The Blessed Weekend That Was

Last June 14 and 15, our community, the Serviam Catholic Charismatic Community, held its first ever conference at the SMX Convention Center entitled: Servant Leadership in the Year of Faith.

This is a big deal for us because it’s our first big event as a community, which we did on our 10th year anniversary, and on the Year of Faith, no less!

Ribbon cutting!
Ribbon cutting!

I originally did not plan on attending, to be quite honest. The first time this was announced in one of our gatherings, I was already set to go on a trip to Cebu with my girlfriends. As the date drew nearer, though, plans fell through, leaving me with a wide-open schedule. I guess that was God’s way of saying, “Was that exhortation zealous enough for you?” #insidejoke

Anyway, I was part of the registration team along with my other Singles Ministry friends; I was assigned to handle one of the Walk-In Registration booths. The first hour was crazy! Once the booths had been set up, people just came in throngs! (Praise God!) It took a few minutes for and I to get the hang of our responsibilities, but once we did, everything else just ran smoothly from there. A lot of unexpected things happened as well, which made things extra fulfilling, knowing we got to accomplish them with such precision and grace (and a bit of obsessive-compulsiveness, LOL). I guess that was the Spirit working within us. 😀

Hi Barbs!
Hi B!
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Le booth of life!
Le awesome Registration Committee
Le awesome Registration Committee. T and I were too blergh to look up. :))

For the first day of conference, our speakers were Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Msgr. Gerardo Santos, and Selene Yu. They talked about Jesus as our Model Servant Leader, Servant Leadership According to Scripture and in Church Traditions, and Servant Leadership in the Workplace, respectively.

On the second day, we had Cardinal Tagle, Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban, Tita Bai delos Reyes, Frank Padilla, and Sr. Consolata Manding, FSP, who talked about Servant Leadership in the Year of Faith and Postmodern Times; and The Servant Leader as Worshipper, in the New Evangelization, and as a Social Communicator.

I didn’t get to listen to the talks on the first day ’cause I had to be at the registration booth, but I was told that the speakers then were all so charismatic (but then again, so were all the speakers on the 2nd day! o_o). We were told about Selene Yu’s talk, though, and how it was relevant to the youth especially, seeing as we are still in the early stages of renewal. I feel kind of bad for not getting to hear it but they’re coming out with a CD copy of the whole conference so *fingers crossed*. 🙂

What I did get to hear was Cardinal Tagle’s talk. He wasn’t actually at the conference, though his spirit was. LOL that sounds so freaky, but only because his talk was in video form ’cause he had to be in Rome at the time of the conference.

slc11

Continue reading “The Blessed Weekend That Was”

Sunday Thoughts: Age & Spirituality

It is Pentecost Sunday as of writing, and a series of events have happened throughout the day that led me to think of these two topics: AGE and SPIRITUALITY.

Let’s start with AGE. I was attending mass this afternoon when this really pretty lady, maybe in her 40s, walked in. There were no seats left so she just stood in the corner for about a minute. One guy from the choir offered her his seat, which I found strange, as there were at least two other women before Pretty Lady who passed by and didn’t even get the same gesture. Perks of being pretty, I guess? Or just mere happenstance?

Anyway, I kept glancing at the lady all throughout the mass ’cause she was just REALLY gorgeous! She was probably half-Spanish; her skin was clear and perfectly olive. Her hair, medium golden blonde with a few gray streaks. She wore a black ensemble paired with tasteful silver accessories, and toted a white Chanel-looking bag. Everything about her just screamed CLASSY!!! and DID NOT UNDERGO COSMETIC SURGERY!!! and I found myself wishing I could age even just half as gracefully as she had.

