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35 things I learned at 35

Yes, I celebrated my 35th birthday last July. I can’t believe it myself. My dear husband whisked me on an island get-away. For fun, we went parasailing that day. It was near sunset and the whole island was gleaming below us. Afterwards we took a dip in azure waters near the parasailing dock. It must have been more than 40 feet deep. It is always liberating to be in nature.
Turning 35 made me reflective. And here I share with you some lessons learned in the past 12,410 days that I have spent on earth.


                                                                                                    Photo taken in Boracay July 2009


I have learned that. . .
1 My happiness, contentment and satisfaction is found in God alone. I cannot imagine a life lived apart from God. And without Him, every dream, every ambition and every attempt at success is meaningless.
2 My identity is not based on what others think about me but what God says about me. People only see what’s on the outside, but God sees the heart. They can only judge me based on my past, but God sees what I can be in the future. Only He knows my full potential. I have learned never to typecast myself according to other people’s opinions and expectations.
3 God wants to bless me beyond my wildest dreams. However, we may have different ideas of what is best for me. At all times and in all situations, God’s plan is always better than mine. I am stubborn and headstrong. I have set opinions and preferences. But in my 26 years as a Christian, God has shown me that I can be wrong about many of my choices. His way is always best. Be it about our schooling, career and choice of a mate.Even in the most mundane things, it pays to ask His opinion and obey His leading. I have 101 examples to illustrate this point, which I hope to turn into a book one day.
4 It’s better to say “No” than to lie. Indecisiveness is a female malady. And it’s usually based on our desire to please others, so people will like us. I think it is more unfair to tell a lie and keep other people hanging.


5 Sunscreen delays aging. Long before whitening creams and lotions were invented, I have been wearing sunblock. It’s not that I’m afraid to get dark. I actually think a healthy tan looks good. At 16, my mom told me that the sun can cause skin damage which can lead to age spot and wrinkles. This motivated me to use sunscreen even when I’m indoors. Harmful UVA and UVB rays can penetrate windows and are emitted by lighting fixtures at home. I have seen women in their 20s who already have wrinkles around their eyes, forehead and mouth. A friend, who used to be have smooth skin, developed age spots and wrinkles a few months after taking tennis lessons early in the morning. How I wish they would discover sunscreen.
6 Never lend money to friends. Lending entraps both the borrower and the lender. It is a snare that destroys relationships. If a friend is really in need, I have learned that it is better to give with no strings attached.
7 I do not really know a person well enough to vouch for his character until I have either worked or transacted business with him or her. Work and money bring out the real character of people. Maybe that’s why Jesus spoke a lot about work and money matters in the
four gospels.
8 God is far from being a tyrannical dictator and His commandments are always for my own good. Whoever thinks that he is a killjoy may be mistaking Him for religion. Being a Christian is the one great adventure with God. He has taken me to places I could only dream to do things I never dared think I could do.
9 Nobody gets pregnant by accident. Now that I am married, I realized that premarital or extramarital indiscretions are almost always pre-meditated and they take a lot of planning.
10 God is extravagantly generous. I knew this in principle, but I only realized it fully when I married a man who loves gardening. In our small backyard (read: 40-sq. ft. laundry area), we have the following plants in small pots: lychee, durian, peanut, tomatoes and lettuce. All of these started from tiny seeds that my husband collected from our travels. God doesn’t only give us fruits to eat. In that fruit are seeds that can produce hundreds and even thousands of same fruit. And mind you, it only takes a few days or weeks for a seed to sprout.
11 To be healthy, I need to prepare and cook food simply. Fruits are best when eaten in their natural state. Vegetables only need a few minutes of cooking to preserve the vitamins and minerals in them. Instead of using a juicer or blender, we have learned to eat our fruits whole. We bake our meat and fish dishes, instead of frying them.

12 It’s best to wait until after marriage to have sex. You enter marriage with zero guilt, no shame and your trust for each other completely intact. Sex then becomes a spiritual union, not just the fulfillment of baser instincts.

13 To beat jetlag during intercontinental travel, I have to remember to set my watch and schedule according to the time of the country of my destination before I enjoy the inflight entertainment.
14 I am never too old nor too wise to learn from a child or a person with lower stature. May I not too proud to listen to them.

15 God believes in me more than I sometimes believe in myself. God has placed in each of us unique skills, talents and gifts that He wants us to use His glory. For our talents to blossom and be put to good use, we have to have an unflinching belief in abilities. We must not allow people and circumstances to hinder us from shining.

16 People who dissuade you from pursuing your dreams are afraid of your capacity to succeed. There are many dreamkillers out there and they can be very mean. They can mock, tease and laugh. Most of them are insecure and your presence heighten their insecurity. They have either failed or have given up on their dreams and they don’t want you to achieve yours. Keep away from these people.

17 Victory is not gained by the intelligent or the swift, but by those who never give up. According to the book Working with Emotional Intelligence, confidence, not high IQ or a good education, is the greatest predictor of success. And it’s because the confident never gives up easily.
18 I can change my emotional state by controlling the way I think. Everyday I am bombarded by a thousand thoughts and ideas. It is my responsibility to filter them so that I don’t get corrupted by thoughts that can harm my spirit. If I focus on the bad, my mood will inevitable suffer. These toxic thoughts contribute to the production of stress hormones that can damage my body. I have to keep focusing on what is pure, what is good, what is noteworthy.
19 It’s foolish to compare myself with other people. God has a unique call for each person.
20 I cannot set a deadline about when I’m supposed to marry, have kids or get promoted to my dream job. The world may have its own ideas about the right age to do all these things, but I need not put myself into that mold. I need to trust that God has a unique plan for me and His timing is always best.
21 Successful people are passionate about their work. There is joy and delight even in labor. If you are not happy with your job, maybe it’s time to rethink your career path. Please resign early, lest your lack of enthusiam at work poison the whole department.


