[2011 Recap] Highlights Part 2

Bonded more with family

Bonded More With Family

This year, I made my Dad cry.

Prior to June 19, 2011, I never saw my Dad cry. Not a single tear. It’s not that he’s stoical, but I think since my Mom does the crying of them two, he ought to stay strong and hold back the tears. Dad always remained calm, cool, and composed even in the face of problems. His threshold of tears must be high, I suppose.

Until, of course, I and my brothers exceeded that threshold with a presentation.

Two weeks before Father’s Day, I secretly planned two musical numbers to be performed by me and my brothers, Josh and James. Forgive me Bruno Mars and Kelly Clarkson, but I altered your songs’ lyrics to suit our message for our Dad (“Just The Way You Are” and “My Life Would Suck Without You”). My siblings and I capitalized on the minutes and hours our Dad was out of the house to practice our trio number.

June 19, 2011, Sunday.  Before having breakfast, I whispered to my Mom my plan and asked her to take a video of our number. Casually, I borrowed Dad’s DSLR, saying “I would just look at something.” I was certain he did not sense a surprise coming up because his reaction to our number was priceless.

I signalled my brothers to stand up and position themselves as we have rehearsed. For about eight minutes we sang our hearts out, with my voice crackling and occasionally sounding off key because I struggled to hold back my tears. After we sang the last note of “My Life Would Suck Without You,” we paused and watched our Daddy give in.

That was one moment I shall never, ever forget. I did not expect the tears because as I’ve mentioned earlier, I (as well as my brothers) never witnessed Daddy cry. Father’s day went better than expected.

Unable to suppress his joy, Dad shared his experience with his 600+ friends on Facebook with a note (the only one he’s made so far):

“Today shall be considered one of my best days in my life. I have cried this morning, tears of joy of course. My children gave me a song & dance presentation not once but twice. I usually get a greeting during this occasion but today it was so wonderfully different….After their presentation I embraced them tightly while I was crying. My wife Jean started to cry as well then she told me she has not seen me cry again until today. Also we had a great bonding time with our relatives and loved ones, eating together, laughing together, enjoying the moment as we speak of plans for the future.  And before I go to sleep I will read the lovely letters given to me by my children. As I sat down here at home I could’nt help but to thank my Father in heaven for giving me another day to experience all of these. Thank you Father God for allowing me to become a father, to receive the kind of love you yourself would want us to have. I love you Father! God is good!”

The memories and moments that followed that Sunday further strengthened our relationship as a family. No matter where God leads us, we are full of His joy, peace, and grace because He is good. I am even more grateful that God allowed us to spend time together in picturesque places such as Boracay and Balay Indang.

We are imperfect. In fact, yesterday, each of us recounted the times we hurt each other and individually asked for forgiveness. But you see, the beauty behind imperfection (and pain) is that it allows God’s grace to overflow our lives, filling the hollow cracks that were caused by our own sinfulness.

Drew closer to God

I have a confession to make.

My relationship with God is the hardest and most uncomfortable of all my relationships. Many times I am lost in the sea of confusion; sometimes I don’t know if what I’m hearing is from me or from His Spirit. The desire to unwaveringly love and serve Him is never constant so when it reaches an all time low, I usually succumb to my old, sinful self. If you’ve been a Christian for quite some time, you’d understand. I would utterly disdain my 2011 if it were not for Yahweh.

God is one of those precious few people in my life who love me in spite of my failings and never lets me go even as I suffer the consequences of my wrongdoings. When I worked my way to win Him over because I thought I was not good enough, He looked at me compassionately. Finally when I gave up, He embraced me, reassuring me that there is nothing I could do or will do that will diminish His love for me. Nothing.

He never ceased to speak to me and nudge me, reminding me of who I am in Him and the consequences I shall face if I disobey His command. Openly He rewarded me when I followed His leading; likewise, He disciplined me when I followed my selfish desires.

My Papa Sheph (short for Shepherd) heeded my prayer when I asked for discernment so that I can make the best–not just good–decisions. God also withheld many of my desired ‘what-if’ situations so that my heart would be guarded. Indeed, He is the Keeper of my heart, however deceitful it might be.

Best of all, He filled me with joy. He enables me to live my Lifeline with joy, and only He can do that because He has overcome death and sorrow. 🙂

Grasping my Papa’s hand tightly, I shift my eyes away from 2011 and look forward to 2012.  I am excited because I know God will work mightily in me and the lives of my loved ones.

