Distante De Dios

One of the things I shared with the priest when I had my confession last Sunday was how I, at that time, felt distant from God. I know for a fact this isn’t true and that God is always there, but I also know that sin separates us from God. And I honestly feel this every time I have my bouts of meanness, or when I do something to hurt other people.

I used to think this was just something religious people said, but now that I’ve found myself in a deeper relationship with Christ, I learned that it isn’t just a concept people throw around. It’s real. Much as how one would eventually have a thirst for God once one knows more about Him. I thought this was an over-reaction until I found myself in a situation where I honestly felt spiritually dry. Every cell in my body longed for His nurturing. I needed to attend praise & worship! I longed for the teachings! I couldn’t explain why but I just needed to be surrounded by His love!

Going back, I noticed that whenever I do something I know is wrong, I also end up spending less time in prayer. I’m not sure if it’s me unconsciously acknowledging my unworthiness but it honestly happens! No matter how hard I try, I always end up getting distracted or else just doing the prayer version of small talk. I think my obsessive-compulsiveness also comes into play because I don’t feel like I’ve had adequate prayer time unless I start off with reading the word for the day and then reflecting on it. Is that weird? I’m pretty sure it is, given that God does not look into the length or complication of a prayer more than He does the actual act of conversing with Him.

The priest I talked to had a very amusing take on the matter [of my feeling distant]. We had quite a long conversation while I was trying my best to kneel down on one knee (since my left is still inoperative ATM). He first told me that there is no one position when praying; we can do it while seated, standing up, lying down, in transit, etc. Therefore, there is no reason to feel distant and lose time in prayer since God is pretty much accessible 24/7.

The next thing he asked was what I did for a living. I told him I was a flight attendant. Local or international? Both. Do you fly to Europe or America? Both. And he goes on about how there is a lot of down time on long haul flights. “You’re not always asleep when you’re done serving passengers, right?” (He seems to know a lot about our job.) “So after your passengers have finished asking for their share of drinks and you’ve fed them whatever good food you have onboard, and you find yourself seated in the dark cabin — pray. Talk to God. You can not claim that you are distant from God, up there, 40,000 feet above sea level! You wake up from your rest and you are literally in heaven!” We both chuckled lightly.

That was quite the unorthodox confession, but I liked it because it wasn’t simply dismissing someone by absolving their sins; the priest actually took the time to listen and give a fresh perspective on the things that bothered me. It was relatable and I felt God was, indeed, speaking to me through him. But also, I liked the bit about the distance. Like you had a sense that your prayer signal was stronger since you were closer to the recipient.

I’m slowly getting back on track on the prayer time thing, as I usually do after every confession. But I think now, my new takeaway is that I shouldn’t be too hard on myself, or rigid when it comes to my prayer time. I should talk to Him whenever I can and not just when I am at home, lying on my bed. I especially need to be fervent in my prayer time now that LSE is coming up. Sigh. The warfare is real.

So, how about you? What’s your prayer routine? Have you ever gone through the same thing?

Sunday Thoughts: Mary & Martha

Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.

She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.

Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.”

The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her. ~ Luke 10:38-42

I’ve heard this gospel so many times already but it was only today that it struck me most.

The priest explained how Martha symbolizes people who are anxious about so many things; prioritizing career, finances, stability, worldly things, etc. While Mary symbolizes people who choose to chill and serve and listen to the Lord.

We are always called to play host to Jesus in our lives, yet we are often too busy “slaving in the kitchen” to hear what He has to say to us. Our own worldly anxieties prevent us from hearing His voice and knowing what He really wants in our lives.

We often feel it’s more important to acquire wealth, climb up the corporate ladder, etc. than it is to be of service to God.

“Right now, I think I’m Martha,” I whispered to my mom.

“Me too,” she said.

Apparently we were thinking of the same thing: my illness.

“I’m anxious about how it’s going to go this time around and why it has to happen now, when there’s just so much ahead of you and you’re already planning your future.”

