A Prayed Adventure

On the latter months of last year, my daily devotion was about on the life of David. It was during those months that God has impressed to me that my 2018 will be a year that I need to be more courageous. As you know David, he was the young shepherd who fought the giant, Goliath. But, that was just even the beginning of his great adventure. Eventually, he became the king of Israel which required him more courage.

As I was reading David’s life, there is one of the many important things he did that really reminded me of how much I was missing it in my life.

1 Samuel 23 – Therefore David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?”   But David’s men said to him, “Look, we are afraid here in Judah. How much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?” Then David inquired of the Lord once again.

Then David said, “O Lord God of Israel, Your servant has certainly heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah to destroy the city for my sake. 11 Will the men of Keilah deliver me into his hand? Will Saul come down, as Your servant has heard? O Lord God of Israel, I pray, tell Your servant.”

1 Samuel 30 – So David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?”

2 Samuel 2 –  It happened after this that David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I go up to any of the cities of Judah?”

2 Samuel 5 – 19 So David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You deliver them into my hand?”

23 Therefore David inquired of the Lord, and He said, “You shall not go up; circle around behind them, and come upon them in front of the mulberry trees. 

Before David went to battles, he always inquired of God. He showed full dependence on God that before making any move, he wanted to make sure that it was what God was leading him to do.

And as I was reading that, I was rebuked of how I had been making decisions and plans in my life without really inquiring God first.  One of those was my desire to explore work from other companies. It had always been in my plan and every time I start making applications, God would always give me a reason to stay. Clearly, God did not want me that time to leave.

But late last year, I just felt that I really need to start sending my applications again. And because I was reminded of how David inquired God first, I did the same. My way of praying has changed from requesting to inquiring.

To remind myself, I keep an open journal on my bedside table so that I will immediately write down my inquiry before God. Below are the 2 items I listed last October that God has answered early this year which I will also be sharing here how He answered it.

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I worked for/at Best Buy for more than 10 years, including my years when I was still in Accenture. And the reason for me leaving was because I want to know what else is out there aside from the world of retail. I want to grow and learn more from other industries. As I shared in my previous blog, it was bittersweet leaving because of the people.

So how did my new adventure happened? Before I left for vacation last December, I went for an interview for a BA role in a bank. That wasn’t a contract role though. But because it is different from retail, I just decided to give it a try. I was excited about it and was hoping that I will make it. Unfortunately, I got the news that I did not get the job. So,  when I was in the Philippines for my vacation, I just kept praying about a new job. God knows what is best for me, so I trusted Him.

Second week of January  this year was prayer & fasting week. I was very much looking forward to it because I was excited of what God will reveal to me for 2018. I have so many plans for the year but I was just excited on what He will speak to me for the year. And over and over, He would remind me to be “courageous”.

During the middle of the fasting week, I got an unexpected FB message. My former colleague who I really admire as a person sent me a message and asked me if I was interested for a contract BA job. Without second thoughts, I said Yes! Of course!

So, she gave my contact to the hiring manager. Then, everything just happened so fast. I went for an interview, negotiated my contract and I got the job! It was effortless just like when I got the job from Accenture, just like when I got the job from Best Buy. And I knew that it was from the Lord. Because it was well-arranged and the timing was perfect. My former colleague never knew I was looking for a job, a contract job to be specific. But God knew and He can certainly use people in ways you never expect. And as always, if you think God does not care about details, He does. They gave me my asking rate. Just like when I got the job from Accenture and Best Buy. And what’s the other bonus? My new office is so close to my apartment that it only takes me 5 minutes to commute. And on the summer, I can even just walk!

Everything went smooth but it  took me courage to pursue it. It is getting out of my comfort zone and getting into a dimension that I myself acknowledges it is really one of my weakest – the world of finance. 🙂 It is also taking the risk of doing a contract job, not knowing if I will still have a job in the next six months or so. But, God knows my needs. He knows what I can and cannot do. He is my strength and my provider. I am courageous not because of my experience or what I know but because I have a God who is beside me, before me and behind me. I have a God who is all-powerful. He made this happen. He will see me through it. Because He is an awesome God!

Just this week was my first week at the new company. And each day I went to work, I was just in awe and still am of how God just did it. He did it, so amazingly. And I am just truly grateful.

I hope that I have somehow encouraged you. God is a good Father. He does not withhold anything good to His children. And we can only experience Him fully if we entrust our life to His Son Jesus Christ. Because it is through Christ that we are able to receive the promise of abundant life.

God bless you! To God be the glory! Let the future begin!

do what is rightnot what is easy

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BREAK-UP

I’m just a bit emotional. I felt like someone broke up with me. Though, I really haven’t experienced one. Haha! But anyway, I just feel like it.

Last 2013, was my first time to resign from the first company that I worked for more than 8 years. But when I left, it was a different kind of emotion. I felt free. Here’s a throwback. 😀

Just this Friday, I said my farewell to the second company I have worked for almost 4 years. And the reason I’m writing now is because I just needed an outlet of how I feel and let it be. I really don’t like dramas but you know what, this is my blog site. I just  want to be dramatic right now. LOL.

