LET GO Day 3: Relinquish

HAPPY EASTER, EVERYONE! REJOICE FOR THE LORD HAS RISEN!

Just to share, this Easter feels particularly different for me. While we were at mass awhile ago, singing praises to the Lord, I really felt overflowing joy in my heart. Maybe because I know my God better now and not just superficially? Maybe because of the Lenten Recollection we attended? Maybe because I really felt Jesus’ rising and His taking the death away from my body? Whatever the reason, I am grateful. The gladness I feel is inexplicable.

This was me, le cousin, and le niece at church today. <3

This was me, le cousin, and le niece at le church today. <3

Anyhooz, yesterday was the third and last day of the Lenten Recollection my parents and I attended. Day 3’s topic was very, err, apt. I felt like God really allotted this day to tell me something. Hardihar.

Here are some of the quotable quotes from yesterday’s event:

“God gives hope to those who dream, but He gives miracles to those who trust and believe.” So PRAY and CLAIM that your dreams will come true! :)

“2 & 1/2 years na kayong nagtitiwala, ngayon pa ba kayo susuko?” A couple shared about their struggles with their toddler daughter’s heart problem. They said something about a growth that was removed through open heart surgery but, after 6 months, came back with a vengeance. The doctor said the only way to remedy it was to perform another surgery. It was then they decided to just let go and leave it all up to God. They had done so for 2 & 1/2 years, until one day, their daughter started experiencing chest pains. This had gone on for a week when they decided to finally bring her back to the doctor to be checked. The couple stormed the heavens with prayers. When the doctor checked the girl’s heart, they saw that the growth was gone. The doctor couldn’t believe it and claimed they had probably misread the 2D echo the first time they performed it. Chyeah right. Anyway, basically the girl was healed already and she stopped feeling pain. Waah. <3 “The absence of what the doctor could not see in the 2D echo was the presence of God.”

Like I said, I felt like God really wanted to send me a message. I’m having my MRI done this week for my annual remission check-up. TBQH, I haven’t been taking very good care of myself since I started training. Max of 5 hours sleep every night + knowledge cramming + exam stress + emotional stress? Sigh. So you could only imagine my anxiety. But, yes, I was once again reminded to TRUST in the Lord. Never fear and never doubt, just have FAITH. 3 & 1/2 years ka nang nagtitiwala, Abby. Ngayon ka pa ba susuko?

“God does not play dice. He does not leave anything to chance.”

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This was the focused reading for Day 3. Bro. J Yogawin said the mat symbolized one’s COMFORT ZONE. Imagine, the man had been hanging around the pool for 38 years, never even getting healed, because he decided to just stay on his mat instead of making the effort to get to the pool.

Bro. J said we shouldn’t fear moving on and he asked the question, “Do you always have an excuse to go after your dreams or follow God’s plan?”

“All the signs have been given to you but you’re not doing anything because you don’t TRUST.”

“God will always do SOMETHING.” Not just something, but SOMETHING.

“When God says you are healed, YOU. ARE. HEALED.” AMEN!

And then he goes on talking about finding The One. (Lord, strike 2 ka na! Hahaha!) He said that it would be difficult for us to find The One if we don’t RELINQUISH ourselves. If we don’t SURRENDER.

“That’s what love does. It surrenders.”

“Love does not settle for the same. Love will eventually change you.”

“When God tells you to move, He knows where He is bringing you.”

“All He really wants is US.”

Moar quotes! This time from Fr. Dave Concepcion:

“To relinquish is to make a conscious, deliberate choice to hand over.”

“God acts before we act. God acts after we act. But God will not act if we ourselves don’t act.”

“DECIDE that you will make things happen.” To this, he gave the parting of the Red Sea as example. “The sea was divided only when the first Israelites stepped on water.” BECAUSE THEY DECIDED TO DO SOMETHING.

“To be poor is to be free. If you can not relinquish it (stuff), then you are possessed by it.”

“Do not blame the past for what you are today. Do not be the person who waits for something to happen rather than making something happen.” Indeed, not moving on from the past will do you no good. We have to learn how to do something to change our stories.

“Faith does not make things easy, but it makes things POSSIBLE.”

“If you can not say it to another human being, there is no truth in saying it to God.” – Fr. Dave shared something about his inability to say I LOVE YOU out loud to people he loved before (aka his pre-seminary fiancé). He now exhorts us to learn to say I LOVE YOU to our fellow men, God’s physical representations here on earth. :)

“The moment we love, we give the person power to hurt us.” It’s hard to RELINQUISH control to someone else when we fall in love. But, like what Bro. J said, LOVE SURRENDERS.

“Your sickness has no power over you. Yes, I have cancer, but I. HAVE. GOD.” Infinity AMENs to this statement pls.

