One Thing I Will Never Forget From Nick Vujicic

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Sitting at the farthest end of the coliseum, I found myself stuck on my seat and my mouth opened as the little man was carried to the stage. With a firm yet cheerful voice, he said, “Hi everyone!”

“Oh my God, he is real!”

I read articles about him and watched his videos, but that Friday night was a night to remember. It was my first time to see and hear Nick Vujicic in person. I grabbed my notebook and pen.  My hands were excited to stroke down the learnings and ‘quotable quotes’ from him. Before his talk, Francis Kong shared about finding purpose and Jesus in our work, and one page was not enough to write down all his insights. So I braced myself (and my hands) as Nick started to share.

 

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Photo from Randell Tiongson

 

While he was sharing his life story, his ups and downs, one question popped up in my mind, “What am I doing with my life?” This guy has a disability, with no arms and limbs, yet he can surf, swim, paint, and play golf. He gives thousand talks to people from various walks of life to share hope and God’s love to those who need to hear it. But here I am, with complete body parts yet throwing hundreds of excuses to myself. “What am I doing with my life?”

I scanned my notes from Nick, ironically and surprisingly, I found out that I wrote only a one-liner sentence:

“Every time I get a NO, I get better and better.” -NICK VUJICIC

Maybe this is what God wants to tell me from Nick’s life. Maybe, just maybe, this is also what God wants to tell you…“Hey, child! Every time you get a NO, you get better and better.”

What are the recent NO’s in your life?

A “NO” from a client?

A “NO” from the woman or man you love?

A “NO” from your boss?

Or a “NO” from God?

These “NOs” are painful and this could be an understatement. But God knows the pain, too. His “NOs” are countless. The worst thing is those rejections came from us. But just like Nick, God didn’t stop at one, two or three “NOs”. Because every time we scrap God out of the picture, God still pursues us. God knows that we are worth of all his “NOs”.

Same way with us, when life throws us “NO”, let’s hold on to our “YES”. Easier said than done, but Nick has done it. He may have the sensible excuses but these don’t stop him from pursuing God’s purpose in his life.

Good job, dear! We are getting better and better!

 

Just love,

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Eat by Faith and Not by Sight: “Dinner in the Dark” by Yakitori

What does it feel to become blind?

November 16, 2015.

Our friend, Justine, invited us to attend a charity dinner called “Dinner in the Dark” for the Eye Bank Foundation. This event is on its second year as part of Yakitori‘s way of giving back for all the blessings they received for the whole year.

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But this was not a usual charity event.

For me, it was definitely extraordinary, remarkable and life changing.

The dinner was supposed to be held in two batches but due to the controversial Monday #trAPEC madness, some participants were not able to come. The dinner started at around 8 p.m. Before we went to the “black room” of Yakitori restaurant, the steward put a black cloth on our eyes. This will serve as our blindfold. (How could it be possible to eat with blindfolds?)

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We were asked to line up, held the shoulders of the person in front of us, and walked our way towards the “black room”.  The steward will guide the person in front of the line and the rest would follow. And yes! It was hard to walk with blindfolds. But we have no choice but to trust (aha…big word!) the person in front of us that we were heading the right way. When we were all seated, the blind woman, Ate Baby, gave us some instructions before we eat. She said,

“Your dinner is already served. Your spoon and fork are on your right side, 3 o’clock. Chopsticks are placed on your left side, 9 o’clock. The tissue is on 12 o’clock and your bottled water is on your right side, 1 o’clock. Happy eating!”

I had to imagine first the hands of the clock and started to recall how 1, 3, 9 and 12 o’ clock look like. I also had to remember where are my left and right because it would be a disgrace to drink on someone else’s water or use their spoon and fork. I found it difficult to eat with my eyes covered because during the first five minutes all I could eat was rice. The room was so dark and we couldn’t see anything. All I could do was to live in the moment, literally search the viand on my plate, and enjoy myself with beautiful music and conversation with friends.

During the dinner, some of the blind guests shared their stories. Some of us shared our experiences as being “blind people” for a short period of time. And here are some of our insights and realizations during the “Dinner in the Dark.”:

  1. “Mahirap maging bulag” is an understatement.

Whenever we would see blind people, most of us would say to ourselves, “Ang hirap talaga maging bulag.” But after that experience, I realized that it is an understatement. I believe that no enough words can describe the situation of the blind. Eating is just one of the daily activities of a human. It is hard to imagine how the blind people survived their day to day activities: taking a bath, walking on the road, doing their job, washing the clothes, traveling, making coffee, cooking dinner, making plans, and etc.

Amazing, isn’t it?

  1. Take a pause and be grateful.

 We discovered something.

When we ate with our eyes blindfolded, our other senses became sensitive. We were trying to figure out if we were eating pork, beef or chicken. We were also searching and trying to recall the taste from our memory bank if we were eating a siomai, a chorizo, or dumplings.

