how he loves us

When all of the sudden
I am unaware of these afflictions
Eclipsed by glory
And I realized just how beautiful You are
And how great your affections are for me.
(Jesus Culture – How He Loves Us)

For weeks until last week, I have been feeling a bit off in some incomprehensible way. I couldn’t really point out what it really was but it made me feel a couple of things – some intangible, some concrete.

One of the concrete things it made me feel is loneliness.

I feel as if I have no friends.

(Well, aside from a couple of people who I rarely see or spend time with.)

At work, I feel so alone.

From having a solid group of friends, it seems now that I have none.

Whenever I approach people, I feel as if they just talk to me out of politeness. They entertain me but don’t totally let me in. I’m never involved in their lives. I’m never a part of it.

Reaching out has made me feel a bit tired.

I say they only remember me when there’s something they want to make happen – a baby shower for someone (though I did want a baby shower for someone), a farewell surprise for another, a congratulatory celebration for people who’ll be taking their board exams, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing these things for themI just hope that I could be more than someone who can make these things happen.

When I’m not there, no one will really – like really – miss me.

No one needs me for me.

Everyone just seems to need me for what I can do.

Then last Wednesday, a friend of mine asked me if I have something to do after work. I said I’m free and teased her about missing me. She said, “Yes.”

I wasn’t totally excited but I was happy.

I looked forward to it.

After work, we walked around outside our building to find a place to eat a very late dinner. We found one and talked. She told me about some stuff that she’s finding it hard to share to other people. I gave her my own views, explained some of her whys, and shared some of my own stuff.

It was just a couple of hours but I was filled with so much joy.

The next morning, I told a very close friend of mine about it.

I said that invitation for the late dinner meant so much to me, because at that moment I was someone else’s friend.

I was missed because we weren’t spending that much time with each other. I make someone else’s day happy and complete. I was important because I’m the only one who she could share some things with at that particular time.

I was a friend who, at that time, didn’t have to be the one who reached out but a friend who was reached out to.

That friend I shared these feelings with told me that it was God’s gift to me. I didn’t see it that way and I was thankful that she was able to make me look at it like that. So, I prayed to God and thanked Him for it.

As I was thanking Him, I realized something.

Does God feel lonely too…
When He reaches out to people only to be just being entertained for a little while?
When He realizes He’s still not a part of that person’s life after talking to him or her?
When He is simply someone people need when they want to make something happen?
When He feels no one misses Him even for a little when they don’t spend time with Him?

On the other hand…

When we invite Him for a very late dinner, 
When we reach out to Him and shared our problems and thoughts to Him, 
When we need Him for who He is instead of what He can do,
When we treat Him like a friend,
Does He feel overwhelmed with so much joy too as if His heart would burst?

While asking Him these questions, I was crying.

When I shared these thoughts to my friend, my eyes were glazed with tears.

I have known since who-knows-when that God loves us so much – greatly and unconditionally.

He sacrificed His son to save us from our sins. He forgives us repeatedly despite our stubbornness. He reaches out to us continuously and tirelessly even though we reject Him over and over again.

However, that day, it’s as if it’s the first time all over again of learning about the kind of love He has for us.

These thoughts still overwhelm me until now. Even last Sunday, while the worship team was singing “How He Loves Us” for the communion, I remember these once again and I couldn’t help but cry.

I pray that people will welcome Him and involve Him in their lives because having Him brings so much happiness, joy, and peace.

I pray that people will see God more than just their provided and problem-solver. I pray that people will see God as their best friend.

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starting from zero

Late 1990s

I fell in love with English back in 6th grade when our school administrator became our Grammar teacher. She made all grammar rules sensible and understandable, but my English still sucked at that time.

At that time, the books I only owned were my school textbooks and children’s story books. At that time, I consumed my time watching Filipino TV shows and Filipino-dubbed animes. My sister kept on insisting I read more books and watch English TV shows, because the best way to learn a language is to expose yourself to it.

She was right.

Early 2000s

English became a huge part of my life in high school. I was studying in an all-girls school. In the Philippines, there’s a stereotype that goes around that students in all-girls schools and all-boys schools only speak in English. Of course, that’s an exaggeration.

