I was… Productive?

So, I’ve never been one to enjoy cleaning. At least not starting it. When I got into it, I do find it somewhat therapeutic. I’m more of a sanitary cleaner, than a “make it look pretty” cleaner. Though, I do have to say there is something about seeing the clothes folded Marie Kondo-style that “sparks joy”. It is a lot tidier, and I can see my clothes, so I don’t have to pull everything out in order to see what I have. It was also a relief getting rid of old clothes that no longer fit, or that I did not want.

I’ve learned this week, that a lot of my sadness, feelings of guilt and dissatisfaction came a lot from some serious flaws in my character. The biggest one: I procrastinate. I have put off doing my laundry, cleaning my room, organizing my drawers for essentially a year. In that, I found myself growing more tired, weary and just plain sad. It was not a happy time, and rather then getting up and doing my chores, I kept trying to find ways to fill the sadness. Drawing, knitting, writing and while each of these put a bandaid on the void in my life, they didn’t fix it.

It’s not perfect, but neither am I

So, through the process of Authentic Living I made a commitment to my friends, and to God that I would get my clothes tidy before Tuesday, and I did it. My pants were actually really difficult because, I have so many different styles, textures and sizes. But basically, from top to bottom are my casual pants, fancy pants and my “I have my period, so I don’t care” pants.

For obvious reasons, I won’t show my underwear drawer, but it’s also sectioned off into thirds. My socks which have no particular assortment. My socks are actually still messy, but they’re matched up and put away and that is what matters. My bras are divided into “bras I don’t care if I ruin” and “sports bras I like, so I don’t want to ruin” Then my underwear, which are in thirds, also. “too nice, so only wear when I go to nice places”, “kinda nice, so everyday wear” and “butt-ugly period panties”. I don’t know if you can imagine, or if I even want you imagine. I don’t even know who you are, but let’s move on from this topic.

Next, are my shirts, which get really complicated for some reason. I did not realize the abundance of the shirts I own and wear. I actually found organizing them to be difficult. I guess because what shirts I wear, depends on my mood, the occasion and how I feel about my body that day.

So, in the first image with my little toes poking out, are my sweaters. there’s no method to them, I love all my sweaters equally.

Next are my inside shirts (ft. two shorts). One of those, don’t belong to me, but you can guess which. Then, the second row are the shirts I will frequently wear at home and the third row are the shirts I will most likely only wear when I feel extra lazy.

Then there are my outside shirts. The first row from the bottom are the shirts I will most likely never wear, the second row are the shirts I will often wear – usually to work. And, the top are my functional shirts – so what I wear for church volunteer and what I wear when I’m going to go run errands.

This is my husband’s read. I still refuse.

So, I have had a blatant refusal to read and even watch anything to do with Marie Kondo, because both my mom and husband adamantly swear by this, and they suggest it to me – a lot – which is more a reflection of me and how messy I am, not really their character. I do agree being productive and tidying up, did give me a sense of relief and joy. It’s also a lot of this dredging and learning more about me, from not just my persective but other’s and God’s. It’s not the funnest process, but it is eye opening and has taught me a lot about myself.

A huge reason why I avoided cleaning up and trying Marie Kondo’s style, is I am a perfectionist. And to me, if I cannot or do not do it perfectly, what’s the point. If you watched the first 45 minutes of my folding, you would have seen that I folded, unfolded and re-folded (and repeat x 3 or 4x) the same two shirts over and over again, until i remembered I made a commitment to not trying to be perfect. I cannot run away and avoid chores or activities or even relationships, because of perfectionism. But, there’s more to say about that another time.

It’s just been nice feeling like an adult who is capable, competent and functional, after having felt useless, purposeless and stupid. And these negative feelings did not come from God. Yeah, they kind of came from the devil, but more so, they came from within me. From my fears and insecurities and unwillingness to own up to my fault and failure. But even something so small, has really made me feel a connectedness to God, to myself and even to my husband. I’m honestly not trying to brag as much as I want to remind myself, God didn’t make me stupid. He made me deliberately, intentionally and purposefully. I just have to accept that, reach out and be productive, be diligent and be active.

one day down, 89 more to go.