As we grasped for the taste of the food, we learned how to eat slowly. Though we did not know the food we were eating, we were all satisfied and full at the end of the dinner, because we were all able to eat the meal bit by bit and fully appreciate its taste.

And I think that this is one of the most forgotten habits of this generation. To pause.

Fast foods are everywhere. Instant products are in. Online banking helps us to do money transactions in just a few seconds and with no hassle.

Because we want fast results. We are always in a rush. We are in a busy world.

But from time to time, we have to take it slow, pause, and stop for a while to appreciate things around us, our blessings, and the life itself.

When was the last time we choose to appreciate the sunrise rather than ranting on the forever traffic in the Metro?

When was the last time we choose to thank God for our Divisoria or Baclaran clothes rather than wishing that we are wearing designers’ clothes or bags at Rockwell store that cost a one month salary of a rank and file employee?

When was the last time we thank God for a beautiful life?

  1. Don’t let our circumstances define our future.

 She has three children who are already college graduates. Her youngest child will finish soon her college. She is married to a blind man and she is blind since she was born.

But their situation did not hinder them from becoming the best parents that they could be. Their blindness did not stop them from pursuing their dreams for their family. Though they could not see the world, but they can clearly see their future. They may not literally see their surroundings, but they have a vision.

What are the things that stop us from pursuing our dreams? Don’t let our circumstances define our future.

After our sharing, the lights were turned on and to make the night more exciting, special prizes and awards were given to the participants. And guess what? Our table was awarded as the “Cleanest Table.” (Wink! Wink!)

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Me, Dave, and Paul posing for a selfie after “Dinner in the Dark”.

Just love,

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One Step Ahead

Got eight hours of sleep, woke 15 minutes before my phone alarmed and had enough time to prepare my breakfast-what a perfect way to start my Monday morning.

But one thing ruined the seemingly “perfect” day for me.

TRAFFIC.

I looked at my watch, switched my glance to the bored people counting the piles of cars stuck in traffic and checked my watch again. It was 5 minutes before seven in the morning. I aimed to be in the office before seven so I could go out of the office before the rush hour. Besides, my to-do list for that day was supposed to start at 7 AM. But my schedule turned into a mess.  I began to grumble, threw my childish rants, and tossed the blame to the public officials. But I couldn’t do anything. Walking in the highway would never be an option. So in the end, I had to accept the fact that I would arrive at the office later than what I had planned.

I reached the office 15 minutes before 8 in the morning. Upset. Stressed. Uninspired. When I was about to punch in the time card, I noticed something. TIME IN: 6:58 AM.

Then I heard a voice at my back. “Sorry, I accidentally grabbed and punched in your time card. I thought its mine.”

“No worries. It’s alright. It’s very very very alright.” I said.

Then I realized…

Sometimes, things will not happen the way we imagined.

There are times that our plans will not turn out the way it should be. Along the way in our journey, some expectations in life will not be met. Most of the times, burdens in life do not make sense. But one thing is for sure: God is always one step ahead of us. We may not be seeing the whole picture, but God is.

Two years ago, I experienced my first job heartache. (whole story at My Boss and I (published at www.gmanetwork.com) One month after my resignation, I was hired in a multinational banking institution as a temporary employee but never got a chance to be regularized. I became jobless twice two years right after my graduation. That season was one of the vague moments in my life. Idle, broke, and unfulfilled. At that time, all those things didn’t make sense. But looking back, if things happened the way I planned after college, maybe I was still in the limbo, living like a walking dead, and didn’t have the guts to discover what really my passion and purpose are.

I heard a story of a woman who was running late to her office, but it was the best thing that happened to her life. If she came to office on time, maybe her family might lose her forever because of the 9-11 bombing.

I know a guy who failed the board exam, but when he tried it for the second time, he passed the board and got another special gift; he met a very beautiful girl in the library during the review. If he didn’t experience failure on his first attempt, maybe he would not meet the girl of her dreams. EHEM.

Things may not make sense for us, but let us believe by faith that all of these are part of His bigger plans. His version of our goals and dreams are better than ours. Whatever we are going through right now, always remember that God is always one step ahead of us.

 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways not my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

Just love,

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 WHAT MAKES YOU SPECIAL?

One Saturday morning, before the session starts, the instructor asked us to introduce ourselves to the class in a special way.

“State your name, and then answer this question, “What makes you special?”

Then there is a sudden burst of emotions from the four corners of the classroom.

“Oh my, that’s a difficult question!”

“Do I really need to answer that?”

“Another question please?”

But at the end, we have no choice but to answer it and I have no choice as well but to have a two-minute conversation with myself.

“Hey, Sarah! What makes you special?”

“I have this natural semi-curly hair…but someone mentioned about her curls. Nothing special about it.

“I have wide and big feet, size 41…but most foreigners have these. Nothing special about it.”

“Hmmm. I have a beautiful smile…but all celebrities have these. Besides, I have these braces that make my smile a little weird.Nothing special about it.”

