And so the past month ended with us attending a beautiful garden wedding, and I knew we couldn’t have said goodbye to November any better.
My husband and I doubled as dessert buffet suppliers and invited guests to a friend’s wedding, and we have loved the excuse to take out his coat and my gown from the back of our closet and dress up for an unusual Saturdate.
It almost felt like stepping inside a different world!
Fernwood Gardens has changed a lot since the last time I was there. The glass garden is still as lush as ever, but they also opened a lounge area with a country feel in it, complete with a collection of vintage things. (I was completely blown away seeing an Underwood up close!)
It was the same venue of my brother’s wedding in 2008, and I remember inviting my ex-boyfriend to come be my date, but he was halfway across the world and naturally, was unable to make it.
Five years later, I was back in the very same place, this time, with him.
Can you tell I’m still swooning? (more…)
It was hard for me to blog about Yolanda. We posted a massive list of resources on the aftermath of the typhoon in our company blog, but as far as blogging how I felt about what’s happening, I was at a loss for words.
That’s how I usually feel, watching the news or browsing Facebook. At one point I even wished people would start posting selfies again, if only to get a break from the sad news that seemed to never end.
Young girls stare at the full moon outside a makeshift shelter in Tacloban. (CNN)
Yolanda came on the weekend of my Dad’s birthday, and while we celebrated the life of my Dad that day, we knew at the back of our minds that somewhere, people are grieving the death of their loved ones.
Even more devastating, that some parents are mourning the loss of their children.
They’re too young! They’re not supposed to go through something this tough. They’re not supposed to die.
And the babies! My heart bleeds for them. Dawn & Rain came out prematurely at 35 weeks and they needed incubation. I can not, for the life of me, imagine how those premature babies would survive without the aid of incubators.
Will they make it? Are their mommies going to be okay? Are they going to live to tell the story?
When I think about these children, a song plays in my mind like a gentle reassurance,
God has a special place in His heart for the little children, and the thought that He knows what He’s doing ends all questions and doubts.
It’s ironic how, the sight of these young typhoon survivors can easily break your heart and give you hope at the same time. (more…)
This post was inspired by a couple of things. (1) Timehop, (2) This day being Friday the 13th, (3) Septembers, (4) #throwbackthursday and #flashbackfriday and (5) This guy I shall call “J”, who my husband and I have been exchanging letters with since the start of the year. More about him later.
Based on my Timehop, the past Septembers have been full. I already blogged why I love Timehop. It’s a mobile app that pulls out posts and photos from your social networks, from the exact same day last year and the years before that, putting them together in this one message alert that you receive every morning.
Since the start of September, my Timehop has been on a roll. It inspired me to go over my journals, my blogs, and those old boxes that held some of my most treasured memories from the past Septembers.
D was ending his one-month vacation and flying back to New York the next day. As a final date, he took me to Penshoppe’s Denimlab Rockfest. What can I say, those were the kind of things I dig back then. At that time, we were just friends.
Photo: Couple selfie taken inside Araneta Coliseum that night. (Uso na selfie nung 2006.)
It’s been 7 years since that September night, and most of what happened then has become a blurry memory. But I do remember Imago singing their song “Akap”, my song for the night. I remember riding a cab after the concert and hearing the first Christmas carol of the year. I remember having coffee at Starbucks, Pearl Drive, until past 2am. I remember blogging about the concert. I remember D walking me back to my apartment—a moment that he managed to preserve in a song. And I remember struggling to say goodbye, not knowing that he was going to be my boyfriend one year later. (And my husband much later.)
For the first time since he left Manila in September 2006, he’s back, and for a reason. I made sure to document that time of our lives, not wanting to forget a single day.
Ending his one-week vacation here, he had to fly back to New York, with a 12 hour layover in Hong Kong. Crazy as it may sound, I bought round-trip tickets to Hong Kong just so I could spend those last 12 hours with him. Ahh, young (stupid) love!
And hey, that was the exact same day as today!
Photo: Taken while having breakfast at HK International Airport, an hour before his flight.
Sometimes I wonder why I put myself through all of these unnecessary torture, LOL. It was the saddest day ever, sending him off, alone in a foreign place. And yet I made the choice (and spent a ridiculous amount of cash), if only to spend a few more hours with him. As soon as his plane took off, I ran to the other side of the airport, and boarded my plane back to Manila.
It’s been 3 years since that bittersweet day in HK!
And here we are today.
Three long-stemmed roses from the husband are on top of my desk as I write this, and the twins are playing, screaming, and making a ruckus around the house. Looking back at the past Septembers, I can only laugh at all the silliness, and be thankful for the long-winding road that lead us to this day.
(A guy my husband and I have been exchanging letters with, who first messaged us through this blog.)
The point of this backtracking exercise is to acknowledge and appreciate how far the Lord has pulled us through. You may have read this blog from cover-to-cover (or page-to-page), and it may look like we had it easy. But there were long days, months, and years in between those dates I mentioned above.
In between those stories were long periods of uncertainty. Nights when we felt like giving up (and nights when we actually gave up.) Prayers that weren’t answered the way we expected. Days when it seemed like God didn’t care. Times when we were so sure we would never get back together ever.
