a time to escape

I’ve given up on giving up slowly,

I’m blending in so You won’t even know me
Apart from this whole world that shares my fate
This one last bullet you mention is my one last shot at redemption
Because I know to live you must give your life away
And I’ve been housing all this doubt and insecurity and
I’ve been locked inside that house all the while You hold the key
And I’ve been dying to get out and that might be the death of me
And even though, there’s no way in knowing
Where to go, promise I’m going because

I gotta get outta here
I’m stuck inside this rut that I fell into by mistake
I gotta get outta here
And I’m begging You, I’m begging You, I’m begging You to be my escape.

I’m giving up on doing this alone now
‘Cause I’ve failed and I’m ready to be shown how
He’s told me the way and I’m trying to get there
And this life sentence that I’m serving
I admit that I’m every bit deserving
But the beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair

‘Cause I’ve been housing all this doubt and insecurity and
I’ve been locked inside that house all the while you hold the key
And I’ve been dying to get out and that might be the death of me
And even though, there’s no way in knowing
Where to go, promise I’m going because
I gotta get outta here
‘Cause I’m afraid that this complacency is something I can’t shake
I gotta get outta here
And I’m begging You, I’m begging You, I’m begging You to be my escape.

I am a hostage to my own humanity
Self detained and forced to live in this mess I’ve made
And all I’m asking is for You to do what You can with me
But I can’t ask You to give what You already gave

‘Cause I’ve been housing all this doubt and insecurity and
I’ve been locked inside that house all the while You hold the key
And I’ve been dying to get out and that might be the death of me
And even though, there’s no way in knowing
Where to go, promise I’m going because

I’ve gotta get outta here
I’m stuck inside this rut that I fell into by mistake
I’ve gotta get outta here
And I’m begging You, I’m begging You, I’m begging You to be my escape.

I fought You for so long
I should have let You in
Oh how we regret those things we do
And all I was trying to do was save my own skin
But so were You

So were You.

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“Be my escape.”

a time to find your passion

So it’s been 3 weeks since my last post, my apologies. I blame the last week of Term 2 and school holidays. And as much as I want to say that I spent those weeks relaxing, and being too lazy or ceebs to blog, I can’t. I’m not sure what I’ve been doing but whatever it is, it has rendered me busy to the point that I haven’t had much time for myself – which is normally the time I use to reflect and unpack my incoherent thoughts. So to make up for my 3 week hiatus, this one is going to be a long one.

Going into my 3rd term of casual teaching since graduating, I thought it was about time I wrote about my journey – how I got exactly where I am right now in my career, and that is – happy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not always happy days. There are still days when I question whether everything I sacrificed and risked to get here was worth it. But honestly, I feel proud knowing that I’m thoroughly satisfied in my career at the age of 30 – and this is only the beginning!

I’ve had a few people ask me a few questions regarding this, questions like – where did you start? how did you know the timing was right? how did you know it was worth it? how much did you have in your savings before you quit your job? do you ever regret it? Well this is my attempt to answer all your questions in 6 terrifying and overwhelming steps.. aka

HOW TO BE HAPPY IN YOUR CAREER 101

  1. Find something you love and figure out a way to make a living out of it.

    On September 20, 2012 my first niece and goddaughter,Claire Jayne, was born. The moment she came into this world was the moment I promised myself that I would do whatever it takes for her to know everything beautiful that this world has to offer. The only way I knew I could do that, apart from being her auntie and godmother, was to also be a teacher. This sparked the first light.

    Teaching was always in the back of my mind since my second year of Uni while I was trying to finish off my first degree in Bachelor of Nursing. But all I wanted to do was to grow up and be an adult – get a job, move out and rake in the cash. So I did. I completely ignored that shining possibility to be a teacher because I thought it would be too late. It wasn’t until my niece was born that made me realise that I could be destined for something far greater than my own adulting. I loved CJ so much that her presence in this world inspired me to teach and mould young children like her into decent human beings.IMG_1475
    If there’s something you love doing – preferably something that not only excites you and betters you, but also benefits others – think about whether this is something you can do for the rest of your life (or for a really long time). And by that I mean, can this nourish you emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physically and financially? If so, you’re well on your way.

  2. Be prepared to put in the hard yards.

    I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. You see, I was well on my way up the corporate ladder in this corporate world. Even though I finished a degree in Nursing, I didn’t pursue it as I didn’t think I had the heart to be a nurse. It was way too emotional for me (Nurses are our unsung heroes!). So instead I made my way into Injury Management, from Administration to Case Management. Next thing I knew I was being offered management roles in other non-insurance companies and I was basically living ‘the dream’. I had moved out of home, had my own assets and had a high paying job. But there was still a sense of emptiness and purposelessness (yes, that’s a word!) in this. It was a year after that first spark was lit, I’m not sure what it was but that desire to do something more just grew.

