There’s No One I’d Rather Be Than Me

WARNING: This post contains statements which may not be suitable for innocent Wreck-It-Ralph audiences. Parental, spousal, whatever type of guidance is advised.

 

Have you ever wished you were designed differently as a person? Maybe if you had a different temperament or a different occupation at this stage of your life right now, you would be a happier and more fulfilled person?

Ralph of Wreck-It-Ralph did.

Ralph: good guy disguised as a bad guy

Disney’s latest animation delves into the occupation of Ralph as a wrecker in the arcade game, Fix It Felix Jr. and the loneliness that goes with it. With his abnormally gigantic fists, Ralph boxes bricks and windows of a condominium and throws bricks at Felix Jr. who is programmed to, surprise, surprise, fix Ralph’s wreckage with his magic hammer. Ralph’s job wouldn’t be so bad (and lonely) if it were not for the fact that after a game, when Felix receives his hard-earned medal, the citizens of the condo lift Ralph and throw him down the dump. That happens at every single game no matter what level the player (human, of course) reaches. Thus if 8 players play the game on average and each player reaches at least 3 levels (assuming all levels are successfully won), Felix gets 24 medals a day, and Ralph wrecks and gets thrown in the dump 24 times as well.

courtesy of Google Images

To make it even more lonely, when the arcade closes and the games are over, Ralph heads over to the brick dump, or garbage, and lives alone, while the condo’s citizens live with the very much praised and admired Felix Jr., who gets his daily servings of compliments and warm pies.

Provoked by his loneliness and the spiteful attitude of the condo citizens against him, Ralph vowed to win himself a medal just like Felix Jr. even if it meant breaking game protocol. In the games, it is impossible for the bad guys to win medals since they were reserved for good guys. Ralph had had enough of being a bad guy. He wanted to be good and win a medal. He wanted to be praised by the members of his game and served pies. He yearned to belong.

As I watched Ralph’s (literally) animated life unfold before my eyes last Sunday afternoon, I realized I shared his sentiments. It’s not the loneliness or the spiteful attitude of the people around me, because, by God’s grace, people treat me kindly.

It’s the fact that, once upon a time, I did not like the way I was “programmed.”

To answer the question I posed at the beginning of this post: Have you ever wished you were designed differently as a person?,

my answer would be a resounding “yes.”

After reading Beverly LaHaye’s book, The Spirit-Controlled Woman, I found out that God blessed me with the melancholic-sanguine temperament. Among my favorites of the descriptions of a MelSan person are: “one of the most gifted of all the temperament blends;” “usually does well in academia;” “she can sway an audience with her charm.” (In other words, a drama queen. Haha!) Although my temperament is blended with sanguine, which is extrovert, I am mainly a melancholic so I am still considered an introvert. Gifted as I may be, I easily get depressed because melancholics are wired to be so deeply emotional. We take our emotions and thoughts seriously. We think about our actions even after we’ve done them and worry if they’re not right or appropriate. Sanguines are our exact opposites. If a sanguine student recites the wrong answer in class, he won’t care (or at least dwell on) the embarrassment it caused. A melancholic, on the other hand, would slap himself (at least mentally) for answering so stupidly and would vow to never, ever do that again, or at least think twice before answering.

I used to hate the fact that I’m not as friendly as my sanguine family members and friends, such as my mom. She magnetizes people instantly–from the vendor at the wet market to the vice president of a company. At a party of her close friends or her own, she adds life, laughter, and camaraderie. When we hang out together, there are no dull moments–except maybe for the silence that ensues once our threader begins to thread our eyebrows; she sleeps, while I wince occasionally in pain.

