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I Wore A Skirt Today: A Welcome Blog Post

Welcome to my blog!

I wore a skirt today, and I feel like another person.
I wore a skirt today, and I feel like a brave, grown-up woman.
I wore a skirt today, and people are noticing me like crazy.
I wore a skirt today, and I feel like
I can do anything.

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Hi! My name is Rina. I am a 30-something single mom living in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. I created this blog to document my adventures, big or small, and hopefully inspire a soul or two, while I am at it.

To be honest, I am not very new to blogging. I have a quite a few blogs up there,somewhere in cyberspace, but for some reason, I just can’t maintain it.
Nonetheless, blogging is constantly in my mind. The thing is, I ‘m not sure if I can keep it active once I restart – if I can think of enough content to write, stories to feature, skills to make it worth my reader’s while. In short, I have so many doubts and fears.

Then, today happened.

In Winnipeg, we have more cold than warm months. Winter lasts for like 5-6 months November to April). It’s crazy, I know. So today, the weather started to be real nice (+/- 30 degrees Celsius) as per Weather Network. Yesterday, everyone was in their shorts, summer dresses and sandals. If we are close, you know that I am a pants-type of girl. I don’t know. It’s just more comfy for me. Today, I decided to change it up a bit and wore a maxi skirt to work.

The moment I entered the office, everyone stopped and noticed me, as if rejoicing that I was in a skirt (hahaha). It was kinda awkward, but as the day went by, I realized, it was not bad at all.

Today, I realized that the fears we have in our head are just fears inside our heads. We are so clingy to our comfort zones that we fail to enjoy life and have fun.

My realization fired me up to write this first blog post after a long time of contemplating whether or not I should start blogging again. You see, we have to stop overthinking.

I am not pushing anyone to take the plunge and follow one’s passion without discernment, rather I want to encourage everyone to be brave, and to step out of that comfort zone. People often ask me, why risk living abroad being a single mom when I can actually live comfortably back home in the care of my parents? My answer is, “you never know what opportunities may come if you do not try and do it.”

I know I can always go back to the Philippines if things go berserk here in Canada, but so far, this land of the maple leaf has been embracing me like a clingy lover. Seriously. I love it here. But I would not have known that if I did not try.

Last advice?

If you want something in life, research about it. Read. Ask. Listen. Once you’ve set your mind into a goal, there is no turning back. Work hard until you achieve it. ONE STEP AT A TIME. Do one little thing everyday to fulfill that big plan, and one day, you will look back and see that those small steps have led you to your goal. And of course, be brave.

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.” (Proverbs 16:3)

No matter what happens, you can be assured that God is with you. You might fail along the way, but you just have to trust the process.

Today, I wore a skirt, and I am officially back to blogging. Woohoo!

Welcome to my crib and I hope you stick around.

<3,
Rina

Dealing With A Friend Moving, And Stepping Into A New Season

If there is one very tangible thing that shows how immense God’s love for me is, it is this…

My God-enacted friendship with a fellow single mom: Rizza.

She has just moved to a different province this weekend. I wanted to post something on my Instagram, so I looked up some photos from my gallery. That’s when it hit me. I saw myself and her, as well as our kids, grew up right before my eyes through those photos!

Ice Castle
Daycare Christmas Party
Winnipeg Jets Whiteout Street Party
Monarch Butterfly Festival
Splash Dash River Tour at The Forks

I vividly remember the day we met on a fall afternoon in the school playground. We were both watching our kids playing on the play structure. We had a small chat, and that’s when we realized that we were both newcomers to Canada and single moms! We easily got along because we were able to relate and understand each other’s struggles and joys, while raising our then second-graders. Coincidentally, it was both our first year at that school and in the same daycare!

Looking back, and specifically when I was viewing the pics we garnered all these years, I felt God’s strong love and presence. He was like a Father, playing a board game, moving people and things around silently in my favor. All along, He was in the background, orchestrating things to happen. He paved the way for me and Rizza to meet on that fateful day because it was His plan to give both of us the helping hand we needed in the formative years of our kids.

Van and I’s Third Anniversary in Canada
Movies At The Park (Assiniboine Park)
Gonzo Driting Demo at Springs Church

I told her I could never imagine surviving this solo parenting journey in a foreign land without her. It’s true. When we had medical checkups for ourselves, we babysat for each other. When we cannot pick up our kids from daycare on time, we covered for each other. We went to kiddie activities and events together on buses, when she did not have a car yet. We would go to the other side of the city (or even outside) just so we could create happy childhood memories for our kids – camping, hiking, swimming, eating out, and the list goes on.

I’m still crying my heart out as I write this. I just find it so amazing how we survived all those years, and how God was at work behind the scenes. I can really imagine God looking down at me right now. He’s just silent, but is saying to my heart, see the plans I made and executed for you? I never left you nor forsook you. Now, trust that I have way more miracles in the future. Just hang on.

Festival du Voyageur
Blessing Of My House And Her Car

I also realized that this is God’s way of turning this chapter of our lives. Now that our kids are almost pre-teens and do not need the same rigid care as before, He is saying it’s time to move on to the next season. This made me remember the popular passage from Ecclesiastes 3:1-11:

For everything there is a season,

    a time for every activity under heaven.

