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Doctor: You Might Be Covid19 Positive

“I think you should call 16000 and ask if you can be tested.” The doctor told me after telling him how I feel.

Anxious. I tried to defend myself as he asked his nurse to give him a pair of gloves and a face shield before he examines me. That day, I went home more anxious than ever.

It was February 27 when my husband came home and told me the news. They will start rescuing citizens of the country where we reside from infected countries. They will bring them home and put them in a hotel for quarantine.  There was no known case here during that time. But the government gotta do what they gotta do to keep their citizens safe and expats like us don’t really have a say on that matter. February 28 when we transferred to our new house since we are newly married. We were excited to start a new life together in a house that feels like home. We were excited to invite family and friends over. But, 2:00 AM of March 1, 2020 when I woke up with severe body pain, chills, and a sore throat. I asked my husband to take me to the hospital. We drove our way to the only nearby clinic that is open. The doctor examined my throat, told me I have pharyngitis, prescribed antibiotics and ibuprofen and sent me home. I rested and skipped work the following day.

I was hopeful that maybe after finishing the course of my medications, I will finally get better. I was wrong. My condition did not improve so I went to see another doctor. With the same diagnosis, he sent me home and gave me paracetamol. The sore throat persisted. I have learned how to manage it and was able to go to work.

At work, I used to check the news about the pandemic every morning and would report it to my colleagues. So the citizens were already repatriated and now in quarantine. Days later, they started confirming cases. 3 cases will be 6 after a few days. 6 will suddenly become 8. And now, there are thousands of confirmed cases. In a country this small, having thousands of confirmed cases can be quite frightening. It was then when I started having anxiety. My panic attacks are like a thief in the night.

At the same time, stress from work became intolerable. The number of positive cases are going up everyday. The work continues. There were no restrictions. I interact with different people on a daily basis. For someone who is not feeling well and anxious, the thought of going to work everyday was excruciating. I have been absent from work for a week. My boss said I have to come to work even if I’m dying. That pushed me to resign. It didn’t help with my anxiety at all. I was obliged to come to work to finish my notice period. Every time I come home from work, my anxiety level was high. My heart was palpitating.

My sore throat persisted. I went to another doctor and then to another one. They all gave me the same diagnosis and the same medicines. Another doctor thought I have acid reflux so I took a lot of medications for acid reflux. I have tried different gargles and home remedies but nothing seemed to work. I started having body pains and chills from time to time. One time my sore throat got really intense and I went back to my doctor. “Why are you so afraid of corona? I think your anxiety is causing you this.” I felt judged and offended. I was not joking. I do have a sore throat.  I told myself that I would go to a different doctor and will seek for another and final opinion.

I have seen 4 different doctors already and went to 3 different hospitals. It’s crazy. I asked recommendations from friends for a good ENT Doctor. Many sent me messages. (Thank you, guys!)

One of my friends works as a nurse and asked me to try their ENT doctor. She immediately booked me an appointment.

My tolerance for pain is really low. I can’t handle injections or blood tests. So when the doctor conducted an endoscopy from my nose to my throat, I almost fainted. He told me I have an inflamed lymph nodes. He ordered a blood test and a neck ultrasound. We went back the next day for all the procedures. The neck ultrasound turned out fine except for the inflamed lymph nodes which can go away on its own. But, my white blood cells (WBC) was high which means that there is an infection.

The doctor gave me antibiotics. He ordered me to get intravenous antibiotics for 3 days. Those days were excruciating. We had to go back to the clinic everyday so I could get an IV antibiotic since it works faster than oral ones. I felt better but on the third day, the doctor examined my throat once more. He said “You feel better but your throat is still congested. Usually, patients who receive IV antibiotics get better after the second dose.” He extended my medications. He ordered oral antibiotics and told me to take it for 5 more days. So I did. I did not get better. So I went back to see my ENT doctor. He did the usual examination and ordered 4 more oral antibiotics and told me that it would get better after that. When I finished my medications, I went for a final check up. Another endoscopy. It is a lot more painful than the first time I had it. I nearly choked. The doctor told me that all is well. I will start getting better in no time. My husband and I happily exited the hospital and wished to never have to come back to that place again.

