Tired of Working for a Living

PicsArt_05-25-06.04.04This is my fifth week of working in graveyard shift for twelve hours a day. I’m not complaining, just giving you an idea of what I’ve been up to lately. I am sometimes light headed when I reach home after work, around ten in the morning and I can’t do anything but crawl into bed and shut my eyes. My body is as vulnerable as a tiny slipper that gets worn out after twelve hours of walking in a rough and muddy road. Sleeping is like a precious gem to me, rare and valuable because it is certainly a blessing if I can manage to sleep in the day for straight four hours uninterrupted by harsh rays of sun or growling stomach without lunch or sometimes breakfast too. Sleeping is also like a clean water, necessary for survival because I’m not a fictional superhero with super resilience and though sometimes I think I’m strong enough but my weak and scrawny physique always betrays me. My weight can’t help but decrease.

I put my earphones on while I was headed to work and I randomly chose a song in my phone. The lyrics went on…

Nothing else matters,
Nothing in this world will do
‘Cause Jesus You’re the center,
Everything revolves around You
Jesus You,
At the center of it all

I was astonished. I heard that song for a thousand times before but at that moment the lyrics hit home. It seemed like I was doing a tough school project for many nights and days. I earned eye bags, gastric ulcer and malnourished body for the sake of the project which was impossible to perfect. Then one day before the deadline came my teacher said, “Who told you that there’s a required project? No need. I already gave you perfect score.” I froze in disbelief and I wanted to shout because I couldn’t contain myself. It felt like I was planning to have a plastic surgery on my face and body because I thought nobody would love me because I was hideous. I was also extremely fearful and anxious about knives but the longing for someone who can adore and value me was stronger than the horrible cuts of blades. But before the procedure a handsome man brought me flowers in my house and told me, “I need to tell you this before it’s too late. Please don’t alter any single part of your body because I love you for who you are.” I was close to tears because of relief and overwhelming bliss. This kind of emotion was the same thing I felt when I heard the song ‘Jesus At The Center’ by Israel and New Breed. I was often thinking about money for the past few months. Money was my reason for enduring sleepless nights. We are all working hard for money, aren’t we? When I was too ill to get up and continue my life I would stare at my passbook and I could muster enough strength to go on. The list of the things I want to purchase was my motivation to work hard even though I was weary and unhappy. I was thinking that those commodities would satisfy and comfort me. Then all of a sudden, I heard a beautiful music saying, “Nothing else matters. Nothing in this world will do. Nothing, nothing else matters. Your money doesn’t matter. Your latest gadget doesn’t matter. Your brand new car doesn’t matter. Your trendy shoes don’t matter. Your bank account doesn’t matter.” My heart cried not because of disappointment but because of solace. I thought earning more money could make me happy and content but I ended up more and more tired and devastated. If money would make me happy then why do I feel like I’m drowning in the deep abyss of misery? I realized that focusing so much on material possession caused me to neglect the most important thing which is eternal. “Cause Jesus You’re the center. Everything revolves around You. Jesus You at the center of it all.” I can’t remember when was the last time I earnestly read the Bible. Nowadays I find it hard to concentrate when I am praying because the world is such a busy place. Wealth is essential in the world but I forgot that when I die everything else that I see now doesn’t matter.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light. -Matthew 11:28-30 NLT

The above verses are crystal clear to me. I was tired of working for twelve hours a day and six times a week to earn a living, to build my dream home and to buy the latest DSLR cameras. I can’t just stop working but God put in my heart now and in your hearts as well that these things are not the main reason why we are breathing. We are living for eternity. We are more than this. We are entitled for something more. We are living in this world but we are citizens of heaven.

This song is the message of God to us today:

Run To You

PicsArt_03-31-10.22.34Is there a song that becomes a theme song of your week? During your idle times you find comfort from its lyrics and the melody makes your heart beat in happy rhythm. When you’re on the way for work you put your earphones on and listen to it eagerly and you become two times alive and for a minute you forget the stress and the burden becomes less heavy. I do have a theme song weekly. A song that I keep on listening for a week and I would like to share with you the song “Run To You” by Kari Jobe.

God created us with ability to enjoy good music. It’s like magic how people dance and sing along with a good sound and it amazes me how a song can change our mood and disposition.