A time to be born and a time to die.

    A time to plant and a time to harvest.

A time to kill and a time to heal.

    A time to tear down and a time to build up.

A time to cry and a time to laugh.

    A time to grieve and a time to dance.

A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.

    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.

A time to search and a time to quit searching.

    A time to keep and a time to throw away.

A time to tear and a time to mend.

    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.

A time to love and a time to hate.

    A time for war and a time for peace.

What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time.

The reality of this earthly life is that nothing is ever constant. Everything shall pass, but we can be assured that God’s hands are at work every single time. He knows the friendships we need, the breakthroughs to keep us going, and even the God-authorized pains that are essential to foster our own growth. We may not see it now, but trust that everything happens for a reason and in God’s perfect time.

My friendship with Rizza ain’t over just because of the distance. We will surely get in touch from time to time, and we’ll vist each other when we can.

I was not able to give her any physical parting gift, but I hope I was able to show how much I honor our friendship through this post.

I pray that you too can find godly friends like I did. You might even have one now without realizing it. Treasure these friendships and reap all its fruits for its intended season in your life.

❤️,

Rina

Photo dump of all our other adventures:

Fun Weekend Breakfast Idea You Can Make With Your Kids

Learn how to make easy, home-made Tiktok crepes, even kids can do! Perfect breakfast idea!

Hello everyone! Today, I ‘ll be sharing with you a fun breakfast idea you can do with your kids. It is so easy! It is the tortilla hack made famous by TikTok. For our version, we used homemade crepes, which recipe, I will also share below. Read on…

Just a little side story before we proceed… I’ve been contemplating lately what to do with my blog. I love to write, and that is the main reason why started this. However, I am being compelled to take it a notch higher. I am thinking of focusing on parenting and maybe develop tools that will help my readers with that. But I also want to keep on writing my heart out when I want to. I mean, it is a blog, and that is essentially what it means, right? So, for now, I’ll just keep on posting, sharing and experimenting, and go from there. I’ve been praying about it lately. My church friends told me that I just have to stick to the bigger purpose and that is to help and inspire other people as that will bring honor to God. The rewards will follow for sure. If it is not too much for you, my dear readers, I hope you can also give me ideas and brutally loving feedback as to which direction this blog should tread. Any comment would be highly appreciated!

Ok, back to breakfast…

We literally just finished eating, and Van and I had super fun making it so I thought I’d share with you. For this recipe, you can use either store-bought tortillas or crepes. If you don’t have that in your pantry, here is a super easy crepe recipe. You just need three ingredients!

Easy Crepes

I cup flour

1 and 3/4 cup milk (we used Oat Milk but you can use whatever milk)

2 eggs

Combine all together. Pour nicely on a hot skillet and make sure they are thinly and evenly spread out. See Van in action below.

Three-ingredient crepe, what could be easier than that?
Whisk, whisk, whisk!
Caution: HOT!
Younger kids need close supervision on this.

The recipe yields four large crepes. Now that you have your crepes, the fun begins!

Gather spreads, fruits, jams or any ingredient you and your kids would like to put into your crepe. For us, we chose Nutella, cookie butter spread, crushed Oreos and sliced fresh strawberries (gotta incorporate something healthy, you know lol).

Here’s our lineup of breakfast warriors.

You can also use savory ingredients like egg, sausages, bacon, mayonaise, ketchup, yogurt. You do you. 😊

Now, it’s assembly time! First, cut off the crepes halfway through the middle as shown below:

You will end up having imaginary quarters. Put each ingredient in their own quadrant.
Kids can easily do this and practice their creativity too.

Now, fold them to make a traditional triangle crepe. Start by folding the left, lower quadrant towards the left, upper quadrant, then fold towards the right, upper, and finally towards the right, lower part. Ok, that sounds more confusing that it actually is. It might be easier to take a look at Van in action below.

Grab the left, lower quadrant. Fold it towards the left, upper quadrant.
Fold the now combined quadrants towards the right, upper quadrant.
Fold them all together towards the last quadrant (right, lower)
There you go – a perfect triangle!
You can press it into a panini maker or simply toast in the same skillet for that added crunch.
Tada! Fun, easy breakfast crepe, even kids can do!

They are delicious and really easy to do. On top of it all, we had fun! I think involving kids in the kitchen is a good way of honing their creativity, responsibility, knowledge of food and nutrition, and appreciation for the resources we are blessed with.

Good morning!
Please excuse my puffy, woke-up-like-this face

That’s it. I hope you were able to learn a thing or two from this post. You don’t necessarily have to follow the entire thing as we did. You can get creative with your kids and even involve them in planning. The possibilities are endless, and that’s what makes this uniquely fun.

I hope to share more fun bonding activities that you can do with your kids or even your other family members. That’s kind of what I am aiming for when I said earlier in this post that I feel like I want to this blog to have a more focused direction. Let me know what you think.

Happy weekend to all!

See you on the next one!

❤️,

Rina

Practical Hack To Make 2021 Your Best Year Yet: Take Control Of Your Every Day

Forget making resolutions. There is a better strategy!

Hello world! Hello 2021!

