How Can I Say Thanks for the Things You Have Done For Me?

Things so undeserved
Yet you lived to prove your love for me
The voices of a million angels
Could not express my gratitude
All that I am, and ever hope to be
I owe it all to thee

Now Playing: “My Tribute by Andrae Crouch

MANIBAD SEVENTH DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH: Manibad, Mambusao, Capiz, Western Visayas, Philippines

My grandmother is responsible for the existence of at least six churches, and we visited one of them the day after we buried her. That morning, little children were passing out cupcakes to women in the church, greeting them for Mothers Day. Seeing us walk in, the girl leading the service grabbed the microphone and said, “We’d like to welcome the Fortin family and invite Miss Jillian (read: Jeel-yahn) to the pulpit to give a message to her mother. And also, will you sing” (both of which were statements, not questions, and also the first I had heard of it).

I had no idea what they wanted me to say, and based on the way the congregation was looking back at me, they didn’t either. But then my eyes fell on my mom, sitting in the back row, wearing the last two weeks on her face and shoulders (and also maybe a look of fear, equally unsure of what I was about to say) and the words started flowing on their own, beginning with gratitude to the members of the church who had attended my grandmother’s service the day prior as well as the ones who came every night since her passing to lead worship services for the tens and twenties who visited around the clock, each day.

I went on to continue that it was strangely appropriate, celebrating Mothers Day after two weeks of celebrating my Lola Nanay, and despite how bittersweet it was as well, my mother had proved time and time again through arguably one of the most difficult times of her life that she is Nanay’s daughter – strong, steadfast, forged by fire and led by God’s hand.

Mom, I said, you are the strongest, bravest, most courageous woman I have ever met. You have the biggest heart that no one knows about because you choose to show your affection through your actions rather than your words, just like Nanay did. You have devoted yourself to a life of service – to your family, to your friends, and to countless others whose hands I shook but names I do not know who were able to send their children to school, build their churches, and care for loved ones who fell ill. You are this amazing woman because of the amazing woman who raised you, and every day is an education in how my sister and I may one day live up to the examples set for us… that we may be worthy testaments of your life like you are for Nanay’s exemplary and fulfilling one.

My sister joined me on stage after handing the A/V guy her phone, the track queued up and ready to go. Joanna only had one song stored locally on her phone, and since there was no internet connection available, it would have to do. Like the occasion, the song title and its lyrics were also oddly appropriate, something I made sure to point out before the two of us began to sing “My Tribute.”

We sat down once we were done singing, only after telling our mom how much we loved her. She smiled. She also let us finish her cupcake.

Jillian's mother, pointing at a cupcake with a flag on top that says, "World's Best Mother"

Year 30

Now Playing: “Moving On” by Marshmello

Flew to a few cool places.
Saw some amazing artists, musicians and Broadway shows.
Yelled at a lot of sporting events.
Ate a lot of really great food.
But was still able to lose a little bit of weight.
Attended my first music festivals.
Watched my sister marry her mister.
Took a lot of selfies with Inang.
Got out of credit card debt.
Missed Kanye and Day for Night.
Was completely jaded this holiday season.
Rang in the New Year beautifully, at home on the couch with my pups.
Burned out on a job at a company I still love dearly.
Visited the Motherland, said goodbye to my grandmother.
Started to rediscover what my passions are.
Gave my heart away twice, broke a few in the process, and never got any of those pieces back.
Lost my first little furbaby; won’t ever get that piece of my heart back, either.

didn’t write, play, or sing enough, but

Had some crazy adventures full of stories I never thought I’d be telling
With a cast of characters who certainly made things interesting
Some of whom I’ll never see again
And that’s probably for the better
Others who quickly became the type of friends who were able to see me through some insanely dark times
The type of friends who become family
And the rest who have been there since day 1 – my blood, my bests
Who know they’re in for a ride with whatever is in store
None of us knowing what that could be
And being excited and fearful of that notion, both at the same time

I see you, 31.
What you got?

