Yesterday, we had our Company Advent Break, an advanced fellowship, mini-retreat, and celebration for the upcoming Christmas season (which in the Philippines unofficially starts when the months end in “ber”). Our finale activity was to attend the inspirational Don Moen concert at CCF Center, Pasig. I was immensely blessed to attend last year’s concert and I wanted to share the experience with my staff.
On the hike up from Tiendesitas after our dinner, I told my accountant, Ann, “I hope I could interview Don Moen.” Her eyes widened and said, “That would be so nice!” I replied to her, “If it’s God’s will, He will make a way.”
After I saw my team to their seats, I met up with my friend Malu and I told her the same thing. From the distance, Malu saw Ate Wilma Zetazate, a dear sister in the faith who turns out to be with Ovation Productions, the company that brought in the Don Moen Manila concert tour! Long story short, Malu and I found ourselves tailing after Ate Wilma and before we know it, the towering Don Moen is in front of me and I’m interviewing him for BITS readers! So here I am sharing that interview:
DON MOEN (DM): The one thing I always like to bring with my music is the word HOPE. I like to bring hope to people. A lot of people have given up on life. They found themselves in difficult circumstances and a lot of it is not because of their fault.
They’ve lost a job or a spouse or a loved one, a doctor’s report. Any one of these things can rock your world. One week everything’s fine, the next week, everything is crazy. You don’t know how to worship God anymore… I think that’s what encompasses the title of this tour called God Will Make a Way. I want people to know that even when things may look dark and dismal and discouraging, that even today, God is working in ways they can’t see. That should bring hope to people that have lost hope. My prayer is that whatever I do, wherever I go that people will walk out of the event with the will to live another day. Some people wanna give up on life ’cause it’s just too hard…they’ve been through a divorce, they’ve been through a lot of hurt and they just think it’s not worth it. I want them to know,
“Don’t give up on life. God hasn’t given up on you. Just believe that even at this moment, God is working in ways you can’t see.”
BITS: With the number of years you’ve worked, how do you sustain your own fire for the Lord?
DM: I think it’s a daily process, I mean, you can’t live on past experiences. Every day has to be fresh. Every time we come together to worship the Lord, it has to be fresh. That has to do with just communicating with God during the day, always within my spirit praying; any spare moment I have, I try to offer up prayers. While driving in my car, perfect place in Manila traffic. Keep your spirit right, communicate to the Father. And try to read the Bible, keep putting the Word into your heart. That’s the only way to keep it fresh.
I’ll notice that if I start getting off-balance and my life gets a little bit awkward, usually it’s because i’m not spending enough time in the Word and in prayer. And in this busy life, it’s hard to make time for that sometimes and before you know it, between emails and cell phones and text messaging, your day is gone and you haven’t spent time with the Lord.
BITS: So how do you discipline yourself, for example, these next few days you have one (concert) every night?
DM: Yeah, it’s brutal, these next three or four days… I was just coming here tonight and my sound engineer’s wife is head of our (core) intercessor team. They’re interceding for us today. I have several thousand people that are praying for us as well. In days when it gets this busy our lobby calls are gonna be 4:30 in the morning, I’m not gonna get up at 2:30 and pray. My focus in the next four days is just to get as much rest as much as possible, stay healthy, and count on the fact that there are people praying, carrying us through these days. And of course, we’ll have prayer before we go on the stage, obviously… I think God knows there are days when we are busy. And when life gets so extremely busy, with little children and jobs and everything. Sometimes you’re not gonna have time to forsake your family or your husband or your wife and just say, “I’m not gonna deal with that, I’m gonna spend time with the Lord. I think the Lord knows that you have little children and a spouse. And I think sometimes the best worship we can give to the Lord is serving our children, serving our spouse. That’s worship as well.
Worship is more than the songs we sing. It’s part of what we do but worship is a 24/7 lifestyle of worship, how you live your life with your co-workers, with your fellow students, with your friends, with your family and oh, btw, we also offer up songs of praise. It needs to come from a … disciplined life of worship.
Anyway, back to your question, the next four days are gonna be crazy and I’m relying on a lot of the prayers of other people. Coming over here tonight, I said to the band, “I’m glad our intercessors are praying, ’cause we need the prayer to just get us through these first few days.
BITS: Filipinos are very fond of music. What do you think of music that’s not exactly Christian?
DM: I love all kinds of music. For many, many years, I played in symphonies and ballets and operas, I was violinist; that’s all I did. I didn’t understand at that young age that anything we do musically, we can offer up in praise to God. There are working musicians who work in the secular field. I have some very good friends; it’s no different than being a banker or a lawyer or a CEO of a company. You can’t pick and choose what people come into your restaurant, your catering business. Wherever we are, we have to let our light shine. And if you’re a professional musician, there are gonna be days that you’re gonna do a lot of secular things. You don’t have to pick everything.
Let the Holy Spirit guide and lead you and say, “Is this something that I’m supposed to do?” And if that’s the case, do it with your whole heart and let your light shine.
