Living Life in the Hard

I settle in the warm, silky water of my tub, my head nestled in its smooth curve that hugs my back. I close my eyes and utter a silent, heartfelt prayer. (I have developed the practice of saying a prayer in my heart and soul whenever gratitude hits me, those moments when I could clearly see the difference between misery and comfort. And even contentment. I am quick to grab those moments and hold them close for just a while until I release them into the air with my gratitude and prayer of thanks).

hard places

With my eyes closed and my flesh caressed by magnolia-scented water laced with lavender salts, I say my thanksgiving to God. My heart overflows. I don’t think about the fact that Felix put me in the tub and scrubbed me with a stiff loofah earlier and that he will come back to rinse me, wrap me in my fluffy robe, then carry me back to the waiting wheelchair (and always with a thump!), and then the half-hour of rest in bed until I could sit up again to apply lotion and change into fresh clothes.

I don’t think about those things, the things that others do for me because I am unable to do them myself. I don’t think about the fact that I can’t walk and go out and many other things that I cannot do, not to mention the physical suffering and difficulties. I just want to dwell in this moment now that I am in this tub and my skin is silky and all is well in my revised definition of well.

For I had known months of not being able to bathe. So, these here are the fringes of bliss. If not heaven itself.

How do you live life in the hard? It’s not always been like this for me for the past more than 13 years of being ill. In the earlier years when one does her best to hold on to the old life of good health and complete strength while facing the stark reality that things may never go back to where they were before, or worse, if it all ends up to an untimely death – it was pure horror. That fear, that uncertainty – they make a body and soul tremble to the core.

Those early years for me could be defined by one word: desperation. When you’re desperate, your desperation will dictate the life you are to live. You don’t even plan it. There’s no time for careful planning. There are only bursts of panic and a kind of faith you will never find in a sunny, rose-strewn pathway. That kind of faith is only birthed in the shadow of the valley of death. A faith that has a life of its own, a living, breathing, moving faith. A faith that can move mountains in its desperation.

In those times, you will not concern yourself with the question on how you live your life, because first, you need to survive. Many a time in my whole ailing life had I struggled only to survive.

Then there were the years of aridness, of being out of desperation but being stuck in painful waiting. When your days are marked by sighing, wishing, longing, waiting. When you still can’t find your way to thanksgiving for the constant heaviness of soul. It is a dry, fruitless land. A tundra.

During my tundra months, even the dandelions were envied. They proliferate the vacant lot beside our house. Even with the cruel intensity of the summer sun, they stand and not a single, tiny petal or leaf shows weakness. They grow, they exist without a care. I had seriously wished I were a dandelion.

When you’re in that barren place of waiting, where uncertainty is the prevailing climate of the land more than great expectations, how you live life is dictated by your surroundings. Faith again plays an important role, but so does hope. Steadfast faith and tenacious hope. Those are your loyal companions, friends that stick closer than a brother.

The year 2015 was that for me (well, one of those years). Faith had me clinging to the powerful promises of the psalms and hope drove me to edit photos everyday with a chosen verse from a psalm and shared them on FB. One hundred and fifty psalms in one hundred fifty days. That’s almost covered half of the year, the same amount of time of living in faith and hope and not knowing the other offerings of life, like enjoyment and happiness and dreaming. In fact, I had stopped writing on my blog during those months. I only posted on IG, photos of my tea or the pastry I was able to eat, with a huge pink hibiscus in the background plucked from our garden. Or a book I was trying to read. Or my Tim – from school, sleeping beside me, eating, smiling.

Those photos I shared were but snippets of life. But still, they were signs of life. Of faith. Of hope.

The hibiscus tree with those huge pink flowers was directly in my line of vision when I looked out of the French doors through the patio to the garden beyond. When physical weakness and discomforts and sadness and the desolation of waiting uncertainly tried to steal my hope and semblance of peace, I looked at the hibiscus tree boasting of pink flowers the size of a plate. I always found hope in it. The flowers opening wide and smiling to the world were a sign of life for me.

Just as I had found hope at that piece of blue between the roofs many years ago, when I had sat in our garage all day and bemoaned my hapless state. Praying and waiting for healing had felt like digging on hard concrete and barely making a scratch. I had looked at that piece of blue wedged between our garage roof and that of the neighbor’s, a very bright cerulean in the mid-afternoon sun, and hope had come rushing back with a fresh vigor.

As long as I can see that piece of blue up there, where my Savior and Healer lives, where all life flows — I will believe! I will have hope!

I had stared up at that framed blue sky and repeated those affirmations before I was wheeled back to my room to rest.

In the hard, you live your life as the circumstances present themselves, but always with faith and hope. Faith and hope are the threads that hold everything together. When both are lost, everything unravels. When everything unravels, it would be like trying to hold water in your fists.

Felix wheels me back to our bedroom and I cocoon myself in my thick bathrobe as I settle in bed to rest after my bath. A glimpse of the elusive good life flashes in front of me and I get it: living life in the hard is intentionally pursuing and doing the God things and collecting all the gifts, big and small, special or ordinary, neat or messy, because they all add up at the end of the day.

wisteria wall

“Wisteria” walls of our bedroom.

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Healing of the Heart and Soul

I continue to revel in this lightheartedness brought about by the healing of the heart and soul. For that is what it brings: lightness of the spirit – heart that’s healthy and free and soul that’s not stooped and shrinking. So, I bask under the Lord Jesus’ light and love even though the trials are still here.

love of God

All who come to Jesus are, in one way or another, ailing in heart and soul. That’s why we come to the Savior: to be healed and receive salvation. So, we receive the immense gift of grace: the forgiveness of all our sins and healing from our past. We are made whole. By His stripes we are healed (Is. 53:5). We are made into new creation (see 2 Cor. 5:17).

But somewhere along the faith journey, trials come, some are too hard to bear that we struggle, really struggle, to be able to overcome. Sometimes the struggle takes years. If we surrender to the molding, forming, and shaping of the Potter’s hand, processes that are not without pain, it may create in us a faith that’s strong, steadfast, unmovable.

