Birthday Love Tank

I guess as we grow older, birthdays become ordinary. You don’t get that special feeling as the day approaches because you know that birthdays are not different than any other day. Unlike when we were kids, we don’t excitedly wake up and expect to get the present that we have been begging our parents for or to blow and have our favorite chocolate cake for breakfast. We don’t expect people to be extra nice to us because it is our birthday. We don’t look forward in wearing our birthday dress at school. We just don’t get too excited about it anymore. It lost all its magic. Period.

On the morning of my birthday, I woke up not realizing that it’s my birthday. I dragged myself out of bed and unwillingly walked towards the bathroom to take a bath. I still don’t remember that it was my birthday; until my housemate told me that there is something on our doorsteps and he thinks it is for me. To my surprise, friends dropped by our house and left some surprises on our doorsteps.

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That is when it sinks in: It’s my birthday! 🙂 What I thought would be an ordinary day became more and more special every minute. Greetings from friends all over the world flooded my social media accounts. I see my face every time I open Facebook. Everyone sending out their love for me in any possible way. I couldn’t help but feel loved. Because I am an adult now, I don’t get to have a birthday off so I just spent most of my day in the office replying to every birthday greeting that comes my way.

I went straight to the church the moment I got off from work. Our company driver offered me a ride. I solemnly celebrated the Holy Mass alone. I thanked God for all the love and blessings that I have received that day. My heart is at peace. There is no better way to celebrate my day than to have a date with the one who gave me life.

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After my birthday date with God, I accompanied a friend to hunt for the perfect shoes for her mission trip to Africa. We went to Souq (Market) and my friend kept on telling everyone we talk to that it is my birthday. I received tons of greeting from strangers. It was still a little bit hot that night. I grabbed the nearest carton and use it as a fan to ease the uncomfortable feeling that I have due to sweating. Before we left the store, one of the guys who works there handed me a cute little pink fan as a birthday present. For some reasons, i was extra appreciative on that day. I guess it’s a conscious effort to be happy. After finding the perfect pair of shoes, we went straight to the birthday dinner that my friends arranged for me. We already passed the stage of birthday surprises but friends still managed to surprise me in their smallest ways. We picked two of our friends from their house, when they got in the taxi they immediately handed me a bouquet of flowers and greeted me a happy birthday. When we got into the restaurant and handed the taxi driver the money for our taxi fare, he refused to get it. “You don’t need to pay because it’s your birthday. Happy Birthday. Have a nice life. God bless you!” he said. My heart melted. Faith to humanity restored! How can someone who earns a little give a portion of what he has to a stranger just because it is her birthday? My heart is smiling. I didn’t accept his gift but I made sure to let him know that I appreciate it a lot. “God bless you!”; I told him before we shut the taxi door close. I mean it. May God bless the selfless people.

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The birthday dinner was awesome as always. It wasn’t an extravagant celebration but sharing that moment with your family away from home made it extra special. We just talked about life, laughed at life over pinakbet, lechong kawali and sisig. I don’t know what did I do to deserve all the amazing people in my life. I must have done something right to deserve all the love. But, one thing is for sure, God loves me so He blessed me with everyone/everything I have in my life right now. I felt so loved; not just because it’s my birthday but because I truly am. I am God’s beloved. I am God’s masterpiece.

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Birthday 2015.

Thank You, Lord, for the gift of life. May everything I do bring glory to you. Thank You, family and friends, for the love. <3

“I AM”

“Lord, in times of doubt, please assure me.” I uttered while Iying in bed last night. Just like the other days, I felt a little bit down and quite doubtful last night. I don’t know if I am just plain tired and unmotivated but little voices in my head are whispering some words of doubts; Telling me that the things on my plate right now are too much for me to handle. As much as I don’t want to, they won. In the middle of my battle with the little voices and while I was staring blankly at the ceiling, my alarm went off. “Prayer Time”, it says. I planned to click on the snooze button because I felt like I am not in the mood for prayer. My concentration wasn’t at its best at that moment. But then, I reminded myself about the commitment I made with the Lord and my prayer buddy. I managed to sit; reached for the cross on my bed side table that I usually hold whenever I pray and took a hold of Our Daily Bread. I remember someone telling us that when we pray, we should give God the time to talk to us, to answer our prayer/questions. “Talk to me God. Tell me what you want me to know.”, I said and I had a moment of silence before I proceeded with my prayer, I opened Our Daily Bread. I was literally in tears as I read the reading for that day.

