Category Archives: of God

My Four Years After Opting Out

In mid-2013, after 15 years of working in the Information Technology (IT) Industry, I decided to cool off from my solutions advisor role and take a much-needed break from the corporate world. Like the majority of  working adult population, I was working non-stop right after I achieved my Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering degree last 1997. It was my belief back then that having a full-time job is what I need in order to support my family, paying my rent, and settle my debts and bills. I can’t stop working and I have to climb the corporate ladder and that includes dealing with office politics.

And so it was, until 2012.

After I settled down and got married in September of 2012, like many high-achieving women in the workforce, family care was placed in my top priority. A month after my wedding, I was contemplating of “opting out”. If I continue my corporate role involving frequent travels, I believe my marriage may not work out. It is my personal conviction that the first year of marriage is highly critical as it’s the era of adjustments, understanding, compromise, and acceptance. I’ve learned it from my past failed relationships due to my lack of “quantity” of time. My ex-manager Ashok was surprised when I handed my resignation letter; I was saddened too, as he was a good and caring boss.

Leaving the corporate world especially when it’s your dream company is considerably heart-breaking. But weighing the situation, facing a failed marriage will be more traumatic.

I am considered blessed as after leaving SAP, I was offered to be a flexible delivery consultant by Claylogixtech Malaysia. I didn’t realize that it’s the kind of flexible time focused on project implementations and customer’s maintenance with a little of presales role is the type of  spur I needed at that point.

Me and my husband tried to conceive. However, factoring the age and realizing blood RH incompatibilities lead us to the practical decision that having kids on our own will be dependent on God’s will unto our marriage. Somehow rather, it lessened the marriage stress and just be ready to respond to family relatives questions during gatherings. We belong to the norm of Asian culture that having our own children (meaning, own flesh and blood) is a must during the marriage.

Now, here are some of my practical derivatives of life lessons learned in the last four years:

  • Time management

Time is the most precious commodity that we shouldn’t afford to waste. As I was surrounded by humongous amount of choices,  I saw myself doing all things at once since you know, my own time is in my hands. I had a hard time finishing the projects that I started. It’s definite that some trusts were broken due to failing to deliver. I realized that when you are working for yourself, it is utmost critical to learn to prioritize, delegate minor tasks that I feel isn’t worth my time, and of course, learn to say no to those requests or business opportunities that isn’t my expertise or I’m lacking of knowledge. When you’re in your 40s, it’s best to focus on those activities that will value your time and self.

  • Every penny counts

Being prudent is one of key factors that will determine a person’s success. When I was paid every month and bonuses coming in, I put in savings for the rainy days. Though at times there’s that want to overspend to satisfy the thirst for shopping branded items, I still make it a point to have some money in the bank. Well, that attitude came handy in the last four years. I had the courage to leave the corporate world as I didn’t have home mortgage to pay, we decided to rent room instead of whole flat, personal and credit card loans were manageable.

So, being prudent served me well in the long run. The only change I had to do is to shop less and not to be mindful of the fashion trend. I slowly changed my wardrobe to less clothes but quality pieces.

  • More Friends

It is normal to disconnect with corporate friends when you’re no longer working full time. I realized my circle of friends have increased. As you venture entrepreneurship, you will be surrounded by fellow entrepreneurs just the same. I still keep in touch with ex-colleagues through Whatsapp and social media; having coffee and dinner from time to time. Basically, you will have mixture of friends, from ex-colleagues to new found friendships and connections.

  • Be grateful

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  ~Matthew 5: 3 NIV

My spirituality deepened during the last four years. I’ve finally ventured to one thing I’ve been wanting to do since I was 26 years old. That is, to serve God. Every year, me and husband conducts outreach program(s) to Philippines. We’re privileged enough to be supported by our church, Moriah Assembly of God, to be missionaries for a month to the northern part of Thailand. It’s not an easy journey but God is truly awesome! So we’ve named our business EL Hannora (which means Awesome God).

Serving God has been my most rewarding decision.

I will always be grateful to God, my hubby Gnex, my family and in laws, friends, biz partners, customers and Mr. Hew Keng Woon, and the staff of Claylogixtech Malaysia and Positive Domain.

