Perfection-er

In my previous post, I talked about feeling quite depressed over my lack of inactivity and my feeling of uselessness, as I stayed home in most days. Turned out I was just bored and that I needed to change my perspective and attitude. God was preparing me for something bigger, better, and busier.

Last week, I started school. (I can’t believe I’m already in my senior year!) I knew that over the next ten months, I would be needing a lot of strength, wisdom, and grace because not only was I going to be busy, but I was going to be physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually challenged. Thus, on the eve of my first day of school, I posted a status on my Facebook account:

statusI didn’t realize these verses would be applied immediately, on the first week of school! God immediately granted my desire for useful activity, and oh, how much responsibilities He gave me! Firstly, the requirements for my majors (which comprise all of my subjects this semester) required intense, long hours of reading, reading, reading, reading…did I mention reading? Secondly, God revived His movement in my campus and specifically told me to be part of its core team when our youth pastor, Kuya Marty, told me to contact everyone and set a meeting. Then a friend of mine from a department in our youth ministry, ELEVATE, informed me that both of us were made admins of the host team. Add to that my commitment to meet two girls in school for Bible study, plus my own Dgroup upline (i.e., the group I attend for my personal “spiritual feeding and nourishment”), blogging, and Sunday School ministry. My hands and my plate were (at least from my point of view) overflowing with tasks!

At first I feared taking all these responsibilities (and until now I’m still praying and asking God if He can, if He will, put some on hold) because I feared not being able to juggle all of these with the growing demand in school, which was my primary ministry. Earlier this afternoon in our school chapel, this fear of incompetence and failure gnawed at me again. After my last class, I headed to the chapel to pray and have my quiet time because I wasn’t able to do so in the morning. I started thanking God about the fun day I had, and then I proceeded to the more serious stuff that really bothered me: the growing responsibilities and my fear that I would fail to deliver excellently. I reminded Him that I was bad at fulfilling my commitments, that I don’t want to fail Him and the people who were counting on me. I also told Him about my confusion about how to balance all these things and to deal with my insecurities (which still bother me)–my bad skin, increasing weight, baggy eyes even if I sleep early–and my unanswered questions about Him. In short, I was confused, disorganized, and fearful–all the things I utterly despise and do my best to escape from! As I dwelt on these negative things (a bad, bad idea), I started to cry. First in the volume of cologne sprays. Then a 500-liter water bottle. Then faucets. Inside the silent, public chapel. That’s when God, in His love and mercy, began conversing with me in my mind. I started it when I prayed, silently:

“Man, why did I even stay here? Why do I have to cry here? It’s so embarrassing…..Lord, You know my struggle. You know I’m bad at commitments. You know I want everything to be organized. Please guide me.”

Then amazingly, God replied.

“Honey, I want you to trust Me. I brought you here because I wanted to hug you, to let you know that I delight in you. I love you! I am delighted at you because you are walking in My will. Don’t worry! I love you, child.”

Of course, the pessimistic me did not believe, at least not completely. So God said:

“You’re here to have your quiet time, right? Okay open to Psalms, the chapter’s number is the date today.”

I said (in my mind): “Yeah, right, how am I sure I’m not just making this up and going after my feelings? Does God even do this?”

Although my question went unanswered at first, I went to Psalm 18 anyway. What I read shocked me and opened another valve in my eyes for more tears to flow. Here were some of the opening verses:

I love You, O Lord, my strength.”
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
And I am saved from my enemies.

In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried to my God for help;
He heard my voice out of His temple,
And my cry for help before Him came into His ears.

Verses 7-15 talked about awesome and terrifying things God did–earthquakes, consuming fire, blazing coals, darkness, hailstones–the apocalyptic sort of thing. I thought: “Seriously, God? Lord, are You…mad at me?” I wasn’t getting the idea. Not until I started reading from verse 16 all the way until the end in verse 50. Here were some of the verses that struck me:

He sent from on high, He took me;
He drew me out of many waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemy,
And from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me.
They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
But the Lord was my stay.
He brought me forth also into a broad place;
He rescued me, because He delighted in me.

