Tempted to say “That’s not fair!”? Remember this!

I’ve found myself saying “That’s not fair!” numerous times this month. It’s a phrase that’s so easy to just throw out whenever I felt that privileges were being taken away from me. In my case, it was the one month suspension of Uber.

But we won’t be talking about that.
We’re talking about the phrase “That’s not fair!”.

"That's not fair!"

Now I can’t even remember when I started saying this. Was it in high school when we had to have make up classes when it wasn’t our fault classes were cancelled in the first place? Or could it be traced back to my childhood years when I had to go home even if my neighborhood friends were still playing outside.

I didn’t see anything wrong at the time. I just wanted things to be fair! Little did I know, this phrase revealed so much about how entitled I was. I may as well have said God was keeping blessings from me. Ugh, heart check please?!

I came across this article which talked about how we should stop kids from saying this phrase and I was inspired to share these points with you:

1. You’re right, that’s not fair!

It’s not fair that I’m here complaining about being inconvenienced by Uber’s suspension when I know people who endure the hard, daily commute because it’s cheaper and they cannot afford using other means of transportation. It’s not fair that I get to share my thoughts with you when there are those crying for their voices to be heard.

Some may have pointed at me before saying, “That’s not fair!”, and, truth is, they have a much better case.

2. You really don’t want life to be fair.

We all have our measures of what is right and what is wrong but the problem is we’re human and not God. God is the one who truly holds the scale and the Bible tells us that He has been nothing but gracious towards us.

Because of His mercy, we do not receive His judgment. Instead, we receive His grace. God is fair but He is also just and merciful.

You know what’s unfair though? That Jesus would be the one to go down from heaven to receive the ultimate punishment for our sins just so we could have a restored relationship with God.

3. A heart of ingratitude and entitlement is evidence of a deeper problem with God.

This struck me the most. Whenever we feel entitled, it’s as if we’re telling God that we don’t trust Him to be our Father who can take care of our needs, love us and care for us. Not only that, our ingratitude shows that we think we know better than God about what is good for us.

Oh how terrible I felt! Every time I said “That’s not fair!”, I was telling God that He hasn’t done things as evenly as I would. Can you believe me? A sinful human, claiming to know more than our Almighty Father!

So what’s the solution?

Remember the Gospel. We have to remind ourselves that Jesus IS enough. God provided us with all that we need. Jesus dying on that cross for our sins is the greatest gift we could ever receive. Anything else we ask for pales in comparison.

Once we truly understand the Gospel, we begin to develop a healthier sense of justice. Instead of looking at what we don’t have, we start looking at others who are suffering and we get involved in fighting the injustice around us. By giving up our own entitlement for the sake of others, we become a small light that attracts those to the Kingdom of God.

 

Do you have any stories of entitlement? Feel free to share them with me!

Thoughts after a year of losing a loved one

My father passed away on the morning of July 14, 2016 at the age of 86. It’s only been a year but I still find myself silently grieving. Losing a loved one is always hard, especially when it’s a parent. The past year brought about so many changes but it also brought out so many lessons. Here are some that I’d love to share with you.

Thoughts on losing a loved one

1. Grief is different for everyone.

As a Christian, I believe that as long as you have a relationship with Jesus Christ then you will go to heaven. Death only means that we would be reunited with our heavenly Father. I kept reminding myself of this fact during my dad’s final weeks. It brought me comfort at first but it was different when he finally passed away.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)

I don’t think I cried as much as I should have. I just ended up feeling numb. It was only during the start of this year when I really gave myself time to grieve. And I realized that it wasn’t really for my dad’s sake; I grieved for my own sake, because I was going to be living a life without him in it.

2. You are not alone.

Sometimes I felt like I was alone in my grief but I was reminded that God knows my hurt. He placed people in my life to get me through the tough times. From my family, friends, to my support groups God reminded me every day that I wasn’t alone. I had friends who came to see me as soon as they heard and friends who visited more than once. Even my office was very supportive, they had set up a van to bring people to and from the wake after office hours. I also received messages of comfort from those who have gone through what I was going through, and a lot of them were always around to help.

3. The first year of losing a loved one is the hardest

It’s like joining a club you never wished to be a part of. It’s my first birthday, first family reunion, first Christmas, and first New Year all over again. Let’s not forget those little milestones of life in between. Each event was like a jarring reminder of what I’ve lost in the year. I’d like to believe that I came out stronger from it though. Just knowing I got through the first year gives me comfort. It was definitely easier knowing that I still had a heavenly father watching over me, and what a loving father He is!

