heydays with hanna

a design, lifestyle, and travel journal

THE BIGGER PICTURE

I realized that I have not written any life update since 2018. So much has happened since then, so much has changed. I have been yearning to write a life update but every single time I try to, my mind clouds up and I end up not writing anything. I then realized that some thoughts need time to digress properly for it to make sense or to bear fruit. This is why I have decided to go on a semi-hiatus from blogging; to process my thoughts, filter what should and shouldn't be said, and just truly take in the lessons I have learned in life for the past months. It was also a time for me to think of the future direction of Heydays with Hanna.


A good friend once told me about the importance of reflection and self-evaluation. This process allows us to understand ourselves and our circumstances better; embrace our learning, be grateful for the blessings that come out of all our experiences, and look forward to constantly improve as a person. One of my favorite parts of pausing for self-reflection is unlearning and detaching - the more you see your past actions, decisions, and mistakes, the more you realize how small you are and how big your God is and how far His hands reach and envelop; it's more than anyone can ever fathom nor imagine.

And so, after a time of thinking and living in each moment, here's a look into my 2019 so far.
I turned 30 last January!
Some people my age dread the mention of those numbers, for the most part, the responsibility and expectations for thirty-year-olds throw us off and we'd rather not talk about our age because we feel like we haven't really met people's expectations or at least that's how it felt like for me. More than anything, there was one issue that I became very sensitive about; my being childless. In the society I live in, women my age are expected to have a child by now and to be honest, that topic caused me to avoid a lot of people and events. I felt self-conscious, anxious, and suffocated. Most people would describe it as asking purely out of love and concern, but it really did not feel like concern the moment I was being compared to women my age who are now mothers and who are soon to become one.
When I was praying to the Lord during my birthday, I praised Him for the life he has given me and for continuously carrying me through it all. I also wept in sadness, there was this indescribable feeling of grieving inside my heart, it felt like something was amiss and something was taken away from me. It was the pressure of getting pregnant, achieving things professionally, and maintaining my service in ministry that constantly wore me down. No matter how much I tried to reason it out with my earthly knowledge, I knew more than anything, this was a spiritual battle that I had to deal with in prayer and constant communion with the Lord. Through His Word, I was reminded of this truth: grief is not foreign even to those who believe and serve the Lord. King David is the best example of this, a high and mighty ruler brought by the Lord to rule over Israel, expressed his distress and fears in some of his passages in Psalms. Spiritual grief or spiritual depression happens to any Christian because of the weight of the trials we face and our constant wrestle with our old nature.

The Apostle Paul through 2 Corinthians 1:1-11 reminds us that God is the God of comfort and peace. This was a topic in one of our Sunday services that spoke strongly to me.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. -2 Corinthians 1:3-5

The bigger picture that the Lord has shown me through my distress is how in my weakness and wilderness experience, there is a great and mighty conqueror who rules over me. Our comfort abounds in Christ and Him alone. The life of a servant of God is never easy, persecution comes, but it is how we rise above this that matters. God allows these times of distress to teach us and mold us to become truly dependent on Him, to endure and to be patient. It is a neverending lesson of hope and reliance on God as our Jehovah Nissi or the Prince of peace.

If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. -2 Corinthians 1:6-7

We rise above our transgressions not because we are strong or we are skilled, we rise above it because, in faith and perseverance, we continue to fight these battles daily knowing that our God is the one who provides, protects, and preserves.

If there is one thing I am truly grateful for, that would be the gift of family, marriage, and friendship. As I went through this year-long journey of seeking and reflecting, God has provided people to become his mouthpiece. In full gratitude, I continue to pray for each of them, that God may continue to guide, enrich, and protect them as they bless the lives of other people as well.
Spent my birthday weekend in Taiwan with my husband and dear brothers in Christ!
It was my first time to visit this charming country. I was not expecting to fall in love with it this much but it happened. Because I was with foodies, the trip mainly revolved around searching for the best snacks and food offerings around Taipei. To say that we raided every nook and cranny of night markets would be an understatement. This trip was a lot of firsts for me, it definitely taught Dennis and me another way to enjoy travel other than our usual design and art itinerary. I got to enjoy food selections that I never would have tried if it weren't for the friends who challenged me to try (Hello stinky tofu! It actually tastes really good!)
 This trip was also very special to me and my husband because our trusted friend and spiritual counselor brought us to a place of worship wherein we spent time in silence and prayer for two days. It was indeed the best time to go as we are facing a lot of questions and transitions. Sometimes we cloud our minds too much in our prayer and bombard the Lord with our desires that we fail to truly seek for His and spend time in silence to listen to what He has to say. This is one practice that I got to learn and we spent time in the prayer room. Indeed, the Lord is omnipresent, it was my first time to worship in another country but the experience was equally revering and alive even though the songs and prayers were uttered in a language completely foreign to me.

This year was a year of actively deciding on important matters in my personal, professional and marital life. Now that I am thirty, I have realized how much I've changed in a lot of aspects, including my priorities and desires. After much thought, I realized that I was greatly affected by people's remarks on my inability to get pregnant because it is a strong personal desire. It was a desire that I have passively acted on, I never really did anything but express my desire for it. This year it was pretty much clear to me that it's high time for me to actively exercise my faith and do something about my desire to bear a child. It was not just about praying for it, but it also requires me to see a professional and seek for guidance.
Spending time with the Lord in prayer and His Word has revealed a lot of answers to my questions.
One of the factors that held me back for years was the indecisive heart and mind that I had when it comes to my career. There is nothing wrong about work, in fact, God designed us to work (Genesis 2:4-25). But as I dug deeper toward the Godly definition of work, it doesn't always entail a desk, computer, and a chair. Work can also be waking up early to prepare your husband's breakfast, making sure he is presentable for work and will not be late for it. Work also could entail listing down the chores for the day, having time to rest and read, learning something new and difficult. Work is anything that entails the attitude of service, perseverance, and humility. Work does not always have to picture you in command, in fact, God designed women to work and be of support to her husband, her family, and to take care of the household (Genesis 2: 15&21; Proverbs 31).

