Tag Archives: US 2010

Should you go on a faith journey?

What does a “faith journey” look like? One can say that our entire lives can be called faith journeys, but for this blog post, I’m talking about real journeys, real trips–the ones that involve some geographical distance and usually a mode of transportation. But faith journeys are not your ordinary trips. Here’s how I define it:

A faith journey:

  • starts when you step out of your comfort zone
  • involves going down a path you’ve never gone before
  • has no promised results
  • has no definite road map
  • requires you to trust, rely, and get direction from God

My faith journey took place between April and July. I will tell you this:

  • I went to the US without knowing where exactly I would be going and when I needed to go
  • My plans changed as the days went by
  • It did not turn out the way I expected
  • There were a lot of surprising (not necessarily pleasant) adventures along the way
  • My faith was stretched
  • My character was tested and shaped
  • I learned a lot
  • I experienced God’s grace and love like never before

Maybe God’s telling you to go somewhere and you’ve been too scared. Maybe He’s not calling you right now, but He will one day. If that time has come or when that time finally comes, I just want to encourage you to take that step of faith. If you need provision, if you need confirmation, if you need a miracle, here’s what you need to do: ASK. He knows what’s up ahead even if you don’t. And if He called you, He’s already paved the way for you.

God is so wise, faithful, and so full of love. Throw away your preconceived notions and open your mind and heart to what God wants to do (and it’s not always about you…I learned that on the way, too!). The great news is that–in the greater scheme of things–His plan is not just better…it’s the BEST.

It took me forever to write this post, because I knew that my words would not do justice to the whole experience. What I experienced was beyond words. Thank you Lord for this wonderful journey–You are the best travel partner ever. Thank you to my family for sending me off with a blessing. And more than the places and the experiences, the best part of the trip was being able to spend time with all of these people (press play to see the rest!):

You made the journey so worth it.

Now to go back to the topic of this post: do I think you should go on a faith journey?


10 Awesome Things About Catalyst West (Part 2)

Visit CatalystConference.com

In case you missed it, here’s the first half of my list of 10 Awesome Things About Catalyst West. And as for the rest, I’m just going to dive right in!

6) Seeing the power of social media. Catalyst is a forward-thinking movement, and they really found ways to encourage everybody to go on their mobile devices to interact and connect with each other. People were tweeting and sharing photos, videos, and quotes from the speakers as the talks were going on. Attendees could have instant access to speakers and authors to give shout-outs or to ask questions, thanks to Twitter. Blogger Jesse Giglio did a great job of compiling a list of some of the memorable tweets. As for me, here are some of the funniest ones I read:

7) The tour of Mariners Church with architect and visioneer Mel McGowan. One of the benefits of Twitter is being able to find out about tweetups, and when I saw that this: “Tweetup: Mariners Campus Tour w/ @melmcgowan on Apr 23, 2010 RSVP here: http://twtvite.com/z3iqj1 I thought it would be a good idea to go. When I first saw the Mariners Campus, I thought it was beautiful and it looked like a lot (and I mean, a LOT) of creative thought was put into it. Again, I couldn’t help but notice the details! Because I’m involved in kids ministry and youth/campus ministry, I was especially curious to see Port Mariners (their version of Kids Church or Sunday School) and the Student Center.

Here are some photos of the Mariners Church campus (located in Irvine, Orange County, California):

Mel McGowan leads the creative concept development, programming, master-planning, design, entitlement, and project management efforts of Visioneering Studios. Throughout their careers, McGowan and his partners have worked with companies such as Walt Disney Imagineering, Universal Studios Creative, and Warner Bros. Recreation Group, among many others, which explains why being at Mariners feels like being in the happiest place on earth. On a side note, their website says that Rick Warren‘s Saddleback Church is one of their clients, which also explains why Saddleback has the same “they-thought-of-everything!” kind of feel.

What I liked about Visioneering Studios is that they’re actually a non-profit ministry, which I thought was amazing. What was even more amazing was that when Mel McGowan found out I was from the Philippines, he told me that he would be there next month for a project they’re working on in Cebu City: a halfway house for trafficking victims. So just in case you were wondering, not all the projects they work on are on the megachurch/theme park level. Like I said, awesome stuff! Read more about their story here.

