My Epic 2017

Sunday, December 31, 2017

I can’t believe it! As in all the past years, 2017 seemed to have passed by so quickly. Now, I only have a few hours left of what turned out to be an epic year for me.

So here’s to reminiscing and celebrating my highs and lows of 2017.

Promotion. I remember welcoming the new year with a new title as a Manager. Funny though, little did I know that I will have to prepare and review my own work. Pretty much like a King without a Kingdom. Lol. It was tough at first but it’s all good now. I finally have my own complete structured team plus a wonderful VP.

Going Home. As promised, I made it a point to go home to the Philppines and visit my mom and family at least once a year. And as the cliché goes, nothing beats home, especially coming home to the sumptuous meals cooked with so much love by Mama and the warm welcoming of families and friends. My love tank always ends up being full at home. Thank God for the blessing of my family!

Condo Turnover. After 5 years, I finally got the key to my condo! Woot! BUT… I had no idea it was going to be really stressful to get all the appliances and furnitures that I had wanted for the theme of my unit in just 3 days. See link here for daily and monthly rental needs. :)

Mission with the Missionaries of the Poor. What can I say? This was the very highlight of my 2017 for the many answered prayers I received during and after the mission. It was my 2nd time to visit and serve there, only that, this time, I was blessed to be joined in by 2 wonderful brave women who turned out to be my new best friends in the community, Giselle and Chegail. I had it in my heart to share and give back whatever little I can to the needy in the centers but as in all other missions I did in the past, I always, never fails, end up taking away more than what I could ever offer to the mission. Indeed, I was overwhelmed with love and joy in serving with the MOP. They are such a blessing to me! This is going to be a lifetime mission.

My Miracle. Back in July, my family doctor broke the news to me about a condition in my uterus that may eventually prevent me from bearing a child. God knows how I long to be a mother someday. It was devastating for me. But I resolved to keep my faith up and offer my condition for healing. When I went to the mission, there I experienced my first affirmation of healing. The excruciating pain that I go through every single month for the last 10 years was suddenly gone! Not even a feel of pinch. 2 weeks after the mission, my specialist confirmed that I am perfectly well. Praise God!

Affirmation on my vocation. During my first visit in the Missionaries of the Poor in 2015, I had the chance to meet the sisters and know a bit about their daily life, how they lovingly take care and look after the residents. They have such inexplicable joy and peace in their faces. All of it was so appealing to me that I felt the calling to discern for religious life. And so since that time, I had always prayed for God to lead me to the path that He is calling me into. So when I went back in August, I was open to the possibility that I may end up pursuing the religious vocation if I felt the strong calling to do so. For 7 days, I kept praying and on the last day, I got the long awaited crystal clear answer. It was that personal and intimate moment that affirmed to me that I am called to be a wife and a mother, the light to my own family someday. And so, I await for God’s perfect time for that to happen.

My Constants. Whenever I find myself reflecting on my blessings in life, I often feel overwhelmed by the love and care of the people around me. They are definitely my greatest blessings. Sometimes I would even ask myself, “what have I done to deserve their love?” I thank my family, friends, and relatives who have remained to be my source of strength and inspiration all these years. Without their prayers and unconditional love, I don’t know how far I could go in this lifetime.

New friends and inspirations. In this life, you will encounter people who may or may not stay long but has a special lesson or blessing to leave you. There are some whom I may have known for just a short while but have that role of etching a mark in my person – either they needed something from me or I needed to learn something from them at that time. My close friend once said that I tend to be open to people to a fault, that is, not having any reservation at all. But I guess, it helps to know a person fully if I open up myself as well. I think I easily fall in love with people who are fearless to bare their souls and hearts to me. So I am thankful to everyone whom I just met this year and have shared a light in my journey.

Lessons learned. I kept learning new lessons and re-learning old ones all year round. Lol. I guess that’s what makes the journey more exciting – the humps and bumps along the way. The hurdles that you need to leap over which oftentimes, require your creativity and more importantly, your positivity. Two lessons that kept coming back to me all these years is first, to never give up on the yearnings of my heart. After all, God placed those desires in my heart. Secondly, while I always feel that I have so much love to give to people, circumstances often reminded me to love myself too. Better sense be had, I should now know how to strike a balance.