In this year’s first blog post, I am here in the hopes of encouraging you to have your best year yet in the easiest, most possible way (read: NOT resolution-making). But before that, let me chitchat a little bit (it will be worth it, I promise!).

How are you all doing? If you were to ask me, I’m ok. Just ok. No highs. No lows.

New Year usually starts on a high note, where people jot down their resolutions and are all pumped up to pursue them. I am like that too usually. This year, however, I do not have that drive. I feel like I’m in a plateau.

I’ve been working from home since March 2020 – that’s about two months shy of a year! I have all my needs delivered – groceries, food, milk tea, light bulbs, you name it. Thanks to the evolving convenience of online shopping. The uncertainty of whether or not we will go back to normal in 2021 makes me think that planning big goals and resolutions this year might end up useless (just like how most of are plans at the start of 2020 plummeted to the ground).

The pandemic is the best plan pooper.

As the first days of 2021 roll, I feel God continuously stir my heart to still make small plans, but in a slow and steady manner. Last weekend, I listed four things that I need/want to accomplish on that particular day.

My list included: read the Bible, clean the house, create Powerpoint slides for our church group’s virtual holiday party, and attend the virtual holiday party.

The next day (Sunday), I created another list. It included: read the Bible, hear virtual Holy mass, take an afternoon nap, and watch three episodes of K-drama.

At the end of these two days, I felt really accomplished. I looked back at my list, and all the items were checked off.

To-do lists create a vision and a specific guide to help steer the day in the right direction.

I remember doing the same thing when Van and I first moved in to our own place. There was so much to do! Apply for an Internet/cable/phone line, change our address in all our IDs, work, insurance, school… Ah, the pain. I was so overwhelmed. I remember clustering all my to-dos into small, specific tasks – one or two tasks per day. I did not notice that every thing on my big list was fulfilled in less than a month!

Let me ask you something, how do you spend the twenty-four hours given to you daily? Do you realize how powerful these hours are if only you make every minute or second count?

No matter what goal, habit or aspiration you are trying to reach, it is attained one day at a time. Focus on what you can do NOW. While it is good to plan months or years ahead, don’t allow yourself to drown in that overwhelming ocean of uncertainties.

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)

It is also equally important to warn you about the past – whatever mistake or setback you commited is all behind you now.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. (Isaiah 43:18)

Big accomplishments come from small beginnings. I encourage you now to take control of your every day so you can achieve the grand dreams God planted in your heart. List your big goals, and break them down into small daily tasks. Remember, no to-do is too small (just look at my mundane list last weekend). With this, every day that passes is a step you take towards that dream.

Taking one step every day is an accomplishment of its own.

See to it that when you look back on your day, you can say that you triumphed over it.

What does it mean to have victory over your day? It’s spending it as if it is the first and last day of your life – enthusiastic and meaningful.

Can you do it? Are you ready to take control or your day, instead of it controlling you? I sure hope you are. This year, make a record of having 365 of your most productive and fruitful days ever!

May God bless your days, desires and dreams this 2021!

See you in the next one!

<3,

Rina

How To Develop An Attitude of Gratitude

Want to be more blessed? Be thankful!

Last night, I was listening to a preaching about gratitude. It spoke to me so much, I had to blog about it. I want to share the short talk I heard and add up some of my personal realizations. 

It may be hard to feel thankful right now with everything that’s happening around us, but what I learned is that it doesn’t take much to feel truly grateful within. The genuine attitude of gratitude can be practiced by everyone on a daily basis if only we have the right mindset. 

The talk was inspired by the letter of Paul to the Philippians (Philippians 4:10-19).

Just a background info (for those who are not familiar), Paul was once anti-Christ. He loathed Jesus. He persecuted Christians. He was an enemy of the church. One day, he got struck by an immensely bright light from heaven that it literally blinded him for three days. In that event, God revealed Himself to him, asking, “Saul (his former name), why do you persecute me?” That was Paul’s turning point. After that event, he completely transformed and decided to dedicate his life to preach the Gospel. For me, Paul’s story is one of the most, if not the most, inspiring transformation stories I have ever known. 

Based on the preaching that I was talking about in the beginning, there are four main reasons why Paul seemed so blessed. I believe that if we are able to practice these things, we will be able to master the attitude of gratitude.

Contentment

“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.”(Philippians 4:11).

Noticed how he used the phrase “I have learned”. Contentment is learned. It is not natural for humans to feel completely satisfied. We crave for things that we do not have. It takes time and experience, and of course, prayer and petition to learn how to be content. 

For a great start, learn to stop comparing yourself to others. Comparison kills contentment. Focus on yourself and your own growth. At the end of the day, only you and God can evaluate your work. As long as you did your best, you’re good. Things might not go exactly as you planned it, but sometimes, it is what it is.

Stop comparing. Just stop.

Last Friday, I felt God really spoke to me through one of my co-workers. Being the workaholic that I am, I was anxious about something, and I asked him for some input. We reviewed what we have done so far and we both agreed that we have done everything we could and more. Still, the outcome was not perfect. Then, he said, “You know what, Rina, all I can say is, have a good rest this long weekend and happy thanksgiving. You deserve it. You did your best, but there are people and circumstances that we cannot control. It is just how things are.”

“Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.” (Galatians 6:4-5).

Being content, however, does not mean being complacent. Set a goal. Once reached, celebrate, then keep moving forward and go where your talents can be of good use. 

Detachment

“I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.” (Philippians 4:12).

You will only know the meaning of plenty if you know what it is to have scarcity.

Little becomes a lot to people who have none.

Paul was once rich, but he turned his back from that and instead chose the hard life. He even went to prison on his journey to spread the Good news.

Detach. Simplify. Focus on the essentials. We are already blessed. Happiness is already within us, we just have to remove the non-essentials.

Commitment

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

The biggest secret of all: when you have Jesus in your life, you will be content, and this mindset can do EVERYTHING.

When you have Jesus, you can do anything.

This verse is not about self-belief, it is about trusting wholeheartedly that Jesus will fight the battles, run the race, and do the work you cannot do. 

In the process, don’t fear being vulnerable. Vulnerability is actually a show of strength – not only of you for admitting your weaknesses, but of God working in your life. You just have to trust.

Relationships require commitment, right? The same idea applies. When you give God your commitment, God will give you His. 

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

The promise: God will supply all your NEEDS (not wants). God will give according to His riches and generosity (not according to your works).

God does not only promise strength. He also promises to give you all that you will ever need. So, give your first fruits to God – time, money, service. Give freely. Remember, you can never outgive God. You can never give too much because He is the source of everything. His blessings are limitless.

Compliment

“At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God.” (Philippians 4:19).

When Paul wrote this letter, he was in prison. Can you imagine a prisoner being this excited and happy despite his situation?

Being blessed is a state of mind.

Happiness is not being in the right place/position, but with having the right perspective and state of mind.

Be grateful. Speak it. Shout it. Declare it!

I may have countless needs but I am blessed.

I may be tired but I am blessed.

I may be alone but I am blessed.

I may have gone through troubled waters but I am blessed.

Now, it’s your turn. Complete the sentence:

I MAY BE _____ BUT I AM BLESSED!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in Canada. It is actually a statutory holiday. I love how a day in a year is dedicated to celebrate all the things that people are grateful for. Friends and family gather over turkey and treats to remember their blessings.

What a joyous sight!

Let us try to make every day a day of gratefulness and thanksgiving. I believe that when we practice this attitude of gratitude on a daily basis, life will be sweeter, more fruitful and generally more satisfying despite the lacks and losses.

Happy thanksgiving and see you in the next one!

❤️,

Rina

Honoring God’s Faithfulness As We Celebrate Four Years In Canada

Four years in Canada. Four Years of God’s love and blessings. An immigrant, single mom’s journey in a nutshell.

August 15, 2020. This day marks the exact date of when Van and I first arrived in Canada. Four years. Time flies so fast. Who would have thought we’d survive?

This week, we were strolling around the park where we used to go after Sunday mass. This was the only park we knew back then. We used to go there so frequently, it seems like we’ve taken photos at almost all its corners and sites.

Fast forward to the present, we’ve become well accustomed to the city. We’ve gained so many friends, tried numerous restaurants, and experienced the local culture like well, a local.

So many things have changed. As I look back, all I feel is gladness – glad that even if we are not in a place of perfect peace, we are not where we used to be. 

Let’s take a quick look back:

First arrival in Canada
First Day Of School
Bus rides all around
First winter
Sundays at the park
Pumpkin Farm
Eating taffy in Montreal
Niagara Falls 2016
Niagara Falls 2018

Folklorama

Beach trips
Sunflower Maze
Van’s birthday 2019
Serving at The Feast
Pinawa Dam
Camping at Steep Rock
Oh, just posing under a tree
On a recent Fellowship night

I have learned so many things in the last four years of being a single mom, living abroad. It sure is tough. There are days when all I want to do is cry because of exhaustion. There are nights when I go to bed and sleep almost instantly because I am tired working all day, maintaining a household, and looking after a kid. It’s been a one-man show for the past four years.

The light needs to be replaced? I replace it. The daycare is closed? I find child care replacement. My son is hungry? I fix a snack. Math homework? I put on a teacher hat. The Rubik’s cube needs to be scrambled? I scramble it. You get the picture.

People ask me how I do it. My answer is I don’t know either. I guess when you come face to face with any situation, you just muster the guts and simply deal with it.

In spite being able to hurdle all those obstacles, I cannot get all the credit. I may look like a Wonder Woman to some, but believe me, I’m not. This is where my life verse comes to play:

“I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

Who allowed me to witness my dad replace a fluorescent light multiple times before? Who directed my steps so I can meet trustworthy and reliable friends along the way? Who gave the provision for us to have food on the table? Who allowed me to fail at elementary Math so I can master the concepts and be able to teach my son? From where does my energy come from? 

No one else, but the almighty God.

He was, is, and forever will be the orchestrator, the provider, the healer – the only one, who can make all things possible. I have nothing, absolutely nothing, to brag about myself. Every little thing is part of His perfect plan for us. It’s all Him.

We stayed in my cousin’s house on year 1, moved to an apartment on year 2, bought a house on year 3. Little miracles happened in between – full time work came, daycare spots opened, true friends met, and so on.