“Allow Good Friday to happen so you can have your Easter Sunday.”

“God does not need anything from us. If He asks and there is a risk, it’s because He has something greater in store for us.” Infinity AMENs to this as well.

“You don’t GROW OLD, you BECOME NEW.” Kasi nga naman, when you turn a year older, you get a new number as age. LOL. But no, seriously, this is a good way of looking at our growing old. :)

“If you have problems, it means God wants you to relinquish something.”

I will bring a better camera next time.

I will bring a better camera next time.

Sigh. Have you been blessed? ‘Cause I sure have. Some of these quotes may seem out of context, but I tried. This is, of course, one of those events wherein “you just had to be there” so… maybe next year? :)

Till then, Happy Easter! Share God’s love with the world! <3

LET GO Day 2: Reconcile

Day 2 of 3 of The Feast Alabang’s Lenten Recollection focused on FORGIVENESS.

Now, this isn’t exactly a new concept. It is, however, a very difficult one to do.

Today, Bro. Arun shared a story that I could totally relate to. It was about him being appointed leader in his ministry during his young adult years. Back then, he shared, he was so strict and on-point with all his ministry members. He was deemed as brilliant and effective. He felt like he was on top of the world. And then one day, something happened that stripped him of his title.

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It was then that he posed this question to God: “Lord, who am I if I am not a leader anymore?”

The story goes on with him having a chance encounter with Bo Sanchez and being told that that wasn’t going to be his last stint as a leader. But anyway, long story short, God’s answer to his question was, “You’re not a leader anymore. Now, let Me love you as a son.” Beautiful.

The reason why I could relate to this was because my most recent encounter with forgiveness had something to do with leadership. General leadership, conflict within a group, having a title stripped off. They named it, I related to it. It’s like Bro. Arun was doing a Bo Sanchez on me by telling that story. Guh. #PayItForward much?

Anyway, that encounter was a true test of my character and resolve as a supposedly renewed daughter of God. Forgiveness and humility were things I knew I should have done, but had so much difficulty doing due to the trifecta of offenses committed against me. I found it so hard to strip myself down to sheer nothingness to ask forgiveness for something I knew wasn’t completely my fault. I found it hard to swallow being condemned for something I did not do or say. I found it difficult to accept the absence of an apology for getting my pride hurt over something I was right about in the first place.

But, alas, this all goes back to the focused gospel reading for today — the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant. I have no right to hold on to this hurt or not let go of the offense when my Father in heaven has let go of all the hurt I had caused Him and the many offenses I have done against Him. I have no right to not forgive when my Father has forgiven me on the infinite number of occasions I have wronged him. I have no right to condemn when my Father has chosen not to condemn me for all my wrongdoings.

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Just so you know, I have already forgiven. It is, however, very difficult to forget (sometimes, I feel like there are still traces of it on the faces of my offenders). But I have learned from it. And today, I have resolved to completely let it go. Nailing this at the foot of Jesus’ cross and allowing Him to take it with Him to heaven.

“As fast as they offend you, let it go.” Difficult, difficult. But someday, I will learn how to do this in a snap of a finger.

“Forgiveness is as essential as breathing.”

“When you have unforgiveness in your heart, it breaks you down.”

“There has to be an expiration date to your anger.” Bro. Mike Viñas said it should be at 5:59 PM. Why? Because it says in Ephesians 4:26 — “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.”

“Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself.”

“In every relationship, you will always be called to forgive and ask for forgiveness.” There can be no truer words.

“To whom much is given, much is required.” I have been given by my Father the wisdom to know and act better. I have not been renewed for nothing, and each day is an opportunity to start anew. With this, I must learn how to forgive people who know not what they’re doing.

“That is the way of the Lord — you don’t get to select your memories.” Father John Paul Del Rosario was the one who gave a talk on COMMEMORATION. He said:

“Commemoration is an ought. Not a choice.”

“To remember is to see the creative power of God.” Remember the tragedies in your past? Have they not shaped you to be the person you are now? “We need to remember the tragedies to see the creative power of God.”

As Christians, we are “pressed to see the good in Good Friday.” Meaning, if I’m not mistaken, that the focus of Good Friday shouldn’t be the tragedy of Jesus’ dying, but the fact that He did all that to save us because He loved us.

“It’s not your wounds, it’s how I heal your wounds that can truly set you free.” Something God wants us to always remember. :)

Today was therapeutic. I teared up while exalting Jesus’ name through song awhile ago, as the crosses passed us in procession. At that moment, it hit me just how much He truly loved us; to give up His life for unworthy ones like us.

Lord, salamat. Please help me become more like You.

“It is finished.”

