The Struggle Is Real: Forgiving, but not Forgetting

The Struggle Is Real is the series on the struggles I deal with currently, and how I deal with them. Good news: you're not alone in your struggle. Bad news: struggles suck. Better news: Jesus will see us through. :)
The Struggle Is Real is the series on the struggles I deal with currently, and how I respond to them. Good news: you’re not alone in your struggle! Bad news: struggles suck. Better news: Jesus will see us through. 🙂

We were watching our favorite television show in the living room. Wanting to relax, I put my legs up and sit in an Indian sit position. She immediately slapped my legs repeatedly and whispered: “Ibaba mo yang paa mo! Ayaw nila nakataas ang paa!” (Put your feet down, they don’t like it when your feet are up on the couch)

The moment I recalled that scene, negative thoughts and irritation sunk in, and I felt vengeful again. Instantaneously I thought of hurtful words that I wanted to lash out at her in my defense. Who do you think you are? You’re not the owner of this house. Uncle H and Aunt G aren’t prohibiting me from putting my feet up; in fact, they want me to feel at home. If I were the owner of the house, I won’t tell that to my guests, especially not my relatives! Of course at that time, I didn’t tell her these. How could I? She’s my grandmother.

Hours owning up to that flashback moment, I chose to forgave my grandmother for her nasty habit of nagging me and being sweet to the hands that feed her and not so much to her “co-tenants” such as myself. I forgave her because I loved God and God loves her. Also, even if I don’t quite like her, deep down I still love her. I want her happiness and blessedness. However, every time I remembered that scene (and others like it) and the ill feelings and negative thoughts come back to me, I questioned my forgiveness. Was it real? Wasn’t I sincere enough? If it’s not real, how do I really forgive her, then? Is forgetting the sign of true forgiveness?

Over the past few weeks, God has been teaching me hard lessons on forgiveness, humility, and love. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not keep a record of wrongs. (1 Corinthians 13:4a,5b) Forgive, as the Lord forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32) When Peter came up to Him and asked up to how many times must he forgive his brother who wronged him, Jesus trumps Peter’s seven-time comment with His own number: “No…but up to seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:22) Through the course of my study, the Lord asks me a question: Jenny, do you notice anything similar with these verses?

Being the grammarian that I was (and still am), I replied: “Yes Lord. All the main verbs of all the sentences are in present tense.”

“Very good observation. You see, true love is present tense. That’s how I love. It goes on and on as long as you have breath and life. The same goes for forgiveness. I commanded you to forgive as I forgave you. And how did I forgive you? Although all your deeds are written on My book, I do not hold it against you. I may not forget (as if I have amnesia), but I choose not to remember. You sin everyday, don’t you? Then guess what? I forgive you everyday! Every single day I still provide for you, teach you, guide you, and uphold you with My righteous right hand. That’s how I forgive you, and that’s how I want you to forgive your grandma.”

I learned that God commanded me to forgive, not to forget, and forgiveness is present tense. If I must forgive my grandma every day, I should. Forgiveness also applies to how I treat her. Even if I don’t feel like honoring her, I would. I would still obey her commands and hold her hand when we walk in the mall not only because she’s my grandmother, but because it’s what love would do. In the moments when I feel hate and dislike for her, I would remember the words of my Lord Jesus: “I forgave you, so forgive. Love, as I have loved you.” I can only fulfill this command because the Holy Spirit is in me, and He gives me the power to forgive. Jesus showered me tremendous amounts of grace, and through Him, I can do all things. Some situations and some people just require heavier doses of His love and mercy (myself included).

Is forgetting the sign of true forgiving? Not at all! God did not forget our sins, He chose not remember them. There’s a difference. Do we really think God actually forgets, as if He had amnesia? Of course not! He’s God. In fact, He has a book that records every single day of our lives (Psalm 139:16). I our good deeds and misdeeds are recorded there, too. However, He chooses not to hold a grudge against us. When we confess and repent, “He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

I have grown so used to living by my feelings that I base the sincerity of my actions on whether I feel good about my present circumstance. We are not to love according to our feelings. I like how C.S. Lewis puts it: “Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.” 

