Reformed Young Poet: Delighting Grace Interviews Leah Paula Villanueva

It pays to “Like” Facebook’s page suggestions on your newsfeed. If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t stumble to a page that show case some good poetry. And not just poetry but solid, biblical poems. Delighting Grace reach out to the page owner and poet Leah Paula Villanueva to talk about poetry, inspirations and her poems.
Delighting Grace: Hello Leah! So tell us what poem had an impact to your life?
Leah Paula: Hi Delighting Grace and to its readers. This is the poem that has made an impact in my life:
I asked the Lord that I might grow 
In faith and love and ev’ry grace, 
Might more of His salvation know, 
And seek more earnestly His face. 
‘Twas He who taught me thus to pray, 
And He, I trust, has answered prayer, 
But it has been in such a way 
As almost drove me to despair. 
I hoped that in some favored hour 
At once He’d answer my request 
And, by His love’s constraining pow’r, 
Subdue my sins and give me rest. 
Instead of this, He made me feel 
The hidden evils of my heart 
And let the angry pow’rs of hell 
Assault my soul in ev’ry part. 
Yea, more with His own hand He seemed 
Intent to aggravate my woe, 
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed, 
Humbled my heart and laid me low. 
“Lord, why is this,” I trembling cried; 
“Wilt Thou pursue Thy worm to death?” 
“’Tis in this way,” the Lord replied, 
“I answer prayer for grace and faith.” 
“These inward trials I employ 
From self and pride to set thee free 
And break thy schemes of earthly joy 
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.” 
Delighting Grace: Wow, that is one great poem from John Newton. So when did you start writing poetry?
Leah Paula: I started writing poetry way back in college.
Delighting Grace: Do you have a poet hero someone who you look up to?
Leah Paula: I don’t have a poet hero but I have friends — classmates in college — whom I look up to for their writings inspire me to write.
Delighting Grace: What was the first poem you wrote?
Leah Paula: The first poem I wrote is about Indepence Day, a Tagalog poem.
Delighting Grace: When did you decided to put up a FB page for your works? By the way, I really like your poems.
Leah Paula: Thank you. It was when a Facebook friend asked me if I have a Youtube channel for my sign language covers. I told him that I have but the videos just got deleted right after because of the coppyrights so he suggested that I should atleast have a page so that it will be easier for friends to look for it. I listened to his advise so on that day I created a Facebook Page for my sign language covers and also a page for my poems at the same time so that all the poems that have been stocked in my phone will be saved because I was actually planning to compile it on something and delete every poem in my phone to save memory.
Delighting Grace: How do you get inspirations or poem prompt specially in writing love poem? Do you have certain habits or rituals when you start writing a new poem?
Leah Paula: I get inspiritations in writing love poems by reading other people’s works or by re-reading the previous works I’ve already written. Or sometimes it just depends on my feelings. If I feel hurt or in love, or if I feel the hurt and pain that people experience, it triggers me to put everything into words. And I don’t really have any habit or ritual every time I write a new poem. But there are times that when I learn a new vocabulary that just sounds good to me, I feel like I need to include it in my poem just because it’s very pleasing to my ears.
Delighting Grace: How about in writing poems that has a biblical message? Is the writing different with other poems you have done?
Leah Paula: When it comes to writing theological poems, I can say that I do it ultimately to help me in my sanctification.  I have learned from John Piper that one of the ways to meditate on God’s Word is to write a poem so I try my best to practice it. I have poems that is rich in doctrine, and there are others that is purely emotional prayer.
The difference with other poems is because it actually takes a lot of effort and energy to write a theological poem since I really make sure I only write what is biblical and I also desire that through my writings, people will be blessed.
Delighting Grace: Among the poems you have wrote so far, which one is your favorite and why?
Leah Paula: My favorite poem I have written is I Am Adam because every time I read it, I just feel in awe of Jesus’ person and work as our Federal head. He is the second Adam who came to rescue us from ourselves
Delighting Grace: Do you agree with the notion that if you want a heart felt love poem, you need first to have an experience or had a relationship to write one?
Leah Paula: Not really. I’m not 100% sure, but I’ve experienced writing a heartfelt poem when one of my bestfriends in college got cheated on. I felt like I was the one who’s in pain and who got betrayed that’s why I was able to write a poem. But I think that I was also able to write that because somehow thru my friend’s pain, I felt that all the pain I’ve experienced became a reopened wound.
