Tag Archives: Stories

The Soundtrack to Our Lives

Some of my favorite soundtracks :)

I like listening to film scores. The music tells stories, just as much as the visuals do. I specifically like listening to the first and final tracks.

The first tracks are usually played in the beginning of the movie while the opening titles are appearing–there’s that feeling of hope and anticipation and excitement. I love music that makes you feel like anything can happen. In a way, there’s also a sense of history; it’s like the music lets you know that the story picks up from somewhere, and what will unfold next will be quite a journey. I love that.

Meanwhile, I like the final tracks because there’s some sort of happy ending (or at least you can tell which types of film scores I prefer). You can feel it in the music–there’s a sense of victory, triumph, and joy. A great score is one that leaves you with those feelings even after the music ends.

But a score will always be incomplete without the tracks in the middle. They’re not my favorite ones–they’re the ones filled with conflict, awkwardness, pain, and the like. When you listen to them on their own, without seeing the visuals–without context–it’s difficult to appreciate them at all. But we all know that we can’t take them out of the story. Without those tracks, the story would have no texture and the final tracks won’t have the same oomph.

As much as I love the beautiful first and final tracks, they can’t play all throughout the movie. A victory won’t exist without a battle, and moments of joy won’t stand out without seeing the moments of pain.

The same goes with life, though I often forget this. More often than not, I just want the good stuff to play on the background forever. But the truth is that there are going to have to be shifts and breaks–those are all part of my story. By faith, I know and believe that there is something even better to hold on to: the hope and the promise of a beautiful and wonderful final track.

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Everybody has a different story. (A guest post by Owie Burns)

I am almost embarrassed to admit that as I type this, I cannot remember how I first met today’s guest blogger, Owie Burns. But make no mistake, Owie is one of my favorite people, and one of my closest and dearest friends. In the last couple of years, we have seen each other through laughter and tears,  trials and victories, heartbreaks and joyful days…you get the point. :)

Owie and Kristo

When I thought of asking Owie to write a blog post, the topic to came to mind was exactly this one: Everybody has a different story. The reason behind this is that I felt that Owie’s life proved this statement to be true. As a single mom (to an adorable boy named Kristo) and a media missionary, she is no ordinary single woman. I’ll let her tell you her story:

Everybody has a different story.

I know, it isn’t rocket science and you’ve probably heard that line a gazillion times, but reality is – we always need to be reminded. Otherwise, we tend to look at other people’s stories and oh-so-wish that our story would be a like a fairy tale just like as theirs OR we tend to look at a list of the usual steps or procedures or formulas that most people say work – and we stick to them as if they were THE ultimate rules of life.

For instance, we try to put the whole dating process in a box, following step 1 through step 94 before we can really say it’s God’s will. We’ve gotten so used to formulas when it comes to relationships – even our relationship with the Lord! We see the lives of those who’ve walked ahead of us, and we so try our best (even if we don’t admit it) to follow the exact same path they’ve taken and we’ve dreamt for their stories to be our own.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against processes and formulas and steps and all that. I’m also not saying that you should just go for it, do whatever feels right, etc. It’s just that sometimes we’re too focused on getting from one point to another according to other peoples’ standards and rules and we don’t give God enough room to move anymore in our lives – because, well, we’ve put everything (even God) in a box.

One of the books I’ve recently read and thoroughly enjoyed is Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. Now that’s a book that clearly shows you that everyone has a different story. Period.  Here’s one of the parts that struck me most:

Ravi Zacharias says that what the heart is really longing to do is worship, to stand in awe of a God we don’t understand and can’t explain.

It comforts me to think that if we are created beings, the thing that created us would have to be greater than us, so much greater, in fact, that we would not be able to understand it. It would have to be greater than the facts of our reality, and so it would seem to us, looking out from within our reality, that it would contradict reason. But reason itself would suggest it would have to be greater than reality, or it would not be reasonable.