Jumping out of the corporate band wagon is scary to death. There’s a gigantic worries and uncertainties because it is a make it or break it moment. With the binge of time, we cannot deny the unspoken norm that you have a slim chance of getting back your position and compensation when you hit 40s and above. The workforce competition is higher and employers prefer the older millennials due to focus, energy, and drive.

Opting out from the corporate and workforce isn’t easy. You will need tons of courage and faith to get by. However, if you survive the adversities, it’s one of the unforgettable milestones in your journey of life. I do not know what the future holds. However, one thing I can say is when you serve God, everything is uncertain. That’s where your FAITH kicks in. If God can feed the birds in the sky, why not us? It only takes us our humility and obedience.

Here are some of the motivational songs that helped me get by for all the ups and downs of life.

‘Til next time. Au revoir.

The Box Up God

Back in the 1990s when economies started to flourished, we’ve seen the rise of countries whose culture focused on God. America for one belonged to the list. America, the land of opportunity, was the most coveted immigration landing point from the citizens of poor countries workers and refugees alike.

In the 1990s the world seen the concept of free markets where blue collars can become millionaires through hard labors and self disciplined. We’ve seen the rise of elites most of which are devotees of God. Christianity was the biggest population among world religions. Christian missionaries get the ticket to travel the world. We can see God everywhere especially in television. Everybody says God, God, God…

As the world economically progressed, the concept of God seem to have fade. We humans have inherited India’s caste system in terms of education. Our identity somehow has been tied up with what we do. Noticed during conversations when there’s always the emphasis of the university or college degree we’ve finished, what industry we’re working, who are we affiliated with. Those who are unfortunate and didn’t complete a course of study are cast out from the white collars.

Today, the world is financially rich. There are more billionaires the world has seen. But sadly, the world has also become full of labels. More distinctions – whites, blacks, brown, yellow skin colors. Blue collars, white collars at work. Educated people has more voice.

In the world of Christianity, pastoral services has also become a form of job. Less of passion more of job responsibilities. Christian churches have become corporate world implemented with key performance indicators or KPIs. These so called human made KPIs are a measure of performance benchmarks for the church pastors – number of converts, number of baptism, church attendance, increase in the church memberships, etc. When a pastor achieves his/her KPIs, he/she is a good pastor probably a candidate for a pay raise. Simply put it, our societies’ culture are now embraced in the church instead otherwise. Pastors are somehow labeled based on their Bible School qualifications and achievements. The higher education you have, the more qualified you will be.

What are we Christians have we become?

As I can remember, Jesus chose his disciples based on their heart, not their education. If Jesus wants the easy way out and wants to deliver God’s message to the world flawlessly, he should have chosen the high Jewish priests because people will listen to them due to power and authority.

If God is so concern about eloquence in delivering His message with brevity and charisma, then there wouldn’t be any Moses.

God chooses people with the heart of obedience and faithfulness regardless of color, education, and physical abilities.

There’s a danger on what our church and society has become. As we embraced our own personal preference or prejudice, we’re hurting God as we’re boxing Him. It’s clear to some churches, that the voice of the people has become the voice of God. Where the fate of the church are dictated by the majority corporate members and less of prayers and fasting.

Let’s be careful of our personal preferences because the devil has many forms. People in the church tends to listen more when the speaker is of scholarly value. When a person’s charisma is easily mistaken and labeled as God’s gifting.

How do we know when we’re boxing God?

  • When we place our judgement and wants on top instead of God. Is it our carnal nature?
  • When God’s works and answers are based on what and how we want Him to respond
  • When we asked God for answers and we ended up getting inputs only from the educated ones. Because sometimes, God uses the blue collars and the unlovable to deliver His message to us
  • When we decide who are God’s prophets instead of God’s anointing

Let us embrace God for what He is. He’s our father in heaven, the Alpha and the Omega. All things came from Him and all things will end by Him. He’s not a spirit or a deity who’s supposed to work for us. He’s our father, our source of life.

Let’s not box Him up.

 

 

 

EL Hannora Thrift Shop: The Joy of Giving 2014 Part 2

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good spirit lead me on level ground.

    Psalms 143:10 NIV

Christmas! Is always the time of the year when gift giving is abundant and people tend to forget the mundane of life. All of us are busy thinking the presents that we wanted to give to our family, friends, and loved ones. Christmas is about rejoice and joy, it’s about renewal and gratitude.