My Mom is also one of the few people who never, ever gets insecure about their looks. She usually gets teased as fat, obese, and plump, but not once did I see my mom sulk, cry, or even frown. She responds with a smile and a witty remark while holding her portly tummy: “Dapat lang! Malaki investment ko diyan.” When I get called fat, I wish I could  also smile and reply wittily. In reality, I get sad. I get frustrated because I overate again the other day and went through a week without working out. Sometimes I don’t get sad at all because I know it’s not true, but sad or not, being called fat is a big deal to me. Well, was a big deal. (ngayon small deal nalang :D)

There came a stage in my life–a difficult and tearful stage, I must admit–when I disliked the temperament God gave me. I reasoned that it was the wheel behind my “inability” to allow myself to easily create deep bonds with people so that I’ll be part of their circles and not be left alone during lunchtime. Don’t get me wrong, people don’t intentionally avoid me or reject me; it’s just that, I’m the type of person who doesn’t push herself to be part of a group that doesn’t invite me in. In other words, I often lack initiative. I attributed that lack to my introverted temperament which in turn made me hate myself and my “program.” Just like Ralph wanted so badly to be “good,” I wanted to be an extrovert, more of a people person than an observant bystander.

As I sought the Lord and His will for me, He changed my heart of stone into a heart of flesh so that I may gratefully accept the program He made and gave for me.  According to LaHaye, falling into a black emotional hole is a negative tendency for melancholics, and the best way to avoid that tendency and turn it into a blessing is by practicing gratitude. Moment. By. Moment. “In everything give thanks,” God said in Philippians 4:13, “for it is the will of God through Christ Jesus concerning you.”  As I sought the Lord, He showed me one of the reasons why He prompted me to put up this site, The Lifeline: that I may list all the blessings that God sends my way and thank Him for them. This blog reminds me of Who my God is, what He has done, and what He continues to do in and through me–and overall, that leads me to discovering pure and lasting joy.  🙂

Wreck-It-Ralph made it to my top favorite movies of all time because it reminded me so much of my journey to accepting the way God programmed me. The way we are programmed–our ancestry, parents, genes, background, temperament, etc–cannot be changed. We can only accept it or reject it. Moreover, acceptance can either be grateful or spiteful. Just like Ralph, I choose grateful acceptance of my program. When Ralph failed to gratefully accept his program as “the bad guy,” one disaster upon another followed his tail, almost costing him his life (i.e., game over). The  times when I pretended to be someone I’m not were my most miserable and lonely experiences. Erasing gratitude out of the picture means erasing joy as well.

By my Father’s amazing grace, I have come to terms with my temperament and my body. At times I still struggle with conflicting emotions and insecurities, but my God gets me through them at the end of the day through prayer. How about you? Have you gratefully accepted the unchangeable program you’ve been endowed with? Have you come to terms with your negative tendencies and sought practical ways to turn them into blessings? The only way you can be happy the way you are is by realizing that the One who created you fashioned you so uniquely to serve a unique purpose. We stand equally before our Maker as persons and beings, but we stand differently as our selves. He loves you as much as He loves me, but He loves you differently. My needs are not met the same way yours are. I’m still baffled at those facts, but I am just grateful that I don’t have to worry about that because my God’s got me all covered!

I pray that if you haven’t gratefully accepted your program that one day, you will, just as Ralph and I did. Ralph affirmed his acceptance by wholeheartedly declaring what is called as “The Bad Guy Affirmation:”

“I am bad and that’s good. I will never be good and that’s not bad. There’s no one I’d rather be than me.”

I am Jenny, an imperfect MelSan, and that’s good. I may never be as extroverted as I wanted to be and that’s not bad. There’s no one I’d rather be than me.

And there’s no one you should rather be but Y-O-U. 🙂

Mac’s lipsticks are fabulous
sans make-up after Insanity. O___O

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!

[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

Jedi

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. 🙂

Sembreak Part 1: Classic Boracay Vacay

It wasn’t too long ago when I first watched Sound of Music. My Dad bought a DVD of the said film and told me I should watch it because it was a classic. Without  completely understanding what a classic movie is, I obeyed. After being completely engrossed with the Von Trapp family and Fraulein Maria and learning the basic musical notes for 2 hours, I distinguished a classic movie from all the other types. A classic movie was one with an intermission. 😀

At first I was surprised. What was an intermission? Why can’t we just rush headlong to the rest of the movie? And of all the scenes to disrupt with an intermission, why the climax? My Mom who watched beside me then told me it was a pause because the movie was actually a musical play  turned into a movie and in plays, intermissions gave the actors and actresses an opportunity to rest and the audience to go to the restrooms. My immature mind did not process the pause pretty well, but somehow I managed to wait patiently in our sofa. (My immature mind also failed to remind me that I was not inside a theatre at that time and our DVD player had a fast forward button. Oh well)