Later that night, I started feeling a severe pain in my throat and I started feeling unwell. I thought maybe I can sleep it off. I was awaken by body pains and chills around 2 in the morning which was hard to ignore. I took paracetamol and hoped to get better. I usually feel better during the day and would feel body pains at night. I tried to self medicate for a few days. Until one time, I suddenly felt so weak. My legs felt sore. It continued until the next day. I tried to fight it out. But it only got worse.

My husband and I have exhausted all medical help. I have seen 6 different doctors in 4 different hospitals. Nobody can diagnose me. I can feel how stressed out my husband was. With the current pandemic, it is stressful to go back and forth to hospitals. We have spent a lot of money with consultations, tests, and medications. (Thank God for insurance!). But, among all of these, we have exhausted all our mental and emotional capacity. The fear of the unknown is just too much. My husband seeing me suffer is just too much for him. I knew he felt helpless. We fought about it sometimes. It was really stressful. I can’t even put it into words. For a couple who just got married, I believe we don’t deserve to be stressed out that way at this stage of our marriage. I am grateful for my husband. I am grateful for his love and care. (I might put that in a separate post.) I am grateful that God did not let him get sick knowing how weak his immune system is. I was in so much pain but I was grateful.

Knowing how stressed out my husband was, I was hesitant to tell him to take me to the doctor for the last time. I just need another opinion. So, we decided to see a doctor of internal medicine. He willingly brought me to see my 7th doctor.

The doctor studied my history. He looked at me with a scared look on his face and told me to call the Ministry of Health to ask if I could be tested for Covid19. It has been my greatest fear. The doctor looked so sure of his diagnosis. I felt numb. I felt scared. I felt somehow angry.

He ordered me to get another blood test to see if my WBC is still high. He ordered an Xray to check if there is any sign of pneumonia. He swabbed my throat to check for bacteria. He told me if my WBC remains high it means I still have infection and it is not bacterial because I finished my course of antibiotics and no effect. If the throat swabbed came back negative for bacteria, it only means that my infection is not bacterial, it is viral. Meaning the cause of my infection is a virus. And, the most important test of all, the Xray. It can either make or break me.  Then he sent me home. He reminded me again to call the Ministry of Health and to ask for a test. They would just call me if my test results are out.

I wanted to get over with it so I called them. I told them about my symptoms and my history. The ministry representative was so polite and very comforting. She told me that since I never had a fever, I am not qualified to have the test. However, I should wait for my Xray because it can determine whether I can go for a test or not. Before cutting the call, she reminded me to make sure I wear my mask all the time, to sanitize any surfaces that I touched, and to isolate myself until my Xray result is out. I started to develop an extreme fear. I fear for my husband more than myself. What if I am really infected? What if I infect him? He is asthmatic. I cannot bear the thought.

The waiting time was a complete torture. I cannot wait for another day to get my results. My anxiety level spiked up. I cannot calm myself. I started having chest pains. It felt there’s a big rock on my heart. I felt paralyzed. I cannot move. I was frozen with fear. I didn’t know how I will be able to sleep that night. Fear was all over my body. I wanted to scream and cry but I can’t feed my emotions or else I would totally breakdown.

A video call from my best friend saved me that night. She stayed with me on the phone for hours. We talked about random stuff. We talked about my fears. What’s causing my anxiety? How could I change my perspective?

“Tomorrow will be my judgment day.” I told her.

She told me “It’s not like you’re gonna die tomorrow. Why don’t you look at it in a different way? Instead of thinking about it as a problem, why don’t you just think of it as a solution to your problem? Because tomorrow you can get a diagnosis, and when you get the right diagnosis, you can get a proper treatment and eventually you will get better. If it is Covid, yes it is scary, but your symptoms are mild. I am sure your body can fight it.”

She made sense.  She always does. I felt better.

We said our goodnights and I took one capsule of melatonin to aid me to sleep.

Wrong decision. It didn’t help me sleep. Worse, it caused me severe abdominal pain.

We went back to the hospital. I complained about my abdominal pain. My doctor associated it again with Covid. I was almost convinced that I have Covid. It fed my anxiety even more.