When I got there, I learned that the girls don’t speak English all the time. They still used Filipino – actually, Taglish (Tagalog-English/Filipino-English) is the main language of the school. However, when they’re called to speak in English, they can speak in English.

Another thing I learned (which the judgmental people outside the all-girls school community didn’t mention or probably have no idea about) is, unlike in the grade school where I came from where students’ past times are just playing and watching animes, students in all-girls schools read books. A LOT OF BOOKS.

It was 2001 – the first Harry Potter movie was scheduled to hit the theaters. Before that year, I didn’t know what and who Harry Potter was. All I knew was it was a book and the Catholic church hated it.

A friend invited me to watch it with her. Unfortunately, I was the girl who wasn’t allowed to go to malls without her parents and I was the girl who failed her English subject because she didn’t took the practical exam for her Speech class which was to speak in front of her classmates.

I was grounded.

It was somehow sad because I thought could finally learn who Harry Potter is without having to read the book. Up to that point, I was still clueless about the whole HP phenomenon.

My Mom got an idea. It was pretty clever. She bought me my first ever book: “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” She thought it would help me learn who Harry Potter was and improve my English.

As the cliched English idiom goes, it’s killing two birds with one stone.

It worked.

I read the book. I still remember how I repeatedly read the first paragraph of the first chapter because I wasn’t so sure if I was understanding it. It was my first time reading a full-length novel. I was scared. I was intimidated. I was thinking I would never finish it.

Good thing, JK Rowling was amazing.

After getting over the initial “shock” of reading the first page of my first full-length novel, the rest of reading journey went on smoothly.

I was absorbed in the Harry Potter universe that JK Rowling had awesomely created. I wish I could really be in there and never would have to leave.

I was still a slow reader, then. I had to sleep early because of school. I had homework every time I came home. It took me a week or two to finish the book.

That’s how my love for reading started.

While waiting for the 5th HP book, I picked up Sarah Dessen, R.L. Stine and some others. I was introduced to fan fiction (I love Harry/Hermione and Draco/Hermione stories – my greatest frustrations). I was addicted to reading.

Late 2000s

Writing started when I was in college.

(My writing skills back in high school was totally nonexistent. When our Filipino teacher required as to write a short story, I went to Fanfiction.net and looked for some HP fic I could translate into Filipino for the said homework.)

I can’t remember anymore what day it was. All I can recall was it was 2008. I was in class, bored to my wits. I was addicted to the anime called The Prince of Tennis. I was reading a lot of PoT fan fics – I was a Perfect Pair shipper (Tezuka Kunimitsu/Fuji Syusuke) and, sometimes, others. I was having my own PoT scenarios in my head and they won’t shut up.

Out of nowhere, I started writing my first fan fiction. It wasn’t a love story. It was just a character-centric one. It’s a cringe-worthy story (not because it was badly written – though I admit my grammar back then was still atrocious, but because the story was dumb), but I posted it online. There were a few reads (and fewer reviews) but I wasn’t discouraged.

I wrote a love story after.

They were short stories at first. Then, they became chaptered ones. I wrote about my favorite ship, then I started experimenting with original female characters. Sadly, when I was already doing this, I started working and didn’t have enough time to focus on those stories anymore.

It’s impossible to finish an unfinished story if you leave it for a long time. Your mindset as a writer changes. Your writing style changes. Your vision for stories changes. Trying to go back to how you were “feeling” and “thinking” when you started your story is an almost impossible feat.

Early 2010s

I didn’t stop writing. Writing continued after college.

However, I moved to a different fandom.

I left the anime world and relocated to the KPOP universe. Though it was already 2010 when I started writing for KPOP, my KPOP obsession started way back in 2003 – back in the days of dial-up internet.

There, it was back to scratch.

Writing for an anime is easier, there’s a plot and an existing story. In KPOP, there are only characters – the artists. The only story you have is the news about them, the circulating anecdotes about them. I did write stories using real events as plots, but I couldn’t just focus on them only.

I had to learn how to make an original world, universe, reality for KPOP artists in my head.