The day my Mom and I moved out to live with another aunt and uncle of mine, we had breakfast with my grandmother. She told stories of how she met my grandfather (Dad’s dad) and her colorful circumstances with difficult members of the family. In each one, I noticed how grandma always seemed to defend her loved ones–her sons, siblings, and her grandchildren. I realized she always wanted things in order, and for many years she fought her way to keep things in check. Maybe that’s why she slapped me on the legs. My Indian sit position was a threat to her order, and she wanted things to be in order because to her, that’s a sign that her family was okay. Nothing brings her greater joy than seeing her family in great condition and in good spirits. Remembering that, plus the many times I annoyed my own parents on purpose, humbled me and reminded me that I, too, was in dire need of forgiveness and mercy. I, too, ought to be forgiven. Did my parents ever forget the times I hurt them? Perhaps not. But did they ever hatch a plan to get back at me? Never. They still sent me to school and even let me graduate. They still let me eat at my favorite restaurants and give me gifts, sometimes even on ordinary days.

Whenever we remember the faults of others, let’s remember our own. How many times have we been on the receiving end of mercy? More importantly, let us remember how the Lord Jesus forgave us and how much He sacrificed to forgive us and save us from all our sins. We may not forget, but let’s choose not to remember. For the times when we do recall (especially on wayback Wednesdays and throwback Thursdays), let’s choose to forgive. Seventy times seven. Let’s choose to love in present tense. It’s hard, but it’s the golden ticket to eternity. Let us love and forgive in spite of our feelings. Let us love continually and forgive presently.

 

You are Insignificant but Dearly Loved

What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him?” (Psalm 8:4)

Three weeks ago, I celebrated my 21st birthday in one of my favorite cities: New York City.

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My Dad, brothers, uncle, and I went to Liberty Island and paid Lady Liberty a visit. She was still as beautiful as when I first laid eyes on her three years ago. Actually, I thought she was even more beautiful that day when I saw her again. The weather was perfect–sunny but not hot, cool wind breezing through our faces, and just about the right levelof humidity, so we did not sweat. When you’re in New York, sweating concerned me because we walked a lot; I didn’t want to smell and look haggard in photos!

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During my birthday, I felt like I had the right to be treated specially; after all, it was my day. So when I did not get what I wanted exactly the way I wanted, I played bratinella inside. On our way back to Manhattan from Liberty Island, I told Dad I did not want to sit at the top of the boat because it was hot and I did not want to tan. Dad insisted we sit at the top since it was windy and the view was spectacular. I complained and tried to convince him out of it, but when his tone marked a sense of disappointment, I quit nagging and complied with his request. As I took my seat and saw the water around me, I realized my Dad was right. This was way better. I didn’t want to admit that I was wrong, so I shut up the rest of the trip . Strike one.

When we returned to Manhattan, we walked from Battery Park to Madame Tussaud’s near Times Square, where we waited for our bus that would take us to different key destinations. It was half past seven, and we were really hungry. The original plan was we would meet our other family members at Macy’s and then eat at a restaurant. However, Dad had to change the plan because he couldn’t walk anymore; his foot ached. Instead of meeting at Macy’s, we would just meet at Grand Central Terminal near our hotel.  The five of us went to Grand Central and bought dinner.

Below the main terminal, there was a food court. I wanted to eat something Asian–like rice or noodles–and have a small cake afterwards for my Dad and I to blow since it was his birthday the next day. However, Dad insisted we buy pizza. Pizza?! But I want Asian. Ugh, why doesn’t he let me get what I want? It’s so annoying. I just told myself I should be grateful I had food to eat. Strike two.

