My Christmas holidays were quiet, beautiful, and if I may say, holy. Holy if we consider being held and nestled in love and warmth a sacred thing. But then I believe in the sheltering and sanctifying power of marriage, that process of two flesh becoming one. No, not in the physical sense only, but in doing life together.

Please excuse my messy illustration, but I have a surprise for you at the bottom of the post - my latest completed serious painting project.

Please excuse my messy illustration, but I have a surprise for you at the bottom of the post – my latest completed serious painting project.

So, the holidays were simple and quiet for us. There were no grand vacation plans as I still could not leave the house. I had assumed that the husband and kids would like to go out, actually, insist to go out and have some fun. But I was wrong. They didn’t have plans at all! Hannah was busy with rehearsals for our church’s Christmas concert (she played the piano in the Youth Choir special numbers); Tim was contented enough to play with his friends in the neighborhood (except when I sent him and his daddy for some errands, including visiting the Grand Canal at McKinley Hill); and the husband was happy enough to spend time with me.

I had wanted so much for Felix and I to spend hours together everyday when the office was closed and he did’t have to leave for work. Without me having to pressure him to do so, he did indeed sit with me, lounge with me, nap with me, that kind of languid togetherness when he lifts my feet onto his lap, or when he shifts his body to invite me to snuggle in the groove of his arm and chest, that space that had been chiseled out by years of marriage life. You easily slide into that place, like soft jelly flowing into its mold.

The days were restful and did good to our bodies, minds, and spirits. It also fed the marriage with fresh fodder to make it richer, deeper, fuller.

I have been thinking that perhaps that’s exactly what the Lord Jesus desires for us: to spend long, quiet, restful times with Him. We see His heart regarding this matter when He visited the home of sisters Martha and Mary.

Mary sat at His feet contentedly drinking up all His words like a thirsty fawn, completely oblivious of Martha’s solo ministrations with dinner. Martha eventually voiced out her complaints to the Lord, but He gently rebuked her and pointed out to her what’s really needful and good.

And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42 but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:41-42)

Poor Martha! She just wanted to serve good dinner to their very important guests. But that is a challenge for all of us. Oftentimes, we choose poorly. We don’t seem to know how to wisely sift through the many tasks at hand and recognize that one needful thing and choose that good part. No wonder we feel weak and scattered sometimes. 

My illness and suffering steal so much from me. Because I have to stop and lie down for an hour or more to recover my strength (and breathing) many times a day, I don’t accomplish much. When I’m in that “recovery period”, I usually want to browse my social media feeds. My reason is that, I don’t want to “feel in full” the hardship I’m going through. I want to forget about it, hence, I browse and browse. I would prefer to read or pray or paint, but the problematic breathing, etc., wouldn’t allow concentration.

I hate it when I endlessly and aimlessly browse. I hate it that my life is spent that way. I am a person who wants to live a rich, productive life, nothing wasted. So I coax myself to just keep still in bed with my comfy day blanket and try to imagine that I’m snuggling in the loving arms of my Lord Jesus Christ. That’s hard to do, especially when I’m struggling to gain good breathing.

I also set my HDTV so I could listen to healing scriptures with relaxing music or an hour of praise and worship. I can only do that when my breathing has improved and I’m only waiting for strength to be able to stir. When I’m hyperventilating or when my breathing is not smooth because my digestive system works doubly hard, I cannot listen to music then or any words. I just want complete silence, a space where all my concentration is focused on breathing intentionally. The only rhythm that my heart and breathing can move in during those times is the word hallelujah uttered silently in my mind. Every single, important breath breathes in and out hallelujah.

When I listen to praise music, I think on the Lord Jesus. I strive to know Him deeper then, or know Him again and again. It would be best if I could sing in worship and enter the circle of His light and presence, but I can’t. So, I do my best to spend time with Him in the embrace of lyrics and melody as I listen. Sometimes, He brings me enough bodily comfort that I feel slumbrous. At other times, He stirs up my heart and tears flow.

During those times, I want to believe that I am being held. 

…I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (John 10:28)

Do you find it hard to sit still at Jesus’ feet and listen? To spend unhurried time with Him and just let Him love on you, whisper words of wisdom to you? Do you secretly enjoy more endlessly browsing your newsfeeds and watching videos that entertain you? I hope not. I pray that the Lord will give us wisdom and discerning spirit to choose that which is needful and good. And be held in the process.