We messed up, many times. We were impatient. We struggled to do things our own way. We had too many sidesteps and God had to pull us, break us, tear us, hurt us, so that He could keep us back where we’re supposed to be.
I pray that you find the courage to make better choices than we did. God knows the desires of your heart, He knows what He’s doing, and someday, you’ll see why you have to shed a few tears right now. :)
You know what happens when you turn 30? Nothing much, really, when you look at it on the basis of day-to-day activities. You probably still do the same kind of job, you’re most likely still in love with the same person you’ve been in love with for the past 5 years, you still fit in the same sets of clothes, your looks probably hasn’t changed all that much.
But when you zoom out and look at how your life has changed year, after year, after year, you’ll find yourself rhetorically asking yourself, how on earth did I end up here again?
I turned 30 years old about three months ago, and some of you probably remembers that I’ve always wanted to post something like this on my 30th birthday. Three months in the making, here’s my attempt at putting together a 30-item list of lessons I learned in the past 3 decades. Some of these items may not apply to everyone, some of them others may not agree with, but all of them are based on my personal experience and are proven true in this life of mine.
And surely I learned more than just 30 lessons in the past 30 years. I’m just sharing the ones I remember so well, hoping that you’ll pick up a thing or two. :)
Our darling twins, eyes glued to the TV screen as they watch their new favorite show.
As for me, the real show was the one happening right in front of me.
This is the usual morning scenario at home, the twins starting the day with Veggie Tales. For now, their attention span lasts the first 3-5 minutes of the show, where Larry the Cucumber and Bob the Tomato sing and dance their usual opening number. The moment they hear Larry start playing his tuba, they drop whatever they’re doing and turn their eyes to the screen.
As for me and my husband, we spend the first 3-5 minutes watching them, entertained by the expressions on their faces.
When Larry and Bob are done with their opening song, we can’t help but consume a little Veggie Tales ourselves. We take one baby each and have them sit on our laps (so that they won’t crawl around and get distracted), and the four of us watch the show together.
Admittedly, Dawn & Rain are not the only ones hooked. My husband downloaded about a dozen episodes and was planning to have a Veggie Tales marathon. We think Veggie Tales is written not for the babies, but for the Moms, Dads, and adults who accompany the babies watch the show. The script contains intelligent jokes, Biblical truths, and wise words that apparently are more relevant for adults than for babies.
One of our favorite Veggie Tales episodes is Gideon the Tuba Warrior. Yesterday as I was watching it with Dawn & Rain (for the Nth time), this dialogue between Gideon the Cucumber and Angel Grape spoke to me and cut deep into my heart just when I needed it.
Gideon: “Do you ever have a hard time trusting God?”
Angel: “Me? Nah. I see Him every day. I know how glorious He is. I know He never breaks His promise. I also know how much He loves you, as He told me.”
Angel: “You know what I think? I think you’re doing great. It’s easy for an angel to trust God, but you have faith in something you’ve never even seen! I admire that. Trust Him Gideon, He’ll never let you down.”
The angel left and Gideon started praying:
“Hey God, it’s me. You and I both know I can’t do this on my own. But You can. And that’s good enough for me. I pray that You’d be with us tonight and that Your will be done. That’s it I guess. Oh, one more thing. You could have chosen anybody but You chose me. Thanks. Amen.”
In that short moment I found myself praying Gideon’s prayer too.
Gideon’s battle was different, but how many times have we felt the way he did? Like we’re fighting a battle that’s beyond our capacity and strength? We wonder if God made a mistake choosing us for a specific task. We find our circumstances a little too much to carry. We often cry out to God, “Lord I can’t do it on my own, help me!”
Last week we had to take care of two sick, cranky and clingy babies, and we had to do that on top of errands, work, extra-income work, and a Sweet Dreams event we had to cater over the weekend. Ohh the stress, the anxiety, and the sleepless nights. All I wanted to do was to nurse the babies and hold them close until they’re well, but I couldn’t abandon the other responsibilities too.
And there I found comfort in a TV show for kids.
Sometimes all we need to keep going is someone affirming us that we’re doing just fine.
To remind us that God never breaks His promises. That He never lets His children down. That the battles we face are not really ours, but His. That He never makes mistakes in choosing us for a specific task, and when He does choose us, we become the best persons for it.
Beautiful truths to be reminded of in an ordinary day. And by a talking cucumber no less.
I wouldn’t have remembered that this blog turned 4 years old if I didn’t receive an email from a stranger yesterday asking me why my site was down. Followed up by another email from a friend, and 2 private messages on Facebook, asking me the same thing.
See, my domain registration expires every 19th of June and I forgot to renew yesterday, which caused the downtime. Thanks, you guys, for letting me know.
I’ve always thought of this website as my “baby”, but I’m so glad that it’s not a real breathing baby because that means I’m a horrible mother for always forgetting her birthday. #badblogger
Disclaimers aside, hooray for four years! Of blogging. Of life. Of love. Of chasing dreams.