“Me naman, I feel like God gave this to me now ’cause I’ve been too focused on so many things, like my supposed Eurotrip and the wedding, that I sometimes forget to pause and ask, ‘Lord, is this what you want?’ I don’t know. Last time din you were already saving up for retirement and then that happened.”

What I said actually did not make sense at all, now that I think about it. Because I really do not understand why things are the way they are at present. Plus, I also make it seem like God is a punishing God, when He really isn’t. It’s just not the right time to understand.

Tita Cecile sent me a link to a Rick Warren preaching the other day. My greatest takeaway from that is that before God sends us out into the storm, He prays for us. You may say, “What? That’s weird,” because who does He pray to, right? But to that, Rick says, “DO YOU NOT TALK TO YOURSELF SOMETIMES?” Lolz. Basically, it means that God has thought it through and knows how things will turn out before He makes us experience the storms in our lives. And the reason why He sends us out into the storm is to test our faith and make us stronger, as with the case of the apostles + stormy seas.

All we truly ever need is faith.

Lord, I apologize for the times when I am anxious about so many things and prioritize worldly things over You. Please guide my ship’s sails that I may navigate toward the direction you have set out for me and come out stronger on the other side of this storm. Open my ears, as well as my mind and heart, that I may hear your call, listen, and accept.

Sunday Thoughts: The Prodigal Son

‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ ~ Luke 15:31-32

Every Catholic school girl (or boy) knows this story — one of the Prodigal Son who took his inheritance, wasted his money on things of the world, and realized later on that he was wrong.

I remember buying a few gospel books during my elementary days from those people from St. Paul who came by our school once a year. Looking back, I realize just how much of a Catholic school girl I really was. I adored those two kiddie gospel books I purchased (which I didn’t even have to coerce my parents into buying!) that contained mini stories from the bible such as those of Samson and Delilah, David and Goliath, Moses, Joseph, etc. I read those books over and over and found myself amazed at just how nice God was. That was my first shallow understanding of His unconditional love.

As I read this gospel today, though, I’m seeing the story of the Prodigal Son with brand new eyes. I always just used to view this as one that showed how forgiving and loving God was as a Father. What I failed to see, though, was the role of the older brother in the story which, when read in context, represents those who have long been consistent, faithful, and obedient to their loved ones.

Has there ever come a time when you felt someone close to you was loved and appreciated more than you by (another) someone whom you never failed to show your own love to? Have you ever found yourself fighting for someone’s attention? Have you ever found yourself conflicted on whether or not your feelings of jealousy are even rational? I’ve encountered this a couple times in big and small ways in my life. Big, in such a way that I really took the matter to heart and made fits about it in public. Small, because in some instances, I got to stop myself from going full-on crazy green monster mode.

Thinking about it now, I realize just how much the Father has changed me through the years with His Words. These are the things that I got out of rereading this gospel today:

  1. Whenever you feel like you aren’t enough for someone, remember that our God appreciates and loves us no matter what. People will sometimes fail us, but He never will.
  2. Be more loving and understanding with those whom you think are “replacing” you. Others may be giving them the extra attention because they’re the ones who don’t feel they are loved enough, or else really need to feel that they are loved. They may also be the ones who need more guidance. God has called each of us to share the love that we have received. So instead of focusing on what isn’t, focus on what is — the fact that you know and acknowledge His presence in your life and that you have the ability to let others experience that as well. Let us be the older brother who never questions but is content with living out his days with the Father and the brother whom he loves.
  3. No one is too broken or wicked or sinful for God. He loves all of us equally and can heal and restore you just as well, if not even better, as how he has restored other people. You may not believe it, but the best charismatic speakers in the world are ones who have gone through the worst trials and lived the wildest lives. Yup, like the Prodigal Son. But see? God the Father loved them so much that He allowed them to encounter Him, welcomed them with open arms, and gave them new life. Don’t ever think that you aren’t “holy” or “ready” enough to approach God, because God will always take you in no matter what.

