failures and beginnings

   When I was twelve, one of my favorite teachers told us about how difficult it was to create powerpoints, quizzes, and grading sheets because he had no laptop of his own. He always had to borrow someone else's and it was becoming rather tiring for him to keep doing with that. He paused for a while, realized he'd gone off track, and continued on with that day's lesson.

   "Anyway, back to trees. Can I be honest with you guys? I hate trees. It's such a boring topic. Let's make this quick."

   But my mind couldn't concentrate on the pictures of California redwoods and junipers. I kept thinking about how bad I felt for him wanted to repay him for being such a fun and awesome science teacher. I suddenly came up with the idea of raising money to get him a laptop and then surprising him with it by putting the money inside a laptop made out of paper. After class, I excitedly shared this idea with my classmates and they agreed to do it.

   That night, I told my parents about my brilliant idea.

   Of course, it didn't sound so brilliant to them. 

   I don't remember for what reason it was exactly, but the discussion ended with me running to my room crying. Drama llama. Dad came in soon after with some words I'll never forget.

   "I am so proud of you. The way you were able to rally your classmates together to do something good for your teacher shows how much of a leader you are."

   Before he said that, I had never thought of myself as a leader. I didn't want to be one, anyway. I enjoyed simply supporting the leader and doing whatever was needed to be done. But hearing that come from the one man who I could really call a leader, the one who carried our family on his back, the one who would always go out of his way to make time for us, the one whose rules were rules, the one who not just told us what to do but also showed us how to do it, this man made me feel like I could be so much more than just someone who sat on the sidelines.

   Obviously, the laptop plan didn't push through, but there was something way more valuable than the thanks of my teacher that I got that day. My dad had acknowledged the leader he saw in me when I was just a kid struggling with fractions and decimal places. He saw the potential I had before anyone else did. Including me.

   Sometimes I still don't think I'm cut out to lead, but then I remember that everyday, right before reaching the school gate, he would end his prayer for me with,

   "Thank You that she has a purpose. May she be the leader You've called her to be. In Jesus' name."



This blog post is part of Victory Philippines' media movement to encourage its church members to revisit its core values. This week's topic is leadership. #MyVictoryStory

Read these posts for a more flavorful, different perspective on leadership.

1. Waterline: The Marks of Leadership by Perci Paras
2. He Must Become Greater by Rinnah Ramirez
3. Lead to Leave by Paolo Punzalan
4. Stuff My Dad Told Me by Joe Bonifacio
5. I Don't Think So by Jek Valle
6. Growing Leaders Out of Your Kids by Jenn Punzalan
7. To Lead is to Lean, Learn, Live, and Love by Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio
8. Deny Yourself by Dennis Sy

Or click here to read short leadership testimonies.



   If anybody had cheeks so pink that you'd swear roses grew 'round her face, it would definitely be her. But this is not why she is beautiful.

   Her hair falls in soft waves, and the sun loves to play catch with her locks. They flash a golden brown sometimes, in the right weather. But this is not why she is beautiful.

   She carries herself like a princess who lives in a forest, graceful yet free and always running around with wildflowers in her hair. But this is not why she is beautiful.

   She is beautiful because she doesn't live her life for herself. Every strum, every song and every breath is for her King. Everyday she choses to die to the desires of her flesh and the passions of this world. She strives to live a life worthy of her calling, and that she does.

   She is beautiful because she isn't the type of princess who just sits there in her tower looking woeful and pretty at the same time. No. She is the type of princess who is out on the battlefield, wears a helmet, who wraps her feet in peace, who carries a double-edged sword, and whose faith holds everything in place. She is a warrior, and she makes sure that she doesn't fight alone.

   She is beautiful because that beauty overflows from a heart that beats to the rhythm of its Maker. She drinks in the presence of the Star-breather, and joy warms every inch of her, setting her face aglow. A day does not go by where she does not tell Him she loves Him, and He loves her so.

   But there is a time for everything, and the day arrived where this princess was called to fight elsewhere. It's been a while since I last held a conversation with her, since she last gave me advice on matters of the Kingdom, yet I will never forget how beautiful she was. How beautiful she is.

   I hope you're reading this, Ate Chessie, and know that your life has left a deep imprint on mine and encouraged me to live one that seeks my King with all my heart, with all my mind, with all my strength, and with all my soul.

   I'd like to honor and thank you for being the first person to whet my appetite for His Word, especially because it was during a time when I was starting to numb. Maybe you don't always know it, especially when your shield grows heavy and your eyes lose their fire, but you are so beautiful.

   More than you'll ever know.


This blog post is part of Victory Philippines' media movement to encourage its church members to revisit its core values. This week's topic is discipleship. #MyVictoryStory

Read these posts for a more flavorful, different perspective on discipleship.

1. Discipleship Works by Perci Paras
2. I strip for discipleship! by Ganns Deen
3. More Caught Than Taught by Paolo Punzalan
4. Spiritual Heroes, part 1 by Joe Bonifacio
5. #DFF by Jek Valle
6. You Are Never Meant to Do It Alone by Fiona Alvero
7. My Discipleship Notes by Emmanuelle Gomez
8. On Discipleship by Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio
9. The Defining Minute of my Manhood by Dennis Sy
10. All because of Love by Elle Cabiling

Or click here to read short discipleship testimonies.


open door, closed heart

   "I have a question."

   "Go on."

   "Why do you dance?"

   I opened my mouth to reply to the ten year old boy who had just spoken, and I found that my lips seemed to have been frozen in place. My entire being was screaming, "To glorify God! To make Him known! To glorify God! To make Him known!" The door was wide open in front of me. All I had to do was take a step in.