Despite this, though, if you look carefully, you could still guess which age bracket she belonged to. I then found myself looking at the other women beside her and calculating their respective ages. At one point, I looked at my mom and thought, “She doesn’t look like she’s turning 60 soon. Hmm…” And, “Aww yeah, I’m not going to be fat when I reach her age!” LOL genes. ♥

Anyhoo, the priest also happened to share with us an anecdote about him being asked to bless a lady who was turning 105 years old. He shared how he asked what the lady’s secret was for reaching that age and what changes she noticed over the past century. Apparently, he never got the answers to his questions ’cause the century-old lady was already hard of hearing.

A thought struck me as he was giving his homily — we will never be as young as we are at the moment. People my age sometimes joke about how old we’ve gotten and how time has gone by so fast. One minute we’re just in our living rooms watching Dexter’s Laboratory on TV and the next minute, we’re applying for jobs or, gasp, getting married and having babies.

What I think my age bracket fails to appreciate, though, is that we are currently in our prime! At this point, our bodies, supposedly, are at their most optimal state! It’s at this age that we’re at our most beautiful and are virtually wrinkle-free; we’re armed with all the necessary artillery and our bodies can basically recover from anything we throw at it (assuming they’re thrown in moderation). We’re also considered LEGAL, so we can do whatever we want without people thinking we’re too young or too old for it. Doesn’t that just sound so exciting?!

This just further strengthens the idea of how we, the twenty-somethings, should use this time to experiment or find out what we truly want in our lives. Think about it: most of us are done with university and are just getting into our first (few) jobs. There’s still time for trial and error before we decide to settle down (whether financially or whatever else). There are still so many places to visit and hipster music festivals to attend. There’s also a huge opportunity to discover spirituality ’cause we finally have the time (and space) to get away and drown out all the noises around us.

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My cousin went to my house tonight to discuss her anxieties about her future as an artist and an art major. It was a long conversation that involved the keywords pre-quarter life crisis, priorities, timelines, and SPIRITUALITY. Basically, I told her that I went, and still am going, through the same motions and that it was too early for her to think that way. The thing with my cousin is that she can be too intense sometimes. I kept telling her that she still had a whole decade to figure out what she needed to prioritize and what she needed to trash, and that by worrying, she could just possibly miss out on the things that make being a twenty-something awesome.

One thing I noticed was that I always attacked her problems at a spiritual standpoint. I told her that I wouldn’t have gotten through the motions without the spirit guiding me through all of them, and that her problems could be easily answered if she just had the right mindset.

You see, it was after I got sick that I went through what she’s going through right now. By that time, I had already made up my mind that I wanted to learn more about my faith, so I joined my current community. I have learned SO MUCH since and I felt so blessed I got to share it with my cousin.

I found it quite quaint that these thoughts came to me on Pentecost Sunday — the day that celebrates the time the early church got to receive the Holy Spirit. It made me realize how much I’ve matured since I, myself, got to receive the Holy Spirit through our Life in the Spirit Experience (or LSS, to most). Since then, I’ve gained so much wisdom through teachings and discernment, and I also got to easily forgive and let go of things that weren’t healthy for me.

Serviam's LSE 12. Can you spot me? LOL.
Serviam’s LSE 12. Can you spot me? LOL.

During today’s homily, the priest also mentioned these lines: “When you are filled with the Holy Spirit and you are moved to forgive someone who has hurt you, forgive them. Don’t hold on to the resentment, especially when you feel like you’re being moved to forgive.” This struck me the most ’cause just a few weeks ago, I had randomly messaged someone who hurt me and told them I forgive them. That was a day after the spirit-filled corporate worship we had, and I honestly, HONESTLY felt SO moved to forgive. My inner pride said NO, ABBY, DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT, but I still couldn’t stop myself from sending the message. It just felt right. And I immediately felt better afterwards. Have you ever gotten that feeling? It’s just beyond rad!

Anyway, I’m turning preachy again, and that’s far from what I wanted to happen with this entry. Just wanted to write down my thoughts to make sense of them all. Hope you had a wonderful weekend! 😀

Right Hearse Block

Sooooo… I’m back! After pseudo-promising I would be blogging regularly again, alas, I have once again failed! Not only with this, but with my Project 365 as well. I’m quite disappointed with myself, but also a bit proud, ’cause in exchange, I actually got to accomplish so many things in real life.