God Bless
w/ love

ari

Trust

It is crazy how God shows up in big and in small ways. One of those smalls ways is how in Authentic Living, a follow up course to Freedom Session. I currently do not doubt His presence, nor in Him being alive, but sometimes I have moments when I do.

It is in these moments that, I will definitely be looking to this blog to just remember something so small, and so simple to reveal where and how God is always present and always weaving His plan and His people together. Today, we talked about triads – a group of three go whom are accountable to one another.

In my authentic living group, only four of my freedom session group came, three were there tonight and I thought to myself of how I would love to be in a triad with them. For many reasons, including I trust them, they know me and my story, and I trust myself with them – I know I can be honest with them, without fear of conviction and honesty back.

As we discussed triads, I wondered if they would want the same, and when group was dismissed the three of us came together and started talking, and I eventually lost myself in the conversation. I also had a bit of hesitation, wondering if God would possibly want me to open up more and invite someone else into this triad. But, I brought it up to them that I did not know anyone who I trust with my faith and who I felt knew my story and life enough to guide me, and be willing to guided by me. So one of the girls openly asks, “do you guys want to be a triad?”

We had a laugh admitting to each other, we had one another in mind, did not ask out of fear of rejection, out of doubt and out of being unsure; in the end it turns out God had indeed put it in all of our hearts.

It’s safe to say, I feel like – although, I love my freedom session group, and wish we were all together still, I get this sense that there is a reason it was the the three of us who committed to the group and chose to see it through. I do not know what God’s plan is for us, nor will I try to anticipate and predict. I will let God guide and lead me. I will submit to His authority. But, I truly get this sense that this was God and His intervention. That, as much as it was our choice, God put that in our hearts.

I am so excited to do life with these two girls. I have shown them a side of me I do not like, the secrets I wanted to keep buried and never undid. And now, I am ready to walk on a path to a God lead vision that I am very excited to see through.

I hope, when future me sees this, you remember the joy and comfort. Remember feeling God there with the three of you, as you made the “Kiwi Three“. Remember feeling God as you prayed in the driveway. Remember being confident that God is there, He always is and He is always moving.

God Bless,
w/ love

Ari

It’s been a while!

Hey, how’s it going? It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. Honestly, I wish I could say I was busy, but I was distracted. I think a lot of us like to use “busy” because it sounds productive, but in truth I have simply been distracted. So, here is a small update.

I am taking a fast from social media. I started on Wednesday, and will not be using twitter, tumblr and Facebook (this post gets linked to said accounts, without me logging on). This fast has come up at a good time because my parents and sisters have gone to Philippines for a good half of the fast. With them being gone, and fasting from social media, I am going to have to learn to rely more on God and my husband. I am going to learn how to be still and know He is God.

This is actually such a hard concept, cause I don’t really know what it means to “know He is God”. Am I supposed to contemplate? Meditate? Silence my mind? I think He has been impressing it in my heart that I need to quiet my mind. My mind is always on overdrive and I think so much. I tend to bite off more than I can chew within my own thoughts, then I get too far into my own head and this leads to questions. I wonder how is my faith different than others? How is what I do different? How do I know my God is the right god? I think it boils down to 1). believing. Just believing in Him, trusting in Him ad rather than trying to experience Him, allowing myself to experience Him. and 2). in this fast, letting Him answer my questions. I’ve already asked them, and He has said “it shall be given” (Matt. 7:7), and in this fast I am practicing and learning to be sensitive to His voice, so I do not miss the answer.

I won’t lie, I cried a little bit. I cried out to God and asked for peace over family, peace in not knowing what the future holds, and peace to trust Him and trust that He has good plans and good intentions. I also cried just… feeling Him. It was not big and sparkly, it was not particularly profound, but it was so tranquil. Still. These are two things I often run away from and avoid, and I am not totally sure why. Perhaps it is due to a fear that I will get too much inside my head. Perhaps, I am unsettled and scared of what might happen in the silence. Maybe. I don’t honestly know. I do know, that I wanted write this, not to brag but for my own recollection and memory. So I can look back and reflect.