8) The Response Room. There was so much to process during the 3 days of Catalyst West, that it was essential to take the time to slow down, be still, and reflect. Thankfully, the Catalyst team had already thought of that and converted the Mariners Chapel into a Response Room. More than just a quiet space, the Response Room was an experience. The Response Room was a collaboration between Catalyst and Uncover the Color. You can read more about it and see photos from the room here.

9) Louie Giglio’s talk. As I mentioned in the last post, each talk was powerful in its own way that it’s difficult to choose a favorite one. However, if I were to choose one that resonated with me deeply, especially in this season of my life, it was the talk by Louie Giglio. If you’ve never heard of him before, there’s one word that best describes him: PASSION. It’s who he is (if you hear him speak, you’ll know what I mean) and what he does.

Apart from going around the world for the Passion World Tour, Giglio also just started Passion City Church in Atlanta with renowned worship leader Chris Tomlin. You would think that these guys–who have probably influenced millions of people around the world–would have [almost] everything figured out. But during his talk, Giglio candidly shared that–because he’s new at the church planting thing–he barely knows what he’s doing. People always ask him what kind of church he’s envisioning (missional? postmodernquasidenominational?), and he sheepishly admitted that his usual reply is: “I don’t know yet.”

I totally get that feeling. Unfortunately, there’s always that pressure (whether real or imagined) to have it all figured out! Giglio was sharing that in the church world, they always say that we should be like the Acts 2 church. I hear that a lot. But as he reflected on these passages, he had a mini-revelation, which he shared with us. The mini-revelation was this: “Everybody always says that we should be like the Acts 2 church…but what kind of church did the Acts 2 church want to be?”

(Take some time to think about that and let it sink in.)

I love this line that he said: “I’m not sure what tomorrow looks like, but I have hope in what tomorrow looks like. I am confident in where it comes from.”

10) The theme: UNUSUAL TOMORROW. Before I got to the conference, I knew about the theme, but I wasn’t paying much attention to it. But when I was there, it finally sunk in and I realized that those two words couldn’t have described the future better. We live in the face of an unusual tomorrow where trends will change, ideas will come out of nowhere, technologies will evolve, and a new generation of leaders will arise. Many factors will be unpredictable, but there is one thing we can choose and control: how we face the future. We can face it with fear and worry or we can choose to face it with hope and anticipation.

Here’s the thing: it’s a choice we have to make daily. Because every single day, as Andy Stanley puts it, “The realities of today tend to crush the dreams of tomorrow.” It’s true isn’t it? But I take comfort in this: I have an unusual tomorrow precisely because God’s ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. The future may be unusual, but I can trust that–like everything else on this list–it’ll be awesome too, because it’s the hands of our awesome God.

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So that ends my list! There was much more to say, but the brutal truth is that the Catalyst experience can’t be fully captured in words. If you’ve never been to a Catalyst event, my hope is that you’ll be able to attend one of their conferences at least once in your lifetime. If I had the chance and the funds to travel and attend again, I would go in a heartbeat! For some of you, that chance may be coming up: Catalyst Atlanta is happening on October 6-8 and I heard that one’s even bigger (The Catalyst conference actually started in Atlanta). Seth Godin, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Beth Moore, Craig Groeschel, Perry Noble, Mark Batterson, Tim Elmore, Gayle Haggard, and Chris Seay are just some of the people on their speaker lineup that I’d love to hear from. If you have plans of being in the area during that time, go for it! While you’re at it, read blogger Bryan Allain‘s “Top 10 Excuses for not Going to Catalyst” post. If I haven’t convinced you yet, he’ll get the job done!

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10 Awesome Things About Catalyst West (Part 1)

Disclaimer: This post is a little long, but it’s my attempt to capture and share as much as I can about what I experienced and learned last week, especially for the folks back home in the Philippines who wanted to be at the conference. I wanted you all to be there too, so this is for you. I hope it inspires you in some way too!

