Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Pink Clearbook and The White Carton Board

A pink clearbook with about 20 pages of colorful construction paper. Yeah, that was it.

My friend Laie has always brought that pink clearbook with her whenever we'd meet up for casual dinner and a movie; it was much like an extension of her. The unassuming obsession had always left me dumbfounded...until she handed it to me for a closer look.

In each page were pictures of a pretty supermodel, of a happy family, of a fabulous wedding gown, and of sunny Singapore. Every once in a while, as I scanned through each collage, I found glittery flowers, colorful butterflies, and cute thingamajigs, proof of her creative juices. In a few corners and in some edges abound cut-out letters from magazines that spell EXCELLENCE, BEAUTY, SUCCESS, and HAPPINESS.

After going through the last page, I realized that it was true; it was indeed an extension of her. The pink clearbook was her: the future her.

I then told myself that I wanted something like that. I wanted a dream book. I wanted to have dreams and to put them in writing and in pictures. I wanted to visualize my future as if it was already right before my eyes. I felt excited. Excited about the possibilities. Excited about the journey to reaching those dreams. Excited about the happy life ahead.

For sometime now, I have been pulled down by recurring bouts of nothingness. One dreary morning, I asked myself, "What am I waking up for?" I'd often think I'm a zombie, just waking up day in and day out, waiting for nothing specific to happen and just going with the dull flow of my life. Seems just melodramatic chit chat, huh? But it is actually true. I thought I've already gone past what they call quarter-life crisis, but I guess there is no certain end mark to a period of not knowing your goals and your dreams. Even if you already have dreams and have attained some of them, there will always come a time when you'll reach a plateau and want new, better, or way different dreams and wishes.

When I got home from that I-need-a-dream-book day, I told God to please reveal to me my biggest dreams, to give me more than pictures and cut-outs but the actual desire and the courage to work for and fulfill those dreams. I asked God to affirm to me that I really needed to have dreams to hold on to, so I could wake up from zombie mode.

So imagine my surprise when, last Sunday, at the Feast Alabang*, together with more than a thousand attendees, I was handed a dream board. Yeah, it was far different from the dream book I wanted to have, but the two were basically the same: both were visual reminders of fulfilled wishes. The dream board I got was like God telling me, "My dear Osy, stop being a zombie. Here, doodle, write, picture your biggest wishes and dreams here." It was the affirmation I was asking for.

Now, I am no longer a zombie. I already have dreams and wishes. I have yet to finish up with my dream board though, but I have rummaged through the dusty stack of old magazines at home, trying to find the most accurate representation of that dream Tagaytay weekend home, that job I wish to have, that book I want to write, and that future husband and kids I'll be taking care of. Those are just a few of the dozen wishes that God has recently revealed to me, revealed through my past hurts and wounds, and I am excited to work on them. I know my wishes and dreams will entail a lot of work and a mighty long journey. The road won't be easy, but I'm sure my Big God of all dreams and wishes won't fail to encourage and equip me. Thank you my Big God!

*FEAST ALABANG is a weekly gathering of the Light of Jesus Community (LOJ). It happens every Sunday at the Feast Alabang Center, 2nd floor Festival Mall, Alabang, Muntinlupa City, at 11am, 1:30pm, and 4pm. It is led by Feast Builder/Main Preacher Arun Gogna. LOJ is a Catholic charismatic community led by Bo Sanchez.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Heart That Worships

Last Saturday, I joined the Feast Alabang* Music Ministry in attending a worship concert of Citipointe Live. How often does one get to worship God with more than a thousand other people? Not often right? So when the opportunity came along, I knew I just had to grab it. (The fact that the tickets are free furthered defined the conviction. LOL)

my free ticket!

I came in late but was just in time for the main act. The stadium was already filled to the brim. In attendance were mostly teenagers and young professionals, which was perfectly understandable because it was a Christian rock band performing. I personally don't know most of their songs, but I still sang along and sang at the top of my lungs at that. I lifted my hands as high as my chubby arms could take. I did several attempts to jump, hoping to be in sync with the upbeat music, but I guess defying gravity (even for a second) is not my best talent. I shouted words of praise ever so loudly I could sense the eardrums of the girl next to me shattering to bits. All these I did in praise for the God who loves me unconditionally, unmindful of the people around me. Why? Because they did not matter.

Coming to the concert, I brought with me a life that has not been a fairytale, where everything is perfect. I've had emotional highs and lows, and endured heartbreaks and failed expectations. I've undergone bouts of impatience and doubt while waiting for some of my prayers to be answered and most of my dreams to come true. But still, I, together with more than a thousand other people, chose to worship and be thankful. Why? Because all of these did not matter.