4. Forgive yourself

There are times when I catch myself recalling past disagreements and arguments. Sometimes, I even feel like I didn’t do enough show my dad I loved him.

I’m reminded that as humans we’re not perfect and our relationships may reflect this. Shortcomings and mistakes happen on both sides and we have to remember that this is all in the past. Whatever happened has happened and we cannot change this. The sooner we accept this, the sooner we let go of the guilt and remember the happier times instead. And these are the memories we want to remember.

5. Losing a loved one doesn’t define you, but it does change you

Even if we don’t want change, we will have to accept it. And we’ll be ready when we feel it. Happiness will come and we will learn to live again. I’m currently proof of this. Broken crayons still color so let God use our brokenness to create something beautiful.

If you’re still reeling from a loss and need someone to talk to, send me a message and I’ll be available to chat. My prayers are with you and your family. We’ll get through this. I promise.

Thoughts on losing a loved one
They say I look more like him than my mom.

Facebook blocked me for three days!

Some of you may have already known this but Facebook blocked me this whole weekend. Apparently, I uploaded a video five years ago that infringes copyright. If I remember correctly, the video was from a dance class and it was most likely a Beyonce song.

Facebook blocked me for three days!

It wasn’t fun. I hated being Facebook blocked. I couldn’t send messages, engage on posts, or play Everwing. (Whew, I know. Priorities right?) So many updates and tagged photos went by and I couldn’t interact.

But I felt like I did deserve to be blocked for copyright infringement so I decided to be patient. It’s a bit sad though; suddenly Facebook isn’t a good platform for dancers to share their art. I wasn’t alone in this whole fiasco. In fact, some people had it worse. Imagine Facebook deactivating your account. That doesn’t sound good. (Now I’m wondering if I should be reviewing my videos to see if I have other risky uploads?)

However, I do believe Facebook could have at the very least given me the option of taking down the video myself rather than block me right away. It’s been five years since I uploaded the video,  I would have gladly taken it down had they asked me to.

Still it looks like I’m moving my video content to Youtube in the future. At least they notify me if I’m uploading anything I shouldn’t.

Have any of you encountered a similar situation?
What do you think of Facebook’s strict rules?

Feel free to leave a comment below to let me know about it!

I’m starting an attitude of gratitude

I’ve decided to start an attitude of gratitude. Generally, I’d like to think of myself as a grateful person but lately I found myself struggling. Waking up is hard to do and just thinking about the day ahead makes me grumpy. There are times when I feel overwhelmed with too much work. Other times, I feel unproductive. I felt stuck in a vicious cycle of routines and I was getting tired of it.

In fact, I relate to the prophet Elijah at this very moment:

while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”

(1 Kings 19:4)

How many times do we feel like giving up? I’m pretty sure we’ve all been in situations like this because let’s face it, life IS tiring. So what did Elijah do?

Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.

All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.

(1 Kings 19:5-6)

What do we notice in the passages above?

  1. He slept. Most of the time the reason we’re too tired is because we’re not getting enough rest. And rest is valuable. It enables us to do our best, like a fully charged battery.
  2. When he woke up, he had food and water ready for him. It wasn’t a feast, but it was enough and it got him through the day.

The next day, the angel came back and he was fed again!

The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.

(1 Kings 19:7-8)

Isn’t it amazing how God was with him, to give him strength? We should be thankful to have such a caring Father! He provides for us and He sustains us.

And this is why I really want to start an attitude of gratitude. Sometimes we take the little things God does for us for granted. It’s because we’re always looking for the “best”. It may be the best food, best phone, best drink, best bag, best car, or whatever. But God holds a different standard of what’s best for us. The question is, are we grateful for it?

Attitude of Gratitude

I challenge you to take some time in the morning to think about three things you’re grateful for. Not only will this teach you an attitude of gratitude but it does get you in a pleasant mood for the day! Join me in trying out for the next week!

