is a passionista and student often seen making her way to her next class through the buildings of the University of the Philippines Los Baños. She is also an obscure reference user, anglophile, pretty-things hoarder, closet hipster, time traveler, princess in disguise and more than a conqueror.
This blog is an avenue for me to write down my thoughts about life, relationships, art, all things pretty, and my journey with God. I could be a bit random too, depending on my mood.. I hope you don't check out. ;)
"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewellery or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." 1 Peter 3:3-4 ♥
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All photos and content © Bettina Esguerra unless otherwise specified. Please don't steal or repost without my permission. Thank you!
Today I received very disappointing news.
It was something I was supposed to do this summer. It was something I was very much looking forward to, something that I was already planning and was very excited about. Then today I found out it was not going to happen anymore.
The reason I was so disappointed is because I felt like for once in so many years, I was going to be able to do something different, something so completely out of the ordinary and something other than than traveling back and forth between QC and LB.
I don’t like complaining — I hate it when other people do it so I try not to as well, but if I’m being honest, I’m seriously sick of school now. I hate having to finish a mountain of handouts and a ton of papers to do. At 22, I just feel like I should be over this by now. Sometimes I hate where my life is at. Generally I am a fast-paced person and right now I feel like my life is moving at such a slow pace. My life’s theme song right now is The Weepies’ World Spins Madly On: “The whole world is moving and I’m standing still.”
So when I found out that the ONE THING I was very excited about, the ONE THING that’s been keeping me going (and was making me very anxious to finish this semester), suddenly fell apart, I just locked myself in my room and cried. I just felt like there was nothing else to do.
Then while I was sobbing like a baby on my bed, a voice whispered in my ear: Sing.
And so, sing I did. And I sang the first song that came into my head:
On the day I called, You answered me
And the hope in my soul increased
I lift my hands and turn my eyes
To the God who heals my heart and gives me peace
You are more than my words could ever say
You are Lord over all, over all my days
I will see this season through
I will fix my eyes on You
And an overwhelming sense of peace overcame my soul.
In that moment, even though I wasn’t praying, reading His Word or seeking Him during a time of pain and disappointment, God still did not fail to reach out to me and remind me of my convictions and how I thought I was going to react when disappointments happen:
It really is the most beautiful thing in the world to be in God’s hands. No matter what happens to me in this world, I am so convinced that things will still work out for good, because God works for the good of those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose. I used to be such a hypocrite — telling people I was okay when I really wasn’t, but that was only because I didn’t understand the depth of God’s love and grace. Today I stand an unshakable woman, but it’s not because of anything I ever did, but only because I stand on a solid and unshakable Ground. And this time, I absolutely mean it. ♥
Because I don’t want to wait for the year to end to count my blessings. (I should really be working on a 1-act play right now, but whatevs.)
Got this idea from Emily of one of my favorite blogs, Cupcakes and Cashmere. It’s a list of five random things (or people) I’m thankful for or inspire me.
I am thankful for the recently concluded Asian premiere of the dance performance Colonial. It was my first time being a production manager and I must say that my faith, patience, and yes — even physical strength! — were stretched to their limits. I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world, though. I made a lot of new friends (pictures coming soon!) and it made me want to go to Canada!
Yes, I posted pictures of a cupcake and a necklace. No, it’s not just what I’m thankful for (though I am thankful for good food and pretty things — always!). I’m thankful for what the cupcake and the necklace represent — which are gifts! The cupcake was randomly given to me by my cousin Bryan one Sunday, just because he wanted to and that’s how he shows love. I have the sweetest family! The necklace and letter are from Jacky, and it was a sweet surprise I received yesterday. I am blessed with great friends.
I am so thankful for my friend Joy! We’ve known each other for years now but it’s crazy to me that we only became close middle of last year! But I think it was perfect timing because we were going through very similar things, and today we’re still great friends. :) It’s great because now that seasons are changing for both of us, we still get and understand each other because we really have the same interests and share the same convictions. She is such a great testimony of God’s power and grace, and I believe God will continue to use her mightily to minister to women who are going through the same things she did. People who sincerely forgive, move on and get over the past are blessings. Only people who have been genuinely changed by God can be victorious in every area of life, and Joy is proof that what is impossible for man to do alone becomes possible when it’s God who does the changing.
