How I Spent February 14, 2012 (and Why I’m Single, In Case You Wanna Know)

Most people would type ‘Valentine’s Day’ instead of February 14, 2012 on that title (which is the longest I have ever made in The Lifeline history). However, I decided to take a different approach. After having read various posts about V-Day on my Facebook wall, I realized that Valentine’s is the only worldwide celebration which you can call whatever way you wish, depending on your Facebook status (or where you spend your dinner). Unlike Christmas or Independence Day where a birth or death of a person, nation, or idea in history past is being celebrated, Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love, and love is a notion that has baffled humanity since…forever. And even that temporal adjective is equally baffling (and almost unreal to some people) because it is not bound by time! It’s one of the words we use to describe God, and even the idea of God cannot be fully grasped. February 14 can be called Single Awareness Day, an ordinary day, Cupid Independence Day (this one I made up) or however you wish to call it because you and I differ in our experiences of love. My experience of love is different than that of President Noynoy Aquino’s (who I assume spent his February 14 in utter, unadulterated happiness with his new found sweetheart). Because my second Tuesday of February 2012 was not spent in blissful romance or in doleful meditation, I just named it how Time would call it.

So how did I spend my February 14, 2012? Love still maneuvered its way in my roster of activities: from attending my Marketing class to my refusal to Dad’s offer to sing in his new videoke toy to my belting out of contemporary songs an hour later after lunch to scooping coffee-flavored ice cream to my mouth to singing more songs before dinner to watching the last 15 minutes of 50 First Dates to watching Father of the Bride for the first time with my father. I did not include the habitual things I did, but basically, these events comprised my ‘Valentine’s Day.’ Romance was nowhere to be found (except between my parents probably), but even they did not really take V-day as seriously as other couples I know, but they sure–we sure–did not miss out on what we were celebrating in the first place: love.

Dad showed his love for his gifted vocals by effortlessly singing his favorite tunes such as Sting’s “Englishman In New York” and Apo Hiking Society’s “Kumot At Unan” to GenY songs such as Bruno Mars’ “Just The Way You Are.” His love for the gift of music brought out the concert king and queen in us as well. Mom showed her love for God by conducting a Bible study with my lola, our helper, Anne, and Anne’s friend. Josh expressed his love for diligence by answering his PACEs (school workbooks) while the rest of us sang. Like our father, James sang to his heart’s content; like his sister, he ate until his stomach waved the white flag.

How did you express your love (aside from your love of food), you may ask. This is the part where I begin explaining the reason behind my singleness. I am what society calls “single since birth.” If you fall under this category, you probably blamed nature for making you that way or Cupid for forgetting to hit you with the right arrow (or any arrow for that matter). While God may have really never planned to include marriage in your list of things to be while living on earth, He also gave you a choice. And that’s what I am attributing my singleness to. It’s my choice.

It was a choice greatly influenced by my loving parents who explained to me the downside of being involved in a romantic relationship while studying and the scar that came with it after the heartbreak (which almost always ensued). They warned me that they would be extremely disappointed if I chose to be more than friends with a boy. Fearing to lose their trust, I obeyed. The second influence that shaped my decision was my dreams for my career. I actually want to spend the next 9 or 10 years of my life being single, earning money, giving back to my parents, and enjoying my career (whatever that may be). The third and most important factor that influenced my decision was my commitment to God. About five years ago, I offered my whole life to Him–my time, wealth, brain, talents, my wants, dreams and desires including that of marriage. Well it took me a few years before I finally surrendered my romantic life to Him (that is, whether marriage is for me or not, I would still follow Him).  This commitment also included not to have sex outside of marriage (or even a first kiss outside the altar for that matter). That surrender, as releasing and joyous a surrender it might have been, was difficult. Difficult because I believed (and still believe) in marriage. I adore the whole idea of romance not just on a spiritual level, but also in a personal level. I desire to grow old with the man (aside from my Savior & my Daddy) who vowed to stay with me in sickness and in health, for rich or for poor, till death do us part (or whatever vow he will make to me because I like us to make our own). I want to pick out my wedding dress and organize my own wedding. In fact, lately, I am obsessing over prenup photo shoots and wedding photos and videos of different couples in wedding blogs & photography sites! And frankly, I want to experience pure and rightful sex with God’s choice guy (after all, sexual activity is the greatest form of pleasure for us homo sapiens).