“I come alive when I am in your presence.”

Amidst of the chaos and noise of the world which wrinkle my skin and weaken my physique I find myself going back to my hiding place, in God’s presence. I heard a preaching about hiding in the presence of God. Know where to hide. When everything seems dark, hide in God’s wonderful light. When everything seems unbearable, hide in God’s protective hands. I remember a pastor asking why people are running away from God. If only they would know how peaceful and comfortable to be in the presence of the Lord. I understand him because I know the difference of being away and being with God.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of theLord forever.” Psalms 23:2-6 ESV

If your soul doesn’t find contentment and bliss in God’s presence perhaps you haven’t felt the real presence of God yet. Because nothing in this world can give a kind of peace God gives, a kind of security Jesus provides, a kind of zeal God promises.

“Lord, I’m running… Lord I’m running to you… Draw me closer.”

Sometimes work and responsibilities steal us away from Him but Jesus assured that He is just a prayer away. Here is the song.

Everything Is Meaningless

PicsArt_01-30-08.26.32[1].jpg
Thanks for my model and my love, Marlon. You are an ornament on my blog.
I couldn’t remember how many pages of books I tried to memorize and summarize, how many cent I tried not to spend so I could give compulsory contribution for school projects and how many sleepless nights and hectic days I spent cramming for test and recitations. Passing all the requirements and examinations to be able to graduate on time is the ultimate goal of a student. When I was a studying I was dreaming of graduating and having a high-paying job to earn money so that I could buy all the luxuries I was deprived of. As a teenager I was so excited yet anxious about the future had to offer because I was looking forward to achieving all my ambitions that I knew could make me utterly happy and content. I couldn’t wait to finish school because studying was so much stressful and I couldn’t stand being a burden to my parents anymore. When I graduated college I dreamed of passing the board exam for nurses after a month of preparation. After I passed the exam I dreamed of a good job in abroad so I applied tirelessly in different agencies. After tears and sweat I got hired and flew to Qatar. My journey in this foreign land is another story. Life never ends after you completed certain goals because there will be another objectives after another which urge us to wake up every morning despite reluctance.

Clock is ticking and I can still remember the moment when I looked at my reflection in the mirror and I saw a timid and malnourished gal with sadness in her eyes because she had no budget to buy a new pair of sneakers she was drooling over for so long. She thought that getting that dream shoes would give her such happiness that she would forget how it feels like to be miserable again. Now, approximately five years passed I sleep with multiple pairs of sneakers sitting under my bed and the bliss I had right after purchasing the commodities was like everything else in this planet, expires. Felicity dies so our insatiable heart longs for bigger things to attain which will surely satisfy us more. Why should we settle for a pair of shoes when we can afford a department store? My eyes sparkle in merriment whenever I imagine myself dwelling in a house of my dream with enormous parking space for my polished black sports car. But there were moments when I felt like I could barely keep up the pace of life. My reflection in the mirror scares me now. I see things which aren’t there before, the fine lines in my forehead and under my eyes, constant eye bags and dry skin that scream how fast I have aged. Is working half of our lives to reach our ambitions enough to make us really fulfilled in life? I praise the Lord I got to encounter Him because if I don’t, perhaps I am still searching for the meaning of life. I may wander aimlessly to find real happiness only to find out that happiness the world brings is all temporary. Perhaps I can achieve my biggest dreams but still feel empty because at the end of the day, all the wealth of the Earth doesn’t matter. We will all return to dust and if I haven’t known God I was terrified of death because without Him, death is darkness but understanding His Word, death is going home. Rick Warren says ‘at death we won’t leave home, we’ll go home. In Philippians 1:21 says “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Perhaps if I don’t know God, my life is driven by selfish inclination and I may end up with depression because everything in this world is pointless.

Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. -Ecclesiastes 3:19 – 20 NIV

Ecclesiates is written by King Solomon in his old age. If we read the book of Ecclesiates we will discern his depression that resulted from seeking happiness from temporary things. He was like most of us, seeking meaning of life in every worldly pleasure but none has given him sense of meaning.