It’s tough to talk about my first Catalyst West conference experience without using the same adjectives over and over again, so I figured I’d just get it over with and put it out there: Catalyst West was awesome. And here are just some of the reasons why (in no particular order):

1) The Catalyst team knows how to give everybody an unforgettable conference experience. This has been, without a doubt, one of the best-planned and most creative events I’ve ever seen (and I used to work for MTV, so I’ve seen my share of concerts, award shows, and other large-scale events!). The evidence of the Catalyst team’s excellence and creativity was in the details. How can you resist overflowing popcorn, snow cones, and candies, plus quirky props, costumes, and unique entertainers? You can’t. They seemed dead serious about getting everyone to have fun…and I’m pretty sure that they succeeded! Hover over the photos in the slideshow to see the captions:

2) Speaking of fun, Catalyst hosts Tripp Crosby and Tyler Stanton sealed the deal. If there were still people in the crowd who were resisting the urge to laugh, these two made it impossible to hold it all in. Just to give you an idea of what these guys come up with on a regular basis:

They even spiced up the announcements after each session by doing them all in 3D (You can watch one of the videos here, with or without 3D glasses!). They also came up with other fun stuff, like when they ran around in fencing suits and got all 3000+ people to throw foam balls into the baskets on their heads to win free stuff. And when they sang their parody of “We are the World” (aka “We Aren’t the World”) together with all the worship leaders (see lyrics here: http://yfrog.com/j2b8kj). And when they went back to the future to save the internet (long story). Watch more of their videos on trippandtyler.com!

3) So many opportunities to laugh. I can’t remember everything, but I remember laughing a whole lot during the two days. One of my favorite parts of the conference was when they were flashing tweets from various conference attendees and speakers (some were real and some were made up). I can’t remember the tweets word-for-word, but I remember a lot of people picking on Rick Warren, and even Rick Warren played along. And speaking of playing along, I love the stuff that Tripp and Tyler did to introduce Andy Stanley and Donald Miller! I love that all these people don’t take themselves seriously. :) And I tell you, these Catalyst people are ruthless! Look what I (and many other women) found inside the restroom stalls:

Tyler Stanton's book in a stall in the Ladies' restroom

There’s no escape! Special mention goes to Stuff Christians Like author and blogger Jonathan Acuff for providing the laughs during his lunchtime book giveaways and to stand-up comedian Michael Jr., who is hilarious and inspiring at the same time. To watch Michael Jr’s comedy bits and know more about his upcoming documentary, go to his YouTube page. And I just finished reading Stuff Christians Like and I really enjoyed it (review coming soon!).

4) Powerful music c/o Aaron Keyes, Carlos Whittaker, Chris Tomlin, Jeffrey B. Scott, Jonathan Shelton and Candi Pearson-Shelton. Blogger Ryan Rotman did a great job compiling the set lists on his blog. If you’re interested in things like these, you can check out the setlists here and here. And if you want some really good (and free!) music, click on this link.

5) The tough-to-beat speaker lineup. Coming into the conference, I was really looking forward to watching Andy Stanley, John Ortberg, Mark Driscoll, Donald Miller, Erwin McManus, Wess Stafford, and Louie Giglio, and they were awesome as expected. But so were the rest of the speakers: the incomparable Dallas Willard (who received a Catalyst tribute), Charlene Li, Reggie Joiner, Kay Warren, and Scott Belsky, among others.

Some of my favorite quotes from the conference:

