I Loved You First

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And by any means or in any definition of first that you have, I stand out.

In fact, even before the beginning I was there.

The funny thing was, you barely even noticed me. You didn’t clearly see me, not until you saw that first fight in your family. Or when you had your first heartbreak. Or when you experienced your first failure in class. I could still remember your blank expressions and I could still recall deep inside you all the raging emotions. In those times, I know you sought after Me.

And I was there for you.

When you saw your mom and dad screaming at each other, I was singing sounds of comfort to your ears.

When your heart got broken, I was picking up the pieces and putting everything back together for you.

When you failed for the first time, I was there cheering you up because I certainly believe you are more than that failure. You can do more than that.

I have always believed in you.

Weary heart, how many times have you looked for love in the wrong places?

How many times have you slept late, only to wake up with so much uncertainty about the person you last talked to?

How many times did you end up always feeling cheated

How much tears did you let slip away for someone who doesn’t deserve even a single one of it?

After all that you have experienced, I know you can somehow conclude that talk is cheap when it comes to the three little precious words: I love you.

But hey, please hear me out.

When I said and demonstrated those words to you, I paid so much for it. It was never a cheap exchange. It was never an inexpensive trade.

Your Romeo may have sung songs to you in the tower only to leave the next morning. Your father may have kissed you as he tucked you into bed only to depart again and never return. Your best friend may have stood beside you during seasons of peak only to talk behind your back when seasons of trough come in. But I didn’t confess my love for you in a tower, nor beside a bed, nor behind your back.

I declared my love for you from above.

I didn’t whisper I love you over a candle-lit table. I didn’t transcribe it in a card and send it with flowers. I didn’t tell you I love you in a room full of heart-shaped balloons. I didn’t write it in a poem while sitting under the clouds.

I came down to be crucified.

I’m saying I love you as your sin hammers nails through my hands and hangs me up on a cross. I didn’t simply say I love you. I died to display that I love you, all of you, even your most unlovable parts.

Each wound, each pain, each nail marks love’s sign. Every thorn buried on my brows, every sharp steel slashed on my back, every laceration made on my body roars behind my love for you. I never gave you a red rose; I spilled my crimson blood to prove my declaration of love to you.

Weary soul, I am not your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend.

I am not your absent mother or abusive father.

I am not someone who comes as a friend but kisses as an enemy.

I didn’t lay down my life and take your sins and pains away just to abandon you later on like what others have done in the past. I didn’t let myself be crucified and cursed just to forsake you afterwards. Others may have left you; I never did and never will do. Others may have said broken promises; I do not. Other’s love may have ended; mine will not.

So beloved, return home to My love.

Return to the love who first found you.

Even before you came to know love, my Love entirely knew you.

Even in your pursuit of love, my Love has already found and saved you.

So, remain in my love.

Remain in Me, my love.

I loved you first.

 

 

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Hindi Na Maliligaw

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Sa pagkakataong ito, hindi na.

Bibitaw na kasabay ng isang malalim na paghinga.

Kakawala na sa tila isang paulit-ulit na “pagkakawala”.

Sa gitna ng mga pagluha,

patuloy nang pipiglas sa walang katapusang pagkakasala.

Hindi na maliligaw.

Hindi na muling magpapatalo.

Tatayo at hindi na muling magiging bilanggo ng sariling mga gusto at plano.

Sapagkat sa oras na ito, ito na pagsuko.

Isusuko na ang napapagod at naghihingalong puso.

Hindi na maliligaw.

Tapos na ang pagsunod sa agos na mundo.

Tatakpan ang mga tenga, ipipikit ang mga mata,

At sa walang takot na pagkukusa,

didilat sa isang umagang puno ng pag-asa.

Ngunit kung sakaling maulit,

Sa mga darating na araw;

kung sakaling mahulog, madapa, at maligaw muli,

Mga kamay mo’y mahigpit na hahawakan

Mga sugat mo’y maingat na pahihilumin

At puso mo’y walang hanggang patatahanin.

Wag kang matakot magtiwala,

wag mong pigilin ang pagluha.

Sapagkat sa pagkakataong ito,

ganap ka ng malaya.

Here’s To Every Woman Out There

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Let’s get to the point and let’s clear things out, shall we? This won’t hurt. I promise.

You are not a one-stop shop- where people will just get what they need and go.

You are not a temporary past time- that when people are once done, you will be forgotten and soon to be wanted again.

