Confessions

I’ve been meaning to write someting about this topic for a while now. Thoughts about it seem to pop up unexpectedly when I’m at work, on the train, on the bus – wherever. I’m even typing this out on my Nokia phone’s keypad, because the late KTM caused me to miss the 7:40 Transit. (But that’s another story.)

No, I won’t be writing about trains again. Today, I would be directing the pen to this topic called “beauty”. Thoughts about it have been colliding lately with the strains of Bethany Dillon’s “Beautiful” which in turn has been resounding violently in my mind.

I was so unique, now I feel skin deep
I count on the make-up to cover it all
Crying myself to sleep cause I cannot keep their attention
I thought I could be strong but it’s killing me

Does someone hear my cry?
I’m dying for new life

I want to be beautiful, make you stand in awe
Look inside my heart, and be amazed
I want to hear you say who I am is quite enough
Just want to be worthy of love
And beautiful

(Bethany Dillon, Beautiful)

I want to be BEAUTY-ful. Beauty. What does being beautiful mean? A couple of days ago, an officemate came up to me and said, “You look very pretty today. Do you have a date?” I told her, “I look pretty everyday.” Her reply? “Well, you look pretty-er.” Maybe it was the green eyeliner. Or perhaps it was the red lipstick I have taken into wearing. Or it could have simply been the kiss of Daddy God hovering over me.

I wish could tie you up in my shoes, make you feel unpretty too
I was told I was beautiful but what does that mean to you
Look into the mirror who’s inside there
The one with the long hair
Same old me again today

My outsides look cool, my insides are blue
Everytime I think I’m through it’s because of you
I’ve tried different ways but it’s all the same
At the end of the day I have myself to blame
I’m just trippin…

(TLC, Unpretty)

It’s funny. Ten years ago, you would never have elicited an “I’m pretty everyday” response from me. Ten years ago, I felt unpretty. Very, very unpretty.

I grew up being on the pudgy side. That never really bothered me when I was young. Except maybe for the time this kid came up to me and said, “Do you have a pillow under your tummy too?” Anyway, I was comfortable in my skin up until high school.

High school started my journey of insecurity. I kept journals back then. I remember this particular tear-strained entry with the words “I’m fat and I’m ugly” scribbled angrily and repeatedly all over its page. And then there’s this other entry written one dark Christmas eve. In the midst of all the festivities, someone reprimanded me, telling me to lose weight because I was getting fatter and fatter. I went home after all the merrymaking, cried my eyes red, and poured out all my anger on paper.

I went on a crash diet at the age of fourteen.

Looking back, I’m thankful that the whole thing never went to the extremes and never evolved into either anorexia or bulimia. I did get pretty sick though. After days of eating only when I was told to (and barely eating even then), I felt feverish and missed out on a couple of days of school. My fingertips were also turning blue (true story) so I had no choice to but eat again.

I got better after the ordeal. People started to compliment me, taking notice of the shed KGs. I was happy, but not that happy. Truth was, along with all my insecurities, another thing that had drove me not to eat was this obsession with a particular guy. Who, of course, took no notice of me even after my dramatic transformation.

It’s funny. I entered a beauty pageant, won, got the crown, but still didn’t get the guy.

It’s funnier. I entered university and got all these attention from all these other guys… and it was the only time that I realized that I was actually pretty.

But I never really felt beautiful. 

Not until the time that I encountered God (okay it’s not as scary as it sounds) and I heard Him call me precious, deeply loved, and…

Beautiful.

“For You formed me in my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. ” (Psalm 139: 13-14)

I now live in this reality that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Sure, I’ve re-gained the weight that I lost during that dark period of my high school life. Sure, I’ve got muffintops and unwanted curves. But I’m not going on any crash diet just to please anyone. Because I am secure, comfortable in who I am and what I look like now.

I’m not against healthy eating and proper exercise though. I believe that we should take good care of our bodies because God calls it His temple so – believe it or not – this flesh is the dwelling place of God (1 Cor 6:19). But I believe we should be comfortable with whatever our body types are (so what if I’m huggable – that’s a plus!) or whatever we look like physically.

