My Struggle With Impatience

I hate lines. Lines at the Post Office, the DMV, literally anywhere on Black Friday are all places you will never ever see me. I will go to great lengths to avoid waiting in lines, even putting back clothes I really like because the line is just a little too long. Unfortunately, I will be forced to wait in a line next week at the airport as I fly from to NYC the Philippines, and I already know my patience will be tested, and I’m dreading it.

My disdain for lines is just one way that the impatience deep in my heart plays out externally. I’m so used to having things come quickly, easily, and comfortably that when I have to wait even ten minutes or so in a line, my patience runs low and I either get frustrated or give up on whatever I was doing. For me, instant gratification or instant annoyance are the only options.

The impatience in my heart is starkly contrasted by the patience that Christ shows for me. He never gives up on me, regardless of how many times I fail him. He is incredibly slow to anger, when I am instantly angry. When I am reluctant to change or recognize Him for who He is, He is gentle in bringing me back to himself. When I reflect on my impatience, it only leads me to greater praise for the One who is infinitely patient toward me! I am thankful that my God is so unlike me, His ways and thoughts are higher, praise His name!

– W

Painting the Girl with Flowers

When I graduated from college, I was not really prepared for what happened afterwards.

My senior year was heavy with classes, case studies, papers, presentations, and social life that I barely felt like there was enough time to process what was happening. Even when I was applying for jobs, writing cover letters, and revising resumes, I didn’t really feel like I was leaving. School dominated the majority of my life, and so the thought of living without it was so foreign to me.

I moved to Philadelphia, started a new job, got my license, bought a car, and moved into a row home with 2 wonderful ladies just a couple of months after graduating. It was a very busy season in my life…and then one day that season was over. Everything quieted down, and I realized that it was a little too quiet.

Suddenly I found myself restless and full of energy. I would go to work from 7am to 3pm and find myself wondering what I should do next. Gone were the days where I would go to class all day and do homework all night (I was a little bit of a nerd). My job didn’t require me to do any work outside of my usual hours (for which I am incredibly grateful). I realized that I had a lot of free time, and I was starting to get bored (there’s only so many Netflix shows you could watch).

To remedy the situation, I started taking art classes. So far, I’ve taken oil painting, weaving 101, and batik art. Now I’m currently taking my second oil painting class. Aside from this, I decided that it would be pretty fun to learn a new instrument, and so I bought myself a ukulele and started strumming away. A big shout out to Yousician for teaching me how to play well. Yousician is an app that reminded me of the Rock Band game I played growing up, but the fun part is they teach you to play on an actual instrument.

Before taking my oil painting class, I’ve already had some experience painting with watercolor and acrylic. I never touched the oils because I felt a little intimidated by it (the Masters used it after all). The type of paint you use really does matter because it changes the ball game of the painting completely. I was accustomed to the acrylic’s bold colors and its process of drying quickly. Oil dried much slower, which gave you more time to mix, blend, or in my case, get the painting to look muddy.

Today I’m sharing with you a painting that I attempted to recreate by Roxanne Raven. She called it, “Wild Heart,” which I found to be very fitting for my restless little heart. I found out about Roxanne through Instagram and fell in love with her Nest and Girls with Flowers Series. I was drawn to the colors and her abstract impressionistic style.

Roxanne used mixed media to complete her paintings. I limited my painting to just oil paint. Here’s the progression:

Then the final product:

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It was challenging to keep the colors pure, but hey, I persevered ’til the end. I posted this photo on Instagram a couple of weeks ago, and guess who commented!?

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Hope you enjoyed it!

– P

Millennials (try to) Cook: Blue Apron

W: Millennials can’t cook. They also can’t clean, get a job, save money, or stop buying avocado toast (and they also apparently can’t buy homes). All of this can seem discouraging if you are a millennial, whatever that means, like Patsy and I are! If you are a millennial like us, you don’t have to be what everyone else says you are. So, as a means of encouragement, we’re going to share with you guys our small attempt to break the stereotype!

We are millennials who (try to) cook. Also, I know that Blue Apron is the most millennial that cooking can get (I mean, you don’t even have to leave your house), so we’re starting slow and working our way up to grandma-expert level of cooking!

P: This past week, Water and I had the opportunity to try out Blue Apron, a subscription that sends you fresh, pre proportioned food and a recipe, for FREE through a friend’s referral! We both agreed that it’s a great alternative to a date night out since we’re able to enjoy good food and learn a new recipe together.

This week we made: Shrimp & Squid Ink Spaghetti, Chicken & Sweet Peppers Tostadas, and Beef Knockwurst & Sauerkraut.

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Walter was a little skeptical of the black spaghetti, but it turned out delicious!

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Food is art.

Unfortunately, we were too hungry to even take a picture of the Beef Knockwurst & Sauerkraut (and I may have also forgotten my camera).

Nevertheless, we both learned and tried something new! They were all so good!

– P + W

Why I’m Thankful for my College Church

It has been about a month since my college career has come to a close. Is it too early to feel nostalgic about my college days yet? As I look back at the four years I spent in Happy Valley, I grow more and more thankful for the church I attended there, Alliance Christian Fellowship. It was a place where I was called to a deeper relationship with the God of the bible, and a greater love for people (the church and also the world). ACF was so many things for me, a safe haven, a home, a community, and this message exists to say thank you to the institution and the people who God used to shape me into the image of Christ. ACF kept me under care, gave me a family, and empowered me to serve, and I’m eternally grateful for that. So why am I  thankful for my college church?

