Mom

I’m 13 years old. It’s Saturday. It’s wonderful to be able to sleep as much as I like to and to wake up fresh and re-energized. I hear rattling noises in the kitchen. I see my mom with her apron on, busy doing stuff in the kitchen. I can smell the fresh-brewed coffee, eggs, bacon and pancakes! “Good morning, dear!” she greets me with a smile on her face. I hear her say, “Sit down and have your breakfast.” The smell and the sight make my mouth watery. I sit down and enjoy my breakfast while watching my mom. She does all these things out of love. You’re wonderful, mom! Thank you!

I’m 10 years old. It’s Saturday and free from school. I wake up and go downstairs. It’s very quiet. I guess my siblings are still sleeping or just in their rooms. I know how to make my breakfast. I know where to get the cereals and milk. I know that by this time, my mom is already out of the house. She goes to work early. She has weekend shifts. I know that she has to go to work in order to provide for us. She makes the sacrifice out of love. You’re wonderful, mom. Thank you!

I’m 6 years old. I wake up and goes to the living room. I see my mom sitting by the window, with my new baby sister. She is looking outside the window. “Good morning, mom. Can I have some breakfast?” She looks at me. I can’t tell if she is tired, or sad, or happy. Her eyes looks like my teddy bear. She just looks at me. “Can you get it yourself, dear?” she asks me. “Ok, Can I watch on my Ipad as well?” I ask her. “Yes” she answers back. I go and kiss my baby sister. She is so cute; so adorable. One morning, my mom came home with her. You’re wonderful mom! Thank you!

I’m 50 years old. I wake up and do my early morning rituals. I now have a family of my own. I have my own kids. I think about my mom and her life. She is now 81 years old. I haven’t called her for a while now. I’ve been busy the whole week, both at work and at home. I pick up my cell phone and call my mom. We talk about small things and some problems. But she is always patient and ready to give advice and solace. Mom, you are wonderful! I thank you for everything!

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Palm Sunday Reflection 2019: be grateful and live!

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I thought of my two brothers who died around 30 years ago; if they are still living now, how old they would be, how would their life be and what would they be like. They would see their children grow and their grandchildren born, that’s for sure.  It still makes me sad when I think of them. I miss them and I regret the things I should have said or done for them while they were still living. But I can’t go back in the past. I can only remind myself of the lessons I learned from those experiences.

Today,  I heard once again the gospel about the Lord’s Passion and death on the cross. Every year, I hear the same story. Why? So, I can be reminded of the value of life. Jesus died for me so I can have life. He gave his life for me as a gift. May I never ever take this precious gift of life for granted. And it is not enough just to get by life; trying to survive the everyday challenges. Jesus wants me to grow and thrive in this life as well; to be happy and fulfilled; to pursue my purpose and to share to others this gift of life. My brothers died very young. Nobody knows the time of death. It can happen anytime. The question I ask myself is not when are you going to die, rather when are you going to live?

My advice to myself: be grateful  and live every moment of your life!

Lenten Reflection – First Sunday of Lent 2018: Alone

Mark 1:12 –  The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.

All of us, like Jesus, some time in our lives, are driven by the Holy Spirit to enter into a “desert” experience in our lives. I have never been in any country with desert. I have no way of knowing how it is to live in such a place. But I have experienced a “desert” period in my life; when I felt drained of energy, thirsting after something that would give me joy and life; surrounded by both “wild beasts” and “angels” and yet felt so alone and lonely. It was at that time that I contemplated about my life and about myself. I told myself, “This is not the kind of life I wanted to live; nor ever dreamed of. This is not even called living at all; it’s more like a zombie life. It is living in a rigid, monotonous and routine life; merely surviving. It is living in constant fear, fatigue, stress, sadness and loneliness.”

It was during those moments, when I was faced with the harshness of reality, that I questioned everything. I confronted reality and took a decision. I realized that I was all alone. I needed to take responsibility. I needed to stand strong and take actions all by myself. There were “wild beasts” meaning people around me that inflicted me pain and suffering, but there were also “angels” who were there and helped me grow and come out of this “desert” life. I’m grateful for both kinds of people.