I turned them to other things – students, parents, actors, angels, kings, princes, detectives, robots, etc.

Writing for KPOP did improve me as a writer.

2015

I decided to write my first original story.

(Okay, I did try to write an original story back in high school. After the translated HP fic incident that my teacher never seemed to have noticed. I can still remember the name of my main character – it was Dylan. However, I wasn’t able to finish it and I didn’t have enough confidence for it.)

It was November and I learned about this thing called NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) from the authors I was following on Twitter. It’s a website you had to sign up to and, when you join, you had to write a 50,000-word novel in the whole of November. It seemed fun and even though it was already 3rd of November, I jumped in to join the excitement.

I already had an idea in mind. It was supposed to be a fan fic, but I decided to just write it as an original story. I reached the word count by the end of November. However, since the goal was just to write a 50,000-word novel, the whole thing was a mess.

2016

When New Year came, I told myself that I would get my novel published.

I planned to proofread and edit the whole thing starting in January. I was already looking and asking about publishers online.

However, laziness got in the way…

…and so are other things.

I lost my passion for writing. The three chaptered fan fics I was working on that time were all left hanging (and so were my readers). The only writing I did during those dark times was the letters and messages I was sending to a friend of mine.

I wasn’t reading any book. The reading I only did was the re-reading of the first four Harry Potter books and KPOP fan fics.

I got depressed.

Everything was left unfinished.

However, I had enough sense to decide that I should shift my focus on something – someone – more important: GOD.

2017

I created this blog.

Before 2016 ended, I said I will get myself back on track.

January: I jumpstarted my reading with Chris Tiegreen’s devotional book called “Hearing God’s Voice” and two other devotional books. I also read my first book for a long while – Mara Wilson’s “Where Am I Now?”

February: I attended my first writing workshop – How to Write Love Stories. I finally got to writing again.

March: I realized I don’t have the heart and appetite for books with steamy elements – thanks to Colleen Hoover’s “Ugly Love,” which I had to take deep breaths now and then just to get me through. Then, thanks to three-day encounter the church organized and through the 90 Days Challenge, I started reading the New Testament of the Bible.

April: I skipped several writing workshops because they were on Sundays and I could never put anything before God on Sundays. Reading Victoria Aveyard’s “King’s Cage” became really hard for me as well. It’s so full of unforgiveness, revenge, anger, and all things that the Bible told me to never dwell on. I was so focused on the things I was learning from my devotions, cell group and church that writing was put on hold again.

May: My love for inspirational and Christian books also started. I wasn’t writing still but I also realized there are still love stories that I can read like Jenny Han’s “Always and Forever, Lara Jean.”

June: I encouraged a friend who doesn’t like reading to read books. I lent Cecilia Ahern’s “Love, Rosie” and Colleen Hoover’s “Maybe Someday” to a friend at work. Another friend at work asked me read Bryn Greenwood’s “All the Ugly and Wonderful Things” but couldn’t finish it because my heart was continuously protesting against the things the book stands for.

JulyI finished the New Testament. Also, after a three-month writing hiatus, I started updating this blog again. I was convicted to write again after several devotions talked about putting God’s gifts to use and after our pastor preached about work on our God-given talents that would give us value (and eventually success) in the future.

August: I attended National Bookstore’s “The Philippine Readers and Writers Festival 2017” just this weekend (an event that I’ve been planning to go to since 2015) and I sat down to several talks about writing. I met amazing and interesting Filipino authors like Nikki Alfar, Mina V. Esguerra, Samatha Sotto, and Bebang Siy (my favorite). Also, before the event, I deleted all my fan fictions from the internet. I realized they can’t exist anymore. I misused my gift of writing to spread wrong ideas of love and lust.

— — —

I’m happy that it’s been good so far. I have been writing a bit constantly. Ideas for blog posts are pouring. Though I’m struggling with something I can’t identify right now, the drive to write is strongly present. I have so much yearning when it comes to my writing. I’m constantly lifting this dreams up to God, praying and hoping that He would continue to fuel this passion and gift that He had given me. I aim to use my gift to advance His kingdom. I’m not a good speaker, I talk better with written words, this is the best way I know how to honor and glorify Him (for now).

three words: a “100 tula para kay stella (100 poems for stella)” word vomit

[Warning: spoiler ahead]

He has a speech defect. To speak smoothly, he’s told to limit his sentences to just three words.