So my test results came out.

My swab test came back negative with bacteria.

My WBC was higher than before.

All of these are red flags for the doctor to consider me as a Covid positive patient.

The Xray was clear for pneumonia. It was a relief.

But still, the doctor can’t rule out Covid. He was as frustrated as I was because we don’t understand why my WBC was still high despite taking 3 different antibiotics. He ordered more tests. I told him that the ministry representative made it clear to me that they will never test me if my Xray came out clear. But, my doctor insisted that there’s still a possibility for Covid. He mentioned how he once had a patient whose Xray came out clear but still turned out to be positive. He suggested I take a CT Scan for my lungs, abdominal ultrasound, blood smear, and Urine Analysis. They said the CT Scan is clearer than Xray. They have discovered Covid patients by doing a CT Scan.

My husband and I were fed up with the idea of Covid that our doctor kept on insisting so we spoke up. We told him that maybe there’s a different disease that we can’t diagnose because we are stuck with the idea of Covid.

“Doctor, I started having sore throat on March 1, that was 2 months ago. I never had a fever. And I have interacted with a lot of people during those times. If I am infected, I would’ve infected a lot of people already. They’re all fine. My husband is asthmatic, if there is someone that I would infect first, it would be him. He’s still fine. And you can’t tell me to let the ministry test me because no matter what I do, they won’t. You kept on saying that I have Covid. You have no idea how much anxiety it is causing me. It’s too much.” I was about to cry but I was able to stop it.

There was silence.

I think the doctor was in shock and he may be contemplating what we just said.

The doctor asked about my medical history, it was then that I remembered that I had my blood tested September last year. Thank Goodness for the modern technology. I can access my previous results online. I opened my profile. It turned out that my WBC was the same level as it was last year. Apparently, this might be my normal range.  My WBC is naturally high.

“Why didn’t you tell me about it? We kept on trying to find out what’s wrong. I kept on talking about Covid because it is really strange that your WBC is still high despite the antibiotics.”

We were all relieved. But we still decided to go for the further testing. I complained about my anxiety and how I cannot sleep. He gave me antihistamine to help me sleep.

On that same day, I had an abdominal ultrasound, CT Scan of the chest, blood smear, and urine analysis. It was exhausting. We were in the hospital for nearly 8 hours. We haven’t eaten yet. We were emotionally, mentally, physically, and financially exhausted.

The next day, I received a call from the doctor. I knew it from the start that my CT scan would come out clear.

“Your CT Scan was okay. So, no Covid.” We both laughed.

“We found small stones in your kidney, bacteria in your urine, Vitamin D deficiency, and a possible cyst in your ovary.”

The doctor finally ruled out Covid, but the anxiety it caused me needs time before it goes away.

He suggested for me to see other specialists but I chose not to. I don’t want to go back to the hospital again and expose my husband and I. So I just booked a phone consultation with the government hospital.

I had to tell my medical history again and again. After hearing my history, the doctor told me not to worry. Most of the results are incidental findings. The more we do tests, the more we would find that something is wrong. She told me that maybe my anxiety is causing all my symptoms. That if I learn how to manage it, I will start to feel better. He advised me to maintain a healthy lifestyle, get some Vit D from the sun, eat healthy, sleep well, unfollow news about Covid or any triggers, surround myself with positive people, do fun things, plan my day ahead, create a routine and stick to it.

It is really a conscious effort. I knew I had to take some action.

I started unfollowing any Covid related pages and updates. I try to drink as much water as I can. I make sure to have a 30min walk under the sun in front of our building. I reconnect with friends. I started cooking and baking again. I always try my best to keep myself busy. I started to feel stronger physically. There are still some weird physical discomfort at times but I don’t let it bother me as much as I used to before. Slowly, I have gained my physical strength back.

It is not an instant process. I don’t want to force myself to be better so I am taking it slow.

During the time that I was sick, I used to get jealous of people who are in good shape during the quarantine. I used to wish that I, too, can do the things they do. I used to wish that I wasn’t stuck in bed all day. I stopped wishing and I started doing. I helped myself. I accept help from people who care. Even the doctor who thought I had Covid became a friend who calls me everyday to ask about my day and if I am doing okay. I started thinking of my husband’s wellness. And I know he is well if I am well. So instead of doing it for myself, I do it for us.