To every girl reading this post, let me tell you this – you are beautiful. You are beautiful because you are a daughter of the King and He finds you worth far more than the lilies in the field. The Creator of the universe created you, and you are His greatest, most magnificent masterpiece, created in the very image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27). Believe it. You are.

Beauty is not something that we generate from the outside, but something radiating from within.

And so I end with this confession.

I am beautiful. : )

beautiful

Fearfully and wonderfully made

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Time Lapse

Half-past three. My brother and I walk through Maude Street with Maddy and Lucien who’ve decided to take the long way home with us. The Rottweiler at the other street freaks us out, thus it’s ideal to take this route. Besides. Passing by Maude Street means passing by the playground. We ride the teeter-totters there for a few minutes before we finally make our way home.

We march on to 5/54 O’dell Street with bindies latched on to our socks. Mum has milk and cookies set on the table. We gorge them down, watch some Rugrats and Ahh Real Monsters, and do some homework in between. Dad arrives after a day’s worth of PhD-ing. It’s my turn to set the table. I’d unset them later and then it would be Quantum’s turn to do the dishwashing.

He looks funny perched on that plastic chair, soap dripping from his hands.

Half-past four. Sir Nang-is is droning on as usual. What he’s sharing is actually interesting. He’s telling stories about Perseus and the gorgon Medusa. He says we’ll split into groups later on and present our interpretation of the play. Awesome. But my mind’s preoccupied. I’m thinking about the school paper meeting we’re having after this last class.

Of course my brother will be there. Along with the rest of his troop. Warren and Raymond (the twins) and then Shamal. The quartet would bring comic relief as choleric me would do the ordering around. Kiti-kiti, the guidance counsellor describes them. Okay, not them. Just my brother.

Who’d have thought that we were related?

Half-past five. It’s another Wednesday fellowship. Yey. This time it’s different, because it’s the first after EGR1. We’re having a celebration. We play a game of evolution. Sing songs. Someone gives a message. Then we divide into groups.

Our group leader asks us about our EGR experience. I am jubilant. I tell them that it was awesome – I felt like singing my way down the Math Building after that life-changing weekend.

I tell them I have but one wish though.

That my brother would experience the same thing as well.

Half-past six. The Wallbreakers Encounter is coming to an end. It’s the final session. I am nervous. I know God is moving, but I can’t bring myself to see what’s happening. I survey the room anyway.

But my eyes are locked to a specific corner in the room.

Sir RJ prays for him first. I can’t read his reactions. He’s so…  still. I keep praying. Kuya Verge approaches him next. He spends a considerable amount of time with him. Funny really. He’s the oldest kid in the bunch. An incoming senior college student in the midst of high school youth. What was I thinking, inviting him here?

But then he falls. I approach him. He sits down. I wrap my arms around his shoulders. Tears. He says, “Thank you, thank you, thank you” over and over again.

I am overwhelmed.

Half-past seven. I’m on the road. Travelling from work, hoping that I won’t have to wait for two hours to get a good standing position inside the train.

“You should get a car,” he tweets.

Yes. I will. And I’ll drive him around when he comes to visit me.

But he’s telling me that I should go back home. “Congratulations! Now that you’ve finished your Masters, you can now come back to the Philippines and stay here!” he comments in Facebook.

I think he misses me.

I miss him too.

Half-past eight. I’m finally home. Not home home. Home still.

I realize that blood is thicker than water.

Dearest Quantum Yuri Balberan Lubrica, send me a letter please?

Thank you. Miss you. : )

mari_and_qy

Blood is thicker than water.

Chasing Train Tracks

chasing train tracks

Sorry, Adele.

Oh. No. This post won’t be about lurv and all that jazz. It’s about me doing exactly what the title says.

Chasing train tracks.

Well, just trains, to be more accurate. Trains and busses. Sometimes taxis. But mostly trains and busses.

A huge chunk of my life these days consists of those daily two to three-hour commutes from home to work. Oh, but that’s only one way. Multiply it by two, then by six (I work on Saturday mornings), and you’ll see I’m not exaggerating about the “huge chunk” part.

