Sharing my faith and my life one day at a time.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

One Word 2014: Wisdom

Midnight struck and my phone said it was January 1, 2014. I wish I can tell you that I did something fabulous when the date shifted but I peacefully slept through it. 

{Note: Once a upon a time, we celebrated New Year's Eve in my favorite beach in the world -- with golden skin and a pretty sundress. We did this every year. Oh how I miss it!} 

While I will still love a more exciting way of welcoming the new year, there was something absolutely beautiful about a quiet taking in of a fresh calendar. It was a more fitting declaration of how I was ready to face 2014. 

The times spent with my Father in the last few days of December have produced a clear prompting of what He would like me to pursue in the coming year. 

I have been studying the book of James recently. As I read through his teachings, I was completely stuck in Chapter 3, Verse 7, and it says: 

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 

I loved how James words' challenged me on what it meant to be truly wise. 

One huge question comes to mind: 
Do I desire true wisdom or am I only interested in being praised for what I know? 

Oh the danger of wanting the latter. To want to be called an "expert" at something. The temptation to show it off on all possible ways -- which today makes it so easy because of technology. To follow every written law and scoff at the ones who don't. To take pride on being the source of all information. 

The Scripture explains a different picture of wisdom and I completely fell in love with it. 

Big emphasis that the words "first of all" preceded it. 
Am I willing to start with a pure heart?
(The last time I checked, my heart was really stinky.)

Am I willing to encourage love (and not strife) in my community? 
(When I see discord, I run the opposite way.)

Am I willing to give way to others because it means bring glory to God and not to me?
(Ask my husband, I can be really selfish.)

Am I willing to value the wisdom of those who came before me? 
Am I willing to open myself up to learning from the younger generation?
(Sometimes I think I know everything. Once again, you can ask Robert.)

Full of Mercy
Am I willing to be moved by compassion, empathy, and grace and make these my default emotional response to every human being?
(The garbage man was very mean to me the other night. Although I showed kindness on the outside, my insides kept on saying "What a jerk.")

Good Fruit
Love. Joy. Peace. Forbearance. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-Control.
Am I willing to pay the price for moral transformation that can only come from the Holy Spirit?
(I wish I can just drink all of these in a 9 Fruits Smoothie.)

Am I willing to love everyone unconditionally?
(I have a tendency to be nicer to those who are nice to me first. To those who have not been nice to my husband? I've had a history of throwing a couple of punches. True story. Not proud of it but it did happen. To be a little fair to myself, I don't normally do that.)

Am I willing to flush out every seed of hypocrisy in my life?
(Oh dear. I have some work to do.)

This is the time I humbly ask for your prayers. To my readers who see me frequently in person, I welcome your accountability. I know it will not be easy, and when I do fail, I hope to get to write it in often, expose it to you, and we can, together, experience the beauty of His grace all over again.

I do not want to treat this verse as a checklist. That is why I don't do resolutions in the first place. 
{Note: I am not against resolutions. I just know how I can be with when I make them.}

I truly just want to go deeper in my knowledge of Him. I want daily encounters with my Father.
And as a result, I will have WISDOM and my life will show it.

All to give Him glory.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Looking Back to 2013

I thought about how to recap this past year in so many different ways but I always went back to  
that has been going on for many years.

2013 was a beautiful, difficult year for me and my husband, especially in terms of ministry. 
Difficult does not mean terrible but it did take us to the rawest spiritual places that we have never ventured before. These questions present a valuable reflection of God's unceasing faithfulness in my life through the 2013's ups and downs.

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?
Traveled through Europe! We trekked seven cities: Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Florence, Venice, Paris, and Amsterdam for 30 days. I spent quality time with my family and found rest from a busy life in Nashville.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for 2014?

I consider myself an organized, goal-oriented person. However, I don't care much for resolutions. I need entire blog post just for this!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

I have two cousins who live in Atlanta. I grew up with them in the Philippines so they are like brother and sister to me. Nick has twins Noah and Nina. Cathy has Logan. I am hoping to finally meet them this year!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My Abuelita (grandmother) passed away in March. This was one of the hardest personal times this past year. I was really close to her. She had dementia the last few years of her life. It was heartbreaking losing her even before her death.

5. What countries did you visit?
Look at my answer to question #1: Spain, Italy, France, and Netherlands.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
I would really like to have my writing voice back. I felt like words that have been spoken to me have been used by the enemy of my soul to silence me. Once again, this feels like it deserves an entire blog post. I am finding my way back to freedom.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
January 17, 2013. The day we moved to Franklin. It's been wonderful living in this city and having people over all the time!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I was able to close my eyes with a smile and feel His utmost peace even in the most trying times. To be able to pursue joy regardless of circumstances. I lost my job of 9+ years in the summer and managed to praise Him and His ways. I cannot really own this "achievement" because I know this was done not on my own strength. 

9. What was your biggest failure?
Missing singing but not having the desire to use that gift again. I continue to struggle with it. I pray that I will just go and do it.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I was very sick while in Disneyworld! Pictures don't show it but no voice was coming out on roller coaster rides.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I did not buy anything significant but my amazing husband gave a DSLR for my 37th birthday!

12. Where did most of your money go?
Rent. Electric. Utilities. Internet. Gas. Food. Debt. Sowing. You know, the usual.

13. What did you get really excited about?
I was excited about it for weeks and when I did see it, it did not disappoint. I want a ticket back. And I will get really excited all over again.

14. What song will always remind you of 2013?
"Oceans" by Hillsong UNITED. A close runner-up:"Love Me Again" by John Newman.

15. Compared to this time last year, I am:

More calm.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Making time to be mentored by a wiser, older woman.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Being intimidated to ask a wiser, older woman to mentor me.

18. How did you spend Christmas?
Had Christmas Eve lunch with close friends. Went to our church's candlelight service. Then spent it quietly with the love of my life! Our first Christmas alone EVER. While I still believe in family time for the holidays, I know we needed to be alone this time. I enjoyed every minute of it!

19. What was your favorite TV program?
Parks and Recreation. Nothing else comes close.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?
I loved books such as David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. But my favorite goes to Tullian Tchividjian's One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World. Not only was it a pleasurable read, it was necessary.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?

Emeli Sande's Our Version of Events album.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?
Zero Dark Thirty was released in December 2012 but saw it in 2013. Sadly, I have not seen any excellent feature film since then.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
My husband invited close friends over and surprised me with cake and ice cream for my 37th birthday! I felt really loved and appreciated.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I look back to 2013 with contentment.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
I don't have a single personal style. But I do go for comfort at all times.

26. What kept you sane? 
Knowing that Jesus died for me and I am living today because of God's grace.

27. Share a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.

My God is faithful. Always.

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