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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Courage to Slow Down

When God answered my prayer to work for a different company, I was very happy and excited. I had been praying for it and this year I just felt that it was the right time. And indeed, God confirmed it. You can read more about that here.

My first few weeks in the new company were just refreshing. It started slow so I got a lot of time to learn and read about the company. As weeks continued to pass, I felt that the pace was still the same. It’s a pace that I was not used to. And it became a struggle for me. Most of us struggle with busyness in our day to day work. I did not know that slowing down would also become a struggle for me.

My heart started to complain. I started to grumble. In all honesty, there was no reason to grumble at all. During those weeks, my mind kept telling me to be grateful because I am very blessed and I am in a very good place. But you see, I entertained discontent in my heart. It was like that for weeks. I was already thinking of not extending my contract. I wanted a working environment that was the same as my previous company. I was struggling to adjust and embrace change.

I became stubborn for those weeks, playing deaf with God’s Word until He had to deal with me. He led me to Numbers 11.

“…but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the Lord, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, ‘Why did we ever leave Egypt?'” – Numbers 11:20

“Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused.” Numbers 11:1

Those verses described me, grumbling and complaining. I was asking God if His answered prayer was really what He wanted for me. I asked God, “Do you really want me to stay?” Very discontent. Very ungrateful.

God’s word for me this year is COURAGE.  I was thinking it was courage for things that He wanted me to pursue this year, courage to pursue bigger things that will help me accomplish my own personal goals. However, God’s thoughts were different. I did not expect at all.

All my grumbling weren’t because of my work. It was my heart. God asked me, Do you have the courage to stay in the company where I put you even if it is an environment that you are not used to and that you will struggle to adjust?

“So if you are tempted to walk away, make sure to seek God, because you never know what he might do if you have the courage to stay. ” – Divine Direction by Craig Groeschel

And He did not end there. Slowing down was not just in terms of work but on everything. I was planning so many things that I just wanted to keep going. I wanted to accomplish a lot that I can’t just slow down. But God wanted me to slow down on everything, no exceptions. And that was the most difficult. I had so many things I wanted to do this year – starting to build my company, starting a business back home. But then God said, drop everything. Pause.

That was it! Courage…to slow down. It’s so hard. I felt like I’m going to run out of time if I pause. I felt like I will be losing my opportunity. But who am I to question God’s ways? I need to be courageous in pursuing a life that takes time to relax, to rest, to think, to reflect, to prepare, to plan.

By God’s grace, I obeyed.

How has it been so far? I’m so happy to say that it has been so liberating. I didn’t know that God can truly give me this season to just enjoy the flowers on the wayside. I am learning to appreciate boredom. I have more time now to reflect. I don’t feel the pressure of making things happen. I don’t think about things that are years and years ahead. I am learning to just think about the next few days. Importantly, I am enjoying this time of letting God use this season of my life for His work.

Indeed, there is a time for everything. We all just need the courage to embrace that.

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

 a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
   a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
  a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
     a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
     a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
     a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
     a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

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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

When you pray…

It’s hard not to get anxious when it involves financial matters.

An incident happened that involved a cheque I sent as a payment. It usually takes a week for that cheque to arrive but for some reason, it took longer this time. I went to the bank to request for a cancellation since I want to secure the money before it gets cashed out. These days, that’s not impossible to happen. However, the bank advised me to wait for another week as it might just be taking longer. The kind of cheque I sent was not that easy to cancel and takes a lot of process according to them. So, I waited another week.

During the second week, I was already starting to feel uneasy thinking what happened to my cheque. I was hoping it would arrive but it didn’t. And then, I have to wait for another week. During these times of waiting, anxiety always tried to crawl in. Indeed, prayer is the only weapon to anxiety. It’s during these times also that I prayed harder. I told God that He owns my finances. I told Him that I need that money either to be returned to me safely or to arrive safely. I told Him that if that will not happen, I will still continue trusting that He will provide. I just claimed who He is, how powerful He is. That if He can create the whole world, He can definitely secure that amount for me. Nothing is too big for Him. It’s not a very big amount but it is an amount that I needed.

Just this week Monday, I was suppose to go to the bank after work to finally cancel the cheque since third week passed and it still did not arrive. However, the whole day was so busy at work that I was so exhausted and decided to just go home and do it the next day. Almost end of the day Tuesday, I got confirmation that the cheque finally arrived! It was a big relief and I was just really in awe how God led me not to go to the bank the previous day. I was exhausted for a purpose! Just imagine the hassle if I cancelled it and then it arrived the next day. Whew! God’s timing is just perfect!

Once again, God showed to me how much He cares not just on the big things but also on the little things like a “lost cheque”. For God, what matters to Him was me. Not my finances. What matters to Him was my heart and my faith on Him. As much as I don’t want this incident to happen again, I am grateful for the rocky roads of my life because these circumstances allow me to experience God in a very personal way. I am reminded that He is for Real and He truly hears our prayers.

” Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6

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Losing Confidence (At Work)

It’s been almost 5 months now since I started working as an IT business analyst (BA) for a retail company. I’ve been in the IT industry for more than 8 years but my BA experience is just really a small portion of it, less than a year, I must say. And before I joined this company, I wasn’t working for 6 months since I left my company of more than 8 years. Getting back to the corporate world after 6 months of really good rest was a bit of a challenge in the beginning. From being so relaxed to going back to multitasking and meeting deadlines, it was a big jump again. But anyway, I am grateful.

The past days though were really a struggle for me. Not really with the tasks at hand but with my capacity of doing things. I just lost confidence in doing things. People at work may not see this but I’m trying to cope as much as I can to get things done. Deep inside, I’m really struggling in believing that I can accomplish the future tasks that will be assigned to me. I feel incompetent and lacking in a lot of areas. I feel like I’m not doing a great job with the role that I have. I feel like I’m not capable of the things that are expected of me. I’m not sure if choosing this career path was a mistake after all. Right now, I’m starting to ask myself and even asking God if this is really what I should be doing.

I want to see God working in me and through me as I press on with my work. As of now, I don’t hear God telling me to quit. He doesn’t want me to quit and give up at all. What I’m hearing is that I should believe and have confidence in Him that He will enable me to accomplish things. Not that I may please people but that He may be pleased and glorified.

As I get to work with different people, I see different personalities and different ways of doing things. And there is a tendency that I could adapt those which are not pleasing to God if I won’t be careful and if I won’t guard my thoughts and words. I pray that as I do my work, I will always remember that character is the most important more than anything else. I can be good with what I do but without good character, I will not be able to please God and make Him known to others.

I was reading Colossians 3 tonight and I’m grateful to be reminded of what really matters. No matter what I do, my goal should always be able to do things in the name of Jesus (Colossians 3:17).

These are the things I pray I will be able to remember and live out not just in my work but in my day to day.

– Set your heart and mind on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God (v. 1-2)

– Clothe yourselves with: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and over all these LOVE. (v.12-14)

– Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart. And be thankful (v.15)

– Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly (v. 16)

I’m excited how God will continue to let me experience Him through my workplace. Until He asks me to leave, I will just keep doing my best and leave everything to Him. Just as how God granted great wisdom to Solomon, I know that God will enable me as well to do my job well. Not for me but for Him to be glorified.

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