To end, I would like to leave you with the words from today’s Second Reading (2 Corinthians 5:17-21):

Brothers and sisters:
Whoever is in Christ is a new creation:
the old things have passed away;
behold, new things have come.
And all this is from God,
who has reconciled us to himself through Christ
and given us the ministry of reconciliation,
namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,
not counting their trespasses against them
and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
So we are ambassadors for Christ,
as if God were appealing through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin,
so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

Have a blessed Sunday! 🙂

Traditions

It’s my first time to visit Melbourne and the first item on my itinerary was to attend Hillsong service and go to mass. Today’s experience was extra fabulous ’cause I got to spend it with my wonderful co-cabin crew.

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Continue reading “Traditions”

Undeserving Grace

Today, my parents and I attended The Feast Alabang’s Lenten Recollection. We first participated in this last year and I was very grateful that I did, ’cause it touched on particular issues I was facing at that time. (Here were my learnings and reflections on days 1, 2, and 3.)

Before I talk about God’s message for me today, let me first tell you about what happened last night after typing this blog entry.

After a seemingly long day, my boyfriend and I got to talk over the phone and I opened up to him about the bad thoughts I was entertaining in my mind (due to PMS — LOL blame pa more). Needless to say, at the end of our conversation, I was assured that I wasn’t being irrational (oh Lord, what have I done to deserve such a wonderful partner? T_T).

/cheese

Anyway, one of the things I/we concluded is that I should just learn to accept that with certain people, say, in a group, there would always be ones who would be more favored, and that it may just not be me most of the time (especially with my fiercely blunt attitude and all, hahahuhu whatevs).

Which brings us back to The Feast. Man oh man, was God trying to tell me something today through Bro. J Yogawin and his topic entitled (surprise, surprise): FAVORED.

Like. What. When I saw that on screen I was all, “K, LORD, NOTED PO.

Bro. J highlighted this verse from the bible:

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.

~ Jeremiah 1:5

He said that if we rely on the words of MAN instead of the words of GOD, we will always feel worthless and less favored. This is true, and something I really needed to hear. Indeed, if you base your standards on the standards of this world, base your happiness on whether or not you are favored by the people around you, you will always feel empty, lost, and worthless. But if you remember that you are FAVORED BY GOD, the MOST IMPORTANT, the MOST HIGH who created you and SET YOU APART even before you were born; who loves You and gives you grace and an abundance of blessings you don’t deserve due to your sinfulness, you will realize that you are indeed WORTHY. That you are LOVED. FAVORED.

Couldn’t help but cry after all that. Just. K, Lord. K.

Other lines I loved from today were these:

I was saved because I came to know more of a Lord who loves me for who I am.

~ Bro. James Nicolas

And one from Fr. Arnel Aquino, who touched on how we as Catholics condemn the “undeserving” who are favored; or how we think we need to earn the Lord’s grace (i.e. by doing something good so the Lord would reward us) when He gives His undeserving grace to us all the time. Sense.

Jesus redeemed you and not accused you.

Sigh.

Thank You, Lord. You never let a day pass without affirming me and reminding me of Your endless love. I am undeserving of Your grace, but You still continue to give it to me every single day. Thank You, Father, for Your mercy. Thank You for sending Your Son to redeem us. Thank You for favoring us and setting us apart. I love you.

The Game-Changer

It’s my first day off from work for 2015 (as my boyfriend [yes, whuuut] has astutely pointed out), and I finally have the time to sit down and (try to) put into words something I have reflected on quite a few times the past year.

I’ve talked to a lot of friends about 2014 and how truly amazing it was for me. I’m not sure if it was because I had a so-so 2013, but 2014 was just really full of blessings upon blessings I couldn’t even wrap my head around. This, of course, doesn’t apply to all my friends, although most of them agree it was also fantastic for them. But anyway, whenever I find myself thinking about what I have done to deserve such blessings, I just end up totally dumbstruck. It was today, though, that I did a Zedd (found my Moment of Clarity, LOLZ).

