An Open Letter to the Girl That Once Was

I remember when the days would drag on for you, and you wouldn’t know the difference between Monday and Friday. You’d lay in bed at night, wondering, wishing, barely believing that better days were ahead. You had this air about you, even when the heartbreak took over, you would never accept defeat. You loved the world too much, even though you knew that it would never love you back.

You were too giving of your time and affections. You wanted to love. You wanted to love so badly that you forgot who you were. To be fair, you never really knew who you were, until you came to know Him. Once you surrendered, you became a new creation in His name. But there are days when the enemy tries to deceive you, and you begin to doubt your worth. And you suddenly feel like nothing’s really changed.

The past year has been tough on you I know. And a lot of times, you’ve just wanted to run away and give up. But in those moments when you think there’s nothing else you can do, know that God is already working things out for you. You may not see it from where you are right now, but always have faith and hope. Faith in the one who made you. And hope that He will see you through.

Christian life was never designed to be easy. Remember that always. Especially when you start to feel entitled and the idea that you’re “God’s Child” starts to get to your head. You’re still like everyone else. You still curse, you still worry, you still sin. But what sets you apart is that you know better now. You know who you belong to. And once you’re in His hand, there’s nothing that can snatch you away.

You always loved going up the mountains, catching the midnight bus, just so you can wake up the next morning to pine scented air. You had this wanderlust that was impossible to cure, as if you were on an endless search for something more. Longing for safety, or wanting to feel free, it was all the same.

You may not have realized it then, but this last trip means more to you now, than it ever did in the beginning.

You’ve come so far, girl that once was. Only by His grace.

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What is Fasting? (And Why Am I Fasting From Makeup?)

The reason why I was compelled to let go of makeup for fasting week.

melissajenna.com

Today should be day 7 of 40 of my makeup fast, but since I’ve already declared day 7 as a do-over, I thought I’d hijack today’s makeup-fast post, talk a little bit about fasting, specifically, and explain a bit why fasting from makeup is a step that I needed to take.

What Is Fasting, And Why Should I Fast?

“Fasting” (abstaining from all or some kinds of foods or drinks, especially as a religious observance) though common in the biblical times, is not as common among contemporary Christians. One reason, I think, is that we’ve forgotten (or never learned) why one might fast in the first place. I really like Jen Hatmaker’s explanation of fasting, in her book “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.” Jen explains

“A fast creates margin for God to move. Temporarily changing or routine of comfort jars us off high center. A fast…

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A Story of God’s Love

Before I came to know the Lord, I was living a broken life. My family looked great from the outside, but people didn’t know that inside, we were struggling to keep it all together. We grew up comfortably, my younger brothers and I, but that couldn’t make up for the hole that I had in my heart. You see, when I was 13, I found out that my father had been cheating on my mother with a woman who lived nearby. I watched from the sidelines as my parents’ marriage crumble because of his infidelity. My most vivid memory of this time was seeing my mom plead desperately to my dad to stay and not leave us for another woman. I stood there helplessly as I watched my father pack his bags and without saying goodbye, get into his car and drive off. That was my first major heartbreak.

Because I wanted to fill that void in my life, I started to obsess about dating when I was 15. From then on, it was a nonstop cycle of bad relationships one after the other. Why did I allow myself to go through it? Because being with someone gave me that sense of security that I desperately sought after. I wanted so badly to feel complete that I compromised on the important things that I valued. I became reckless with my heart and freely gave it away, hoping to find that one true love. But I was always disappointed because nothing ever sufficed.

In 2009, I decided to live in with my boyfriend who I had been in a long distance relationship with for 4 years. We had planned on getting married that same year, but because of conflict with our families, the plans were set aside. I honestly thought I had found the one but as months passed by, problems started to surface and reality slowly revealed itself. He became abusive as he was known to have a bad temper and the sad part was, I just let it happen. I allowed him to hurt me, physically and emotionally, because I couldn’t admit to myself that I gave up so much for nothing. At that point, I had given up my family, my career, even my friends and chose to live in the delusion that he would someday change if I held on to the relationship tightly enough. I should’ve known that I wasn’t capable of changing anyone. For it is only God who is in the business of changing hearts and lives.

For 4 years, I lived behind an image of having it all figured out, but the truth was, I was miserable inside. I resorted to alcohol and drugs to get over that agonizing feeling of having nowhere else to go. I wasn’t living life anymore, I was merely floating from one temporary high to the next, just waiting for the circumstances to change. It became so unbearable that thoughts of killing myself constantly filled my head. I praise God now that He never gave up on me even when I’ve already given up on myself.

It was March 25 of this year that I started to feel God work in my life. I woke up that day with this voice inside that kept on telling me to pack my things and just leave. I don’t know how I was able to get the courage, but after 8 years of holding on to that relationship, I finally let go. I left behind all material comfort, our money, the cars, the house and made my way back to my family’s home with nothing to show for. I look back now and realize that God was definitely in control that day, because after years of being away from them, my family welcomed me back with open arms, no questions asked. My story had become that of the prodigal son’s.