The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness;
According to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me.
For I have kept the ways of the Lord,
And have not wickedly departed from my God.
For all His ordinances were before me,
And I did not put away His statutes from me.
I was also blameless with Him,
And I kept myself from my iniquity.

With the kind You show Yourself kind;
With the blameless You show Yourself blameless;

The Lord my God illumines my darkness.

As for God, His way is blameless;

The word of the Lord is tried;
He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.
For who is God, but the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God,
The God who girds me with strength
And makes my way blameless?

– Psalm 18:1-3,6, 16-3,25, 29-32 (emphases added)

By the end of the chapter I was lamenting. Thankfully I kept it inaudible, except for my occasional snorting, but I was relatively quiet. But wait…there’s more! God replied with an even more personal message.

“See? Of course I still speak to My children in a very personal way! You see, I am delighted in you. You are not in sin in the sense that you remain in it habitually. Honey, I know that you are very particular about the smallest details. I am, too. I like details, too. I also think they are very important. And yes, I am after perfection. But you see, I am not a perfectionist in the sense that I judge you and condemn you for your smallest mistake. I am not a perfectionist; I’m a perfection-er. I am perfecting you. I know that throughout the perfectioning process, you won’t have it all together. And that’s okay. As long as you trust Me and obey Me and fear Me (and you do, all these things), I am with you. Okay?” 🙂 

I thought the overwhelming emotion I felt was a result of the difficulty of management. I haven’t even started some of them! The real issue was that, I was afraid of making mistakes. I feared failure so much, I recoiled at the idea of having too much responsibilities and a lot people to be accountable to. God also told me that time that the key was not to avoid responsibility, but to eliminate everything that hinders me and the sin that so easily entangles me so that I can run with perseverance the race that God marked out for me (Hebrews 12:1-2). I had to remove the distractions and just focus on the main thing, and to keep it the main thing at all times. God wouldn’t have allowed me to be given these tasks or He would have told me to let them go had He not given me the strength, power, and ability to fulfill them. 🙂

I also learned that God wasn’t utterly strict in the perfectionist sense. I was. It’s unfortunate how the “don’t-sin-or-else-God-will-thunder-lightning-on-you” ideology from Greek mythology and other pagan literature still influenced me. I had an erroneous view of God. Surely God feels saddened when I sin, even the smallest one. But that doesn’t mean He is totally displeased with me that He won’t talk to me or that I should expect to be disciplined tomorrow. No matter what happens, we must always remember that God is LOVE. Everything He does stems from His love. Nothing He does is done out of hatred the way we humans hate, or apathy. Even God’s “hate” towards people is grounded on love. Especially with children who sincerely seek Him and do His will, He is ever gentle, patient, merciful, and gracious. He knows our weaknesses. That’s why He’s perfecting us, because we have deficiencies. That’s also why He’s patient, because He knows we’ve been so used to this faulty system that we think it’s normal. But, no. His perfection and His holiness should be our norm. There is no middle ground.

If you have a perfectionist tendency like mine or if you, too, feel like escaping responsibility for fear of failure, may I encourage you today to pause, take a deep breath, and know that God does not desire to condemn you? Really, He doesn’t. The process hurts but it doesn’t mean God hates you. In fact, the fact that He’s investing so much in you–disciplining, molding, mentoring, discipling, guiding, providing for you–means that He really, really, really loves you! Also, I pray that you (and I) will realize that failure is not final. Neither is success. We fail, we get back up. We succeed, we move past that, otherwise we become complacent or even recalcitrant when we’re told to move forward. C.S. Lewis put it perfectly when he wrote in his book, Beyond Personality:

“…God’s demand for perfection need not discourage you in the least in your present attempts to be good, or even in your present failures. Each time you fall He will pick you up again. And He knows perfectly well that your own efforts are never going to bring you anywhere near perfection.”