Last month, I was tasked to reflect on the sixth word of the Seven Last Words of Jesus for one of our Singles Nights. Sharing with you now what I shared with them. Have a blessed Friday!

 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. – John 19:30

 I would first like to share this beautiful reflection I read in relation to this passage.

When Jesus said “It is finished,” surely he was expressing relief that his suffering was over. “It is finished” meant, in part, “This is finally done!” … Peterson captures the full sense of the verb in The Message: “It’s done . . . complete.” Jesus had accomplished his mission. He had announced and inaugurated the kingdom of God. He had revealed the love and grace of God. And he had embodied that love and grace by dying for the sin of the world, thus opening up the way for all to live under the reign of God. 

Because Jesus finished his work of salvation, you and I don’t need to add to it. In fact, we can’t. He accomplished what we never could, taking our sin upon himself and giving us his life in return. Jesus finished that for which he had been sent, and we are the beneficiaries of his unique effort. Because of what he finished, you and I are never “finished.” We have hope for this life and for the next. We know that nothing can separate us from God’s love. One day, what God has begun in us will also be finished, by his grace. Until that day, we live in the confidence of Jesus’ cry of victory: “It is finished!”

“Because of what he finished, you and I are never ‘finished’. We have hope for this life and for the next.”

Sometimes, whenever we are burdened with trials, we tend to question God. Why did this have to happen to me, Lord? What have I done wrong? Have I not been faithful to you?

At one point in my life, I had found myself asking these very same questions. I had just graduated from college and was ready to take on the world, when I was diagnosed with cancer.

I took things in stride at the beginning. I knew I was going to come out of this alive because God had always been good to me and my family. My belief in Him and myself was enough to make me optimistic about the future. So I went with the motions; went on with the treatment.

Halfway through, when I thought I was going to be done with treatment already, my doctor said I needed four more chemotherapy sessions. I was already ready to give up then, on my fifth cycle, the supposedly second to the last one. I had somewhat fallen into depression that time ‘cause I felt like everyone else was moving on with their lives, while I and my family were still doing our best to fight for mine. And I couldn’t understand why I had to go through it in the first place. I lived a relatively healthier lifestyle compared to my college friends. I went to mass every Sunday and served in church with my parents. I always tried to do what I was told. So what exactly did I do to deserve that?

God wasn’t slow in answering my question. It was also Lent that time and I was instantly reminded of all the hardships Jesus had to go through in proclaiming the kingdom of God. It was then I thought, “Wow, Jesus had to go through all THAT and he was already the Son of God. Parang ang kapal yata ng mukha ko mag-complain, wala naman sa kalingkingan ng suffering Niya yung suffering ko.”

Source: hartlandumc.org

Source: hartlandumc.org

Suffice it to say, I felt better. That time also, my friend had sent me the quote from Jeremiah 11:29: 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.

Surely, the fact that I was going through all that and was still kept alive, meant that God still needed me on earth; that he still had plans to prosper me, give me hope and a future. I didn’t really understand anything then, so I just laid everything down and believed.

It was only when I found my purpose and Serviam that I finally began to understand. He needed me to go through that hardship to strengthen me. He needed to allow that event to happen so I would find the motivation to look for the tools I would need to equip me to become the servant leader and faithful proclaimer he wants me to be. Admittedly, my faith back then wasn’t as strong. Despite my coming from a Catholic school, my knowledge of him was superficial. Back then, I regarded God as one who punished people for their wrongdoings. Thus, my questions. Now, I know that he only allows these oppressions to happen to help us learn from our mistakes and come out even better than before.

I’m blessed to be here and declare that I’ve been in remission for 4 years now and, with God’s grace, am starting to build the future he allowed me to hope for. It has not been one without trials; but since God allowed me to go through the greatest hurdle so far, everything now, I just take in stride. I, and my prayer army composed of my family and friends, just lift it all up to him (while I, of course, still do my best). There have already been countless incidences where I have said, “It is finished.”

Like Jesus, we also have to go through many trials and beatings as we go on proclaiming God’s mighty name. Although these trials may seem unsurpassable at first, we should all remember that God will never lead us where his grace could not keep us. Ultimately, every roadblock we face brings us a step closer to Him and his perfect plan. As the old saying goes, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” To that, I add, if it does kill you, never fear, for that means your mission here on earth is complete, and a better, happier life with God is waiting in store for you. By then, we too, would be able to say, “It is finished. I am finished. I am done… complete.”