ULTRA was filled to the brim.

When you sing praise, nothing else matters but the One you ever try to worship as He truly deserves. Never mind the irritated stares, possible ridicule, or labels of "weird" or "crazy". Forget the hardships and remember all the blessings. Focus on the God you sing and dance (and even jump) for, and know that He is pleased with you and is blessing you as you worship. He looks beyond the missed tune, the wrong lyrics, or the croaking voice, for all He sees is the heart that worships, the same heart that may be broken but still chooses to give Him praise and thanks.

*Bro. Arun talked about the importance of praise and worship last Sunday at the FEAST ALABANG. FEAST ALABANG (formerly called the SOUTH FEAST) is a weekly gathering of the Light of Jesus Community (LOJ). It happens every Sunday at the Feast Alabang Center, 2nd floor Festival Mall, Alabang, Muntinlupa City, at 11am, 1:30pm, and 3pm. It is led by Feast Builder/Main Preacher Arun Gogna. LOJ is a Catholic charismatic community led by Bo Sanchez.

Long Weekends

I look forward to long weekends. I am one of those who, at the beginning of the year, are very anxious to know all the declared holidays for that year, just so I can start planning trips and scheduling gimmicks on foreseen long weekends.

But the long weekend that just recently passed was spent most differently. There was no trip to the beach and no prescheduled out-of-town gimmick. But unusual as it was, it was one great weekend.

Friday was spent rendering overtime work (yeah, bummer), working with the Feast Alabang Media Ministry on an upcoming event, and practicing with the Music Ministry right after. Yes, my day was jam-packed, and I ended up clamoring to get to bed as soon as I got home. I was tired, but it was the happy kind of tired (if there is such a term). It was great to work with people who voluntarily give their time and talent in serving God the best way they know how. The Feast Alabang Media and Music Ministries are a bunch of hardworking servants.

The Closer to Yahweh Silent Retreat was organized by the PICC Feast Intercessory Ministry.

Saturday came and I found myself in Antipolo, together with some 90 people, hoping to spend the entire day just experiencing the Lord more intimately. As I've said in my previous post, my life has been a roller-coaster ride of emotional ups and downs (mostly downs) recently that I felt I needed a break. I needed to silence myself for a bit just so I could forget all the noise in my life. (Those who know how madaldal I am can attest that this is pretty hard for me.) And the silence felt good. For 5 hours, it was just me and my God on a date, having a quiet conversation. It was an exchange of worries and assurances; I offered Him my worries, and He assured me of His promises. He revealed to me how immense His love is, and however "unworthy" I felt, there was just no changing that love. At the end of the silent retreat, with swollen eyes from crying, I fully accepted that love, and sheer joy and thankfulness followed.

Citipointe Live in Manila

But my Saturday wasn't done yet. After spending the day in silence, I then proceeded to ULTRA to join the Feast Alabang Music Ministry in watching a worship concert. It was my first time to attend such an event. Since I came in late, the stairs was the best available seat; the stadium was that full.

Throughout the concert, there were moments when I found myself just amazed at the sight of God's young people praising Him together. Everybody was up from their seats, singing in praise, lifting their hands, and jumping for joy. It was a sight to behold. I was imagining the Lord smiling ear to ear, pleased at seeing His people sing and dance for Him and adoring His children very much.

As I looked around, I told myself that these are a thousand people who may have failures and ongoing difficulties, who may have broken hearts and broken relationships, and who may still have unfulfilled dreams and unanswered prayers. But these are also a thousand people who still choose to praise God and to thank Him for everything. It was amazing.

Sunday was Feast Alabang* day. Bro. Arun talked about the importance of praise and worship and had us, the music ministers, sing a lot more songs than usual. It was great seeing everyone sing and dance for God. It was like everyone had become a music minister. After the Feast, I attended our Caring Group after. Our caring group is composed of single wonderful people who want to share with each other how God is touching them everyday. I am blessed to have a support group from whom I learn so much and who help me grow in my relationship with the Lord. With the sharings and the never-ending chat, our group session ended at about 10pm.

That's it. Three days of fatigue. Three physically draining days. But three days well spent in service to God and in praise to Him. That was my long weekend, and I loved it.

