In One Sitting : To Never Walk Alone

Looking at my feet, I never felt this cold in my entire life. I am thankful I wore thick clothing before steeping out of the house though, it made me feel warmer inside. To be walking at the forest before dawn breaks gave me all the chills. But I wonder, ” When will winter end?” So heading through the bushes, the cold white snow flakes touched my face. All I can hear were my footsteps on the thick snow floor. As I hold a lamp on my left hand and a staff on my right, I headed towards the clearing. My eyes failed me as the foggy atmosphere continues.

There were moments I would stop for a while thinking if I’m still walking at the right path. At times, I would even hear howling wolves in the deeper parts of the forest. I would imagine leaving my lamp and staff just to run faster, but I know in my heart it’s not the way it should be. I continued walking, believing that sooner or later, I’ll be at the clearing. Maybe, I’ll even catch a wonderful sunrise, moments I’d love to witness.

Out of no where, a hand helps me lift the lamp on my left hand. I looked and saw Him with a glistening eyes on me. Then I realized from the very start of that walk, He has been following me. Looking after every step, He made sure I won’t stumble or fall. It was then I knew, this was it. The walk was not about reaching the clearing or even catching the sunrise, it was for me to remember that I will never walk alone. 

*Photo grabbed from Google Images

Let the Rest Burn

I had an opportunity to attend a Switchfoot concert last April 16 (Easter Sunday) at BGC, Taguig City. Switchfoot is an American rock group who is behind the songs Dare You to Move and Meant to Live. Me and my friend also had the privilege to meet and greet the group that night. The funny thing about it was, after meeting them, I was so starstrucked , “Good Job!” was the only words that came out of my mouth before we took a group picture (hahaha!).

Astig! Good Job! 😆🎁

A post shared by Jeka Zapanta 🌻 (@jekamzapanta) on

Besides being a full pledge fangirl that night, I love the fact that I got to share this moment with friends. Even though we had to wait (more than an hour) and even got wet (it was drizzling before it started), it was an opportune time to catch up. Thank God friendships are waterproof!

What made this concert personal to me was when Switchfoot sang the song If the House Burns Down Tonight from their latest album Where the Light Shines Through. Before Jon started to sing, he shared that the song was created out of an experience. It was when a destructive fire in their neighborhood forced them to leave their home. First time hearing the song, I was moved into tears. Because you see, a few weeks ago, I almost lost my home too.

That night, everyone was tweeting about the earthquake widely felt by most of the people living in Metro Manila and Batangas. I went to the kitchen to grab something to eat when I saw a fire outside our window. It started a few houses away from ours. My parents were not yet home so I immediately contacted them. They arrived just in time for us to leave the area. The streets were already blocked by firetrucks, as well as people gathering in groups.

We put Mike and Mom into safety first. As I was about to leave, I grab this medium sized bag that contained a few things I usually bring when I leave the house (this includes my wallet, Bible, and mobile phone). For a moment, I stared at my books and felt saying goodbye to them. I left praying the fire wont reach my home for 15 years.

Dad and 2 of my family members stayed behind (making sure that outsiders wont take advantage of the situation). Positioning myself in an area between our house and our car (were Mike and Mom was), I stood in a safe distance watching the fire consume a few houses. I started to quietly pray and ask God for the safety and the protection of every families and firemen that night.

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By 11 pm, the fire was under control and we were back at the safety of our home. That night, I cant brush off the fear of losing things, especially the people that I love. It came to me what Job said in 1:21 when he lost his children and property, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave.”

That fire night was a wake up call. It reminded me of the things I value most in life. I realized that at moments like this, the safety of my family (relationships) was first. I can only grab a few things and if I needed to hold on to anyone with both of my hands, I will gladly choose to drop any material thing I’ve got.

In Matthew 6:9 it says, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal,” in reality whatever I posses here on earth will fade away and be destroyed by natural disasters (fire, earthquake, tsunami..). But the relationships, memories and shared lives with my God and the people I love outweighs them all.

