The War Room

When we hear the words “War Room” we immediately think of armies, soldiers, battles and well, war! So as I gathered some of the definitions of what a war room is I found out that it’s a literal place where war is directed or where a strategy is planned (source: Merriam-Webster). The War Room movie is not far from that. It’s basically what it’s all about. I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t seen the movie yet (although since this is my reflection of it, I will be talking about some scenes.. haha) so I’ll give you a (long) one line summary.. War room is a movie about how the life of two church-going couple, who seemingly look like a normal couple who got everything together but are completely broken affecting their marriage & family, turned 180 degrees through the power of prayer, by God’s grace and the help of an old lady named Ms. Clara who really took time to reach out to the wife, Elizabeth.

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The movie made me ponder on four things –the person that I used to be, the person that I don’t want to be, the person that I am and the person that I can be. Let me tell you more about it..

WHO I USED TO BE

I was broken and insecure, trying to fill my life with the wrong things, conforming to the standards of the world so I can fit in and get ahead in this life –probably not like how the husband, Tony, did but basically just like him in the heart. I remember that scene when he was slowly realizing his mistakes and his need of saving from a sinful life. Imagine watching a grown man, crying and kneeling down asking forgiveness and acknowledging his need for Jesus! Sure, the wrong things that he did came with consequences but he experienced the grace of God that he didn’t deserve –his salvation, the gift of eternal life. We all don’t deserve it but he gives it because He is a good God and because His love for us is unconditional.

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“ For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

WHO I DON’T WANT TO BE

I think one of the most dangerous things that can happen to a Christian is to be stagnant and complacent with our walk. When someone is a new believer there is always that kind of high that even drugs can’t beat! But later on it becomes a habit or a duty, not something that overflows from the heart. That scene where Ms. Clara gave Elizabeth the room temperature coffee that made her spit it out was exactly what Revelation 3:16-17 was talking about

“I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!”

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Even God doesn’t want His coffee lukewarm! It made me reflect if at times I’m a Christian who is just going through the motions or one who is really all fired up for the Lord? Unfortunately, there are moments I can be the former. So everyday I pray to love God more with all my heart, mind, soul and strength because there is no passion better and more fruitful than one’s passion for the one true Savior, Jesus Christ!

WHO I AM

I am forgiven and loved. I was given grace and so I know I can extend that same grace to the people around me. Tony saw the changes in Elizabeth and it got him thinking, “What happened to her?”.. and I know deep inside him he was also probably thinking “I want that too.” Is this how we are with the people God surrounded us with? In the way we live our daily lives, do we draw them closer to Jesus? Is what we have something they want for themselves too? Ms.Clara definitely got to share that light to Elizabeth, Elizabeth to their daughter Danielle and both to Tony. We have to keep passing that light on!

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Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:15

WHO I CAN BE

Just like the Pastor in the pulpit or the neighbor next door we are all a work in progress and there is so much more that God has in store for us. Our prayer life reflects our relationship with God, what we pray for usually reflects what is in our hearts but often times we do not receive because we don’t even ask. A war room is a place where we can lay out all our burdens, our struggles and our requests to God, it’s where we can study and reflect on His word and come up with strategies & solutions. In this life is a battle we fight everyday. Of course, we can pray anytime and anywhere, God is everywhere after all but it helps to have a small room or even just a corner in our house to be able to really have that intimate, undisturbed, undistracted moment with Him –I have yet to make my own war room. His answer isn’t always a “yes” and often times not how we want or imagine it to be but He knows what’s best for us and His will is always good, pleasing and perfect –even if it doesn’t seem to be so sometimes.

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“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7

Just like how Elizabeth bombarded the heavens with prayers, it’s high time we do a reformation in our prayer life, do it more often, take a big leap of faith and remember that the only thing more powerful than prayer is the God who answers it!