He meets a girl that became his world. Nevermind her imperfections, she deserves the best of everything.

He decides to write her 100 poems to tell her he loves her – 100 poems about her physical beauty, her irresistible personality, and her “undeniable greatness.”

A hundred poems of his disillusionment of her.

A hundred poems that took four years to complete.

As sweet, touching and grand as it was, the 100 poems didn’t give him her “Yes.”

With a ring on her finger and a baby on the way, it’s already too late.

(So driven is he in completing his 100 poems for her, he froze her in a world he has made in his head, forgetting that she too is living in the same world as him.)

Writing 100 poems that don’t even mirror who she really is – her struggles, her flaws, her brokenness – has been totally unnecessary.

She pointed out him all he needed were three words:

“I like you.”

“I love you.”

All along he already had what he needed to win her heart:

THREE WORDS.

Three words are what he does best. Yet, he failed to use them when he should’ve had.

So mindful of his speech defect, he forgot the things he has – his impressive smarts, his singing voice, and his good heart.

So focused is he in making himself better for her, he failed to recognize the amazing things about himself.

So concentrated is he in his flaws, he has made things complicated for him.

He made her so “perfect” in her mind that he thought he has to just at least come close to her “perfection.” Little did he know, he got everything together better than she does.

He never really knew her.

He never really saw her for who she is.

The her that he knew is the her he put together in his mind, in his poems – the her that became his world. He thought 100 poems are needed to make her fall in love with him.

Fortunately, she knows who she is. She doesn’t need 100 poems to fall in love with him.

She knew him.

She saw the heart amidst the speech defect and loved him for it.

From it, she knew it can never be them. It can never be him for her. It can never be her for him.

From it, she straightened him out: she told him she doesn’t deserve to be his world.

No one is. No one should be.

“wanting to be alone (come with me)”

I want to be alone, please come with me.
No need to do anything, just sit beside me.
Talk all you want, I’ll listen to what you’ll say.
Even if my mind wanders at the world’s end.

I want to be alone, please come with me.
We don’t have to go far, anywhere will do.
Just as long as I can lean on your shoulder.
Tears running down as I cry my heart out.

I want to be alone, please come with me.
But forgive my entangled confused thoughts.
There’s no need to burden yourself with them.
So just erase them from your head afterward.

I want to be alone, please come with me.
Allow me escape the heaviness of this world.
Even for just awhile, let me rest and breathe.
Until the time for us to go back home arrives.

— — —

Gusto kong mapagisa, samahan mo ako.
Wala kang gagawin kung hindi ang makiupo.
Magkuwento ka lang, ako sa’yo’y makikinig.
Kahit ang utak ko’y nasa dulo ng daigdig.

Gusto kong mapagisa, samahan mo ako.
‘Wag na tayong lumayo, pwede na kahit saan.
Basta ako’y makakasandal sa iyong balikat.
Lumuluha habang ang puso ko’y umiiyak.

Gusto kong mapagisa, samahan mo ako.
Ipagpaumahin mo ang isip kong gulong-gulo.
Hindi mo naman sila kailangang intindihin.
Kaya pagkatapos sila’y iyo na lang limutin.

Gusto kong mapagisa, samahan mo ako.
Hayaang takasan ko ang mabigat na mundo.
Kahit saglit makapagpahinga at makahinga.
Hanggang oras ng pag-uwi’y dumating na.

— — —

I haven’t written poetry for a long time. Well, I did last year, but this one came in more naturally. Thanks to the recent needs that surfaced, the urge to write poetry was triggered.

I wrote this piece a week ago (or was it two weeks ago?), but I didn’t get into proofreading and posting it until now. I guess watching a movie with a character who loves writing poetry is a good encouragement.

“100 Tula Para Kay Stella (100 Poems For Stella)” is a movie worth the wait and risk.

burying angeldc

Who is “angelDC”?

