Thoughts on giving

When I was a kid, I look forward to birthdays and Christmas because of the gifts. As I grew older, my mom would assign us to buy gifts to families and friends.

I realized that thinking of the things or experiences to give to other people is not as easy as it looks like.

I learned that we have five love languages and giving according to the other people’s language can be better appreciated. It will also make them feel loved.

To start off, it is best to observe them. You can also ask them and validate it as you go along.

Some people like to give and receive personalized greeting cards. Words mean to them. Others like to show affection through hugs and kisses. Still others would better appreciate it if you are with them to enjoy a cup of tea and have some talk. Some like to give and receive favors from others like helping them out in the organization of the home. Lastly, others would like to give and receive gifts.

Through the years I learned that giving shows that we are concerned for other people. When we spend our time, energy and resources for others, we invest in their lives.

I also learned that it is best to keep it simple. It maybe just a simple note or a pat on the back but it goes along way!

Most importantly, we give because we are stewards of God’s resources. We give not just if we have an extra savings. We give because we have faith that God will supply our needs in the days to come.

Start with what you have and make others feel loved!



Musings: dark & rainy days (Part 2) + theater visit

Hi everyone! I’m sorry to greet your December 1st with silhouette & gray photos but I hope these will inspire your winter season. I also hope you’re having a blast as the Christmas season starts. How are you going to celebrate Christ’s day?

Sun set in Ayala Center while waiting for my friend

Antique clock that my aunt bought for my parent’s engagement

Construction site on the look out.

In contrast with the silhouette photos, I want to share the set in the recent show I watched with my cousin. It was actually her requirement in school and I just tagged along.

I am amazed of the lights and how the props were creatively used.

Lights can totally add to the drama!

These people were doing a wave dance before the audience!

Liza Macuja-Elizalde shared some imagery that ballerinas use to convey meaning. I wasn’t able to get the context fully but the introduction helped.

Stay inspired,


In the kitchen: home cooked meals (Part 3)

In this series I’m posting some dishes that I would like to bring to my parent’s table. Hopefully I can convince my aunt to cook these for me.

Shrimp sautéed with broccoli, corn bits, and mushrooms. We also added garlic and onions of course.

Coated shrimp. I love its sweet and crunchy taste!

Steamed veggies. Any will do as long as they’re not overcooked. I like my veggies half cooked. How about you?

Steamed fresh fish with tomatoes. In my parent’s home we rarely eat fresh fish. I just learned to appreciate them because of Teaz.

Fried fresh fish. I love the variety of fish! I hated eating this before because I need to debone. I guess we all need to grow up in terms of expanding our palettes.

My dad used to say, God has given has a variety of meat, fish, seafood, vegetables and fruits. God gave them all for us to enjoy! Let us appreciate the food that He has given us but let us not forget to thank Him. After all His creation points everything to Him.

Before this post ends, I challenge you to eat one type of food that you don’t normally eat this week. Let me know if you have taken part of this challenge by typing your comments below.

Stay inspired,


Thoughts: Remembering the dead

It is customary for Chinese families to light red candles for the loved ones who passed away. It signifies that we are happy for their state in heaven. It is also customary to burn incense and “pray” to ancestors like what Mulan did.

While we still keep this tradition, I believe it is for the purpose of respecting the elderly in our community. People who grew up with their parents who are first generational Filipino-Chinese tend to be more sensitive when we dismiss their rituals.

For me All Saints’ day means visiting my grandparents’ tomb both on my mom and dad side. We also visit my great grandparents’ tomb on my dad side sometimes.

My uncle is really intentional when we go to the cemetery. He shares stories about my grandmother. He would often tell that she likes to paint and collect jewelry. He shares her beliefs and her experiences.

My uncle also likes to discuss the meaning of their names and other characters that are written in the stone.

When I took this picture my grandfather was already ill. It was his one year death anniversary at the start of this month.

This is a picture of my Angkong (dad’s dad). I like this picture a lot because of his stature and the waves! I never really got close to him because he was often out of the house playing mahjong.

