Paperbag Treasures



Today, I paid a visit to the National Office of Philippine Campus Crusade for Christ (PCCC), where I previously worked (volunteered/interned) two years ago before resigning and pursuing graduate studies.

As I was leaving, the guard (the same guard who had also been there two years ago)   stopped me, and told me: “Ma’am, may mga gamit pa kayo dito.

He told me it was in the parking lot. For a minute I considered just leaving my stuff and let them dispose of it, but at the last minute, I decided to retrieve them. So kuya Guard led me to the parking lot and pointed to a brown paperbag. Indeed, there was all my stuff, everything that had been on my desk for a year.

I rummaged through the contents of the paperbag this afternoon.

And oh, the memories.

Nostalgia. Has it really been two years ago since I worked at that office?  Just thinking about it brings back a truckload of memories. I remember walking everyday from my house in Madrinan in heels and smart-casual clothes to the office. I remember the first three weeks in the “Bat Cave,” until I was instructed to move out. I remember the cute desktop they had installed for my use.

I remember the Painful, Awful Happening that led me to work at the office.

I remember being in so much confusion and pain and anger, and not knowing what to do with all of these emotions, yet still smiling for everyone, because I doubted that anyone would understand what I felt.

I remember trying to numb myself to stop myself from feeling the pain.

I remember feeling so alone, despite being in the same space with people for 8 hours.

But as I dug deeper in the paperbag, I found some cards and gifts from friends. I really feel most loved when given gifts and affirmed through words, and I’m sentimental like that, so it was a delight finding them (and realizing where they were all this time!)

Seeing those cards and tokens make me appreciate those friends (who gave me the gifts and cards) even more. I was such a mess at that time that I probably didn’t fully appreciate these people, and I probably didn’t realize it at that time, but I hung on to them like a lifeline, as if reminding myself that there was still some good in the midst of all this.

I am not there yet, but I do believe I’ve come a long way in healing from that Painful, Awful Happening. And I didn’t recognize it then, but God had already started healing me through these very committed friends.

Surely one outcome God intended from the Painful, Awful Happening was for me to appreciate the gems I have in friends. And oh, what treasures they are indeed! I think I can live with that.

True Love Pursues


The Love Bridge at Penang Hill. December 2015.

We define God by what we think love is,” so Darin Hufford, author of “The Misunderstood God”, says.

Immediately, the word “pursuing” comes to mind, and I think of how God kept pursuing His people, no matter how many times they stumbled, or disregarded his Word, or even killed His messengers.

I think of how, even despite routine rejection, He keeps persevering, and of how He Himself came down to earth to pursue them.

And the picture of a father running after his toddler comes to mind. I see in my mind images of a father watching the child’s every move, on guard lest the kid stumble.

Of a father listening to his daughter’s ambitions and dreams, hopes and wishes. Of my dad listening to my hopes and wishes.

Of a mother wanting to ease her child’s pain.

Of a mother doing everything in her power to let her child have the best. Of my mom dreaming big things for us.

Of a man taking every moment possible to be with his love, to find every opportunity to learn every aspect about her, persevering to understand, to know, to really know who she is.

Of a woman looking forward to every moment with him, and marvelling at how wonderful he is.

I believe true love pursues.

No wonder I get hurt and confused when people who claim to love me, don’t pursue me.


But how do YOU define love? Let me know in the comments!

[ Wrote this 5 years ago! I first posted this at my other blog. Also, this is by no means an endorsement or promotion of the book “The Misunderstood God”. ]

Papers and my Calling



It is past 11 pm and at least half of the ladies in our dorm are awake, including myself.

Behind me, I can hear my roommate typing furiously in her laptop, the sound of her keys competing with the noise created by my own typing, the sounds muffled only by the whirring of our loud ceiling fan (what a day it would be when our rooms finally get air-conditioning!).

Outside our room, at the common kitchen-dining area, others are focused on their own screens, their fingers moving steadily across black keyboards.

We all have papers to pass tomorrow, and we are working hard in an effort to beat our deadlines. Papers, papers, papers. I must have written a million words in the last year.

It can’t be just me — but sometimes, in moments like these, I tend to wonder… what is the point of all this?