My previous health battle was truly a test of marriage, a test of character, and a test of faith. I remember praying: “Lord,  we have exhausted all possible medical treatments but nothing seemed to work. I know You are my healer and I trust that this is just a test and you will soon heal me.” I have learned how to surrender fully. I remember the times I held on the cross just so I can sleep. I remember crying out to the Lord to make me feel better. I remember praying over my husband while he sleeps just so he can remain strong and healthy as we both face my situation together. I remember waking up early just so I can pray in front of our altar. I remember questioning God and asking Him what He wants me to take away from this experience. I remember begging Him for strength to endure the pain.  I remember praying over each part of my body that is in pain. I remember staring blankly into our altar trusting that God knows what I want to say when I cannot find the right words.

Being sick for so long and dealing with the fear of the unknown really made a huge impact into my being. I still cry inside whenever I remember. But I cry  even more whenever I remember the love that I receive from family and friends.

There have been a lot of times that I felt weakness in my knees. I used to just stay in bed whenever it happens. But then, I realized that the only thing that I should do when I feel weak in the knees is to kneel down and pray.

Let’s trust that God is healing us. He is healing the world.

                 

 

The Comeback

“Thank you for flying with Qatar Airways. Local Time is 11:20 in the evening…”

The pilot said his final announcement in a very monotonous voice. No sign of excitement for making it alive after a nine hours direct flight from the Philippines to Qatar. This best describes my feelings at that very moment. My cousin who traveled with me brought my carry on luggage down and I dragged it out of the plane.

Arrivals  —   Transfers

<———             ———->

That sign welcomed us at the airport. It means my cousin and I had to part ways. My final destination is Doha while my cousin still have to wait for his flight bound to Oman. We stood under the sign and said our goodbyes then we turned our backs and went our separate ways. That’s it. The last person who makes me feel closer to home was out of my sight. Reality set in. I had to walk out of the airport alone. I am really back. Qatar and I have this love-hate relationship ever since. It has cradled me for the past nine years but it broke my heart countless times. But, I am here and I am back whether I like it or not. I stopped by a rest room to put on a red lipstick. I feel stronger when my lips are red. It hides whatever anxiety I am dealing with. The airport corridors were clear with people. My co-passengers are probably waiting for their luggages while I am walking alone on my way to the immigration. I appreciate that tiny moment of solitude. It helped me sink in the fact that I have to spend another year before I get to go home to my family again. I was staring blankly while walking until I reached the conveyor no. 3. I watched the luggages and boxes go round and round. I have been staring at the conveyor for a very long time and I didn’t get a sight of my boxes yet. I waited a little longer before I approached an airport officer to ask if the check-in baggages for flight QR 931 is in conveyor no. 3. Then he said, it’s in conveyor no. 8. I laughed at myself and started walking towards the right conveyor. My boxes were there enjoying their time circling around. I was the last one to get my baggages. I felt like I own the place. I took them out of the conveyor. I saw what my cousin wrote on my box before I left home. She wrote: #YourMomNeedsYou. Right there and then, I was reminded of my purpose. I am so ready to work harder and endure lonely days and nights again.

Okay, so I can no longer prolong my time. I pushed my cart out of the airport. In a big crowd, my eyes went looking for a familiar face. There he was, with shining eyes and a bouquet of flowers in his hand, greeted me with a big smile and wrapped me around his arms; the most comforting embrace. I told myself, “I am home.”. Being back doesn’t feel that bad anymore. The end of missing someone. And I am so proud on how we managed to endure two months of being away from each other. Thank You, Lord, for the grace.

The Bouquet

A bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken was waiting for me when we got home. This made my comeback even more real. Haha!  I came home to a messy (this is an understatement) house. I didn’t even know where I can sleep. I couldn’t stand seeing the house like that. It’s not very comforting especially when you are so tired. I put on new sheets and rested on the bed. I was so tired but I couldn’t get myself to sleep even though I was wide awake for the entire 9 hour flight. I got up and tried to declutter the house a bit. I tried to unpack some of my stuff. It was already six in the morning when I felt the need to go back to bed. I think I was able to sleep for two hours before I woke up chilling. I felt cold. Yes, I was right. I woke up with a high fever. Maybe I was just tired but I was sick for three days. Thank you for a very sweet welcome, Doha!

