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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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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Past, Present, Future

I just finished cooking one of my favorite dishes, “escabeche” that my mom is really good in making and I can’t really nail the taste I was looking for. It’s not like this was my first time making it. So, I’m just hoping there will be a miracle when I eat it for lunch tomorrow that the taste would turn out the way it should be. Lol.

Just trying to write something (while FRIENDS playing in the background)  for my first blog entry for 2016. I haven’t really done a lot of writing last year and I’m hoping I can do more this year. My 2015 really passed by so fast (yeah, cliche) and all I can think every time I look back is work was just crazy busy. Well, it was good crazy busy. I’ve learned so much at work and there were a lot of character-molding that happened. It was good. 🙂 (Now, I remember I need to do my self-performance assessment! Later on that…)

Anyway, so how was your 2015? I hope it was awesome for you too. I remembered I also did some hiking during summer. I believe that was one of the highlights of my 2015. I was able to push myself for more physical activities, the most memorable one was the 20km (up&down) hike to Garibaldi Lake. It was so tiring but the view on the top was just so worth it! It was breathtaking! But it might take awhile for me to go back. Going down just killed our knees! I can’t wait for our hiking adventures this year! My church friends and I have been starting to plan for it already.

Speaking of church, it’s been an amazing journey as well for the church planting movement of CCF Vancouver that I am so privileged to be a part of. A lot of relationship building, ministries slowly growing and the most exciting is we are moving finally to a new venue!!! Just thinking about how this started last 2014 and now things are slowly happening, it’s such a privilege to see how God is just working. Indeed, God wants a partnership with us, the followers of Jesus to do this amazing work of transforming lives.

Life is great, right?! It’s never a smooth one. But we still choose to continue living and hoping that it will get better each day. Not sure if you can speak the same, but for me, as long as I have Jesus in my life, no matter how big or small the giants I am facing, I just know that He will carry me through. And He always does. Because that’s who Jesus is. He keeps His promises. He never fails.

I have so many things that I look forward to this 2016. But I don’t know if those things will happen this year. I’m just letting God work it out for me if He allows it. If not, then, I’ll just have to trust that He has better plans than mine. After all, God sees the future. I don’t. So, He knows best.

How about you? What are you looking forward this 2016? I hope that you will also be able to entrust God of whatever plans you have for this year. We can only do much by our own strength, but God can make the impossible things for us if He wants to. I have big plans this year and I don’t even know if I’ll be able to sustain it. But, I’m taking a leap of faith that if God allows this, He will be there every step of the way. I hope you will also be able to take a leap of faith when God asks you to and obey when God doesn’t want you to. After all, as I say, He knows best.

I hope you will have a life changing 2016!! And, I hope that you will make God not just be part of it, but the Author of your 2016.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

God bless friends! God loves you!

With love ❤ ❤ ❤ ,

Princess Pepay

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A PORTION of my 2015

Don’t trust what you see. Behind those nice, happy memories are also the painful, sad ones that we just don’t share through photos. 🙂

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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!

When God said, “Rest.”

September 2, 2015 – This day will linger a bit in me.

This was the day when God spoke to me not just once but 4 times in one day Psalm 46:10 – “Be still.”

Days before this, my schedule was just so crazy. Work was crazy tiring and I had commitments after office hours and weekends. It was just non-stop that I could not even find time cleaning my own room.

Do you believe that God does care about your physical condition? When He showed to me Psalm 46 in so many places more than once, I thought, there must be something in there! It’s either I ignore Him or obey Him. And I know God. He is always clear. So, by His grace, I chose to obey Him. And indeed, I’m so glad I did!

You see, I didn’t know what was ahead of me. I didn’t know how things will turn out weeks after that day. But God knows. He knows I will never have enough strength to endure the busyness ahead of me if I didn’t stop doing things that are stealing my time to rest. I would have gotten so worn out that I might end up getting so sick or if not, become a one big grumbling soul.

I know how important rest is. I know how important to have a quiet time and just be still with God in the midst of busyness. But I’ve never been more appreciative of rest until these past weeks. Resting is not just relaxing and doing nothing. Resting is total dependence on God hoping that when you wake up the next day, you will have renewed strength for another long day ahead.

When God tells us to rest, He is serious about it. He knows how much we can only do each day. He knows our limitations that He allows us to have a rest.

So, if you’ve been too busy doing things that you think are important or you think could not wait, try to assess again what your real priorities are. We can only do enough each day. We just have to make sure we don’t compromise the most important things including our own physical health.

By the seventh day, God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created ]and made. – Genesis 2:2-3