Tuesday, February 28, 2012

what inspires you?

What inspires you? 

That’s a jam-packed question. I’ve been thinking about how I would answer it lately. There are so many things that come to mind as great answers.

My family. My friends. My divas. Music. Musicians. Life. The sky. Nature. Exercising. Hand written letters. Beautiful things. Acoustic guitar. Making money. A beautiful marriage. A good book. God’s Word. Memories. The world. Brasilians. The Middle East. The mountains. The fall leaves. The crisp air of a cool spring morning. People’s smiles. A genuine heart. Confidence in the midst of humility. Laughter. A nice beat to dance to. A long drive with the windows down and the music up. Sunsets. Maybe I should say that one again: Sunsets. Wedding Receptions. A rap song with a good beat. Imagination. New music. Photos. New friends. Positive thinking in the midst of adversity. A good podcast. Jam sessions. Late nights with best friends. 

The list could go on and on.

All of those things are awesome, but the answer that trumps all of these things is one Name. The Name above all names. The Savior of the world. The name that I'm banking this life on. The Name that I live for. The name that moved me to the opposite side of the globe. 

His name is Jesus. 

He is my King. He is my salvation. He took me from the depths of my sin and set me free. He gave me the freedom to love… the freedom to love all people. He gave me the faith to believe that He is truth. He gave me the faith to believe that His Word is trustworthy. He opened my eyes to this glorious life that I have in Christ. He made a way for me to know God. 

It is the Lord that inspires me. It is His graciousness. It is His comfort.  It is His peace… after all, He is the Prince of Peace. He gives me rest. He grants me contentment. He is my hope. He hems me in before and behind. He lays His hand upon me. He goes before me. He prepares my way. He guides me. He leads me. He cleanses my soul. He forgives. He comforts. He teaches. He shows mercy.

He changes us. 

He changes the way we think. He changes the way we act. He changes our priorities. He changes our perspective.

The Lord is trustworthy. He never changes. A life found in submission to Him is beautiful.

 So, now it's your turn... What inspires you?

“Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lord. How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart! Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away. There are evildoers lie fallen; they are thrust down, unable to rise.” Psalm 46:5-12

my house is an ant farm

Do you remember ant farms? Well, sometimes I feel like I live in one. Please don't hear negativity... I am not complaining, I just find it humorous that it doesn't alarm me if I see a trail of ants on my wall or just a single ant stranded...trying survive the lonely lifestyle. I'm just thankful they're not starting to make ant piles in my house.

Manila is heating up more and more each day. I am a little anxious to see what the "summer weather" will be like. I guess only time will tell. I'm sure that it's going to be a scorcher.

In further news, I had a roach in my taxi on the way home from church this week. It turned out to be a great ab workout since my feet didn't touch the ground the entire ride home. 

Photo Credit.

Mom, Katie, and Kate sent packages!! What a great day Friday was!

Sweet letters from the WMU, Mrs. Combs, and Mrs. Dianne!
I've been writing so many letters... my FAVORITE pens in the world have run out of ink. Thanks, WinShape, for some good pens and good summers.
"One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust you to the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money." Luke 16:10-13

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


This past weekend I went to a cultural show. It showed representations of a lot of the different tribes in the Philippines. There are so many different clothes, traditions, and practices that represent the different areas of my country. Below are some of my favorite and most memorable parts of the show.

Also shown below are some new kicks I got at the American Women's Bazaar! It was my first Bazaar and it was absolutely incredible. Vendors surrounded us as we walked into the huge air conditioned building. The expat ladies that live in Manila organized the bizarre. It's basically a nicer and cleaner version of the market. One of the main perks of the women's bizarre is that they have American sizes... so I was no longer an extra-extra large. haha. It was awesome. And, they even had these awesome new shoes in my size. They smell like a new baseball glove because they are made of leather. The bottom of the shoe is made from an airplane tire...fancy that! The people are so resourceful here. Needless to say, I'm excited about my new shoes!

A nice tribal balancing act.

Pretty impressive.

These guys were so funny. They had a round piece of cloth and showed about six ways to use it (man purse, man skirt, head dress, and the g-string is pictured above). Haha.

Another way to use the round cloth: head dress.

Mindanao Prince and Princess. 

"But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15

Monday, February 20, 2012

wonderful weekend

What a jam packed weekend! 

Friday night was wonderful. Anita hosted a few students at her house and we enjoyed an American meal- complete with lasagna and brownies. After dinner, I went with some incredible people to University of the Philippines to an outdoor concert. The venue was the sunken garden (normally soccer fields). The fields were muddy and the music was great. We had a great time walking around to the different vendors and just enjoyed being together.

Saturday, I got to spend some time with Cassie and introduced her to David Platt. We watched some of the podcasts from the last Secret Church. It was wonderful! 