A Father, Husband, Colleague Taken Too Soon

A tough thing you learn at the beginning of your career is that sometimes, you need to move on from a job you may still love, may still be good at, may still have a lot to learn from. For whatever they are, the reasons why you need to leave may outweigh the reasons you should stay. And that is okay. Tough, but okay.

A second tough thing you learn at the beginning of your career is that when you leave these jobs, you leave behind the people who may have been instrumental in staying in the first place. The people who made being away from your family or own personal pursuits for 40 hours a week enjoyable, the people who pushed you to question norms and evolve your thinking, the people who genuinely took pride and joy in your successes and urged you to continue striving for excellence.

And while that is still okay, it’s even tougher. Even though those people know it’s okay, too.

some of the most creative yet most ratchet MOFOs on the digital marketing scene circa 2008

A third tough thing is learning that years after leaving and probably doing a less-than-stellar job keeping it touch like you should have because “life happened” and pride got in the way, one of these people were stolen away much too soon in the most senseless of ways.

I learned this last lesson this past Sunday, and I still cannot believe how much dimmer this world is without Craig Tippit.

Now Playing: “Pour Out A Little Liquor” by 2Pac

I remember first meeting Craig, and it wasn’t this momentous, epic thing necessarily. But that was Craig, whose M.O. was to quietly observe his environment and slowly but surely win you over with topics of conversation he knew you’d find valuable, such as music ministry – which we quickly learned we both shared in common. Both Craig and I were vocalists – he was an amazing tenor – and I sang with/ directed various groups at my home church as well. And when we weren’t talking about music ministry, we were talking about poop.

Man, how both Craig and I loved a good poop joke.

Over the weekend, the Houston Chronicle reported that a 25-year-old driver deliberately drove into Craig’s training group in Waller County during a training ride:

When Craig Randall Tippit, 37, left his home Saturday to train in Waller County for an upcoming triathlon, his wife Stephanie said it felt like any other weekend when he’d leave for what’s usually an uneventful bike ride.

Craig, a father of two young boys and native Houstonian, was preparing for an Ironman triathlon this April.

“He loved to ride,” Stephanie said.

On Saturday, he and dozens of other bicyclists were in Waller County training for the BP MS150 and other competitions. The ride quickly turned tragic when Victor Kevin Tome, 25, allegedly plowed through the cyclists head on in a blue Dodge Stratus.

Tippit died at the scene along with 48-year-old Keri Blanchard Guillory, who was also training.

Since Craig was a much better person than I was, he’d want people to send positive thoughts to help this young man with whatever demons he’s fighting that would make him want to do something so terrible, so senseless.

Something that leaves a good, sweet woman a widow.
Something that leaves two beautiful, little boys without a father.
Something that will leave this young family with a ton of questions of how the future is going to be, what stability will look like with the main provider gone (because every 37-year-old could have always had more, and what Iron Man worries about death?).

In celebration of a man who simply finished the race a little bit ahead of us. RIP Craig. You will be missed.

He probably would have made some sort of sarcastic little comment with a sly little side smile, but that is what he ultimately would have wanted everyone to do.

Like I said, Craig was a much better person than I was, and I personally want to see this young man answer for this ugliness he brought into this world. But I shall bite my tongue and trust the will of the same God that Craig believed in, and instead implore everyone who ever had a dream, a passion for a hobby other people could never do, a gusto for life, and an amazing family that supported you through it all – please help how you can. This could’ve been anyone. Craig was doing what he loved and had done a million times before. And it all happened in the blink of an eye.

Lots of love, light, and prayers to the Tippit family. On behalf of the interactive marketing community and anyone who had the pleasure of working with Craig, we are here… and always will be. Much love.

A Different Kind of Book Club

A few weeks ago, my best friend Sara and I were sharing a healthy meal of pizza and breadsticks after an invigorating hot yoga class (yes, we understand the irony), and the topic of God came up. Sara and I constantly talk about how God finds us on the yoga mat often, mostly when we clear our minds of every day worries and welcome stillness and peace to replace them– and this time was no different. I’m not sure how the conversation evolved (which is not uncommon whenever I think about the conversations I share with Sara), but it led to a very interesting thought: if we all profess to love our friends (with the understanding that God is love), why is it that we rarely bring both parties together?