So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. -Ecclesiastes 2:17-18

Then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all their efforts to search it out, no one can discover its meaning. Even if the wise claim they know, they cannot really comprehend it. -Ecclesiastes 8:17 NIV

Solomon was a king of Israel who was very wise and very rich but despite all those things that God had given him he had hated life. He had everything but he said that everything had no meaning. In conclusion he had written these:

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. -Ecclesiates 12:13-14 NIV

In conclusion, without God in our lives everything has no significance. We are born to study, work, get married and have kids, work and work some more until we cripple and die. There’s no huge difference between human beings and animals because both have same destiny: eternal oblivion, death. But with the presence of God we see things differently. God is telling us that we are more special than any living creature because we have soul and spirit. When I lost my loved ones I asked myself, why is it very hard to move on and accept that we will no longer see the person who died? Then I understand that God put eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11) because we are created to spend eternity with Him. We are created to live forever but sin separated us from God (It is in the book of Genesis) but not anymore now because Jesus saved us from condemnation (Romans 5:9). Everything in this world is meaningless because everything in here is perishable but as children of the Lord, we are created with a purpose and a value. Our physical bodies rot but our souls will go back to where we belong.

and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. -Ecclesiastes 12:7 NIV

Let’s end this with a music.

4 Life Changing Lessons I Learned in 2016

IMG_20170101_080516_866[1].jpgGoodbye 2016 and I’m saying hello to 2017 with enthusiasm, unceasing faith and full of hope. Fear and anxiety are enemies to conquer but our God is always the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He always reminds us to be fearless and to be joyful in every circumstance. So let’s celebrate new beginnings and new opportunities as we bear in mind the lessons 2016 taught us. I would share with you my top lessons learned and I would like to hear yours as well.

1. Don’t let anyone’s criticism and judgment define who you are. Find and embrace your true identity in Christ. This is really a life changing for me because as I wrote on my previous blog post On The Mind of a Self-proclaimed Ugly, I grew up hearing criticisms and negative judgment about me that influenced how I perceived myself. I am never embarrassed to say that I was battling with insecurity and low self-esteem because God helped me overcome it. We are not defined by the mistakes that we made in the past, the physical attributes that other people see us, the money we have in our pocket, the family we grew up with, the ailments that impede us, our weaknesses and failures. You are beautiful because God created you in His image. You are His masterpiece, the apple of His eye, dearly loved and blessed. Those things had no huge impact on me before because I was skeptic. I was conforming to the world’s definition of beauty. I was blinded by glamorous faces with false eye lashes and perfect curves in pretty skirt and high heels. I’m living in the world where people treat the wealthy with so much respect and adoration while the poor is maltreated and discriminated. In this modern times, people became obsessed with compliments by posting too much on social media to boost their ego by the praises they can get. I wasn’t happy. We are not born to please this world. I realized that we are not created to become pleasing in the sight of handsome men who will only break our hearts. We are created for God and let Him define our real identity.

 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. -Ephesians 2:10 NLT

2. God is real no matter what you feel. There were times when I felt like God was so far away that I couldn’t even feel Him. They say some Christians’ faith becomes so intense and the other day that heat subsides. So you always have to keep that fire burning by constantly reminding yourself about God’s promises. The truth is there are plenty of distractions that lure us away from His presence. The temporary enjoyment that feels like heaven. But always remember that heaven God has promised is not temporary. I love the song Your Promises by Elevation Worship. The chorus goes like this, Doesn’t matter what I feel, doesn’t matter what I see. My hope will always be in Your promises to me. Now I’m casting out all fear for Your love has set me free. My hope will always be in Your promises to me.

I have learned that my feelings and emotions are temporary. Sometimes I do forget to pray and to pause for a while in the midst of busyness and fatigue. Sometimes we feel that God is just an idea we flesh out in our mind to save us from the abyss of misery. We doubt His presence when problems kick in or we become oblivious to God’s existence when we feel that everything is perfect. The past year taught me that my feelings are short-term but God is eternal, infinite. He is as real as the air that you breathe which is unseen, as real as the rays of the sun that warms the earth which is intangible, as real as the empty holes in our hearts that long to be filled which is unnoticed. God is real.