So trust His character. It’s the only thing that remains constant in this ever-changing world. 🙂

After that drama session with God, I wiped my tears and went out of the chapel with my head held high. I may not have all the facts together nor am I relieved of the chance of failure, but I know that I am kept safe by the One Who goes before me, the One who stands behind. The God of angel armies is always by my side! Above all, this Perfection-er of mine loves me. And really, that’s more than enough. 🙂

Reference:
Lewis, C.S. (1947). Beyond Personality: The Christian Idea of God. New York: The Macmillan Company. 
New American Standard Bible (NASB). (1995). The Lockman Foundation. via BibleGateway.com.

 

Dreams Come True When You Trust in Him

2 months and 6 days. Has it been that long since I updated this blog? It seemed like forever.  Anyway, I’m back!! 🙂

I’m still alive, in case you guys are wondering. 😀 School demanded so much of my time, energy, emotions, and not to mention money the past 2 months. Finally, after more than three months of grueling research, quizzes, papers, exams, and commuting, I welcome sembreak (semestral break) with open arms!!!! #cometomama

Now that I’m on break from seemingly inexhaustible deadlines,  I shall refocus my attention on my beloved Lifeline–starting with the post that has been calling out to me since June: my trip to New York City and other places, last summer (springtime in the USA), in celebration of my 18th birthday. Yes, I blew my candles this year. YAY! 😀

Last 2004, May-June, Dad, Mom, my two brothers, Josh & James, and I spent our vacation in the US for the second time. The plan was for us to spend a few days of our 6-week stay in the city that never sleeps, along with Mom’s sister and her husband. To say that I was stoked was an understatement.

However, because of problems with the availability of my uncle and whatnot, our trip was cancelled. My  hopes of setting my eyes on the colorful electronic billboards in Times Square were dashed instantly. My heart was crushed.

Fast-forward to 2012. Mid March, my parents, especially my Mom, were excited to celebrate my 18th birthday in May, otherwise known as a debut. Debuts are a major celebration in the Philippines, much like Sweet Sixteen in the US. It  is seen as a transitional activity, as a young female moves from clumsy teenage-hood to classy womanhood. Well, at least that’s seen as the first step. Anyway, going back to my story:  my relatives and friends are all eager to celebrate my 18th year with me. It’s not unusual. People you know look forward to picking out an outfit according to your assigned theme or motif, girls especially. Those who have experience in debuts–as a planner, guest, or celebrant–probably wanted to have their share in my program. Did I mention my Mom was really excited to throw me a birthday bash? She sat me down one morning and told me to type the details of the debut: guestlist, decorations, venue, caterer….all that event planning shiz. Everyone was eager to partey!

Everyone but me.

I’m one of those girls who want to spend their 18th year differently, and by different I mean NO BIG PARTIES. Don’t get me wrong, I love parties! In fact, I’ve had my share of birthday parties when I was growing up. However, my mind and soul enjoyed different things now. Before, I was enthralled at the fact that my relatives and friends would give me presents wrapped in colorful glossy paper and played parlor games with me, or that I was going to swim from 10 AM – 3 PM at the swimming pool of a nice hotel. That was when I was seven, ten, fifteen.

At eighteen (actually at seventeen), I wanted to travel. I wanted to board a plane in Manila and after a few hours of flying, get out of the plane and see a totally different city thousands of miles away from home.

My Mom already applied for a US visa last February, and because God granted her one, she planned to leave around March and return just in time for my supposed debut. However, one Sunday, God must have worked His magic in her heart because she noticed that I wasn’t as eager as she and my Dad were about the birthday bash.

“Why don’t you ask Dad to just let you go to the US with me? If that’s what you really want. All we want is for you to be happy.”

Will I be happy if I go with her? It’s like asking Julia Child, if she were alive, if she was any good at cooking.