Even when we question our ability to do what God asked us to do, He can be trusted. Our shortcomings are less important than God’s sufficiency. When we ask, “Who am I?” we can remember that God said “I AM”. – Jennifer Benson Schuldt

During the time that I was questioning my effectiveness and adequacy, God came in to the rescue. God reminded me of my faith that will help me to do everything that He asks me to do. Because He will go with me wherever He sends me. It is just very comforting to know that God is fighting my battles with me. Life says “You can’t!”; I say “Bring it on!”. His grace is sufficient. His embrace is all I need. God is truly enough for me.

I ended my prayer. I smiled to God and I knew He smiled back at me. 😀

Solace

Picture1August has been a month of testing my limits; checking how far I can go. I came to a point that I am physically, emotionally and even spiritually weak. I made myself believe that all is well. But, it wasn’t. There have been days that I have to drag myself out of bed. Opening my eyes in the morning became such a chore. Surviving a hard day’s work requires extra effort. I also became extra emotional; everything affects me. I became a little monster for a time at work; shouting at every irate callers  and throwing an impatient look at every colleague who will joke with me the wrong way. (Sorry, guys.)

“The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” Matthew 26:41. Rest and sleep deprivation got the best of me. Unintentionally missing prayer time because of sleep; Intentionally missing prayer time because I can’t focus. I feel ashamed of turning to God with my unfocused self so I usually end up hugging my little cross; trusting that God knows and hears my prayer even before I voice them out. This results to waking up guilty the next morning after realizing that I fell asleep while trying to pray. Days passed. I craved for solace. I craved for a worthy prayer. I craved for a genuine moment with God with no distractions. I knew right there and then that I am about to experience spiritual dryness and I know that I have to do something about it. I asked help from friends and I am so blessed to have people who will never deprive me of spiritual recharge (You know who you are.). We prayed in group. A friend prayed for me. I cried to the Lord. He heard me. My heart grew lighter and lighter and lighter. It feels like I finally found the oasis in my deserted heart. I feel like a dying plant that has been watered by my own tears. That day, I was reminded that God isn’t finished yet. He will renew us when our body and spirit weaken. I went home smiling.

But, yeah, God isn’t finished yet. He still has some work to do. I was, once again, became too occupied and busy with a lot of stuff for the past weeks that I never really had the time to contemplate and to do an examination of conscience until last Wednesday, our schedule for confession. I’ve been reminding my sisters to prepare for the confession and to free their schedule so we could confess altogether in preparation for the pray over session on Friday (Will post something about this on my future posts). With very little time to rest, I am usually knocked out the moment I dive into my bed for a short moment of slumber. I knew the confession will require a conscious effort on my part because I wasn’t ready yet. But, God guided me the moment I reached the church. Before lining up for the confession, I took a short moment with God. I knelt and prayed for guidance as I humble myself to ask for His forgiveness. I asked Him to give me the courage to be honest to myself and to admit that I have done so many wrong things in life. I asked Him to lead me as I confess my wrongdoings. I took a deep breath before standing up and before lining up together with other people who longs for God’s mercy and forgiveness.

When my turn comes, I knelt down and started my confession with the usual “Forgive me Father for I have sinned…”. No words came out. I choked with my own words. I opened my eyes and nothing was clear. All I see is a blur. I feel like everything around me is turning. I took a deep breath, calmed myself down and uttered a simple prayer in my head “Help me, Lord.”. I can feel myself holding back from confessing everything. I examined my past and present sins the best that I could and expressed sincere regret. I ran out of words which forced me to say “That’s all Father.”. I am forgiven; The Priest said. I claimed forgiveness. I went out of the booth and knelt in front of the crucifix at the church; face to face with Jesus again. Jesus Christ, the man who endured all the sufferings and torture because of our sins, is there on the cross bruised and battered. I was sobbing hard. I asked God to guide me as I repent. I asked Him to cleanse and purify my heart because I know for a fact that only Him can do this for me. I confessed my sins all over again to Him. Completely honest this time. No holding back. No filter. This time, it felt more real. It felt more relieving. I cried my heart out to Him. The forgiveness that the Priest had given me echoes in my head. I am forgiven. Yes, I am forgiven even before I asked for it. His mercy and love endure forever. I proceeded to doing my penance and sealed it with “In Jesus’ mighty Name, Amen.”