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Of God’s Love and Warmth and Fuzzy Blankets

Over the many years of being sick with constant suffering, I found out that one of the hardest things to do is to rest and sleep without being hounded by fears, to trust that when I lay down my weak and ailing body on the bed, nothing bad will happen or that the discomforts will not get worse or the suffering intensify. You would want that your bed would be a haven, a welcome respite from all the hardships. But for me, it hasn’t always been that way. There were months over the course of my illness that I had feared my bed, that it had been a hostile place to be rather than a place of rest and recovery. And so, I had tried other rooms in our home, including the dining room and the garage (inside the Astrovan) to try to find that place where my body could find healing and rest.


My lilac from last year, recycled for my blog theme. I haven’t found time to paint lately. But by God’s grace, I’ll be starting a new rose bush project one of these days since I had sold 5 of my original, really serious paintings. Praise the Lord!

I thank my dearest Lord Jesus that with the partial healing and recovery that I have received, those fears and anxieties fled, too. I don’t fear my bed and our room anymore. No matter how hard the suffering still is sometimes, I have learned to keep still in my bed and trust that God will all be God for me: my Savior, Deliverer, Healer, Comforter, Protector, Shepherd. And remember that though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for He is with me.

I have learned to really rest in the Lord. Doing that is really trusting Him to the uttermost, truly believing that He is mighty to save, yes, to save from the attacks of the enemy the devil. Trusting that my times are in His hand and He will fulfil the number of my days, that He will make my healing spring forth speedily and with long life He will satisfy me. Remembering that with my faith without doubts, he can and will perform miracles. And these words of His, His powerful promises, they are real and they are life.

With the healing of both my spirit (from the terrible bundle I used to write about) and body (partial) came also the sweetness of yielding my sick and tired body to the comfort of my bed, the softness of my pillows and the warmth of my blankets. I use throws during the day, two are tapestries (one of them with the names and titles of God from A to Z) and one is soft and furry. Before, they only served to make my body warm and bring it comfort. But lately, they have evolved into being a warm invitation to rest, to snuggle in, and yes, to even feel the sweetness of my Lord Jesus in them, believing and feeling that He is embracing me and loving on me through them. To be able to relish that sweetness and comfort – I am truly grateful.

I think this desire to find rest between the sheets began after watching a Hallmark Christmas movie. It was about a little girl sick of cancer who was very brave all throughout her illness and taxing treatments. One day after coming from the hospital, her mother brought her to her room, a pretty attic room with floral wallpaper and dormer windows overlooking the trees in the yard. Her bed was covered with a beautiful quilt, looking like every piece and thread was meticulously sewn in love. And on this quilt, the girl laid down her tired body with a smile on her lips, curled up on her side, and acquiesced to a much-needed rest and sleep.

I have always thought about that. It was only a movie but it spoke to my heart. The trust. The sweetness. The hope that everything will be alright. For our Lord Jesus promised to make all things new. And that He is with us always.

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You.

(Ps. 139:7-12, 17-18)

I don’t have a quilt that is lovingly pieced up and sewn, but I do have a Laura Ashley quilt cover that is strewn with rose bouquets and vines. By its loveliness I feel God’s love reaching out to me, that I am completely known, loved, and cherished. I know that it’s just a quilt, but if our hearts are full of gratitude, even that is a beautiful gift for our bodies to rest on.

I also stopped using woven blankets that are rather stiff and rough and itchy to my skin which add to my discomforts. Something whispered to my ear that flannel blankets would be a comfort. And so, I began using flannel blankets, soft and fluffy like clouds :). In all these, though just simple things and not the miraculous kind, I find rest for my body, mind, and heart. While I wait for sleep at night wrapped in fuzzy warmth, I think about the Lord Jesus’ tender mercies and compassions that never fail. They feel like a warm embrace.

These feelings and thoughts, they are gifts. They are vital to the faith and hope that I hold fast in my heart.

(I have been purchasing Laura Ashley beddings from Amazon at about half the price. I also get new, branded flannel blankets from local IG sellers at thrift prices, the likes of Valentino, Royal Copenhagen, Nina Ricci, and many others. The thrift price I’m talking about is of the $5-$20 range. Overall, I consider the comfort, joy, inspiration, and beauty all gifts from a loving, generous, blessing God! My heart is full and I am overwhelmed with gratitude).