There is another factor that influences my decision, and that is the fact that I have never been asked out or pursued by any guy (at least none that I liked back) . There have been mutual understandings, but no one attempted or dared to take the mutual understanding to a mutual standing on love. Could it be because God wants me to stay faithful to my commitment so He purposely keeps pursuing guys off my radar? Maybe, I don’t know. But I know what I’m capable of. I (think) can make a guy fall in love with me superficially. Some of my friends who asked me how many boyfriends I had in the past were surprised when I said, “Zero.” Such a human being, and a teenager for that matter, exists! they probably thought. When they asked why I was SSB (single-since-birth), I always replied:

“It’s my choice. I have a commitment.”

In my head I wanted to say, “Wala pang lalaking nakaka-abot sa level ko kaya; lahat bagsak,” but my heart overpowered my brain: “Say the truth. It is beautiful. Don’t be ashamed of it.” This was a rare moment when my heart did not deceive.

A friend of mine once asked me why I was SSB, and as usual, I replied what my heart told me to say. That time, however, I decided to throw back a question at my friend: (in Tagalog) “Why do pursue a relationship with a guy? What’s your purpose?” Her reply was probably molded by the hundreds of movies she has watched in the course of her lifetime. She said:

“I just want to be happy.”

So does this mean I (and other SSBs out there) are unhappy people? I am more than happy. I am joyful. Happiness depends on happenings so when the happenings are absent, so is happiness. Joy is present in Christ’s presence; wherever you find God’s presence in life, there you shall also find joy abound. Joy persists through trials, valleys, and life’s lows. Joy is a gift. It’s something only God can give because He does not break people’s hearts. As a line in a Christian children’s hymn goes, joy is the flag that I fly in the castle of my heart when the King is in residence there. And through this post, I hope I am letting the whole world know that, as cliche as it may sound, that there really is no love worth comparing to the love of my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. 🙂

I hope this month of love, you would discover True Love. Even in a broken world, I am glad to tell you that He exists. True Love is not just a philosophical idea or concept that you need to draw to yourself; you must choose to seek Him with all your heart. And when you do, you will find Him because He has been waiting for you. Jesus is more than just your one-day Valentine; He’s yours (and you’re His) forevermore. 😀

For all the SSBs out there, I leave you with these encouragements. Belated happy hearts day! 😀

[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! 🙂

[2011 Recap] Highlights Part 1

(Belated) Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone!

Please do pardon my inactivity the past several days. Christmas and birthday parties, meetings, and shopping activities left and right flooded my schedule. My body clock also changed drastically to the point that 2 AM is the new early (because sleeping is too mainstream :D). Oh and don’t even get me started with the food. I don’t think our refrigerator was never not brimming with delicacies and viands the past several days. Christmas has gotten the best of us!

Can I just say how grateful I am? Truly, truly grateful.

This year was super. Nah, I didn’t feed a hundred hungry children with my  money or located one’s missing pet. But through grace and the working of my Lord Jesus Christ, I was privileged to feed spiritual food to hundreds of people and lead them to Jesus. I myself was fed and found by my Savior when I got sidetracked more than once. More than twice. Yep, lots of times.

2011–my 2011–was super.

Here are the top 7 reasons that made it supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.  🙂

“It ain’t the end of the world!!!”

Although I’m not a huge fan of Jay Sean, I shared his sentiments in his song “2012” last May 21, 2011. Lest you have forgotten what occurred (or did not occur) on that Saturday, then maybe the name Harold Camping would jog your memory. How about Doomsday? End of the world? Turned out it wasn’t the end of the world…well, not yet, at least.

