Sunday, January 20, 2013

Armed. And Dangerous.

White shirt, black belt, and rubber shoes were the go-to attire in yesterday's annual leadership assembly of the Feast at the PAF Gymnasium in Villamor Air Base. We were no militiamen or soldiers, yet we were sent as warriors for God's battle. Caring group leaders, ministry heads, Feast councils were called to recharge and be reminded of their purpose in the family. 

Some shed tears; others leaped in joy. All were ecstatic to see one one another and gather to give glory to God the Father. Bo Sanchez gave the talk in full military gear - minus firearms and explosives - in line with the theme "Armed and Dangerous". He talked about the three levels of community life.

Deliriousness. Disenchantment. Devotion. Those who have just begun in their service find themselves in a perfect haven, treating their leaders as angels and saints, and seeing the community as a perfect place on earth. They are delirious with what appears to be a sinless and chaste group of people who are devoted to serving God. Nevertheless, those who have been in the family for quite a long time know the faults and frailties of one another. Some become quite discouraged and stay in the team just-because. This leads them to stagnancy: they remain where they are and don't aim for greener pastures and higher aims. 

There are those who, despite failures and imperfections of those in the spiritual family, remain and seek better things not only for themselves, or for those in the community, but most of all, for the unchurched and those outside the group. They reach the third and ultimate level of community life: devotion. They know the people around them are insecure - of what they have, unanswered prayers, stagnant career and financial life, and chaotic relationships and family - but they also know they have their own insecurities and admit them fully and wholeheartedly. 

I am blessed to have been with the Light of Jesus family for almost three years now. I was a fresh grad when I started attending the Feast. Back then, I was searching for a job, yet I was led to this. It never failed to bring me hope whenever the going gets tough and my prayers seem unheard and unanswered. Being with my friends in the community fills up my love tank and makes me feel secure.

Yesterday, we were given our combat manual: the Bible. We were also given the Companion. These give me no excuse to read God's word everyday and do daily prayer routine.

Hashtag: THANKFUL.

The Holy Bible enclosed in a 'Combat Manual' cover :)
God doesn't call the qualified. He qualifies the called. Heed God's call. Don't fret over spiritual families as cults or what-have-you. They are a treasure :)

My Makati Feast family :)

After the gathering, we watched the Les Miserables at the Resorts World. Such a magnificent watch. Next for this week: Life of Pi. Must finish the book :)

Laughter-filled snack-or-dinner at Stackers while awaiting Les Mis :)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Weeks of Gratitude

At the start of the year, I've vowed to be grateful everyday and write my blessings - here, as much as possible - because I've learned that an attitude of gratitude veers away anxiety and gives you joy. Being grateful takes you from mere appreciation of and desire for worldly riches to a sincere, honest, and truthful appreciation of others and yourself. It keeps your eye on what's truly valuable.

I failed to give thanks for my littlest blessings daily here on my space due to schedule and time constraints. Be that as it may, I am jotting down the things that make me happy - those I am thankful for - on the mini notebook Claire (one of my CG partners last season) has given us last Christmas. So here are among the most distinct I-am-thankful-for thingies, moments, and people for the week/s that passed.

Girlfriend and her fiance hanging around

I believe God isn't fond of keeping empty spaces in our hearts. When a room becomes vacated, he fills in the nearby room for you to forget the void in the other. I am thankful for my girlfriend for filling in a space in my love tank and being my sister for life. I seriously think this girl has once been my biological sister (prolly in our past lives, we're sisters). I am also thankful for Mark for being both my kuya and papa. I treat this friendship as a family of sorts.

And I am indeed honored to be soon-to-be-Mrs. Ruthie Sy-Juanson's maid of honor on her wedding day.
Saved and sealed: Engaged on Aug 31, 2012

I've read once that true friends are those who, even if you haven't seen one another for years, remain the same makulit, madaldal, all-out when you get to see again. And I guess, I have them. I've got happy and chika-filled nights with some of my high school barkada over coffee or tea, or bonding over a movie premier (insert thank-you-Jaq-for-Jack-Reacher! here). Catch-ups, plans, relationships, helping hands. They are a package.

A random Saturday night in Greenbelt
Cheers for 13 years! Oh, wait, I don't want to get into trouble. My dear friend - and probably my longtime best friend - said we're buddies for 15 years now. Achie (she's no Chinese, though she looks like one as well) said from the time we were eight years old (third grade) until now we're 23, do the Math, and voila! We're friends for 15 years... and beyond! We met over a brief milk tea catch-up last Tuesday. And we're frantic over plans and chikas! We'll date again this Sunday yay!