Adventures. This is perhaps one of the most awesome years for me in terms of travels with 2 amazing vacations I made along with my equally adventurous girlfriends. After my trips to Lake Tahoe, Yosemite National Park and the Crazy Iceland, I realized I long to be one with  nature. Lol. I appreciate natural beauty more than concrete jungles of bustling cities. My penchant for traveling has definitely taken me to greater adventures this year. Maybe Africa or Antarctica next year?

My Sweet Beautiful Heart. I thank God for my heart. Funny that I have only come to embrace this title fully as friends started to call me this instead of my name. Well, mind you, it is both an honor and a responsibility. Lol. But I am always grateful for my resilient and loving heart. It’s endured quite a lot but it always chooses to love. And so I pray that I may have more love, joy and peace to share to every person I meet in this life.

And for all these, may God be praised! Thank you, Lord for everything! 2017 was indeed nothing short of amazing. I look forward to more of your Bests for me in 2018!

As part of my yearly tradition, here’s a video summary of the highlights of the passing year.

Thank you for taking time to read through! Blessings! :)

The Heart of the Woman in Me

Saturday, November 4, 2017

For years, I have painstakingly endeavored to understand my heart. The fragile and resilient heart of mine.

Growing up with no masculine image at home was tough. My father's absence left a void in my person. With the unfortunate events from childhood, I had developed a distorted view of men. Needless to say, I was left with no one to remind or show me how I ought to be treated as a woman. 

I was boyish in my early years. I would end up playing toy guns with my playmates. I only had my first barbie doll when I was about 8. I remember I would keep my distance from boys through my early teen stage. Though I considered myself normal as I also had infatuation and admiration for the opposite sex, I kept my guard. My young heart was curious yet anxious.

I had my puppy love when I was 12. You know those times when you cannot even distinguish love and infatuation? The latter being the mere reason did not last long. I told myself that I will raise my wall high enough so that no one can just climb up unless the guy is very persistent and chivalrous. The plan was going well. Or so I thought. And then, I fell in love... Boom! The next thing I know I was captivated for the following 10 years of my life. The death of Miss Guarded. Insert face-palm here.

Through the relationship, I learned a lot about my capacity to love. I realized that as much as I love my family, I am also very much capable of loving a man. Taking the role of my father in our home has developed in me a great deal of responsibility and control. I was a provider and protector of my family. Two characteristics which are typically associated to a masculine role. These traits really manifested in my long term relationship. I ended up having to lead and drive it because the other person was not strong enough. I needed someone who is determined, passionate, a leader and pursuer. In the end, we grew apart, he walked away, my heart was broken into pieces.

Since that relationship, I realized that I am just like any other woman out there. I, too desire: 

1. to be romanced; 
2. to take an irreplaceable role in a great adventure; 
3. to be that beauty to be unveiled

I am just as vulnerable as every other human being in the planet. Wounded at that. 

One other thing that grew in me is my deep longing to share God's love to others. Through my hardships and challenges in life, God planted this seed of love and charity in me. He made my heart so easy to penetrate - ever ready to give away love to anyone. 'What has become of the high wall now?' God had to raze that wall so I can open my heart to my calling in life.

In all these years, I kept asking God, "why did you make my heart this way, Lord?" I was struggling between the call to be selfless through the gifting of myself to others and my own longing for my love to be reciprocated. Many times I have settled for unrequited love. A one-sided love affair. I felt I just had so much love to give that it did not matter whether I get it back. Yet time and again, I would find my heart longing for redamancy - a love returned in full. 

It took me quite a while to get me to love myself as God desired for me to do. Seasons and years and some pains along the way. And the best decision I ever made  in my life? To pursue God's Heart. From the time I decided to give my heart to Him, He has never stopped pursuing me. He constantly reminds of His Love that is new every morning. He alone can suffice the deepest longing of my soul.

By choosing God, I took on the greatest adventure I could ever be in. Indeed, I was given an irreplaceable, special role of being His trusting mission partner as He orchestrates His best plan for me. He leads me to places where I could grow beautifully. 