I’mma let you in on a little secret: I’ve only started counting “awesome” years since my second birth date (i.e. 2010). Don’t get me wrong, my school days were also fantastic, but I feel now that I really wasn’t myself then, if you get what I mean. Funny story, I had just recently revisited my high school LiveJournal and (unfortunately) shown it to the boyf without first reading it thoroughly. What I reread totally caught me (and him, I’m sure) off-guard. Well, no, not really, but I didn’t expect my high school self to be THAT bad, at least. I obvi have selective memory. To give you an overview: cursing, ranting, and more cursing and ranting. Hahahaha. Hahaha. Haha. Ha. Hmm. But yeah, seriously, I was such a drama queen. I made issues out of non-issues. #immaturity2005

ANYWAY.

First birthday, 2011, was fab. Went to New York and met Dan Radcliffe and all. But it was also the year of transition. It was then that I started and left my first job.

Second birthday, 2012, was the year I tried to find myself. I took up a vocational course in Web Design and Animation and joined a community that helped me know myself by first knowing God.

2013 was a bit blah. It was a year of trials and tears, but also a year of reaping and rejoicing.

Now, 2014, this is the year to beat. I got my dream job, a surprise blessing, the opportunity to serve the Lord through song, and the chance to visit my dream destination. The learnings have not stopped since then.

But seriously, why? I CAN NOT UNDERSTAND. What have I done to deserve this? Then again, today, I thought, maybe I’m asking the wrong questions. Maybe the right thing to ask is what has changed? What have I added or subtracted in my life for me to come to this point? To this, I could only think of one answer: GOD.

Of course.

In all this time that I have started giving importance to the life I have been blessed with, I have been most conscious about God — His goodness, His mercy, and His great hold on me. The past few years? They weren’t sh*t. Actually, even if 2014 was crappy, I’d probably still think it was okay, because I would still hold on to the hope that things would eventually get better.

That’s it. HOPE. If I were to be thankful for anything, it would really be HOPE. The promise of hope community has taught me that could only come from God. Hope He has given me to create dreams to chase after, hold on when trials abound, trust that unselfish love exists, and see the good despite the haze of oppression. I think 2014 was by far the best because I have experienced so much hardships in my 2013, and it was the year after that His promise of prospering and not harming and giving us more than we could ever imagine came to be. It was in 2014 that I realized the magnitude of God’s grace, mercy, and love. Grabe lang, guys, can I just say? IBA SI LORD MAMIGAY. O.A. SIYA.

And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. (Deuteronomy 28:1-68)

(More quotes on ABUNDANCE, guys. His promises are wonderful and I am a witness to their fulfillment.)

Sigh. My faith has been tested many times the past year and I have honestly felt disconnected from Him. But despite all these, He always gives me the opportunity to come back. Once even, through my Intercessory shepherd, He sent me a message. My shepherd said, “What you’re feeling now isn’t disconnection from God but rather, increased consciousness of His presence in your life.” Like, since my relayshe with Him is deeper now, whenever I miss out on reading the Word for the day, I end up thirsty. And this shouldn’t be mistaken for disconnection. That was such a beautiful message. One that I needed to hear. Thank You.

Reflecting on it now, I’m not really sure how my life would be if I hadn’t found God. I’d probably still be lost, purposeless, trying to find meaning in worldly things.

In 2015, I resolve to further strengthen my relationship with Him. Now that I am not burdened with regularization-related stuff, I can go on focusing again on things that really matter. This is going to be a big year for the Philippines, what with Pope Francis coming to visit. It’s going to be a big year for our community as well as we celebrate #ServantLeadership2 in July. Plus, there’s the annual Singles Encounter Weekend where I’ll be serving again, yay. 🙂

My prayer for you in 2015 is that you would be able to establish a connection with Him as well. I hope things work out for you in all aspects of your life. Keep dreaming and keep praying! Claim victory! Believe that you have received what you’re asking for and it shall be done for you. (Mark 11:24)

Have a blessed 2015, my friends! Hope to be able to interact with you more this year. 🙂

The future looks bright. :) [Millennium Bridge, London]
The future looks even brighter. 🙂 [Millennium Bridge, London]

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.”

86SLP_SWF7

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