In a day, I take a total of six busses (three times two) and four trains (two times two). The bus rides last 10 to 15 minutes each, and the trains 15 to 20 minutes. But of course, there are those waiting times in between.

Ugh. Those waiting times.

I try my best to escape them. Hence the title.

Because I do my share of chasing just to avoid all those periods of waiting. When I see the one minute sign flash at the KLIA Transit signboard, I make a mad dash (in heels, skirts, dresses) up the escalator, through the overpass, and down another escalator. Have to let go of all poise, because if I won’t, it would be another 30 minute of waiting for me.

Those 30 minutes matter since office hours start at 8:30AM.

A pastor said that delays are costly. And Mraz sings, “Timing’s everything” (Make it Mine). I super agree with both of them. Delays cost me taxi coupons that are equivalent to a nice meal at a nice fast food restaurant. And timing? You have to time your travel really well. Because if you don’t…You’re either chasing or waiting.

Yep.

Truth be told, the daily commute isn’t that bad. Many times, I come across many interesting characters. When I’m bored, I make up stories about them in my mind. Sometimes, they even provide their own dialogues. (Okay, I don’t mean to eavesdrop. But when conversations run right next to your eardrums, it gets rather hard to tune them out.)

Most times I use the commute to catch up on my reading. Also on my sleep. Try dozing during those 10 to 15 minute intervals. I’ve become an expert at taking powernaps. I’ve also become an expert at waking up at exactly the right stops. Most of the time.

Still, the evening squishes can be stressful. “Squishes” is a cute word for what actually happens during the evening rush hour. It’s the phenomenon that occurs when every person in Malaysia tries to fit themselves into three train coaches and… well, you get the picture.

But anyway. I’ve gotten used to it. Still, I don’t want to be stuck with this routine forever. I have my heart set on a better, more convenient means of transport.

My own car.

Yey. It’s going to take some more effort just to get that license though. But like many things in life, you have to give (read: sacrifice) a little (read: sometimes a lot) first. You’ve got to wait a bit more, but in the end, you know and you know that you’ll say, “It’s all worth it.”

Really.

Parang pag-ibig. It’s going to be oh so worth it! Now where did that random thought come from?

Okay. So… Here’s to a few more weeks of chasing!

Worshipper’s Reward

“Honor a prophet in the name of a prophet and you will receive a prophet’s reward.” (Matt 10:41)

Honor a worshipper and you will also receive a worshipper’s reward.

Ask me who my favorite singer, musician, or worship leader is and you’ll get some moments of silence.

Because I don’t have one. I have many.

With all the wonderful and inspiring musicians out there, why pick just one? (I’ll leave that “picking just one” for the case of choosing a partner in life. Oh. And of course that discipler.)

Well, this is just my own opinion. Affected most probably by my somewhat impartial nature. Anyway. Back to the question. I won’t be able to give you a single answer. But maybe I’ll be able to give you five.

Or more. But for now let’s go with five.

I admire many worship leaders, but being a biased female, I’ll present my top five in the women worship leaders category. Okay, I’m not really gender-biased. I just feel greater kinship to women (what with life and experiences) – thus the lean towards the feminine. But don’t worry, I’ll write another post about male worship leaders next time.

The women in the list below have sung and written songs which have made significant impacts at various points in my life. Their lives are also testimonies, and I share them to you with the intention of getting (and leaking out) the worshipper’s rewards.

So, in no particular order, here goes.

1. Misty Edwards

Known for: Favorite One, Strings, Relentless
My personal faves: Just in Time, Vow, Fling Wide, What does love look like?
Website/blog/whatever: http://www.mistyedwards.com/

Fell in love back in 2006 because of Favorite One. I am astounded by the depth of this woman and by the depth of her revelation of God as a Lover looking for a lover. For years, her songs have inspired me to dig deeper.

