You are Insignificant but Dearly Loved

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jenny,

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

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

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

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

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

I love you, child. Come home.

Love,

your Heavenly Father

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

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

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

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