I have this gal singing with me tonight for the first time, Cindy Walker. She’s sung on probably fifty platinum country music records… (with) Randy Travis, Garth Brooks, Alabama. You name it, she’s sung on them and traveled with them. I was just asking her about this one artist if she was a believer. She goes, “No, not yet, but I’m letting my light shine and I’m living my life in front of her.” I think that’s what we do no matter what our business is whether it’s your catering business, your restaurant or a musician. You let your light shine wherever it is. I wrote jingles for many years and I prayed really hard about writing jingles. I prayed to the Lord to give me the right song,the right melody, the right words.
Use your gift wherever you can use it and let your light shine.
BITS: And you’re still glorifying God?
DM: I believe so, yeah. If you make it your intention.
I think that’s the key… to understand that you need to glorify God and if you’re doing something that you can not really give God glory in that situation then you better leave, not do that show, not do that situation. Wherever we are and whatever we do, we’re supposed to offer up praise and worship to God through our gifts.
BITS: Can you invite the people who are going be in the places you are visiting in the next few days?
DM: Here we are in the Philippines… finally and we’re here in Manila tonight. Tomorrow night we’re in Cebu at the Waterfront, and we go to one of my favorite cities in the Philippines, Bacolod, the City of Smiles. I love Bacolod. I think we are at La Salle Auditorium there. I’ve got lots of great friends in Bacolod and then we go to Cagayan de Oro for a final concert. I think that’s Sunday night. And then we’re on our way to Thailand and Malaysia but I’m looking forward to visiting your city. I’m sorry it’s such a short visit but we come as often as we can and I wanna thank all my Filipino friends no matter where I go in the world, the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Canada, United States, I have Filipino friends that come and support me and they pray for me and I wanna say from my heart [gesturing his hand to his heart] a big thank you. God bless
BITS: Where can you get concert info?
DM: You can go to my website, www.donmoen.com/tour, and find out all the places we’re singing all over the world; if you wanna join our prayer team, you can also go to http://www.donmoen.com… and find out all that’s going on at our website. And if you wanna be a Facebook friend, you gotta be careful which Facebook you go to because I have lots of Don Moen wannabe’s out there [grinning] and the first thing we do in the office everyday is delete all the Don Moen people, they put my picture up and say, “I’m Don Moen.” Don Moen Praise and Worship Leader, that is the one you wanna go to for Facebook. God bless.
As Malu and I walk back to our seats, we were one in thinking, “Nangyari ba yon? (Did that happen?)” I have Don’s God is For Us album on my iphone playlist. I have his online Worship Seminar for worship leaders. I can’t count how many times I’ve blasted “Still” and “Psalm 23” throughout my journey. I have the “Give Thanks” instrumental guitar song at the shop playlist. I feel he’s one of my spiritual fathers.
God does make a way! Thank You for affirming that, Lord! I have to go tell my accountant.
Attending a Don Moen concert is like a personal worship experience between me and God along with others in the crowd. It makes me realize that in the diversity of circumstances we find ourselves in, we are united in our need for God. Don mentioned what I heard from Cindy Soriano that there are three kinds of people: the one who’s in the storm, the one who’s just gotten out of the storm, and the one who’s about to enter into a storm. The songs of thanksgiving, remembering what God has done, praise for who He is, reminders from the Word of the good real things He’s doing beyond what is obvious to us— Don’s music has a great way of putting together in one package… sort of like putting different ingredients that are sweet, icky, ordinary in a recipe and blending them together to come up with a yummy cake.
Sometimes you don’t know the words you want to say to God and a song comes along that take the words right out of your heart and into your ears. Don’s violin playing is also heavenly. Each of the band members was wonderful. There are songs wherein the others are just listening but their contribution is very much part of the whole experience for the audience. (That’s just like the message I gave my staff yesterday!)
Lenny LeBlanc who co-wrote one of my most favoritest worship songs, Above All, sang a number of beautiful songs, too. I wanted to interview him also but it was too close to the start of the concert. Maybe next time, God will make another way.
Here’s a link to the post on last year’s concert that contains more music video previews:
He has a kind, unassuming manner and I was sure that he would have godly wisdom and encouragement for aspiring businessmen and businesswomen. I didn’t realize that he is The CEO and President of one of the country’s leading independent fuel company which employs at least five hundred in its head office alone. The humility in his position bespeaks his personal relationship with the One who owns it all. Here is an inspiring chat with Glenn L. Yu:
BUTTERFLYINTHESPRING (BITS): How did you come to know the Lord?
GLENN L. YU (GLY): There was a Christian businessman who was going to give a message in church. Here was a person who was successful in the eyes of the world and I wanted to hear what he had to say. I was drawn to listen to him. After his message, he asked, “Do you want to surrender your life to the Lord?” I found myself raising my hand. I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart.
Before that point, God used circumstances in my life. I was fortunate to know what my gift was. Even as a child, it was clear to me that my gift was in being an entrepreneur. I used my gifts to further my own selfish wants. I lived in the fast lane. I told people I wanted to be a billionaire before the age of 30. I started a business with some of my classmates shortly after I graduated from college. I traveled, going business class, living the high life.