God knows everything. We cannot really hide anything from Him and He is always willing to grant us the forgiveness that we are sincerely asking for. But, the confession is such a wonderful gift. It gives us something real, something tangible to better feel the weight of our sins and to better feel the glory of His love and mercy.

That night, I was refreshed and renewed. The weight on my shoulders and in my heart had been lifted up. I found clarity in my confusion. I found solace. I found peace.

“Confession. Jesus is there and He receives you with so much love. Do not be afraid of confession. One who is in line to confess himself feels all these things – even shame – but then, when he finishes confessing, he leaves free, great, beautiful, forgiven, happy. And this is the beauty of Confession.” – Pope Francis

Dear my child,

Nothing you confess can make me love you less.

Love,

Jesus.

Thank You, Lord, for sustaining me physically, emotionally and spiritually. You already know this but I just wanna say it again, out loud, I LOVE YOU. <3

Kenosis

Kenosis – ‘self-emptying’ of one’s own will and becoming entirely receptive to God’s divine will.

“Do you think I could be depressed and not know it?” I told my best friend.

“Maybe you’re just unhappy; not depressed. If you feel depressed, it’s okay to ask for help. I think it’s about time you address it.” She said.

I have been observing myself for a while now and I find it really, really strange whenever I, all of a sudden, burst into tears for no reason at all and it happens quite a lot lately. I admit, I am an overly dramatic person and crying out of the blue has always been my thing. I have been through this for so many times before and I got through this more than I could ever remember.

I spent a week trying to figure out what’s going on in my life. I think it is safe to say that my life is steady right now. No major problems at home or at work. I guess it is just my inner struggle that is causing me to feel this way. A struggle that I have been dealing with for so long and still haven’t found the specific reason why I am feeling what I am feeling. Maybe because I have never wanted something so much so I end up wanting so many things to happen in my life. Wanting everything all at once can be quite frustrating. We can’t have the best of everything. We can only have the best of what’s best for us and God will definitely give it to us.

One Thursday, at two in the afternoon after work, I decided to head straight to church to have a quiet moment with God while waiting for the 6:00 PM mass. Beating the extreme heat of the sun, I walked myself inside the main church. Life didn’t fail me. I went inside the church. No one else was there; just me. A quiet time with God is what I needed; a quiet time with God is what I got. I went directly in front, face to face with Jesus. I sat for a while to set the mood. I silently uttered the words “Lord, please allow me to have a quiet time with you, protect me from any distractions.” And He did. I had a solemn moment with God. I knelt down in front of Him and the moment my knees touched the ground, tears started running down my face. I just let it flow freely. My tears spoke for myself because I ran out of words. I cried and cried and cried until I had no more tears to cry. Then, I sat down again. Calmed myself and told God “Help me understand what’s going on because I am really struggling.” I just remained inside the church for a few minutes more staring blankly at nothing when I snapped back to reality and I was able to stand up and walk myself out of the parish to the adoration chapel.

The adoration chapel has always been a comfort zone to me. When I need some peace and quiet, it never fails to take me to a place where problems do not exist because in that place, I feel so much closer to God. Fortunately, on that day, when I went inside the adoration chapel, no one was there. The silence is deafening. The silence is beautiful. The silence allowed me to hear myself more and to hear what God is telling me. “God, talk to me please.” I looked to my right and found a bible sitting pretty on the shelf. I opened it to the book of Psalms. And Voila!

Psalm 6:6: “I am weary with my groaning; all night I soak my pillow with tears, I drench my couch with my weeping.”  – Yes, God. This is me every night.

Then, this.

Psalm 6:9: “The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.”

Psalm 18:6: “In my distress, I call upon the Lord, and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry came before Him; even to His ears.”

And, finally.

Psalm 62:6: “He is my rock and salvation; I shall not be moved.”Yes, at that very moment, a big chunk of negativity has been lifted from my shoulders. I don’t need any help. The best help will come from God.

I, for the nth time in my life, surrendered every burden and struggle I have to God. Prayed that I will be filled with less of me and more of Him and that everything will happen exactly the way He planned it.

As the people started coming inside the adoration chapel, I looked at them and I wonder what they are praying for. I just had an answered prayer and I prayed that they will too.