  • Charlene Li (Open Leadership): “Social media isn’t about technologies, it’s about relationships.”
  • Scott Belsky (Making Ideas Happen): “Restraints are empowering in the creative process.”
  • Eugene Cho on giving: “Generosity is not just to help people but to rescue us from the abyss of greed.”
  • Mark Driscoll on what God sounds like: “I heard a voice. I’ll tell you what it sounds like…it sounded like it was in charge.” (Check out the notes he posted on his blog)
  • Reggie Joiner (The Prodigal Generation): “If you could choose two characteristics for your church and home, choose forgiveness and joy.”
  • Erwin McManus: “God gave us imagination for a reason.”“Part of our gift to the world is to help people find meaning in life. But first, we need meaning in our lives.”
  • Kay Warren on adoption: “Every family must ask the question: ‘God, do you want us to adopt?'”
  • Donald Miller: “People become the character they play in the story they believe.”“Leaders tell stories. Are you telling a good story?”
  • Andy Stanley on leveraging your authority as little as possible: “Great leaders say this a lot: ‘I’ll let you make that decision,’ or ‘I don’t really know what to do, I’ll let you make that decision.’ Great leaders don’t make all the decisions.”
  • Andy Stanley’s tip to leaders: “You are not the smartest person in your organization. You are just the leader.”
  • John Ortberg on the wisdom of Dallas Willard: “I never get in an argument with Dallas because I’m afraid that he will prove that I don’t exist.”
  • Dallas Willard on John Ortberg’s lack of tweeting: “Have you ever felt like you’re a twit?”
  • Dallas Willard when asked to define Jesus’ gospel: “It’s how to get to heaven before you die.” (After he said that, there was a deafening silence in the venue, and my seatmate whispered, “That was PROFOUND.” He wasn’t the only one who thought that; John Ortberg had to ask Willard to repeat it again!)
  • Dallas Willard on grace: “Grace doesn’t make us passive. Grace is not opposed to effort. It’s opposed to earning.”
  • And more from Dallas Willard: “Do the next right thing you know you ought to do, because that’s what God wants you to do.”

There’s so much more verbal goodness that I’m unable to share, mostly because my pen couldn’t keep up with the words that were coming my way. I remember someone tweeting at the conference, apologizing to the person seated behind him because his brain just exploded (whoever you are, you were right on the money!). Each message was powerful in its own way that it’s difficult to choose which one I liked the best. However, there was one that resonated with me deeply. That one, I’ll share in the next post, together with the other stuff I loved about Catalyst West. In the meantime, you can see more photos here, and if you want to read more, you can head over to the Catalyst blog.

To be continued…

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Catalyst West Labs 2010

What do you do when you get the chance to watch your favorite authors, bloggers, and leaders speak all in one day? If you’re like me, you listen and you furiously take down notes…lots of them!

Yesterday was the first day of my 3-day Catalyst West adventure. I first discovered Catalyst two years ago on the INJOY website when we were planning a youth leadership event in the Philippines. I wanted to research on what other programs were out there, and I was immediately captivated by all the things they were doing at Catalyst. They always had the best speakers and powerful live music (they had Hillsong United last year at Catalyst West), not to mention the fun gimmicks–world’s biggest pillow fight, anybody? Catalyst used to always be held at Atlanta, Georgia, but last year, they started a West Coast version in Irvine, California. As soon as I heard about it, I knew that it was going into my Faith Goals list! Long story short, this year was finally the year! :)

Catalyst West Coast is a 2-day conference, but there’s an extra day prior to the conference (and some say it’s the best part of Catalyst) called Catalyst Labs. There’s a separate registration fee for Catalyst Labs, but for anyone who’s considering attending in the future, let me tell you that it’s worth it.

The Labs kicked off with powerful music c/o Aaron Keyes and giveaways c/o Catalyst podcast host Ken Coleman and Catalyst chief Brad Lomenick. There were all sorts of goodies (e.g. books, CDs, apparel, etc.) being sold at the lobby, but I did my best to RESIST! Let’s see how long I can hold out! After the opening session, all the participants break out into 6 different venues, each one featuring a different speaker or set of speakers. Here are the sessions that I attended:

Speaker: Susan Isaacs, actress, writer, and author of Angry Conversations with God
What I liked most about the session: The reason why I opted to attend her track was because I knew that she would be fun and entertaining. But more than that, I liked that she kept things simple, and how she talked about writing a spiritual memoir as something for everyone, not just seasoned writers or leaders.
Notable quote: “The details of your life are important to you and to God.”

Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing (and my favorite blogger)
What I liked most about the session: Everything! This session was one of the things I was most looking forward to at Catalyst, and it did not disappoint. Like Isaacs, Hyatt makes the topic simple and the challenge doable, and he is incredibly generous with sharing his tips on building an online platform.
Notable quotes: “Without vision, technology is useless. With vision, technology is priceless.” / “The best bloggers invite people into the conversation.” / “What are you going to do with the passion that you have and all the amazing technology at your fingertips?”

Speaker: Scott Belsky, founder and CEO of Behance and author of Making Ideas Happen
What I liked most about the session: I’ve heard Belsky on the Catalyst podcast prior to the event, and I immediately became more curious about what Behance was doing. Essentially, Behance’s mission is “to organize the creative world to make ideas happen.” I’ve worked on several creative teams in the past, and I know how challenging it can be to make creative ideas happen, because most of them just end up stuck or lost somewhere in someone’s inbox. The session was packed with insights and tips from Belsky. In other words, I liked the topic very much, and I give props to Belsky and his team for what they’re doing.
Notable quote: “You can’t pursue ideas in isolation. None of us is beyond partnership.”

John Ortberg, pastor and bestselling author
What I liked most about the session:
Notable quotes: “There is God, it is not you.” / “Spiritual growth is handcrafted, not mass produced.” / “Transformation requires as much grace as salvation does.”

There’s so much more to share, but all in all, I just had to say that Catalyst Labs was a great learning experience! Today (the first day of the main conference) was unbelievably awesome as well. It’s going to take me a week to write about it! But there’s so much I want to share because I think there were powerful insights for everybody (Andy Stanley, Reggie Joiner, Mark Driscoll, Dallas Willard, Charlene Li, and Louie Giglio were just some of the highlights of the day). I promise that I’ll write about it as soon as I can, but tonight, I just need to let it all sink in! So stay tuned, because I’ll be giving a prize away very soon! :) In the meantime, if you’re a blogger (or you’re thinking about starting a blog), check out this post from superblogger and Catalyst Lab speaker Anne Jackson. Enjoy!

If you’re reading this and you were at Catalyst Labs yesterday, what was your favorite part?

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Traveling by Faith – Week 1: Ten Things I learned this week

At least the Hawaii airport was pretty!

1. There IS a price to pay for getting a cheap plane ticket. In my case, it was two painful stopovers. We had to go down in each airport and check in with immigration twice. On the second stopover, we even had to claim our baggage and check it in again. Oh, and our plane arrived in LA at the ungodly hour of 4 am!

2. Layer, layer, layer! While it’s nice and sunny, I need to bring a sweater and coat wherever I go. If I stand in the sun, I’m warm and happy. If I’m in the shade, I freeze. I’m not used to the weather! But I have to say, spring is beautiful.

3. You can never go wrong with Chocnut, Curly Tops, and Flat Tops. I couldn’t figure out what to bring for my college best friend, Linnet, so I just opted to bring her these chocolatey goodies from our homeland. On my first night here, Linnet and her boyfriend James dropped by to say hello and have dinner, and Linnet shrieked for joy when she saw the treats I brought for her. Can’t go wrong with those three! By the way, I was so happy to see Linnet again! Linnet and Lizette, together again. Haha.

4. Museum trips are fun with friends. I’m not the biggest fan of museums, and in the past, I would go by myself (school field trips not counted). The other day, my friends Joe and Carla (who coincidentally were also visiting L.A.) came by to pick me up so I could join them for a trip to the Getty Center. I passed it on the freeway once before and I thought it looked pretty, so I always wanted to go there. The place was architecturally beautiful, and the collections were really nice too. We had a lot of fun gawking at the beautiful paintings and the illuminated medieval manuscripts. They also had a special Leonardo da Vinci collection on display this season which was super awesome. Of course, my personal favorite was the garden filled with spring blooms. I took a lot of photos! I loved hanging out with Carla and Joe (and Carla’s tito and niece) because we had a lot of silly fun. Good times!