Most often, when you are hit with emotional downturn especially when its financial struggle, you always feel that you are the minutest creature of God. You often accuse God of forgetting your existence. When it’s emotional struggle, let’s accept it, its the time that we are very selfish. It’s all about ‘me’ and ‘me’ and ‘me’.

You must not forget, that no matter how low you feel, there’s always a community of people lower than you. If you are sleeping in your home, there are people sleeping in the street. If you’re meal only consist of rice and vegetables, there are people who needs to beg so that they can eat. If you cannot afford to buy shoes, there are people who doesn’t even wear slippers because they can’t afford to. If you can eat 3 meals a days and still complain, remember there are families and people who only eat 1 meal and the rest are nothing but water.

While you are being selfish and look inwardly on yourself, while you blind yourself on egocentric behavior yet you are blessed by God in so many ways… There exist families and people needing your blessings and help.

Last December 2014, me and my husband finally had the privileged to contribute to Philippine One Step Organization. Portion of EL Hannora Thrift Shop’s earnings were distributed to couple of outreach programs in The Philippines. We’ve supported the RVM outreach program by my good friend Bonna. The other outreach program is conducted by Philippine One Step Organization through the cousin of my college best friend and a very good friend, Ms. Charlyn Chua.

Philippine One Step is a non-profit organization with the aim of helping people and families in various ways they can. They consist of volunteers with the main goal of reaching out and blessed the less fortunates to share the blessings given by God. Each year, this organization reaches out to different locales and neighborhood in the city of Manila.

Last December 2014, One Step had couple of outreach programs. One of which is the giving of care packages to families and another outreach is to give aid to St. John Dialysis Center.

We give gratitude to One Step for allowing us to contribute in our small ways. Through this organization we were able to reach out to the less fortunates brothers and sisters in Philippines.

Preparing their care packages

Care packages are ready for giving

The outreach program begins

Gift giving

Gift giving

Recipients were waiting in line

Gift giving

Gift giving

Grateful for the blessings

Grateful for the blessings

Happy smiles!

Philippine One Step outreach at St. John Dialysis Center

 All photos in this article were granted permission to use by Philippine One Step Organization. You can reach their Facebook page here.

Thanking God for the strength He gave me and my husband to persevere with our EL Hannora Thrift Shop. Thanking our resellers and buyers as it’s their contribution that we managed to fund and reach out to God’s children.

In Christ.

The Indifferences In The Brotherhood of Christ

It all started even during the dawn of Christianity.

The various religious leaders of Orthodox, Catholics, Coptics, Arians, Syriacs, among others who led the early Christianity years have already differences in their teachings.

Emperor Constantine created the Council of Nicea with the goal of settling disputes in terms of claims and create uniform teachings and doctrines among all Christian bishops; the east and west Christians. The very first issue of which, is the settlement of the question pertaining on the relationship between God The Father and The Son (Jesus Christ). After many years of arguments, the one-ness of God The Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Ghost being one has been accepted by the members of the council. We now called it the Trinity and it is recited in the Nicean Creed.

Emperor Constantine wants unity among Christian brethren.

And he did. Or at least he succeeded in creating the Nicean Creed and Christianity has the Trinity.

Hundred years later, another dispute broke in Christian churches. This time around, the conflict wasn’t resolved leading to the separation between the Eastern and the Western Christian. The Eastern Christianity (Mediterranean ) retain their traditional and conservative prayers, worships, and teachings while the Western Christian evolved. Without the backup of the Roman Emperor, the Eastern Christians have to live on their own along with other non-Christian religions.

Western Christianity became dominated with Roman Catholicism. Roman Catholics flourished and expanded to other continents across the globe. Roman Catholicism introduced many doctrines (the original sin, St. Francis’ humility, etc) and one of the most controversial is the doctrine of purgatory. When a Roman Catholic passed on, and if he or she is destined to go heaven, the soul will first enter the purgatory so to be “purified” before going to heaven. It became very controversial and debatable as Catholicism has been viewed as the means for salvation and that reliance to the Roman Catholics clergy are of great value for after-life.