Well, being sick extended my vacation for three days. I never got the chance to enjoy it though because I was in bed feeling cold and sickly. I couldn’t even eat properly and catch up with people. After three days, I resumed to work. It’s not my favorite thing in the world. But, it is something that I will have to eventually face no matter how long I prolong it.

I have been here for two weeks now. I couldn’t believe it. A lot has happened over the past two weeks. I am back to dealing with lots of issues and anxieties. I have to face the same struggles at work. I have to keep moving forward no matter how much I miss home. I have to overcome challenges and inner battles. Did I mention that I have made Sesame Street’s “Elmo’s Song” viral in the office? I told them that that’s our happy song and when things get a little harder to bear in the office, just sing it and they will be happy. I can only hope that it’s effective because for me it is. (La la la la, Elmo’s world! La la  la la, Elmo’s world!). I have also tried singing that while stuck in traffic with windows down just in case someone on the road is having a bad day. I just love being a wounded healer.

My Life Verse on my desk

Until I came across the THE POWER OF NOW in the internet. It says, in our current situation, if we can do something about it, we have to do it now; if we can’t do anything about it, we have to let it go. I am still trying to figure out what to do. Sometimes life is just so confusing. I am still trying to sense where God is leading me. For now, I will just rest on God’s promise of a future full of hope. If I survived two weeks, I think I can survive more.

Will you pray the serenity prayer with me?

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen.

In Christ,

 

This is How Letting Go Feels Like

“So, I uttered the serenity prayer, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference…”over and over again until what seemed to be too difficult becomes, not easy, but less difficult.

Sometimes we are put in a confusing situation of choosing between letting go and trying harder. That is one of the hardest decisions we will ever have to face in this lifetime especially if both will cause your heart to break into pieces.

My life has been a series of letting go. Letting go of my pacifier when I was a kid. Letting go of my mother’s hand on my first day of school. Letting go of my comfort zone when I studied away from home for college. Letting go of my youth when I decided to work abroad right after graduation. Letting go of my pride for my first job. Letting go of my hope when my first business attempt failed. Letting go of my dreams when I realized that I don’t have one anymore. Letting go of everything that is beyond my control simply because it hurts. My hand is like a broken vessel where everything just slips away uncontrollably but not surprisingly because I know losing is a part of life and I am wired for it.

I am wired for it but I am tired of it.

Why can’t I just keep them?

I wish I could say that losing things, people, and other stuff taught me a reflective life meaning. But losing those just broke my heart over and over and over and over again. Losing those just made me ask if I am really meant to be happy. Losing those made me wonder how happiness feels like. Because I don’t know how it feels like anymore. But certainly, I know how letting go does.

Letting go feels like a long sleep where you are relieved but still feels tired.

Letting go feels like keeping tears from falling and finally releasing them. You feel lighter but the pain is still there deep down in your heart.

Letting go feels like flying back abroad after a short vacation in your home country. There is a physical pain in your heart, sometimes intolerable, but once you are done with it you will feel liberated and brave just by being able to do it. At the same time, it also excites you of what will happen next.

Letting go feels like having a butterfly riot in your stomach. The butterflies that used to give you a happy feeling now started to fight against each other.

Letting go feels the same or worse than dysmenorrhea. The pain is sometimes unbearable. You just curl up under your sheets and forget about the world outside the four corners of your room.

Letting go feels like a blessing and a curse.

No matter how I find words to describe how letting go feels like, nothing seems to be accurate.

Letting go is relieving but there is one thing I am certain of, letting go hurts.

Letting go is painful. Letting go is hard. But, letting go is inevitable. Letting go won’t kill you (even if it sometimes make you feel like dying) and we all know that what can’t kill you will only make you stronger. Stay alive for the ride.

Letting go made me realize how brave I am.

Letting go made me feel alive.

Letting go made me more prayerful.

