Sixteen years and counting…

As a single person, sometimes I hear married couples say how their love for each other has grown through the years. It’s always made me feel puzzled. How does that happen?  Don’t you see each other’s flaws ever so clearly? I didn’t understand what they meant until now. Until I see myself and my relationship with Jesus in the mirror and somehow, despite my sins and lack of love, I can only see grace.

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After 16 years of marriage with This Man, I can honestly say that His love is ever sweeter.

I cannot fathom how He’s coped with me every day, every year of our marriage. When I think of our first years, after the newness had worn out, the many misunderstandings, the hiding away of my sins, and my strong desire to do what I wanted —it’s amazing how He’s still by my side and has never left me to myself.
I remember with sorrow how I used to try winning his acceptance by doing things I knew He loved, and spending time with people dear to Him. I remember my continual bitterness towards Him when His plans didn’t meet my approval. I would hold a grudge, not talk to Him for a while, all while questioning why He would take away the things and people I loved the most.

“Aren’t you good and powerful enough to keep pain away from me?”
What really bothered me was that I knew He was powerful and good, but also that His counsel would always stand. No.matter.what.
And I wanted control.
In some ways, I wanted out.

But then He melted my heart with his love. And has continued pursuing me again, and again, and again. Instead of him giving me what my sins have deserved, He gave me grace—more than I can ever understand! Instead of Him giving up on me, He’s drawn near to me, accepted my fists pounding against His chest and embraced me tightly until I can only weep and rest. Securely–safely.

“I’m not going anywhere,” he’s whispered. “I’ve made a covenant with you. I love you”

Yes, sixteen years have passed since we first met. They haven’t been perfect– it’s my sin that’s marred them. I still struggle to trust Him. Sometimes I’ve been very discontent with His dealings with me; I still don’t love Him fully or make Him my priority the way He deserves. He’s the one who’s seen the deepest depth of my sin, and walked with me through the valley of shadow and death. He knows what I’m capable of, and still loves me. He’s provided for every one of my needs; he’s the guy who has seen my tears, heard my cries, cried with me, and quieted my heart. He’s patiently shown me how His ways are ALWAYS better than mine, and how there’s true peace in following Him and taking Him at His Word. He’s the one who knows my deepest desires and surprises me with unexpected little gifts to remind me, “Hey, I’ve got this”. When all my world has given way, He’s been my rock and my helper.

Against the backdrop of my sinfulness, His love and tender care over the last five thousand, eight hundred forty days shines brightly. I  am so thankful for His holding me so closely, and so overwhelmed by His faithfulness. It makes me marvel and wonder and sing for  joy.

To many more years, dear Jesus! You have won my heart.

I will gladly run with you.

http://youtu.be/EFpexotDL5A

Life as it comes

“Is that a chicken’s egg?”

“Yes it is”

Mia and Marco were so excited about the egg I brought inside a jar. They could swear with their lives that there was a chick inside. We kept on explaining it was just an egg, but they couldn’t stop daydreaming about the “chick” until it broke and there was nothing else than egg yolk in the jar.

On they went to find another pet in the backyard. A few minutes passed by until we heard them say,

“We’re training Argentina so she can fly, mami”

“Argentina?”, I asked.

We found out that Argentina was the moth (actually, I’m not sure what kind of creature it was) Marco and Mía just found in the backyard. The pair spent like an hour “trying to teach it how to fly”. They would put it on them to decorate their shirts, too.

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And while they were having fun with their newfound pet, Steff and I baked delicious cookies and wondered about the upcoming weather–– a storm is coming.

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The kids didn’t know about it. They were outside exploring and making a science experiment (I think Argentina was not the main attraction anymore; or had flown away after her “training” ;-) )

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Marco wanted to make a science experiment which, according to him, needed to be placed inside the refrigerator for one hour.

“When will it be finished?”, he asked his mom.

Steff approached the kitchen clock,  showed it to him and explained how to tell when the next hour was over.

“I’m going to sit here and wait till it’s over”, Marco announced.

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I chuckled. Four-year-old kids don’t have a clear idea of what an hour is and how long it is. But he sat down and trusted it would come by fast. He didn’t sit for long, though, but right then I wished I would be like him. Like Mia. Like kids.

As I sit here and pray that the storm won’t come and hope that my rescheduled flight to NYC will actually happen on Friday, I want to be patient. And I want to, like a friend reminded me this afternoon, take life as it comes…just like kids do. Moment by moment. Instead of complaining and being discouraged about the weather and whatnot, I’m opening my eyes to the blessings I already have today. So here we go.

Today I’m thankful for:

1. Steff–– her welcoming heart towards people. For her creativity, her ability to bake. For how she fiercely and joyfully loves her children. The grace God’s poured on her to speak to her kids and converse with them. The strength God gives her every day. I’m thankful for being able to witness that and being part of it. So beautiful!

2. Backyards, butterflies, and sunshine.

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3. The joy of loving other families and being loved and cared for by them. I’m treasuring each of these moments.