 

Disclaimer: Photos don’t belong to me, got everything on Google. (:

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A Different Kind of Makeover

The other day, as I was preparing to go out I was watching this show about a restaurant makeover for an old Italian joint that hasn’t done any renovation in 20+ years. I told Secho not to turn the TV off when he goes to the living room because I wanted to see how the restaurant will turn out.

I realized  that aside from cooking shows, I have always been engrossed on anything that involves transformation and makeovers –whether it be on fashion, home, health or lifestyle.

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I also enjoy movies with the ugly duckling (or a fashion disaster) transforming into a beautiful swan! I get major goosebumps everytime there’s a montage of shopping, tweaking here and there, make up, haircut etc! I can attest I’m not alone on that one haha!

 

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Pretty Woman… rocking my hair lol I’m kidding! Love this girl!

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The movie that made every girl wish she had royal blood running in her veins! 

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From Ms. Messy to Ms. Congeniality

So why is it that when God is in the process of transforming us, we can’t wait to see the results? When we’re in an unpleasant situation we can’t wait to get out of it. We want it to end in an instant. We ignore the fact that maybe God wants to teach us something, develop our character and strengthen us from the inside out.

Actually, while browsing for some photos to put here, I noticed how there is always a “before and after” shot but rarely a “during” one. I guess the “during” photo is always the ugliest to see and most people wouldn’t care about it anyway. Imagine a house under renovation or a road getting fixed, they have to dig and drill, it’s loud, it’s dirty, it’s uncomfortable and just simply an eyesore! Exactly how life is sometimes. We’re not always on top of the world and the process is usually painful. For us to be built up we have to be torn down –broken in our pride and selfishness, refined and pruned from the craziness & lies of this world, polished by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.

 

I remember when one of my best friends volunteered to fix the mountain of clothes in my closet. There were definitely things I had to give away and get rid off. Things that were once useful but no longer are or things that were just cluttering and taking up space. Boy was it a breath of fresh air after she fixed all those mess! I had so much more space for new clothes haha! Well, in life there are things and/or people we need to give up in order to grow up.. sometimes for a season and sometimes for good. We need to surrender things that just clutter our lives and take us further away & distract us from what we really need to do and accomplish. We won’t always understand God’s ways but we have to trust that more than anyone, He knows what He’s doing and it is always for our best!

“This is what the Lord says—  your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.” Isaiah 48:17

And after alllll those painful things that we have to go through, we become stronger and wiser. It teaches us to be patient, to be humble, to be selfless and compassionate, to know the difference of when to go or when to stop, to fight or surrender, to hold on or let go.

Often times, I really like the process of a make over. It’s just cool to see how things have to get ugly before it becomes such a beauty. There is that sense of appreciation & amazement that I have when I see how something started and how it developed over a certain period of time. Won’t you appreciate it more if you let God change you step by step? From filthy garbage to a beautiful treasure He bought by the blood & the life of His son Jesus! Our efforts to change ourselves can fail, our will power is not always enough..

But GOD makes ALL things new!

“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland..” Isaiah 43:19

So enjoy every moment of life’s makeover. We are all a work in progress! Remember that the most wonderful and intricate things in this world took time to create. Be patient with yourself because God has always been patient with you. In your brokenness, Christ can make you whole again –and even more beautiful than you were before. (:

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New road ahead!

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here” 2 Corinthians 5:17

 

Disclaimer: Credits to Google and the sites that contributed the photos used here except the last one! Thanks! 

Hi Lily Marie!

I woke up today and my train of thought led me to you once again.

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Beautiful inside and out!

You see, I met this lovely girl, Marie, through a friend from college. They were once together and she was just always present everywhere, probably because she was friends with some of the people I was friends with too. Some people actually thought she goes to the same college haha! I wouldn’t say we were super close but back then, during parties and drunken nights we were definitely tight.. I guess because we’re just crazy like that! Eventually when I became serious with my walk with God, I decided to leave that kind of life behind.

In 2012 and almost 4 years of not seeing each other, I got a text from her informing people from her contact list of her new number. The Holy Spirit impressed in my heart to invite her to church or my Bible study group and since I was doing something at that time, the procrastinator in me said, “Ok, I’ll text her later.” But what do you know, she texted me again and asked where do I go for church service and if I have a Bible study saying “I want to know God more!”.