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Rest is good. But for many of us including myself, we want to avoid it as much as possible and as long as we can hold out. That is, until we are burned out. Or until we hear the voice of the Lord calling, inviting us to His presence where we can find rest and peace for our souls. For the strong who move about in the world “spinning yarn into gold” day and night, they may find rest in their plush hotel rooms as exhaustion catches up with them. What they have is physical rest which their bodies so badly need.

AT THE CENTER. My unfinished strawberry painting. I am dismayed that, after examining my heart, this project indeed bears my fingerprints and not the Lord Jesus'. It's a deep-in-the-heart thing I need not divulge :( .

AT THE CENTER. My unfinished strawberry painting. Although the name was inspired by one of my favorite praise songs,”Jesus at the Center”, I am dismayed that, after examining my heart, this project indeed bears my fingerprints and not the Lord Jesus’. It’s a deep-in-the-heart thing I need not divulge :( . Who or what is at the center of your life?

The owner of a large Japanese cosmetic ingredients manufacturer who is a supplier of our own company for the past two decades recently visited Manila. Before his trip here, he passed through China, his days dotted with business meetings. When Felix my husband met him, this ageing businessman looked so tired and haggard he was ready to drop. He recounted to Felix his many appointments before and after his visit to our country. He is so busy and always on-the-go that he got confused with which airlines he was flying in until Felix offered his assistance.

This man may squeeze in rest in-between his wildly busy schedule, but it will just be a physical rest, a few hours of sleep wherein his body ceases to do any activity. But at every waking moment, the mind zooms in automatically on the day’s agenda.

I believe that true rest is free of worries, fears, and anxieties. That the waking moments are sweet, to be relished and not to be dreaded.

True rest is finding a place where our bodies, minds, and hearts can settle in peace and comfort. I believe that it is in this kind of rest that our bodies produce and multiply healthy cells and we recover.

We know that, but often, we forget. I do.

Two weeks ago, about the time I was supposed to write for my weekly blogpost, I had already planned on a topic. But as I collected the thoughts in my mind, it felt like the cup wasn’t filling up. It remained empty. That was my cup. I was running on empty and the Lord wanted me to see that.

I cannot write about what I do not have. I cannot give away what myself is lacking and needing, because it isn’t even there.

Simply put, I cannot give what I haven’t received.

So, I decided to pass the week without a blogpost. I needed a writing holiday. It wasn’t about the writing per se, it was about being filled up so I have something to pour out.

I needed rest – my mind, my heart, and most of all, my body. I posted an unfinished strawberry painting project on IG and informed everyone that there wouldn’t be a new blogpost on that week.

It was very clear that the Lord was inviting me to rest. His rest. And I couldn’t deny anymore the fact that my weak and ailing body was crying out for it.

Rest is God’s gift to His children. Rest is His grace. Rest is His mercy. (For we could be so stubborn sometimes, ignoring the rhythms of our bodies and being cruel to them). To enter into His rest every now and then is an standing invitation. All we need to do is drop everything and enter in.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Mat. 11:28-30)

These words of the Lord Jesus Christ show how compassionate He is toward us – the weary, the burnt out, the suffering, the stooped-down.

Why do we keep on spinning until we succumb to exhaustion, endlessly doing and performing and achieving and reaching and striving? No matter how much we deny it, we keep on doing because we want to leave a mark. We want our lives to matter. And I believe that is not a bad thing. But I also believe that our performances matter less to God than our deep desire to commune with Him and revel in His presence.

And maybe, we also unintentionally offend God when we work so hard to show to the world a stellar work, claiming it’s for God’s glory, but in reality, our marks and fingerprints are all over the place. We may not realize it but He knows our hearts more than we do. Our work should bear His marks and fingerprints. 

So, I entered into God’s rest and did my best to keep still and be not distracted by the world. It’s easier to do that when there is physical suffering involved. But entering into His rest also requires our humbling down and heartfelt confessing and repenting, if we know there are reasons to, like when we have made a god of our work or something. It is only when peace descends upon us that we can settle in His rest. And even if there is suffering, His unfailing love, His peace and comfort, will steady our hearts.