Sunday after church, we had a "pot bless" lunch and had a great time playing games. Our church is now meeting in a covered neighborhood gym. It's a great location and so cool to see the neighborhood folks curious to see what's going on around the corner. 

Sunday night, I went to a Filipino culture show (photos to come later). We had a great time seeing the different cultural dances and clothes from different tribes in the Philippines. It was great.

Ateneo students at the UP sunken garden! Great music, great friends, and great times together!

Dinner at Anita's on Friday night.

Valentine Party after Church on Sunday! This was right after trying to explain "freckles" in Tagalog. No tutoring session could prepare me for that! That'll be next Tuesday's lesson!

We had a "pot bless" (rather than "pot luck") lunch after church.

Girls at Church.

"Return, faithless Israel, declares the Lord. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the Lord; I will not be angry forever... Return, O faithless sons; I will heal your faithlessness." Jeremiah 3:12, 22

"I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed ...Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! ... Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.... The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned." Excerpts from Psalm 35. (Verses 4, 8, 14, 18-19, 22)

Friday, February 17, 2012


Faithful. That’s what my God is. He is faithful. 

Yesterday, I met with a group on campus to talk about John 15. I had four girls come! By the end of the discussion, three more girls came and said that they wanted to come next week. That’s just one reason He’s faithful… besides the fact that He can be nothing but. 

So, this week we celebrated Valentine’s day. Even though I didn’t dress up in a cute dress like last year, I still had a blast with three of my good friends here. We got together at Jessie’s house to celebrate. We ate taco’s and laughed a lot. We also celebrated Claire’s birthday. She’s newest to the city… and a southern girl, too!

I got a few glittery cards in the mail! And, they got here in perfect timing!  I got sweet messages on facebook, voicemails on skype, and some awesome messages via bbm! Valentine’s day is such a fun day to take advantage of all of the emoticons that we don’t use all of the time. (I probably use them more than most people, but hey… you’ve gotta express your love somehow when you live 12 hours ahead of the people you love most! ) 

I didn’t have a hot date, but one of the most vexing guys I’ve met here called me three times and sent a text that read, “Hi jessica can I have in date tonight plz?” I do applaud him for asking politely… I mean, southern girls do hold that in high importance. But, I declined by simply ignoring the calls and the text. I’ve learned from Filipinos that ignoring is actually an acceptable answer. 

I am so thankful. I know that I say that a lot… but I am just flat out blessed.  

Happy Birthday Claire!

Yes! I love cards! They all got here just in time!

Valentine dinner at Jessie's house.

“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be red with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house- for I have five brothers- so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to them, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” Luke 16:19-30 

Sunday, February 12, 2012


The Myanmar candle dance was a success! We had a blast performing in the auditorium. We all shared backstage jitters and post performance celebratory smiles- those are the same in every language! I am so thankful for the time we got to share together as we practiced. On Saturday, I invited them to my house and we cooked food that they missed from home. We had a blast shopping together at the import store… searching on the aisles that I normally don’t go down. The food we cooked was spicy and delicious! We even ate with our hands!

Before our Performance.

Sweet new friends.

After our Candle Dance performance!

Some of our moves.

We all cooked together and it was so much fun!

The food was a little spicy... and my weak blue eyes were crying before I ever tasted anything!

Working at our counter extension... a chair... to make room for all of the food.

Green Mangoes... that were mixed with some spices!

She is such a good cook!

Yummy food!

We got to eat with our hands! Yes!

“Blessed be the Lord! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. The Lord is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge for the anointed. Oh, save your people and bless your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever.” Psalm 28:6-9

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

marikina market

I love days when I get out of bed and I’m sore. That is one of my favorite feelings. It makes me feel accomplished… remember, I’m counting all victories! Last night, I went to a “cardio martial arts” class at the gym… similar to Turbo Jam in the States.  I felt like I was cheating on Mrs. Christy a little bit since she’s the best Turbo Jam instructor on the planet. It will always be hard for a short Asian man to measure up. Either way, I am sore today. And that’s a great feeling. 

The Foreign Student Club at school is performing traditional dances for Teachers Day. I am dancing with the girls from Myanmar. I had a lady make a traditional outfit especially for me. She is the sweetest lady and knows how to run a sewing machine like no one’s business. Before I move back to the states, it’s my goal to have a few cocktail dresses made. They are cheap (comparatively speaking)… and custom made… can’t beat it!

I went to Marikina to the market today to pick up my costume. I read online before I left that the main road that I normally take would be closed. It suggested an alternative route, so I noted it and hailed a taxi outside my apartment. From my house to Marikina usually takes about fifteen minutes by jeep. It took me an hour to get there today. Once I arrived, I walked into mad chaos. The reason they had closed the road is for the shooting of the next Borne movie. I’m not much into movies, but I have actually seen all three of the Borne movies. The streets were lined with people and security guards. All I wanted was my costume. I pushed my way through the crowd with a lot of extra eyes watching my every move. I’m no moviestar, obviously… but I think I had some Filipinos confused today. My favorite comment I heard as I walked through the crowd was, “blue eyes, blue eyes.” Immediately after that, I put on my sunglasses. Sometimes it’s not fun to be looked at, but sometimes I just take it with a nice hearty laugh. Today was one of the laughing days. I hailed a taxi to come home… maybe the fastest I’ve ever gotten one in Marikina. The first question he asked… “Are you in the movie?”

