Through It All

I can’t believe that it is already March. For nothing much happening in my day to day, time is indeed going fast.

It’s been an interesting journey since I quit my job last December. I had hopes & prayers of how my next career would turn out to be but none of those happened. God usually honors the deadline I set, but not this time. I was hoping I could go back working by February, but as you see, it’s March already and I’m still in a place of uncertainty.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m truly grateful for this break that God is giving me. But of course, reality sets in when you have bills to pay. It makes me wonder for how long will I wait? Will my finances sustain the remaining days/weeks/months before I find another job? Then, I start asking question – was it a mistake that I quit my job without having another job waiting for me? But then, I always find myself back to the same decision I made. Truly, I am glad I made that decision.

This isn’t the first time that I have to wait on God on where He would want me to go. We’ve been on this journey for so many times already. And when I look back on how He sustained me during the season of waiting & how He provided work for me, I’m always in awe. Because it was all His doing. I always receive the unexpected. Something I can never take credit for. And I know, He will do it again.

So how has the journey been so far? It’s amazing how much God has changed me and made me grow in trusting Him. It is only by His grace. I am bored yes. Totally bored. I miss working, no denying on that. But, I have peace. I am not anxious. Even if my timeline does not match with His timeline, I know that He knows better. Being in a place of surrender, it is really because of Jesus that I can just take the back seat and let Him take the wheel.

This is a growing season in my life. It’s more than just finding a new job. It’s really walking with God and once again experiencing His transforming power in my life. There are so many things God is working in my life – humility, content, satisfaction, gratefulness, patience, etc. List just goes on.

I don’t know what’s your season today. But, I hope that I could encourage you that there is no waiting in vain in the Lord. Of course, we do our part. Just like me, I have to send in a lot of applications. But, I leave the results to God. It’s just so comforting when I know that I have a God who knows what is ahead, what’s the future. Because then, I know it will be a good one and I will not have to worry.

So, if you are in a season of waiting like me, whatever you are waiting for, I hope that you don’t grow weary, that you don’t lose hope. Enjoy this journey of God molding you as you wait. I really believe that we become better not during those smooth, easy times of our life but on those times that we got out of our comfort zone and took steps of faith.

But of course, as I said, I can never go through this season of uncertainty without Jesus in my life. He is my assurance, my source of hope. Apart from Him, my world would really go crumbling down.  I can rejoice, through it all!

But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, “The Lord is great!” But as for me, I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my d

So, if you haven’t entrusted your life to Jesus, this is the best time to do that. Best decision ever. That’s how I get to face difficulties with peace & joy. All because of Jesus.

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“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  — Jesus (John 10:10)

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AO#1: Papa & Mama

As I commit to be more appreciative to people, I will use my blog as one of the platforms to do that. And why I’m doing this? (Click -> Here’s why )

I start my Appreciate One (AO) per week with the people whom God has used to bring me into this world – MY PARENTS. Meet Rodolfo and Susana, aka Bonjing and Bebe 🙂

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You would agree with me that a page in a blogsite will never be enough to appreciate our parents. But don’t worry, this will not turn out to be a novel 🙂

My parents are not perfect. They are flawed just like all of us. But one thing that they really showed to us which I truly appreciate about them is they choose to accept each other’s weaknesses. That is very important to us, their children. And, I’m just grateful that in the midst of  “crazy” & “chaos”, my parents choose to love. Being single and still waiting for my own time of hopefully being married someday, I need that example. Papa & Mama – thank you for not just loving us your children but also showing to us what love should be through your commitment to each other.

It was when I started working and left home that I have understood the depth of the love of my parents for us, their children. I know my parents love me, I never doubted that. I just did not really realize how sacrifical and unconditional that love is until I started living on my own. There are days at work when I just felt like giving up. Or, I would complain of being tired. But then, when I look at my parents who until this day never stopped working so hard, I feel shameful and ungrateful. I’m just glad that Papa & Mama would always keep telling us when we were younger about how their life was during their time. It was never easy. I always tell myself  – “Just imagine if Papa & Mama would just give up because their tired and quit their job?” But because of their love for us, they kept going no matter how hard the days were. Papa & Mama – thank you for showing to us your love through your hardwork. Thank you for not giving up on those difficult times. Thank you for choosing to give what is best for us. I truly appreciate that you have all brought us up in a family where laziness is intolerable. Because of what you have shown us, I have learned to value hardwork as well.