I want to end this post (and year) with a verse. Each year that passes brings God’s family closer to this promise’s fulfillment:

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.

-Revelation 21:8

A joyful and blessed 2012 to you! 🙂

[2011 Recap] Highlights Part 1

(Belated) Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone!

Please do pardon my inactivity the past several days. Christmas and birthday parties, meetings, and shopping activities left and right flooded my schedule. My body clock also changed drastically to the point that 2 AM is the new early (because sleeping is too mainstream :D). Oh and don’t even get me started with the food. I don’t think our refrigerator was never not brimming with delicacies and viands the past several days. Christmas has gotten the best of us!

Can I just say how grateful I am? Truly, truly grateful.

This year was super. Nah, I didn’t feed a hundred hungry children with my  money or located one’s missing pet. But through grace and the working of my Lord Jesus Christ, I was privileged to feed spiritual food to hundreds of people and lead them to Jesus. I myself was fed and found by my Savior when I got sidetracked more than once. More than twice. Yep, lots of times.

2011–my 2011–was super.

Here are the top 7 reasons that made it supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.  🙂

“It ain’t the end of the world!!!”

Although I’m not a huge fan of Jay Sean, I shared his sentiments in his song “2012” last May 21, 2011. Lest you have forgotten what occurred (or did not occur) on that Saturday, then maybe the name Harold Camping would jog your memory. How about Doomsday? End of the world? Turned out it wasn’t the end of the world…well, not yet, at least.

I was so thankful that I was blessed with more time to invest for eternity. 🙂 Although “the world is full of tribulation,” as Jesus said, I am thankful to Him for giving me more time to grow as a person–and you as well! So whoever said that the world will end sometime 2012,

I still plan on graduating. And I will. Hopefully by 2013 or  2014. 😀

Hate-and-love relationship with my body and with food and ended up loving both

There was never a year in my past 17 years of existence when I have struggled intensely with my body than 2011. However stressing this struggle might have been to me, I still consider it a blessing for three reasons:

  1. I drew closer to my Heavenly Father and bonded with Him in the process.
  2. I experienced His grace. I finally learnt what other people meant when they said that God’s grace is awesome. And it is! 🙂
  3. I learned to love food the right way and the food I should prioritize: the spiritual.

Frankly, I still struggle with my body and food.  Jesus never promised me a bed of roses after all. I am doing my best to keep it fit and in good shape by making healthy food choices and exercising regularly. If I put my guard down, I can be overweight, but I don’t think I will ever be anorexic or bulimic because I just love food too much! 😀 (Never lost my appetite even when I was sick) Because I also discovered a passion for cooking (another blessing!), I get to prepare meals healthily and enjoy them with family and friends. 🙂

New school, new relationships, fresh new insights and knowledge

The main reason I transferred university was time constraints. We–Dad, Mom, and I–thought that our family would migrate to the United States of America by the end of my 1st semester.

Clearly, God had other reasons because after a semester and 2 months, we’re still here. 🙂

I believe one of those reasons is that I could meet new wonderful people whom I can establish relationships with and go through an okay semester. People I can listen to and vice versa; boys and girls who, like me, are perfectly imperfect and in need of heavy doses of grace.

Thank you for making me laugh, smile, study hard (so I can teach others, haha), and sharing meals with me in and out of class. You may not know this, but you taught me a lot on dealing with people from diverse backgrounds and with differing personalities.

Another reason I’m thinking God allowed me to transfer schools is so I could face realities I was good at running away from: accounting, basic law, school uniform, and evening classes. (6-9 pM, twice a week–waddup?!)

More hosting and storytelling opportunities

Tron motif hosting

at my high school friend, Camille’s debut

telling about Naaman’s story during Summer Adventure (May 2011)

hosted with my cousin, Miko, during our high school’s talent night

a short spiel with my cousins at our aunt’s birthday last December 13

The gift of speaking is one God-given possession that I take seriously, use correctly, and ameliorate constantly because I know lives are at stake–mine and those around me. More importantly, I want to be able to hear from my Lord and Master, the words every servant is dying to hear:

“Well done, My good and faithful servant.”

So if you’re in Metro Manila and you are in need of a host for your party or a storyteller for your outreach program, contact me! talamjenny@gmail.com 😀 chos biglang nag plug


If you chanced upon my blog around September, you would have probably met my gorgeous, then 2-month old puppy and prince, Jedi. He is a bundle of joy to our family even if he was the primary cause of my mom’s asthma.

