Life in the time of corona

Hello, everybody! After almost three years of hiatus, I am finally back to blogging. I don’t know if this will last for a long time or only for a little while, but what’s important is I am here now.

The reason I decided to create content again is because the world is living in a very interesting time. 2020 – the start of a new decade really took us by surprise. Many people, I think, were so pumped up about the new year because there’s just something about a new decade that really makes us feel so invincible, like, this is the perfect time to start something new or to end something old, or something like that.

But then alas, 2020 came, together with its slew of bad news. The first month of the year greeted the Philippines with a volcanic eruption. Then there was the issue between U.S. and Iran that almost led them to the brink of war. Just before January ended, we saw the loss of a basketball superstar, Kobe Bryant. And now we are in the midst of a global pandemic as the COVID-19 virus continues to plague the world.

The Philippines, like most other parts of the world, is in quarantine. We are now on Day 45. My family and I have taken shelter in our home, and I just can’t thank God enough that we have a home to shelter in at this time. The small stuff, especially those that are usually taken for granted, now seem so important. There’s just something about experiencing a pandemic that makes people realize that life is so fleeting, like a cloud of smoke hovering above a newly cooked ramyeon.

As for me, I’ve taken shelter under the wings of my Savior. Recently I was reminded of how Jesus, when he and his disciples were crossing the lake on a boat, calmed the storm that was making the disciples tremble with fear. They shouted at Jesus, asking him, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” Just like the disciples, I think we are asking God the same thing about this pandemic. Doesn’t God care about us? Doesn’t he care that people are dying because of this virus?

It’s a fair question to ask. And God is not fazed with our questions. I mean, how many people in the Bible have cried out to him, complained even, questioning why God has allowed hardship in their lives?

I really can’t answer why God is allowing these things. There are so many theories circulating online telling us different reasons why this pandemic is happening. But at the end of the day, I hope that we realize that that’s all they are — theories. We are not God, therefore we will never know the real reason why this is happening. His ways are higher than our ways. And I imagine that all those theories do not even represent 5% of the truth.

But you know what I know? I know that God is above this. Just like how Jesus was above the storm. This pandemic is not going to be the finality of everything in our lives. God is working for the good of those who love him. He is a promise-keeper and He is faithful. And so because of that, we can expect that we can still have an abundant life after corona.

 

Every Season

A few years ago, I read an article about how we should see life in terms of seasons. There is wisdom in that, I thought, as it gives one hope that hardships may only be for a time and not forever. Equally, a period of intense blessing also lasts for a while before another season starts anew. This humbles us as we experience the inexplicable happiness we get from a season of blessing. It teaches us to plant both feet on the ground at all times as we never know when life will throw in the punches.

After a tiring but very exciting season of building, I am now back to a season of slowing down and enjoying the fruit of that season. Whenever I stop and sit and appreciate every detail of our home, I feel so overwhelmed at how God had worked everything out so perfectly. This house was built in faith, I tell you. Left to ourselves, we never could have afforded everything but He sent blessing after blessing after blessing AT JUST THE RIGHT TIME. It is amazing how when you entrust everything to the Lord, He will take it and give you something more. Much, much more.

God knows how many times worry had crept in on my mind during the years of saving up for this house. Only by surrendering everything to Him was I able to feel peace to get on with my days.

In a few weeks I am about to enter another busy season as I attend my last term in grad school. (Hello, Thesis!) I relish the days I have now — slow, sometimes unthinking, just going through the motions of life. Just the same I thank God for this season for it allows me to deposit countless hours in my family’s love tank and make time for friends I haven’t seen in a while.

Every season is beautiful and purposeful if you take time to reflect on it. A season of pruning moulds your character, a season of blessing makes you appreciate life more, and a season of quiet makes you realize what really matters.

Where did January go?

 

Today is the last day of the first month of the new year and I find myself thinking, “where did my January go?” And because my 33 year old brain has already stored quite a lot of memories, I now rely on external tools to help me remember what happened to my days, a.k.a. my planner.

At the start of the year, I read somewhere that one way to make the most of the year is to live each day such that when you look back at the end, you’ll be happy with what you did. It’s like breaking down your year into bite-sized pieces – and that takes the pressure off trying to live a great year, right? You count your days, do your best everyday and before you know it, the whole year is over. Much like this January. I feel like I’ve only just reeled back from the holiday season and now it’s over.

So where did my January go?

My birthday wish last year was to spend my birthday at a nice hotel where I can relax with my family. So we checked in at Conrad on my birthday and we got to watch fireworks by the bay on New Year’s.

The next day, Lex finally gave in to my coaxing to do a number on the potty. The first time Lex pooped in the toilet. What a great milestone to start the year! As I write this, he has been fully potty trained during the day and is in the process of potty training at night. They say it takes longer to potty train at night but I also know that it won’t last forever. So I just enjoy it.

We’re officially homeowners! January also marks a big milestone for our family as we accepted our very first home. We are a few months shy of moving out of our current home. I will miss this house but I couldn’t be any happier living in our very own space.

I finished my first fast. Every year, our church (Every Nation) starts the year with a week of prayer and fasting. This year is the first time I participated and incredibly, I lasted up until the end with only liquids and one meal a day to sustain me. Looking forward to the mid-year fasting. I feel like there were some things that I could still improve on in my prayer life during the fast.