22 It is good to have Yakult and a piece of banana during breakfast. The health drink Yakult contains probiotics or good bacteria that aids in digestion. The banana, on the other hand, is a prebiotic which the probiotics feed on to increase themselves.
23 Extra virgin olive oil is the safest and healthiest cooking oil. All other kinds oil including canola, coconut, sunflower, soya, peanut and even plain olive oil are harmful because they go through a complicated refining process. According to Dr. Don Colbert, oils that go through refining process where they are degummed, refined, bleached and deodorize, lose their nutrients. Aside from that, refined oils contain toxic lipid peroxides that can lead to cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
24 Brown rice is a healthy and delicious alternative to white rice. Because it is whole grain, brown rice is very filling,thus making you eat less. It also aids in digestion. To cook brown rice, add 25% more water than usual, or soak it 30 minutes before cooking. Or else you will end up with pebble-hard brown rice.
25 No matter how I claim to love God, if I hate someone, the love of God is not in me. In fact, the Bible calls such a person a liar and a murderer. Ouch!

“If anyone says, “I love God, yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” 1 John 4:20

“Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.” –1 John 3:15
26 Done in the right attitude, housework can be relaxing and therapeutic. A clutter-free house brings comfort and peace of mind. Somehow getting organized makes us breathe easier.
27 When talking about other people, if I can’t say the very same thing when the person is present, then I should not say it at all. Doing so would be slander.
28 When driving, it’s much better to bless than to curse someone who cuts me in traffic. Somehow releasing forgiveness and blessing frees me from the anger and rage that can ruin my day.
29 The most talented people I’ve been fortunate to worked with are usually the humblest. In contrast, those who toot their horns the loudest are the ones who need more practice– to say the least. God indeed gives more grace to the humble.
30 It is important to spend time to visualize the kind of life I want. As athletes use visualization to master their sport, so can I master the challenges I face by visualizing my desired outcome. Oftentimes we do just the opposite– letting fear, worry and anxiety get to us by ruminating on the worst. “Picture in your mind the able, earnest, useful person you desire to be,” advises Elbert Hubbard, “and the thought you hold is hourly transforming you into that particular individual you so admire.” The Bible puts it this way: “As a man thinks, so he is.”
31 I don’t need a lot of things to live comfortably. Because of our tiny apartment, I am learning to stop my compulsion to buy things that I want but don’t need.
32 I have learned never to shop for groceries on an empty stomach, because I end up spending more and worse, I tend to buy junk food. In connection with this, I’m learning that when I keep junk food out of my line of sight, I don’t crave for it at all.
33 Contrary to popular claims, soy milk is not healthy. While doing research for a project, I discovered that soya beans contain certain substaces that prevent protein digestion, block the body’s absorption of importaint minerals (calcium, magnesium, etc.) and make red blood cells clump together. That is why it is not advisable to eat unfermented soy products. To solve this problem, soy growers in the US use created a genetically modified variety of the soya. This variety goes through a refining process using chemical that have the potential to harm the body. Also, the isoflavones in soya acts like the hormone estrogen. One author claims that giving soy milk to a child has the same effect as feeding her with birth control pills. The report may be a little exaggerated, but I have since gone back to drinking cow’s milk.
34 Never undertimate the power of words. They can be used for good or evil.Words can kill or heal. I have talked to people in the autumn of their lives who still wince as they recall harsh words spoken to them when they were a child, as if it were said yesterday. I’ve resolved to always speak encouraging words to people, if I can help it.
35 I am never too old to be all that I can be and to do all that I’ve set my heart to do. At 70-years-old, my friend’s mom learned to swim for the first time. She enrolled herself in her grandchildren’s swimming class. Grandma and the toddlers learned to paddle side by side. She was even asked to be featured in  that swimming school’s brochure. The famous Pacmom, Dionisio Pacquiao, had her TV debut as a dancer and commercial model at age 60.


If that doesn’t inspire you, maybe this poem by Longfellow will:


“’It is too late! Ah, nothing is too late
Till the tired heart shall cease to palpitate.
Cato learned Greek at eighty; Sophocles
Wrote his grand Epidus, and Simonides
Bore off the prize of verse from his compeers
When each had numbered more than four score years.
(That’s 80 years old in modern day language!–jen)
“’And Theophrastus at four score and ten
Had but begun his “Characters of Men.”
Chaucer, at Woodstock, with the nightingales,
At sixty wrote the “Canterbury Tales.”
Goethe, at Weimar, toiling to the last,
Completed “Faust” when eighty years were past.


“’What then? Shall we sit idly down and say
The night hath come; it is no longer day?
The night hath not yet come; we are not quite
Cut off from labor by the falling light;
Something remains for us to do or dare,
Even the oldest trees some fruit may bear,
For age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress;
And as the evening twilight fades away,
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.’”
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  1. Belated happy birthday!
    Thanks for writing for us.
    God bless!

  2. so true 🙂 read your other posts … thank you for sharing your stories and blessings… my dream is to write about inspiring stories of ordinary people 🙂


  3. Beautiful Jen! thanks for allowing us to learn from you. God loves to bless you and Mike because you love to share with others what God has bestowed on you.
    Love u both~ Lucille T.

  4. nice post (and blog)!
    looking forward to reading more of your insights (travel-related and otherwise) soon!

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