When he was already bed ridden, my uncle asked me to let our Pastor visit him. It was really a hard time for us because we rescheduled his visit three times.

Pastor Collen shared about Jesus and my cousin, sister and I listened behind. Angkong could barely speak but I think He felt relieved. He also listened carefully. Afterwards, Pastor asked us to sing for Angkong. We sang Amazing Grace.

It was also the last time that I saw Angkong alive. Praise God for that one last chance to visit him and the opportunity to sing for him.

We also remember by looking back at their photographs. My grandparents’ house are filled with pictures!

My Guakong and Guama (grandparents on mom’s side) taken on my mom’s wedding day

I hope that as we remember our loved ones who passed away, we also remember to:

  1. Live our lives to the full. Live your life for Christ. Serve with your heart and hands.
  2. Thank God for the family and friends that you have (and show that you care)!
  3. Give your time, talent and treasures to the people around you (And not to spend most for our time on leisure).

I hope that when our time is up we will not regret anything. Remember that our lives are short. We need to make them count for eternity.


Thoughts: 24 lessons I learned as I turn 24 (Part 2)

Hi everyone! This is a sequel to my previous post. I recently turned 24. Yay! As always, I write reflections and thoughts for every experience, event or learnings from people I meet. I deemed it timely to share 24 lessons that I learned through the years.

I hope you’ll find this article useful.

THIRTEEN- Live with a war time mind set. 

A few years back I was sitting in the pew during our church’s prayer time. As our Pastor shared the Psalm for the week, he also shared John Piper’s book called Don’t Waste Your Life. It is one of my favorite books and I try to read it again and again in order to be reminded that we are here on earth for a short time. We need to make every moment count. We need to be good stewards of our time.

This is also the reason why I had a shift in perspective regarding shopping and spending idle time.

I encourage you to read this book! It is free for download. Just click the link above.

FOURTEEN- Make others feel good. 

I am a very sensitive person. I tend to be very happy for a moment then sad for the next several hours. I am easily affected by circumstances and words of other people. I guess it’s just part of my personality but I think it is not an excuse to make others feel bad.

I am still working on this but thank God for Joy’s mom for her example! We can be joyful even if we feel disappointed.

FIFTEEN- Live with less. 

I wasted a lot of parent’s resources when I made bad decisions. I tend to buy unnecessary stuff but they all ended up sitting on the table. After a while, I realized that I am not being a good steward of the resources that God has given me or my family.

Recently, I have been more conscious with what I buy or consume. Maybe because I am already working and spending my own hard earned money. I learned that we can enjoy life by living with less. It also helps us to clear our thoughts when our spaces are not cluttered.

SIXTEEN- Be in the moment. 

There are a lot thoughts popping in my mind as I write this line. I better understood myself after reading a series of blog posts by Katie Kuo especially this one regarding day dreaming. My sister will often get angry at me when I could not keep up with what she’s saying. I think this explains why.

I need to remind myself to be in the moment. To focus on every word that some people are talking about. I think looking at them in the eye helps.

I also deem it useful to bring my notebook with me and write down what I observe. It helps me to be immersed.

SEVENTEEN- Allow yourself to fail. 

I am afraid of failing. Everyone is looking up on me especially during my elementary and high school years. I am afraid of seeing myself lose. Thankfully, after failing a subject in college, this fear was lessened.

I’m not sure how to do this either but maybe trying to do something that you like will help you accept failure.

I learned that failures are not the end. They’re like closed doors of opportunities. We should just keep on knocking on different doors so that we’ll find the right door. But of course we must choose wisely!

EIGHTEEN- Read. Read. Read. 

I hated reading when I was a kid. I cannot stick to a page without moving uneasily. I preferred making up stories while playing with my sisters or browsing my aunt’s pile of magazines. I got sick of my dad constantly reminding me to try reading.

This changed when a relative gave us a Magic Tree House book. It was really interesting and short. I started reading this series but always wondered why I could not find the purpose of doing it.