For example, the successful Singles Encounter Weekend we had last April 12 – 14.

27 new SE babies! Praise God! <3
27 new SE babies! Praise God! <3

Attended a chain of community activities.

The family is growing! <3
The Singles Ministry is growing! <3

Went on numerous roadtrips with the fambam.

EK with the fambam!
Here we are at Enchanted Kingdom. <3

I’ve finally found the time to work on the stuff I’ve put on hold over the past few months due to SE responsibilities. I’ve also seen Iron Man 3 TWICE. YES OMG I HAVE A LIFE. LOL.

But anyway, I kinda miss blogging. I miss using my brain to string up words that pretend to make sense. To be quite honest, I think I’ve actually been hit by writer’s block (or shall I say blogger’s block?). That, and oppression… which I think I’ll focus on in this Welcome Back! blog entry of mine. Hurray! /sarcasm

But no, seriously, life has been quite… interesting as of late. A lot of stuff has happened from the time of my last blog to now that has made me question just what exactly God has in store for me and my family. Today, for example, is my graduation from being an Entrant at our community. I’m finally moving on to Service! Today also happens to be the day my brother’s kidney decided to be a bitch and totally screw him over.

Yeaaaaah, kidney party!
Yeaaaaah, kidney party!

My dad also got randomly bludgeoned on the head by some crazy lady a few weeks ago, but you know, who’s counting. My mom has been keeping a strong front all this time. I’m definitely going all out this coming Mother’s Day.

After all we’ve been through, you’d think I would be cursing The Almighty by now. Nope, total opposite, in fact! It’s during these times that I superglue myself to Him, and I’m very proud to proclaim that He has never left me alone and has even given me thrice as much happiness for every count of sadness.

I never really thought I could be even more positive than I already am, but I have. This realization came to me while I was reflecting on the events of this morning: you don’t FIGHT OPPRESSION with DEPRESSION, you fight it with HAPPINESS (and prayer)!

You know how they say you should smile at your enemies ’cause nothing would confuse them more? Smiling at oppression would be like giving the devil a big F U and a sucker punch to the face. That’s what I think, at least, but there’s no harm in trying it out. You can’t control the bad things that happen to you, but you CAN control how you react to them.

Me? I honestly think that the things happening right now are made to prepare me (and my family) for something great. What that something is is a blur right now, but I’m sure they will be revealed in time. I just have to keep the faith. 🙂

I hope you’re all doing well right now! Sorry for this poor excuse for a post. Still trying to shake off the right hearse block. 🙂

You make all things work together for my good!

Are you familiar with Murphy’s Law? It is the adage that goes: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” In our church community, we call this OPPRESSION. Since we’re continually growing in our faith, the devil will always find a way to dishearten us and make us lose our trust in God. This is especially strong whenever we’re on our way to learning more about God, or doing something for the betterment of other people.

My Singles Encounter classmates and I have less than a week left until our Singles Encounter sponsorship weekend, and to write off the past few days as “eventful” would probably be the understatement of the century.

Last Sunday, I woke up early to go for an ocular visit at our retreat venue for the coming weekend. I arrived at our meeting place just in time to catch the morning Easter mass. During the PEACE part, I suddenly felt a bit weird. I felt my chest constrict. I thought it was just a passing feeling, but then it worsened as the seconds passed, and lasted for at least 3 minutes. It wasn’t painful or anything (but then again, I’ve been questioning my pain threshold since 2010), just that I felt like my chest was being squeezed tight by some unknown force.

