Category Archives: Church

Crazy and Serious stories based on real experiences

KILIGology: Thinking Straight While Kinikilig


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“He seems like a really nice guy.”

It was a Saturday night, and my friends and I had just met with My Special Friend, a guy I’d been getting to know in the last few months. Things were getting serious, and my friends had risen to the occasion to meet him and get to know him, a.k.a. grill him in a nice way, a.k.a. ask him some hard questions.

I was happy with how the night turned out. My friends delivered and really did ask him some serious, hard questions, and in my opinion, Guy delivered as well – he seemed really honest. Guy also said some really kilig-inducing stuff, stuff that made me feel na napakahaba ng hair ko. My kilig levels were off the charts.

Then Guy left, and my friends and I jumped into “deliberation” (like a panel, lol). As my friends and I continued talking, however, I felt the kilig slowly wearing off. While my friends were really, genuinely happy for me, they also raised some significant, legitimate questions about the Guy.

I’ve been thinking really hard about this, because as my closest friends know, in the past, whenever I felt kilig, all reason and logic fled me. This has then resulted to embarrassingly bad decisions, which then led to painful, painful heartbreaks.

But did it really have to? Did my kilig and my ability to be objective have to be mutually exclusive? In other words, hindi ba talaga pwedeng Utak AT Puso?

My musings, compounded with past conversations I’ve had with my Counselor, have led me to some things.


There is no point in denying this, or playing it down. It is a lesson I learned the hard way: honesty, especially to myself, is important.


This is the lengthy part. Bear with me as I explain this.

Identifying what made me feel kilig is important, so that I could identify which of my core emotional needs is/are being met.

When I think about it, the reason for my kilig was actually a sum total of Guy’s efforts and attitude towards me (his consistent respectful communication, his gifts, time spent with me, etc.).

But also, there were certain specific moments na kinilig ako. Like that night with me and my friends, when he said that “Sarah is worth the effort.”

On a scale of 1-10, my kilig level shot up to 15.

Now, back to emotional needs. We all have emotional needs, and when these needs are met, we feel “positive” emotions – contentment, happiness, kilig, etc. (While these needs are valid and legitimate, sometimes we don’t meet these needs in healthy, or legitimate ways. But that’s another blog post for another time.)

Two of my high emotional needs are (1) for me to feel that I am worthy… of friendship, of achievements, and of pursuit, and (2) to be thought worthy of someone I admired and respected. So when Guy, who I admired and respected, said that he thought I was worthy, I was on cloud nine.

It was important for me to identify this, because I am reminded that these needs could actually be met through other legitimate ways. This is why even without My Special Friend, or any guy for that matter, pursuing me, I can still be contented and fulfilled. Already, this thought lifts off whatever pressure I might feel to be in a relationship.

A more important reminder and realization, however, is that ultimately, my emotional needs will never be completely, fully met by My Special Friend, no matter how awesome he is. And I shouldn’t expect him to; it is an unfair expectation to put on him.

This is strongly tied to my faith — my needs are already met ultimately by God.

As I realized and was reminded of these, I felt myself getting calm and assured. And wonder of wonders — I found myself able to think clearly, while still feeling kilig! With the pressure lifted off, I was able to feel kilig and just enjoy it, and just be thankful for My Special Friend.

Of course, all this takes work and time, and you will feel emotionally exhausted in the end, especially if you are not used to thinking of these things.

But that’s why the next point is important.


Other people can help me think objectively, and remind me to be honest to myself. This is another very important lesson I learned in the most painful way. And it’s not just them grounding me in reality; it’s also having people to rejoice with, and yes, to feel kilig with.

For me, this includes a small group of close friends, my parents, and some older, wiser people I trust.

So can someone feel kilig and still be objective and think straight? I think yes! But it will take honesty to yourself and others, courage to face your own thoughts and emotions, and humility to let others journey with you.

Go ahead  — feel the kilig! And think objectively. Utak at Puso.


My Heart, Redeemed


A couple of years ago, I made a declaration: I’m okay being single forever. I still believe that, by the way. I still believe that I have an ultimate, greater purpose than simply getting married.

One broken heart and a few jilted suitors later, I’ve come to learn several things. And since Valentine’s Day is approaching, I’ve decided to reflect on some of the lessons I’ve been taught.


I can be Secure in my Singleness and Still long for Marriage

When I decided that I’m okay being single forever, the most common response I got from people in my community was, “So you don’t want to get married anymore?”

The question baffled me, because nowhere had I written, nor had I ever said, that I don’t want to get married anymore. What just happened was: whereas in the past I viewed singleness as a completely undesirable option, and that a life of perpetual singleness was an unbearable fate, I now realize that being single forever could be meaningful and joyful and completely wonderful!