As I offered my heart to God, I allowed Him to make of me the woman that He created and intended me to be. Still imperfect and flawed with rough edges, surely there is more sharpening to be done. He uses every experience to turn it into something of added value to my whole purpose in life. From my wounds and hurts in the past emerged my greatest ministry - I have only become a more loving person. 

And only God knows where my journey would take me next, but I now know that as my heart is anchored on Him, I can do all things in Him who strengthens me. Thank YOU Lord for creating in me a sweet, beautiful heart! 

"I found him whom my soul loveth"
Song of Songs 3:4

The Gift of Forgiveness

Friday, August 18, 2017

"To Err is Human, to Forgive is Divine"

This is one of life's greatest paradoxes.

It's a known fact that with our imperfect human nature, we are inclined to commit mistakes, sometimes even at the expense of others. Yet in spite of our own misgivings, we find it the hardest to forgive those who wronged us. 

Let's face it. It is not easy to forgive someone who offended us. I, for one have come across some pains and struggles in forgiving people, who not only hurt me but also did not admit their wrongdoing. Man! The hardest part was to forgive someone without the person asking for my forgiveness. 

For years, I had kept the grudge in my heart. I had allowed this person to affect me still even long after he walked out of my life. Imagine, what a waste of my time?! 

Thankfully, I finally woke up one morning with a resolve to liberate myself from the chain of unforgiveness and resentments. I had let go of the pains and the person who caused them. And wow! I had never felt so light and free in my life. I realized that forgiveness did me more than what it could ever do to the other person. My forgiveness was meant to liberate ME. It was a gift I owed to give myself long time ago. I needed the Father's mercy and He healed me through my forgiveness. As I have been accorded mercy, who am I to not forgive those who wronged me?

With forgiveness came healing, and with healing came peace in my heart.

Do yourself a favor today. Free your life from the poison of unforgiveness.

"For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 
But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."

Matthew 6: 14 - 15

Inspired by the gospel from Matthew 18: 21 - 19:1

My Lady of Grace

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Mary is a young lady who is betrothed to Joseph. One day, an angel suddenly appeared and announced that she will conceive of a child who is to become the savior of mankind. Amidst her momentary confusion, she gracefully accepted the news and the angel left her. 

Just like that. She entrusted her life to God's will. 

This is my attempt to simplify the story of the Annunciation. Of course, this is not the exact account. But what if this happened in the modern setting? What if this happened to me? I mean I certainly know that I am unworthy to even be compared to Mama Mary but I have always wondered what could she have felt when someone told her that she will conceive a child, through the Holy Spirit, who is to be the Lord and Savior of the world. Honestly, I think I would have panicked then fainted right at the moment the angel Gabriel appeared. Yay. That is why I am clearly not worthy to even imagine myself in Her place.

Not only that. In the olden times, if a woman was found pregnant but not with the man with whom she was betrothed, she could likely be condemned and stoned to death. So Mary had to go through all those troubles too.

Then there was this time when she had to journey to miles away with her heavy pregnant belly. She labored and gave birth to baby Jesus in a humble manger. 

Years after she raised her son to be a virtuous man, it was time that she encouraged Him to perform His first miracle at the wedding in Cana. It was when Jesus listened to the plea of His mother even though at first He felt it was not yet His time. But she is His mother after all.

And not to forget, after having to go through all the hardships, joys and pains of bringing Jesus into the world, she found herself at the foot of the cross of her beloved son. I could only imagine Mama Mary bearing twice the pain and agony of her son, Jesus. She gracefully accepted everything.

Where could she have gotten all the grace to fulfill Her important mission here on earth?

I am no expert nor an authority about the life of Mama Mary yet I am deeply drawn to Her after having known about her perfect faith. With Her extraordinary faith journey, she has captured my heart. And I honor Her as my Lady who is Full of Grace!

Inspired by the celebration of the Feast of The Assumption of Mama Mary

Twice an Alien

Monday, August 14, 2017

That's right - I was twice an alien.

I lived in 2 different countries over the last 9 years. Thankfully, both countries have been welcoming and gracious to me. 

It's almost the same feeling I got the first time I set foot in a foreign land for the 2 times that I migrated. That feeling of excitement and anxieties. 