*FEAST ALABANG (formerly called the SOUTH FEAST) is a weekly gathering of the Light of Jesus Community (LOJ). It happens every Sunday at the Feast Alabang Center, 2nd floor Festival Mall, Alabang, Muntinlupa City, at 11am, 1:30pm, and 3pm. It is led by Feast Builder/Main Preacher Arun Gogna. LOJ is a Catholic charismatic community led by Bo Sanchez.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My Father's Love Letter to Me

I have been listening to a lot of worship songs for the past few weeks. These are the songs I have accumulated while serving with the Music Ministry of Feast Alabang*. My life has been topsy-turvy recently that I just find solace in songs of praise, and I have made most of them my personal prayer.

Yesterday, while listening to my set of mp3s, I stumbled upon an entry in my playlist that I didn't even knew I had. It isn't a song. It's not an audio book either (coz I have a few). It's a love letter. I first heard it and saw the corresponding video at the afternoon session of Feast Alabang*, and I remember shedding buckets of tears after seeing it.

Upon hearing it yesterday, my tear glands, once again, went on overdrive. I was reminded that I have a Father who loves me unconditionally (in the truest sense of the word) however unlovable I am. I was reminded that I was created wonderfully by my God and that I remain in His great love.

This is my Father's Love Letter to me.

My Child,

You may not know me,
but I know everything about you.
Psalm 139:1

I know when you sit down and when you rise up.
Psalm 139:2

I am familiar with all your ways.
Psalm 139:3

Even the very hairs on your head are numbered.
Matthew 10:29-31

For you were made in my image.
Genesis 1:27

In me you live and move and have your being.
Acts 17:28

For you are my offspring.
Acts 17:28

I knew you even before you were conceived.
Jeremiah 1:4-5

I chose you when I planned creation.
Ephesians 1:11-12

You were not a mistake,
for all your days are written in my book.
Psalm 139:15-16

I determined the exact time of your birth
and where you would live.
Acts 17:26

You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Psalm 139:14

I knit you together in your mother's womb.
Psalm 139:13

And brought you forth on the day you were born.
Psalm 71:6

I have been misrepresented
by those who don't know me.
John 8:41-44

I am not distant and angry,
but am the complete expression of love.
1 John 4:16

And it is my desire to lavish my love on you.
1 John 3:1

Simply because you are my child
and I am your Father.
1 John 3:1

I offer you more than your earthly father ever could.
Matthew 7:11

For I am the perfect father.
Matthew 5:48

Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand.
James 1:17

For I am your provider and I meet all your needs.
Matthew 6:31-33

My plan for your future has always been filled with hope.
Jeremiah 29:11

Because I love you with an everlasting love.
Jeremiah 31:3

My thoughts toward you are countless
as the sand on the seashore.
Psalms 139:17-18

And I rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

I will never stop doing good to you.
Jeremiah 32:40

For you are my treasured possession.
Exodus 19:5

I desire to establish you
with all my heart and all my soul.

Jeremiah 32:41

And I want to show you great and marvelous things.
Jeremiah 33:3

If you seek me with all your heart,
you will find me.
Deuteronomy 4:29

Delight in me and I will give you
the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4

For it is I who gave you those desires.
Philippians 2:13

I am able to do more for you
than you could possibly imagine.
Ephesians 3:20

For I am your greatest encourager.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

I am also the Father who comforts you
in all your troubles.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

When you are brokenhearted,
I am close to you.
Psalm 34:18

As a shepherd carries a lamb,
I have carried you close to my heart.
Isaiah 40:11

One day I will wipe away
every tear from your eyes.
Revelation 21:3-4

And I'll take away all the pain
you have suffered on this earth.
Revelation 21:3-4

I am your Father, and I love you
even as I love my son, Jesus.
John 17:23

For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed.
John 17:26

He is the exact representation of my being.
Hebrews 1:3

He came to demonstrate that I am for you,
not against you.
Romans 8:31

And to tell you that I am not counting your sins.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19

His death was the ultimate expression
of my love for you.
1 John 4:10

I gave up everything I loved
that I might gain your love.
Romans 8:31-32

If you receive the gift of my son Jesus,
you receive me.
1 John 2:23

And nothing will ever separate you
from my love again.
Romans 8:38-39

Come home and I'll throw the biggest party
heaven has ever seen.
Luke 15:7

I have always been Father,
and will always be Father.
Ephesians 3:14-15

My question is…
Will you be my child?
John 1:12-13

I am waiting for you.
Luke 15:11-32

Love, Your Dad
Almighty God

Listen to the mp3 here.

*FEAST ALABANG (formerly called the SOUTH FEAST) is a weekly gathering of the Light of Jesus Community (LOJ). It happens every Sunday at the Feast Alabang Center, 2nd floor Festival Mall, Alabang, Muntinlupa City, at 11am and at 3pm. It is led by Feast Builder/Main Preacher Arun Gogna. LOJ is a Catholic charismatic community led by Bo Sanchez.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Today had been a very wonderful day. Got to do a number of things from my 25-itemed to-do list. I am truly blessed. End the day with the following to make my day even better:

Perfect. There is no other way to describe my GodWhispers today but perfect. This is further affirmation of what God had already instilled in me after this morning's confession. Trust Him. Just trust Him.

Thank you Lord for this day. Sobra.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Grief, Greed, and Giving

Pain. I don't like pain. Who does anyway? If I can escape pain in any way possible, I would.

But as much as we try to avoid it, we actually need pain. Pain prevents us from spiritual hypothermia, that which makes us like zombies with no dream, no life, and no direction.

At one point in my life, I think God has thought I was suffering from spiritual hypothermia that He needed to do something major major to wake me up and shake me off my being a zombie.

It was the morning of December 10, 2007. I can still remember vividly the sight of my Tita Lyn lying on the road with her lower extremities smashed into bits. (Morbid as it may seem, but that was exactly how she looked.) She was crossing the street that morning, on her way to work, when a rushing bus counterflowed and hit her. She struggled for her life, but as the witnesses had accounted, the bus driver continued to go back and forth her already crushed body, causing her immediate death.

Tita Lyn and I lived in the same house and shared the same room for 13 years. She was practically the sibling I never had. She was more like my older sister and was my super best friend. She was my constant kakampi and ka-inuman. I was even closer to her than to my mom.

So seeing her die, and in a very devastating way at that, really crushed and destroyed the life in me. When she was still alive, we agreed that we'd grow old together since we were both okay being single and, at that time, really had no plans of marrying. I was ok. I was satisfied. But when she died, she took with her not only that plan but also our travel dreams, our Sunday movie dates, and our buy-one/get-one (she does the buying, and I do the taking) shopping sprees. She left me behind. She left me alone.

I was the worst person after her death. I didn't know such kind of pain existed. And I didn't know I was going to experience it. This pain went on for a year or so. I wore black to signify my GRIEF. I didn't attend Mass. I didn't pray. I was angry at God for taking away Tita Lyn, my security blanket. I was angry that I was left behind with unfulfilled dreams, ended habits, and no one to grow old with. I was just angry and in pain.

During the wake, my inang (grandmother), who was a devout Catholic, said that, yes, she was mourning but she had no anger in her. She readily forgave the bus driver and remained faithful to God. She believed that Tita Lyn was, first and foremost, God's child and not hers alone. My Tita was only lent to her by God to take care of and to love, and at that time, God wanted Tita Lyn back because it was His turn to take care of His child. It was very hard for me to accept that. I wanted Tita for myself. I wanted my older sister back. I don't want to be left alone. It was GREED that overpowered me. And because of that greed, I remained the angry person I was long after she died.

In March 2009, I attended a crossroads retreat. During the retreat, the most explicit message from God came to me in the form of the priest's homily. The priest told the crowd that he had just gone from a tragic vehicular accident, but forgiveness abounded the moment. There, I claimed that it was God's way of telling me not to be enslaved by grief and greed anymore but to let go and move on. It was time to let go of my Tita and of the secure future that we planned together. It was time to finally GIVE her to God and to empty my hands of my security blanket. It was time to GIVE God those unfulfilled dreams and plans that I kept holding onto so He can give me new dreams and plans. It was so painful to finally GIVE her to God because that meant that I have to start anew. But God still saw me through the new life He wanted for me.

Soon after, I started to open myself to other people. I joined different groups and made new friends. I began going to church again. Yes, there was still a little pain, and my eyes would still well up when memories of her suddenly some rushing in. But I realized that I had nowhere to go but to God. Running away from Him was no use because He will just continue to embrace me. Why then should I continue to run away?

Grief, greed, and giving - all these caused me so much pain with Tita Lyn's death, but the pain just woke me up to realize that I can still have my own dreams and my own plans. I can have my own path to follow and my own life to live. And though the future is not crystal clear, no need to worry because God has that covered.

*Grief, greed, and giving are the sources of inner pain, as talked about by Bro. Arun during the FEAST ALABANG last Sunday. FEAST ALABANG (formerly called the SOUTH FEAST) is a weekly gathering of the Light of Jesus Community (LOJ). It happens every Sunday at the Feast Alabang Center, 2nd floor Festival Mall, Alabang, Muntinlupa City, at 11am and at 3pm. It is led by Feast Builder/Main Preacher Arun Gogna. LOJ is a Catholic charismatic community led by Bo Sanchez.

Photo source: