Cultivate Your Beauty

Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in. The holy women of old were beautiful that way and were good loyal wives to their husbands. Sarah, for instance, taking care of Abraham, would address him as “my dear husband.” You’ll be true daughters of Sarah if you do the same, unanxious and unintimidated.

1 Peter 3: 4-6 (MSG)

 

Yesterday, it took me about 20 minutes to choose what to wear for office. As I was looking at myself through the mirror, thoughts came to mind if people would really appreciate what I will wear for the day.

For men, it will only take a few minutes to dress up but for women, some may take hours.

So now, let’s talk about beauty. 

In today’s world, we are bombarded with products, wardrobe and fashion icons that will make us beautiful. In commercials, women with slim body, fair complexion and beautiful smile will show you that beauty focuses on the outward appearance. It’s as if the outer beauty is all that really matters. On the other hand, there are groups of women who feel so disconnected with the idea of being beautiful that they totally neglect themselves and instead, they believe inner beauty is the most important for it all. Though the bible says to cultivate inner beauty and the outward appearance is not all that really matters, my stand is that we should not neglect ourselves being beautiful, both inside and out. Why? Because we are not being beautiful for ourselves alone; we are being beautiful to reflect the image of God in us, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

 
Beauty: What is it? 

Your outer beauty may describe being physically appealing to both men and women alike —  in the way you dress, how you carry yourself, the style of your hair and the jewelry you wear. In the webster dictionary, beauty is described as:

a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight

and

a combination of qualities that pleases the intellect or moral sense

 

In appreciating outer beauty, your eyes decide that what you see is pleasant. However, when the inner beauty of a person appeals to you, your senses, emotions and intellect mostly gives you that happy satisfaction of one’s qualities. He/She may not be attractive to you, but deep inside, you know you wanted to spend another chunk of your time to get to know this person.

 

Worthy in God’s Sight

While reading the verses above, it struck me that Peter was telling the church inner beauty is what matters most.  If you read up the verses before this, in Chapter 1 and 2, Peter was telling the church that as we are given a new life in Christ, we are called to be holy. If you go down next to Chapter 3, Peter started off with giving an advice to husbands and wives. For wives, particularly, outer beauty is not emphasized but the inner one. He goes on to the length of giving Sarah as an example of how a beautiful woman, wife and daughter we could be in the eyes of God.

 

Instead of choosing to cultivate the inner beauty only, I have decided to cultivate both my outer and inner beauty. As a child, I didn’t have the confidence that people will appreciate me. I was so insecure that even my social skills were not developed. When I would see strangers on the street just because I needed to buy something from the store, I would wait until that stranger passes through before I make a move.

 

Then growing up, I came to a point where my identity is lost. Questions resurfaced. Am I beautiful? Will people accept me for who I am? What can I offer the world?

 

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

Isaiah 43:1

 

 

All those fears — fear of judgment, fear of rejection, fear of abandonment — all these were replaced by divine beauty and unconditional love. That love is the love given by Jesus Christ.

 

How Do You Recognize that Inner Beauty?

If you have received that unconditional love, your beauty will reflect to show the world without you even making an effort. That is because the beauty you are carrying is not your own anymore, but the beauty of Christ — the beauty of forgiveness, of unconditional love, of irreplaceable joy. If we go back to the verse above, we will immediately know inner beauty by the following attributes:

 

  • Gentle – Women may have different personalities and doesn’t mean that if one is gentle, she only speaks mildly to other people.  You are being gentle when you are able to lead other women in inspiration and not discouragement. People will know because it will show in your actions and words.

 

  • Gracious – I remember the quote that “Grace is something God gives us even when we don’t deserve it.” So here, being gracious means being able to extend that understanding, love and forgiveness even if the other person doesn’t deserve it. On the same way, it is able being able to ask for understanding, love and forgiveness even if we don’t deserve it.

 

  • Loyal – This literally means showing strong support or allegiance. As a woman of inner beauty, you are able to show strong support to your friends, family and loved one, in whatever way to encourage them. This word is synonymous to being faithful, so being loyal would cover a long span of time.

 

  • Caring – You have this characteristic if you are able to show genuine concern for other people. This is not just a one-time concern but a consistent display of love, and genuine interest to help the other person.

 

  • Endearing – Dictionary defines this word as inspiring feelings of love and affection. In the above verse, I would focus on the fact that Sarah is not afraid to show and tell his husband words of endearment. As women who cultivate our inner beauty, are we also the ones who are not afraid to tell our friends, our family members and our significant other those words of love and affection? We may not know it, but sometimes, just a word of inspiration is what they need from us. So if we constantly practice being generous with our affection for other people, it may just change their lives and then our beauty will be reflected to the world.