And I am prompted to think about this at this moment, because today in chapel, the speaker (who is also a former Military Officer) spoke about Strategy and Tactical Plans. Strategic plans are the big plans, and Tactical Plans are the daily operations, the smaller plans.

His point: We can be wasting our time at tactical activities that do not contribute to the over-all strategic goals and plans. So it is in the military, and so it is in our spiritual lives. This presumes, of course, that you *know* your strategic goals and plans, because only then can you evaluate whether something does actually contribute to your goals.

In missionary-speak / Christianese , how do your daily activities, involvements, engagements and investments contribute to the fulfillment of God’s calling for you?

And right now I can’t help but think… how does writing this Biographical Study on Deborah from the book of Judges contribute to the fulfillment of my calling?

How does writing that Personal Conflict Style reflection paper contribute to the fulfillment of my calling?

Or reading 50 pages of Grudem? Or reflecting on Howard Hendricks’ teaching principles? Or going to my ministry area every week? Or meeting my accountability group?

Now in my case, these are easy to justify and defend. I’m in seminary, and am preparing my mind, heart and hands for the mission field. I can say this with certainty and confidence because by God’s sovereign grace, I believe I know a little bit about God’s specific calling for me.

But there are other activities I engage in that while not necessarily evil, may not actually be relevant nor helpful… Like devoting too much time watching Kpop. Or spending too much on shopping.

I’ve learned in the past that things/events like these that prompt me to think are actually gentle messages from God: affirming my calling, and prompting me to evaluate how I am stewarding my life to fulfill the calling He has given me.

So this is what I hope to keep thinking about throughout the week (and throughout the term):

-How am I showing gratefulness in the calling He has given me?

-Have I been stewarding my life in appropriate ways to fulfill the calling He has given me? In what ways must I repent of the ways I have squandered the gifts He has given me to steward?


My Single Brothers and Sisters (A Single’s Manifesto Pt.2)


The beauty of living in community is seeing that I am not alone, and that there are many others like me. As I journey through the present as a single person, this is exactly what I see!

I believe with all my heart in the rewards of journeying through community! Still, we are all unique individuals, and these differences can be sources of tension. I believe though, that community is worth fighting for.

If you’re a single person reading this, please take note that while this manifesto, in some points may be specific to my own community, I hope you will think of ways to journeying well in your own community. And I hope you find some comfort knowing that I, too, am part of your community, albeit virtually.🙂

If you’re a married person reading this, I hope you gain some insight from this and find ways to journey lovingly with the singles in your life.

This is the second part of my Single’s Manifesto. Read Part 1 here!



As a single person, I will seek and create opportunities to build healthy relationships with fellow singles in my community. My primary motive will be to foster sisterhood and brotherhood among us, knowing and understanding that first and foremost, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.

While I am aware of the fact that some singles have paired up and found their spouses here in this community, or of the fact that some singles here are intent in looking for possible future lifetime partners (let me clear: nothing wrong that!), I will not fall into the trap of constantly evaluating and relating with men based on what their potential relationship to me could be like. I will treat single men in the community with respect and accord them with honor, whether I find them attractive or not, or whether they find me attractive or not. 

ag in megamall

With three of my most favorite single lady friends in the planet.

I will seek to be a sister to my fellow single women, offering encouragement, support, love, and counsel. I will take their hand (literally and figuratively) and find mutual encouragement in the fact that the Maker of the Universe is sufficient to provide for all our needs. I will share my longings and heart stirrings to my sisters, but I will not whine, nor complain, but set an example of speaking words of life and hope for the present and the future.

I will be a source of affirmation both for my brothers and my sisters. I will be a “dream-releaser,” someone who can motivate my brothers and sisters to pursue and discover the passions God has placed in their hearts. And while it is true that this period of singleness may be temporary for most of the singles, I will help my fellow singles (as I hope they will do the same for me) see this period of singleness as a gift to be cherished, more than just a transitory phase to the married phase.

I will remind us that while marrieds are blessed in ways singles are not, we singles are also blessed in ways married people are not. We must see and appreciate these blessings as unique and even better, in a way.

sarah with thu

Here’s one way we’re blessed: We can travel! Whenever, wherever! That’s a huge win in my book.

