16 Things for 2016

Right before I went on holiday break, I was trying to think of a year-ender post and realized that I actually had enough to write 16 things for this year. Maybe I was a little bit lazy in 2015, or maybe 2016 was just chock full of stuff, both good and bad but I need this little reminder to keep myself grateful for the following year.

But let me be all cliche for a while: I can’t believe it’s almost 2017.

So let’s start – some 16 things for 2016.

1. 2015 started with an intense longing to leave and maybe, quit. Haha, okay, so maybe this isn’t so positive? But there were several things that I wanted to end at the start of the year, partly for cleaning up, and partly because the environment wasn’t so healthy anymore. Without really going to detail, I did manage this — with some actual cleaning up and letting go, and with some decisions to stay. It’s funny when I look back on it now, but I realized that yes, decisions to leave or stay shouldn’t be done when you’re emotional.

2. Singapore! First SFC International Conference in an international setting. My first out of the country trip for the year, and also quite adventurous because of our airport shenanigans on our way back. Was terribly sick this time, though, but it was a good trip nonetheless.

Then I went to Singapore again later in the year for a business trip. My first out of the country business trip was very productive, and made me feel quite…mature? It was fun!

 

3. I turned 30. Funny how I was more scared of turning 30 when I turned 29 than when I actually turned 30. I turned 30 quietly, with my family, in a comfortable bed with wine and cheese on the side. If you’re almost at this age and you’re freaking out — don’t. It’s actually quite nice. :)

 

4. Switchfoot x 3. My third Switchfoot concert! I will never get tired of watching them live. :)

 

5. #AprilFeelsDay + #FeelsRushInHow do I describe this? Oh, I already did. This is a happy day in the middle of a hot summer and pre-election madness in the Philippines. Kilig is the answer. :P

 

A few months later, we had #FeelsRushIn, organized in 10 days by the awesome girls (wasn’t hands on with it so much because of school). It was just as fun, discovering new talents and observing the crowd and all that. A preview of what’s to come? :D

 

6. Speaking of elections…talk about toxic? Still toxic now, but the bright spot was always #romanceclass and how we all managed to find the kilig in everything, despite the madness. Like that fic we wrote because of a picture and a ship we formed. The fic remains unfinished, because we couldn’t take reality. Sort of. :P

 

7. Finished school! I started a Certified Digital Marketing Course in 2015, and finished it this year! I took up Social Media Marketing in April which I enjoyed immensely (and learned that I have been underestimating social media marketing a bit) and took the final Marketing 360 course in July. Both of my defenses were on the day before Feels Days, haha. But I am now certified, so yay. Studying is fun!

 

8. Lost a dear friend. This year was also the year that I faced grief from losing a dear friend to death. It’s surprising and sad and I still miss him terribly, but I am glad that I had good memories shared with him. Thanks for everything, Chief.

 

9. Published books 1.5, 2, and 2.5. After a book and writing that is 2015, I made up for it this year! I finished and published It’s a Match last May, Keep the Faith last July, and Five Minutes Till Midnight, part of Make My Wish Come True in December. It was a challenge to keep pushing words out because I still face a ton of self-doubt but the accomplishment of seeing it out and having them read is satisfying. So yes, I’m still here, still writing and not going anywhere. :)

 

Special mention to the Christmas anthology because I organized this, and like I said, it was fun because it wasn’t so hard to organize it with a bunch of talented writers. :) ♥

 

10. So much theater. I think it was in 2008 to 2010 that I thought I was a theater person because I watched some shows but those years were lightweights compared to 2016. I was in the theater 10 times this year: 3 Stars and Sun, Godspell, Rak of Aegis x 3, Love/Sick, Ako si Josephine, The Tempest Reimagined x 2, and Mabining Mandirigma. I credit these theater experience with #romanceclass, especially Tara, who kept on organizing feels trips so we could support our friends. Definitely going to more shows next year. :)

 