I panicked, of course, and decided to send an SMS to my two doctors to ask if it was related to my cancer, or the current meds I was taking, etc., etc. It was my first time to feel such a thing, you see, and it was nearing my check-up date, so you could only imagine why I was panicking. My rad-onco was the first to reply, telling me that I should visit him so he could properly check my symptoms and rule out the possibilities of it being related to lymphoma. He said it was probably cardio-related. My med-onco, on the other hand, said it could just be heartburn and that if it persists, I should have it checked. But that aside from that, I just had to keep coming for regular check-ups with my doctors to make sure that everything was in order.

I still visited my rad-onco the next day. He asked me to have an ECG + 2D Echo done to check that everything’s alright. He explained that chemo has a long-term effect on the heart (or actually, on ALL organs), a price survivors eventually have to pay to, well, survive. He assured me, though, that what I went through was probably just a stress-related thing. Which, I would have to admit, was really the case, as the night before, I was hyper-stressing over the pending stuff I still had to do before the retreat weekend.

But anyway, yeah, my heart is fine. I think it just forgot it was April Fools’ Day and not Valentine’s Day. My heart can be too full of itself sometimes. LOLWHUT.

SOURCE
SOURCE

Fast forward to Tuesday.

Before leaving for Makati, my mom and I had this dialogue:

HER: God bless, babes. Always remember: just because you’re serving (the Lord), doesn’t mean you’re exempted from trials.
ME: Umm. Thanks, Ma. But isn’t it BECAUSE I’m serving that I should assume I will never be exempted from trials?

This has got to be the most prophetic dialogue we’ve ever had. EVER. Goes to show just how powerful words can be, and all the lengths oppression will go through just to bring you down. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I wanted to go home early from worship that day so I could get a good night’s sleep in preparation for a job interview I was having the next day. We got to finish early-ish from our harana (praise God for all the donations that came in that day!), but I got on the wrong-ish van going home (it didn’t pass through Skyway, but it did go inside our village, so I’m not really sure how I feel about it). Anyway, when I got home and got to the door, I heard my dad say in an odd voice, “Abby, is that you?” I thought he was just being funny but then when I entered the house and turned the corner, the first thing I saw was him, lying on the kitchen floor, sweating buckets. When I switched on the lights, his face was all red and he said he couldn’t stand up ’cause he was really dizzy. I didn’t know what to do for maybe 2 whole minutes. I debated whether to check the internet for what to give him, call my doctor friends, or call my relatives. I resorted to giving my dad what he asked for, like water and towels, while he was trying to hold himself up and vomit at the same time. I decided to give my nurse aunt a ring (although my dad told me not to ’cause he claimed he was going to be fine). WHATEVER, DAD.

So I called my aunt and she sent my nurse cousin, J, to the rescue (thank God for family as neighbors!). She took my dad’s blood pressure and found it was 200/100. WTF. My other aunt then came by, I went ahead and called my sister-in-law (’cause my brother was working the night shift), my uncle arrived, and we all brought Papa to the hospital.

He was under observation for 5 hours. They conducted tests, gave him lots of meds, and checked his blood pressure regularly. J, sissy-in-law, and I stayed at the hospital the whole time (from 12MN – 5 AM). Around 4:30, I was already panicking ’cause I had to get ready for my interview (travel time to the interview place was 2 hours, so you could only imagine my stress!). Papa was already feeling a tiny bit better but we had to wait for my brother to get back from work so we could pay the hospital bill and have Papa discharged. Everything worked out in the end, though. It did, it really did.

Me & Cousin J in ze ER. (Haggard much? LOL)

Let me just tell you how all things worked together for my good (and Papa’s) that day.

1) No one was home with Papa that night. He had already been lying on the floor for an hour and a half before I arrived. When I got off the van a few minutes prior, I had debated with myself whether to have my prepaid number loaded or not, since I figured I didn’t need to contact anyone, anyway. Since there were no tricycles passing by, I said to myself, “Oh, well, better buy some credits now so I won’t have to think about it tomorrow”. So I did, right? And then I came home to THAT.