Romans 8:28

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

10 days after, on April 6, I attended my first Connect service at CCF Alabang. I remember feeling anxious about it because I didn’t know what to expect. But as I stepped into the darkened hall and “Mighty to Save” started to play, I knew I was taken. I broke down into tears and cried for all the unfulfilled dreams, the wasted years, the sleepless nights. I cried for all the times that I felt I was alone on my darkest hours, times when I had no one else to turn to. I cried for wanting to be strong on my own, for making myself believe that I was invincible and unshaken. I cried, because for the first time in 28 years, I felt God’s overpowering love surround me, and at that moment, I knew I have come home. I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour that same day, and with that, the hole in my heart was filled.

I realized that even when I denied His existence, He had been constantly pursuing me. Even when I threw blame at Him for letting me suffer, He had already set out the plans for me. His love has always been there, even when I refused to recognize it, even when I gave others the credit, even when I tried to run away from it. While I was barely living my so-called life, He was rearranging the circumstances, changing my outlook and orchestrating the perfect homecoming for me. I wish you could see it from my perspective so that you can see how surreal it is.

1 Corinthians 2:9

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him”

He had to break me apart just so He could put me back together again. And it is only through His grace and mercy that I am able to be here with you and open my heart for you to see. It’s only because of God’s love that the heart that was once scarred feels no pain and has no regrets. I have embraced this new existence that He has laid out for me and even though there are days when the past still haunts me, I keep still and hold on to His promise.

Hebrews 13:5

 “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

I know now how it feels to be unconditionally loved, there is no reason for me to settle for less.

7 months after that fateful day, I am still in awe with how God is working in my life. Even though I left that relationship with nothing, God has faithfully provided me with everything I need in this new life. I now have a career that I am genuinely excited about and friends who have extended their love and support in my Christian walk. I’m also truly grateful for the way that God is working in my family, because even though progress may seem slow, I know that my relationship with my father is being restored. I pray fervently for my family’s salvation. I am currently serving in the ushering and outreach ministries of B1G South Alabang, because it’s through this act of service that I am able to show how loving and merciful our God is. I lift up my life to Him and every day I am grateful for the opportunity to love and serve Him. My name is Nina Danielle Morales, an unworthy sinner saved by His grace and this is my testimony of how God can make broken things beautiful again. Lord, without You I am nothing but an empty shell. All praises and glory to God.

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Day I made the B1G commitment 12/01/2013

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Why Love?

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When I was young, I desperately wished for fairy tales to be true. Every night, before I went to sleep, I would pray to God to someday give me my own Prince Charming. He didn’t have to be handsome, or come riding on a white horse, all I wanted was someone I could spend my happily ever after with.

But as I got older, I watched my childhood dreams get replaced by heartbreak one by one. Lies were spoken and suspicion grew, until one day, I found myself in a gamble that was too risky to take. But still I gave and gave until there was nothing left.

The saddest part about giving away your heart recklessly to someone is that it gets battered and bruised along the way. It’s not true what they say, that time heals all wounds, because there are wounds that will forever scar. There are wounds that will still hurt even after you have walked away from the battle. Once you’ve been on the other side, your heart becomes a slave to the struggle. The heart that was once open and pure will in defense, build walls around it, until it becomes impenetrable.

So why do I still love? Because it’s the only thing that feels natural to me. Even with the many scars that it has, my heart knows nothing else but to lay itself on the line, and surrender completely. I understand that it’s both a blessing and a curse, but I am stubborn and choose to ignore the latter. I may not know why or how I was designed this way, but after experiencing His love, it’s all starting to make perfect sense. Some people have asked me how I was able to recover from the last fall, which incidentally also happened to be the worst. My simple answer? Because God loved me first.

Because His love never fails as he constantly loves and forgives the sinner in me

Everyday I praise God for showing me what TRUE LOVE really means

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Relationship Status: Beloved

ImageFun Fact: September 25 will officially mark my sixth month of being single. Six months – the longest ‘singlehood’ period I’ve had since I started dating at the age of 15.

Truth be told, being single has left me with some pretty strong mixed emotions these past couple of months. On some days, I’m ecstatic about this new found liberation, while on other days, I find myself questioning life’s reasons. I guess it’s just my psyche going cold turkey because it’s only now that I’m starting to grasp what being single is really all about. It’s not being with someone that defines who you are. It’s the fact that you are His beloved.

Looking back, I realize now that 15 was such a young age to start dating. But it seemed so fun, exciting and harmless back then, so I frivolously jumped into the bandwagon. My first love was dreamy. He had wavy shoulder-length hair, deep brown eyes and a goofy sense of humour. He loved listening to The Beatles records and he would constantly make fun of my idolatrous love for the Backstreet Boys. From Chopin, to The Glenn Miller Orchestra, to Linkin Park, we would listen to just about anything and everything for hours without end. He taught me to appreciate all kinds of music and to always look for the good in people.

