Beautiful Lessons from a Bar Flunker


Angie Occeno-Libardo

Angie Occeno-Libardo

Setbacks come naturally to life, perhaps second to breathing. The unfortunates will even get a shrill experience of the “Murphy’s Law,” that when things go bad it will just be.

Dazed in amazement over the intensity of some issues, one can only shake his head and wonder. Inaccurate the prospects of them seeping into our systems, struggles can either pierce our whole being or embolden us to create that better person in us.

I guess when it comes to experiencing and managing failures I have become an authority.

I used to be getting A’s from elementary to college. Government exams were not even too difficult to pass. I have not felt any tinge of inadequacy because I seemed to do well each time I took the test.

But when I went to College of Law things changed for me. Gone are the days when I would be getting A’s. My grades were insanely bad.

My professors wondered why I even enrolled in the law school when I seemed to lack the ability to even survive first year law. But as you can see, I still finished the course but the final test to whether or not the concepts were retained and mastered, the Bar exams had to be passed.

I thought I knew the basics but the examiners thought otherwise so I failed. The first time I took it and failed was not as painful as I did the second time because it felt like I did not learn anything at all.

The whole experience cut my heart and my mind was gripped with all disparaging words about myself like, “So you are smart? So I thought.” “Your luster has died and you are no good.”

What could be worse than thinking that those people that I hurt in the past were just so jubilant about my failures. Magnified in my thoughts are their sneers and insults.

My self- esteem plummeted. But how did I surmount my pitiful condition and started hoping and desiring again to take the Bar exams?

Let me share to you the things that I forced myself to do in order to put my hopeful prospects back.

Acknowledge the need to be strengthened.

When adversities befall us we tend to live a hermit life. We shy away from people even to trusted friends for fear that we would be ridiculed.

Doing this however will cost us our own happiness and will further lead us to despair.

Go out and look for your trusted friends. Share to them what you feel and honestly ask for their prayers.

I did just that, the comfort that I got after was exhilarating.

Reconcile with God.

Right after I failed the exams, I asked the Lord so many questions. Like I blamed Him for not honoring my prayers or even rewarding me for my efforts, I would reason in my head, that I deserved to pass because I worked very hard for it.

I invested so many sleepless nights for it, I knew I studied very hard too; all to no avail. I cried alone, grieving over God’s decision.

Even a firm believer like me despaired but who am I to question the Lord?

He knows the future! Jesus, who began the good work in us will be faithful to complete it. He will send people either to teach us or propel us to minister on God’s unfailing love, similar to what He did to me. God is sovereign.

He cannot be dictated upon. Being the creator that He is, He knows our very being and powerfully discerns what is best for us; so when what we prayed for remained unanswered, be still and ask for divine understanding.

We might not immediately understand why bad things happen to us, we need to trust in the Lord because He is too good to be unkind.

The safest place to be in when situations become unreasonable is in God’s arms.

Restore your self-worth.

No one has the right to belittle you. It can only be so if you yourself tolerated others to look down on you.

However, the best assurance that we can hold on to is the truth about God’s unconditional love, that whatever and however we become, He will take us to Himself unconditionally.

Remember the cross. Jesus died for your sins and mine. He even became sin himself to offer to us His greatest sacrifice, His own life for our salvation.

Aren’t we so special to God? Acknowledging who Jesus is and the sacrifices that He endured will revive our hearts’ desires and brighten our chances for better opportunities, that regardless of the hurtful remarks people say about us, it is definitely not the same with how Jesus thought of us.

The abundance of His loving kindness will be ours to have and enjoy if only we would also take Him in our lives. Be confident in the Lord because He is a father that restores.

While failures are admittedly part of our lives, we can’t do anything much but pray for God’s leading. Ask the Lord for wisdom and strength and intelligently learn from those painful experiences.

Will I still take the bar exams again? Hmmm… Why not?

NOTE: This article was first published on the author’s blog “Echoes of the Heart” on 27 March 2015.

Faith Hope and Love

Don’t Ask “Why me?” Ask, What Will I Do?

Lessons Learned from My Sickness Part 13: Don’t Ask “Why me?” Ask, What Will I Do?

Faith Hope and Love

I appreciate the outburst made by a close friend (a barangay captain or village leader) when he heard about my sickness.

He said: Why does it have to be Pastor? Why not druglords, addicts, hired killers, holduppers, swindlers, who just create problems and sow havoc to society?