 

  • Unanxious –  This word can be translated to faith. Are you full of faith? If we check Hebrews 11:1, faith means being sure of what you hope for and being certain of what you do not see. So cultivating that inner beauty means not worrying about the littlest things in life, but instead, putting our faith that everything will work out through well at the end. After all, it is said that “All things work together for those who love Him [God].”

 

  • Unintimidated – Lastly, cultivating that inner beauty means not easily deterred by the problems of this world and by temptations. One word to relate to this could be being courageous. Are you courageous enough to fight for what you believe in? Are you undeterred to stand your ground even if you feel mocked by other people, especially if you know you are doing what is right?

 

I know, you may be thinking, I do not have that kind of beauty… yet. We are all a work in progress, and we will one day be perfect in God’s eyes. But just as Peter says, “Cultivate your inner beauty.” This doesn’t mean we’ll wait to become beautiful, but instead, let us become self-aware on how these attributes can become ours one day, allowing God’s love to work through us, each and every single day of our lives so people will see that incomparable beauty in us. 🙂

 

How Do You Deal with Rejection?

Remember my dream to study abroad for a Master’s degree? If you read other blogs sharing their story about getting their dream after several tries, it gives hope. But what happens when after several tries, you still don’t fulfill the dream you have for yourself?

 

For the last two years, I’ve applied for scholarships to be able to take a Master’s degree in the field of Instructional Design and Educational Technology:

Walden University Scholarship 

Fulbright Scholarship

Chevening Scholarship

Endeavor Scholarship

University of Nottingham Masters Scholarship


Recently, I got a rejection letter from a scholarship I’ve applied for a Master’s degree. When I read that letter, I cried.
You know, this letter is not the first rejection letter I’ve received. I’ve felt ecstatic upon realizing I got into several universities abroad, but knowing I may not be able to start the Master’s degree without a scholarship to support me felt devastating, especially when you’ve been rejected several times.

 
This is not only applicable to a dream I have in professional growth, but also in relationships. So many times, I’ve been asking God when He would take away this desire to romantically love and show another person that intimacy God created in me but many times, I feel rejected. Rejected in a sense that I have to wait, because there’s no man yet who can meet the standard He has designed for me. I am not counting it as losing hope, but instead, I consider it as testing — a spiritual refining, so that in the end, when my dream is fulfilled or when I marry the man I’ll love, I know, it will all be worth it.

So for now, how do you deal with rejection you’ve so many times received?


1) Cry. Mourn. Grieve.

It is just normal to get hurt when you are rejected. This is the time to let out your emotion and let your senses feel the need to understand the situation that you will not be able to reach your dream. Is it all to no avail? You’ve done everything to get what you want but why are you rejected? Is it because you are not worthy enough? These are most of the questions that plague us. Can we escape the pain? Can we turn our back to the reality that we are rejected?

The answer is no.

The circumstance will not change when you are rejected. But you can change your attitude on how you respond to that rejection.

Why? Because if you undergo this stage, it will be easier to heal from the hurt you feel. This stage is essential when you let out the seering pain that rejection caused you and then it is on this stage you feel the freedom to choose to respond to rejection in a good way, or bad way.

 
2) Choose to accept.

Accepting the decision of the other party is easy to say, but hard to do. It will involve strength in facing the next days of your life without realizing your dreams, not regretting your plan to risk it after all. But then, if you choose to accept, it means letting go of everything that would attach you to the other party. It means not looking back and moving on to another direction. Choosing to accept means making that intent never to go back in the past just to regret, but to use it as an inspiration to move forward.

 
3) Move forward. 

It can be very tempting to choose to accept yet stay where you are. But in order to deal with rejection, it is necessary to give it all to the One who gave you those emotions and start walking one step at a time towards another dream you have. Think of it as one door of opportunity that closed, yet, God opens the windows to let in other opportunities to come your way. You may be looking for doors of opportunities, but really, you are meant to open several windows.

It is a matter of perspective. Would you choose to stay where you are and after few months, or years, you’ll realize that nothing really changed? Moving forward is taking those little steps to move ahead from what you experiencing. Move ahead from the pain. Yes, there may still be pain, but eventually, the memory of it will fade as you walk one step at a time.