We didn’t have a good answer for that. Or any answer, for that matter.

I’ve always professed to be a Christian, but I’ll also be the first to admit that I am so far from perfect it’s ridiculous. While I love my church and I attend every week, I find it refreshing to hear the perspective of others and forum freely with them without the fear of judgment or crossing a line drawn by cultural and social norms (my church is predominantly Filipino and, as such, there’s a long list of do’s and don’ts you have to tip-toe around). The sad part about it is, when we first started talking about it, I didn’t always have that opportunity. Neither did Sara.

So we decided to create the opportunity. We figured, “If we all profess to love our friends (with the understanding that God is love), why don’t we make the effort to bring the two together?”

Next study: Thursday, March 21st, 2013. 7:15 p.m. at The Class Room (2534 Amherst Street, Houston TX 77005 in Rice Village)

We sent an email to a few friends we thought would be interested in getting together and got great feedback from all on the mailing list. We decided to meet tonight at La Madeleine in Rice Village, starting with fellowship and physical nourishment that later led to our main course (and my absolute favorite book of the Bible of all time) – the book of James. We were so eager to get started that we decided to dive into the Word before we had finished our meals, which ended up being a great idea because we had so much to discuss– we barely got through half of the book, ending with Chapter 2.

I have read the book of James more times than I can count over the duration of my personal walk, but this discussion opened my mind to so many different ways to interpret the text. I don’t profess to be a subject matter expert on the Bible at all; my own personal intention was to have a deep, Christ-centered conversation with like-minded individuals. I didn’t know how it would go tonight, nor did Sara and I know what to expect. But as always, “all things work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28) and I walked away from our study two hours later feeling rejuvenated, excited, and most importantly, blessed.

I plan to write a blog post more specific to our study, but I wanted to share how excited I am about continuing this study. I know that the majority of my blog posts are sarcastic, comedic and slightly irreverent (I am exceedingly aware of the irony that accompanies the fact that the blog post directly below this is entitled, “Why I Hate Humans”), but the title of my blog is called “Real Talk” – and this is me, being real. Part of our study (our discussion on James 2) focused on the deeds and actions that accompany the faith we profess to have– and I am personally convicted to continue this.

I welcome anyone– and I mean ANYONE– who is looking to hang out with a group of young(ish) believers of any denomination in the loop twice a month for a non-judgmental, completely open forum. I know many of us are active within our own churches, small groups, and/or personal walks, but this would be another venue through which we could grow closer to Him (and each other as well). Our next sesh will be on Thursday, March 21st, 2013 at The Class Room (2534 Amherst Street, Houston TX 77005 – in Rice Village right across the street from La Madeleine). Fellowship starts at 7:15 p.m.* and study starts afterwards. For more details, email me at jillianfortin[at]gmail[dot]com, or Facebook, Tweet, Skype, carrier pigeon, etc. If you are not able to join us this time, aren’t comfortable attending and just maybe want a penpal of sorts to exchange messages with, that’s totally cool too. Drop me a line either way and allow me to keep you in my thoughts and personal prayers, as I hope you will be praying for our little group as well. God bless 🙂 (Love, Serious Jillian)

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
James 1:5

*I had previously listed fellowship as starting at 6:45, but Cabby just reminded me that the shop doesn’t close till 7. Whoops.

Whaaaaat? Happy Birthday?!

Our grandma’s kind of a big deal.

We know this. She knows this. Everyone knows this.

Each year, we throw a party befitting someone of her superstar status – and how excited I was to be able to throw this year’s party at my house. I felt like somewhere, a gigantic checkbox was being marked off on a large, invisible list of things to do to honor your family before your life is over.


My favorite part was Inang’s face when I walked in with her cake. I had carefully chosen this one – a low-sugar, purple taro cake from Jungle Cafe. 

Based on her reaction, I’d guess I did a pretty good job.

Happy 85th birthday to my amazing Inang! I love you!

2-For-1 Birthday

Inang received an awesome birthday gift this year – a brand new great-granddaughter. Who could ask for a better birthday gift?

Happy birthday to two beautiful ladies I adore so much – my loving Inang and my sweet niece Alyssa Faith!