When he was brought to us by mom’s friend and her husband, he fit perfectly in a small box. He was about the size of a small pillow and, if you’ve got well toned biceps and triceps, can be carried with one hand. My brothers and I huddled quietly around him as he slept peacefully in his basket or underneath our sofa. I delighted whenever he ran and slipped, then rose to his furry paws and ran again. To say that Jedi was cute was an understatement.

Although he spent most of his days at my grandmother’s house (his official master), I watched Jedi grow, and boy, did he grow quickly. I smiled when he smiled at me (or at least that’s what I thought he did). Whenever I used our Air Climber, I saw him bark at me angrily and run far away from me because (I learned later) he disliked vacuum sounds. Even if he peed and pooped wherever he wanted, I still loved him because I knew he is still naive. And even if he’s doing absolutely nothing, one look at him makes me smile and gush about his adorableness.

Only lately have I realized that in some ways, what  I have felt for Jedi is what I believe God feels about me as His daughter. He watched me grow–and made me grow! He smiled whenever I smiled at Him and especially if I caught up with His commands. Instead of looking at me condemningly because of my sins, He sees His Son’s righteousness in me and smiles, confident of the fact that I belong to Him. He knows my weaknesses; He remembers that I am dust. 🙂

But just as I undergo training, I believe Jedi must also undergo dog boot camp. And I’ll be needing the help of Cesar Milan. Haha!

Let’s take a breather. I fear overwhelming you with words and photos! o___o

Part 2 coming right up. 🙂

Where Will Happiness Strike Next? Coca-Cola Phils’ The OFW Project

In case you don’t know, I am a marketing student–a business administration-majoring-in-marketing-management student to be exact. We recently concluded the preliminary portion of  all our classes but I’ve already learned a lot in my marketing class. My professor, Dr. Leonardo Garcia or Dr. “Nards” as we all called him, taught at a fast pace and I am getting the idea that I need to do a lot of speed reading and mental running if I wish to pass his subject with flying colors. 🙂 One of the main topics of our discussion is about the corporate social responsibility or CSR of companies. Gone are the days when marketers are only concerned with producing goods and selling them to customers who don’t know what to do with their money. In fact today, customers set the tone and trend for products that marketers must keep up with them! This reality calls for speed, innovation, creativity, and resourcefulness, as well as ethics and social responsibility.

In connection with CSR, I want to share with you guys this video/project that Coca-Cola Philippines created. I believe other countries are doing the same thing, but of course, no other campaign on happiness would touch your heart the best than one that involves your fellowmen. The first time I saw this, I cried. 😉 Somehow, even for just 4 minutes, I heard what overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) really, really wanted and felt even a tinge of their emotional burden. I bet if they’re earning here in the Philippines what they are earning abroad, they wouldn’t want to fly to distant countries. For parents, it’s heartbreaking not to witness the growth of your children (my Dad himself said it; he’s glad he witnessed ours). For young single children, it’s just as heartbreaking not to live beside your old, and sometimes, even sick, parents and also witness the growth of your younger siblings.

After watching this video, I embraced my role as a marketing student all the more. If this is what I am tasked to do–reconnecting separated families and making Christmases memorable–then I’m game. Living the line with joy is what I aim to do, after all. 😉 (naks may tagline din ako hahaha)


On Passion and True Love

When was the last time you saw a romantic movie that exemplifies true love? (those with vampires don’t count)

What is true love, anyway? Now I know man, for centuries, has attempted  to concretely define L-O-V-E, so I won’t join in my specie’s futility. I’ll change my question, then: What are the evidences of true love? What actions must be undertaken, characteristics be seen, and consequences result when true love truly is at work? Again, these questions I posed can generated hundreds of answers from many different perspectives. For now, I shall focus on a principle interrelated with love: passion.

During Bible class  in my senior year of high school, my teacher asked the class to give a word close to passion. My classmates and I answered similarly: “desire,” “dream,” “love.” With my head held high, I thought I fared well in the question and answer portion. But my teacher shook his head. He waited for us to cease fire before he said:

“Passion equals suffering.”

I did not know that. Suffering did not even cross my train of thought. My ignorance was probably to blame, and partly, the world’s distorted take on passion…and love. In many movies, to be “passionately in love” with somebody means that you and your “somebody”–single or married–are having sex at an all time high. Songs promote looking for “love,” or should I say, lust in clubs and parties, then after finding it, head straight to lovemaking. Where did suffering go? It need not go anywhere because it did not exist in the first place. It was pleasure who hogged the spotlight, numbing consciences and guilt because “love is not supposed to hurt.”  Well actually there is suffering–suffering painful consequences, that is. STDs, unplanned pregnancies, and broken marriages are some of the devastating consequences of momentary pleasures that were mistaken for “passionate love.”

