My heart smiled in joyful anticipation every time I poured over our old family pictures and journaled memories for my best project yet: a His-story book to pay tribute to God’s faithfulness in our family’s life, chronicling God-orchestrated events: blessings, trials, answers to prayers. I entitled it Twelve Stones:
I paused my project while my husband took me for what I thought was an awesome twosome trip. But two weeks after returning home, two months short of our twentieth anniversary, he declared he was unhappy and would file for divorce. He said the reason was my Christianity. He said I had the qualities of an ideal wife but told me to stop hoping, talking, and praying…. for nothing would change his mind. He left with what mattered to him then— his clothes, watch collection, and cars while my children stared at the empty spaces and favorite sitting places he and his used to occupy. Nine days later, the divorce summons promptly came— fifteen pages that registered through my eyes as legal gibberish that meant “broken vows and family devastation”. My one-track mindset of not letting man put asunder the marriage God put together was crushed. The husband eventually confessed what he had to confess. Shock and disbelief turned into immense pain. I asked the Lord why He overestimated me for this assignment. My heart was broken into countless pieces as I considered retiring in a permanent fetal position. I read the summons from the same computer on which I worked on Twelve Stones. Overwhelm came from the warring emotions of my heart as my desired reality was in complete opposition to what was. I longed for healing, not brokenness; restoration, not ruin; love, not anger; hope, not despair; peace, not distress. I cried out to my Abba Father, Lord, Healer, Restorer, Comforter, and Refuge. It dawned on me that the His-story book was not necessarily for my kids but for me first of all, to prepare me for this appointed season by reminding me how faithful God has been and will continue to be. Likewise, I thought that the last eight years of learning His word and eventually serving at a women’s ministry was my way of giving back to Him. I was wrong. It was His way of equipping me to be more than a conqueror (Rom 8:37), go back to His truths, and remember who I am, whose I am (Isa 43:1c). Before my life began, His eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in His book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16). The events in His child’s life are appointed, not accidents. I am a daughter of the King of Kings. I have the Alpha and Omega as my holy Father who wants only what is best for me. He will use these circumstances for good (Rom 8:28). Uncertainty and pain are only from my viewpoint. What I don’t know, He does and He is in control. He has a perfect plan to give my kids and me a hope and future. His all-sufficient grace made me arise. My spiritual and birth families wrapped us in prayers and love to each time uplift us one more notch towards healing, to speak God’s strength, power, forgiveness, and unseen but real truths into our hearts. I want to be a new creation today, responding like a true daughter of the King of Kings, cleansed of anger, and bitterness; convinced that He is trustworthy, forgetting what’s behind and pressing on towards what’s ahead for me in Jesus. I want to be healed and be an overcomer because I can only give my kids what I have. How difficult to fully realize these desires in several attempts. Apart from Him, I can’t do it (John 15:5) but I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Phil 4:13). I need a constant flood of God’s Spirit and grace to move forward. Last New Year’s Eve, I put up this self-talk devotional blog to refresh my memory with scriptural answers to my own questions. I also hope it will in some way be an encouragement to another woman in her journey of healing. On the first day of the year when my kids went out with their dad, my own Abba Daddy shielded me from loneliness as I dated with Him everytime I posted an entry here. God remains my Faithful Husband (Isa 54:5) who purposes good for me. I await Him to write a victorious ending for Twelve Stones. I don’t know what that ending will be but He does. Glimpses of hope, holy freedom, and joy meet me as I anticipate the next season that God is ushering in. This caterpillar will be a butterfly in the spring. Dear Lord, please help me to be malleable in Your hands, yielded to Your will. Fill me with Your Spirit so that I can walk in step with You for Your name’s sake. If there is anyone reading this who may be suffering in some way, may You encourage them that whatever form their suffering takes, that You are the same God who cares for me who are available to them. May You strengthen, shield, and reveal Yourself to them in Jesus’s name Amen. SONG: HE KNOWS MY NAME (Tommy Walker) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBmtGSuw04Y
1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
2 Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
This is a moment of praise I give to The LORD, The Resurrection, The God of Restoration and Redemption, who rebuilds the ruins.
How apt that despite applying for at least five business permits in the past in Makati with no problem, we have been stuck in Pasig City with four stages of revelation of four different checklists to open up a business and when those are all fulfilled, a new requirement that’s not written in any of the four lists. Had I known all four lists at the beginning, I wouldn’t have been able to set up at the location I am now in (the house that looks like my old company logo) which we started to repair since December.