Dad said yes to my request to go with Mom to the US, but on one condition.  If my visa application was denied, I wouldn’t have a birthday bash. This made me quite anxious because being granted a US visa in the past doesn’t always guarantee an approval in the next application.

So I applied for a US visa and scheduled an interview. I hoped for an interview around mid-April so that Mom and I can leave immediately. But guess what the earliest schedule was?

June 14th.  That was the first day of classes.

I cried. Let me correct that–I lamented. I wanted to travel so badly, and now my chance of doing so were gone.

“Call out to Me and trust Me,” Jesus spoke quietly in my heart.

“But…it’s just impossible, Lord! The date that I prayed for has already been fully booked. Why do I always have to cry every time I celebrate my birthday?”

“Nothing is impossible for him who believes. Do you trust Me?”

And trust I did. By God’s grace, He gave my Mom wisdom so that my schedule would be expedited.

To cut the long story short, several days later, on April 23rd,  I was scheduled to be interviewed at the US Embassy in Manila city.   Six days after my interview, Dad and my uncle brought Mom and me to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Eighteen hours after our arrival at NAIA, Mom and I landed safely at LAX. Four days after our safe landing in LAX, our plane flew us safely to New Jersey, and from there, we took a bus to New York City. ❤

Nothing is impossible for him who believes!

WARNING: Photo flood ahead! I think I’ve explained enough. I’ll just continue later. =)))


I really feel like Mac Taylor and I have a connection. Or any of the CSI: NY team. #fangirling

The following day, we boarded a boat and headed to Ellis Island, where Lady Liberty stands. She’s so…huge. Haha 🙂

post-processing of this photo by my Dad, who was back in Manila then with my two brothers during our 5-week stay. I really, really wished they were there with us, but Dad had work he cannot leave behind. Boo 😦

Mom and I maximized the use of our scarves! 😀 It was quite chilly even in the spring time, at least for Asian tourists such as myself.

God was just so awesome. I thought the only new & unique place I would visit over the summer was New York City. Mom and I also got to visit Chicago & Washington D.C., among other places. How cool is that? 🙂


Formerly called the Sears Tower, the Willis Tower is a skyscraper in Chicago. *cue Demi Lovato song here* haha. Okay ang corny ko. Next!

Also went to where this scene was shot


This was where Channing Tatum & Rachael McAdams sealed their wedding vows with a kiss–in character, of course–for The Vow.  Since my own Channing Tatum is still in the making, I just jumped in front of the bean. 😀 Haha! This is located in Millenium Park. That bean is one gorgeous piece of architecture!

We also dropped by the Obama’s crib.

and visited good ‘ol Abe, too. 

the Pentagon as well, which was bombed during the 9-11 attack. The name that you see there is just one of the many names of the people who died there at the Pentagon on that fateful day. The birthdays of the victims were also etched on the floors (some on the benches), and some of them were children as young as 5 years old. 😦

Part of my prayer request when I went to the States was to escape the intense summer heat in Manila and enjoy the cool spring time weather in the US. I wasn’t told that the climate in the east coast is way colder than that of the west which I think is because of  the Atlantic ocean (see body of water behind us). We were so cold that after taking pictures we ran inside the casinos (we were in Atlantic city, New Jersey’s mini Las Vegas), walked to Starbucks and ordered hot chocolate. 😀

I am blessed to have many relatives living in the US who are so generous and kind enough to spend their time, money, and presence with their extended family. I especially missed my cousin, CJ, because we grew up together! It’s been 2 years since he moved to Cerritos. Akala ko may accent na pag kinausap ko eh. Thankfully he prefers to remain true to his native tongue 😀

no vacation would be complete without shopping. This was the only photo taken of us shopping (well at least a decent one) since we’re too preoccupied with trying all the good stuff we saw, including our family and friends who owned the cameras! 😀

Ate Selah treated us to the Niko Niko restaurant–authentic Japanese and delicious sushi! I’m not a fan of Japanese food (except for teriyaki and tempura), but when I tried their dishes here, I changed my mind. If ever you’re in the Cerritos area, go check out this restaurant and order Monkey Brain. Sounds gross, but it tastes really good! So diba nag-plug ako. Ano ako brand ambassador? Chos!