Every single day, I feel so grateful. I am able to survive, laugh, eat, and enjoy life despite the difficulties. Even if Van and I feel out of place sometimes because of our not-so-conventional family structure, the Lord never fails to remind us in simple ways, how favored and loved we truly are.

As I said, I learned so many things throughout my journey, but if I was asked to pick one of the most valuable, I would say, it is to learn to surrender everything to the Lord.

I used to want to control things and plan my own path. I never considered praying about it, or consulting God. In my mind, I want my own gain and pleasure. Disastrous strategy.

When Jesus saved me and called me back to the faith, I learned to let loose and chase after what God wants, instead of what I want. I wanted to please God first before myself. I learned to die to myself every single day.

“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

When I started aiming for what is righteous, true and pleasing to God, the worldly material possessions, relationships and money turned into a speck of dust in the very back of my head. I rarely think about these things anymore. What’s interesting is, that’s when God poured all these blessings unto me. I guess God just really wants to teach me that apart from Him, I am nothing. I learned to rely on Him alone and seek His face first. When I’ve mastered this, that’s when He added up beautiful things here and there.

Four years in Canada. Wow. This country just used to be a dream destination. Now, it is home. Thanks to all the people who supported us along the way. We are forever grateful. 

Happy anniversary to us, land of the Maple leaf, bear country, winter wonderland! Here’s to more fond memories and sweet tire d’érable!

Merci beaucoup! 🇨🇦🥂

Dear God, Thank You For Forgiving Me Even When I Cannot Forgive Myself

*This write-up was supposed to be a blog entry for Lent, but I got so busy with household changes due to COVID-19. Nonetheless, I believe the message of God’s forgiveness should be made known , Lenten season or not.*

While I was a slave to sin

Jesus died for me

Yes He died for me

During a worship service, this song lyrics pierced my heart through and through. I was imagining myself doing ungodly things, yet there you were Jesus, suffering for me. I was so touched. Your love is immeasurable and unfathomable, to say the least.

I will never understand how You can love a sinner like me, but You are insistent. You want to enter my life and bless it despite my woundedness.

It is so hard to forgive myself for my wrongdoings.

I keep on torturing myself with thoughts of my unworthiness and shame. I tell myself, “hasn’t God blessed me with so much abundance? How was I able to turn away from Him still?”

What I’ve learned is that no one is too far away for You not to reach. No one is too messy for You not to tame. No one is too sinful for You not to restore.

All I need to do is to come as I am. You will embrace me no matter what state I am in. I do not need to fix myself before approaching You. I cannot do that. Only You can do that work.

If You, the Lord Almighty forgave me, what right do I have to not forgive myself?

I am from dust, and to dust, I shall return. I am but an ash in this vast world, yet You gaze upon me with pure love. What can be more amazing than that?

Again, thank you Lord for the gift of mercy. I feel your love that is new every morning as I wake up with sun rays peeking through my window. I know it signifies the warmth of your love shining from the heavens.

To you, who’s reading this… I don’t know why or how you came across this article – coincidence, conscious effort, God’s plan? No matter the circumstance, know that there is a reason. You are here because you need to hear that you are valued, loved and forgiven. I know there are days when you feel ashamed and unworthy, but please rest in the promise that there is someone higher up there who is madly in love with you – Jesus. He died for you. He paid the price of your sin debt in full.

You are forgiven, even before you commit the sin.

I’ve been struggling with guilt and unforgiveness these past months, but let me tell you this: God never showed me wrath. He just kept on forgiving and providing a way out. I cannot explain how amazing every single experience was. All I know is that He continuously showers me with grace – undeserved yet given freely through faith.

Praise God, at all times!

Hi dear readers, sorry for not being able to post for months! I know the world is chaotic right now, but hang in there! I will try to post more uplifting articles as regularly as I can. I hope you stick around. See you in the next!

<3,

Rina

When God Asks You Put Something Down, Believe That He Has Something Better

There are things in life that we have a strong grip on – a job, a person, luxury material possessions. We hold these things dear to our hearts as if life depends on it. They have become idols, and at times, the center of our lives.

If you have such bondages, be warned. Know that anything that keeps us away from putting God first is dangerous.

God thinks these things can distract us from being the best we can be. Because he loves us so much, He takes them away one by one, especially if it starts to take a toll on us.

Like a True Father

Imagine a father cutting off his child’s gadget time. The child loves the gadget so much and plays it nonstop. The father knows the gadget gives happiness to his child, but he is also fully aware that it can distract from studies, duties, and many other more important things. While it pains the father to see his child sad, he still uses his authority and take it away.

It’s because he knows that in the long run, it is for the best.

The child does not get it at first. He questions his father’s ways. Does my father really love me? If he really loves me, why does he take away things I like? Why can’t he allow me to be happy?

Be Alert For Red Flags

Like a true parent, God sometimes uses warning signs too – first, second and final warnings.

Initially, He might send a person to talk us out of our obsessions. He might orchestrate a circumstance to make us walk away from danger. Later on, He might stir our conscience and disturb us so dramatically, the message suddenly becomes so loud and clear:

PUT IT DOWN, CHILD.

His Voice, Our Call

But then again, God can only do so much. I mean, He is all powerful and can make all things possible, but He also gives us free will. The final decision still lies within us. Should we heed the call, or ignore it?

