T.G.I.S. – Thank God I Survived! :)

I survived the weekend!

Here are some photos from our awesome adventure up north (Cagayan Province, Philippines):

This trip deserves a longer post, so I’ll tell you more about it in the coming days. I just need to wait for the rest of the photos that were taken during our kayaking and white-water rafting adventures. And I definitely need to catch up on some sleep. Haha.

Did you have a long weekend? What did you do?


What I’m Loving This Week: GREAT VIDEOS (and more blog posts!)

This week has been all about videos! I’ve got more awesome stuff to share with you:

1) LeBron’s Nike commercial – One of the most creative commercials I’ve seen this year. I came across this by way of Carlos Whittaker’s blog–the comments section on his blog post alone is worth spending time on. Lots of great insights. In my opinion, what makes this commercial great is that it causes the viewer to really think. It’s controversial, clever, and thought-provoking all at the same time.

2) A movie trailer proposal – Came across this through a tweet by Bryan Allain. More than the video (although it was good, too), I really liked the blog post that tells the story behind the couple’s relationship. Awesome stuff.

3) Dog says grace – I LOVED THIS. Just watch it. Oh, and you must read the story behind it too!

I love this dog!

Meanwhile, I couldn’t resist leaving out some of the thought-provoking blog posts I read this week, so here they are, in case you’d like to check them out:

That’s all for the week, friends! Do you have any goodies to share? Please feel free to drop a note in the comments below. In the meantime, have a happy weekend!

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World famous whitewater rafting in the Valley.

Image via Wikipedia

I’m going white-water rafting with my relatives this weekend.

Can I make a confession?

I’m not all that excited. I love taking vacations with my relatives (when all 30+ of us travel together, it’s nonstop fun!), but I’ve never been a fan of open water activities. I can do them, I just don’t seek them out. I think it has to do with the fact that, more often than not, I don’t know what’s swimming underneath my feet.

But then again…white-water rafting IS one of the things that I want to try at least once in my life. I posted a status message on Facebook, asking for recommendations on what to bring for a white-water rafting trip. My friend, Jorel answered, “NERVES OF STEEL.” Yep, I’m going to need some of those!

How about you? What are some adventures that you want to try at least once in your life?

What are you doing with your talents and gifts?

When I think of giftedness, I think of Howard Wong.

You know, Howard.

You don’t know Howard?

Well, you should.

This is Howard. This Malaysian boy is 3 or 4 years old in this video, which I think was taken this year. (You can find the awesome excerpt below, but if you want to see the full version, you can watch it here)

My reaction: “GET OUT. No way. IS THIS REAL?”

Did you react the same way?

Well, apparently, he is the real deal. This is Howard at 3 years old:

Did he just wake up this way, you ask? Well, this is Howard at 23 months:

And before you fall completely off your chair, this is Howard at 18 months.

Howard is talented. He is gifted. But he, too, started somewhere. At 18 months, he was drumming to “Old MacDonald Had a Farm”, and 3 years (or so) later, he was drumming to Joan Jett. No matter how gifted he was at 18 months, he kept on drumming. And because he kept at it, he evolved from being gifted to being PHENOMENAL.

Every person has his or her own gifts. Can you run really fast? Speak eloquently on stage? Climb mountains without fear? Invest your finances wisely? Cook a delicious dinner? The list never ends. Some gifts may stand out more than others, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that every gift is special, and we all have at least one.

Everyone is gifted with something, but not everyone becomes phenomenal. I remember a tweet I read from leadership speaker and author Mark Sanborn: “Every day your skills are changing. They improve through use and intentional practice. They decline through lack of use and misuse.”

When you use your gifts and when you develop them through practice and with the help of a mentor, your gifts are enhanced. You create art. You make an impact. You bless others. I may not know Howard, but just watching his videos brightened up my day. His gift blessed me.

What are your gifts? Do you practice and develop them? Do you even use them? If this is the first time you’ve asked yourself these questions and you have some spare time on your hands, then you might want to try coming up with a Gift Growth Plan.

  1. Think of 3 things that you’re really good at. How would you know? Doing them comes easily to you, you enjoy doing them (they’re also called “strengths” because they make you feel strong), and people have recognized the gift and complimented you on it. Are you organized? Are you creative when it comes to crafts? Are you good at graphic design? Chances are that you have more than 3 gifts, but for the purpose of being able to focus, let’s work with 3.
  2. Plot out how you can use them or practice them more often. If it’s already part of your job, ask yourself where else you can contribute your gift. Maybe you can do some volunteer work that makes use of your specific gifts. Believe me, there are organizations out there that need what you have to offer.
  3. List down the resources that can help you use or develop your gift. Ask yourself: What do I need? Is there a class I can take? Do I have a good friend who can serve as my mentor? Do I need supplies or equipment? Write them down so you know what you need to work towards.
  4. Create action steps. Don’t stop at what you need or what you lack. Give yourself some “next steps” to act upon. Obstacles can be overcome by chipping away at them.

If you need a guide, you can download a sample Gift Growth Plan which I created for a fictional person (if you prefer mind-mapping, you can download this sample). But please don’t be boxed in by the templates and the methods–the point is just to get the wheels in your head turning again, so you can get those creative juices flowing!

You know what else struck me about Howard? The sheer joy on his face while he was drumming. In the course of using, practicing, and developing your gifts, don’t forget to have fun, too! More than anything, this is why I encourage being intentional when it comes to using your gifts: because when you use your gifts–especially when you use them to help or serve others–you feel “more alive.” And isn’t it pure joy to feel fully alive?

This Eric Liddell quote from the 1981 movie Chariots of Fire comes to mind: I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.” God smiles when we use the gifts He gave us!

Before I end this, a note for the parents: it’s never too early to help your child recognize and develop some of their gifts. Howard Wong is proof of that. Try doing this exercise with your kids too!