I understand his sentiments but I hesitate to agree with him. It would be very presumptuous for me to think that I am exempted to have this sickness because I am a Pastor.

It is also wrong for me to ask God why it would be me and not others. I simply have no right to do that.

God is God, and he has every right to do his will.

I recognize that there are many things in life that we cannot understand, but we must trust God’s judgment and be guided by his hands.

So instead of asking, “why me?” I asked, “what will I do now Lord”?

And here I received new challenges and revelations daily.

Since I cannot do my previous functions because of my physical limitations, the Lord challenged me to explore doing new things – like writing these lessons in social media.

Many people favorably send me their feedback.

I also kept a list of prayer requests that I earnestly make intercessions during my prayer time.

I also read a lot of books because I have the time to do that.

Dearly beloved, let the direction of our lives be guided by God’s hands because he is our stronghold.

He knows what’s best for us. Have a blessed day everyone!

Posted on FB: 7 March 2015 – 12:55 PM

Jaro Evangelical Church

About the Author

Rev. Ronny Luces is the Minister for Administration and Community Service of Jaro Evangelical Church (JEC), Iloilo City, Philipines. He and wife, Martha have been with JEC’s ministry since 1994.

Pastor Ronny graduated from Central Philippine University College of Theology in 1985 and was pastor of several Baptist churches.

In January 2015, after tests and two long hospital confinements, Pastor Ronny got the word he has lung cancer. He is undergoing chemotherapy.

Praying for healing and going through all the medical processes, Pastor Ronny writes his reflections “Lessons Learned from My Sickness”.

May Pastor Ronny’s series of reflections and meditations strengthen your hope and faith as you go through your own life’s battles. Please pray for Pastor Ronny’s healing.

Lake Tekapo South Canterbury

He’s Prepared A Place For Us


Do you worry? Is your heart in trouble?

Please watch and listen to “He’s Prepared a Place for Us” and may the song’s message give you calm assurance.

Jesus Christ has ready the best place for you.

The composer, Errol James says:

“This is the promise we have for those who put their trust in Jesus Christ. No more pain, no more tears, no hunger and no thirst. The bible tells us that “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him”

Keep your faith strong and committed!

Our Journey of Faith, Hope and Love, and Tea’s Spiritual Growth


“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)

Father and son

Randy and son, Tea

By Randy Anthony

Our 10-year old son Theodore (Tea) was very much a part of our challenging journey since July 2012. His Manang Kima was away for her internship from May to August 2012 so he was with us when his mom’s condition was detected by mammogram and he was also with us when it was confirmed by our family physician.

He was with his mom during the lab tests and was with her when the staples were removed from the surgery area. He did not ask any questions when we made major changes on how we pray, he just held our hands and joined us in asking for God’s divine healing love.

From the start, we just told him that mom’s breast is “bumpy,” she will undergo surgery to remove the bumps and she will receive medication that might cause her hair to fall. With the extent of his participation however, we were thinking that deep inside he knows that his mom’s condition is more than just a “bumpy condition.”

Last July 27, 2012 (Thursday), Tea’s school held the Terry Fox National School Run Day.  

Terry Fox (July 28, 1958-June 28, 1981) was a Canadian humanitarian, athlete, and cancer research activist. In 1980, with one leg having been amputated, he embarked on a cross-Canada run to raise money and awareness for cancer research. Although the spread of his cancer eventually forced him to end his quest after 143 days and 5,373 kilometres (3,339 mi), and ultimately cost him his life, his efforts resulted in a lasting, worldwide legacy (From Terry Fox – Wikipedia).

During the run, the students were given a sticker with a blank space for them to write the reason they are running. When I came home that Thursday afternoon, I saw Tea’s sticker with a note, “I run for my family.”

I immediately anticipated that there will be more questions from him about cancer because for sure, they were given some lectures about it in school. That’s one of my fears because at that time, I still don’t know how to explain it to him. Fortunately, he did not ask me anything about it.

mother and daughter

Nina and daughter, Kima

We were busy with our usual chores the next Friday morning. I had my breakfast ahead of them because I need to prepare early to bring Tea to school and to go with Nina to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre (TBCC) for her bone scan. Nina and Tea had their breakfast together and I don’t know what they talked about.

We were already in TBCC when Nina told me that Tea asked her if we have cancer in the family. Nina asked him “why?”