I couldn’t be more excited for her and so two days later we decided to meet! For the first time, we got to to talk over dinner with no alcohol in hand. She got to share with me where she was in her life at that moment and how chaotic things were in her relationship and I got to tell her how Jesus saved me from a destructive lifestyle & wrong relationships and how He turned my life around for the better. We talked for hours as if we were getting to know each other for the first time as friends!

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June 2012 (This was that day!)

Later on, she told me that she stays with her Christian uncle and that they were gonna meet up after his Bible class. She also wanted to introduce me so he’ll know she actually has good friends. She was kinda closely supervised by her family because of the things going on with her life during those days, you get the picture lol!

So after dessert, we met up with her uncle and well, guess who he was with? Yup, this tall, skinny guy who was wearing baggy clothes but undeniably good looking who is now my husband (and has an improved fashion sense)! That’s actually how I met him.. but that’s a whole different story I might write about next time.

In the days that followed, I became Marie’s accountability partner. I went with her to another church (which eventually became my church now) guiding her as she joins and tries different discipleship groups and Bible studies. It was really hard for me that time because I had a 9 to 5 job and all I wanted to do after is go home and rest! But she would tell me “Maybe I’ll just go out with some friends tonight. I don’t really want to go there without you..” So I would haha!

Months passed by and slowly but surely, I saw her growing in her walk with God. Her thirst & hunger for Him was so strong that she would go on her own even without me. Eventually, she found a lot of good friends too. Before the year ended, she surrendered her life to Jesus and even went through Baptism.

Early in 2013, I got a message from her saying she’s going to the states and that she was really happy that God gave her her dream job. I was really glad for her and though we wanted to meet before she left, we didn’t have the time to do so. We kept in touch on facebook from time to time instead.

In April of the same year, a close friend called me crying and asked me if the news was for real that our dear Marie passed away. I told her I will check on it. I wasn’t feeling anything, I couldn’t believe it — I can’t believe something like this! There’s no proof of it! “Wait a minute let’s not jump into conclusion, maybe she was just trippin!” So to clear things up, I called her uncle who of course turned out to be our good friend and he confirmed that it’s true ): Apparently, she, together with 3 other friends, were part of a really bad car accident in Miami.. Article of the accident HERE.

I was left speechless and couldn’t absorb it until we had the wake here with her ashes. It was really heart breaking and it makes me sad that I know we will never see her in this world again. I can’t help but think what was her last thoughts as they saw the other car crashing into them, how did she feel? Was she scared? Or was there peace in her heart? But I rejoice knowing where she is now is a place better than any beautiful place this earth can offer.

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Saw this in her IG account! She died knowing and now, I’m sure there’s no greater joy than to be with her Maker.

That time I met her for the first time after a long time, I was about to share my testimony in my church then. I told her about it and as she was listening intently and with her eyes twinkling she told me “Wow! I hope one day I can share my testimony too of how God has changed my life..” You know what? I believe she got that. Because even until now, everytime Secho and I talk about God’s story through our love story, we talk about hers too. We talk about how God used her to bring us together (she was the one pushing me to him anyway! Telling me we’re a match made in heaven and that she’s a good matchmaker lol) and how Jesus has transformed her life and favored her to be in His presence and spared her from the evil of this world.

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Her daughter Kate really looks like her!

Marie was a sister, a daughter, a mom, a niece, a partner, a best friend, a good friend to many. She might be different things to different people but she is dearly loved and missed by all of us.

It’s not her birthday, not her death anniversary, it’s just another day but she is remembered. So I am reminded, we don’t need special occasions to tell someone how much we love them, we don’t need special moments to honor them for who they are and tell them how much we appreciate them. I’m glad I got to do that with her. Life is indeed short, let’s make the most of it and live as if it’s our last.

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

We miss you everyday girl! I know you’re having a blast over there!