“angelDC” is the username I started using in my online accounts right after I graduated from college. It’s from the combination of my high school girl crush and my initials. Childish, I know.

It’s also the username I used to publish my online stories – fan fictions, to be exact. I started in the anime fandom then moved into the KPOP fandom. I had OTPs (or “one true pairs“) and learned all fan fiction vocabulary.

It was during high school when I read my first fan fictions. However, it was in college when I wrote my first fan fiction. I was bored in class that time and I had plenty of time to put together a story. The outcome was clumsy and cringe-y, but at that time, I was proud of it. My first ever story was innocent. The next stories, however, were not so much.

I quickly jumped to BL fan fictions (stories about boys falling in love with each other). At first, they were just cute and sweet stories or what fan fiction classifies as “fluff.” When I moved into the KPOP fandom, the stories turned darker. I wrote about underage sex, third parties, rape, and all those stuff. I got into writing these things. It was awkward at first, but I got used to it that they became accurate and more graphic.

I was in a middle of multi-chapter fan fictions a year ago when I just lost all the ideas I had for them. At first, I thought I was just having a writer’s block, but weeks turned into months without writing and I was in a sort of panic. It didn’t help that I was thinking of publishing a book already. At that time, I believed writing was all I have. Writing was what makes me special. It was my gift. If I lose it, I would be nothing.

However, it was during that time when I was led back to God. I filled the emptiness with Him. I started reading the Bible and going to church. That’s when I became guilty about how I’ve been writing. I know I’m good at writing. My readers told me so. Even though my skills with writing showed up late, I know it was my forte. Writing was my gift. It was God’s gift to me but I misused it.

After spending time with God through devotions, cell groups, Bible readings and Sunday services, my perspective regarding a lot of things changed a lot. I learned about the what I have been doing wrong. I realized I have been using my gift to spread the wrong things. After that realization, I welcomed the writer’s block and decided that I would no longer write any more fan fictions.

Thus, I needed to put this username to rest now. It’s not me anymore. I changed the usernames of my Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr accounts into something else. Also, I have decided to delete all my fan fictions from the Internet as well as the Asianfanfics, Livejournal and Fanfiction.net accounts where these fan fictions were posted.

I have also made a vow to myself to no longer read stories – books and fan fictions alike – with themes of LGBT, mental issues and sex. Though, I have to admit it’s a tough battle. The itch to dive into that world is very strong. At some days, the urge wins over me. I was supposed to delete the fan fictions weeks ago, but I find it hard to say goodbye to them. Bad as they are, I still worked hard on them.

However, tonight, it’s going to end.

I have faith that I will be able to write new stuff again and, this time, God will write them with me. They’re going to be better than my old material. Writing with God is better than writing by myself.

P.S. Links will be dead by the time this post is published.

time to “work”

Last January, I made this blog and swore to myself that this wouldn’t be ignore like the first blogs I made.

Yeah, right.

I was doing really well for three months, but reality took over. Again. As always.

Did I get lazy? Hmm. No (I know what being lazy is because I was one that’s why I know this wasn’t laziness).

Did I run out of things to write about? Nope. I have a list of things I wanted to write about. I just didn’t get around into writing them.

Did I become busy? Yes, in a preoccupied and distracted kind of way. Around March, I suddenly got a lot of things on my hands – important things that needed attending to and unnecessary things that robbed me off my time to sit down and write.

The “unnecessary things” are downloaded movies, mobile games, YouTube videos, etc. However, the “important things” involve growing spiritually, so I wasn’t worried. I just lifted my writing up to God, and said, I’m not going to write on my own. I’m going to write with You. So, let me know if there’s something You want me to write, then I’ll go writing again.

So, from March up to this month, all the writing I’ve been doing were letters to friends, prayers to God, and daily devotions. Aside from those, nothing else. I didn’t stress about it, because I know God got my back. Besides, the urge to write isn’t there. There’s no use forcing the issue. I will just frustrate myself.

However, for the last couple of weeks, the Lord has been talking about gifts and talents with me through my devotions. At first, I didn’t understand why this is what He’s been telling me. I only started getting it when certain friends started asking me about my writing. They began telling me to get back to writing already and to prioritize it before doing anything else (there’s this freelance job that I got tempted for a bit). I didn’t do anything though, then God smack me in the head.