For now, I’ll put aside my Sound Of Music encounter and introduce a new one with breathtaking nature and sights in the beautiful island of Boracay. Five years lapsed since I last visited the island in the mid-eastern part of the Visayan area.  A lot has changed since my last trip, especially my memory, so much so that all I remember was my braided hair, our island hopping, and me bringing home a sample of the white sand (as well as the memories stored in photos). Thankfully God gave me the opportunity to make new memories with family and relatives (our balikbayan from Australia).

As much as I enjoyed our three-day vacation, I cannot attest to its perfection. Like there’s a perfect getaway, really. Setbacks were inevitable. Our outgoing flight from Manila was delayed by forty-five minutes. As for outgoing flight from Kalibo, Aklan, it was moved two hours earlier than the appointed time so we left Boracay early in the morning. 😦 I learned to take it all in stride and with a grateful heart, not allowing these circumstances to dampen my joy. Indeed, I experienced a vacation devoid of city noise and full of nature and delicious (albeit quite pricey) food–a vacation I’ve never had in months.

see, I’m smiling? 🙂

Admittedly, I expected Boracay’s quality in terms of cleanliness and splendor to be diminished because of the rumors I heard that the sand and the water was not as clean as they used to be. The thing about rumors is, they are 99% fiction and 1% imagination which is usually vain and fictitious in nature. The water was anything but murky and trashed. In fact, it was crystal clean and blue. The sand was white, soft, and pillowy and the sky blue, clear, and embellished with fluffy clouds. If I brought a printer with me and printed the photos my Dad took, I would have made several postcards and people who bought them would think the photos were Photoshopped. The people who posed with nature needed editing, but not the background. I appreciated the sky more than ever during our vacay–its seeming “nearness” to me, the way it reflected orange, yellow, red, pink, and white lights, and its purity (free from city smoke).

Then of course, there was the beach. This time, though, I needed not to take home a sample of the sand because the memory of the sand’s texture embedded itself permanently in my brain. Of all the parts in my body, my feet enjoyed the sand as I walked barefoot most of the time. Who needs a foot spa when you can relax and exfoliate your feet at the same time as they come in contact with Boracay sand?

And who could forget the food we ate? They were not extraordinary or expensive, but since I ate out of hunger and enjoyed happy conversations with a cool family, they became extraordinarily delicious. I ate a mozarella and mushroom burger (after several months), squid adobo, pork kare-kare (the first time I ate quite a good portion), tempura, sweet-and-sour squid to name a few. On our second (and last) night, my cousin, Jaemie, craved for buko (Philippine coconut). With my classmate, Gemma, who happened to be staying in the island on the same days as ours (her holiday there was longer, though), Jaemie and I drank about 2 glasses of buko juice and ate the buko‘s meat.

One of the best moments I spent in Boracay I spent alone with God in the early morn. I read Psalm 19 prior to my walk, and I felt the psalmist David speaking directly to me. 🙂

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands. They have no speech, they use no words;  no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

(Psalm 19:1, 3-5, NIV)

The sun indeed behaved like a joyful and nervous bridegroom watching his bride walk down the aisle; its rays were diffused by the giant clouds hovering in the sky so the temperature was not warm. The best man was also present: a short but noticeable rainbow. As I slowly scanned the scene around me, I thought to myself: how beautiful and indescribably gorgeous Heaven must be! My heart once again longed for Paradise, but then, as I stood on the shore and felt the cool breeze wrap my face, I breathed a thank you to the Creator of Boracay and all things beautiful.

Just like the Sound of Music, our Boracay vacation this year was a classic, and even more than that: it was an intermission in itself. As I meditated on intermission, I learned of its purpose. The intermission does not detach the audience from what they have already seen. As a matter of fact, it helps a confused child (such as yours truly) connect the dots, identify with his favourite characters, make meaning out of a wise saying, or ask his or her parent what they will be having for lunch or dinner. The intermission somehow makes the viewer ready and excited for what’s coming without spoiling the grand finale.