“How about this-I love cooking…but I have classmates that are already mothers. Definitely, they can cook better than me. Nothing special about it.”

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

Think faster, please.”

I forced my brain cells to think of the things that make me extraordinary. Unfortunately, two minute is not enough for me to prove to the world that I am special.

Then the instructor said, “Okay. Next.”

“Hi! Good morning everyone! I’m Sarah Grace. What makes me special is that…Hmmm… (Then an image of a book appeared in front of me. Viola!)…I can finish a non-fiction book in one seating.”

Then I heard all their “wows”.

But I whispered to myself, “Someone can even read a fiction book, like the Harry Potter novel, in a day. Again, nothing special about it.”

That night, I was staring at the ceiling, asking the same question, “What makes me special?”

I realized, at the very start, I was asking the wrong question.

Then I asked myself, “WHY AM I SPECIAL?

Then a beautiful answer came to me.

WHY ARE YOU SPECIAL?

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At first, you may have a hard time to answer this question. You may try to dig the deepest pit of the earth but still don’t find any reasons that make you special. For some, you may find it difficult to convince yourself, that indeed, you are special. But the truth is, the answer is just right under your nose.

You are special because you are God’s greatest masterpiece. When He created the expanse of the sky, the birds, and plants, he saw those things as GOOD. But when he created Adam and Eve, he described all His creations as VERY GOOD. The difference between good and very good in the story of creation was God’s delight on the fact that He has created a form that was likened into His image.

Besides, after God created the first man and woman, He took a rest on the seventh day. Just try to imagine. What if after He created humans, he made robots, or resorts, or Apple products and had His siesta on the ninth day? Will this change everything? No one will ever know. But I believe there is a reason why humans were made on the last day and God chose to rest on the seventh day. Maybe because He was SATISFIED on all the things He made, most especially to His last creation, the man and woman. It was all done. It was finished. God sees you as His greatest masterpiece and He is satisfied in you. He delights in you.

You are special just the way you are. During that two-minute conversation with myself, I rejected all the possible reasons because I was looking at the wrong starting point. I forgot to focus on the One who created the masterpiece within me. I was busy looking and comparing my uniqueness to the other people.

We will always have the tendency to measure our strengths and abilities against someone’s achievements. But comparing ourselves to others will lead us to frustrations, doubts and insecurities.

God put every detail on your being: the way you look, your personality, and your DNA. God did the same way to that person next to you, to your boss, and to your childhood friend. And they are special on their own ways and so are you.

Friends, celebrate who you are!

Just love,

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God Serenades Us

“He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)

Since the start of this year, I am occupied with work, writings, and future plans. After four months of facing the audit papers and few chapters of the manuscript for my first book, finally, my body shouted for a short break. The month of May is the perfect time for me to unplug from the busy world since it also marks the end of the summer season. Thus, the three weekends of May are blocked for my short out of town trips and beach bumming with different group of friends.

So Mondays of May become my greatest enemy as expected after my weekend getaways. It is the best part of the week for my mind to wander and count how many hours and days till Friday evening. Mondays are the days where coffee fails to wake my soul from a weekend rest.  And it is the time when I wish that I could still smell the salty water, feel the roughness of the sand, and see how perfectly the sun set down in the horizon of the sky.

But little did I know that God will surprise me on the day that I didn’t expect. Monday.

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Yesterday, we held our weekly date with friends/LG (light group), not on a restaurant, but on the grassy ground of Ayala Triangle. We placed a mat where we could take our seat and talk over a pack of Clover chips and Lay’s. While me and Dave were waiting for our other friends to come, I lay down on the mat and closed my eyes. I imagined the white sand beach of Cagbalete, the marshmallow, and the bonfire. At that time, I wish I could disappear at once and spend the rest of the day on a hammock at the beach while watching the thousands of stars in the night sky. Then I started to hear the sweet and warm sound of the ukulele. I immediately opened my eyes. I saw a guy with his ukulele, few meters away from us, playing the song “I’ll always love you.”

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The guy at the back with his ukelele 🙂

I got up, looked at Dave and said to him, “God is so sweet. He gave background music for our date.” While listening to the guy as he played his guitar, I realized that God is romantic. I was dreaming of escaping the city and imagining myself relaxing at the beach but at that moment, God played a beautiful music for me. And I imagined God singing the song:

And I’ll always love you

Deep inside this heart of mine

I do love you

And I’ll always need you

And if you ever change your mind

I’ll still, I will love you

Then after few minutes, a girl in dress arrived. The guy immediately stood at his feet and gave a bouquet of flowers to the girl. She smiled and kissed the boy on his cheek. A sweet guy, right? But God is the sweetest.

God is not only our father, or a friend. He is also our lover. If there is one person who is madly, truly and deeply in love with us, that is none other than Him. And that love is shown at the cross. His love is the only kind of love that will give us rest and full assurance that we will not be left hurt and alone.

Just open ourselves to His love and let God serenades us.

Just love,

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