I also commit to protect myself and my fellow brothers and sisters from insensitive remarks and teasing that may damage relationships. I will do this by not encouraging prolonged teasing within the group, nor from other people, especially from marrieds, no matter how well-meaning they may be.

I will look to the single people in this community, especially those more advanced in age, as people of a special kind of wisdom, and therefore I will seek their fellowship and counsel. And I will honor them for the way they have faithfully obeyed God.

Yes, God loves me.


da nang

The Divine is reaching out to me.

There are those moments, when you are so desperately and acutely aware of your own hopelessness and inability to please God.

Why am I so love-starved? Why am I so forgetful?

You’d think that growing up in a Christian family, working in a missions org, and studying in a seminary where I read and study the Bible every day (something I never imagined I’d ever do, to be honest) would cause me to not forget the very basic, fundamental truth that God loves me no matter what.

Why am I so inclined to think that I am worthless, that the things I do are insignificant, that I do not have purpose? 

Have I (yet again) started believing lies?

It’s a self-destructive mindset, one that is a result of the fall — I know this much. This, I realize now more than ever, is one of the devastating results of sin. It hurts me too. My own sin hurts me.

And why do I almost always tend to believe that I have disappointed God? This is me right now: burning with the most miserable feeling of embarrassment at being a disappointment to God.

But then…

He reaches down and reminds me of nothing short of His… love.

He reached down last night, as I prayed and mulled over my shame and struggles.

He reached down this morning, in Theology class as we discussed and reflected on Propitiation and the Hypostatic Union of Jesus’ Two Natures (of all things!).

He reached down at Chapel Time today, when kuya Craig, one of the Professors, exhorted us, “We need to be reminded of this, and we need to hear this: ‘God loves you.'”

It is so simple, and so profound, and so true.

I may have failed people. It’s okay, God loves me.

I have hurt others. Still, God loves me.

I am not who I think I ought to be. It doesn’t matter, God loves me.

I believe I have disappointed God. That is not true, and God loves me.

The Divine is reaching out to me, and yes, He loves me.

craig thompson

Kuya Craig at Chapel Time.


Things I want to tell the Married People in my Seminary


So this last term, I had a class called Christian Marriage.

I enjoyed it! My professor is an excellent communicator, knew the material really well, and used real-life experiences (most of which are his own, which are mostly hilarious) as illustrations.

And because the class is called Christian Marriage, and because majority of the student population of IGSL are married, naturally, majority of the class was composed of married people. And because most of the students lived on campus with their own families, a lot of the married couples attended the class together. So they basically got to attend a two-hour weekly Marriage Seminar.

Then there are the singles. The singles, a small fraction of the population of the class. It’s like they didn’t know what to do with us, so they just dumped us into the class. But maybe I’m just being cynical.

dormmates 1

We are just a few of the single population of IGSL. We exist!

So I sat there in class, listening to my professor talk about marriage problems and how to relate with the in-laws, trying my hardest to relate to the interesting, but unrelatable topics. Some of my single classmates had given up altogether trying to relate and simply went to class just for attendance.

And like these fellow single classmates, there are some things I wish I could tell the married people / teachers / curriculum-developers / whoever-is-in-power-and-in-charge-of-the-courses here in seminary:

  • Why does it seem like everyone assumes that all the singles want to get married? Marriage is good, I get it. But singleness is also good. I don’t hear enough of THAT here.
  • Why not have a Christian Singleness / Celibacy class?! It’s a brilliant idea, if I may say so. Or okay, fine, so I might concede that there are certain topics about marriage I need to learn about, for future reference in the ministry. In that case, the class should be renamed Christian Marriage and Singleness. It would be divided into two parts: the first part would be a combination of Marrieds and Singles, and in the second part, the Marrieds and Singles would have their own classes.
  • This two-part class would be great, especially when it came to discussing some topics like sex and sexuality. Yeah, sexuality from a single person’s perspective – there’s an idea! It would also eliminate awkwardness from the marrieds and singles.
  • Speaking of which, I wonder why the marrieds assume that we know nothing about sex? Why treat us like naïve children as if we won’t be able to handle the discussion about sex? Seriously?