3. Accepting each other’s differences is the start of learning to love others. I wrote When is a Time to Hate and a Time to Love? in my previous post after the time I was struggling to love others the way God expects us to do. I learned to accept that others might have points of view and reactions which are different from mine because everybody has his or her own share of personal experiences that molded us into who we are today. When someone contradicts me because he or she has dissimilar idea, instead of hating and bashing that person I must remind myself that he or she also has her or his own opinion that matters. He or she might sound illogical and ridiculous but God also loves him or her the way He loves you. It’s not as simple as that, I know, but I keep on learning.

4. Private life is a happy life. Yes, I still post on social media especially on Instagram but I choose carefully which to post. I realized that I became happier when I protect myself from gossips and judgments by others based on my social media posts. I learned the value of privacy when it comes to my relationship. When your personal life is on display, you’ll get defensive. When you post arguments that you had with your partner, you’re betraying him or her. We can’t trust everyone. Save ourselves from invaders because it’s not their business and value the relationship more by not seeking validation from the world but from God.

Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down. -Proverbs 26:20 NIV

There Is No Christmas Without Christ

sorry-santa-christmas-is-about-christ
Photo credit: keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

Merry Christmas and let us not forget the true meaning of Christmas. Family reunions and parties are the ways we celebrate it but those are not the essence of this special day. Christmas is not merely about exchanging presents, togetherness and eating good food. It is a season to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Some say Christmas is only for kids but the real essence of Christmas is about Jesus. The eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing Creator came to earth in the flesh. He was born as an infant, lived and suffered with us and even died for us. Why would a God humble Himself greatly for our sake? Because His love for us is so great. I do believe that the spirit of this season is love because God first demonstrated love by coming down from heaven to save the world. We love because He first loved us.

The Birth of Jesus

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

The Shepherds and Angels

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in highest heaven,
    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

-Luke 2:2-20 NLT

Mystery Blogger Award

mba

I would like to thank Aysa of aysabaw and Jessica of Looking for Jessy for nominating me for this kind of award.

What is Mystery Blogger Award?

Mystery Blogger Award is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion.
Okoto Enigma

Rules:

  1. Put the award logo/image on your blog
  2. List the rules.
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  6. You have to nominate people
  7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  9. Share a link to your best post(s)

Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.

  1. I am a registered nurse in the Philippines and also in Qatar.
  2. I can play the intro of Fur Elise by Beethoven without knowing the notes (because I don’t know how to read notes but I love the sound of piano).
  3. I am a bookworm. I read the whole El Filibusterismo when I was in grade four and my favorite author was Jose Rizal back then.

Aysa’s Questions:

  1. If you are to choose between Alien Invasion and Zombie Apocalypse, which one would you prefer and why? Alien Invasion. I think there are humane aliens. Lol.
  2. What animal best represents you and why? A dog because I can be a good friend to those who can accept and adore me for who I am.
  3. If you could live forever, how would you spend eternity? I would spend it loving God and loved ones.
  4. If you could only take three things with you on a deserted island, what would they be? Comforter, knife and extra clothes.
  5. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and how would you use it? A superpower to induce anyone to love others. I would use it to everyone to promote world peace, unity and equality.

Jessica’s Questions:

  1. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are? 25.
  2. If you had the chance to go back in time and change one thing, what would you change? I would have forbidden Eve to eat the fruit of good and evil.
  3. If your life was a movie, what would be the title? Life of Karen. Lol.
  4. If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich? I love this question. I will help the needy and feed the hungry.
  5. Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones? Lose all of old memories because I want to make more memories better than the old ones.

My Best Post or (I should say) My Favorite Post:

On the Mind of a Self-proclaimed Ugly

Though this post has only least number of views and comments, this blog entry took a year to finish. It had been on my draft for months, adding few sentences whenever I felt like writing. Thinking I was so ugly and undeserving of real love, I wrote all my misery and insecurity in that post. I finished it when I finally realized my true identity in the Lord. If you feel ugly, always bear in mind that you are beautiful in the eyes of God because He created you in His image. This post is the beginning of writing about Christ.

I would like to nominate the following bloggers.

hellodewww

The Hardy Kid

Joen

My Five Questions:

  1. What do you think is the purpose of your life?
  2. Who inspired or influenced you the most and why?
  3. What is the best movie or book that you ever watched or read?
  4. When is the happiest moment of your life?
  5. What motivates you to blog?