4:00 AM Thoughts

It’s 4 in the morning. The sun will probably rise in a few minutes and here I am, not fighting off sleep, but fully awake and watching some crappy TV shows. A lot of things happened today and i can’t put them into words. So… it is 4:06 AM now and I guess I have to go to bed.

Words will come later, I guess.

Eleven Words

Eight Words, one sentence cured a multiple wound of loneliness inside me. One night, one moment made me forget about the darkness that envelopes me.

Tree Words, one sentence made my heart smile more than usual. Three words, one sentence, it is so good it hurts.

Eleven words, two sentences, made my heart fly to the moon. Eleven words, two sentences, it makes me smile and cry at the same time. Eleven words, two sentences, so meaningful yet painfully read. Eleven words, two sentences, one is saying hello but the other is saying goodbye.

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Love a Girl Who Writes

Love a girl who writes. She can take you to many places. She can live your million dreams. She can enjoy your silence. She will always hear your words. Love a girl who writes. She writes because you exist. She knows you deserve all the best words and she will use them all for you. She can read you even if you cover yourself with pretensions and disguise; with rumors and lies.

Love a girl who writes because she will always believe that you are wonderful…even if you are not. She will always write good things about you even if there is not too plenty of it. Because you are the main character in her book. Love her. Because once you do,  you will always be significant.

Psalm 39:7

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Today, I find it really hard to pray. It is not because I am losing faith after receiving a bad news. It is because I can’t find the right words for what I feel. It is because I know God knows what I want to say even before I say it or even if I don’t say it. Because He is a God who feels; a God who understands. Just like a kid, I cried to God and I know He listened. I know He comforted me on that very moment when I locked myself in the toilet during prayer time to freely let go of the tears that have been struggling to come out since morning. And yes, it somehow brought relief. But, it can’t hide the truth, my hope is crashing again just when I thought things are starting to get better.

I slept with a joyful heart last night. I felt like everything is falling into place; everything is going right. I saw my plans materialize right before my very eyes. But today, I saw them crashing one by one until everything starts to feel so uncertain. Everything is a blur. I don’t know if it is because of my tears but I know I don’t see things as clearly as I saw them yesterday. Isn’t it strange how one moment can change a million moments after it? How happiness can slip away from your grasp overnight. I didn’t see it coming. But, it is here and I have to deal with it.

I prayed to God. I told Him to turn my troubles into triumphs. To equip this child in me with the right armor so that I will become a warrior. To bring back the hope that I lost and to trust the power of God’s promise. To enable me to see things clearly and to help me to not be discouraged. To still stick with my plans and to put all my trust in God. Because God loves me. Because God knows what I want and God is more than willing to give it to me only if I will be still. I don’t want my disappointments to get in the way right now.  I don’t want to be my old self who gets discouraged so easily by unfortunate turn of events. I want to learn how to rejoice while it is still dark until I see the silver lining again. I want to have a thankful heart because God loves me enough to let me go through deep waters because He will be with me. My request has been made known to God and even without words, I know He hears my heart. My only hope is in Him and that is more than enough to get me through this.

Oh how great is our God for giving me sorrow so He can turn it into pleasure, for giving me worries so He can turn them into excitements, for giving me disappointments so He can turn them into joy and for giving me problems so He can carry me through them.

There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm. It is kinda stormy now but I am trying my best to remain calm because I know God’s love never fails and the more I panic, the more I will drown.

This is when pruning begins and I choose to remain.

Monsters In My Head (Under My Bed)

You are not good enough. Not smart enough. Not pretty enough. Not cool enough. You’re not even close to the normal standards of the world. Yes. Go ahead. Be insecure. Feel bad about yourself. Feel sorry for yourself. You are nothing but a tiny lonely dot in this big world. Insignificant. Worthless.

Those are some of the words that I am dealing with each time the monsters in my head get too talkative and start poisoning my mind with negative thoughts which eventually get the best out of me; Because I always believe them. I never thought how much power our thoughts have over us. They can easily swing us from a sunshine and happiness factory to a loneliness producing machine. These monsters usually haunt me in the middle of a quiet night when i am all alone and trying to get a decent amount of sleep. I have always thought that they are under my bed but later I realized that they are inside my head following me everywhere I go; whispering louder than my conscience and the friendly voices until I get convinced that I am nothing but a tiny insignificant dot in this big world. The struggle starts and it is real.