Deep is calling out to deep is calling out to deep (3x)

Yesterday’s depth is feeling really shallow
I’ve gotta go deeper, deeper, deeper still
And all Your waves and all Your billows crash over me
Pulling me deep, deep, deeper
From glory to glory, from strength to strength
From depth to depth, I want to fellowship with You

(Misty Edwards, Soul Cry)

2. Bethany Dillon

Known for: Beautiful, Dreamer, All I Need
My personal faves: Stop and Listen, Revolutionaries, Lead me on, For my Love, Are you sure
Website/blog/whatever: http://www.bethanydillon.com/, http://bethanydillon.wordpress.com/

Started recording at age 13, got her happily ever after at 19, had Lucy Barnard at 22… This girl is amazing! She’s an awesome talent as well. I love the huskiness in her voice, the poetry in her lyrics – basically how words just tumble out into beautifully crafted lines.

My faith feels like a furnace of loneliness
My rescue is invisible for now
But I can’t seem to shake this hope so dangerous
I will love and follow You, Unseen God

(Bethany Dillon, Come Find Me)

I also love how she writes about everyday life as well, or rather how we reach out to God as we go on with our daily lives. Really. Stop and Listen was my most played track during my oh-so-busy days.

3. Rita Springer

Known for: Worth it All, Fragrant Offering, Created to Worship
My personal faves: Intimate Stranger, You Still Have My Heart, What About God?
Website/blog/whatever: http://www.ritaspringer.com/

Of all the women in this list, Rita Springer, by far amazes me the most. She’s had her share of burdens – tumors in her uterus, singleness, betrayal… But she’s had greater breakthroughs still – an adopted African son named Justice, the DIVE School of Worship, and of course the numerous songs that have touched numerous lives.

I have to believe that He sees my darkness
I have to believe He knows my pain
I have to lift up my hands to worship
Worship His name

He said that He’s forever faithful
He said that He’s forever true
He said that He can move mountains
If He can move mountains
He can move my mountain, He can move your mountain too

(Rita Springer, I have to Believe)

4. Vicky Beeching

Known for: Captivated, Yesterday Today and Forever
My personal faves: All that I need, Break our Hearts, Join the Song, 26 Summers
Website/blog/whatever: http://vickybeeching.com/blog/

Theologically grounded, technologically advanced… Okay I’m no Oxford School of Theology graduate, but I can relate to Vicky Beeching when it comes to being a tech geek. When she’s not singing her heart out to God, Vicky maintains blogs and websites aimed to inspire and equip women worship leaders. She also keeps a blog filled with cyber stuff, exploring questions about God, the Church, and theology, and how technology fits into all of these things.

And really. I’ve loved this girl since All that I need – a song that I sing whenever questions about tomorrow flood my heart.

Every mountain I face
Every step of this race
I have nothing to fear
For Jesus You are here
All that I need to know for tomorrow
All that I need to know for today
Is that you’ll be with me each moment
Holding me close to you every step of the way

(Vicky Beeching, All that I need)

5. Kari Jobe

Known for: Revelation Song, No Sweeter Name, I’m Singing
My personal faves: You are for me, Pure, Singing over me, Joyfully, Everyone Needs a Little
Website/blog/whatever: http://www.karijobe.com/

One of the sweetest worshippers with that equally sugary voice. She’s swept us away, shown us to the sanctuary, and told the world that there’s no sweeter name than the name of Jesus. Loved her because of Beautiful, and loved her even more when a friend gave me a CD with her songs – songs that helped me get through a lot of dark and stormy days.

In addition to all that… I truly admire her for her down to earth nature. She wears mismatching socks, squeals and giggles, and takes pictures of anything and everything. I love this gal.

Come and find
Peace everyone needs a little
Rest everyone needs a little
Joy and a song to sing in the darkest night
Life even when it gets you down
Hope will turn it all around
But love is the greatest of these
Everyone needs a little

(Kari Jobe, Everyone Needs a Little)

So. I hope you are blessed by this short list of levites. Really, you’ll learn morea bout them and receive more of the worshipper’s anointing as you listen to their songs and even perhaps go to their sites.

* * *

So now, this levite is signing off and leaving you with a video and a little song of her own. The musical influences from the aforementioned list really show. :D