Tea told her that while participating in the Terry Fox Run, he was thinking that he should run to fight cancer for his family. He didn’t understand why but he just kept thinking about it.

Nina told him straight, “yes, we have cancer in the family and I have breast cancer.” Tea simply answered, “Now I know why I had that kind of feeling.”

Nina might have handled her condition well that at Tea’s tender age, he was able to accept it well too. God did not only strengthen Nina, He also strengthened Tea and ready his heart and mind to discover the truth by himself in His own appointed time.

Tea surprised me again two weeks ago.

Randy Anthony

Before we went to sleep, he asked me if he can talk to me for a while. I said, “Yes, what it is all about?” He replied, “Is mom ok now?”

I immediately responded that his mom is okay and he should not worry about her.

He further asked, “But what about the news on cancer medicine?” (He was referring to the news on TV that chemotherapy medicine in Ontario was diluted and about 1500 patients might be affected).

I explained to him that we are in Alberta and his mom is already done with her chemotherapy. She was administered a different kind of chemotherapy medicine and the remaining medication until October will prevent the “bumps” from growing again.

Tea however had another follow-up question, “But are you sure that mom is well now?”

I don’t know what to say so I just told him, “You know, all we need to do is to eat healthy food and help your mom all the time so that she will not get sick.”

Randy and wife, Nina

Randy and wife, Nina

He answered, “So she got sick because of unhealthy food and too much work?”

Again, I don’t know what to say so I simply replied, “Maybe.”

Our conversation ended but deep inside I felt that I did not gave him the right answer. I went to one corner of our room where I prayed and asked God for guidance.

After a moment of silence, I went back to Tea and told him, “Tea, all we need to do is to pray all the time. We don’t need to worry about anything because God will take care of your mom, she will be well.”

Tea did not answer me, he was just smiling and I noticed that he was already praying. I felt a lump on my throat, I wept and I smiled.

We know that while family members and friends are praying for Nina’s healing, they are also praying for the family. I kept on saying we can feel it…yes, we can feel it.

Prayers did not only help Nina overcome the impact of two surgeries, chemotherapy, series of tests, and a lot of pain.


Prayers also strengthened our family, blessed our family, and brought spiritual enlightenment to our family especially to our youngest child Theodore.

Yes, God answered our prayers! We will be witnesses of His healing power and we will always bring glory, honor and praise to Him. Amen! 

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faith in God

Moving Forward in Faith

Moving forward in faith

“They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” (Psalm 112:7)

I took this photo of two sparrows as I watched through our window in August 2012. It was winter in Auckland and food might be scarce for these creatures but I recalled how God cares for them.

I chose this photo to complement the devotional I read from Messianic Bible Devotionals, which I’m sharing below.

Just as the Exodus was the starting point of Israel’s salvation, so is our rescue from the kingdom of darkness just the beginning of our spiritual journey.

But the enemy of our souls does not let go easily; he usually tries to draw us back into bondage.

Sometimes when our backs are up against the wall, as was the case with Israel standing at the Red Sea, we wonder: “What should I do? What should I do?”

Instead of panicking and blaming others, we can move on in faith, believing that He will save us. After that, we need to enter into His rest and wait on the Lord for further instructions.

If we remember that the Lord fights our battles for us, then we can quiet our inner turmoil and trust in Him, hold our peace, and refuse to speak unbelief when pushed to our limits.

Let us keep on moving forward in faith, knowing and believing that our God Almighty is on our side to win all of life’s challenges.


Lord God, forgive us for our unbelief that You are our Great Defender. Thank you for always being there to protect us and help us win the battles of life. Amen.

Are You One of the Few?

True Faith

Have you entered the small gate that leads to eternal life?

Jesus said “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9)

Are you one of the few who’s traveling the narrow road?

When Thomas asked Jesus, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus Christ answered, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Don’t be caught up enjoying life’s revelries but neglecting the simple and real meaning of life – Jesus Christ.

Our God is Mighty to save

Let Us Anchor Our Faith in God

Isn’t it very comforting to know and believe that the Almighty God who has spoken these words to Israel is the same Almighty God who is at work in our lives today?

Thus, let us stay steadfast in our faith.

Failures, frustrations, broken relationships, strife, sickness, maybe every burden in this world may befall us but when we anchor our faith in the Almighty God always we will never drift away aimlessly.

Surely, He will deliver us and place us on safe and secure ground.

Always remember:

The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.
            Zephaniah 3:17