Be very careful during these times of discernment. It is when the enemy is strongly present. He will try to lure us away from God’s plan. He might persuade us into thinking that holding on to our bondages is not that bad.

Remember, a cheap present that’s wrapped in shiny paper and fancy ribbons does not change its value. It remains rubbish.

For example, a job that tolerates vices. I know of someone who used to work in a gambling-related account of a big company. Compensation was hefty, benefits were attractive, and location of work was very convenient. At first, he thought it was ok. But God continuously stirred his heart. He made a decision to look for other jobs, and with God’s grace, he landed in another position that’s way better and more helpful to society.

You see, when we decide to follow God’s instructions, no matter how painful and difficult it might be, He will equip us.

Stop Looking For Trash And Go After Real Treasures

One more point before I end this. Let me share with you the Parable of the Rich Fool. For those who are not familiar, here’s the full passage from Luke 12:16-21:

And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

Notice that the “fool” in this story is a rich man who has everything. He might have worked all his life to build up earthly riches and obsessed himself into working and working. Clearly, his focus was on his treasures. What did God do? Take his life away that very night.

Don’t let that “fool” be you today. Be receptive to God’s voice and act on it. Walk away from that relationship that’s dragging you down, uninstall that social media app that constantly wastes your time, release the unforgiveness in your heart, and give up controlling everything. Let go, friend, let go.

When God asks you to put something down, believe with all your heart that He has something better for you.

Happy new year, my dear readers! I hope this first blog post for the year has inspired you to look for nothing else but God’s best plan for you this 2020.

2019 was great as it was when I finally decided to go back into blogging. I hope to reach out to more beautiful souls and spread God’s love through my writings and musings.

See you in the next!

❤️,

Rina

How To Make Prayer Time More Purposeful – Five Ways To Pray

Praying is a precious gift. It delights God, and it gives us hope and peace. As what Filipino priest and columnist Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD said,

“Prayer time is always the best time because we get to talk to the One who loves us the most.”

In this post, let me share with you some practices that have helped me achieve a more meaningful prayer life.

Quiet Time

More often than not, our prayer time is spent talking and blabbing to God, but have we ever thought of stopping and actually listening to what He has to say?

During my quiet time, I usually say a short prayer, asking God to speak and send me the Holy Spirit so I can decipher His message at that time. Then with my eyes closed, I open the Bible, and point my finger to a chapter/verse/passage. I read it and try my best to digest every word given to me. Sometimes, I feel like the verse has got nothing to do with my specific situation, but in the end, I am always able to find a connection. I just really need to dig deep and ask God for wisdom.

Quiet time requires utmost focus. I usually do it when Van is already asleep so I will not be distracted. Once you get into this habit, you will crave for it more and more. It is a really refreshing experience.

When I’m in a really, really bad situation, this is my go-to activity.

I know that when I am faced with a hurdle, it is God’s way of telling me that He is trying to get my attention. It is a sign that I need to stop and consult Him. I am working on doing this more regularly, as I don’t want quiet time to just be a 911-kind-of-solution. God craves to spend time with us; we should do too.

Daily Devotionals

Every morning, I spend about 15 minutes for my daily devotional reading.

A devotional is a short reading, which usually includes a biblical scripture, a reflection from the author, and a prayer in the end. It enhances meditation and provides a guide for more purposeful prayer time.

I recommend InTouch Ministries and Our Daily Bread. For Catholics, try Didache, Companion, or Sabbath, where the daily readings and gospel can also be found.

Reading devotionals help to enrich different aspects of our faith. I learn so much from reading my devotionals everyday. Whatever your situation is, you can be sure to find something that will help you get through it. There are devotionals about purpose, courage, dating, anxiety, marriage, singlehood, you name it. For devotionals that are more topic-based, I recommend the Bible app, where there are lots of specific devotionals within.

Van also has his devotional book, which we read and discuss at bedtime.

He uses The Purpose Driven Life Devotional for Kids. This was recommended by my very good friend, and both our kids use this book. I think it is a good idea to start developing meaningful prayer habits while they are young.

Praying With A Group

Having a prayer group or buddy is a really good practice. For one, gathering in Jesus’ name pleases Him. More than having our petitions answered, I believe prayer should also seek to honor God.

Praying with a group also invites the Holy Spirit’s presence, making the experience more powerful.

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20)

Prayer from one faithful person touches God’s heart and gets answered, how much more would multiple voices do?

Worship Songs

Worship songs are powerful prayer tools. Back in high school, we were told that singing is like praying twice. Singing praise songs helps immerse us in God’s love in an extraordinary way.

Sometimes, when I want to simply feel God’s presence, I listen to and belt out worship songs. I usually play these songs in the morning while preparing for the day, or at work while I am doing my tasks. It helps me to stay calm amidst the daily hustle.

Of course, worshipping with a group of people is a completely different, special experience.

There is amazing beauty and power in seeing people gathered together, with hands lifted, eyes closed, and hearts wide open to God’s presence.

Specific Prayers

Be specific with prayers. Raise up the main petition, and pray for the particular people, places and circumstances surrounding it.

