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Saturday, September 9, 2017

A Weekend Untethered

A recent camping trip left me and my two boys invigorated. Not the outdoorsy type, the entire experience was a test to our endurance and a challenge to see how far we can stretch to reach the height of any hidden potentials.

We were mostly unplugged the entire weekend and this gave us the chance to appreciate nature in its fresh, unadulterated state. Xbox controllers, phones, laptops and 3DSs were traded for rafts and water tubes; we snuggled in a rugged tent that offered little to no protection from the wildlife that loomed in the dark; we listened for crickets, the lapping of water from the nearby lake and the rustling of leaves; we marveled at the starry starry heavens and oh, what a magnificent sight it was! We kept warm by the campfire; roasted mallows until they're crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside and gorged on s'mores until we, ourselves, felt like puffed up marshmallows; the adults had a little too much to drink but what else was there to do when you had nowhere to go and the kids needed bottles to melt to commemorate the trip? The night time air was nippy but foresight led me to pack enough blankets that the boys and I were actually warm and toasty while the others lamented about the frigid temps over breakfast. This was how we spent our nights.

On the contrary, our days were filled with activities that required a little more effort than you would exert when lounging around and lifting a glass to your lips. No, daytime activities prepped you for the night ahead, when all you could do at the end of the day is plop on your chair and hold out your hand to someone who had the remaining stamina to mix you a drink. My boys amazed me when they summoned their inner Mowgli. The same boys whose heads are constantly buried in gadgets and who walk like zombies zoned out to whatever noise on their headphones, couldn't wait to test the waters, hike and climb rocks. The first day, they crossed the entire length of the lake with their uncle and cousins, calmly drifting in their rafts and hand-paddling their way back. The following day was particularly challenging as we were unprepared for the adventure we were about to embark. A friend suggested we set out for Bassi Falls. I should have known that finding the right path to turn into was already an ominous sign, followed by a hike that couldn't get any hotter.  It seemed that every turn we made just took us further and further away from our destination. The lack of shade made the hike unbearable that I thought I would die. I imagined us getting lost in the forest -- but I'm here to tell my story so obviously, it wasn't that bad and everyone made it out alive. The swimming holes at the foot of the waterfall were a welcome treat for the weary hikers who took the longer route. The cool water was a bit shocking, but preferred, over the scalding granites that covered the trail. Everyone went their own way to explore the area, while the boys and I contented ourselves in one of the pools - that is until a friend called out from the top of the falls urging us to scale the giant boulders. Um..No. Thank You. I could tell my boys are itching to go up but I could also sense their hesitation, so it was my turn to summon my inner Mowgli and took the opportunity to impart the lesson of conquering your fears. Lord help me! I encouraged the boys to go up but deep inside I was protesting. What if they slip and fall and hit their heads or break their necks? What if I fall and split my head open? Can't we all just stay safe and cool down here? No, the trip was all about experiencing new things and I was not about to deny the boys the chance to conquer something big and boost their confidence. They were much more enthused than I was and required less coaching. I, on the other hand, took almost the entire village to cheer me on, to push and pull me up to get me to the top. I almost gave up but I have photos to show that I, too, conquered Bassi Falls. I may or may not have cried on the way down, only because at one point, I had to slide down this giant rock that could have taken my life if I didn't use my feet to break the fall. Okay, a little exaggerated but for me, it was a huge feat. It was a good day and everyone felt victorious. I thanked the Lord for keeping us all safe.

The entire trip was exhausting, but more than overcoming the physical obstacles, we overcame frustrations and fears and discovered new skills and abilities that fueled more confidence in ourselves than when we first started. Above all, I recognized the gift of mental and physical abilities that God had blessed us with in order to take on this challenge. Lastly, I am thankful for the gift of family and friends. Besides the good food that thankfully no bear took part in, the best part was being in the company of people that celebrated each other. We stepped out of our comfort zone, but all this made it all worthwhile.

--with faith and gratitude,

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Mystery Of The White Handkerchief

I've struggled with the same issue on and off for quite a while now. Today in particular, I begged God to change me, more so to change the way I feel so I can finally put these feelings behind me. As I cried and pleaded, the picture of a white handkerchief that has been sitting in my dresser flashed in my mind. I don't remember who gave it to me but I know it was a time when a friend was there when I needed it.

The Lord has His way of speaking to us. Today He spoke to me through this white hankie. I wondered what the significance was. What did it mean? Someone sticks out a white handkerchief when they want to surrender. Does God want me to surrender my struggles to Him? It could mean that He recognizes my intent to come out clean and the desire to only do what pleases Him. I was baffled. Still I asked Him to help me forget so the struggles would cease.

I confided in a friend and without hesitation he said, Peace! Such a short and simple word yet the impact it made on my day was huge. Yes, the Lord wants me to have peace! It turned out that I wasn't praying the right prayer. Instead of asking to change the way I felt, I should ask the Lord to help me embrace and deal with them, to take them at face value, accept and peace will follow. I learned that emotional strength is not measured by the toughness you project or the wall you build to hide behind, but by the peace that you carry in your heart when everything else seem to fall apart.

My thoughts kept returning to the white handkerchief. Whoever handed it to me didn't hesitate to give it up so I could wipe away tears. As I look back, that white handkerchief made me realize that more than the piece of white cloth that they gave me, they gifted me with their time. Someone cared enough to take the time to listen. I may not remember who he was, but I pray he'll never stop offering his white hankies because this sincere gesture could mean more than he'll ever know.

"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." -- Philippians 4:7

--with faith and gratitude,

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Choices You Make Today Will Shape Your Tomorrow

"When it rains, it pours", as the saying goes. There are so many thoughts swimming in my mind lately and it's even any wonder that I still get a decent amount of sleep; maybe due to exhaustion or it could be that subconsciously, I'm okay with where things are even when I get myself all worked up when I'm actively thinking about them. Is that possible? When you're being pulled in many directions, sometimes you lose your bearing. Confusion compels you to engage your mind and heart to find solid ground to stabilize your thoughts.