But the long, arduous trials that seem to have no end may also harden the heart and make the soul bitter. Suffering, the kind that is beyond understanding, can send one to a whirlwind of negative emotions that may be hard to shake off. Such was what happened to me.

For years through sickness and suffering, the struggles have really been hard. At the end of the day, you will know that the struggle is really with God. You get hurt, dismayed, disappointed, discouraged, depressed, and deep in your heart, you believe that it is because of Him. Why doesn’t He do something? is a question that somewhat summarizes and represents all the whys. Over time, you develop feelings of envy, jealousy, and self-pity, just because you don’t receive what you are fervently begging for while others enjoy the very same thing. As the desert stretches endlessly before you, the sadness settles like a rock and the longing burrows deeper and becomes more painful. As suffering intensifies, the heart works hard to cope. But bitterness, cynicism, numbness, resentment, and silent rage can easily take up space there. Every now and then, they gain the upper hand in an insidious way. Most of the time, you won’t realize it, but they are there and they won’t go away, unless the Healer comes to take them away.

You feel so vulnerable, like a fragile porcelain ready to shatter to thousand pieces with just the slightest touch.

So, can we still get heart-and soul-broken even when we’re in the Lord Jesus Christ? The answer is yes.

I don’t think there’s anyone who is immune to such struggles. Even the prominent men and women of the Bible went through the same struggles. King David wrote psalms upon psalms of his gruelling trials and how he had painfully questioned God for them.

How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me? (Ps. 13:1)

There is a beloved young father in church, one who is closest to the household of God and therefore, you would think that his faith is unshakeable. But when a painful trial came to their family, he struggled greatly to the point that he wanted to run away from God for good. He wanted to find answers. Oh, the struggles of the soul that he had to go through! When he testified in the pulpit, he spoke of the deepest emotions a heart and soul are capable of reaching (choking back tears). He opened his soul as wide as that before the whole congregation. It is part and parcel of his healing.

In the midst of indescribable suffering, you only want two things: to be delivered speedily or for God to lift off His heavy hand that is upon you and let you breathe. Oh, how Job had longed for that!

“Only two things do not do to me,
Then I will not hide myself from You:
21 Withdraw Your hand far from me,
And let not the dread of You make me afraid.” Job 13:20-21)

I love Kari Jobe’s song, The Garden, from her latest album of the same title. During an interview, she shared how the lyrics of the song came about: from the ashes of a painful trial in their family.

I can see the ivy
Growing through the wall
‘Cause You’ll stop at nothing
To heal my broken soul.

Ohh, You’re healing broken souls… (From The Garden by Kari Jobe)

Kari’s soul was broken because of the trial. Her healing came about when she went out to their garden and saw the ivy. The Lord spoke to her through it. It was an epiphany for her.

How was I healed of my own brokenness brought not by sin but by unrelenting sickness and suffering? When I decided to walk away from the place of heart-and-soul oppression and stood on neutral ground. I wanted to enter Jesus’ love like auto mode, but it wasn’t actually happening in my heart. I still wanted to stare into blank space and think about nothing and feel nothing. Maybe it is in that place of nothingness, when I emptied myself of the negative emotions, meaning, I didn’t give in to them even after episodes of suffering, but kept my heart and mind on neutral, that the Lord was able to get in.

But I know that much of it came at the heels of my withdrawal from Facebook and the negative effects it was having in my life; when I heeded the Lord’s call to come away with Him to a quiet place. The Lord invites us to peel our eyes off of the world and turn them fully on Him.

Understand with your heart
    and turn, and I would heal you. (From Mat. 13:15)

In the midst of pain and confusion, we want to sulk, to be in a huge sulk with God and that could take any form. Like running away from Him. Even silently, in the heart. But He goes after us, or maybe He is already there where we want to go, waiting. He whispers, “Come away with me.” 

What does this tell us about Him? That He will never give up on us even though in our moments of weakness we entertain the thought of giving up on Him (you know, as a part of the sulk)? Could it be that He’s being true to His promise? That nothing, nothing, can separate us from His love?

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:38-39)

I shout in my spirit, “Yes!!!”

MY ART

Mothers’ Day is approaching, so I would like to share with you my art with the hope that you may find something you would like to gift away. Below I have uploaded my original watercolor paintings. Premium prints are also available should you be interested. I only use professional or artist watercolors and paper is 100% cotton, 300gsm, acid-free, mainly Saunders Waterford by St. Cuthberts Mill. For premium prints, paper used is also 300gsm, textured, special art paper.

To order or inquire, you may email me at: rinaperu@yahoo.com. Payment for international orders is via PayPal. For local orders, via BDO bank deposit.

12 inches x 16 inches ORIGINAL WATERCOLOR PAINTINGS

(Prices range from $80-$100).

abundant

ABUNDANT

 

BLOOMS IN A COPPER JUG

BLOOMS IN A COPPER JUG

 

YELLOW ROSE BUSH

YELLOW ROSE BUSH

 

PERSIMMONS

PERSIMMONS

 

OVERFLOW

OVERFLOW

 

SAMPAGUITA (JASMINE)

SAMPAGUITA (JASMINE)

 

PURPLE ORCHIDS

PURPLE ORCHIDS

 

PEACH ROSE BUSH

PEACH ROSE BUSH

 

LIGHTS

LIGHTS (Only premium print is available)

9 inches x 12 inches ORIGINAL WATERCOLOR PAINTINGS

(Prices range from $40-$50).

LILAC

LILAC

 

SIMPLICITY

SIMPLICITY

 

BLUE AND RED

BLUE AND RED

 

GRACE

GRACE

 

SHINE

SHINE

 

GENTLENESS

GENTLENESS

12 inches x 12 inches ORIGINAL WATERCOLOR PAINTINGS

(Paper used is Khadi 100% cotton, 300gsm, handmade paper).

RED AND GREEN ROSE

RED AND GREEN ROSE

 

SORBET PEONY

SORBET PEONY

 

PEACH ROSE

PEACH ROSE

 

PINK ROSE

PINK ROSE

 

RED DAHLIA

RED DAHLIA

 

PURPLE DAHLIA

PURPLE DAHLIA

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Whole Again

I love You, O Lord, my strength

I love You, O Lord, my strong high tower

Where else can I run?

