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Showing posts from 2016

Keeper of Hearts

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The sudden onslaught of emotions knocked me off the pedestal,
Where I've painstakingly enthroned myself.
Unguarded, I came undone.
Powerless, I realize how puny I am.
I am no less capable of guarding this heart than I was when I gave that first cry.

A heart compelled to lie, to doubt, to fear
Is the only gift I can offer.
Lord, keep this heart, it is Yours
As you've tenderly cared for it from wars,
Fighting for my cause, You bear the scars.

Teach my heart to be still, to trust, to let go and just be held.
With only You enthroned and none else.
No hate, no fear, no sinful disease.
Let it overflow with love and joy,
A faith so strong that hope abounds. Keep it, guard it, oh, Keeper of Hearts.

Wellspring of Life

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The temperature continues to fall as we draw closer to the heart of winter. And as it does, life throbs on unperturbed at its harshness and chill. Some may wonder how one stays cheery, much more passionate at the constant onslaught of coldness and terribly inhumane treatment. But there's something I want to tell you today.

The wellspring of life--- the heart--- stays warm as you guard and care for it.

Today has been an interesting day for me, not because of some big event or happening, but because of the bits and pieces that make up life. I had a conversation with my teen friends about the new year, growing old and something about fellowship/friendship/relationship. Here's what happened after they filed into the classroom bringing with them the mud from the melting snow. (We laughed as we saw how the floor was turned into something resembling that of a rice paddy with the amount of mud the teens' boots brought in.)

"So, are you, guys, looking forward to the new year?…

The Basic Essential

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We have been enjoying a lot of snow since last week and much lower temperatures, too. When one goes outside, furry boots and coats are moving about, but those are actually ladies bundled inside, looking like elegant snow bunnies--- and me, a cute grizzly bear. Haha. Kids get their snowsuits as everyone know that they can't help themselves from rolling about in the snow. And the men? They have their thickly padded jackets that they all look like Iron Man, all muscles with their potbellies or bony frames hidden.

But underneath all these wrappings and trappings are flesh and bone beings, who get hungry and thirsty, need sleep and laughter, who long to love and be loved.

When all the big houses are gone and great accomplishments, and money too, all that's really left is the sky, soil and you. And people, who are no different than you... in the same form as when we first came forth.

Beauty

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Beauty
is not found in heavily made up ladies,
Neither in the sparkling diamonds or glitters of gold
Brimming from necks and limbs;
Nor in the latest models of gadgets or antiques of old,
Strings of possessions and processions of things.

Beauty---
if you care to look--- is in the eyes
Of one where joy resides, see as she smiles
At the future in this ocean of life,
Facing with mirth its every ebb of tide,
Grateful, joyful for every unexpected love
Committed on the vow she made to the One above.

A Plot for Joy

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So as winter rolls around, I find myself restless for change. Unaware, I tried to hasten to change the status quo. I guess, I'm tired of the usual dance of one step forward, two steps backward. I'm impatient for progress to happen. I mean, snow has fallen (again), but the same drama is playing.

I am less inclined now to watch movies or TV series that have dramatic tones. Who needs it when one is living it? Who needs tearjerking scenes when tears are one's bedfellow? I am smack dab into emotional scenes complete with screaming, tears, intrigues, manipulations, exaggerations, and characters that are way too colorful to be normal. If I have guts, I would be writing about my current life and make it into a movie. It is just too intriguing, with a plot... ah, the plot... that goes nowhere.

And that's why I want change. There has to be a way out of this cage of a plot!

Who Is Like God? (Happy birthday, my Little Captain!)

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I write to you, my son, because there are some things I just don't want to say but I also want you to remember.

Foremost is, God.

"You have searched me, Lord, and you know me" (Psalm 139:1).

I became a mother when I was gifted with you. That was ten years ago. I was uninitiated in motherhood and in life. But God in His wisdom gave me you. And in having you, I longed, bordering on desperation, to "know" Him, really know Him. I didn't know then that He would take me on a long journey. One that was unforgettable and replete with deep knowing of Him.

My son, in your vulnerability and helplessness, I found God's strength as I fiercely tried to protect and care for you. In Him, I see One who Protects those who are weak, vulnerable and are dependent on Him.