To clear my mind, I decided to walk/run on the treadmill. Spotify? Check! Now do I run to the tune of Dirty Secrets from the cardio mix, do I go Beast Mode with DJ Khaled and the likes or run a steady pace with Green Day? Not exactly what I was in the mood for. No, I need some direction, good motivation, something that will play with my emotions to which sweat and tears can unabashedly flow together. Yes! I need songs that speak to me as if they're written especially for me, songs that will calm my chaotic mind. I settled for the Top Christian Tracks. It's not exactly the mix that will get you pumped up or give you a boost of adrenaline but it's what I needed today. I cranked up the volume to block out all the noise around me, prepared to walk to some mellow music that will surely cut through the heart but I was pleasantly treated to Sanctus Real's Safe In My Father's Arms so I picked up my pace and my mood instantly lifted. Nicole Nordeman's Every Mile Mattered reminded me that everything that I went through, places I've been, people from the past, all the tears shed, all of those is history that I can't rewrite, history does not define me but all of those mattered. Hannah Kerr declared that I'm a Warrior, brave enough to fight the fight, to shout the battle cry. I'm a warrior. When I fall down, I get stronger. I will keep the hope alive, I will find the strength inside. Brandon Heath loves the Lord with his Whole Heart and so do I and I want my children to remember my story to tell their future generations. It's okay to be afraid and vulnerable so God can work His miracles on you and as Brandon said, "where there is fear, deep inside I won't run, I won't hide, I'll give you all of me so that you can see every broken piece." I slowed down to Tasha Cobbs Leonard's Gracefully Broken, and If I Don't Have You by Love and The Outcome.

Out of all the songs in the track, perhaps the message that spoke to me more closely is the refrain from the song "Surprise" by The Color:
When you just can't face tomorrow
When you're down deep in the sorrow
When your faith is on the edge
Don't be afraid to step
Cause even if you'll fail to fly
He'll catch you by surprise!
He'll catch you by surprise!

I've been faced with a decision on whether to take a leap of faith or stay in my comfort zone, so this could be a prompt to venture out. I over complicated things to my detriment and today was a good reminder to slow down, be patient, to persevere in praying to the Holy Spirit for discernment, to Keep It Simple and Straightforward. I was reminded today to always be grateful, to be grateful that I have choices and that opportunities are knocking at my doorstep. I was reminded to keep the faith. After all, isn't this what my blog is all about?

--with faith and gratitude,

Friday, July 21, 2017

Never Too Far

"Recalculating..." my navigator's voice said after I took a different turn, this was then followed by a polite "Please make a legal u-turn if possible." Following the prompt, I was back on the right path towards my destination.

These days, it's so much easier to navigate our way around unfamiliar places with the help of smart phones and built-in navigation systems in cars. We only need to enter the address of our destination and we're given turn by turn directions. We know how close we are to our next turn so we can slow down, it gives us the time of arrival and it even recalculates this if we get stuck in traffic or choose to take a different route.

Navigating our way through life is not easy with its ups and downs and unexpected detours. However, just as our phones and cars have built-in navigators that recalculate our routes in order to get us on the right path, so are we also fully equipped to navigate through life's uncertainties. The Lord knows us intimately. As His children, He had already prepared the way for us. He knows exactly what we need, when we need it.

We may lose our way from time to time but we are never too far away to get back on track. If we can talk ourselves into trouble, we can certainly talk ourselves out of it. Instead of thinking you're already in too deep to straighten your way, challenge yourself to become better. Figuratively speaking, a dead end should not deter us from carving our own path. There will always be a way through, over and around it. As they say, if there is a will, there is a way.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” -- Joshua 1:9

--with faith and gratitude,

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


Thank you Lord for your gift of healing and restoration.

--with faith and gratitude,

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Te Desidero

My heart smiles with every thought of you
But it also breaks a little each time.
If I could have one more time with you,
I'd set you free
To walk another decade or two.
And when you're through,
Find your way home to me and you.


Monday, June 26, 2017

Too Close For Comfort

I was painting a frame for a friend's baby shower when I noticed I missed some spots so I went over it a few more times to make sure all surfaces were fully covered. The frame has a rough surface and if you look closely, you can see the coarseness of the wood gain and some fibers actually came off as I painted it. I didn't mind this at all since the blemishes just adds to the character of the piece I was working on. However, some people may have a different opinion of it and if anybody scrutinizes it, I would certainly come to its defense. It's perfect! Just don't look too closely.

How many times have we squirmed uncomfortably when people looked too closely and we feared that they'll discover something we've been hiding? Perhaps we want to give the impression that we have voluminous hair when in fact we're wearing hair extensions or maybe the sutures from the latest face lift are still intact so we try to keep others at arms length away. What about when you're taking someone's picture and they say "Not too close!", conscious that their face will take up the whole frame. Maybe we keep our distance because in a rush to get out the door, we barely had time to wipe away the rheum in our eyes, let alone step in the shower. We've all been in situations where others got too close for comfort.

We keep others at bay not just to save us from embarrassment brought on by our lack of proper hygiene or vanity (it's ironic how we feel ashamed of our attempt to look good). Sometimes we push people away because we simply can't handle being emotionally close to people. We put up a wall because we're afraid others will see us for who we really are or how we truly feel. There are times when we let our guards down just enough to feel human but as soon as one person starts to make bigger deposits into the emotional bank account, one pulls away. We're afraid that our vulnerability will lead us astray.