For the 3rd time, I went to Disneyland with my cousins from Mom’s side, Ate Charlene and Kuya Matt. I don’t think I’ll ever outgrow my love for theme parks, especially one as huge and unique and totally awesome as Disneyland. No one is too young or old for one of the happiest places on earth! 😀

One of the rides you HAVE to ride on at the California Adventure Park is the Mickey Mouse ferris wheel–that round ride with Mickey’s face in the middle. When you do, make sure you line up for the swinging gondolas. You might think it’s scary up there, but I tell you, you will have the ride (and for us, the greatest laugh) of your life. Seriously. Take my word for it. 🙂

Disneyland is known for its evening shows. When we were there, World of Color was showing. It was awesome! The interplay of water, light, and sounds created lifelike images of different Disney characters against the black sky (because it was evening). The show was so cool! (well almost everything in Disneyland is cool, even their utensils and napkins. Haha) Although we were several feet behind the “wet zone” we still managed to take a light bath. Eh naligo naman kami nung umaga.  😦 😀

Aside from CJ, I also bonded and hung out with my cousins (ates and kuya) Trisha, Charlene, and Matthew. I find it amazing how you can easily connect and really enjoy spending time with people you haven’t seen in four years. I’m really thankful that I have the best cousins who are so fun to be around with. I know people who won’t even talk to their siblings, much more their cousins, and that’s really sad. Big Bang theory, Total Blackout, Impractical Jokers, and Filipino food made our moments funner. 😀

the last thing I did before flying back to Manila was hiking for 2-hours all the way to the top of the Hollywood sign, although we didn’t actually get near the sign because it’s illegal. This is the most exhausting and at first, hated activity I ever participated in in our entire trip. Nevertheless, I am grateful for the experience. I needed the exercise after eating so much. I ate so much I gave birth to two pairs of twin food babies.

5 weeks passed by and ended so soon, but I was grateful for everything that happened there. A lot of other activities happened in between, but I’m afraid I don’t have the pictures to show you exactly what happened. Aside from visiting east coast cities, I had other firsts during that trip: first time to ride a local plane 4 times in 1 week; first time to hike; first time to shop in H&M!; first time to cook adobo–because if you’re like me who gets tired eating burgers and craves for “real food,” you would cook Filipino ulam (viands) to satisfy your palate. So I did. I’m so glad it was successful! My lola would have been proud.

It was also my first time to travel out of the country with just one parent. My Mom was amazing the entire trip. She rode the swinging gondolas with us (me & my cousins) even if she’s not really into rides, and she’ll tell you that riding the ferris wheel was one of the highlights of her trip, too. She bought me the food I wanted. Although my Dad wasn’t there (which explains for the not-so-good-quality photos), I felt his presence with us especially when I saw things that reminded me of him. 😉

Although I really wished my Dad and two brothers were around, I am grateful that I went to the States last April and fulfilled part of my dream. I do wish I  got to watch a show on Broadway, visit the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, or jog around Grand Central Park, but I am still thankful to Jesus, then my parents for making my dream come true. One day, I know I’ll go back to New York–maybe work there, or study, or just do the things I was unable to accomplish last summer. I can feel it. I fell in love with that city, and I am determined to go back. One day, in God’s perfect timing. 🙂

I used to think that God would only answer my prayer requests that concern His “work” like ministry and Gospel sharing. Sure, He answers those requests, but God is not KJ. He wants us to be happy; it’s part of His good and perfect will for us. We just have to trust Him to work things out and fulfill our desires for us in His proper time, because only then will we be truly happy. 🙂

I want to thank the people who made this awesome trip possible, as well as those who accommodated us: the Talam family, Robrigado family, De Guia family, Mom’s cool high school friends, De Vera family, and of course, my parents, Dad and Mom. I pray that I, too will be used by God to fulfill your heart’s desires.