Speaking of transformations…
I am thankful for discipleship in general. I am thankful for Angel, who is already a small group leader herself and will be running for student council. Hannah is running for student council also, and everyday I am amazed by how level-headed, mature and kind she is. Her passion for God is also unparalleled. Dani didn’t have the best year, but seeing just how maturely she handled it and how in faith she was that God can turn things around, really inspired and blessed me. Bel has really been transforming. Every time I talk to her, I’m amazed by how God has been using her to minister to her friends! Bea and I don’t see each other very often, but her desire to grow in her faith and fix her priorities is admirable. She is also very excellent in her academics as an act of worship, and that’s even more admirable. Rachel has been in New Zealand for four months now, and while we haven’t been able to Skype yet (insert crying sounds here) I still believe in God’s work in her life. I always tell her that her faith is really deep and unshakable, because even if things are so different in her life now, she still doesn’t want to be (in her words) a “mediocre and Sunday Christian.” I am in faith that God’s purposes will continue to be done in her life because she has a right heart before Him. And last but not the least, I am so thankful for Jacky — because even though I am technically not her discipler, I still see the many changes God has made in her life — starting with her heart. It’s a great testimony, and I pray that one day God will give her the heart (and the guts!) to proclaim to the world just how good He has been to her. ;)
These girls build my faith. The more they grow in their knowledge of and faith in God, the more they become beautiful in my eyes. It is such a privilege to see them growing and to see them sharing their faith with others in different capacities. I am blessed to know them.
I am thankful for my family. This really deserves its own entry (I’ll probably blog about them soon) but I’d still like to mention them now. I am thankful for life-laying love. I am thankful for relationships that don’t change, even when circumstances do. I am thankful for the kind of love that doesn’t change based on mood. I am thankful for love that mirrors Christ’s love, and that’s what I have with them.. and also what inspires me to believe for a romantic love like that one day.
These are five things and/or people (there are more!) I find myself thanking God for lately. I can say that 2013 started with a high note for me. How has God been blessing you lately? :)
Ending this blog with a song I can’t get out of my head:
There are so many things I’m thankful for in this life — and right now I’d like to share one, or rather, three of them. I am thankful that everyday I have a chance to learn, re-learn and unlearn.
On learning. I’m thankful that I don’t know everything — because then what else is there to live for? I’m glad I don’t know much about a lot of things and that I don’t know everything there is to know about the things that I think I do know about. Does that make sense? I’m glad that while I don’t think I’m a complete simpleton (I’d like to believe I do have skills in a few areas), I can still learn from other people. I am privileged enough to engage, establish, equip and empower a group of young women, and yet there is no monopoly of lessons in those relationships. Together we study and examine everything in light of God’s Word. We are mutually learning from one another, and I am so blessed to be able to experience that. And being that I’m a student, I still literally learn a lot, but I also believe that even after I graduate — when I’m in the workplace, as long as I keep believing that I don’t know everything (which will never happen), I will still keep learning.
Something I’m learning right now: New make-up techniques! Seriously.
On re-learning. I am the type of person who has to hear something probably a couple of times to be able to process it properly. Chalk it up to ADD, I don’t really know, but that’s how it works with me. It’s the same with my convictions. I find that God sometimes makes me go through something a couple of times in order for me to really learn the principle He’s trying to teach me. After all, a conviction is not a conviction if it doesn’t go through hell and back.
Something I’m re-learning right now: I’m re-learning that our conviction is ours. It is our responsibility to live by them. It is also not up to us to convince people of the worth and value of our convictions — only the Holy Spirit can do that. I’m also re-learning that God’s ways are higher than mine. As frustrated as I am, I can’t stop anyone from doing what they want to do, even if I think it will hurt them terribly. I am not the Savior. (And yes, that’s something that I constantly have to re-learn.)
