May 03, 2017 / 02:32 AM
A few weeks ago, I changed my username on Instagram and Twitter. If I didn’t just renew my hosting and domain – which took a huge chunk from my pay – I would’ve done the same for my blog. During the early days of my entire rebrand, as I was praying for a title, She Makes Him Known felt…right. I knew it was from God. “She” didn’t refer to myself but to the women I intend(ed) to share my faith to. But, a year has passed, and it feels like a mistake. I am so undeserving, and no day passes by when the enemy doesn’t tell me.
Have I really been staying true to my cause? I ask myself that all the time. There are several things I prayed for this safe space to be. I want it to be a community for young women to share about Christ. Through time, God kept reaffirming the need for this platform. Indeed, there is an audience thirsting for Him, I just had to move.
With all honesty, I never thought I’d write about beauty. I don’t feel bad about it – maybe only when I spend more than I should – because it’s something I’m passionate about. But, as much as I want to be the “God Girl” everyone presumes I am, I can’t always find the right words to write about God. Just like any other writer…and believer, I go through seasons of drought. Truly, if I let my emotions dictate my relationship with Him, I would have stopped believing a long time ago. Still, I persist, because I know that in unremarkable moments of solitude, God is glorified by a heart who seeks His nearness. He won’t always give a clear yes or no; most of the time, what happens in between is already the blessing. The biggest product of our season(s) of waiting isn’t the path we arrive at but the people we become.
Read: When God Feels Like An Afterthought
The question is, why exactly do I want to make Him known? Is it because I want to be regarded as the “selfless” servant – to essentially be glorified in the process – or to act as a purveyor of His grace, to point to His perfect Being? I find myself disappointed when I can write about everything else so easily but churning out God-breathed content takes everything from me. At the end of the day, it points to the I, to my pride. I constantly plead with God how my so-called ministry isn’t “successful” in the eyes of the world. But, which lenses am I looking through – from Eternity’s perspective or my own?
But, my God, I know He knows how much I try. With a daily 9-hour desk job, photography school and ministry, I continue to grow my passion project. But lately, it seems to be such a big responsibility and an undeniable burden. As much as it’s an avenue for joy, all I feel is pressure. I take it so seriously, more than I have in the past, that all I have are lists of possible blog entry ideas, one half-baked draft after the other, and depressing Google Analytics statistics.
More than that, my everyday sin cloaks me and forces me to think that I am unworthy to be used by God when I know full well, He equips those He calls. I mean, how can He plant the seeds and not finish His work? I pray for that to be true.
So, what I’m saying is this…I apologize to anyone I’ve disappointed, who I’ve led to believe differently about my heart and my cause. But still, thank you for staying with me. We’ll figure this out. God, help me.
“And then it hit me: I served God with mixed motives. I hoped lost people would be saved – but I wanted to be the evangelist God used. I desired Christians to be encouraged – but I wanted to be the instrument of edification. I wanted people to think God was awesome – and that I was, too.
This is where it gets tricky. The desire for God to be glorified through me is the height of my created purpose. But there is a fine line between wanting God to use you for his glory and wanting everyone to know it. It’s the fine line between pure worship and idolatry.“
Garrett Kell, Stop Photobombing Jesus via The Gospel Coalition
March 05, 2017 / 15:50 PM
Reading the Bible is an endless act of humbling yourself by laying down your lies, in order to seek a truth that could go on without you. Author-blogger extraordinaire, Hannah Brencher, said that, not me. No truer words have been said.
A rediscovery of my faith in 2011 brought me to the saving pages of the Bible. I’ve heard the words salvation and grace innumerable times without them pierce through my heart. They were familiar, comforting ideas that were only convenient when I needed them. Understanding the insurmountable love and sovereign character of God through stories, songs, and meditations made Him alive in me. He meets me in my mess and engages in every insignificant part of my life.
The Bible has guided me through unwanted trips to the emergency room, a broken and contrite heart (He shall not despise), a hundred rejection e-mails, countless of depressive episodes, and the list goes on. In moments, even seasons, when I’m stubbornly bent on keeping my pride than my relationships, when I’d rather run away from circumstances than confront it, words of wonder rebuke and humble me. Knowing God’s words by letting it speak to me, day by day, makes it the unchanging compass for my life – leading me closer to His will.
Why read the Bible?
More than anything, it is the foundation of a personal, love-filled relationship with my Maker, my Father, my Lover, and my Friend. It shatters whatever wrong image I have of God and corrects it – because what need do I have for a God who always agrees with me? Through tear-stained pages – marked by almost indecipherable hand-written notes – it points me to exactly where I need it, at a specific, God-designed season of my life. Words jump out and lead its way to my hardened heart.
This, I want for you, too. These words aren’t for the holy; they’re for the sick, the struggling, the faithless.