15 years... and beyond :)
Colleagues in the office

I've been fairly blessed with gift of persons wherever I go. And God has blessed me with bunch in my work. Here's to laughter and insanity over the ENPS, kababayan, crinkles, Bon Chon, Behrouz, pasta, Country Style, Fruitas, and Mcdo. Way to go!

Our desk editor Ed braves the happily ever after with her love, Cristy
One of our dinners in Behrouz with Sir Pat :)
CG-Up, Bucket List, and Planner

In my earlier post, I've said I haven't come up with a bucket list this year as I am embracing life as it is. Well, I guess I haven't been true to my word, because Ate Lissy (our CG-up head) asked us to create 13 Things-To-Do when we first met for our monthly CG this 2013. Among them is to maintain my blog. So here I am, highlighting one on my list!

Busog night in Avenetto, Glorietta

Oh, wait. I've also got a planner from Ms. Pauline. She gave it to us on the first few working days of January. Paris lovin' cool and amazing!

When I saw this, my heart leaped.
No dates, so I can use it until next year :)
Myself and me-times

I have always enjoyed setting aside an alone-time or the so-called 'me-time' - where I can do whatever I want and go wherever, whenever. This month, I've spent most of it over milk tea, coffee, and my first read for this year. I vowed to finish the book before I watch the Life of Pi on cinema (because I wanna read Yann Martel before I see Ang Lee 'coz I believe these are different). So until now, I haven't watched the film yet haha.

Cold Tuesday night in A Gantea, Greenbelt
Spending a Sunday after hearing mass

Counting blessings and affirmation 
My notebook of gratitude :)
On January 2, I've received a message from Eis (also among my CG partners last season) which affirmed a good and happy 2013. Seeing this again right now, in the middle of a crossroad, gives me an assurance that everything will eventually fall into place, in His time.

...of God's faithfulness.

I am thankful for the gift of 2013. More ahead!

White Flag Up

There will come a time when all you want to do is raise the white flag, put your hands up in the air, and bow down to tell the world, "I retreat." When all good thoughts have been sucked out, when optimism has gone down the drain, when the cake has lost its sweetness, and the pond has run out of water. 

Here comes the day when I am ready not to achieve one of my dreams this year - only one of them - and I have vowed to open myself to other possibilities besides the one I've always had in mind.

I have three ultimate dreams for 2013. 1. 2. And 3.

Two of them pertain to me, while the one is intended for my family.

After days of emotional and psychological torture - of choosing not share this with any of my friends because they will either 1) Agree to my thought-of-plan-B or 2) Tell me to just go on, because patience is a virtue and good things come to those who wait (and I don't want to hear both) - I have decided to just let go of that ONE dream and embrace change, if necessary. The world is a hotpot of opportunities and privileges, anyway. I can go for crayola or just pick a ruler, or opt for a paper to create another masterpiece in life.

Tears rolled down my cheeks during tonight's worship at the Feast as I laid down my plans to Him. Tonight's talk was actually a bull's eye for me for it discussed God's faithfulness to His promises and the solutions through which we endure the long, painstaking process of waiting for our dreams to become real. It talked of Prov. 3:5, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." When you trust, there must be no room for doubts. Another way of saying it: Wag ka na umasang kaya mo. Wag mo na asahan. Hindi mo kaya... nang mag-isa. So let Him do the trick, the wizardry, the magic. The sixth verse continues, "... And He will make your paths straight."

I'm lifting my white flag, as a sign of surrender - not to challenges and circumstances, but of my dreams which God has a call whether or not to transform them into reality.

Whether or not this CERTAIN dream becomes granted, He remains to be my God.

But for the meantime, it hurts. It's hurting. Like a breakup, a loss anew.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Admitting Human Weakness

In a world that glorifies success, an admission of weakness disarms pride at the same time that it prepares us to receive grace. Meanwhile, the very weakness that drives us to pray becomes an invitation for God to respond with compassion and power.
- Philip Yancey

2013 Year of Gratitude Day 2

I am thankful I get to catch the priest's homily during a mass at the Greenbelt chapel, before heading to our meeting for my girlfriend's and Papa Mark's pre-nup. 

I am thankful for my first day of workday for 2013. 

I am thankful Mama, Jigs, and Aunti Linda arrived safe and sound in my Aunti's home in Cavite for fiesta celebration. 