It was the most liberating realization – it lifted a great deal of pressure and reoriented my thinking of the future. I celebrated it as a step of growth towards being more secure in my identity and God’s ultimate purpose for me.

But it got me thinking: Do people in my community really think that being okay with singleness means rejecting marriage? Because I’m not. In fact, I do long for it. I do think about, dream about it, wish for it. I am, however, secure in my singleness too, much more than in the past. Security and longing are not mutually exclusive concepts.

My Response to Men Partly Reflects what I Believe About My Own Identity

In the great, emotional turmoil that accompanied and followed my heartbreak, in one of my lowest points, I wallowed in great self-pity and insecurity. I’ll spare you the sordid details, but suffice it to say that he hurt me deeply. I hurt him deeply too, that much I know (and acknowledge) now.

Now, in the present, with my heart more healed, my head more level, and my eyes finally dry, I see now that the way I related and responded to him (and to other men in the past) came out of certain deeply-rooted beliefs about myself. I believed I could never measure up. I believed I was not enough. I believed I was not worthy to be pursued.

Lies, all lies. But I believed them, and I brought them into my relationship with him.

My Community Must be Part of My Love-life Journey

I know it now: one of the reasons why my relationship with him was toxic was because I hadn’t really been completely honest with my accountability group and certain trusted people from my community.

Proud person that I was, I believed the lie that I didn’t have to be transparent with them. It was one of the first things I repented of, and which I vowed never to repeat again. I failed to realize that these people have been put in my life to journey with me.

In the last several years, I desperately prayed for God to give me the grace to learn whatever He was teaching me. I didn’t want to waste all this pain and not gain anything from it. I wanted my heart redeemed. 

God has indeed been faithful in showing me kindness, and showing me things I had never seen before. He used my heartbreak, and other succeeding events, to show how proud, insecure and manipulative my own heart is. Truly, the heart is deceitful above all things.

And He used men to redeem my view of men! (I won’t lie – there was a period when I truly hated disliked men.) Truly, God is close to the broken-hearted, and He has been such a good Father to me.

As I grow and reflect in my identity in God, my prayer and desire is to image God in the way I relate to men and women around me.

What have YOU learned in your relationships? 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


Worshipping without the “Sounds”


Today I had the most powerful corporate worship experience in my entire life so far.

And that was largely due to the fact that the sound system went bonkers.

I am attending the Global Discipleship Congress, and this is the second day. And because of the scale of this event (7,000 people from 61 countries!) the Opening Program was… flashy. As in, complete with dance number and technicolor multimedia backgrounds and stuff. It was like watching a variety show. It was audio-visual sensory stimulation and satisfaction.

So today, when the worship team came on stage to signal the start of the program, I think it would be safe to say that people were expecting something of the likes of yesterday. (Screencaps below, from the GDC 2013 Highlights video created by CCF)




And then suddenly.

The microphones wouldn’t work. And the tech people could not get them to work.While the tech people tinkered with stuff onstage (and presumably backstage as well), they requested everyone to pray.

So we prayed.

For a few minutes, everyone was silent. Eyes closed, head bowed.

And then there it was, a distinct tune coming from the left wing of the sanctuary: a group of people singing. It went on for a few seconds, getting gradually louder and louder.

The pianist from the Music team must have picked up on this; he started playing a simple tune.

The people nearest the stage heard it first and sang the familiar tune:

I love You, Lord

And I lift my voice

To worship You

Oh my soul, rejoice

Take joy my King

In what You hear

Let it be a sweet, sweet sound

In Your ears.

And then the rest of the 7,000 people sang it too. We repeated it several times. Softly at first, then growing stronger and stronger — the voice of thousands of believers of every tongue uniting in praise.

I believe God heard a sweet, sweet sound this morning.

Was it ironic that we were singing of making “sweet sounds” for God without the sounds we call music? Maybe. But God can choose how we are to worship Him, right?

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: multitudes of people worshipping together, especially as diverse as this one, NEVER fails to get to me. It is always powerful when people worship together.

Do you agree?

Have you had similar experiences at your church service or conference?

60 nations worshipping together. The mere  memory gives me goosebumps.

60 nations worshipping together. The mere memory gives me goosebumps.

We had Nick Vujicic as our Speaker in Church today


…and that meant a lot of people. As in, A LOT.

My friend, ate Arlyn, and I wanted to arrive early so we can get good seats, so we arrived 10 minutes before the service. I was fantasizing about getting front row seats, or at least any seat from the front to the 10th row.