    This left me in a bit of a pickle. Was I willing to let go of everything just to start all over again? Was pursuing this ridiculous desire, which I knew could have only come from something far kinder than me because I’m not that good of a person – was it really worth losing ‘the dream’? Was I ready to put in the hard yards? After a lot of thought, I realised the excitement was greater than my fears and worries. So at the age of 27, I applied for my Masters in Teaching Primary/Graduate Certificate in Religious Education, and got accepted. Praise the Lord! But if you think that taking that massive leap was the hard part, it wasn’t! The next 2.5 years was the hardest. But it was totally worth it. With a lot of hard work, late nights, prayers and my family and friends – I somehow got through it all.

    If this thing that you love, the thing that you’re willing to give up everything for, if you’re not willing to put in the hard yards to make it work – then start again.

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    Nothing in life worth having comes easy.”
  3. Organise yourself financially.

    This is where I failed, hard. Even though I was living ‘the dream’, I was very stupid with my money. I hardly had any savings so when I quit my high paying full time job, the financial consequences hit me like a tonne of bricks. So to sort myself out, I moved back home and got myself low paying retail jobs to pay the bills. I knew that that’s all I could get considering the flexibility I needed for uni and eventually doing my teaching prac days. It definitely sufficed! In fact, these jobs even got me through a trip to New York, Europe and twice to the Philippines. I think I got really good at saving (and starving myself) that I managed to save for a few holidays. Surprisingly, this was something I never got to do while I was living ‘the dream’.

    I definitely had it easy. I had loving parents who let me move back home. I also had no dependants so the only person that was going to starve was me. This is probably where people stop and realise they can’t do it. But trust me, it’s possible! Just be smart about your money.

  4. GO DO IT!

    Seriously, just do it! Feel the fear, and do it anyway! It’s gonna be scary and daunting and at times you’ll question it all. You will have really crappy days and you will have multiple breakdowns but if you’ve done the first 3 steps then you can totally do this! No better time than the present. This is all from experience. I wouldn’t advocate this if I hadn’t gone through it myself. Ask my friends and family if you don’t believe me. I’m not much of a risk taker but this was the best risk I’ve ever taken and the only time I’ve looked back was to remember how far I’ve come. You gaaattt diis!!!

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  5. Don’t let anyone take it away from you.

    The other day, after work, I was talking to a friend who I met at uni and who I’m now working with. She’s essentially my boss but I’ve come to know her as someone I can really relate to because we’re at the same stage in our lives. She said something that pretty much inspired this whole 6 step process. She told me that sometimes there are certain pressures that makes her consider stopping teaching and focusing on her growing business. She then assured me that she didn’t have to teach, but she wants to because, and she said this with conviction, “This is what I was put in this world to do, to teach – so I’m not gonna stop now”.

    What an inspiration. This is someone who pretty much has it all – but still chooses to hold on to the thing she loves to do simply because she knows it’s her passion, her reason, her purpose. This is the kind of attitude we need.

    If you’ve gotten this far – Congratulations! But it doesn’t end here. There will be days when the pressures of the world, whether it be financial, status or even our own insecurities, will tempt us to let go of our purpose, just so that we could earn more, or live according to what people expect of us. This is the time when we have to hold on to it even tighter. You can’t let anyone take it away from you – because this is YOURS.

  6. Offer it up. #AMDG

    This step might seem a bit confusing because the previous step was to not let go of your passion, but this one says to offer it up. Let me explain, firstly, this isn’t the last step. In fact it should actually be intertwined within all the other steps. Secondly, whether you believe in God, the universe or something far greater than yourself – you gotta offer it up. I’ve broken down countless times throughout this process because I’m human and I’m imperfect. I know without a doubt that I couldn’t have done it on my own. Every time I had a bad night, I offered it up. Every time I had a bad teaching day, I offered it up. Every time I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay off that phone bill, I offered it up. And sure enough, God provides.

    This is why it’s important to make sure that whatever your passion is, you can’t just do it for you and you alone. This is definitely your purpose, but when the going gets tough – knowing that you’re doing this for the benefit of other people, other than yourself, is what’s going to get you through that bad day.

