce. (This was not part of my original writing, I just added it as I have transposed what I had handwritten… but wow, this single line summarizes all that she is to me.)

And I can give you proof of her protection… as far as I know, and she can correct me if I’m wrong, is that, Manang has been in three “cat fights” in all her life. No blood shed, but definitely some physical contact and words exchanged… and you know what started all of them?

ME!!!

Yes, all it would take is for me, her “sensitive” little sister, to get my feelings hurt, and Manang was always ready to throw down.

And so, Mark, you have a fighter on your hands!! But in all fairness, it’s the good kind. She protects those she loves to the extreme and so know you have the most loyal and protective wife you could ever ask for. I know she will have your back in all things.

And my prayer is that you’ll take care of her even better than she has always taken care of me. ((Enter tears))

And I’m comforted knowing she’ll always have company as she travels around the world.

Mark, you give some of the best hugs in the world so you’ve won me. And I’ve enjoyed all of our fun times together over the last few years. I’m really looking forward to having you as an official brother now.

You’re each so beautiful and together, incredibly generous. And I’m so grateful for the both of you.

I pray you would experience the depths of God’s love for each of you and you would stay rooted in His love so you would always have love for each other…

Cheers!

Ephesians 3:17-19

17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

My Rock

I am so hungry for affirmation.

What’s wrong with me? I want to be so comfortable in my own skin. Inside and out.

But dang, you know what’s worse? What’s worse is when I actually receive affirmation and it doesn’t do anything for me.

What then? I drive myself nuts.

And that’s why. Why I MUST look to Him. MY ROCK, MY SALVATION. He is solid and secure and unmoving. And He saves me from myself.

Because believe you me, I need rescuing. And He does it over and over again.

And I’m grateful.

Thank you, Jesus.

The LORD lives, and blessed be MY ROCK, and exalted be the God of MY SALVATION— Psalm 18:46

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Humbled M.E.

I wanted to be a doctor because I had this amazing uncle who was a general surgeon. And not only was he highly gifted in his trade, he was a man of integrity and incredibly charismatic. And generous. So generous. I wanted to impact people in my professional and personal life as he did. I wanted to give like he gave.

((Enter my cultural background))

I’m so often asked, “Where are you from?”

I reply, “Ohio.”

They ask again, “No, where are you from?”

I smugly (yes, I confess) reply, “Well, my parents are from the Philippines.”

That said, I have AMAZING parents. They sacrificed so much for me. They set out to start and raise a family in the United States… the land of opportunity.

They had high hopes for me. And true to our culture, I wanted to be able to provide for them financially at this point in my life.

But, that’s just not the case. And the shame around that is surfacing as I move forward… as a missionary.

Oh my. I said it. I’ve put it to paper. I am about to embark on a journey that will require me to fully depend on God for everything like never before, and this includes my finances.

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKS.

It’s hard enough for me to ask for a ride to the airport… what more of money???

I’ve been dragging my feet on raising support, which was was never part of my plan.

I planned to use the severance pay I was blessed with a few months back to cover my tuition and the rest of my expenses would come from my savings…

Because depleting my savings is far better than asking for help on this journey… right?!?

WRONG. I’m sooooo wrong and so very humbled in recognizing my need. I cannot do this alone. I just can’t… nor am I supposed to. That’s not His desire for me.

And I have this reminder in my Bible of His provision. This $20 bill was given to me by a woman named Rosie who I met while attending a church during a visit to Salmon, Idaho back in December. From our conversation I don’t believe she had much to give, but she handed this to me and said, “Merry Christmas!” And I haven’t spoke with her since, but am grateful for the tangible reminder of God’s faithfulness through her.

And in His faithfulness He blew me away through my folks… who I felt did not receive my plans for missions school so well at first… and I just revealed the shame I’m working through… and I owe them so much money… so I would have NEVER considered asking them for financial support…

And I didn’t have to, they offered. My heart had received the blessing it longed for from them and I was floored by a financial blessing that came with it.

And then, a couple I’ve never met but who are close to one of my dear friends in Japan wanted to give to me. And this, turned into a huge blessing.

I just love how my Heavenly Father is so gentle with me. He knows my fear. He knows my shame… I give it all to Him. He takes it and in exchange I receive greater grace. sigh.

James 4:6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”

Jesus, please keep on humbling me.