11. Romance Lectures. Learning doesn’t have to be boring, and kilig is always the answers. I wasn’t able to attend the previous #romanceclass discussions in 2015 because I had other commitments, but this year we changed it up to  being paid lectures. We did 2, but that was because the second one was kind of the peak? Haha. Not complaining, because hey, I never thought I’d meet Atom Araullo in the flesh until #romanceclass came along. ;) (I already met Champ through a friend years ago, but I only discovered his LI factor during the rockstar lecture. :D)

 

12. Conference Sharing, Part 2. I was blessed to go onstage to share at the TEACH Expo in 2014, so when the opportunity came again this year for the SFC Metro Manila Regional Conference, I said yes. And man, what a journey it was to write my sharing, polish it, and then deliver it. It was my sort of coming out to SFC Metro Manila about my writing. :)

 

13. #romanceclass x Manila International Book Fair. Talk about dream come true. Every time we were asked if we’ll ever have a booth in MIBF, we always say no because it was too expensive. But BDAP generously offered us a booth, and we took it and it blew us all away. I wasn’t there for the first few days but news of our books getting sold out was crazy thrilling, but it was even more crazy when I got there on the weekend. Probably the first MIBF I attended that I didn’t get to buy books, but the most memorable of all MIBFs I have attended. Thanks to everyone who bought my books! ♥

 

14. New stuff at work. So the earlier part of the year had me struggling for things at work, which was a usual struggle of staying or going. I held on to opportunities to be poor in spirit, and held on to God’s work, no matter how slow it can be. Later in the year, so many things changed at work that left us breathless, but has introduced me to more doors than I can count? Really getting by with God’s grace, and still getting by with that in the coming year. :)

 

15. FeelsFest All Feels days are specials, and this one was extra special because we had a lot of time (well, a month hehe) to prepare for it, plus there were so many feelings this day! And new books! And other things! I posted a longer recap here, but my favorite part would be having my favorite scene in Keep the Faith read by Gio and Gab. ♥ ♥ ♥

 

 

16. Lots of family time. I had a lot of out of town (read: Tagaytay) vacations with my family this year, and it’s always extra fun with my nephew around. This Christmas, I was all set to celebrate with them via Facetime, but God was gracious and gave us time to be physically together for the holidays until the year ends. :)

 

2016 has had a bad rep, and in fact, I’m nursing an allergy attack right now so it’s really a hassle. But it’s so easy to focus on the bad and make us feel bad when in fact, there were good things that happened this year if we just care to look, and if choose to be thankful. Despite all the darkness, despite all the craziness in this world, let’s not forget: gratitude is always an option. :)

See you in a bit, 2017. :)

Thirty

I turned 30 yesterday.

To be honest, it didn’t seem that much of a big deal now that I got there, not unlike how I was freaking out back when I turned 29. Maybe it was the anticipation of it that made me freak out, which proved that sometimes we really do over think things when it’s not so scary after all.

But it still felt a little bit surreal now that I’m officially in another decade of my life. I’m trying to remember if I had saved any blog post ten years ago, in 2006, when I turned 20. I was still in college, then, and if I remember correctly, I was in school, to do a project and to attend a YFC event. I remember that I wanted to be surprised, then, because I have never experienced a birthday surprise. I think I got pretty disappointed after, because I didn’t get what I wanted, and then that night, it felt like God was teaching me a very important lesson on humility.

It’s kind of hard to believe that those things happened ten years ago. That’s such a short time in the existence of the universe, but a long one in a lifetime of a person. In the past ten years, I have…

Graduated from college. Got my first job. Joined SFC. Switched jobs, twice. Disappeared from SFC, and went back. Joined a book club. Head the NaNoWriMo group. Organized conferences. Attended conferences. Lost a phone. Killed my phone with saltwater. Attended n weddings. Attended n christenings. Survived a major flood. Earned lots of money. Spent lots of money. Traveled to Davao, Subic, Camarines Sur, Quezon. Bohol, Cagayan de Oro, Puerto Prinsesa, Cebu, Coron, El Nido, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur, Camarines Norte, Pangasinan, Pampanga, La Union, Baguio, Zambales, Aklan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Spain,  Switzerland, Austria, France, Guam, Thailand, Cambodia, Japan, Indonesia. Saw two Popes. Slept outside with more than a million people. Danced in the rain. Consumed lots of sweets and alcohol. Baked my heart out. Gained weight, lost weight, gained it again. Trekked to a volcano. Shared onstage at a CFC event. Taught kids how to read. Wrote several stories. Published a book. Became a sister-in-law. Became an aunt. Lost touch with friends. Made awesome new friends. Said yes. Said no. Fell in like. Got disenchanted. Fell in love. Got my heart broken. Forgave. Forgiven. Learned that I am loved all along.