There are a number of reasons why people pull away from friendships or romantic relationships. One reason could be that some are afraid of commitments. Others may have social anxiety; others may have had a traumatic experience of losing someone and they don't want to experience the same pain so they avoid having close relationships; for others still, culture and upbringing influence the way they handle relationships; then there are others who simply don't want to take a chance. Whatever the case may be, my prayer is for all of us to banish all fears and allow ourselves to feel the comfort of deep and meaningful connections.

--with faith and gratitude,

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Growth Opportunities

As I was drifting off to sleep and I was halfway between wakefulness and dream state, my mind filled with thoughts for my next post. I tried to will myself to get up to jot everything but while my mind wanted to get up, my body seemed weighed down so I succumbed to the call of sleep but only after promising myself that I will remember everything the following day. Well, I don't. I have a fairly good recollection of the topic but the exact words escaped me. I recall saying to myself, "That's a good one. You definitely need to remember that." Yeah, right!

Before I fell asleep, I remember thinking about the roles and purpose the people that are close to us play in our lives. People come and go yet I truly believe that even those who stay in our lives for only a short while were sent to us for a reason. People either become a permanent or temporary addition to our lives. Their purpose could be to love, counsel, instruct, grow, enrich, heal, or simply teach us a lesson and vice versa. They could be our parents, children, siblings, friends, spouse, significant other, teacher, student, co-worker, boss, etc. Whatever role they play, it's guaranteed to create an impact in our lives whether it's for good or bad and there is certainly always a lesson to be learned.  I like to look at the bright side so I choose to believe that I'm a better, wiser individual as a result of their presence in my life. Other times, even strangers we encounter for a few minutes could impart lessons significant enough to bring about change in us. We just need to open our hearts to these growth opportunities.

Someone in particular came to mind and I was thanking the Lord for having brought this person in my life. This person has taught me to become more conscious of the will to be patient (for someone who thrives on spontaneity and always fights the urge to act on impulse, being patient is a constant struggle for me). This person reminded me to accept the things I cannot change. This person spoke with poignant truthfulness that took me by surprise because this person said things I didn't want to hear but needed to, to ground me and bring me back to the realization that the world does not revolve around me. Through this person, God taught me that there is kindness and love in silence, especially when the silence is meant to diffuse a tensed moment or to preserve peace. At first I took this silence as lack of care, betrayal and disrespect and it made me feel not valued, which further intensified the pain I felt. With time, I came to appreciate the value of silence as it allows us to pause and reflect and it serves as a good reminder that everyone communicates differently. I am learning the path to proper discernment and I'm slowly learning to detach myself from unnecessary baggage, material and immaterial. I have learned to practice loving kindness for myself in order to generate the same loving kindness for others. I have come to accept my flaws and just be myself. Because of this person, I am beginning to understand what it means to fully surrender my will to God and to be in total obedience-to relinquish all control and let God pave the way. For all these, I am thankful.

We encounter people everyday. Some choose to stay, some move on, other times it's us that make the choice. Time and circumstances change us and these encounters play a big part in who we become. It is my hope that we all make an effort to see the positive outcomes from these encounters and choose to remain at peace even when a painful and difficult decision to move on needs to be made.

The people in our lives are there by design--they're all part of a master plan. -- elle

--with faith and gratitude,

Saturday, June 17, 2017


but fully alive and whole. Thank you Papa God for your love.

--with faith and gratitude,

Monday, June 12, 2017

Saving Grace

God's amazing grace comes in many forms
It is the sunrise that greets our days
The stars we wish upon in the night time sky
They are the flowers in which fields are dressed
A cure
A miracle
A hummingbird
A ladybug or a butterfly
It is an epiphany
Cleansing tears that purge our hearts of sadness
Our families and friends
Our pets
They are trials that test our faith
It's gratitude
A smile
An unexpected hello
It is the breeze that gently caresses your face
A warm embrace
It's the rainfall
It is a song that speaks to you
A stranger's act of human kindness
A flat tire
A delay
Ocean waves that kiss your feet and the sand you dig your toes in
Afternoon naps
Other times it's goodbye
A misstep
Peace and acceptance
An unending love


Sunday, June 11, 2017


I am ...
A broken glass that tumbled through waves
and driftwood rounded by the sea
Weathered and weary
Edges refined by time
Washed safely ashore
A life story anew.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

A Deeper Understanding Of Love

As I write this post, I struggle for words. I don't know where to begin or how to convey my thoughts. I don't know where this reflection will take me or how it will end. I'm sort of just typing whatever comes to mind. I tried to avoid this topic but something inside told me to pursue it. I know there's a lesson in it for me that I have yet to discover. I pondered over these words when Fr. Leo said them in his prayer and I asked myself "How do I achieve a deeper understanding of love? Have I ever had a deep understanding of love that I somehow forgot about and now I'm being reminded to rediscover how it feels and what it means?" I thought maybe the right person/people and the right circumstances will lead one to a deeper understanding of love. Would you know it as soon as it happens to you, or will it take some time to realize it? I resolved to keep an open mind and let this reflection take its own course.

And just like that, my reverie took me to the first time I became a mother. The time when I held my newborn son and I was filled with an overwhelming rush of emotions. The time I gave birth to my second son was no different. All of a sudden, the labor pains I felt hours before no longer mattered as I marveled at the beauty of the tiny human being I held in my arms. My eyes welled up with tears, realizing just then how precious life is and God entrusted me with two others beside my own. All I wanted is to give my babies everything I could possibly give; to love and protect for as long as I live. Right at the same moment, episodes from my life flashed in my mind: I saw my parents' concern when I stressed over school, work, or life in general; the worries I put them through on nights I came home late from a party or on nights I didn't come home at all. They must have prayed incessantly for my safety, trusting me to make the right choices. I didn't know all these when I was young and reckless. Now as a parent, I know that I can only build a foundation for my children out of love and trust and pray that the foundation is solid enough for them to build upon as they discover the world on their own.