So that’s it! I feel like as a disclaimer I have to say that just because I was able to get through all of this and come out happy, it doesn’t mean that I have life figured out – because I really don’t. My career is only one aspect of my life – albeit, an important one. And I am fully aware that much like all fires, the light that is fuelling this passion, this purpose might burn low. It might even die altogether. But at least I’ll be somewhat prepared for my next one.

I hope this helped! If not, I hope it was at least entertaining. And if you’re still looking for your passion, I really hope you find it! There’s nothing more exhilarating than living it.

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AMDG, – M.

a time to bear pain (pt 2)

..Continued

February 25, 2016: The day after my emergency ureteric stent surgery, I flew out to Singapore for an SFC International Conference. That was quite a painful experience. I remember sitting in the crowd of thousands crying and asking God why He gave me the desire to go to this event while suffering from the pain that I was in (I eventually realised why, which you can read about here.) Although it was over a year ago, I can still remember the overwhelming feeling of reassurance I received when the final worship leader shared about some of the physical pain he had been experiencing too. It was as if God used this man to speak to me, amongst the thousands, as he shared, “Pain is from God too. There is no pain He’ll give you that you cannot handle.” How loving is our God? He is so intentional.

As I said in my previous blog post, I had a ureteric stent sitting inside me for 3 months after that. The reason why it was in the for 3 months and not shorter was because I couldn’t afford the surgery to get the kidney stone lasered out. So I went on the public hospital waitlist to get it removed for free. I’ll be forever thankful for living in this country because I ended up having 3 free surgeries within 8 months, which would have ended up costing the same as a brand new medium sized car. Yeaaaahh #strayamate!

These next few months were the most painful months. There were days when I couldn’t even get out of bed due to the pain from the kidney stone and the stent. I was rushed to the hospital a couple of times because of this pain. There were days when I couldn’t handle it mentally. Especially because I wasn’t able to exercise or play basketball. The pain rendered me physically unable to play any sports. Plus the cause of my kidney stones, which was my body producing too much calcium due to hyperparathyroidism (I’ll talk about this a bit more later), meant that I could go into cardiac failure at any given time if my heart rate was elevated. What a bummer, right? But the thought of WYD and Europe is what kept me going. I knew that God was moulding me and changing me in my suffering and pain. I knew that He was preparing me for something tougher and better. I just knew. I believed. I had to.

June 7, 2016: After months of waiting uncomfortably, countless hours of sick leave, more assessment extension applications that I ever asked for in my 12 semesters of tertiary education, this was the day I was finally getting my kidney stone removed. While in the anaesthetic room, I repeated my prayer – “My body, my mind, my life, is Yours.” I woke up a few hours later expecting to be relieved from my pain but I wasn’t. They had inserted another stent in after they removed the kidney stone to ensure that I had a proper urine flow because of the inflammation in my ureter caused by the surgery. I had to remove the stent myself after 7 days post surgery, which was one of the most daunting things I have ever had to do. I won’t go into full detail because it’s actually not a pleasant thing to imagine but I took it out and I seriously felt like a new person!

“To the suffering brother or sister Christ discloses and gradually reveals the horizons of the Kingdom of God: the horizons of a world converted to the Creator, of a world free from sin, a world being built on the saving power of love. And slowly but effectively, Christ leads into this world, into this Kingdom of the Father, suffering man, in a certain sense through the very heart of his suffering. For suffering cannot be transformed and changed by a grace from outside, but from within.” (Salvifici Doloris, §26)

July 20, 2016: The day I had been waiting and praying for. Everything that I went through, all the late nights, the breakdowns, the over time, the hospital visits, doctor check ups, the cup of noodles/can of tuna meals, the pain, the suffering – it all led to this day. I had this crazy notion that everything I had endured was preparing me for what was to come on the other side of the world. And boy, was I right. World Youth Day 2016 in Poland was an experience I can barely write down in words (hence no blog post about it yet, lol). I’m pretty sure I felt every aspect of emotion humanly possible. The days were long and tiring averaging in at least 12, 000 steps a day. And I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.

July 31, 2016: It was the final day of WYD, I could still feel the hot sun burning my skin as I journeyed back to the our accommodation with a friend I only met a few months ago during WYD preparations, Tracey. I remember saying to her, “Our God is so crazy. I almost didn’t come to this. I almost didn’t experience this. But He made it happen.” I proceeded to tell her about the journey I was on leading up to WYD (the one I’m telling now), and shared to her how generous and loving our God is.

The next few weeks after that, I was blessed with another experience of a life time. I was able to travel through three beautiful European countries with 7 of my good mates, an opportunity that is so rare. Hopefully I can blog about this one day but honestly, I’m still trying to process it. I have, however, shared a few bits and pieces here and there. Within that month of travelling I was still at risk of cardiac failure due to my hypercalcemia. I was still due for another surgery. But I thank God every day for allowing me the graces and strength to get through our Europe trip.