 

1/500 sec. F4.5 ISO 640 @ 17mm. Cathedral of Cologne Germany. 209

Until the reformist came in the 16th century when a German monk Martin Luther disagree with the Catholicism way and differentiate his view on after life that an individual him/herself is accountable to God. And the Protestantism movement begun.

Lutheran Church, Gutersloh Germany. 2009. 

Protestantism was followed by other reformist such as John Calvin, the global Pentecostalism (Pentecostal), charismatic movements, and the worldwide independent churches.

The indifferences among Christian churches today are still at large. The sad part of about it is, we Christians are very good in pointing out the “heretic” teachings of another church without even understanding how it came about. We have this mentality that our church is the true church and the rest of the Christian churches are nothing but heretics. We oftentimes forget to look into history. Christianity has thrived over the centuries and overcome empires. Mistakes are made along the way.

Always remember, there is no perfect church.

While writing this article, I’ve asked my husband;

“So when do you think all these indifferences started?”

“It started when Jesus Christ ascended into heaven leaving the 11 apostles to continue His teachings”, he replied.

At least both of us agreed.

Jesus Christ knows that conflict among His followers will arise. In Luke 9:49-50 NIV,

“Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”

Me and my husband, like many Christians, wants to see that one day these indifferences in Christian churches will eventually be gone.

That instead of fighting for what is the truth, that we Christians instead focused on the two commandments left by Jesus Christ:

  1. Love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.
  2. Love your neighbor like yourself.

Christianity’s teaching is focused on love. The New Testament reminds us that we have to love our brothers and sisters including the unlovable.

Where is love when you allow your prejudice mind to over rule your heart and think that your church is the true Christian church?

Our Eastern Christian brothers and sisters are now undergoing the persecution in the name of Jesus Christ. No one knows how long this persecution will continue. This is the time when we, Christians need each other.

Why not remove the wall in your heart, offer prayers, lend a hand and love your Christian brethren regardless of his/her church?

After all, being a Christian, is becoming Christ-like which is all about love and compassion.

The change has to come from individual Christians; being the church of Christ.

Christian unity is what we need right now. 

This is a call from God.

This is a call from Christ.

This is a call from the Holy Spirit.

The Trinity.

 

EL Hannora Thrift Shop: The Joy of Giving 2014 Part 1

 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:16 NIV

In my previous article, Prelude to EL Hannora Thrift Shop, I’ve shared how finding our common ground in marriage can become a tool for God’s vessel to be a blessing to others.

In the fourth quarter of 2014, we managed to have a positive profit for EL Hannora Thrift Shop. It was the Christmas season and we’ve fully decided to blessed the charities and outreach programs regardless of location. However, we do not have any initiatives in particular.

Until I received a Facebook message from my good friend Bonna Reyes. She and her high school batch planned an outreach program at the infirmary of the Religious of Virgin Mary (RVM) congregation.

The Religious of Virgin Mary (RVM) started as a contemplative congregation. Like many contemplatives, the nuns devote their lives inside the convent focused on prayers and worship. Unlike the active congregation, where the nuns are focused on outreached activities, the contemplatives live in cloistered monasteries.

As time grows by, the RVM congregation embraced active duties and ministered schools. One of their alumnae is my good friend Bonna.

After few discussions with my hubby Gnex, we decided to support Bonna’s outreach program in our small way. It was our pleasure that Bonna chosen us to be one of their sponsors for their outreach initiative. Also grateful that Bonna allowed me to use her pictures to cherish the memories.

 

Bonna and her high school batch (Photo credits: Bonna Reyes)

Greetings from RVM infirmary (Photo credits: Bonna Reyes)

Photo credits: Bonna Reyes

Photo credits: Bonna Reyes

Photo credits: Bonna Reyes

Photo credits: Bonna Reyes

In their prayers (Photo credits: Bonna Reyes)

 In the midst of outreach program (Photo credits: Bonna Reyes)

Photo credits: Bonna Reyes

Photo credits: Bonna Reyes

Simple recognition from the hearts (Photo credits: Bonna Reyes)

RVM nuns showing their appreciation (Photo credits: Bonna Reyes)

Who says nuns aren’t cool? (Photo credits: Bonna Reyes)

Photo credits: Bonna Reyes

Photo credits: Bonna Reyes

Photo credits: Bonna Reyes

A big thank you to our resellers and buyers. It is you who made a big part in giving smile to people.