Where else can I hide away?

Whole Again

So my heart has been singing lately. Gigantic exhale. What a relief, what a joy as my Lord and Savior King folded me back into His exhilarating love! As I struggled to fix what was ailing my heart and spirit, He waited patiently. He gave me room. He is so gracious (and gentlemanly) like that. My grappling culminated last Friday overnight worship service when a song offered by a group of beloved adult sisters gripped me and I sobbed and sobbed in surrender. For quite a long time, I had been doing my best to hold it all in, and although I had been asking the Lord for mercy and help, I realized that night that I wasn’t really relinquishing everything. There was still that insistence to hold onto sorrow (and all other negative emotions akin to it) due to unmet longings and unanswered prayers.

But that night, and after fasting from Facebook for many days (which, I’m glad to tell you, has been like a soothing balm), the Lord made me realize how miserable I had let myself become. Yes, miserable, poor, needy, pitiful. But I was glad that He made me realize the fullness of it and led me to Himself and the truth that only He can do something for me. Not the world. Not the things I see that make me feel miserable in the first place.

That night, it was an altogether surrender all over again to His mercy, love, and sovereignty. And to what He offers.

Oh, I sobbed unabashedly as the ladies sang. I could be that and more before Him. So hungry, so in need of Him. I raised my hands and sobbed, “Remember me, my Lord.” I am sure I cried out many other soul-deep supplications, but suffice it to say now that He let me see my hapless state, and again, reminded me of His words as at the last:

I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. (Rev. 3:18)

But even before that night, I was gradually recovering emotionally and spiritually as I stepped up my spiritual life, shunning Facebook and the world in general, and writing on my prayer journal more fervently, inviting the Lord on and between the pages of it as I communed with Him. Throughout the day, I would whisper a prayer or a praise or a word of thanks. As I turned more inwardly, towards myself and our own home and life, I became stronger spiritually everyday. Hallelujah!

I am now slowly assimilating the fact that, immersing my senses in the world and its wiles had made me “scattered”. That is, my thoughts, emotions, desires, and decisions had gone quite awry (imagine charged particles or substances not in equilibrium, but then, that’s Chemistry 😀 ) when they should have been united – WHOLE – if only I’d focused on Jesus and the things of God alone. So lately, I have been whispering a prayer: “Draw me ever nearer to You, Lord Jesus. For only near You I am healed and whole and holy.”

I had let the things I see in this world (mostly through FB since I can’t go out) influence my mindset and affections that should have been otherwise entirely influenced by the Lord Jesus and His words and truth through His Holy Spirit. There is an entirely different “world” from the one we see physically or virtually, and we can easily miss it if we do not intentionally turn our eyes from the ones we’re used to seeing or love seeing and diligently seek it. This another “world” is the kingdom of God on earth where we can see signs, wonders, and miracles.

But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. (Mat. 12:28, emphasis added)

Looking at the world may stir up grievances instead of pure thanksgiving to God. It is then that we compare and see what we lack and feel discontented and begin to complain.

It is this deceitfulness of the world that the Lord has warned us about.

“…the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” (Mark. 4:19)

It is this desire for other things that sways our heads and hearts into the direction they should not take. But as I peeled off my eyes of the world and looked straight ahead, I saw the things of God – His wonders and miracles.

She is a mother of six. Her husband, who was addicted to drugs, abandoned them. She had to rear her children on her own and she was not wealthy. Actually, she was dirt poor. But she was resolute to care for her 6 children: feed, clothe, and send them to school no matter what. No matter if she picked up garbage which she did. She worked night and day with her bare hands. She worked, not minding the stark hardship of it all. If you heard her testify and say, “Life. Was. Very. Hard.”, you would know and understand the hardship she went through.

He was a construction worker before he became totally blind. He is an orphan and his remaining family and relations abandoned him. He was blind and so alone. He couldn’t work anymore. He lived in a wooden cart. Many days would go without him tasting any food and lived only by water. He was hungry, thirsty, cold, and so lonely. One day he cried out toward heaven for God to take his life and end his suffering. He said, “So, I won’t feel this pain in my heart anymore.” 

As I listened to these testimonies in the past days, I realized that I had been looking the wrong way. This here is where the eyes of God are trained on. This here is true life, kingdom life where God works and His heartbeat is felt and heard.

As I teetered on sulk and feeling faint, the Lord waited patiently. When I finally came to wisdom, He met me with an abundance of His grace.

He anointed my eyes with eye salve and I am again truly seeing. And I was healed. Spiritually. Whole again.

The mother of 6 has now a schoolteacher, some are in college, some are in high school. And her husband has come to Jesus and He restored their family.

The poor blind man received the Lord Jesus. After a few months of diligently attending services, He could see. Now, many others are being saved because of his testimony.

(The testimonies I shared here are from our church, JESUS MIRACLE CRUSADE INTERNATIONAL MINISTRY. The man who used to be blind is our beloved Bro.Michael Garcia).

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Stirrings in My Soul

I was reading through the Gospel of Mark just a few weeks ago in my new KJV journaling Bible and when I came to that part wherein a father besought the Lord to heal his son who had a dumb spirit and the Lord answered him and said –

“If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” (Mark 9:23)

– it seemed like the Lord was shouting those words to me. Or maybe, it seemed to me that the words became louder and bigger and bolder. Like it was telling me, “Pay attention! Read me and believe.”

My watercolor painting of hills in the mist. (Reference photo from tournesol50.tumblr.com).

My watercolor painting of hills in the mist. (Reference photo from tournesol50.tumblr.com).

It’s not as if it was the first time that I have read it. I have read it countless times before and have even memorized it. But this time, it gripped me afresh. It kind of rained hope on me once again. To believe beyond doubts and fears. To believe beyond my present capacity to believe. For, as I have written previously, faith’s facets and strengths change with the seasons of life, with the trials and triumphs we go through.

How do I begin to tell the story of my faith? For the last 13 years saw my faith tested and strengthened and waxed weary and grown faint, then persevered again. It was steadfast for I never let go of it. But its quality has not been unchangeable.