October 26, 2016: It was the day of my third (free) and final surgery. It was also the first day of my road to recovery. I had one of my parathyroids removed – the one that was producing too much calcium which was causing my kidney stones. Before I entered the surgery room, I remember whispering for the last time – “My body, my mind, my life, is Yours.”

It’s been almost 8 months since that day and I’m grateful to say that I’m recovering well. Although it was difficult journey, If you were to ask me what I would do had I been given the chance to skip it all, I would say heeeecck no. I wouldn’t be the person that I am today if I didn’t go through that whole ordeal.

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If life has thrown you in the deep end and you’re left to sink or swim, if work has you busy working in the trenches, if your body has left you fighting to survive – as hard as it may seem, take comfort in knowing that what you’re going through right now is changing you for the better. Embrace the pain because it’s part of your growth. And then offer it up.

One of my favourite bands, Paramore, couldn’t have said it any better..

“And the salt in my wounds isn’t burning any more than it used to.
It’s not that I don’t feel the pain, it’s just I’m not afraid of hurting anymore.
And the blood of these veins isn’t pumping any less than it ever has.
And that’s the hope I have, the only thing I know that’s keeping me alive.”

Thanks for reading, – M.

a time to bear pain (pt 1)

The other night I went back on the court and played competitive basketball after being sidelined for a month due to a spine injury. I honestly did.. horribly. I fell pretty hard 3 times (or possibly more), was pushed and shoved by the other team, missed all of my wide open shots and at half time, I needed to take some ibuprofen to relieve me from the pain. Ahh, the emotional and physical pain this left me was laughable. And if that wasn’t enough, the muscular pain I felt when I woke up the next morning was even worse. But, it was totally worth it. Every time I feel hopeless or if I’m suffering from physical pain I always tell myself.. I have gone through worse, and survived!

Thank God and His generosity for always having my back. Whenever I don’t get called in for work (as a Casual Teacher), I always accept it as God telling me to take a break and rest. While in bed, resting my old aching muscles and bad back, I was scrolling through my photos on my phone in hopes of culling down my 16,408 images to at least, 15,000 (baby steps, hahah). I got distracted, as always, and stumbled upon a quote that helped me get through some of the physically toughest months I have ever had in my adult life. This is the first half of it…

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I knew that coming across this wasn’t a coincident. I honestly don’t believe in coincidences. I believe there’s a time for everything and I think it’s time to tell this part of my story. It’s a bit of a long one so I thought I’d divide it in two. Just a warning, there will be a bit of medical/gross talk so maybe don’t read on if that stuff doesn’t sit well with you.

“This is the meaning of suffering, which is truly supernatural and at the same time human. It is supernatural because it is rooted in the divine mystery of the Redemption of the world, and it is likewise deeply human, because in it the person discovers himself, his own humanity, his own dignity, his own mission.” (Salvifici Doloris, §31)

February 20, 2016: I called in sick for work due to sharp pain that I felt in my lower back. A few hours later the pain still wouldn’t go away after taking some medication so I called my best friend to drive me to the hospital for an emergency. It turns out that I had a pretty large kidney stone sitting in my ureter. It wasn’t small enough to pass so I needed to eventually get it lasered out – which was an expensive surgery I couldn’t afford. I had most of the money but I had 2 travel plans ahead of me, Singapore which was only days away and WYD/Europe which was 5 months away.

February 24, 2016: The day before I planned to fly out for Singapore my doctor advised me to go to my local hospital to make sure that I was fit to fly and travel. It was supposed to be a general check up but the next thing I knew, I was being prepped for an emergency surgery. This stone sitting in my ureter could at any point block it entirely which could cause a sepsis, a life threatening complication with an infection. I found myself having a few spare moments of silence while lying on the hospital bed inside the anaesthetic room. With tired eyes from crying, I looked up at the ceiling light and whispered, “Whatever Your reason is for allowing me to go through this Lord, I offer it up. My body, my mind, my life, is Yours.” A few hours later, I had a stent sitting inside my ureter which stayed in for the next 3 gruelling and uncomfortable months. This ensured that my ureter would not be obstructed and therefore prevent a sepsis from occurring, but it definitely came with painful consequences.