*CUE MUSIC* “It’s been a long day without you my friend, and I’ll tell you all about when I see you again…. Let the light shine your way, hold every memory as you go, and every road you take will always lead you home...” You are home and there’s no place like it..  (:

 

 

What’s in a Photo?

Since I got married, I didn’t just marry the man I will spend the rest of my life with, my ultimate bestfriend,  my ministry partner, my travel and food buddy.. I also found my personal photographer haha! Every event we go to always has that photoshoot session and when I start striking a pose with my friends (or just by myself), he already knows what to do! Most of the time, he takes great shots too! Gotta give props to this guy sitting on the rock!

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Took this shot from one of our recent vacay! Which he btw directed! 😊

So, over the weekend, while waiting for a couple we were ministering to, I asked him to take some photos of me writing for this new blog.. and the good man did!

I wasn’t able to check the photos till we got home and when I saw it I told him things like “Oh it’s so dark.. the lighting’s not good… you shouldn’t have zoomed it in… I told you it’s against the light..” In the middle of all that, I noticed his voice defensively telling me it’s good and that it has a certain look to it. But there I was, really not convinced and just negating what he was saying.. then he started raising his voice and I started to raise mine saying why can’t he just accept it’s not good? He said more stuff that I can’t really remember now but I just stopped talking. After that, he went to the room to change and I stayed outside for a while, tinkering with my phone.

An hour passed by and we weren’t talking but while I was brushing my teeth the Holy Spirit was tugging my heart with a gentle whisper, “He was doing his best. Don’t you appreciate his effort?” I KNEW I had to apologize.. but I wasn’t ready yet! I don’t feel like it. Why will he get so irked by something so small like that? After all, I was just trying to tell him the truth.

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I was more of the boy here lol! (Photo Credit: hubpages.com)

But what can I do? God’s voice was louder than mine. So I prayed for the guts and the grace to say sorry and for God to help me say what I have to say and for Secho to accept my apology & not to shoo me away (he has never done that though haha!).

He was already in bed so I sat beside him and said “I’m sorry I wasn’t able to talk to you in a better way. I know you did your best, maybe if we had more time it would be better. But I appreciate what you did. Can you forgive me?” The moment I said that, I felt peace. I kissed him and he said “You’re forgiven, Love”.

In marriage, being truthful is very important but the key is to always say it with love and do it because of love.

“Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church” Ephesians 4:15 (NLT)

When I did a heart check, initially, my motive for correcting my husband was because I was in sheer disappointment on how the photos turned out and that definitely showed the moment I opened my mouth.

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Time for a Heart Check! (Photo Credit: Google Image)

When we speak the truth, when we correct or rebuke someone, we do it not to prove ourselves right or to show that we are better. We don’t do it because we’re upset or annoyed or angry. We do it because we love that person and we want that person to improve and be better.

Another reminder for me is that the only thing that makes an apology such a struggle is pride. Sure, often times we don’t feel like saying sorry, some for valid reasons and mostly just for selfish ones. But here’s where what I call “Motion over Emotion” comes into play.

We say it, we do it and our heart follows –not the other way around. A famous creed that a lot of people embrace is “Follow your Heart!” I too lived with that and it surely led me to a lot of trouble. I guess that’s why Jeremiah said,

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV)

How can we follow a heart so deceitful?

Think about it, when Jesus was nailed on the cross, I’m almost sure that he didn’t “feel” like it. I don’t think anyone will be in the “mood” to go through that kind of suffering for someone like me. But He did it because He loves His Father and because He loves us. Jesus has a perfect heart and I’m sure it has always been his desire to save us –no matter what the mood is. And I’m so glad he did it or I don’t know where I would be!

I therefore conclude that, there will be times we will have to do things that we don’t want to OR that we’re not in the mood for OR that isn’t comfortable & out of our comfort zone but we will do it anyway… because it is the right thing to do and because no one else will be more pleased with our obedience than the one who loves us most. By God’s amazing grace!! (: