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

Image

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.

Decisions, Decisions…

Seven years ago, I stepped out in faith leaving an incredibly lucrative position in pharmaceutical sales to pursue my desire to become a physician. And in doing so, I lost EVERYTHING. I’m telling you everything… my wonderful home, my 401k (which was looking pretty nice), my great credit… not to mention, I was so focused on this goal that I’m not sure I made time and space available in my life to “meet someone.” And may I also note that I had zero debt prior to this pursuit, and now I’m carrying around a good chunk of it in student loans and to my folks.

At the beginning of this year, I finally let go of all aspirations of a career in the medical field and I stepped out in faith with an open heart fully surrendered to whatever God had for me…

And He has blown me away.

The last seven years included rejection after rejection… and just when I thought it was over, came another… but in just five months He has blown my mind with acceptance after acceptance… and just when I think it’s too good to be true, another…

And the cry of my heart has been stability. In a relationship, in a home, in a career… something… anything.

And on the same note, I’ve felt the burden to restore all that I’ve lost and eradicate my financial debt… after all, that is the responsible thing to do, right? And I believe I am an incredibly responsible person…

But when the opportunity for stability and responsibility presented itself just a few weeks ago working as a Graduate Admissions Manager for the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver, I begrudgingly accepted.

Because there is another cry of my heart that has been buried deep but has been surfacing… one of adventure and risk…

And literally within 24 hours of my grumbling turning to joy, God blew me away with an acceptance to the Harvest School of Missions. I was floored and though I had wanted this so bad, the confusion with my recent change of heart and having let go of the possibility stifled my excitement and joy.

I had two wonderful opportunities to choose from and am grateful for friends who believed and prayed that both would work out in my favor. But it came down to one and I wish I was sharing this with sheer joy and excitement that I am headed to Mozambique, Africa in October to attend the Harvest School of Missions… I so want to be bursting forth with joy…

But the part of me that desperately wants comfort and stability and security… to do the most responsible thing… to do what makes sense… is screaming loud and clear…

Not to mention that with the decision I’ve made comes a new level of faith that I’m learning is so much easier said than done… and part of that includes standing firm in it in spite of the lack of support from some of those dearest to me…

And I confess that the decision I’ve made doesn’t make sense in my head… but my heart knows, it knows…

I KNOW I am following my heart, which only means one thing… I am following HIM.

And while it doesn’t make sense, I know that the one thing in my life that makes the most sense is Jesus and His unending, unconditional love for me.

So the decision to follow Him and fall deeper into His love is the right one… Every. Single. Time.

The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.  –Blaise Pascal

This was on my place setting one evening for dinner while visiting my bestfriend Leah and her family. Sweet Kate, her six-year old daughter, drew a picture for each of us. But what was super special for me… I was the only to receive a heart next to my name. ;)
From my journal on 7-6-11.
Habakkuk 2
The Message
1 What’s God going to say to my questions? I’m braced for the worst. I’ll climb to the lookout tower and scan the horizon.
I’ll wait to see what God says,
how he’ll answer my complaint.
2-3And then God answered: “Write this.
Write what you see.
Write it out in big block letters
so that it can be read on the run.
This vision-message is a witness
pointing to what’s coming.
It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait!
And it doesn’t lie.
If it seems slow in coming, wait.
It’s on its way. It will come right on time.

 

What is He saying?

So much to write, not sure where to begin… I’m chuckling inside thinking about how the seemingly important things in life are just not what I feel most compelled to share. That is, the update on work, where I’ll live, etc. Actually, I am going to share a little but it’s so secondary…

Since my last update, I learned from that particular Apple Store that they were not interested in moving forward with me. I knew it wasn’t a good fit and I admit, the old me would have wanted their approval… dare I say, needed it?! I’m pleased to say that this approval-seeking girl is becoming all grown up!!

And then, I heard from the University of Denver… they did want me!!! BUT, this bratty little girl has had her mind on missions school that she couldn’t be immediately grateful and overjoyed by this opportunity!! Oh Lord, have mercy! And of course, He does… He loves me in my grumbling and even sustains me in the midst of it (Exodus 16).

A few days ago I had a lunch date with a dear and beautiful friend who I’ve met since moving to Colorado and we shamefully admitted our Israelite ways. And she also shared a story of becoming reacquainted with someone by asking, “What is God speaking to your heart these days?”

So in my quality time (because this is hands down my love language) with Jesus this morning, I want to let you in on our dialogue…

Me: What are you saying to me, Lord?

Him: Fear not, for I have redeemed  you; I have called you by name, you are mine… Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you… (Isaiah 43: 1,4)

Me: Thank you that you are my Father who delights in me and approves of me.

Him: I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as Lord. (Hosea 2:19-20)

Me: Thank you for being my Husband who provides and loves me unconditionally.

Him: O barren one, you who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who did not travail with child! For the [spiritual] children of the desolate one will be more than the children of the married wife… (Isaiah 54:1)

Me: Thank you for making me a mother.

When I decided to follow Him to Colorado, I felt a lot like Abraham responding to the call to simply, “Go.” And I came not knowing exactly where or what. And along the way, I have begun to jump ahead anticipating where He is taking me, placing trust in my expectations and hoping in what I feel is best.

And in times like this, I always hear Him say, My thoughts are completely different from yours… And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8)

This morning He also reminded me that, In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. (Isaiah 30:15)

God called me to Colorado and I came unsure of just where I would land… I thought it was Colorado Springs and recently I was sure it was Boulder (and to put it all out there, I have started to believe it was just transition on the way to Mozambique, Africa!). And I have been sitting in Psalms 107 since the end of last year and verses 4-7 say this:

Some wandered in the desert, lost and homeless. Hungry and thirsty, they nearly died. “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and He rescued them from their distress. He led them straight to safety, to a city where they could live.

While I have enjoyed my time in Denver, it was never where I thought He would have me… and I still hesitate to fully settle in. I’m not sure why but I continue to take things one day at a time, trusting that His ways are so much higher…

And so my response to all of this?

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Child-like Faith

It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything here, and it’s not because I haven’t had anything to share… in fact, now I’ve waited so long I feel like I have so much to write about! God has continued to pour out His unending love, grace and mercy on me, and I’m so stinking blessed.

I still have no job and no permanent place to live, but I feel so happy and free. And I’m at a place where my heart knows trust like never before… and I don’t want to leave this place… EVER.

Just a month ago, He spoke these words to my heart. And I have responded with child-like faith, with an overwhelming confidence in my Father’s love for me… and at 34 years old, I can wholeheartedly say I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Thank you, Jesus.

Child, be free! You have come to me and you are safe with me. And like a good Daddy, I am watching over you and you are free to be you. I want you to just be you. Nobody else.  Play like Michele wants to play. Sing like Michele desires to sing. Laugh as loud and as much as you would like. There is no judgment here. You are free to be. To be you. And you are here with me. Always. Always. Always. You never leave the comfort and safety net of me, Your Father. Your Daddy. I hold you in my arms and I keep you safe and there is no uncertainty and fear with me. Remember, my perfect LOVE casts out all fear. And in me, you will find rest. Only I can offer you the true rest that you seek. Only in me. So, come, my child, come to my arms and never leave. I will never let you go. Never. Never. Never. I will hold you in my arms and you will be safe. When the world tries to pick on you, I protect you. I say, “She is my child. Leave her alone. She knows the love of her Father and she won’t let you get to her. Your teasing will not harm my little one. She is little and she is precious, but she is also STRONG. She is so strong, because she knows I have her. She knows I protect her, I watch over her, and I don’t let anyone hurt my precious child. No way. No how. No one hurts my beautiful, precious, lovely Michele Grace. No one.”

I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it. Mark 10:15

My Hubs.

All this new lingo I’m learning! perf = perfect adorbs=adorable. In recent workplace conversation, the acronyms “btw and p.s.” were often used. I really need to get hip to the scene. But this morning, I confess, I like hubs=husband. And come to think of it, has this been around for awhile?? Of course, with my status, I just haven’t had much use for it so it’s new for me. But for some reason, as of lately, I’ve been using it often in text messages… referencing the ‘hubs’ of my friends.

This week, I helped my friend, Jules, since her hubs was out of town for work. She has a precious 3-week old peanut with the fine name of Shepard Brooks. And then there’s my little buddy, Joshua River (fabulous, strong names, huh?)

Joshua is 21 months and has been having difficulty as of lately sleeping through the night, so I cared for him during the wee hours, while Jules nursed Shepard throughout the night.