My body, my mind, my life, is Yours – when I prayed these words to Him, I never knew that at the time, it would be a chant I had to constantly repeat in my head over and over again to get me through the next few months of trials. You see, that was only the beginning. Because of my travel plans for WYD and Europe from July – August, I had planned every single day leading up to July 20, our departure date. I overloaded my last semester of my Masters, made myself available to work for 40 hours a week even though I was part time, and I still had my responsibilities at home with my family. That was the plan. But you know what they say… If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans. 

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To be continued.. 

x M.

a time to be on the sidelines

Ever since I came back from SFC ICON in February I feel like I’ve been warming the bench that is life, sitting on the sidelines, waiting for my chance to play the game. No one told me how difficult it would really be to get that call to work as a Casual Primary School Teacher. But I did get the same advice from all my teacher friends who said “Enjoy all this free time now, because you won’t get it any other time”.

I tried to take this to heart but it was difficult. So difficult in fact that it led me to a week of tribulation, where I felt so lost, sad, insecure, angry and worst of all, so far away from my Creator. That week was definitely testing and despite my friends trying to reach out to me, I tried to get through it on my own. But because of His unconditional love, my own pride and stubbornness led me to a moment of clarity and peace. It’s crazy how God works with you that way.

That Sunday, after attending Mass with my best friend and her fiancé, I selfishly decided to join them in one of their snorkelling adventures. This was a selfish act because that day I said no to my family obligations and responsibilities. I just needed a break. So, we drove around one hour south of Campbelltown to this beautiful open water, perfect for summer swims. I’m not a strong swimmer so I decided not to join them and opted for sitting by the water instead. As I sat down, I realised I didn’t bring earphones to listen to music or watch Netflix. I tried to browse through my social media apps and found out that there was no signal/reception. And of course, I didn’t bring a book to read. Finally, I look up and I see this view.

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“The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. In green pastures He makes me lie down; to still waters He leads me; He restores my soul.” Psalm 23:1-3

At this moment I recalled a message that a dear friend of mine had shared with me earlier that week – “Are you paying attention?” …Was I? He drew me out to this place, and stripped me off my distractions. I was all alone, but for the first time in that emotionally and mentally trialling week, I felt comfortable in this loneliness because I felt Him all around me. After a few minutes of silence, I asked Him, “Why? Why have you put me on the sidelines? Why are you benching me? I want this so bad but I feel like you don’t want it for me. When will it be my turn?” As tears rolled down my face, I opened my eyes and suddenly the tide rolls in. A big wave crashes onto the rocks just inches away from my feet. I couldn’t help but feel that this was God telling that it’s coming. And sure enough, three days later, I got that call.

That was two weekends ago, and since then I’ve been once again put on the sidelines, and this time with my health. But someone wise once told me that, “We are a product of our own experiences, good and bad.” So right now, I’m trying to be patient. God is asking me to be patient.

In hindsight, there’s a lot you can learn from being on the sidelines. You realise how valuable your team members are. You learn things about the game that you don’t learn while playing it. You get to rest and recharge, which is so important. And you receive the one gift that you can never return – time.

So if you find yourself warming that bench that is life, maybe He’s trying to tell you something. The question is – are you paying attention?

“God speaks in the silence of the heart, and we listen.
And then we speak to God from the fullness of our heart.
First we listen, and God speaks. And then we speak, and God listens.
And that connection is prayer, is oneness with God.”
– Mother Teresa

Benchwarming, – M.

a time to be lost, only to be found

I still remember the day it went missing, around seven years ago. I was so angry, sad, upset and disappointed. I told my younger brother to take any bible from my bookshelf except for the white one. And which one did he take? The white one.

You see, this wasn’t just any bible. It held a certain sentimental value. Not only was it a gift, but it was the bible that helped me grow in my wisdom, faith and love for Christ. I turned to it in times of joy, sorrow and despair. I know it seems silly but I really loved that bible. And I was so upset when it was lost it that I openly vented about it to my YFC household, close friends and even sometimes, strangers. Hahaha. I begged my brother to retrace his steps to find it and after a lot of searching, I had to bitterly accept that it was lost.

Three years later I visited a church while in Singapore and unexpectedly stumbled upon the exact same version of the lost bible – colour, size and everything. I opened it up but the inscription wasn’t there. I flipped through the pages and my favourite bible verses weren’t highlighted. I don’t know what I was expecting considering it was a brand new bible, but it just wasn’t the same. After a few minutes of contemplation, I bought it anyway. “It’s time to move on.”, I thought.