The delays had been causing stress and frustration which was revealing my impatience (understatement) with the pressure to recoup the investment. Where your treasure is, there your heart will also be. I wanted to do a good job glorifying to God but not be noosed by the goal of getting rich on this. One day when I’d been angry, I asked God why He really didn’t grace the flow of application. He didn’t have a reply. I decided to pick up a food magazine that had been on my night table for a month and when I opened to a page, it was for a Passover meal. Oh! Easter! It was less than two weeks to Easter. We would open on Easter!
My friend, Miriam, ordered a cake for “Easter Monday.” That gave me the idea of resting on Easter Sunday but still be able to open on Easter Monday. A breath of relief came upon me as I realized, “The delay wasn’t a mistake or withholding of favor. It was part of God’s plan.”
God allowed my business to be removed from my hand in 2011. I started with one baker back at my home kitchen by early December. Today, I have a staff of about sixteen. I remembered a boxing fight. From the last three counts towards a knockout in 2011, God has revived us. He has rebuilt us, renewed us.
And He gave me a picture. He made me. He knows I learn best with a picture.
I want so much to follow His program but there’s feeling and memories and self that get in the way of rebuilding. I was getting impatient with myself. I wrote about it here in September 2013 about rebuilding by progressively letting go of the past. And then day by day, as the shop construction started, God showed me a picture of the metaphors I cited on how to rebuild. Starting off with a building that looks fine on the outside but needs a lot of repairing and cleaning out. The termite infested wood, the need to repair what was broken; and when the hauling truck comes, you have to throw away the debris, not keep and cherish them. The ugly, smelly, rotten parts of the building— those have to go.
Along with the rebuilding and repair of the ruined, He showed me many pictures of hope. Old, ugly, torn, outdated, broken things that are made new. The rusty oven with an unreliable heat mechanism, the old outdated chair with torn upholstery, the useless reject drawer set, the old unneeded gate, lone teacups and saucers with no set to belong to, the old buffet table with broken parts, the broken chandelier, a knocked down cabinet that had been torn down from a house… they were made new.
Yet, with all the renewing, there were things that remained old that are being appreciated for what they are because old doesn’t mean bad. The kitchen tools of yesteryears, the old ice cream pail, the old mirrors—their beautiful patina is proof of enduring, a testimony of character. It speaks of a story of what it’s been through, a history that makes it what it is today.
Through the period of construction, my friend Malu, came to share the hope of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ with the workers. I told some carpenters (in Tagalog), “Jesus was a carpenter.” much to their delight. I said, “You belong to a team appointed to repair and restore old, ugly, broken buildings to make them new. What you do to buildings is what Jesus does to each of our lives.” That time of sharing reminded me that this new chapter of my business’s life gives me opportunities to share with others the same hope of healing and restoration that I received. People might all look okay from the outside but need deep healing on the inside.
As there is a team to repair and rebuild a building, God puts in our path people to help us rebuild our lives, uplifting us, walking with us, mentoring us, praying for us. I am grateful for each person in both teams.
In 2011, this blog was born through a period of pain. The name that came to mind was Butterfly in the Spring, connoting hope, patience in waiting, allowing God’s process of transforming me and my situation according to His perfect time. At a time when all is dark and limited and narrow and it’s stifling, even when you think nothing is happening, God is at work.
Earlier this month when I thought I would be at the peak of doing business at my new shop, my husband said, “I’m thinking of going to Japan.” My instant thought was, “How in the world am I going to leave my would-be newly opened business?… Just when I’m about to rebuild…” but I have (usually) gotten used to submitting with a smile. Thank You Lord, for Your Word that tells me to submit to my husband (Eph 5:24) as unto the Lord. When I obeyed the Lord then, I didn’t yet know that our final business permits to operate will only be granted After our scheduled return.
My husband and I had the most wonderful vacation together. We had so much fun. God allowed me to throw out the returning bad memories that result in the half-moment anger. Signs of spring were everywhere. More pictures. “Spring, my child. Spring is here.”
On the day of our return to Manila, our flight was delayed so we went around the airport. I accompanied my husband to a store. After he made a purchase, the salesman asked me if I wanted to look at the women’s items. I quickly said, “No.” as I headed for the door. My husband said, “Why don’t you look at the shoes.” So I did. My husband wanted me to get sneakers like his. He didn’t know that through his gift, God gave me another picture.This is called the Camubutterfly line, a new take on Camouflage. Whenever I wanted to remind myself that our struggle is not against people but against principalities (Eph. 6: 10-18 on spiritual warfare), I dressed up in camouflage. And here was a visual, of all things, butterflies embedded in camouflage.