This is the reason why my heart grieves for those people who have not really known, received, and loved the Lord Jesus Christ and yet, still refuse Him in their sickbeds. I don’t understand. They want to be healed but they do not want to receive the Healer. They do not want to enter into His kind of holy rest. Is it maybe because they do not believe in the first place? Or they think they have been good they don’t need saving? Or they do not have enough divine fear? Or maybe mostly because they haven’t known and understood and didn’t hear enough? Seek enough?

But how can a fragile human being whose life is just a vapour which appears for a little time, and then vanishes away (see James 4:14) afford to refuse Him? How can a sick person find rest without the Lord Jesus’ presence, His love and peace? For all our hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ.

But this thing I learned: we shouldn’t give up in offering God’s rest – His salvation – over and over until we are heard and He is received. For in the Lord Jesus, there is rest from our labors, ailments, and sufferings.

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To a Desert Place

On an early morning a few days before my birthday, I woke up feeling like my heart and body had remembered that there was a reason for my melancholy, like they were hurting all over, not physically, but emotionally. Does that happen to you, too? Even before your mind has processed what is wrong, your heart and body experience it already. There had been a reason for the heaviness of my heart, but on that Thursday morning, I was compelled to make a decision even before I opened my eyes. I accompanied my decision with a prayer of release against my pillow.

My watercolor painting of a deserted beach at sunset on 9" x 12" 140lb, cotton wc paper. (Reference photo from total-embodiment.tumblr.com

My watercolor painting of a deserted beach at sunset on 9″ x 12″ 140lb, cotton wc paper. (Reference photo from total-embodiment.tumblr.com

Sometimes it happens that the thing that is so close to our heart must be released, when we perceive in our spirit that it may not be God’s will. Or He’s silent about it. Or He’s not into it with us. Yes, even those things which we have carefully planned and crafted and dedicated to His name that we thought He would approve and support. I had been praying fervently for God to bless something I had dedicated to Him, something that I knew would make me happy and bring my life fulfilment. And Him glory and service. But a few months into the project, He was silent and He wasn’t lifting a finger to prosper it.

When I finally released it and told Him I was going to give it up and wait for His word, I felt like a weight had been lifted off my heart.

Sometimes we craft ways to usher in happiness to our lives, but when we can’t get God on board, we may feel that He’s withholding it from us. Thankfully, that wasn’t what I felt in this case. I was relieved to give up something that had kept Him silent and was humble to wait what He had to say about it. Or what He had in store for me. Maybe He had better, greater, more wonderful things in mind for me.

That is faith and great expectations in Him :) .

Later that day, though I was sad because my plan didn’t pan out, I was closely leaning in and listening to that still, small voice. And it came without delay. At first, it was an invitation, a whisper to my soul to come with Him into a desert place and rest awhile. 

I was more than happy to oblige. I needed it. I needed to stop the analyzing, designing, planning for my happiness. The Lord Jesus just wanted me to rest awhile with Him. He wanted me to get away from all my strivings, the noise of my heart and mind and the world around me. Even if that world is so small.

Sometimes we believe that our beautiful dreams and best-laid plans are the best for us, especially when we offer them to God as our way of honoring and serving Him. But in this case, the Lord made me understand that I need not go to such length, or exchange Him for my dreams. He is enough.

To obey is better than sacrifice [and all our other attempts at offering], and to hearken than plunging into our projects that look pretty and bring us snippets of happiness.

Most of the time we don’t understand. But faith is to follow our Good Shepherd wherever he leads and to believe that the adventure He has planned for us is more wonderful, more exhilarating, beyond anything we ever dreamed or imagined or crafted. His plan is always perfect, unlike ours which often has loopholes.

So when He bids us into the desert place, we go. It is where He shows His wonders: leading us with the cloud of His constant presence by day and a burning light by night; parting the seemingly impossible obstacles so we could walk through them; raining on us fine showers of blessings that we often take for granted, which we can only appreciate if we go out and gather them and wonder. It is where He opens our eyes – when it seems to us there is only defeat – to see that we have limitless resource in Him. And we shall never want.

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
    in quietness and in trust shall be your strength…” (Is. 30:15) 

The desert place, not necessarily an endless expanse of golden sands, is a quiet place where we can find our God and Father. A deserted place where there is no wifi, no access to social media, away from the noise and distractions of the world, its envy, covetousness, comparisons, competitions. But only Him, bidding us to find that stairs that is unrolled from heaven to earth.