Four years on, which brings us to just last week, I was having one of the most difficult weeks I’ve had in years, mentally. To say the least, I’m going through a hard time in my life right now due to my employment situation. And because of this, I found myself getting lost and turning away from those that love me the most, especially God. But deep down I knew that life outside my mental illness wasn’t going to wait for me, so I tried to go about my daily life as if I was ok. One night, I called one of my SFC household members to see how she was doing. She was moving into a new house and told me that while looking through her boxes, she found a bible she initially thought was hers. But after opening it to see the inscribed message on the first page, she realised it was my long lost bible. Lost, but now found.

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I honestly don’t think it was a coincidence that this beloved bible that I had lost all those years ago just happened to be found again at a time of despair and hopelessness in my life. A few days later, I was reunited with it, and I can’t begin to tell you how much joy it brought me, especially when I found all the little pieces of paper, book marks, tabs and highlights that personalised my faith companion. I couldn’t help but be reminded of the parables of the lost coin, sheep and prodigal son. Imagine the happiness He feels every time we decide to turn back to Him again, to be found again.

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“Look inside yourself and recognise that change starts with you.” Zootopia

When I first started driving, which was long before Google Maps/Maps was invented, I always had a ridiculous fear of making the wrong turn, thinking that if I take that wrong turn, I would’t have a chance to turn around again. But we do. God gives us a million second chances because He loves us that much. Whether we’re on the path of destruction, of faithlessness, of hopelessness, for a couple of days, a week, a year or our whole lives – we can still be found.

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and save what was lost.” Luke 19:10

Found again, – M.

a time to remember where you came from

“The only time you should ever look back is to see how far you’ve come.”

Although true, it never said how often we should look back. No matter how much we can deny it, where we are right now is partly because of the people that helped us get there. We didn’t do it alone. And we’re not meant to. So let’s not forget about those who helped us get this far. We are in the company of angels – how blessed are we!

“No man is an island.”

One angel in particular is that special lady in our lives that we tend to overlook. The one who gave us life. The one who helped us take our first breath of air. The one who fed us with fruit from their very own body. The one who tirelessly made sure we had clothes on our backs (and that those clothes were washed and ironed). The one who taught us countless life lessons. The one who reassures us of their unconditional love despite our own shortcomings. The one we call our mother.

And if you weren’t fortunate enough to experience this maternal love, I’m sorry. I’m praying for you. And so is one of the greatest mother of them all, our most devoted prayer warrior – Mama Mary.

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“Mama Mary, please intercede for all of our mothers. Ask your Divine Son to give them the grace of surrendered love so that they could join with you in giving their own “fiat.” May they find daily strength to say yes to the call to the sacrificial love – the very heart of the vocation of motherhood. May their love and witness be a source of great inspiration for all of us called to follow your Son. “

I’m one of five children, the middle one. Kudos to my parents, especially my mum, for raising a crazy bunch. My mum has given me a lot in my very comfortable life – a house to live in, the best chicken adobo I have ever tasted, a multitude of second chances and not to mention, ridiculously good looks. And even to this day, at a ripe age of 30, she still shows me some love. She even wakes me up in the morning to say goodbye before she leaves for work. But out of all the gifts she’s given me, there’s one thing that isn’t comparable to the rest of them.

When I was young and we were still living in the Philippines, my mum and I used to do “Visita Iglesia”, which is a Catholic Lenten tradition that involves visiting seven churches on Holy Thursday (or was it Good Friday?). This was probably my earliest pilgrim memory. Visiting seven churches might not sound like much here in Australia but it’s a whole other experience in the Philippines. I remember it being a difficult, yearly journey of commuting through Manila using tricycles and jeepneys, weaving through crowded streets who were also embarking on the same pilgrimage and it usually started in the early hours of the day until late at night. But every year, I went with my mum without hesitation. I’m not sure why she only took me out of her five kids, and I’ve never asked. But I’ll be forever grateful for it because she introduced me to what came to be the core and foundation of my very being – my Catholic faith.

Shout out to you, my Mama. I’m not sure if you’ll ever read this. But know that I love you, even when I fail to show you. Thank you for all that you’ve done for us.

So if you’re lucky enough, show your mum some love this mother’s day, with a present, a coffee, a meal, some flowers or even just a genuine hug. Trust me, she’ll love it! And she deserves it, because she’s been there since day one. #mainchick #dayones

“It is they, mothers, who often give the first roots of the faith, the ones that permeate deepest; without them not only would the faithful be lost, but also a good part of the deepest fire of our faith,” Pope Francis

Mama’s girl, – M.

a time to be original

Tell me, when was the last time you had an original thought? And when was the last time you acted on these thoughts and ideas? I’ve seen people, people who I care about, and their identity being drowned out because of their significant others’ or close friends’ interests and hobbies. And I can’t help but feel sad (and just a little disappointed) at the sight of them losing their unique identities, qualities, traits, personality, because they cling on to others’.

