On Holiday Mode...

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I just wish to say "Hi" to y'all. I haven't had a post for a while here because of my busy schedule at work and due to the fact that I AM ON VACATION mode! Woohoo!

Just to give you a peek of what I have been doing these days, here are a few of my shots from my recent trips (most of them were taken using iPhone 5 C). I visited a total of 6 cities in 4 days. Whew! New York, New Jersey, Atlantic City,  Washington D.C., Maryland & Philadelphia. The ones below are just from New York.

5th Avenue, New York

Time Square, New York

I will share more stories and photos about my adventure soon after I return from my Mexico trip..... 

Have a lovely week! :D


Sunday, July 19, 2015

from Unsplash by Aaron Burden

It has been a crazy busy but blessed week. 

I feel #grateful because of the many grace-filled moments and answered prayers I had this week.

One message that stood out to me was:

"It is not Happiness that makes us Grateful. Rather, it is Gratefulness that makes us Happy."

From the time I gave my "Yes" to two consecutive [edited] services this weekend, everyday has been a conscious effort of finding something to be grateful for. After all, the topics revolved around being Grateful and being Blessed to Bless.

I thought to myself, if I could not think of at least 5 things to thank God for, it would be like disregarding the countless blessings He's lavished on me.

So, I resolved to make a list every month of the 5 blessings that I am most grateful for.

1. The New Apartment. I am really thankful that our applications got approved. For the first time in 5 years, I will see my sister's family live together in an apartment.

2. My Brother's New Job. After months of praying for a stable job, my younger brother finally got one. Yey!

3. My Team and my Job. I have always mentioned that one of my greatest blessings is my job. Because of my job, I went to places and now I am reunited with my family. Thank God for the job that pays for my rent and other expenses. (and my travels too!)

4. The People around me. Everyday, I learn something new from every one I meet or interact with. Each one of them brings me joy, hope and love. 

5. My Mom. Although, I admit sometimes she can be a bit pushy on me, but I appreciate the fact that my life here has been so much bearable with her around. 

All these are just few of the many blessings that I enjoy but may so often tend to neglect.

I am sure that you also have a lot more to be thankful for! List them down. And ponder on them every time you feel that life is tough on you. Surely, you'll find that your blessings outnumber your challenges or trials. Remember, what you focus on Grows. COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS!

Have a Blessed workweek everyone! :D

The Gift of Giving

Thursday, July 9, 2015

by Maja Petric @ Unsplash.com

Lately, I have been going through a test. One that I feel I was purposely geared up for all my life. A test of self-denial for the good of the people I love. 

When I decided with my mom to dismiss our plan of joining the Marian Pilgrimage this year, I felt like my heart got broken in two. It is my dream for my mom and myself to go for a pilgrimage once in our lifetime. 

However, due to a more urgent and important reason, I had to set that dream aside for now, indefinitely. I know, Europe could just be like a day trip for some. But I will continuously hold onto our wish. Yes, someday it is! Soon! 

All this time, I thought that I have been giving enough. I was wrong. I am ashamed to have realized that just when I thought I needed to help someone, it turned out that I was the one who needed help.

Tonight, I watched a story of a disabled young man named Kevin. He sits outside the St. Joseph the Patriarch Parish in Cebu under the scorching heat of the sun, begging for alms all day, asking for charity from passers-by. It is common in the Philippines to see kids on the streets knocking at the car windows, pleading for alms. But what differentiates Kevin from all the rest is his selflessness. He would offer some of the money he collects to the church. When asked why, he smiled and replied with cheerfulness. I was awe-inspired by his answer. (Paraphrased and translated in English) 

"I cannot forget giving back to God because he is the source of all my blessings so I will share my blessings to Him."

Imagine with what little he makes each day, he still has something to give back. Indeed, we are never too poor not to be able to help. But I can see God's provision in his life from the story I heard. He gets by everyday. I think that he is even happier than most people who are rich and/or able-bodied. At 18, Kevin is on his 4th grade in school. 

Kevin's story reminded me of what true giving is like. Sometimes, I feel burdened by the cross that I need to share with the people I love. However, as I give more, I always end up gaining more in return. I then realized that I am the one who needs charity. I also need the grace of humility to acknowledge that as I am a giver to others, I am also a beneficiary of God's blessings on the other hand. And because God does things with a purpose, I too shall partake of His plan of blessing others. 

With this realization, I pray I may have a heart of a cheerful giver, that I may give not out of an obligation or a burden but that I may share out of love for the other person. 

"The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 

2 Corinthians 9:6-7

Kevin, I pray that God will bless you with all your needs. Thank you for the inspiration! 

TyneDee Photo Prompts: Leaving my Sweet Home Texas

Monday, July 6, 2015

"Good morning! This is Patricia Joni Smith. I'd like to speak to Ms. Jennifer, please. She left a message on my voicemail asking for me to return her call." I could hear my voice trembled in anticipation of the news that I was praying for.

"Oh, hello Ms. Smith. Yes, I called to tell you that we have chosen you for the exchange student program. You will report to the George York University in September. I am also glad to inform you that we have found a benefactor who will sponsor for all your expenses in the duration of the program, meal allowance and dormitory accommodation included."

