What I’ve Been Learning Lately (WIBLL)

Hello blogworld! 🙂 I apologize for my lack of a decent post last week. I took my exam in accounting, business statistics, philosophy, and psychology last week and finance on Monday . I still have two exams left–Law on obligations and contracts and fundamentals in programming and database–so expect another week of inactivity after this post. That being said, let’s move on.

I am grateful for having a God and at the same time my Father, Best Friend, Teacher, and Lord Who is exceedingly good and patient with me. He never fails in fulfilling His promises to me when I obey His commands. Unlike Him, I fail in fulfilling my promises. When I told God and myself that I will commit to memorize and recite all the chapters of the book of Psalm this year, I failed to weigh the implications of my decision. I thought I can memorize another book of the Bible just like what I did in high school only to remember three months later that I was able to accomplish that feat because 1. I had all the time in the world (I can excuse schoolwork with memorizing) and 2. I managed my time well then. I made that promise three months ago and until today, I can’t go past Psalm 9. Last week, I asked myself, “Why do I want to memorize and recite the book of Psalm?”

I disliked what my conscience told me, but I had to accept it. I had to quit playing games with myself and start dealing with reality.

“You just want to add another seemingly wonderful accomplishment to your list of bragging rights. And if you believe memorizing 150 or 500 chapters from the Bible would make you more spiritual, then you’re on the wrong path.”

I confessed my sin before the Lord and asked Him if I could free myself of my commitment which, after three months, I resolved to nullify. He said yes, but He also told me that He was hurt by my decision.

“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’  But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black.” (Matthew 5:33-36)

This does not mean that a Christian must not promise anything to the Lord, but if he does, he must be committed to keep it. My dad gave me clear illustration of this instance once when we were talking in our car on the way to my school (then UA&P). I asked him if it is a sin to break your promises to God.

“I don’t think so, but God will surely be hurt. Like me, for example. If you promise to massage me tonight, then night comes and you don’t massage me, I still love you, but I am hurt.”

I apologized to the Lord for breaking my promise concerning His Word and He readily forgave me. The memory of my failure still haunts me, though. In spite of my unfaithfulness, God calmly assured me through Peter Furler’s song “Reach:”

“I fall again and again

but You whisper, 

‘You’re still Mine.’ “

Then God revealed to me why I haven’t been keeping my promises: I have been focusing on the wrong things. My priorities are out of joint.

Again, I asked for His forgiveness and again, God readily forgave me. The amazing thing about God is that He’s so good and faithful in keeping His promises to His children. He will never fail us–or you. 🙂

How about you? What have you been learning lately? 🙂

I Helped Clean Manila Bay! Sort of.

“Intention does not determine destination. Direction determines destination.”

– Pastor Peter Tan-chi

Yesterday I ran my 3rd fun run that was hosted and organized by the Manila Broadcasting Company (MBC). In all my exceptionally amateur runs (totaling three :D), the Manila Bay Clean-Up Run was the most fulfilling because I beat my own record. As if my record’s worth beating. Hahaha! In the previous 5K runs, the Philippine Daily Inquirer Run and Run to Build (CCF), I ran for over forty minutes. Guess how long I ran yesterday? 36 minutes and 3 seconds! I also decreased walking time to 1 minute (compared to the previous runs where I walked for about one-fourth of the race. HAHA)

Kenyans spearhead the race  with their long, slender legs. They are present in almost every fun run.

her epic finishing shot

my more epic finishing shot

and another

Swimmer, T.V. host, and actress Christine Jacob-Sandejas

with singer Luke Mejares

 MBC sales team with their president Ruperto Nicdao Jr. (third from left)

one of the top 3 placers in the 5K women’s category. I’m jealous :p

Fstest 5K female runner: Y U No Smile?!

Running is simple. You don’t have to sign up for a class at a gym or a studio to learn how to run. The do’s and don’ts of running you may learn from the growing number of health magazines, but you don’t actually learn how to run step by step. You just do it. It’s an innate, human ability. Even if you’re not capable of running due to an injury or a disease, you still know how to run. Running is simple. Finishing a race, however, is another story.

Between the starting line and the finishing line is a stretch of a road constructed with pain, temptations, sweat, distractions, and other runners. Fifteen hundred men, women, and children all hoped and wished to run and end triumphantly (that is, without giving up along the way), but only several people actually do so. By God’s grace, I was one of those “severals.”

My goal for this race was to topple my 40-minute record. I knew this objective could be achieved by limiting my walks, water breaks, and simply running even if my entire being screams YOU ARE TIRED STOP RUNNING NOW! Indeed there was truth in my former P.E. coach’s words when she said that the greatest enemy in any race is yourself. My mind loved playing tricks on me even if I did not give it my permission, and I must fight every single one of them. One of those tricks was what I called the premeditated walk.