As a beautiful woman of God once wrote (and I’m just going to quote because she verbalized it perfectly): “My prayer always is that God won’t allow me to look at others condescendingly when they do things that are not of my preference, or if they do not meet my standards. I’d like for Him to remind me always that even if I feel like I’m right, or that I’m being wise and practical and brilliant and superior in those moments of discovering the difference, there’s still nobody better to know the full potential of that person I’m considering to be wrong and inferior but God and God alone. Let only genuine concerns arise, and let the truth be spoken in love. I want always for my eyes to be open to the possibility that my very own knowledge may grow old and stale, and that this might hinder my ability to accept another’s take even when it is valid. Let me be refreshed by the newness of others’ ideas, and learn to learn from them. Remind me that even if my life ‘works perfectly,’ that it isn’t the only way to do life. Only Jesus can reveal the way one is fashioned to pursue his/her destiny, so let that be my only standard and not mine.”
In the same way that God has been patient with me throughout my Dark Ages (as I like to call it), I need to be as patient with other people as well. Who am I to give up and stop loving when He didn’t give up on me and never stopped loving me?
On unlearning. I’ve been having a wonderful discussion with a woman I’m discipling. She recently heard something that she didn’t necessarily agree with, and she ended up asking me and another pastor about it. Here I realized just how important unlearning is. I’m not saying that we need to stop listening to other people altogether — that’s just contradicting my first point, which is the importance of learning. What I am saying is we need to filter, filter, filter. And it actually applies to a lot of areas in life. When you hear an opinion, do you automatically agree with it? Or when you hear a rumor, or someone saying something terrible about another person, do you instantly believe it? If you do, then I know how you feel, because I’ve been there. It came to a point where I didn’t know what to believe anymore. That was when I knew I needed to form my own stand in things — because if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. Also another thing to note is that in everything, as Christians we need to examine everything we hear, see and watch in light of God’s Word. If you hear a teaching that is contradictory to what the Bible says, well, it’s probably something you need to unlearn. Everything you need is in His Word (see 2 Timothy 3:16).
Something I’m unlearning right now: A couple of man-made rules that I believe I can throw out the window, and not to be too hard on myself about it.
As Joshua Harris wrote on Dug Down Deep: “The solution here isn’t to throw out all rules. It’s to embrace God’s rules and obey them out of a desire to honor him. If there’s a rule in your life that you obey solely because of someone else and that person’s opinion, take the time to study Scripture for yourself. See if your rule is really biblical. Sometimes you’ll find that it is — either because Scripture directly commands it or because biblical principles convince you of its wisdom. But other times you might find it’s man-made and you could leave it behind.”
How about you? What have you been learning, re-learning and unlearning lately?
I have a confession.
Lately I just find myself screaming my head into a pillow.. and it never fails to surprise me every time. For some reason, the minute I lay my head on a pillow, I just start crying, but I can never pinpoint the source of the pain and frustration. This has happened five times in the last month. (The last time it happened, I finally figured it out and decided to go to my mom to talk — she was absolutely terrified when I burst into her room bawling like a baby; she taught someone had died!).
Why this random outbursts of emotion?
Is it hormones? Is it tantrums over not getting what I want or getting my way? Is it stress? Is it because I don’t feel in control? Every time it happens, I can’t help but ask, “God, what IS this?”
Honestly, I’ve never been embarrassed over my classic girl sensibilities. I love crying. I love crying over silly romcoms or when my dad tells me I’m beautiful. I love crying when someone affirms their love for me. I love crying when I think I’ve been let down or if I’ve been hurt. I just love crying. I think it’s a good and healthy way to express any negative emotion, and sometimes even positive ones. And when other people cry in front of me, it doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, what I consider to be one of my strengths, has also been my Waterloo.
Because in the same way that I love to dwell on every joy, every happiness, every word of comfort and affirmation, every beautiful thing that happens to me, I also dwell on every worry, every anxiety, every negative word uttered, every feeling of discomfort or that I don’t have control over what happens next.
Last night it happened again, and before I decided to run to my mom again, I heard a very real, very audible sound in my head: “Pray.”
So I did. At first the words wouldn’t come. But then I just cried out to God in frustration, “Lord, I don’t even know what to say. Lord, I’m really having a hard time. I’m trying to control how I feel, but I can’t.”
Darn it, I’m crying again as I type these words.
It re-enforced my whole conviction that God sometimes breaks us to get our attention. And if He had to play the “fragile, female and hormonal” card to get it, so be it.
After praying and crying out to God in frustration, everything felt so clear. My eyes are still puffy and sensitive over all the crying last night, but it was so worth it. Here are the things I realized:
Plus many other things. I’m just waiting on God to know more.