LET GO Day 1: Renounce

Last night, my dad asked me if I was doing anything today. I said no and he went on to show me the flyer of an event he and my mom were planning to attend this Holy Week. It was one by The Feast Alabang — a 3-day Lenten Recollection entitled, “Let Go”. It was my first time to attend a Feast event, though I’ve been wanting to try it for a while now. Finally, the opportunity had arrived and it was nothing short of fantastic. :) A quick rundown (with pictures!) of the things that happened today:

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Their “builders” (I’m thinking this is what they call their formation leaders) were very much charismatic. :)

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They had an Awesome Kids Ministry composed of, well, awesome kids singing and dancing to Jesus Take The Wheel and (surprise, surprise!) Let It Go.

'T'was the cutest! :3

‘T’was the cutest! :3

A familiar face in the form of Fr. Mario Sobrejuanite gave the keynote speech on Renunciation. 

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Some of the awesome lines I picked up from Day 1. I hope they inspire you as much as they have inspired me. :)

“Grace builds on nature.” – Bro. Arun Gogna shared how he and his wife had been trying to have a baby for the longest time. After all the prayers and scientific intervention, they decided to just go natural and just continue praying. In his prayers, he said he reminded the Lord that He was a God of miracles; that if He wanted something to happen, despite it defying nature, it would happen. And so it did. Bro. Arun left us with the question: “Would you also defy your nature for your God?

“Most of the time, God doesn’t make sense.” And He doesn’t have to. You just have to trust that He has a magnificent plan for you.

“We can only see a part of the big picture. He sees the whole picture.”

“God is not in the business of giving details.” If He were, we wouldn’t have the need for faith.

“God will not only use the destination, He will also use the journey, so you would learn how to listen and hear.” Hay nako, alam na alam ko na ‘to. LOL.

“One of the dreams I gave up, the Lord is giving to me now.” Somehow similar to a quote P printed out for our 2013 Gansa sleepover: “Sometimes, on the way to your dream, you get lost and find a better one.” One of the statements I can definitely attest to. Sometimes, our plans don’t play out the way we want them to. This doesn’t necessarily mean He doesn’t want it for us or that we are not worthy of it. He knows the desires of our hearts and will never deprive us of what we ask for… just that it might take a while, or it could come in a different form unbeknownst to us until much, much later.

Accurate.

Accurate. (Source: Facebook)

“The usefulness of a cup is in its emptiness.” To prove that point, the speaker had to empty a cup of Starbucks coffee into the trash bin, ergerds. LOL. But it was a great analogy. “Pag wala ka nang laman, dun ka ifi-fill in Lord.” Indeed, if everything just keeps going right in our lives, how will we yearn for something better? How can we appreciate our successes without the trials? How can we feel how the Lord is working within us if we don’t find ourselves in a state of nothingness?

“Emptying is difficult” because it is not in our nature to empty ourselves. “In this world, there is God. Anything else is just STUFF.” Man’s ultimate fear is “to be nothing and have nothing”, so much so that “when we feel we are nothing, we add stuff” (e.g. food, retail therapy, etc.).

Great sinners have greater right and greater claim to God’s mercy.

We must learn to let go and take on a heart like Jesus, which is a heart of compassion.

The focused reading today was the one about Abraham and his son, Isaac. How Abraham had been waiting for a son for so long and when Isaac was finally given to him, after a while, the Lord decided he wanted to take him away. It was, indeed, a good example of renunciation; one that made me tear up as it was being read awhile ago. It reminded me of the time I was sick and how my mother had questioned why God had allowed for it to happen. In one of her prayers, He told her, “Abby was never yours to begin with, I just lent her to you.” I teared up the time my mom told me about His answer. How blessed I was to have been called by name! How blessed I still am to be here to carry out His will!

When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” ~ Genesis 22:9-12

Beautiful. :) I am so impassioned right now. Aside from the teachings, I am now also inspired to come up with plans to make something else better. What that something else is shall be revealed in time. But I am definitely excited! :) Day 2 tomorrow!

Mabuhay!

I really don’t know how I’m going to start this without sounding repetitive (and possibly apologetic) but HELLO! ALOHA! MABUHAY! BONJOUR! I AM BACK!

It’s been a long, LONG while since my last blog. To be fair to myself, November 6 wasn’t actually my last entry. I had a series of (quite reflective!) entries at the start of 2014, but they were, unfortunately, deleted when my site was reverted to a restore point due to, err, evil forces on the interwebs attacking my domain.

But yeah, I am back! (How many times do I have to say this in a year?) I finally got the time to visit my slightly abandoned, slightly cobwebbed space on the… web. #WHAT I actually forgot my password and it’s only now that I found out how wonky this site has become in my absence. 12 new plug-in updates, links to posts returning a 404 error, etc. My gosh. This site has basically been a vegetable all this time! Felt like I had allowed part of my life to fall to pieces. (Wow, over-acting much!)

Anyway, I guess it’s time for an update? I’ll try to keep this post as short and concise (hey-o, new favorite song alert!). Here are 5 lessons I learned the past 5 months:

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