He bids us to come. Closer to Him. And rest at His feet as Mary of Bethany has done. To know that one needful thing and choose that good part, which shall not be taken away from us (see Luke 10:42). 

The Lord wants to unentangle us from the cares of the world, even if those cares are not of the magnitude of worldly pursuits. Even if those cares are pleasant dreams and godly goals. Still, He wants that He is first and foremost in our lives. That He is the One who will give those dreams and plans and projects. That He will be the One to plan our happiness. Didn’t He admonish Martha of all her fussing?

And Jesus answered and said unto her, “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful… ” (Luke 10:41-42)

One thing is needful. Yet we often miss it. One thing is needful, yet we often ignore it. One thing is needful, yet we often choose what we want. One thing is needful, yet we often trade that with fleeting happiness. One thing is needful, yet we are sometimes blind, deaf, and numb to it.

One thing is needful and it is where our Savior God bids us to.

Where is your desert place? Where is your wilderness where you can hear God’s still, small voice more clearly?

I can’t go out of our house. I can only go as far as our patio which connects to our garden. But it suffices. As I write this, I sit here in our patio surrounded with quiet, with only the twittering birds somewhere among the thick foliage of the trees. And I like that. Earlier, a strong breeze swept off the fallen leaves from the trellis roof above me. They fell on the grass below like a shower of confetti. I looked up from my laptop to witness and feel the breeze swirl all around me. For a moment I thought the Lord was making His presence felt in a subtle yet un-ignorable display.

Here in our patio where trees on every side afford me seclusion – narra tree on the north, mango tree on the south, and santol tree on the west – I find my desert place where I can rest awhile with my Lord Jesus.

It was around my birthday (October 2) when I received the replacement of the thing that I had to give up. And it was glorious in my eyes! (More on that next time :) ).

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Journey with Jesus,

Quiet Places

After a whole year of recovering and settling back into my old normal (no more daily hard struggles between life and the shadow of death), the Lord filled me with so much joy and blessings, both tangible and intangible, that I realized one day I wanted to dance and twirl and laugh and shout in happiness and thanksgiving. He has blessed me beginning on my birthday in October (I was able to get up and get dressed and join the family in our simple celebration). Then there was the birthday of my son Tim in early December. Although uninvited 😀 (but I was grateful they came!), my sister and niece traveled from the province to celebrate with him, together with my brother. We had a little party. We laughed and took photos and videos. I had the stamina to enjoy all that.

quiet places

A few days before Christmas was my husband’s birthday. I donned on a new white flowy shirt and a new maxi dark denim skirt (these articles of clothing had been in my closet for months waiting for me to be well enough to wear them) and had a decent photo of myself taken (after a very long time!). It makes me happy when I am able to play dress up, put on a little makeup and have my photo taken :). For me it’s a testimony of God’s enduring mercies.

So we set up the table – placed my gold-leafed, alabaster and crystal candlestick (a Christmas gift from hubby which he bought from our favorite antiques/secondhand shop) with a tall, slim gold candle regally standing on top and a vase of deep-red roses. We brought out the only-for-special-occasion China and colored glasses. And so we celebrated my husband’s birthday in love, thanksgiving, and joy.

On Christmas Eve, I was able to go out to our living room and celebrated with family until the wee hours of the morning. We set up our formal dining table regally (although we ended up eating in the living room :D). We took photos and selfies (groupies?) and opened gifts. On Christmas morning, we had “boodle brunch”. We laid banana leaves on the table, arranged fried rice, boiled greens and veggies, and 4 kinds of salted, dried seafood. And so we celebrated Christmas Day.

During the holidays, the kids and I baked sugar cookies (yes, I can bake again!) in the shapes of J-O-Y and stars and snowflakes and decorated them with royal icing and gold and silver beads. Hubby had to travel to Mandaluyong, 2 cities away from our place, to buy the beads (the cookies were serious business!). And on New Year’s Eve, I wasn’t fighting between life and death, but watched the fireworks in our yard that hubby lit up.

These all seem ordinary to people who are not ill, but for me, it’s a tremendous blessing! Actually, other people’s reality is my wildest dreams! People who regularly read my stories on my blog may say, “How could she be so grateful in the midst of all her trials?” Well, it’s a case of the “half-full/half-empty glass” again. I don’t even see myself as half-full, but full! The Lord Jesus Christ fills my cup! And that was why I felt like shouting on the housetops! As my Tim says, “You feel so excited it’s like you want to pee already!”