"That's really a great news you got there, Ms. Jennifer! I am so happy to hear it from you! Thank you for all your help!" 

"No worries, Ms. Smith. I shall see you soon. If you got any further questions, feel free to call me anytime!"

"For sure! Thank you again and have a good day, Ms. Jennifer!" Upon putting down the phone, I felt like I want to leap for joy. It sounded like the giant doors of heaven had opened before me and angels were singing 'Hallelujah!'

"Mom! Dad! I got it!" I ran to the kitchen where my dad was peeling some potatoes for the salad that he's making for dinner. And we jumped in jubilation.

"Oh, I am so happy for you Joni, honey!" My mom on her high pitch came rushing to hug me from the small terrace where she had been talking to her flowering plants all afternoon. 

Uhm, by the way, let me warn you. Talking to flowers and cows is normal in our home. My small family is full of comedy, day in and day out. First off, my mom calls me Joni, taken from her name Joniora, pronounced as Hon-yo-ra with the mexican accent. Thank goodness she pronounces my name with the English alphabet J. Otherwise, it would sound weird. My dad, on the other hand, calls me Tricia. He gave me my first name after his own name Patrick. And there goes the everyday confusion I have been battling with since I was a kid. But I like being called Tricia more. Of course, I don't tell that to my mom to avoid chaos in the house.

In the midst of our rejoicing, my mom just started wailing. Oh-My-Gosh! Here we go again!

"C'mon Jon (Hon)! You won't spoil our daughter's happy moment, will you? It's not like she's going to get married and leave for good!" Dad gave mom a pat on her shoulder, trying to calm her down. Actually, mom's crying can get really annoying. Mom is always the emotional, dramatic one in the family. She cries over shallow things, tv series, a news, a McDonad's ad, name it, she'll cry over anything and everything! I remember she once wept when a neighbor's pet had died. The pet is a piranha, by the way. They got it from the river 2 days before its natural death. If you must know.

Well, I guess, I could not really blame her. I am their only child. Mom and Dad had me when they were in their mid 20's. My dad waited for ages for my mom to give him her 'Yes'. You see, my mom came from a very conservative family in the small town of Nuevo Dia in Mexico. My dad saw her when mom's family visited a relative here in Farmville, Texas. We have a little farm where dad tends the cows and talks to them every day. Mom on the other hand, takes care of our small garden (and sings to the flowers and vegetables too!). We live a pretty simple yet decent life.

Growing up with my parents around has given me a sense of comfort knowing that they are always there for me. My dad would drop me off to school everyday at the nearby town. At 17, mom would still go up to my bedroom in the attic to kiss me goodnight. I could imagine how much different living on my own in a big city will be for me. It's like a clownfish pet had been taken out from a tank and placed on the big ocean. At least, I am not a piranha. But whatever!

"Honey, your dad and I have something to give you. We hope you'd bring this with you to Canada." She handed me a big gift bag. I pulled out the thing inside and out I saw Chep, my childhood stuffed toy dressed on a newly crocheted top. I pretended to be surprised. 'Ahh.. O.K. at least I got something from home with me.'

"Thanks Mom. Thanks Dad! I will be back in 6 months. Mom, promise me you won't cry everyday. I will call you on the weekends, O.K.?" 

"Tricia, sweetheart, please do not open yourself to boys yet." Hmm, by the sound of it, dad is like reminding me to be a celibate until I get married. They always tell me that. I was raised to have conservative values. 

I gave my folks a long embrace then off I went inside the departure area.

I know it's going to be a tough adjustment for me but I could only hope this will get me closer to my dreams. 

Feeling ecstatic and anxious at the same time, I looked through the window to get a last glimpse of Texas. I will surely miss my hometown.

"Hi. Is this your bag here?" 

"Oh, I'm sorry." I hurriedly pulled my backpack and placed it underneath the seat in front of me. 

"No worries. Thanks!" A guy on black suit made his way to the seat next to mine.

The flight attendant came by and asked me to straighten up my seat before we take off. 

"Here, let me help you." The kind guy must have noticed my panic. He moved closer, his arms almost wrapped around me, reaching for the lock of my seat belt.

"Thank you. It's my first time on a plane." I blushed. 

He smiled but I could see he was suppressing his laughter. 

"There you go. I am Allen, by the way." He extended his right hand and shook mine. 

"It's Tricia. Nice meeting you, Allen." I shyly curved a smile. I could tell this young man is from the city. The suit is really nice on him. Sharp-looking,  well-fitted. His sleek hair neatly held in place by a hair gel of sort. He sure has got a fine sense in fashion. Something that I do not often see in Farmville, really. Not to mention that he looks charming for a seat mate. 

Damn it. Hello temptations! Yikes! I can do this!

This is a Joint Photo Prompt Project of Dee and myself. 
Feel free to join us by posting the same photo that we will feature 
every second Monday of the month. 
You can write about anything 
using your Creative Ideas.
Come join the Fun! :)