Your intelligence is not measured on your capacity to know everything, but on how well you handle your situations with wisdom, grace, and a whole dose of love.

Your beauty is not a display on the rack- where people gets to appreciate and then leave behind. You are not an intangible picture in a mind. You are more than just an image in a mind.

And in the torrent bedrock, beloved, you are not a pebble.

Let me tell you: You are a diamond.

Diamonds are one of the most precious and highly valued stones in the world. Their market price is incomparable with any other gems you could find. In fact, buying a single diamond could cost you a price where you could already purchase a hundred pieces of clothes- or more.

And just like this precious stone, woman, you are highly valuable.

Your worth cost a life. You have been bought with a price. A price no one could afford other than the One who purchased your freedom on the cross with His very own life. Think this with me, a price that costs a life? I don’t know with you but for me that is so expensive!

And woman, that is your worth. You are intrinsically expensive. You are not meant to be used and to be just tossed around. Your value is not based on the things you think you have but is based on who you are. You are a daughter of a King. And princesses don’t settle for what is less than the best. Please don’t ever settle for what is less than the best. You are extremely valuable to settle for something that is less than what you deserve. And woman, you deserve the best. You are meant for the best. Please don’t forget that.

Now continuing on, just as how highly expensive diamonds are, they are considered as the hardest known mineral. Way back in my chemistry class in high school, I learned that in order to create a diamond, intense heat and pressure are needed. According to Live Science, it takes 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit and a pressure of about 725,000 pounds per square inch to create this precious stone. Now when you try to rub a diamond on something with a rough surface, it won’t create scratches on it since diamond is the hardest natural substance.

No wonder you are under pressure right now.

No wonder you have a lot of struggles right now.

No wonder it seems like you are being tested and scratched right now.

Why? It’s because you are a diamond, beloved. You are strong.

You are created to endure such adversities because strength is in your DNA. A woman like you cannot be destroyed by intense heat and pressure because you are actually being perfected through those things. Intense trials, struggles, and challenges make you stronger from one degree to another. It is really true that,

…what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

So, the next time you feel so pressured and hard-pressed, please remember this:

You are created to withstand anything. You are indestructible. You are strong.

And it is not because of your own doing nor because of what you can accomplish, but because of who’s living and working in you: God, the greatest Bearer of strength and power.

Woman, you are His message in this world that no amount of trouble, force, or struggle could sway and destroy someone who is firmly rooted in Him. You are His living proof that pain is necessary but it does not get the final say, never.

Now the last thing I want to emphasize and share to you about diamonds is their ability to perfectly refract and reflect light. As light enters this precious stone, the light will be perfectly scattered and will eventually display an absolute brilliance.

And woman, just like a diamond, you are brilliant.

You are like this perfect precious stone that when people look at you, you are radiating.

Your beauty is inviting. And this is not because of the perfect skin, tamed tresses, and well-defined curves that you have. No. This is not vanity. You are beautiful because of your heart that radiates goodness, kindness, compassion, and gentleness, all at the same time. You are beautiful because despite of all the seemingly impossible situations you are facing right now, there you are. You keep believing. You keep trusting. You keep hoping. And above all, you keep praying.

I tell you that is one real and raw beauty you possess, woman. Now reflect it to the world.

In light of all these things, just like a diamond:

You are highly valuable.

You are strong.

You are brilliantly beautiful.

And you deserve to know this.

You deserve to embrace this. Because this is who you are, woman.

 

 

A Miracle Happened Today: 7th to 20th

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Believe it or not, miracles do happen every single day.

Wars break out and nations rage yet as the sun rises and sets, miracles do happen.

Honestly darling, the mere fact that I am writing this blog post is I can say a miracle. This is so personal to me. Can I share you why? Well the truth is, it is my birthday today. Specifically, my 20th birthday (Yey!). And being able to celebrate my birthday today is nothing but a miracle. Personally, let me tell you how come did I say it.

It all started way back year 1998 on the 24th day of April, my mom was rushed into the nearest public hospital because she was about to give birth. She was about give birth to me. A mother is about to see her very much awaited child.

But the child was only seven-month old. I was only seven months when my mom delivered me from her womb. Weighing only 1.8 kilos, I was brought forth into this world. A fragile little baby with an incomplete development was miraculously born.  Medically speaking, there is a low chance of survival for premature babies. Their five senses, skin, and other internal systems are underdeveloped, causing inefficiency in the overall function of the body.  Thin as a stick, I was told that I was living in an incubator for weeks in order to survive.