To love is to let go. It's one of the ultimate sacrifices for parents to let our children spread their wings after having nurtured them but we do so because we love them and because we know their independence affords them the opportunity to be part of something bigger. It is also setting a loved one free so they can pursue their dreams.

To love is to sacrifice. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."-- John 3:16. One of my favorite scriptures and undoubtedly the most remembered. This reminds us that Jesus laid out His life for us so we can be redeemed. This also calls to mind John 15:13 which states: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Think of the veterans who fought and risked their lives and those who are currently fighting for our freedom, and those who gave up their lives to save their fellow soldiers. Additionally, not to forget the ordinary people we hear about who heroically save others from danger. Is there a love deeper than this?

It is in loving that we become courageous. It is in loving that we unselfishly give of ourselves. It is also in loving that we show our appreciation to those who devote their time, resources and talents. It is in loving we learn to be patient, kind and generous. It is in loving that we remain steadfast when relationships are on rocky ground. It is in loving that we don't give up on friends. It is in loving that we reach out our hand to someone in need. It is out of love to see the good in others and the best of intentions. It is out of love that we speak the truth and become accountable for our actions. When we love, we become transparent and trusting. We become vulnerable and feel safe at the same time. It is in loving that we forgive and seek to be forgiven, to understand and be understood, to hear and be heard.

Sometimes it is also out of love when we choose to love from a distance. "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." -- 1 Peter 4:8

When I started, I didn't know how this will end, but as I opened my heart to possibilities, and my mind to only the truth, I have begun to embrace a deeper understanding of love.

--with faith and gratitude,

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Now I See

I recently started reading The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius at the recommendation of a friend (check out Angelo Saludo's post entitled "Love Beyond" at As humans, we are continually drawn to two diametrically opposite directions: one towards goodness and the other towards sinfulness. The Exercises aim to develop one's "discernment" or the ability to discern between good and evil spirits, which through continuous application and practice, the choices we make will become more aligned with God's will, which in turn lead us to a deeper union with God.

As I read through the Exercises on the Punishment of Sin, I can't help but reflect on the sins I commit on a recurring basis, without giving God's justice much thought! Suddenly I'm made much more aware of my own iniquities and how much I've offended God. I can imagine Him being saddened each time I resist His will and I persist in my stubbornness.

In the First Exercise, St. Ignatius touches upon "Sin punished in the rebel angels", wherein he asks us to consider the state of the rebel angels before they fell into sin: their purity, knowledge and wisdom, their powerful inclination toward good, God's most perfect and beautiful creations. Yet, despite of having possessed God's favor, they revolted against Him. Lucifer, in his desire to surpass God, led the rebellion. God's justice struck them like thunderbolt and were cast into the depths of hell, where they remain.

In the Second Exercise, St. Ignatius touches upon "Sin punished in Adam and his posterity". Again, as with the rebel angels, St. Ignatius asks us to consider Adam's state before he sinned: the excellence of his being, the happiness and glory of his being, the innocence of his heart, the paradise where he lived, his relationship with God and the fact that he was created in the likeness and image of God. Like the fallen angels, Adam also fell into sin when he chose to listen to Eve, who was tempted by the serpent to eat from the tree of knowledge. As punishment, God expelled them from the Garden of Eden, cursed Eve with the pain of childbirth, and made Adam toil the land for food. St. Ignatius characterized the first sin as imprudent, sin of the senses, cowardice, contempt of God and blindness.

Out of all these characteristics, "blindness" resonated with me the most. St. Ignatius defined blindness as having deceived ourselves at the moment of temptation by foolish reasonings on the justice of God and on His mercy; by having persuaded ourselves that sin is not so great an evil and God is too good to punish us. How many times have I begged God to hear my prayers despite knowing how my request must greatly offend Him; disillusioned with the thought that my unreasonable requests are not offensive in His eyes? How many times have I justified my errant ways by dismissing it as the "social norm" even when my conscience dictates it as unethical? Clearly I have much to learn on proper discernment.

These first two exercises show us that even the angels, God's most perfect creation, and Adam having enjoyed full benefits from God, were capable of sinning and despite their status, still God's justice fell upon them. These were meant to steer us into a deep reflection on the state of our own souls and inspire us to always choose the path that will lead us closer to Him.

I am often reminded that God is generous with His mercy and grace abounds to those who seek it; however, this journey with St. Ignatius makes me much more aware of my unworthiness, so the more fervently I must seek to do His will. I pray that these exercises will quench my thirst for a deeper communion with God, to gain a broader knowledge on how to discern God's voice amidst the noise that pollutes our senses today and learn practical ways in applying these exercises to stay on the path which leads us to God.

--with faith and gratitude,

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

My Heart Aches

My heart aches for your embrace 
Your voice echoes in my mind 
With my eyes closed 
 I see your face and I smile. 
Before I sleep I pray 
For a chance 
To be with you 
Even if only in my dreams.
I wake up in tears 
To a love that can never be.
Still I beg for God to permit 
You and me 
A fleeting moment 
Of affection.
So even when we part
We'll have the sweetest memory
To cherish 
 A love that could have been.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Sprinklings of Grace

A friend asked for salt to sprinkle on his mango. When I asked why, he said the salt makes the mango sweeter. Apparently, adding salt to pineapples, tart apples, strawberries or any fruit needing a little sweetening, neutralizes the acidity of the fruits, making the fruits sweeter. Jokingly I quipped, "Maybe I should sprinkle some salt on you." To which he managed a chuckle.