Why I Hate Humans: A Weekly Digest

This world is full of people who exhibit some appalling, disgusting behavior. This week, it included the following:

The woman who promised a young man dying of cancer that his financial woes were over.

They weren’t. Because she was lying. She was lying to impress a celebrity who had made a video appeal to the Internet to help him. This chick, “Jonnica Ellis,” promised young Tom Doty that she was going to front $250,000 for him to undergo experimental but highly successful experimental therapy. She forged documents, bank statements, wire transfers, and emails saying the money was en route and to proceed with the treatment. The family packed up and went to San Diego for the treatment, stopping the young man’s therapy for about 8 weeks– only to find out that the money was never coming. He passed away on December 19th.

The dude who took a first date to Applebee’s and made her pay for it.

I mean, seriously. Applebee’s? I wouldn’t wish an Applebee’s meal on my worst enemy. My favorite bits:

  • I noticed that every time this girl looked away from him he would twitch. And i mean Twitch. Not just some little tweek, I’m talking a good full-out torque, these things had a wind-up.
  • With the girl in the bathroom, Sir Twitch-n-torque breaks out his phone and makes a call. Whoever he’s on the phone with is now being bombarded with events that never occurred (Ex. “This fine-ass honey is a dime dude, we came in, sat down she jus started grabbin ma junk right theh under the table, etc etc”)… I tune back into the end of his phone conversation as he frustratingly replies “I dont know, ma, like around 11!”
  • He reaches across the table, grabs his date’s Long island Ice Tea, pounds the whole glass. No hesitations, 3 gulps, done. He then announces to our section “CRUNK JUICE”, and slams the glass down where he found it.
  • So after all his talking of himself describing his ‘cakeflow’, and his being on his way to making his first million dollars, she snaps. “Okay, um, I’m sorry, but are you like retarded or something, seriously” He pauses, laughs, says “Nah, but I’m stupid diggin you right now”. Then he leans back, fist to his mouth and goes “Ooooohhh sh*t!!”
  • I know the cost of $6 drinks, $8 shots, along with 2 apps and 2 dinners, their check was probably something around 65-80 bucks. He takes out his wallet, and you could almost hear the drumroll. Young Galahad here only has 18 bucks on him.

Reminds me of a guy I dated briefly who once asked me if I wanted to sponsor a haircut. Those were his exact words. “Sponsor a haircut.” Never. Freaking. Again.

Judgmental Cashiers at Sam’s Club

Someone with whom I’m acquainted on Facebook is an occupational therapist by trade. They posted the following (then swiftly deleted it… but not before I had copied and pasted it to IM it to The Bestie since it made me so sick):

“Today my quadriplegic patient told me while he was shopping at Sam’s a cashier called his wife "a lazy, waste of tax dollars” when they used food stamps.“

REALLY?! Being a caregiver to someone you love is a 24/7 job. When was the last time you worked that hard? Lazy my ass.

Octomom, who is back on welfare.

After the publicity stunts, brief stint in porn, and whatever the heck she might have gotten herself involved in, Octomom is back on public assistance! I know I don’t have kids, and I can’t possibly imagine what it must be like to be raising fourteen. But I mean, come on. This was your decision. And not in the whole "You decided to perform an act that leads to creating new life” sort of way. More like “You went to a doctor and told the doctor to put 14 babies in your uterus.” And after everything she’s done to scrape the bottom of the spotlight barrel, she’s back on the government’s pay roll. Unbelievable.

Ephemeral Madness.

Welcome to 26, Jillian.

It’s a new start. A new start is a good thing. A new start is a good thing.

“Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:18, 19 KJV)

A new start is a good thing.

How To: Be The Bigger Person

Psalm 37

Of David.

Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.

Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.

Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret —it leads only to evil.

Continue reading “How To: Be The Bigger Person”

A Valentine From My Best Friend

Was waiting for my flight to Guatemala City to board and I hit an emotional low point. Not proud of it but an airport terminal can be one of the loneliest places imaginable on Valentines Day.

Then, I got the sweetest “cheer me up” from my bestie.

God bless her.