Young heart, imagine the uncertainty.

Picture out the devastation it could bring.

Imagine the hopelessness, fear, and pain.

Would I survive? Would I still live despite my developmental deficiencies?

Everything seemed uncertain but one thing was sure: God’s answer was yes. A big YES.

When my parents thought they will lose a child, God had me fully formed in mind.

When my parents had doubts about my survival, God was so sure of me He even willed to place the word princess in my name. A word that is engraved in me as a reminder of my true identity and worth.

To where science declared impossibility, the Lord commanded life!

Young heart, what are the impossible things in your life right now?

What are the things you have been kneeling down and crying out to the Lord?

What are the prayers you have that are still unanswered?

If from the start the Lord broke the word impossibility in my life and continued performing miracles up until now that I’m 20, what could stop Him from moving in your life too? Who could disable Him from speaking blessings upon you?

It is written:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us!

Young heart, He loved you.

He loves you.

And He is continuously loving you.

If your earthly father knows how to love and provide for you, what more does your Father in heaven who seeks nothing but the best for you?

You have a God who first laid His eyes on you and loved you. And this is the same God who will forever keep you at His gaze.

He is the God of the impossible.

Let me repeat that.

He is the God of the impossible.

If no one stopped Him from enabling me to live, then no one and nothing will also stop Him from enabling you to live your life fully. Get up, rise up, and stand firm young heart.

You are His everyday miracle.

A Letter From The Father of the Birthday Celebrant

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I am writing this to you.

So in case you have come across this letter, this is especially for you.

How has been this season for you lately? Has it been mind-wreckingly busy? In the mall? In your house? Or has it been quite “quiet” for you?

With all the dancing lights and moving sounds, I bet excitement starts to build up in you. Yes, this season has always been a time of celebration filled with joyful memories. But more than celebrating, can I tell you something first? Let me share with you something very dear and personal to Me, shall I?

You know. Two thousand years from today marks the day I have let my Child be born as your full kind. In flesh, fully human yet fully God like Me. I can still remember that night, that quiet night broken by the sound of my Child’s cry– an innocent and fragile cry of a baby.

And as a Father, I was more than ecstatic! The picture you see in your earthly father when your younger sibling was born, I looked more bewildered than that! I thought, “It was My Child, My Son!”. I couldn’t be more happy seeing My own Son wrapped up in a swaddling cloth in full innocence. You bet I was greatly delighted that time!

Yet foreseeing that moment and the moments that will take place after that, I knew I have made a great decision. Sacrificially, I know I have made a great and right decision in letting my Son come down on earth and be born as your kind.

You know why?

Because I know it is for you.

No, it is most especially for you.

When I saw my Son being born, I was seeing you. I was seeing your fragility and innocence, not His. Upon seeing My Son’s initial days on earth, I was already seeing eternity with you.

Because He was born for you.

Let me repeat what I wrote:

My Son was born for you.

Jesus was born for you, my dear child.

As much as I love Him, I have loved you.

No amount of sin could stain that well-written truth. No amount of shame could dismantle that strongly built truth. I love you so much that even if I have to trade my own precious Son for you, I would do it. And I did. Since when have I said a Word and not do it? Since when have I promised and not fulfill it?

And believe it or not, when the silence was broken by the cry of my Son Jesus that night, I was actually breaking the silence for you. I know there has also been a long silence in your life. For the year that was about to end, maybe you always felt useless, unheard, unseen, and unappreciated.

You thought a million times:

“Is there anyone who really cares?”

“Am I even valuable to someone?”

“Why do my prayers seem unanswered?”

I bet you are wondering and asking a lot of why’s and how’s right now.

But young child, my love for you could not be measured by the number of questions you have about Me that are being answered. Because my love is immeasurable. You cannot measure it yet you can see and feel it. And My love has always been there for you. It never left and it will never leave you. Though you do not always seem to notice, but I have loved you even before you knew love. That is why I have sent my Son for you.

So let Me be clear to you right now:

I love you.

I love you that’s why there’s Christmas.

I love you that’s why there’s this season and with that we can celebrate.

So as we remember and rejoice in Jesus’ birthday, it is not Him who’s gonna receive a gift for His own birthday. For He is the Gift. It will be you who’s gonna be given a gift in My Son’s birthday. Will you accept my gift to you?

Because He is My Greatest Gift for you.

Jesus is my Greatest Gift for you.

 

Love,

Your Father in heaven

Stand Up and Keep Going, Young Warrior.