In the early months and years after I received Jesus and His salvation, my faith was defiant. Audacious. So much so that I scorned the cardiologist’s warnings that I didn’t have much time to live if I wasn’t treated. But I couldn’t believe in him, the whole lot of them. I could only trust my Savior and Healer. I was obstinate with my newly-found faith.

For years it was like that. I was resolutely believing and trusting and keeping still, awaiting the great miracle of healing from the Lord: the likes of the lame man at the Beautiful Gate (Acts 3), the crippled man at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5), the man with the palsy borne by four who was let through the roof (Mark 2), and many, many more.

But it didn’t happen that way. Little miracles littered the years, miracles of increment healing. Moments of healing here and there. And though they were not of the same caliber as the ones in the Bible (or even with the ones in our Church, Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry), they were born out of desperation, out of the shadow of death, and are therefore, very, very much appreciated and will never be forgotten.

Healing came in different forms. I wasn’t suddenly touched by the miraculous and then leaping and bounding and shouting. But it came with the length of time.

But unhealings came, too. Times when I was back to taking to my bed. For months. But my faith held me fast. And my faith would bring me back again to partial healing. On and on it went. Sure, I counted the years that passed, the years that I expected complete healing to come. Before the eighth year rolled in, I found light and hope with the story of Aeneas, paralyzed and bedridden for eight long years, but was healed through the prayer of Apostle Peter (Acts 9).

When Aeneas’ story of healing didn’t become mine, there was still the woman with the issue of blood 12 years. And on it went until today. Exactly to the day as I write this, October 15th. Thirteen years later.

I have written about my treasure chest of small miracles of healings and deliverances (small because they weren’t entire, but still much-needed-and-prayed-for miracles). I hold them close to my bosom. Very, very precious. But if you’ll ask me how my faith looks like now, what will I answer you?

My faith has taken great batterings in the past 13 years. It has stood, fought wildly, defied all odds, stumbled, been crippled, crawled, nursed back to life. It was filled and grown and expanded to bursting at the seams. It was painfully pruned. It was whittled away, bit by bit, until it succumbed to sad reality, the new normal. There is probably no forthcoming glorious miracle. It probably may not come that way. The defiant, audacious faith became subdued and pliant, accepting its fate.

The face of faith became the face of gratitude, running deep and steady, like the greenest, quiet river. For life that’s still holding me tight. For it had come to the point where the dream of walking and traveling again seemed so out of reach and even my mind could not conceive it, no matter how active and vibrant my imagination has always been.

There were always three stages: busy begging for life and for suffering to ease out, busy thanking God for deliverance from death and the subsequent partial healing, then the deep desire to be fully well. By this time, the desire increases and looks on the possibility, tentatively testing out faith once again, first in the mind and heart, then the first few steps. If at all.

For it seems like land has become a vast ocean to me where my feet may fail. The life I used to know eons ago – how do I re-enter it? So I whisper a prayer, morning and evening, “Dearest Lord Jesus, help me embrace the healed and victorious life and not fear and shun it.”

Throughout these 13 years, I look at two situations in life: the sick and the terminally-ill (or even those who had died before their time) and the perfectly and completely healthy. The former I can derive scant cups of hope and strength to inspire me through my own trudgings and stir me to pour out praises and thanksgiving to God for life that’s still holding me tight. The latter I gape at in miserable envy.

But at this time in my life, I’m weary of looking at both. I want to look out beyond, beyond all these misery and envyings, even beyond my cluttered desk of watercolors where my world is vibrant and happy despite of, to that place where my Shepherd can (and will!) bring me. A place where healing and victory dwell. A place where all things are possible!

Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” (Mark 9:23)

Today, I read Numbers Chapter 13, Spies Sent Out to Canaan. At the end of the chapter, the Holy Spirit spoke to me and I wrote it down on the margin of my journaling Bible.

My Promised Land is the land of my healing and victory, a land that flows with perfect health and strength and peace and joy. I must not be afraid to enter my Promised Land and conquer it. I must pluck out the fruits of it – grapes, figs, and pomegranates – until juices run down my chin. Like Caleb and Joshua, I must be courageous and trust God will bring me to it.

Amen and Amen!

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Journey with Jesus,

Home

Home is all I know of now. When you come visiting, I’m always home. You know when you’re homebound and unable to travel, there is always home. Being strapped home is not so bad. I’m grateful for home. I thank the Lord everyday for our beautiful home. Beautiful, not only because of the things found inside and the patch of green grass, plants, and trees that comprises our small garden outside. Beautiful because the Lord shines His light upon it. He sits upon the throne of our love, adoration, and praises. I can feel His constant presence within the walls of our home and out there in our patio.

Hubby's photo of Taal Lake as viewed from Canyon Woods.

Hubby’s photo of Taal Lake as viewed from Canyon Woods.

But home had not always been lovely for me and my young family, the kind which caresses your heart and soul in peace so that you want to breathe out a whisper toward heaven, “Thank You, God!”

We were still in the early days of building our home together, Hannah was a few weeks old baby, when my husband and I had an ugly fight which turned out into him clearing off his closet and leaving, and I, baffled and totally heartbroken. When you love perfect in everything, a wrecked marriage and home could be your ruin, too.

And so, our beautiful house became just that for me: a place where I went to at the end of a busy work day. No love, no family, no peace. Happiness was superficial and joy was foreign.

When the Lord finally restored us, His forgiveness, salvation and unconditional love pouring out upon our wrecked lives, I was too sick to keep house. I watched our mended family while I went in and out of near-drowning in fear and illness, and that didn’t comfort me. For years after our salvation and restoration, I lived in fear, uncertainty, and joylessness, the constant companions of sickness and suffering.

For the past 13 years where I experienced intermittent episodes of partial healing and recovery and of becoming sicker and walking under the shadow of death, home had become fragmented for me, offering little parts of it where I could hide and hope to find relief. There was Hannah’s room, then a vacant room adjacent to it (which was to become Tim’s room), the garage, the dining area.

In December 2004, I didn’t want to stay home. I thought that if I did, I would drown in fear and sickness and die. And so we stayed in our church’s fasting house in Pampanga. I wanted us to rent an apartment near it and live there indefinitely. But on New Year’s Day, God spoke to me: “Go home, my child. Wherever you go, I am there with you.” Since that day until 2006, I was home.