My first encounter with death was in 1998 when I brought Jackie [his wife] home after a movie premiere. When we got down from the car, we heard gun shots. Before we knew it, we were face-flat on the ground and the guy was pointing a gun to my head. My whole life flashed through my mind and I wondered, “Is that all there is? You live up to a certain age and that’s it?” We begged for our lives. Before we knew it, the guy was gone. My knees were shaking, I couldn’t drive. I called home and asked someone to pick me up. I was so scared.
This incident happened in the midst of the Asian financial crisis. We were into serious financial trouble and practically lost everything. I had to sell the business that my friends and I put up. It was during this time that we were struggling financially that my mother got into an accident at home in 2001. She was in the ICU from July to October. The Lord took away the sources of my security. When that happened. I found myself struggling again with the question, “Is there more to life than this?” and not getting any satisfactory answers until I heard this businessman share about his life and how having a personal relationship with Jesus transformed him and how that brought meaning and purpose to his life.
I recognized that there really is more to life than what I had thought. Reflecting on my life before I discovered the Lord and now, I’m so thankful that the Lord gave me that opportunity. Sometimes I’m a stubborn person… It took several life-changing events before I came to the realization that I needed Jesus in my life.
BITS: Your near-death experience, the financial crisis, and then your mom’s accident… God used those to prepare your heart…
BITS: Were you very close to your mom?
BITS: Then you surrendered your life to the Lord through the businessman… Are you willing to name him?
GLY: Dr. Andrew Liuson. He’s my spiritual father.
BITS: What things did you hear about Dr. Liuson that made you want to listen to him?
GLY: I am naturally drawn to other businesspeople. He was different from most— if not all— of the businesspeople I had met. What stuck in my mind is that in all of their buildings, it says, “In God We Trust.” In my mind was, “Is God really trustworthy?” Why trust in God for the answer to the question, “Is there more to life than this?”
BITS: Does he continue to mentor you?
GLY: Yes, it’s still ongoing. We see each other once a month.
BITS: What is a mentoring conversation like?
GLY: How my business is doing… what he’s learning, the things I’ve learned, how the Lord has been moving in his life…and in my life.
BITS: Are you now a mentor to some businessmen?
GLY: Yes, to other younger businesspeople… about seven or eight.
BITS: To them, you must be their Andrew Liuson! [GLY smiles.] How did your life change after you surrendered your life to the Lord?
GLY: A verse that comes to mind is Psalm 24:1 The earth is the Lord’s and all things in it. That was foundational for me to recognize that the Lord owns all including the business. It’s his. I’m a steward. That influenced my thinking about my purpose now. God answered my question, “Is there more to life than this?” He gave me the perspective: “The Lord put you here, you are able to influence people. You’re a steward of the resources I’ve given to you”, the command in Genesis 2—– the stewardship mandate. In reality, I don’t own anything. My job is to be faithful to him. In Matthew 28:18-20, The Great Commission, it’s really a platform for me to be able to share Christ in my circle of influence.
BITS: How does this influence your ways as an employer?
GLY: We make available a Friday Singles devotion, a Monday morning devotion. We have chaplains in our office. My work is my ministry, my mission field. Oftentimes, the only bible people get to read is how I live my life. I also write a weekly blog that I write for employees. There, I’m able to share. That’s my opportunity when they ask, “Why are you different?” I just tell them the Lord changed my life and it’s a catalyst for me to share Christ with them.
BITS: The Psalm 24 verse, in your faith timeline, when did you own it?
GLY: After I had accepted the Lord. The first thing was for me to recognize I need a Savior. After having a personal relationship with Jesus, the next thing was for me to find out what is the purpose of work, of business. The Lord taught me through His word that work is a form of worship. The root word of “work” and “worship” in Hebrew is the same, Avoda. When we read, “Six days you shall work and on the seventh you shall rest,” oftentimes, at least for me, the focus is on the seventh, it’s the Sabbath. We forget the “Six days we shall work.” Now, our work is important to God because our God is One who works. The work of creation tells us that our God works.
BITS: How does your faith apply to your work?
GLY: The world view is that employers are only responsible for workers financially. As long as you provide a salary, you meet your obligation.. Our view as Christians is holistic: that we are responsible for them not just financially but also physically, emotionally, spiritually because these are people that we have been given responsibility over to steward.
The only thing we can bring with us to heaven are relationships and people. Everything else gets left behind. To view it as an opportunity to be responsible for people holistically, we have the opportunity to reflect God’s plan, purpose in terms of what work should be. Work is not a meaningless activity. If you ask a person why he works, some would say, “so that there will be food on the table.” That’s important. But there’s more to work than that. What you want is when someone goes to work, it’s meaningful for that person. You recognize he’s doing something valuable, not just earning a living.
BITS: What do you think are hindrances for some businessmen coming to the Lord?
GLY: If life is good, there’s no incentive for them if they have no perceived need for God. But when you get to the top and realize there’s nothing there, then you will start looking for answers. Sometimes they’re in the middle, pursuing because they think there’s value in reaching their goal.
BITS: Do you have an encouragement for businessmen who may be trying to look for answers?
GLY: A good ambition would be seeking God’s kingdom first.
BITS: The kingdom-seeking philosophy, do you think that will inhibit profit and benefits?
GLY: I like this quote from Barack Obama. “Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself.”
BITS: Ang lalim naman no’n, Kuya, pwede pakitranslate sa English? That’s so profound, Big Brother, can you please say it in English?
GLY: Mababaw na ambisyon ang pera. (Money is a shallow ambition). Business people will recognize that. At the end of the day, those who are successful will know it is not because they want to make money but it’s because they see a need that needs to be met and there’s value in what they do; as a result, the profit comes because there is value in their undertaking. I think that’s the intent of the Lord that there be value in what we do as business people. From that perspective, profit is a consequence of knowing that your life is more than just making a profit. At the same time, if you don’t make a profit, you can’t sustain it. Maybe that could be telling you that this is not your area of strength and you are not glorifying the Lord there.
BITS: If you want to do business biblically, you’re seeking to sustain your business profitably but secondarily to the kingdom… Do you sometimes feel persecuted for your faith?
GLY: I don’t take it personally. I’m just being faithful. I’m not responsible for someone to get to know the Lord. That’s the Lord’s job. My job is just to be faithful and testify to God’s faithfulness in my life and at the end of the day, it’s God’s work. I just need to be faithful to the One who called me.
Glenn Yu went through some major shakeups. His sense of stability and youth invincibility were thrown off by an in-your-face threat to his life and physical well-being. His mother’s prolonged confinement at the ICU made him see the precarious, uncertain nature of life. He saw that having the gift of entrepreneurship or coming from a comfortable family did not exempt him from external factors such as the Asian financial crisis. What he put his security on were things he could lose.
The promise of God is that in all things including the trials, He will use it for the good of those who love Him. Among the good for Glenn was he realized that he could not put his faith in something that would not last. Unless he was putting his faith in Jesus Christ, he was not secure. His personal relationship with Jesus opened up his eyes to many truths. A recurring word he used was “recognize”. He saw his life from a new perspective, God’s. He saw his Owner, his Boss, his purpose, his stewardship role in the scheme of things. When Glenn put his life under the lordship of Jesus, that meant that not only were Sundays God’s. The six days of work were part of his worship which he submitted to His leadership. Thus the mindset for purposeful employment.
What was the catalyst to this mindset? (God did His share. But here on earth, some-one was called to do his share.) One. One businessman, Dr. Andrew Liuson, who saw the eternal perspective of his own life. And now, Glenn is also one. In what turns out to be a godly chain of mentoring, this new generation of businessmen are becoming instruments of godly transformation. Even as they seek to do excellent work in their businesses including profitability, they do not think merely of the short-lived kingdoms on earth but seek first God’s kingdom in eternity.
Matthew 6:33 But seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
I feel like I’m Dr. Liuson’s inspiration grandchild. He inspired Glenn Yu and now Glenn Yu is inspiring me as a businesswoman. Thank You, Lord, for their examples worth following. Please help me not just admire but follow their examples, too.
May God’s favor and immeasurable blessing be upon Glenn, Dr. Liuson, and their contemporaries as businessmen for God. May He expand the borders of their businesses as they seek first to get in God’s business.
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Annabelle has been coming to the shop regularly (praise God for her contribution to our rent money heeehee). Last week, she described to me a Crispizza flavor she wanted and so this Smoked Fish Crispizza was born with home-pickled cucumbers, scrambled eggs, tomatoes, whispers of red onion, smoked milkfish fillet, green onions, cream cheese, and a vinaigrette glaze:
We served it for the first time when they had a fellowship last week. The few who’ve tried it gave good reviews. Thank you, Annabelle!
Today she came with stage vocalist, Aileen Espinosa Cura, a gracious lady I met long ago.
Annabelle said they can’t leave without Aileen and me doing a duet. I was so thrilled to sing with a real professional. And Aileen has no airs whatsoever. She gamely agreed and so we dished out one of my favorites at the shop— a jam! A musical one!:)
We had so much fun and planned our next get together!!! It worked out perfectly that today was not a busy day; otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to get out of the kichen.
Before leaving, Annabelle also left with me samples of two cakes to try! Yum yum!
Thank You Lord for the blessing of Your love through guests like Annabelle and Aileen who happen to be faith sisters too!
Last week, one of the special occasions at the shop was for this lovely group of ladies:
I know them as the Tuesday Ladies because they met on Tuesdays while I was with the group that met on Wednesdays with the same bible teacher, Beth Sanders, who was a missionary in the Philippines for many years before their family moved back to the States a couple of years ago.
It was like a family reunion of sorts!!!
For the past few weeks, I’ve been noticing that through the shop, the Lord has been allowing me to see sisters in the faith who have been my mentors, teachers, prayer partners, and fellow sojourners. The sight of them brings back to mind the truth and encouragement that God sends me through the village He has placed around me. There are more faith encouragers I am thankful for but I don’t have all their pictures right now.