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Remember this: You are a lot stronger even after every stumble and fall, brave heart.

In our lives, we face different kinds of battle everyday. From the very moment we open our eyes as we wake up, the battle between finally getting up and sleeping more is real! This may sound funny but we all have been there even once (or a lot of times?). And as we get out of bed, to our surprise, many more battles in the face of choices awaits us. We wonder and ask,

“Will I put God first today?”

“Will I spend time with Him or maybe not now?”

“Should I finish my term paper now so I can pass it on time?”

“Should I do the household chores or just leave them to my siblings instead?”

And the list of questions goes on.

As we live this life, we need to choose wisely. We need to decide carefully. But along with all those wise decisions we’re expected to make comes distractions. Those mind-wrecking voices and whispers that certainly confuse you as you make different choices every single day.

“Hey do this one, this is the right thing to do.”

“Yes, you can compromise now! Who cares what God and others would say?”

“Just one last episode..”

And beloved. In a sea of distractions flooding your decision-making wits right now, maybe you gave in and got lost. You did the wrong thing. You chose the wrong option. You made a mistake and fell with your face flat on the ground.

You got so irritated and angry with that friend of yours.

You have raised your voice to your mom and your “self-control” suddenly became uncontrollable. You certainly didn’t control yourself.

You knew you cheated in that last major exam you took but you still kept it in secret.

Or maybe you got allured with some kind of past time that have caused your time with God to be at stake. Maybe a thought crossed your mind causing you to think and start wandering away from the truth. Or you entertained that guy the Lord has been telling you to avoid. Maybe you saw something online that might have caused you to stumble and fall into temptation- or worse yet into sin.

You got distracted. You got lost. You wandered away. You gave in. You fell. You sinned.

But brave one, let me tell you this: You do not need to stay where you are.

You do not need to remain in that sea of guilt, shame, and regret. You can stand up from that defeat, young heart. You can rise up and run into the One who loves you the most. You can look up to your heavenly Father who adores every single detail about you- even your flaws and weaknesses. You can look and go back at exactly where you left Him. He is staying and waiting.

I couldn’t agree more when one writer said, “God pursues us in our restlessness, receives us in our sinfulness, and holds us in our brokenness.”. Yes, even when all we could see from ourselves are the bad, vile, and not-so-pretty things, God still loves us. God has been continuously loving us. In fact it is written in Romans 5:8,

“but God showed his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Beloved, God hates the sin and not the sinner. He hates sin so much that He would not let it go unpunished yet He loves us so much that He let His Son Jesus take on the punishment for us. And this is the grace that God freely lavished on us. This is the grace that would enable us to get down on our knees and ask for forgiveness. This is what we need in order for us to turn away and forsake the things that are causing us to be sidetracked and distracted which results to breaking the very heart of God.

This is the grace you need even after your defeat. Believe and receive it.

When you receive God’s love and His grace as you stand to your feet, not only will it make you stronger against any form temptations or enticements, but it will also give you the courage and power to say no to all kinds of bait leading to destruction.

However, the fight does not end there. Like it or not, the enemy is not done with you yet. More hurdles and obstacles will come right in front of you. So as you conquer your next battle, let me share this with you, young warrior:

  1. Ask God for stronger convictions.

You need stronger convictions from time to time. What worked out last month may not possibly work now. Remember, the enemy you had come face to face yesterday may come back a lot sneakier today. So do not let him stand a chance by asking God for stronger convictions that go way beyond what the eyes can see and for sensitivity from the Holy Spirit as well.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” – James 1:5-6

  1. Never disregard the value of accountability.

A big yes to this. Ask yourself, “Who are the people in my life that I am accountable to?”, “Do I personally trust these people?”, “Am I really accountable to them?”. You know what, real accountability to someone springs up from a humble and vulnerable heart. It comes out from a heart that says, “Hey, I cannot face this alone. Will you help me? Will you pray for me? Will you rebuke me? Please?”. Genuine accountability is us telling the world that we need people. Because in battles, the lone soldier gets killed- not unless he is somewhat a superhuman on earth. That is why you need an army to stand beside you and fight with you.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” – James 5:16

  1. Allow God to tesyour heart and form your character.

More often than not, God will use various struggles and forceful pressures in order to mold us. There are things that He will allow to happen and things that He will withhold from us just to get our mind’s attention and heart’s affection back to Him. And during these times, there will be pain, tears, hardships, and a will to give up. But know that in every crucible we find ourselves in, God is there with us to purify us, to cleanse us, and to refine us for His own purposes and for our own good. It is written in Proverbs 17:3,

The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.