After fifteen or twenty minutes of incessant running, I believed I deserved a rest. Dear reader, pay extreme caution to your beliefs as they easily permeate optimism or pessimism into your being which could build you up or tear you down. Wrong beliefs lead to wrong choices. “Do you really deserve a rest, now?” a voice called God spoke to me. “Continue running. You can have all the rest you want after the race. You’re almost there.”

Had I opted for a premeditated walk, I would have finished the race five minutes late–a disheartening forty minutes. But I wasn’t going to give in–not anymore.

True enough, I achieved my goal even if I have only been jumping ropes and dancing instead of running for the past several weeks. God is good, and He is true to His Word. I’m still enjoying the rest I longed for so much.

Most of us intend to succeed, accomplish much, and excel in something worthwhile, but how many of us actually manage to do so? A handful, maybe. Why? Because most of us think we deserve to rest and opt for premeditated walks. We do not deserve anything in this life! God gives us rest when we need it, so until you hear God say, “Rest,” just keep on running. Don’t stop. Run.

By God’s grace, I helped clean Manila Bay in the most unusual way. I did not pick up pieces of candy wrappers or painted old walls.

I ran with patience the race that was set before me. 🙂 (Hebrews 12:1)

*Photos courtesy of my loving and ever-supportive Daddy, Ferdie Talam. 🙂

Called To Account

Writing has always been and will always be my passion. When I was younger, I wrote inspirational essays and short stories on several pieces of A4 bond papers and afterwards stapled and shaped them into my own “book.” Back then I was my own publisher and my parents were my most avid readers. Today they still are my avid readers and I still dream of getting published (if only I can get my thoughts and ideas rearranged). The pen, as well as the keyboard, was my best friend, the English grammar my instructor, and choice literature my mentors.

Possessing a brain with a possibly larger right hemisphere, I have not grown to love numbers and analysis. I’ll admit that I’m pretty slow when I am tasked to correctly supply the proof with the rules of inference in syllogism. After struggling with geometry and logic in high school and 1st year of college respectively, I thought I was relieved from hurdling countless rules, postulates, and concepts relating to analysis and numbers. Unfortunately,  my struggle has just begun.

I knew from the moment I enlisted for that subject that I would experience difficulty liking and befriending Basic Accounting. Pardon my harshness, but I always viewed accounting as a boring and dull subject and field of expertise. In spite having this distorted misconception, I highly esteemed (and still esteem) accountants because they really are people who have the right to be called professionals thanks to their hard-earned licenses. However, I saw myself in a career which continuously pursues innovative and creative write-ups and projects–a feat accountants do not usually do. Thus, my resistance to the subject.

Yet no matter how much I tried to avoid analysis and accounting (I opted for health instead of accounting as an elective in high school), they just kept coming back to me as if to say, “Knowledge of us even in the lowest level is a must for every employee in the corporate world.” For real?! Unfortunately for me, I have a mom who thought the same way. She voluntarily accompanied me during my enrollment so that she could choose the subjects that I would be dealing with. If only she enrolled in the MBA program….

In my cranial shelves, accounting definitely belonged to this classification. It took me two weeks before I partially understood debit and credit and their effect on assets, liabilities, and owner’s equity. As I listed entries onto my journal last Thursday, I suddenly appreciated the numerous writing assignments and exercises in UA&P and MICA (my present Alma mater). I’d choose writing a handful of essays over journalizing,  posting to the ledger, and trial balancing anytime!

As I penned each digit in the rightmost columns of my journal, I realized something. There must be a reason why God allowed me to take accounting. As a matter of fact, I don’t have any English or communication subject this semester! “Okay, Lord, what are you trying to teach me?”

one of my most favorite reblogged Tumblr photos

At present, I am undergoing what I call a “knowledge and experience stretch.” What I have been running away from for so long I now have to face and conquer. I learned that in  God’s training program, He does not stop until each man (or woman) successfully completes a challenge he or she finds repulsive. It is one’s response to what he thinks is not good or proper for him that determines the depth of his character and spiritual maturity.

That Thursday evening, I braced myself for the next four months of nosebleeding, brain bleeding, and understanding accounting as well as principles of finance and law on obligations and contracts (yes, I am taking those subjects, too). Analysis is not just for accountants, bankers, and lawyers. Writers and artists need it, too. I know I do. 🙂

Images courtesy of Google Images

Highly Favored

“And Esther obtained favor in the sight of all who saw her. So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace….The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins….”