Seeing the bigger picture in this scenario, the Lord has enabled my heart and mind to be at peace and submit to the truth that my identity now as a wife means putting God first and following His command by supporting my husband and my household above anything else. With this, I have decided to slow down with juggling my workload and focus on one job that would not compromise my time for my husband and my preparation for conception.
I was diagnosed with Endometriosis.
Believe me, when I say that I bawled my eyes out the moment I stepped out of the doctor's clinic. To hear that medically, women with the same case as me have only about 5% chance of getting pregnant naturally, made me blame myself a lot for a time, there was so much going on my head during the first week of diagnosis. I felt all sorts of regret, grief, and confusion.

The bigger picture in this challenge would be the truth that while I have a small percentage, there were a lot of women who gave me testimonies of faith. These testimonies of women who went through the same thing as I am going through reminded me that it was not up to me, it was all up to the God who enables, in His right time, if He wills it. Researching on my condition and seeking help through my OBGyn made me understand my body better, I had to go through complete lifestyle changes to condition my body and correct what has to be corrected. But again while actively doing something, I know that more than these preparations, I must keep my heart in sync with God. Right now, my heart is at peace. My prayer, and if you would have the heart to pray with and for me, would be for acceptance and joy. I am trusting in God's will as He has been and continuously holding me through the different seasons of my life for thirty years now.
My husband and I have transitioned into a healthier eating habit.
We do this consciously and intentionally to preserve ourselves and have a longer, healthier life together. The bigger picture from this health condition that I have would be the development of self-discipline and habit formation. It is also teaching me how to be creative when it comes to food preparation! Now grocery trips are exciting and cooking has become another form of art that I get to enjoy daily.
As we wait and continuously pray for our little bundle of joy to come, we are learning to enjoy each other's company day by day and support each other throughout the seasons of our marriage and our lives.
God has truly given me a patient, gentle, and loving partner in life. These past few months would not have been that easy to carry if he was not there all along to support, challenge, and comfort me all at once. If there is anything I am enjoying right now, that would be the leadership my husband is lovingly exercising in our married life.

The bigger picture that I got to see after I let go on a couple of personal desires career-wise would be the gain that our marriage got. God has been a great director and provider for the both of us, and He is continuously teaching us what it really means to submit to Him and learn more about Him through the reading and processing of His Word.
 Gain is not about having and enjoying everything, it is about being grateful and hopeful knowing and believing that you are not alone and that your life is in the hands of the One who has created it.
This is a church in Puerto Princesa who just celebrated their 7th anniversary. It was my first time to visit a community church in the outskirts of Metro Manila. This trip has truly opened my mind, heart, and soul in the real meaning of gain and worship. The level of commitment, servanthood, and sense of community in this humble and charming congregation is a great example of unconditional faith and reverence to the Lord. It was truly a blessing to be able to sing praise and worship songs in our mother tongue, to hear each voice sing victoriously and confidently in Christ, to pray with and for the congregation is indeed an inexplainable and sublime encounter for a heart that's yearning and seeking for ministry direction like me.

True friendship and sisterhood know no distance nor time difference. This year is all about reunions!

I got to enjoy the company of my high school best friends this year. Nicola, whom I
haven't seen in 9 years surprised me at work along with Patty and my husband who connived together for this surprise reunion. Another event earlier this year would be Nari coming to visit and introducing the love of her life to me and Dennis. We truly are growing up, we all have our individual accountabilities and responsibilities that make occasional reunions like this feel extra special.


Always make time for your constants.

Life gets busy and seeing each other will never be the same as when you were in college or waiting for a job callback. It's really important to set aside time for your family and friends, this is where you get to hear how they truly are feeling, doing, and the fellowship allows you to be aware on how you can be a blessing and how you can pray for them
I have been working with my Dad and Mom lately as they are in the process of building their dream house.
My Saturdays are divided for my husband and my parents. Most of the time, Saturday mornings lately would mean site visit and coordination day with my Dad. I am a witness of how my parents desired, prayed, and worked hard for a good future for me and my brother. For this to happen, some personal desires were placed on halt and that included their dream home. Now that we are all adults and I can be of help and service in my own little way, it is indeed a blessing and privilege to be able to witness another milestone in my parents' life as a couple and as individuals.
It's only August yet it felt like a whole year already! With a lot of events happening, you really will not be able to notice the time passing by so fast. The biggest picture in all these? Peace in the midst of difficult and victorious times. The peace that comes from knowing God and constantly establishing a relationship with Him through prayer and devotion. One of the things that I also have been learning would be the truth that when we pray, our goal should never be pointed at the positive answer, instead, our goal must be pointed towards being in God's presence - with our hearts and minds settled on the Lord and how we can overcome all the challenges in this life because we truly trust in Him.

To close, I wish to share with you a text from the Bible that spoke to me strongly:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. - Philippians 4:1-9

How have you been lately?

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