With Beth Sanders, we had wonderful times together learning about God’s Word. We had guests who would share God’s story in their lives and it was an inspirational feast every week. We went on little trips and watched movies, learned how to be better persons, better wives, better cooks, better teachers. Whatever good “better” we could be, Beth helped us learn it. (I’m still learning btw.) Beth, like God, loves us the way we are but wants us to be the best we can be. She is great at encouraging us to bloom where we are planted.
Even when Beth moved back to the States, she and her husband Martin continue to be my spiritual parents. They are like our extended family. I’m so blessed with the times we get to meet up. With Viber, we are also able to keep in touch and giggle together ’til dawn sometimes even as we take up our own crosses to follow Jesus Christ.
Edith was my first one-on-one mentor. While we learned Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life, I sometimes asked questions in class. Later that day, I would receive a text from Edith with a bible verse that answered my questions.She also taught us how to cook!! Yum! Later on, she and I started meeting every Monday to pray for the requests of the Wednesday Ladies and all aspects of the Wednesday session from the teacher and her preparations to the attendees, to the music, to the technical equipment which have an interesting way of jamming whereas they work fine during dry-run. Those Mondays helped me gain an appreciation for prayer and praying for others as we saw God move every week. Edith patiently started with a devotion each week and from her I learned how to meditate on verses by observing the words and phrases and how to apply them in real life in real time.
My next one-on-one mentor was Heidi. She taught me out of the prosperity gospel mentality. She fearlessly gave biblical counsel even when I didn’t want to hear it, almost begged her to give me other counsel. Telling someone what she doesn’t want to hear comes with the risk of losing that person. But it was clear to her what was important. With a compassionate, loving approach, she will tell it like the Word says it is, not like the world says it is. Week after week, we met up and she patiently walked me through my endless questions. Great thing: not only is she a seminary graduate well-grounded in the Word and faith, she is also a trained educator with her own school. She was uncompromising in telling me gently “this is the way…” But she doesn’t quite tell me “walk in it.” She asks me questions and then allows me to answer them myself and she gives me more questions. She allows me to tell myself the “walk in it” part and works through slow learner disability, for instance, in learning certain words like “submit” or “surrender” for a year or five or so. (What’s the difference with numbers, every minute could feel like forever anyway. Once I think I finally learned it, I need to relearn from Square 1 again. Every minute.)
Heidi kept telling me she is not the affectionate loving type of bible mentor but to me, she is all love. Oh how I miss her since she moved to the other side of the world.
My next one-on-one mentor is Princess. To me, like my other mentors, she is the epitome of the woman of God, ever humble, she is like David who is after His own heart, the ultimate shepherd focused on the goal of drawing others to Christ. She is also fearless in giving biblical counsel. “That’s our calling to follow Jesus,” is what comes to mind when I think of her. Princess led us through books and movies and continues to lead us into fellowship together that we may spur one another towards love and good deeds. Tirelessly, she gathers our group together for accountability in our spiritual walk. She prays for us when we are present or absent. She is loving, approachable, non-judgmental, diligent, and fun!
Being with my sisters is like coming home. It’s a wonderful gift to have truth tellers, like the breed of the little girl who tells the emperor he has no clothes instead of the whole crowd who will say good things while he walks around being a fool. We are one another’s sharpening iron in a circle of unconditional love, prayer, and friendship… until we can’t remember each other’s names and we’ll be comparing diaper and walker brands not for our babies but for ourselves.
Within the group, everyone is also a mentor and encourager for everyone else. (I love my sisters! Yay!) But we call Ruth fondly as our “assistant Princess-pal” who shepherds us when Princess is taking care of her first ministry, her family.
Ruth is very nurturing, motherly, and can be counted upon (as with other sisters in the faith) to pray for our needs. She is a businesswoman willing to share what she has learned and how we can marry faith with business without compromising integrity.
Coney told me around ten years ago after she spoke to the Wednesday Ladies, “You have the gift of bringing people together as well as the gift of expressing yourself in words.” She came by to bring faith encouragement not just to me but to my staff the other month. Sweet encounters that leave their edifying mark…
I have prayer partners, Steph, Ann, Malu, Betta, Jen who are like the paralytic’s friends whose faith brought on his healing. The cripple was able to get up, pick up his mat, and walk.
There’s Pastor JP, Danny, Albit, Erwin, Joey, Ricky, Roy, Jonathan, Glenn and other pastors and their wives, Roochie, Dawn, Gina, Jhie, Cecile, Aggie, Sasa, Ate Ellen who are pregnant with their living stories of hope, with their ready prayers and lessons to share. Deliverance Team mentor, Tita Thelma, teaches, “God can not move if you are the one controling and it’s still all about what you want. You have to surrender Everything.”; Gia teaches “Stay delivered. Keep sin out of your life.”I have many mommies and sisters who are channels of God’s love and prayers. At times of sudden disaster though, I also go to Deonna. She is so busy with probably literally tens of thousands she ministers to. But by God’s grace, every time I had sudden disasters, she’s there to dispense hard-to-obey bible commands like they were Lindor Truffles, her counsel gentle and prayerfully considered, and the certain closing prayer to follow filled with hope and expectation based on who God is. Wheeeee!!!!!!!!!