It was a church, so I was under care

As a college student, it’s really easy for a young Christian to leave the institution of the church to pursue spirituality in a broader and “free-er” sense. However, every Christian knows that it is impossible to walk the Christian life alone. This reality is why Christians are commanded to join churches, to be a contributing member of a local manifestation of the body of Christ. I was part of a church, served by a pastor and in covenant with other believers. In that way, I was under the spiritual care of the people around me. Being part of a church gave me an accountability to stay tethered to the Vine that is Christ in a way that is unique. I was interdependent with the people around me. College can be a dangerous time for the Christian, and I’m grateful that when I was not strong, I had people around me who were willing to pick me up when I fell down. I’m thankful that I was surrounded by people who were as committed to my sanctification as I was. I was able to take communion alongside my brothers and sisters at Penn State, as a reminder of Christ’s finished work for us. I was also able to celebrate the baptisms of those who came to know the Lord, sacraments that are unique to churches. I’m thankful to have been connected to a church because it reminded me that the world is a lot bigger than I am. Being part of a network of churches allowed me to remember the world does not revolve around Happy Valley, USA, and that God’s Kingdom is growing all around the world.

It was a family, so I was unconditionally loved

Let’s face it, in a church full of college students, there will certainly be strong opinions, large egos, and not a whole lot of wisdom to go around. The beauty of the young man’s courage, zeal and fervor can very quickly turn into misguided stubbornness. But I was forgiven, even when I died on the wrong hills. This was because I was welcomed into a family. On my best days and my worst days, I knew that I had a home, a group of people who loved me and wanted to see me grow in knowing the Lord. Being a part of a family means we forgive. It means that we don’t give up on one another when life gets tough, but we do speak truth to one another when the struggle is real. My church is where I learned to relate to one another the way God relates to us, by His grace. I learned that my problems with others are just a shadow of the problems I had with God, and he chose to forgive. How much more then, should I forgive those who sin against me?

It was student led, so I learned how to serve

As well as being a church, ACF is a place for college students to learn how to serve the church and the world. Almost every bible study, small group or other ministry (outside of the Sunday morning preaching of the Word) is led by students, for students. Many college students spend their entire university career being spiritually fed by staff members, but I am so thankful that I was called to serve. College students leading ministries definitely comes with its own host of problems, but God’s power is made perfect in the weakness of these imperfect teachers. In college, I made lots of ministry mistakes. I often emphasized the wrong things and didn’t accurately portray God at all times. I undoubtedly misinterpreted scripture and fell short of the call to preach the whole counsel of God. I also learned that age or anything else does not qualify a person for priesthood, that having the Spirit does. I learned that ministry isn’t just for the “professionals” who had degrees and their lives together. The students at my college church minister the Word of God to one another, and I could not be more thankful for the experience I gained during my four years there. I’m thankful for the examples I had walking before me, and I’m thankful that God used my imperfect, immature efforts to help build His Kingdom on the campus of Penn State.

My time at college was certainly not all highs and no lows. During our weekly small groups, there were often as many “Waahs” as there were “Wins”. I was never a perfect church member, and I was really never a perfect church leader. There were seasons of discouragement and seasons of fruit, and praise God that he uses both to grow our love for Him. Throughout the good and the bad, I am thankful for the community God placed me in at Penn State. Praise God for ACF, and churches like it who encourage and equip young people to do the work of ministry in the United States and all around the world!

– W

Why The Happy Exiles?

Hello!

Walter and I are so excited to be starting this blog together. It took us a couple of tries before we ended up with The Happy Exiles. We threw words around like: grace, joy, redeemed, and tried to find ways to turn it into a title without it being too cheesy or too Christian-y. We ended up with a ridiculous amount of two-to-three word expressions that were all okay, but sounded silly in some way.

Walter really liked the word “exiles,” which in my opinion, holds such a negative connotation; however, it does hold some truth about who we are as people who are not yet “home”.

Before we start typing away, we would like to explain why we called ourselves The Happy Exiles.

An exile is someone who is far away from home. It’s easy for me to feel this way because I am not a Philly native. I was born and raised in the Philippines and left for the US when  I went away for college. After graduating, I landed a job at a health insurance company in Wayne, PA where I still currently work.

Walter has lived in Philly all his life, but he is as much of an exile as I am. You see, Walter and I are not “home,” in the truest sense of the word. We believe that no one is home. Not really. We may love the place we live with our whole heart (and trust me, we love Philadelphia), but at the end of the day, we were designed for a different place.

In Christianity, we believe that we were created to be with God in heaven. However, because man chose sin over God, we disrupted our relationship with our holy and perfect Father and were exiled from Heaven. Since the fall, every man, woman and child has been subjected to a broken world, filled with pain, hurt and suffering. All of this to say that although we love this Earth, we are not home yet. As a result, we travel light, remembering that where we are is temporary, but where we are headed is eternal.

Therefore, here we are now – living as exiles. Why are we happy, you ask?

As most of you know, exiles are typically unhappy. When you first think of an exile, you imagine a person who has been unwillingly removed from their home, and since home is where the heart is, they have been removed from the things that they know and love. But this is where the analogy starts to fall apart for us. Most importantly, we are happy because despite our exile status, we have been redeemed. We have an unshakable hope that we will one day call heaven home. We are happy because we may be exiles, but the time we spend away from home has a purpose, we truly are here for a reason. God has called us to participate in his redeeming work in the here and now, and he has created an entire world for us to work and keep. Although we are sojourners away from our eternal “forever home,” we still put down roots where we are at. We are happy because there is so much to see, experience, and love by God’s grace here on this Earth.

We hope that as we share our sights and experiences with you, that you might read and be inspired. We hope that through this blog, we might be able to point you to Jesus in the day-to-day. Even if religion isn’t really your thing, we still hope that you can read our blog and be encouraged that we are two people who strive to love the world and its people. These words are a gift from us to you.

Thank you so much for reading! We can’t wait to journey through life with you.

– P + W