7 Tips for a Joy-filled Parenting

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"Good morning, Mom!"

Startled, I woke up from a deep sleep. I groaned. I still wanted to sleep, so I ignored the cheery voice, which was too cheery for a Saturday morning. Why can't I get an extra hour of sleep today like everyone does before my day starts and ends again at 12:00 midnight?

The childish voice came again, "Good morning, Mom! Wake up!" So I replied, "Mama is still sleepy. Please lie down again," trying to sound as sleepy as I could.

"Mama, wake up," the 'little dawn' shines, more insistently this time. So I rolled out of bed, head pounding and scooped my little toddler out of her crib (still didn't get to moving her to a toddler bed, no budget yet) and towards her potty. She held her arms wide open, ready to hug me tight, with a huge, bright smile on her face. I couldn't help but smile back and whisper, "Good morning, Roxy," as her little arms embraced the whole of my heart.

My day has officially bega…

Armor Up!

I woke up this morning feeling weak. But not just in body because I mostly lack sleep, but much more in spirit. There's a discouraging feel in the air. Stressed out by highly noxious people and the care of active children, I can understand where the feeling comes from. There are concerns, too, weighing on my mind. All temporal, I know. And some are even far out in the future.

What a loony, you may say. But how many of us often gets weighed down by worries and the negativity of those around us that we often fail to take off even as our day does? Many, I would say.

Today, someone I know has her heart broken. And another was quiet because she is worried of something that still will happen in the coming month. Then, there's someone who can't sleep...

Each a different person, but it sure sounds like one. Me.

On a deeper level, we all have been there--- had our hearts broken, worried to silence, and robbed of our precious sleep. It's no wonder that we wake up already tired …

Autumn Song

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As the leaves change their colors
As the wind blows yet unseen
As my eyes wander at the beauty around me
My mind tries to grasp Your majesty.

Power, authority, is Yours alone
But what really moves me
Are Your mercies new daily.

Unfailing love that holds me
Lifting me up to a place of dignity
Where I cannot walk on my own
But You've walked this road
Yes, Lord, You've walked
To carry me home.

I hear the children's laughter
The best music there is
My heart is rich with longing for the day
When You'll be calling out my name.

From Drug Hell Into God's Hands (Part 2)

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Good day!

God has "called [us] out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9) that we may be "children of light" (Eph. 5:8).

Today, I am certain that you will all be blessed with our guest post today. It is an incredible story of God's love and His mighty power working to save us. When I first read this (for editing), I cried a million tears as I personally know Tudor. But I never thought he went through this as he was growing up. He admits he made bad choices--- really bad choices--- that set him out on a life of drug hell. Now, I am praising God with him for what He did, showing us that He is able to save. Oh, how He loves each of us so much. And He aches to bring us home with Him, despite of our brokenness. For He alone can forgive sins and can heal broken lives. I'm not going to say more. Let Tudor tell you of what God did.

By the way, this is the second part. If you haven't read the first part, please click over here From Drug Hell into God&#…

From Drug Hell Into God's Hands (Part 1)

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Good day!

God has "called [us] out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9) that we may be "children of light" (Eph. 5:8).

Today, I am certain that you will all be blessed with our guest post today. It is an incredible story of God's love and His mighty power working to save us. When I first read this (for editing), I cried a million tears as I personally know Tudor. But I never thought he went through this as he was growing up. He admits he made bad choices--- really bad choices--- that set him out on a life of drug hell. Now, I am praising God with him for what He did, showing us that He is able to save. Oh, how He loves each of us so much. And He aches to bring us home with Him, despite of our brokenness. For He alone can forgive sins and can heal broken lives. I'm not going to say more. Let Tudor tell you of what God did.

By the way, this post comes in two parts, so don't forget to come back to find out what happened next. Be blessed!


How It…

Am I On The Right Road?

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It has been raining for several days. The skies are overcast with dark clouds, the atmosphere is dripping with rain and seldom does the sun take a peep just to say hello. When it does, it disappears so quickly that I had a feeling it has gone shy or is trying to be mysterious by hiding behind the curtains of the rain.

I cannot imagine being out there in that rain for a long period, drenched and in need of a good wring. But I do have an idea.