In 2006, home for me were the road and the places of crusades we went to all over Luzon. Certainly, an episode of partial healing and recovery.

The years that followed saw me giving birth to Tim and then sicker and weaker again that traveling, however near, posed a threat to my life. There were weeks and months that I made my home in our Astrovan parked in our garage. I lay in the van’s bed all day, protected from the curious eyes of neighbors and passersby by a small square of batik cloth and an umbrella anchored between the van’s rear door and the garage gate when it rained.

Then there was the time my husband moved the bed from the guest room into the dining room near the lanai door. Marichris’, our housekeeper and also my caregiver, silent movements in the kitchen were a comfort. And so I lay there all day for weeks and months until our own bedroom was a welcome refuge for my very sick self once again.

For years I coveted the lives and homes of our neighbors where there was no sickness but only happiness and normal living.

But with my steadfast faith and persevering prayers (and those in our Church led by our beloved pastor) and growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ through His Word, came healing (though partial), strength, fresh hope, and inspiration once again. And this time, it is sturdier than all that came before. Because of the enduring mercies of God. Because He hears and honors the prayer of the faithful.

Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. (James 5:11)

I don’t know how it happened, but it looks like the Lord has lifted off the shroud of fear and gloom of my heart and home, and in its place, He set His good and perfect gifts: His shimmering light and daily doses of His unfailing love, grace, strength, beauty, inspiration, and joy.

There is true beauty and peace in our faithful and intentional abiding in Him and His Word. His presence in our lives and our deep awareness of it are power. 

Our home. Those mounted watercolor poppies are my work – praise God. They bring brightness to our living room.

Inspiration that oozes from my worshiping heart drives me to make our home beautiful, not only with the furniture (the arranging and re-arranging of them), the decor, the knickknacks, the fresh flowers in vases, the books in the shelves, the scents of pearly lavender bath or freshly-cut grass, but also with the conversations, laughters, playtimes, acts of love and kindness and sacrifices, celebrations, reconciliations, and all others that make a house a home.

The Lord has heaped His blessings upon me that my prayers and thanksgivings are never empty and futile and my days are full of color and meaning. Though in other people’s eyes, the blessings may look like trickles (they look that way to me sometimes, with me still not fully well, strong, and walking), they are actually honey drops from heaven, sweet to the soul and health to the bones.

Yes, by God’s wonderful grace, I am making our home beautiful in every sense of the word, but home for me, that true, peace- and love-filled home, is really in the arms of my Savior. Not literally, but like in the cleft of the Rock, where when my heart is overwhelmed, He leads me to the rock that is higher than I (Ps. 61:2), safe and comforted under the shadow of His wings and in His hand where no one can pluck me out (see John 10:28).

If I had known then that being still in my own bed (where it’s far more comfortable) and trusting God to come through for me wherever I was in our house, I wouldn’t have acted in panic in previous years. But maybe, my fears were more powerful than my faith then. Or maybe, it is now God’s perfect time to deliver me out of those paralyzing fears and let me bask in His peace and joy.

Last year when I fought fiercely for my life once again, I didn’t have the desire (nor the strength for that matter) to flee my room. In the deep recesses of my mind and soul, I held on to God’s powerful promises and made them my home. My sanctuary. And He met me there. I think of David’s words:

Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. (Ps. 4:4)

Home is wherever we are held tightly by our loving, faithful God.

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The “Older Son” Mentality

I wrote this September last year and queued it for posting. It’s 5 months old but powerful testimonies such as this and the lessons we learn from them never go out of style).

We sat down to dinner to partake of the takeout that Felix brought home after attending the anniversary of an outreach of our Church a few towns from our place. Midway, he told the kids to listen well to the testimony he heard and he was going to share. The testimony was about a young man who backslid and turned back to a life of debauchery. Completely forgetting the Lord who had saved him, he revelled in all kinds of vices. There wasn’t a day that he wasn’t inebriated. This went on for 8 long years.

Older Son Mentality

For the record, I’m not that fond of stories about backsliding. They irk me.

My husband continued. The man soon met his doom (in our common belief, it was either God’s judgment or His protection over him had been removed). He figured in a fatal motorcycle accident fracturing his skull. He was rushed to the hospital. A fourth of his brain was removed. He was comatose for two months.

At this point, I want to insert the grave warning from Hebrews (for that’s what I thought after listening thus far to the testimony):

For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.  (Heb. 10:26-27)

Still, my husband continued and looked like there was much more to tell. The man testified that while in coma, he was flung into hell. There, he was tortured by demons night and day, forcing him to drink gallons upon gallons of liquor. He testified of many other horrible things that he witnessed in hell. I will not go into the details now, but these terrifying things that he revealed – kids’ obsession with cartoons like Pokemon, video games, rap music, etc. – all met their punishment in hell. These were the ones my husband emphasized to the kids, warning them to never be involved with any of those things.

I reminded him that Hannah and Tim, by the grace of God, don’t watch Pokemon and the like and never listen to rap music. As a rule in our home, we only play praise music. We don’t have a cable service or a powerful antenna. It’s very rare that the kids watch TV except videos on YouTube like Oggy and the Cockroaches. I had to mention that secular program because Tim is fond of it. But that night, he was told never to watch it again.

[Update: Tim never watched Oggy and the Cockroaches from then on. When we gladly open our hearts to the Holy Spirit’s voice and invitation to an intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus, obedience to Him in every aspect of life becomes sweet].

My husband was not yet done. The man awoke from coma but couldn’t recognize anyone including his mother. He couldn’t function physically and mentally due to the damage in his brain. But his mother, who remained faithful and fervent in serving God even when all these trials came her way, brought his son’s picture to our beloved Pastor Wilde Almeda. After pray over and laying on of hands (with just his picture) by the man of God, he was miraculously healed. His mind and all his bodily functions were restored and he recovered completely.

Undoubtedly, as the other countless testimonies I’ve heard in our Church, Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry, this one was astounding, there’s no denying that. I should have punctuated it with a shower of Hallelujah! and Praise the Lord! as I’m wont to do. I’m an unapologetic “glutton” for amazing testimonies, especially ones about miraculous healing. I feast on them. Aside from the Word, I fill up my soul with them to nourish my faith. But this time, I reacted differently.