Do you like doing other things? Focus on those. Think of all the rejection you’ve experienced as a chapter of your life you want to share to your future kids, or to other people who needed inspiration. But different from other stories, it will not give hope to reach for your dreams but instead, it will be a story to show how you endured the pain and how you moved forward.

 

Every now and then, people are not looking for success stories, but for inspirations they can get hope from. Maybe, you can also share your story of how you deal with rejection. Who knows? Your story might provide a way to change their perspective in life.

Do You have a Pioneering Heart?

I have listened to the podcast of Brian Houston of Hillsong countless times about having a pioneering heart. I have taken notes, and at some point, got bored with it so I played around with words and colors. 

Who are the pioneers?

What are the characteristics of those with a pioneering heart?


Lastly, what’s in it for us if we have a pioneering heart?

What is God’s Purpose in your Life?

As I was reading my Bible, I am reminded that whatever plans I have, if it is not under God’s will, it will not prevail.

As what is said in Proverbs 16:1-4 (MSG),

I realized four things just reading this verse:

1. It will be useless to start planning and executing everything if we don’t put God first.

There will always come a time when we will feel so tired doing projects, expecting gains from our investments and constantly rendering overtime to work for our dreams. We are humans and we cannot do everything at once. What is more disappointing is if you’ve invested so much effort then at the end of the day, you’ll never get what you worked for. This is for this reason King Solomon wanted us to put God first in everything. Why? Because God has the last say, and if that is the case, we might want to plan with the person who has the last say in mind.

 
2. We dwell on the outer circumstances, but God focuses on our intentions. 

I always say yes to those that I see are right, or those that would benefit me. But then, He digs deep to our intentions. Why are you doing the things you do right now? For attention? For recognition? For things that are temporary? He knows. But He cares.

 
3. Putting God first in our plans will allow us to see God’s hand move on our behalf. 

This becomes an assurance for me that I don’t always have to worry if after all the planning and executing I’ve done, the results are not what I expect to happen. Nor will I worry too much on how to execute the plans I have determined in my heart. Why? Because I know, at the end of it all, God will put everything in place.

 
4. God has a purpose for the small and big things that happen, even for judgment.

Everything is planned for and has consequences. It could be that appointment you received to sell your house that gave you a blessing you haven’t expected. Or that phone call you received to visit your parents because that could be the last time you’ll see them. Whatever it may be, God is giving us an idea that we are all weaved together for His plans, for better or for worse.

As I remember in another verse:

Romans 8:28 (NIV)

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

 

We may have different likes and interests. My chosen career may be different from yours. But definitely, where your heart is, there your treasure will be as well. If you learn to put God as the caretaker of your treasure, I’m sure He will guard it, make it grow and shine more, and lastly, give glory to His name. Afterall, we are created for His glory. He created us to give Him glory in everything we do.

That, I believe, is the purpose of my life and yours.

Are You Content in your Present?

Has there been a time when you have been working your ass off just to level up in your career? Or you have this ambition you want to reach whatever it takes. Yet, this verse says you have to be content.

So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.

1 Peter 5:6-7 (MSG)

 How would that really sum up?

In the last six years, I have been working as a rank and file in the corporate world, with just a meager income to get me by. For so long, I have prayed to God that He’ll promote me because I know I have the skills and I can do any tasks given to me (too confident, I must say). But then, I do not get my prayers answered. My question back then was,  “why”?

Year in and year out, I’m seeing myself working as I can but I am not yet promoted in my workplace. So one day, I asked myself, what does promotion really mean? Does it indicate selling an idea to gain approval towards it? Or does it mean seeing yourself in a higher position than any of your colleagues such that it gives you self-worth?

The Bible says to be contented with what we have and what we are.
It does mean to accept whatever has been given to us and use those resources make the best product. It does mean that where God has put us, we should be working to the best that we can be, without expecting something in return, without demanding more than what is provided. 

Being contented means being happy with having little as with much, working for others like working for oneself, and accepting our fate as one that will build us, not enslave us. 

It is a test of my character to be contented when there are times that I see my colleagues living the life they’ve dreamed of — traveling abroad, marrying their chosen mate and working the job they’ve dreamed of while being paid handsomely. It is a test of my character to accept my situation where I just work to provide for my family, and I have to save up for a year just to have 3-day, 2-night out of town vacation with my family. It is always a test of my character to stay where I currently am and not reach for my dreams. 

But the Bible also says be contented with who you are. 