I imagined God sprinkling salt in my life to make it a little sweeter just when I need it. The Lord has His way of letting us know how fond He is of us. Whether you recognize it or not, He gives you special treatment every day. That empty parking space near the building entrance is no coincidence. That accident you narrowly escaped as you were about to change lane was your angel, swooping in to save you at God's command. The phone call, email or text you didn't expect came just at the right time. God's timing is always perfect! People that are in your life are there by design.The last boysenberry pie was reserved especially for you because He knows exactly what you want. Oh and that awesome deal you just closed? Yup! That was God, too. These are what I call sprinklings of grace that sweetens the bitterness that life sometimes serve.

Sprinklings of grace are there to remind us that God is ever so vigilant, looking for opportunities to manifest His goodness, love and mercy. Each and everyone of us holds a special place in His heart, no matter how hardened our hearts have become. His sprinkles of grace do not discriminate. There are times when we are quick to take credit for every good things in our lives. Some would argue that it is with their own abilities they were able to acquire fame or fortune or whatever it is they worked hard for. We forget that we are nothing without God; all good things come from God, therefore, all honor and glory belong to Him. Even when unfavorable circumstances happen in our lives, we should look for the sprinkles of grace,  the little spark of hope that tells us someone higher than us is in control. I know it's hard to believe when things look grim but place your faith in the Lord and you'll see His goodness, love and mercy at work in your life.

As I look back in my own life, not only have I encountered (and continue to encounter) God's sprinklings of grace, but an outpouring of affection, like a big load of salt is continuously being dumped on me! Most of the time it's the little things that make a difference, it's the unexpected but welcomed surprises that make life much sweeter. I believe it's important to recognize and appreciate the subtle ways God communicates with us to let us know He is within our midst.

Today, may we  open our hearts and receive God's sprinklings of grace.

--with faith and gratitude,

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Peace and Acceptance

It's upsetting to discover someone close to you is not being truthful. Today I didn't know whether I was upset that they lied or more upset that they kept something from me. I felt that this sudden mendaciousness violated a bond between friends. All throughout the day I ruminated on the resentment I felt and all I was focused on was the bitterness that kept brewing inside of me. If you've ever seen a commercial or a video of a person trying to decide whether to be good or bad and you see a devil and an angel on each of the person's shoulder and they kept score depending on whether the person decides to do good or bad, that was me today. The left side was saying "How dare they? You have every right to be angry." While the loving voice on my right side was saying "Now, now, let's think things over. You're in a quicksand and the more you struggle, the deeper and faster you'll sink." Should I keep an ear on my left shoulder or should I divert my attention to the voice on the right? I knew I needed to sort this out so I phoned a friend. Our conversation went like this:

Me: What do you do when someone lies to you? How do you get past it?
Friend: You accept it.
Me: Just like that? How do you accept it? (My friend will be disappointed to know that I've lost interest in listening further at this point. I needed this friend to sympathize with me and not point out an obvious truth. I politely let this friend proceed.)
Friend: You just accept it. They already lied. It's done. There is nothing you can do about the fact that they lied.
Me: (sigh) But...but...that's not what I want to hear!
Friend: I have someone here that I need to talk to. I'll call you back when I'm done if that's ok.
Me: Of course. Yes, it's ok. (Not really because I was having a pity party and it wouldn't be a party if nobody was pity-partying with me! It looks like the left side just scored a point.) I had to consciously remind myself that my emergency is mine alone. Read more about Patience here.

What my friend didn't know was I already had a plan. I took my pity-party where I know the "attendee" is going to be all ears. This party guest will give me all His attention and there will be no interruptions.

I headed to St. Joseph (1 point for the right side) and there I unleashed my frustrations (sans food and wine). I prayed to God for clarity and to indulge me with an answer but I was also prepared to wait should He choose a different time. I've learned to be persistent in prayer so I added it would be nice if I can get a reply. How do I get to acceptance as my friend so bluntly put it? There are times when he jolts me from my slumber (mental or otherwise spiritual) that I find myself in shock at the impact of his simple, unpretentious words. I sat down in silence for a while and waited for the voice of reason.

I started to analyze the situation, sorted things out in my mind and this time I was able to see things in a different perspective (another point for the right side). Earlier today I was so focused on resentment that I was being irrational. I went over the facts. Can I change those facts? No. Now that I know I can't change it, what do I do about it? I had the option to continue to be miserable or accept it and move on. By recognizing that it happened and after putting things into perspective, I was  already halfway to full acceptance. I say only halfway because acceptance does not necessarily mean forgetting that it happened. It is appropriate to forgive but it is just as appropriate to stay cautious. For me, full acceptance means forgiving and forgetting an offense. Since I've only chosen to accept that it happened and that there is nothing I can do to reverse it, but at same time  didn't have it in me to forget (not just yet), I'm only halfway there, which I am completely comfortable and at peace with.

Anger and resentment no longer weighed me down. I cannot control others' actions but I can control how I react to it. By letting go of something that is beyond my control, even though it took a lot of willpower, I began to feel at peace (the right scored another point for the win). I imagined flicking little luci on my left side and smiled at the thought that my angel's halo shone a little brighter.

--with faith and gratitude,

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Come Sit With Me

There is a marble memorial bench at the cemetery where my dad is interred and it has a caption that reads "Come Sit With Me". I try not to look at it whenever I visit. It makes me uneasy so I briskly walk past it while rubbing away the goosebumps on my arms. I can walk the other way but it's in very close proximity to my dad's niche so there's no way to completely avoid it. Just the thought of it there, inviting me to come sit, always make me want to cut my visit short. I can sense Kathleen sitting there, looking at me and waiting for me to sit with her. I've ran past it to get to the car faster where I can feel safe with the doors locked (as if a locked car will stop a ghost from entering it).

Come sit with me. These words resonated with me as I found the picture of a bench that my son Angelo snapped today. This bench looks inviting. Positioned under the shade of a big oak tree, I can see friends catching up on each other's busy lives; a young couple sharing dreams of the future; a family enjoying an afternoon picnic.