And today I realized, my 3-day vacation in Boracay served the same purpose: a preparation for what’s coming. A breather. A momentary period to eat voluminous amounts of food without counting the calories; to  swim under the morning heat even if I end up two shades darker; to gaze at the stars at night and count them without dozing off; to have a Godly reminder painted on my arm, pose for the camera in scenic backgrounds, and experience the joy of flying even domestically. Most importantly, my vacation provided me an opportunity to reconnect with my Creator and Father in a relaxing and awe-striking way. 🙂 I don’t boast about my country having a beautiful island such as Boracay; I gladly boast about my Creator, Savior, and Lord Who knows exactly how many grains of sand dot Boracay’s shore and the names of every star in the sky and every galaxy named and unnamed. This is my God.

The classic vacation shall be resumed in several hours…or days. 😐

Part 2 coming right up.

In the meantime, do The Lifeline jump!

“I Don’t Need Easy; I Just Need Possible.”

Bethany Hamilton not only said that; she lived it.

Yesterday, my family and I watched Soul Surfer, an autobiography on the victorious and inspirational life of professional surfer and Christian Bethany Hamilton (played by Annasophia Robb). While surfing off Kauai’s North Shore back in October 31, 2003, Bethany encountered the beast that changed her life forever: a 14-foot tiger shark attacked her, leaving her left arm severed and causing her to lose 60% of her blood.*  In spite the near-death situation she faced (literally caught in the jaws of death), Bethany survived the shark attack and lived to proclaim the hope, love, mercy, provision, joy, and care she received from her Savior, Jesus Christ.

God couldn’t be anything but timely when He allowed me to watch the film (Malacanang suspended classes yesterday).  I have been very complacent with my physique, prayer life, studies, writing (especially that novel that is soon to be born), and serving others.  If my life were a game, I was living the life of an easy-goer, an amateur–not exactly the plan God had in mind. The Christian life is anything but mediocre; in fact, it is impossible. Nevertheless it is possible because of the God Who can make all things possible. Since I wasted a lot of time in the valley of complacency, my passion for all things Heavenly slowly eroded. God was not impatient, but He had to jolt me out of my lethally dangerous lifestyle. I am so thankful He did and did so without costing me anything. At least for now.

To say that  Bethany Hamilton is tough is an understatement. She is a living, breathing example of living by faith and not by sight. Like most, if not all, Christians who have encountered ferocious “shark attacks” that left an area of them severed, Bethany questioned God’s plan for her life. After all, how could God have made her for surfing then take away a part of her that enabled her to surf excellently? Any person in her shoes would conclude that way from a “zoomed in” perspective. As explained in the movie, you don’t appreciate a photo when you look at it too close; however, once you step back and see the picture as a whole, what you saw as unattractive or vague you now consider beautiful or at the very least, understand completely. The same principle applies to life. We tend to be disappointed with God because we don’t see life as He does. God’s eyes are “zoomed out;” He sees the picture as a whole. Sometimes we really won’t see the big picture, and for this reason, we are to trust God. Bethany Hamilton trusted the Lord to carry her day by day, and He kept true to His Word. Until today, Bethany inspires young men and women, handicapped and otherwise, all over the world that God “knows the plans He has for them, plans to prosper them, plans to give them a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

I want to thank Bethany Hamilton for allowing herself to be used by God to inspire people with her testimony including me. 🙂 I quote God’s Words to me after watching Soul Surfer:

“Just like I used surfing and a shark attack in Bethany Hamilton’s life to help her know me better and inspire people to have faith in Me, so I will use your dexterity in writing, knowledge, dystonia, personality, temperament–YOU–to bring honor and glory to My Name as well as to bring people to My presence.” 

God can work with people who only has an arm, a leg, or none at all! Easy is a dangerous word; it kills the passion innate in every person. Don’t settle for easy. Plunge in the impossible that is possible only because of JESUS CHRIST. 🙂 

Check out photos of Bethany Hamilton in action! 🙂 (c/o of Google Images)

* taken from Bethany’s website

By the way, this is my 160th post! 🙂