“Taste and see that the LORD is good.  Blessed are those who put their trust in Him!”

– Psalm 34:8

Emotional Roller Coaster

In the second TVC of Jzone Wired Camp (which was awesome by the way, more about that soon), I went all out in saying that I am a blogger. Since that video was posted on Facebook and aired in our church’s Sunday service, people never stopped addressing me as “The Blogger.” I’ve never felt more compelled to blog! I should have just said writer. That way a 3-week “leave of absence” can be justified as…well, an absence. #ansaveh

I apologize for failing to update The Lifeline regularly. I think I’m having my busiest, craziest, not to mention HOTTEST summer of my 17 years of existence (which will soon be 18. Yay). When adults (especially my aunts) remind themselves of my impending debut, they always tell me, “Aba! Dalaga ka na! Hindi ka na bata, ganap na dalaga ka na. San ang party?” Um actually po pag twenty-one ko na gustong samantalahin yung pagiging dalaga ko kasi surfboard pa rin dibdib ko (unless yan na talaga ang tinadhana sa aking ng aking Manlilikha) at hindi pa po ako marunong magmaneho. Party? Tinatanong niyo po ba kung may kakilala akong caterer para pag sinurprise niyo po ako at least man lang kahit pumalpak ang program at walang dumalo, okay ang food ? Italianni’s po okay lang? #uyjokelangto

Anyway, back to now. Last Monday, I came home from the Wired Camp. It was life-changing! Really. It was also my most memorable camp to date. Not only because I experienced God in a whole new level. Certainly not because I met a guy who swept me off my feet and promised to wait for me until God says yes. (Gosh that would be kilig but really scary. A Walk to Remember ba ang peg ng buhay ko kaya pinapa-aga ni Lord ang pag-meet namin ng GB ko? haha)

It was the first retreat when I came home not feeling so okay. Actually, I was not okay. In fact, if anyone asked me if I had fun during the camp and the bus ride going home, I would immediately burst into tears.

Don’t worry, I was not bullied physically, verbally, or emotionally. My body was sorta bullied with food, though, and it was the only type of bullying I’ll ever enjoy. What went wrong?

After reflecting on my life during the camp, I realized the negative emotions I felt and sins I struggled with–loneliness, envy, self-seeking shyness–were merely the overflow of my lukewarmness prior to the retreat. Intimacy with anyone, whether it’s God or your Mom or your spouse, requires a daily effort to go deeper with a person. I allowed the fleeting pleasures of this life to fill in the gap that only the Diving Being could fill. And that, my friends, is a very stupid, foolish, and crazy decision. If you have experienced what I’m saying you could bear with me. I just proved to myself that I am human when I did such a stupid thing. Thankfully, my God ain’t stupid and He certainly won’t give up on me.

Remember my post on the 3 reasons why you should attend Wired camp (or any other Christian retreat for that matter)? If you don’t, do check it out. Basically I outlined 3 reasons why a college student should sign up for a retreat even if he does not know anyone. I am starting to learn that the things worth spending your money, time, and energy in are those that are very purposeful and soul satisfying. Did I do my post (and self) justice with the 3 reasons?

YES.