When I joined a camp and had to leave because I got sick, we dropped by at the nearby National Book Store because I asked my dad. I saw Sean Covey’s book entitled 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens. I knew I wanted to try reading that book after seeing the adult version from my dad’s shelf. After reading this book, I realized that I am interested in non fictional books–business, self help and inspirational.

My dad would always brag about his reading achievements. He told me he could read a book in one sitting. I wanted to achieve that so I never stopped reading ever since.

My course also required us to read a lot! I guess I appreciated reading more!

NINETEEN- Learn something new today. 

I believe that we can learn something new every day. It can either be a skill or an information about something or somebody. We just have to be unconventional and try to look outside the box.

We can start by asking, “God what are you trying to teach me today?” too!

I love reading blogs because I can gain new insights and ideas from people around the world. My favorites are mentioned here. In addition, I also love Joy Mendoza’s blog.

We can also learn something new when we visit to a place we’ve never been to. Several weeks ago I had the privilege to get to see Dangwa, the flower district in Manila. I’ll be posting our photos and reflections separately.

TWENTY- Acknowledge that everything has a purpose. 

When we seek God, we gradually understand that even though we may not see a bird’s eye view of our lives, He can. We may not understand why we are going through a season in life but He knows. He knows everything about us.

I always go back to Jeremiah 29:11:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

That is also our mentoring group name.

TWENTY ONE- Give more. 

For the past several years, I always write a goal to give more but I could not. I guess it’s because it is a bit vague. They say that it is more blessed to give than to receive. I couldn’t agree more! My aunt has this generous spirit that is why people are naturally drawn to her.

Studies also show that people who give more are happier. They are also content. During the year, I hope I will be able to live by this lesson.

Setting aside a certain amount will be of help. We can give to our family, relatives, friends, organizations, and those in need.

TWENTY TWO- Eat what is right (and enjoy your food). 

During my high school years, I restricted myself to a lot of food types but never resisted anything sweet. This imbalance will probably cause me to be more diabetic prone.

After eating halo halo (filipino version of Bing su) in my university years, my tonsils suddenly hurt. I ate congee for several days but the pain would not subside. I visited an ENT doctor to check the swells. This incident occurred again after a year.

I learned to lessen my sweets during that time. God taught me to eat a balanced meal gradually. I am also learning to enjoy my food.

TWENTY THREE- Care less about how you look. 

I craved other people’s attention. I wanted to always stand out. My image became an idol. I cared about how people compliment my outfits or the way I look. I tend to get sad when nobody tells that I look pretty or that my dress looks great.

I guess it was connected to my clothes obsession (although I think my previous outfits were horrible looking back). Living with less means living with the basics.

I am learning to care less about the way I look. Instead, I wanted to exude a God given confidence so that other people will be blessed and will feel good.

TWENTY FOUR- Freebie suck. 

I am always thrifty. I bring food in school and at work. I also bring my water bottle with me. I love free stuff. I enjoy them! Through the years, I made a conscious effort to use free stuff or service as long as I can in order to save. I realized that we don’t need to spend to have a good time.


Thoughts: 24 lessons I learned as I turn 24 (Part 1)

Hi all! As I’ve shared in my previous post, I just celebrated my 24th birthday. As always, I write reflections and thoughts for every experience, event or learnings from people I meet. I deemed it timely to share 24 lessons that I learned through the years. I hope you’ll find this article useful.

Jannel at 24

ONE- Know God.

I believe that we exist because God created us. He loves us and He has a wonderful plan for us. We are not created by accident. He longs for us to get to know Him. We are wired to have satisfaction when we know Him. As John Piper used to say, God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him.

I learned it the hard way. I craved for new toys, new stationery items, and clothes. I delight in high grades and applause from relatives. I watched korean drama endlessly. All these give momentary pleasures but never really trully satisfy. I just feel tired chasing these.

Purpose driven life

When we know God or have the desire to know Him, we see a different perspective, a clearer perspective on life. We have that sense of purpose and peace and joy and satisfaction that only God can give.

Bible in One year

I encourage you to read your Bible. If it is your first time, start with the gospel of John. Read a chapter a day and write down what struck you in a journal. I just also started last year and God never fails to amaze me.