Come sit with me. I got reminded of the times when I was young, walking past a kid sitting alone at lunch. It makes me think of people who choose an empty spot in the bus instead of sitting next to a sullen-looking stranger. It makes me think of the times I took for granted spending quality time with family members, even to sit at the dining table to talk about our day. I wonder how many lives I could have touched just by getting over my ego and striking up a conversation. I wonder how many more friends I could have made. These days, the internet is filled with news about kids taking their own lives because they were bullied and this is worrisome and heartbreaking for a mother. This serves as a reminder to parents to talk to their children about the impact of bullying and the difference a smile or a conversation starter as simple as a "hi" can make. School officials remind children if they see something, to say something. They might just save a life.

Lastly, the phrase "Come sit with me" also reminded me of a flyer I found at church, inviting parishioners to spend an hour with the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. That's Jesus saying, "Come sit with me. Tell me about your day. Tell me about your dreams, your desires, your successes and failures. Tell me about your relationships, your friends and your family. Tell me what makes you smile, what makes you sad. Tell me what worries you." Of course He already knows about all these things, but He wants to hear from us. He invites us to build a close relationship with Him. He wants us to be real. You can sit with Him wherever and whenever. There are times when you don't even need to talk, just surrender and listen with your heart. Will you accept the invitation? Jesus is not very particular about appearances. Come as you are.

Come sit with me. For some, this might as well be an invitation to reach out, to heal, to make friends, to rekindle relationships, to re-awaken dormant faith. If you're not sure what to say, "Hello" is a good way to start a dialogue.

--with faith and gratitude,

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Be True To Yourself

Do you say yes to something that you do not completely agree with? Do you do something that is not aligned with your belief? Maybe you're doing something in order to please someone even though you know you're losing yourself. Trying to fit in with a group whose values are not similar to yours? Trying hard to be accepted? Are you careful with what you say around "friends" for fear of saying the wrong thing and risk being rejected? Stop!

Stick to your principles and your values and remain true to yourself. Don't keep chasing something or someone until you become a stranger to yourself and to the people who genuinely care.

Surround yourself with people who love and accept the real you and see a much happier you.

"Those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

--with faith and gratitude,

Saturday, May 6, 2017


In a world of instant gratification, we want everything right now. You find a dress or a pair of shoes and you couldn't wait for them to go on sale so you buy them at that very moment. You're hungry or thirsty and you're only a few minutes away from home but you drive through a fast food joint anyway to satisfy your cravings. You send a text or leave a voicemail and you expect a reply right now.  You call to make an appointment with your hair dresser and she's booked 2 months out! What?! But you need a haircut right now, today, not tomorrow or the following day. So what do you do? You call around to find someone who can work around your schedule, which is right now because you're already in the parking lot just waiting for confirmation that they're free. Sound familiar?

We're all guilty of being impatient. It takes humility to realize that the world does not revolve around us. People will not always be free when we are. We just need to accept the fact that our "emergencies" are ours alone and we need to wait in line just like everybody else.

They say that patience is not the ability to wait but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting; it is being able to endure suffering or discomfort without complaining.

Patience is such a simple word but it's not easily practiced most times. I'm one of those people who will get things done myself if I know it'll take others too long or not get it done to my satisfaction. I switch registers if I see the clerk is taking too long.  I roll my eyes and breathe a heavy sigh if I'm kept waiting. Patience...patience, my Friendster would often remind me. He gets a double dose of my eye-rolling, heavy sigh response because his patience is disgustingly extraordinary; for which I'm thankful because he is patient even with me. I am a work in progress and I know God is not done with me yet.

Let's all strive to be patient with one another (or endure the discomfort of waiting to purchase something).  It not only builds character (maybe even save some money) but it also pleases God.

--with faith and gratitude

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Live. Learn. Repeat.

When babies are learning to walk, I doubt they think about failure.  They don't think about whether or not they can get from point A to point B. They don't formulate a plan. They just do it. Oftentimes they fall and without thinking twice, they get back up and try again. They fall and they get back up. They repeat this until they finally master the new skill. Ah! They don't even realize it at that time that walking is a game changer! Not only can they get to other side of the house quicker by walking, but soon they learn that running is more fun! All of a sudden, their world becomes much wider with their newfound freedom and all because they didn't give up. 

As adults, we are much more inclined to analyze our decisions and actions. We become more conscious of the consequences, at the same time consider various factors that directly affect the outcome of our decisions and so we take calculated risks. A reasonable adult goes through a decision-making process. I'm not saying this is a bad thing. We all should be  making reasonable decisions. But have you ever wondered how many opportunities were missed by over analyzing something? By the time you're ready to commit, you've missed the train (or the bus, or the boat or plane). 

Sometimes taking a leap of faith is necessary. There are times when dipping our toes in shallow waters is not enough to satisfy our curiosity and we need to jump into the deep end of the pool and learn to swim. Mistakes are an essential part of our existence. We make mistakes and we learn from them. It's how we grow and mature. By taking risks, we live. By making mistakes, we learn. We live, learn and repeat the process of living and learning. This is how we gain new experiences. Sometimes we make the same mistakes and that's okay but this shouldn't discourage us from breaking an unhealthy cycle. Live. Learn. Repeat. 

The point I'm trying to make is, there are times when we are faced with tough decisions. This however, should not stop us from living our lives. Don't be a victim of paralysis by analysis. Try not to over complicate things. Make a decision and run with it. Later on if you find out it was a misstep, get back up, learn from the experience and move on. Live your life again and take the lessons life throws at you. Live. Learn. Repeat. 

"The biggest mistake you could ever make is being too afraid to make one." -- Anonymous

--with faith and gratitude,

Tuesday, May 2, 2017


If you've ever bought or received a greeting card from Papyrus, chances are, you've seen one of their inserts about hummingbirds, which coincidentally is their signature logo. It reads:

"Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration. The hummingbird's delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life's sweetest creation."