I may have cried–lamented–before my God, but I  found rest. Physically I was relaxed because the weather was very cool and so unlike the 39-degree Centigrade temperature here in Metro Manila. I may not have found all the answers to my questions, but I did find answers. When I asked God what was wrong with me, He told me that I needed to stop looking in myself for the answers because it’s futile to look for in a place that’s obviously empty. What I needed was HIM–His presence, His filling–Him. Just Him. I also found love. During the second night, I talked with a good friend of mine, Billie, and she encouraged me greatly. Also the girls who were under me (because I led a small group) encouraged me by listening and simply being there. A lot of times I don’t ask for answers from people; I just need their ears and heart. 🙂

Right now if you ask me if I’m okay, I’d say no. I’m doing great! I’ve learned (and still learning) that emotions will always fluctuate. You have a choice whether to let them reign supreme or to let yourself reign supreme over them. I serve and belong to a God Who is greater and more powerful than my emotions, positive and negative, Who understands my weaknesses and loves me still. Right now if you’re feeling down, depressed, or on the other side of the line–extremely happy and excited–fret not. Cry it all out to Jesus; share your laughs with Him. You’ll be amazed at how He will fill your heart with peace and joy incomprehensible. 🙂

Pictures, quotable quotes, insights, and other updates on my life shall be posted soon! I also have to tell you guys something but I can’t disclose everything right now. 🙂 But please do pray for me. Just pray for God’s approval. If it gets approved (or even denied, it’s okay), I’ll tell you all about it. Right now I have to go to sleep! 😀

Sunday’s Best: My New Nephew, New Books, and Lots of Seafood

Last Sunday, I finally saw the new and handsome addition to the Jarlego clan. World, meet my very first nephew, Lorenzo Jacob Jarlego Solomon!

Jacob was born last February 21 to my cousin, Kuya Es, and his wife, Ate Hiyas. When they first broke the news that Ate Hiyas was preggers last year, we were overjoyed. I’m sure Jacob will be spoiled….with love, tender care, attention, and lots of food (his momma is an excellent cook).

Later that evening after Dad & Mom’s Discipleship group (Dgroup) session, we headed to the much-talked about MV Logos Hope. It’s a floating library that carries Christian and other wholesome books as well as CDs and journals and sells them at prices lower than most bookstores. Last month (I think, correct me if I’m wrong) the ship docked in Manila Bay. Since last week, Mom and I kept pestering Dad to take us there, and he finally did last Sunday. Right now I believe MV Logos Hope is docked in Subic bay so if you’re near that area, I highly recommend you check out the library with your friends and/or family!

While I was busily reading synopses and filling my cart with books, I heard a familiar voice call my name. It was Camille, one of my batch mates and close friends in high school. I missed this woman! 🙂 We updated each on other on our collegiate lives and as usual, recounted hilarious high school memories. The way we laughed would have had us kicked out of a university library, so I’m thankful the peeps in MV Logos Hope were not so strict. Actually, they have nothing against noise, just don’t be too rambunctious.

After about an hour and a half (or was it more than that? time flies when you’re too engrossed shopping for books), our stomachs were calling out to us demanding they be fed. Since we were already in Manila (as in, Manila city), Mom suggested that we have dinner in Macapagal Boulevard, an area known for its seafood paluto restaurants. I am grateful to God for sparing us from any allergies towards seafood or else we would miss out on this scrumptious dinner. Also, I am grateful that I live in an island where fish is a staple to an everyday diet. I’d choose fish over meat any day.

After reserving seats in igmaan (an orange-themed resto that’s pretty hidden), Mom, Ericka (from the root word Erick kasi becky siya hahaha) and I shopped for our viands. I brought Dad’s camera with me to chronicle my palengke (wet market) adventure.

it was as if he was pleading to me with his eyes to take notice of his slavery and free him in the world where krabby patties exist. Whut?! 😀 We freed his other brethren so that they can make their new home in our stomachs and eventually, in the septic tank. #grossbuttrue

the fish vendor with his expensive product, the lapu-lapu. He wanted a photo for his Facebook profile daw. Or maybe it’s the fish who needed a new picture to report to his family back in the ocean of his earthly demise? 🙂

tahong or saltwater mussel Here he is again, this time, with a more expensive product: a lobster.

After shopping, we went back to igmaan and patiently waited for our dinner. After ten minutes, dinner was served! We had:

buttered garlic shrimp. I usually eat only two pieces of shrimp (sometimes none at all), but this dish was so good, I ate five (or more; I lost count).