What did my teacher mean when he said passion equaled suffering? When you are passionate about a sport, hobby, belief, or person, you are willing and committing to brave life’s storms, wildernesses, and mountaintops. When you are passionate about living a healthy lifestyle, you choose Greek yogurt with fruit over a cup of Ben & Jerry’s and momentarily endure the criticisms of your friends who are “living and enjoying life.”  There’s always a give and take, a drawing of the line between good and bad, better and best. It’s a line that I’ve been asked to draw today, and at first, I felt more inclined towards the bad. 😐

The command was quite simple, actually: fetch your brother from school. That was the task of our helper, but since she accompanied my grandmother to a shopping spree, I was the only remaining candidate at home to do the deed. Time was two in the afternoon, the weather, not too warm and sunny (in short, masarap matulog [perfect time for sleeping]). In my head, I crossed my arms and shook my head because I did not want to fetch my brother, but instead, wanted to sleep and continue reblogging posts in Tumblr (which I should be forgoing).

As my mind and heart struggled, I pondered on the many, many times I told my brother, “I love you.”  Most days were full of glee, humour, and thrill so saying “I love you” was uttered with ease. But how about this time when every inch of your being screams, “I DON’T WANT TO ACT IN LOVE?” “I love you” will fall on deaf ears.

More romantic movies should show scenes of boyfriends and husbands struggling with lust,  sexual temptation, or raising their voice in anger towards their female partners. The idea that feelings are the basis of true love should be antiquated. An others-first philosophy should replace the I-deserve-to-be-happy mantra. Pleasure must step down and turn over the microphone to priorities.

Thankfully, by God’s grace, my story did not end with the struggle. As always, God saw me through the struggle (although I complained, and I wish I didn’t). Eventually I obeyed my mother’s orders and fetched my brother from school. On my way to his school, I prayed for the strength and power to love and to “please my brother for his good, leading to edification” (Rom. 15:2). When I arrived in my brother’s school, the struggle ceased and my heart relaxed. I walked on the straight and narrow path once again. 🙂

Love does not automatically come with passion. Both–love and passion–must be decided and acted upon. You can have sex day in and day out and still not show true, passionate love. If we want to love, we must be prepared to be stretched, tested, and burned. That is why I look up to wives who stay by their unfaithful husbands; spouses who care for their bed-ridden other halves; teachers who exercise patience towards unproductive students; pastors who gently care for unlovable flock, and parents who continuously reach out to a prodigal child. They know what true love really means because they live it out every.single.day. They also challenge those of us, including me, who casually say “I love you” to people we see everyday–friends, relatives, and most especially, family–to love passionately. To suffer long. To do what is right, not what feels right.

If ever you’re looking for a movie on true love, I suggest you see this film. His love is the best love you will ever find. And if you seek it, surely you will find. Actually, He will find you. 🙂


Sembreak Part 2: ONE Retreat

The following day after my classic vacation in the breathtaking island of Boracay, I went to Tagaytay for another 3-day retreat, this time with more than 400 college and fresh grad students. If Boracay enthralled me with her turquoise-pearl like waves, amber and baby blue sky,  and smooth, granular sand, CCT Tagaytay impressed me with her air-conditioned, blowing winds and pollution-free air which I deeply inhaled every chance I got. (Friends of mine shared this sentiment, too. We immediately missed the cool air of CCT a day after arriving in Manila :D)

As much as I enjoyed the abiotic factors of the retreat, I treasured the spiritual component even more. I was unable to bring home a bag of Tagaytay winds back to Manila, but Spirit-filled, action-compelling memories and insights I was able to.

One of those insights dwelt on the subject of Master–knowing and following your ONE and true Master. On the first night of session 2, Pastor Jonathan Fenix exhorted us wisely:

“Entering into a relationship is entering into a relationship of authority and responsibility.”

Unless a woman willingly submits herself to her boyfriend (and future husband) or a child to his parents, a healthy, growing relationship between the parties cannot exist. No wonder a lot of us fail and give up on our relationships. The problem lies not in people being difficult, but in people resisting submission to authority.

