More Than A Passionate Writer

Recently, I enrolled to an online course, “Web Writing and Social Media Communication”, at University of Toronto, School of Continuing Studies.

Today is our first Day, May 21st. My first task: introduce myself.

I began to scratch my head. I am still recovering from a writer’s block. I asked myself, “Where do I start?”

Is it enough to convey that writing is my artistic expression and I am passionate about it?

Reflecting on it, I remembered coming across a formula shared by Mark Sanborn, an inspiring author and motivational speaker, necessary to increase a person’s value during this challenging times.

According to him, “Value is equal to Expectation plus Education plus Something Extra.”

I began to realise there is more than being a passionate writer.

Allow me to introduce myself:

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My name is Laurence. I am in the process of pursuing a second career. I explored writing online by maintaining a personal blog since 2011. And what used to be an outlet for creativity, now, became a passionate endeavour.

Each post fueled me to delve more into it, however, my enthusiasm is not equal to direction. I need instruction. My skills require assessment to further enhance it. My audience deserve something more.

I desire to be more than a passionate writer.

It is an inspiration to see online writers become established in their own projects. Significantly, I see more value in the learning process they went through in order for them to reach their goals.

I believe online learning can be both informative and interactive. Regardless of the course being undertaken, these areas can be attained by collaborating the instructor’s wisdom and creativity with the learner’s show of enterprise and discipline. Online learning will also allow me to study at my own pace and utilize a style that works best for me.

I understand the process is gradual, but certainly, it requires action.

In his bestselling book,”Up, Down or Sideways”, Mark Sanborn emphasized, “Mind-sets are important, but not enough. Doing the right things for the right reasons in the right way, and doing them consistently – that is what creates sustainable success.”

I am traversing my restraints by being proactive. In this changing world, it is my objective to create distinction in my work and artistry.

Like an archer who finally releases his arrow towards his target, I am letting go of those “words” and use them significantly. For I believe, I am more than a passionate writer.

Even Superman Needs The Sun

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There goes my ride.

I haven’t been working for the last three days. I feel weak and I’m shivering when my temperature elevates. My throat hurts, my body aches and my wallet whines.

My pee smelled like it’s contaminated with chemicals. Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen have become my very good friends.

What’s worst, any food I eat tastes dull. I guess my mom’s wish that I lose weight will finally come true.

Hopefully by tomorrow, I can report back in better condition.

In the last few days, I pretended like I’m wearing a red cape: slept less than six hours a day, worked like a bull and did not have regular spiritual nourishment.

Regretfully, I began to discover that I am no man of steel.

One significant daily discipline I often neglect is to build up my reserves.

I am now learning the importance of knowing my limits and showing restraint. Despite his Kryptonian strength, Superman knows he can’t go through lead.

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Recently, I upgraded my phone. My old one is already demonstrating some problems.

“It has an eight-megapixel camera and HD video recording. It will be a huge discount on my part against buying them individually “, I rationalized.

“It has retina display, utilizes 4G network, has a 4-inch screen with oil-resistant coating, operates on an advanced operating system…”, I started to drool. I even forgot I have fever that day.

Who am I bargaining with? Of course in a moment’s heartbeat, I had given in to the culture of consumerism with open arms.

Currently, I’m reading Mark Sanborn’s “Up, Down and Sideways.” He explains, “Indulgences become detrimental when they go from occasional to regular, and the distance between the two is a slippery slope.”

“I know I bought a seven-inch tablet as a ‘gift’ for myself last Christmas”, I can’t help my eyeballs from rolling upwards.

I confess, I slipped. I spent on something more than I can make.

Mr. Sanborn further elucidates, “Saving is something we should do regardless of our circumstances.” When situations become tight, we can no longer create them.

He empathizes “Changing our spending and saving habits isn’t easy.” ( Yeah, you’re right!) He further motivates, “But it is possible! Building financial reserves starts with a commitment to do so, and it’s never too late to start.”

More importantly, he also emphasizes the importance of building our spiritual reserves.

Quoting the words of Dallas Willard on his book, he also encourages, “A carefully cultivated heart, assisted by the grace of God, foresee, forestall or transform most of the painful situations before which others stand like helpless children saying ‘Why?’ ”

He is right. Building reserves is a survivor’s secret.

Skydivers have backup chutes in case the primary one doesn’t work; definitely, it’s hard to ask for help when you’re way up there and falling down rapidly.

Even Superman basks under the sun for replenishment.

I learned my mistake. I am not from Krypton. I don’t even own my life and whatever I have.

God does. And He guides me to a point in my life where I will know He is my everything.

Next In Line

Saturday.

“He’s online”, I gestured to my parents to sit next to me.

Ever since he migrated to Northern America, a weekly conversation with my brother through Skype is a regular schedule we do as a family. It has been three years and my parents’ remained enthusiastic learning more about his current living conditions. They are also very hopeful that, hereafter, the entire family will be united with him.

I am next in line. Nevertheless, I held back in uncertainty.

I always believe God is the giver of life. His light allows me to enjoy life.(Psalm 36:9). And I’m drawing my security from the blessings I received: family, career,church and friends. We went through struggles and difficulties as a family, and through these trials, I witnessed how God answered our concerns and gave the comfort we need.

However, my dad persuaded me to act on it seriously. In Colossians 3:20, Paul instructs: Children, obey your parents in all things, because this pleases the Lord.

In the Old Testament,”Solomon showed he loved the Lord by following the commands his father David had given him” (1 Kings 3:3). His devotion got rewarded: the Lord appeared to him in a dream offering to give whatever he desires! (1 Kings 3:5)

I began to realize life is all about Him and His perfect will for His children. God specifically positioned my parents above me to carry out His purposes for me.