One of the things I enjoy in our family is our meal times. Mama loves to cook for all of us even up to now. We all love to eat. I am glad that my parents showed to us the importance of having good meals on the table. Good meals mean that we are well provided. And the reason I enjoy and appreciate food everywhere I go is because of that. It reminds me of the good meals I had growing up. It reminds me of family. Papa & Mama – thank you for all the delicious food you always provide for us on the table. Thank you for showing to us your appreciation for food – all the grilled, the raw and the greens. I truly appreciate that you always made sure we don’t go to school on empty stomachs. And because of that, we all learned to cook & prepare our own meals. 

The most important that I am most grateful to my parents is for forcing us to go to church every Sunday when we were young. There is no escape. Our family today has differences on the church that we are a part of. However, I am still grateful that my parents introduced to me who God is. That became the starting point of my faith today. Papa & Mama – thank you that you brought us up in the knowledge of God and His Son Jesus. I truly appreciate that you have instilled to us the importance of having God in our life. Because of that, I have learned not to walk in my own ways but have been learning daily to abide and depend on God.  I may have not understood everything you asked us to do before, but now, everything made sense. 

As I say, there are so many things I am truly appreciative of my parents. However, these few I mentioned are the ones that truly had made an impact in the adult years of my life. I am always grateful that my parents never stopped being parents even if most of the time I don’t ask their help, seek their permission or consult them anymore. However, they are just there, keeps reminding me like a 5-year old of the do’s and dont’s in life. And, I have learned to appreciate that also. They have always been supportive in my decisions no matter what. My parents keep me grounded. And, I thank God for giving me parents who love us, never gave up on us and continue to stay with us.

 

 

 

 

‘Twas a good year

First blog entry of 2018! Wooohooo! I thought I would be writing more last year as I hope I would, but there was just too much to write that I can’t keep up. LOL…

But of course, I will never start the year without a recap of my 2017 and what to look forward to for this new year.

Last year was about taking more risks, as I wrote in my 2017 first blog entry.

As I mentioned in my previous shares, I am not the type of person that would really take risks. I always want certainty. Every time I make a decision, I always make sure that’s really what God wants me to do. And, God has been so gracious to me that He truly works in my life that way also. He does not allow confusion in my life. He really knows me well. 🙂 It’s always a Yes or No.

Anyway, the risks I was telling you were really more on taking bigger steps on things that I feel like I won’t really be able to do and hoping would have lasting value. And by God’s grace, He enabled me to take some. As I look back now, I don’t know how I could have done it. But He is a good Father. He does not let us stay the same. He wants us to walk by faith. And I always tell God, if He does not want it, then just stop me from doing it. So, I still have to see how things will be. But before I talk about the future, I’d like to share what I had done last year that really made me grow as a person. It may not be risks for you, but me knowing me, I just don’t know how I could have done it. Amazingly, God also uses people to just push you, walk with you, support you, pray for you and encourage you. And, I’m truly grateful for those people!!

My 2017 Risk list… LOL…

1. Push your limit

Every summer, my church friends and I would always try to do a lot of hiking as it’s really the only time of the year we can do a lot of outdoor activities. Years before, we’ve always wanted to go to Wedgemount Lake but the trail is difficult. But, last year we just had to do it. We kinda hesitated but still in the end we found ourselves hiking to the lake. And I must say, it was really the most difficult trail I have done but the view was worth it. Though, I don’t think I will ever do it again. I don’t know how we survived the last part of the trail. I was praying endlessly as the trail was really dangerous. Thank God we made it back down!

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Another physical activity I challenged my self to do was the Rugged Maniac obstacle race. I always enjoyed obstacle races, it’s kinda like Amazing Race. However, the obstacle races I’ve done did not require strength and physical endurance. Those were just for fun. Rugged Maniac might be the easiest obstacle race compared to the other ones – Spartan, Tough Mudder, etc. But for me, it was the most extreme physical activity I’ve done in my whole life. LOL. So, I was kinda scared because I didn’t know if I’ll finish it – whole and safe. It was good because I had girlfriends with me who also joined for the first time. This one, I might do again next time. I really had fun – all mud & falling.

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Another not so physical activity that I had been procrastinating was to take my road test. For one, I never drove in the Philippines. I had some lessons but that’s it. Growing up, our family never owned a vehicle until I graduated from university. But then, I left home and moved to Manila. And living in Manila did not really encourage me to drive also. I don’t think I’ll ever dare. But when I moved here, I realize it’s really about time. I always feel like driving is not for me knowing that I’m no risk-taker. I feel like driving  is a risk…haha! I’m too cautious. It took me a lot of courage. Finally, I took my road test. And of course, I failed. Haha! But then, now I can keep moving. I just have to keep trying until I make it.