I will speak more about it another time but Freedom Session was a lot of getting to know myself, and letting God show me who I am in Him. I think this is a season where now I get to know who God is, and honestly that fills me up with so much joy and excitement. If this is the season I get to know my saviour and experience Him, then come what may, I will receive it with a glad heart.

God Bless

w/ love
Ari

Valentine’s Day

This has always been a weird thing for me. I grew up in a fairly Filipino household, but my parents wanted me to be culturally mixed. They let me play around with the cultures I was to be a part of and never questioned too much of it. This includes Valentines Day. I remember growing up Valentines day was this odd day to make a bunch of heart shaped cubbies and stuff them with Valentines. I remember writing obvious notes to my crush – who I believed I would grow up to marry. I remember writing love notes on my friends’ behalf and stuffing their object-of-affection’s cubby.

Then I moved schools, and it all kind of came crashing? I got really jaded to Valentines day. Maybe it’s cause my friends in my old school were far more fun and a lot more playful. In this school, everyone was stuck up and took themselves far too seriously. Anyways, I got pretty embittered and realized that Valentines day was some childish game. Though, I did learn one of the many variations of St. Valentines, ultimately I figured: Valentines Day is a stupid holiday.

It’s not the best attitude for a nine year old. It’s not like I outwardly retaliated against it. I didn’t run around shoving it in anyone’s face. It just turned into apathy. I didn’t care for the holiday, the cute cards with the stickers or kisses. I didn’t care for passing around cookies or cup cakes in festive enthusiasm. It was just another day to me. It continued like this, even when I had my first… boy friend. Quick digression: Depending on how you look at it, this would have been my second boyfriend… but he was not. Anyways, when we were dating, Valentines day came 9 months into our relationship. I was well aware of the day approaching. It was hard to be oblivious to a well-advertised capitalist holiday. I will admit some part of me was somewhat excited over having a boy friend during Valentines Day. But we were in high school. I got box of chocolate and a teddy bear, which was exciting I suppose.

The following year, I wasn’t expecting anything and I don’t remember if he did anything. I will say this, in grade 11 my high school did flower grams. Basically, students order flowers from other students. They can send a small message attached to one flower – remember in mean girls? You go, Glen Coco. Except… flowers and not candy canes. Anyways, I remember the student council released the announcement and some girls had started chatting. Some saying, “I don’t think will get one“, as they beat their eyelashes at their unsuspecting and oblivious boyfriends. My boyfriend turned to me and asked if I liked pink or red, because the carnations were pink or red. I specifically said, “Look, I know other girls are hinting and stuff, but don’t get me flowers.”

“Suuuure.”

The following day, he again asks if I prefer pink or red and which class was my period 3 class. Again, I knew he was asking so flowers would be sent my way. Again, I told him. “Seriously, don’t get me flowers. I don’t like flowers. I have allergies”

“Okaaaaay. Aaaallergi-i-ies

A week goes on and no questions about flowers comes up. My cousin approaches me and asks if he can drop something off at my period 3 class. You can predict what will happen, yeah? Well, he actually did drop something off for me in my period 3 class, so I let my guard down.

February 12, 2010 arrives. I dismiss it. My cousin really did hand me something in period 3, and my boyfriend had since stopped pestering me. The Friday goes by. With the way my class rotation worked my period 3 class happened in block 2, so right before lunch. The student council cupid arrives, and hands out the flower grams. Eager students run up, receiving their flowers. Some girls walked up with a confident strut. Some shocked, mouth agape, before allowing a beaming grin to stretch ear to ear. The room was filled with rosy-cheeked girls. Groups gathering to ask about the flowers. Had this happened nowadays, I’m sure snapchat and instagram stories would be flooded with whatever stupid filter, and girls showing off their flower grams. Occasionally, a boy would be called up and he would either be surprised, then laugh at the joke his friends had sent or be pleasantly smiling to himself at whatever his note would say. I look at the clock, relieved to see cupid was running out flowers and relieved that I had to wait a mere 15 minutes to lunch. “Aaaaand, the last one goes to…” All eyes are on me now. I hate it. My boyfriend and I, at this point were together for 2 years, voted cutest couple the year prior. We were well known for being… I don’t even know, I guess the 2018/19 term would be we were a real OTP, a major ship in the school. We were not the “it” couple, but we were just really popular. I think it’s because we were two cute little asian nerds who had our straight-out-of-a-kdrama romance, and stayed together. I honestly could not tell you. Deep down everyone else believes, is confident, that it’s for me. I keep my head down. Anticipation building in us, for different reasons. Finally the name is called, my classmates look up and watch the quiet girl stand up and stumble to the cupid, trembling hands reach out. I sigh a sigh of deep relief, and a smile paints across my face. I did not expect him to listen. I’m not sure if my classmates pitied me, or were embarrassed for me, but I was honestly happy.