So the next time you are in a battle as harder as you would not think it would be, remember and declare these young warrior: I am stronger even after every stumble and fall. I am stronger even in my weaknesses. I am stronger because God’s grace is stronger in me.

#FightOn

What Every Student Needs To Know

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Hey there. I wrote this for you, brave one. Yes, you. Looks like we’re in the middle of the semester once again. Kind of familiar? Deadlines are only halfway far from us. Without you noticing, its exam week already and you might be needing to pull up your all-nighter strategies once again.

Strong coffee? Energy drink? I bet you recognize those words!

But hey, before everything, let’s slow down a bit. Let’s pause for a while.

How about some talk? Sounds good? Great!

Last Wednesday, I had the chance to meet a lot of senior high school students in an event that deals with these student’s timely needs and issues in life. Then I noticed this one group of students who are all girls and right after, I took the opportunity to engage them all in a conversation. I learned that they are all grade 12 students under the same academic strand in the university that I am also in. I asked them about their experience in the event, how did it helped them, and what are their take-homes. They were all smiling and giggling as they answered, positively. But when I started asking them this particular question, “So, do you really want the academic strand you are all in right now? I mean, is this what you truly wanted when you applied for senior high school?”, their lively smiles were replaced with wondering and doubtful grimaces. There was a short pause of silence before these girls were able to answer thoughtfully.

I can say, from that moment alone, I realized a lot of things.

Ask yourself the real things.

Young man and woman, we are growing up. We are supposed to be maturing. We are already done going with the flow. We are done dealing with the petty things. It’s time for us to be responsible enough to assess our personal lives. It’s time to get real.

You know sometimes, it’s definitely healthy to ask yourself with real life questions.

Yes. Go on and ask yourself, “What really motivates me? What keeps me going? Why am I doing this? For whom am I truly studying? What good this might bring into my life? How will it help my future self?”. Don’t be afraid to ask, especially God, especially yourself. The answers might just save your academic life from falling straight to the ground.

Studying is different from learning.

While us students were so used in saying, “Kailangan kong mag-aral”, it’s important to remember that it is different from, “Kailangan kong matuto”. Those two phrases become distinct in a sense of your personal motive. Studying is just part of learning. You study because you want to learn. You gain knowledge so you can apply that knowledge in your life and become wise. It’s not just about the high scores you get, it’s the wisdom that truly counts. Also, it’s all a matter of perspective. It’s how you would see it, blessing or burden? Opportunity or responsibility?

In this season, being a student is part of your calling.

I meet a lot of young people who would always joke around saying, “Why on earth do we need to earn a degree before working anyway? I would love to work right away! And I think its more fun”. Yes. As funny as it may sounds, I bet a lot of people have thought and mentioned that already even at least once in their lives (I admit I am one of those people!)

But then I learned that we have different seasons in our lives. The struggles you had when you were four (fighting over that toy with your cousin), is way different with the challenges you face now (fighting procrastination with your research partners). With the way your age increases yearly, it is the same with your responsibilities in life.

Don’t expect yourself managing a thriving company one day when you can’t even manage your allowances wisely today. Likewise, don’t expect to earn more in the future when you don’t know how to save money presently.

You are a student right now because you need that season.

There’s no other way around. There are no shortcuts. Go through it the hard way. Because when you choose to do it the hard and right way, your future self will thank you.

So the next time you’re sitting beside your unfinished term papers, undone assignments, and wrecked-havoc reviewers, remind yourself: This is my season right now. This is for my own good. This is what I need now and I wouldn’t want it in any other way.

And most importantly, rest.

You know your limit. You know when to close that document tab. You know when to put that reviewer down. As much as your mind keeps on bugging you that you need to study right now or else you’ll fail, you need to rest. You need to stop for a while, breathe in breathe out, and close your eyes. Again, you need to remember you’re human. You’re not a High School or College Superhero who overachieves everything even without dozing off. I know you’re smart, but please, give your brain cells a break. Just relax. Be a good steward of your body. Because once your health starts failing, as bad as it may looks, your high scores won’t matter anymore. So young student, rest.

As you’re reading this, my hope is that you would start seeing your academic life in a different perspective. Don’t be blinded by the massive attacks of requirements you get or the deadlines that are ahead of you. Look to its future value. Embrace your season.

You won’t be in school for the rest of your life, so make the most out of it!