Curious about what I’m thankful for today? Here’s my list:

  1. I woke up to a gentle breeze from the electric fan today. Usually I get cranky in the morning because I get itchy from the heat (I sleep by the window). Now that the rainy season is here, I get to wake up all cozy wrapped up in a blanket.
  2. My mom wasn’t going to work today so I get to leave the house on my own time. I went from 70 minutes late yesterday to 3 minutes late today. Well, I’m still late but it’s an improvement! I was already in such a good mood that it didn’t matter.
  3. Since I knew my workload for the day, I knew I could go home early. I had already paced myself with the workload for the past few days and I’d like to think I’m going to end the week strong!

And that’s it. Simple as that. I hope you consider making your own lists in the morning.
Feel free to share them with me if you are! 🙂

My iPhone 6 gave up on me, but I’m okay!

I’ve had my iPhone 6 for more than a year now. It’s not an iPhone 6 plus or an iPhone 6s but it does the job. Maybe a little too much. With it’s inevitable death I realized how much I relied on my phone for even the most mundane things. I could hear Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman ask, “you let that little device tell you what to do?”

I’ve switched to a cheap android phone in the meantime. The basic functions such as messaging and calling were there and I could even install a couple of apps for entertainment but that was it. I couldn’t really plan out my calendar, check my emails and track my day but it was enough.

And that’s what I learned.

Sometimes, enough IS enough.
  • I may not have the fanciest phone but I can still use it to communicate with my friends and family.
  • I may not have the best camera but it can capture memories just the same.
  • Its features aren’t exceptional but I can rely on my phone in case of an emergency

Most of the time that’s all you need.

I’m grateful that my mom has a spare phone and we didn’t have to buy a new one. My iPhone is currently being repaired and I hope it comes back with all my photos and videos intact. It’s all I’m hoping for right now because those memories are very precious to me. Also hoping that when I get my phone back I won’t be as hooked on it as before. Consider this my pruning period or withdrawal stage from a life perpetually glued to my phone.

How about you? Have you been hooked too much to your phone lately?
I pray you find time disconnect even for a few hours just to see how different it is. 🙂

Surviving the Resorts World Manila Attack

The Resorts World Manila Attack

The Resorts World Manila Attack started at around midnight on June 2, 2017 when a lone gunman by the name of Jesse Javier Carlos entered the second floor of the Resorts World Manila casino area. In the CCTV footage released, he started setting fire to the gaming tables, slot machines, and chairs but did not shoot anyone. He entered a storage room and started filling a backpack with casino chips. When it seemed like he had lost all hope, the gunman hid in Room 510 of Maxim’s Hotel and set the room on fire before shooting himself in the head.

At least 37 people died due to suffocation, their last moments were spent hiding in the bathroom or storage rooms. Among the 35 confirmed dead, 22 were guests while 13 were Resorts World Manila employees. Over 70 people were also confirmed to have suffered minor injuries during the stampede to escape. Some even broke the windows from the second floor and jumped to safety.

Read more about the attack here.

My experience

My mom, Edd and I had just finished Wonder Woman and started to get hungry. We decided to eat inside the casino at Victoria Harbour Cafe in the first floor since it was around midnight and most of the restaurants in Newport Mall were already closed.

Once we gave our orders, we started hearing a commotion from the gaming area. I looked over my shoulder to see people running. At first I thought that people were running towards someone who hit the jackpot. It took me around two seconds to figure out they were actually running away.

My mom, Edd, and I rushed to the cashier area at the back where we gathered with other guests. At that point, everyone was already making speculations. Some whispered about hooded figures carrying guns while some guessed that ISIS was in the vicinity. I told my mom to stay low and everyone else followed suit. Edd remained with the staff at the wings, trying to catch a glimpse of what was going on.

People were stampeding towards the exits. Some were even pushing each other down the escalator and stairs. And then an eerie silence descended. The people left in the ground floor were hiding underneath tables and hiding behind slot machines. No one had a clue how many shooters were in the building and where they were.

“May exit sa kusina. Pwede tayo lumabas doon,” we heard a staff member say.
(There’s an exit in the kitchen. We can get out there.)

Slowly and carefully, people started gathering their courage and stood up. We stepped out to the gaming area and ran towards the kitchen. People were starting to shove and I could hear the staff telling people to be careful. Suddenly I found myself speaking the same instructions to the people I was rushing with. Some were already pleading for the people behind us to stop shoving. I had lost sight of Edd but I could see my mom not too far from me.