I’m really disappointed in myself. As much as I’d like to pretend that I’m never hard on myself, that’s not really the case.
But then God reminded me that His mercies, they’re new every morning. He can redeem lost time. He can give me back all those nights I spent crying in frustration. I guess He just wanted me to ask for help. And this is me acknowledging that, yes, Lord, I need help. I know help will come in many forms, and I am believing God my Rescuer will come through for me.
Lord, thank You because I know I am no longer a slave to my hormones or to my emotions. I am not a victim of my circumstance. And I do not have to pretend to be strong and so put-together either. Thank You because Your grace is sufficient for me, and that Your power is made perfect in my weakness. Thank You because even now, as I ask and pray and cry for help, You are already doing things to protect me.
Now please, help me control my tears because I’m starting to scare my family!
"In darkness, in triumph, my soul shall sing of His mercy, and kindness, my offering of praise…"
I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with my guitar and piano-playing. I started playing guitar when I was really young (my dad and brother encouraged me because they’re both quite gifted musicians — and my uncle and aunt from my mom’s side are really good too), and piano when I was in high school.
He even wrote “Anabet” on the head..
My dad gave me this small guitar when I was a kid. He named it Anabet. He was an OFW then, and he promised me that when he returned home for good, he would teach me. So for the mean time, he made me attend a one-on-one class with my music teacher from school. Well.. let’s just say my dad never got around to teaching me, and when he got back, he and my mom separated. Then somewhere along the way, I found myself abandoning music for good. You know what they say. When ADD kicks in..
I never thought I would play again. But then the past few months, the inevitable happened.
My cousin Sandra started teaching herself guitar in her junior year in high school, and my other cousin Bryan taught himself last summer. We weren’t really surprised they discovered music because their late dad was really good also (I always refer to him as my favourite hippie who ever lived) and their mom is also a very good singer. To make the long story short, my two teenage cousins (who live with us) started playing (and playing really well, mind you), and our house was suddenly filled with live music again.
For the longest time (more than 10 years now!), my small guitar was left untouched. It was left abandoned to the point that I just let my 1-year-old nephew carry it anywhere, throw it around, and yes, even smash it to the ground. The guitar could break to pieces for all I cared. Some of the strings were removed, the body was super dirty. It was just unusable.
But then today Bryan decided to fix it. I don’t know why — I guess he was just bored, or wanted another guitar in the house, or got inspired by the non-stop rain, or maybe it was just the classic male drive to fix broken things in the house.. but he did.
And fix it he did. Sandra helped him with the tuning.
Now, the mini-guitar is as good as new! We had extra strings from Sandra’s old guitar (which also needs fixing — I’m sure Bryan will take care of it as well) plus some tools, and a few cleaning here and there and voilà! The guitar looks new, and more importantly, it sounds amazing! We haven’t stopped playing praise and worship songs the entire afternoon.
The new and improved Anabet!
My sister trying it out. Now my nephews have a kiddie guitar they can use when they’re big enough!
I guess being that I am a highly visual person, I have this thing where I associate inanimate objects to certain people, events or abstracts. My small guitar — which was always to me a symbol of abandonment (of endeavors and commitment) every time I looked at it as it was a gift from my dad, who promised me he would teach me guitar but left anyway, suddenly became a symbol of restoration, of beauty, of skill, of a bright future.. because now, it will always remind me of my cousin Bryan, who is an amazing man of God. Now, I can’t wait to play again! I’m re-learning and I’m enjoying it a lot.
You see, in little ways like this (plus many other ways — we can’t box how He works), God sends people to help heal and restore the few broken fragments of our lives. In the same way that God used my cousins to restore not just my childhood guitar but my love for playing as well, He can also send people to help restore you. He can send people who will speak healing and encouragement into your life.. if you let them.
Don’t get me wrong: restoration is not a one-time big-time thing. It’s a process, and it may take years, just as I’m still in the process of healing now. One thing is certain though — no matter how long it takes, for as long as it’s Jesus who does it, the healing is certain. Time doesn’t heal all wounds; Jesus does.
And you know what? When God restores, it’s like you were never broken. ♥
"… to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.” Isaiah 61:3
"Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed;
save me and I will be saved,
for you are the one I praise.” Jeremiah 17:14