The other day, one of the people-in-authority here said she read my Single’s Manifesto, and she commented that we did use to have a Christian Singleness class. But then they thought, Oh they’ll all get married anyway, so let’s just scrap that class off.

I was genuinely saddened when I heard that.

Because I don’t think we hear enough of the perspective of single ministers / missionaries, if at all. Already, in many cultures, singles are deemed less qualified to minister. This seminary, this unique place of learning, could’ve been that place where this notion could be challenged and examined, or at least this could have been the place where a conversation about this could be started. Sayang.

Also, I know how the desire (take note, desire!) for marriage can be enslaving. This desire… it can possess you, control you, and rule your thoughts and motives. It creeps in slowly, subtly, until it has grabbed ahold of you. Then it starts suffocating you.

I think communicating that not being married is also fulfilling can be liberating! And it doesn’t mean eliminating all longings for marriage. I know I still dream of marriage someday.. It’s just claiming the freedom of knowing that singleness and marriage are equally good and fulfilling in their own ways.

Last but not least, it would communicate that they value the singles. I’ve heard it said once or twice that the community here wants to be sensitive to singles. Well, this is one way of putting your money where your mouth is, methinks.

All this to say: I just wish for an avenue, a safe space for authentic communication of these really relevant issues. 

“Well, why don’t you start it?” some of you may say. Well, my impact won’t be as great as when it comes as a mandate from the authorities / leadership, will it?

ALL THAT BEING SAID, in no way am I saying that the people in my seminary are complete jerks to the singles. And I hope you don’t walk away cynical of the Christian community consisting of married people. We are not all insensitive. But I think, I believe, we can be more sensitive.

sarah travelling 02

I am Loved to the Skies (A Single’s Manifesto Pt.1)


In this last term of my first year in seminary, I had a class called “Christian Marriage”.

The class was dominated by couples attending the class together. While I found the class interesting, I think what I appreciated most is my teacher’s effort to make the conversation relevant to the singles such as myself, although I think more can be done about this.

(Because until IGSL* comes up with a class called “Christian Singleness / Celibacy,” profs will be left with the awkward responsibility to try to make the class relevant to single students. But that’s another blog post for another time.)

Going back: so while the couples did their married couple-centric assignments, we were tasked to come up with a Single’s Manifesto, which I actually really enjoyed writing!



As a single person, I embrace my identity, and it is this: that I am someone of infinite worth, a precious child of the Ruler of the Heavens, formed intricately from the womb, whose paths have been determined before the hinges of the world were in place, and who God Himself went down to the depths for and who He loved to the skies.

I will, only by the everlasting grace of God, live in this Truth moment by moment.


I recognize and celebrate how God designed me as a unique Person: as someone with specific legitimate needs which ultimately will only be met by God, but which God allows to be met through other legitimate ways. I will not apologize for my needs, but be open to the ways in which God will choose to meet these needs.

I will strive to take responsibility for my own words, actions and choices. I will remind myself that in almost everything, I have a choice to make. However, I will understand the consequences of my choices and take myself to task regarding these. I will seek ways to grow in making wiser choices progressively.

I will seek opportunities to develop my talents and skills, knowing that this is the best way to honor God and steward these things. By committing to hone these talents, I am celebrating God’s unique design of me. Moreover, I commit to dedicate these talents for the sole purpose of glorifying God.

sarah singing

I will be patient and gracious to myself, knowing that God Himself is patient and gracious with me, and that this is one way of loving myself. I will be kind to myself, because I understand that a lack of grace for myself is an indication of pride.

I will look at the present with joy, knowing that the only Person ever whose love for me is the purest, strongest, holiest is with me, has always been with me and will always be with me.

And I will look to the future with a calm, joyous assurance that this same Person has a plan and path laid out for me from the beginning of beginnings.

Whether this plan includes another human being I shall join with in marriage or not will not shake my faith, will not steal my joy, nor will it make me paralyzed with fear, because God Almighty is with me.



*IGSL = International Graduate School of Leadership. My current school.