“The reality is, life here is not what you expected it to be”, my brother shared.

“Finding work is not that simple. And unfortunately, the cost of living here is expensive”, he continued.

“There are people whom I learned are doing well right now. And we were offered help, right?”, my dad answered defensively.

“It isn’t wise to draw security from other people’s promises. They can only help as much as they can. It’s totally different when you’re here”, my brother revealed.

It isn’t hard for me to notice that despair suddenly veiled over their faces, but I still tried my best to remain optimistic about the situation.

“What’s more important now is that when I get there, we can both work things out”, I persisted holding on to that flickering hope.

“You would be surprised, I might get an offer from Hollywood!”, I cheerfully added.

“You mean Bollywood!”, my brother retorted back. Our silence broke into laughter.

Portions of the song “Blessings” inspire me when dealing on an elusive future:

“And all the while You hear each spoken need; yet Your love is way too much to give us lesser things.”

His thoughts for me are more numerous than the sand, higher than the heavens above, beyond my human mind can comprehend. His will for my life is clearly meant for my own good.

The song continues,”We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love; As if every promise from Your Word is not enough.”

He didn’t even spare His Son to redeem me from my sins so that I can have eternal life.

I completely understand and empathize with my brother’s situation especially the difficulty he’s trying to extricate himself from. He needs to pursue educational courses in order to upgrade himself. And while doing that, he needs a secure job to pay for his bills and survive each day.

A better perspective is found in Francis Kong’s latest book where he quoted ,”All experiences of life, indeed, serve to prove that the impediments thrown in the way of human advancement may, for the most part, be overcome by steady good conduct, honest zeal, activity, perseverance, and, above all, by a determinate resolution to surmount difficulties, and stand up manfully against misfortune.”

I need to hold on to Him.

In the book of Hebrews, Paul wrote,”So do not lose the courage you had in the past, which has a great reward. You must hold on, so you can do what God wants and receive what He has promised.(Hebrews 10:35-36)

I began to understand this is one of the reasons why God allowed my destiny to unfold differently from my plans. God wants His glory to be revealed to my family— most specially, to me.

I need to let go and let Him take the steering wheel. What I gained and achieved at present doesn’t matter anymore to where I’m going. Everything appears feeble compared to what God can do. I only pray that I may be blessed by what Solomon desired: a heart that understands.

I believe God holds my best interest at hand. At the right time, He will reveal His glory to my life wherever I may be. He was and would still be faithful to me and to the people I love even though most of the time I’m not.

Pouring Rain

The rain’s heavy downpour on our roof woke me up. Consciously, I checked my BlackBerry for the time and found out it’s only 3 o’clock in the morning. “Ugh! I’m up too early!”, I groaned. Then I realized the rain never stopped since last night.

It was a grueling experience, I recalled.

The rain kept on pouring since morning and floods started to build up in most areas. Vehicular traffic congested the main roads, almost appearing like a public parking lot; people got stranded on the streets holding on to their umbrellas, while some, to their shoes; trains, as well as,train stations got overcrowded with people, lined up anxiously waiting for their turn to ride . They all wanted to go home.

At the breakfast table, after finishing my bread, I peeked at our window and saw the gloomy appearance of our backyard. I approached my mom, almost through stacking our dirty clothes for laundering.

“I believe I can’t report for work today.”, I declared.

“Ah-hmmm”, she replied.

“Most of the areas I’ll be passing through are flooded. It might get worst later on”, I reasoned.

“Ah-hmmm”, again, she replied.

” I don’t know how to swim going home. Besides, aren’t we having a bed-weather?” I chuckled on that thought. I didn’t tell her that but honestly, I really miss my bed.

She supported my decision. We both learned to anticipate from our experience with typhoon “Ondoy”.

I felt like a sixth-grader jumping after hearing a suspension of classes. I have the whole day to myself. Back then, I remembered, I had the liberty to lay on bed for hours, watch my favorite shows and raid the fridge. Then the day becomes too long to bear. My rejoicing abruptly ended with a pondering question: how am I supposed to spend my day? And not getting bored in the end?

I surfed the web for news about this present storm. An article by Karen Galarpe caught my interest: “Netizens turned to twitter to report, rant about floods.”

I agree Twitter kept me informed and entertained last night on my way home. The article is mostly filled with complaints: from governing system down to drainage system.

‘Never read anything like, “I should’ve put my trash at its proper place” or “I should’ve anticipated this thing would happen later on.”

Then I got blessed with one practical revelation: DECISION.

It is an act of making up one’s mind about something. A position or opinion or judgment reached after consideration.

We should have decided preparing measures when flood occurs. We should have decided following the waste segregation scheme (or better yet, not deprive the trash bin it’s appointed function.) We should have decided leaving our workplace earlier than usual when heavy rains started to pour. We should have decided being grateful we’re home in one piece and the flood did not rise to alarming heights.

Francis Kong has a better perspective to share: “In anything that we do (or decide on), there should be a point of reference because it defines who and what we really are.”

The Bible is our point of reference.

Psalm 119: 20,24 says,
20 I wear myself out with desire
for Your laws all the time.
24 Your rules give me pleasure;
they give me good advice.

How I spend my time this rainy day depends on my decision. It is not governed by how the weather affects my moods but by His direction through His Word.

The Psalmist said,”His good (perfect) advice.”

I decided not to focus much on my 14-inch flat screen monitor. There are a lot of more important things to do (like arranging my “jungle” room).

I’m grateful I decided obeying my mom who reminded me to come home early last night. I’m grateful God led me to decide riding the train would be faster. I’m grateful I decided to wear my “wading” shoes daily for this season.

Following Christ is also a great decision. Our lives will only be altered once our hearts are altered first.