Off to dreamland :)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Speaking of Peace on the New Year

We thank God for opening for us the door to peace. But we have the responsibility to enter that door. God's is the gift, ours is the mission of building peace. I share the dream of all Filipinos for peace and harmony in all aspects of our lives. We know, however, that peace can only be promoted by peacemakers, by people whose minds, consciences, attitudes and styles of life are devoid of self-interest. Peacemakers seek the common good. Peacemakers spread honesty, respect and friendship. I repeat the invitation of Pope Benedict XVI, "to say no to revenge, to recognize injustices, to accept apologies without looking for them, and finally to forgive.

A part of Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle's New Year's message. From the Pope, to His arms of good men across the globe, to the clergy. The world speaks of peace nowadays.

Holidays for 2013

By virtue of Proclamation No. 459, workers can now look forward to their leaves with this year's scheduled holidays.

Regular Holidays
 * New Year's Day - January 1 (Tuesday)
 * Maundy Thursday - March 28
 * Good Friday - March 29
 * Araw ng Kagitingan - April 9 (Tuesday)
 * Labor Day - May 1 (Wednesday)
 * Independence Day - June 12 (Wednesday)
 * National Heroes Day - August 29 (Last Monday of August)
 * Bonifacio Day - November 30 (Saturday)
 * Christmas Day - December 25 (Wednesday)
 * Rizal Day - December 30 (Monday)

Special (Non-Working) Days
 * Black Saturday - March 30
 * Ninoy Aquino Day - August 21 (Wednesday)
 * All Saints Day - November 1 (Friday)
 * Additional special (non-working) days - November 2 (Saturday), December 24 (Tuesday)
 * Last day of the year - December 31 (Tuesday)

Special Holiday (for all schools)
 * EDSA Revolution anniversary - February 25 (Monday)

It doesn't apply to me, however. Just for everyone's information. Who knows, might be helpful to me as well. :)

New Beginning and Change

In the beginning were room cleaning and hearing the Holy Mass with my girlfriend. This was how I spent the first day of 2013. 

During the Mass, I thought of how I approached the start of a new year. This 2013 was different. I did not make a bucket list, bearing in mind I still had unchecked's in my 2012 - which I could use as my to-do's this year (or until I cross them all out). I didn't have a planner, which I used to consider a must-have in starting a year. Nevertheless, I had my goals set. It would include family, career, health, relationships. And OTL. I thought it would be enough for me to make it through this year. 

Somehow, I find it weird. I even feel a dint of fear in my heart, feeling my life's perspective has been changing. I am the usual meticulous, goal-setter-goal-getter. My life solely depends on my to-do's and goals. Without a planner and any organizer tools on hand, I feel I am loosening up and letting go of the steering wheel. It appears I am now depending my life on what others and the world would just offer me. I see, however, that this change in the way I approach life - and a new beginning, on that note - is a way of being spontaneous. On a literary, philosophical way of saying it, it is the "Embrace change." I am not fearful of change anymore. Well, fear still remains, yet I am now braver and bolder in facing both my fear of change and change itself. After all, nothing is permanent, other than change.

I look forward to this new beginning with excitement for surprises, first times, and abundance. 


Last year, for the last half of November and the first half of December, I managed to complete my ''30 Days of Gratitude". I just find it cool to count your blessings everyday - as encouraged by one of the devotional-ish pages I liked on Facebook.

Having found both the purpose and perks of counting your blessings - and plainly being thankful even for the smallest things everyday - I thought of making another string of gratitude. This time, nonetheless, it won't be just 30 days. Why not make it 365 days? And so, here I have my 2013 Year of Gratitude. :)

Year of Gratitude Day 1

I heard the Good News with Ruthie tonight in a New Year Mass at the Greenbelt Chapel. The priest talked about the three Feasts the Catholic church is celebrating on the 1st day of January. These are New Year, Solemnity of Mary as the Mother of Jesus, and Peace day. 

He said attending the mass on the first day of the year is an act of greeting God. The way I see and interpret it, it's like saying, "Hi Jesus! It's me! I know you missed me! Super thank you for another year." It's seeing God and rubbing elbows with Him as you begin anew. 

On January 1st also falls the 8th day following Mama Mary's birth to Jesus. The priest explained, in the Jewish tradition, women are considered unclean for seven days after she has given birth to her son. It is only on the 8th day that she can be formally and officially recognized as the child's mother. He has not expounded why so, except that it was a Jewish way. Linking it to our daily life and struggles, Mama Mary can be our source of strength and hope when we feel lost, unaccepted and unclean. By her example.

January 1st is also a day of peace. I am thankful to be reminded of this, coming from years of conflict and grudge against one of my tito's, and a year of emotional turmoil with a close friend. 

God has forgiven me 7,007 times 7 times. Who am I not to do so?

By your grace, Jesus. Only by your grace.