Sunday, November 13, 2016

Pause. Press. Play.

The week started out like a normal week. So ... I thought. I was about to take a flight out of London after visiting my cousin. As I left London, the sky cried like there was no tomorrow. My cousin said I took the sun away. My nieces started crying too and my nephew was sad. So much water around. So much that even the fuel of the plane I was on had water in it. So the flight was cancelled.


One of the lessons of that weekend was to take a moment ... a moment to pray. So, in the midst of the cancelled flight a thought entered my mind. A day for a life. What is a day compared to a saved life. The pilot had announced how dangerous it would have been to fly with water in the fuel. It would have been disastrous. Instead, we spent hours in queues going back through immigration, getting rebooked at the flight transfer desk, waiting for the bus to the hotel, getting our rooms, getting our vouchers. It seemed like endless waiting. Sometimes, life seems to not move forward or there are so many hindering circumstances but really, it's just a time to pause. To reflect. To pray.


While spending some time in Swindon with my cousin, she had reminded me of the importance of prayer. But not just any prayer but a prayer that "pestered God". The reading for this Saturday was about the judge that gave into the demands of the widow lest she strike him down with her persistence. So, in our prayer we should ... PRESS on ... to keep asking God day and night for our heart's desires. Yes, He knows what we want before we even ask but just like the widow, wouldn't God give to us what we ask for if we persist in prayer, if we press on?

I had been putting off a certain work-related talk because I thought it was not necessary but God knew how important it was to get it off my chest and He made a way for it to happen. I believe it was because of prayer, prayers offered for me by dear friends.

Two friends also went on retreat this week. I was blessed to receive the messages of God through them, even if vicariously. I heard Him loud and clear.

One friend's retreat spoke of Jesus' first miracle - the Wedding at Cana. Just like the empty vessels that was to receive the water turned into wine, we are called to invite Jesus to come into our lives especially when we feel empty. Sometimes, we need to be empty so that God can fill our emptiness. Just like the servants who were asked to fill the vessels, we are also called to do what God says. And finally, we are called to act.

On the second day of the retreat, the message was forgiveness - to be forgiven, feel forgiven and be forgiving. The example was that of the paralytic who was lowered from the roof. As God forgives, we must also give of that forgiveness so lovingly given. This theme tied in with another friend's retreat where she was asked to carry a stone for a whole day and then leave it at the foot of the Cross so that Jesus may take it away. We often hold on to the stones in our lives weighing us down because we think we are not worthy of forgiveness. God calls us to let go and to let God.

On the third day of the retreat was the Last Supper. Before partaking of the bread, Jesus in humility washes the feet of the disciples and in this humble act we see the greatness of God. We are called to be servant-leaders and to heed the example of Jesus' humility as we serve and lead others.

The fourth day of the retreat, the theme was the value that God gives to each and everyone. Jesus cured a hunchbacked lady on the Sabbath in a synagogue. In a time when women had no value, a sick woman was considered a nobody. Jesus gave her the value that she thought she didn't or couldn't have. With Jesus, we have boundless worth and value even if we think we are worthless.


It's all good to pause and press but we also have to act - to press the "Play" button, so to speak. We need to act. It is not enough to pause, to pray and to pester God, it is also important to act. Just like the servants who did what Jesus asked them to do, we are to do God's will in our lives, however difficult.

I remember my cousin's voice saying, "Do something". It's not enough to pray.

One of my actions is to write about the message I received so I can also share what I learned. I hope that I gave justice to my friends as they relayed to me the message of God.

One of my commitment to action is to serve at church. I am part of a music ministry. I am a happy musician playing the guitar in the background and when I get asked to sing, I feel like having a heart attack. I sang one song today and it went well. Although I missed the entrance to my second verse, it still went well. God has given me a voice, good enough to sing, so I faced my fears and sang. It was a way of giving back and to act.

Today, I also met my mentee who I will be walking with, in faith, for the next six months. It seems like a daunting task but I feel very honoured to be able to accompany a confirmandi, a candidate for confirmation, with her faith walk. I often feel unworthy to accompany anyone with their faith as I too struggle with mine but I feel it is God's way of keeping me in line, to share of God's goodness and blessings because He has given me so much.

To play is also a call to ACTION ... (Act like Christ To Invite Others Near). We are also called to be God's disciples, a human representation of God on earth so that we can invite others to Him.

So the message of the week was pause, press and play. Pause to pray, pray in persistence and play to perform what God intends for us. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Land of the brave

I recently visited the US again. I often go to New York to visit my best friend. This time, I also got to visit a dear friend whom I had not seen for over 10 years. He lives with his family in Arizona. What an amazing trip this was.

Having travelled most of my life, I still marvel at the courage of those who have decided to uproot themselves to pursue their dreams, their love or to try out their luck in an unfamiliar land - not their own. It's difficult enough to move around a country but to move from country to country, that's courage.

The story of my friends are all too common. Jam decided to pursue a better life in New York and Luige followed his heart in Arizona. But it doesn't always end well. I'm glad it did for these two friends.

I truly believe that more than the "land of opportunities", the US is the "land of the brave". How many migrants have tried out their luck here with barely nothing in their pockets. I'm talking the first wave of migration and the land expeditions. It must have taken so much courage and hope to start anew.

Having seen my friends thrive in their milieu, I am amazed at the strength and courage they have displayed. Jam, a linguist by training, a teacher by calling, virtually knocked on every school to find work. And when she did, she taught her heart out. I'm sure that Jam has made such a difference in many students' lives. One of them, showing courage. I am in awe of Jam and all that she has had to endure just to get where she is now. She is one of the people that makes the US worth calling the "land of the brave". Now, she is a school director and still making a difference in every child's life she is able to mould with her kind heart. Aside from teaching, Jam also found her love in New York. She is now happily married and owns a home in Long Island. A real success story.

