Travel Tips for the [Aspiring] Light Packer

I saw this awesome YouTube video yesterday.  If you're a light packer like me, you need to watch this! If you're not a light packer, then you really really need to see this and know that you don't have to bring the entire house when you're checking in the hotel.
Have a great Friday everyone!


Circle Maker Series: Think Long

As we end our Circle Maker series, I want us to learn one last concept:  Thinking long. We have already learned how to dream big and pray hard, now we need to practice thinking long.
We live in an instant-reward, instant-gratification world these days. We microwave frozen meals for dinner and eat instant noodles for lunch.  Even information is now easily at our fingertips via internet through our smart phones. Gone are the days when we had to trek to the library to get the information that we need or find a dictionary to get the meaning of a word.  Although the advancement of technology has its perks, it is also training us to be more impatient.
There is this pedestrian traffic light near our office that takes 99 seconds of waiting time before it turns green. The pedestrians usually start out by staring at the countdown.  99, 98, 97, 96, ...and then they start to get restless.  Little by little, the pedestrians would attempt to cross the street. Some will do a little back and forth marching, akin to playing patintero with the cars. The braver ones will just run for their dear lives, wishing and hoping that the cars would stop just in time. The fearful minority, which if often just me, would be left on the other side, continually staring at the countdown...36, 35, 34, 33...
Then one day, as I was left all alone waiting for the light to turn green, i realized something. 99 seconds is just a minute and a half. That's not a long wait, to be honest. Why do people risk their lives just to avoid waiting a minute and a half? Our quick-fix mindset teaches us that 99 seconds feel like an eternity and so we try to escape it if we could.
Don't we also have the same attitude towards prayer sometimes? We pray and we expect God to answer us immediately. We want quick answers and solutions to our problems. And after waiting with no word from the Lord, we get impatient and question the Lord. 
But you see, God answer our prayers at different times. Sometimes it takes a day but sometimes it can also take years. Other times, it can take even longer than our lifetime.
Towards the end of his life, Honi (the Circle Maker) was walking down a dirt road when he saw a man planting a carob tree. Always the inquisitive sage, Honi questioned him.  “How long will it take this tree to bear fruit?” The man replied, “Seventy years.”  Honi said, “Are you quite sure you will live another seventy years to eat its fruit?” The man replied, “Perhaps not.  However, when I was born into the world, I found many carob trees planted by my father and grandfather.  Just as they planted trees for me, I am planting trees for my children and grandchildren so they will be able to eat the fruit of these trees”

Prayer is the inheritance that we receive, and the legacy that we leave.
Praying is very much like planting. Some plants grow fast while others may take a while. Those prayer that seemingly never gets answered in this lifetime are just like Carob trees. You may not see the fruit now but the generations after you will reap the rewards of your prayer.
While I was reading the book about ‘Thinking Long’, I remembered my maternal Grandmother. She is one of the most prayerful women I have ever known. My cousins and I would always ask her to pray for important things in our lives because we often say “When Amah prays, God answers!”.  And as I read about prayer being an inheritance, I started to wonder how much of the blessings that our family is reaping now is due to my Amah’s prayer some 50 years ago. 
What legacy do you want to leave your children? More importantly, what lives do you want your future generation to live? We need to start praying now for our children and the generations after them. Prayer is the best legacy we can leave our family.
I want to share a story with you that the Mark Batterson, the author of the Circle Maker, shared in his book. When he was 13 years old, Mark got very sick and was taken to the ICU. At that time, their family just started attending Calvary Church – a church with thousands of members. One Sunday prior to the day Mark was admitted to the ICU, their family met Mr. Shmidgall. Mark's parents remembered how hospitable he was and decided to give him a call at 2am to request for prayers for Mark. In less than 10 minutes, Mr. Smidgall was already in the ICU praying over Mark.
And this is what Mark said “When he laid his hands on my head, I remember thinking there is no way God won’t answer his prayer.  He had a familiarity with God that was disarming.  He had a faith in God that was reassuring.  He could have called a staff member to make the visit. He didn’t. he could have waited until morning. He didn’t. He settled for a short night’s sleep on a short notice to pray for a thirteen-year old kid who was fighting for his life. Little did he know that this thirteen-year old kid would one day marry his daughter. Little did he know that this thirteen-year old kid would one day give him his first grandchild. There is no way he could have ever known. But that is the glorious mystery of prayer”
Little steps of obedience will give big pay-offs in the future
I want to believe that Mr. Smidgall was already praying for his daughter’s lifetime partner even when she was young. Little did he know that when he prayed over Mark that day out of obedience for the Lord, God was already at work in answering his prayers for his daughter’s lifetime partner. The act of obedience may totally be unrelated to the answer that you will get in the future, but that’s how God works. He loves surprising us. We just need to be sensitive to His leading and obey.