And as the chorus goes, “And if the house burns down tonight,I got everything I need when I got you by my side, ” all I can prayer for is that may I gain a heart of wisdom to fight for the things that truly matters. And if once again, I’ll face the reality of loosing something, may I have the courage to find out what it’s worth and let the rest burn.

Books Over Boys: Undaunted

   As I go through the pile of books in a thrift shop, a familiar book I once saw being held by a churchmate catches my attention. Seeing the words “Student Edition,” I browse the book. On page 103 it was written, God “has not given us a spirit of fear, but a power and of love and of a sound mind (2Timothy1:7 NKJV), I’ve been meditating on this verse for a week. Before I know it, I’m already at the cashier paying.

   Not intimidated or discouraged by difficulty, danger, or disappointment defines the word “Undaunted.” Published in 2013, Undaunted Student Edition is unstoppable in encouraging every reader to dare to believe in God’s call for their lives. Christine Caine sends out the challenge to walk down a crowded street to be able to stop and stoop down for a brother and sister who are in need.

   She begins by telling the stories of young girls who were victims of human trafficking in Eastern Europe. “Why didn’t you come sooner?” is a question thrown at her by one of the girls. It created another question within Christine, which she ends up asking herself, “Why hadn’t I come sooner?”  She then comes to a realization that God doesn’t call the qualified but He qualifies the called.

   Part 1 begins with a story of adoption. God said: “Before you were born I set you apart” (Jeremiah1:5 NIV) became so real to Christine upon discovering that she was named as Number 2508 of 1966 by her birth mother. Our identity is anchored on Him and He calls us: MINE is the truth she cannot deny.

   Nick (then boyfriend, now husband) challenges Christine to come out of her fortress as he asks her the question,” If relationships are based on trust, what are we doing?” Part 2 tells us that God knows and is willing to do everything to restore and heal His children. If so, then one must choose that healing himself.

  A personal favorite, Christine’s shares her dreadful experience on an airplane. With a confrontation with fear, it allows her to see that when you let fear run your life, you close yourself from anything that might hurt or cost or make you uncomfortable- including opportunities to serve God and claim his promises. Indeed, there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…(1John4:18 NIV).

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  Finally, the thoughts on one’s identity, pain and fear awakens one soul to its ultimate purpose. A21 Campaign, the rescue ministry Christine launches with her husband Nick, faces a new challenge when the experts they hired tells them that starting the work in Eastern Europe will certainly fail. She then concludes that faith can take us right where God wants us.

   “Just as you sent me into the world,” Jesus prayed, “I am sending them into the world.”(John17:18 NLT) reminds us that the love of Christ not only works in us but also through us. Christine then leaves a challenge saying that one must be unwilling to stay asleep, unafraid of the dark, unflinching in the face of disappointment and difficulty to be undaunted.

 

Before Sunrise

It’s been 5 months since we rushed him to the hospital. “Milled Stroke, Pneumonia and Heart Complications,” the doctor said, then follows a list of medications my mind could not absorb since it was already 2 am.

His clothes became larger and larger for his once flabby arms. Rolling out of bed, his thoughts of going to the comfort room on his own never left. Many times a day he would call out my name just to say, “Wala lang.”(nothing)

Budgeting the medical expenses challenged my skills in Mathematics. Running from one drugstore to another was a good exercise after all. And to make sure he doesn’t remove his NGT, drama marathon became a daily habit (may it be daytime or nighttime).

Going back and forth to the E.R was the hardest part. Coldplay’s The Scientist sums up the experience, for“Nobody said it was easy…“The word E.R suddenly became synonym to wait, resist, and pain.

Visitors made him enthusiastic. I remember asking him, “Anong pinag usapan niyo?”(What did you talked about?)“Nakalimutan ko na,”(I forgot.) he replied then follows a smile. “Maybe  visitors made him better more than the medicines he was taking,” I thought to myself.