Is this you? Well, let me let you in on a secret..

You are fricking special, dammit!

Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with some inspiration. We live in a Pinterest world, where our ideas are inspired by randoms from across the globe. It’s a crazy, amazing digital age that we live in but sometimes it can be dangerous. Sometimes that inspiration can be misconstrued with thoughts of “our worth”, then it turns into comparison.

The other night I fell into another one of my episodes of comparing myself to, not even the world, but those that are close to me. Those that I love. I get into bouts of insecurity with thoughts like, “Why don’t I have that?” and “Why am I not there yet?”.

“You were created in the image and likeness of God.”

I started re-watching the tv show Heroes this week, thanks to Netflix. The first few episodes are when the main characters are revealed. My two favourites (for now, coz I actually don’t know how the series ends) is Peter (Milo, what a babe #amirite?) and Hiro. They were the main inspiration for this post because at the start of the series they talk about their purpose, their uniqueness. They knew deep down that they were made for greatness. And they went and did something about it.

I remember when I was in high school. I went to an all-girls school from year 7-10 and I had no self awareness whatsoever. I had no original thoughts. I liked whatever my friends liked and hated whatever they hated. And I honestly had no idea why. I remember staring at a poster of Joshua Jackson, Pacey from Dawson’s Creek, which I inserted in the sleeve of my school folder and thinking “I have no idea why this guy is cute, but my friends think he’s cute so I’m gonna put him in here so that they don’t notice my cluelessness.” (years later, his cuteness was revealed to me when he got rid of those blonde cool guy tips, hahaha). Anyway, I was that girl. We all become that girl/boy. We all fall into it. It’s an inevitable part of the learning experience.

Then we get to a point in our lives when we yearn for more. In year 11 our family moved 40 minutes south of Western Sydney which meant I also had to move schools. As much as I hated it at that time, this was a blessing in disguise. I found myself out of my comfort zone, and because of that, it was probably the first time I was finally able to discover myself. I was a lot more aware of what kind of music I liked, my interests, hobbies, strengths and weaknesses.

Twelve years on, and I’m still discovering who I am but on a much more bigger scale. I’m starting to find my real purpose and I wholeheartedly believe that, just like Peter Petrelli and Hiro Nakamura, I too am made for greatness. I’m finally starting to see the beauty inside of me. Which is the real me. Thank God for my amazing friends who encourage me to explore this beauty. If you know me personally, you would know the people I surround myself with. We’re not perfect, and we’re most definitely not the same. In fact, we are all completely different. And we talk about it all the time. We think, dress, talk and love differently. That’s what makes us work (most times, hahah). Find friends like these. (Shout out to my true friends). They’ll help you reveal yourself to the world and the world deserves to see your beauty.

But most importantly, you deserve to see your own beauty, your talents, your true worth, your value, your likeness of God.

Kudos to everyone out there who are living up to their potential. Those who are acknowledging their God given talents, facing their fears, and doing it anyway. You the real MVPs! Be the best you can be! God created you that way. It’s never too late. Trust me, I know.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:13-16

AMDG, – M.

a time to let go

Letting go is never easy. But sometimes it needs to be done. Especially when it weighs us down so much that it keeps us stagnant in our lives. This post is inspired by the next three losses experienced by real life people. Three different lives, three different situations, three different heartbreaks – but all three stories ended with one person having to let go, even if they didn’t want to.

1. A ‘relationship’
This is probably the most experienced of them all, losing a relationship. Just last week a heartbreak I experienced became anonymously publicised. To be completely honest, after reading over my story again and receiving feedback and sincere concern from my close friends, I couldn’t help but feel the heartache all over again. And a friend of mine asked me, “Don’t you want closure?” Of course I did, but I don’t think I’ll ever get it. However, If I kept holding on to it, I couldn’t help but think that he is occupying a part of my heart that I knew belonged to someone else.

“Close your eyes. Clear your heart. Let it go.”

2. A friendship
Some people say that losing a friendship is worse than losing a relationship. My friend can attest to that. I recently caught up with him and despite what people assumed (including myself) he wasn’t only grieving the loss of a relationship but also a close friendship. How it happened was quite deceitful and what makes it even more sad is that it could have been prevented. What’s humbling is that despite never receiving closure, this friend of mine is choosing to forgive.

“If you want to fly, you have to give up what weighs you down.”