It’s from the maker, Valentino whose name comes from the root, Love— to remind me of the God of Love who died for you and me so that we may have eternal life when our body stops working but not only that, that we may have life and have it to the full while we’re waiting on this side of heaven.
I’m a perpetual work-in-progress and don’t know what tomorrow brings but today, I bow down before my Lord and say, Thank You for Easter. You are the Resurrection. From the dead, you bring life. From the ruins you bring restoration.
1 Cor 15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Lord please teach me to be humble and enable me to live a life consistent with Your character in what I think, say, and do. Help me to love whom and what You love and hate what You hate. Help me to get rid of pride. Help me to decrease that You may increase and be glorified in Jesus’s name amen.
The recent small business expansion has been a testing ground for my spiritual walk. As the pressure to recoup the expenses mounts and it seems that there is a shortage of people who understand the urgency of the situation, as I realize the scope of works necessary and the breadth of new things I have to learn and do, it’s new territory where I need to conquer my responses to situations with grace and love even as I keep in mind to be a good steward of resources and time.
On one occasion, a supplier lied to me repeatedly even after I made my payment. Situation still hasn’t been corrected after two weeks. Another is dragging the feet and the reassuring words are not matching what’s being done. Another, taking sweet time. A government agency is giving us the runaround. I’m being told that we’re about to get the last of several permits yet the requirements for this one keeps evolving and we’re getting introduced to new requirements to submit when we’re about to pick up the permit.
It’s been four months of one-direction flow of money—outwards. And I need money to flow back—inwards. Yet everyone expects to be paid their share.
I asked one of my disciplers to pray for me. I didn’t want to be walking around maligning the name of Jesus because I need to get things done. I wanted to know how I could accomplish my goals while being a good testimony?
As usual, she didn’t just reply with what first came to her mind. She prayed first for me and how to respond. I so appreciate that she regards with reverence her counsel that it not be of her but of God. After a day, she sent me these appropriate verses:
I saw how I was becoming a Martha, doing doing doing, worried and upset about many things, fretting that her sister Mary left her to do the work herself and asking that Jesus tell Mary to help her. Jesus replied “only one thing is needed” and Mary has chosen better. That “better” was to “sit at Jesus’s feet listening to what He said” (verse 39).
Even in the need to accomplish many things, keeping the focus on Jesus will enable me to know His will in a given situation so I do not go ahead of Him and bring back my old ways but make Him a filter for my words and actions.
My discipler also gave me Revelation 2:2-5, aptly reminding me that I may have done good and worked hard but I am forgetting my first love, Jesus… that He is my reason for being. Investment recoup is not; it is a mere temporary calling, a stewardship of this season’s time and resources towards accomplishing God’s purpose in my life.
Lord, am I loving You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength? Out of the overflow of my heart from which my mouth speaks shows a need for heart circumcision from unnecessary flesh. Is my motivation for the glory of Christ or for the glory of me? I know the fruit of the Spirit is from You and when I’m manifesting this fruit, I am aligned with You, abiding in The Vine; when I’m not, I am going opposite from You.
My reactions may have been natural for a go-getter, for a “good businesswoman” but You are reminding me that You are more concerned that I am behaving as Your child, representing You properly. Oh what a challenge.
No wonder Your Word says, “Do not wear yourself out to get rich. Do not trust in your own cleverness.“; “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” There is that pull towards the work, towards results, towards profit.
As I see things more clearly now, yet again, I fall on my face in worship of You, in thanksgiving to You, in awe of You, in love with You, my Treasure, my Goal, my Reason for Being who loved me first, who died for me, who are with me through every mountain and valley, whose plan is to prosper me and give me a hope and future.
Thank You Lord for Your reminders. Thank You for Your Word. Thank You for my discipler. Thank You for balancing my perspective. Help me, dear Lord, by Your supernatural power to do an excellent job at being a businesswoman… while being a good testimony as Your child in Jesus’s name amen. But Lord, You do see everything. I surrender all those who are not doing their share to You. Thank You that You are able to do all things that are beyond my control. Help me to conquer victoriously what is within my control in Your name, amen.
Thank you to Malou for this:
Beloved, you are gifted. Have you identified what gift have you received? How can you use it serve others?