Although God knows exactly how to fulfill them, He wants us to declare it. Remember the bible story of two blind men asking Jesus to heal them? The men boldly came up to Him and asked for mercy. Jesus already knew they wanted their eyesight, yet He still asked them very specifically.

So Jesus stood still and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They said to Him, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.” So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him. (Matthew 20:32-34)

Specific prayers help us to clearly define our needs and keep us on track with our goals. It increases our faith and makes us more dependent on God.

Praise, thank, and raise specific petitions. We can whisper, speak, shout, sing, or cry in prayer, but in the end, remember to surrender.

His will, not ours.

No matter how we pray, keep in mind that at the end of the day, the most important thing of all is being able to communicate with God.

I hope you were blessed by this post. See you in the next one.Ciao!

<3,

Rina

P.S. An hour before the scheduled posting of this entry, our family received great, great news! An answered prayer that we’ve been praying for for so long. The waiting was quite a stretch, but now God has started to reveal His purpose little by little. I’m excited for Him to unveil the grand plan soon. God is good. All the time. May your prayers come true too soon. ❤️

When Waiting Becomes Too Painful, Maybe God Is Asking You To Wait A Little More

Have you been waiting for weeks, months, or even years for a prayer to be answered? My friend, I have one piece of advice: do not grow weary in waiting.

We all have different desires. In our limited human capacity, we try our best to achieve them, but at one point, we get tired. When we’ve exhausted all that we can do, yet answers seem so far, maybe God is asking us to wait.

Waiting is the least thing anyone wants to do.

We find it hard to stay still because we want instant results. We take matters into our own hands, ending up in disastrous outcomes, more often than not.

I believe God placed our dreams in our hearts for a reason – maybe for us to hope, to practice patience, to have a vision, who knows? All I know is that it is meant for the good. No matter what God plans to do with those dreams, we can be assured that He has a purpose for it.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

I have pretty decent patience ever since, but when it comes to highly frustrating situations, I have to admit that I used to take matters into my own hands.

There was a time a couple of years back when I let my temper get to me. I was not thinking clearly during that time, and I made decisions that I know I shouldn’t have. Up to this day, I regret all the things I did and said. Things could be better today if it weren’t for those actions.

When God showed me the nasty consequences of impatience, I promised myself that I will never let my stubbornness get to me ever again.

In fact, I have grown to really believe in the power of waiting that I even incorporated “patience activities” into my daily routine.

For one, I do intermittent fasting. When I first started this practice, my main goal was to lose weight. When I achieved my ideal weight, I realized that the routine also instilled in me patience and discipline. I was able to see the beauty of delayed gratification as it directly and personally worked through me.

Before, when I have something that I want to buy, I typically swipe my credit card, without waiting for the next pay cheque or billing statement cut-off. Now, I carefully strategize. I list down all the things I want to buy, then assign one purchase per pay period. At first, it bothered me that I have to wait every two weeks before I am able to get what I want. I mean, that’s what credit cards are for, right? For people to buy stuff with money they don’t have yet. As I look back, I am just happy that God gave me the wisdom to handle these things better.

I also try to teach my son the value of waiting.

We have certain rules in the house, and most of them require waiting. For example, he is only allowed to play his video games starting Friday night. He has to wait for the whole week before he can touch that controller. On weekday mornings, he usually finishes preparing himself first before I do. He always asks if he can watch TV while waiting for me. I always say no, to the point that I even made it an official house rule. More than a “rule set by mommy,” I explain to him the beauty of waiting. It makes him focus on his home readings on weekday nights, stay calm amidst the uncomfortable stillness, and have a better sense of appreciation once the waiting is over.

You see, waiting is not just for the big things.

Waiting is also for the small stuff that seem mundane. If we are not patient with the little matters, how much worse can we be with the big ones?

On days when we feel so impatient, let’s just think about the numerous bible characters who had to wait a lot. Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years to have their son Isaac, David had to wait 15 years to become a king, the Israelites spent 40 years in the desert to get to the promised land.

At some point in the waiting process, we have to let go and simply keep our desires tucked safely in our hearts without trying too hard.

This does not mean we are giving up on our dreams. It’s showing God that we fully trust that He will fulfill those dreams someday. It may not be the way we envision it, but we can be sure that somehow, it will give us the joy we are yearning for because God thinks His version of our dream is the best for us.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:8)

The waiting will be worth it. Hold on. Keep on praying. God hears all our cries. Jesus did not give up on us. In fact, He died for us. He will never get tired of pursuing us. In the same way, let’s wait on Him, and don’t give up on our prayers.

“Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

I hope my long hiatus from posting was worth the wait. 😉 See you in the next one. God loves you.

<3,

Rina

Finding Joy In Serving God: A Reflection On Winnipeg Grand Feast: Limitless

The lowdown on the recently concluded Winnipeg Grand Feast: Limitless

Last weekend, I was honored to have been part of the Light of Jesus Family Winnipeg Grand Feast: Limitless. For the first time ever, our main man, Bro. Bo Sanchez, graced us with one of his beautiful talks and led us in worship. He was just supposed to meet our leaders, but we feel so blessed that the final decision was to hold a big Grand Feast event.