I told a friend yesterday how important it is to be alone sometimes. It’s the time when you have to look into yourself and confront the truth about yourself; be authentic. It’s so easy to be somebody else or wear a mask when we are with other people. We have agendas, or ulterior motives, or we want to look good for others. But when we are alone, and there’s no one to please nor gain validation or approval, we only have ourselves. And who do we fool but ourselves? Why live in a lie when being truthful is more rewarding and fulfilling? So if you want to know yourself – then spend sometime with yourself, alone*.

*Know that you are not truly alone, because God is always with you no matter what. But i’s the feeling of being abandoned and stripped of everything. Just like Jesus shouted on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

Memories and love 

I know we may not have any future together

But at least we have our past

Precious moments and memories of love 

Sharing of hearts and soul, 

Of love and warmth. 

The days we walked in the park

And shared coffees and meals

The nights we walked by the beach

under the moonlight and stars

The beers and the wines 

The laughs and the tears

I will treasure them all

Inside my heart where you reside

Always and forever 

A love that will never die. 

Bitter sweet joyful sorrow

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The leaves on the treetops are slowly changing colors. The summerbreeze is colder and the sky is full of gray clouds. Change is coming. The turning of the season is just around the corner. Change is inevitable. Change can be something like a long anticipated joyful event, like a work promotion or a coming of a baby. But change can also be painful, like a sudden lost of a loved one or a job relocation. The beginning of the school year is just a week away. No one can predict if it’s going to be a good school year with great friends around you and higher grades; or it could be the most difficult year in an adolescent life where one feels alone and lonely and pressured to conform ones identity according to the social media trends.

Change is coming. Change is inevitable. Life is changing. People are changing. There is nothing we can do about it except to accept and embrace it. Just like the turning of the seasons. By accepting change, we experience the bitter sweet joyful sorrow complicated simple life of a human being, trying not only to survive but to thrive here on earth. Yes, we struggle yet we enjoy life. We set goals and create big dreams despite of the past failures. We strive and aspire new heights despite of the challenges we face ahead. I can say that it is one of human’s greatest strength – we adapt. We can evolve into something greater and wiser; or adapt into the surroundings we are in. Good or bad – who can tell?

Lenten Journal – Day 40: It’s done!

Reflection on Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

It is done! It’s over! 

The deed of sale of our old house was finally signed and the property income would come in a few weeks time. We had moved to the new apartment, starting all over again from the scratch. I felt sad by loosing our house where we lived for almost 25 years. We didn’t just loose a house but a home where we shared a lot of memories together both happy and painful ones as well. I felt relieved that it was finally over; all the burdens, sorrows and depressions that we had while living in the house. I could finally see some hope in the future. 

“It’s over! There’s nothing that you nor I can do about it, because it’s the law.” These were the words of the judge when the divorce papers where signed in the court. Anyone who has gone through a divorce would know the indescribable feelings and million thoughts that goes through you all at once. 

“The case is close! It’s over!” These were the words of the social worker, together with the family therapist. Two years of therapy, family counseling, visits to psychologist and the social system, has finally ended. I was afraid. The same feelings I had when I finish my driving lessons and was given my license to drive. From then on, I knew I had to drive alone without my teacher sitting beside me. All the responsibilities were handed or transferred over to me. Would I be a good driver? Now that the family therapist signed me out, I could no longer come to her and seek counsel. Would I be a better parent to my kids? 

All of us go through a period in our lives that change us entirely. We feel sad of the painful past and what it has done to us, afraid to move forward in the future and insecure of what lies ahead. The disciples of Jesus had those feelings. When Jesus died on the cross, even after 3 years of training and living with Him, they were not prepared to go through this painful meaningless death on the cross. They doubted if everything was just a waste; afraid that same thing would happen to them as well, devastated for seeing the death of someone they love very much. They felt powerless to do anything at all. Jesus hanging on the cross, like a common criminal, was meaningless for them at that time. He didn’t do anything wrong, on the contrary, did everything that was good and taught everything about love. He was paying for a crime he didn’t commit. 

Yes, it’s over. But there’s a new beginning coming. A new dawn, a promise of something better. That’s life; like the changing of seasons and time, when one season ends, another begins. There’s nothing much to do but move on and face life with great anticipation. Because that is the promise of the whole Lenten season and the passion of Christ – that Easter morning, when everything would be renewed by the power of God. 