When I was in Seoul, Korea, I went out with a small group of young people from our church consisted of men, with the exception of myself, to climb Mt. Seorak. Seoraksan, as it is called, is the third highest mountain in Korea. The ladies decided not to go as they had seen that the weather was raining and predicted that it won't be worth the effort to go up. But I thought that I won't be in Korea forever and that may be my only chance to explore a new place and do something interesting--- climb Korea's most beautiful mountain. My compa…

Adolescence: The Busy-ness of Growing Up

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I had a pretty long day teaching last Tuesday. I have large classes of students to teach this year. But the day was made extremely long because of my six-inch stiletto heels. :)

For the life of me, I can not find any reason why I wore it, except that I wasn't thinking. Or probably, I regressed to my adolescent years when I felt insecure for being short.

But after being in this world this long and after all the years of education, I should know by now that a man's worth (and most importantly, a woman's) is not in his height or appearance. Pardon me, I forgot. I forgot that what matters is not on the surface but what's deep down inside us.

So I spent a whole day with pinched feet as I taught lessons, miserably learning my own lesson. And it didn't help at all that even in my painful perch, the adolescents with their gangly legs towered over me.

I'm Coming Home!: Helping a Child with Trauma

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A storm is brewing in the horizon as I'm writing this. And my husband is looking for the cat before it gets caught in it. The sky is in different shades of iron, from silvery gray to almost black. It is awesome to watch it. Through the windows from the safety of the house.

We were outside a few hours ago, as the kids and I often are one or two times in a day, to simply play and breath in fresh air. But the wind was blowing so vigorously, even throwing sand into our faces, that it got me thinking that if we were in the Philippines, we would've been in a dangerous situation just being outside. All kinds of stuff would have been flying around already. It brought to mind "the storm that changed my life".

Well, it was not only me who remembered that. Because as I was waking up my biggest girl, who was enjoying the last remaining days of her vacation sleeping in before she starts school again in a couple of days, responded to my cheery "Good morning!" as I drew …

Life Lessons to Learn from Young Children

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Hello dears! 

The following is a guest post from Helen Huynh. We are blessed to have her writing for us today. Enjoy! (Find out more about her at http://homemadejoys.com/)



There were numerous times when I would stop what I do and just watch my children play. A smile would form in my face as I whisper a 'thank you' to the Maker who entrusted them to me because everyday I marvel at the blessings my young ones bring into our home. How silly of me to think I am here to teach them lessons and show them how to live life just because I am MOM. I realize that I learn from my little ones just as much as they learn from me. Each day I spend with them, I see some of life’s most valuable lessons.

How children become so adorable and so full of life, I have no idea. All I know is they give life more meaning. Even before they could speak, they teach. How? By the way they live. Here are my favorite life lessons that all of us could learn from young children:

Aero-Humor

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I was tired. I woke up very early that morning to catch a flight from my hometown, Tacloban City, which is just a small city, to the largest city in my country just to process some papers and then to head back home where my two daughters were waiting for me. I left them with their grandparents and I knew they were okay. But all I wanted to do was to get out of that noisy city and into my peaceful home where love and a hot meal and warm bed were waiting for me.
And so it was that as I learned that my plane was late, my patience was getting thin. I sat at the waiting area with the other passengers getting all grumpier. So I decided to get something to eat. When I went back to take a seat after having a small snack, I noticed an old woman all by herself, with a few luggage surrounding her lap, the seat next to her and her feet. Hand carry, I mused. Ah, typical for her age. Most of the passengers were a lot younger than her, including me, and all had their eyes on their phones. I guessed…

Stay Alive

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It's half past seven in the evening and the kids and I are still outside enjoying the last rays of the sun. Well, it doesn't look like it is going away any minute. Summer.

Much as I have come to adore winter with its snowy wonder, I can't help but have a tryst with summer. On the first hand, summer has been my first love.

With summer's crystalline days, trees are so green that envy must be jealous. I tend to look up more. The skies are their best of blue, even birds just have to stage their pirouettes with it as the backdrop. As I'm writing, a lone bird is showing off by sailing, cutting through the winds with his wings with the precision of a machine. But it is not a machine, for it is way too fluid. Weightless, it dips and soars.

God Rules! (Happy birthday, Raindrops!)