My second love came my first year in college. I was then studying to become an engineer in an institute located inside historical Intramuros. This one had that boy-next-door charm. He had a great smile that was just blinding. The first time I saw him at Analytic Geometry class, I knew I wanted him, so I turned on the charms – big time! And it worked because in just a couple of weeks of study breaks and casual hang outs, he asked to see me exclusively. It was a fast paced, melodramatic relationship that had its sweet moments. It was through him that I learned to appreciate the simple things, like sharing pancit canton in the afternoons while waiting for our 6pm class.

My third love was also an engineering student who was studying at a premiere university on Taft. This one opted to become my friend first before anything else so it seemed like we were off to a good start. We would have long talks on the phone, sharing secrets and dreams, without any fear of judgment or ridicule. He was the strong and silent type who communicated best through text messaging. This one challenged me to the core because we were on opposite poles of the zodiac. We would fight and argue and scream for hours until one finally relented. But he was loving, very loving, because at the end of that relationship, he said goodbye with only the best of intentions.  It was on that day that I learned a valuable lesson on letting go.

The fourth – ah the fourth, is the love that completely broke me. He looked great on the surface – good looks, a promising career, financially steady, but deep inside, he was just as empty. He was everything I thought I ever wanted that I freely gave up all common sense to be with him. Sure we made great memories, and we went on amazing adventures together, but our relationship turned complicated when my very definition of love started to get compromised. He just didn’t see it the way I did and I was heartbroken. My world and everything I held dear was shattered.

But then He rescued me. THE ONE, the only one capable of giving unconditional eternal love. I’ve come across Him many times before but I was always too absorbed with what I thought I needed, that I often looked past Him. I shamelessly denied His existence many times, and yet He has never left my side. Even though I stayed away because I didn’t understand what He wanted from me. Even though I was afraid that He would only love me if I changed. If I had known then what I knew now, I would have easily let go of this world just to be closer to Him. The One whose love constantly sustains me. The One who continuously offers grace to the undeserving.

It’s not being with someone that defines who you are. It’s the fact that you are His beloved.

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In the Dark

Romans 5:8

In the dark, You know when I hurt, when I struggle, when I’m at my weakest. When people resort to judgement and the world becomes too much to bear. When I stop following the light and I hide in disgrace, You’re always there.

In the dark, I whisper my secrets, cry my prayers and sing songs of worship. I open up my heart and soul in desperate need to find comfort in suffering. When I try to make sense of the madness because my ambitions steer me away from Your plan, You’re always there.

In the dark, I have nothing to be proud of because You see me for me. I can’t hide behind my financial gain, my worldly stature, not even good works, because You know I am but a mere sinner. Even when I shamelessly hurt You and try to run away, You’re always there.

In the dark, I know You won’t give me more than I could handle, you won’t withhold your reward longer than I could bear, you won’t allow a single tear to go to waste. You’re always there. Watching, waiting, in control.

In the dark, it’s just You, me and the promises You have made to those who love You.

Because in the dark, You love me fully, unconditionally and eternally.

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An Open Letter to the One That Got Away

letting-go-hands

What seems like yesterday is a sequence of scenes I replay over and over in my head. It’s like being able to touch you, really touching, holding your hand as we walk through this road again. You may not have noticed, the way my eyes would carefully, unforgivably study yours. As though wanting to see the world through your perspective or trying so hard to look deeply into your soul.

It’s funny how a line from a movie could mean so much when you’re the one who says it, or how a single refrain from a song could define an entire lifetime with you. Your scent lingers still, as I crawl into myself, all alone on your bed. When I close my eyes and let myself fall back onto the sheets, I drift off to a fantasy when things were so simple for even you and me.

We were uncompromising individuals, fierce with obsessions and thirsty for life. We walked too fast while others heavily dragged themselves through what they would call a ‘miserable life’. I remember how it feels to wake up in the morning bathing in the light. I remember being eager to face the world with an undying spirit. I remember vividly how it is to be living for someone else other than myself.

Time used to pass by so fast but now I can barely make out a day. You see, I’ve gotten so used to it, the numbness of it all – the emptiness, the gap, and this black hole. I’ve lost the desire to be the one who could win the race against the sun. You always said that nothing was impossible, that we could outrun anything and anyone, even the sun, if we wanted to. Those rainbows had pots of gold ready for the taking, only visible to men who dare to live their dreams. That one day we’ll run away to the stars and be free.

I never saw it coming, I didn’t even have a clue what you were going through. But for whatever it’s worth – I was the best person I could be when I was with you. Pain has consumed half of me but you and I both know that’s not enough. You deserve to have all of me.

I need to get up from this bed but not until I’ve cried my last tears. And after breaking down a million times over, I know I’m strong yet again. Ready to cope with the cruelty of the world and the stares people give me. I just whisper to myself, ‘They don’t know who I am, they don’t know the loss I try to survive’.

I look back at the room for one last time before I turn off the lights, goodbye wouldn’t be so hard if only you were still alive.

Author’s Note: Written in 2005. Fictional piece inspired by true events.

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