The bell rings and the teacher gives us a dismissal for lunch. I hear some classmates asking if they should check on me. I hear some girls gossiping about if we broke up or not. I turn around and flash a quick smile, waving to my classmates wishing them a happy valentines day. I don’t know if that was believably happy, but it was genuine. I remember running to my locker. My cousin calls for me, joining me and we chatter happily. He hadn’t received any, but he hadn’t expected it. He seems genuine. He asks me, “X (my anonymous boyfriend) didn’t get you any flower gram?”

“Nah, I didn’t want one.”

Of course he asks why, and I reply, “I’m really allergic to some flowers. They swell up my eyes and congest my throat.”

We continue our merry way onwards. Our other friends approach, one girl carrying a bunch of flowers all bought by her boyfriend. The other two had one flower, each. One of our friends – who I will call Nick – hands me a small box of chocolates. “I remember you didn’t want flowers, so I got you this.” He had gotten the other three girls a flower, but not wanting me to feel left out he gave me a small box of kisses. I turn back to my locker, to glimpse around. No sign of X. I finish the combination and pull the lock, then unhook it from the lock handle. Before I can open my locker, X comes out with balloons and greets me happy Valentines day, I smile and tell him he didn’t have to – not the cordial, surprised ‘you didn’t have to’, but the ‘seriously, I wish you didn’t’ – he holds onto the balloons for me, knowing I have to grab my stuff. Finally I open the door to my locker. To my surprise, pink and red carnations fall on me. X is grinning, turns out he had the flower grams delivered to himself, then stuffed them into my locker. I remember turning to my cousin and asking him to take me to the nurse. He and Nick help me stumble over. X is confused and I hear my girl friends telling him I’m actually really allergic to most flowers.

Anyways, to shorten this already long story, I went home and spent the rest of Valentines day in bed. The weekend rolls in and X is calling me apologizing profusely. I won’t sugar coat it, I was pissed off the whole time, fuming and just unforgiving. It was bad. I didn’t forgive him until like, the Tuesday after and even then, I held it over his head for a long time. It was a pretty bad time, and overall it did not help my already pacifist outlook on Valentines’ Day. Eventually, I went from being bitter and resentful back to just not caring and letting it be another day.

TL;DR, you can be in a relationship and still really disdain Valentines day.

If you read this, I hope you had fun even at the expense of my real life experience. I can only wish I hadn’t made all this up. But, hey, it made a great story.

Happy Valentines’ Day!

God Bless
w/ love

Ari

Community

To my church, maybe I am just one person, a face among many. But among the many faces, there are some that absolutely bless my heart.

I have been through some really tough times this past month, but God has truly met me in my need. It’s been hard, choosing to cleave myself off of a friend. I was not good for her. I was not healthy for her and I was not helping her to grow. But, in that loss and I have learned great joy. I truly believe God meets your needs and fills them to the brim, if only you let Him, lean into Him and move with Him. For a long time, I was resisting Him. I was pushing against Him, trying to figure out my own way. I have recently begun surrendering my will to Him, letting Him lead and guide me. I have given up friendships and choices to Him, and it has been tough.

I have asked Him for grace to accept the situation. I wholeheartedly believe I have. Through many steps, I have given up my will to Him, and forgiven myself for my mistakes and let Jesus really pay the price for my sins, all the while still knowing I’ll fail, but doing my best and giving my all to being obedient to Him; if only to glorify Him.

All this to say, today has truly filled my heart with so much joy. I volunteer my time to the children’s ministry at the check-in desk. Here, I can move and float between classrooms, and help new families settle into this huge church’s giant kids system. In these moments, I have learned children’ names, their quirks and I’ve been able to connect to families. While I was helping another family, a mother waited by the desk with her son, waiting for me to have a moment to take a step back. When I was finished, I heard saying, as she waved her son’s hand at me “Say bye to Ariana!”