When we worship God we worship a Being our life experience does not give us the tools with which to understand. If we could, God would not inspire awe.

If I may add to that, if our stories are so predictable, it robs us the chance of being in awe of God.

To explain my point, allow me to share a bit of my story.

I thought my story would be something like: I meet ‘the one’ and we become friends, we go out on a bunch of group dates, then when my friends have gotten to know him well enough, he’ll tell me he likes me, and we’ll finally go out exclusively. After some time he’ll propose, and then eventually we’ll get married and have our first kiss at the altar. It sounded so right, but…

…it isn’t my story.

My fairy tale didn’t turn out that way. I went to a gig and bumped into someone I’ve casually known for six years. We ended up talking all night and he said we should grab coffee some time the week after. Four days later we went out for dinner, and after dinner I just knew he was “the one”. And by the time we were having dessert he said it out of the blue, he said “This is it. You’re the one!” and just like that, we knew and we decided to commit to love each other according to the Bible’s standards.

My son who wasn’t at all open to me having a relationship instantly fell in love with my boyfriend! Eighteen days later he proposed and in about two months we’re getting married! So it’s nothing like what I thought it would be, but since the day we decided, God’s been confirming and reminding us both that these were those secret wishes we individually asked for. And when we talked about it, we realized that our story fits our personalities perfectly. Allowing God to move just left us and everyone around us in awe.

Everyone has a different story because we are all different. The one thing that remains constant is this: as long as God writes the story, you can expect it to be beautiful and full of surprises!

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Note from Liz: When Owie called me to say that she and Rommel were getting married, I was beyond thrilled! God had given her a good man who loves her and her son, and above all, loves God. Whenever I see them together, I marvel at this match that God had created. She’s so right…every story is different, but every story written by God is awesome indeed!

Owie Burns is a Media Missionary for The Edge Media, where she constantly bugs their volunteer graphic artists and writers about their deadlines for the youth devotional Word 4U Today. She is mom to ultra-inquisitive Kristo who’s 5 years old, and in a little over two months, she will be Mrs. Owie dela Cruz! She normally posts stories about her son at http://mommyowie.wordpress.com but since she got engaged, she’s also been posting on their love story-wedding site http://www.owiebarns.com.

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What you need to know about living a great story

The “-ber” months are just around the corner! I was feeling a little nostalgic lately, so I was prompted to look back at my blog archives (on both LiveJournal and WordPress) to see what happened at this time (last week of August to 1st week of September) in the past years. I found two things that I wrote about that seemed pretty cool and interesting back then, but now that I’m able to see how the stories played out, I can really say, “WOW!”

I’m sharing them here because I’m hoping that these stories will encourage you too.

What went on this week in 2007:

1) After lots of planning, persevering, and praying, my friend, Jorel Corpus, passed his auditions for Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music. That was great news, but it was also just the beginning, because he still had to think about tuition, airfare, board & lodging, living expenses, and living apart from his family, friends, and bands (Kjwan, Happy Meals, Brigada), etc.

That's Jorel (in the pink shirt). The other guy is the friendly neighborhood fishball vendor!

2) The same week, one of the Philippines’ most popular bands, Rivermaya, started their search for a new singer. These guys are good friends of mine, and I was privileged to be a witness to what was happening behind the scenes–from the auditions, to the challenges, to the Finals Night. I was also able to meet and spend time with the last two finalists, and that’s how I met the simple and humble 18-year old Bicolano, Jayson Fernandez.

I took this photo of Jayson during one of the challenges

Now let’s look at 2010:

  • Jorel is living in the beautiful city of Boston and learning awesome stuff everyday at Berklee.

Jorel in Boston (May 2010)

The cool news is that Jorel isn’t just enjoying the experience–he’s maximizing it too.

He's a consistent Dean's Lister!

He’s also blessing others by coaching other musicians, and maximizing his network and his resources to help others.

