2016: The Year of Moving On

In a short while, we will kiss 2015 goodbye and say hello to 2016. How does this make you feel? Are you overcome by excitement, paralyzed by uncertainty and fear, or discouraged by last year’s performance? Personally, I feel all three. Somehow in my jungle heart, all three emotions found room.

 

describe 2015 in 1 phrase

 

How would you describe your 2015, in one phrase? Share it with me on the comments below! Here’s my phrase: breaking up. I broke up with the life I used to love.

-o-o-o-

In April 2015, I entered the United States as a permanent resident. Although I did not stay permanently yet at that time, that move opened the door to a more permanent move later. This move wasn’t painful at all, as my family and I were on vacation. They say time flies quickly when you’re having fun, and I couldn’t agree more because those two months felt like one! (Check out this post for more details on that vacay)

When I returned to Manila two months later, I moved from high school degree-holder to a bachelor’s degree-holder. I actually graduated, can you believe it?! Graduation gave me mixed feelings: eager anticipation at all the hours I can spend on my hobbies; dread at not finding a job; and discouragement, if the job hunting would take too long and I’ll have to spend my days as a bum. Before I got my first job, I thought my days and weeks would be spent in nothingness; however they were actually productive! I volunteered to build our youth ministry’s marketing and host the weekly service. At home I developed my cleaning and cooking skills and mastered the ability to sleep two times a day. My lifestyle shifted from erratic to slow-paced and regimented. Again, it was mostly a positive move, a pleasurable change.

By late September, I landed my first job. The change from unemployed to employed brought about another lifestyle change: from active to sedentary, as my work was 95% desk work. Nonetheless, I felt useful again. The terms, processes, ideas, and information that I stressed over back in college, made sense and felt easier to me. The best part is, I earned money! My salary wasn’t large enough to make me financially independent, but enough to fund my weekend excursions and some wants. 😀

After I resigned from my first ad agency stint two months later, I only had five days left before I changed address permanently. Five days! Change happened so fast, I felt like my life was a movie on fast forward. My schedule during those five days revolved around two things: packing my whole life and saying goodbye. I ate out with friends, mostly from church, and spent my “last days” reminiscing, taking photos, and receiving prayers and advice. Fixing my room gave me a mild case of sepanx (separation anxiety), especially on the day of my departure when I saw it mostly bare. Surprisingly, I did not cry. Perhaps things happened too quickly, there was no time left to cry. Haha :p In retrospect, these changes prepared me for the greatest move of all.

sepanx because of these people (plus more who are not in these photos huhu), our house, and my room

In November 25, 2015, my grandmother and I changed our home addresses. We moved to the United States to live there (here) permanently. Because my brothers had to finish school requirements, they, together with our parents, delayed their trip here. Again, another change, another move for me: it was my first time to be away from my family for an extended period of time, and from my friends and the places I’m familiar for an even longer period of time.

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If you knew me well, you’d know that I’m a careful and organized planner–not necessarily OC, but I dislike change and abruptness. If you want me to attend your party or event, you have to let me know three to six days in advance because a) it takes my parents that long to make a decision and b) I plan my schedule in advance so if you tell me too soon, I mostly have something to do already. Prior to migrating to the US, I only changed address once and schools four times (from preschool to university). Permanence is my preferred option. If I’ve gotten used to something, I’d rather stay there. (With food and leisure travel as the only exceptions!) So when the Lord told me to not only leave my house, but my country, my continent, and the friends I made, I was dismayed. I grew despondent when I thought of the idea of starting from scratch: making new friends, looking for a new house, moving from one apartment to another, learning the new roads and landmarks, and everything else that goes with migration.

I was so in love with my life in the Philippines that when I got here to the United States, I had to break up with it. For about a month, it was quite a struggle especially since I spent a quarter of my day online where most of my friends post about the latest happenings. Fear gnawed my resolve to begin anew. What will people think of me here? What if I can’t blend in and make any friends? What if I can’t be as home as I was in Manila? I grew desperate over my “ex”, who, although it helped me become a better person, wasn’t “the one” for me (or at least, not now).

Moving on is terrifying. You’re probably moving on from a breakup or some other life change right now. I kinda know how you feel because I know what it’s like to love someone (or in my case, something), only to realize later on that you have to part with it. God usually does that to His best disciples. Do you know why? During one of my devotions, the Lord inspired me with a powerful truth: Jenny, do you love Me or your experience of Me? As I struggled with this question, major figures in the Bible came to mind: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Ruth, the disciples, the Apostle Paul, and the Lord Jesus Himself. What was their common denominator? They all migrated from someplace to someplace else! Moving to another place and moving on is a test of faith on so many levels; it challenges your beliefs about God, His reality in your life, and if your faith is really as strong as you say it is. Moving taught me that my salvation in Christ Jesus was and is the only permanence I can hold on to in this life; everything else is temporary.