So, it does mean that if I am ambitious about something, I have to go get it, work my ass off without demanding and expecting something in return. It does mean I have to wait for the right moment, and instead enjoy my present duties — love every bit of it — such that I won’t think it’s work. 

Being contented means being passionate with who you are as a person, pursuing your passion, loving life, and sharing kindness where you are planted. 

And when you least expect it, God will uphold you in His hand and level up the field. As having equipped you with the skills and character during the testing season, you will be prepared to take on a new role. You will be prepared to soar higher than ever before, but this time, you won’t fall because you have failed many times that you know what to do next. When God promotes you, there’s no minute wasted, you will be doing something greater that would impact the world — all because at one point in your life, you’ve accepted your fate and instead shared your happiness with them. 

I have Questions and God Answered 

Every year, my spiritual family in Victory (globally known as Every Nation) gathers to participate in a week-long prayer and fasting (P&F). It is the time where instead of choosing our desires, we choose God. 

This year’s P&F is special for me. Our topic is “Knowing God” intimately. This is the year I’m also believing God, more than all the answered prayers for the upcoming months, that I’ll be able to hear God’s whisper during my quiet times. 

My most memorable times are the ones I’ve believed and claimed in faith to happen, and indeed, God fulfilled those faith goals. As what Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is being sure of what you hope for and being certain of what you do not see (CEV).”

During this year’s P&F, here are some of my decision questions I’m praying for and indeed, God answered them one by one after only three weeks into 2017. 

1) Career: Will I have another opportunity with another employer or will I stay at my current company? God knows I’m vying for career advancement. 

2) Emotion: For one year, I’ve been attracted to this guy friend that I have, yet he does not know my feelings and I have no idea if these feelings I have for him will be reciprocated. 

3) How can I be effective in sharing Jesus to other people?

4) Love: How will I know the man I’ll marry? I’m already at that marrying age and I’m still waiting. 

These are personal questions I have with Jesus and during my quiet times, he answered it one by one through the book of Ephesians:

1) Career: Stay and be excellent.

Ephesians 2:7 Now God had us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 6:5b-8 Don’t just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ’s servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you’re really serving God (MSG)

2) Emotion: Love him like a brother. Love without expecting something in return.

Ephesians 5:1-2 Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. (MSG)

3) Sharing the gospel: Though I’m not qualified, God will equip me. 

Ephesians 3:7 This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details. When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God’s way, I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians. God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities (MSG).

4) Love: He will be a husband in qualities to you. That way, you’ll know He’s the one. 

Ephesians 5:22b-28a The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands. 

Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church – a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives (MSG). 

Indeed, it is just weeks into 2017 and God has already been answering my questions. He has given me peace with the decisions I’ve made and I just know He will never leave me nor forsake me. I know 2017 will be an amazing year for me.  

What If I Die?

Before my 2015 ends, I had this thought in my mind for quite a while,

What if I die tomorrow, am I ready for it?

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Well, if I were to really evaluate myself, I will say, “yes, I’m ready for it and I’m just excited to move on to the next journey after my life on earth — that is, the afterlife. Yep, you read it right. I’m excited and I’m quite looking forward to it.”

You may be asking, “Aren’t you thinking about your family? Or, thinking of your loved ones if you die, what will they do with your funeral? How about your assets? Who will get it? Do you even think what will they feel, especially your parents if they realized you died ahead of them? They will really feel shattered.”
I had this thought going on in my mind when I had this conversation with my mom. I said things I should not have said, like, when we’ll be away, she should feel happy because we (her daughters) are definitely in a much happier place (while saying this, though I mentioned about going away meaning working in another far away place, I actually meant in my heart about dying and staying in heaven when I die). I said sorry for saying such things but I mean what I said.

So there. I believe your brows are meeting halfway your creases now and you’re just confused as ever. Let me clarify some points to you.

 

in heaven

 

Nine (9) years ago, when someone asked me this question, I really had no idea where I will go when I die. I remember, I said, “Ugh, I don’t know.” Now, if you ask me that question, I’d say in “heaven”. Why? Because I believe in the only way, the truth and the life (John 14:6) and that I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior; thus, giving me the right to become one of God’s children (John 1:12). When I believed that Jesus is my Lord and my Savior, that He is the Son of God (John 20:31), that as the Son of God who loved His people so much that He gave His life to die on the cross (John 3:16) for the great exchange — He, as a sinless man, died on the cross and became the lamb of sacrifice in exchange so that the sins of the every person will be upon Him and His righteousness will be upon the sinners who believed in Him (Romans Chapter 3) — gives me an everlasting life (John 5:24), I knew then where I will go after my life on this earth. I knew then that my name is already written in the book of life in heaven (Hebrews 12:23) and that it will not be erased for all eternity (Revelation 3:5).