Another of the most memorable insights from the retreat I learned the following day, from Mr. and Mrs. Hans Pe. The beautiful, fit, and Godly couple taught us principles on waiting and preparing for our Mate. “Wait actively, not passively,” they told us. But what I liked the most  about their message (even if it wasn’t my first time to hear it) was when they suggested that we do: create a non-negotiables list or a set of character traits and values our GB (God’s Best) must have. Frankly I haven’t started actually writing down my non-negotiables list, but when asked, I can mention more than 5 qualities in less than 30 seconds. What are those 5 qualities, you may ask? (not that I’m looking for a GB now, but…it’s good guys know what I want HAHA)

God-fearing, filled with the Holy Spirit, loves his family, passionate about the Kingdom, and generous. (I might post an exhaustive Non-Negotiable GB list soon! watch out for it! :D)

I heard a saying: “Lessons are best learned outside the four walls of the classroom.” In ONE retreat, the saying applied, too. By God’s grace, He gave me the opportunity to again lead a group of girls. Eating, sleeping (in the same room), talking, bonding, and sharing stories and secrets with them even for just 3 days taught me things I wouldn’t have learned elsewhere. Listen eagerly. You don’t have to know everything. Every lady reflects beauty uniquely, in a way only she can show and no other. Juzstine, Daisy, Denise, Pauline, and Pat were receptive to God’s message for their lives, and I was thankful to Jesus for their company. 🙂 They endured me singing the Nescafe cliche jingle “Good morning sa inyoooooooo!” while looking out our room’s window. Eh kasi naman yung overlooking scenery mala-haceinda ang dating. 😀

(L-R) Pauline, Denise, Pat, Juzstine, Daisy)

Aside from sharing my time and life with five ladies, I was also privileged to testify before my brothers and sisters in Module 2. Sobrang nakakakaba to the highest level of levels at pinipigilan ko pang umiyak (I was so nervous to the highest level of levels and I kept myself from crying), but God’s grace and hand carried me through my 5-minute, ala-fairytale speech (according to a friend). May I preserve my testimony not by might, but by the Spirit of God! 🙂 Likewise, friends of mine also shared their testimonies and I was also moved to the highest level of levels! What amazed me was that they were far from who they were in their sinful past. I wouldn’t have known Michelle Aquino, a testifier and friend of mine, used to be anti-authority until she shared her sans-Jesus past because when I headed our teaching group last summer, she was so submissive and cooperative! I praised God all the more. 🙂

photo c/o Billie Gonzales Thanks dear!

The retreat was the venue of 2 of my “firsts” (excluding the fact that it was my first time in CCT :D): first time an invited friend actually came (Myvee Lusterio, praise God for you!) and first time to dance to a Christian song with choreograph and lots of people. o_____________o I usually just dance by myself (and you wouldn’t want to see me if I were you) or at home as exercise, but not in public. But God said (through Tin Advincula, superbly talented dancer), “Dance!!!” So I’m like


Moving on.

Having organized a largely populated retreat for the first time, the admin team and other committees did a really swell job. Although the retreat was flawed, it served its purpose well: to unite college students in seeking God and His righteousness. When God’s grace fills the hearts of many, you just seem to overlook the imperfections and dwell on the fruits bearing from consistent walks with Jesus. Some of the people in the retreat just started their walk, others have been walking for some time now,  but we enjoyed our Savior right where He brought us. I met new people who made me smile, laugh, think, blush (in a good way hahaha), pray, and even ask God for forgiveness (when  I looked at how they lived their lives and saw my sinfulness). Mas masaya talaga pag madami hindi dahil mas madaming gwapo o maganda (pero totoo talaga yun), kung hindi dahil mas madaming channels of blessing si God. (Ang paghahanap ng GB hindi sa college retreat, kung hindi sa singles. HAHA joke lang #pretendyoudidn’treadthat) Kidding aside, the energy of the 400+ people (a quarter of which are hyper 99.99% of the time) intensified praise and worship as well as competition in the session games and the Amazing Race.

Joe and his evil banana :))with Myvee! 🙂another rainbow! It appeared when we stopped over in Caltex

To summarize the retreat, it was ONEderful and ONE that glorified our Master and touched the lives of many. Our collective prayers were granted to us–not because we pray intensely, but because our God works mightily. I didn’t want to leave CCT Tagaytay so soon, but my Master prepared a Mission for me in Manila. I returned home, and the family I kissed goodbye when I left Friday morning greeted me jubilantly Sunday evening.

Until the next life-changing retreat! 🙂

Thank You so much, Father. :>

Photos courtesy of the talented and beautiful volunteers of Safelight, Jzone’s photo ministry, and my iPhone 🙂