Letting go allowed me to put my complete trust in the Lord.

By letting go, I have learned the meaning of full surrender.

As much as I want to keep a grasp of the things that I want to keep in my life, I just opened my hands and let them slip through them. And now, my open hands are ready to receive greater blessings from God who made me let go. The God who provided me grace and courage to let go of things that I badly want to keep. The God who gives and takes away.

I have read somewhere that God won’t give us things that somebody else is supposed to have. God takes away for a reason. It might be painful and hard to understand sometimes but God knows what He is doing. Let go, get out of the way, and let God do what needs to be done. Trust. Have faith. Surrender.

It is only in losing that we gain. We gain better understanding of ourselves. We gain a clearer view of how we want our lives to turn out. We gain more realizations of what deserves a spot in our lives. We gain more self-worth and self-love. We gain more strength and faith.

We only lose what we cling to. If letting go of things, people, and other stuff is the only way to keep them in my life, I am willing to go through the pain. The pain and the fear of uncertainty. The pain of longing for what was once constant in my life. The pain of seeing my high hopes stumble down and die. The pain of seeing my broken walls that seem to be irreparable. The pain of seeing myself that I can’t recognize anymore. The pain of seeing my future that used to be so clear becomes hazy. The pain of not recognizing happiness anymore. The pain of realizing that what was once a reality is now a memory. The pain of losing myself. The pain of missing things and people. The pain of feeling like I could never be the same again. The pain of dealing with anxieties. The pain of the aftershock of letting go. I realized that I don’t really fear letting go, it is the “what could have beens” that I fear. The act of letting go is painful enough, nobody wants to deal with what comes after that.

But then, there is God. A God who never lets go. A God who makes letting go bearable. A God who listens, answers, and saves. A God who empties us so we can be filled again. Let us trust the process.2017-05-09

My Spiritual Dryness Story

I have been too occupied with life the past weeks. I have been busy dealing with stress at work, planning an event, moving to a new house, dealing with life and all its occassional punches, attending activities in the community, dealing with distractions and harrassments, and the list goes on. I do not know if it is necessary, but it took most of my time and energy. These things became my first thoughts in the morning, my last thoughts at night and everything in between. And despite my best and constant effort, I would have to be honest, my prayer life deteriorated a bit. I felt so lost, unmotivated and weary. Yes, I still pray. I always try my best to have a few minutes of quiet time with God. It is a concious effort on my part because I don’t want to go faraway from Him, my source of strength, my Redeemer. But, the quality of my prayer is obviously at its lowest. It makes me sad. But, God is really good. During those weeks that I was busy dealing with the unnecessary things in life, God never failed to remind me to come to Him whenever I feel like I’m losing my track.

Test me, Oh Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for your love is ever before me, and I desire to walk continually in Your truth. – Psalm 26:3

The past weeks, though I lost my focus, have been a constant reminder of how important our prayer life is. Everywhere I go, whatever I do, God’s reminder is there. Like a silver lining finding its way for it to be seen to give me a glimpse of hope. I just really have to change my focus in order to see it.

It was our upper household. We had an activty about prayer. Each of us were asked to write our prayers for each day of the week then it will be distributed among us so we could all pray for each other. We are a community of intercessors after all. It is just good to know what others are praying for and it is always a previledge to pray for them. And knowing that they are praying for me too, makes me feel good. That is my most favorite thing about our community. You can be very certain that someone is always praying for you.

Days after, though unprepared and uncertain with the overall posture of my heart, I sent a household invitation to the sisters who are under my household headship. We watched “The War Room”. I have watched that movie a lot of times and I know it is a powerful tool to strengthen a drying spirit. It strengthened mine the first time I watched it and I prayed that it will do the same to my sisters. Very timely; I guess that is exactly what they needed at that time and though I have already seen it several times, that experience is still different. I stayed behind them as they watch the movie. I was silently praying for the movie to serve its purpose and for it to touch their hearts and to remind them of God’s grace, power and goodness. I guess, it did. Praise God.

Lord, teach us how to fight a good fight and help us to recognize the real enemy. – The War Room

But, I can still feel that my spirit is dry.

“Pray hardest when it is the hardest to pray.”, they said.