TWO- Know yourself. 

Knowing God is just a part of our existence. We also need to know ourselves. I believe that we are unique. Each one of us has a set of skills and talents. God also placed us strategically. He knows where we can best exalt Him.

Consider your strengths, weaknesses, personality and circumstances. Know where you excel and try to join in interest groups to gain more experience and knowledge. You can also look back to your childhood self. What do you enjoy doing? Are you good at it?

For example I like to draw, write, take photographs and sell stuff but I did not put in efforts to develop my talents. Recently I set up this blog to dedicate some time to practice writing and share some learnings with you. I am also helping my dad in the business. I hope it isn’t too late.


THREE- Set a vision for yourself. 

Well, it’s not really setting a vision for yourself in a way that you disregard God’s design. You envision yourself as God reveals.

I never really  sat down to think about this because it is mind boggling. However at this point in my life, I was somehow forced to do it because I got stuck. Although I still have a long way to go, I grabbed these pictures on the internet that somehow resonate with me.
I put it in collage form vision board as inspired by Nubby Twiglet. Create one for yourself too! Don’t settle to see it on your mind. Put it on paper and share it to your tribe. Start thinking about your future now!

Jannel's vision board

FOUR- Cherish time with your family.

family at manly

I think you heard this statement many times over. I cannot emphasize enough to value your grandparents, parents, siblings, uncles, aunties, cousins, and others in the family.

I am guilty of this because during high school years, I was so engrossed at extra curricular activities and anything school related. I was juggling leadership roles in several organizations while striving to top the class. I felt really exhausted but I was so thrilled in seeing myself get awards. I did not think about how my parents feel about this. I was selfish of my time.

When I studied in the university, I was living alone. I would cry because I miss them and would send random text messages to them. We became closer ever since. I would also constantly call my mom to share some stories. My dad on the other hand would share his stories to me!

FIVE- Share your life with someone else (and stick with it as long as you can).

lights and gloves

My parents brought me and my sisters along at church during sundays. I grew up in ‘sunday school’. We would perform during special occasions. My parents gave me and my sisters money to drop in the offering box. It became a tradition ever since.

I never knew something is lacking but I felt I was not growing enough. I struggled in my time with God. I also felt detached from other Christians.

When I joined a mentoring group in the church I am part of in Makati, that’s when I realized that we need others to keep us accountable. We also help them in their own journey in life.

To be honest, at first I did not feel I belong to this group. Or was I being a typical INFJ? I wanted to stop attending our weekly gatherings but I could not find any reason to leave aside from my feelings. Several years later I realized that I was hoping to feel loved but never really took the time to show love towards them.

After 6 years, I can see God’s work in our lives. We have grown more mature and our bond just got stronger. Several people come and go but we still keep in touch.

SIX- Meet new people and don’t be afraid to ask. 

 A muni meet up. Photo from Jen Horn

I was a very shy person back in elementary. I even refused to join a contest because I felt I will just humiliate myself. In the contrary, during the latter parts of high school, I joined a lot of events because extra curricular activities would result to additional points.

During university days, meeting new people meant gaining additional insights on various topics. It also meant having connections when you need people for surveys, professors as resource speakers and books for the term.

My dad encouraged me to meet new people. This gave me motivation to initiate conversations. I was also able to meet new people by joining an organization. Through Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC), we did outreaches together with other volunteers. We would approach students during free times and talk about life and Christ.

It was quite exciting to hear their thoughts and reactions.

SEVEN- Spend time with like minded people.

While it is good to get to know new people, I realized that we also need to choose our friends wisely. I’d rather have a few close friends who share the same values and principles and who strive to move forward than friends who want to remain in status quo. People who want to grow and learn and be unconventional. People who want to make a difference and use their influence for good. People who want to do hard things.

EIGHT- Welcome spontaneity and be adventurous. 

jumping kid

I am a routine person. I’d like to know how my day looks like. I’d like to minimize surprises. As a student, I would prepare homework in advance. I am content of eating the same dish almost every day. I hated spontaneity. I carried this behavior even during my free times!