This wasn’t about the brother who backslid, almost died, and was healed. This was all about God and His amazing grace and mercy. I could very well see that. But even before my husband ended his story, a shadow had crept into my heart like a dark, ominous cloud casting gloom on the earth. The testimony depressed me, not at all because of its triumph, but to me, it turned into a story of jealousy. I knew that I shouldn’t turn the spotlights away from God toward me (again!), but my understanding was so narrow that I wanted to think about me. I knew it was wrong. I knew so well it wouldn’t benefit me at all. And it wouldn’t honor God, which is the utmost concern. But still, I opened my mouth to put into words the bitterness that had risen up within me. Mine wasn’t an agitated reaction but more of a feeling of dismay. Or maybe of cold acceptance of my plight.

I acknowledged God’s great mercy toward the brother, that He is, without a doubt, a very merciful God. But I couldn’t stop myself from reminding my husband that He seemed to have overlooked me all these years that I had been faithful to Him (by His grace!). Since I gave my life to Him, I didn’t turn back. But this brother, after knowing Him, turned his back and dishonored Him for many years. But after all that, God restored his health. It was a bitter pill to swallow.

Do you hear the words of the older son echoing through time? I did! With sparkling clarity! I had become the older son in the Lord’s parable and resented my prodigal brother! I knew I shouldn’t question God’s judgments, so, after saying these words, I kept my mouth shut and no longer mentioned the matter for the remainder of the night.

As I rested after dinner, I prayed to God and asked for forgiveness for sulking and being jealous. I told Him I honored His judgments and that He was a righteous and just God. (I did that because I knew it was the right thing to do). Then the words of the father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 came to me: “[Daughter], you are always with me, and all that I have is yours” (v. 31).

For a while, I let those words roll in my mind and sink into my heart. All that I have is yours. At that moment, it was imperative to me that I acknowledge the blessings of His constant presence in my life all these years. There must be tangible proofs of His love for me despite my unhealing. Then the image of my beautiful son Tim appeared in my mind. He is, undoubtedly, one of God’s wonderful blessings to me.

Around 2005, I dreamed twice of a beautiful baby boy sleeping beside me. I became ill and unable to work in 2003. In 2005, I was still waiting for healing, but I had enough faith to believe that the dream would become a reality. And it did. In 2007, I gave birth to my son Tim. I was still waiting for healing, but this great miracle happened in the middle of that.

Every time I’m with my boy, the memory of God blessing me with him is never far from my mind. And my heart sings gratitude.

Like me and the older son in the Lord’s parable who was always near his father he couldn’t see the continuous flow of blessings in his life, do you also sometimes miss seeing and appreciating God’s goodness in yours? In what ways have you done it?

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The Fruits of Praise

One night a few weeks ago, during those rare occasions when I could listen to the sound of music without it interfering with my breathing and heartbeat, I listened to songs of praise which I had missed so much. I upped the volume and let my whole being be enveloped by heavenly music and lyrics that bring much delight to the God of the universe. One of my all-time favorites, In the Name of the Lord, played and my spirit soared as the song crescendoed. The floodgates of my heart opened and though I couldn’t vocalize just yet, my diaphragm being weak, my love and adoration for the Lord Jesus Christ poured out. This was the silent cry of my worshiping heart: I love You, Lord, with more than ALL of me!

ps134

Worship tears down all barriers between our hungering spirit and the Spirit of God. When our spirit is caught up in the whirlwind of praise and spontaneously cries out words of worship — we have entered the glorious presence of God. And in His presence is fullness of joy (Ps. 16:11). The worshiping heart transcends all pain, sorrow, disappointments, discontent, and any other negative emotion that tries to bring the spirit down.

Months after I received my salvation 12 years ago, I stayed in one of the bedrooms upstairs which overlooked the neighbor’s spacious garden. This was where the young family like ours usually ate on weekend mornings. They were a happy family. In contrast to ours, we were newly-mended and although the Savior’s stitching job was secure, we were still scattered as my husband focused on learning the intricacies of our business which I had relinquished to him as I battled with my illness. It was very rare that we ate together as a family since I often ate in bed. That and the suffering and uncertainty my illness brought made me wallow in sorrow and self-pity. In one of those times that I looked out the window and was overwhelmed with such emotions, I raised my hands and poured out my anguish to the Lord by means of soulful songs of praise.

Immediately, I felt like I was wrapped in a comforting embrace and my trembling and sorrowing heart was held and soothed by an unseen hand.

Worship is surrender of all that we hold, positive or negative, tangible or otherwise. And in that surrender is complete acceptance by the Lord, a sweet relief that equals no other. A liberation.

(In 2007 while I was heavily pregnant with Tim, the family next door sold their garden lot to us, let out the house to another, and left to live somewhere nearer their kids’ schools. We tore down the wall and built our own patio, attaching it to our newly-acquired garden. Since then, it has long been a witness to our family’s celebrations).

I don’t know of any other Church who is as devoted to praise & worship and prayer & fasting as The Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry through the leadership of our Beloved Pastor Evangelist Wilde Almeda. Worship services are held three times a week and last for hours. Friday overnight service is from 8:30pm to 4:30am of Saturday. Two hours are allotted to congregational singing at the start of the service. Different choirs sing in between testimonies. Their anointed singing fills one’s soul to overflowing.

In 2004, a year after I received my salvation, our family stayed in one of the fasting houses of our church. This one had a spacious chapel, quarters for praying and fasting brethren, and the compound was surrounded by trees. My soul desired to stay there as my illness raged on, accompanied by constant fears and nervousness that seemed to engulf me. I found great comfort ensconced in the house of God where my ailing and weak body and trembling heart were drenched with the morning and evening praise. This saw me through to another day and to another day after that and so on.

Workers and brethren alike sing praises from the rising of the sun to 3 in the afternoon. Then, the workers break their fast and eat a modest meal. They will then either rest, assist in Bible Studies elsewhere, or are called upon to visit the sick. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the sick receive healing and recover after being prayed over and laid hands on.

