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

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Utterly Grateful

Throughout this birthday week, God has reminded me of how blessed I am with relationship. In all honesty, I am never used with people who are not my family in going out of their way just to show me how much I mean to them. I am humbled and grateful. Learning from the past, I’ve learned to lower my expectation on people to avoid being hurt and disappointed. I have to learn and re-learn how to give without expecting anything.

Probably that’s the reason why I always feel overwhelmed on any gesture (nothing is little or big for me) of goodness and kindness from people. It’s a blessing you can’t contain.

“It’s the thought that counts.” That is so true for me. I may not be able to express it properly, but I truly appreciate the time, the prayer, the thought, the present, the encouragement,  the greetings, the conversation, and even just checking on me if I’m doing okay. Every time someone blesses me, I always think of ways on how I can pay it back. I just feel like I don’t deserve such blessing. Then, God would just remind me that I have to learn as well to accept and receive with humility. That I should also allow people to bless me as it is a privilege for them as well. Same that to bless others is also a privilege for me.

Thinking about all of these, I am also reminded of how GOD as a GIVER is. Everything He provides, He does not expect anything. Indeed, we can never out-give God. We think that we are giving back so much to Him – our time, our resources, our wealth. But the truth is, the amount of blessing He gives to us is immeasurable. All we need to do is to open our two hands and receive His blessing.

And do you know what is the greatest gift that He can give us? His Son Jesus. I owe my life to Jesus. He is the ONLY ONE who can never disappoint me. He is the ONLY ONE who can live up to my expectations. Jesus is the ONLY ONE who saved me from all the pits that I have fallen into without expecting anything in return. He is the source of my joy, my peace and my strength. He is a GIFT none can compare.

“For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” Luke 19:10

If you want to know more about Jesus, feel free to message me 🙂

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A recap of my 32nd birthday

THANK YOU EVERYONE for all your kindness and goodness! You know who you are 🙂 I can’t believe my mom prepared so much food on my birthday even if I am away from them!! Family Love is the best! ❤ ❤ ❤ And yes, I got a hair cut and for the first time have highlights on my hair! *winkwink*

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For the love of Fatburger…

I just have to write about this before I sleep tonight or else this will just be another item in my blog list.

It’s been a while since I had the biggest laugh in my life. The kind of laugh that gives you stomachache and headache after. If you know what I mean. 🙂

This was a non-typical night for our discipleship group. We usually do our fellowship at Marj’s place in Surrey. However, there was a reason for a “burger” celebration that we had a long week of discussion of where to eat burger. Options were: Fatburger Lougheed, Fatburger Whiterock, Fatburger Langley. Yes, anywhere as long as it’s Fatburger. 😀

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Tonight was more of an accountability night, just sharing and listening to each other’s life stories. No filter, raw and honest. It’s such a blessing that some of us singles get to learn from the married women in the group.

The most important thing I have learned tonight is about being “intentional”. For all of us to meet and really commit to go to Fatburger no matter where that is, that is being intentional. It’s never about the burger. 🙂 It’s being intentional in our relationships – to our families, to our friends, to our church, to our small group. If we want our relationships to improve, we need to make an effort for it. We have to be intentional if we expect change and results.I know this is not something new, however, it’s just good to be reminded about it. And humbling. 

Tonight, I thank God for these amazing women whom I get to share stories, eat burger and laugh out loud (literally) with.

And thank you to Fatburger Lougheed for being so nice of not kicking us out even if we stayed a little bit past their closing time (we didn’t know, sorry…)

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Accountability over Fatburger

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

Job Well Done – Not Mine.

The past months at work had been truly a tough one. But good tough, I must say. I felt like this year passed by so fast with so many things that had happened for the past 11 months. And in every project, there is always an ending. Finally!

I must say it was tough, but I felt like I’ve grown so much for those months. I remember, before that project happened, I had doubts about myself and my ability to perform my role. Not to mention, being in a totally different culture.  Yes, I struggled (I wrote a blog about it).

For me, each day was like going to a battle. And what kept me going is the assurance that God will not let me do something I am not capable of. That whatever is given to me, He will enable me. The past months had made me more dependent on God. It had made me more prayerful not just for myself but even for the people I work with.

A lot of prayers. An increasing faith.