After I graduated from college, my week ends were usually free. I got a bit bored of the routine stuff. I cannot believe it took me five years before I get to see the shops near our place!

In the past several years, I would make a conscious effort to be more adventurous. I have to push myself to try going on a different route. I have to accompany Teaz so that we’ll get to buy ingredients we don’t normally use. I have to force my relatives to try a different cuisine or restaurant.

I realized that new places, food and experiences inspire us and make us more creative.

NINE- Life is full of choices. It’s either you choose one or the other.

market finds_ choices

For the longest time, I am troubled by this question–Can we live in luxury (or have a very comfortable life) at the same time have integrity in the business? I still cannot figure out the answer but one thing is for sure–for every decision that we make, there’s a trade off.

I realized that we need to make choices. Not deciding on anything is also a choice! These choices reflect our values and beliefs.

As an INFJ, I struggle in this area. Every viable option seem interesting. Until now, I haven’t figure out where I can excel but I choose to get to know myself better.

TEN- Reflect. 

notebook, pen and camera ready

Reflecting on life gives me the thought that I am making a progress every single day. I cannot pass a day without pausing. More so, I cannot pass a day without writing my thoughts, feelings and ideas. I hate hurried life! It just doesn’t make sense.

Reflecting allows us to be honest with how we feel towards God, ourselves and other people. It helps us process the things that occur to us or to the environment around us.

If you haven’t tried this yet, you might want to start writing a line per day. If this is still difficult, words or phrases may do.

Identifying songs relatable as of the moment is also good. Or how about taking a picture of what your day looks like?

ELEVEN- Discipline on sleep and exercise 

sleep essentials
sleep essentials–Pillow, socks and blanket

I disliked sleep and exercise especially when I was a kid. I just can’t wait to play and get everything be fixed. I suck in sports and couldn’t figure out why we need to exert effort to be in shape.

Later on, I realized that when we sleep and exercise we nurture ourselves. We help ourselves to do our tasks better. Both activities are not a waste of time.

I learned that when we sleep, we are trusting God that He will restore our bodies, protect us from harm and equip us for the tasks ahead.

I also learned to enjoy exercise when I learned how to swim and do pilates. I realized that we need to find the exercise that fits our style as well.

TWELVE- See beauty in everything 

Rainy day at Hosier Lane

I used to hate the rain and having to walk in the rain. I cannot bear the feeling of wet shoes and feet. I hate it when we are served with dishes that I disliked. I hate it when our flights get delayed.

Through the years, thank God my patience grew! Despite these seemingly unfavorable circumstances (on my part), I try to see the hidden beauty in the moment. I try to capture the rain drops or the people walking in the rain. I try to experiment on the food that I disliked. I try to talk to people when flights get delayed.

When we accept these circumstances and turn them into something good, we do not waste time. More so, we are able to have new realizations, create art or make new friends.





Thoughts: Lost things


I was browsing my phone gallery when I stumbled upon this old photo collage taken in Hokkaido. It was on the same trip where I took the farm picture in my previous post. We came back in the hotel room to have some rest before dinner but my mind is still wandering. Where did I drop the other pair of my gloves? Did it fell on the streets? Did it fell because I took it off while taking photographs? Was I careless? 

Sometimes we lose things unknowingly. Sometimes we lose things carelessly. Either way I guess there’s always the guilty feeling of not taking good care of our belongings. I would often be angry with myself whenever I lose important stuff because of forgetfulness. Thankfully I am always able to find them inside my bag, underneath my bed or around the house. This time, it wasn’t found. It was lost somewhere in Hokkaido.

At the end of the day, I just laughed it off because I realized I was worrying over this small thing. I realized that I was angry because losing a thing is beyond my control and I could not do anything about it. I realized I was sad because I depend on it to keep my hands warm.

Friends, let us not worry about lost things. Possessions do not define us. They do not give us life. We ought to use them for enjoyment or work but we cannot depend on them solely. We need to depend on God because unlike lost things, he will always be there for us no matter what.

Stay inspired,