Lenten Journal – Day 36: Truth

John 8:32 – “and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 

What is truth? Things that our parents told us? Our churchleaders, gurus or others? What is this “truth” that Jesus is telling us? Do we know the truth?

Knowing the truth is different from accepting it.  You might say that you know the truth. But do you accept it? Jesus is the truth; revealing God as the Father and as Love. As love is truth, we love without any deceit or lies. We love as the son loves the Father and as the Father loves Jesus His son. If we accept the truth that love doesn’t demand any conditions or expect anything in return, then we can live more freely. We love because we know the truth that we are loved by Love Himself. We love others knowing that we don’t need others to love us back because our happiness doesn’t depend on them but on the truth that we are loved by Love himself, no matter what. We are immersed in this love, molded and created anew to become Love. 

Once we know and accept the truth, we live it. Everyday becomes a new expression of love and manifestation of the truth. 

This Lenten season, God is calling us to look into our lives and into ourselves. Is there any deceit? Double-standard moralities? Lies? Repent for the Kingdom of God is near. 

Lenten Journal – Day 33: Repetitions

Fifth Sunday of Lent

John 11:40 – Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”

When I read this passage, I hear it again and again inside my mind but it is not Jesus, but me saying, “Did I not tell you?” As a mother of six kids, I asked that question countless times to my kids. And any parent would probably agree with me, when I say that dealing with teenagers is not easy. We need to repeat to them several times what we said  before it’s heard or responded to. I guess it’s the same with dealing with toddlers. Repetitions, rituals and structure are very important in bringing up kids. Of course, there are times when we cannot follow it rigidly. We need to give allowance and space for our kids to explore, learn and grow by themselves as well. Balance is the virtue of two extremes.

In the gospel reading today, Martha displayed one of the most astounding faith. She said, “And even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” John 11:22. And when Jesus asked her if she believed, she said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world.” John 11:27. But like other human beings, frail, sinful and forgetful, she forgot. That’s why Jesus had to say, did I not tell you?

Every year, the Church goes through the season of Lent among other liturgical seasons; same readings, message and rituals. I heard people saying that it’s just tradition and because it occurs every year, it has no longer value. For me, they are wrong. People forget. Repetitions are necessary to remind us again and again, Jesus message and teachings, His life, death and resurrection. And every year comes different challenges in life. So every year, we have different petitions or the opportunity to reach out and help different people. Everyday is also different. We strive to be better. Even in our prayer life and spirituality, repetitions can help us grow.  But as I mentioned earlier, not to be rigid, instead, giving the Holy Spirit the freedom to work in us. Balance is the virtue of two extremes.

 

Lenten Journal – Day 30: of whose applause?

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent

John 5:44 – How could you possibly believe? You like to have your friends praise you, and you don’t care about praise that the only God can give!

I know by experience the feeling one gets when the limelight is on you, and you get all the applause and praise of the people because of the wonderful job you just did. You get acknowledged and affirmed of what you can do. Somehow it becomes your identity. It’s so easy to fall on the trap of pride and say to yourself, “yes, this is me. I’m awesome!” when you get so much recognition. Everybody becomes your friends. Then you want to have everything … and everything has to be perfect. You polish your image and would do almost anything to keep that perfect image of you and your life. Until everything begin to crumble.

It was by choice that I withdrew from the different ministries and activities in the church and other secular organizations. I secluded myself from everyone except from my family and a very few friends.  I’ve deactivated some of my profiles on social medias, and lessened my attendance on social gatherings. I chose to be alone.

Spending time alone taught me a lot of things; mostly about life and what are the things that are important in life. It has also taught me the value of friendship. I know a lot of people and they know me. We probably have shared meals and faced challenges together. But I can say that I only have a very few close friends. Friends who understand and accept me for who I am. Friends who will say their opinion regardless if I would like it or not. They are not afraid to hurt me; they tell the whole truth.

Spending time alone taught me to be silent inside. To hush down all the noises inside me and the desires that keep me from hearing the voice of God: to know Him and His will, so I can do the things that really matter in the eyes of God. He is the only one who really matters to me. And I know that I no longer need the praise of many others, because I know that I am loved and accepted by the few, and most of all, by the One who is Love.