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The following day it was my Dad’s birthday. We explored other parts of Manhattan, and towards the evening we went to Koreatown and ate Korean food. My craving for Asian food was finally satisfied!

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That evening as I lay in bed, I realized my heart was full of spiritual toxins. Yes, I was having a great time exploring and enjoying the city, but inside I felt rotten. I complained a lot; I was very ungrateful, and not to mention, disrespectful. I hated myself. Frankly, the past few weeks during that month, I wasn’t doing my quiet time with the Lord consistently, and if I did, was really distracted. I’d rather log on Instagram and Facebook or hang out with my family. I lost intimacy with my Best Friend. It killed me inside. I cried that night, and before I closed my eyes and slept I told myself I’d spend my last day in New York with Jesus, even for just an hour or two. I set my alarm at 8:30 the next day, Mother’s Day, so that I can go off by myself.

The following morning, I woke up energized and prepared quickly to have my alone time. Our hotel was really near the New York Public Library along 5th Avenue at 42nd St, but the building I wanted to visit, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, opened at 1 PM, so I stayed at the Mid-Manhattan Library, just across the street from Schwarzman. Because the library opened at 10, I decided to go to Bryant Park first.

 As I was walking to Bryant Park, I prayed silently and asked God to speak to me. I wanted to hear Him and to help me change my stinky attitude. As usual, I saw a lot of people. Ever different, and some, ever weird. When I saw homeless people begging outside restaurants and shops, I told the Lord: “Lord, You must love them, too, don’t you?” He did not reply because I already knew the answer. I walked some more, and this time, I noticed the building towering above me.  I’ve never felt so small and so ‘1-in-a-million’ in my life. When I reached Bryant Park, God still wasn’t speaking. When I went inside the Mid-Manhattan Library, still n0 word from Him. Unfortunately, my solo adventure was cut short when my Mom called me to return to the hotel. She called at around 10:30 AM. I walked as briskly as I could because I thought the check-out time was at 12, and I still had to fix some things in our room!

When I got to the hotel, Mom told me the check-out time in our hotel was at 3 PM. Dang, I should have stayed longer. Then I had a better idea! “Mom, can I go to the NYPL at 1? The building I want to go to opens at 1. Pleeaaaase.”

“Sure, just be back quickly.” I felt so happy! I grabbed my backpack and zoomed out of the room. This time, I ran (when I could). I had to get inside the library no matter what.

When I got there, I was not disappointed. The place was so beautiful! I really wished our public libraries in Manila were just as beautiful and well-kept. I was amazed by the details of the architecture and the grandeur of the whole place! I didn’t have much time to look around much less read, so I feasted on whatever my eyes could lay on and took photos at the interesting spots. After 15 minutes, my Dad called me and told me to go back to the hotel. I was a bit dismayed, but at least I was happy.

As I walked hurriedly back to the hotel, that’s when God spoke to me. What He said was a slap on the face but a breath of fresh air at the same time. Only God can do that to me.

Jenny,

You are proud, and that is why you feel My disappointment. You’ve been focusing on yourself again, making yourself an idol. You rely on your feelings, choosing whatever you feel like doing, instead of obeying My commandments. My commandments are meant to protect you, not harm you! Your parents love you, and you should obey them because through your obedience, I will bless you. 

You want people to pay attention to you, so you get disappointed when your posts don’t get much likes or your friends don’t chat with you online. Well guess what: you are insignificant! Your existence does not make or break the world. Intelligent as you may be, you are puny. There are so many people around you, and your existence does not control theirs.

Yet, I love you. I love you so, so much.

I love you so much I consider you important and worth dying for. When I hung on the cross, I thought of you. I wanted you to be happy, to be intimate with Me, and to enjoy Me and the blessings that come with our relationship. I thought of this adventure of yours, and I wanted it to be as TALAMazing as possible–not because you’re good, but because I’m good. Yes, your existence does not make the world go round, but I am more than willing to risk My life just to save you–and I did.