And after three nights of that, I am spent!! And I didn’t even do that much!!! Lord, help me when my time comes!

Jules’ hubs returned home last night and so did I. And now this morning, I am feeling tired. And with that tiredness, oftentimes, comes self-pity. boooooo. Why don’t I have a job? What am I doing here? Should I go back to Arizona? Where am I going to live come July? Why am I still single? When do I get to have a family? And the best, what did I do to deserve this????

Yet, in His perfect mercy and love He ministered to me this morning. I opened Facebook and saw this image created by my dear, precious, special friend:

And I remember a conversation with a friend earlier this week. She reminded me, “I’m spoken for.”

And this scripture has been on my heart for the last week or so:

For your Maker is your husband–the LORD Almighty is his name–the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. -Isaiah 54:5

I have not had much traction on the job front. Yet, I’ve seen this time as a perfect opportunity to volunteer. And if you’ve read my very first blog post, Ideal Job, I believe God is giving me the desires of my heart. Because that is so like Him. And that is exactly what I deserve.

Because, yes, He is my Husband. And while I don’t know the answers and reasons for all the questions that swirled through my brain during my moment of self-pity an hour or so ago, I do know this: He is my source for all things under the sun. And this I can rest in, this I can be certain of.

I want to set the world on fire…

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” -St. Catherine of Siena

I just came across this quote, and I LOVE it. It speaks to the fire burning in me. A fire that can’t be quenched, but it also seems a fire that might be burning me up (Jeremiah 20:9)!! eeks…

I know that God has placed treasures in my heart that are from His very heart to mine, and to noone else has He given such jewels (Isaiah 62:3).

And while His love is so intensely burning in my heart… my head is so hot from all the spinning and spinning, that I truly feel I could explode (or implode!) at any moment!!!

Thank you, Jesus, that you are all I truly have and all I ever need. You are mine and I am yours (Song of Solomon 2:16).

I love this reminder hanging in my house. And I love that I find Him in my heart, and not in my head (Jeremiah 29:13).

And I have so much to update you on… and the purpose of this blog could not be more true. The exploration continues on uncovering the jewels in my heart and sharing these treasures with the world (2 Corinthians 4:7). After just a little over a month in the initial job I took, I realized that it wasn’t a good fit for me so my last day was last Friday.

And the second purpose of this blog, please know that the waiting continues… and is maintaining the turtle’s pace that it started at!

But just to recap all the love and goodness that went down last week:

1. Stayed true to who God has made me to be

2. Because of this, I was blessed with a month’s worth of pay!

3. Two dear, dear friends from Scottsdale were in town

4. Had three date nights! And just so you know, my definition of date night is any time spent one-on-one with a friend…

5. Woke up one morning with a special love note waiting at my door. Again, don’t be misled… to me, a love note is just that, a note full of love, and this one came from one of my sweet roomies

6. Received so many hugs that my heart was ready to explode out of my chest!

So, my heart is full… and sadly, so is my head!! But I’m focusing on living from my heart and I’m pretty certain that as I do… firefighters will be called on the scene wherever I go!!! And that just might not be so bad!!!

Love you guys and thanks for journeying with me!!

New York

Don’t let the title mislead you. I’m not off to New York… but I am now officially a Colorado girl!

And to kick off my status as a Coloradoan, I want to share a video with you.

The context: Mindy, Olaf and I had just finished cleaning and clearing out the condo we were renting together in Scottsdale. As soon as we pull out of the complex, one of my most favorite songs, mainly because it has a beat that just gets me moving and makes me happy, as you’ll see… ((enter Jay-Z, Empire State of Mind)). But there are some encouraging lyrics, too!

While I’m full of joy in this video, I must admit that the last week and half since has been really hard. But I’m learning to draw on God’s strength like never before and trying to rest in the reality that major transitions just come with that. Thankfully, I’ve captured this moment that truly epitomizes one of the dearest relationships I left behind… me and my Pinzie.

You might not be able to hear everything, but you’ll get the gist… me being loud and obnoxious and her just dealing with it. ;-) She does warn me of the hazard I could be causing other drivers as the light is much brighter than I perceive it to be. And then she happens to point out, “You’re not going to New York!”

But hey, can’t I find a “concrete jungle where dreams are made” and “where there’s nothing you can’t do” in Colorado?

I say, yes!

Stay tuned!