We can never tell how the prayers that we offer today, will be used by God greatly to mold our lives and those of our future generations in the years to come.

Think Long.


Fun Lunch at Gengki Sushi, BGC

Last Tuesday, my sister Tammy and I decided to celebrate her birthday with a lunch date in the newly opened Gengki Sushi in BGC. We have actually eaten at a Gengki Sushi branch in Hawaii earlier this year and was not particularly impressed.  But the rave reviews of the BGC branch were hard to ignore so we decided to give it a try.
The moment we walked in, we already knew the experience was going to be far from the branch in Hawaii. The place looked very vibrant with its white and red interior. The branch in Hawaii is probably the older Gengki Sushi set up with the sushi conveyor going around.
Each table is set up with its own menu tablet where you can place your order, plus a faucet for your matcha green tea refills.
Ordering is done by selecting the items listed under the different tabs on the tablet. You may place three orders at a time which will be reflected on the bullet train icon found at the bottom right hand side of the screen. Click on the red ORDER button to place your order and wait for a few minutes for the bullet train to deliver your food.
Food is delivered quite fast. Good service, bullet train!
Shrimp Kakiage for the birthday girl!
What I also love about the place is the bottomless matcha green tea. You get the matcha powder and have a hot water faucet for unlimited refill. I must say the matcha green tea is sooo good!
Here is a portion of our fun Japanese lunch. I was not able to take a photo but the tablet can also show you your running bill. A great way to avoid surprises upon billing out. Note though that there is a 10% add-on fee for service charge that is not indicated on the running bill review.
The food is good though nothing really exceptional taste-wise. I will definitely be back for the experience though. The kids don't eat sushi but they would love to see the train delivering the food. They have rice toppings and tempura anyway which are perfect options for the children. Try it out and tell me what you think.
Gengki Sushi is located at the 2nd level of the newly opened dining hub, Bonifacio Stopover, at the corner of Rizal Drive and 31st street in BGC.


The Gift of Hope

I once read a quote that says "Never deprive anyone of hope because it might be all they have left".  I was 13 years old when I read that in Robert Fulghum's book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. I read it in passing but the quote has somehow stayed with me and I am constantly reminded of it through the years. Hope, i came to understand, is such a simple yet powerful concept.
The toughest season of my life started two months before Christmas of 2006 when our first child, Tyler, was born. I can still remember having my two best friends sitting on my hospital bed when my mom delivered the sad news to me. Tyler had facial palsy on the left side of his face. I remember slowly processing that thought and asking questions I knew they had no answers to. I remember those nights I pretended to sleep beside Tyler by holding his picture on our digital camera on my pillow.  Or those days when I would instinctively turn on the camera first thing in the morning to look at his face once again.  I remember the first time Tyler held my hand on that November 24 morning while he was inside the incubator. I remember feeling overjoyed because I felt that he knew I was his mom. I remember the scent of the alcohol in the NICU that I tried searching for it in the groceries long after Tyler was gone. 
I can tell you a 1,001 things I remember during those two months with Tyler in our lives. I remember every feeling, every thought, every smell.  Because when you only get to spend two months with your child, you scramble inside your brain to try and remember every moment of it.

Through all of those random thoughts, one thing remain consistent in every day of Tyler's life. I remember praying. Praying hard. On my knees. Every single day.  Every moment I can. My days were filled with streams of conversations with the Lord.  I remember attending worship Sunday after Sunday. I remember going down on my knees as we sang. I remember my cousin embracing me and crying with me throughout the song.  I remember regularly attending prayer meetings and feeling comforted by the prayers lifted up for Tyler.  I remember how one of our church mates prayed over me in Chinese. I could not understand all the words but I remember feeling the Lord's peace wash over me. I remember finding solace in God's church, with God's people.
Prayer was my anchor during those times. One thing I came to realize recently was that during those two months, God's best gift to me was delivered through prayer. Consistently praying to the Lord gave me hope. Hope that my future is safe in God's hands. Hope that God's got my back.  Hope,  I realized, is a by-product of prayer. When we seek God and pray around His promises, then we are encouraged to repeatedly not lose hope.
While we all know that Tyler was not eventually healed, I realized that the power of prayer during those months was my power to carry on. Hope was God's gift to us.
It has been nine years since those difficult days. God has turned our sorrow into dancing.  It was not an easy path but God has been with us every step of the way. We went through two other pregnancies without fear because God has constantly been our hope. We are now blessed us with two beautiful children who will always be a testament of God's love and faithfulness over our family.
That, my friends, is the power of prayer.
Know Tyler's story:


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