There’s Pastor Peter. Last year during fasting, after my hundred-mile-an-hour complaint that I can no longer do what God is asking me to do, he looks at me seriously, piercingly, and asks, “Do you want to do it your way? Or God’s way? You choose.” I’m thinking to myself, “What do I want? Pharoah and his army closing in on me from behind or the huge and wide Red Sea ready to drown me ahead?” I know the answer Pastor Peter wants me to choose. But I’m stomping my feet tearfully saying, “I can’t.” He calls Deonna over. They pray over me.
[It’s like being teleported to the Sea of Galilee and Jesus asks Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” I am Simon, back to my old self before I knew Christ. When I look into the loving eyes of Jesus, He doesn’t ask, “Are you never going to deny Me thrice after professing love-unto-death devotion to Me?” nor “Show Me proof of sincerity/ eligibility/ lovability.” Simply, “Do you love Me?”………..He’s not asking me to do anything He hasn’t done for me. He will love me no matter what I choose; He’s not scaring nor obliging me. But the village He’s placed around me makes His Word pop up like an interactive book I’m in. Jesus lives. He’s got skin on… that of my faith family’s. They help me grasp His awesome love and amazing grace. How can I resist loving Him?]
I’m back with Pastor Peter and Deonna. My blurry sight turns a wee clearer as the tears stop abruptly halfway into their merry roll. I’m not going to do it in my feeble strength, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
I see that I didn’t see… God opened the Red Sea. “God’s way,” came my faint choice.
They made me see an option that’s invisible but as present as the air that sustains my very life.. surrender to God’s way. His ways and thoughts are higher than mine. I can lay down everything that burdens me and give Him the floor to move; who knows, He might move the floor… So for those days when I wish Horatio Spafford who might call me Little Sister, would say “It is well with my soul…faith shall be sight,” when I want Lou Fellingham to sing to me again, “I will say of the Lord He is my refuge,” I will remember I am not alone.
There are even people whose names I don’t know but in brief encounters, a kind gesture, they are part of God’s faith relay in our common race to run to the finish.
I thank the Lord for each and every one (pictured or not, named or not), fellow sojourners who have taught, encouraged, prayed for and with me, shared with me and joined me in my faith journey. And it looks like on their DNA is they do not point to themselves but to the Lord and His Word. Thank you for standing firm in your faith through the assignment God had for you that you can share with me your hope in Christ. If not for your love and obedience to Him— to be His mouthpiece sharing His Word, hands and feet sharing His hope, I might have missed out on His grace. You are all channels of God’s love . Thank you for raising me up as His child even though I still have a lifetime of growing to do. I pray that He continue to use you mightily to share Him with others as you have with me. May my thanksgiving for you spur me on to pay it forward.
I know that God sends each and everyone of us a village to raise us. May our eyes be open, may our hearts be grateful when we see them!
With much love and thanks!
Little ol’ me
The other night, I was chatting with the last two customers and they started appreciating the food and the details of the shop. I asked them if they saw the verses on their placemats. This was the gentleman’s placemat with Karla Dornacher’s artwork:
asked him if the words made sense to him. He answered, “I’m not into reading verses.” I read the verse twice. Then I shared with him how the verse spoke to me. I said “the words ‘shall be’ sounds like a declaration that no matter what you’re going through or how you feel, this is what it’s going to be: you will be like a well-watered garden. What do you think a well-watered garden looks like?” He said, “Nice.” “I immediately agreed with him and added, ” Yes!! I think it will also be fruitful and green, fresh, beautiful. It won’t be dried out and dead.” The lady added, “The picture of the well strikes me.” My attention was drawn to the well and I replied, “yes that’s right. If we were in the desert and found a well, we would have a source of life.” They both got excited and shared with me that they were so happy they came that night. He shared that the placemat encouragement was timely because he had been feeling down and he felt like there was something wrong with him (emotionally, as he gestured around his heart) that he should have himself checked.
I said, “In the time of Jesus, I don’t think they labeled conditions but Jesus healed them.” I recalled the post I had written before about a diagnosed schizophrenic who was told his condition would prevent him from completing his education, getting a job, or having a family but Jesus was able to help him override all those limitations. (Here’s that previous post: http://butterflyinthespring.com/2014/04/30/pastor-rick-warren-the-answer-is-easter/
This was the lady’s placemat:
She said she doesn’t know how to read the verse. I told her that this is what I get from the verse: God with His all-knowing wisdom made her and in His eyes she is His masterpiece. If there are things about herself that she wished were different, the verse affirms her that she is wonderful and God can use all those things she didn’t like because He doesn’t waste anything and He will use those to accomplish His good plans for her.
They were both so encouraged and I shared the gospel with them and they both accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord. Praise God! :)
Earlier this month, a dear friend I haven’t seen for a while came to the shop because she was invited to an event there. Before she joined her party, she pulled me aside and asked me about divorce.