Have fun and God bless you.

“A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.” -Proverbs 15:13 ESV

Three Reasons Why I’m Not Religious

picsart_12-08-08-21-10My secondary school teacher once said that being religious is different from being godly. There were two old women, she said, going to Catholic church, a little boy stumbled down and accidentally pushed the religious woman who was aiming to dip her finger into the holy water. Because of interrupting the religious woman cursed the boy. The godly woman in the other hand, helped the little boy to stand up before entering the church.

Dictionary defines religion as a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices. Yes, it sounds Christianity but Christianity is much more than set of rules and beliefs used to worship God. I have been hurt by religious people masquerading as Christians. I have been disappointed by religious people who claim that their religion is the only religion acceptable to God so they hate those who have dissimilar beliefs. Religion teaches indifference. Jesus teaches love. Religion is man centered. Jesus is God-centered. Religion is fueled by fear and punishment. Jesus is fueled by love and mercy. Christianity is not a religion. Christianity is about Jesus who loves us with everlasting love and wants to be our father and friend, our Lord and savior. Christianity is a relationship with Jesus. I am not religious and there are three reasons why.

1. I go to church not because it is compulsory.

The main reason why I regularly attend church every Friday (Friday is the rest day here in the desert instead of Sunday) is because I want to feel the presence of God and in His presence I feel most elated and content. Nothing in this world can give me such delight and satisfaction. Winning in a contest or successful career or having a beautiful face can’t offer infinite mirth that I can only feel in the presence of the Lord. A father’s presence overwhelms his child. His embrace warms his child. His promises give hope and courage to his child and his love keeps his child alive. I am a child of God and He is my father for eternity.

But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.” -John 1:12-13 NLT

Worshiping God is not an obligation for me. It’s my happiness. Listening to His words is not a law for me that needs to be obeyed. It’s my life. Going to church for me is not merely a commandment that can’t be broken or a religious ritual that must be done. I am not driven by rules and laws of religion. I am driven by my love for God who loves me more than I love myself. Attending church services can make us religious but having a relationship with the Lord is what makes us a Christian.

2. I want to be a good person not because I want to be saved from hell.

Being a good person will not save you from eternal punishment because each of us has committed sins. Nobody can boast that he or she didn’t or will not ever commit sins. “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.” -1 John 1:8 NLT. But because of Jesus our sins are forgiven if we have accepted Him as our Lord and savior. Doing good deeds does not save us from hell but Jesus does. Salvation is not by works. It is by grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” –Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV

Given that I have accepted Jesus as my Lord and savior, it doesn’t mean that I have a license to sin. God calls His children to be like Him, righteous and blameless. As children of the Lord, we should resemble Jesus. I want to be a good person not because I’m terrified of going to hell but because Jesus Christ bought me with His blood. He was hanged in the cross instead of me. He was cursed and punished instead of me. He paid the price that I should pay. He did it all because He loves humanity.

“Christ bought us with His blood and made us free from the Law. In that way, the Law could not punish us. Christ did this by carrying the load and by being punished instead of us. It is written, “Anyone who hangs on a cross is hated and punished.” Because of the price Christ Jesus paid, the good things that came to Abraham might come to the people who are not Jews. And by putting our trust in Christ, we receive the Holy Spirit He has promised.” –Galatians 3:13-15 (NLV)

He loves us that He gave up His life for us. No other person can do that except Jesus. His kindness leads us to repentance. I am not compelled by religion but I am captured by His love. I am not saying that I am faultless but His grace is sufficient for me. Being a good person can make us religious but having a relationship with Jesus is what makes us a Christian.

3. I read the Bible not because church tells me to.

Religion encourages us to read the Bible even without understanding its context. Religion tells us to memorize and recite prayers repeatedly even without emotion. Religion obliges us to do religious things even without love. I read the Bible because it is where I find wisdom. Religion obliges us to read the Bible but having a relationship with Jesus opens our hearts and mind to comprehend His words written in the holy book. Reading the Bible can make us religious but having a relationship with Jesus is what makes us a Christian.

Like parents and their children, husband and wife, friends and their friends, there is no relationship without love that binds them together. I am not religious and because of Jesus’ love for me I have known love.