Do you have a gift/strength that you get to use regularly? How does it make you feel?

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Lots of letters and one beautiful love story

I’ve been discovering a lot of great videos lately. I came across this one through Sam’s blog. I finally took the time to watch it and I’m glad I did. It’s time to take out the tissues!

Danny & Annie from StoryCorps on Vimeo.

One of the most amazing stories I’ve encountered lately

Have you heard of the Grapevine Faith Lions and the Gainesville State Tornadoes?

If you answered yes, then chances are you probably heard about this story already. But if you’ve never heard of them before, please continue reading!

One of the books I’ve been spending time on at the moment is Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make a Difference by Max Lucado. In the book, he shared this phenomenal true story of two US high school football teams: the Grapevine Faith Lions and the Gainesville State Tornadoes. Although this happened a couple of years ago, I’m kind of behind on the news. :)

I’m sure there are still people out there who haven’t heard this, so I searched for it on the internet, because I believe it’s a story that still needs to be passed on.  Please take the time to read this article (I pasted an excerpt below) or watch the video at the end of this post. I promise you won’t regret it. The story moved me and inspired me deeply, and I hope it does the same for you.

There are some games in which cheering for the other side feels better than winning.
by Rick Reilly, ESPN The Magazine

They played the oddest game in high school football history last month down in Grapevine, Texas.

It was Grapevine Faith vs. Gainesville State School and everything about it was upside down. For instance, when Gainesville came out to take the field, the Faith fans made a 40-yard spirit line for them to run through.

Did you hear that? The other team’s fans?

They even made a banner for players to crash through at the end. It said, “Go Tornadoes!” Which is also weird, because Faith is the Lions.

It was rivers running uphill and cats petting dogs. More than 200 Faith fans sat on the Gainesville side and kept cheering the Gainesville players on—by name.

“I never in my life thought I’d hear people cheering for us to hit their kids,” recalls Gainesville’s QB and middle linebacker, Isaiah. “I wouldn’t expect another parent to tell somebody to hit their kids. But they wanted us to!”

And even though Faith walloped them 33-14, the Gainesville kids were so happy that after the game they gave head coach Mark Williams a sideline squirt-bottle shower like he’d just won state. Gotta be the first Gatorade bath in history for an 0-9 coach.

But then you saw the 12 uniformed officers escorting the 14 Gainesville players off the field and two and two started to make four. They lined the players up in groups of five—handcuffs ready in their back pockets—and marched them to the team bus. That’s because Gainesville is a maximum-security correctional facility 75 miles north of Dallas. Every game it plays is on the road.

[Continue reading the article on the ESPN website…]

Angel Song by Sheila Walsh & Kathryn Cushman

It’s time for more book reviews!

While I’ve grown to love non-fiction books in the recent years, I still turn to fiction novels every once in a while. On my reading list this month was Angel Song, a novel by Sheila Walsh & Kathryn Cushman. Women would love this book: it has the quintessential combination of heart, heartache, happiness, and hope.

In the book, the main character is Ann Fletcher, a typical New York career woman. She’s an in-demand home stager–a totally cool job, if you ask me–who takes a quick break from her cutthroat world to fly to Charleston to visit her younger sister, Sarah. She expected her sister’s graduation celebration–not a car accident that would lead to Sarah’s death. The tragedy turns Ann’s world upside down, and the woman who thought she could get through and succeed in life entirely on her own starts to find God, through the new friends she ‘inherited’ from her sister, and through some unexplainable events, which can only be attributed to God and His mysterious angels.

It won’t fall under my Best Books of 2010 list, but it was a good, beautiful read. I finished it in two days, which usually means that it wasn’t too heavy and it was entertaining enough to keep me hooked. The ending was somewhat predictable, but the journey was moving and satisfying. The evolution of Ann–from being hardened to tender-hearted–is a process that every woman has to face sooner or later. The story just goes to show how the evolution can be painful, but worth it in the end.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Your love is better than life. (Psalm 63:3)

The view from home / 10.23.10 / 2:58 pm

What I’m Loving This Week: You might want to take down some notes!

Here are some blog posts I loved this week:

1) Creating a Great Experience by Brad Lomenick @ Collide Magazine Brad Lomenick is the head of Catalyst, one of the most dynamic and creative movements I’ve ever encountered. Their events are truly excellent, enough to rival an MTV awards show. Well, they don’t spend as much on stage design and they don’t have people showing up with outrageous costumes–or do they? Nevertheless, Brad and his team know what they’re talking about.

2) THE W.A.L.L. by Paolo Punzalan – My pastor shares simple, practical communication advice for married couples (c/o Joey and Marie Bonifacio). But since it’s about communication, it can really be applied by everybody.

3) Saturation Point by Steven Furtick – Important insights on learning and sharing.

4) Do Something Different…and Grow by Dan T. Cathy – A nice & simple post on work-life balance.

5) Stupid Stuff Christian Men Should Never Say on a Date by KelcieKay Sberna – This was hilarious! Although this should serve as a warning for all men…Christian or otherwise!

6) Weapons of Choice: Part One @ Collide Magazine – Aha! This answered my Tell Me Thursday question last week. Lots of recommendations for apps and other productivity tools.

What did you love this week?

Tell Me Thursday: 10-20-2010

Did you notice the date today? Sorry I couldn’t resist! :)


I was wondering…

What do you do to get some exercise?

From elementary to college, volleyball was my sport of choice. But seeing that you need 11 other people to play with you, I stopped playing when I wasn’t in school anymore. I’ve tried a bunch of stuff, but I have yet to fall in love with another sport or fitness routine. I have to admit though, running is really convenient and practical, especially when you’re traveling.

So how about you? How do you get/stay fit?