2. BIG Decisions

I was never a big dreamer until God showed me that indeed nothing is truly impossible for Him. On the latter part of 2016, I started having the desire to start my own company. This desire started when I realize how unfortunate it is for IT graduates at my hometown, Bacolod City, to not have so many opportunities for them to really work using their degree when they have so much potential. And so, when I went home that year, I asked my college classmates if they are interested to join me. I did not really get any response.  Fast forward next year , 2017. Two of my college classmates wanted to do the same. And so, we gave it a try. March of 2017, we launched our start up company and had our first client. We don’t know how to run a company. But, we do know how to provide service. And for me, that was enough to start. Our start up is based in Bacolod City. It is still struggling but I’m hoping that one day, we will be able to hire so many graduates and help build the IT workforce in Bacolod. Last December, we organized a hackathon event to really see the skills of the IT students. And, I was just impressed of how much potential Bacolod truly has. I really hope more IT jobs will come to Bacolod. And if you know potential clients, please let us know! More clients mean more jobs for the fresh graduates!

I’ve always enjoyed organizing events. God has blessed me with administrative gift that I am able to use it not just in my day to day job but also in ministries. Such a privilege. Last year, I organized two events – one for our church and one for Beautifully Waiting. And of course, I can never do it on my own. The difficult part of organizing is the time of planning and preparing. Last year was really one of the busiest and most tiring at my workplace for me. I was working on a big initiative that I felt like it used up all my mental and physical energy that every time I come home from work, I just want to go to bed. However, I trusted that God would sustain me as I took a step of faith in organizing those events. The good thing about those events were those were God’s events, not mine. And so, I just really surrendered to Him everything. And by His grace, He carried me through until the end. And also very grateful, there were people who were always willing to help. Also, for Beautifully Waiting event, it was my first time to speak and share in an event. When the event ended, I looked back of the journey before the event started and I was just in awe of how God just made everything happen. He did it!

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2017 was just the start of taking risks. This year, God has impressed in my heart that I need all the courage I could have to face all that’s going to happen this year. New opportunities, growth of our start up company, more events to share Jesus and spread His love, bigger decisions, lots of challenges. I told God to allow me to go through so many failures and rejections so that I will be more courageous. I am still that person who gets a little cautious at times. Scared of taking risks. Doesn’t want to take steps of faith. However, with what God had allowed me to go through last year, God showed to me that with the little faith I have, He can use it to accomplish big things. Really, it’s not just me being courageous but it is also because I have a BIG GOD who can do things beyond my expectations.

I know this is a pretty long blog but I hope I have somehow encouraged you, that we can never stay the same as we were years ago. For us to grow, we need to take little steps of faith, take some risks. But make sure, that those are really well-prayed. Prayer is the only weapon you have as you make those decisions.

May you have a courage-filled 2018!  God bless your 2018!

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

Child-Like

As I get older, the more I realize how much I can’t live apart from God. The more I feel the need of being in God’s presence.

Challenges more difficult.

Responsibilities increasing.

Character more tested.

Conviction getting challenged.

Dreams becoming more about others.

As I conquer each day, I have to become like a child. I need to hold on to my Heavenly Father so that I could face it. I need to be more dependent as I just can’t do things on my own.

 

On Deeper Faith

Two Sundays ago, I had the privilege to share one of my faith journeys during the worship service. I know I’ve blogged already about this 3 years ago, but I just thought it would be good to share again. I hope that this will encourage you to entrust your life to Jesus Christ so that you can walk in deeper faith. Blessed reading!

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Before I came to know Jesus I was a very independent person.  I am logical and thorough in my decision-making that I barely asked for counsel or advice from others. I would always want things done my way and was the type of person who would never make a decision until I was sure it would work out.  I was even awarded Most Self-Reliant in grade school.  Before I became a Christian, I did not know that God is not just an idea but a real person whom I can depend on and lead me. It took me a long time in my Christian walk to be in a place of surrender and dependence on God.  This is one the stories of the how the Lord shook my faith and brought me to that place of surrender and dependence.

It happened in the late part of 2013. My theme verse for that year was Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” — As I wrote in my journal, Jan. 20, 2013, “At this time of my life, I can sense God testing my faith. I can feel His hands pushing my faith beyond what I am used to.” End of writing– This was a time in my life when I had been praying if I should quit my corporate job and work fulltime in ministry.  By faith, I was ready to say yes to God and was ready to give up my career, my opportunities, my dreams – including my dream of immigrating to Canada.