   But right as I was about to take that step, I chickened out. I turned away sharply from the open door and walked as fast as I could towards the opposite direction. Where it was safe. Where I wouldn't be uncomfortable. Where it was within my comfort zone. I answered lamely,

   "You know, for fun! For exercise! Because it's a.... fun kind of exercise."

   He nodded, but I could tell from his expression that my answer clearly disappointed him. I wanted to run out of the room and kick myself over and over again. I tried to muster up the courage to try to take back what I'd said and tell him and the other boys the real reason I danced, but I couldn't. The conversation took many twists and turns, yet I was too afraid to steer it towards Him.

   To this day, walking away from that open door is my biggest regret.

   An hour later, I found out a ten year old girl from that same school had gotten saved because one of my friends had had the courage to share the gospel to her. I was overjoyed, but my heart fell at the same time. Those boys could have been part of that, or at least have been put on the same direction, if only I had had enough conviction to tell them about Jesus.

   Looking back, I realize that that had been the problem. Conviction. That time I went on a dance missions trip to Hong Kong was before I truly encountered Him and understood, to the most of my human understanding, His radical, radical love. His love had not yet been real to me, which was why I had lacked the courage and conviction to boldly proclaim the beautiful story He'd written before I was formed. How He loved. How I fell. How He searched. How He ran when I came home.

   Even if I live for nine hundred more years, I will never be able to completely comprehend just how overwhelming and amazing His love is. His perfect love that kills all fear. All. Fear. 

   Maybe you're still afraid to talk about His love because it's not real to you yet, but once it is, you will be unstoppable because that love will seep into your bones, penetrate the beating stone in your chest, melt it, and make it His. It will be impossible for you not to want to lead others to that same love.

   His love makes me move, makes me dance, and guess what?

   I'm not ashamed to say it anymore.


This blog post is part of Victory Philippines' media movement to encourage its church members to revisit its core values. This week's topic is evangelism. #MyVictoryStory

Read these posts for a more flavorful, different perspective on evangelism.

1. How Will They Hear? by Joe Bonifacio
2. When bad things happen to "good" people by Emmanuelle Gomez
4. Bad News, Good News by Jenn Punzalan
5. Jesus is More than Just a Ticket to Heaven by Dennis Sy
6. The Miracle at Kenny Rogers' Roasters by Ganns Deen
7. Walk This Way by Karess Rubrico
8. The British Singer by Jek Valle
9. Dare to Share by Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio
10. Scales by Nate Punzalan
11. Let it Glow (and no, this is not about Frozen) by Charls delos Reyes

Or click here to read short evangelical testimonies.


the pride and the sea

   We all love the idea of walking on water. Salty air. Salty hair. Our eyes fixed above the waves. Feet slow, steady, and sure. The winds howling and tumbling at every side, yet on we walk.

   The scariest and also the most beautiful part about all of this is that you are not the one who is in control while everything is happening. It is a wonderful and a terrifying thought. The day the doctor told me that a 207th bone had somehow made its home in my left foot, wonderful and beautiful were the last adjectives I had in mind.

   When I found out about my extra bone, I was preparing to compete in the 2013 Asian Grand Prix, a solo ballet competition in Hong Kong. The timing couldn't get any worse. I refused to let that stop me, though. So I pushed. I pushed and pushed. My strength. My desires. My will. My, my, me.

   I dreaded training every night. There was one Friday in particular where the pain was so intense that I wanted to kick off my pointe shoes and break down crying right there in the middle of the studio in front of all the other dancers. I was practicing my dance and as I went en pointe, I swear, I thought my bone had finally given in and cut through my flesh. I was half expecting to look down and see it protruding with my foot all torn up and blood running like a river. That wasn't the case, but it sure felt like it.

   For months, I questioned and accused Him of having timing that was terribly off and nonsensical. I deceived myself by taking my desires, will, and plan and just relabelling them as His desires, will and plan. I didn't want to lose control over that area of my life, which was built literally on years of sweat, blood, and tears. Surrendering would mean broken pride, and I was afraid of breaking. I was still in the process of learning that I wasn't made for me.

   As I sank deeper and deeper into the storm that I had allowed to brew, I came to the point where I finally surrendered and like the winds, acknowledged His name. Only it was a name I had never encountered until then. His name was Jehovah Rapha, God my healer. And He was. That extra bone has never bothered me since.

   We will never be able to walk on water if we ourselves will not allow Him to calm the storm that rages in us. The most obvious thing about God that we forget is that. He is God. So let Him be God.

   Today, I am walking on water. Salty air. Salty hair. My eyes fixed above the waves. Feet slow, steady, and sure. The winds howling and tumbling at every side, yet on I walk.

   The most beautiful part about all of this is that I am not the one who is in control while everything is happening.

    And I don't find it scary at all.


This blog post is part of Victory Philippines' media movement to encourage its church members to revisit its core values. This week's topic is lordship. #MyVictoryStory

Read these posts for a more flavorful, different perspective on lordship.

1. Jesus is Lord Over My Love Life by Joe Bonifacio
2. Lord and Lordship by Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio
3. One Tough Decision by Dennis Sy
4. His Ways Are Higher by Karess Rubrico
5. Passion for Passion by Ganns Deen
6. Lordship is... by Paolo Punzalan
7. The Only B Student by Nate Punzalan
8. Lordship? Big Word! by Jek Valle
9. When Obeying Meant Simply Letting Go by Val Baguios III