(Interview) Sharmaine Saraspi of Guilt, Grace, Gratitude

You know the T-shirts, hoodies and the mugs. Now let’s get to know the person behind these merchs. Sharmaine Saraspi of Guilt, Grace, Gratitude talks about her recent merch booth over Pilgrim Theological Conference, how she started GGG, and being creative for God’s glory.

Hi Sharmaine. Saw some photos of you and your booth at the Pilgrim Theological Conference. So how was the experience being there with your merchs?

It is actually refreshing and I am truly grateful to finally set up a merch booth again after 3 years of the pandemic.

There are lots of Reformed brethren there and I think they like what you put out through Guilt, Grace, Gratitude. What’s the feeling of being recognized and being able to see folks wearing your t-shirts?

I’m actually shy because I’ve been trying to sell the merch while keeping a low profile since I started back in 2018, but I eventually made friends on social media (got exposed hahaha)  and was referred to by them, so eventually I got used to it.

Besides being thankful, I also get excited thinking of the possibilities every time people notice and get curious about the meaning of my designs. I always hope that they can use it somehow and may start a healthy discussion that leads someone to know the gospel.

Did you interact with Dr. Mark Jones?

Yes! Actually, he visited me in my booth and looked around. He liked the Sinner Saint hoodie (a collab design with Nick Llanes) for his daughter and was planning to buy it, so I gave it to him as a gift thinking that he might get too busy afterward and won’t have enough time to buy. I asked someone to give it to him before the day ended and he rushed back to the booth just to thank me. He said he will send me pictures in return! Hahaha.

Sharmaine with Dr. Mark Jones

Wow that’s nice. I can’t wait for that “endorsement”. Now let’s step back a little and tell us how you came to Christ?

We started a family at a young age so we struggled and adjusted ourselves to a lot of things.

After 3 years of living in I thought, maybe the blessing of marriage can sort of fix my personal insecurities and God may grant blessings upon us, but even after marriage we continue struggling in life as young adults and by that time, we had our 2 kids.

Looking back, I didn’t have enough time to take care of myself and felt alone in a journey and knew was a consequence of my wrong decisions, so I became hopeless, anxious, and angry with myself. I work night and day as a freelance Graphic Designer and was found by a Christian Employer who shared her life and prayed with me almost every time I felt like giving up. I soon realized that maybe, I needed God in my life. But, who is God? How should I know which religion tells the truth? So I asked some people I know, read articles, and then found out that a dear friend of mine in college became a Christian and was a changed man now. I got even more curious thinking about what life could be if you are near God.

I can clearly remember how desperate I was trying to search for God so I asked this friend if we could visit them at church. I thought I should bring my family, so I asked my husband to bring our kids (3-year-old and 3-month-old baby at the time) as well. After service, they asked us to join a Bible study group but were surprised when my husband shared that he knew someone and attended a Bible Study group near that area too. Eventually, we attended the group my husband recommended and met my D-group there. I continued attending, asking questions, and crying my heart out each time we studied God’s word.

I soon started reading the Bible not knowing that it would help me to get to know God and myself more which led me to repent of all my sins and realize my great need for God’s saving. From then onwards, I never look back and continue to live a life in Christ.

(Our local church is  Pilgrim Community Church).

Great conversion story! Prior to being saved have you already been proactive in creating merchs?

Not yet, but I think my husband started the printing business months after my conversion, then I started GGG after 2 years since I focused on my home-based work and taking care of our children.

Where do you get inspiration from when doing, say a T- shirt design or artwork for your mugs?

I think first of general topics in relation to Christian living then incorporate a catchy design that will represent the meaning clearly or enough for people to get curious about it.

For example: regeneration – God changing our heart of stone into flesh.

Faith & Repentance – wings

Saint Sinner – Ambigram card illustration of our nature.

Do you involve your kids in making merch? Any advice to parents like me who want to use those “bonding time” as a means to give them biblical truths that they must know?

Yes, since I also homeschool my children and we have the printing business to start with, I take all opportunities given to share how we can fully use God’s good gifts for His glory, for the gospel, and how we can exercise Christian virtues as believers in God-given path.

From being a good steward, serving and loving your neighbor in the context of the church, and early exposure to theology using tools like atechism, I think it is also important that they recognize God’s goodness in all His provisions whether in hardship or in every granted blessing in life. So all these things are daily meditation and labor needed.

As believing parents, we should also take comfort that we are not doing this alone. That we are serving a good and faithful God who takes care of us by giving us not only His word but a church which we can share our burdens and prayers with as we persevere in this life together.

How important is creativity being rooted in biblical grounds?

We are created by a Great Creator Himself so I believe, each of us has been given a task and opportunities to exercise it in whatever field we are in today. He will surely provide the resources and the people you need according to His will and purpose if we truly seek His guidance and help. I keep Matthew 6:32-34 in mind and heart deeply.

“For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Will it be an overstatement to say that Reformed folks are the most creative Christians?

Though I’ve never heard of this, I think it is an overstatement hahaha, but we should keep in mind that we are called to excel in whatever we do for the glory of the Triune God, and if given the opportunity, (according to God’s graces) let’s make great use of it in good faith – ministering and giving light to the world.

Just like how the Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A #1 summarized it, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

What is the one piece of advice that you can give if someone wants to do what you do in Guilt Grace Gratitude?

Do everything in good faith.

“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. “  – Colossians 3:16-17

Thank you, Sharmaine. Please tell us about Guilt Grace Gratitude and how folks can get those shirts, mugs and other stuff you’re putting out?

Thank you for giving me this opportunity, Kuya!

Guilt Grace Gratitude started in 2018 and will continue to develop quality products that stir our hearts and minds to Christ.

Kindly follow us on Facebook and Instagram for our upcoming Shopee Store Announcement!

Soli Deo Gloria!

(Did you enjoy what you read? Did this article help you? If yes, you can say “Thank you” by sharing 10 Pesos or more at my G-Cash or Paymaya account: Marianito Gonzales – 09163315535. For international friends, you can send it through Paypal: nitoymgonzales@gmail.com)

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