Will you Trust Me? Will you stop running away from My plan and start running towards it? You made mistakes, and I forgive you. I do not condemn you.

I love you, child. Come home.

Love,

your Heavenly Father

I had no words for that response, only tears. As I walked back to the hotel, I couldn’t do anything but just confess my sin and weaknesses to God and humbly receive His love. What an awesome God! I began thanking Him for everything–that I existed, our family’s complete, we’re enjoying this vacation, our safety, the good weather, this dream come true…and so on! 🙂

This is what I truly loved about New York: I saw my smallness and insignificance. I realized how great, awesome, and loving God was. I started growing up. I fell in love with Jesus again. I learned that the antidote to pride is not denial or a change in behavior, but an inward transformation brought about by a deep conviction of one’s insignificance and need for surrender to the living God.

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Dear human being, you are highly insignificant, but you are dearly loved. God loves you and me! He wants all of us to experience our own amazing adventures because He is amazing! The first step we have to take is not to try to be good, but to humble ourselves and admit we can’t do it on our own. That we have messed up. That we want Him, and we trust Him because He knows best. Then He’ll come to our rescue. He’ll steal the show. He’ll set things straight. At the end of the day, all we’ll be able to say is: “God, thank You. Who am I, O sovereign LORD, that You care for me?” We will be grateful and not complain. We will praise the LORD and forget not all His benefits! 🙂

TALAMazing Adventure: God’s Timing Is Always Perfect

Sometimes things don’t go according to “our time,” because God’s time is way better. And when God intervenes, ADVENTURE happens! 🙂

Find out how God worked His impeccable timing in my life, and the adventure He gave me and my family! 🙂

Hello everyone!

Once again, it feels so good to be back here in my personal cyber space!  When it comes to timing, I am obviously not an expert in it, as the date of my last post indicates. During the months of February until early April, I was extremely busy as I finished the last leg of my college education. I am graduating in two weeks’ time! Frankly, I also succumbed to laziness during the remaining days of April and May…until today. I realized how selfish and disobedient I am for not sharing with the world how good, gracious, and faithful God is in my life. Indeed, He is faithful even if we are not! Moreover, God’s timing is always perfect. Always. I can say this, because I experienced it firsthand.

In one of my posts, Thankful for the Delay, I shared how grateful I was (and still am) to the Lord for delaying my graduation. It happened because I switched schools; the school where I eventually finished my studies did not credit all the units I took from my previous school and the units that were credited were insufficient to advance me to the junior year. Thus, I became a sophomore twice. That switch of schools happened because at that time, we thought we were migrating to the US.

This migration dates back to 1993.

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My lolo (grandpa) many hairs ago. Haha

Twenty-two years ago, my grandfather Wiro, a US veteran, petitioned most of his 11 children and their families so that they can be permanent residents and eventually, citizens, in the United States of America.  My parents just got married, my aunts and uncles were starting their families and had little kids (my cousins), and none of them imagined that, over two decades later, most of them would be living in a land thousands of miles away.

Over the years since 1993, the US Embassy occasionally contacted us and informed us of our immigration status. I remember the first time I thought we were migrating to the US. The year was 2004, I was 10 years old and very much eager because I heard so many wonderful things about Disneyland and I wanted to see it for myself. That year we went to the US, but only for a vacation (and all my Disneyland dreams came true). Seven years later, we received another letter from the Embassy that made us think “we’re leaving.” Our relatives who were also petitioned thought the same way. That’s why I switched schools, my Mom resigned from her job, and a host of other things happened. But that year, and the next, God said it was not yet time. We had to wait some more.

When there was silence over the immigration issue, I somehow lost interest in it. After all, I was about to graduate and was looking forward to working in Manila. God graciously provided a new home for us and for the first time in my life & my brothers’ lives, we moved to a new house. We (including our parents) made more friends, served in various ministries in church, and enjoyed each other’s fellowship. After hearing and learning about devastating news from the US and signs of an improving economy in the Philippines, I got even more discouraged to migrate. I pondered about it at times and imagined myself living in a rented apartment in California, but I shrugged it off and went back to my busy Manila life.