  • After winning the competition back in 2007, Jayson has come into his own as the lead singer of Rivermaya. This young man is living his dream of being a member of his favorite band, plus he gets to travel all over the Philippines and Asia. But what’s so amazing for me is that I’ve seen how he has grown and evolved–not just in his craft but also in his faith and love for God. Today, I am blown away as I see him share joy, hope, love, and so much of his faith–with full confidence–wherever he goes. He SHINES.

This is one of the music videos that Rivermaya made early this year.
The song, “Lipad”, means “To fly”.

I look at all of this (and if you missed the video telling the story of Jojo and Tin Ibaretta, you must see it too) and I’m amazed. God has been so faithful and so good.

But here’s the other reality that we face: it takes a while before we can appreciate some of our stories. Sometimes, we look at someone’s story (like Jorel’s or Jayson’s), and we think it was just a smooth process of moving from point A to point B. We don’t always get to see what happens in between. Take these two stories, for instance. Most people don’t get to see the struggles that Jorel and Jayson had to go through.

But the truth is that we do have an idea of what happens in between, because the journey is similar for all of us! Whether it’s in the beginning or somewhere in the middle, we come across a challenge, roadblock, struggle, or problem. Or sometimes, something happens that causes excruciating pain. We reach that point where it’s just easier to just turn around and walk away. It’s easier to just run away and hide.

If you watch a movie, you wouldn’t leave right after the opening sequence, and I’d like to think that you wouldn’t walk out when the lead character starts getting into trouble. Where’s the fun in that? No, you sit in your seat, expectant and eager to see how the story plays out. You stay because you want to know what happens next. And you stick around because you want to see how it all ends.

Our lives can be made up of great stories, our lives can even tell great stories, but most importantly, our lives are also part of God’s great story. But we only get to appreciate these truths when we embrace this fact: GREAT STORIES NEED TIME.

In time…

  • disappointments will be redeemed
  • difficult situations will evolve into good stories
  • good stories will turn into great stories
  • great stories will get even better
  • some prayers will be answered
  • better plans will be unveiled
  • hearts will be transformed
  • lives will be changed
  • promises will be fulfilled
  • enduring blessings will be revealed

Great stories need time, and some may need more time than others. That’s just how it is, because every story is different. But in the meantime, we pray for the grace to be patient, to endure, to persevere, and to be faithful through all the challenges, hurts, and difficulties. And we pray for open hearts, minds, and eyes to see and embrace what God has done and what He is doing. It isn’t always going to be easy, but I’m clinging on to this promise:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

If you have the time, watch this talk given by our senior pastor, Joey Bonifacio, when he was a guest speaker at Citipointe Church in Brisbane, Australia. It gave me the perspective and the hope that I needed.

Do you have a way of looking back on what has happened in you, through you, and around you? Do you have an encouraging story to share? Tell us about it!

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Great stories found in Central Park

Long before Twitter was born, people were already telling great stories with 140 characters or less. But instead of broadcasting them on the World Wide Web, they put them on Central Park benches.

I fell in love with Central Park from the first moment I laid eyes on that place in 2002, just like billions of others who went before me. When I’m in New York, you can find me there at least 5 times in a week–sometimes I’d be jogging, taking photos, reading in a nice and quiet spot, or simply walking, taking in all the beauty of God’s creation.

I always had a fondness for the park benches. On most of the benches around the park , there are plaques with inscriptions, and I always found them fascinating. My dream is to one day have one of my own. :)

On this trip, I decided to take photos of as many of the interesting ones as I could and share them with you. Some of them are cute and obvious, but some need to be understood in the context of a series, so if you don’t get it right away, click on the next one. And pay close attention; even the dates tell a story. You’ll find that there are stories of love, hope, tragedy, friendship and more. I leave it up to you to read between the lines and imagine the stories behind them all.

Trouble viewing the slideshow? Click here.

If you could get a park bench plaque, what would yours say?

For more information on adopting a bench in Central Park, click here, or to know more about the plaques, check out this article from the New York Times.

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