4. Freshly baked cookies in different shapes, of course!

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5. Being able to celebrate my dad’s 54th birthday. Considering what he went through last January, this is a miracle. He’s come a long way. The Lord has done it!

So today, two minutes before midnight, I praise You, Father. Because You are good. Because You are wise. Because You are loving. Because You LOVE ME. While I may not understand Your ways, I trust Your character. Thank you for being so kind to me. For every little blessing. Please use me. Have Your way in me.

On vacation, meaning, and nature walks

Vacation: a respite or a time of respite from something (Merriam-Webster dictionary definition)

Vacation: a time when my heart naturally freaks out at the reality of down time from my regular schedule. (my definition)

When I was a child, I adored vacation. Those three glorious months of leisure were the epitome of happiness in each child’s life. I remember my family and I used to go on trips and spend days in hotels. There I would make new friendships with kids from other places of the world that would last just that–a few days (but they were fun, nonetheless! I got to practice my rudimentary English). During summer I also used to take swimming classes sometimes. Such a refreshment!

As I’ve grown up and acquired different responsibilities other than studying and getting good grades, vacation has also acquired a new meaning. The first one being freedom– from school and work. But it hasn’t stopped there. Now vacation also means “downtime”. In other words, it means, “Try to get some other summer jobs on the side which you can do to help you earn a necessary extra income for the summer”. This new meaning makes me freak out. It makes me anxious. Vacation is not as fun as it was before.

However, over the last couple of summers, I feel my Heavenly Father is trying to teach me a brand new meaning of the word vacation. He’s been whispering it in my ear and tenderly leading me through it. He’s been trying to teach me that vacation also means trust. Trust in Him who is the Provider of all my needs. Trust in His sovereignty to do what needs to be done and place me where I need to be. Trust in His love that I will have all my needs covered––and sometimes even more than that.

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Yesterday was my first day of vacation from work. I am deciding by His grace to live one day of vacation at a time– trusting Him. And as I trust Him, I see Him taking care of me. As I trust Him, I want to enjoy and treasure the little gifts He’s so willing and kind to give me, such as the gifts of nature walks, friendships, and cute babies.

Flamboyant trees are so full and colorful at this time of the year :)

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Yesterday morning  I got to enjoy fresh air, beauty, nature, and meaningful conversations with my good friend Jennifer as we walked through el Mirador :) Jennifer is so dear to me!

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As an added bonus, I got a “date” with her son baby AJ. He likes me! And even held my hand as we walked…

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Isn’t he CUTEEEEE!!!

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*smooches*  So, so cute… :D *sigh*

Thank you Lord for vacation. You are faithful. You are worthy to be trusted.

I am getting married!

Sabrina + Nathan

It’s true. The evidence is overwhelming. It is everywhere.

I am getting married.


I don’t know exactly when, but I am. And most importantly, I know whom I’m marrying. And my future husband knows me so well. He loves me.

And you can’t stop it.

I am having the most amazing wedding in history. I am marrying the most amazing person that has ever existed at the most stunning venue- by a glassy sea.
My groom is not here, but he is preparing a house for me. He’s left me letters that talk about him and display his character in detail. He’s the smartest man who has ever lived on this earth. He’s also, caring, patient, and full of grace. I loooove those things about him. He’s promised he will come back for me and sweep off my feet to take me to our wedding. We will then be together for eternity and nothing will separate us.

Yes. You guessed it right. I am marrying Jesus. And as cheesy as that sounds, let His character and words and promises sink in for a moment.

He is amazing. He is the real deal.

And that wedding IS taking place–no doubt about it.

In the meantime, I await. But I don’t (want to) do so lightly. As I wait for our wedding day, I prepare myself. I make myself ready with that which my groom has graciously bought for and granted to me– a beautiful fine linen, bright and pure…which John says is the righteous deeds of the saints.

Christian, aren’t you excited already about my wedding? About your wedding?

Single woman, may this be an encouragement to you: you ARE getting married. It is a fact. And your groom is more awesome than your wildest dreams.

As a song says, “[Let] anticipation well up inside while the groom is crowned as King”
Because it’s true.

We will all get to have a happily ever after after all :D

“Holy (Wedding Day)” by The City Harmonic

This is the story of the Son of God
Hanging on the cross for me
But it ends with a bride and groom
And a wedding by a glassy sea
O death where is your sting
Cause I’ll be there singing
Holy Holy Holy
Is the Lord

This is the story of a bride in white
Waiting on her wedding day
Anticipation welling up inside
While the groom is crowned as king
O death where is your sting
Cause we’ll be there singing
Holy Holy Holy is the Lord

Holy Holy Holy Holy Holy Holy
Is the Lord Almighty
Holy Holy Holy Holy Holy Holy
Is the Lord Almighty
Who was and is and is to come
Who was and is and is to come

This is the story of the Son of God
Hanging on the cross for me
And it ends with a bride and groom
And a wedding by a glassy sea

This is the story of the a bride in white
Singing on her wedding day
Of the God who was and is to stand before a bride who sings
Holy Holy Holy Holy Holy Holy is the Lord Almighty

 

Guard (y)our heart

 

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A few days ago, the Lord  brought to my mind Proverbs 4:23 “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” 

One thing  I have noticed is how prompt we are to remind people (and ourselves) of this verse; especially when they’re facing uncertainty or are awaiting for something big (and good) to happen. We say,  “Guard your heart!”, partly because we don’t want to see them disappointed if their wish doesn’t come true.

