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. 😉

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

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

Back To Running & Cooking! (Pasta Recipe Included, Too)

Last Tuesday, I started running again! It felt so good to wear my running shoes and run ’till I sweat, pant, and can’t talk no more. 🙂 Next to meeting God, running a few kilometers in a garden in the middle of the Makati Central Business District (CBD) is one of the few reasons I look forward to waking up in the early morn.

I ran at 7 AM and unfortunately, didn’t get to see the sunrise. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed my 30-minute run. However, since I was on hiatus for several months (only with running, not exercise), my body cried for an adjustment phase that it may recall my former running stride, if I had any. =))

Then last Thursday, I cooked a healthy, low-cost pasta dish! Now that I have all the time in the world I can run and continue enhancing my cooking skills. This dish I adapted from Women’s Health Whole-Wheat Spaghetti With Sweet Peppers and Chicken Sausage recipe. As usual, I lacked the exact ingredients stated in the recipe so I tweaked the dish using  ingredients available at home. Thankfully, my Dad brought home a few cans of Spam so I used that instead of chicken sausage. It turned out swell! Everyone at home enjoyed the dish.

Spaghetti With Spam, Bell Peppers, and Basil

Makes 6-8 servings

  • 500 g pasta noodles (spaghetti, fettuccine, or linguine)
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 can Spam lite, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 5 tsps dried basil leaves or 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves plus whole leaves for garnish
  • 4 large assorted bell peppers
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add Spam and brown lightly on both sides, about 7 minutes. Transfer cooked sausage to a plate and cover loosely with foil. Wipe out the pan.
  2. Add remaining oil to the skillet. Saute garlic over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add peppers and saute until shiny, about 1 minute. Cover the pan and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until peppers are soft but not mushy, about 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add Spam and basil to pan, and mix gently.
  3. Cook pasta until al dente, according to package directions. Drain in a colander, leaving a little water in the pot. Pour the pasta back into the pot and toss to prevent sticking, then add it to the pan with the sauce and combine. Divide among  plates, garnish with fresh basil, and serve.

Voila!

I know it’s not the most appealing photo of a supposedly delicious pasta (but really, it’s good), but I don’t exactly have a very good camera (or photography skills). My Dad wasn’t home when I cooked this so I had no one to take good photos with an excellent camera. At least I tried!

By the way, if you’re a runner and you’re searching for a playlist that could help fire up your albeit monotonous run, then I suggest you update your playlist with these songs emailed to me by Chris Lawhorn of Run Hundred.

Tim Berg – Seek Bromance (Avicii Vocal Edit) – 127 BPM

Katy Perry – The One That Got Away – 135 BPM

Alexandra Stan – Mr. Saxobeat (Maan Studio Remix) – 126 BPM

Flo Rida – Good Feeling – 129 BPM

Wolfgang Gartner & Will.I.Am – Forever – 128 BPM

Hot Chelle Rae – Tonight Tonight (Goldstein Remix) – 118 BPM

Taio Cruz & Flo Rida – Hangover – 129 BPM

Enrique Iglesias, Pitbull & The WAV.s – I Like How It Feels – 129 BPM

Kaskade & Skrillex – Lick It – 128 BPM (I did not use this, though, The title turned me off. haha)

Kelly Clarkson – What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger) – 117 BPM

I also suggest ending your playlist with Israel Houghton’s, “We Have Overcome.” It’ll seal your hard work! 🙂

Until my next run and dish! 😀

[2011 Recap] Highlights Part 2

Bonded more with family

Bonded More With Family

This year, I made my Dad cry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drew closer to God

I have a confession to make.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Revelation 21:8

A joyful and blessed 2012 to you! 🙂