I asked her to read with me verses from 1 Corinthians 7 about marriage. I then remembered that I had this archived video of Deonna Tanchi which I took several months ago for my two Butterflyinthespring readers. I would like to share that video with you below:
I praise God for the godly counsel of Deonna and for the opportunity to minister to my friend through the shop. My friend said that she was uplifted and encouraged. I would like to share that video message with you [transcript below the video]
I think the issue of divorce and remarriage is really the heart of God because God said that what He has joined together let no man separate. There are many women who are in stressful situations with husbands who aren’t faithful, husbands who are difficult. But unless it’s a life-threatening situation, the Bible says that God hates divorce and so for me, I think it’s better to counsel on the conservative side because at least we know we’re pleasing God because the Bible says in (1Peter) Chapter 2 it says, “Slaves be submissive to your own masters even those who are difficult and unreasonable and you do this as unto Jesus because it pleases God when we suffer for what is righteous… Jesus when He was reviled kept entrusting Himself to God. And 1Peter Chapter 3 verse 1 says, ‘WIves, in the same way be submissive to your own husbands that even if they are disobedient to The Word they may be won without a word by their wives as they observe their chaste and respectful behavior so I think if we’re living to please God, we get our life from God and everything we do for our husband is for God…And Paul says we live to please God in everything that we do, that’s our ambition. So while it’s being said that a person can get divorced for certain reasons, you will never wrong by sticking it out for God to see what He can do… I’ve seen so many situations where women did not bail out early and their husbands were touched by God and are now serving God. I’ve seen other situations where women did not bail out and the husband has not much improved, but they have improved; and they become more like Christ as they learned how to forgive, to love unconditionally, to be controlled by the Spirit so that they can have a gentle and quiet spirit in the midst of the storms so to speak. So for any ladies that are in this situation…the Bible says that we have been made complete in Christ. He is the Lover of our Souls. He is the one that loves us the way we would want to be loved. And even if our husband is not loving us that way, we are a complete person and as we draw on the love of God through us, we can love our husband with Christ’s love and entrust him to God and let God deal with him. But in our case, we live for Jesus. [Big Beautiful Smile]
Yesterday, I called my friend Malu Ortiz to ask her to pray for me because I was scheduled to guest at the entrepreneurial inspiration/ encouragement show of Far East Broadcasting Corp. She agreed to pray for me and asked, “You want me to accompany you?” I said, “Sure!” She is regularly interviewed on the different shows at the station and knows how to get there too. (Her book, Ikaw Na Ang Maganda, is number 1 at OMF Literature and also now avaialable at Amazon. She has written three other noteworthy books and has been a longtime board member of the Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines as well!)
We were ushered in to a lounge to wait. She gave me some tips… “Try to relax and make it conversational, not ‘one question one answer’; try to make it Taglish to be understandable to a wider audience.” We prayed together for the Holy Spirit to fill and guide me on what to say and not to say that would bring encouragement to the listeners. One of the aims of the show is to inspire Filipinos to be entrepreneurs within the Philippines.
Having been encouraged by my former AIM Ventures in Entrepreneurship coach, Jay Bernardo who is founder of Let’s Go Foundation whose goal is “helping the economy by creating a nation of entrepreneurs,” this was something I have the heart to do. Carlo Calimon who is practically running Let’s Go now, working with the Department of Education to include Entrepreneurship in the High School curriculum, is one of my reliable go-to persons for business advice every now and then.
I agreed to guest not from the perspective of a teacher but of a student who is willing to share what she’s learned.
One of the hosts, Lemuel Reunir came to the lounge and we did a short run-through of my business story and that very much helped put me somewhat at ease because I already met him and he was kind and I had an idea what would happen when we go on air.
Later we were brought to the recording room talking about the challenges of being an entrepreneur, how my business started, the transition from being an employee to becoming an entrepreneur, the blessings of being one, and I don’t know exactly how it ended up that I sang a portion of two songs for the senior citizens listening, ” Sa Ugoy ng Duyan” and Laura Story’s “Blessings.”
When I used to have the luxury of time to have frequent lunches out (a.k.a. before the Kapitolyo shop opened), one of my restaurants of choice was Shangrila Mall’s Duck and Buvette, the baby of Chef Jackie Tan which I enjoyed with dear friends and family.
I love the food and service. I know for sure that if I go there, I will have an enjoyable experience. I see Jackie every now and then but when my designer, Joi, brought her over yesterday to the shop, I was delighted to have more Chatime with them both. I enjoyed listening to Jackie and her experiences. She is a hard worker, unspoiled by the privilege she grew up with. She goes around subbing in each and every work station of her restaurant whenever needed which she appreciates because it enables her to verify when someone says something is too hard to do or can’t be done, etc. She recalls the time she use to come in to work at 8am and go home at 2am cooking the ducks. She shared some of the challenges which I also experience now.
I confessed to her that it weighs me down when people say that I will get tired if I kept up the hands-on work I’m doing. I know people are concerned and caring that’s why they probably want to validate if I want to take a rest.