As the project is closing, feedbacks were just amazing. I’m just overwhelmed with God’s favor in my workplace. As I look back on the days I was struggling and to now, I’m just in awe on how God has enabled and sustained me. I can never take credit for anything because I know that apart from God, I can only do much, but I can never be at my best. I had my own lapses with my work and with my character as well, but God made me come through.

It’s all because of Him. For all the good jobs and appreciation I received, all credit goes to God and God alone. God did a good job in me!

Promise that Always Satisfies

Yesterday, you saw someone changing status to just got engaged with a photo of her big diamond ring.

Today, you attended a wedding of one of your college girlfriends.

At the wedding, one of your couple friends shared that they have a baby coming.

Then, you,  a single woman and not in a relationship starts asking, “When will my time come?”  Or, “Will it ever come?”

For the next hours, thoughts would just be filled of what if’s, who and what could be’s. Sometimes, a little longer, days.

Until, thoughts would slowly fade. Life becomes normal again.

Then, another announcement comes in. And it goes the same cycle again.

You can have a lot of different reasons of why it hasn’t come for you yet.

But truth is, there is always only one answer that can satisfy you.

God knows your heart. He knows your desire.

And being satisfied that He knows, you once again resubmit to Him that your time will come.

You once again surrender to Him, knowing that He is writing your story.

Then, you go on living your life for Him, trusting that the best is yet to come.

You hold on to that promise, believing that God is faithful to complete it.

God is writing

I MISS YOU

I’m just thankful to the person who created the Timehop application. It’s an application that will feed your Facebook photos and statuses from 5 years ago until last year. I just like it so much because it reminds me of good memories from home.

And yes, I’m really missing home. I miss my family. I miss my friends and Manila discipleship group. I miss my friends from my previous company. I miss my favorite hang out places – Kapitolyo, Korean convenience store at Ortigas, Megamall, Powerplant Mall, California Garden Square.

Since I got back from my last assignment in 2012, April 2012 to May 2014 I believe are the most unforgettable years of my stay in Manila. These are my pruning years and never thought my last years in Manila. But as I look back, I am just glad that I really made the most in spending and investing time with people. I can not go back anymore. But I can always look back not having what ifs.

And that’s the reason why I miss home so much. I left at a time when there was so much growing, so much relationship building, so much learning.

I’m excited of how much people have changed when I go home next year for vacation. It’s a sad reality that people move on with their lives without me being part of it. However, I know that when I go home, I still have that spot in their lives just as they have in mine. That’s what’s comforting.

Our life here on earth is only meaningful when we invest our life not on things that moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. We truly never know where the next years would take us, but surely, when we invest our life on people, regardless of where we are, that’s what make living more purposeful.

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with my family – this was 11 months ago, we stopped by an overlooking site at Negros Oriental

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“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” Matthew 6:19

Talking but not Listening

How often do you check your heart? Not going to a doctor but checking the condition of your heart.

For the past days, that’s what I’ve been doing. It’s just that I don’t know what’s really going on. I’ve been asking God so many times to tell me what’s going on because I just feel so restless inside.

And today, I got reminded of lukewarmness in our walk with God. Neither hot or cold. The relationship is there but there is no intimacy. And I realize that the condition of my heart reflects my relationship with the Lord.

For the past days, I really try to spend time with God. However, I realize that I do more of the talking and not the listening. I read the Bible to hear Him but I end up taking His time to speak to me and just keep throwing thoughts on Him. And eventually, all I hear is myself. My fears. My questions. My impatience. My noise.

Reading the Bible and hearing God through the Bible are totally different things. In spending time with God, one must acknowledge that it is a special time to meet God to be able to know Him and receive revelation from Him. It’s not just merely talking and ranting about things to Him but with a humble heart and a listening ear, we must also let God speak to us. He loves to talk to us.  It’s not just us meeting Him, but Him also meeting us.

And I realize, that is what I lack. And at times, I also struggle controlling my thoughts. As I start meditating, my mind would eventually start to wander around. I really pray I will have the self-control not to over think and just focus on what God wants me to hear.

To ponder: If we allow other people to speak to us and impart to us wisdom, giving all our attention just to hear what they say, how much more from God who is our Creator and Heavenly Father?

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting!

Psalm 139:23-24

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