Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas - of small things and Jesus

I could not have asked for better gifts this Christmas. God has given me all that I needed. 

But Christmas is not about gifts, at least material ones. It's about giving love. Yes, it may sound like a cliché but it is really about giving love. 

This Christmas, I could not give material things to the people I love. So, I gave them my time and energy - because that was what I had. The same with my family. 

My mother came to visit me and she didn't give any other material gift. Her presence was 100 times better than any gift she could have given me. 

Tomorrow, my other late Christmas gift from God is the presence of my elder brother and his family. My gift would be the time I spend with them, especially with my little cutie nephew. 

I received one of the best gifts from Mken. She made a comic strip of why I should be named Time's Person of the Year. It was funny and witty and most of all heartwarming. Years past she would give me a gadget, an expensive one, but this gift made my heart melt. It's not every day that someone chooses you to be Person of the Year. 

My other gifts include, as I mentioned earlier a car. It has come in so useful. Yes, I drove off with the gas nozzle the other day. But the gift there was that the gasoline station owner said that it was okay and I didn't have to pay for anything. Phew! I instantly looked up articles on how much a gas nozzle would cost. FYI, it can cost a few dollars to thousands depending on the damage. To top that off, I think God is really spoiling me. There was a policeman when I drove off with the nozzle. He was off duty and he took my details and even called the firemen to check up the area as my gas was natural gas. He had called the day after to ask whether I had called the station. After further inquiry, he bid us Merry Christmas and that everything was okay. Had he not been there, I would be a wanted lady right now. 

How do all of these tie up together? Well, it's about the small things. Like baby Jesus. He came into the world. Innocent, born in a stable and rested in a manger. How humble a beginning can you have? He shows us that it's not about your stature or your heritage. It is about your heart and the love that you give to others. He dined with sinners, prostitutes, tax collectors - people whom society deemed not fit for social consumption. He gave them His time, His presence, His love and forgiveness. For some people, these are small things. But these are the small things that people appreciate - time and energy and presence and sometimes forgiveness. 

It is the small things that prevent you from making big mistakes like making sure that the gas nozzle had been removed before driving off. Or paying the car insurance as soon as you get the bill, should anything happen. That was the lesson I learned when I accidentally ripped off the gas pump. 

I could write about the many gifts God had given me even before Christmas came. I am especially thankful that Mken got her papers. The feeling of insecurity of living in a country not your own is unnerving yet it teaches us patience and strength. It teaches us how to hope and to surrender all to God. A piece of paper may be a small thing but behind that paper was prayers. Our family and friends prayed for us, for our interview at the immigration office. We asked our angels - both living and in heaven - to say a prayer for us. The experience of having people pray for you is a humbling and wonderful. It may seem small for others to say a little prayer but it has its weight in gold! Prayer goes a long way. 

And I have to say that God has gifted me with good friends and people that surround me. I am awed. They are generous. They ask for nothing in return. They give love to all they meet. They show their kindness and generosity in such subtle ways. Thank you Lord for these people in my life. Their presence is a present in my life. I learn daily to give of your love because of them. 

This Christmas, God has taught me that it's the small things that we neglect that are so important. As Christmas closes to an end, may you and your family be blessed. May you cherish each other's company, even if you may be materially lacking. Nothing can replace your family. It is priceless. 

May we give of love every day, in small ways, because it is these small things that matter. 


Saturday, December 07, 2013

Tuesdays with God

About two years ago, I started a date time with God and called it "Tuesdays with P.A." in imitation of Tuesdays with Morrie. It was a weekly ritual of writing down God's message to me for the week. It was a consecrated time when I would sit down and write and share with other people, through my writing, my pondering about God.

I had neglected that ritual for some time now.

But I wanted to share what has happened to me recently.

It was on a Tuesday that God gave me a car in a lottery at the office. I had never won anything so big in my entire life. I was so surprised that I was shaking for a few hours and I went to mass to give thanks to God that day. I couldn't stop crying. Good thing the mass was a remembrance mass for the dearly departed. My tears of joy was masked as tears of sorrow and remembrance. That was 19 November.

Winning the car was a funny story. The lady that called me to say I had won it was a classmate in French class. I thought she was calling to ask about our homework that day because she had been busy organizing and participating in our office's bazaar. This was the conversation:

A: Hello, this is A, may I please speak with Ms. E.
Me: Hi A, this is P, your classmate in French.
A: Who am I speaking to?
Me: A, it's me, P, the Philippine, your classmate in French.
A: The little Philippine in class?
Me: Yes, that one.
A: Oh my God, P, you won the car!
Me: What? Oh my God! Oh my God!
A: (Talking ... but I couldn't concentrate on what she was saying)
Me: Oh my God ... (walking out of my office and going to my friend's office saying: I won the car. Smiling and shaking)

It was also funny that at the closing of the bazaar, I took a picture of the whiteboard with all the winning numbers. I thought I would check the numbers when I go home. Little did I know that I would win the grand prize.

I didn't tell anybody else that I had won the car that night until I found the ticket. I told my family though and I said I had to check where my ticket was. They asked if it was a hoax. When I found it at home and went to mass that Tuesday, news had already travelled and everybody greeted me with a congratulations as I entered church. The lady that sold me the winning ticket had already told everybody. When she sold me the ticket she had expressly said, "Take this ... this is my favourite number". I bought it and that was the winning ticket.

Two weeks later, on a Tuesday, 3 December, I finally received the car. The German ambassador, whose Mission had donated the car, had come to the VW garage for a photo op. The car - a VW eco up! - was unveiled and Voidieu (short for Voiture de Dieu - in English - Car of God) was given to me. We call her V for short, thanks to a friend's prodding.

So, it was on a Tuesday that I dedicated myself to God and on the same day, God gave me a wonderful gift.

I had planned to write this on a Tuesday but I had been busy so time permitting, I wrote it on the Sabbath which is also a day dedicated to God.

It's not to say that God is not present any other day but I just feel even more special that God on our date day gave me such a wonderful gift.

Thank you Lord for the gifts you shower me with everyday of my life. I am not worthy yet your love abounds for me.

I love you too.