I can vividly recall the time I arrived in Singapore, I had a mix of emotions - I was overwhelmed with happiness and sadness at the same time. It was my first time ever to leave home in the Philippines and away from my mom. Oh, the struggle of homesickness was painful! Thanks to the bunch of wonderful people who helped me throughout my journey. 

I loved Singapore. It opened doors for me to a myriad of possibilities - travel opportunities to neighboring countries, connections with people from all walks of life, name it! In fact, it ushered me to my way to my equally beautiful adoptive home - Canada!

Canada feels like home to me. I could live here for the next 10 years or so. I was blessed to have visited different countries over the years and I could say that albeit it is considered as one of the coldest places in the world, no where else feels like the warmth of home to me than in Canada.

As of this time of writing, I am still waiting for my boss' direction on where He wants me to settle or go next but I am pretty much happy and content with where I am now. Yet knowing how mysterious and funny His ways are, I would not be surprised if He leads me to yet another amazing place.

I do not mind being an alien for how many times because I know God takes me to the most awesome adventures in my life! He leads and I follow. My mission is to grow beautifully in wherever He plants me. And for this I am grateful. 

So, where to next, my Lord? :)

Inspired by the First Reading from Deuteronomy 10:12-22

The Little Secret to Happiness

Sunday, August 13, 2017

This is Bob. I first met him in November, 2015. Back then, I felt so empty like I was dragging myself through life. I lost my sense of purpose. All I could notice was what was lacking in my life. 

Then in one event, I heard about the Missionaries of the Poor in Jamaica. Immediately, I knew in my heart that I had to be there. Feeling the inexplicable strong calling, I went there not knowing anyone, no idea about how crazy Kingston could be except through the persistent warning of my sister's Jamaican friends. I was clueless of what was waiting for me there. In my mind, I will be there to help. 

MOP centers mainly shelter poor men, women and children who are mostly physically handicapped or those who are not able to support themselves.

One day, I was going from crib to crib to greet the kids when I heard a voice saying "Hi". It was sweet-sounding and audible enough for me to turn around and look to its direction. It was from a cute boy extending his left arm to reach for me. I went near him and touched his face. He then locked my hand in between his cheek and shoulder. He was so adorable. 

By the time a brother had called me to help dress up another child, I tried to pull my hand from Bob but he would not allow me to leave. So I went nearer to him and realized the little kid had no legs. For a moment there, I got glued in my place. I cannot just leave him. I decided to carry him with me while I help the other kids. It was truly a joy to see his smiles reaching the sky! With my little time with him, I could feel his gratefulness overflowing.

Bob opened my eyes to the many little blessings that I had neglected. The child was genuinely happier than me with what little he had. I was blessed with completely functioning body parts and senses. I have a roof over my head, a job that pays, I have a family who loves and supports me. While many residents there like Bob were abandoned by their own families because of their physical deformities, I, on the other hand, was not grateful enough for all that was given to me. Each of the residents there taught me the secret to true happiness, and that is to be Grateful. Gratefulness unlocks all the blessings in our life.

Indeed, I took away more than what I could ever give to the mission. I went there thinking I would bring some assistance, it turned out I was the one needing their help. I needed them to teach me about True Happiness. 

I am going back there this end of August to see little Bob again and the many beautiful residents in MOP centers in the hope that my 2 dear friends and I could help in our own little way bring smiles to them and some relief. You may also journey with us as we aim to raise funds to bring school supplies to kids and whatever they may need in the centers. Please see link: Mission of Love in Jamaica 2017. May God bless you richly for your generosity. 

Inspired by the 1st Reading from Deuteronomy 6: 4 -13

The Making of God's Masterpiece

Friday, August 11, 2017

Don't you feel like you are constantly being put to an endurance test? 

For most part of our life, we go through painful sharpening. Perhaps, one may easily ask out of tiredness, "when is this ever gonna end? How much more do I need to endure?" I, too, do not have the answer. However, I do understand that this is necessary so I could turn into the most beautiful version of myself. Just like how a plant is nurtured and cultivated to become a sturdy tree - it needs to undergo regular pruning.

Whenever I experience a hard blow in my life, I trust that God is painstakingly chiseling away my rough ugly edges. I am being made into a masterpiece of exceeding beauty!

