How could a month be filled with overwhelmingly amazing blessings? That’s how God works, I guess. He has been providing beyond what is deserved but what is needed beyond imagination.
The first week of January 2022 is done but I found myself needing to do a recap of the past year just to help me process things more properly, and more importantly, to record and share the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord, which He wants us to always be reminded of and to be inspired and motivated with.
But for this entry, I will be doing a recap of December 2021. Isang buwan lang muna. Baka sumobrang haba kasi kapag yung nakalipas na buong taon ang ini-recap natin. Hahaha. Pero mahaba pa rin ‘to. So, brace yourself and thank you na agad kung tatapusin mo hanggang dulo. Haha.
At the beginning of the grace-filled month of December, my editor had finished the final editing of my manuscript just in time for me to launch my first book as an e-book entitled, “Let There Be Love: How God’s love can help you stop trying to please people and start living freely to serve Christ”, which is currently available on Amazon.com Kindle Store and in PDF (send me a message for more information).
My mentor, Ms. Sha Nacino who is an author and speaker, together with her team held a virtual book launch last December 4, 2021, giving an opportunity for us, graduates of her 90-Day Book Writing Challenge online course, to launch our books for the first time. It was an experience that is ‘one for the books’.
I felt so humbled and encouraged at the same time to launch my first book alongside eleven fellow first-time authors who are filled with light, wisdom, and joy, and have been so inspiring and empowering.
If you want to know more about their/our books, you can still watch the recorded videos of our book launch here. May you be blessed and inspired!
Don’t get me wrong. Just to be clear, walang nagpropose sa’kin ng kasal ha? Hahahaha. But how magical it is to prepare for and witness not just one but two sets of my couple friends getting engaged within a week!
The first couple was my choirmates in our home parish. The guy was also my classmate in elementary. He brought us, his close friends with his girlfriend who is also our dear friend, to a theme park in Sta. Rosa, Laguna where he planned to propose.
Sa gabi pa siya nag propose, do’n sa harap ng carousel. So, mula umaga (around 11:00 AM) hanggang 6:00 PM, sinakyan namin lahat ng rides, except those rides that are only for little kids. Kabilang sa mga rides na sinakyan namin ay yung mga iniiwasan ko noon (Space Shuttle, Disc-O-Magic, Air Race—kung saan inihahagis at iwinawasiwas ka sa ere sa saliw ng awit na, “I Can” 😁).
I thank God I finally tried those, sa gentle encouragement din ng aking mga kaibigan. Sa lahat ng pagpunta ko do’n sa Enchanted Kingdom, ito yung pinakamasaya because this time, I did not hold back. I allowed myself to enjoy to the fullest without holding on too tightly on the rails because I have entrusted my safety in Jesus whom I repeatedly hear whispering in my heart, “Ako’ng bahala sa’yo. Mag enjoy ka lang.” in each ride. And so, I did.
“You’re Still the One”
And just six days later, the couple who have been my close friends since Highschool also got engaged on the girl’s birthday. The guy asked the rest of our group to help him decorate the venue for his surprise birthday party for our friend, his girlfriend for sooo many years now.
And as it was a success as our girl friend enjoyed the surprise. She was in for another. As it was an intimate setting with only the immediate family members and very few closest friends invited, I felt like the Lord had given me the honor to stand right next to the couple as they move on to the next stage of their relationship.
As I witness that heartwarming moment, it was like all that the couple had been through since the beginning had all flashed back to me so quickly. I just did not expect that I will get to see them in this state after all that happened to them. But God has been faithful. He guided them throughout all these years and I pray that He will continue to do so as they venture into the next level of their commitment.
“Sing To Me Again, My Child” –God
I have been serving as a church choir member since I was 16 years old which I continued doing when I moved to the US. The only time I stopped was when the pandemic hit and our parish in LA was not allowed to let choirs sing live during the Mass. And when my mother and I moved back to the Philippines, I was called to re-join my former group at our local parish here in our hometown.
I immediately said yes as soon as the current choirmaster reached out before I realized that the Advent season was also about to start. I thought this is God’s way of drawing me closer to Him after being worn out and preoccupied with so many mundane stuff I had to do in the past few months.
And as I make my way back to singing after almost two years of hiatus, I felt like I wasn’t at my best and I had to get used to doing it all over again, especially because this is a different group with different dynamics and styles from the group I had been with in the recent years.
On that night (the first mass of Simbang Gabi/Misa De Gallo) when we were assigned to sing, which happened to be the night after that whole day of fun, laughter, and screaming at Enchanted Kingdom, I told our choirmaster that I may not be able to sing dahil namaos ako kasisigaw at katitili, pakiramdam ko ay namamaga ang lalamunan ko. But he asked me to still come and join them kahit hindi raw ako masyadong kumanta and even just for moral support because I expressed to him how badly I wanted to attend.
So, I ended up going and singing my heart out even when my vocal cords were struggling. I realized right there and then that God is calling me to sing for Him and still serve even when I am not at my one hundred percent. At nakatawid naman. As long as we are willing and we make ourselves available for God, He can and will get us through in serving Him even when we may not be at our best.
Reunited and it feels so good
It was a blessing beyond measure to spend the holidays with the whole family. The last Christmas that mom and I spent here at home was in 2017. The last New Year’s Day we were all together was in 2013. And the last time mom and I were able to spend our birthdays with our family was also in 2013.
It is still during pandemic so, our celebrations are simple and intimate, kami-kami lang dito sa bahay. And yet, it was the most meaningful and heartwarming. All those years of not being together are over. My heart and soul cannot stop giving thanks to God.
From the time we started planning to move back for good up to our arrival and settling, hindi kami pinabayaan ni Lord. He sees to it that everything is taken care of. I’m in awe. 🙌
Let There Be Love on Paperback!
I think it is every writer’s dream to publish a physical book. When I launched my book in electronic format, I was grateful and happy. But I know it does not end there. I knew I want to publish a paperback version, but I thought it would not be anytime soon.
But things happened fast and they fell in to place. It was like God said to my face, “what’s stopping you from having your brook printed? I have given you the resources and the opportunity. What are you waiting for?”. I used to get intimidated by my own thought that the process was difficult, and I thought it’s not doable for me. But God proved me wrong.
Nothing is too complex if you allow God to bless you with the right set of people to assist you. Self-publishing doesn’t have to literally mean doing everything alone, all by yourself. Ito rin marahil ang isa sa mga gusto ni Lord na matutunan ko: to work with a team; to serve Him with the community, not in isolation or self-sufficiency.
MORE WISDOM, HUMILITY, COURAGE, AND FAITH THIS 2022
The book is still currently in printing as of now (1-9-2022). I will keep you posted on my Facebook page Bloom and Grow in Love.
All of these are His grace. God has been so faithful all throughout the year. Everything that took place had a purpose and was according to His plan. All the lessons that He taught are necessary–those that I did not know I needed, kahit pa minsan, hindi ko agad naiintindihan lahat.
And as for this new year, I am praying that my heart will be more open and willing to receive more wisdom, to become truly humble, to take more courage, and to be more faithful to God all throughout the whole year and beyond.
May I trust that, if God carried us through in the past year and our whole life, He will continue to do so even more lovingly and faithfully in the coming days. Amen.
HAVE A JOYFUL AND BLESSED YEAR AHEAD!
Photos Sources: Pixabay.com, Unsplash.com, LHH Chorale