As the days pass by,  his body weight became heavier. Most of the time he was asleep while  gasping for air. By this time, Romans 6:23 was all I can whisper to his ear. And on the 20th of September, before sunrise, Tatay breathed his last.

*Photo grabbed from Google.

Stay and Wait

Just a week ago, whenever we were asked to proceed to the E.R, nurses would immediately call the doctor to place my Tatay’s NGT. Earlier, we needed to wait in the hospital for 5 hours. This season has brought a lot of staying and waiting in my part.

Remaining in the same place until something happens can make you hold your breath or tap your foot. All the what ifs’ would run into your mind without permission, leading you to a place of expectation. Before you know it, you are lost in those dreamy skies and endless smiles or creepy nights and saddest times.

One of those days, as I stay seated inside a train, I can’t help but look outside the window and enjoy the clear blue sky. Waiting is such a delight when pleasant things happen in front of you. It leaves a smile on your face each time.

Standing in long lines, waiting for my personal documents to be released is rather uncomfortable. The noise pollution and hot weather is an unfriendly environment. Staying sometimes mean a headache or a cramp.

My Tatay’s NGT is a lifeline because it is where his basic need for food will pass. Whatever happens, it needs to be placed inside his body. A goal is always behind every staying and waiting, however mundane it may be.

There is always something to be achieved in our everyday life. And to hit one’s target, it is not without effort and perseverance. But what if the character is always been a part of the goal? What if for every staying is a peeling of the old you and every waiting is a birthing of the new you?

In a century of instants and fast forwards, staying and waiting might seem like a stumbling block towards the road to success. But maybe the goal was really to know the readiness of once self through the staying and waiting, the willingness of the heart to pursue and receive that blessing even faced with unprecedented situations.

 

In One Sitting : A Posture of Pause 

It’s raining. I am left wondering why I needed to be somewhere unfamiliar. I didn’t plan any of this to transpire. All I know is that my appointments were cancelled and I have money to spend.

Sitting in a coffee shop while people watching and listening to a confessional upbeat music makes me not want to move. This is what a perfect day looks like.This has always been a moment to be at a posture of pause and reflection.

Caught in between the new and the old things in life, I confess this has brought me to a place of constant shift and risk. How do I remain steadfast if my days are like the sun, it greets you at daytime and bids you goodbye at night time.

The rain has stopped. I’m starting to feel cold. I like to believe its from the iced Americano I just finished. Where to go next is something I need to think about. But first , I need to stop by at the nearest comfort room.

Hold Fast

Riding the train fascinates me. But what annoys me is the crowded space that won’t allow me to enjoy the view on the outside as I await my destination. Public transportation gives you much room to practice the art of patience  in silence.

One day I was going to  Letran via LRT Line 2 (which is my favorite line due to it’s  Japanese Rail Station – like interior). When I entered the train, I found an empty space without a pole nearby. The train started moving. I had no choice but to do a balancing act for the next 10 minutes.

I have formulated my own strategy to avoid any circus like exhibition that might lead to public humiliation. When I was doing my balancing act, I realized how riding the train might have been easier  if I’m holding on to a pole.At that moment, I was hoping to hold on to something that will make me feel secure and safe. Something that will enable me to enjoy the scenery outside.

As an adventurer of our own destiny, holding on to something that is constant is very important. It allows us to enjoy the ride of  our life in a sense that our safety is still a priority amid the spontaneity of it all. Knowing our boundaries is not to restrain us but to give us enough time and energy to navigate the totality of the experience.

As it is written in Hebrews 10:23, ” Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” Going through life is unpredictable. Some of its encounters involve pain, challenges and detours. Yet one must remember that security is not based on anything that is temporal but eternal.

Wherever ride you are into right now, make sure to hold on to something stable and will  keep you safe at all cost. Hold on to what is true and ever lasting. In this adventure, you have a choice.