Of course, we should speak the truth with Love as the motivation behind the communication. But in the several days earlier, I was noticing that my old self was resurfacing with my point-blank talk.
On one of those occasions, we had applied to transfer our (familiar to our customers) telephone lines from our old office to the new office we moved to. That took calls and documentation so we could keep our number but when the PLDT team came to install the telephone lines, they were giving us new numbers.
Another, we had paid P9000+ for a boom truck to move our heavy equipment from our old location to the new location. On that move day, several uniformed barangay officers with radios surrounded my new shop and said that I was in violation for not having a permit for the truck to enter our small street.
I can’t remember exactly what I said but when I recall it, they come across to me not to have been spoken in love. “Why in the world would we apply for a transfer of telephone line if we just wanted a new number? We could have asked for a termination of old and application of new.” “We want to obey the rules but you need to give us the rules. When we applied for Barangay permit, we were not informed that we should also secure a permit for the moving truck to enter our street. I’m in the business of cake and we secure all necessary permits, pay our right taxes, abide by all the laws we know. I’m not in the trucking business. It should be the truck you ask to get permits because it’s they who take the truck to the streets they need to go. They’re the ones who know the rules. Why do you surround me with uniformed men in black with radios like I’m some criminal. We are partners in community building, nation building… small negosyantes like I help create jobs. Why do you make it hard for us, shouldn’t you be partnering with us and help us. There are hundreds of people who do business without registering or paying taxes or paying the right wages and statutory benefits, all proceeds go to their pockets yet it is we you are going after.”
Ranting and venting…
A few days after, I was asked to sing “Testify to Love” at an event and the words to the song convicted me that I need to wash my heart, mind, and heart in order to speak the truth in love. It’s easier to speak the truth in love to difficult people that I’ve conditioned myself to love when I’ve prayed for the right heart, when I’ve prayed for the person, when I’ve prayed for the situation. But in the spur of the moment specially with fatigue, frustration, and flurry of activities, love could fly out from the equation. Though valid perhaps, what kind of testimony did I give? I don’t think they would suspect Jesus was in me giving me full life and that they could have that full life too if they had Jesus.
I am thankful for the Lord’s conviction to put thought in what I do and say.
The other day, I attended the True Love Matters Most talk about speaking the truth in love. What impacted me most about Jojo Chan’s talk was the formula:
Timing + Truth+ Tact = Transformation
It’s a good reminder for me to keep in mind.
The prior week’s lesson on 1Corinthians 13 was: If I don’t love, I am speak nothing, I am nothing, and I gain nothing. (Here’s the link to that topic: “Am I A True Lover?“)
Without the Word and the Spirit of God, I would have just forgotten about the point-blank talk without thought to the imprint I leave behind. It would have just passed as another day in the life of a businesswoman who had to get a job done.
Lord, thank You that You use Your rod and staff of discipline and guidance to teach me Your way. You do not leave me alone to proceed as I please whenever I please however I please. You are shaping me to be mindful of being Your daughter. I love because You first loved me. Help me to reflect Your love not just to the people I have deliberately taken up with You but also to everyone I meet. Everyone needs You. Please cleanse me of my unloving ways. Thank You that You are a God of Grace and upon Your grace I hang. Thank You that You are making me a new creation daily so I can let go of the old and be new in Your name and for Your glory Amen!
The more I get to know God through His Word, the more I see how far and vastly I fall short of His standard, the more I see His grace at work as He enables me to stand amidst challenges. Lord, thank You for my flaws and failures, for my trials which you turn into platforms for Your grace and light to shine through. I am but a jar of clay and I praise You that it is not through human strength and perfection that You are glorified but through cracks, brokenness, and flaws. Truly all the glory belongs only to You. You are my Treasure.
Please help me to be a good steward of the things that You have entrusted me with. It’s so easy and natural to be self-seeking. Please give me Your wisdom through Your Holy Spirit to see the truth that everything belongs to You. Help me to treat everything as Yours. The people You have entrusted me with are Yours. Help me see and love them the way You do. Everything that I regard as my possession belongs to You. Help me to handle these in ways that would please and glorify You in Jesus’s name amen.
Lord You alone are the one who gives the ability to produce wealth. Help me to focus on You. And keep my focus on You, not to wear myself out to get rich nor trust in my own cleverness. Apart from You I can do nothing. Thank You for Your Spirit who will help me to be aligned with You so I can be a good steward of what You give me. May You be glorified in Jesus’s name Amen.