As a Catholic charismatic community, we started with the Holy Mass. It was a very solemn celebration of the Eucharist. Kudos to the choir for they sang the mass songs so beautifully. I know how hard they practiced. Their sacrifices paid off!

Photo By JDRPhotography by Jayson Del Rosario

The Talk

The most awaited part of the program was the talk of Bro. Bo. Although he is not a fan of the limelight, I must say he has become the face of the Light of Jesus Family. Why? It is because his talks are impeccable. The way he delivers his messages is powerful yet so witty and charming. He is a very simple guy, who has immense passion to bring people closer to Jesus.

For the Winnipeg Grand Feast, his talk centered on this:

“Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up in due time.”

The theme of the event is “Limitless.” He pointed out that we, as humans are so limited – our knowledge, skills and entire being. But then, there is the almighty God, whose power is beyond measure. We need to learn how to take a step back, humble ourselves, and put our complete trust in Him, so we can experience God’s greatness that is limitless.

Photo By JDRPhotography by Jayson Del Rosario

Photo By JDRPhotography by Jayson Del Rosario

Photo By JDRPhotography by Jayson Del Rosario

The Worship

The worship team led us to sing four songs. They were all amazing!

I was particularly touched by the song “Another in the fire” by Hillsong UNITED. The first line of the song already had me bawling deep inside. 

“There is a grace when the heart is under fire…”

What made the worship more special was the video shown in the background about the Bible story of three men who came out of a pit of fire, unscathed and unharmed. It was because of the fourth person seen with them – Jesus. He was with them as they prayed and cried their hearts out for safety. Their faith saved them. Just like them, we can be assured that there is always another person when we are thrown into the fire, another person when we are drowning in the waters, another person when we are in the midst of earth-shaking problems. We are never alone.

Photo By JDRPhotography by Jayson Del Rosario

Photo By JDRPhotography by Jayson Del Rosario

Photo By JDRPhotography by Jayson Del Rosario

Photo By JDRPhotography by Jayson Del Rosario

The Service

We learned about Bro. Bo’s visit some two months before the event. We were all so excited! We teamed up into different ministries so we can start preparing. 

 

I am primarily part of the media ministry. My role there is to write and edit our bulletin, which I can finish even before the event. I wanted to serve more, especially during the actual day so I also signed up for the warmth ministry.

Van and I arrived at the venue around 0930, and stayed there until closing time, which was about 2030. The event started at 1630.

When we arrived there, different ministry members were already busy preparing and practicing. It was such a joy to see people being united in Christ. I was so inspired by their dedication, considering it was early Saturday morning. They could have slept in or gone off to a weekend trip, yet they chose to stay and serve.

I got to be honest, though. The night before the event, I sensed some jitters as ministry heads sent last minute reminders to our group chats. What’s beautiful was that we had each other’s backs. We supported each other in prayer to calm everyone down. Soon, the Holy Spirit embraced us tightly with its peace as we slept through the night.

Shoutout to my son, Van too! Imagine how he put up with us for about 11 hours! There was no wifi in the venue. All he had were books, his Rubik’s cube, and my cell phone with two offline games in it.  We told him that even though he was still too young to join a ministry, he also served. He gave up playing his brand new Xbox (yes, I got him that for his 9th birthday) for the whole day, just to support mommy and the whole group. His sacrifice meant a lot and I want to honor him for that. 

The After Party

Van and I approached Bro. Bo in the backstage after the event. Before we had our pictures taken, we had a little chat. He first talked to Van. He asked him his name, how old he was, etc. Then Van told him that we went back to the Philippines two months ago, and that we attended The Feast PICC. Van then mentioned the series title, and the things he learned during the talk. Bro. Bo was pleased and told Van that he is a very intelligent kid, and that one day, he will serve the Lord. Van instantly said yes. Oh, what great pleasure that would be!

I then turned to him to chat, but I felt like crying on the spot as visions of me listening to his talks during the darkest parts of my life came rushing to my thoughts. I stopped myself from being emotional. We just met eye to eye, and I knew he understood me immediately. I knew he understood my struggles and pain. So, he just raised his hand and prayed over me. I felt so blessed.

After everything was packed up, Bro. Bo met all the servants in one room. He congratulated us and said we really did a great job. He asked if we thought so too, and we all cheered yes. I must say we all did amazing. We took our group photos, and he headed back to his hotel to rest. Imagine he flew almost every day, jumping from city to city all across North America. He was in Vancouver the day before, flew to Winnipeg for a day, and was scheduled to fly to Calgary the next morning. Wow.

All in all the Winnipeg Grand Feast: Limitless was a huge success. It was definitely one for the books! It is an experience that I will never forget. I just feel so blessed to have been a part of it. 

Photo By JDRPhotography by Jayson Del Rosario

Photo By JDRPhotography by Jayson Del Rosario

I will end this by sharing my main takeaway from the event. It was Bro. Bo’s last message to all the servants:

“The greatest blessing of serving the Lord is being able to serve the Lord.”

Indeed, I found joy in serving God and being with people who share the same passion. I encourage you to do the same. I am not forcing anyone to do anything. It’s just a suggestion for you to try. I tell you, when you find the courage to be selfless and find true joy in serving, you will never look back.

<3,

Rina