Then came early 2014.

Around March, we got news again from the Embassy that they were processing our papers (my family’s and those of my relatives’), and that this 2-decade long wait would finally come to a close. Some of my relatives completed the processes and left the Philippines ahead of us. I thought our family would migrate last year also, but once again, God said no, just wait. Nonetheless, we completed all the procedures and submitted all the documents required of us in time, and before 2014 ended, we received our visas. We had to leave the Philippines on or before the first week of April 2015.

I did the math of the time needed of us to do what moving to another country entailed: fix all our documents, sort our stuff, sell whatever can be sold, attend goodbye parties (very important haha), etc. We needed at least a month and undivided attention. A month we had, but undivided attention we didn’t as we, my parents and I, were extremely busy with work and school respectively. Thankfully, God gave my parents wisdom to come up with a solution and the resources to execute it. We would leave in April, return to Manila, fix everything, and unless God says otherwise, return to the United States.

As our family counted down to the day when we would leave for the US, we prayed more earnestly and sought God’s will for our lives. As we prayed together, we grew closer as a family and more dependent on the Lord. In my personal time with the Lord, He reminded me that this earth is not my home. If He is indeed my God as I say He is, then I would trust Him—His plans, His motives, and His timing. If there’s one thing I really appreciate God for in this experience, it is His undoubtedly, wonderfully, and absolutely perfect timing.

As I look back, I am even more thankful for the delay that happened to me three years ago. If I was not delayed, I would be taking my master’s now, and I won’t be able to leave in early April because I had to complete my thesis. God commanded us to go out at a time when I have already finished college and thus be fully equipped to work and help my parents earn a living. My brothers aren’t too young to require extra attention, so they can be relied on to do chores at home (plus they’re really good boys so my parents never have to worry). By God’s grace, our relatives who have gone to the US ahead of us have been established and secured, and they were more than willing to help us (as well as our relatives who followed suit). Above all, God allowed us to spend a great deal of our time in Manila being grounded in His Word through our personal quiet time and corporate worship so that we can face the spiritual and emotional challenges that we would face in the US (more about that in my future posts—stay tuned!).

Oh, before I end, there’s one more thing.

Let’s go back three years ago, 2012, February.

My Mom was scheduled to visit her sister in April that year. Aside from visiting California, she’s visiting the East Coast: New York, Chicago, D.C.—all the cities I dreamt of visiting. In May that same year, I was turning 18. Where I come from, a girl turning 18 is somehow a huge deal. Titos (uncles) and titas (aunts) of Manila get excited and ask you where the party’s at. Parents get excited, too, but not as much as the titos and titas because they are the ones spending (haha). Unfortunately for my titos, titas, and parents, I wasn’t into the grand celebration. I had another idea of grand. I wanted to travel.

So when I learned that my Mom was going to the US that year and going to the East Coast, I prayed that she and Dad would let me spend my 18th birthday there with her. The other details of the story are written here (with details on the struggle and some awesome throwback photos), but long story short, I went with my Mom to the US and celebrated my 18th birthday in Chicago.

In October 2012, I posted a photo of myself posing in front of a City sightseeing bus in New York. Here’s the exact post from Facebook:

New York throwbackNow let’s go back to the not-so-present-present. March 2015. My parents briefed us on our US trip and excited us with the news that we’ll be visiting the East Coast! One day, as I was scrolling through my old profile photos on Facebook, I saw my earlier photo from New York. Call it a prediction or whatever, but I prefer to call it God’s favor and grace. Without me knowing it or expecting it, I returned to one of my favorite cities right exactly at the time when I said I would: after I graduate!

And the best part is, this time, my favorite boys are with me! We're complete!
And the best part is, this time, my favorite boys are with me! We’re complete!

Before leaving for the US a month ago, one of my best friends dedicated this verse to me:

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” – Proverbs 19:21

Even if we wanted to leave for the US years ago, God did not allow it to happen. Even if I wanted to graduate “on time,” God had His own version of “on time,” and truly it was the time! Even if we wanted to fix everything within a couple of months with our busy schedules, God told us not to and gave us a solution to make up for our lack of time. All of these, and more, only because God is in control.

Finally, last April 4, our family of five flew to the United States of America and began a journey of faith and fun—a journey we call the TALAMazing adventure.

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As unpredictable as our future may be, I daresay plunge right in, because God’s got us! I believe He’s got you, too. He has everything under control, including the proper timing. God’s timing is always perfect, so trust Him! 🙂

Stay tuned for more posts about our adventure! This time, I’ll post on time. Just like Jesus.

In the meantime, enjoy some of our photos during our first four weeks in the US! (Shot by my Dad and I, in random order) 😀

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Meet my beautiful and adorable niece, Kenna!

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Unforgettable

Studying in universities for the past three years has taught me to think critically and creatively, manage my time well (albeit I’m still struggling with this), communicate clearly and effectively, and argue reasonably, among others. By God’s grace,I am more intelligent and skilled today than I was three years ago, but I’m still far from perfect. However, in spite of major improvements, there’s one skill I haven’t quite masted yet: remembering to bring everything you need to bring and actually bringing them.

I get frustrated at myself when I forget to bring something I badly need because I’m the type of person who prepares her things the night before school or an event. Clearly there’s something wrong with me, and while I don’t deny that the fault is mine to bear, sometimes I can’t help t blame my forgetfulness on my finiteness. Tao lang; nagkakamali ako. I get even more frustrated when I realize that I have more cases of forgetfulness in college than when I was in high school.

Strike one: first year, first semester in college: After sweating buckets in P.E. class, I took a shower in the gym bathroom. Ordinarily you use a towel to dry yourself after showering. In extraordinary cases when you forget to bring your towel (like I did), you have to resort to extraordinary measures. As for me, I “fanned” myself dry (as in fan my body with a paper fan till it’s dry and wipe it with tissue).

Strike two: again, I was a freshman, also in my first semester, after my P.E. class. When I took a shower this time, I had my towel with me. Forgetfulness 0, Jenny 1. Ordinarily, after you dry yourself, you dress up in new, clean clothes. However, when you fail to bring a clean shirt with you, again, you must have presence of mind and think of extraordinary measures to solve your dilemma. Now here’s where God (and theoretically, my Mom) entered the picture. During that school year, I had a personal locker. Weeks before the incident happened, my Mom told me to leave a shirt inside my locker for emergency or just-in-case cases. Obviously this was one of those cases. Hallelujah, I wasn’t going to walk around school wearing a used, sweaty shirt!! But….there’s a big but. The downside of the whole scenario, albeit having the problem resolved, is that the gym bathroom where I was is located on the west end of the school grounds, and my locker on the east. Only one thing had to be done, and that I did: I dressed up in new clothes except the shirt, ran straight to my locker, grabbed my clean shirt, and changed. Forgetfulness 1000, Jenny -100.

If I were to write the times I forgot to bring something or do something, or an important event, I would need a new blog or an entire book as thick as a Harry Potter book to finish. There is one more instance I must share because it’s recent and still fresh to my memory, and it is the very reason I prompted myself to post this entry. I’m already a sophomore, in my second semester, and until now I still haven’t learned my lesson on BRINGING YOUR STUFF DURING P.E. DAYS. (what’s with me and P.E. classes?!) Strike three: last Friday, I had P.E. class. I hurried to the restroom to dress down to my workout outfit. Ordinarily you need a SHIRT not just to dress yourself with after taking a shower, but also before taking a shower. Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t able to reserve a locker to put an extra shirt in so that solution was out of the question. If there is one thing I have learned in these situations, it is this: you have to find a way to fix your mess. You can’t just say, “Oh well. That’s life. Who cares about P.E. anyway?” My Mom’s adage rebutted this faulty argument head-on: “Gawan mo ng paraan“.

MY MOM!!

It took me a while to come up with a solution and remember my Mom, but at least I did. Just this year, my Mom was hired by a new company whose office was located in Tektite [tech-tight] building, a 3-minute walk away from my school. Their company would have shirts in their stockroom because they have so many merchandises available. I called up my Mom and told her my dilemma. She was on her way to Eastwood Mall at that time, but she promised to work something out. I trusted my Mom’s word, but I also knew she was busy, so I began to nurse thoughts of giving up and just cutting my P.E. class. God had other plans. Mom called me up 2 minutes after our conversation (see how impatient I was!) and told me to pick up the shirt from her office and look for her officemate, Ms. Sab. Answered prayer! I set my legs on brisk walk mode with occasional runs since I carried two heavy bags on my shoulders (not the best running accessories, but if you don’t have a locker or a car, you have no choice). In twelve minutes I ran to Tektite, took the shirt, and ran back to school. By the time I got to school, obviously I was late for class (in fact I was already considered absent because I arrived past the 15-minute grace period), but as my Lolo always says, “Better late than never!”

While changing into my workout outfit, I aired my thanks to God out loud. God, in His goodness, answered back in the form of a reminder. The Holy Spirit put into my remembrance these verses:

“Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.”
– Isaiah 49:15-16 (NASB)

“Who do you think you are? You think you’re so smart. I am holy; I’m not like you or any other person. I don’t forget. Even if you excel in forgetting and many times, fail in obeying, I love you. I will never forget you. Ever.”

I was very humbled, to say the least. Who was I–who am I–that the God heaven and earth, the King of kings and the LORD of lords, the infinite God, would take the time and ache of working in someone like me? Why would the most important person and being that ever existed and ever will exist care for a person like me, who is virtually unimportant (if not for His saving and sanctifying grace)?

I am forever indebted and grateful to God for His kindness towards me, His grace when my flaws show, and His divine hand of providence that provides on time. Who knows? Maybe one of the reasons why my Mom transferred to her new company is so that, through this experience, I could exercise my presence of mindedness, rely on God’s provision, and be grateful for my Mom. 🙂 Guys and gals, when your Moms tell you to do something as simple as putting an extra shirt in your locker, HEED IT! Ephesians 6:1-3 rings true in my life: if I obey my parents, life would be well with me. 🙂

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I know I can’t blame my forgetfulness on my finiteness forever, but one thing I hold on to and glory in: my God won’t forget me, and as long asI yield to His leadership, He will make a way out and lead me to safety. In a world full of pain, disease, heart breaks, crises, and meltdowns, sometimes we just want to relinquish our responsibility (that is, of turning to or away from Jesus) and blame everything on God and people. We are all at fault, whether we like it or not. That’s why I find God so, so good, because even if it’s our fault that we sin and make mistakes, He still finds a way to cut through our hearts and whisper gently in our ears saying, “Come to Me. I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) He remembers that we are dust and prone to evil, disease, ignorance, and forgetfulness. He finds ways to make us know Him, because only in Him can we find meaning and peace of mind (Psalm 103:14-18; Philippians 4:6-7).

“Unforgettable–that’s what you are….”
Romantic when Nat King Cole sung it in 1951,
But even more romantic when the Lover of my soul wrote it since time immemorial, and sang it to me the other day. 😉

Nutty Oatmeal Recipe for an Oatsome Breakfast

Who wants oatmeal for breakfast?!

I love having oatmeal for breakfast, especially if it’s rolled oats. I like how it’s so common, relatively cheap (although rolled oats are a tad more expensive than instant oats), and versatile–you can cook it plainly, with just milk and sugar, or go overboard with the toppings by adding fruits (apples, bananas, cherries), nuts, cinnamon, chocolate, cocoa powder, and even gummy bears!

When I cook oatmeal at home, I usually just mix it with sweetened cocoa powder in the saucepan. Just before I enjoy my oatmeal, I sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon, stir in thin banana slices, and pour a few tablespoons of milk. Last Wednesday I found a very easy and cheap oatmeal recipe at Fully Booked Rockwell, a favorite store of mine. The recipe I found was written by Chef Susan Irby in her book, The Giant A$7 A Meal Cookbook. As I always do when I don’t have the exact ingredients mentioned by the chef or cook, I adapted the recipe. As usual, it turned out palatable! My tummy was pleased. 🙂

So here’s my modified Nutty Oatmeal recipe. Hope you guys like it! I also included the original recipe from Chef Susan Irby’s cookbook,  in case you want to try it out. But try mine first. Hahahaha 😀

To make this totally oatsome (pun intended…even if it’s corny, haha) and delicious dish to feed 3 people, you need:

  • 1 cup of rolled oats oatmeal
  • 2 tablespoons crushed or chopped almonds (the actual measurement is 1/2 cup, but since I only had a handful of almonds with me, I was only able to make 2 tablespoons. You can add more nuts for a nuttier, crunchier oatmeal! You may also substitute walnuts for almonds. See the original recipe below)
  • 3 1/4 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder dissolved in 1/3 cup of hot water (if you don’t want a chocolatey oatmeal, use 1/4 cup of milk instead)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (I didn’t use up all of the sugar, and it still tasted delicious. You can leave out 4 teaspoons of sugar if you want to go easy on the sweetness)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 ripe lakatan banana, thinly sliced (optional)

Now to really make the totally oatsome and delicious nutty oatmeal, follow these 3 easy steps:

  1. Place the oatmeal in a medium skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat. Toast the oats, stirring constantly for 5-6 minutes or until the oatmeal is fragrant and begins to brown around the edges. Just make sure they don’t burn! Remove the oatmeal and transfer to a medium saucepan.
  2. In the same pan, melt the butter and add the crushed almonds. Toast the almonds over medium heat, stirring constantly until the almonds are a dark brown color and toasted. Switch the positions of the skillet and saucepan in the gas stove so that the oatmeal begins to heat. Add the water, cocoa powder, salt, and cinnamon to oatmeal in saucepan.
  3. Bring the oatmeal mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 3-5 minutes until oatmeal is tender. Add the brown sugar and nuts, stir, then cover oatmeal & let it stand for 3 minutes or 10 seconds if you can’t wait to taste your totally oatsome and delicious nutty oatmeal.  Stir & serve.
  4. To upgrade your oatmeal’s oatsomeness, add the banana slices and stir. Eat, savor each bite, and enjoy!!! 🙂

NOTE: If you are serving for 5-6 people, just multiply the amount of the ingredients by two except for the water and sugar. If you’re using rolled oats, add another cup or 1/2 cup of water because rolled oats absorb the water faster than instant oats, and if your oatmeal lacks water, it will be too sticky and not as oatsome. Go easy on the sugar, and adjust it according to your taste. But don’t add too much, unless you plan on having diabetes.

Here is the original recipe from Chef Susan Irby’s book, The Giant $7 A Meal Cookbook

serves 5

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups regular oatmeal
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Directions:

  1. Place oatmeal in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Toast, stirring constantly, for 5-6 minutes or until oatmeal is fragrant and begins to brown around the edges. Remove to large saucepan.
  2. In the same skillet, melt butter and add chopped walnuts. Toast over medium heat, stirring constantly until nuts are toasted. set aside. Add water, milk, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg to oatmeal in saucepan.
  3. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer 5-6 minutes until oatmeal is tender. Add brown sugar and nuts, stir, then cover oatmeal and let stand for 3 minutes. Stir and serve.

Have a happy breakfast! 🙂