I wonder what the next ten years will bring?

* * *

 

I like that my birthday comes so close to the New Year, so it feels as if I had another chance of a new year after whatever mess-ups or whatever I missed in the first two months and 16 days of the year. So I take the time to pray more and to listen harder, in case I haven’t been listening enough before.

And He never fails to tell me something, too. Last year, it was all about being a source of life. I can’t really tell if I was able to do that, save for some moments when I was the sane one during times of distress at work. The other year, it was a full life that runs over. The year before that, was about “…forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.” (This was super fitting, by the way.)

I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come forth from you. I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant,to be God to you and to your descendants after you. (Genesis 17:7-8)

The word faithfulness echoed all throughout my prayer time yesterday morning. The assurance of it made me smile – it was as if God was already setting the tone of my 30th year, reminding me that just as He has been faithful in my 20’s, He’s definitely going to be faithful in my 30’s, too.

And all I needed to do was to let Him love me.

Pretty mind blowing when I think about it.

So that’s what I’m going to try to remember in this thirtieth year of existence, my fourth decade in this world and all that. I have this tendency to forget, I know, but I’m going to keep trying. I’m going to keep on praying, so I may keep remembering God’s goodness in my life, and in the life of the people around me. :)

Remember His wonders which He has done,
His marvels and the judgments uttered by His mouth. (Psalm 105:5)

Cheers to 30! :)

Pray Boldly

My 2016 word found me around mid-November, during our SFC cluster’s Christian Character Weekend retreat. It found me, unsurprisingly, after the talk about courage (hello there, old friend). I remember talking to a friend about this that weekend after I was done with Confession, and I told her that I had several variations of this in my head, but it seemed like the word demanded that it be a verb, not a noun or an adjective. And I figured that it might as well be, because action words require, well, action. 

It wasn’t until two weeks later, at our Sector Assembly, that one of the speakers said this:

And I was all: Well, thanks for the affirmation.

So my 2016 word is PRAY. 

The first time I picked a word in 2012, I admit that it didn’t feel as heavy and it didn’t really make me feel as committed to it. 2013 changed all that, obviously, as well as 2014. 2015 brought me to a slightly different and quieter ground. Having the word FAITH felt more like a display of God’s faithfulness in my life, as if He was saying, Look at what I am doing in your life, look at how much I love you.

So it seemed just right that my 2015 word would lead me to pray.

“What’s your next word?” This has become a usual question to me from other friends, and when I told them about PRAY, they asked, “What more can you learn about praying? Don’t you already pray everyday?

I do, I pray. But what do I pray for? What do I really know about praying? You grow in your relationship with God when you pray, but is my relationship with Him growing with every prayer I say? With every mass I attend, with every time I open my journal to write my prayers down? Or am I going through the actions?

Do I really understand what it means when I promise my prayers for people? Do I really know how it is to intercede, to knock on heaven’s doors for this world that sorely needs prayers? Do I really know what it means to ask for prayers from the saints, from Mama Mary?

When I pray, do I expect God’s answers? Do I approach His throne with humility? Am I confident that God will answer me, or do I shy away from praying for some things because I’m afraid of letting God know (which is kind of useless because He knows, anyway), and I’m afraid that He will not answer. Why am I so afraid to give God what’s inside my heart by asking for it?

So see, no, I don’t know much about praying. Even if I pray everyday.

So, PRAY. I’m not going to call this easy because the days leading to the New Year already showed me a struggle with my prayer time. Heh. But by God’s grace, I am looking forward to where this word – and all the prayers – will bring me in 2016. :)

Here’s to bold and brave prayers for 2016. :)

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. – Philippians 4:6 (The Message)