I also got two packages today… my Divas are tha bomb. Anna and Marianne hooked me up with all kind of goodies. A few of my favorites: Secret Church booklet from the fall, glittery snowman cup, and some "mistletoe kiss" hand sanitizer.

Practicing for our Myanmar Dance at school!

We dance with candles in our hands. Usually after we practice, I have dried up wax all over my hands. Haha.

Cassie in the market.

Trecie- How do you like my real asian hat? You can get one when you come visit!

Mandarin Orange propel. Yes, I live in Asia.

Marianne and Anna... Maraning Salamat!!

Diva Child Hermface sure does know how to seal some letters.

Mary- you rock. Can't wait to download it all... may take a few days!

Yes! And, this time I don't have a dishwasher for it to explode in.

Mistletoe.. I missed you over Christmas.
Beautiful sunset from my roof deck today!

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion- to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garments of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.” Isaiah 61:1-4

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


I hope I never need to go anywhere in an ambulance here. Check out the traffic... that takes it's sweet time moving out of the way for emergency vehicles. The vehicles in the far right lane are Jeepney's. They are the most common form of public transportation. It costs 8 pesos per ride (that's about 20 cents).

Sunday, February 5, 2012

renewed hope

The people in the pictures below have found a special place in my heart.

It all started about a month ago when I got a call from some fellow workers here, Neal and Jana. Neil was speaking at a new church and they invited me to come along because they thought the pastor's wife would be a good friend for me to have. Cassie is her name. She's an American girl from Texas. We instantly became friends and bonded over many commonalities. Since all of this happened, Cassie and I have started discipling the older girls in the church on Saturday nights. We have become great friends. The church her husband Mark started has been such a blessing to me. It has been an answer to so many of my prayers. The girls we are discipling are truly incredible. They are hungry to know the Word. They are also eager to learn how to obey and abide. They are learning what it means to pray and they are seeing the Lord's hand in their lives. Even in the last two weeks of meeting on Saturday, it is so evident to see that the Spirit is teaching them. He is opening their eyes to the glorious gospel that brings the sweetest salvation.

After Church.

Sweet Sisters. Paw, Laika, Cassie and Renee Ann.

The guys jamming after church.

The beautiful view from the roofdeck!


The guys that set everything up, take everything down, and do the work behind the scenes. Maraming Salamat Po!

Seeing The Body come together nicely to make everything work for Sunday morning.

"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." 2 Corinthians 3:17

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." 2 Corinthians 5:17 

"'Because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry, I struck him; I hid my face and was angry, but he went on backsliding in the way of his own heart. I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him and his mourners, creating the fruit of the lips. Peace, peace, to the far and to the near,' says the Lord, and I will heal him." Isaiah 57:17-19

Friday, February 3, 2012

His ways > my ways

Well, let me first start with a ridiculous story. I was writing a letter tonight when out of my peripheral vision; I saw something thick and juicy on my wall. I looked up to see a huge lizard. I tried not to freak out. It looked like he had just eaten a mouse or something large since his belly looked like it might explode at any minute. I am generally thankful for those little guys because I know that they eat things like mosquitoes. With qualities like that, who wouldn’t like them... right? This little guy took me off guard for sure. I just wanted him out of my house, so I grabbed the broom only to see that he had gone behind the curtain that is in front of my balcony door. I carefully opened the door to the balcony in hopes that I would entice him to move back to his home… you know, somewhere outside. I shook the curtains a bit, and even wound up smacking the broom against them just in case he was stuck on the underside of the curtains. I really hope he got the picture that he was not really welcome inside. I hope he is outside now, although I have no firm confirmation.

I went over to Merikina today to meet my new friend Cassie. We both went to the market there and found a tailor to help me make a costume for the Myanmar dance at school. I found fabric at a market earlier this week, and now everything’s up to the tailor. I sure hope it fits. I wish so badly that I had my camera today. It was a great opportunity for lots of fun photos. We walked around town a little bit and really enjoyed looking in the market.

I rode the jeep back to Katipunan and went over to Ateneo to meet up with some students that I have grown quite fond of over the past few months. It’s always encouraging to see them. To top off the day, the sunset was beautiful tonight. Thanksgiving is in my heart.

Since I didn't take any photos today, I thought I'd let you know that Palmolive makes hair products.

 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving sed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the things for which I sent it. 'For you shall go out in joy and be lead forth in peace.'" Isaiah 55:8-12