If you can see, I just <strong>believed</strong> that Jesus died on the cross for my sins and after three days, He rose again from the dead. It is all about my faith and that confidence grew when I took the time to know more about Him, shared my life with other believers and followed what Jesus said in the Scriptures even if sometimes it’s hard (1 Peter Chapter 1). That confidence that I have right now is the hope that when I die, I’d go to heaven and when judgment comes, God will have mercy on me because He will not see my sins, but He will see Jesus and His righteousness in my life.

Even if I believed in my heart and accepted Jesus Christ, life is still hard. Even though life is hard and I struggle, still, I have that hope that these troubles are preparing me for an eternal life ahead of me (John 16:33). These troubles are ways to build up my character and my hope for the eternal life (Romans 5:1-11).

I do not say I’m righteous, because I still sin (Hebrews 12:1a). I still sin and when I think of it, I know Jesus becomes sad. That’s why He tells us to run the race and be determined to look only to Him (Hebrews 12:1-2). When I sin, it’s like being a child again, having been told by my father not to run towards the deep river so I would not drown, but instead, I still took that plunge and then realized I’m drowning and should have listened to him. It’s like shouting for help and vowing never to do it again. Now, the only difference when I sin is that when I drown, I know Jesus will save me again and pull me up from that deep, cold water — drenched and chilling — and let me dry myself; giving me that towel, drying me from head to toe, all the while lovingly correcting me for the wrong I have done. When He does give me that towel and allow me to dry, it is during this time that I realize I have wronged Jesus, made Him sad, and yet He saved me because He loves me like a father loves her daughter (Proverbs 3:11-12). Because of this realization that I make a decision not to do the same mistake again and instead live a new life for Him (Hebrews 12:11).

 

I still sin
So you see, as I live here on earth, I know that anytime my life will be taken away from me. The only difference is that when I die, I know where I’m going and I know it will be a very good place for me. Because of this knowledge, I thought to myself, “if I know that the afterlife is this good, why keep it to myself?” So there. I share that good news to other people as long as I have the opportunity. Besides, before Jesus went to heaven in front of the disciples, He told them to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:16-20). In reality, you cannot share the good news to other people if you haven’t experienced it yourself, right? The disciples experienced Jesus in the flesh (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and in the Spirit (Acts 1:8; Acts Chapter 2).

Let us look into it this way. It is like when you buy a whitening soap from a store and after using it, you see the results. Because you see that the whitening soap really made you a shade lighter than before, you tell this good news to other people. Same with sharing about Jesus to other people. Not only did the apostles experienced the Holy Spirit, but also those who asked (Matthew 7:7) and so, they share it to people.

 

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Credits: https://pixabay.com

Another scenario on why we share about the good news: I am sick and I wanted to get well for the sake of my loved ones. I’ve tried asking for various opinions of doctors just so I will be healed; all efforts made but to no avail. I’ve traveled long and far, tried herbal medicines and all that, only to find what is that one true healing for me. Then, I find this one man, a doctor I may say, but a different one. He gives me prescription, but a different kind of prescription. He always follows up on me, checks on me when I don’t take that medicine on time and gives me advice. I then accept his prescription, take those medicines he gives me, and follow what he says. Then, as I go my own way, day by day, I realize I am healed and that I not becoming sick anymore. Because of this, I share the good news to other people who have experienced suffering like me so that they will also experience the same thing that happened to me.

Now, you know why I am looking forward to my life after earth. Well, for practical reasons, I’d be sharing some of the things I wanted my loved ones to do when I die:

>Be happy because they know that I’m going to heaven.
>> Look into the scriptures again so they know where they will go to when >> they die. Well, I really want to see my loved ones in heaven too.
>> During my funeral, I want people to wear white clothes only. It signifies purity for me.
>> I want to see white roses. Those are my favorite flowers.
>> I want people to play contemporary acoustic worship songs.

>> I want my home church in Makati conduct eulogy for me. 

 

 

 

Why do I really share this very personal story about me? Well, since my VG leader died in that accident this 2015, I realized that what really matters is the faith we have in Jesus in whatever circumstance we experience, and in response to that faith we count it towards heaven.
Whatever dreams, whatever desires that I have — these are all given by God. I also know that when I die, everything that I leave behind will all be taken care of by my Father in heaven.

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