– Esther 2:15b-17b, NKJV (emphases added)

I love receiving compliments. My liking of a compliment depends on: 1. who gave it and 2. the level in which it is given. I usually get the best compliments from the people who know me best: my parents, and boy, are they ever good at giving them. 😀

Three months ago I was privileged to host a dear friend’s birthday party. My dad, who is currently teaching himself digital photography, offered to take a few shots of me hosting. Apparently his idea of few was more than 200 photos. 🙂

On our way home, I asked my dad if he could critic my hosting. Parents have a knack of “complimenting” their children because they are their offspring, but my parents do not condone such pretentiousness. They are like magic mirrors which truthfully and gently rebuke the wicked stepmother or praise the amiable Snow White in me. Usually I was in between–a Snow White stepmother–but that night, I acted more like a princess. At least in the way I hosted.

Magaling, magaling. Mas angat ka dun sa kasama mo. Nakakatawa pa.” (You were good, good. You stood out compared to your co-host. And you were funny too)

“Angat” (stand out) stood out of all the words he said. There was something about being excellent superlatively, being cut above the rest. In my heart I thanked God for blessing me with the gift of eloquent speaking. I am also grateful to Him for placing me where I am at this moment in time to develop me holistically. As I dismounted our vehicle that night, my heart swelled with glee over what my dad just told me. For a moment I forgot about his more candid and extrovert other half waiting for us.

I showed mom the photos dad took during the party and asked me questions about the program, my former classmates, and my hosting. After a series of questions she proceeded to commenting on my attire, makeup, the venue–basically everything.

“Ang galing mo na mag make-up, ah. Aba, ang ganda ng dress ng debutante. Next time close your legs!” (You’re good at applying make-up! Wow, how beautiful the debutante’s dress.)

Ladies, close your legs. All. the. time.

Since my dad failed to take a video of me hosting, mom was unable to comment precisely on my beloved skill. Compliments of people thrill me, but nothing gives me more joy than hearing God commend me.  I appreciate my parents’s remarks because they know me well. Therefore it’s just right for me–or anyone else for that matter–to accept as truth what God says I am.

When I read the verses above (first paragraph) earlier this morning, I was awed. The verses gave me more reasons to love and adore Esther, the Jewish queen of Persia, even more. The Bible repeatedly mentioned the words “all” and “more than all the others…” to describe Esther.  Talk about supreme beauty!

How did Esther obtain favor and grace in the sight of all who saw her? How did she earn the king’s favor? Was it because of the 1-year intensive beauty treatment she underwent? The other virgins in the king’s harem underwent treatment, too. I wish the Bible elaborated more on Esther’s life prior to her queen-ship, but later I realized, it need not write additional chapters. I learned an invaluable lesson:

Favor is earned through the working of character being built over time.

Sure some individuals are naturally gifted with some skills or physical traits, but that does not make them favorable to all people. In fact, the more a person knows and believes he is exceptionally gifted or smarter than his peers, the more he would succumb to bossiness and pride.  Esther chose the narrow path of humility; she submitted to the leadership of her guardian and cousin, Mordecai. You can see it all throughout Esther (18th book of the Old Testament). A truly beautiful woman keeps her will and entire being under God’s control not because she’s weak, but because God is stronger and knows what is best ahead of her. Probably the other virgins were bossy over the eunuchs (“assistants”) assigned to them so they were instantly disliked. But not Esther. As an orphan and a captive in a foreign land, she learned how to treat others with respect and dignity. She could have seen and experienced for herself oppression–verbal, physical, or emotional–and so she decided to return the kindness to the people around her no matter how badly they treat her so as not to become like them. Therefore, her Commander-in-Chief openly commended her in His Manual.

I know there wouldn’t be a 67th book in the Bible named after me, but I am more than happy in hearing God commend me as His servant through my fellow servants. 🙂 He accepts me as I am, but I strive to earn His approval so that I “am a worker who does not need to be ashamed.” (2 Timothy 2:15) I hope that you, too, will choose to be a woman or man approved by God–a person of noble character, highly favored both by God and man. 🙂

The Art of Being A Woman: What I Learned

I, along with thirteen hundred other women, braved the pouring rain and strong wind last Saturday to attend the single women’s conference titled, “The Art of Being  A Woman and Other Lost Virtues,” in CCF St. Francis. True to its title, the conference (or should I say, the God Who orchestrated the conference) helped me rediscover lost virtues that I once upheld and taught me how it is to be a single woman in today’s world. Surprisingly, the first lesson on womanhood I learned not during the 1st topic (which was delivered by none other than Pastor Peter’s other half, Mrs. Deonna Tan-chi), but at home. I awoke an hour earlier than I expected, and every time this occurs, I attribute it to God wanting to say something to me or to do a certain task that required a lot of my time. Instead of bright rays of sunshine illuminating my face, raindrops battering against our windows and opaqueness greeted me. Instinctively, I logged on Facebook to see if the event was cancelled. The administrator, being the optimistic child of God that she is, claimed in a status in the event’s page that the storm will be gone by tomorrow (that is, Saturday morning). To me, this goes to show that God can work mightily even through a heavy storm because He never loses control over nature. Ergo, the event pushed through.