How should I read the Bible?
There is no perfect way to read the Bible; it doesn’t exist. I’ve been reading it for the past 5 years, and I continue to learn. Having these habits help me study the Word of God with a heart open to wisdom and rebuke. It’s an endless well of truth pointing to the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross – making a way for us to finally be right with God. Beginner or not, I share these available tips and resources I use that can help you find a personal and creative routine for your quiet time. I pray that this may lead you to experience God even more.
They will be my people, and I will be their God. And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever. (Jeremiah 32:38-39)
Where do I begin?
- Find a translation that works for you.
If I were to discuss the differences of every single Bible translation, you’d be here forever. This Bible Translation Guide by Mardel is pretty easy to understand. You can also compare translations using Bible Study Tools. Let these help narrow down your search. Personally, I recommend the New Living Translation (NLT), New International Version (NIV), or the English Standard Version (ESV) for translations that are accurate and can easily be understood. I started with NIV, which many churches still use, and at present alternate between an ESV Global Study Bible and a compact NLT Bible.
- Get a hard copy of the Bible and download a Bible app.
I suggest getting a small, compact Bible you can bring with you anywhere. I prefer a physical Bible over an app because you can highlight the verses (pretty old school) and take down notes in it. It’s also less distracting. It’s best to have a Study Bible to avoid misinterpreting passages. As alive as these words are today, these were written during different times. By immersing ourselves deeply in context – cultural and historic background – this helps break our misconceptions and prejudices. Purchase these in Christian bookstores like OMF Lit or in churches for a cheaper price but you can also get copies from your local bookstore.
For phones, tablets, and computers, you can download YouVersion. I also love Glo Bible because of its sleek design. Offline versions are available for download, which is best when you want to search for verses and passages on the go. There are many available online study tools and devotionals, too. It’s always a good idea to have a Bible with you, may this be a physical copy or an app.
Read: Why I’m Using A Physical Copy of the Bible Again via Crossroads
I am definitely a night person. This means, I read the Bible before I sleep. I also read a daily devotional from Proverbs 31 Ministries on my daily commute home. When are you most awake, where your heart can be fully open to the Word of God? Find a special spot at home, in school, or in the office where you can ponder and allot time – even 15 minutes – every day. Stay away from things that can distract you. To help me focus, I listen to instrumental music from Dustin O’ Halloran or worship music from Hillsong, Bethel, United Pursuit, etc. Regardless of emotions, which is the weakest basis of faith, a routine helps us in following through with our Bible reading. It instills discipline in us until it eventually becomes part of our daily lives.
Unless you’re doing a reading plan, a good introduction to the Bible, most especially for beginners, are the Psalms. This gives a glimpse of man’s relationship with God and reveals his deep need for Him. It’s relatable, straightforward, and not intimidating. From this, you can continue on with the New Testament, specifically the Gospels, with pretty remarkable accounts of Jesus’ life on earth. It’s endlessly humbling having a God who reached out from Heaven to reach us and become human – yet completely free of sin. I also really love Job, Ecclesiastes, and Isaiah.
Read: How to Start Reading the Bible via Christianity Today
- Most importantly, pray before opening your Bible.
This book is unlike any other; it’s holy and God-breathed. It’s only recently when I started praying before I opened my Bible. I pray for the Holy Spirit to open my heart and reveal truth to me. It’s a simple act that completely transforms my Bible reading. From this, He prepares me to do His good work in and through me. We should also give praise for the freedom to read the Bible because there are so many people who don’t have access to it or are ostracized for doing so in many nations.
Read: Why Is My Delight in God So Short Lived? via Desiring God
I’m reading the Bible…now what?
Aside from a Bible Reading Plan – readily available in Bible apps, Christian websites, and Churches – there are plenty of online resources that can help you personalize your quiet time. My go-to websites are Proverbs 31 Ministries and She Reads Truth. These are, of course, targeted towards women. Fun fact, these organizations were actually what pushed me to create a new blog. Local favorite, Olivia Women, and bloggers, Joy Mendoza and Carla Peralejo-Bonifacio, also have inspirational, Scripture-breathed entries I love reading from time to time. (Hopefully, I can relate to their marriage-related entries soon – haha, funny.) For more challenging articles, Desiring God is great for college students and young adults. Their daily devotional, Solid Joys, is also available for app download. You can even have an alarm to remind you to read the material daily!
I’m such a bookworm! I enjoy reading Christian books, not only to inspire and encourage me, but also to teach me about Scripture. Some of my favorites happen to be Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul by Stasi and John Eldredge, Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst, Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick, Live, Love, Lead by Brian Houston, and The Signature Classics by the one and only C.S. Lewis.
- Watch messages or listen to podcasts.