In October 2013, there was an open position for Online Evangelism which I was very interested in. I submitted my application and went through the process. I said to myself that the result of my application will be my confirmation if I should stay or leave my corporate work. Of course I had to make sure, right? However, God had a different plan.  I sensed He wanted me to walk in faith and not by sight. So despite not being sure if my ministry application would be approved, and even with a chance of a promotion at work, I decided to resign. It was not an easy decision to make but God gave me a peace that “transcends understanding”.  November 23, 2013 –I wrote in my journal, “Many would say that I should not quit unless I have a new work to move to. However, that wasn’t what God is telling me. Every decision I made has been a step of faith and I’ve been grateful that God has been enabling me. I never thought I could make such decisions on my own. Without God, there would only be fear and doubts and lots of anxieties. And as I decided, it is with great faith and trust that God holds my future and it is for the best, it is for His glory. Whatever it will be, I know that He has prepared it and He will be with me as I journey towards it. End of writing —

Dec 27, 2013 was my last day in the company that I’ve worked for almost 9 years.  That was a day I will never forget. Do you believe in God’s perfect timing? That same day, I checked my personal email and saw a message from CCF HR. My application for the ministry was not accepted. Great timing, right? Of all the days I could’ve received that message, it was on my last day when there was no backing out of resigning.  I thought that when God asked me to walk in faith, it was about my willingness to give up my career and work full time. But His thoughts were different. He wanted me to walk in faith by bringing me to a place of uncertainty, to a great unknown.

In 2014 while everyone was looking forward to new beginnings, I was facing a new year of uncertainty. I got confused and lost. Walking in faith was getting harder. God asked me to quit my corporate job but it seemed He did not want me to do a ministry either.  Also, I prayed that when I quit my job I hoped there wouldn’t be any unplanned expenses for my family because I would no longer have health coverage but just 2 weeks after my last day my dad got into an accident. Talk about timing! God was really testing my faith. But despite the circumstances, He also enabled me to keep trusting Him. His peace did not allow fear and worries to overpower me. He showed to me in a very personal way that He had my back. All I needed to do was to depend on Him because I was reminded that He is the one who provided for my family and not me. He had the power to bless them without my help.

My journey into the great unknown continued. I kept seeking God on what He wanted me to do but the waiting was getting more difficult.  A GLC position in CCF became available and I thought, maybe this was what God wanted me to do and not the Online Evangelism job. I went to CCF to meet the GLC director and I was told that they really wanted me however there was no definite timeframe on when they would hire. It was very clear that God was once again saying, “No.”  That was another day I will never forget.  I was discouraged and everything just overwhelmed me. I felt like I gave up my career for nothing!  On my way home that day, I cried and got a bit annoyed with God. I asked Him, “Why don’t you want me to work fulltime for you when I already gave up my career and my dreams so that I can fully serve you? It just doesn’t make sense.” At the end of that day, I just gave up and surrendered to God. I stopped rationalizing. I decided to stop asking what, how, why, when. He wanted me to stay still and wait. And the only thing I can really do was to obey. And, so I did.

After four days, God gave me an answer. Feb. 22, 2014 – I got an email from Canada Immigration requesting my passport. My PR application for Canada was approved! I honestly thought it would not happen anymore because I already gave up on that dream.

That day, God once again showed to me how sovereign and gracious He is. Everything started making sense beginning that day.  For example leaving my job allowed me spend quality time with my family and friends before I left for Canada. Because I had a lot of free days, I was able to volunteer and be part of the Ravi Zacharias Conference in CCF.  And while I had financial challenges for my move to Canada, God was faithful and He provided for all my needs. He even prepared the way for me when I learned that just 1 month before arriving in Canada, CCF Vancouver launched and I had a home church to go to! I realized God did not really say, “No” to my desire to serve Him fulltime. It’s just that what He had in mind was different with what I had in mind. He allowed me to serve and be a part of this church-planting movement and meet such a loving family of God.  He also gave back to me what I surrendered to Him – my dreams, my career. Obedience is truly hard and it is only through the help of the Holy Spirit that we can take that step to keep trusting God amidst uncertainties. There were so many blessings that came with walking in faith and obedience. Indeed, He is an awesome and faithful God!

And while I am grateful for all those blessings, I honestly consider them as bonuses. The greatest reward I received was experiencing God in a very personal and intimate way as He led me on a journey that resulted in deeper faith and dependence on Him. Those moments will always remind me of the amazing love of God and how real Jesus is. Because of Jesus, who is my Lord, my Savior, my Source of peace and the Author of my faith, I was able to walk in faith and get out of the boat of comfort, self-reliance, fears and worries. Apart from Jesus, I will never be able to walk in faith towards the unknowns in my life.

My name is Stifany Araneta, I was self-reliant and I feared uncertainties in life but now by the grace of God through Jesus Christ and with the help of the Holy Spirit, I continue to learn to depend on God and not on myself. I continue to learn to walk in faith and not by sight.  On times of waiting and uncertainty, Hebrews 12:2 says, let us fix our eyes on Jesus always, the author and perfecter of our faith.

Praise and Glory be to God!Sunset chaser