EL Hannora Thrift Shop. 

Shopping with a heart.

Prelude to EL Hannora Thrift Shop

Commit to the Lord whatever you do and He will establish your plans.  Proverbs 16:3 NIV

The first 2-years of marriage, me and my husband Gnex like many married couples have undergone transformations and adjustments. Meaning, we realized our differences in attitudes, way of doing things, careers, outlooks, and a long list… leading to lots of fights.

We’re grateful for our friends, family, and our brothers and sisters from Moriah AG who constantly include us in their daily prayers, being there when we needed a breather.

In the end we realized that… putting God in the center of our marriage is the only way to make things work.

One time, while I was in Kuala Lumpur for business, I’ve asked my mentor and also my business partner how he and his wife made their marriage work? They’re married for 20+ years; there are still fights yet they’re still together.

I wondered and asked myself

“Don’t they get tired?”

And so I got curious how did my mentor made things work.

And he told me this:

“In marriage, you have to accept that both of you are different. You cannot drag your husband to all the things that you want and he cannot drag you to all his ways. It’s a matter of keeping both of your identities. In time, the crazy love that both of you feel while dating leading to marriage will wear off. Both of you will need space to keep identities. You will soon realized that being married – the love and excitement will soon wear off; the gap between the two of you will grow bigger. You have to find that common ground that both of you enjoy. Nurture that common ground and it will hold your marriage. Always give respect with each other and both of you must always remember the boundaries. I believe that’s the essence of keeping the love alive in marriage. Always remember, when the boundaries are forgotten, the sense of respect will die; love will die; marriage will break, like a glass that’s very hard, close to impossible to repair.”

I was stunned.

My mentor is non-believer but at that time I felt that God himself was talking to me.

God will always be there when you need Him the most.

I reflected on what my mentor told me. I combined it with prayers until I received the message of opening a thrift shop dedicated to God. I told my husband about it. We discussed couple of times until I gained his support.

I asked my husband: “So, what would be the name of the thrift shop?”

My husband Gnex: “Since it will be dedicated to God, why not choose from this list.”

He iMessaged me the list of names God is being called. I looked at the long list of names and thought “Wow, God has tons of names – from Jewish, Greek, you name it. My eyes were growing tired.”

Until I saw the name “EL Hannora – it means awesome God.”

I told my husband, “the thrift shop will be called – EL Hannora Thrift Shop.”

Usually, in the business world, you have to first study the market and identify if there are demands. If there are no existing demand, you have to create the demand so you can create the market where you will get the competitive advantage.

In our case, we placed faith above all things. It’s when I understood what really faith is.

After we registered the business, it’s then I realized that God has guided me to use the tools and everything I learned in my study of MBA. My husband’s passion is motivations and preaching Christianity while my passion is business and arts.

EL Hannora thrift shop has become our common ground. When God provided us with our needs, we committed the thrift shop revenues to support charities across the globe.

Business startups has always been challenging. Even our faith based thrift shop were hit with challenges too. We received disheartening and unsupportive comments from fellow Christians. We came to a point that we wanted to give up.  But…

God will always be there when you need Him the most.

While we see our Christian brothers and sisters lack of belief and faith in us, we always remind ourselves that God has given His faith in us. Persevere no matter how tough it is.

We changed our business model. And business started to flow in. We bowed our heads and followed what we believe God is leading us to.

Right now, EL Hannora thrift shop is still thriving. We will continue to persevere. Last 2014, EL Hannora Thrift Shop revenues helped couple of outreach programs in Philippines.

My husband is always supportive of me. And I’m always grateful to God for him. While I searched for that common ground for me and my husband, God made it as a tool for us to discover ourselves, taught us patience, perseverance, hope, faith, and love – the tool for us to reach out to our brothers and sisters regardless of whether they’re Christian or not.

In my next articles, I will be writing The Joy of Giving which will be written in few parts. It will describe how EL Hannora Thrift Shop see the joys and smiles of different people in the times of giving.

Thank you to our resellers and buyers, who supported us all through out the journey. We will always be grateful for your support and hard work.

Til next time. Au revoir.