At home, we adopted this spiritual discipline early on and worshiped the Lord in the morning and evening. One night as Felix sang a solemn song, his knees rooted to the floor beside the bed (I was lying in bed trying to concentrate while going through physical discomforts), when a powerful force suddenly took him and shook him so hard he was moved from his place to a few feet away, all the time uttering words of worship non-stop while tears cascaded down his face. I had just witnessed his baptism of the Holy Spirit and it was awesome! Hallelujah! When it was over, he felt spent but said that he had never felt anything like it before. He was empowered!

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

Later on, I had regained enough strength to have my own little private worship in the mornings and evenings. I would sing a few songs, striving to invite the presence of the Lord. And even in between those times, when my spirit was thirsty and my heart needed uplifting, I would run straight to His arms through praise. When the tears had run their course — my whole being was awash in a holy cleansing and my heart was released from whatever held it captive.

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)

But there were seasons, too, when I became sicker and my abdomen was too weak to sing a single stanza. I would then listen to praise music non-stop or sing silently in my heart during rests. Then there came a time when my heartbeat and labored breathing would inhibit even the sound of music. I then began the practice of inhaling and exhaling the word Hallelujah in a melody that was soothing to my heartbeat. I always recovered in the end. This was rather at the bottom rung of the ladder of praise and worship, but still, it goes the same direction: heavenward. This reminds me of Revelations 4:8: They do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty…”

I believe without a doubt that praise and worship, besides prayers and fasting, has contributed greatly to my life’s continuance. 

Some years ago during a Finest Choir singing, the Holy Spirit moved so powerfully and touched both the choir and congregants. The mighty sound of His moving echoed through the stadium as singing and speaking of tongues prevailed. Then one of the choir members who was filled with the Holy Spirit shouted “I love You, My children!” over and over. I stirred from where I was sitting and whispered, “Dearest Jesus, is that You speaking?” I thought, “Am I hearing it correctly?” I looked at my companions but they didn’t seem to hear or understand the prophetic message.

The message was repeated a few times, I couldn’t be mistaken. I raised my hands and face toward heaven and uttered, “It is You! It is really You! And You love us so!” I was drenched with my own tears as I wept in the glory of the moment. It is awesome to hear our Savior’s love.

Worship creates intimacy with God that no other thing can. The things we can’t express through prayer are spontaneously expressed through worship as our spirit becomes one with the Spirit of God.

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God’s Unique Ways

I stood before the white formica counter lined with beakers containing various emulsions that we were evaluating, a cellphone pressed to my ear as I talked to the representative of Ichimaru, one of our company’s major suppliers based in Gifu. I was in the laboratories of Ajinomoto in Kawasaki, another major Japanese supplier, together with other distributors from surrounding Asian countries. It would have been a thrilling experience for me, being a chemical engineer by profession, to work in an advanced cosmetic lab had I been well. But I was already sick even before I went to this trip, a weeklong technical training, against my doctor’s advice.

Standing in my low-heeled pumps – enduring what seemed to be a million tiny needles pricking the soles of my feet and worse, it felt like the insides of my shoes were lined with sharp pebbles, my back was screaming in pain all I wanted to do was lie down right there on the lab floor – I told my supplier I was sorry I needed to cancel my trip to Gifu. I needed to go home because I was sick.

The Gifu supplier was eagerly anticipating my visit to their place and manufacturing plant after being in partnership with them for 5 years. I could feel their disappointment.

From Kawasaki to Tokyo, I went home to Manila very sick and weak. A few days later, I received salvation. This was in October 2003. From that day on, I hadn’t been able to go back to work. In 2007 while still waiting for healing, the Lord spoke clearly in my heart: I wasn’t going back to my career even when He had already healed me. I cried buckets, but in the end, I submitted to His will. For who has resisted His will? Hoping to gain His favor for my complete healing, I vowed to never go back to work and turned my back to my career for good. For years I grieved for it.

But I trust that God has a beautiful purpose for me. It will unfold in His own perfect time.

In 2004, my husband took over the management of my company. He is a mechanical engineer by profession and worked in a food manufacturing plant for decades. He didn’t have a clue as far as cosmetic ingredients were concerned. But he depended heavily on God, praying and fasting and faithful in giving our tithes and love offerings. He studied hard, too. And on days that I was well enough to give him some tips, he listened well. He was always grateful for the advice.

In the intervening years after that phone call in Ajinomoto laboratories, God showed up mighty powerful. Though our lives were shaken hard beyond our worst nightmare, He gradually and surely put everything into place. I realized later, not without frequent bouts of bitterness and struggles against resentment and heartaches, that placing my husband at the helm of our company was the most excellent thing to happen. He is the leader of our family, that includes our business. There were hard, difficult-to-swallow lessons that God wanted me to learn and important things that I needed to let go. Year after difficult and painful year, I did slowly surrender control, in my mind, in my words and actions, and sincerely in my heart.

Now, almost 12 years later, my husband travelled to Japan to visit the manufacturing plant of our Gifu supplier and attend a convention in Yokohama. The dream was fulfilled through him and rather than be bitter and resentful about it, I chose to be happy for him and rejoice with him. Through the years, the Lord has immensely blessed him as the president of our cosmetic ingredients company and in the process, prospering further our business. My heart is grateful. I take David’s words and lift them up to the Lord:

Your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness. (Ps. 26:3)

God works in marvellous ways, ways we often do not comprehend. But Apostle Paul had somewhat grasped His mysterious ways when he wrote:

But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. (1 Cor. 1:27-29)

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From Nightmare to Peace and Joy

Is it even possible? Yes, for with God nothing is impossible. But we don’t easily find our way to Him, to have a heart right with Him, and to trust Him with all our being. An older cousin posted this on Facebook: “Living a nightmare ain’t living!” I know exactly where she’s coming from. We have exchanged notes and she is convinced that we have and suffer the same illness. She’s been diagnosed with MSA (multi-system atrophy). I hadn’t undergone the same rigid workup for I gave up early on, but the initial impression of the cardiologist who saw me was that I might have a degenerative disease, my vital organs might be degenerating. I understand that degeneration is another way of saying atrophy.