Another family passes by, as I travel the hallways, greeting families and bidding them a good week. One family, who’s youngest daughter I simply adore and just love to pieces, sees me. As they pass they call to their daughter, “Ariana’s saying bye! Say bye!” She runs past me, waving and smiling, shouting bye quickly. I happily respond my goodbyes and wave a goodbye to her parents as well. They flash a grateful smile, “Bye, Ariana. Have a great week.”

Such small gestures, but such a huge blessing. As He has promised,

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

2 Corinthians 9:8

I was also able to help a family by putting them into the system. I try to be as bright and cheerful as I can so that the kids feel comfortable and excited to join such a large and new classroom. The eldest daughter was so happy to say her name and birthday, and guide her younger sister through the sign-in as well. She also told me her baby sister’s birthday, which is required for our kids ministry to sort children into their age-appropriate classrooms. I commented on how she was so helpful, and she seemed to seem with pride. And after classes, as the left to go home, waving them good bye and calling them by name seemed to help their parents feel comfortable that they would belong.

And finally, one of my church members and her husband pass bye. She greets me with a warm hug and we walk together, laughing and talking about dogs. My husband joins us and we laugh about various things. Racial ambiguity, languages, dog-sitting, and we all sit in service together. For her and her husband to treat myself and my husband like life-long friends and to ask to see more of us outside of church, for her to offer babysitting my dog and ask for me to baby sit her own children; it was the prayer for friend sand family at our church to come true. It felt like the pieces of my heart were coming together, and it is all because God. I have let Him in and let myself be vulnerable to Him, and as He has promised He is here to cherish and protect my heart. “…To give me life, and give it in the full” (1 John 10:10).

I also really wanted to bless someone, and today this woman sat behind me in sermon. As we wrapped up our Sunday with a final three worship songs (Jesus Paid it All, Tremble and O, Praise the Name), I had the blessing and privilege of hearing her absolutely beautiful voice sing praise to God and cry out to Him in worship. Before she walked off, I had to turn around to her, and just tell her how much I loved her voice and found it so beautiful. I hope she felt blessed. I pray that she felt joy, God’s joy through my words.

I am so thankful and so grateful for these small moments that have passed and may fade into the many Sundays of the year. This is why I want to – to the point of having to – write about it. So one day I can look back on it and see God’s amazing love and remember it. Remember how much it means and meant to me. To see how much I mean to Him.

I want whoever is reading this to know, you might be one person. But to God you can be used to love and spread joy.

I pray blessings for anyone and everyone who reads this.

Have a happy Sunday!

God Bless
w/ love

Ari

Leadership?

I’ve never particularly viewed myself as a leader. At least, I haven’t for a long while. I suppose it’s because I used to, as a kid. And no one seemed to notice that, or I did not interpret it in that way. I don’t know, who thinks that abstract as a child? I was rarely noticed, growing up. I was usually in the background, second to someone else. Someone else would be thought of the be the leader or to be the head. To be fair, it is because they always stepped up. In a vicious cycle, I shied away from the leadership role, and when no one noticed my attributes, it affirmed my insecurities. Interesting how the spirit of insecurity can really drive that deep.

But I renounce that and give this to God. I’ve recently taken up a leadership role in my church’s children’s ministry and I am excited. I cannot wait to have my gifts and talents be used for God. and I cannot wait to see how He grows me and changes me. I can only pray for strength, because being leader means taking responsibilities for others, and taking care of my team, watching and shepherding them, and being someone who is there to support them. It’s kind of scary, too. It’s a huge responsibility.

I also have so many dreams for this team. It’s a small part of a huge ministry of a huge church, but even the eardrum is a small part of the body. I want to be a support for parents, be able to help them and guide them through the complex system of our Children’s Ministry. I want to be able to support other teachers, and be a member they can reach out to. I have so many ideas, so many dreams and maybe, that’s why God has placed me here.