3. A life
And, the toughest one of them all – a friend of mine recently lost her father quite unexpectedly. There’s nothing one can really do to fully prepare themselves for losing a parent. But she did what she could and courageously delivered a eulogy at his funeral to commemorate the short life he had lived. Along with the beautiful stories she had shared, she also spoke about the reality of moving forward, which she truthfully admitted to being the hardest part of this whole devastating ordeal.

“Moving forward is not betrayal.”

No, letting go is not easy at all. Especially when it involves someone we love. And everyone has their different methods of dealing with it. Some turn to hobbies that will keep them busy and distracted. Others turn to vices that will help drown the sorrow and the pain. I’ve definitely done both. And from experience, the best and healthiest way to do it is to.. let go, and let God.

He heals our broken hearts, our broken lives, our broken selves. So, when you’re ready, just let go and let God intervene.

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Letting God, – M.

a time to hold their hand

 

It was 7:10 in the morning, I was supposed to be out the door by 7:00 but I decided to make a coffee before the one hour drive to work. I heard a loud bang from upstairs and I assumed it was my sister slamming her bedroom door. I shrugged it off. As I poured hot water into my travel mug, the banging continued and got louder and louder. I thought, what is she doing? I walked to the stairs and heard loud cries that kind of sounded like painful laughter. I thought, maybe she’s laughing at a video or a message someone sent her. But the banging got louder. When I got to the bottom of the stairs, I saw her head moving up and down on the bathroom floor. That’s when I realised what was happening.

The next few minutes was a bit of a blur. And honestly, there’s a selfish part of me that wished I could erase these next few minutes from my memory. I ran the fastest I had ever ran in my life, up the stairs and into the bathroom. I witnessed my sister having her second unprovoked seizure in the span of a month. I’ve seen a lot of horrible things in my life. In fact, I have a degree in nursing so I’ve seen a lot of really medically related scarring, terrifying things. But nothing was as scary as this.

My “nursing” side kicked in. Without thinking, I looked around to remove anything that would have harmed her. She was still twitching but I managed to gently grabbed her wrist and checked her pulse. I observed her mouth to check her airway and she was frothing in the mouth so I tried to move her to her side. She was still in a convulsive state so I couldn’t do much but yell assurances to her, even though I wasn’t sure if she could hear me. I looked for my phone and swore at myself for leaving it downstairs even though every other time in my life, it was permanently attached to my hand. I ran down the stairs and back up in a matter of seconds. Who do I call? I called the one person that this family can fully rely on, my older sister. I know what you’re thinking. I should have just called emergency services. But I was panicking and upset.

Pick up, pick up, I thought. Finally, my older sister picked up. She was at work. She’s a (successful and really really good) nurse. So I knew she’d know exactily what to do. But she couldn’t do anything for my younger sister, who had stopped twitching, but was unconscious, because obviously, she wasn’t physically there and couldn’t assess the situation. But she gave me exactly what I needed. She calmed me down, told me to hang up the phone and call 000. And so I did. After giving them all the information, I sat there on the bathroom floor, held her hand and waited.

I think the last time I held her hand was when I was twelve, helping her cross the road after school to catch the bus. She was seven. It was simpler times then. But life is life and things change. And her and I, we certainly have our differences. But at the same time, we’re both pretty similar. We both try to be independent in our lives, with our own goals and our own paths. We definitely have our own way of dealing with things. And different ways of showing love. But at the end of the day, it’s all the same love. And we all want this love. Most importantly, we all need it.

Timing is such a funny thing. Do you ever have those moments when something unexpectedly happens in your life and you think back on the moments that led you there? If I hadn’t come home so late from dance practice the night before, I would have woken up earlier. And had I woken up earlier or decided not to make coffee before leaving for work, I wouldn’t have been there when it happened.  If my afternoon teaching session didn’t get moved to 9am, I would have slept in. It’s times like these that affirms me of God working through our lives.

I started this blog because I believed so avidly in perfect timing – His timing. There is definitely a time for everything. And that day, He called me to hold her hand as I called 000. To hold her hand as she woke up confused. To hold her hand as I assured her she’ll be okay. To hold her hand through this life changing experience.

At one, or many points in our adult lives, we’ll need someone to hold our hand, even when we don’t want it, especially then. What’s stopping you from reaching out?

“I lose my hold and You reached my hand. You held me up, I’m truly home.”

Let’s take this moment to pray for those who are suffering from a medical condition, both physically and mentally.
Lord, hear our prayers.

Reaching, – M.

Ps. My sister is back at home and is now trying to move on with her life with this condition. Thank you for your kind words and your prayers. We appreciate it! God bless you.