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And so it is that as the rain drops outside, I blog again after the longest time of not doing so. And it is because it is my little Ella's sixth birthday. She's not so little any more, yet still the sweet little one I love. But much sweeter and lovelier. So in connection to a writing project for my kids, here's one for her.



Happy birthday my little raindrops (or is it starlight?) Whatever you want me to call you, you can always call me Mom.
I love the sound of rain on the roof, on my umbrella--- just as I love the tinkle of your laughter. Your eyes light up, your smile all turned up heralding mirth, showcasing your merry heart.
I love the smell of rain as it waters the earth and how it leaves everything crisp and clear. So are you, my dear, the moment you enter a room, your presence is so refreshing. Must be the innocence or that impish glint that is so endearing.
Rain falls softly, but it can be tough, too. And you have that soft heart that easily melts, but, my,! I do kn…

Mean (A Poem for those who don't want to be one)

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Your power over me
Tramples the little dignity left.
The respect kindling,
Struggling,
Choking,
To breath.
I huff and puff to fury.
I sizzle myself to crazy.
I stew and burn myself down.
Ready to gamble
The little
Of me.
Petty is not pretty.
I'd rather be gutsy
With words---
To reflect and deflect.
Create and dream.
Laugh and learn.
Grow up. Be me.
There's more than one way
To live,
To be.
And MEAN is NOT
I wannabe.

Copyright © 2016 zernahfaith



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Beauty
Autumn Song
It's More Than Just Laundry



Name Game

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It's early summer and beautiful meadows are everywhere with their flowers of golden yellow and blues. Even the backyard looks fantastic with these tiny flowers and when it's time to mow the lawn, it's hard to see them go. I don't even know the names of these flowers, only that they look so charming.

Well, I can't put a name on myself, either. Okay, literally, people are confused on how to call me. (Come on people, we've been on this before! See post What's My Name?) Recently, I have been called Risa, which is rice in Russian, because my name here is pronounced Z-ur-na. It is similar in sound to some kind of grain. Then there's Jorna. Never mind where that comes from.

Figuratively, however, it has only been a few years since I have come to put a name on myself. But here goes the online tests which claim that they know me just by my name or my picture. (I know almost all, if not all, know what I'm talking about here. You can't resist those online te…

Like Little Children

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The church's backyard was turned into a small playground for three days, with excited shrieks and squeals of happy children. We just concluded a few days of Summer Bible School and every time it was time to load up the church van for the ride home, there were many reluctant feet who still wanted to jump, run and skip. I could understand. Not only did they make new friends, studied the Bible, do interesting crafts and play, but they also had fun while getting to know their Creator and His purpose for them.

Children's Day was almost a month ago. Precisely, thirty days from today, which makes it June 1st. This tells me that this piece has been in writing for that long time. Somehow, with the children being on vacation, I couldn't sit down long enough to muster some thoughts and put them down in writing. Instead, I have been busy doing a tour of the playgrounds with them, snatching their bikes from them and riding off, patching knee scrapes, and doing rounds of changing and w…

Embracing God's Promises

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The lilac trees are teeming with the fragrant blooms. (I still have to get a photo of them.) Weeds are growing profusely together with the fair wild flowers. And there's no stopping them. I have spent mornings trying to stop their progress from surrounding the house and making it a den of crawly bugs, and that thought has helped me get the kids to help me out on this mission. They hate the idea of the creepies invading their rooms.

Once, these flowers and all the verdant trees were just promises of a brighter, more colorful season. Now, they are here for my eyes to feast on and my soul to rejoice in God's steadfast creative work in our yet sin-filled world, but which reveals His kingdom to those who have the eyes to see and the 'ears to hear'.

God's Impeccable Timing (Happy Birthday, Snowflake!)

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My baby is two! This year, I have a goal to write to all my children, with the first written to Angelika three years ago. Yeah, the simplest writing project I could think up. So this blog post is for Roxana, born June 10.

I call her my Snowflake, as she came during a wintry-like season in my journey on this road home. Besides that, she is also very pure in her expressions and reactions and is a real delight to be with. I am more than blessed to be her mother.


Happy Birthday, Snowflake!