That, I found out the hard way, is possibly the most far-fetched fantasy ever… that is, if you arrive only 10 minutes before the time.

HUNDREDS of people were already in the lobby. I have never seen so many people in a very long time. This crowd? This crowd could be agoraphobia-inducing if there ever was one. Thankfully the ushers were very efficient in guiding the crowd (and dressed so smartly! LOVE their aquamarine blue scarves and ties), and the people very cooperative… they are either Spirit-filled or acting like it.

We finally got inside the worship hall… and found all the Freakin’. Seats. Taken. (Actually, there were lots of free seats but people were “reserving” them — hmp! — but that’s another post for another day.)

It was most disappointing to admit defeat and opt for the next service. Sad.

Well, finally we got in, got to sit in a row about 30 seats from the front in the ground floor, and saw Nick in person.

And I’m happy to report that his message, for me, has the right amount of simplicity and profundity and is strongly rooted in Biblical principles.

Oh, my highlights?

(Other than the ginormous number of people

Corporate Worship. 

There really is something about large crowds of people worshiping together that gets to me. Every. Single. Time.

The image of thousands of people praising God stirs excitement in my heart… excitement of the future, of every tongue and tribe worshiping the King of kings.

This, I guess, is why I stick with CCF despite my hang-ups with mega churches.

Finally finding out how to pronounce Nick’s last name. 

Yes, it was a big mystery. Now, I know.

Do YOU know how to pronounce Nick’s last name? (Come on, ask me. :P)

Were you at CCF today? How’d you find the service?

Lessons in Mega Church Seating Dynamics (or MCSD)


I was in Manila about three weeks ago, and as is my custom whenever I go there, I attended Sunday Service at a mega church with a friend.

It was for a variety of reasons, but we ended up late. But only 10 minutes late. Now, I’m not justifying myself or debating the wrongness of being late — late is late and it’s irresponsible and wrong, but holey moley the place was filled up and we had nowhere else to sit!

That morning I learned the first valuable lesson of Mega Church Seating Dynamics (MCSD):

Every minute late corresponds to a hundred seats taken (Lesson 1), and yes, I know that’s an assumption with no scientific or statistical basis, but let’s just go with it.

So anyway, that means a thousand seats taken for the ten minutes we were late. And when it’s this kind of mega mega church, the ushers really are — bless their volunteering hearts — no help at all. Not that I blame them. You can hardly expect them to find seats for everyone in this crowd.

So there we were, looking abroad and beyond at the rows and rows of seats, looking for any free seats we might squeeze ourselves into…

Then! Lo and behold, an entire row of seats with NO ONE IN IT! An entire row! All to ourselves!

My friend was ecstatic and relieved, but I, whose mega church navigation sense is a little more honed, smelled something suspicious. Why isn’t this row occupied? Still, we settled in.

Five minutes later, my suspicions were confirmed. And I learned a second valuable lesson in MCSD:

There is a reason a row is free: A free row is a portal row (Lesson 2). I was five minutes into praise and worship, with my eyes blissfully closed, trying to tune in and get my holy groove in, if you get what I mean, when I felt something brush my nose and my elbows. Rather, someone. It was someone passing through our row. Then there was another someone passing. And another, and another. And another.

It dawned on me: that row was a passageway to the other seats in the more western part of the church building! And we had unwittingly set ourselves as hindrances, like boulders, to the stream of people coming in and passing by.

When you’re a boulder to this stream, give up all hopes of being able to “worship” (Lesson 3). I mean, worship as in “sing with the praise and worship team” (of course I know what worship is and that whole thing, I’m a missionary! Duh.). Kinda hard to “worship” with people nudging my nose every 2 to 5 minutes.

It was irritating. Really, REALLY annoying. There I was trying to worship, but these late people! Ugh. (Real spiritual, I know. Yes, I have my moments.)

I tell you, those remaining minutes of praise and worship were the longest, most patience-trying minutes ever. But just as I was getting out my judge’s robe and about to sentence all these people to mild damnation, the Holy Spirit spoke and rebuked me. Thank God.


Since I identify myself as a progressive learner, I’ve decided to take these valuable lessons to heart so I can “grow” from these experiences, and so, in application:

1) Not take those portal row of seats again. Ever. And,

2)  Find free seats elsewhere, no matter where it is, EVEN if it’s in the middle of an already filled row. I will risk the ire and irritation of the people and get to that seat no matter what. We can even make a game out of it! The objective: See how many feet you can manage not  to step on getting  to that coveted seat. Very exciting.

Or, I could just arrive early.

But where’s the excitement in that?

And you? Any crazy mega church experience you got?