Anyway, leaving was my personal choice. It was time to move forward and explore other industries for my own growth. I had to choose growth over comfort. However, leaving this time was not easy.

In my years at the company, I had moved from one team to another. Worked with different people on different projects. Had multiple bosses. Change was super constant. But the last seven months were different. I became part of a team wherein we could all grow together. And to become a part of something that evolves and improves, it’s not just about work. It’s really about building relationship. It was just getting better. And that’s why it was sad to leave. And probably, it’s just me. It’s something I didn’t want to lose.

I just feel like a portion of my life right now got ripped. #drama … lol… But, that’s how I feel. It’s going to take a while. I’ll definitely miss our daily stand-ups and sometimes, excessive clapping. 😀 I will miss grooming  & retro sessions where everyone just really gets “passionate”.  😀  I will miss the crunch time moments when it’s close to end of sprint and everyone just jumps in to help. Just so many things going on everyday that I will surely miss. But most of all, I will miss the team and being part of the team. I will miss working with people who turned out to be friends.

Okay enough with this drama…haha… but those are all sincere words… I’m not going too far so I know I will still see them.

Next week, I will be walking down the hall, seeing unfamiliar faces. And I might still be sad. It’s going to be weird for a while, I guess. We’ll see…

National Leave the Office Early Day!

‘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

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

Gratitude Attitude

I just finished watching the CCF Sunday Message through Livestream and the message hit me big time.

I don’t know when it started but I had again a phase of grumbling and complaining at work. Things at work are mostly really busy for me. If I can eat lunch with my colleagues on time and consistent in a week, that is already a huge break for me.  And, I really think that God allows it to happen to reveal what is in my heart and to test my character.  You see, being busy at work is not really the problem. It’s not even like I bring work at home. However, because I am overwhelmed with work that I expect other people to work in same pace and provide results as I do. That’s when the grumbling and complaining happens.

The message I just listened talked about “Entitlement”. And how to avoid it is to always have a gratitude attitude. And this really hit me. I feel like I complained too much that I already lose sight of the true important things. Things that I should learn to count and be grateful for. I also forgot that I myself is a recipient of grace. In God’s standard, I will never be good. But because of His grace through Jesus, He is able to forgive me of my misses and failures. I am reminded that I should be the same to other people. I have to stop easily judging people and see them  as how God sees them.

I used to have reminder at my desk at work, “Increase Appreciation, Lower Expectation”. I should really put that back to remind me to always learn to see the good on people. It is very hard especially when you expect people to perform based on their status and position. By God’s grace, I’m praying that I will really learn to lower my expectation and even more surrender those to God as He is the one who is really in control.

The cause of my busyness was a big project I was part of that just got implemented recently. It’s a good accomplishment and it was successful. But, in all honesty, I feel that I failed the test God gave me. I ended up grumbling so much instead of rejoicing more. I became loud inside instead of allowing peace to work in my heart. I forgot to be grateful of the blessing of work and blessing of relationship. I lose sight of what truly matters for eternity.

I know that God will always bring me to circumstances that  will prune and mold me as God’s purpose for us has always been Christ-likeness. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I pray that I will be better next time.

I want to end this by thanking God for a lifetime of grace that is overflowing for me and for you that we may always be reminded of what truly matters and to always be grateful.

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3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:3-8

be grateful!

#GoogleGoals

As a Computer Engineer graduate in a third world country, my only dream before was to be able to work in a company where I can use my degree. I got blessed with an entry position and eventually grew in my career in IT. A lot of opportunities happened and one of which was to work abroad at our client site. Such experience allowed me to explore things outside my comfort zone.

Then, I ran into this movie in Netflix – “The Internship”. If I’m not an IT person, I might not be interested on this movie. Who would have thought that this movie would trigger me to dream to work at Google? Working at Google never crossed my mind until this movie. I’m in a good place right now but I’ve been learning to challenge myself to dream bigger. When I saw this movie, it somehow opened my eyes to a different, more interesting, more innovative world out there. I don’t know even know if I will ever be qualified for any position they have. But I will never know unless I prepare and try. It’s a good challenge. 🙂

Last year, I had the chance to check Googleplex in Mountain View. It’s a vibrant place out there. The colors speak for itself. 🙂

Let’s see what will happen in the next 6 months? 1 year?

Never stop dreaming!

#CEOgoals

It all starts with a dream.  My motivation to do the more important things is because of a bigger vision. However, how God will take me there is what I am more interested on. Being a result-oriented person, my perception has been slowly changed on what matters most. The journey is more important than the destination. How I will be transformed, disciplined, prepared and pruned is what I am looking forward to. The results will be results. My dream of becoming a CEO someday may or may not happen but the journey will definitely happen. I can’t wait to see how will God work in me, He who is the CEO of my life.

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