My Story in a Nutshell: Celebrating Years of God's Goodness and Mercy

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I just had my birthday and wanted to make a timeline of my existence. But while I was procrastinating, I remembered Nora Ephron's essay 'The Story of My Life in 3,500 Words or Less' and thought, I could do that. But my, it was harder than just simply free-writing everything, which, by the way, already had ten pages in just a few sittings in two days. (I only get to sit for five or fifteen minutes because I either remember to do a chore or one of the kids is desperately calling me to give her breakfast in the kitchen or a new roll of tissue in the bathroom.) Well, here's the result.


Wayfaring I am five and playing with some neighborhood kids. While climbing trees, we talk. They are baffled. My siblings and I speak a different dialect than they do. They ask what we are speaking. I pretend I am speaking something universal--- Tagalog. I am thinking everybody speaks it. Their eyes open wide in awe. I realize languages are awesome. I am on an adventure.

On Over-Grown Hair, Growing Old and Living Forward

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It's spring, it's raining, the greens are growing and I feel brand new. Well, my hair is. I chopped them off.

I had grown tired of my long, wavy mane after I had to fight with it every time I take a bath. It clutched and it clung at me like sea anemones. Also, the baby often tugs at the little that is left of it when she feels like riding a horsey. Most of my hair is in a habit of doing a free-fall. It is everywhere. I got so tired of it one evening that I took one of the kids' scissors and cut it myself.

But this kind of thing called hair just keeps growing if you happen to notice at all. Mine did and by the time I grew so frustrated, it had grown again resembling the appearance of a broom, but bushier and gristly. So they had to go.

I went to a hair shop. Or so it said in Russian in front of the place. But after a few weird stares of the people who were there as I walked around trying to find the one who mans the counter, I figured out that it was a man's world. A ba…

Beyond the Storm: Peace

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I am a mere mortal. I have a faulty understanding of how the Divine works. But it hasn't stopped me from trying.

Today is my mother's birthday if she were alive. My Ma--- loving, strong and tender. No one has seen her since that fateful night of November 8. She has disappeared in the storm together with my dear father. And, oh, how I've missed her.

There are times when I wonder what she would say to the things that are happening in my life-- celebratory or otherwise. She had been a bulwark in our home. She was courageous: taking on the journey God has set for her even if it meant giving up many of the things that could have been better in the world's eyes. She had always been excited for all of her children and it didn't matter for her whether we made it in the world because she knew each of us has a special path to take.

It has been hard accepting that she is gone. But God has not left me destitute.


The Sky and the Sea
The heavens declare the glory of God; And the fir…

It's More Than Just Laundry!

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I watch the growing mounds of laundry with dismay. They seem to have a life of their own! They turn right before my eyes from molehills into mountains. And when the task is great, the heart grows faint.

I want to turn around and run. This is a combat zone! But where? It's a couple of hours before midnight. Maybe I can just simply roll and... snooze off, hoping that by the time I wake up, the good Lord has turned all things new... or sorted out, ironed and folded. Ha!

So I go to the other part of the house where I usually feel welcome. Maybe a cup of tea and some cookies (and a teeny bit of chocolate) can relax my nerves, enough to get the job done.

To the kitchen I go. And I get more mortified. Right there on the sink is a towering giant made of dishes, pots and all sorts of oddballs one can usually find in the kitchen. They have piled up on top of each other, and those who have not been able to get to the pile are piteously crawling their way around making more mess to make up f…

The Beauty in Everyday

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It's a dreary day today. Wet snow is falling and has blanketed the ground again. The sky is abundant with the fragrance of heavy clouds. Light comes early. We are moving from winter to spring. The time has been moved as the days are longer and the night shorter.

This is a day you want to stay home and stay under the duvet. And cuddle. Or read.

But I've got work to do. There's the baby to fed, the laundry to load, the dishes to wash, the meals to cook, the floor to vacuum as the wet snow turns the ground to mush and mud dried up is a daily visitor in the house.

Seize the Day!

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As I'm typing this off on my phone (and later on the computer), the sunlight is streaming through the windows. The sky... My! It's drawing pictures. Running horses there, a misty mountain here. Beautiful. It is much like the day I intentionally claimed and became one of my beautiful days--- vibrant, dreamy and raw.

Spring is coming. I can almost smell it. And it fills me with hope. And so much love.