Yet, I feel sometimes we forget about who we are and what our heart is. We forget that we are weak people in need of grace, and we forget that our heart is wicked. While I do agree that it’s our responsibility to make sure our hearts and thoughts are not trespassing into whatever is false, dishonorable, unjust, impure, unlovely, unworthy territory…we must also acknowledge that without Christ we are nothing.

That was a major realization I had the other day. The Spirit brought that verse into my mind, but right away I found myself totally unable to keep my heart in my own strength. “Help me, Lord! I cannot keep my heart” I cried out.

And so He came to my rescue.

Life is always better when we fight battles next to Jesus.

Celebrating life

This is the day that the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it

(Psalm 118:24)

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Sometimes you just gotta get away.

This morning I woke up earlier than usual. Not having any specific plan for the day except for studying, I decided I would pack fruits, a bottle of water, and put on my swimsuit. I jumped in my car and drove for what seemed forever. An hour and some minutes later I didn’t know what my exact current location was, so I stopped at the nearest gas station to ask for directions.

I asked the lady at the store about the whereabouts of my final destination. She looked at me and didn’t know what to tell me. So I asked her, “Where’s Metro Country Club?” I figured that if I could find that, I’d be alright. And then she said it was about 700 meters away.

So I jumped back in my car and drove. She was right. Metro Country Club was there…but everything I could see what the rear entrance. Now I knew I was lost.

So I kept driving. Fifteen minutes later, I had reached my destination: the beach.

Lonely beach on a beautiful day.

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I was just happy I could finally spend some time in the Word with Jesus.

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The sound of the crashing waves, the sun kissing my skin, and the wind embracing me while I sat on the white sand…

Yes, it was a gorgeous day.

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While I was walking back to my car, I found this hunk walking trotting on the beach– life jacket and all :D Soooo cute!!

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Today I’m thankful not only because I have a car, for the ability to drive, the amazing gift of living on a beautiful island, and the opportunity to get away. I celebrate  Jesus because even though He was rejected by men (and by me), He has become the cornerstone of my salvation. “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes” (Mark 12:10-11; Psalm 118:22). Jesus went to Gethsemane and prayed three times, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will”. The Father knew there was no other way for us to be saved…so I want to thank Jesus for laying down His life for me. Today I celebrate that all things are possible for God, and through Jesus’ sacrifice now I’m free.  I’m alive. God’s plan is always better. (Yes, Katherine…ALWAYS!) ALL things are possible for God!

And… as if I didn’t have enough to be thankful for today…

An added bonus: today I met my new baby brother!

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Yes, this is the Lord’s doing. Let’s rejoice and be glad in Him.

Treasures in the ocean

When we were kids, our memories used to be exercised frequently. Think of it– how many of your friends’ and relatives’ phone numbers did you memorize? We had almost no choice-it was either memorizing them or walking around with a mini phone book. Usually the latter wasn’t a practical idea.
A long time has passed since then, and well, things have changed. I know some people who have trouble remembering their own cellphone number ;-)

In this technology era where it seems our ability for memorization is fading away, memorizing a complete book of the Bible seems like is a daunting task.

“Let’s memorize the book of Philippians!”, we said last Monday at my small group meeting. And we all happily agreed to it. Little did we know what kind of adventure we were getting ourselves into.

In one week I’ve memorized roughly seven verses. Not that bad! Actually, I’m surprised I’ve been able to get this far without complaining about the difficulty of this assignment. The Word of God is alive and gives us life. In this short week, I’ve rediscovered that every word of Scripture is necessary for our understanding of who God is, who we are, and what His gospel means.

Last week as I was driving to work, I repeated the words of the first verses of the epistle. “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints who are at Philippi…”. I realized I kept saying it wrong. I was leaving some words out. So I had to try it one more time…
“Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints IN CHRIST JESUS who are at Philippi…”. Finally, I got it right! And then it dawned on me. The Holy Spirit made it clear to me: I cannot be a saint without Jesus. I am holy in Him. His righteousness clothes me. I cannot grow in holiness without Jesus. I can’t live the Christian life (let alone memorize a book!) without Christ.

Did I know this before? Of course! Do I live conciously of this truth? Not so much…

So this is what keeps me going. This is what keeps me memorizing His Word: the knowing that as I embark in this journey through Philippians, I will find rich treasures in the vast ocean of His gospel that will transform me and make me more like Him.

Lord, I cannot do this without You. Fill me with Your Word.

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