It was so encouraging to hear that the Head of the Children’s ministry and someone who was once her assistant both thought of me right away for this position. It was affirming. And, hearing that really helped solidify my belief that this is where God has taken me and is guiding. This is where I am meant to be, and this is where He wants me to do His works, for His glory. In Him, with Him and Him through me, I can be a leader. I can be the leader I once thought I could be. I hope in my leadership, I am humble like Jesus and love on my team the way He loved on his disciples. I pray that my dreams and goals line up with God’s and through me He can execute a part of His glorious plan.

All in all, I am so excited to serve Jesus. I am so excited to be used by Jesus. I am so excited to be a part of this plan- this masterpiece. I cannot wait to see His plans unfold and fall in love with him. Love him deeper, love Him harder and to feel His great and immense love for me. This place in my faith, I am so happy. I am so overwhelmed and excited to have God and have a relationship with Him. I have not desired God so much in so long and it feels so good to yearn for Him, His love, His presence, Him again.

Father God,

thank you for choosing me. I am not worthy. But by Your actions, Your blood I have merit. Please use me, in anyway you can. If it scares me, help me to lean in You and trust in You. Help me to walk in faith through the fear. Show me a truth today, tomorrow see me do it.

Ariana

Thank you for reading. I am in this place in my faith where, I feel so close to God. I really want to reach out to Him, be with Him.

God bless
w/ love

Ari

Friends.

It’s such a blessing to have those friends you know may go, but never stay gone. They may go off on their own and have their own adventures and go through their own journeys but never forget you. I have my own friend like this. We grew up together, watched each other fail, rise, struggle and win. He watched me fall in love and fall apart. I watched him grow in faith and rise in leadership. I’m watching him and his relationship with God and He’s seen me in my own. It’s this friendship I have taken for granted, often listening to the whispers of the devil, my own self doubt and feeding my own insecurities. I chose to focus on how he was invited to things, and I was not. I focused on how he was picked to be a leader and I was not. I focused on how he chose other friends over me. Each choice led me deeper and deeper in a coward spiral towards rock bottom. I fell so hard.

I will not be going to deep into that aspect of my story, not now at least. I will say, I was so wrong to see all these aspects. I forgot to realize, at one point, I was invited and said no. I was the one who wanted to be a follower, and player in the sidelines. I’m the one who chose to pull away and withdraw, avoiding him and many others. And, we since mended our relationship, but something felt off. At least, on my end and on my part. I felt something was incomplete.

I first had to forgive myself. I had to forgive myself for my mistakes. For prioritizing my opinions, my thoughts, my pride over his. Over God’s. I had to forgive myself for my fall, and my failures. And most of all, I had to receive God’s forgiveness and let Jesus die for me. Because, as a Christian, I do believe that Jesus is God and came down to live on earth to die, crucified, for my (and all mankind’s sins). But, I believed it in thought. This year I finally believe that I am forgiven and accept and receive God’s forgiveness. I know I am accountable and responsible for my sins, but I also know they are paid. I do not have to pay anything or any one back for what I had done. After all, what’s done is done. What I did is in the past, and Jesus had already breathed, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Though He lives, my sins stayed dead with His death. And as He lives He vouches for me, He speaks on my behalf. I can go on, and be free from my past and let myself lower my standard of perfection. I am not perfect.

Anyways, I’m not here to convince any one I am guiltless. I have faults. And I had to own up to my responsibilities in the problems I had caused. Maybe the problems were a two way street, but I had to cross mine. It felt so good. and for the first time in five years, I truly feel that weight, that burden, that pushback lifted. It was always me. I was the one who erected the shield and in an attempt to stop myself from feeling, in an attempt to ignore my failure and guilt, I had strained our relationship. At least my end of it.

Praise God, that I have overcome this battle. Praise Him for guiding me, to feel again. To feel the guilt and process it, and to let myself express it. To Apologize for what I had done. I was able to fully take responsibility for my pride, my withdrawal, my hurt and anger. It was amazing. And finally, the friend I had from 5 – 19 was back. It was like all those years that I had lost, God brought back.

Truly, I can say I love the way God is working. I love the way God is moving and I am so thankful for this friend. This friend of a lifetime. I am so blessed and my heart is truly full.

God Bless
w/ love

Ari