Oopsies!! Gee, would that not make me motivated to take on the challenge to be hardworking? 😊 I had so much time to sleep in before. 😁
When Peter told Jesus He shouldn’t suffer…
“Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”” Matthew 16:23
A regular chef would really work longer hours than I do and expect to do it even perhaps seven days a week.. I accepted this stewardship with open eyes knowing it’s not a glamor job but being quietly busy with my hands and seeking to please Him through my current work assignment. I can’t aspire to be a chef in theory if I am not willing to do the work in reality, right Self? Unless I am disabled from working or am really dead tired (which would promptly send me for a massage anyway), I pray that God’s sufficient grace will sustain me to joyfully be industrious at trying to do an excellent job. So please help me, God!
Thank You for the inspiration and friendship from Jackie. That was a timely visit and encouragement. May You continue to bless all the work of her hands according to Your glorious riches in Jesus’s name amen.
Yesterday, my dear designer, Joi Cutter came by with a chef I highly respect and whose food I crave a lot— Chef Jackie Tan of Duck and Buvette. I love her Romaine Salad with creamy garlic dressing and her Salted Caramel Ice Cream and everything in between. Over their lunch at the shop, I just appreciated being sandwiched by two inspiring women who are gifted and who love their craft— Joi in decorating and Jackie in cooking.
Joi and I had many wonderful adventures running around practically every hardware store in the city, sometimes even literally jumping up and down and giggling at some random aisle over our Eureka moments to quickly evolving challenges the construction presented.
After I met Malou Perez by chance at Lori Baltazar’s Dessert Comes First book (to which by God’s grace she made me a contributor), Malou’s partner Alix Angliongto was the one who responded to me by email on potential display stands they could prettify for my products.
It was Alix who didn’t tire of ecouraging me to improve my Petron shop. She even gave me for Christmas a beautifully bowed huge present which turned out to be design boards.
Such irresistibly attractive ideas but at that time, not having yet settled my issues with God about my business removed from my hand (in Cebuano, “hatag-bawi diay”) not understanding that the Lord gives and the Lord takes away for His good purposes, I was unfortunately sort of just waiting for my business to die a natural death.
But Alix did not give up. Every time we saw each other she still pitched the idea to improve my store until she said the words “vintage kitchen.”
That turned me on, got the Detroit Jewel oven and was ready to embark on a comeback after I dropped off my kids to university. But by the time I returned, Alix and Malou were occupied so Alix introduced me to her designer sister, Joi… who happened to be contemplating moving back to Manila to move her design business here after herself empty nesting.
Joi and I had our own stock of ideas that we put forth and our synergy was terrific, productive yet very en-Joi-able.
She patiently listened to what I had in mind and was very sisterly in sometimes giving in to things I really, really wanted. With a loving smile, a twinkle in her eyes and encouraging words, she would give her approval…. to the sewing machines, to benches she felt were too many, to upholstery combinations, and different things I already bought heeheeeheee. She had pitched in many an image for the function room garden mural and nudged me to buy the Bears we saw on one of our many shopping errands but because I did not yet have the peace that it was Just The One, she patiently waited. For weeksssssss. Looking back it must have been frustrating on her end but she was still all smiles.
She came up entirely on her own about the teacup chandeliers which to this day are a hit!
It was easy to trust her with my Royal Albert teacup stash that had been in my drawer for years knowing she would put holes in them and I would never be able to drink tea in them again. She didn’t break a single cup.
One day, I came late to the Kapitolyo construction site one day and didn’t get to say yet again for the second twice where the demarcation would be for the revised restroom wall. I didn’t want the hollow blocks torn down to correct the position of the wall so as not to waste time and materials.
Alas, our grand gorgeous plan for a loveleh loveleh loo needed a new one. Almost in tears, I told her, “Design Diva, you need to put on your thinking cap and let your genius creativity gestate a new plan.” She came back to me with the word “Outhouse.” And I reverted with a resounding eye-popping, springboard-jumping “YES!” And so one of the most popular, most photographed nooks in the shop was born.
Joi put order to the unleashed call to creativity and everything just came out Instagrammably pretty.
Before, during, and after construction, what a God-given blessing and Joi (!) to have the designer I have. What I love about her aside from her natural genius to come up with creative ideas and a solid framework to set our parameters to align everything to the theme is her dedication, commitment, and great uplifting attitude. She didn’t mind installing the nails herself when she needed to… even if she had to select a hefty stone somewhere in the rubble in the absence of a traditional hammer. She put time and thought into her suggestions, was willing to walk in step with me until the mere thoughts got translated into palpable material. She didn’t just thrust expensive pieces to me but was mindful that I was working within a budget. Yet, we didn’t sacrifice quality.
When you see her, she can be all glam but she didn’t mind all of the long day after long day we spent of grungy work amongst the dust mountains and makeshift pyramids of construction materials. I love that she’s a perfect diva without the diva attitude!:)
We blended right in with hardware people hauling our stuff and hanging on to the oversized materials with their hanging plastic bags on their ends that stuck out from the vans. I suffered withdrawal symptoms when those days were over.
Thank You, Lord for Joi and the women you placed alongside me for the journey. May You bless all the work of their hands and prosper them according to Your glorious riches in Jesus’s name amen.