But I sense deep within me that the Holy Spirit is whispering, “Come away. Retreat from all the noise of the world.” (That means my FB world which is the only secular world I know considering that I can’t go out). I have been sensing that admonition for months, to step back and let not myself be drenched with so much secularism, even only via FB, and be immersed with spiritual things instead. And though it’s quite hard to avoid communicating via FB, I’m heeding the Lord’s voice.

Sobering things come to temper our “loudness” (because maybe we think we’re giving God all the glory but are actually sharing in the limelight). In such times, I’m always reminded by the collectedness of Mary. In the midst of the frenzy of Jesus’ birth – the shepherds rushing to the site to worship the Baby King and telling everyone how His birth and purpose had been announced by an angel from heaven – the Bible says that Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).

There is a time to shout out our praises and thanksgiving to all the world; and there is a time to keep them all in our heart and ponder them. There is a time to waltz in our triumphs; and there is a time to step back and relish quiet moments with the Lord. He is whispering, Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31).

The Holy Spirit whispers and invites us to retreat and come away with Him to quiet places where our souls are refreshed anew, drinking in the spring of water welling up to eternal life (see John 4). Far from the madding crowd, we can hear and discern more clearly God’s voice and what He wants to tell us. We can better see the path He’s laying out before us. In the quiet place where the Lord Jesus meets with us, we can prove His acceptable and perfect will for us:

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Rom. 12:2)

In those quiet places, we can spend time in retrospection, enough to learn from the lessons of the recent past, and be guided not to repeat the same mistakes in the future. It is a time of self-examination and drawing nearer to God through worship, prayer, and the Word, and baring our heart and soul before Him (He knows our hearts better than we do).

In that place where we give of our whole selves, we not only immerse into deeper communion with God, but we also find rest for our weary souls and bodies as we breathe Him freely and lavishly and exhale the world’s toxicity. We let our soul and senses absorb God’s gifts around us – the cheerful warbling and flitting of birds among the trees, the gentle breeze that caresses our skin, the blades of grass that tickle our bare feet, the sheer quietness of our surroundings we can almost hear the bugs crawling!

And we would feel once again the fierce, undying love of Jesus like a tight embrace.

(Photo credit: Tamzinsketchbook via Flickr and Pinterest).

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Journey with Jesus,

A Quiet Place

The Spirit whispers, telling me to withdraw from the “crowd” and the busyness of daily “Internet” life. For we can easily get so engrossed with this sharing thing, thinking that the more we “socialize”, the more we can spread the Word of God and His testimonies. But we can also overdo it. No, not the sharing part, but the socializing part. So much so that we can neglect the weightier matters: reading and meditating on the Word, listening to God in the silence, or just giving our spirits space to breathe freely.

(image source)

After the busyness of last week (not so much with crowd gathering in our place because that doesn’t happen, but the “marathon-like” associating through FB), my soul is longing to escape to a deserted place where there are only trees, tall grass swaying with the gentle breeze, and the warbling of the birds as they call to each other. How refreshing would that be! But though I cannot go farther than our own garden (the discomforts from my illness hinder me to travel), that doesn’t stop me to seek solitude and be with my God in the quietness of my soul and surroundings.

And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. (Matt. 14:23)

The Spirit of Christ which is also in and with His very own (Rom. 8:9) is the same Spirit who draws us away from our own “multitudes” to resort to our own “deserted mountain” by ourselves to pray, ponder on God’s Word, and listen to His whisperings. Maybe we can escape to a quiet corner in the garden, beside a lake or a river, the beach, or in a deserted park where there is much grass and plenty of trees. The essence of the Spirit’s calling is to withdraw from the world and draw near to God. We can only find quiet and rest and more of God when we withdraw from the “multitudes”.

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31, NIV)

The Lord Jesus has set for us an example. But sometimes, although our souls hear Him bidding us, we choose to do more of our plans and to-do lists or more mingling with the multitudes, and neglect to fill ourselves with God. It will not come as a surprise then when we feel like God is far. It’s because we’ve neglected to draw near to Him. The more we soak our hearts and minds with the things of this world (a cornucopia of plans and wants, insidious worries, or even selfish motives in the things we do or serve God that we don’t realize until we are in that quiet place), the more we draw farther away from His presence.