Optimism was not my first lesson, however. That’s just the introduction. Womanhood 101 started when I checked my phone’s messages. A friend and a cousin of mine who registered for the event said that they were prohibited by their mothers to attend the retreat due to Falcon, the typhoon which soared high above Manila’s skyline. These two beautiful ladies happened to be the same girls I’ll be sitting with during the conference; thus I thought twice if I should prohibit myself from attending or not. During those moments that I contemplated whether to go or not go to planned event, I expected my Mom or Dad to peek in and tell me to keep calm and stay home and cancel whatever appointment I set for that day, but on that gloomy Saturday morning,  I was left to decide for myself. Well, not really because I have the Teacher with me. Calmly He introduced lesson #1:

Be careful how you are influenced. Never act upon something without My approval from My Word or my designated people.

The point He impressed upon me was not  in choosing right over wrong, but in choosing the best over what is good. By His  power vested in me through His Holy Spirit, I chose to do what is best for me.

An hour and half later, I was standing with thirteen hundred other women in CCF’s 5th floor auditorium. I’ve never seen the 5th floor so girly, even if it’s only for a day, in my 17-year part-time residence there. Just a few feet away from the elevator located at the “west wing” of the 5th floor, a large Shiseido mirror complete with its array of cosmetics greeted me. Walking further, I saw more advertisements of the different sponsors: San Marino corned tuna, Curves and Boudior Dolls. I knew I was in for a treat.

To say that The Art of Being a Woman Conference was inspirational is an understatement;  it was more than that. Convincing a woman (or at least, a woman in her own feminine eyes) to surrender her entire being to God, saying,

“Lord, whether or not marriage is part of Your game plan for me, I’m all in. Use me as you will,”

is no easy task, but because she was planned long ago by God, the conference spoke and inspired the participants  effectively. That day, I finally understood what the Bible calls “peace that transcends human understanding.” Statements of faith shoot out of the heart unnecessary worries and anxiety it carries.

Talks were divided into 6 parts, namely: The Art of Being a Woman in Today’s World, Pursue True Beauty, Pursue Purity, Pursue Modesty, Pursue Excellence, and Pursue Undivided Attention. Albeit all of the topics pulled my heartstrings and gave me deeper insight on true womanhood, I especially like the topics on purity and undivided attention. Impurity in my thought life has always been one of my toughest struggles. It still is, actually, but lately I am conquering it by God’s grace and power and through Him alone. 🙂 As for undivided attention, it is topic which compelled me to surrender my whole life to God–this time, for real–because I know and believe that He has my best interest at heart.

Here are some of the quotes and statements made by the beautiful women who shared their lives and testimonies, made us all laugh and think, and imparted to us, as well as verses from the Bible. If you are a single and you want to be all that God wants you to be as is, where is, then claim these statements, too! 🙂 God has a great, big, wonderful plan for your life too! 😀

“She [the virtuous woman] puts on strength and honor as if they were her clothes.
She can laugh at the days that are coming.

  • Proverbs 31:25

“If you catch a man with your looks, be prepared to keep him with your looks.”

“Purity has to be planned.”

  • Monique Ong on Pursuing Purity

“True beauty begins with the heart, with a gentle and quiet spirit.”

  • Joy Tan-chi–Mendoza on Pursuing True Beauty

“Being single is not being insignificant, incomplete, or in a holding position. The single life is a beautiful moment characterized by undivided attention to God.”

“GB [God’s Best] is not a guy; it’s a life.

“Spiritual maturity is measured by the span of time it takes one to respond to God.”

  • Cindy Soriano on Pursuing Undivided Attention

“There is no thing better than God’s best. He is your God’s best!”

“If you are not content in your current situation, you are NOT ready to get married.”

“Homosexuality is not a destiny; it’s a choice. You can change.”

  • Deonna Tan-chi on The Art of Being a Woman in Today’s World

“Save your beautiful body for one man!”

“Men want to see the good you do and say.”

  • Jenny Tan-chi on Pursuing Modesty

“When it comes to character, focus on your weaknesses, but when it comes to talents and skills, focus on your strengths.”

“The key to excellence is to have a full partnership with Jesus Christ.”

  • Cata De Jesus on Pursuing Excellence

🙂 Part 2 of Womanhood 101, the conference, and how I translated these priceless lessons into action shall come soon.

More stuff from my notes and Patrick Nuo’s “Beautiful”