I was so thankful that I was blessed with more time to invest for eternity. 🙂 Although “the world is full of tribulation,” as Jesus said, I am thankful to Him for giving me more time to grow as a person–and you as well! So whoever said that the world will end sometime 2012,

I still plan on graduating. And I will. Hopefully by 2013 or  2014. 😀

Hate-and-love relationship with my body and with food and ended up loving both

There was never a year in my past 17 years of existence when I have struggled intensely with my body than 2011. However stressing this struggle might have been to me, I still consider it a blessing for three reasons:

  1. I drew closer to my Heavenly Father and bonded with Him in the process.
  2. I experienced His grace. I finally learnt what other people meant when they said that God’s grace is awesome. And it is! 🙂
  3. I learned to love food the right way and the food I should prioritize: the spiritual.

Frankly, I still struggle with my body and food.  Jesus never promised me a bed of roses after all. I am doing my best to keep it fit and in good shape by making healthy food choices and exercising regularly. If I put my guard down, I can be overweight, but I don’t think I will ever be anorexic or bulimic because I just love food too much! 😀 (Never lost my appetite even when I was sick) Because I also discovered a passion for cooking (another blessing!), I get to prepare meals healthily and enjoy them with family and friends. 🙂

New school, new relationships, fresh new insights and knowledge

The main reason I transferred university was time constraints. We–Dad, Mom, and I–thought that our family would migrate to the United States of America by the end of my 1st semester.

Clearly, God had other reasons because after a semester and 2 months, we’re still here. 🙂

I believe one of those reasons is that I could meet new wonderful people whom I can establish relationships with and go through an okay semester. People I can listen to and vice versa; boys and girls who, like me, are perfectly imperfect and in need of heavy doses of grace.

Thank you for making me laugh, smile, study hard (so I can teach others, haha), and sharing meals with me in and out of class. You may not know this, but you taught me a lot on dealing with people from diverse backgrounds and with differing personalities.

Another reason I’m thinking God allowed me to transfer schools is so I could face realities I was good at running away from: accounting, basic law, school uniform, and evening classes. (6-9 pM, twice a week–waddup?!)

More hosting and storytelling opportunities

Tron motif hosting

at my high school friend, Camille’s debut

telling about Naaman’s story during Summer Adventure (May 2011)

hosted with my cousin, Miko, during our high school’s talent night

a short spiel with my cousins at our aunt’s birthday last December 13

The gift of speaking is one God-given possession that I take seriously, use correctly, and ameliorate constantly because I know lives are at stake–mine and those around me. More importantly, I want to be able to hear from my Lord and Master, the words every servant is dying to hear:

“Well done, My good and faithful servant.”

So if you’re in Metro Manila and you are in need of a host for your party or a storyteller for your outreach program, contact me! talamjenny@gmail.com 😀 chos biglang nag plug

Jedi

If you chanced upon my blog around September, you would have probably met my gorgeous, then 2-month old puppy and prince, Jedi. He is a bundle of joy to our family even if he was the primary cause of my mom’s asthma.

When he was brought to us by mom’s friend and her husband, he fit perfectly in a small box. He was about the size of a small pillow and, if you’ve got well toned biceps and triceps, can be carried with one hand. My brothers and I huddled quietly around him as he slept peacefully in his basket or underneath our sofa. I delighted whenever he ran and slipped, then rose to his furry paws and ran again. To say that Jedi was cute was an understatement.

Although he spent most of his days at my grandmother’s house (his official master), I watched Jedi grow, and boy, did he grow quickly. I smiled when he smiled at me (or at least that’s what I thought he did). Whenever I used our Air Climber, I saw him bark at me angrily and run far away from me because (I learned later) he disliked vacuum sounds. Even if he peed and pooped wherever he wanted, I still loved him because I knew he is still naive. And even if he’s doing absolutely nothing, one look at him makes me smile and gush about his adorableness.

Only lately have I realized that in some ways, what  I have felt for Jedi is what I believe God feels about me as His daughter. He watched me grow–and made me grow! He smiled whenever I smiled at Him and especially if I caught up with His commands. Instead of looking at me condemningly because of my sins, He sees His Son’s righteousness in me and smiles, confident of the fact that I belong to Him. He knows my weaknesses; He remembers that I am dust. 🙂

But just as I undergo training, I believe Jedi must also undergo dog boot camp. And I’ll be needing the help of Cesar Milan. Haha!

Let’s take a breather. I fear overwhelming you with words and photos! o___o

Part 2 coming right up. 🙂