But it is in the silence, when our bodies, hearts, and minds are still and yielded to God like empty vessels waiting to be filled, that His voice seems louder and we hear Him clearer. 

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you… (James 4:8)

I might be linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,

“The Wrestlings” Discussion {Chapter 8}

In chapter 8 of my free ebook The Wrestlings Along the Narrow Path, I wrote how I face the day-to-day challenges of maintaining a gentle and quiet spirit. I do, indeed, wrestle with the many things that try to steal away my  patience and gentleness.

Unlike other Christian households, ours faces more difficult challenges. My illness is the number one source of weariness for me and burden for the family. It frustrates me to such an extent that I often lose patience and the courage to forge on. The combination of the discomforts (difficult breathing, dizziness, and overall weakness) brought about by my illness, the problems of dealing with maids that do not uphold our family’s rules, practices, values and beliefs, and kids that disobey and constantly fight, gets into my nerves and it is a humungous task to hold my temper.

Sometimes I find myself shouting, speaking succinctly while grating my teeth, snapping, or giving out a lengthy sermon. And sometimes I just bow my head, put my hands to my face and cry in frustration. I had analyzed that when I’m physically weary and have not given my mind and body enough rest, I am most prone to being impatient and ungentle.

The following teachings that I share with you on how to maintain a gentle spirit, patient and unwavering in its pursuit, are the ones I do my best to practise everyday. I am not saying that I have perfected them and am now in that place of bliss, but they do help me retain peace and joy in my heart and mind despite my circumstances, and help supply the inspiration and encouragement I so need through the day.

  • Quiet Meditations in the Morning

The first thing I do in the morning is to reach out for my Bible and read and meditate on the Word. Sometimes I take note of verses that are speaking to me in my journal. I read a daily devotional, then sing praises to the Lord. I do my best to shut out the world in those few moments of communing with God through worshipful and prayerful songs. I strain to feel His love for me, to appreciate and praise Him for His faithfulness with my whole being. Then, I pray. And I find rest, peace, and strength, both physically and spiritually, to face the day.

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Mat. 11:28)

  • Always in Remembrance of the Word

When I am drenched with the Word, the powerful verses constantly hover over my mind during the day, reminding me to pause and think, speak or act according to the Lord’s teachings. When I let the cares of this world take over my mind, pushing the Word to the periphery and let it fade into the background, negative powers take hold of me – impatience, anger, resentment, discontent, disappointment, discouragement, self-pity.
And 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)
  • Rest or Nap During the Day

Don’t let weariness punish you and ruin your day. Care for yourself by resting or napping, especially when you are really tired. Don’t push your mind and body to the limit until you are burnt out and have nothing to give. Even the Lord rested from His teachings and healings, and He encourages us to do the same. (I wrote about this here).

 31 And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” (Mark 6:31)

  • Teach Your Children

I believe there are kids out there who are more responsible, industrious, obedient, and easier to get along with than my kids. But I also know that there are kids who are worse than mine, spoiled and selfish ones. However difficult our kids sometimes are, we know that there is no giving up in our calling of motherhood, of rearing our children in the love and admonition of the Lord. My kids and I, we pray together, read and discuss the Bible together. I teach them, sometimes with tears. I give them of myself, hoping that in this way, they will see my deep sincerity to teach and guide them as they grow.

And you, fathers [and mothers], do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. (Eph. 6:4, bracketed addition mine)

  • Maintain Inner Quiet and Strength

Aside from resting and napping during the day, I have also found the wondrous comfort of keeping in touch with my inner self in quietude. When you have learned the practice of revelling in quiet inner peace, whether you are in a clamorous crowd, in the middle of an argument, in the verge of losing it, or in the blissful silence of self and surroundings – you do not easily get provoked and unravelled. In the middle of a rift or any situation where you know you can be robbed of your collectedness, capture the gift of silence and forbearance. Show meekness. Stop the flow of words that you know are counterproductive. There is pure delight in knowing you have a place inside of you that you can retreat to when your surroundings become hostile.

Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting onfine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. (1 Pet. 3: 3-4)

 Too much talk leads to sin.
Be sensible and keep your mouth shut. (Prov. 10: 19, NLT)

I might be linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,