I was never somebody’s first choice. I always have to prove myself to people. I have to prove that I am worth their time. I am worth their attention. I remember growing up, I get compared a lot with my cousins. “How come you never wear slippers? Look at your cousin, she has clean feet because she always wears her slipper. How come you are not close to your dad? Look at how close is your cousin to her dad.” Etcetera. Then, on our elementary graduation, I tried my best to be the class valedictorian but someone is always better than I am so I ended up being just the class salutatorian. It is not that my parents are pressuring me to be the best. My parents are the most understanding parents. It is just that I feel the need to achieve something grand; to do something with significance. To be the first at least once in my life.

Then, I grew up and went to high school. That was the time in my life when I achieved a lot. I was the school’s student council president, I was the school paper’s editor in chief, I have competed and won a series of news writing contests on different levels. I even made it to the National level. My teachers were so proud of me. They strongly believed that I will succeed and achieve more in college. And, for a time, I thought I would to.

Here comes college. This is the time when you will start putting your life in perspective. This is the time when you’ll really start building your dreams. The preparation stage for your future career. This is when you will realize that there are hundreds, thousands or even more people who are better than you. Suddenly, I realized that all my achievements in high school don’t matter anymore. I was the average college student. I am the kind of student teachers don’t know exist unless I make my presence known. I have only made it to the honor’s list a few times but I never really excelled in college. I am just the student who studies to pass not to be on the honor roll. I wouldn’t even pass algebra and statistics if I hadn’t been seated beside one of the top students in our class. The monsters in my head told me I should stop trying to achieve some thing and just be okay with the fact that at least I don’t have any failing grades. So, I graduated college. I am just glad I did. No special awards, no recognition, just a single tiny dot in the crowd of students who can’t wait to conquer the “real world” and start building their career.

 Going out into the real world and stepping out of your comfort zone are not easy. It requires a lot of wisdom and courage. You can’t just apply to any available job just for the sake of experience because each step that you will take is a step towards where you want to be. But, you can’t be choosy especially when you are trying to land your first job. After a series of job applications, I have finally decided to give in to my family’s plan to send me to Qatar and work there instead of using all my energy and money looking for a job that will not pay me enough. A year after graduation, I just found myself taking the flight to Doha, Qatar with all my dreams and high hopes in the bag. My life has never been the same since then.

The “real world” is truly harsh. I won’t elaborate on that but my first few years in Doha was not a walk in the park. It destroyed my self esteem. The monsters followed me even if I flew oceans away from them. “Settle for this job because you can’t do better than this. Accept harsh treatment from people because that’s what you deserve. Sell yourself short because you have nothing better to offer.” So, I settled. I have been settling for years and to be honest, I kinda forgot how to believe in myself anymore. I am not even a work in progress. I’m stagnant. Not moving on; not moving forward; not moving at all.

I have been dealing with these monsters in my head for a while now. They leave me restless. They leave me insecure. They leave me frustrated. They leave me struggling.

Then I thought, maybe someday I will be good enough, smart enough, pretty enough and cool enough. Maybe someday the standards of the world won’t apply to me. Maybe someday these monsters in my head will leave me alone. Maybe someday I won’t settle. Maybe someday I will be somebody’s first choice. Maybe someday I won’t have to prove myself anymore. Maybe someday I will find the significance of the tiny place I occupy in this great big world. Maybe someday I will know to whom I belong.

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I BELONG TO GOD. I AM GOD’S BELOVED.

And, someday I will befriend these monsters in my head.

The Prayer

Yes, I prayed.

I prayed really hard.

I told God what’s in my heart.

Yes, I prayed.

I prayed really hard.

I told God I hate this part.

Yes, I prayed.

I prayed really hard.

I told God to take charge.

Yes, I prayed.

I prayed really hard.

My heart went numb.

God froze my heart.

I don’t feel a thing.

No pain. No heartache.

Yes, I prayed.

I prayed really hard.

I thanked God for protecting my heart.

But…

Again, I prayed.

I prayed really hard.

I told God I hate this part.

Then, I prayed.

I prayed really hard.

I told God to make me feel again.

Then, suddenly, I heard a loud crack.

My heart is breaking again and again.

Then, I look up and saw God.

He was smiling at me.

“Be brave, my child.” He said.

So, I prayed.

I prayed really hard.

“God, You are my refuge, my hope, my strength.”

Your love is enough for me.

So, I prayed.

I smiled.

I know God knows what’s in my heart.