I just love hummingbirds. I love to watch them flit from flower to flower. When I'm out on the trellis at work, I usually hear their cheerful chirps before I see them. I marvel at their tiny delicate bodies which allow them to fly at ultra fast speeds, their agility in hovering over flowers, and their vibrantly colored feathers.

Every time I see them, I am reminded of the beauty around me. God did not spare any details when He created the world. He filled it with great big creatures and wonders and tiny seemingly insignificant creatures yet it's these things that harmonize our surroundings. All things big and small create a synergy that makes our planet the perfect place to live in. How many of us take the time to appreciate these gifts that God has so lavishly blessed us with?

"Like a hummingbird, may we aspire to hover and to savor each moment as it passes, embrace all that life has to offer and to celebrate the joy of everyday." -- Papyrus

--with faith and gratitude,

Friday, April 28, 2017

A Long and Winding Road

Sometime in 2016, during the Holy Year of Mercy, I found myself making a pilgrimage to different parishes outside of town. It was almost noon when I left Sacramento. I started at Our Lady of Mt Carmel in Fairfield, CA, which was about a 45-minute drive on Interstate 80. Whenever I need to recharge mentally and spiritually, Our Lady of Mt Carmel is where I always go. First, because the drive affords me the time to reflect as I unwind and release all the built up tensions. Second, it seems like all my prayers are almost always instantly answered there. Almost always. I'll get back to this later.

Our Lady of Mt Carmel is my special happy place. As I was driving, I made a list of all the prayer requests I was going to offer and seek answers to, but I settled for one prayer that I felt was the most urgent and told myself that this will be my only prayer intention on this pilgrimage.  

After a visit to the Blessed Sacrament (they have Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration) at the Chapel of St Therese of Lisieux, I set out for St Joan of Arc in Yountville, a cozy little town in Napa. Whenever I visit Fairfield, Napa is always next on the itinerary, if only for a quick stop at Gott's Roadside for their chocolate shake or Bouchon Bakery for their macarons (Usually both. As I'm typing this, images of Three Twins Chocolate Shake and pistachio macarons taunt my senses. I think a trip to Fairfield and Napa needs to happen soon). This time though, I was on a pilgrimage so I didn't make any side trips to satisfy my sweet tooth. I uttered the same prayer intention at St Joan. It was about 2:30 p.m. when I finished there.

Unfamiliar with the other churches in the area, I searched for other churches nearby and since I wanted to travel a bit further, I settled on St Eugene in Santa Rosa. According to my navigator, it's about 27 miles from where I was at. I could just take St Helena Hwy to Oakville Grade. No problem. It's Napa, I told myself. Enjoy the scenic route. I just love the sight of perfectly straight rows of vineyard vines, plus the leaves on the trees where starting to turn gold, orange and crimson. It'll be a beautiful drive I told myself. Convinced, I set my new destination on my map.

I've traveled St Helena Hwy many times, but never really noticed the turn to Oakville Grade. It was only a few miles from St Joan and it wasn't surprising when a vineyard greeted me as I turned the road. Up ahead, I could see the lush green mountains. It always excites me whenever I go on an adventure and discover new roads. I was so distracted by the beauty around me that I dismissed the thought that the mountains up ahead were an ominous sign. I was oblivious to what lay ahead since I was surrounded by endless rows of grapevines and fall foliage. Never mind the fact that the road was beginning to ascend. It's just a small incline I told myself. But the road is getting narrower. Just this part. It'll widen again, you'll see. Totally dismissing the tingling I was getting on the back of my neck as I started to firmly grip my steering wheel. Well, according to my trusted navigator, this road is only about 11 miles. How bad could it be?

I wished I turned around right then there because as soon as I rounded the corner, it was too late when I realized it was the point of no return. There was no place to pull over and with cars behind me, I had to keep driving. Starting to panic, I tried to calm myself. It'll be okay, just stay in the middle of the road so you don't fall into the ditch (a.k.a. cliff since I can't see the bottom and the road is completely alien to me so I don't know how high or low the drop is in case I do end up careening to the side of the road). That road was so narrow that you'd think the cars are only going one way, at least until one comes towards you with flashing lights warning you to get out of their lane!

The road started to twist and turn and here I was driving to almost a crawl with a truck wanting to ram my rear bumper. It was a monster truck that even if I pulled closest to the cliff, I doubt he would have been able to pass by me. Instead he rode my bumper until he reached his road. Maybe that's where he lived. I mean, really? Who lives there? How do you even know where to turn? Did the residents there have rocks and mountains to mark their driveway? How do they give directions to their visitors? "Oh, at the third protruding rock, just right after the single giant redwood, you'll see an inconspicuous road. Make sure to honk your horn to alert incoming traffic before you round that corner." 

I started crying and praying, saying Lord please help me! Jesus please help me! Please don't leave me. Get me out of this road. I don't want to be on this road! Please help me, please help me, please help me. Through tears and sweat, I must have prayed this a thousand times over. Every turn was blind as I either had the cliff on my side or the mountain at some point. I drove in the middle of the road, giving way to oncoming cars every now and then that zoomed past me like race car drivers! Clearly they've driven that road since they were 8 (I'm kidding, but you know what I mean). I was white knuckling my steering wheel as I prayed my mantra and wiped away tears and sweat. I've never been so scared in my life! After what seemed like two eternities, I finally came to the end of the road and got on the main highway. The rest of the drive to St Eugene was uneventful as the road was pleasantly flat! Despite the gut-wrenching, white-knuckling drive through the mountains, the redwoods at St Eugene kind of made up for the horrific drive. What should have taken me only an hour, probably took me a little less than two. Did I say I crawled those 11 miles? Well, I asked for an adventure and I got one! On the way home, I made sure to really look at the terrain on the map and chose the straightest path for my drive back.