“Sow you seed in the morning, and at the evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which one will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.” – Ecclesiastes 11:6 

Our pastor talked about how to succeed in life and zeroed in on the Bible passage above. The message hit home. Hard. I heard it loud and clear.

To put everything simply, the seed we sow in the morning is our job and whatever we busy with our hands in the evening is our work. Apparently, there’s a different between the two. A job is wherein we perform certain tasks for someone in specific hours of the day in exchange for a certain amount of money while work is using our passion, our talent, our God-given talent for a living.

In my case, my job is an administrative assistant. I work from 3:30pm to 11:30pm, but my passion is to write and I can only succeed in it if I develop it outside office hours. I have to work hard on it up to the point that I can finally make a living out of it. Still, I mustn’t neglect my job because it’s still need to be seen which one will bring me success – being an office staff or a writer. I might also hit the jackpot if they do equally well.

So, if that’s not yet God pushing me to go back to writing, I don’t know what that is. I can’t delay this anymore.

what love to me is

November of last year, I sat in a public speaking club and listened to a speech entitled “If You Asked Me About Love…” It was heartwarming, romantic and tear jerking (but in a good way). The line that struck me most was “Love is holding someone gently yet protectively.”

I shared the speech to my friend and she asked me, “How about you? What would you say if you were asked about love?” I didn’t give her an answer. At that time, love was a fantasy to me. After my first heartbreak, I came to believe that love doesn’t go well with someone like me. I couldn’t fathom it. I couldn’t understand it.

Before hearing that speech, my friend and I were having a huge misunderstanding. There was too much push and pull. She wanted me to do something but I kept on refusing. She said that she was insisting on it because she loves me. At that time, I thought, “Her love is too demanding.” However, I came across a quote by the late Pope John Paul II – the first explanation about love I encountered on my goal in answering her question. He said, “Real love is demanding…Love demands effort and a personal commitment to the will of God. It means discipline and sacrifice, but it also means joy and human fulfillment.” That’s when I became appeased to the love she had for me.

I haven’t shared her this yet. I was only planning to do so once I gathered enough understanding of this whole thing about L.O.V.E.

The next explanation about love that made impact to me was from the book of 1 Corinthians. Now, this isn’t the usual line about love being patient and kind, which can be found at the beginning of the 13th chapter. The line that hit me hard in my pursuit of understanding love was written in 1 Corinthians 13:7, which says, “It (Love) always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

I was in elementary when I first read about 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and I always thought that these definitions of love are too shallow. Too simple. I was hoping for a more flowery explanation about what love is that’s usually found in most novels. However, upon reflecting on it and relating it on the most intense love I knew which was from my friend, I knew that love being protective, trusting, hopeful and persevering is what love really is. It was close to my favorite line in the speech I heard.

Finally, the last explanation about love that made everything click was by C.S. Lewis:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal.”

Love is not for the cold-hearted. You can’t love if you don’t want to feel it. Unfortunately, feeling it requires you to soften your heart and subjecting it to be hurt. If you love something or someone, you can always be hurt by the thing or person you love.

“Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Love it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.”

I’ve put up tall and thick walls around me that hardened me and kept love away from me at all cost. I obsessed myself with Korean pop and made my world revolve around it. The only concept of love I only allowed myself to practice was my love for Korean idols. I kept my relationships shallow and casual, because I knew that having deeper connection to people will bring complications.

“But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

There was a time when my friend found it hard to come near to me. She said I had these walls around me that she couldn’t get past through. I felt bad and decided to let her in, thinking that I could still manage to be cold even with her. I could be open towards her while closed off towards others. How wrong I was. Letting her in and lowering my guard for her caused me too much emotional whiplash. Opening myself up to her means letting others see the real me too. Once you choose to be vulnerable to one person, you become vulnerable to everyone.

I kept my eyes open to every definition and explanation of love that is out there. There’s a lot of them. Someone said love’s mysteriousness and complexity are the reason why people obsess themselves with it. However, despite encountering more opinions about love, the three above are the ones that really hit me.