I always say that my illness affects my ANS (autonomic nervous system: cardio, digestive, respiratory). I see that as multi-system. My cousin and I compared symptoms and, indeed, we have the same. Her neurologist said it’s genetics. But that knowledge didn’t bring any comfort to me. After all, it didn’t lessen the suffering. She lives in the US so we can’t assist each other, but I’m doing my best to comfort and encourage her.

It used to be nightmarish for me, too. I used to be inconsolable, more often than not. If nightmares stop the moment you wake up, this one begins the moment you open your eyes. So, for a long time, I preferred sleep. For my dreams were better than my reality.

But at the onset of my terrifying illness, I had embraced my Savior and Healer, the Lord Jesus Christ. For a long time, it was hard to understand it all, but I clung to His Word which I made my daily companion and the amazing testimonies of His miracles that I heard from the pulpit. There was no instant, one-time relief, but as I held on to Jesus, He held me. As I immersed myself in His Word and promises, He supplied the grace sufficient for me to survive the day.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Cor. 12:9)

In the nightmarish moments, I thought of my Savior, my Jesus who loved me so much He died for me. I lived in His presence as I walked through the “valley of the shadow of death” again and again. Even in the darkest, hardest times, I believed He was there. I imagined His light like a vertical shaft shining down on me from His throne. I never wanted to disconnect from Him. He was, still is, and always will be my heartbeat, the very breath that I take. (Weeping now).

But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious,
Longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth. (Psalm 86:15)

I can’t remember the exact day that the Lord filled me with peace and joy and inspiration to live and serve Him. They didn’t come with my complete healing for I have yet to receive it. I received them even in the midst of illness and suffering. This is that which the apostle Paul wrote – “peace that passes all understanding” (Phil. 4:7). We can’t comprehend how it can be present in the midst of a trial. But it’s there like a solid rock we can lean upon.

You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever. (Ps. 30:11-12 NIV)

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Liberation in the Word {and a Testimony}

Meditating on Psalm 119: 113-176.

You are my hiding place and my shield;
I hope in Your word.
116 Uphold me according to Your word, that I may live;
And do not let me be ashamed of my hope.
117 Hold me up, and I shall be safe… (Ps. 119: 114, 116, 117)

Psalm 119 tells about the psalmist’s hope in the Word. Over and over, we read his cries to God for salvation and deliverance, and always, because he trusts in His Word. We have discussed in previous Psalm 119 posts how the Word works in a Christian’s life as guide, comfort, reminder, healing, power, channel of God’s presence, and salvation. But we may ask, especially those who are still searching for truth or are not yet established in it, “What, really, is the relevance of the Word in a man’s life?” I ask this to introduce a testimony of a brother in Christ who had found the answer to this. We may lightly use salvation to the extent that its profound power is diluted in the everyday mundane. But, salvation in the Word remains to be the true life- and freedom-giving source for mankind. The Word [is] God (John 1:1).

Many years ago, Bro. Junie and his wife planned for a business of their own. His wife was going to receive a big sum of money from their company where she was working as a manager. It was her retrenchment pay. Around the same time, Bro. Junie also sold two condo units as a real estate agent and received huge commissions which he handed to his wife. They were going to set up their own business. Their only child and daughter was graduating from college. They had bright hopes for the future.

The day the wife would receive her payoff, she told her husband that she was going straight to the pier to send some money to her father in the province. Night came but Bro. Junie’s wife didn’t return. The next  morning, he set out to look for her. Everywhere. She didn’t find her but received news that her wife ran away with another man. Bro. Junie couldn’t find them no matter how much he tried. He was utterly devastated.

A few weeks later, her only daughter who was expected to be graduating from college, also eloped with her boyfriend. Bro. Junie was left alone with his shattered heart and life and indescribable wrath. It seemed to him that heaven and earth converged to crush him in-between with no hope of ever rising again.

He bought a gun and vowed to search for his wife and her paramour to the ends of hell and kill them both. He was burning with revenge. To say that he didn’t have peace would be a sheer understatement. He threatened his neighbors that he would kill everyone of them if he ever learned that they were gossiping about him.

Can you imagine Bro. Junie’s anguish? Not only his shattered heart and life, but the total absence of peace and the burning hatred which was driving him crazy and be really lost? It’s a hellish life.

One night, he opened the TV and it was the program of JESUS MIRACLE CRUSADE INTERNATIONAL MINISTRY. He stayed rooted in his seat and when the Gospel of salvation was preached, tears were streaming down his face. He was at once flooded with an indescribable peace replacing the great hatred that he had in his heart. He searched for the JMCIM Church and when he found it, he sank to his knees and begged God to help him. He received the Lord Jesus Christ and salvation with all his being.

123 My eyes fail from seeking Your salvation
And Your righteous word.
124 Deal with Your servant according to Your mercy…

146 I cry out to You;
Save me, and I will keep Your testimonies.
147 I rise before the dawning of the morning,
And cry for help;
I hope in Your word. (vv. 123, 124, 146, 147)

Soon, he found his daughter who was already pregnant. He arranged his daughter’s marriage and brought her and her husband to the Church. And they, too, were saved. Bro. Junie became a happy grandfather.

He continued to search for his wife with an offering of complete forgiveness in his hands. He searched and prayed. But in the end, the wife refused to return to him. Bro. Junie had to accept it peacefully. He was strong in the Lord.

141 am small and despised,
Yet I do not forget Your precepts.
143 Trouble and anguish have overtaken me,
Yet Your commandments are my delights. (vv. 141, 143)

He and his daughter’s family continue to serve the Lord faithfully to this day.

129 Your testimonies are wonderful;
Therefore my soul keeps them.
130 The entrance of Your words gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple. (vv. 129-130, emphasis mine)

Friend, if doubts, uncertainties, and cynicism have stopped you from totally embracing the Lord Jesus Christ and His Truth (His Word and Gospel of peace), may this bring you nearer to Him (if you had not already run to His waiting arms). The Lord loves you so! Know this.

(Photo courtesy of my cousin Bill Raras of Vancouver, Canada. and edited at picmonkey.com).

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