2) When I called my aunt, I didn’t know that she was in Mindanao. I only realized she was when everyone except her showed up at our house. LOL. Cousin J is only visiting, as she’s currently applying for jobs here in Manila. If she proceeded with one of her successful applications, she probably wouldn’t be there that night and I’d probably be running around like a headless chicken at home while waiting for the next thing to do. (This was obviously my first emergency situation!)

3) I had gotten home from the hospital on time, left early, and arrived at the interview place on time as well. AND I MADE IT THROUGH… kind of. I passed, but I have to wait to move on to the next stage. WHICH IS GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME. 😀 I realized, maybe the reason why God stopped me from sleeping was ’cause he knew I wouldn’t be able to wake up on time. Haha. If that’s so, that’s good enough for me as well! LOL.

4) It was probably a good thing Mama wasn’t home. I don’t think she could handle leaving my dad alone and flying to another country if she saw the state my dad was in. On that note, though, I can never leave my dad alone now. He has to be with someone at all times.

5) My father has finally learned that he is not invincible and that he is aging. So many promises he’s made to himself today. No more drinking! No more missing a dosage! No more overworking!

You know what I felt when I got home later that day from my interview? So magnificently blessed. Blessed because God sent angels to guide me that day. Blessed because he gave us enough time to learn a LESSON, not a REGRET. Blessed because he gave me such wonderful family members. Blessed because of those who cared enough to ask about, and pray for my dad. My SE-mate SMSd me randomly with a: “The Lord has been so faithful to you! <3” T called to ask if I was okay; M sent this to me on FB:

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Did I ever mention that God has blessed me with such a wonderful support system? He has. My family and friends are the reason why I’m still alive today. They keep me sane. I love them with all my heart. <3

Ultimately, I feel blessed to be part of a community like Serviam. Since being here, I’ve gone through so many trials, but gained so many victories; I’ve learned to acknowledge and deal with oppression; I’ve learned to curb my anger and look at things at an even greater light; I’ve become a better person. Not completely better, but still better.

As our Singles Encounter Weekend draws closer, I can’t say I’m surprised that all these things are happening. The fact that they are this immense, though, affirms my belief that I’m doing the right thing, and that what I’m about to do is huge. Huge enough for me to deserve all this striking down from the evils of this world.

Do you see this smirk, Oppression? This one’s reserved especially for you. You may be great, but my God is greater. And He makes all things work together for my good.

*infinity smirk*

Serviam Singles Encounter 11

Trust me, you need this. :)

Serviam Singles Encounter 11

Take a break from the world and reconnect with what matters most. 🙂 Refer a friend! Refer yourself! Heehee. It’s going to be fun! 🙂 Contact any of the numbers listed above or message me for more details!

 

2013! And 2012… 11 days too late!

FIRST POST FOR 2013! WOOHOO! And with a new layout to boot! Kinda proud of it. MINIMALISM! Hihi. :> Anyway, sorry it took so long. Not sure if you even noticed my lack of posts (or the fact that my site has been down since January 1), so I guess this is me saying sorry to myself. *self-high five* LOL. (Unless you’ve actually been checking back here the past few days. If so, then, GASP!)

Anyhoo, HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE! 😀 I hope you had a great time counting down the seconds to 2013, and I hope you got to spend those seconds with the people closest to you! 🙂 I personally had such an amazing time ushering in the new year, but that’s a story for later. For now, I’d like to first do my usual year-end post. I know the time for year-end posts has already gone stale, but I’m writing this, anyway, for gratitude and closure’s sake (naks!). This was supposed to be accompanied by a 2012 video summary of sorts but my laptop, as usual, decided not to cooperate. So boohoo, Cindy Lou Who.

Let’s start.

2012 was a fantastic year full of blessings, learnings, and opportunities. To be honest, I started the year with no actual clue as to how I was going to tackle it. I had just quit my first job without a solid back-up plan, just the thought of getting rid of all the stressors and going after my passions. And I guess that was what 2012 was all about — PASSION. Passion for travel, passion for the arts, and passion for serving God. It was a good year because it was when I felt most fulfilled in (almost) every aspect of my life. I learned how to discern, decide, and accept whatever came my way. It also helped that I had a Powerful Ally who was there for me every step of the way.