I watch Elevation Church messages (on YouTube) by Steven Furtick, my favorite pastor, at least once a week. Watching messages online is such a convenient and fun way to learn about stories from the Bible since pastors and speakers use a verse or a passage as the main focus of a message. Now, a cautionary warning: you may use these references to help you cultivate your faith but it shouldn’t take the place of reading the Bible. I’m guilty of this. Don’t replace a few verses present in a good book or a devotional for the actual act of opening your Bible.
How can I make it fun?
Decorate it with washi tape and stickers (mine are from my Ban.do 2017 Agenda). Use colored pens to jot down notes and highlighters to help you remember verses that speak to you. Check out Bible Journaling PH for Bibles specifically designed for note-taking.
A faith journal (mine is the kikki.K Thankful Journal) is an excellent way to personalize your daily Bible reading. Write down what God impressed upon your heart during your quiet time. Note your favorite verses or some unforgettable points from a devotional or an article. This also allows you to see God’s faithfulness and encourages you during difficult seasons of your life.
- Join a Bible study group.
God designed us for community. Having a community to share your journey with is essential for your growth. We need friends we trust and can be vulnerable to. Learning about the Bible is even more enjoyable with other people. Being accountable to each other helps us to apply the Bible in our lives. Let these words not be dead but be alive in and through us.
How do you read your Bible? Any creative ways you personalize your quiet time? I’d love to know and share with everyone else! Comment below! ✨
February 15, 2017 / 02:36 AM
It all started with a blog entry. I love Christ, why am I still depressed? started a conversation with a number of people – most especially Christians. Apparently, this topic doesn’t receive much recognition from the Church. People shy away from discussing mental health issues because, supposedly, it presents a weak kind of faith. I entertained earnest e-mails from strangers, I “counselled” young girls that experience depression and anxiety, and I even published an article on it. Well, to be completely honest, I felt like such a fraud.
I wrote this unexpected piece at a season of my life when I was going through a whirlwind of joyous emotions. I was treading on high places. An hour after I published the entry, I arrived at the airport for my first (and only) international trip of the year. A month after that, I was a speaker at a prestigious Blog Conference and shared my journey as a blogger – 7 years of being one. On the same day, I relaunched my blog after 2 years of arduous planning. A month after, I got baptized on my very first retreat – after five years of surrendering my life to Christ. That was my life, and I experienced one dizzying activity after the other. I (secretly) questioned the authenticity of my depression since I didn’t experience an episode for a while. I also understood how more people suffer from depression and anxiety but with a deeper severity than I do. I felt that invalidated my past. But now, now I am at a very different season. I am still, I am waiting, and I am paralyzed.
These days, I catch myself innocently asking why God still wakes me up every morning. I’m not suicidal – not anymore – but I feel these occasional, unexplainable bouts of hopelessness caused by the simplest of things: a sudden thought about the future, a fight, even a Facebook post. These can’t seem to be cured by consistent Bible reading, devotionals, and worship. I question, again and again, how this is possible considering I lead a very good life. My God, He gives me more than I deserve. I can’t fathom how a girl who could have the audacity to entitle her blog She Makes Him Known would want to stop existing because she suffers from anxiety – for moments, days, weeks, and even months.
I ask God to take this away. Don’t get me wrong, I do. I tell myself, maybe if I pray harder, if I could be more diligent with my Bible reading, if I could attend Sunday service every week, it would be completely gone. Then, I wouldn’t have to keep doubting this sovereign God I serve whose promises I know prove true and victorious for all my days. Maybe, if I just lift this weight I can no longer carry, I would have the boldness to carry the weight of other people who depend so much on me. Maybe, then, I would have a faith that I could be proud of. Now, I am just ashamed of who I am, of how much time and energy I waste on things I cannot control because I can’t seem to find – not even from God – the strength to fill the space of who I am at this moment to get me to who I want to be.
I get nothing but silence. And, I plead with Him, “God, why won’t you take this away? Why is this heart still so heavy and stubborn?”
Well, I’ve learned to trust – even with hands that don’t want to grasp Eternity and a heart that is so hardened – that in this season of uncertainty, lacking, and fear, somewhere in the crevices of my weak, frail heart, there is growth. Somewhere, I trust that there is a shattering of pride and expectations that can only offer me even further suffering in the end. I learn to accept this deafening silence from God because He is still speaking to the depths of my soul with these unfathomable words I will make sense of when the time is right.
I know victory is for me, even when I am depressed and anxious for I am given a new day, a new morning to grasp His mercy, His grace. And, I trust Him. I trust that He is not done with me yet.