Inspired by the Gospel from Matthew 16: 24 -28

Walking in Faith

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

FAITH. Big word. It is believing in something that I could not foresee nor comprehend. To put it simply, Faith is an invitation to trust in something beyond what my five senses can validate.

Many times in life, I am confronted with tests of my faith. There are days when I could not vision anything nor sense any help coming my way as if I was left on my own to walk in the water. During those times, I would panic and mostly rely on my limited capacity to deal with the situation until I feel like I am drowning helplessly.

And because I am too busy in trying to balance things in my life, I could not even look ahead and see the loving arms extended in front of me. Jesus is inviting me to walk in the water - to fully trust Him as I walk towards Him in Faith. My fears blind me from recognizing Jesus and experiencing the peace that comes from trusting that He will never leave me to drown in my own tribulations. He is constantly asking me to let go of my fears, take each step in faith and be held by Him as He leads me to His best place for me.

"Lord, I pray that I may always have the faith to walk in whichever path You may lead me to. Help me to recognize You everywhere I go. Amen."

Inspired by the Gospel from Matthew 14: 22 - 36

My Life Equation

Monday, August 7, 2017

Math is one of my favorite subjects growing up. I remember back in high school, I'd spent my summer time answering my workbooks. By the time the classes started, I would have nothing to do because I had already finished my home work 2 months before. 

There are even times when I would torment my brain on some mental calculations by multiplying two-digit by two-digit numbers within 1 minute. Uhm. I know this could be easy for some like 'duh'  (insert Sheldon rolling his eyeballs here) or maybe, I am just a plain weirdo! LOL. And so my love for math and proclivity to engage in solving problems (including those of other people!) had brought me to my current profession - a boring accountant! 

There is, however, one important equation in life that I have tried to master. It's one that I have to learn all through my life and not just from within the confines of my academe ===>

Add people who make you Love your Life
Subtract those who fill you with negativity
Multiply the ones whose lives you touch
Divide those who are deserving of you 
from those who are not 

Inspired by the Gospel from Matthew 14: 13 -21 

The Beaconing Light

Sunday, August 6, 2017

"Lighthouses aren't there to draw attention to themselves, they are just there to shine." (Quoted)

I have always been awed by the power of light to illuminate its surrounding - the majestic sunrise, the glorious sunset, colorful fireworks display, bright lighthouses, radiant super moon or a person who is gifted with a special light from within himself that brings hope and joy to others. It's like I am drawn to it like a moth is drawn to a fire. 

My fascination to light just points me to my inclination to seek for the Infinite, something greater than myself, that which has the power to illuminate every area of my life. 

With my human limitations, I sometimes lose sight of God's Love for me especially when I walk through dimly lit paths. I admit, I a need light to guide me - an affirmation that He is with me all throughout my journey. I find comfort knowing that His light is sufficient to shine through my darkest days.

 "The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?"  Psalm 27: 1

Inspired by the Gospel from Matthew 17: 1-9 "Transfiguration"

Port Hope

Yesterday was one of the lovely summer days of my 2017. 

I went to Port Hope. The place where I needed to be.

With the intermittent interruptions by the torrential rains these past few days, I could hardly get the summer feels in Ontario.

Today was a special day. It was a bit windy but hey, nothing can stop us from chasing the heat.

It took us 1.5 hours to get to this southern part of Ontario. And indeed, Port hope was worth the long hour drive. 

Here are some snapshots of our adventures today:

Visit the Primitive Designs Factory for some interesting finds. The kids will surely like taking photos with Optimus Prime and Bumble Bee here.

The downtown reminded me of Old Quebec. Just lovely.

Never miss this quaint coffee shop which is famous for their crazy cookie! Their interior reminds me of France.

After enjoying the beautiful sights today, I knew that I was meant to be in this place at the perfect time. Port Hope, as the name suggests, has its ineffable charm that breathed hope in me. It made my heart happily look forward to the days to come. 

At some point, I got lost in my own reflection while quietly appreciating the simplicity of life in the charming little town. I was reminded of 3 things:

  • Surrender - To Fully Let Go of the need to know what lies ahead;
  •  Trust - Trusting that God is constantly looking after my best interest; and
  • Enjoy - To never forget to Live my Life Passionately

And so I await with joyful anticipation to whatever surprises that God will send my way! :)

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11