Delighting Grace: What do you think can poem convey that other forms of writing say essay or prose can’t do?
Leah Paula: All writings convey a message to the readership or to the audience. The only difference is just the method on how we want our message to be expressed. But the good thing about poetry is that it is more entertaining to read. The metaphors and other figures of speech present in the poem make us think critically about the message and by understanding the meaning gives us pure delight.
Delighting Grace: For readers who want to try poetry what piece of advice can you give them?
Leah Paula: Writing is never easy specially poetry but by practicing everyday will help us improve. No matter how fast or slow our progress is, what matters most is the improvement we make. Besides we cannot fill a glass with water without having all the droplets combined.
Delighting Grace: I also want the readers to know that aside from poetry, you have this sign language video thing. Can you tell us about it?
Leah Paula: Yes. Senyas is the page intended to promote sign language to our hearing community and for them to be aware that deaf people exist and that they need to be understood and prioritized, too. It’s also my goal to help the deaf community understand the songs we sing so that they’ll be able to enjoy it as well. Please “Like” or “Share” if you enjoyed the videos.
Delighting Grace: Thank you, Leah. Please invite our readers to check you and your poems.
Leah Paula: Hi friends! Please do follow my FB page and I hope you’re blessed thru my poems and please react or write a comment for me to know your feedbacks. Thank you!
Delighting Grace: Thank you again Leah. Guys check her out OK. Till next time!
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Faith She Wrote: Delighting Grace Interviews Marlene Legaspi-Munar

Writing, like its counterpart reading, is essential in our lives. But have you ever wonder what is like having it as a profession? How do we start and develop it? What are some tips to be one of the best? Most importantly, how can we use this it to glorify God? Delighting Grace talks with Marlene Legaspi-Munar to answer those questions and more:
Delighting Grace: Hello Marlene, so tell us when did you start writing?
 Marlene Legaspi Munar: I started writing as a hobby when I was about 12 or 13 years old. I first wrote poems and then later on I also tried writing stories. My first short story was published in a magazine when I was 16 years old. I was also a contributor in our high school organ around that time. I began writing professionally about two years after college graduation. 
Delighting Grace: Who do you look up to in writing? Any writing heroes?
Marlene Legaspi Munar: Well, there are writers whose style of writing I admire, like Max Lucado. I also like the style of Bob Ong. I admire the way Robin Jones Gunn connects with her readers not only through her writings, but personally and through the social media. There are some other writers I’m thankful for because their writings inspired me a lot. 
Delighting Grace: They say that if you’re a good writer you must be a good reader also? Do you see that in becoming a writer?
Marlene Legaspi Munar: Oh yes, that’s true. I grew up surrounded by reading materials. I would read piles of old magazines from my aunt’s attic during summer. My other aunt also bought for us encyclopedia and other books, including the Bible. In grade school and high school, I would always borrow books from the library and even list the books I’ve read. I think my love for books led me to my love for writing.
Delighting Grace: Another is a sort of rule  in writing. That is, you should write what like. Do you follow or break this rule?
Marlene Legaspi Munar: When I was working as a magazine staff writer, I had to write about the assignments given to me; I had to do that even as a freelance writer getting assignments from editors. But as a freelancer, somehow I have freedom in choosing writing assignments. I wouldn’t choose a project or topic which I’m not enthusiastic about. 
Delighting Grace: Where do you get inspirations in writing? Any sort of “rituals” you do before you write?
 Marlene Legaspi Munar: I acknowledge that God gives gifts, and I’m very thankful that He has given me the gift of writing. So it’s obvious that I get inspiration from Him first of all. Before I write, I pray that God would give me wisdom, insight, and understanding. I also pray that He will use me to enlighten and encourage other people with my writings.You could call that a ritual. Also, my husband has observed that I have a ritual before I could write–I would set up my writing station this way: plug my computer, put a foam under my table as a footstool, and another foam on my chair. Only then could I begin writing.
Delighting Grace: You have done services in different Christian organizations. Can you tell us which is the most notable and unforgettable among them and why?