Last year, God told me at the start of the year that He was writing my story and that it was beautiful. He continues to write the chapters as my story moves on. For 2016, I will let go of the fear of moving on, and by faith, earnestly expect God to “work and to will His good pleasure” as I “work out my salvation with fear and trembling.” My greatest fear was to remain as I am without changing because I know I have so much left to improve! God is patient, gracious, and faithful. He will finish what He started.

This 2016, I pray that you, too, will continue to move forward; and if you must move on from something or someone that you held on to the past year, may you find the courage and the strength to do so. This next year will be a fresh start for all of us.

A blessed, joyful, and awesome 2016 to you, fellow earthling! 🙂

This 2014, I Will Be LAST

It’s only the second day of thew new year and already I can think tens of things to thank God for: good health of my family and friends. School resumes tomorrow (yes I’m thrilled). Allowance! (now you know why) My favorite sun-dried peanuts (sung song). The will to diet. Cool weather. Smell of roasted chicken. My happy, united family. Our family devotion earlier. My 1-hour nap earlier this afternoon. God’s assurance during our quiet time this morning: “You are safe in My arms. No matter what happens, you are safe.”

Those close to me know very well that I am a perfectionist (and if you’ve been following the blog you should have picked that up). In 2013, God demolished my wall of perfectionism. Part of it was my fault, part of it was His. At the start of last year, I already failed in my pursuit for discipline. In the two semesters that just passed I never made it to the dean’s list (even if I expected to make the cut). My idea of everyone in my family & extended families living to a old and gray age was dashed to the dust when my cousin, Trish, died at the age of 25, and a sister of one of my dear friends at 23. I was an erratic blogger, Gospel-sharer, and pseudo-discipler. The religious, philosophical, and ethical beliefs ingrained in my memory & heart have been challenged; some are still being tested, some were debunked, others were proven true. There’s the earthquake in Bohol and Yolanda’s unwelcome havoc in the Visayas. There’s also my hormones and romantic feels looking at the couples in school and telling me to join the bandwagon. The thing is, no one offered to ride the wagon with me. 😦 Chos! Hahahaha

2013 was the year where I learned a lot of things the hard way. I learned what grace truly means because I experienced being a wretch. I came to realize as I cried, searched for answers, groped in the dark, and shouted at God (He told me I could do that) that I have t truly experience my true state of wretchedness before I could fully enjoy grace. Everything I believed about God He shook, and when He did that I also realized that simply saying “may Your will be done, may Your kingdom come” does not suffice. Submission is key. Many times God showed me that I tried desperately and rather foolishly to control Him.

Lest I drown in pessimism, I must say that 2013 was also a year full of blessings not only for me, but also for my family, friends, and even for my country! Among the many blessings (both “good” and “bad”) I received last year were: our new house; new-found friends; tighter relationships with family and close friends; excellence in school requirements when I expected failures; 4-second appearance on a show on national TV (hahahaha); wonderful teaching experiences in Sunday school; my weight gain, this time NO LONGER accompanied by insecurity; real desire to help others; God’s looooooooooooooooooooonggggsuffering attitude towards me, and many, many more!

With my backpack full of lessons (and I have more empty backpacks to fill) and the very person of the God of Heaven and earth Himself, I am eager, excited, and encouraged to embark on a new, hopefully, more fruitful year. So here’s when the resolutions come in. For this year, I’m starting something new. I created a personal theme that would guide my actions and secondary goals for the year. Aside from grace, I crave for JOY. As I get to know my Lord and Savior, I learn that the key to His joy is to learn to be L.A.S.T.: Loving, Altruistic, Self-Controlled, and Thankful.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, all your strength. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” – Matthew 22:36-39

“Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:4

“For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control.” – 2 Timothy 1:7

“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

These were the verses the Holy Spirit used to convince me that indeed, I should aim to be LAST. Because, as the Savior Himself said, “… many who are first will be last; and the last, first.” (Matthew 19:30) Lasting joy belong to those who are willing to go last. I may never understand why or how that happens; I just know it does.

I hope you, too, will find a theme for yourself this year, or perhaps a renewed sense of vision, mission, or purpose. Forget what lies behind; reach forward to what lies ahead! 🙂 Our life here on earth won’t last for long, but our training here will, so make sure we make the most out of it!

May we have a faith-stretching, heart-strengthening, mind-opening, and spirit-soaring 2014! 🙂