You shall remember all the ways which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart. (Deuteronomy 8:2)
I struggled to write about anything for months. I started writing about love, about dreams and goals but never seemed to finish it. But, tonight, words were breathed. Many thanks to Jessica Gimeno’s How to Get Stuff Done When You Are Depressed (TEDx), Zen Pencils’s Shonda Rhimes: A Screenswriter’s Advice, Claire Marshall’s Vlogmas Day 4, and Coffee Break with Dani’s GRWM: I’m Divorced – all God’s ways of speaking to me.
P.S. Read: 5 Things Christians Should Know About Depression and Anxiety via Relevant Magazine
January 05, 2017 / 22:38 PM
If you were to tell my younger self that at 24, I would still be single with no manliligaw nor a prospect whatsoever, I’d think you’re crazy.
At 19, I thought I was *gasp* ready for a relationship. How difficult would it be? (At 15, I had a manliligaw who called me every day on our red telephone. I thought this was love – the extent, the brevity of it – because it was all I had, it was all I knew.) I was surrounded by wonderful people, growing my craft, active in ministry, seeking the Lord…but completely misunderstood it. Love meant overanalyzing unanswered chat boxes, rereading unsent letters, listening to sad songs, crying myself to sleep, and a lot of waiting. I suffered these delusions, these cheap imitations of love, because I wanted so badly for it to come, to be it. More than that, my praiseworthy behavior was fueled by the idea that if I kept up this performance, I would deserve it – as if love were to be earned, to be won.
I mean, isn’t that it? Wasn’t this all God wanted from me? But I was cheating my all-knowing, omnipotent King. My pursuit of Christ – may it be intentional or not – was desperately tethered to a lesser pursuit of someone else.
For years, shame followed me and made a home in my heart. I put the idea of a relationship so high up in a pedestal that I found it difficult to be alone. My self-worth heavily depended on the presence of a companion and his ability to return my love. At some point, my weary heart gave up, wrapped itself in apathy disguised as courage – when it is anything but that. I even questioned this God-given desire for a healthy and life-giving relationship. I thought I was meant to be single for the rest of my life yet I know I was born to be somebody’s wife.
During those years of steadying my heart and learning my God, I discovered that life does not begin when I find security in another person; humans err and disappoint. I needed to learn how to be alone. I needed to wade in my solitude and learn the mercy of knowing my parts and reveling in both the beautiful and the messy.
“When I get lonely these days, I think: So be lonely. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings.”
Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love)
(Romantic) love is only a part of my life, it is not the entirety. I do not live to be loved nor do I love to start living. There will be days when my loneliness gets too loud – that is what it means to be human – but I need to teach my heart to surrender to something greater than myself (and my passing emotions). My life then becomes an act of worship, of eternal abandon to ways that are greater than my own.
Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
My love will come some day but ’til then, Love moves in and through me – and this is the best kind of love I can ever receive.
October 17, 2016 / 12:00 PM
There will be a distinct time in your life when you finally come to understand who God is and more importantly, how He loves you. This does not necessarily mean that you will go through life sure of all things. The rock that you stand from may be firm and unshakeable but there will be storms far too strong for you to stay still and calm.
You can spend years educating yourself with endless theology but still not be transformed. You can hear the deafening and persistent words surrender, salvation, and grace countless of times without understanding how your life is a ferocious, meandering example of it all. God can be so near yet feel so very distant. He may be your Creator, your Genesis but you can spend years being strangers.
The one thing you learn when you do the irreparable decision of knowing Christ – with all your heart and soul – is God can be a blazing fire too bright to go unnoticed but sometimes, He is but an infinitesimal spark that only in our silence and stillness do we see.
The beginning feels like any relationship: fresh, exhilarating, and magnificent. You cannot get enough of His presence. The purpose of your existence is all too clear and it is to glorify Him. But soon enough, the reality sinks in. There will be days when God feels like an afterthought. He will be silent and still when you need him to be loud and moving.
There will be countless of days when your passion is replaced with apathy. When you can go weeks without praying and feel no shame. When His faithful words no longer resonate inside your soul. There will be no visions, no life-changing moments, and no emotional outbursts. But maybe this is how it is supposed to be. When we find fulfillment in a relationship that is not fueled by emotions that come and go. When we stutter and fall too short of a God great enough who encompasses all our weaknesses we are too proud to show. When we finally understand that prayer is not merely an act we do out of obligation and praise, but as humans, a consistent deed we do to remind ourselves that we need God, more than anything else in our lives.
Maybe we don’t understand that God is silent because He is so close. That He is still because He is everywhere all at once.
We must not be fearful that our relationship with Jesus can end up like that of our relationships with other flawed humans such as ourselves – who stay and go as they please. God is with you when He is at the center, He is still with you when He is just a passing thought. He is with you in your tears, and He is with you in your tranquility. Nothing will ever keep Him away from you even if you try.
Find God in the mundane. Worship God in the every day normalcy of your life. Seek God even in His silence. And, love Him in His stillness.