This pako (fern) salad is simple, but its crunchiness and tastiness makes up for its simplicity. And it’s cheap too! Too bad they don’t sell these in our local markets. #boo

Other tasty dishes that we ate but not pictured here were: sinigang na tanigue, crab (I forgot the exact name of the dish, but it had a red, slightly viscous sauce), and grilled tuna belly. My top 3 favorites and highly recommended dishes were the sinigang na tanigue, buttered garlic shrimp, and grilled tuna belly. And just to tell you how hungry I was that night and how good the meals tasted, I consumed 1 cup of white rice. You see, I don’t eat more than 1/3 cup of rice because my stomach bloats easily and unfortunately, it stays that way for some time. I’ve conditioned myself to limit my rice intake since I was 12, but on that particular night in igmaan, I let loose! I’m warning you: if you’re the type that sticks strictly to a  certain diet, DO NOT go to any paluto restaurant. You will surely compromise your commitment. 🙂

After consuming five different viands and two large bowls of white rice (hey, there were five of us), our dining escapade ended with this:

Simot ang plato. In English: Wiped out the plates haha 🙂The dinner was worth the wait. Our financial manager was pleased.

so was his other half and the igmaan waiters. Waiter on the right ftw! 😀

Thank You, Jesus, for my loving family, books, and great food. Thank You for Sundays. 🙂

Kicking Off 2012

When the clock struck midnight last Saturday, people of every tribe and nation welcomed 2012. With colorful fireworks (and mangled fingers for some Filipinos), palatable food, hugs, and kisses, the world celebrated a year that signals a fresh start, countless opportunities, blessings, and more improved selves. My family and I and some of our dearest relatives celebrated this way and enjoyed every minute of it.

I also celebrated, in my mind, The Lifeline’s 1st birthday.

Although I have not forthrightly said it, I think you will get the idea in all two hundred and thirty-eight posts of mine that I truly, dearly, sincerely, and utterly love The Lifeline. It’s one of my most favorite, God-endowed ministries. Writing has always occupied a special place in my heart. Blogging took up its rightful spot when I was about twelve or thirteen. My two (or three) blogs prior to The Lifeline are, thankfully, non-existent because I am obsessive-compulsive when it comes to naming things I really like and love, and so my blog’s URL matters. It matters a lot. I think one of the reasons I greatly cherish The Lifeline is because I named it perfectly. I won’t be embarrassed to use it countless times. (Unlike fashioniztagurl with a “z” and a “u” for girl. Kadiri! Thank God for change.)

The 8th highlight to my 2011 was the experience I had with The Lifeline and its readers–whether they be members of my family or total strangers who live thousands of miles away from where I am.

To my readers and subscribers, thank you for reading and, even to a small extent, patronizing my blog. 🙂 Moreover, thank you to those who have communicated their reactions (a.k.a. commented) and emailed me. Every phrase, sentence, comment, and letter matters to me more than you can imagine. They make me smile.  They encourage me to keep writing for the sake of Joy and put my best foot forward. I hope we continue fostering our online connection and encourage each other. 🙂

This 2012, I have three resolutions for The Lifeline.

  1. Make every post count instead of counting every post. This means I won’t fear posting more than three entries in a day or for lagging behind posting for two weeks so long as every post effectively communicates a message. This also means revamping blog posts, infusing topics of all sorts: fitness, more food, beauty, current events, and whatnot.
  2. Work with people. Collaborations, interviews, projects, features, anything! 🙂 The more we get together, the happier we’ll be. 😀
  3. Enjoy living The Lifeline. The Lifeline is more than just a blog. It’s basically my life. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice!” You and I have been commanded by our Creator to rejoice in Him. He gave you your own lifeline and He holds you responsible for working it out. I pray that you choose to live it joyfully. There is no other wonderful way!

I am excited for what God will do in and through me and The Lifeline this year. It’s going to be epic!