Once out of the kitchen we found ourselves in a hallway leading towards the exit. And then we heard gunshots from the other side. Panic induced, people started running back where we came from. In that cramped hallway, I saw my mom rush into the room where all the fuses and generators were. I think Edd caught sight of us and followed us inside.

Four other people joined us in the room, one included a Korean who had a hard time understanding what was going on. Kuya Jason was one of the men who joined us. He broke a mop and opted to use the shaft as a weapon. He handed the other end to Edd who was already looking like he was ready to fight should the need arise.

We stayed in that room for a long time. The sound of gunshots echoing around us.

“Delikado tayo dito. Mamamatay tayo dito (We’re in danger here. We’re going to die here),” Kuya Jason would whisper every now and then. We stayed there for an hour. I said a prayer for each of the people with us. When smoke started to enter and cover the room I had to instruct the people to wet their clothes and breathe through them just to keep them from suffocating. I had already started messaging my closest friends telling them that I love them. If I was going to die, I wanted them to hear about love and nothing else.

Fortunately some of them were awake and keeping me updated about what was happening outside. They told us to stay low, by the vents, and keep calm because the police were already outside. It was just a matter of surviving until they found us. But the gunshots kept coming and the smoke was getting thicker. We had to make a choice: die inside waiting or die outside trying.

When things were quiet, Kuya Jason made a run for it followed by one of the ladies and the Korean who accidentally shut the door on the rest of us. Unfortunately, only a keycard from an employee could open the door. Edd had left his mop-weapon and was busy trying to figure out how to open the door. Adrenaline rush got to him and he managed to muscle the door open so we could enter the kitchen again.

The smoke was a bit thicker inside the kitchen. When we entered the gaming area again, Resorts World Manila employees found us and signaled for us to run towards the farthest exit. I let my mom rush ahead and had to keep looking back for Edd who was assisting the lola in the room with us.

Most of the employees were gathered near the exit, looking out for friends that weren’t with them. All of us were then rushed outside to Remington Hotel where all the injured were being taken care of. We didn’t stay there long for fear of the situation getting worse. We took a cab and just got out of the area as quickly as possible.

My thoughts

The Resorts World Manila Attack was traumatizing but I was surprisingly at peace as everything unfolded. I found comfort in knowing that God is always in control. In the room, I could think about nothing else but praying for the people around me. I was scared, obviously. My hands were shaking even as I held people’s hands. I prayed for courage amidst the chaos and I prayed for peace whatever the outcome. I was already with my family and they know I love them so I also messaged my friends expressing the same love. If I were to die then and there, I wouldn’t have any regrets.

I did worry about the aftermath of our deaths though. How would our friends and teammates grieve? Would they blame us for being there? How would those who knew what happened explain this to the others?

It was a terrible night but it could been worse. Normally, only Edd and I would be watching the movie and my mom would be waiting for us inside the casino. Imagine if this all happened and we weren’t together? I thanked the Lord so much for covering us and protecting us.

The next day I started to feel survivor’s remorse. Could we have done more to save those who were trapped? My heart broke after finding out that they died of suffocation. No one had saved them in time.

I questioned God. Where was He while all this was happening? Why did people die?

But I was reminded that He was there with us. He is always there for everyone. He is gracious and He is sovereign. Even in those last moments, I believe He was with them. Why? Because He loves us.

I don’t always understand God’s plans. He works in ways that are unusual and beyond our comprehension.
But it’s in times like these that we should lift everything up to Him saying, “I trust You with this.”

My prayer

If you have lost someone in the attack, I pray you find comfort in the Lord. It is a painful loss and you are not alone in your grief. I stand with you. For the survivors, I pray we do not take our second chance at life lightly. May we be more intentional in our words and actions and seek excellence in all aspects of our lives.

For the government and the authorities, may we learn a lot from this tragedy. It’s true that this attack could have been prevented but I would like to believe that you did your best given the circumstances. For the netizens, I know you have the best interests at heart. I pray you use your voice to speak the truth but speak the truth with love. Be responsible in what you post and be sensitive to those who are suffering.

Above all, I pray that you do not give up hope. The Resorts World Manila Attack was a wake up call for all of us. In a world filled with so much hate and prejudice, be the light. Do not give up on each other and do not stop loving each other. I pray that God’s perfect love fills all of you and I pray that it drives away the fear and hate in your heart. We cannot be passive anymore.

Love should win. Love always wins.
As Sofie told me, “His love can drown out fear. We just have to let it.”