Luige, on the other hand, was a star journalist. He worked for the leading newspaper in the Philippines. He made front page almost every day. He wrote hard-hitting stories and exposés. But he asked himself what he wanted to be remembered for when he died. What would he write on his epitaph. Luige is gifted with the use of words, so it's just apt he is a journalist. His answer was: I did not want to be remembered as writing for a newspaper. He told me that every story is a great love story. His certainly was. He fell in love with Pearl from the very beginning when he saw her in the track oval at their school in the Philippines. Pearl had long beautiful hair and she was smart. Every guy's dream I would say. Luige decided to marry Pearl before she left for her nursing career in Arizona and years later, they were blessed by an equally intelligent little boy - Sol Elijah. Sol means "sun" and he certainly is a shining light in his parents' lives and we were blessed enough to have received some too. Luige didn't have any qualms about joining Pearl but like many established journalists, there were doubts of how to write again and for whom. He ended up working for the Arizona Capitol Times covering the Senate and House of Representatives beat. Now, he is an editor.

Jam and Luige are two of the many success stories that make up the land of the brave. With their courage and strength, they contribute to the richness of the US. It makes it all worthwhile to visit over and over again. Not just to marvel at city sights or the Grand Canyon but to meet these two wonderful people and their equally awesome partners in life.

Thank you for your friendship Jam and Luige. I am truly blessed to have you as my best friends. 

No one else but You

I hear you loud and clear.
No one else but You.
I look but I cannot see
what I am looking for.
And then You show me what I had not seen.
Love is all around me,
in the gifts of those You've sent me.
I see You in all of them.
I see Your smile, Your heart.
I see the kindness and compassion,
I see Your love for me.
And because I have it,
I shall look no more.
It has been You all along.

(Thank you God.)

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

You don't own your time

"You don't own your time."

That was the message I took from the homily last Sunday. The father of our youth minister, who is also a deacon, preached to us. I was in tears during the entire homily.

Yes, we don't own our time. It is a gift given to us by God. He continued to illustrate time by saying that we had 86,400 seconds to every day and that even though we don't own our time, we can choose what to do with it. We can choose to answer God's call to love Him and our neighbours with the time he has given us.

He opened with a passage from Isaiah 6:8

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"
When we share our time, we answer the call of God "Whom shall I send?" with "Here am I. Send me!"

I was particularly touched by the message that when we say yes to a stranger's call for help and we give them the time, we say to God, "Here am I. Send me!" It is to say that you have shared a piece of your time, a gift of your life with another to be an instrument of love to another person.

This past week, after hearing this message, I had started reflecting if I had given enough time to the call of God.

God answered me.


I received a gift from a friend who had just gone to Portugal. She considers me a special friend to her and I consider her to be special to me. She is a gift I am blessed to have in my life. She is also my Spanish tandem which makes it all the more exciting to learn Spanish.

Later that day, I receive a call from a lady I met at JFK International Airport in New York. She is the mother of one of my neighbours. What a small world?! She had remembered me during her stay in the Philippines and brought me a sugary treat. We had spent only a few minutes conversing in the airport yet she invites me over to her daughter's house here and shares a meal with me.

Earlier that day, I also receive a vote of confidence on my writing that after years, a note I created in 2012 continued to touch her until today. I felt so special that my words could touch people and of course, the credit goes to God who is only using me.


I continue to think about the blessings God has given me and how my time has been spent on this earthly life.


I receive a call from a friend who is now in Hungary. I had written about this friend in this blog a few years back and somehow, we are connected. I think of her and then all of a sudden, I receive a text message. She said that I sometimes cross her mind too. Then today, Wednesday, I think of her and she calls me from Hungary. She asks how I am and we exchange stories.


The message is loud and clear that somehow I have been sharing my time in the way God wants me to. I feel validated. Thank you Lord for giving me some time on this earth and hopefully with the remaining time I have, I can continue to answer your call to send me to those who need You in their lives. Let me also be open to Your presence in my life by letting other people share their time with me.

I know it has been ages since I wrote about You or about anything but thank you for reminding me that you have given me the talent to write and I should use that for your great glory.

Thank you for my friends, especially mken, Boots, who has encouraged me to write and to all my friends who said I should write a book. I am going to.


And to end my note, I share this message on the importance of time taken from the Internet:

Realize the value of time. Time in perspective.

Imagine there is a bank which credits your account each morning with $86,400, carries over no balance from day to day, allows you to keep no cash balance, and every evening cancels whatever part of the amount you had failed to use during the day.

What would you do?
Draw out every cent, of course!
Well, everyone has such a bank. It's name is time.
Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds.
Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose.
It carries over no balance. It allows no overdraft.
Each day it opens a new account for you.
Each night it burns the records of the day.
If you fail to use the day's deposits, the loss is yours.
There is no going back. There is no drawing against the tomorrow.
You must live in the present on today's deposits.
Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness and success!
The clock is running. Make the most of today.

To realize the value of ONE YEAR, ask a student who failed a grade.
To realize the value of ONE MONTH, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby.
To realize the value of ONE WEEK, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper.
To realize the value of ONE HOUR, ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.
To realize the value of ONE MINUTE, ask a person who missed the train.
To realize the value of ONE SECOND, ask a person who just avoided an accident.
To realize the value of ONE MILLISECOND, ask the person who won a silver medal in the Olympics.

Treasure every moment that you have! And treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time.

And remember, time waits for no one.
Yesterday is history.
Tomorrow is a mystery.
Today is a gift. That's why it's called the present.