Annual financial and household planning. We do this every year since Mon and I got married. We plot our projected income and expenses for the year to see what few “luxuries” we can afford but still end the year having more than what we had at the start. Like this year we know that we cannot afford any major travel what with the bulk of our expenses going to house furnishings and such.

Manila Ocean Park for Lex’s birthday. We decided on that venue because I saw how happy he was when we went to Singapore Zoo and River Safari last year. He had a blast! We were even surprised that he enjoyed the Fish Spa. We thought he was going to be averse with the idea of fish munching on his feet but he was actually very welcoming about it. Days after our little excursion, he kept on telling us, “I want to see fish in Manila Ocean Park!”

Pondering over the purpose and direction of this blog. I still haven’t decided what to do with this actually. I am in the middle of a blog redesign and I still have a lot of aspects to fix. Right now I’m just focusing on the content first so that when I re-launch it, people will have something interesting to read.

Lex is becoming more proficient in reading. He started reading sight words when he was just two years old. Now he can actually read CVC words easily and is starting to read words with consonant blends. He can also read numbers up to hundreds. I am so proud of this boy and how an amazing learner he is.

The life-changing magic of tidying up. Marie Kondo’s Spark Joy is currently in my reading list (along with Daphne Paez’s Chic and Emily Ley’s Grace Not Perfection). I think it is very timely that I’m reading the book now (I’ve had it in a while) as we are about to move into our own home. I’m in the middle of discarding clothes and I feel lighter already. Hahaha. Chos.

I made a commitment to say no to the little things that do not bring value. Starting with limiting time spent in social media. I noticed that when Lex often sees me on my phone, he wants to use a gadget as frequently also. But when I started limiting my screen time, Lex doesn’t borrow a gadget as much anymore and instead just wants to play with real toys.

John Legend’s All of Me. Ok, nevermind that I liked it years after the record came out. It’s not even too popular these days. But last night I was watching Chanyeol’s rendition of it in YouTube and something just clicked. Now I love it. LSS to the maxxx.

Wow, this has been a long list of milestones and events. Writing it down now, I can’t believe so many things had happened in just a span of one month.

If you’ve had a great month, I hope it continues on for you. And if not, I pray that your character will be enriched by your circumstances. May you have a great rest of the year!

Year-end prayer 2016

It is a little early for a year-end prayer but today I just felt like writing one. I hope amid the busy Christmas season, you also find time to thank the LORD for the year that is about to end, and to pray for your plans next year.

MANY ARE THE PLANS IN A PERSON’S HEART,
BUT IT IS THE LORD’S PURPOSE THAT PREVAILS. 
(PROVERBS 19:21)

 

Dear God,

First of all, thank you for opening worlds for me this 2016. Thank you for allowing me to realize things about myself and to think of ways on how to move forward. Thank you for your mercies and forgiveness, as it allows me to forgive the people that wronged me.

Thank you for revealing yourself to me. I have never known you as much as I know you now. I am eternally grateful for Your love. I pray that next year will be another milestone in our relationship.

LORD, I have many goals for 2017 and beyond and I am praying for alignment to your purposes. I recognize that I have many plans but ultimately it is Your purpose that prevails. You know what is in my heart and You know that those plans and desires were made first to honor You and second to celebrate the person that You have created me to be. I offer it all up to you. Use my talents and my skills to advance Your Kingdom here on earth in one way or another.

And LORD, starting this very moment until I lay to rest, help me to constantly think less of me and more of You. I can only do things through Your strength and that’s the only way I want it to be. Enable me to fulfill your plans and purposes for me.

As always, thank you for your provisions, for our good health, for our milestones as a family. We are living victorious lives because You love us. Thank you for loving us despite us. You are really a loving and merciful God. There is none like You. I love you, Daddy.

Your daughter,
Jen

No place I’d rather be

My baby boy stirred beside me, rousing me from my slumber. It was midnight. And although I’ve actually been sleeping for only a couple of hours, it certainly feels like my body has regained much strength, as if I’ve already slept for 8 hours rather than two. I felt my bladder screaming release and got quite annoyed because going to the bathroom at this hour only means two things. I’m going to fully awaken my sleeping brain and spend the rest of the night awake, or I can crawl my way to the bathroom and convince my semi-awake brain into thinking that I am still asleep and to not let go of what little sleep is left. Unfortunately (or fortunately!), it was the former.

I succumbed to my desire to check my social media accounts in the middle of the night and after about half an hour into it, I gently rolled over to my husband’s side and whispered that I can’t sleep. Unfortunately for me, the husband has not an ounce of strength to spare to keep me company. He dozed off before I even finished my sentence.

And so there I lay in my state of wakefulness, staring into what just earlier in the night were fully charged glow-in-the-dark stars in our bedroom ceiling and decided to write down my one and only thought.

The reality of the moment is this, I am squished in between my sleeping husband and baby. And as I feel the warmth of their bodies on either side of me, I think, there is no place I would rather be than here. I may be the only one awake at this time but I don’t feel alone at all. My heart is full.

I smile as I offer up a silent prayer to the Lord, thanking Him for His goodness and grace. And for the gift of here and now.

As I stare at my son in the darkness, I can see the outlines of his face, the gentle waves of his hair, the slight pout of his lips, and I think, “Hey, little guy, you look just like me!” I smell his hands, catching a whiff of milk that had dried up from his most recent feeding. I memorise his scent. I stay this way for a while, staring, drinking him in, until finally a bout of sleepiness envelopes me and I sleep, deeply and blissfully into the night.