For 2012, I am thankful for the following things:

The Adventures & New Experiences

SINGAPORE WITH (ALMOST ALL OF) MY LOVELY GANSA GIRLS! :> 

I still haven’t gotten around to blogging about that completely (and I don’t intend to anymore, even New York)… all I can say is that this was the first time I got to go out of the country with just my friends, and I had the most wonderful time ever! I’m definitely looking forward to traveling far, far away with them again in the near future. 🙂

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Like sirs in SG! :>
Like sirs in SG! :>

LA-NYC 2012

After 11 months of pining for New York, I got to go back there again (probably for the last time in the next 5 years, but who cares)! I went with my cousin this time, and although I had to repeat a lot of stuff from last year (for my cousin’s sake), it was still awesome because I was freer this time around — I had control over my finances (UGH, DISNEY & NBC STORES), I knew how to get from Point A to Point B without hesitation (HELLO JASON MRAZ CONCERT IN ROCKEFELLER PLAZA AT 7 IN THE MORNING), I learned how to use the subway, and I got to walk home past 12 AM without anyone looking for me. Chyeah. My aunt just said, “Wow, you’re really a New Yorker now!”, when I got home. LOLZ.

I also got to meet up with my childhood friend (AFTER 13 YEARS), experience New York Fashion Week (oh Lord, it’s crazy), meet up with Mel and Em (back in LA), and SEE EMMA WATSON UP-CLOSE. OMG.

New York never fails to surprise me. 🙂

Just a preview of the trip that was :)
Just a preview of the trip that was 🙂

Continue reading “2013! And 2012… 11 days too late!”

Enter Abby v. 24 Beta

New Features: 
50 times more intolerant to BS and 50 times less likely to settle.

Things have been happening behind the scenes lately. Some, confusing and some just plain annoying that I had to make a conscious effort to revamp, reorganize, regroup and basically come up with a newer version of myself. I don’t like what I’ve allowed myself to turn into in this one aspect of my life and I’m glad I got to bop myself in the head before things got worse. I got to share this with my cousin last week and she said something along the lines of, “Parang it’s an insult to you.” She can be really wise sometimes. My personal Luna Lovegood. Haha!

Anyway, aside from that, life has been pretty great! In the past week, I’ve gone out a bunch of times with my most favorite people, been blessed through my participation in activities with my new charismatic community, went for (and passed) a job interview, and been generally reminded of just how God truly loves me when 1) CT scan results came back last Thursday and 2) when I saw just how much I’ve come out of my shell in the past 6 months.

Lemme break it down for you (whuuuuut).

Continue reading “Enter Abby v. 24 Beta”

And the award for…

… Newly Enlightened goes to *drumroll* Abby!

So enlightened, in fact, that it led to my having gargantuan eyebags [for crying too much]! :))
While the award for Best Parents goes to *drumroll* Abby’s parents! *crowd cheers*

I came home to this!
Whatizz effort?
I’m glad my parents used recycled paper in making this. YOU ARE LEARNING! I LOVE YOU MORE FOR THIS! :))
Yun o! 😀

So I just got back from Singles Encounter weekend and boy, what an intense weekend it was! I believe I came in at least 95% healed (or so I thought), with my objective being to find out what my mission in life is. Although I learned, relearned, and enjoyed a lot of things, this morning, I was resigned to the fact that I wasn’t going to get what I expected to get out of the encounter. And then the day’s activities started. BOOM.

Indeed, when you least expect it, God will reveal things you thought, with your simple human mind, never even existed. Ay nako talaga. YOU are more than amazing, more than marvelous, more than miraculous could ever be!

Thank You for this weekend! Thank You for my parents, family, and newfound friends! Here’s to more encounters with You! 🙂