I have to admitt that it became a struggle. I had to conciously put myself into prayer mode. It makes me sad realizing that I have to put so much effort into praying. But, the important thing is I did not stop. God did not stop. I love our team work.

Then, we were called to attend a general teaching for our formation. It was jumpstarted with a powerful worship; Makahugas-Kaluluwa (Soul Cleansing) as what they described it. I was literally in tears the whole time. I didn’t even know why I was crying. It must be the Holy Spirit who is moving me into tears. To my surprise, the teaching is about Prayer and Intercession. That is not a coincidence. That is God speaking to me. That is God reminding me of what I am forgetting.

I praise God for using people as a bearer of His good news. That night I was reminded that I have to fully surrender myself to the Lord and admitt that I am completely dependent on Him. This battle of spiritual dryness is not for me but for Him. I am relying on God’s grace for me to step out of the deserted island that I am in. That He is my oasis. I am reminded that it is the perfect time for me to humble myself to the Lord.

“Gustung-gusto tayong i-bless ng Panginoon” (The Lord really wants to bless us.), the speaker said.

Who are we to stop God’s blessings?

We just have to ask and we will be heard.

Surrender to His will and we will be blessed.

“The prayer that God wants to answer is the prayer that asks for His will to happen.”

Though empowered, I still feel unworthy to come to Him. But, I know only God can help me.

You need to plead with God to do what only He can do, and you need to get out of the way and let Him do it. – Miss Clara, The War Room

So, I have decided to let God be in charge. Whenever I feel like He is asking me to do something, I would submitt to it even if sometimes I don’t understand why. I would say Yes to every invitation to be in fellowship with Him even if sometimes I find it hard to get dress and step out of the house. I don’t want to miss God’s blessing; it might be what I exactly need. You’ll never know until you open your heart to it. Even if I am struggling inside (and nobody knows), I kept my heart open. I just cooperated with God because I know that He will win this battle for me if I will only let Him.

I thank God for allowing me to go through a season of dryness.

I thank God for giving me the courage to admitt to myself that I am running dry. After all, being able to feel and acknowledge our dryness is a gift from God.

Let’s see it as God’s way of calling us to be closer to Him. To seek Him more than we ever did before. To desire Him with our whole heart. To pursue Him and to be available to be filled by His spirit. It is much worse if we do not recognize that we are becoming dry. I once read somewhere, I have come to realize that the real tragedy in the church is not spiritual famine: it is famine without hunger, dryness without thirst.” I couldn’t agree more.

I thank God for giving me the chance to actually feel my spiritual dryness without dwelling on it. I thank God  for the wisdom He has given me to fight it. I thank God for sending me angels on earth to enlightern and encourage me. I thank God for every pep talk that I had with people who saved me before I fall into self destruction and I thank myself for truly listening. I thank God for the time He has blessed me with to just feel it without getting exhausted by it. I thank God for reminding me that it is okay to rest but I shouldn’t stop. I thank God for the gift of prayer. But most of all, I thank God for guiding my every step to the Oasis that He is. After all, He is the only one who can refill me. Without Him, I am nothing. He is the only one who can cover our leakage that causes us to feel dry.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

I thank God for disturbing me. It is the only way to lead me back to Him, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1

My prayer life has never been better. Even if I feel so burnt out at times, I still find myself being cradled by God in my solemn moments of prayer. He continuously teaches me to fully surrender to Him even if my stubborn heart tells me that this is not the way it should be. Humble obedience. My heart is still at peace that no matter how many times I feel dry, I will never run out of God’s love, grace and mercy.

“Lord, empty me so that I may be filled again. Less of me and more of you.” <3

Trusting You,

LOVE

Most days go by like any other day. But there are days – like Valentine’s Day- when people focus so much on looking happy. They focus so much on hearts, flowers, teddy bears, chocolates, cards and other surprises and sweet nothings just because it is heart’s day. The day when people expect the whole town to be painted in red. When everybody is pressured to look happiest showing off the bouquet of flowers which they received from their significant others on every social media account they have. When most single people feel a little pinch in their hearts whenever they look at their flowerless selves in the mirror and whenever they see happy couples anywhere.When supermarkets run out of chocolates and flowers to sell just because people think that is what that day is all about.