Our IN-N-OUT burgers + TJ, getting directions to Pasadena

5. Do not go on the freeway with a near empty tank of gas, especially if you don’t know where you’re going! Yesterday, a good friend of mine, TJ, drove up from San Diego to pick me up at home so we could catch up with each other and meet up with our other friends, Ryan and Moina. It was a 2-hour drive from San Diego…is he a great friend, or what?! After a delicious In-and-Out + Pinkberry meal, we headed for the freeway to meet up with Ryan and Moina in Pasadena. Their text message said “118 east, 5 North, 110 North…” So TJ and I were happily chatting away, he pointed out Six Flags Magic Mountain on our left, and then he said, “Um, Liz…can you call Moina? Because I don’t remember their place being this far…” As it turns out, they gave us the wrong directions, and we were supposed to be on 5 South, not 5 North! The bad news was we had just passed a sign that said the next exit was 6 miles away. And it gets worse…TJ’s gas tank was running on empty. Joyride! So as not to panic, I tried to make him laugh, and reassured him that I actually really wanted to go on a road trip through the beautiful hills and see the lakes, so I was actually having a great time. Haha. And I’m not stranger to random trips and detours (right, Carisse?). Anyway, long story short, we finally found a gas station 3 exits (and A LOT of miles away), and then we finally got to go back south, and made it to Pasadena right on time. What an adventure! And it was worth the trip, if only to get the good news that Ryan and Moina have a baby on the way! :)

Seeing these hills was like looking at a painting!

6. There ain’t nothing like the real thing. Cold Stone Creamery is awesome! Thanks to Ryan’s brother Johnathan, I had my first taste of this famous American ice cream treat. YUMMY.

7. Kids make my heart melt no matter where I am in the world. I already miss my nephews terribly, but the kids around me over here are pretty awesome too. I’ve been spending time with my stepnephews (I don’t know if I should call them that…somewhere on the web in says I should call them first stepcousins once removed…I don’t get that) and they crack me up. Apart from the fact that they’re talkative and they say a lot of funny stuff, they’re also very sweet. I share a bathroom with them and their parents, and the other night, I walked over to the bathroom, only to see that someone was using it. Jared–the younger one (he’s 7)–saw that I wanted to use the bathroom and asked me why. I said I needed to brush my teeth. I went back to my room, then 10 minutes later, he came running and said, “Tita Lizette! My mom’s done with the bathroom already! And I set your toothbrush!” I wondered what he meant by that, and when I got to the bathroom, I saw that he laid out my toothbrush neatly with a nice line of toothpaste already on it. So sweet!

8. Friends and family are awesome. I’ve known this for a long time already, but it’s always good to remember!

9. Exercise is a MUST. It’s tough not to gain weight while you’re in the USA! The servings are HUGE (even the half orders are difficult for me to finish), and my tita cooks delicious food all the time and it’s hard to say no to her. So I’ve been doing my best to keep running. The first day I ran, I had a difficult time breathing because I wasn’t used to the cold air. Yesterday, I was able to run almost 4k. Yahoo! I’m looking forward to running in Irvine this coming week!

10. In real life, the iPad is gorgeous. Enough said. :)

Today I’m off to Irvine for the week to meet some relatives I’ve never met and to attend the Catalyst West Labs and the Catalyst West Coast conference. Between meeting my relatives, watching my favorite speakers, and visiting some church campuses I’ve always wanted to go to (hello, Saddleback!), I know this Irvine trip is definitely going to be one of the highlights of my summer! I am beyond blessed. Thank you Lord! :)

With a little help from my friends (2nd and last part)

Gosh…time flies! Just when I thought I had more than enough time to prepare, the last few weeks flew by so fast!

I’m grateful that I got to spend quality time with people who mean a lot to me. There were so many others I wanted to spend time with, but I just ran out of time. :( And speaking of running out of time, I ran out of time to blog, too, so photos will just have to do! (Hover over a photo to see its caption)

I wasn’t able to take more photos with my family, though, but I love them immensely and I will miss them terribly nonetheless!

So I’m off on a 2-and-a-half month adventure, and it hasn’t quite sunk in yet. I’m excited and nervous at the same time. There so much I want to say and share about this trip, but for now I will say that God is so good. He takes my breath away everyday. :)

To be continued…