As I was driving home, I looked back at my experience. Whereas I cried my way to St Eugene, I laughed and smiled all the way home, amused at God's sense of humor. I tried to find the lesson in all of this. I thought Lord, really, couldn't You just have had me read a passage on the bible or pointed to an inscription somewhere? Why did You take me on that road? Then, an image of St Therese of Lisieux flashed back in my mind. Remember what I said earlier that my prayers are almost always instantly answered at Our Lady of Mt Carmel? Well, I saw an icon inside her chapel but I vaguely remember the inscription. Something about persevering in prayer. I was so engrossed at repeating my prayer request that I didn't pay much attention to it. If I had, my adventure would have ended right then and there. He had already answered me through St Therese but in my stubbornness, my heart was not open to His words at the time. Instead, I pursued my own path, not knowing God had a better lesson for me. 

That winding road was my entire life presented before me, with its twists and turns, ascending and descending, gaining confidence when there were no cars (trials) and slowing to a crawl when obstacles were present. All the while, I was praying, Lord please help me! Don't leave me. Please help me! Then an impression in my heart said "You of little faith! Why are you so afraid? Don't you know I've been with you from the beginning? What made you think I will abandon you now?" I cried at the realization and for  good reason this time. It made me realize that no matter what the obstacles are, no matter how difficult and unpredictable life is, I can always count on Him to stay with me. During the drive home I was praying a different prayer, one of praise and thanksgiving!

I will never forget that adventure I shared with Papa God. It makes me smile in amazement each time I play it back in my mind.

--with faith and gratitude,

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Where Is The Good in "Goodbye"?

Goodbyes can sometimes be difficult. The pain caused by goodbyes is debilitating, especially with breakups, a child going away to college, a significant other moving to another country to chase their dreams, and perhaps the most painful of all, saying goodbye to a dying loved one. Just the sheer thought of bidding someone goodbye makes you emotional. Even when you try to rationalize the situation, nothing can console you because you've become very attached and letting go is difficult.  Oftentimes it's heart-wrenching.

So if saying goodbye causes so much pain, where is the "good" in goodbye?

Today I found out that the word goodbye comes from the term "Godbwye" which is a contraction of the phrase "God be with ye". As time went on, it is believed the phrase was influenced by terms like "good day" and "good evening", transitioning from "God-b'wye" to "good-b'wy" and finally ending in today's blessing of goodbye. Did you catch that? Goodbye is a blessing.

By letting go, you make room for growth and you create an allowance for other people or opportunities to enter your life. By saying goodbye especially when you're getting away from a difficult situation, you're giving yourself another chance. For me, it's giving way to God's plans.

Today I spent some time alone in church. I questioned and I cried. I resisted and cried some more. When I was done crying, I just sat there and opened my heart to His words. I felt an impression in my heart that said, "Even when you fall, even in your brokenness, you are whole because My LOVE for you is unconditional." 

What an amazing God we have! People and situations can break us, but with God, we are complete!

So my friends, may we always remember that a goodbye is a blessing.

--with faith and gratitude,

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Friendship, BFF, Bestie, 'Day, Sis, Bro. No matter what you call your friends, the sound of the term is endearing. You feel comforted by the fact that you have someone to turn to in times of need and they're there to share your joys, and triumphs. Conversely, they know they can count on you to be there for them. You know you've found real friends when they stay with you through the good, the bad and the ugly. No words are needed. They know that their presence is enough and you begin to heal.

There are times when we become self-centered and neglect their needs. All it takes is a text, a phone call or maybe even lunch to stay connected.

Today let's take a moment to appreciate friends. Say you love them for just being themselves and being part of your life.

Just as we acknowledge our friends on earth, let us also acknowledge our Friend in Heaven, who was, is, and will always be The One above all.

--with faith and gratitude,

Monday, April 24, 2017

Bestie's Question

A good friend of mine works with the elderly and today he asked: "Where will I be when I get old? Who will take care of me?" To which I replied: "God had already packed your provisions for your life's journey, packing it with essentials He knows you'll need along the way even before you know you'll need them."

Indeed, God knows what we need so why worry about what's not even here yet? Have faith that He has our best interest at heart.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:6-7

--with faith and gratitude,

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Pore Strips?!

Pore Strips. You know those sticky things you put on your nose and face to remove whiteheads and blackheads from your pores? Not exactly how I envisioned my comeback to the blogging world, but hey, you can't exactly choose when and what God will use as an inspiration to impart His lessons.

So then I asked, what could I possibly learn from this? It didn't take long to realize that just as the pore strips purge our face of impurities, we sometimes need to purge ourselves of impurities to become better children of God.

Every now and then we need to do an assessment of ourselves, much like doing a yearly appraisal report at work. What is currently working and what is not? What battles are we currently fighting? Are there negative people in our lives that could be affecting us? Maybe addictions we need to cure? Bad habits to stop? Relationships to restore? What can we do to turn these things around? What is stopping us from rising above these challenges? One thing comes to mind: Pride.

Whether we like to admit it or not, pride is what's stopping us from becoming a better person. We don't want to admit that we were wrong; we don't want to take the first step to reach out to someone we've had a falling out with; and we're ashamed to come to God in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. His forgiveness endures and is free to those who seek it. We can rid ourselves of impurities by going to confession and resolving to avoid the near occasions of sin.

A good friend always reminds me that we have a forgiving God. He loves us unconditionally. We just need to accept that and be humbled in the fact that we are unworthy of His love, yet He is faithful. He never tires of waiting for you to seek Him. Who are we to turn Him away? Who are we to reject His invitation to enter His Kingdom?

Maybe it's time to do some reflection...

God loves you and me!