My friends and I went out to eat right after the mass; Restaurants are packed with people. It is good to see representations of love everywhere. Romantic love, love for family and in our case, love for friends. I remember a friend praying before we eat telling that God’s love is enough for us even if we are *chokes a little* single. Then I had a flashback of previous Valentine’s Days. I never really experienced anything romantic on any Valentine’s Day of my life. I never woke up with a bouquet of roses on my table; I never had a surprise Valentine date; I never received a box full of my favorite chocolates or got serenaded with heartwarming songs. I never got excited for Valentine’s Day but I never got sad either. Why would I be sad? Why would I feel sorry for myself? Every Valentine’s Day of my life, I am always surrounded with love from people who love me more than a lover can. Yes, I won’t be a hypocrite and deny the fact that sometimes I wonder how it feels like to experience stuff that other people experience on that day. Sometimes I daydream about waking up with little surprises from someone who loves me; I daydream about cuddling in bed watching RomComs or just keeping the TV open but not really caring about it because cuddling is enough. But, just because this isn’t happening doesn’t mean that my days are meaningless. I mean, I am okay with how I spend my Valentine’s Day. I still feel loved anyway. In fact, this year’s Valentines has been awesome because I have awesome people in my life that even if a hand drawn flower on a post it note and sweet candies are all I got, they are enough to paint a smile in my heart.

In our community, we call our significant others “GG” which stands for God’s Gift and I strongly believe that it is called God’s Gift for a reason. From its literal meaning; a gift from God. Back in 2006, I remember writing a blog post about solitude and how not having a boyfriend doesn’t affect me. Ten years later, here I am now, writing this and staying true to my words. As much as I would love to have one at this point in time, I can still enjoy my solitude. I still have no problem doing things for myself, on my own. I have no problem not receiving goodmorning/goodnight messages with all the romantic emoji’s. I have no problem not having someone to tell me i love you in the most random time of the day because I know that no matter what’s going on, I am loved. I still don’t think that it’s sad to celebrate Valentine’s Day with friends. It doesn’t make me less of a person just because of my relationship status. There are lonely days but it is not a lonely life. Love is not something we can wish from our fairy godmother and will be ours once she waves her magic wand. People nowadays focus so much on this. It bothers me how some people made romantic love as something that could make their existence complete. Don’t get me wrong, I also believe that love is a wonderful thing and everybody has the right to experience it; the butterflies in the stomach, the sleepless kilig nights and the natural glow of being in love. The joy of finding The One. The joy of receiving God’s gift. The gift that we prayed for.

But, what if despite our best effort and relentless prayer, we might not receive that precious gift? let alone end up with the man/woman of our dreams? Would that be okay? For this I pray; I pray that we can all let go of the part of us that forces romance to happen. I wish we can have fun like we used to in our favorite places without overthinking that maybe The One is just around the corner.I pray that we can silence the part of us that tells us that (romantic) love is all we need. I pray that we can learn to love ourselves instead of being too hard on ourselves because we don’t have that special someone until now. I pray that we can overcome pressure from people that tell us that we’re too old so we have to settle. I wish we can prove to everyone that being single is way better than being in a miserable relationship and I wish that by doing that, we fall in love slowly, deeply, passionately and gently with ourselves. I pray that we can ignore the little voices in our head that tell us that we are not enough or that something is wrong with us. I pray that we will be okay while waiting for God to deliver His gift. I pray that we will find joy, hope and patience in waiting because, I assure you, it will be worth it.

Love has become so underrated these days. Love slowly becomes a status symbol. I still believe that love is not measured by the butterflies in our stomach or the number  of roses we get on special days. Our relationship status on Facebook does not define us. Love is already planted in our hearts. We just have to let it bloom on its most perfect time; in God’s time. Love is not generic. Love comes in all forms. Let’s undo the times that we thought that love is everything. Let’s be the best version of ourselves while waiting for God’s best. Let God prune you and prepare you to be the right person someone deserves. And in the process of waiting, please know that you are also worth the wait.

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BELATED HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! <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.

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.