On June 19, 2009, I registered this domain name after so many years of hopping from one blog host to another. I don’t usually reference old blog posts because they’re embarrassing, at least those from 3-10 years ago, but just for today I invite you to CLICK HERE and read my first ever blog here at Chasingdreams.net. It’s embarrassing, I have to reiterate, because I ranted a lot of nonsense and negativity in that first post, but go ahead, READ IT ANYWAY. :)
Because I want you to see how much has changed from that day until now.
How I once saw my life as a tragedy, a failure.
How I registered a happy-sounding domain name to conceal my feelings of frustration and rejection.
How I merely wanted a place where I could express myself, not caring about what people would think.
And I want you to see how God has redeemed me and turned things around since then.
Four years later, this place has transformed into something more than just a venue for self-expression, or a sounding board when I’m feeling sad or frustrated about my life. Somewhere between then and now, Chasingdreams.net has become bigger than myself and my dreams.
I like to think that I’ve grown somehow since then. And I know it’s not for me to say if my growth is obvious in the way I write or think, but I know in my heart that I’ve grown. I feel it. Because every time I start to write something, my mind zooms into that random stranger who would someday land on these pages, and I think about what she’s going through and how I could make a difference in her life.
Or I think about my babies, and how my thoughts (and the things I write about them) would impact their lives soon as they start reading and making sense out of these things.
Or I think about the chance, however small, that the stuff I write would encourage someone out there who’s going through a tough ordeal in her life, a heart break, a loss.
You have no idea how these things cross my mind and make me restless every single day—How I can make an impact to at least one person. How I can be a constant source of inspiration to my circles of influence. How I can make a difference in this world.
To you who never get tired reading this stuff.
To you who approach me on Sunday afternoons to tell me how a post I’ve written resonates well with how you feel or what you think.
To you who get out of your way to leave me a comment or send me an email, short or long.
To you who lurk and not say anything—whoever you are, your hits are counted.
To you who lurk and not say anything, and then tell me months later that you’ve been lurking. ;)
To you who inspire me to keep writing and never quit chasing my dreams.
Finally, to the three of you with whom I start and end each day, whom God has so graciously used to make a wife, a mother, and a better person out of this once lost and purpose-less girl that I was..
Thank you. You’re God-sent. The least I can do is to pay it forward and to strive to be a blessing to others like you’ve been a blessing to me. It’s a tough call to impose upon one’s self, but allow me to do just that. :)
Base image found in Pinterest, addition of filter and words by me. Is this photo yours? Let me know so I can give you the credit.
Normally, when you keep doing something over and over again, you get better at it. It’s the reason why musicians practice all the time, and athletes go through regular trainings. Repetition does wonders in honing a skill.
Sadly, saying goodbye doesn’t work that way.
No matter how many times you had to watch a person leave, the process just doesn’t get easier. And no matter how many times you said “good bye” in the past, the next time breaks your heart worse than the last.
Few weeks ago, our friend Robert (the guy I was talking about in this post) left the Philippines to be with his wife in London. I’ve gotten so used to having him around all the time—knocking on our door in his pambahay and unbrushed hair (sometimes unbrushed teeth! lol) as if our house is an extension of his living room. He’s the “older brother I never had” as I would always tell him, and when my husband was adjusting to life back here in Manila, he was one of his first few friends.
And suddenly he’s gone.
Last week, another friend Joana (one of the girls I was talking about in this post) left the Philippines to migrate to California with her family. I’ve always wanted to have a sister, I guess that’s why I channeled all of that energy to girlfriends like J. She’s my prayer partner for years, she’s one of my bridesmaids, a part of my cell group, my nephew’s godmother, and now she’s my daughters’ godmother too—that’s just about the list of titles she’s claimed in my life.
And now she’s gone.
Tl;dr. In a span of a month, two people who are huge parts of my life left for good, taking pieces of me with them, and I’ve been struggling with their (physical) absence and the finality of their departures since.
But how can I not be happy for them?
Robert reunited with his wife Tin, and they finally started their married life together after months of LDR. And Joana and her family’s immigrant visas were approved after decades of waiting and praying for them. These are good news!
To be sad about people leaving is borderline selfish. And to be happy with their absence feels wrong too. On one hand you’re sad to see people go, and you know that life (as you know it) is never going to be the same again. On the other hand, you’re happy to see their prayers answered and their dreams come true before their eyes.
So you find yourself in between two strong emotions that pull and tear your heart apart in two extremely opposite directions. It’s crazy, in a bipolar kind of way.
As one who experienced a lot of moving around in her younger years, and went through a torturous long distance relationship, saying good bye to places and to people I love is the hardest. At one point I thought I’ve gotten used to saying good bye, but as I grow older, I often wish I would never go through that kind of pain ever again.
But things change. Time flies. People leave. That’s just the way it is. Change involves pain, and pain forces us to grow. It causes us to see situations with eternal eyes, and teaches us the art of letting God do His thing. It helps us loosen our grip off tangible things—people, places, routines; and causes us to embrace the more important things, the ones that last forever—friendships, memories, lessons learned, love that transcends space and time.
When we look at saying good bye that way, it’s not such a bad thing after all.