It started off as just a day I claimed was for me. One that involves going far from all that distracts me from having a much-needed time with myself, like my highly affectionate kids and husband, and the technology I seem to struggle with finding balance. I have to simply be alone--- just me and my God. The objective was just to go out and see the world with eyes of hope. And love.

I have developed in-grown eyeballs. This is a common malady for many women. It is hard to see life and the beauty in it when one's sight are often directed inwards. It is a surefire way to be misera…

3 Things I Love About Being a Woman

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March 8. It's a national holiday here in Russia, celebrating women and all that they stand for, of course, that includes their contributions and achievements, but mainly on just simply being who they are. I come from a place that has high regard for women, but having a day set aside just to honor and recognize them would have been really wonderful. Being in Russia, though, I am privileged to be included in the celebration. (My dear husband makes sure of it and tells me a few days before the date to claim it for myself. I'll show you what I did today on my next blog.)

Because of this Women's Day, I got spoiled with chocolates, flowers, cards and special presents from my family and friends. I even got a virtual greeting from Mr. Putin, passed on to me by a friend. (I feel like I should put a smiley here.)

Falling Snow: A Poem about Coming Back to Life

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My family and I live in Russia where there is no shortage of snow. Today, I am especially filled with delight as my world was filled with the wonder of it (and yes, as my work was cancelled for the afternoon).

You may have noticed my listless writing for the past months, though, try as I might to move past it. I was "out of synch" with life. I'm not going to apologize for it. As I live, so do I write. And as I write, so does my life come alive before my eyes. Yes, many times these are not comfortable feelings but they are emotional facts that needs some breathing space, just like a roomful of toxic smoke that needs to be aired.

Thankfully, slowly, I am once again seeing the broader canvas of my life, and not just the dark, gloomy alleys of it. Thank God, He is merciful! He is rich in goodness and love.

A few days ago, I got myself a cut on one of my hands. The sudden pain and seeing the blood bolted me into the reality that I am still alive. And that I should, MUST, be …

My Kind of Love Songs

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It's Valentines. And it has been snowing all day outside. It's beautiful.

Inside, though, someone is working in the bathroom downstairs installing a new bath after the shower stall broke. The smell and noise is not relaxing, but thankfully, it's not intruding either. So while that is going on, I am chillin' around at home with a different kind of love song. I mean, love songs. Different in a sense that you usually don't get to hear them being played on the radio with the popular ones, y'know, the ones that kids ask premature questions about and has more sounds than real words. (Y'know, what I mean? :D)

I just realized that I'm a helpless romantic after all these years of being married and having all these angels climbing on me, and having family dates. Valentines day is not that important here in Russia, so my husband and I have gone without it for years already. Still, I am all for love. And everyday, I am being reminded how I am loved and how wonderf…

Rest: Jesus' Secret to a Well-Balanced Life

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Most days I run around the house trying to get things done before going to work or before going to bed at midnight. These 'must do' tasks sometimes just bobs up in the surface like a hard to clean pan that I must scrub bright or a cleaning supervisor will suddenly appear over my shoulder and "Tsk tsk" me for a job not done well. I have gotten to the point where I am confused which things I really should do.

Then I got sick. And gone is the strength that powered me as I zoomed my way through the hours of the day (and night). I was left with mounds of dirty laundry and ironing that I did anyway even though I didn't want to, and meals to cook even when I didn't want to eat. All I wanted was to disappear between the blankets, soothe my pounding head with the calming sound of my throaty, labored breathing.

Mount Up with Wings: Flying by More Than Just the Seat of the Pants

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And so... it has been a week since the old year has been gone and the new year has begun. I am glad and grateful to see another year in my life. God is good!

How are you doing with your resolutions so far? As with every new year, I am often pressed to make new year's resolutions but it has been years since I had given up making a go at it. Instead I have brought before God in prayers my goals and dreams, and the intentions in my heart to live rightly, hoping fervently that He guides me every step of the way to fulfill them.

However, the past years had come with lots of surprises, pretty unexpected ones at that, and I was often left trying to swim through or wing it out by the seat of my pants (Ouch! Sounds painful). So, to counteract all this uncertain happenings, I am going to have a goal to make a goal. (So far, this week has given me  a bit of momentum. I have a list! Yay! :D)

And here's what I have in mind...