Marlene Legaspi Munar: Each project I do with a Christian organization is significant because of the opportunity to sow good seeds–the word of God. For instance, I’m grateful to have written Bible-based values modules for VOICE Philippines. These materials are used in public schools for values education. I’m happy to have a contribution in the values formation of our young citizens.
      For three years, I also served as a consultant for the curriculum revision project of the Philippine office of Compassion International. Within those three years, our team was able to come up with a national curriculum for all the church partners of Compassion all over the Philippines. The curriculum was designed to help in the holistic development of their sponsored children.
Delighting Grace: Great! In what ways can we exalt God in our writing? How does writing strengthen our faith?
 Marlene Legaspi Munar: We can exalt God by what we write and how we write. There are so many things to write about–but in the end, I believe that we should write about the truth or what we write should lead us to the discovery of the truth. Philippians 4:8 also gives us a good guideline: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Bad news sells, that’s why all the more we should promote news or stories that are noble, admirable, excellent. If our writings (in whatever form–be it straight news, fiction or devotional) reflects these virtues and if they inspire and lead us to God, then we have strengthened the faith of our readers. And that means we have glorified God.
 As writers, we can also exalt God through our work ethics. Writers show a spirit of excellence in their patience in crafting a good story, in their respect for their readers, editors, and publishers, and in meeting deadlines. Properly acknowledging a source is also a sign of a truthful and responsible writer. 
Delighting Grace: What if I’m a novice in your field, what is the most indispensable advice you can give me?
Marlene Legaspi Munar: Read, read, read. Write, write, write. You learn a lot from what you read. You not only gain knowledge, you also learn about writing style from different authors. Have a writing journal to jot down your book ideas, observations, quotes, your own thoughts and feelings, and just about  anything you feel like writing about. This will become your rich source of materials for writing later on. It helps to have some training so if you have opportunity, attend writing seminars. Sometimes I’m invited to conduct writing seminars. If your group wants to have a writing seminar, you can contact me at and we can arrange to have one for your group. Connect with writers too. Follow me on twitter: marlene_munar. Many writers are happy to interact with their readers. 
Delighting Grace: You wrote a book “Add Mo Ko as Friend”. So tell us more about it.
Marlene Legaspi Munar: “Add Mo ‘Ko as Friend” is a book written in Taglish and published by OMF Literature. It’s about developing online and offline friendships. There’s a chapter on social networking, making friends through Facebook. Other chapters cover how to be a true friend. It became a bestseller at National Book Store–first in June 2012 when it reached the Top 5 slot, and then in July 2012 when it moved up to Top 3 position in the Philippine Publication Category. I thank God that many readers care to tell me how the book has helped them know more about themselves as a friend and how to relate better with others. You can purchase a copy of the book from OMF Literature’s website where they have an e-store. It’s both in print and digital edition. The e-book or digital edition is available from Amazon and Flipreads. I hope you’ll also like and share its Facebook page
Delighting Grace: Please invite our readers to get in touch with you. You have a blog and some social media, right? Also your work as a freelance writer.
Marlene Legaspi Munar: I enjoy writing and I hope I’m able to inspire you all. I also love hearing from readers! So please follow me on Twitter. I also have two blogs, Perspective where I post my reflections and Happy Traveler where you can read about my traveling adventures (yes, I like to travel!). You can learn more about the works that I do and see some of my photos in my website. You can also email me at
Delighting Grace: Any parting words for those aspiring Christian writers who want to make writing as a profession like yours.
 Marlene Legaspi Munar: If you feel that God has called you to write for Him, dedicate your life to this calling. Spend time reading God’s Word, the Bible, because you can learn much about life and what to write about through the Scriptures. Be trained and hone your writing talents. Be humble and accept constructive criticisms. Expect to work with many people involved in publishing. Endure but enjoy the process of writing. As much as the task of writing is a process, the writer is also a work in progress. You are called not just to be a writer, but to be a disciple of Christ. God will use your journey as a writer to shape you into Christ-likeness and draw you closer to Him. You may be writing a story, but in the background, God is writing yours. God bless you and hope to see your works in print!
Delighting Grace: Thank you and God bless you Marlene. So guys her out in her blogs, social media and website. Don’t forget to grab a copy of her book “Add Mo Ko as Friend”. God bless you as you write for God’s glory!
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